Jeff BellePatrick McCarram

Antioch Salvation Army needs toys for girls ages 6 to 12

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Antioch Salvation Army logo Antioch Salvation Army needs toys for girls ages 6 to 12By Lt. Connie Hall, Corporate Officer, The Salvation Army of Antioch Corps

The Salvation Army needs your help. We are short on toys and may not reach our goal of providing Christmas to our neighbors in need. We have been able to fill nearly 270 request for help but are short on toys for nearly 100 families. We are in desperate need of brand new toys for girls age 6-12. Our shortfall comes due to a downturn in donations and our failure to receive our ‘Toys for Tot’ order. Please consider helping as every little bit can make a huge difference to a child in our community we are hoping that any agencies or community programs which have excess or have completed there distribution would be willing and able to share their resources.

Any thing at this point would help.

Please call (925) 778-0808 and drop off the toys at 620 E. Tregallas Road in Antioch, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information visit www.salvationsarmy.org.

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Publisher @ December 19, 2014

Christmas musical at Golden Hills Community Church, Saturday, Christmas Eve

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one king ad01 Christmas musical at Golden Hills Community Church, Saturday, Christmas Eve

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Publisher @ December 19, 2014

See live Christmas display in Antioch this Saturday and Sunday evenings

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Walk Thru Bethlehem See live Christmas display in Antioch this Saturday and Sunday evenings

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Publisher @ December 17, 2014

Bay Area leaders make case for San Francisco for Olympic & Paralympic Games

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USOC has decided to put forward a U.S. city for 2024

2024 SF logo Bay Area leaders make case for San Francisco for Olympic & Paralympic GamesSAN FRANCISCO – A group of Bay Area business, sports and civic leaders has put together a preliminary proposal for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), which has decided to put forward a U.S. city to host the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in 2024.

The USOC board of directors announced on Tuesday, December 16, that it has unanimously approved a U.S. bid to host the 2024 Games. San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., remain under consideration, with the selection of a U.S. bid city to be made in early 2015.

The decision came after representatives from each of the four cities presented plans to the USOC board of directors following six months of collaborative discussions regarding the technical elements required to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Those discussions will continue in the weeks ahead as the USOC moves toward announcing a candidate city.

We are excited to announce our plans to put forth a bid for the 2024 Games and look forward to taking the next step of selecting from a group of four world-class cities to present a compelling and successful bid,” said USOC Chairman Larry Probst. “We’re grateful to the civic and political leaders in each of the four cities for the partnership that’s been demonstrated thus far, and confident that the deliberative process we’ve put in place is going to result in a strong U.S. bid that can truly serve the athletes and the Olympic and Paralympic movements.”

The IOC will select the host of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2017.

For the past several months, a group of local boosters has been laying the groundwork for a San Francisco bid, led by San Francisco Giants President & CEO Larry Baer, U.S. Olympian Anne Warner Cribbs, and entrepreneur and non-profit leader Steve Strandberg.

We believe a San Francisco Bay Area Olympic and Paralympic Games would be an enormous success, and would benefit the region, the nation and the Games themselves, well beyond 2024,” Baer said. “Our region is renowned for connecting the world in new ways every day and we are ready to put that spirit and ingenuity to work for the Games.”

Infrastructure for large-scale sporting events and public gatherings has increased in the Bay Area in recent years, with new facilities at Cal and Stanford, Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, an expanding Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco, the San Jose Earthquakes Stadium currently being constructed, and a new arena planned for the Golden State Warriors in the city’s Mission Bay neighborhood.

These and many other facilities around the Bay Area would be considered for the Games, Baer said, but organizers have not yet released a venue plan.Baer, Cribbs and Strandberg have put together a team of volunteer organizers and are meeting with community leaders around the region, building support and making a case for why the Bay Area is a perfect showcase for the Olympic and Paralympic Games – and vice versa.

With cultural values and a welcoming environment that embody the global mission of the Games, San Francisco is uniquely positioned to show the Olympics, the nation, and the region in the best possible light,” said Cribbs, a gold-medalist swimmer in the 1960 Olympics and CEO of the Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee (BASOC). “We have the opportunity to put our unique stamp on the Games and inspire a new generation of American youth to pursue sports and fitness, while embracing the Olympic spirit of international friendship and cross-cultural exchange.”

The San Francisco organizers point to the enduring legacies of previous games in international destination cites like Barcelona, Sydney and London, and pledge that the Bay Area would enjoy lasting infrastructure and financial benefits as well.

Hosting the Games would galvanize the Bay Area around some of our most pressing challenges,” Strandberg said. “In preparing for the Olympics, we would pull together to produce thousands of units of new affordable housing, improve our transportation systems, create new jobs, and establish new parks and recreational facilities – all of which will remain long after the Closing Ceremony.”

Cribbs, a native of Menlo Park, who earned her gold as a member of a relay team, emphasized teamwork.

The region’s large and active family of Olympians and Paralympians will be involved in all aspects of the Bay Area’s efforts to host the 2024 Games,” she said. “When we get the entire Bay Area community pulling together in the same direction, we can do great things.”

The International Olympic Committee’s deadline for 2024 bid submissions is Sept. 15, 2015, with the host city to be determined in 2017. The timeline for the 2024 bidding process was announced during the IOC Extraordinary Session in early December, during which time the Olympic Agenda 2020 was finalized. Among the 40 recommendations – which were all unanimously approved – the reform package allows for a more flexible and cost-effective bidding process.

All four cities have presented plans that are part of the long-term visions for their communities,” said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. “At our request, and because of the preliminary nature of our discussions, the cities have not spoken about their bids publicly in great detail. That will be an important part of the process after we make our selection in January.”

The U.S. has not hosted the summer edition of the Olympic and Paralympic Games since 1996 (Atlanta). St. Louis hosted in 1904 and Los Angeles held the Games in both 1932 and 1984.

To learn more or volunteer, visit www.sf2024.org, follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SF2024 or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SF2024.

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Publisher @ December 17, 2014

Deer Valley High’s Divine Voices perform at Moscone Center

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IMG 3158 1024x768 Deer Valley Highs Divine Voices perform at Moscone Center

Deer Valley High’s Divine Voices sing at Moscone Center on Monday, December 15, 2014.

Deer Valley High’s Divine Voices performed for an audience of 3,600 during the 83rd annual California School Boards Association education conference, held in San Francisco’s Moscone Center on Monday, December 15.

The award-winning group was one of only two school choirs to be asked to perform. About 30 other high school choirs submitted audition tapes.

Superintendent Donald Gill, who was in attendance during the live performance said “They were phenomenal.”

The three-song performance, which was streamed live throughout the state, was given a standing ovation.

Special thanks to Antioch School Board Trustee Barbara Cowan for providing this information and photo.

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Publisher @ December 17, 2014

Former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan launches positive campaign for State Senate

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Joan Buchanan Former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan launches positive campaign for State Senate

Joan Buchanan

Campaign will reject all negative campaign tactics

On Thursday, December 11, 2014, Democrat former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan officially launched her “Positively for Us” campaign in her bid for California’s 7th Senate District (SD7). Buchanan and her campaign have taken the unusual step of committing to run a strictly positive race, and have promised to reject all negative tactics.

The Governor will call a special election for the SD7 seat when Senator Mark DeSaulnier resigns to be sworn into Congress in January. That election is expected to be held in March, 2015.

Buchanan said “I firmly believe that our democracy is harmed by the level of negativity that has become the standard in political campaigns. This was amplified last November when we were overwhelmed with endless negative TV, radio ads and mailers that did little more than anger voters of all political persuasions. I’ve heard from our community time and time again, that they are tired of these tactics and are reluctant to participate in such a destructive process.

My ‘Positively for Us’ campaign will focus on my record of accomplishments and my goals for the State Senate, and will address voters’ concerns by making real progress on issues that matter to us all.  No attacks or ‘comparisons’ – which are merely attacks in disguise – will be made by me or my campaign. With such a short window to communicate with voters, it is important that we focus on the issues, and not waste valuable time with attacks and negativity that do nothing more than keep voters from the polls.

I am not asking my opponents to take any kind of pledge, or to follow my lead, and I cannot control or direct independent expenditure committees. I am simply making a promise to voters so they know what they can expect from me and my campaign. My hope is that this type of campaign will foster a positive and constructive dialogue about what’s best for our future as a region.”

Nearly 60 local leaders are already backing Buchanan’s candidacy, and are encouraged by her positive approach. Livermore Mayor John Marchand, Former Antioch Mayor and current Councilmember Mary Rocha, Walnut Creek Mayor Bob Simmons, Danville Mayor Mike Doyle, Orinda Vice Mayor Victoria Smith and Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor are just a few who have already joined the groundswell of grassroots support for Buchanan.

Buchanan was first elected to the California State Assembly in 2008 and just completed a successful six year term, serving California’s 16th Assembly District (formerly 15th) which includes the cities of Orinda, Moraga, Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Danville, San Ramon, Dublin, Pleasanton, and Livermore. Prior to her service in the State Assembly, Buchanan served on the San Ramon Valley School board for 18 years, including four terms as president.

Prior to her years of public service, Joan was an analyst with Delta Dental and quickly became one of the fastest rising women in the company and was promoted to Director of Commercial Operations before the age of 30. She left the private sector to raise her five children and in the process became one of the San Ramon Valley’s most effective community activists and education advocates.

Joan is a 36-year resident of Alamo and a native Californian. She holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The 7th State Senate District contains 100% of Buchanan’s former seat of AD 16, and portions of three other Assembly Districts and 56.4% of the Senate District’s registered voters reside in AD 16 and have been represented by Buchanan. Of the remaining voters, 21.2% reside in AD 11 (represented by Jim Frazier), 22.1% reside in AD 14 (Susan Bonilla), and 0.3% reside in AD 20 (represented by Bill Quirk).

To learn more about the campaign, please visit www.JoanBuchanan.com. A complete list of current endorsements is below.

ENDORSEMENT LIST (as of December 10, 2014)

Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor, Danville Mayor Mike Doyle, Livermore Mayor John Marchand, Walnut Creek Mayor Bob Simmons, Former Dublin Mayor Janet Lockhart, Antioch Councilmember and former Mayor Mary Rocha, Dublin City Councilmembers Don Biddle and Kevin Hart, Danville Town Councilmember Renee Morgan and Former Councilmember Susanna Schlendorf, Lafayette City Councilmember Mike Anderson, Livermore City Vice-Mayor Laureen Turner and Councilmembers Stewart Gary, Doug Horner and Bob Woerner, and Former Mayor Marshall Kamena, Orinda Vice Mayor Victoria Smith and Councilmember Amy Worth, San Ramon City Councilmember Philip O’Loane, Former Pleasanton City Councilmember Cheryl Cook-Kallio, Former Walnut Creek City Councilmembers Charlie Abrams and Gwen Regalia, Acalanes Union High School District President Kathy Coppersmith, Antioch Unified School District Board Vice President Diane Gibson-Gray, Byron Unified School District Member Jill Sprenkel, Chabot Las Positas Community College District Board Members Isobel Dvorsky and Carol Vecchiarelli, Contra Costa Community College District Board Member Vicki Gordon, Dublin Unified School District Vice President Amy Miller and Board Member Dan Cunningham, Dublin Unified School District Board Members Megan Rouse and Greg Tomlinson, Lafayette School District President Teresa Gerringer, Liberty Union High School District Board Members Pauline Allred and Joanne Byer, Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District Board Members Craig Bueno and Kate Runyon, Orinda Union School District Board Members Carol Brown and Sarah Butler, Pleasanton Unified School District President Valerie Arkin, Members Chris Grant, Jim Ott, Jamie Yee Hintzke and Joan Laursen, and Former Member Jeff Bowser, Former Lafayette School District Board Member Shayne Silva, Walnut Creek School District Board Members Aimee Moss, Katie Pena and Barbara Pennington, San Ramon Valley Unified School District President Rachel Hurd and Vice President Denise Jennison, Former San Ramon Valley Education Association Presidents Darren Day and Mary Jane Keogh, Former San Ramon Valley Unified School District Board Members Marianne Gagen, Stuart Goldware, Chris Kenber, Allen Leck, Linda Wurzbach, Former Walnut Creek School District Board Member Arthur Clark, and East Bay Regional Parks District Board Members Bev Lane, Diane Burgis and Ayn Wieskamp.

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Publisher @ December 16, 2014

Assemblyman Frazier endorses Bonilla for State Senate

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Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla announced that her campaign for State Senate has earned the support of Assemblyman Jim Frazier, who represents the 11th Assembly District. That includes portions of Contra Costa, Solano, and Sacramento counties – including the cities of Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, and portions of Pittsburg, all of which are part of the 7th State Senate District.

I’m incredibly honored to have the support of my colleague Assemblymember Jim Frazier,” Bonilla said. “Jim’s leadership in Sacramento has been key to improving our state’s transportation system, protecting the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta, and supporting worker safety. His endorsement provides my campaign with a crucial boost of support.”

Frazier’s support adds to the growing momentum of support for Bonilla. Since announcing her campaign for State Senate, she has already quickly earned the support of the following:

Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriffs Association, United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County, Local 1230, Concord Police Association, Livermore Police Officer’s Association, Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover, Antioch Mayor Wade Harper and Councilmembers Monica Wilson and Tony Tiscareno, Concord Mayor Tim Grayson and Councilmembers Dan Helix and Laura Hoffmeister, Concord Treasurer Thomas Wentling, Danville Mayor Robert Storer and Councilmember Newell Arnerich, Pittsburg Mayor Sal Evola and Councilmembers Pete Longmire, Ben Johnson and Nancy Parent.

To learn more about Bonilla’s campaign, please visit www.susanbonilla.com.

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Publisher @ December 16, 2014

New members, new majority on Antioch School Board flex their muscles

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DeSaulnier and Vinson 1024x768 New members, new majority on Antioch School Board flex their muscles

State Senator Mark DeSaulnier gives the oath of office to new Antioch School Board Trustee Debra Vinson, at his Walnut Creek office, on Monday, December 8, 2014.  provided courtesy of Debra Vinson

Board splits on electing new leaders

By John Crowder

The December 10 meeting of the Antioch Unified School Board began with the newly elected board members, Walter Ruehlig and Debra Vinson, reenacting their swearing-in ceremony for the public. Superintendent Dr. Don Gill administered the oath of office to Ruehlig, while Contra Costa County District III Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho did the honors for Vinson.

Ruehlig had previously been sworn in by Smith, at an earlier meeting, that afternoon. Vinson was sworn in by State Senator Mark DeSaulnier at his office on Monday, December 8.

At the earlier ceremony, Allen Payton was the only member of the public in attendance, and offered his congratulations to both of the new trustees.

Two members of the public addressed the board following the re-enactment ceremony. Willie Mims, of the NAACP East County Branch, told the board that he would be watching them, and that he wanted to see money, coming to the school district under the Local Control Funding Formula, “go to the right place.”

Antioch Mayor Wade Harper thanked outgoing board members Gary Hack and Joy Motts for their service, and welcomed Ruehlig and Vinson to the board. He pledged his support for the school board, and suggested they arrange for a joint meeting of the school board and the Antioch City Council sometime during the upcoming year.

Following a brief reception, the first order of business was the reorganization of the board. Diane Gibson-Gray nominated Smith for the position of board President, and her motion was seconded by Ruehlig. She was confirmed on a 3-0-2 vote, with board members Gibson-Gray, Ruehlig and Smith voting yes, and board members Barbara Cowan and Vinson abstaining.

Gibson-Gray was elected to the position of board Vice President on a 3-1-1 vote, with Gibson-Gray, Ruehlig and Smith voting yes, Cowan voting no, and Vinson abstaining.

Before that vote, Vinson attempted to nominate Cowan as Vice President, to which Cowan responded she wouldn’t mind because she hadn’t yet served as either president or vice president. But, there was already a motion on the floor and Vinson’s motion could not be considered, until the vote on Gibson-Gray was taken.

Vinson explained her votes to abstain.

Part of what happened was I did feel too new, and the nomination for President happened so fast,” Vinson said. “But, also that it should have been on a rotation basis and that Barbara was in line and should have been the Vice President, having been on the board for two years.”

As the board moved on to regular business, it quickly became apparent that there was a very different mindset with respect to the review and approval of expenditures than that held by the prior board. Over the last few months, Smith, and often Gibson-Gray, had been in the minority when it came to reviewing district expenses. Expense items were routinely passed with little questioning of district staff, as the board members voting in the majority stated they “trusted” administrative staff to make wise spending decisions.

At the December 10 meeting, board members questioned the financial impact of several items, including a property transfer, a contract extension for an agreement with Tobinworld III (a provider of special education services), a contract for milk and dairy products, several change-orders related to the improvements being made to the stadium, track, and field at Antioch High School, and travel expenses incurred by board members.

New board member Vinson was the first to express concerns about finances, looking for assurances that a proposed property transfer would not result in any costs for the district. She would go on to ask questions about every item pulled from the consent calendar. Further, it was Vinson who pulled every change order from the consent calendar, emphasizing that change orders equated to higher costs. On this point, she was strongly supported by Smith, who said that, with every change order, “we lose money for classrooms.”

Ruehlig was responsible for pulling the consent calendar items involving the Tobinworld and milk delivery contracts, which, together, were valued at almost $2 million for the next year alone. He called for a board discussion of the Tobinworld agreement, with information to be provided regarding their competitors, between now and June, when a new contract for these services will need to be finalized. Gibson-Gray and Vinson, concurring with Ruehlig’s concerns about the process used in negotiating service contracts, also said they wanted assurances of proper oversight of such providers.

Ruehlig also questioned the bid process being used for the purchase of goods, as the milk contract, he noted, appeared to be backdated ten days. He told staff that more advance notice for such contracts would be required by the board going forward. He also said that more information needed to be provided to the board prior to bringing contracts to them for approval, calling the information they had been provided with, “sparse.”

Not even the filling of administrative positions recently vacated by staff leaving the district or requests for board member travel to conferences were immune from scrutiny. Smith called for a review of the administrative staff structure and job descriptions at a future meeting. Gibson-Gray questioned the need for board members traveling to conferences.

Two other items addressed were AUSD communications with parents, and the Pathways program.

Julie Young, a regular attendee at AUSD board meetings, raised concerns about an automated call she said that she and other parents had recently received from AUSD. According to Young, the calls referenced an “information packet” that was supposed to be available at her child’s school related to a “parent training” meeting. But, she said, when she called the school, they didn’t know anything about it. Then, just prior to coming to the school board meeting, she said she had received another call canceling the meeting.

Young also raised a concern with the Pathways program. She told the board that, once an 8th grader selects one of the Pathways, they are being locked into it. She said that children in 8th grade cannot be expected to definitively know what career they want to pursue at that age, and should have the ability to change their minds.

Smith and Ruehlig both concurred with Young regarding the Pathways program. Although Stephanie Anello, Associate Superintendent, Educational Services, said during the discussion that it was not the intent of the district to, “lock kids in” to a pathway, Smith said she had spoken with several parents who told her that their children were being pressured not to change their original choice. Cowan raised another concern, that some students are forced to leave the Pathways in order to obtain a full range of elective classes. At the end of the discussion, Anello vowed to investigate the matter.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for January 21 in the School Services Building, located at 510 G Street. Meetings begin at 7:00 p.m.

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Publisher @ December 16, 2014