Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Shopping, food & fun at Rivertown Small Business Grand Re-Opening Saturday

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

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Happy Independence Day from the Herald – enjoy over 20 minutes of past years’ fireworks

Saturday, July 4th, 2020

A portion of the great Antioch fireworks show, tonight, sponsored in part by the Antioch Herald. This wasn’t even the finale!

Posted by Antioch Herald on Thursday, July 4, 2019

Another portion of the fantastic fireworks show in Antioch, tonight, at the Contra Costa Event Park (fairgrounds). Anything else you see or hear making our city sound like World War III, again this year, are illegal fireworks.

Posted by Antioch Herald on Thursday, July 4, 2019

Watch the complete Antioch July 4th Independence Day fireworks show! Sponsored in part by the Antioch Herald. Good job, Celebrate Antioch Foundation.

Posted by Antioch Herald on Tuesday, July 4, 2017

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Happy Birthday, Antioch! July 4th is also the 169th anniversary of its naming, and we have much to celebrate

Saturday, July 4th, 2020

The July 4th 1851 picnic scene with Rev. William W. Smith, in black holding a Bible, and townspeople of Smith’s Landing when they gathered together and renamed the town Antioch. Located at F and W. 2nd Streets on the 505 Building wall in historic downtown Rivertown.

By Allen Payton

This year’s Independence Day, today, July 4, 2020 marks the 244th birthday of our nation. It was on this date in 1776 that our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence sending a message to England that we would no longer be ruled by their king, that we would be a sovereign nation and each of our citizens sovereign people, as well.

In Antioch, we also celebrate the 169th anniversary of the naming of our city, today. It was on this date in 1851, 75 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, that the townspeople gathered together with co-founder Rev. William Wiggins Smith to rename the town from Smith’s Landing to Antioch, after the city in Syria where the followers of Christ were first called Christians. They did that out of respect to Smith’s twin brother, Rev. Joseph Horton Smith who had died the previous year. In 1849, after traveling from Boston, the Smith brothers each purchased 160 acres from Dr. John Marsh along the Antioch waterfront, where the city’s historic, downtown Rivertown District is located, today.

According to the book entitled, Looking Back – Tales of Old Antioch and Other Places by Earl Hohlmayer, “On the fourth of July, 1851 a basket picnic was held at the residence of W.W. Smith, then standing on the high ground…The all-absorbing topic of the day was ‘What shall we name our town?’ Between thirty and forty men, women and children gathered together from far and near… W.W. Smith proposed that, inasmuch as the first settlers were disciples of Christ, and one of them had died and was buried on the land, that it be given a Bible name in his honor, and suggested ‘Antioch’, (a Syria town where two important rivers meet and where the followers of Christ were first called Christians), and by united acclamation it was so christened.”

A historic mural was commissioned by the Antioch City Council in the late 1990’s which includes a scene from the July 4, 1851 picnic which can be seen above. It’s located on the wall of the 505 Building next to the parking lot at F and W. Second Streets in Antioch’s historic downtown Rivertown.

Although our community, state and nation currently face health, economic and other challenges, the future looks bright and we can celebrate our freedoms, enumerated in the Bill of Rights, although somewhat restricted, lately. Enjoy celebrating and remember to thank God for the freedoms we get to exercise and experience each day in our country.

Happy Independence Day and may God continue to bless the United States of America. Freedom!

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Antioch Council holds first community forum on police reform, will hire facilitator for future forums

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

By Allen Payton

During their first community forum on police reform, entitled Bridging the Gap, Tuesday night, June 30, 2020, the Antioch City Council heard more comments from members of the public on both sides of the issue. Then the council decided what topics to include in future forums and agreed to hire a facilitator to moderate them.

To open the meeting, Mayor Sean Wright said, “Thank you for coming, tonight for those who are joining us. This is an opportunity for us…at the end of the last meeting we had five or ten minutes to decide where to go with this. Tonight, is an opportunity to get input from all council members and the public…to decide where we want this to go…to drive this conversation forward in a positive way for our community.”

Councilwoman Monica Wilson then said, “I am looking forward to what the community says. To make sure this is not just a one and done and that we continue the conversation.”

Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts read some prepared comments saying, “I’m happy to have lived in Antioch my entire life. I’ve watched my family grow up, here. Let’s be clear in saying I always do what is best for our community.”

She spoke of wanting an “all hands on deck meeting.”

“I am seeking to find opportunities where we can improve as a city,” Motts added.

There were video and audio challenges that caused the meeting to not be visible for most of the first half hour, so not all the opening comments from the council members could be heard.

A variety of people submitted comments or spoke through the Zoom meeting connection, mostly reiterating the over 850 comments made during the two special council meetings on whether to form a council ad hoc committee on police reform two weeks ago, that led to Tuesday night’s forum.

Council Members Respond to Public Comments

Mayor Wright was the first to respond to the public comments.

“I’ll be honest, after the last meeting…I was pushing in discussions with our city manager, having an hour with our chief of police come forward give us a report on the reforms within the department, then an hour to hear from members of the African American community,” he said.

“People have already spoken. We’ve heard. We had a lot of comments at the other meetings. I appreciate the city manager saying…let’s not jump into a discussion of what you think we’ve heard…so we can have a discussion among council members of where we want to go.”

He then provided a list of the things he heard from the public comments.

“I thought you summarized it fairly well,” said Councilman Lamar Thorpe. “I don’t think you mentioned mental health. I have a concern of stretching our police force. I don’t think they should deal with that.”

“The five areas I outlined…are overarching. We can populate with the things you talked about.”

The five reforms Thorpe is seeking, which he mentioned in his press release, earlier this month are 1. Demilitarize our local police, 2. Increase police accountability, 3. Improve police hiring practices, 4. Excessive use of force and 5. Budget appropriations.

“If we’re going to talk about body worn cameras, about mental health, we have to talk about the budget.”

“Community programs is a huge one,” Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock also mentioned. “What does systemic racism look like in Antioch. The Police Crime Commission going into their districts finding out that information. Work together…we all need to work together. This is a priority for this council. We’re here tonight trying to work on these issues.”

“I too thought the meeting was a little vague coming into it,” Wilson. “We really owe it to the community to really have an outcome…that we really are listening. We’re all not going to agree. None of us are here to attack.”

“We’ve all said one time, or another Chief Brooks is doing a wonderful job. But we can always do better,” she continued. “We must constantly be looking at how we can improve ourselves.”

“Accountability, de-militarization, hiring practices, police oversight, body cameras…how we’re going to maintain all of that, the use of force,” Wilson continued. “We have to come to the reality that not all of us are going to agree. Like most families…we have to respect our differences. I’m hoping we’ll be able to start attacking some of these and have some good outcomes and start making our community better and let everyone in our community know they’re being heard…and they’re not being left out.”

Motts then shared her thoughts stating, “I had doubts without having the chief speak to some of the comments we’ve heard over the past few weeks. But, after hearing from the community, tonight I’m glad we went this way.”

“I heard ‘do no harm’, she continued. “I do think the APD is really getting out there…and trying to work with the community. The mental health issue…this is something that’s been going on for decades, now. East County, we do not have a (homeless) shelter. We do not have homeless services. It is incumbent upon us to do something about them.”

Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock spoke about “What we should do with Measure W money.They want to spend some on police services, but also on youth services. I’m looking forward to these conversations. I would like to have the chief come back and speak on some of the investigations going on. I want to see us all work together. We love this community…we want our community to feel embraced and feel safe. So, I’m looking forward to the conversation.”

Discuss Future Agenda Items, Agree to Hire Outside Facilitator

“This can’t be done in a meeting,” Wright explained. “I need to look at how this fits in. I’m OK looking at the five headings Councilmember Thorpe put in. There might be six or seven other headings.”

“I think we all want to hear from the chief,” Thorpe stated. “The actually leading of this conversation shouldn’t be led by the chief. The chief is a participant in all of this. I think for many people I think there’s a curiosity of policing in American and the relationship with African Americans and why policing even started in this country. They can’t pinpoint why in this country that things blow up following interactions between police and African Americans.”

“I was going to suggest we hire an outside facilitator…helping us through the process,” Wright added.

Ogorchock added, “I think it’s great we have an outside moderator. Where in the budget would that come from?”

“We would have to approve the expenditure,” Wright said.

“It would come out of the General Fund,” said City Manager Ron Bernal.

“I agree someone from outside…to help moderate this conversation,” said Motts.

“I would like to hear from the council…some of the things you’re wanting this person do in the processs,” Wright said.

“Someone with a background in social justice, race relations with police,” Wilson said.

“I would say someone with experience with police reform and that may not be someone with a social justice background,” Thorpe said.

“It has to be a well-rounded person,” Ogorchock said. “We need to have someone coming in who is neutral, who is going to ask the right directions and get us in the direction this council wants to go. What is the cost of this person? I would ask the City Attorney is this part of the agenda, tonight? A moderator?”

“What you’re talking about is future agendas, so yes, your discussing a future agenda item,” City Attorney Thomas Smith responded.

Wright then said he wanted, “someone who is respected on both sides, the police department and someone trying to create police reform.”

“We’re not looking for specifics in what they think on police reform…but understanding the lay of the land when cities decide to do police reform,” Thorpe said. “I’m not pretending we’re not discussing police reform. That’s what the point of having the ad hoc is.”

“This is a bigger conversation that we will all participate in,” Wright said. “I think the next steps…is to find that person and have that person to work together with a few members of council and the chief, to categorize and move forward.”

“I would be happy to participate in that,” Thorpe said.

“So, would I,” Wright responded.

“I would, too so here we go,” said Ogorchock. Regarding the hiring of a moderator she added, “Make sure they understand Antioch. We’re a diverse city.”

“Yes, we are a majority people of color community,” Thorpe said. “You’re absolutely right.”

“That’s not what I said. I said we’re a diverse community,” Ogorchock responded.

“We are doing some things well…and I want the chief to report on that,” Wright said. “As I’ve gone out the past few weeks and talked to different people there are people in the black community who aren’t aware that there is a citizens police academy and a youth police academy. So, there’s more outreach that needs to be done.”

“I’ve been doing some research…and people of color are being killed at a higher percentage, at a higher rate,” Wright stated. “I would like to see elicit bias training for our police and the council. To be able to put ourselves in the shoes of other people. I would hope as a community…that we better understand one another…as we go through this.”

“If there are regular mental health checkups to deal with law enforcement stresses,” said Motts. “I would like to see that as part of the discussion, here.”

“I will work with you and Councilmember Thorpe in hiring someone to facilitate…someone familiar with police reform, and other areas, and familiar with police departments,” Bernal said in response to Mayor Wright.

The council then adjourned the meeting.

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Antioch park picnic areas, restrooms, parking lots open July 1st, Water Park opens for family swim July 3rd

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

By Nancy Kaiser, Director, Antioch Recreation Department

Antioch parks have been open for health and fitness opportunities, and on July 1, 2020 picnic areas, park restrooms, and parking lot gates will be opened. The County Health Orders allow picnic areas and barbecues to be enjoyed by families and people in the same living unit or household.

Come Splash With Us!

Beginning July 3rd, the Antioch Water Park will be offering family swimming hours by reservation. To schedule the swim time for your family at 1:00, 2:15, 3:30 or 4:45 p.m., call (925) 776-3070. It will be a warm holiday weekend, but you and your children can keep cool!

Additional programs and activities will be scheduled later in the summer when new Orders are provided by Contra Costa County Health Department. Residents are encouraged to stay connected with the City of Antioch by following the daily announcements posted on the website www.antiochca.gov and participating in the Virtual Recreation Center at https://www.antiochca.gov/recreation/virtual-recreation-center-and-network/.

For more information about summer recreation programs and activities including summer camps for kids, sports programs, senior services and the Antioch Water Park summer season, please call the Antioch Recreation Department at 925-776-3050. Recreation staff is working each day to assist Antioch families.

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Antioch July 4th celebration, parade and fireworks cancelled

Monday, June 29th, 2020

Photo of Antioch’s 2019 July 4th fireworks show by Allen Payton.

As a reminder, due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, during their April 28, 2020 meeting the Antioch City Council decided to cancel the annual Independence Day celebration which included the parade, day-long activities, and fireworks show planned for July 4th with community partner Celebrate Antioch Foundation. Families are encouraged to enjoy the holiday weekend close to home.

Also, Sheriff David Livingston reminds all residents that fireworks are illegal in Contra Costa County. Contra Costa County is a ‘fireworks-free zone’; the sale, possession or use of fireworks of all types and sizes (including Safe & Sane fireworks) are banned in the county (County ordinance 44-2.002). This includes the unincorporated areas as well as the cities.

Deputy Sheriffs and officers on patrol will confiscate all fireworks. Typical fireworks problems in the past have included aerial skyrockets of varying sizes, from bottle rockets to three-inch mortar launched shells. Fireworks purchased in neighboring counties, other states, or over the internet are illegal to use or possess in Contra Costa County.

Offenders could also face up to $500 in fines. Possession of dangerous fireworks, like M-80’s or cherry bombs, constitute a felony and could result in fines of up to $5,000 and imprisonment. Violators may either receive a citation in the case of a misdemeanor, or they could be booked in jail for felony use or possession of fireworks.

Photo by CCCSheriff.

Following are the minutes from the April 28, 2020 council meeting agenda item #4 regarding cancelling the July 4th celebration and other summer events:

“Councilmember Motts, President of the Celebrate Antioch Foundation, reported that they had cancelled the Mother’s Day Art and Wine Walk and Father’s Day Car Show. She stated they supported the cancellation of the 4th of July activities for this year noting that if they did so now, they could move forward with seeking reimbursement for the fees committed for the fireworks.

Councilmember Thorpe thank(ed) Director of Parks and Recreation Kaiser for the report. He stated he felt these decisions were better left up to those who had organized the events.

Councilmember Wilson stated she appreciated the work done by Celebrate Antioch Foundation and while she was disappointed that the 4th of July events may be cancelled, she understood the public health safety issues.

In response to Councilmember Wilson, Director of Parks and Recreation Kaiser responded that staff was researching creative ways to work within the parameters of the Shelter in Place guidelines.

Councilmember Wilson suggested staff consider hosting online live concerts to replace the summer concert series.

Councilmember Ogorchock stated that she appreciated the Recreation Department’s hard work. She recognized Councilmember Motts and the Celebrate Antioch Foundation for facilitating the 4th of July celebration and other community events. She supported Councilmember Motts’ suggestion to cancel the 4th of July celebration for this year.

Councilmember Thorpe stated he appreciated the Recreation staff and the Celebrate Antioch Foundation. He agreed with the recommendation from Councilmember Motts to cancel the events for this year.

Mayor Wright requested no money be expended for the events at this time. He stated he looked forward to future events that worked within the parameters of the Shelter in Place guidelines.

Director of Parks and Recreation Kaiser urged Council to send her ideas for future events. She announced that the Parks and Recreation staff had selected 50 families to receive treat bags from the City that would be distributed in accordance with social distancing guidelines.

Following discussion, Council agreed to cancel the 4th of July events.”

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Antioch Council to hold Bridging the Gap virtual round table discussion Tuesday on racial injustice & police-community relations

Saturday, June 27th, 2020

By Allen Payton

The Antioch City Council will hold what is expected to be the first of several community forums, labeled as Bridging the Gap – A Virtual Round Table Discussion, to “better understand and address racial injustice and police-community relations” on Tuesday night, June 30, 2020.

The forums are a result of two special meetings held last week by the council to discuss forming a two-council member ad hoc committee on police reform. On a split vote of 3-2 the council instead decided to hold community forums with all council members participating, along with the Police Crime Prevention Commission. (See related articles here and here)

The meeting will include the following elements:

1) Mayor and Council Members Opening Comments

2) Public Comments

3) Discuss and consider comments from the community.

4) Discuss and make recommendations on future agenda items and meetings

The community is invited to join the conversation to share their perspectives, ask questions, and to listen. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the roundtable discussion will be done remotely via Zoom. If you wish to make a public comment, you may do so any of the following ways: (1) by filling out an online speaker card, located at https://www.antiochca.gov/speaker_card, (2) by emailing the City Clerk prior to or during the meeting at cityclerk@ci.antioch.ca.us, or (3) to speak, please register for this discussion using link below: https://us02web.zoom.us/…/register/WN_s7jzT-PkSdei6BW4AUC0wA.

Antioch City Council meetings are available via Comcast channel 24, AT&T U-verse channel 99, or live stream on the City’s website at https://www.antiochca.gov/government/city-council-meetings/live/.

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Register today for Antioch Police Youth Academy in July

Friday, June 26th, 2020

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