Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Hundreds honor Police Chief Cantando at retirement ceremony, Thursday

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

Chief Allan Cantando is presented with a clock by Argentina Luevano, former Councilwoman & Mayor Mary Rocha, and Angel Luevano, for his service to the Latino community of Antioch. Photo courtesy of Argentina Luevano

By John Crowder

Over 200 people, including community members, current and former political dignitaries, and police officers from around the Bay Area attended the retirement ceremony of Antioch Police Chief Allan Cantando, on Thursday, March 30th.

Beginning at 3:00 p.m. at Antioch’s Lone Tree Golf and Event Center, Cantando, surrounded by family members, and with his father listening in though Skype, heard how much he had meant to the Antioch community.

Captain Tammany Brooks, now serving as Acting Chief after the man he described as his best friend leaves that post, was the Master of Ceremonies for the event.

Brooks welcomed the crowd, then introduced the Antioch Police Color Guard, who presented the American and California flags for the pledge of allegiance.  Brooks then called on Reverend Robert Rien, of Antioch’s St. Ignatius Church, to give the invocation.

Rien, in an emotional talk that served as a prelude to many other acknowledgements of the impact that Cantando had during his almost 30 years of service to the City of Antioch, described how he had come to know Cantando over the last several years, and how close they had become.

Following Rien’s remarks, Retired Chief Mark Moczulski introduced Chief Cantando, who in turn introduced his family to those gathered for the event.

Representatives from California and State legislators, along with members of the community, then took turns honoring Cantando, and presenting him with letters of appreciation and gifts, thanking him for his service to the community. They included former Chief of Police Mark Moczulski, former City Manager Steve Duran, former Mayor Wade Harper, former Mayor and Councilwoman Mary Rocha, as well as former Police Crime Prevention Commission Chair Hans Ho, among others.

Chief Cantando, who will now begin a second career with Bank of America as Vice President and Regional Manager of Protective Services for the organization, closed the event with a final message.  In it, he thanked his family, friends, and his fellow police officers, emphasizing the dangers they face in their daily efforts to keep the public safe.

Cantando was the Chief of Police in Antioch for five-and-a-half years.

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Antioch Speedway to remember local legend Larry Damitz during season opener, Saturday night

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

Larry Damitz #15 after one of his Limited Late Model wins last season. Photo by Paul Gould

By Don Martin, II

When Antioch Speedway opens for its 57th season of All Star Series racing this Saturday night, they will do so without Larry Damitz. During the offseason, we learned that he passed away.  On March 11th, many of his friends and family came to remember him at a special memorial service.  His three race cars were on display.

Larry started his racing career back in 1953 and competed or helped others at the race track every year since.

“I’m really not sure what got me started in racing,” Larry shared in an older interview. “I’ve always liked cars and I started working on cars when I was nine.  I’ve always been interested in automobiles.  Another guy and I knew of a Hardtop that was halfway completed, so we went over and finished it off and started racing.”

He was hooked.  He continued to race his Hardtop at the old Vallejo Speedway and Contra Costa Speedway in Pacheco.  The competition was much tougher than it is today.

“They had one class, and they had enough cars that they had a C Race,” Larry recalled. “Every car in the Main Event could win.  There were always some Main Event cars in the B Main.”

Winning seemed to come easy for Larry in Limited Late Models at Antioch.  At 87-years-old, he was still winning and was track champion for the fifth time in six seasons.  However, he paid his dues to get that first win.

“I didn’t win a Main Event until 1963,” said Larry. “Everybody that comes out here and they think in their first year they’re supposed to clean house and win a Main Event.  They race all year, two years, don’t win a main and they quit.”

By the time Larry was done with Hardtops In the mid 1970’s, his resume included three track championships and a win in the Chet Thomson Memorial 100 lap race.  He was second to Gene Dudley by just 8 points at Vallejo in the 1960’s.  The highly competitive Super Stock division awaited.  He was Vallejo champion in 1978 and Petaluma champion in 1980 and 1981.  For good measure, he raced on Friday nights in Chico when he could make the tow and won 11 times in 1977.

It was 30 years into his career when he started racing at Antioch Speedway.  He won his first Late Model feature there in 1984.  He broke a shoulder blade in a crash there in 1985.  After recovery time, he returned and won 10 Main Events in 1986, finishing second to Ed Sans Jr. in points.

“Back then, the configuration of this track was altogether different than any other track,” Damitz recalled.  “It was fun to drive.  It was a lot of fun.  They had it banked right up to the wall, and you had to run right around the wall.  I just wanted to come back and run on that track some more.”

Larry ushered in Late Models at Petaluma in 1987 by winning the first championship.  He then took on the role of crew chief for his nephew, Milt McGinnis, who won the next two championships.  He started racing and winning again after that, but he again took on a helper role with Jim Pettit II.  He let Jim drive his car at times in 1991 as Pettit won that Antioch championship.

“Winning the championship definitely wouldn’t have been possible without Larry Damitz and everybody’s involvement in the the whole Sundrop Racing Team,” Pettit recalled.  “I mean, there were no balks or anything about me driving their car.”

After that, Larry won another three Late Model championships at Petaluma.  Track statistician Harlan Osborne counted 58 wins just in a 20-year span at Petaluma from 1987 to 2007, and there were more than that.  As the current decade came around, Larry entered his 80’s with no signs of slowing down.  Why was he doing it?  He loved cars, he loved the sport and he loved people.  Winning was just the icing on the cake.

After finishing second to Mitch Machado in 2010, Damitz won five of the next six championships and two more at Merced.  Jim Freethy bears the distinction of being the only driver during that run to beat him for a championship.  He wasn’t planning to quit.  He would have turned 88 in May and had every intention of competing in his familiar blue and orange Limited Late Model once again.  He had over 60 wins just at Antioch, and estimates are that he won over 150 Main Events in his career along with 17 track championships.

The loss of Damitz hit the people at Antioch Speedway pretty hard.  Promoter John M. Soares raced with Larry for many years.  As Soares enters his 20th season as Speedway Promoter, he had a crew put a special monument to Larry where he used to park.  He was an inspiration to many.  It wasn’t just that he could still win races at that age, but because he was a genuinely nice and down to earth guy.

On My 13th, Antioch Speedway will hold the Larry Damitz Memorial Race in Limited Late Models.  This Saturday night, there will be a special Memorial Lap as Antioch Speedway opens with DIRTcar Late Models, Limited Late Models, Wingless Spec Sprints, B Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars.  For further information, go to www.antiochspeedway.com.

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Sal Sbranti honored as Antioch’s 2016 Citizen of the Year for Most Impact

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Sal Sbranti, center with Antioch Councilwoman Monica Wilson, Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe, Mayor Sean Wright and Antioch Chamber of Commerce CEO Richard Pagano. Photo by Michael Pohl

At the annual Gala of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce, last Friday night, March 10th, Antioch resident Sal Sbranti was honored as the 2016 Citizen of the Year for Most Impact.

After thanking his “wife, mother, daughter, sister-in-law, brother and nephew” for being there, at the Gala, Sbranti said “Thank you, everyone for bestowing this great honor on me.”

“I’m up here, tonight because of Gordon Gravelle who sponsored me in the Rotary Club,” he added.

Upon retirement, Sal Sbranti joined the Rotary Club of Antioch and quickly became a leader of the largest fundraiser of the year, the annual golf tournament. As team captain with the challenge of enlisting sponsors and players due to his leadership, “Sal’s Super Stars” raised the most in donations and money.

After viewing a documentary, The Empowerment Project: Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things, which documents the travels through America of a crew of women filmmakers on a mission of inspiring and empowering young women to identify and then pursue their ambitions, Sal presented the opportunity for Rotary to incorporate the documentary into a project at Antioch High School called Girl Power, which was an exercise designed to empower high school girls to aspire to realize their potential in choosing a career.

In 2014, the first two sessions were held at Deer Valley and one at Antioch High with a total attendance of more than 2,000 young women from grades nine through twelve viewing the documentary, listening to local successful panellists and answering the question, “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid to fail?”  The following year, the program was expanded to the middle schools.

In 2016, the Empowerment project work continues and is expanding to the middle schools and creating a male. In addition, Sal will be presenting the program at the Rotary Conference in Berkeley this year to help other Rotary Clubs to launch the program.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Antioch Chamber to present Citizens, Businesses of the Year, other annual awards at annual Gala Friday night

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

The Antioch Chamber of Commerce has announced the winners for the 2016 community awards:

•Citizen of the Year – Most Impact – Sal Sbranti

•Citizen of the Year – Lifetime Achievement – Leo Fontana

•Small Business of the Year – Rich McDaniel, McDaniel Financial Services

•Large Business of the Year – PG&E

•Non-Profit of the Year – Delta  Veterans Group

•Youth of the Year – Jocelyn Villalobos and Jacqueline Villalobos

The awards will be presented at the Chamber’s annual Gala on Friday, March 10, 2017.

Special recognition will be given to Antioch Unified School District for their continued efforts and successes. Posthumous recognition will be given to Karl Dietzel, and Ed Antrim in recognition of their commitment and betterment of the Antioch community.

Please see photos and details about the winners in the April issue of the Herald and on our website.

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Movie filmed in Antioch last summer by director from Antioch to premier Sunday on TV

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

Forgotten Evil starring Kyle McKeever and Masiela Lusha shot in Antioch, will air this Sunday night on LMN. photo courtesy of LMN

By Allen Payton

For those who were extras in the film shot in Antioch, last summer by Antioch High School graduate and director Anthony C. Ferrante – of Sharknado fame – you’ll want to be sure to pop some popcorn, grab a seat and watch or DVR the premier on Lifetime’s LMN TV channel, this Sunday night at 8:00 p.m.

Director Anthony Ferrante and crew shooting Forgotten Evil outside El Campanil Theatre in Antioch’s historic, downtown Rivertown in August, 2016. photo by Allen Payton

Entitled, “Forgotten Evil” the movie was filmed in various locations in Antioch for a few weeks in August, including Antioch High School and the historic El Campanil Theatre in downtown Rivertown and included Antioch residents as extras. (See related Herald article.)

The movie synopsis is, as follows: Renee awakens, sinking underwater inside a tightly tied sack. Struggling, she somehow breaks out from her underwater coffin. When she awakens again, she remembers nothing. Without a past, she is released from the hospital and forced to start a life anew. Amongst the new faces that enter her life, there is an old one, one that she does not recognize–her husband. As he grows closer and closer, those around her fall victim to deadly accidents. Now Renee must remember her past if she is to have a future.”

The film stars Masiela Lusha and Kyle McKeever in the leading roles, as well as Angie Teodora Dick, Adrian Bustamante and Jeff Marchelletta. To learn more about the full cast and crew, click here.

It is scheduled to show again at Midnight from For more information about the film, visit http://www.mylifetime.com/movies/forgotten-evil and for show times, click here.

 

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Alameda Co. Deputy Sheriff, Antioch resident, who died last week to be eulogized at Concord Pavilion, Friday

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Deputy Michael Foley, photo courtesy of Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

By Allen Payton

The funeral service for Michael Foley, an Alameda County Deputy Sheriff and Antioch resident, will be held this Friday at 11:00 a.m. at the Concord Pavilion.

The 60-year-old was struck by a bus at the Santa Rita jail in Dublin on Wednesday, February 22 and died from his injuries, the next day. Foley worked for the Concord Police Department for 29 years, prior to his service with Alameda County.

A message was posted on the Sheriff’s Facebook page on Thursday: “It is with great sadness we report that Alameda County Deputy Sheriff Michael Foley has died from his injuries. Mike started his law enforcement career in 1978 as an Officer with the Concord Police Department. After a long and successful 29 year career there, he retired and was hired by ACSO in 2007. Michael was one of the hardest working Deputies on this agency. He used his experience and wisdom to mentor countless numbers of young officers throughout his career. He was an extremely kind man who loved his family, friends, co-workers and community. He believed in public service and making the world a better place. All of us who were touched by his life will never forget him. He is a role model and a great example for others to follow. Our hearts are broken today. Please keep Mike and his family in your thoughts and prayers.”

Sheriff escort for Deputy Foley’s body on Sunday, Feb. 26.

On Sunday, Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs escorted Foley’s body from John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek to the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office Coroner’s Bureau, according to a post on the Alameda County Sheriff’s Facebook page.

He is survived by his wife Tammie, and children Michael, Jr. and Tonya. A GoFundMe account has been set up to benefit the Foley family and has been verified by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office. http://www.gofundme.com/deputy-mike-foleys-family-fund. According to that site, Foley “chose to work as a deputy at the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office to put his son, Michael Jr., through college.”

In addition, the San Francisco Police Credit Union has established an account under the Deputy Sheriffs Association of Alameda County Charitable Foundation for the benefit of Deputy Sheriff Michael Foley. Contributions may take place in person at a local branch, mail or electronically utilizing account #1387350 S5 M Foley Memorial Fund.  Funds may be forwarded to SFPCU via mail or electronically as follows:

ACSO DSA Charitable Foundation for Michael Foley

2550 Irving St San Francisco, Ca 94122

Acct#1387350 S5

Routing#321076496

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Antioch author shares autobiography on her struggle to overcome abuse during book signing

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017
Members of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce join author Rossolyn Turner (center) for her book signing on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2017

Members of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce join author Rossolyn Turner (center) for her book signing on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016

By Allen Payton

Antioch business owner and author, Rossolyn Turner held a book signing with the Antioch Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, December 13, 2016 for her autobiography, entitled “I’ve Got Words for You: The abuse that killed me, and the words that brought me back to life.”

I've Got Words For You - Turner bookThe introduction to her book offers readers a hint of what to expect, as you will find out why Turner accepted abuse and molestation for years and how she finally found the courage and strength to deal with her past.

The description on Amazon.com reads: “Find out what she did to save her life and turned depression into love and success by starting her very own company. This book is perfect for junior high school age and up. Anyone who has experienced any abuse in their life will appreciate this book and will realize they are not alone.”

Turner also owns Playback Communications which provides captioning services and sign interpreting for clients with various disabilities. She shared a few thoughts during her book signing.

“Anyone can overcome abuse and become anything you want in life. It just depends on how bad you want it,” said Turner.  “I have heard from many who said they had decided to throw in the towel and after reading this book they began to fight harder to follow their dreams.  I knew then I accomplished my purpose for writing the book.”

“Once you begin reading it, you won’t want to put it down,” she added.

Purchase your copy of Turner’s book on Amazon by clicking here. She can be contacted for speaking engagements at (951) 496-8618,

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Nominations for annual Antioch Citizen, Business, Youth, Non-Profit of the Year awards due Jan. 27

Monday, January 9th, 2017

antioch-chamber-inaugural-gala-2017Winners to be honored at Antioch Chamber of Commerce Annual Inaugural Gala & Awards Ceremony

The Antioch Chamber of Commerce annually celebrates the best of Antioch for their contributions in developing the social and economic well-being of our community. The nomination process is now open for the 2016 Youth of the Year, Large Business of the Year, Small Business of the Year, Non-Profit of the Year, Citizen of the Year Most Impact, and Citizen of the Year Lifetime Achievement categories. We encourage community members to honor individuals and organizations for their contributions by submitting nominations for any and all of the respective categories.

Please complete the appropriate nomination form, and return to the Antioch Chamber of Commerce by January 27, 2017.  Please direct inquiries to the Antioch Chamber of Commerce at 925-757-1800 or at frontdeskadmin@antiochchamber.com

The Gala will be held Friday, March 10, 2017, with 6 pm – Social Hour   7pm – Dinner. Ticket purchase and registration will be available, soon.

The Chamber is requesting the public’s participation in this exciting event by doing a few important things:

1. Donate an item to our auction.

The funds raised by the auction go towards supporting business education and advocacy efforts for the Antioch business community.

Download a donation form here. 

2. Nominate a Business for the Business of the Year Award.

The Antioch Chamber of Commerce, through its “Business of the Year” Award, honors a company’s contributions in developing the social and economic well being of Antioch.

Download Business of the Year nomination form.

3. Nominate a Citizen for the Citizen of the Year Award.

The Antioch Chamber of Commerce, through its “Citizen of the Year” Award, honors an individual for his/her contributions in developing the social and economic well being of Antioch.

Download Citizen of the Year nomination form.

4. Nominate a youth for the Youth of the Year Award.

The Antioch Chamber of Commerce, through its “Youth of the Year” Award, honors a youth for his/her contributions to the community of Antioch.

Download Youth of the Year nomination form.

5. Nominate a Non-Profit for the Non-Profit of the Year Award.

The Antioch Chamber of Commerce, through its “Non-Profit of the Year” Award, honors a local non-profit’s dedication, time and service contributions in developing the social and economic well being of Antioch.

Download Non-Profit of the year nomination form.

Return nomination forms to the Antioch Chamber of Commerce by January 27, 2017.

Mail or Drop Off To: Antioch Chamber of Commerce, 101 H Street, Unit 4, Antioch, CA 94509

Please direct inquiries to the Antioch Chamber of Commerce at 925-757-1800 or by email to frontdeskadmin@antiochchamber.com.

For more information visit www.antiochamber.com.

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