Published in the July 5 – July 18, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Robert Airoldi

Robert Airoldi

Photo courtesy Jon Berkland From left, John Phelan, Victoria Violet (presenter) and Jon Berkland.

Just outside the doors of Trail Dust BBQ, we met two South Valley men at the Sept. 17 Morgan Hill Downtown Association’s 2016 Beer Crawl pouring glasses of suds they had made to participants of the popular event. We were so impressed by the home-brewed ale they produced that we predicted Jon Berkland of Morgan Hill and John Phelan of Gilroy would fast become masters in turning hops and water into delicious home-brewed beer. We sure weren’t wrong.

Berkland told us he and his friend recently won second place in the Sour Ale category at the National Homebrew Competition. There were 240 total entries in the category, with 8,618 entries total in the competition. Entries for this competition came from all 50 states as well as 13 countries.

“Needless to say, we’re extremely excited about our achievement,” he told us. “This is our second time making it to the final round, and our first time placing in the finals.”The award was announced June 17 at the 39th annual American Homebrewers Association’s National Homebrew Competition’s Homebrew Con 2017 awards banquet held at The Minneapolis Convention Center. Good job, beer guys!


An Eliott Elementary School teacher’s new puppy is world famous, thanks to a smartphone, a big blue chair and celebrity talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres. In early June, Cheri Foster and her husband David Foster were returning from a trip where they had picked up from a breeder their yellow British Labrador. They named the puppy Trixie LaRue.

The couple stopped in downtown Morgan Hill for a bite of breakfast and afterward walked over to the Pop-Up Park. They noticed its locally famous 16-foot massive wooden Adirondack chair painted a pastel shade of blue. “We were looking at the chair and thought that with the puppy sitting on it, it would be a funny shot. That’s how it all originated,” Cheri told us.

Later, a friend suggested they send the picture to DeGeneres for her Cutest Pet Photos webpage. Not really thinking anything would come out of it, Cheri sent the picture. To her surprise, it was picked. In less than 24 hours, the photo had more than half a million views on Facebook.

“A lot of people from Morgan Hill are noticing the blue chair and making comments like, ‘Yay, Morgan Hill.’ Morgan Hill people are pretty excited about it,” Cheri said.The Fosters are even planning a “puppy coming out party.”

They rented Gilroy’s Sycamore Creek Vineyards and Winery for a private event for their friends to meet Trixie LeRue.

“It’s kind of extravagant,” Cheri said. “I did invite Ellen to the party, and who knows if she’ll come, because that’s such a funny thing to have a party for a puppy.”

The last week of the school year, Foster brought the dog to meet her students. “The children were just so excited to see her,” she said. Welcome to the world of celebrity, Trixie LeRue. Enjoy your world-wide canine fame.

Photo by Marty Cheek
Chamber Chairman Rich Firato, left, surprises Britton Middle School science teacher George Flores with the ‘Educator of the Year’ award.

The Morgan Hill Unified School District community received some sad news last month. George Flores died in the early morning hours June 20 at Stanford University.


An educator himself, George taught science at Morgan Hill’s Britton Middle School. He was the husband of Gilroy Unified School District Superintendent Debbie Flores. A strong advocate for mathematics and sciences, George established Britton’s Multi-Tiered Systems of Support for students, which became a model program for schools in California.

On spring breaks, he often took his “Volcano Kids” students to Hawaii or Costa Rica to experience science in the great outdoors. He was named the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Educator of the Year.

“This is a tremendous loss for the Bobcat community,” said Britton Principal Chris Moore. “George was a shining star. He was the person that encouraged everyone. He was someone that every student looked up to. He cared deeply for his students, for his colleagues, and our school is a better place because of him. He will be deeply missed.”

A celebration will be held beginning at 4 p.m., July 8, at the Sobrato High School gym, 401 Burnett Ave.Our sympathies are with his wife, Debbie, his son, and his extended family.