by Tracey Rolandelli
### Happy Chinese New Year! To ring in the Year of the Rat, stop by the Laurel Elementary School (3750 Brown Ave.), on Saturday, February 16, 10 a.m. to noon. Councilperson Jean Quan will honor our local heroes who volunteer their time and effort, and celebrate the Lunar New Year. Chinese refreshments,as well as cultural performances will be available for visitors.
### The Northern California Children's Booksellers Association is holding their annual grant award program, and the application deadline is February 15. This organization, made up of independent bookstores, authors, illustrators, and libraries in northern California, awards grants for books and materials to outstanding community leaders and teachers who fight child illiteracy. Know someone who fits this description? Laurel Books (4100 MacArthur Blvd.) has applications. The Otter Award Dinner will be held in San Francisco on March 22.'
### After all the rain we had, our neighborhood daffodils will be here sooner than later. In early November, Laurel area volunteers planted bulbs along meridians and freeway exits. Thank you to our flower volunteers! The Metro spring should be very colorful.
### There are so many countries our Metro neighbors come from. In talking to the owners of AMA Auto on MacArthur and Coolidge, I learned Amir Beganovic and Arnad Kubat are from Bosnia, while Ou (Mike) Saechao is from Laos, of Mien ancestry. Amir and Arnad, having lived in the States for eight and nine years, studied auto mechanics in Germany before moving to America. All three love cars and teaching people about automobile workings. Amir and I talked about how Oakland is our favorite city in the East Bay, with many things to do here.
### welcome Councilperson Quan's new staff members. Policy specialist Michael Johnson can be reached at mljohnson\@oaklandnet.com or 238-4742. Leslie Bonett is District Four new administrative assistant. Contact her at 238-7273. District Four's Laurel office hours are being held at World Ground Café. Go to www.jeanquan.org or call for scheduled hours.