Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Antioch Council approves sale of Bedford Center to non-profit for $1.00

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

By John Crowder

At the March 10, 2015 meeting of the Antioch City Council, a resolution was approved authorizing City Manager Steve Duran to execute a Purchase and Sale Agreement with Rehabilitation Services of Northern California (RSNC), transferring the Bedford Center property located at 1811 C Street for one dollar.

The resolution to sell the Bedford Center property was part of the regular agenda which was undertaken during a relatively short (the entire meeting was concluded in under an hour) and otherwise uneventful meeting that was led, for the first time, by Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock due to the absence of Mayor Wade Harper.

According to the staff report submitted to the council by Duran, “This recommended action will eliminate the need for the City to manage and maintain the property, which is not a core service.” He also said that the transfer of the property will, “allow the nonprofit to not only continue but expand their services of providing adult day care to disabled seniors, particularly those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia.”

Duran also noted in his report that the facility had been deeded to the City of Antioch in 1989 for one dollar. He went on to say that the transfer would allow RSNC to raise the capital necessary to undertake a needed remodeling of a currently unoccupied part of the building, thus allowing the nonprofit agency to increase capacity.

During his comments to the council prior to their discussion of the matter, Duran said that, included in the Agreement, was a ten-year restriction on RSNC requiring them to utilize the facility for the same purpose as it is being used today, an adult day care.

Only two people spoke about the transfer of the property during public comments. Antioch resident Jaime Ray said she had, “great confidence” in those running the Bedford Center.

I think it’s a wise investment,” she said, “They can deliver what they say they can deliver.”

Debbie Toth, Chief Executive Officer of RSNC, also addressed the council.

We can respect our elders, and treat them with dignity,” she said and then thanked the council members for their support.

Following public comments, members of the City Council spoke positively about the Bedford Center program. Council Member Mary Rocha said that she looked forward to the building being well-used. Council Member Tony Tiscareno spoke about how pleased he was with their operation when he toured the facility. Council Member Wilson, also referring to a tour of the facility, said, “I was very impressed with what I saw. It’s going to be a benefit to our community.”

Following council comments, Rocha made the motion to approve the resolution, Wilson seconded, and it was passed on a vote of 4-0.

Toth, following the vote, had additional comments. She explained that the program undertaken by her organization is designated as Adult Day Health Care (ADHC), and that they are licensed health providers through the California Department of Public Health.

ADHC was created to provide an alternative to nursing home placement,” she said. “It provides respite to caregivers while providing a safe and therapeutic environment for frail people with multiple chronic conditions to socialize and receive much-needed services. All possible barriers to independence are examined when we serve someone. We go into their homes to assess their fall risks, care systems, medication management routine, nutrition access, and more. So, while services are provided at the Bedford Center, our reach goes far beyond to ensure we talk to their physicians, caregivers, get meals delivered, arrange for transportation, and so much more.”

Expressing her gratitude to city staff, interested residents, and the council, Toth added, “East Contra Costa has a huge unmet need for services for the rapidly growing aging population and the City has now made it possible for us to begin our expansion to work on meeting the needs of our community.”

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the City Council will take place on March 24. Meetings are held at the City Hall Council Chambers, located at 200 H Street, and typically begin at 7:00 p.m.

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Contra Costa receives grant to improve preschool quality for low-income children

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

The California Department of Education (CDE) recently announced that the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) has received a $1.4 million block grant to directly implement improvements to its county’s preschool education programs for low-income children. Contra Costa was one of sixteen California counties to receive this grant.

The block grant was included in California’s 2014-15 State Budget and provides $50 million in ongoing funding to support quality improvements in California preschools. The goal of the grant funding is to increase the number of low-income children attending high-quality preschool programs, which research shows prepares children for success in school and life.

The CDE block grants were designated for the California counties currently piloting a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), a uniform system to rate, improve, and communicate levels of child-care quality. Contra Costa is a QRIS pilot county and currently has 100 child-care programs participating. 

Per the CDE block grant, funds must be used to support California State Preschool Program (CSPP) sites. These are preschool programs that receive state subsidies to serve low-income children. There are 58 CSPP sites in Contra Costa County, primarily run by nonprofit child-care centers and school districts. More than half of the CSPP programs in Contra Costa already participate in the QRIS rating system.

Funds from the CDE block grant will be used to recognize providers who score high QRIS ratings and to help programs with lower scores raise quality. The incentives are designed to improve and maintain quality by keeping teacher/child ratios low, paying for qualified staff, and supporting strong teacher/child interactions.

Contra Costa County’s $1.4 million grant will support:

·      Stipends between $2,500 to $5,000 to all CSPP sites participating in the QRIS

·      Site quality improvement mini-grants for sites seeking help reaching top ratings

·     Quality grants to CSPP providers who successfully score in the top two ratings

·     Training and support for CSPP sites not currently participating in QRIS

·     A public awareness campaign about the nature and importance of quality preschool

·     Monitoring and rating of new QRIS participants

The CDE block grant builds on the federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge funding First 5 Contra Costa received to pilot a QRIS in Contra Costa County, along with funds the CCCOE allocated over the last 15 years to increase the education and training of Contra Costa’s child-care workforce.

In addition to CCCOE’s fiscal role, the agency will be responsible for the monitoring and rating of sites’ participating in Contra Costa’s State Preschool QRIS Block Grant. Other quality improvement services and support are implemented in partnership with First 5 Contra Costa, Contra Costa County’s Community Services Bureau, and the Contra Costa Child Care Council.  All above mentioned partner agencies make up Contra Costa’s QRIS Consortia members who regularly interface to coordinate services for current and potential participating CSPP sites. First 5 Contra Costa is the lead consortia agency for the block grant.

For additional information about the grant and/or QRIS program, contact First Five Contra Costa Early Childhood Deputy Director Cally Martin at (925) 771-7322 or Ruth Fernandez, CCCOE, at (925) 942-3413

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Antioch School Board hears bond measure spending, questions REACH program effectiveness

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

By John Crowder

At the March 11, 2015 meeting of the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) Board of Education, the trustees approved sending four staff members to the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative. They also heard from a teacher at Marsh Elementary who was concerned about projectors not working, received a report from the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC) regarding Measure B and Measure C expenditures, and pulled from the consent calendar an addendum to the REACH Project Vendor Agreement.

Stanford Education Leadership Initiative

In a March 2, 2015 letter from the Co-Directors of the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative, Dr. Donald Gill, AUSD Superintendent of Education, and three of his staff were invited to attend the one-year Executive Program for Education Leaders (EPEL). According to a report submitted to the board by Gill, the program, “includes a mix of on-campus and distance learning sessions incorporating case-study and research-based presentations, discussions, and exercises led by…faculty” from both the Graduate School of Education and Graduate School of Business.

Also according to Gill, the $84,000 cost of four administrators attending the program will be paid for by two grants, one from EPEL for $76,000, and the other from the James Irvine Foundation for $8,000.

After some questions from the trustees concerning the source of funds and choice of administrators attending, the trustees approved the request on a 5-0 vote. Attending the program will be Gill, Associate Superintendent of Educational Services, Stephanie Anello, Coordinator, Community Outreach and Engagement, Cheryl Domenichelli, and Director of Educational Services, Jason Murphy.

Broken Projectors

During public comments only one speaker came forward, a teacher from Marsh Elementary School. She said that projectors at the school were, “going out,” and, without them, teachers were unable to implement the curriculum as intended. Following her statement, board member Debra Vinson stressed the importance of having the projectors working, and Tim Forrester, Associate Superintendent, Business and Operations, said he would follow up on the matter.

Bond Measure Reports

The board received a report from the Dale Hudson, chairman of the seven-member CBOC regarding the expenditure of funds for Measure B and Measure C. The CBOC, established in accordance with the voter-approved Proposition 39, which lowered the voter approval requirement from 2/3rds to 55% for school district bond measures that meet certain conditions, is charged, along with other things, of ensuring that, “bond funds are used for legally authorized purposes.”

Measure B is a $56.5 million school bond, passed on November 6, 2012, for the purpose of renovating and modernizing Antioch High School buildings and classrooms, including the athletic stadium.

Measure C is a $61.6 million school bond, passed in June, 2008, “to address critical renovation and modernization needs at schools that have served Antioch for more than forty years.” Among other items, it provided funding to replace roofs, plumbing, heating and air conditioning units and upgrade the district-wide technology infrastructure.

According to Hudson, all requirements of Proposition 39 are currently being met with respect to the two bond measures.

REACH Program

After considerable discussion, the trustees decided to pull an item from the consent calendar, an addendum to the REACH Project Vendor Agreement on behalf of Marsh Elementary.

An affirmative vote from the trustees would have added another $15,541 to the contract, revising the total not to exceed amount to $199,716. Money spent on the program comes from “site restricted categorical state funds (Title 1),” and have, “no impact to the unrestricted general fund,” according to a staff report submitted to the board.

Trustee Walter Ruehlig was the first of the board members to address the item when it was brought forward. Noting that fellow Trustee Barbara Cowan, had in previous meetings questioned how the program was being measured, he asked staff, “Where are we with metrics?”

Vinson also questioned how the program was being measured.

There is no way to know what they’re doing,” she said.

Following her statement, Ruehlig said, “I agree wholeheartedly.”

Cowan addressed not only REACH, but other service providers in her comments.

The only thing REACH does is very vague,” she said. “I would really like to see some required metrics for all vendors that serve students directly.”

Board President Claire Smith then followed up on Cowan’s comments, saying, “My problem with REACH is exactly that. I have never seen a measurable outcome in twenty years. I don’t see any proof in the pudding.”

Board Vice President Diane Gibson-Gray, though, supported approving the addendum. Not wishing to deny Marsh Elementary the use of REACH when so many other schools were using their services, and concerned that the rules were being changed for one school mid-year, she suggested she would make a motion to approve. As it became clear, however, that at least three of the board members would vote to table the item, she decided not to follow through. The item was then tabled for a future meeting, and the board went on to pass the rest of the consent calendar on a 5-0 vote.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the AUSD Board of Education will take place on March 25. Meetings are held at the school district office at 510 G Street, and begin at 7:00 p.m.

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Renovations to Antioch shopping center on Contra Loma Blvd. reflect local resurgence

Sunday, March 8th, 2015
Contra Loma Plaza top view Renovations to Antioch shopping center on Contra Loma Blvd. reflect local resurgence

Aerial view of Contra Loma Plaza.

Phillips Edison & Company announced recently that the Contra Loma Plaza completed a façade renovation, major lighting upgrade and landscape improvements as part of a community revitalization effort in Antioch.

According to the company’s website, the shopping center is anchored by SaveMart and positioned in the heart of Antioch’s residential community and across the street from high-density residential development, with easy and direct access from Highway 4 and more than 88,300 residents in the three-mile trade area with an average household income over $74,500.

I am really pleased with the renovation. The bright lights and the improvements to the landscaping have taken a large step towards the safety and the overall pleasing appearance of the plaza which is a good example of making Antioch a much more welcoming location for businesses,” said Hans Ho, Neighborhood Watch Coordinator, a group that meets regularly and assists with safety enforcement, neighborhood involvement and improved communication between businesses within the center. “We look forward to the continued improvement of this community and Plaza,” said Ho.

Renovating the Contra Loma Plaza was an important project for us, and we are thrilled to see its completion has made such a positive impact in the community,” said Joe Schlosser, vice president of portfolio management at Phillips Edison. “The support from the Antioch community and retailers in the Contra Loma Plaza to improve the area has been tremendous, and we are very proud to be an invested community partner throughout this resurgence.”

I would just like to thank the new ownership at Contra Loma Plaza for investing in Antioch and doing such a great job upgrading the shopping center. It looks terrific,” said Steve Duran, Antioch City Manager.

The Plaza’s new façade was designed by Architecture Design Collaborative, a full service planning and architectural firm specializing in retail, commercial, and residential projects, located in Costa Mesa, California. The construction of the project was carried out by Smith Development & Construction Company, a general contractor with more than 30 years of experience in the residential and commercial building and design industries of California.

To see a Youtube video of the improvements to the center, click here.

Phillips Edison & Company offers a complete range of retail solutions for investors and retailers. The Company has an operating platform designed to optimize property value and consistently deliver a great shopping experience. Phillips Edison provides retail services including development, redevelopment, leasing and management of retail centers. Established in 1991, the company’s portfolio currently includes a national footprint of retail properties. The Company has corporate offices in Cincinnati, Salt Lake City, New York City and Atlanta.

For more information, please visit www.phillipsedison.com or connect with us on LinkedIn.

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McNerney gave conflicting statements over Netanyahu speech no-show

Friday, March 6th, 2015

By Allen Payton

Congressman Jerry McNerney, one of 42 Democrats in Congress who refused to attend the speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this past Tuesday, claimed in the Antioch Herald and Stockton Record, that the speech was nothing more than partisan politics. But, in a previous statement issued to The Washington D.C. newspaper The Hill, McNerney claimed he had previous commitments.

In the Herald and Record articles, published this past week, from a news release sent by McNerney’s office, he stated “I believe it was wrong for the Prime Minister and Speaker Boehner to arrange this event without informing the White House and Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate.”

But, in a February 9th article on The Hill website, it states “Rep. McNerney is not planning to attend the speech. He’s got several previously planned commitments for that day.”

A 2016 challenger in the 9th Congressional District, which includes most of Antioch, Kathryn Nance, a police sergeant in Stockton, called McNerney’s statements troubling and strange.

“It’s obvious the Congressman will only listen to his fellow extremists led by [Rep.] Barbara Lee [D-Oakland] and now is trying to cover his tracks by giving statements in conflict with each other,” said Nance. “This district should expect more from their Member of Congress.”

“We need a Representative who will put an end to his politics of divisiveness and bring the people of the 9th district together to fight for our future,” she continued.

In a news release from the Nance campaign, it states “This brought back memories of his 2006 campaign where he was caught changing his positions on dozens of issues to hide his true extremism. McNerney, who barely survived his most recent election despite a challenger with little financial support, is best known for his trips to Antarctica and lack of clout to deliver for working families in his district on important issues like jobs, water and transportation for his mostly Central Valley district.”

“Jerry McNerney continues to fail this district to pay off his debt to dangerous extremists like Barbara Lee who put him in office,” said Nance spokesman Lee Neves. “He has a record of saying one thing while doing the other all the way back to his first campaign. Kathryn Nance will give this district the representation it deserves and fight for stronger job and wage growth for working families, better water and transportation systems, and a strong response to terrorist groups like ISIS. No double talk. No trips to Antarctica.”

Born and raised in the Stockton area, Kathryn Nance is an 18 year veteran of the Stockton Police Department, currently serving as a Sergeant with the Department’s AB109 Task Force and as President of the Stockton Police Officers Association. She has previously served as a Field Training Officer and as a member of the Department’s Gang and Homicide units. She is married to her husband of 10 years, James Nance. Together, they have a blended family of four children, ranging in ages of 15 to 23.  In her spare time she enjoys cycling, CrossFit and bowling, along with serving as the Chairwoman of Making Strides Against Breast Cancer San Joaquin.

The 9th Congressional District includes most of Antioch, all of Oakley, Brentwood, Discovery Bay, in Contra Costa County, as well as Stockton, Lodi and most of San Joaquin County. The Primary Election will be held in June, 2016.

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McNerney says why he didn’t attend Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to Congress

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Washington, D.C.Congressman Jerry McNerney (D, CA-09) issued the following statement, yesterday, on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech to Congress on Tuesday, March 3:

I won’t be attending Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress on Tuesday. I will continue to be a strong supporter of Israel’s national security, but I believe it was wrong for the Prime Minister and Speaker Boehner to arrange this event without informing the White House and Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate. His speech comes amidst diplomatic treaty negotiations intended to curtail Iran’s capability to develop nuclear weapons, and could disrupt any progress that has been made to this point. These negotiations and accompanying sanctions are the primary effort holding back Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear bomb.  We should let the negotiations proceed in good faith while closely monitoring Iran’s actions and only loosen sanctions slowly if we see proof of Iran’s intentions to back away from nuclear weapons capabilities.”

McNerney represents most of Antioch in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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Train Talk: BART hosts Twitter town hall on Tuesday, March 3rd at noon

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

news from bart Train Talk: BART hosts Twitter town hall on Tuesday, March 3rd at noonJoin us and BART Board President Tom Blalock on March 3rd from Noon to 1 pm for a town hall style discussion about the future of BART- on Twitter!

We’ll be facilitating a discussion centering on our plans to build a better BART system.  From maintenance musings to capacity concerns, we’ll be providing a space to have a relevant and timely discussion about how we can move forward as a community in transit.  Joining the Board President will be BART’s top Operations, Maintenance / Engineering, and Station Modernization staff.

We will be answering as many questions as possible in the time allowed, and will make every effort to respond to all queries—even after the moderated discussion is over.

Read more about how to use Twitter at www.twitter.com, and join if you haven’t already.

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Antioch Council splits on approving tattoo studio amid neighborhood opposition

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

By John Crowder

At the February 24, 2015 meeting of the Antioch City Council, a presentation was given on Code Enforcement by Ryan Graham, Deputy Director of Community Development. Later in the meeting, an application for a business permit to operate a tattoo parlor on 17th and A Street was approved over the objections of residents living in the area.

Graham began his presentation by noting some of the areas that Code Enforcement is responsible for regulating, including public health, safety and welfare, building standards, and more. He said this work was accomplished through education, prevention, detection, investigation and enforcement of statutes or ordinances.

Graham then explained from where code enforcement officers derive their authority, citing ordinances in the municipal code. As Public Officers, recognized in the Penal Code, Graham said they have the authority to issue citations, to make some arrests, and to obtain and serve inspection warrants.

Graham presented a slide showing the decline in staffing of Code Enforcement from 2009 to 2015. He said that the total staffing for Code Enforcement was eleven in 2009, but is only five today, including two administrative city workers each spending half their time on code enforcement. He also said that, over those years, there was a period when he was the only person doing any code enforcement, but that three Code Enforcement Officers were brought on through a contracting agency. Graham said that the city was currently bringing code enforcement in-house, and that there were over 200 applicants for the three available positions.

Graham said that the biggest area his department has been dealing with recently is substandard housing. He presented slides showing photographs of sheds in which some people in the city were living, with no electricity or running water. Graham also said his department deals with squatters, illegal dumping, environmental crimes, consumer protection, and homeless issues.

One major accomplishment Graham talked about was the reduction in process time needed to bring a code enforcement case to completion. Graham said that the process that was developed in Antioch is now a model being used and considered for use across the state.

New Tattoo Studio Approved

The council heard an appeal from Juanito Valentine, owner of Ink’d Up Tattoo Studio, in which the applicant asked for approval of a use permit to operate in a commercial space located at 1614 A Street. The appeal was made after the planning commission was unable to secure the four votes in favor needed for approval.

Several residents, who all said they lived in the area in which the new tattoo studio would operate, spoke out against granting the use permit.

Sandra Kelly, of the C Street Area Neighborhood Watch Group mentioned a petition signed by 24 residents, along with several letters submitted separately, all in opposition to the business. She said that, while she supported business, she wanted it to be, “first, of use to local residents.”

We do not want to see businesses that attract only outsiders to our neighborhood,” she continued.

She then said that she wanted to see businesses adjacent to her community that are, “family friendly.” She complained that the tattoo parlor would be opened “directly adjoining a residence.”

It’s an adult business, it’s not family friendly, and it does not attract residents to Rivertown,” Kelly added.

Lori Cook also spoke against granting the use permit. She said there were already plenty of tattoo parlors in the area, and a business that would better serve the community, such as a restaurant or coffee house, would be a better fit.

Ron Nichols said, “We should consider businesses that can actually elevate the area.” He emphasized attracting more family-oriented businesses.

Other residents also spoke against granting the use permit, including Jean Nichols, who complained that such business were not the type that would draw people to the downtown area.

Two residents spoke in favor of granting the use permit. Fred Hoskins emphasized the need to be business-friendly. Ken Turnage, noting that he is a local business owner, said that it takes a lot of courage to open a business in Antioch.

That should be encouraged,” he said.

He concluded his remarks by saying that having a business there was better than leaving the property vacant.

In council debate, Council Member Mary Rocha said she was concerned about the hours the business would keep, potentially remaining open until 10:00 p.m. Council Member Monica Wilson said that she was concerned about over-saturation of this type of business. She also said that she did not think it was the right fit for the area.

Council Member Tony Tiscareno, also noting that he was a small business owner, said he wanted to encourage others to go into business.

Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock applauded Valentine for wanting to open his own business, and said that, although she had some concerns about the late hours, she felt the store being open might be a help to the community because they would be able to keep an eye on the neighborhood.

We have to be careful as a council. We don’t have a moratorium on tattoo parlors,” Mayor Harper said. “I don’t want to restrict the businesses that operate.”

He also noted that the police report did not indicate that other tattoo parlors caused any increase in crime.

Following Harper’s comments, Ogorchock made a motion to approve the use permit. The motion was approved on a 3-2 vote, with Rocha and Wilson voting against.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the City Council will take place on March 14. Meetings are held at the City Hall Council Chambers, located at 200 H Street, and typically begin at 7:00 p.m.

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