Archive for the ‘East County’ Category

White Pony Express continues food deliveries to families who use school food pantries

Monday, March 16th, 2020

Despite school closures

Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, almost all Contra Costa County schools are now closed for the protection of students. Despite this, White Pony Express (WPE), the food rescue nonprofit based in Pleasant Hill, will continue to deliver food to students and families being served by WPE’s “School Food Pantry Program.” Under this Program, WPE has been delivering fresh, surplus food to eleven free-lunch schools in the county. Since the schools are now closed, WPE will deliver the food to a nearby community center or church where families can still obtain it. Many of these families rely on this food to make ends meet.

Need for School Food Pantry Programs

Over 100,000 students in Contra Costa County, or 40%, qualify for the free lunch program. The goal of the School Pantry Program is to help eliminate hunger and increase students’ academic success so they can contribute more fully to the communities in which they live. Helen Jones, WPE’s Food Rescue Operations Manager says, “The families we serve through this program have

demanding challenges throughout the month. Many of the participants receive food stamps which only cover a portion of a month’s worth of food. The food that WPE provides to the schools we serve not only provides nutrition. It provides hope.”

Currently, WPE’s eleven school pantries are set up in schools located in Antioch, Bay Point, Martinez, Pittsburg, Richmond, and San Pablo. This year WPE’s school pantries will deliver in excess of 415,000 meals of quality, nutritious food. WPE plans to open new pantries in 2020, but

continuing the Program will depend on finding sustainable funding.

Institution of New Health Protocols

Based upon guidelines issued by the state and county, WPE will be incorporating new health guidelines to support state and local efforts to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. These protocols (hand washing, use of hand sanitizers, gloves, social distancing, etc.) will be made a part of all aspects of WPE’s food and clothing operations.

“It is important for the public and our volunteers to know that WPE will be implementing strict cleanliness standards so that our valuable programs can continue safely,” says Mary Brooks, WPE’s Executive Director. “And the families at the schools we are serving should know that WPE is preparing and delivering this surplus food in accordance with these high standards.”

ABOUT White Pony Express: WPE is a volunteer powered 501(c)3 organization headquartered in Pleasant Hill, CA, which helps people move from the margins to the mainstream by providing free food and clothing in a loving and respectful manner.

Dr. Carol Weyland Conner founded WPE in September 2013 when she was troubled that with such as an abundance of food, many thousands were going hungry, while at the same time food retailers were throwing out huge quantities of healthy, fresh food. Out of this insight, the Food Rescue program was born. In a little over 6 years, WPE has rescued and delivered more than 10.5 million pounds (equivalent to 8,750,000 meals) of fresh, nutritious food, free of charge, that would otherwise go to waste.

In 2014 the White Pony General Store was added to provide high quality clothing, toys, and books to the underserved in our communities – all free of charge. Since that time, the General Store has given away over 512,000 items to those in need.

If you’d like to contribute to WPE’s School Food Pantry Program or its other programs, you can do so by visiting WPE’s website at www.whiteponyexpress.org/donate-funds. Those who wish to volunteer can sign up at www.whiteponyexpress.org/volunteer.

For more on WPE, visit www.whiteponyexpress.org.

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Supervisors approve acquisition of City of Antioch property for $1 for proposed homeless center

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

Parcel map and aerial photo of Antioch land the County has agreed to purchase. 02-11-20

Recognize African American Mental Health Awareness Week

By Daniel Borsuk

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors took a major step forward in tackling East County’s unyielding homeless problem in approving the acquisition of a 4.79-acre vacant parcel of property on Delta Fair Boulevard in Antioch for a proposed homeless navigation facility.

At their meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 11 County Supervisors voted 4-0 to buy the property adjacent to the county’s Children and Family Services Center in Antioch and Los Medanos College in Pittsburg.

The land runs along the southern line of Delta Fair Boulevard, known as Assessor’s Parcel No. 074-080-034. (See parcel map above)

Supervisors agreed to buy the future site of the homeless navigation center for $1.00 from the City of Antioch. Supervisors approved the land acquisition on a consent action. Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill was absent during the meeting.

“This is a real hot item,” commented Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, who represents District 5 where the proposed Antioch homeless center site is located. “We have tracked this project for a number of years and now we are getting close to seeing shovels in the ground.”

“The county is working collaboratively with the city and state to develop additional resources for individuals and families experiencing homelessness,” said District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood. “I expect we’ll add significant capacity to Continuum of Care. The conveyance of this parcel provides a lot of flexibility.”

“While this is not a housing development, the plan is to place a CARE center there for people needing shelter,” explained Contra Costa County Homeless Services Director Lavonna Martin. The proposed Antioch center will be modeled after those now available for persons needing housing assistance in Concord and Richmond.

So far Martin is unaware of any public complaints about the proposed homeless navigation center in Antioch because up to now the project’s 2018 award of a $7.9 million in California Homeless Emergency AID Block Grant Fund made it exempt from public review.

As a result, it is presently unknown if there any public opposition to the CARE center at the proposed Delta Fair Boulevard site.

“The city council hasn’t voted on it, yet,” said Antioch City Manager Ron Bernal.

A shelter for women and children had been proposed for the site, in the past. But, that project never materialized due to a lack of funding. This will allow the county to move forward with a project on the same site that will serve the homeless in Antioch and East County.

Approve Donation of County Land for Rodeo YMCA

In another consent real estate item, Supervisors approved the donation of an improved parcel of county property at 200 Lake Ave. in Rodeo to the Young Men’s Christian Association of the East Bay.

Since 1990, the county has leased the property the to the YMCA of the East Bay for $100 a month for children’s services. The county has declared the property surplus property and no longer requires the property for county purposes. The property is in need for repairs and is expected to cost the county in excess of $500,000. The board action essentially gets the county off the hook in being responsible for maintaining the property and for making necessary repairs.

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors recognized African American Mental Health Awareness Week Feb. 16 through 22 and Miles Hall Remembrance Day February 15, 2020 at their meeting on Tuesday. The supervisors’ resolution recognizes the need in the African American community to support the recovery process of peers, clients, consumers and family members struggling with challenges of mental health and substance use issues through the delivery of culturally responsive services. On Feb 22, a Mental Health Black History event will be held at Solomon Temple Church. Photo by Daniel Borsuk.

CALeVIP Program Gets Green Light

In other business, the supervisors flashed the green light for the Contra Costa County Conservation and Development Department to proceed to work with the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and other partners in the California Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project or CALeVIP. CALeVIP is focused on the expansion of electric vehicle infrastructure in the state.

According to state statistics, Contra Costa County currently has 151 charging stations with about 400 EV ports. By the year 2025, some 3,500 EV ports will be needed to meet the increased demand of electric vehicle owners.

Approve Public Protection Committee 2019 Report

On a consent item, supervisors approved 12 crime items that will be focused on by the Public Protection Committee that meets nine times during 2020.

Topics that the Public Protection Committee will study are:

Opportunities to Improve Coordination of Response to Disasters and Other Public Emergencies: Welfare Fraud Investigation and Prosecution; Multi-Language Capability of the Telephone Emergency Notification System; County Support and Coordination of Non-Profit Organizations to Provide Re-entry Services; Implementation of AB 109 Public Safety Realignment and Appointment Recommendations to the Community Corrections Partnership; Inmate Welfare Fund/Telecommunications/Visitation Issues; Racial Justice Task Force Project Review of Juvenile Fees Assessed by the Probation Department; County Law Enforcement Participation and Interaction with Federal Immigration Authorities; Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council; Review of Banning Gun Shows at the County Fairgrounds, Review of Adult Criminal Justice Fees; and Racial Equity Action Plan.

Discovery Bay Resident Appointed to County Planning Commission

Discovery Bay resident Bob Mankin was appointed to complete the unfinished term of Contra Costa County Planning Commissioner Duane Steele, also of Discovery Bay, who had resigned.

Mankin was recommended by Supervisor Burgis to complete former commissioner Steele’s term of office on June 20, 2021.

The commission meets regularly twice a month and pays each of the five appointed commissioners $50 per meeting plus mileage. There is a $300 a month cap stipend per commissioner.

View the complete Board of Supervisors meeting agenda, here.

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Antioch motorcyclist killed by DUI driver on Highway 4 in Pittsburg Sunday morning

Sunday, February 9th, 2020

Driver from Antioch taken to hospital, arrested; Driver of other car from Oakley sustains minor injuries

By CHP-Contra Costa

UPDATE: the Volkswagen sedan driven by Moss was determined that it was traveling wrong way (westbound within the eastbound lanes) of Hwy-4 prior to the initial collision with the Toyota.

Early this morning, at approximately 2:09am, CHP Contra Costa responded to a collision involving three vehicles on Hwy-4 eastbound, just east of Bailey Road. Upon CHP & emergency personnel arrival, a 2002 Volkswagen sedan, a 2015 Toyota sedan, and a 2016 Harley Davidson motorcycle had been involved in a collision. Unfortunately, the solo male driver of the Harley (29 years old from Antioch) was killed in the crash. The solo male driver of the Toyota (20 years old from Oakley) sustained only minor complaint of pain injuries. And the solo male driver of the Volkswagen (59-year-old Tony Moss from Antioch) was transported to John Muir hospital in Walnut Creek for his injuries and suspicion of DUI driving.

The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Coroner’s Office will be handling the release of identity of the deceased male rider from the Harley Davidson.

This incident is still under investigation and requires follow up investigation as well. But our preliminary report indicates the Volkswagen and Toyota may have been involved in a collision on eastbound Hwy 4 at Bailey Road and then the Harley Davidson became involved as well, subsequently ejecting the rider of the Harley Davidson and killing him. The driver of the Toyota suffered only minor injuries, remained on scene, and cooperated with the investigation.

While at the hospital, Officers placed Moss under arrest for felony DUI. Upon his release from the hospital early this morning, he was transported to the Martinez detention facility where he was booked into the county jail for two counts of FELONY DUI: 23153(a)VC & 23153(b)VC.

As this incident is still under investigation, if anyone has information regarding this collision or events leading up to it, call CHP in Martinez at 925-646-4980. Thank you.

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Pittsburg, Brentwood Library branches to host and stream local candidate forums

Thursday, January 30th, 2020

The Contra Costa County Library is hosting two candidate forums in advance of the March primary. Voters attending the forums can hear directly from the candidates about their experience and positions on relevant issues. The forums will stream live on Facebook and re-air on Contra Costa Television (CCTV).

The Hercules Library will host a forum for the Board of Supervisors District V race on Tuesday, February 4 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. East County residents interested in watching the District V forum can attend a viewing party at the Pittsburg Library from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the library community room.

The Brentwood Library will host a forum at the Brentwood Community Center on Thursday, February 6 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Candidates for the Board of Supervisors District III seat will take part in the moderated forum.

County residents unable to attend the forums can watch live on the Contra Costa County Library Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ccclib/. The forums will also be archived on the Library’s YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/theccclib.
All forums will re-air on Contra Costa Television (CCTV). CCTV is available on Comcast channel 27, AT&T U-Verse channel 99 or Astound channel 32. For a full schedule, visit ccclib.org.

The Library is partnering with the League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley and the West County League of Women Voters, Contra Costa County Elections Department and Contra Costa Television (CCTV).

For more information, contact Rich Hall at rhall@ccclib.org, (925) 608-7770.

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Oakley breaks ground on Contra Costa Logistics Center to bring 2,800 new jobs to East County

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

Contra Costa Logistics Center site plan and area map. Photos and graphic by City of Oakley.

One of the most exciting developments in Oakley history is underway. The City of Oakley broke ground on Tuesday, Jan. 28 for the Contra Costa Logistics Center, a two‐million‐square‐foot project from Kansas City‐based NorthPoint Development.

The light industrial, warehouse, distribution, e‐commerce fulfillment, and light manufacturing space will be located on the former site of the DuPont Chemical Plant at 6000 Bridgehead Road.

The City has planned for development at the site since 2002 and it is now becoming a reality. Once completed, the campus is expected to generate 2,800 full and part time jobs and bring in $388,400 annually to the City’s General Fund as well as a contribution of $420,000 per year in revenue to the East Contra Costa County Fire Protection District once compete.

Oakley and county officials join representatives of NorthPoint Development for the ceremonial ground breaking at the Contra Costa Logistics Center on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020.

NorthPoint Development has similar light manufacturing and distribution properties in 21 states with a client portfolio that includes Ford, Amazon, and Adidas.

“This is a large‐scale economic driver,” said Josh McMurray, the City of Oakley’s Community Development Director. “This is a catalyst not only for Oakley, but for the region. The amount of jobs and benefit to the county as a whole are just great.”

Plans call for five buildings to be constructed on 143 acres along the southwest portion of the site, with the additional 232 acres remaining natural.

Construction is underway following this week’s groundbreaking and a tenant for one full building has already been secured. NorthPoint hopes to finish the full buildout within four years.

As part of the project, NorthPoint Development will also complete roadway improvements on nearby streets including the intersections of Wilbur Avenue and Bridgehead Road and Bridgehead Road and Neroly Road, as well as alterations on Main Street at Empire Avenue and on Big Break Road at Main Street.

“We are thrilled to be starting construction this month on the Contra Costa Logistics Center in Oakley,” said Jed Momot, NorthPoint Development’s Chief Strategy Officer. “We believe the central location of Oakley being able to reach the population within the Bay Area and Northern California as well as the surplus of qualified labor will attract logistics, manufacturing, and e‐commerce businesses to locate within the park.

Momot went on to say that two buildings have planned construction starting this month, with the three other buildings to follow. He added that the project offers many unique characteristics such as rail service situated on the BNSF line and direct access onto Hwy 160 to Hwy 4.

Oakley Mayor Kevin Romick said that this new development will create a vital, long awaited economic hub in Oakley.

“Since Oakley’s incorporation as a city 20 years ago, this property has been considered a key to job growth and a potential hub of industry,” said Mayor Romick. “To see this project come to fruition is so gratifying and exciting for the entire Oakley community.”

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Please tell CCTA: East County needs freeway from Brentwood to Tracy for long term economic growth

Monday, August 5th, 2019

The Contra Costa Transportation Authority is holding Telephone Town Hall Meetings to inform the public of the Initial Draft 2020 Transportation Expenditure Plan (TEP) and get their input before finalizing the plan and placing another tax measure on the March 2020 ballot to fund it. The meeting for East County will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 8 (see previous post on this website, below)

The plan (www.ccta.net/theplan) currently has a total price tag of $3.061 billion and the tax is in addition to the county’s current half-cent sales tax for transportation from Measure J, which voters approved in 2004 and expires in 2034. The new tax would last until 2050. The CCTA attempted to pass a similar additional half-cent sales tax in 2016, known as Measure X, but it failed. The only new section of roadway in the entire county in that plan was the $117 million “limited access” connector between Vasco Road and the Byron Highway, next to the Byron Airport. Voters overwhelmingly voted against the measure and it failed.

Fortunately, that project was included in the Regional Measure 3 expenditure plan which did pass. But, RM3 didn’t include the long-planned Route 239, the proposed four-lane freeway between Brentwood and Tracy, which will connect East County to Interstate 5, the economic lifeblood artery of the state.

That road has been on the books for over 60 years. But, planning for it only began in 2013 as part of what was known as the TriLink Project, as it crossed the three counties of Contra Costa, San Joaquin and a sliver of Alameda, and was to also include two lines of transit down the middle, connecting the end of the BART line in East County to Tracy.

However, the TriLink Project website is no longer active and neither the four-lane freeway nor the transit lines are included in Contra Costa County’s plans for the next 30 years.

Yet, it’s Route 239 that will ensure East County’s long-term economic viability, allowing current businesses, including agriculture, to get their products to market quicker. Plus, it will open up our area for greater local job creation, and complete what I refer to as the beltway around Mt. Diablo, eliminating the cul-de-sac effect with the three two-lane roads connecting us to the east and south.

Antioch and East County have the freight rail connecting us to the east and west, plus the river connecting us to the world, to move goods. But we only have Highway 4 and BART connecting us to the west for moving people and goods.

Central County folks oppose Route 239 saying it will “induce growth in East County.” But they’ve been saying that for almost 50 years about every new road improvement, including the Hwy 4 Bypass/extension, which we had to fight for over four years from 1994-98 to just get approvals, not any money. In fact, it was that same mindset that prevented Hwy 24 from being extended to East County back in the 1970’s and the result is a surface road with the three names of Ygnacio Valley Road, Kirker Pass and Railroad Avenue, today.

I grew up in Walnut Creek and moved to Antioch because it was more affordable. In fact out of all us who attended the 35th reunion of the Northgate High School Class of ’81 in 2016, only four classmates still lived in Walnut Creek. Where did many move to? East County. So, as I said to my fellow elected officials when I was on a panel during a transportation conference back in the late 1990’s when I was serving on the Antioch City Council and Contra Costa Transportation Authority, don’t blame us for the growth. They had kids and we needed somewhere to live that we could afford. That was East County we were pushing for funding and approvals for Highway 4 widening and the Highway 4 bypass/extension. We received it and those projects are now completed.

It’s time we completed the transportation infrastructure in East County and Route 239 is a key part of it.

Besides, that road won’t induce residential growth. We have the Urban Limit Line to control that. But it will induce economic growth with more local jobs, which is what East County needs.

We need both Route 239 and the transit link between Antioch and Tracy. But, for now, let’s push for funds for the freeway to be included in the county’s new plan. Estimates are it will cost an additional $1 billion. I say add it to the total and let the voters decide.

We need bold leadership from our local elected officials and the voice of “we the people” to make it happen.

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Fleet of the Future BART cars to be assembled in Pittsburg

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

Fleet of the Future BART car at the Pittsburg assembly plant during the recent press conference. Photo by BART.

Bombardier Transportation announced it is opening a rail car assembly site in Pittsburg, California to assemble BART’s Fleet of the Future rail cars.  This work, which is currently taking place in upstate New York, will be transferred to the Bay Area over the coming months.

The new facility will employ local workers, contribute tax dollars to the local economy and, thanks to its proximity to BART’s Hayward Test Track, greatly reduce the vehicle emissions needed to transport the cars to BART property.

What used to be a 3,600-mile journey home to the Bay Area, will now be a quick 50 miles.

It also means local jobs.

“It’s Bay Area workers building cars for Bay Area commuters,” said BART Director Mark Foley. “Bringing the work home.”

Watch the Press Conference

Riders are giving the new trains high marks for its new features and design. The customer survey results were unveiled at a recent Board meeting. The vast majority of features received at least 85 percent “Excellent” or “Good” grades.

Some of its most well-received features were the ease of on-board and off-boarding the train; lighting; audio announcements; floor-to-ceiling poles; comfortable air temperature; and digital displays.

BART’s website dedicated to the Fleet of the Future has lots of great information about the status of the roll out. They keep it updated with the number of new cars delivered to date and the number in service.

A Fleet of the Future tracker is in the works that will show you if one of the next approaching trains at your stations is a new train. That feature will roll out in phases, to eventually include digital platform signs, bart.gov, and the BART Official App, which you can download for free.

 

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Student at Antioch’s Givans Taekwondo on track for 2020 Olympics

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

C.J. Nickolas with gold medal from the 2018 World Taekwondo Federation competition in Greece. Photo courtesy of Ed Givans.

C.J. Nickolas, a senior in high school and a student at Givans Taekwondo in Antioch, is headed to Taekwondo Senior World Championships in Manchester, England later this m onth. He had to withdraw from Heritage High in Brentwood two days into his senior year because he was one of eight athletes in the United States to be picked up by the USA Taekwondo (USAT) to train full time abroad and enter the European Taekwondo Open circuit. The  intention is to get those athletes ready for 2024 or 2028 Olympics.

However, Nickolas has defied the odds, outperformed the initial expectations, and is headed to the World Championships this year. A few other things have to fall into place for him to make it to the 2020 Olympics, but he is definitely on track.

Nickolas is the son of Edward Givans, owner of Givans Taekwondo in Antioch, where Nickolas trains, and Denise Nickolas of Brentwood.

“His mom and I are very proud of C.J.,” the elder Givans said. “It’s been exciting to see him advance in his skills and the competitions.”

Arriving at this place in his life was not happenstance or luck for Nickolas. He has put long hours, and extensive time into training over the years. Nickolas has made many sacrifices to get where he is and says that even in the setbacks and losses and injuries, he knows he has to continue the grind. He says he digs deep when it’s tough and keeps pressing his way.

Nickolas is finishing out his high school through an on-line school (CAVA) while he continues to train full time.

His travels in the past six months have taken him to compete in Greece, Poland, France, Croatia, Africa and Spain among other places.

He has one stop in Bulgaria before he heads back to England to train for Worlds. Then Nickolas will continue his grind to get to the coming Olympics.

Allen Payton contributed to this story.

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