Archive for the ‘Youth’ Category

Antioch Council approves additional smoke shop regulations

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

Prevents new ones from opening in the city, with exceptions

By Allen Payton

With only three of the five members in attendance, the Antioch City Council during their July 25 meeting, voted to approve new regulations for smoke shops that sell cigarettes and drug paraphernalia, and voted to apply for a $10 million grant for a desalination plant. Both Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe and Council Member Monica Wilson were absent.

Due to the need for a 4/5’s vote to adopt, the council had to postpone the decision on an urgency item for a moratorium on the conversion of seniors-only mobile home parks to all-ages housing until the Aug. 8 meeting.

Smoke Shop Regulations

The council approved a new definition of tobacco product and what a tobacco and drug paraphernalia retailer is, amending the existing city ordinance. (Read the complete staff report and ordinance, here: Antioch Smoke Shop Ordinance new regs 07-25-17)

According to the city staff report by Community Development Director Forrest Ebbs, the action prohibits, “with a couple of exceptions, a general medical exception…there’s also an exception on convenient stores which are ancillary to gas stations, as long as less than 20% of their sales area is devoted to tobacco.”

“The current owner can operate it, but it would not be allowed to be sold and continue,” he explained. “Five years is the mark, giving someone ample time to recoup their investment.”

No members of the public spoke during the public hearing. However, letters were submitted by organizations representing the tobacco retailers.

“I’m glad we’re finally at this point on this ordinance,” said Council Member Lori Ogorchock. “Only a few people have reached out to me.”

“This ordinance is coming to fruition, I hope tonight because of the smoke shops and our children,” she explained. “I don’t believe these smoke shops should be allowed in our city. So, I’m happy to see this on the agenda.”

She then chided the tobacco retail business owners for not attending the meeting and speaking about the issue.

“I feel it’s every business owner’s responsibility to know what’s going on in this city,” Ogorchock stated. “I would hope and pray you would read the agenda packets. There’s five members on the council you can reach out to. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Please know what’s going on in the city if you own a business in this city.”

“I appreciate the comments from my colleague, Councilwoman Ogorchock,” he said. “The only question is existing businesses. Are they grandfathered? How will this affect them?”

“This ordinance seems like it will give them more direction and understanding,” Tiscareno continued. He asked about “family member transferrable businesses. Those are things that kind of concern me. I agree we shouldn’t have any newer ones. It doesn’t deny those stores of selling their products. It’s just more keeping that corner neighborhood and our kids safe.”

“They’re given a certain amount of time if they decide to get out of it to have potential new owners…up to 2023 for an established business to get established with the new criteria,” he stated.

“It’s unfortunate that these store owners weren’t here to express their concerns. Shame on them, really for not being here,” Tiscareno said reiterating Ogorchock’s concern. “I think there was enough ample time for those folks to be here. I actually received calls an hour before city council for us to postpone this. I’m not going to delay this because of folks not looking at an agenda.”

He asked for clarification about the new regulations on existing businesses and potential family owners.

Ebbs responded with explanation of the aspects of the ordinance.

“I’ll speak to the two kinds of tobacco retailers that are probably important to you. The first is called the smoke shop which is a place that has more than 20% dedicated to the sale of tobacco. Those businesses, we counted 11…in the city. They may continue to operate. They don’t have to make any changes in their operation. They may sell their business to a new operator. But as of Jan. 1, 2023 they may no longer sell their business. So, that’s the restriction on those types of businesses.”

“Other tobacco retailers in the city, it’s a very similar case except for there’s no restrictions on them selling it,” Ebbs continued. “So, if you’re a corner market you sell groceries and all sorts of things, and you happens to sell cigarettes also, and you’re less than 5,000 square feet, you may continue to operate without restrictions. Five years come and go then you can sell it.”

“New operators coming in have, very restrictive,” he stated. “You have to be over 5,000 square feet or tied to a gas station. Other than that the city will not be entertaining new tobacco retailers of any sorts. Even a small mom and pop corner market types. That is what is written before you.”

Tiscareno asked about transfers of businesses to “inherited family members.”

“Interfamilial transfers would be protected,” said Interim City Attorney Derek Cole.

“The 20%, where did that number come from?” asked Mayor Sean Wright.

“It’s observed in other ordinances that we looked at,” Ebbs responded. “You’d be hard pressed to find a store with 20%. Those stores that have vertical storage of cigarettes, at least…the actual floor area is pretty small.”

“I should point out too that drug paraphernalia sales are not permitted at tobacco retailers going forward, on new operators,” he added.

“The amendments we made tonight answer the questions in those letters we received,” Ogorchock stated. “This is a safety issue for our children and a quality of life issue for the City of Antioch.”

Tiscareno asked about hookah lounges and potential cigar bars, brought up by Thorpe at the previous council meeting, and if they would be permitted.

“If a business did come up in the future that we felt was legitimate, council could hear that and amend the ordinance or is this it?” he asked.

“You could absolutely amend it,” Ebbs stated.

“We’re going to be pursuing a separate effort that relates to smoking…in parks, and certain types of flavored tobacco,” he added. There’s a lot of momentum and a lot of that happening in the county.”

The council adopted the ordinance on a 3-0 vote, but it must come back for a second reading at the next council meeting on Aug. 8, for a final vote.

Grant Application for Desalination Plant

The council voted to direct City Manager Ron Bernal “to submit a grant application, execute a funding agreement and certify funding disbursement to the California Department of Water Resources for grant funding up to $10,000,000 from the Proposition 1 Water Desalination Grant Program for the Brackish Water Desalination Project.”

Chichibu Sister City 50thAnniversary

The council also recognized the 50th anniversary of the Antioch-Chichibu, Japan Sister City relationship. Mayor Sean Wright recently returned from a trip to Japan, along with his family members and other members of the Sister City Committee.

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Antioch teen qualifies for state track and field meet in high jump, ties for fifth

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

Antioch resident Dylan Hicks competes and ties for fifth in the men’s high jump with a jump of 6’5″ at the 2017 CIF state championship meet on Saturday, June 3, at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium on the Buchanan High School campus, in Clovis, CA. Photo by Debbie Hicks

By Allen Payton

Antioch teen, Daylon Hicks, who at the time was a sophomore at Clayton Valley Charter School in Concord, qualified for the 2017 California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) state championship track and field meet in men’s high jump.  The meet was held on Saturday, June 3, at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium on the Buchanan High School campus, in Clovis, CA.

Hicks was the only sophomore among the top five jumpers who placed. He tied for 5th place with a jump of 6’5”.

Hicks reached his personal best of 6’6” at Stanford University’s Invitational Track Meet for high school and college students on April 1, 2017.  He accomplished that after coming off a severe laceration to his right foot and big toe area, three weeks earlier.

Hicks is a scholar athlete who does will in both academics and sports. In addition to competing in the high jump, he also plays football and basketball at Clayton Valley Charter.

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Speak Rivers Youth Outreach Project Back to School Celebration in Antioch, Sat., Aug. 5

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

Founded by award winning principal, motivational speaker and activist, Theresa Everett the Speak Rivers Youth Outreach Project is meant to give to our community, our kids, and our families by sending messages of positivity.

The free event will be held this Saturday, August 5 from 12:00 Noon to 4:00 p.m. at Williamson Ranch Park, corner of Lone Tree Way and Hillcrest Avenue in Antioch.

There will be a backpack giveaway, jumper, food, music featuring the premiere of Come & Spy, and fun activities for the kids.

Theresa Everett

Everett, principal of Skyview Elementary School in Riverside County, CA, was honored in 2016 as Elementary Principal of the Year by the Western Riverside County Association of School Managers. 

Her school was awarded a California Gold Ribbon in 2016 by State Superintendent of Public Instruction and Antioch’s own Tom Torlakson.

The Gold Ribbon Awards recognize California schools that have made gains in implementing the academic content and performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education. These include the California Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics, California English Language Development Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards.

“These schools shine as bright beacons for others, putting forth an exemplary effort to ensure that every student is ready for 21st century college and careers…California teachers are developing an education model for the nation, training the students of today to be the problem-solvers, inventors, and pioneers of tomorrow,” said Torlakson.

Learn more about Everett, here

Connect with Speak Rivers online at:, Facebook: or Instagram: speakrivers.

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Antioch students honored by Fleet Reserve Association for patriotic essays

Friday, July 7th, 2017

Gary Blackburn, past National President of the Fleet Reserve Association, with Paideia Academy essay award winners Hugo Cortes, Khaaliq Parker-Thomas, and Eddy Crowder.  Also pictured is Eddy’s sister Heidi Crowder. Photo by Sheri Crowder.

On Wednesday, May 24, the Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) honored three Antioch students for winning first place at their respective grade levels in the annual FRA Americanism Essay Competition.  The theme for this year’s competition was, “What Memorial Day Means to Me.”

The three students, all of whom attend Paideia Academy, are: 7th grader Khaaliq Parker-Thomas, 8th grader Eddy Crowder, and 10th grader Hugo Cortes.  Each of the students was presented with a cash prize and an American flag that had been flown over the United States Capitol.  They were hosted at a dinner held at the Veterans Memorial Building in Vallejo.

Gary Blackburn, past National President of FRA, expressed his appreciation for the students, and for Paideia Academy, which has seen students entering the competition for over a decade.

“We are very pleased to receive the essays from the Paideia students every year,” he said.  “Patriotism is something we, as veterans, value very highly, and working with a school that emphasizes this important character trait gives us great satisfaction.”

Sheri Crowder, Administrator for the school shared her thoughts.

“We consider it a great privilege to be able to enter the patriotic writing and speaking competitions,” she said. “It gives the students an opportunity to develop their research and writing skills.  It helps to teach the students how to focus their thoughts, and express them in a clear, logical way.”

“It also gives students the opportunity to think of something and someone bigger than themselves,” Crowder continued. “Most importantly, it gives all of us the opportunity to meet veterans and hear their stories.  It never fails to amaze me that in our attempt to honor veterans, we come away blessed and honored by them. Thank you to all the veterans.”

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Antioch Paintball Park now offers low impact paintball

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017


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Dozier Libbey Medical High School says farewell to Class of 2017

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

Antioch School Board Vice President Debra Vinson addresses the Dozier-Libbey Medical High School graduating Class of 2017 on Friday, June 9, 2017.

By Allen Payton

The 149 graduates in the Class of 2017 at Antioch’s Dozier-Libbey Medical High School and their families, friends, faculty and staff celebrated their achievement during commencement ceremonies on Friday, June 9. They heard humorous, inspiring and encouraging messages from top classmates, their principal, and a representative of the Board of Trustees

Antioch School Board Vice President Debra Vinson representing the trustees, shared her thoughts and offered encouragement to the graduates.

“Many of you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up. I’m on my fourth career. So’ there is hope,” she said to laughter.

Vinson reminded the graduates of the Six Pillars of Character, from the Character Counts program, which is promoted in all Antioch district schools: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

She also referred to The Four Agreements, from the book by author Don Miguel Ruiz. The first is “Be impeccable with your word.”

“Only speak bright, positive things about your future,” Vinson said. “Don’t Take Things Personally” and “always give your best.”

“You are now the creator of your life,” she continued.

“Keep a list of loyal friends. Make sure your pastor is on that list. It’s OK to ask for prayer,” Vinson shared. “Learn to listen to your heart. It’s now your life. You’re responsible for it.”

She finished by reading the poem, “All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” to some laughter from both the graduates and the audience and ended with “Congratulations graduates.”

Dozier-Libbey graduates receive their diplomas, displaying special messages on their caps.

Valedictorian Angela Geronimo, wearing “UCSD” on her cap, where she is college bound, spoke to her classmates about their shared experience.

“The fears, anxieties and mood swings have ceased for now,” she stated. “We all started out…in baggy scrubs.”

Geronimo spoke about the various teachers and what they taught the students and of “juggling AP (Advanced Placement) work with projects after project after project.”

She spoke of Raul Martinez a fellow classmate who had passed away, then lightened the mood by joking about “anxiety attacks and melt downs.”

“We struggled to gain extra credit points,” Geronimo shared, and “Mr. Libby’s depressing documentaries,” eliciting laughter from the grads.

She then thanked “our amazing staff, faculty, family and friends. We appreciate you more than we can think of.”

“We conquered the most difficult school in Antioch, California,” Geronimo declared.

Next to address the graduates was a fellow student, Erron Williams who had a different, interrupted experience at Dozier-Libbey.

“I left Dozier-Libbey in my junior year for a real campus experience,” he shared. “I realized the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”

“I’m grateful and proud to be a graduate of Dozier-Libbey,” Williams stated. “The school has taught us to never give up. Never lose hope in who you want to become.”

He thanked the teachers, saying “you’ve made an impact deeply on my life. I see now you are our biggest ally.”

To his fellow grads Williams concluded by saying, “I want you to know you’re absolutely amazing.”

The final speaker was Principal Scott Bergerhouse, sharing his pride in the class.

“Tomorrow is the beginning of a brand, new future,” he stated. “I’m proud to stand before excellence.”

He spoke of the achievements of the students.

“We have three valedictorians and two salutatorians…55 students out of a class of 149 with a 3.5 GPA (Grade Point Average) and above. 26 with a 3.85 and above. And 14 of those 55 with an above 4.0 GPA” and “19 unbelievable students of mastering two languages.”

“You will be leaders of our future,” Bergerhouse continued. “All of you have touched the hearts of the teachers and myself.”

He mentioned a variety of students by name and the memorable things they did.

“Those valuable memories will never be forgotten,” the principal said.

“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go to the wilderness of your intuition,” Bergerhouse shared, quoting actor Alan Alda.

“The teachers and staff are proud of each and every one of you,” he concluded.

The graduates were then presented their diplomas as each of their names was read aloud to the cheers from the crowd.

Congratulations to the Dozier-Libbey Medical High School Class of 2017!


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Antioch Eagle Scout graduates from Coast Guard Academy

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

McNell is congratulated by President Donald Trump at the Coast Guard Academy graduation, May 17, 2017.

Bradley McNell accepted his commission from his Commander in Chief, President Donald Trump during the U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017.

After completing four years at the Academy in New London, CT and    receiving a Bachelor of Science degree McNell’s first tour of duty will be as an Officer on the 418 foot National Security Cutter, USCGC Waesche – whose homeport is Alameda, CA.

He is an Eagle Scout from Troop 450 and a 2012 graduate of De La Salle High School.

To watch the speech by given to the graduates by General John Kelly, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, click here and to see highlights of the graduation, click here.

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Deer Valley High graduates one of its smartest classes

Friday, June 16th, 2017

Valedictorian Henry Rausch, left and other Deer Valley High Class of 2017 grads celebrate and get hyped during the ceremony on Thursday, June 8, 2017. Photos by Luke Johnson

DVHS alum and Vice Principal Blair Wilkins addresses the graduates.

By Luke Johnson

An unlikely dream came true for a Deer Valley High School alumnus.

Blair Wilkins – who ranked No. 317 out of 400 students in DVHS’s first graduating class in 1999 – spoke during the commencement ceremony for the Class of 2017 as the school’s vice principal.

“For me graduating 18 years ago – half my life ago – it’s been very surreal for me to come back and it’s been a great pleasure to serve as a vice principal,” Wilkins said.

Approximately 475 diploma recipients filed in on the campus’s football field Thursday, June 8, on an unusually cloudy evening for this time of year with an estimated 3,000 loved ones in the stands.

A grad cheers on one of his peers.

Wilkins said this was one of the school’s most successful years academically with nearly one-fourth of graduates finishing with a 3.5 GPA or higher.

“We have had a lot of growth with our students – most recently being recognized as a California Honor Roll School,” Wilkins said. “Which to me is a great honor and really shows how great of a school community we have.”

Every year students and administrators agree that DVHS has an unfair negative reputation. However, Valedictorian Henry Rausch believes the school took a step forward this year in progressing public opinion.

A grad celebrates as she receives her diploma.

“From the inside, we don’t have a bad reputation. We all like the school,” Rausch said. “It’s just a small fraction of the school that’s making trouble and giving us bad press, and from the inside we don’t see any of that.”

Before the event began, everyone in attendance had a moment of silence to pay tribute to Reggina Jefferies, who was on pace to graduate that day but tragically passed away in a mass shooting in Oakland last summer.


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