LIGHTENING THE MOOD: At a 60th anniversary Korean War commemoration July 27 in Concord, Master of Ceremonies David McDonald was in fine form. As Korean War veteran, it was an admittedly emotional day for McDonald, as he hosted the event to honor those who fought in what is known as the "Forgotten War." However, McDonald was able to infuse the somber occasion with some pithy one-liners while introducing local politicos.

For U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, McDonald waxed on about Miller's appearance, calling the congressman's signature height, mustache and white hair "his own look." He added that Miller is called "Big George" in Washington, D.C.

When Miller got to the podium, he said, "That's one of the stranger introductions I have ever had."

After Miller exited, McDonald continued by saying, "See, I have to pull this (microphone) down after George has been here."

McDonald's next introduction, to State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, was so short that DeSaulnier was still sitting in his seat when McDonald stopped speaking. That prompted McDonald to say, "That's all I got Mark, get up here."

By the time it came to the keynote speech, retired Army general and Concord Mayor Dan Helix knew exactly what to do: He approached the podium before McDonald had finished saying his name.


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LIFESAVING CORN: A pilot escaped from a crash in rural Brentwood on Aug. 1 with a little cut on his knee, though his experimental plane was destroyed.

The reason for his good fortune? Brentwood corn. At least that's what one local farmer told The Eye.

It turns out the pilot crashed into a muddy, recently irrigated corn field.

"It was sopping wet, so it was kind of friendly in a way. I'm sure it made the landing more gentle," farmer Ron Nunn said. "It was a serious crash. He is as lucky as the dickens."

While the pilot waited to be picked up, Nunn says he told him the engine on the plane froze and he was trying to land on a dirt road but "lost it."

"Maybe he hit a wing tip in the corn or something," he said. "It was a beneficial place to crash ... if you can have such a thing."

The crash was reported to the Federal Aviation Administration the next day, and the plane was salvaged. A report on the agency's website says the Weber GPA-2 home-built airplane's flight originated from the Livermore Municipal Airport about 9:30 a.m. and that the plane had engine problems.

A side of pittsburg pride: Steel-gray letters spell out P TOWN on the side of the Jack in the Box on Railroad Avenue above the awning. Turns out the manager asked the contractor doing some outside work on the roof to add those letters as way of showing pride in the city.

"Oscar wanted to put it up," said Ariel Perez, an Antioch resident who works at the fast-food restaurant. "It's a good idea."

FORMER REPORTER REMEMBERED: It's not always easy for an aggressive investigative reporter to win praise from the public officials whose actions he scrutinizes. But former Contra Costa Times environmental reporter Mike Taugher, who died last month while snorkeling off the coast of Maui, gained widespread respect for his probing, incisive coverage on a range of topics.

That's been illustrated the past few weeks by the many public officials who have honored his work. The Oakland City Council adjourned a recent meeting in his honor at the request of Councilman Dan Kalb, an environmentalist who remembered getting calls from Taugher about stories.

"He was a wonderful guy, had a young family," Kalb told the council. "I'm just shocked that somebody who had so much life ahead of him would pass away so quickly by an accident."

Contra Costa Supervisor Mary Piepho praised Taugher's legacy as an environmental reporter who focused on the health of the Delta as the Board of Supervisors adjourned its meeting in his honor last week.

On Thursday, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla adjourned the Assembly in Taugher's honor.

U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney honored Taugher on the floor of Congress:

"For many years, Mike worked as the environmental reporter for the Contra Costa Times. His deep knowledge and tireless pursuit of articles earned Mike the respect of readers, citizens, and other journalists in addition to numerous awards. ... His commitment to these issues was a benefit for all Californians."

Staff writers Elisabeth Nardi, Paul Burgarino, Matthias Gafni and Matthew Artz contributed to this column.