Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Public input needed at Antioch General Plan, Land Use Element and Zoning Update meeting, tonight

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

 By Allen Payton

A joint meeting of the Antioch City Council, Planning Commission and Economic Development Commission will be held, tonight, for public input on the Antioch General Plan, Land Use Element and Zoning Update.

The study session will include the following:

- Review the General Plan Land Use Element & Zoning Update preliminary work products

- Review and discuss the Focus Areas of the General Plan along with associated Zoning Designations and provide input on any changes that should be made

- Provide input on the General Plan and Zoning Update prior to formal consideration by the City Council on July 14, 2015.

The meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m. at the Nick Rodriguez Community Center, located at 213 F Street in Antioch’s historic downtown Rivertown.

To view the agenda, please click here.

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Antioch Lapidary Club to hold annual Rock Sale/Swap and Bar-B-Que, Saturday

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

Antioch Lapidary Club Rock Sale 06 15 Antioch Lapidary Club to hold annual Rock Sale/Swap and Bar B Que, Saturday

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Jeremy “Lumpy” Sturgill, young owner of Lumpy’s Diner in Antioch, Brentwood and Pittsburg, dies Tuesday

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015
Lumpys Jeremy “Lumpy” Sturgill, young owner of Lumpys Diner in Antioch, Brentwood and Pittsburg, dies Tuesday

A photo of Jeremy “Lumpy” Sturgill, center in red hat, with family and friends posted on the Facebook page for Lumpy’s Diner.

Lumpys Diner Antioch on Tuesday afternoon. 225x300 Jeremy “Lumpy” Sturgill, young owner of Lumpys Diner in Antioch, Brentwood and Pittsburg, dies Tuesday

Flowers were placed in front of the door which bore a sign saying “closed until further notice” at Lumpy’s Antioch location, Tuesday afternoon.

By Allen Payton

Friends and customers of Jeremy “Lumpy” Sturgill, owner of Lumpy’s Diner in Antioch and Pittsburg, and Lumpy’s Express in Brentwood, mourned his passing, via social media, on Tuesday morning just after 8:00 a.m.

Flowers were placed at the door of the Antioch location, and a sign on the window there stated “Lumpy’s Diner will be closed until further notice.” However, both the Brentwood and Pittsburg locations were open on Tuesday.

The business’ website provides information about Sturgill and his business:

“Lumpy’s Diner was built in 2008 by Jeremy (Lumpy) Sturgill. He grew up in the restaurant industry. His parents created Digger’s Diner in Concord, CA. Lumpy started running that diner at the age of 14. After dedicating his life to the business, it was time for him to strike out on his own path. With the first Lumpy’s Diner being built in 2008, two more locations followed shortly after.

The Pittsburg Lumpy’s became the second location and after noticing a huge demand for the quality of food and service Lumpy expects, the idea to streamline the process and create a faster, over the counter version of Lumpy’s Diner was born. That extension of this brand is Lumpy’s Diner Express. The first LDX, as we like to refer to it, was opened in 2012 in Brentwood, Ca.

So much has changed for Lumpy since beginning his exciting adventure… he met a woman who truly is his companion, she helps him in every way. That woman is Marci and the two got married in 2011. As life tends to be, the two quickly had their first child and welcomed Jaxx into the family, November of 2012. This family has worked together, hand and hand, to make Lumpy’s Diner and Lumpy’s Diner Express the best locally owned restaurant in the East Bay.

Recently the Lumpy’s Diner crew’s operations have expanded to include a catering business known as Elle Dee’s. The team caters everything from car show to weddings (check out our catering page). As we continue to grow one thing remains true… without all the strong support we get from our customers, we wouldn’t be where we are today. With 5 successful years behind us we thrive to continue as a community based establishment and offer a fun and exciting environment for you and your family to enjoy. Make sure to visit us at one of our annual events (fundraisers, car shows, burger contest and toy drive) or during the week for a laid back dining experience. Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you!

World Famous Since 2008!

Lumpy’s was known for their burgers, as well as their car, truck and bike shows and burger eating contests. Sturgill was known for his generosity, having his business sponsor Christmas toy drives with former 49er Jeremy Newberry.

On his Facebook page, Newberry wrote “R.I.P. Lump. You will be missed by many.”

Others posted photos they had taken with Sturgill, including one with East Bay Regional Parks Director Diane Burgis and her family.

Maria Lazzerini, the night manager at the Deer Valley Safeway in Antioch, wrote “R.I.P Lumpy! You will be missed! The community has lost of of the most caring and giving guys!! Way too young! Prayers to his family.”

Referring to a fundraiser held at Lumpy’s, for her daughter who had a brain tumor, Lazzerini added, “So young and so caring. He…was always so giving with the communities fundraiser, including Alison’s.”

RIP Lumpy Sturgill,” wrote Doug Knowles who posted additional photos and a TV commercial for Lumpy’s on his Facebook Page. “You and Your Family are in our Thoughts and Prayers.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up by LaTasha Renée, entitled The Sturgill Family Fund.  By 5:00 p.m., on Tuesday, the goal of $10,000 had been surpassed by $1,570. Following is the message on that page:

Last night our Fit Family member and friend, Marci Sturgill and their 2 boys, suffered a devastating loss and the earth lost an angel. Lumpy, beloved husband, son, father and owner of Lumpy’s Diner passed away.

Lumpy was known and valued for all he gave to others and for the friend and business owner he was in our community. He loved his family and his infectious smile, his passion for his customers and for his business will be missed

Please consider making a donation to help The Sturgill Family. They need the community that Lumpy so willing loved on to give back in an effort to help ease the financial pain that this devastating loss can cause a family that is self employed. All funds donated will go directly to the Sturgill Family.
Thank you in advance for your donation and it comes with much love and many prayers to you and your boys Marci! Xo”

Please check back for details on his official obituary and possible memorial service.

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First female American Legion State Commander, Janet M. Wilson, welcomed home to Antioch, Saturday night

Sunday, June 7th, 2015
Janet Wilson Autrey James 768x1024 First female American Legion State Commander, Janet M. Wilson, welcomed home to Antioch, Saturday night

State Commander Janet Wilson presented a plaque by Antioch Post Vice Commander Autrey James at the dinner in her honor, Saturday night, June 6.

By Allen Payton

Antioch’s American Legion Harding-Noia Post #161 welcomed home Janet Wilson, the first California State Commander, at a dinner in her honor, Saturday night, June 6, 2015.

Janet Wilson dinner 300x225 First female American Legion State Commander, Janet M. Wilson, welcomed home to Antioch, Saturday night

Guests enjoy dinner during the welcoming home celebration of Janet Wilson at the Veterans Memorial Building in Antioch, Saturday, June 6, 2015.

During the event held at the Veterans Memorial Building on West Sixth Street in Antioch, Wilson was presented with special certificates from local elected officials, including State Assemblyman Jim Frazier, who was in attendance, as well as a plaque for her year of service, which ends in three weeks.

According to her bio on the American Legion’s website:

Janet has served the Legion for over 26 years; served as Post & District Commander twice and Post Adjutant for over 10 years.

She is a graduate of American Legion College 2008, also a duo member, serving positions in both the Legion and the Auxiliary at Department levels.

She has served as Dept. Ca. as Vice Commander Representing Women Legionnaires and as Department Vice Commander Representing Area 2, as well as three other State appointed positions, and has been on numerous Committees and Commissions as well as National Americanism Council member and Children and Youth for the National organization, and is member of ANAVICUS.

She continues to act as Chairman of the Post and District Blood Donor program; and has actively organized numerous Blood Drives, is an ongoing donor of more than one gallon.

She has helped to complete the ‘Legion Family’, organized a squadron of the Sons of The American Legion. Continues as the “acting” adjutant and is currently the Squadron Advisor. She continues to mentor the squadron in protocol and leadership.

Having mentored the newer members of the Post and Riders Chapter: teaching the members about the Legion. Hoping to get them to move up and move into the ‘legion’ life outside our Post, into the District and beyond. Enjoys assisting the Riders at some of the events in our Community, like the Santa run to the local V.A. hospital, and Memorial Day Event, and Veterans’ Day annual parade.

A longtime member of the Past Commanders Club and held position of Recording/Secretary for the Department of California Past Commanders Club and was PCC District President.

After 11 years as Secretary/ Finance officer she continues to work on behalf of the Annual Golf Tournament at Yountville. This Golf Tournament not only allows Legionnaires a wonderful opportunity to mingle with the residents, but it also creates a source of funds for the Veteran-Residents of the Home, and fulfills a ‘wish list’ of items they otherwise could not acquire.

She has donated numerous hours to charitable organizations within the community. Working on quilts of Valor, and Quilts of Honor, these groups provides quilts to charities such as Wounded Warriors, VA hospitals, and numerous area hospices. Helps with the choices as to who needs our quilts and helps to distribute them, this year alone, we have given out over 100 quilts.

She has recently added docent to the list of hours of Community service, at the Rosie the Riveter National Park in Richmond, which she has just put on hiatus while being commander.”

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Salvation Army to host Antioch Care & Share Faire on Saturday, June 13

Saturday, June 6th, 2015

white pony flier english Salvation Army to host Antioch Care & Share Faire on Saturday, June 13

Please fee free to download the flyers in English or Spanish and distribute to those who might benefit by this event. white pony flier english  white pony flier spanish  Bilingual care and share faire flyer-1

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Antioch leaders share good news at annual State of the City luncheon

Friday, June 5th, 2015
Mayor Harper SOC 2015 1024x768 Antioch leaders share good news at annual State of the City luncheon

Antioch Mayor Wade Harper speaks at the annual State of the City lunch on Friday, May 29, 2015.

By Allen Payton

Antioch City Manager Steve Duran and Mayor Wade Harper shared some surprising news at the Antioch Chamber of Commerce’s annual State of the City luncheon, Friday, May 29, 2015.

The City has come into some unexpected money and will not be running a deficit, starting July 1st, this year, but a small surplus, instead. They also project a surplus for the 2016-17 fiscal year, as well.

That was just part of the positive message shared by them and Police Chief Allan Cantando, at the well-attended event, held at the Antioch Community Center at Prewett Park.

Duran was the first to address the audience.

There are now, over 108,000 people in Antioch,” he stated. “We surpassed Richmond, last year, as the second largest city in the county.”

We’re starting to get our sea legs, again. Things are getting better, but not great, yet,” Duran shared. “They [the city council] weathered the storm. We have a double-A rating by Standard & Poor’s.”

He then mentioned the budget surplus, then offered his vision for the city.

We want to position Antioch as the family friendly, business friendly place,” he said. “Everything is coming our way. The business community needs to have their voice heard.”

He encouraged those in the audience to attend the Downtown Specific Plan Update meeting on June 2 and the General Plan Update meeting to be held on June 17.

Chamber CEO, Dr. Sean Wright, in introducing Cantando, shared a story of his daughter and he greeting some prospective home buyers, recently. He shared how that one type of action can make a difference in attracting people to Antioch and changing the perception people have about our city.

It’s our job to not hide out in our homes and be scared,” he stated.

Cantando then took the podium and offered a slide show of crime statistics. He spoke of the hostage standoff with the carjacking suspect, just two days prior.

The narrative should be the Antioch Police Department stepped up and took a scary situation and everyone came out safe,” he implored.

This whole issue about perception of crime in Antioch, they’re not looking at the numbers,” Cantando stated. “People in this community are making a difference. That’s the perception I have.”

He then shared some of the statistics.

In the first quarter of 2015, compared to 2014, there’s been over a 13% reduction in violent crime, a 6% reduction in property crimes and a 7.7% reduction in Part I crimes, overall,” he shared. “They call us Little Oakland, Little Richmond. The city to our west had nine homicided in one year. We’ve had one.”

I didn’t create the stats,” Cantando said defending the numbers. “A crime analyst did.”

Adult arrests are up 30%. How can that be if crime is down?” he asked. “We may arrest more than one person in a crime.”

He went to share about a “56.8% increase in officer-on-view…officers being pro-active” and “Priority 1 response time is dropping.”

Cantando then mentioned the EBRCS communication system the city recently purchased.

We are the only city in the county who doesn’t have it,” he stated. “We’ll be online with that system by Thanksgiving.”
He then mentioned the addition of license plate readers in all police cars and body cameras.
“We’re going to be able to protect ourselves better in lawsuits,” said Cantando.

He mentioned all the things being done for youth through the Police Activities League, including “starting a Junior Giants program in partnership with Bank of America; free baseball for eight weeks for kids, in conjunction with the Leo Fontana Foundation; bowling, skating, an after school program, and etiquette classes.”

Cantando also spoke about the new Antioch Police Citizens Police Academy starting later this month.

The reality is the staff cares,” he said. “We’re talking about how we can work smarter and get the job done. We have a wonderful community.”

The city manager cares,” Cantando shared. “He understands economic development. Mr. Duran has us living within our budget, within our means.”

The city council cares,” he stated. “They choose to let staff do their jobs. Each are involved in a different way,” which he delineated.

Then Harper spoke last, offering his words of what sounded like a reelection speech.

I’m always excited aobut providing the State of the City address,” he said. “I always introduce Antioch as ‘the great city of Antioch.’”

He stated that he teaches two law enforcement classes in Antioch schools.

Harper then spoke about vision and quoted Habakuk 2:2. “Write the vision, and make it plain on tables, that he may run that reads it.”

We have already developed a vision,” he stated.

He spoke of having good communication with the citizens and the police department.

Officer complaints are down. We authorized the aggressive hiring of police officers to get to 102 and three more CSO’s [Community Service Officers], thanks to the citizens who approved two tax increases,” Harper added.

He then touched on a list of other things the city is doing, including obtaining a grant for more police officers, “dispatch has been handling calls for service for both Antioch and Brentwood,” he said. “Kudos to Public Works for 726 days without an accident.”

We want to improve our downtown area,” said Harper. “It won’t happen over night.”

We will be launching something like a Youth Commission,” he shared. “We want to hear from our youth.”

He mentioned the new Antioch Community Foundation, and being able to make “grants for local programs that benefit our youth” through a partnership with NRG, the power company with a plant on Wilbur Avenue on Antioch’s northeast water front.

Harper also mentioned the water park, and that the “improvements begin, this year, with an all-abilities play area.”

He then spoke about business and economic development.

Antioch, we are a frienly and welcoming city to business and developers,” Harper said. “We will have to remove the red tape and roll out the red carpet. We have to remain a business friendly and welcoming community.”

We have a new Smart & Final and Hobby Lobby,” he shared. “Let’s figure out how to kee our Uno’s and Schooner’s…retaining our Lowe’s and auto dealerships.”

We celebrate being Antiochians with our parades, events, celebrations and ceremonies,” Harper said in conclusion. “Lets’ make it the greatest place to live, work, play and worship. God bless the great city of Antioch.”

Wright concluded the event with a comment of his own about job creation.

We have a half job for every household,” he shared. “That needs to change. Antioch truly can be the best place to live.”

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Antioch to hold monthly Neighborhood Cleanup this Saturday, June 6

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Cleanup Antioch to hold monthly Neighborhood Cleanup this Saturday, June 6

The Antioch Police Department is excited to announce the 61st installment of the Neighborhood Cleanup Program on Saturday, June 6th from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in the Prosserville Park neighborhoods. Please meet at West 6th and M Streets.

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.

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.

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African-American 8th grade promotion ceremony in Antioch raises concerns, organizer explains

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015
Flyer African American 8th grade promotion ceremony in Antioch raises concerns, organizer explains

The flier created by Dr. Lamont Francies and distributed by Dallas Ranch Middle School Principal and staff.

By John Crowder

A ceremony celebrating the promotion from middle school to high school of African-American students residing within the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) has generated intense scrutiny on social media, with some claiming that a flier sent through the AUSD email system was a misuse of public resources, and that both the flier and the event may have violated laws against segregation and/or separation of Church and State.

The flier was received by parents of students attending Dallas Ranch Middle School (DRMS) on Friday.

According to Dr. Donald Gill, AUSD Superintendent of Schools, though, the flier should not have gone out.

Unfortunately a flier that had been prepared by one person at one school was forwarded to others, but it was not authorized by the District,” Gill said.

Gill also commented about the event. “It was a community celebration,” he said. “We support community events like this. But, we wouldn’t support the use of the AUSD logo for this.”

We support any organization that wants to honor and celebrate the milestones of our students,” he added.

Stephanie Anello, Associate Superintendent, Educational Services, while expressing her support for the event, said that the District was taking steps to ensure that the public is not misled as to the sponsorship of such events in the future.

I very much support celebrating the achievements and milestones of all students,” she said. “The District acknowledges and respects the right of community organizations to sponsor celebrations for students that attend District schools. Those celebrations are separate from District “promotion” ceremonies which recognize the achievements of all students.”

However, she added “We are going to be meeting with key staff members to determine where District procedures and protocols may have broken down in order to address future instances wherein it may appear that an event is a District event when, in fact, it is a community sponsored event.”

Anello also acknowledged that District resources were used in support of the event.

Upon investigating the matter, it appears that District resources, including District email, and perhaps some office supplies, were used in support of this event,” she stated.

She went on to say, though, that Dr. Lamont Francies, who is a counselor at Black Diamond Middle School and the pastor at Delta Bay Church of Christ, where the event was held, used his own time and resources in order to have the function.

Ed Dacus, Principal of DRMS, and Pamela Price, a counselor at the school, related the sequence of events surrounding the flier. They said that, some weeks ago, they had received an email with the flier attached, from Francies, who created it.

Mrs. Prices office window 06 02 15 225x300 African American 8th grade promotion ceremony in Antioch raises concerns, organizer explains

Dallas Ranch Middle School counselor Pamela Price’s office window on Tuesday morning, June 2, 2015. by Allen Payton

Dacus related that he believed his role was to disseminate the information it contained to his school community. He had the flier posted throughout the school; in common areas, in the office, and on windows.

Later, on the day of the event, he said he had a conversation with Price, in which she asked if anything further should be done to inform the school community about the function. He then advised Price to inform school parents through School Loop, which she did. “I had no information that the flier was not to be resent,” he said. Price also acknowledged her role in sending out the flier. “I sent it,” she said.

When asked about the event on Tuesday, June 2, Price responded “Is there a problem?”

After being told by Herald staff that it was a private event promoted using school district resources, she pointed to a copy of the flier on the window to her office, unaware that it was not a district sponsored event.

That was confirmed in an email from Gill, received by the Herald Tuesday afternoon, in response to a question of whether district staff were informed that the event was not sponsored by AUSD.

Yes, a memo was sent this morning,” he stated.

When reached for comment, Francies said that he had sent an email with the flier attached on April 24, and again on May 20, informing District personnel about the event. He said that he had not directed or asked anyone to send the email, or the flier, to anyone else.

He confirmed that there was a conversation between him and Anello, on or about April 27, in which they discussed that the program was not a District sponsored event, but it was in the context of funding for the event, and no discussion of the use of the letters ‘AUSD’ took place at that time.

Francies was unaware that any distribution to the public had taken place at DRMS until the evening of the event. Francies did provide fliers to middle school staff members to be used as they thought was appropriate, and handed the fliers to parents and students at Black Diamond Middle School who expressed an interest in the event.

However, a revised flier without the AUSD information included, was not created or distributed.

Francies described the event as a way to build trust between members of the African-American community and AUSD administration, and as a way to encourage families to focus on the value of a good education.

A number of our kids are struggling academically,” he said. “These types of events are common in African-American communities, and are a part of our tradition.”

Francies also talked about the church connection.

The black church is at the heart of our community,” he said. “This was a celebration of black culture.”

We can’t separate that from our faith tradition,” he added.

The celebration of one culture is not a denigration of another culture. People have asked about having other cultural celebrations. I support it. I’ll attend,” Francies added.

In fact, this reporter, who is white, was in attendance at this event, having been invited by the African-American parent of a student being honored. While most people attending the event were African-American, many other races and ethnic groups were represented, both in the audience, and as part of the program. As my son and I walked up to the entrance, we were greeted very warmly by a church member, who said, “Welcome to Delta Bay Church.” Throughout the evening, everyone we spoke with was welcoming, and several in attendance made it a point to introduce themselves to, and interact with, my young son.

The message, delivered by Pastor Kirkland Smith of Grace Bible Fellowship, prior to the handing out of achievement certificates to all students in attendance, focused on the importance of obtaining a good education, and on parenting skills.

Francies said that he hopes to expand the event next year.

School Board Member Debra Vinson, who was in attendance at the event along with fellow Board Member Barbara Cowan and several district administrators, provided a statement in which she spoke positively about the function.

I saw this as a community-sponsored event from community members that wanted to celebrate the accomplishments of students that attended their church, lived in their neighborhood or had received some form of social emotional support from various places in the community,” Vinson shared. “This was not a graduation; it was not a promotion; it was a community celebration and was no sponsored by AUSD.”

This event was open to all students and there were students and families from non-African-American backgrounds that participated,” she stated. “The flyer should not have been released in its current format by anyone without final approval from District Administrative Staff.”

Vinson continued, “I would hope that the educational achievements of all students would be appreciated because celebrating our students in this community helps to reduce crime, builds self esteem, builds pride in Antioch and sends the message to students that they are not alone in the ‘educational process’ and that the community of Antioch stands behind them. Yes, I want all of our school age students in school daily.”

Explaining the motivation behind the event, Vinson said, “Many students struggle daily to remain focused on learning because there are so many non-educational choices available to them and they have many personal hurdles to overcome. If there are people in the community that want to help students maintain success by celebrating their learning milestones, then we should all stand behind that!”

Vinson concluded, “I hope that the community of Antioch will continue to celebrate our students because it will promote positive ‘citizenship’ and teach them to respect this community called ‘home.’”

When asked about the flier in an email sent to all board members, Walter Ruehlig responded, “I never saw this – I saw it on an AUSD weekly calendar memo given to [the] Board, but thought of that as a throw off favor, much like they might mention State of City (as example). Though I did not attend, I assumed it was like the baccalaureate, privately organized sponsored, funded and promoted. We are meticulous to disassociate baccalaureate from AUSD and I assumed that protocol was in keeping with this.”

To go the extra mile we rotate churches and invite the entire public,” he added.

Board Vice President Diane Gibson-Gray also responded to the email about the flier, on Sunday night.

The promotion ceremony on May 29th was described as ‘…a joint African American 8th grade Baccalaureate Ceremony,’ which was not on school property and faith based, as is the high school Baccalaureate Ceremony this evening at Most Holy Rosary Church, which is not an AUSD event. I did not see the promotional flyer until it was published on EastCountyToday.net post event. I now understand it has AUSD’s logo on it and was promoted using district resources.

I did not attend the African American 8th Grade Promotion Ceremony. That evening I was attending the E.N.C.O.R.E. Promotion Ceremony, an AUSD event. I will be attending three of the five middle school AUSD Promotion Ceremonies this Wednesday, in which all 8th grade students promoting on to high school will be celebrated.

My knowledge of the history of the African American 8th Grade Promotion Ceremony is:

·I received a last minute invitation for the 2014 ceremony. I voiced my concerns about it being an AUSD event and did not attend.

·Based on the 2015 ceremony description, I did not view it as an AUSD event and did not attend.

I’m asking Dr. Gill for additional background and information. I have asked that it be placed on our agenda for school board discussion.”

Cowan responded by email with links to a 2011 article entitled “Are black graduations at traditional colleges ‘reverse racism’?” and a report from the Journal of Pan African Studies entitled “Using Cultural Competence to Close the

Achievement Gap.” She did not answer the questions in the email from Herald staff.

Board President Claire Smith did not respond to the email.

Comments on the Herald Facebook page, in response to a commentary by Barbara Zivica, included one by Antioch resident Darcie Hill Cooper.

This is just crazy,” she said. “This is a step in the WRONG direction.”

Another Antioch resident, Ron Zaragoza wrote, “This doesn’t seem helpful to the people of our community. Seems like it supports divison (sic)…”

Francies responded to the criticism levied by some that the event was exclusionary.

I understand the backlash. I’m not shocked by it,” he said. “I did this to celebrate one culture and not to exclude anyone else. Everyone was welcome. It was targeted to a group who feels disenfranchised. I make no qualms about that. Of course my intention was never to offend anyone else. We’ve never turned away any kid of any color who wanted to participate.”

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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