Archive for July, 2011

Health Expo: A call to Action to African-American families

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

WHAT: African-American Health Empowerment Expo

WHEN: Sept. 24, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

WHERE: Pittsburg Senior High School, 1750 Harbor St., Pittsburg, CA

WHY: African Americans in Contra Costa County have poorer health outcomes than other racial or ethnic groups in almost all categories. They have higher death rates in heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, homicide and unintentional injuries. This situation is largely preventable and needs to change. Change begins with the individual.

WHO: Members of the East County African-American community and county health advocates have banded together to give African-American families
the tools and information to take individual and collective action in regards to their community physical, emotional and spiritual life well-being.

INFORMATION: Itika Greene, AAHEE chair, 925-957-5439 (Expo hotline) or via email at aahee@sbcglobal.net

REPORT: Contra Costa Community Health Indicators http://www.cchealth.org/health_data/hospital_council/

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PG&E Plans to Close Two Antioch Power Plants

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Good news: PG&E has announced its intention to apply to the Public Utilities Commission to close five older, higher polluting power plants – two in Pittsburg, two in Antioch and one in Bay Point, operated by GWF Energy LLC of Pittsburg.

The plants, all located along the waterfront, have been operating since the late 1980s. The plants burn petroleum coke, an oil refinery byproduct, and use water taken from the San Joaquin river, and return the waste into the water. At the time the plants were proposed, GWF had only one such petroleum coke burning plan in operation, which was in Torrance, CA.

GWF was in a rush in those days to get the plants on line in order to benefit from an energy crisis, which obligated PG&E to purchase the power under the PUC Policies Act of 1978. (PG&E would be released from this obligation if the plants didn’t start operation by December 1989.) Sale of the energy generated by the plants to PG&E was considered so favorable that it was anticipated GWF would recoup their investment within five years.

In reply to my inquiry about the project to a PG&E executive, I received the following statement ”As you know, our customers pay for fuel costs and purchased power costs directly because our rate structure allows these costs to be flowed through (without profit or loss) to the ratepayer. Since other, less costly, sources of power are available in the short run, your impression that power purchases from these kinds of projects can be uneconomical for our customer is correct.”

There was heavy public opposition when the project was presented to the Antioch Planning Commission by GWF consultant Eric Hasseltine, a former county supervisor. The three-hour hearing before a standing room only crowd of 180 people ended in a 4-3 vote denying the project. GWF immediately appealed the decision to the City Council.

Although speaker after speaker argued against construction of the plant during GWF’s appeal to the council, causing the council to postpone discussion of giving further indirect financial assistance to Roger Morgan‘s ferryboat San Diego restaurant project, which ultimately cost the city about $2.7 million, the council approved the deal.

Guess all those company donations – e.g., $117,000 for construction of a Little League baseball diamond, $10,00 for the East County Hospice program and $100,000 for the Delta Learning Center for whom the company secured a $100,000 interest-free construction loan and financial support for several of the City’s leisure events – paid off, as did donations to several council members.

It was disillusioning to learn that shortly after approval of the project, the husband of council member Mary Rocha, who had received a $250 donation from GWF, was hired as a maintenance worker at the plant – one of only 15 permanent positions.

Responding to inquiries by the press, GWF’s Chief Operating Officer Marion Horna , who took charge of the five plants in East County in 1989, stated “I’m sure locally the people are going to say there was a conflict but there was no impropriety. He applied for the job and went through the interviews. The only difference is Mary knew we were needing jobs. That’s the only inside track he had. We promised to hire locally. He was a local citizen and, as a matter of fact, a minority.” Mr. Horna resigned from GWF in 1991.

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Interpretive Signs for Prewett Burrowing Owl Preserve

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Burrowing Owl Conservation Network has been awarded a grant for the manufacture of four interpretive signs to be installed at the 24-acre Prewett Family Park Burrowing Owl Habitat Preserve in Antioch.

The Board of Supervisors approved the Fish and Wildlife Committee’s recommendation for dispersal of grant funds from the Contra Costa County Fish and Wildlife Propagation Fund, which is entirely supported by fine revenues resulting from violations of Fish and Game Code.

This newly created wildlife and habitat preserve has a number of designated pedestrian access trails that allow and encourage visitors to observe from a distance burrowing owls, other raptors and wildlife that inhabit this suburban grassland ecosystem year-round.

“As burrowing owls are a California Species of Special Concern and have witnessed steep declines in the San Francisco Bay Area and California, we believe community education and outreach is a vital part of their survival and protection of their habitat. We have found many people are unaware of the existence of burrowing owls, have never seen them in the wild, or are simply unaware that Contra Costa County is fortunate to have them as year-round residents,” said Scott Artis, Executive Director of Burrowing Owl Conservation Network.

“As such, these signs will provide species and habitat information and will be used to inform visitors and complement a museum-quality burrowing owl diorama and educational program that we are currently raising much needed funds for.”

The interpretive signs will serve as a means by which the value of protecting, conserving, and preserving wildlife and habitat can be passed on to county residents and visitors. Because burrowing owls rely on fossorial mammals (e.g. ground squirrels) for the construction of their burrows, the four interpretive signs will also highlight the interdependency between species and demonstrate the value of protecting functioning ecosystems.

For more information and to donate, please visit http://burrowingowlconservation.org and indicate that you would like your donation designated to the Prewett Family Park Burrowing Owl Habitat Preserve.

Burrowing Owl Conservation Network is a non-profit charitable organization that advocates for the protection and restoration of the Western Burrowing Owl and promotes the preservation and careful management of habitat to prevent loss, foster healthy populations, and maintain intact natural communities for an ecologically sound future.

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Upcoming Events at El Campanil Theatre

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Grammy Winners Mariachi Divas on Saturday August 20 at 8:00 p.m.

Get ready for a south-of-the-border evening of cheerful music with southern California’s own Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea. The Divas are a unique, multi-cultural, all-female ensemble. Winner of the 2009 Grammy® award for best regional Mexican album of the year, you can often find them strolling the streets as official mariachis of Disney’s California Adventure.

Adults: $27 Seniors (62 and older): $24 Child (Under 18): $15

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Stompy Jones on Sunday August 21 at 4:00 pm

Stompy Jones showcases vintage jump style rhythm and blues. The band recreates the historic sounds of the 1940s such as shuffle drumming and bounce piano and combines them with a sense of the contemporary. It performs a full calendar of club dates, concerts and festivals throughout California.

Stompy Jones is San Francisco based sextet, renowned for their jumpin’ rhythm, wailing improvisations, hip charm and explosive stage show. Whether appearing at a posh supper club, concert hall, festival or down the road a piece, the solid sounds of these journeymen of jump are delivered in the romping, joyous, overwhelming style of jazz that came to be know as Rock and Roll!

Also on Stage – John & Charissa Ratto (& friends) “North American Open Swing Champions, San Francisco Shag Jam Champions and participants in the 2007 National Jitterbug Championships”.

Adults: $27 Seniors (62 and older): $24 Children (Under 18): $15

————-

American Center of Philippine Arts on Saturday August 27 at 3:00 p.m.

The youth of ACPA’s Students Enriched in Education & Dance (SEED) program will be presenting dances and music from the various regions of the Philippines accompanied by live rondalla (stringed-ensemble) and percussion music. SEED students will be sharing the stage with guest Philippine
performing arts companies Barangay Dance Company, Kawayan Folk Arts and Parangal Dance Company.

Adults: $ 10 Seniors (62 and Over): $ 8 Child (17 and Under): $ 5

—————

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) on Sunday August 28 at 2:00 pm

Starring: Frederic March, Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo. Runtime: 2 hours 52 min

The story concentrates on the social re-adjustment of three World War II servicemen, each from a different station of society. Al Stephenson returns to an influential banking position, but finds it hard to reconcile his loyalties to ex-servicemen with new commercial realities. Fred Derry is an ordinary working man who finds it difficult to hold down a job or pick up the threads of his marriage.

Having had both hands burnt off during the war, Homer Parrish is unsure that his fiancée’s feelings are still those of love and not those of pity. Each of the veterans faces a crisis upon his arrival, and each crisis is a microcosm of the experiences of many American warriors who found an alien world awaiting them when they came marching home.

Adults: $6 Seniors (62 and older): $5 Child (Under 18): $5

EXTRA SPECIAL FEATURE – Book Signing … Sarah Sundin’s Latest Novel BLUE SKIES TOMORROW
Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit, but at least his stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him the luxury of a personal life. As he courts Helen Carlisle, a young war widow and mother who conceals her pain under a frenzy of volunteer work, the sparks of their romance set a fire that flings them both into peril. After Ray leaves to fly a combat mission at the peak of the air war over Europe, Helen takes a job in a dangerous munitions yard and confronts an even graver menace in her own home. Will they find the courage to face their challenges? And can their young love survive until blue skies return?

Blue Skies Tomorrow is the third book in the Wings of Glory series, which follows the three Novak brothers, B-17 bomber pilots with the US Eighth Air Force stationed in England during World War II.

Sarah Sundin lives in Antioch with her husband and three children. When she isn’t ferrying kids to soccer and tennis, she works on-call as a pharmacist at Sutter Delta Medical Center and teaches Sunday school. She is the author of the Wings of Glory series—A Distant Melody(Revell, 2010), A Memory Between Us (2010), and Blue Skies Tomorrow (August 2011). Please visit her website at http://www.sarahsundin.com.

What’s special about this book? Over half the story is set in Antioch. The hero and heroine see a movie (Cover Girl) at El Campanil, and the heroine puts on a “Vaudeville for Victory” children’s pageant and fundraiser at the theater. And look closely at the cover.

For more information: www.ElCampanilTheatre.com,

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Taxpayers Should Decide Remaining Mello-Roos Funds

Monday, July 25th, 2011

What will the Antioch City Council do now that it has the authority to decide what to do with the $2 million of Mello-Roos money left after construction of the combination Community Center, police substation and library on Lone Tree Way? The windfall was a result of a competitive bidding climate in the ongoing nationwide economic slowdown.

Before passing the baton to the council, the Antioch Mello-Roos Board, consisting of two Antioch Unified School District representatives, two city council representatives and three members of the community appointed by the other four board members (none required to actually live in the Mello Roos District), recently held two public meetings soliciting citizen input as to what to do with the money. Public input was also solicited via the Antioch Herald online survey.

Thirty-three percent of respondents said the money should be returned to shorten the payoff of the bond used to fund the construction, and 67 percent want the money spent on another public project, which doesn’t surprise me. It’s just another example of why our country is in debt as taxpayers continue to elect the same old tax-and-spend legislators.

I’m a long-term observer of the many games public entities play with taxpayer funds in addition to pension spiking, e.g. management spotting leftover monies in a department’s budget towards year end and, rather than crediting the funds to next year’s projected budget, spending the money on a new project, which will incur future operational costs.

It’s not the Antioch City Council that should be making the decision in regard to the unexpected windfall. It’s the 11,400 Mello -Roos homeowners who were taxed to pay for the project who should do so.

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Highway 4 to Close Wednesday Night

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

The contractor for the Highway 4 widening project at Loveridge Road will close all lanes on westbound Highway 4 at Loveridge Road for several hours on Wednesday, July 27 between 10 p.m. and 3:30 a.m. This work is to ensure public and crew safety while crews work to place steel piles for the bridge structure at Loveridge Road.

The detour for this work will be as follows: motorists will be directed off the highway at Somersville Road/Auto Center Drive, left on Somersville Road, continue on to Auto Center Drive, left on Tenth Street, left on Loveridge Road, right on California Avenue, and left on westbound Highway 4.

Motorists are advised to expect delays and allow extra time for their commute. Please drive with caution through the detour and leave a safe traveling distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you. Caltrans and CCTA appreciate your patience as we work to improve the highways. For the most current information on all SR-4 corridor closures please visit http://widensr4.org.

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Endangered Delta Smelt Population Improves

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Young Delta smelt abundance this year roughly doubled when compared to last year but is a small fraction of their historical abundance, state biologists say. The improvement is likely due in large part to higher than usual flows from the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers this year which resulted in better habitat conditions and water quality.

Because it is exceptionally difficult to determine the actual number of Delta smelt, Department of Fish and Game (DFG) biologists use survey data to develop “indices” of the species’ abundance. An index is a number that is likely to vary in direct proportion to abundance. For example, if a hypothetical index were to double from 4 to 8 then abundance would also have doubled (e.g., from 200,000 to 400,000).

The 20-Millimeter Survey index of young Delta smelt abundance – which has been developed yearly since 1995 and is named after the approximate size of fish it collects – was 8.0 this year while the index in 2010 was 3.8 and its record high was 39.7 in 1999. The Summer Tow Net Survey index of slightly-older Delta smelt abundance – which has been developed yearly since 1959 and is named after the type of net used to collect fish – was 2.2 this year while the index in 2010 was 0.8 and the record high was 62.5 in 1978.

The increased number of young Delta smelt is encouraging, but because it is still early in their one-year life cycle, the abundance of adults may or may not increase similarly. DFG will continue to monitor the population and at the conclusion of the Fall Midwater Trawl Survey in December will calculate and then release an index of sub-adult Delta smelt abundance.

Delta smelt occur only in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The finger-sized fish was historically one of the most abundant in the Delta, but the species declined substantially and was listed as threatened under the California and Federal Endangered Species acts (ESA) in 1993. After a further decline, the species was designated as endangered in 2010 under the California ESA.

Ongoing efforts to protect and recover the population include research on threats to the species, active management to minimize loss at water diversions under federal ESA biological opinions and a state ESA authorization, development of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, improved water quality, habitat restoration and conservation of genetic diversity through special hatchery-rearing techniques.

To see how the indices of Delta smelt abundance have varied over the years, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/delta/data/townet/indices.asp?species=3and http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=34731.

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Family, Friends Welcome Home Wounded Antioch Soldier

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Kyle White gets a huge welcome home to Antioch from family, friends and Veterans groups.

“It’s real nice to be home with family.”

By Allen Payton, Publisher

Riding in a convertible Corvette and escorted from the airport to his home by the Warriors Watch motorcycle riders, Antioch police and local firefighters, 2005 Antioch High School graduate Kyle White arrived to a huge welcome at his home from his family, friends and veterans organizations, on Saturday, July 9.

Kyle White arrives home - photo by James Fajardo

Having healed from the bullet wound that ripped through his left leg and struck an artery, while serving for eight months in the cold mountains of Afghanistan, Private 1st Class White, a radio transmission operator, is home for 30 days.

Joined by his mother Lisa, father Daryl, older brother Derick who served in the Army National Guard, and his sisters Nicole and Megan, his “nana” Grandma Tricia Foster, Grandpa and Grandma White, Uncle Darin White and four other uncles, aunts and cousins, all from Antioch, Kyle shared of his time in serving in the Army and Afghanistan.

Kyle White (in light blue shirt), with brother Derick, mom Lisa and dad Daryl White at his Welcome Home party.

He joined the Army at the recruiting center in Antioch on January 13, 2010 then was deployed to Afghanistan, last October 20. He was in the mountains at the 10,000 foot elevation.

“It was cold all the time,” Kyle said. “Then it warmed up in April.”

Then in May everything changed.

“We had been there for eight months, when on Memorial Day I got shot,” Kyle said.

He’d been hit by a PKM 762 round that went through his Platoon Leader then hit Kyle in the left leg. The bullet ripped through his hamstring, hit a major artery and came out his groin.

“My squad leader, Staff Sergeant Gomez, picked me up and carried me 400 meters up the hill,” he stated. “Then he dragged me another 400 meters and took care of my leg.”

“He carried me to the helicopter and they flew me back to the base,” Kyle added. “I lost six quarts of blood.”

His mother, Lisa White heard about his injury about 10 p.m. that same night.

“I ran into to take the phone to his daddy,” she said. “I began to pray. I knew he was going to be OK.”

Kyle spoke with his parents from his hospital bed at the base in Afghanistan. While still in the hospital, he was presented with a Purple Heart by a Two-Star General and Commanding Sergeant Major.

Then, when he arrived in the states, his parents flew to meet him.

“We saw him on June 18 in Louisiana, when he entered the states” Lisa said. “It was like exhaling, knowing he was safe.”

At the end of his 30 days at home, Kyle will return to Louisiana to finish his four year commitment in the Army.

“I’m just relaxing,” he said. “It’s real nice to be home with my family.”

Also in attendance at Kyle’s return home party were the Blue Star Moms, Combat Veterans Association and the American Legion.

Riders from the Warriors Watch, whose slogan is “We Have Your Backs At Home,” are not all veterans, but are volunteers.

Kyle White with family, friends, and representatives of Warriors Watch and other Veterans groups celebrate his homecoming. - photo by James Fajardo

“You just have to be a patriot,” said one of their leaders Dave Raymond (who drove the Blue Angels Corvette).

For more information on their organization visit www.warriorswatch.org. For more details on Kyle White’s story visit www.caringbridge.org/visit/kylewhite.

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