Archive for May, 2012

Fun at the Contra Costa County Fair: May 31 – June 3

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Exciting arena events, a concert series, contests, carnival rides, livestock, exhibits and more

This week’s Contra Costa County Fair is happening Thursday through Sunday at the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds in Antioch.

With four days of fun planned for Fair-goers of all ages, the Contra Costa County Fair is the perfect place to enjoy live entertainment, delicious food, carnival rides, animals, and hundreds of exhibits – all in a community-friendly environment.

For entertainment, the Fair’s 2012 concert series features the Spazmatics on Thursday night; Nathan Owen Motown After Dark on Friday evening; and Rockin’ Down the Highway (a tribute to the Doobie Brothers), Cream of Clapton (a tribute to Eric Clapton), and Blaze of Glory (a tribute to Bon Jovi) on Saturday evening. On Sunday afternoon, find musical entertainment at the Main Stage with FRESH, and on the Fiesta Stage, enjoy a Hispanic Musical Celebration. All concerts are free with admission to the Fair.

This year’s exciting arena events take place on Saturday and Sunday evenings. On Saturday, watch Stock Car Racing at the Speedway. On Sunday, don’t miss the crashing and demolition at the Boat Trailer Races and the Roll Over Competition. Cost is $6 per event, and tickets to these events will be sold at the gate.

While visiting the Fair, take time to see some of the many daily events – the Sea Lion Splash, Magic on the Midway, Tyzen the Hypnotist, Jeremy the Juggler, Dr. Solar’s Magic Show, Wild West Express Cowboys, and Circus Imagination. Or hop on a carnival ride, enjoy a delicious Fair treat, play a game on the mid-way, see the livestock exhibit, or stroll the Ag Museum. A complete schedule of events is available online at

Gates open at noon on Thursday and Friday, and at 11 am on Saturday and Sunday. Gates close each day at 11 pm. Admission is $8 for adults (13 and older), $5 for seniors, $5 for children 6 to 12, and children five and under receive free admission.

The Contra Costa County Fairgrounds is located at 1201 West 10th Street in Antioch. For directions, event details or general information, visit or call the Fair Office at (925) 757-4400.

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Hundreds Attend Antioch Memorial Day Ceremony

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Photos courtesy of John Goodner, Elite Photography and Design

The Antioch community joined together to once again honor those who sacrificed all for the freedoms we enjoy in America, on Memorial Day, 2012, at the annual ceremony held at Oak View Memorial Park on Monday.  To see more photos click here.

Honoring the fallen


Motorcycle Veterans roll in with the sound of thunder


Veterans and others attended the ceremony

Military personnel and Scouts in attendance at Antioch's Memorial Day ceremony

The Color Guard

Ringing of the bell

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Father, Son on Motorcycle Hit By Car on Deer Valley Road

Monday, May 28th, 2012

By Sergeant Morefield, Antioch Police Field Services Bureau

The Antioch Police Department responded to an auto versus motorcycle traffic collision on Deer Valley Road at the intersection of Balfour Road at approximately 8:56 pm on Sunday, May 27, 2012. The driver of the automobile (a 40-year-old, female, Brentwood resident) was turning southbound onto Deer Valley Road from Balfour Road when she collided with a father and son (52-year-old and 9-year-old, male, Clayton residents) who were traveling northbound on Deer Valley Road on a motorcycle.

The female was not injured, but both males suffered serious (but non-life threatening) injuries and had to be flown via helicopter to area hospitals for treatment. Neither drugs nor alcohol appear to be factors in this collision. None of the involved parties have been cited for any violations at this time.

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Jesse Wilkerson Awarded Antioch School District’s Classified Employee of Year

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Congratulating the 2012 Antioch Classified Employee of the Year at the awards ceremony held in the Prospects High Atrium May 22nd are, left to right, Board Trustee Walter Ruehlig, Personnel Commissioner Darice Ingram, Commissioner Diane Ahlborn, Director of Classified Human Resources-Personnel Commission Linda Sifford, Employee of the Year, Fremont Elementary School Head Custodian Jesse Wilkerson, Runner-up Employee of the Year Marilyn Lanfri, Board Trustee Joy Motts, Personnel Commission Chairperson Toy Carli, and A.U.S.D. Superintendent Dr. Donald Gill. (photo courtesy of Tim Forrester).

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Philippine Heritage Celebration at East County Shared Ministry

Monday, May 28th, 2012

East County Shared Ministry will celebrate Philippine Heritage at a special worship service on Sunday, June 3, at 10 a.m. This is one of several culture-specific celebrations, both recent and looking forward, as the ministry honors its global heritage.

The guest speaker will be Rev. Israel Alvaran, an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church who is assigned as national organizer for economic justice of its General Board of Church and Society. An activist for social justice since his seminary days, he has served with the church in various settings: as pastor, youth minister, university chaplain, and social justice community organizer. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, he came to the United States to pursue graduate studies in 2003.

The political situation in the Philippines changed a few years later, with the abductions and murders of progressive leaders, union activists, community organizers, and even clergy. Alvaran, with approval from his bishop in the Philippines, was granted political asylum. He later earned his Doctor of Ministry degree from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley in 2010. More recently, he worked as interfaith community organizer in San Francisco, supporting worker justice and immigrant rights concerns.

“Unity in diversity is the foundation of the shared ministry,” commented Rev. Christy Parks-Ramage. “As we celebrate our diversity, we strengthen our commitment to social justice which unites us.”

Everyone is invited to join in the celebration of Philippine Heritage particularly those who share this connection. San Francisco alone is home to 40,072 Filipinos, by the estimate of the 2000 U.S. Census. Many Filipinos also live in the counties surrounding the San Francisco Bay Area, with 68,680 in Alameda County, 34,436 in Contra Costa County, 60,144 in San Mateo County, 77,815 in Santa Clara County, and 35,862 in Solano County.

About East County Shared Ministry

East County Shared Ministry comprises Community Presbyterian Church of Pittsburg (PCUSA) and First Congregational Church of Antioch (UCC) who have embarked on a continued exploration of shared ministry that will enrich, enhance and strengthen their collective progressive ministry to the congregations, the community and the world at large. ECSM recognizes, celebrates and gives thanks for the many diverse gifts of God among us. All are invited to participate in their community and worship life including, but not limited to, believers, seekers, agnostics, women and men, those of all sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions, those of all races and cultures, those of all classes and abilities, those who hope for a better world and those who have lost hope. For more information visit the website at

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Century Blvd Undercrossing Closure in Pittsburg and Antioch May 30 – June 1

Monday, May 28th, 2012

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) are widening State Route 4 (SR-4) through Pittsburg and Antioch. As part of this construction work, the contractor will be closing a portion of Century Boulevard in Pittsburg and Antioch where it crosses under SR-4 from 5:30 pm on May 30, 2012 through 5:30 pm on June 1, 2012.

This 48-hour closure will allow for demolition of the abandoned bridge. During this phase of construction, the Century Boulevard undercrossing will be closed to all vehicular, bike, and pedestrian traffic. Signs will be in place to direct traffic around the work site. Please see attached map for detours. Once demolition is completed, the contractor will begin construction of a new highway bridge and an eBART bridge over Century Boulevard.

For more information on the Highway 4 widening, visit

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Dow Donates Dozens of Bikes to Delta 2000

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Susie Dove of Delta 2000 with Dow's donated bikes

As the saying goes “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”  A recent decision to ban bicycles on the Dow Pittsburg site has resulted in a boon for a local nonprofit.

For decades, old bikes have been used to traverse Dow’s 500-acre property, allowing employees to easily move from plant to plant without using their cars.  Maintained annually to ensure safety and functionality, a recent injury at Dow Pittsburg when a worker fell off his bike and broke his arm while commuting prompted leadership to take a close look at bicycle usage at the manufacturing site.  It was decided to eliminate all bicycles and, instead, purchase new tricycles that provide better stability.

What to do with more than 100 old bikes?  Dow put out an announcement early this year to see if any local non-profits were interested.  The response was overwhelming.

Susie Dove, Executive Director for Delta 2000 responded quickly with the idea for a new program – providing second-hand bikes to low-income and disadvantaged youth who need a way to get to school or work.  Focused on creating a community of volunteers, youth will learn how to maintain and build their own bicycles.  “Working with their hands on something of their very own will create pride in their work and what they have learned in owning a bike,” said Dove.

“Our mission with this program,” Dove explained, “ is to promote bicycles as a fun, safe and accessible form of transportation, to foster a healthy community and to provide a welcome space for youth to learn about building, maintaining and riding bicycles.”  Her hope is that the youth will also choose to spend their community service time – something all high school students are required to have before graduating – teaching other students about bike repair or fixing up bikes for other youth to use.

Though Dow is happily donating the bikes, there are other needs associated with this program.  According to Dove, the program will need all sorts of tools and equipment including bike stands.  “We’ve got lots of interest, just not lots of capital.  Anyone who wants to be involved can donate money, tools – we’ll even take old tool kits gathering cobwebs in your basement or garage.”

Dow chose Delta 2000 from dozens of interested organizations for several reasons.  They had a plan to use all the bikes, even the ones that might not be in the best of shape – or look great.  “This is a win-win situation by Dow’s standards,” said Dow spokesperson Patty Deutsche.  “We love the idea that the bikes are going to kids who need to go to school or work.  But we especially like the idea that the kids will be learning at the same time – not just maintenance but responsibility and maybe even the skill of teaching others.  The fact that this is all right in our backyard was a bonus.”

Bikes were delivered to Delta 2000 on Thursday, May 24, 2012.

About Dow’s Pittsburg Operations

The Dow Chemical Company purchased the Pittsburg facility in 1939 from the Great Western Electrochemical Company. It is one of more than 150 manufacturing sites located in 37 countries around the world and supports two of Dow’s eight global businesses – Dow AgroSciences and Performance Chemicals.  The Pittsburg facility produces a variety of products used in personal care products as well as a variety of crop protection products and intermediates.

About Delta 2000

For more than 26 years, Delta 2000 Rivertown Resource Center has provided service to residents of Contra Costa County.  With 28 non-profits and social service organizations under one roof, help can be found for everything from prenatal care to senior services.  For more information about Delta 2000 contact Susie Dove at 925-779-1404 or

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School Board Trustee Advocates for Antioch’s Measure J

Friday, May 25th, 2012

I generally subscribe to Barbara Zivica’s tight-fisted prudence. I, too, pride myself on fiscal integrity. For the record, I, like Barbara, disagreed with extending the Mello-Roos tax, the Antioch sales tax, and the recent water tax in its’ convoluted packaging.

On her recent column, though, regarding Measure J  (renovation of the going on sixty-year Antioch High School, the only school in Contra Costa of that era that has not been restored), Barbara simply barked up the wrong tree as a watchdog.

Even though AHS is sandwiched by stunning Heritage High, college-campus looking Deer Valley, and Pittsburg High, which had a gorgeous makeover keeping its’ old bone structure, I can respectfully differ with Barbara’s opinion that it’s O.K. for our downtown school to stand out like a sore thumb.

Opinion and facts are two things, though. I am not here to argue the ballot merits as the voters will determine whether our kids deserve second rate perimeter security; cracking walls and sidewalks; dark classrooms, outmoded heating, air and technology; an unusable pool and track; and a cafeteria that can’t fit them all in rainy weather. It is the citizens who will decide what an equitable facility would or would not do for downtown morale and property value.

Being, though, that I apparently surprise Barbara in  living one block over in the non-Mello-Roos area, and would, in fact, pay the tax should it pass, I am compelled, as a private citizen, to fact check.

As a soon-to-be sixty-six year old who will start collecting social security June 13th, I, too, would love, both personally and philosophically, to see seniors exempted for the $4.52 per $100,000 assessed value.  Even though it amounts to a tenth or twentieth of what Mello-Roos owners pay, seniors have truly done so much for our community and deserve a break.

Unfortunately, under the law of construction bonds, there is so no such possible exemption. It is simply legally verboten. There seems, then, to be some confusion about the provisions of bonds and parcel taxes, where exemptions can and can not be allowed.

As to the argument that Antioch has properties up the kazoo, I don’t get it. Firstly, precisely because we have received hardship monies to build, the sobering reality is that any properties we sold would be monies given back the state. Secondly, paint this a favorable climate for construction, a dreadful time to sell. Thirdly, even if we were hypothetically able to sell off everything we had, hold nothing for future growth, and be allowed to keep the money, it would be at best a few million rendered, hardly a dime on the dollar of what 21st century modernization will cost.

Fact is, A.U.S.D. has been cut $74 million in state funding over the last four years. Due to the bloodletting, like other districts, we have been given a state exemption on putting away 3% for deferred maintenance and we have stopped putting into long term retirement liability fund.  Plain and simple, there is no golden goose to raid for this remodernization.

Is it true, as has been stated, that we are counting on matching money back from the State? Hoping, of course, but not counting, on it. It would be gravy and no, we never bet the ranch on hypotheticals.

As to the argument that we stopped the last Bond dead in its tracks, leaving some twenty one million dollars unbonded, agreed. Gosh, it feels odd, though, to be criticized for not not taking everything we could have grabbed. Shouldn’t public entities be applauded for  disciplined frugality and turning back money?  We were, in deed, the good stewards we promised to be.

Fact is, we completed most all our list, getting very favorable results from the competitive construction climate.  On top of that we received some $16 million back in saved interest  from the Quality Construction Act. Most of our bonding came in at an incredibly low 2% interest rate. Credit the penny-pinching Scottishness of Tim Forrester, Executive Director of Operations for putting this together.

The loan formulas changed on us and for the small scope of unfinished projects left we would have had to pay $80 to $90 million interest on $20 million bonding. We wisely decided not to.

Unlike my friend Barbara, I was not surprised that the City Council unanimously supported the bond. They, like I, expect that with a mandated build out checklist, a citizens’ oversight committee,  a vigilant administrative team and a fiscally sound Board that has put away $27 million in ending fund balance despite massive state cuts,  we would see the same positive results as Measure C should Measure J Pass. Its all up to the voters.

Walter Ruehlig, Trustee, A.U.S.D.

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