Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Dr. Lawrence Rasheed to speak to Kiwanis Club in Antioch on June 13

Saturday, June 10th, 2017

Public Invited

The Antioch Kiwanis Club, continuing a speakers’ series highlighting organizations that work with local youth, is scheduled to hear a talk by Dr. Lawrence Rasheed on Tuesday, June 13.  Dr. Rasheed will be speaking at the Kiwanis regularly scheduled breakfast meeting, which will take place at Denny’s Restaurant, 4823 Lone Tree Way, at 7:00 a.m.

Dr. Rasheed is the founder of GRIOT, an organization dedicated to the mentoring of young, African-American males.  He is a long-time educator and local resident.  The mission statement of GRIOT is, “To provide strategic, sustainable systems of social and academic assistance with emphasis on student accountability, academic, and community engagement.”  Dr. Rasheed will be discussing the GRIOT program.

Other speakers in the series have included John Crowder, who spoke on the techniques used to help students achieve success in the Math Intensive Program, Dr. Marty Elliott, who spoke on the importance of developing math literacy, and Tina Hayes, who spoke on “Getting Ahead with Etiquette,” the title of a book she authored.

Kiwanis is a world-wide service organization, dedicated to, “Serving the Children of the World.”  Locally, Kiwanis members volunteer and raise funds for programs that benefit youth.  In addition, they provide local students with thousands of dollars in scholarships each year.

The public is invited to attend the meeting to hear from Dr. Rasheed and to learn more about the work that Kiwanis does in the Antioch community.

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Antioch leaders showcase the positives, challenges during annual State of the City presentation

Friday, June 9th, 2017

Mayor Sean Wright offers his first State of the City presentation on May 26, 2017. photo by Argentina Davila-Luevano

Free, second presentation Wednesday night, June 14

By John Crowder

On Friday, May 26, three new leaders in the city of Antioch, Police Chief Tammany Brooks, City Manager Ron Bernal, and Mayor Sean Wright, each spoke at the annual State of the City event hosted by the Antioch Chamber of Commerce.  The well-attended event was held at the Antioch Community Center at Prewett Park.

Antioch Chamber CEO Richard Pagano, after welcoming the crowd, introduced Chief Brooks.  Also known as ‘T,’ Brooks focused his talk on three words beginning with T, Technology, Training, and Teamwork.

Brooks began by saying that he knew it was important to reduce the perception of crime, along with actual crime.  “If you don’t feel safe, it doesn’t matter how much we show an actual reduction in crime,” he said.  “Quality of life means that you feel safe as you go about your day-to-day activities.”

With respect to technology, Brooks said that his department would be spending more time analyzing statistics and using the information gleaned to work smarter and more efficiently to reduce crime.  The Department Crime Analyst will be spending more time developing crime intelligence, he explained.  Brooks noted that surveillance cameras were already in use in the city, and that more were on the way.

Training, according to Brooks, is vital to the success of his department.  He said, though, that the type of training required now was different than that emphasized in the past.  “There were 87,000 contacts last year between citizens and the APD,” he said.  “Of these, less than 2% required the use of force.”  While teaching officers how to react in situations requiring the use of force would always be important, more training will be done in the future around community engagement, according to Brooks.

“Part of our training must include cultural diversity, implicit bias, and crisis management,” he said.

Brooks emphasized teamwork both within the department, and in the greater community.  He said that the APD had the lowest per capita staff of a major city in Contra Costa County.  Even so, “I’m not going to cry about that and tell you what we can’t do,” he said, “I’m going to tell you what we can do.”

Brooks said that educating the public on steps they can take to avoid being victims of crime, and ensuring that his officers are engaged, on a more personal level, with members of the community would both pay significant dividends in reducing crime.  Brooks concluded his remarks by saying, “The men and women of the Antioch Police Department truly care about this community, and over the next few years, you’re going to see that.”

City Manager Ron Bernal began his remarks by saying, “In my opinion, our job is to serve the people of Antioch, and not the other way around.”  He went on to say, “There is an expectation for communication and cooperation.  People don’t care what you say until they know that you care.”

Bernal then listed eight priorities that the City Council had established.  These included, crime reduction, code enforcement, economic development, financial stability, infrastructure, communication, partnerships & collaboration, and quality of life.

Before addressing each of the priorities in turn, Bernal noted that Antioch is the second largest city in Contra Costa County.  He then talked about some positive aspects of the city, including the $1 billion spent on Highway 4 and BART improvements, and pre-1914 water rights.

Bernal stated that the APD currently has a budget for 102 sworn officers and 7 Community Service Officers (CSO’s), up from 82 sworn officers when Measure C was passed.  He expected the number of sworn positions to rise to 103 in 2018, and to 104 in 2019, with CSO’s rising to eight in 2018.

Addressing homelessness is vital to the city, Bernal said.  To that end, the APD developed a Community Engagement Team in January.  In addition, he said that the city had established a two-person abatement team to deal with blight, and that a County CARE center was coming to Antioch later this year.  “We’re doing a lot of things to try and tackle the issue of homelessness in a compassionate way,” he said.

Several other initiatives were mentioned in Bernal’s talk, including the See Click Fix app, more involvement with social media, the consideration of a public relations firm to promote the positive things happening in Antioch, the San Joaquin Joint Powers Project, Business partnerships, and the improvements being made to Waldie Plaza.

Bernal concluded his remarks by saying, “The City is here to cooperate with businesses.  It’s a new day.  We are the government, and we are here to help you.”

Mayor Sean Wright began his remarks by saying, “I’m excited.  The team we have in place now is awesome.”  Referring to City Manager Bernal, Wright said, “Ron really cares and wants to do what is best for our community.”

Wright then immediately moved to address what he called, “the elephant in the room.”  “The question is, are we filing bankruptcy?” he asked.  “We have very little debt, and reserves of $25 million.  You don’t file bankruptcy under those circumstances.”

“There is an impending problem, though,” he continued.  “That is PERS (California’s Public Employees’ Retirement System).  What is PERS?  An oncoming avalanche of impending debt.”

Wright then explained that, for years, PERS had overestimated the amount of income the system would receive on its investments.  Because of this, government agencies around the state who are part of the system, are now being informed that their contributions over the years have been insufficient to fund future retiree benefits that have been promised.

“Is Antioch in trouble when it comes to PERS?  Yes, but we’re not the only city [in trouble.]  In six to seven years, we are in a bad place.  Cities are suing, and we’re watching the progress of these lawsuits.  People are worried, and they’re right to be worried.  But, a lot can happen in six years.”

Wright next explained how he liked to look at Antioch as ‘four corners.’  These are Downtown, BART-Hillcrest, Somersville, and Sand Creek.  “If we can get investment going in these four areas, we can get a driving change start to happen,” he said.

Wright then emphasized the positive attributes of the city.  “We have a phenomenal downtown, it is gorgeous,” he said.  Noting that Internet connectivity was an issue downtown, he said the city was exploring options to create Wi-Fi Hotspots.  “We’re working with City Ventures to develop properties with views of the river for more people.”  “We want a thriving downtown,” he continued.  “Our greatest resource downtown is our river, and it is underutilized,” he said.  Wright also addressed the potential of Humphries restaurant, the work that had already begun on improving Waldie Plaza, and improvements coming to the AMTRAK station.  “We have an opportunity to create a multi-modal transportation hub,” he said.

Wright continued to address each of the other ‘corners.’  He discussed the Business Watch initiative, talked about the substantial investment being considered for the Somersville area, emphasized the need for “balanced development” in the Sand Creek area, and discussed the potential for development around the new BART station at Hillcrest Avenue.

A second State of the City event is scheduled for Wednesday, June 14, at 7:00 pm at the Antioch Community Center.  All are invited to this free event.

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Photographer steps up to enhance Antioch’s historic, downtown Rivertown

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Rivertown-based photographer, Michael Pohl cleaning benches before the Rivertown Wine Walk in May. Photo by Ron Bernal.

By John Crowder

While it’s common to hear many people complain about government services being too slow or unresponsive, one local businessman, photographer and Rotary Club member, Michael Pohl, took a different approach when he observed a problem in downtown Antioch.  In the process, he established a solution with City staff that has resulted in what some are calling a model for citizen-government partnerships.

Pohl, who owns a full-service portrait photography business in the historic Rivertown District in downtown Antioch, was interested in photographing his clients near his office, where the classic architecture would serve as an ideal backdrop.  The problem he encountered was that the downtown benches were not being regularly maintained.

Pohl, and other members of the downtown business community, approached city staff about the benches and other issues.  “The city simply didn’t have enough resources to accomplish all that we wanted,” said Pohl.  “But, at one of our meetings, Ron Bernal (Antioch’s new City Manager) suggested a citizen response, with staff assistance.”

The idea appealed to Pohl, and he began taking steps to set it in motion.

“I bought the equipment that was needed, and learned from the Public Works Department how the benches needed to be maintained,” he said.  “Now, when I have some free time (it can take up to an hour to clean one of the benches, and almost as long to apply the finishing stain), I prepare a bench and, once everything’s ready, apply the stain necessary to keep them looking good.”

So far, Pohl has cleaned five of the downtown benches, and continues to work on the project that helps beautify the downtown area, and provides him with settings that allow him to do more with his photography business.

“The City has been great to work with,” said Pohl.  “Anything I’ve asked for, they’ve provided.”

Antioch’s Public Works Director, Mike Bechtholdt, is also keen on the relationship.

“We enjoy partnering with people like Michael because he brings passion and genuine enthusiasm to help make our city a better place to live and work,” he said.

To learn more about Michael Pohl and his photography business, go to

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Stage Right presents James and the Giant Peach play in Antioch, beginning Friday, June 2nd

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

Stage Right Conservatory Theatre, Inc. presents “James and the Giant Peach” produced by special arrangement with The Dramatic Publishing Co., Inc.   This incredible journey by Roald Dahl comes to life in this magical adventure that reveals the wickedness of some, the goodness of others, and the indecision encountered by many when they are faced with crises.

Directed by Kyle Achziger and Rio Teixeira, “James and the Giant Peach” runs for two weekends beginning Friday, June 2nd at the Nick Rodriguez Community Center Theatre, 213 F St. in Antioch.  Performance dates are June 2nd, 3rd, 9th & 10th at 7 p.m. and June 4th & 11th at 2 p.m.

Adults $10, Students and Seniors $8, Children (10 & under) $5.  Seniors pay only $5 at both matinees!  For more information call (925) 216-4613 or visit

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Baccalaureate for all high school graduates in Antioch to be held this Sunday, June 4

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

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Support the Antioch July 4th celebration as a sponsor, vendor, parade or car show participant, or just volunteer

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

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Get your pet a free microchip at May Madness Chippalooza!, this Sunday in Antioch

Friday, May 19th, 2017

“To chip or not to chip? That shouldn’t even be a question!”

One in five missing pets are reunited with their owners via traditional methods – tags, fliers, shelter reports or knocking on doors. Just over 50% of dogs that are missing and are microchipped go home, because their owners got them chipped and kept their information current.

We think it’s hip to chip and are offering the first 100 dogs to our May Madness Chippalooza a free microchip – thanks to your donations. It will be $10 for a chip thereafter. Only requirements are that they don’t have an existing microchip and are healthy. 

So, be hip, come get a chip for your furry friend at Bridgehead Cafe, 2415 East 18th on , Antioch.  May 21st at 2pm, ends 4pm.

Please be prepared for the hot weather.

For more information visit

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Etiquette classes teach students life skills

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Students in the etiquette class learn how to properly set a table.

Antioch class begins June 26

By John Crowder

Monday, May 8, marked the beginning of National Etiquette Week.  More than just a list of manners, proper etiquette allows people to know how to handle themselves in life’s important interactions.  How should you conduct yourself at a job interview?  How about at a formal dinner?  Do you know how to make a good first impression?  Are you able to make a public presentation?

These are just a few of the questions that are answered in classes taught by Mrs. Tina Hayes, author of Getting Ahead with Etiquette and the owner and founder of the School of Etiquette and Decorum.

Etiquette class students learn to properly greet each other.

For the last few weeks, Hayes has been teaching a class on ‘Etiquette for Success’ to the students of Freedom High School in Oakley.  Once a week, Freedom students meet after school and are taught the soft skills that are so valuable to success in school and in work, but that many no longer learn while growing up.  As Hayes explains, “There was a time when these skills were taught in the home, when families still came together regularly for the evening meal.  These days, that’s often not the case.  Yet, we all know how valuable these skills are for students who want to successfully navigate their high school and college years, and especially when they enter the world of work.”

Hayes has been offering etiquette classes throughout the Bay Area and beyond over the last decade.  Over the years, her classes have helped hundreds of people, both young and old, learn to be more confident and courteous, and to exhibit social graces.  The training sessions conducted by Hayes and her staff cover more than 80 topics, and can be presented as workshops, seminars, or even in personal coaching sessions.

According to Hayes, “Our training gives individuals that ‘edge’ that will help them succeed throughout life and make for a better, and brighter, future.”

Her students, and their parents, agree.  My son, Eddy Crowder, an 8th grader at Paideia Academy, has attended four etiquette classes during his Junior High years.

“These classes have really helped me be more confident at formal dinners, and when I speak with adults,” he said.  “Mrs. Hayes is a great teacher.”

Wanda Ransom, the mother of a college-bound son who participated in the College Preparedness Training Workshop said, “Thank you so much for polishing his skills.”

This summer, from June 26 through 30, the School of Etiquette and Decorum will be offering a Summer Etiquette Day Camp from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Lone Tree Golf and Event Center. Two sessions will run concurrently, one for children (ages 6 – 12) and the other for teens (ages 13 – 17).  To learn more about these classes, or other offerings, contact Mrs. Tina Hayes at 925-519-0354 or visit the website at

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