Archive for the ‘East County’ Category

Laser-equipped drone helps improve safety, efficiency on Hwy 4 improvement project

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

Screenshot from drone video of construction work at the Highway 4 and Balfour Road interchange in Brentwood, Tues., Sept. 12, 2017. Courtesy of Alta Vista Solutions.

Emerging drone technology moves construction and engineering into the future

On Tuesday morning, September 12, 2017, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) and Alta Vista Solutions showcased two emerging technologies on a construction project aimed to improve commutes on Highway 4 in Brentwood (aka the Bypass). Engineers piloted drones equipped with light detection and ranging (LiDAR) lasers–a surveying tool that uses a laser to create high-resolution geographical data.

The combination of the two emerging technologies has never been done in construction before and opens untold possibilities for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology and related jobs in the future.  CCTA featured the system in action by providing a live feed of a drone flight.  The feed from this morning’s drone flight can be viewed at – bar .

With assistance from engineering firm Alta Vista Solutions (Alta Vista), who proposed the new method, CCTA is flying the LiDAR scanners to measure the volumes of earth that need to be moved during this $74-million project to rework the Balfour Road interchange. The drones ensure that the cut-and-fill earthwork goes efficiently. With LiDAR’s pinpoint accuracy, CCTA can now make needed calculations and monitor site conditions faster, eliminating the unavoidable guesswork involved in manual surveys. Putting LiDAR on drones gathers 15 gigabytes of precise, high-quality data per month, cutting down drastically on time spent surveying. The drones also improve safety by taking workers out of live traffic.

Drone capabilities enable CCTA to track construction progress firsthand as work on Highway 4 continues.

“We are always looking for new ways to increase safety and efficiency on construction projects,” said CCTA Executive Director Randy Iwasaki. “Drones give us aerial views of the site that were hard to come by before, making it safer for surveyors to do their job and helping us manage the large volumes of dirt that are being used to improve this intersection. This technology also allows us to monitor environmentally sensitive areas without disturbing the habitat.”

“This will change engineering and surveying,” said Ed Greutert, principal engineer at Alta Vista Solutions. “Innovations like combining LiDAR and UAVs are opening doors in infrastructure and making us efficient, effective, and safe in ways we couldn’t achieve before.”

Greutert also addresses fears of job loss as automation increases. “Using technology to do the surveying work can lead people to ask if this is the next step to the robot apocalypse – are drones going to take our jobs?” he speculates. “Not quite. It’s going to change jobs. It’s going to create new jobs in technology—and in the Balfour Road case, help people get to work faster.”

CCTA has faced challenges in being the first to test these technologies together.

“This has never been done. LiDAR on a UAV hasn’t worked until now – there are huge possibilities if we can be creative enough to really tap into them,” Greutert noted.

Handling the unprecedented quantity of data generated has also posed a challenge. However, in recent months, the team has succeeded in processing the hundreds of gigabytes collected.

“There are always challenges to pioneering new technology,” Iwasaki said. “But with the benefits this technology can provide in terms of keeping workers safe and managing a complicated construction project, I believe we’ll start to see more widespread use of drones on construction sites within a few years – especially as we discover new applications that can help save time and money. Right now, CCTA is excited to be leading efforts in this new frontier.”

About the Contra Costa Transportation Authority

The Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) is a public agency formed by Contra Costa voters in 1988 to manage the county’s transportation sales tax program and oversee countywide transportation planning efforts.  CCTA is responsible for planning, funding and delivering critical transportation infrastructure projects and programs that connect our communities, foster a strong economy, increase sustainability, and safely and efficiently get people where they need to go.  CCTA also serves as the county’s designated Congestion Management Agency, responsible for putting programs in place to keep traffic levels manageable.  More information about CCTA is available at

About Alta Vista Solutions

Alta Vista is a California-based engineering firm that has been recognized as the 20th fastest-growing engineering firm in America by Inc. 5000 and was named by Zweig Group as one of America’s Hot Firms. Alta Vista has quickly differentiated itself by performing customized quality management strategies for some of the most complex infrastructure projects in the world. Over the past decade, Alta Vista has worked with public and private organizations to complete large-scale engineering projects that better serve their regions. Known for engineering services that include engineering, inspection, testing, unmanned aerial systems, quality management, and structural health monitoring, Alta Vista has grown and diversified and has been acknowledged in 2017 by ENR Magazine and other media outlets for using innovative solutions and technologies to deliver infrastructure projects faster, better and more cost effectively.  For more information about Alta Vista, visit

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Antioch, Pittsburg residents earn MBA degrees from WGU

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY (Grassroots Newswire) July 24, 2017 – The following local residents have received their degree from Western Governors University (WGU). The university held its 33rd semi-annual commencement ceremony at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City on July 15 and celebrated the graduation of more than 10,000 graduates.

  • Manjit Sooch of Antioch (94531) has received her MBA in IT Management
  • Ritche Martija of Pittsburg (94565) has received his MBA in IT Management

At the commencement, the online, nonprofit university recognized 6,348 undergraduates and 4,140 graduates who have completed their degrees in business, information technology, K-12 teacher education, and healthcare, including nursing. Clayton M. Christensen, the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and Founder of The Christensen Institute, delivered the commencement address, and joined President Scott D. Pulsipher in honoring the more than 1,000 new alumni participating in the ceremony. Students who were not able to attend the ceremony in person were able to watch the event via live video stream on WGU’s website.

WGU has made convenient and affordable higher education available to busy adults. Demand for its competency-based programs can be seen in the year-over-year growth of WGU’s national impact.

Forty percent of this year’s graduates represent the first generation in their family to complete college. The average time to graduation for bachelor’s degrees was two years, three months and the average time to graduation for graduate programs was one year, eight months.

Since WGU’s founding in 1997, the online, competency-based university has awarded more than 87,000 degrees; 20,000 of them in just the past year. Designed to meet the needs of working adults, WGU’s competency-based learning model makes it possible for students to fit studying into their busy lives. Students complete courses as soon as they demonstrate that they have mastered the subject matter, enabling them to move quickly through material they already know and spend more time on focusing on what they still need to learn. As a result, many students are able to accelerate their studies, finishing faster and saving money.

About WGU

Established in 1997 by 19 U.S. governors with a mission to expand access to high-quality, affordable higher education, online, nonprofit WGU now serves 82,000 students and 87,000 graduates in all 50 states. Driving innovation as the nation’s leading competency-based university, WGU has been recognized by the White House, state leaders, employers, and students as a model that works in postsecondary education. In just 20 years, the university has become a leading force in changing lives of through education. WGU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, has been featured on NPR, NBC Nightly News, CNN, and in The New York Times. Learn more at


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Three-car collision in Brentwood takes life of 95-year-old woman, Sunday afternoon

Monday, July 24th, 2017

Sunday, July 23 at about 4:11 p.m., Contra Costa CHP was advised of a collision at the intersection of Vasco Road/Highway 4 and Marsh Creek Road in Brentwood. Upon CHP and emergency personnel arrival, it was determined that three vehicles in total were involved and several parties were transported to local hospitals for injuries. Unfortunately, a 95-year-old female passenger succumbed to her injuries while at the hospital.

In the initial investigation, it appears that a red Cadillac sedan was traveling on southbound SR-4 Bypass, approaching the intersection of Marsh Creek Road, and continuing south to Vasco Road.

Meanwhile a white Hyundai sedan was on Marsh Creek Road and preparing to make a left turn onto southbound Vasco Road at the intersection. Both vehicles entered the intersection and the red Cadillac struck the side of the white Hyundai. The Hyundai careened through the intersection and collided with a light pole. The Cadillac then collided with a black Honda that was stopped on the other side of the intersection, only causing minor damage.

According to East Costa Contra Fire (ECCFD) Interim Battalion Chief Ross Macumber, firefighters extricated a victim from one of the vehicles, and established a “helispot”.

The female driver and female passenger of the Cadillac were both transported for minor injuries to Sutter Delta hospital in Antioch. The driver of the black Honda was uninjured.

The male driver and 95-year-old passenger from the Hyundai were both transported to John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek with injuries. One patient was transported by CALSTAR helicopter. Unfortunately, while at the hospital, the 95-year-old passenger’s condition worsened and she succumbed to her injuries and died at 7:13 p.m. The male driver of the Hyundai is in stable condition.

Alcohol or drugs are not a factor in this collision. The cause of this intersection collision and the status of green light vs. red light is still under investigation. If anyone witnessed it or the events leading up to it, or was at the intersection at the time of the collision, please contact Contra Costa CHP in Martinez and Officer Smith, the investigating officer, at (925) 646-4980.

See the ECCFD incident report, here: HWY4-MarshCreekMVA

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Antioch police assist in arrest of Bay Point man in child molestation, pornography case

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

Pablo Ruiz. Photo by CCCSheriff.

On Tuesday morning, March 21, 2017, law enforcement officers arrested 33-year-old Pablo Ruiz of Bay Point for child molestation and distribution and possession of child pornography.

This follows a ten-month investigation lead by detectives from the Sexual Assault Unit of the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff. In April 2016, investigators from the Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force were contacted by authorities in Lynchburg, Virginia, who had identified Ruiz as a suspect who was trading child pornography over the internet. The Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office took over the case. Investigators served a search warrant at Ruiz’s residence and collected a significant quantity of computer evidence. A short time later, evidence was uncovered that Ruiz had sexual contact with at least one minor.

The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office has charged Ruiz with five counts of child molestation, aggravated possession of child pornography and nine counts of distributing child pornography. Ruiz is currently being held at the Martinez Detention Facility in lieu of $1.5 million bail.

Detectives believe there may be other victims. The Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information to please contact Detective Norvell at 925-313-2625. For any tips, please email: or call 866-846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message.

The prosecution is a result of an investigation by a multi-agency Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which is managed by the San Jose Police Department. In Contra Costa County, detectives and investigators from the Walnut Creek, Antioch, Martinez, San Ramon, Con-cord and Moraga Police Departments, the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office, Probation Department and District Attorney’s Office participate in the task force.

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New indoor mega-water park and resort in Brentwood, near border of Antioch, being studied

Monday, March 13th, 2017

A Great Wolf Lodge water park and resort is being considered for a location in Brentwood near Antioch’s eastern border and Highway 4. Photo courtesy of Great Wolf Lodge.

By Allen Payton

According to a January article in the Brentwood Press, Great Wolf Lodge resorts may open an indoor mega-water park in Brentwood and is undergoing a feasibility study by an independent, outside agency.

The Wisconsin-based company operates 15 parks around the nation, including one in Anaheim that just opened, and one in Canada. They featurie an indoor water park, a hotel, family entertainment centers, restaurants, retail stores and meeting rooms fit for conferences and seminars.

If Brentwood is chosen, the 50-acre, 500- to 800-room resort will likely be located near Sand Creek Road off Highway 4, according to the Press report. If it’s on the west side of Highway 4, then it would be located on Antioch’s border along the planned extension of Heidorn Ranch Road, which is to intersect with an extended Sand Creek Road between Highway 4 in Brentwood and Deer Valley Road in Antioch.

In January, the Brentwood City Council voted to spend $275,000 on an independent study on the economic viability of the resort.

For more information visit the Great Wolf Lodge website at

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County CASE Team seizes weapons from Pittsburg home, arrest couple, Tuesday

Saturday, January 28th, 2017
The cache of weapons seized by a the county’s CASE Team from a Pittsburg home on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. photo courtesy of CCCSheriff

The cache of weapons seized by a the county’s CASE Team from a Pittsburg home on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. photo courtesy of CCCSheriff

After an investigation into alleged illegal gun sales, the CASE (Contra Costa County Anti-Violence Support Effort) team on Tuesday served a search warrant at a home on the 5100 block of Kirker Pass Road in Pittsburg.

During the search of the residence, CASE team members recovered a .416 Barrett rifle, .308 rifle, and a .223 Colt M4 semi-automatic rifle.

Two people were arrested at the residence: 34-year-old Mitchell Coelho and 32-year-old Mehgan Coelho. Both resided at the home.

They were booked into the Martinez Detention Facility on the following charges: felon in possession of a firearm, illegal transfer of a firearm and child endangerment.

Both are being held in lieu of $310,000 bail.

The CASE Team is a joint effort by the Office of the Sheriff, California Department of Justice, California Highway Patrol, Contra Costa County Probation Department, Pittsburg Police Department and Walnut Creek Police Department. CASE was created in November 2011 as a collaborative effort to reduce violent crimes in Contra Costa, especially those related to illegal firearms.

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Discover Diablo, new Free Public Hike Series offered by Save Mount Diablo, beginning this weekend

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017
Hikers enjoy the trails on Save Mount Diablo’s Four Days Diablo Group Camping Trip, a 30-mile trek along the Diablo Trail over 4 day leading you on an adventure through rarely seen Mount Diablo landscapes. Photo by Scott Hein, Director, Save Mt. Diablo

Hikers enjoy the trails on Save Mount Diablo’s Four Days Diablo Group Camping Trip, a 30-mile trek along the Diablo Trail over 4 day leading you on an adventure through rarely seen Mount Diablo landscapes. Photos by Scott Hein, Save Mt. Diablo Board President

Discover Diablo is Save Mount Diablo’s new free public hike series, offering an annual schedule of guided walks, hikes and interpretive tours open to any and all trail blazers. Generously sponsored by the Shell Martinez Refinery, the Discover Diablo Free Public Hike Series will launch in early 2017. Discover Diablo will offer two events per month for the entire year (please see schedule, below) – one taking place and focusing on a Save Mount Diablo property and one designed for families on other public parks.

Hosted by Save Mount Diablo, the new Discover Diablo program seeks to build awareness of local land conservation efforts and to convey the importance of protecting open space for habitat and recreation. With the launch of Discover Diablo, we intend to reach new audiences, build our membership base of adventurers, explorers and outdoor enthusiasts, and spark a passion for the Diablo Range.

George leads us back out on the trail after lunchWe invite you to join us in exploring the Bay Area’s beautiful wild lands and open spaces. We hope that with two events per month in various locations, there will be something for everyone to enjoy and learn from. Save Mount Diablo’s Family walks are for hikers of all skill levels and will take place on other portions of open space on and around the mountain. Save Mount Diablo’s Property tours will illustrate the importance of preserving wildlife habitat, building corridors between existing parks, and of course, all the beauty that the Diablo Range has to offer.

To honor Save Mount Diablo’s mission, we aim to display both our current property holdings as well as those we have helped protect over the years. Hosting monthly hikes is an effective way to engage and grow communities invested in the sustainability of local open space. SMD properties aren’t usually open to the public, so these are rare opportunities.

To complete the land conservation picture in the Diablo Range and pay homage to collaborating agencies, we also host monthly outings on Mount Diablo State Park, East Bay Regional Park District, and Walnut Creek Open Space Foundation lands. Save Mount Diablo’s new hike series, Discover Diablo, ties these outings together by offering an annual schedule of free public hikes to explore these diverse lands – with the added bonus of being guided by staff and experienced volunteer hike leaders.

According to Ted Clement, Executive Director of Save Mount Diablo, “It is the goal of the Discover Diablo program to build connections between people and land, helping communities develop a strong sense of place and a deepened appreciation for our collective backyard. Most importantly, we want to cultivate a love of the land in participants – so as to grow the land ethic and stewardship for our precious Mount Diablo area.”

We intend to reach audiences from all over the Bay Area to improve awareness of and advocacy efforts for the Diablo Range. There is something for us all to discover in the nooks and crannies surrounding Mount Diablo. Please join us on the trails to find your own individual inspiration!

Visit us on Eventbrite to our full schedule of upcoming hikes: RSVP required.

What: Save Mount Diablo’s Discover Diablo Free Public Hike Series

When: Two monthly events throughout 2017. (See schedule, below)

Where: CONTRA COSTA COUNTY – Walnut Creek, Clayton, Concord, Livermore, Pittsburg.

Save Mount Diablo is a nationally accredited, non-profit land trust founded in 1971 with a mission to preserve Mount Diablo’s peaks, surrounding foothills, and watersheds through land acquisition and preservation strategies designed to protect the mountain’s natural beauty, biological diversity, and historic and agricultural heritage; enhance our area’s quality of life; and provide recreational opportunities consistent with the protection of natural resources. To learn more and support Save Mount Diablo please visit


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Furry Friends Food Relief Program to hold Roaring 20’s benefit dinner, Feb. 11 in Brentwood

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Roaring 20's artThe Furry Friends Food Relief Program (FFFR) will hold their second annual benefit dinner Saturday, February 11, 2017. Just in time to spend a wonderful evening with family, friends or that special someone for Valentine’s Day.

We assist families in need in Contra Costa County with dog and cat food.  We now have our food pantry open every Monday from 7-8 pm and Wednesday from 6-8 pm, located at 1300 Central Blvd, Brentwood. We do low cost vaccine clinics and food distributions to the public every 4 weeks, please check our calendar on our website for the next upcoming clinic.

We are always in need of donations of medical supplies, flea treatment, food, bedding, collars, leashes, crates, anything to assist families and their furry friends.

The theme for this year’s dinner will be The Roaring 20’s and it will be held, once again at the beautiful event center at Shadow Lakes Golf Course in Brentwood, located at 401 W Country Club Drive from 5:00 to 10:00 pm.  The evening will be filled with music, dancing and wonderful silent auction items.

Cocktail hour from 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm. Appetizers and salads will be served along with rolls. Dinner choices are pork tenderloin, salmon, the vegetarian option is Eggplant Parmesan with sides of mashed potatoes and mixed veggies.  The pork tenderloin has a creamy Dijon-wine sauce and Salmon is topped with garlic, lemon, butter and onions. No-Host Bar.

We have wonderful raffle and silent auction items to bid on. Stop by to have some fun at the Photo Station. It’s going to be a great night of fun to raise money for this organization who helps families keep their pets out of the shelters.

Get your tickets before February 3, 2017 and join us in a fun and different way to spend time with friends, family, or that special someone.  Each table seats up to 8-10 people.

Ticket sales are going on now at

Furry Friends Food Relief Program – “Helping those in need feed their Furry Friends.” Tax ID 47-2163583.

For more information visit us online at,  “Like” us on Facebook or you can contact us by phone or text at 925-240-3178.

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