Archive for December, 2015
The Antioch Police Department is excited to announce the 67th installment of the Neighborhood Cleanup Program. This is a collaborative community effort which involves active participation from The Antioch Police Department Crime Prevention Commission, Neighborhood Watch Program, Volunteers in Police Service, community volunteers and the Public Works Department.
Collectively, “We”, everyone who works and lives in the City Antioch, can make a difference and improve the quality of life. It’s our community and it’s our chance to make a difference.
The City of Antioch Neighborhood Cleanup program is not just for residential neighborhoods. It is a program that will change venues on a monthly basis and it will include business and commercial areas as well. Neighborhoods that are free of trash and refuse are inviting, and a clean community instills a sense of community pride.
The 67th Neighborhood Cleanup event will occur on Saturday, January 2nd from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at Wendy’s on A Street. We will be cleaning the neighborhoods behind Wendy’s (Belshaw, Service, 19th, etc.)
Volunteers will receive instructions and the equipment necessary to accomplish the goal. The targeted area is within walking distance. Excluding inclement weather, future Neighborhood Cleanup events are scheduled for the first Saturday of every month and the locations will be announced in advance.
Remember, cleaning up your neighborhood can make life better for your family, your neighbors and your community.
As time marches inexorably forward and we approach the New Year, I find it a good time to pause and reflect on where we’ve been, and where we’re headed, at the Antioch Unified School District.
As 2015 came to an end, we saw change come in double step, with the retirement of our Superintendent and the resignation of a School Board Trustee. Yet changes are nothing to moan over. Change should be welcomed.
As the voters so decisively indicated in the last election, a course correction was desperately needed. But, just as large ships at sea don’t turn easily, so it is with large bureaucracies; status quo driven inertia keeps them moving in old lanes, even when a change in direction is clearly called for.
Eventually, however, a ship will turn, and so it is with AUSD. With the addition of new Trustee Fernando Navarro to our board, we are seeing less divisiveness and a renewed sense of purpose. The absence of friction allows us to address long-standing problems within the District.
Granted, positive behavior interventions, advanced placement class participation, overall high school graduation rates and career themed academy expansion are among the areas of district improvement. The fact is, though, that with all the initiatives that have been implemented over the last several years, we’ve seen little progress with our lowest performing students.
Our current Board does not find the achievement gap of English language learners, children of color, or low economic status acceptable; nor is it tolerable that 81% of our students fail to show proficiency in math. We can’t have two tiers, haves and have-nots. We must do better by all the 18,500 students in AUSD. All, after all, means all.
We have now begun the search for a new Superintendent; a critical step, since the person selected will most likely be at the helm of AUSD for the next several years. Bold leadership is clearly needed. As a Board, we’re committed to a selection methodology that ensures the local community has input in the process, and that the individual we choose to lead our district has the courage to take the necessary steps to effect the changes needed.
I grew up in Great Neck, Long Island, New York. As a child, I can remember people leaving notes by our front door encouraging us to call them if we ever decided to move. Why did they do this? Simple answer; because they wanted to buy into the area due to the quality of our school district. The quality of the education available made living in our community that desirable. That is my dream for Antioch…that it would become a city that people clamor to move to, because of the education their children can achieve. Quality of schools is pivotal in civic promotion, so having kids or not, we all want a great school system.
The first necessary step in effecting change is to recognize that you have a problem. As a board, we’ve done that and we are taking the steps needed to fix it. Our students, their parents, and our community deserve no less.
Vice President, Board of Trustees, Antioch Unified School District
New playground placed in one of Antioch’s most challenged neighborhoods
An Antioch neighborhood known for drugs, crime and violence (Sycamore) received a brand new playground, thanks to a grassroots group of parents and the City of Antioch who partnered to improve Contra Loma Estates Park. The parent advocates and representatives from the City of Antioch, including Mayor Harper and all four council members, as well as Rhea Elina Laughlin, Community Engagement Officer for First 5 Contra Costa and members of her team, joined together on Saturday, November 21st for a ribbon cutting ceremony and community celebration to unveil the new park.
The drive for the new playground began with the East County Regional Group, a parent advocacy group sponsored by First 5 Contra Costa, who first conducted in-depth rating assessments of every park in Antioch. Their findings revealed that parks located in the city’s lower-income communities were plagued by crime, graffiti or unsafe conditions that rendered these parks unusable by families, compared to the city’s newer neighborhoods.
The culmination of high crime and child poverty rates, along with its very low park rating, led the parents to select Contra Loma Estates as the park most in need of rehabilitation. They took their findings to the Antioch City Council, who given their ongoing efforts to improve safety in the Sycamore neighborhood, allocated $250,000 to renovate the park. The parents group worked with City staff to design the new play structure and will be partnering with the Antioch Police Department to address residents’ safety issues.
The renovated Contra Loma Estates Park includes a brand new play structure for toddlers and school-age children, play structures designed for children of all abilities, such as children in wheel chairs or with other special needs and a foam floor which replaces sand that often contained needles, used condoms and glass.
Physical outdoor play is important for children’s health and development, but not all children in Antioch have access to safe, usable parks and playgrounds. Crime, vandalism, and unsafe conditions have prevented families from enjoying Contra Loma Estates Park – until now. This is the first victory for this grassroots group of parents, who aim to increase children’s access to outdoor play by improving one East County park at a time.
Contra Loma Estates Park is located at 2395 Manzanita Way at Mahogany in Antioch.
First 5 Contra Costa helps young children start school healthy, nurtured and ready to learn by investing in programs and activities focused on children during their first five years, the most important time in children’s development. Since 2000, First 5 Contra Costa has invested more than $120 million in Proposition 10 tobacco tax funds to help Contra Costa’s children get the best possible start in life. First 5 supports three Regional Groups of parents dedicated to making their communities healthier and safer for families. Learn more: www.first5coco.org.
The public is invited to attend and support the family of 11-year-old Lorenzo D. Hall, Jr., as they celebrate his short life and lay him to rest on Monday, January 4, 2016 with viewing at 10 a.m. and memorial service at 11 a.m. at Antioch Church Family, 55 E. 18th Street in Antioch. The burial will follow at Oak View Memorial Park in Antioch.
Lorenzo was a 6th grade student at Black Diamond Middle School in Antioch, who suddenly passed away early morning of December 18th due to complications with asthma. Lorenzo leaves behind his mom, Mechelle, dad, Lorenzo Sr., an older sister Ashaunti and a younger sister, Anayiah.
The family is in need of financial assistance to cover funeral expenses. According to friends, they are short about $1,900. Please visit their Go Fund Me page at https://www.gofundme.com/hwfn4mmc.
The Contra Costa County Elections Division is kicking off 2016 in a fun, unique way. In what promises to be a busy year for elections, the department is holding a photo contest for all county residents to submit their best pictures of what the area has to offer for the cover of its Voter Information Guides in June and November.
“Hopefully getting our residents involved in the election process months before Election Day will help them be engaged in local issues and pique their interest in voting,” said Registrar of Voters Joe Canciamilla. “Plus, it’s a way to showcase the flavor and flair of where we live.”
One of the unique features of the Contra Costa voter guide/sample ballot is that the cover features a photo highlighting some of the intrinsic beauty and history of the county, which enhances the voters’ experience.
Few, if any, counties in California feature a photo on the cover of their guide.
The winner will have their photo featured on the cover of the booklet, which goes out to over a half-million registered voters. First, second and third place winner will also have their photos featured in our office lobby and on our Website. The winning artists will also receive collectible election pins, which are issued to Contra Costa Election Officials.
The Elections Division will be taking submissions from January 1st to February 29th. Applicants must submit a 50-100 word description about their photo. The photos must be able to run in black-and-white and sent in JPEG format.
There is no entry fee.
More information, including release forms, will be available on the Contra Costa Elections Website, www.cocovote.us.
By Luke Johnson
Mark Hurtado has transitioned from coaching Deer Valley High School girls’ basketball to leading the boys’ team. With the girls, he won a North Coast Section Championship, along with two Bay Valley Athletic League Championships in four seasons with an overall record of 80-38.
The new position is a “dream come true” for Hurtado. Even while coaching the girls, he would still attend most of the boys’ games as a fan. The job was actually offered to him two years ago, but he shot it down because of his close relationship with the girls’ team. He ended up bringing home the NCS Title that year.
“I was too close and bonded with the girls team, so I turned it down at that point, but I told myself if that opened up again, I would jump on it,” Hurtado said.
He began his coaching career at College Park High School in Pleaseant Hill, shortly after graduating college, but took time off to focus on earning his credential, and is now a PE teacher at Orchard Park Middle School.
Deer Valley boys basketball was at an all-time high in 2013, as the team reached the California Interscholastic Federation NorCal Championship game, led by superstars such as Marcus Lee and Kendall Smith. But the past two seasons have been rough with a combined record of 16-36, and a 4-16 record against league opponents.
Hurtado said the team’s greatest strength will be its speed and tenacity on defense with senior Brandynn Manning (6’) and junior Raydale Robinson (6’2”) in the backcourt, accompanied by seniors Paul Uha (6’6”) and Donald Banford (6’2”) guarding the post.