By Betty Buginas | 7/13/2011 |  The Patch

...One of those is Tom Panas, who Bartke said is a tremendous researcher with a phenomenal memory.
     “He’s interviewed a ton of people,” said Bartke. “He took it on himself. He  just wanted to see that the history was preserved. “
     Panas’ projects have included starting the historical society website in 2005 and compiling content for it, including an extensive list of books, articles and other sources containing information about El Cerrito history. He was also key in the publication of the book featuring El Cerrito historical photos in Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series and in collecting historical content for .  ...     Complete article:

http://patch.com/california/elcerrito/feeling-its-oats-at-37-historical-society-drawing-crowds
By Charles Burress | 8/19/2012 |  East Bay Times
... Community outreach
     "We really need to push on doing outreach," said Panas, who asked the group for ideas on how to spread the word.
     Suggestions included posters in stores and taking the message to various organizations and groups, including PTAs, city boards and commissions, the Farmer's Market, Solano Stroll, radio station KECG at El Cerrito High School, adult education and literacy programs, and local schools including private and parochial.
     Panas said the committee hopes also to work with local civic groups like the Rotary Club, the Garden Club and the Chamber of Commerce.
     Panas noted also that the committee gathered many ideas and suggestions from community members at its booth at the city's July 4th festival and has posted the results on the committee's Web site. ...            
Complete article:

eastbaytimes.com/west-county-times/ci_26599373/el-cerritos-newest-wall-fame-member-has-passion
Feeling Its Oats at 37: Historical Society Drawing Crowds

 •    510.480.1601    •    Tom4Kids.com    •     Tom Panas for School Board 2016      •     FPPC #1385583

By Rick Radin | 9/24/2014 |  East Bay Times

EL CERRITO -- To say that Tom Panas was an obvious candidate for El Cerrito's Wall of Fame that honors residents for "above and beyond" contributions to the community is to risk understatement.
     Panas, who was named to the select group in July, has been a key instigator of the city's growing commitment to preserving its history, architectural and otherwise. He has also worked for years to improve residents' quality of life with his service on El Cerrito's New Library Committee that is trying to help the city build a larger state-of-the-art facility to replace the antiquated existing structure.   
    "I think Tom has been a remarkable asset to the community," said Grace MacNeill, a retired El Cerrito branch librarian and a colleague on the New Library Committee
    Panas, 63, moved to El Cerrito from his hometown of Santa Rosa in 1975, when he began working on his master's degree in business at UC Berkeley. Soon after, he began taking an interest in civic affairs, particularly historical preservation.
    "I was never interested in history at all until I came here," said Panas, an engineering and computer science major in college. "When I arrived in El Cerrito, I started getting interested in it, especially in the Santa Fe railroad." ...
    Panas began fighting to preserve what was left of El Cerrito's historical resources, working with state and federal authorities to identify and protect significant structures.
    He was successful in placing the Chung Mei Home for Chinese Boys on Elm Street on the National Register of Historic Places. Although the building was modified in recent years to house a private school, its designation as a historic district preserves the integrity of the role it once played.
    Panas has also worked with Edward Biggs, Albany-based developer of a 15-unit condominium structure to be built at 1715 Elm St. near the Chung Mei home. As part of the development plan, which received final approval from the City Council in August, Biggs will restore the 117-year-old Rodini house, the third-oldest home in El Cerrito, which will remain on the property and have public uses.
    Panas also successfully campaigned for the preservation of the former Contra Costa Florist shop on San Pablo Avenue as part of plans for developing a six-story low-income senior housing project on the property.
    The shop structure was originally built to house a sales office for one of the local quarries, but was later owned by the Mabuchi family, who converted it to a florist shop. The Mabuchis were interned in a camp for residents of Japanese ancestry during World War II.
    Woody Karp, the project manager for Hayward-based Eden Housing, the developer of the project next to City Hall, said he has "an amazing amount of respect for Tom," who convinced Eden to alter its plans to tear down the shop along with the Mabuchi home at the rear of the shop.
    "The shop was not identified as a historical resource at first, and Tom advocated for the preservation of the building," Karp said. "He was passionate about it, and we listened to him and went back to the drawing board to preserve it."
    Historical displays about the Japanese community will be included in a public plaza on the property. Panas' interest in Japanese-Americans who operated nurseries and flower businesses in Richmond and El Cerrito began long before the Eden project.
    After befriending a number of older Japanese residents, he discovered that most of them only saw each other at funerals, so he organized a party so that they could get together under happier circumstances, along with a historical photo exhibit about the nurseries. ...
    "We really did it up for them, with the party and celebration, and people were able to rekindle relationships," Panas said.                          
Complete article:

eastbaytimes.com/west-county-times/ci_26599373/el-cerritos-newest-wall-fame-member-has-passion
Momentum Builds for New Library Drive
El Cerrito's newest Wall of Fame member has passion for city and its history