Archive for December, 2011

Santa Helps Day of Peace Celebration

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Santa came to the Interfaith Peace Center in Antioch just in time for Father Tom Bonacci, as he receives two thousand dollars on Christmas Eve from Antioch Music Foundation officers, Walter and Cynthia Ruehlig.

The funds came from Calpine Corporation through the Office of District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover to assist in hosting the International Day of Peace Celebration in the east Delta region of Contra Costa County.

Father Tom, founder of the Interfaith Peace Project, is one of sixty world-wide semi-finalists for this year’s Prize given by the Coexist Foundation, a charity which works to promote the understanding of Jews, Christians and Muslims through education, dialogue and respect.

(Photo courtesy of Susan Batterton)

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Crab Feed Fundraiser for Kids Camp

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

The Friends of Laurel Ridge are Hosting a Crab Feed on Saturday, January 14th from 6 until 9 pm. in an effort to “Get Kids To Camp.”

The Cost is $45 per Person. Enjoy Great Crab & Tri-Tip in a warm friendly environment while supporting the Children and Student Ministries’ Camps and Mission Trips. Live Music from “Oldskool.” This is an alcohol-free event.

Find more info and purchase tickets online at or

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Opportunity Junction Grads Ready for Opportunities

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

The El Campanil Theatre in Antioch hosted a very special graduation ceremony on Dec. 22 for thirteen talented and grateful Contra Costa County residents.

Known as Opportunity Junction’s “Class 36”, this group of graduates definitely has something to celebrate this Holiday Season having just completed an intensive three months of full-time job placement and training.

Receiving their diplomas, each spoke of the commitment it took, not only by themselves but by their spouses, children, parents and friends – many of whom were in the audience – to get through the intensive program. They also recognized in their personal and emotional speeches that this was a life-changing opportunity which they were thankful to have been selected to participate in.

Founded in 1999, Opportunity Junction is a non-profit organization in Antioch which provides education and career training for qualified Contra Costa residents. Its mission is to fight poverty by helping low-income adults gain the skills and confidence to support themselves and their families.

Supported by community partnerships, grants, in-kind donations, pro bono services and donations from the public, Opportunity Junction’s successful Job Training and Placement program is able to combine technology training, personal development and real world experience to adults. Alumni are followed for at least 18 months and continue to be offered services including career counselling and mentoring indefinitely.

According to Alissa Friedman, Executive Director at Opportunity Junction, “There is a tremendous need for workers today to have strong technology and workplace skills. Without education, experience and stability many residents in Contra Costa County struggle to secure a job which can meet their basic needs.

She added, “Last night’s graduation ceremony means these thirteen wonderful people are now ready to get on the road to economic self-sufficiency with enhanced skills and more self confidence.”

What’s next for these special graduates? In the New Year they return to Opportunity Junction to commence up to four months of paid internships using the skills introduced during training. That is if they don’t find a full-time job first.

Ms. Friedman reminds potential employers that unlike staffing firms, Opportunity Junction’s Temp-to-Hire program has no conversion fees. Contact her to find out if your organization or agency qualifies for available tax credits through this program.

If you missed the graduation ceremony last night in Antioch, don’t worry because it will be available for viewing on CCTV (Comcast channel 27, Astound channel 32 and AT&T U-verse channel 99) Monday, January 9 at 8:00 pm, Wednesday, January 11 at 2 pm, Wednesday, January 18 at 2 pm.

For information about Opportunity Junction’s programs and services, visit or contact Alissa Friedman, Executive Director, at 925-776-1133,

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East County Idol Auditions

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Auditions are being held for the fourth installment of the East County Idol, sponsored by the Antioch Music Foundation. The show comes to the El Campanil Theatre February 24th at 7:30. Auditions will be held at East County Mall, Somersville Town Centre January 21st and 28th from 10 to 6.

Prizes are $400, $200 and $100. The program, emceed by radio celebrity Kim Dooley, will be rebroadcast. Auditions are open to any high school student living in Far East County. Show tickets are $10 and proceeds benefit needy students. For audition spots or ticket info call Walter Ruehlig at (925) 756-7628.

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Take Back Antioch Fundraiser and Benefit Auction

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Please join Take Back Antioch on January 9th for a Spaghetti Feed and Benefit Auction to raise money for Lone Tree Elementary and Diablo Vista Elementary Schools.

Both these schools were recently affected by arson and vandalism. Proceeds from the fundraiser will be designated for ‘Safety and Security’ needs at both schools. All funds raised will be split 50/50 between the participating schools.

The feed will be held on January 9th from 5 PM to 8:30 PM at The Red Caboose Restaurant located at 210 Fulton Road in Antioch. Diablo Vista seating from 5-7; Lone Tree seating from 6:30-8:30. Tickets are $7 ($3/child 12 and under) and can be purchased at the door or in advance by emailing

TBA is accepting donations from local business for the Benefit Auction. To donate a product or service to the auction please contact Veli Waller at In exchange, participating businesses will be thanked at the event.

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Missing Antioch Teen Sisters are Not in Danger, Police Say

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

By Allen Payton

According to Antioch Police Sergeant Steve Bias, the two missing teen sisters, Nadya and Tamara (Toma) Nealey are on their own and are not in danger.

They were in touch with someone by phone as of a couple days ago.

However, the Bias said the Antioch police are not giving up on trying to locate them, as they are under age 18.

Anyone with information on their whereabouts are asked to call Antioch Police Detective Stanton at 925-779-6884.

For more information, visit the Facebook page set up by their parents by clicking on this link: Find Nadya and Toma Nealey.

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Beware – County Plans New ‘Clean Water’ Tax

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

To the editor:

On December 6, 2011, the Board of Supervisors adopted election procedures for Prop 218, a new property-related fee which will be imposed throughout Contra Costa County. This is apparently a parcel tax disguised as a “Clean Water Fee.”

A public hearing to discuss the proposed fee has been scheduled for February 7, 2012. Written notices were allegedly mailed in mid-December 2011 to record owners of each identified parcel (or everyone who owns property in Contra Costa County). I own my home in Antioch, but, to date, have not received my notice. Have you?

At the public hearing, the Board will consider all protests against this fee. If written protests are presented by a majority of property owners, then the fee will not be imposed. Otherwise, ballots will be mailed 45 days prior to election close date of April 6, 2012. A majority vote by mail-in voters is sufficient to impose this new fee.

The election process to approve Prop 218 is a farce. It was designed to avoid detection rather than truly give the people a voice. The county has more than 1 million people. How many are property owners? Could the chambers of the Board of Supervisors accommodate all property owners? Why require written protest at a public hearing? Why the urgency and not wait for a regular election? How much more will election by mail cost? Do we really need to burden people struggling to pay their mortgage with a new tax?

Noticeably, District 3 Supervisor Mary Piepho has immediately started her campaign for approval of Prop 218 through her December 7, 2011 article appearing in Contra Costa Times titled “Delta At Risk And Needs Our Help Now.” She has also hit the campaign trail speaking before the Antioch City Council on the urgent needs of the delta without actually mentioning the Board of Supervisors’ plan to tax property owners with a “Clean Water Fee.”

Once imposed, this tax will be with you for ten years. On February 7, 2012, you have a choice; speak up (and write down your protest); or get out your checkbook.

Cynthia Ruehlig

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Dozier-Libbey Wins Distinguished School Award

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Proudly accepting a plaque of recognition as a California Distinguished School is Dozier-Libbey Medical High School Principal Nancie Castro. In attendance on December 8th at the Dozier-Libbey gym were (L-R) Antioch Board Trustees Gary Hack, Claire Smith, Diane Gibson-Gray, Joy Motts, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, Antioch Superintendent Dr. Donald Gill and Trusttee Walter Ruehlig. (Photo courtesy of ABC School Portraits)

Antioch’s Dozier-Libbey Medical High School received some early Christmas presents in the form of several awards and accolades, including being named a California Distinguished School in an award ceremony earlier this month.

The California Department of Education gives the Distinguished School award every year to schools that demonstrate academic success through high test scores among all of their students, regardless of background.

Closing the achievement gap was a particular focus of this year’s award, which is now celebrating its own silver anniversary.

California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson was on hand at the packed ceremony to present the award to the medical career focused high school.

Torlakson said that Dozier-Libbey won the award because of its high Academic Performance Index, (API), scores and its career themed, “real-world” focused education which he said is the future of education in the State.

“Here at Dozier-Libbey … every student is valued, every student challenged,” said Torlakson. “This philosophy of having every student helped and creating and understanding relevance every day … is a big reason [for the award].”

The high school, which specializes in a rigorous curriculum that exceeds California public school requirements with a focus on math, science and careers in the medical field, has improved its API scores every year since it opened its doors in 2008.

This year student’s average API scores were in the mid 800s, placing them among the top high schools in the county.

Dozier-Libbey Principal Nancie Castro believes her school is one of the best around. And, like Torlakson, she sees Dozier-Libbey’s “real-world,” student-centric learning model as something that could revive the state’s ailing public education system.

“I believe in my heart that this is a model that works for all kids,” said Castro. “Getting experience for students outside the classroom, really bringing relevance to what they’re learning – it means they’ll blossom. And [the award] is validation that what we’re doing here really works.”

As if to prove Castro’s point further, Dozier-Libbey also received a California Linked Learning Certification at the ceremony for its use of up to date, career-focused education to help improve student engagement, achievement and eventual transition to college as well as an additional award for Exemplary Career Technical Education Program.

Dozier-Libbey’s small size – it will hold a maximum of 600 students by the time the school is at capacity – allowed all of its students to attend the ceremony, including the school band. The enthusiastic cheers from the bleachers seemed to prove the students were just as proud of the award as the school staff.

“It’s a really great honor,” said Nazifa Fazli, 17. “I think it encourages everyone to try even harder.”

Another student and future pediatrician, Raymond Maciel, 17, said that the awards give the students and staff a chance to show special their school is. “Dozier-Libbey, from its environment to its excellent teachers – it makes our futures one step easier to achieve,” he said.

17-year-old student Celynn Knight summed up the ceremony by simply saying, “Everyone here is a family.”

After all of the accolades perhaps that’s the one thing that really sets Dozier-Libbey apart.

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