Archive for April, 2013

Seeking volunteers for the 2013 Contra Costa County Fair in Antioch

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

The Contra Costa County Fair is currently looking for individuals interested in volunteering at the 2013 Contra Costa County Fair, May 30 – June 2. Here’s your chance to attend the Fair, while also being part of the Fair! Contra Costa County Fair volunteers play an important role in helping to make the annual Fair a success. Plus, the Fair is a great place to give your time, learn something new, and have some fun!

The Fair is looking for volunteers to help in the exhibit department, livestock area, agricultural education, Fairgrounds classroom and museum, gardens, and office.

Teen and adult volunteers are encouraged to participate. Volunteer applications are now available at www.ContraCostaFair.com. Simply fill out the form and return it to the Fair office by Tuesday, May 14, 2013.

This year’s Contra Costa County Fair is May 30 – June 2. For information, visit www.ContraCostaFair.com or call the Fair Office at (925) 757-4400.

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PG&E breaks ground on state-of-the-art electric distribution control center

Friday, April 26th, 2013
PG&E Ground Breaking

Representatives from PG&E and local officials turn the first shovels of dirt to ceremonially break ground on the new facility.  photo by Allen Payton

Project will enhance reliability for customers including those in Antioch

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) broke ground on Friday, April 26, 2013 on a more than 37,000-square-foot electric distribution grid control center in Concord that will enhance electric reliability for PG&E customers. PG&E’s Executive Vice President of Electric Operations Geisha Williams was joined at today’s groundbreaking by Concord Mayor Dan Helix, as the new facility, scheduled to be completed in 2014, will provide an economic boost to the city.

Thanks to investments to upgrade and modernize the electric grid, PG&E delivered our best service reliability performance ever in the first quarter of 2013, and we’re committed to getting even better,” said Williams. “Our goal is fewer outages and faster restoration, and this new facility will help us expedite our response times for power outages and emergency situations so we can provide our customers with the safest and most reliable electric service possible.”

The new control center will incorporate smart grid technology to give operators more real-time visibility into the electric system. A new Distribution Management System (DMS) will incorporate data from Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and customers’ SmartMeters™ to help operators pinpoint the exact location of an outage. Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) equipment and automated “intelligent” switches that are being installed on electric circuits throughout PG&E’s service area will also help reroute the flow of electricity to minimize the number of customers affected by an outage.

The new facility will also help PG&E’s disaster resiliency, as the building will be constructed to high seismic standards, with redundant data feeds as well as emergency back-up capabilities. In addition, the control center will have the flexibility to shift operations to other regional centers if support is needed in the event of a storm or natural disaster.

The Concord facility is one of three new electric distribution grid control centers that will control PG&E’s more than 141,000 circuit mile electric distribution system—the system which delivers electricity to individual homes and businesses.

In addition to the long-term benefits of having approximately 90 jobs located in Concord, 250 construction workers will work for one year building the new facility. Mayor Helix said this project has the potential to provide an economic boost to the region as these workers lodge in hotels and patronize local businesses during construction.

PG&E continues to make significant progress in electric reliability that benefits customers throughout its service area. In 2012, PG&E customers experienced the fewest minutes without electricity in company history, and the number of service interruptions was the second lowest on record, just behind 2011. This progress was followed by our best reliability numbers ever in the first quarter of 2013.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to 15 million people in northern and central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/about/newsroom  or www.pgecurrents.com.

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Time to enter your exhibits in the Contra Costa County Fair

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Enter at the Fair Office or on-line – it’s fun and easy!

Want to enter something in this year’s Contra Costa County Fair? Imagine the thrill of winning a blue ribbon at the Fair for a special talent. Think you own the best pig, bake the most delicious apple pie, make a beautiful quilt, or have an uncanny knack for making crafts? Be sure to enter the Contra Costa County Fair’s competitive exhibits – and join the thousands of Contra Costa County residents who enter exhibits each year in the Fair. There are hundreds of categories and specialty contests for adults and children.

Now is the time to complete the paperwork for those entries. The Contra Costa County Fair’s Exhibit Handbook, which includes all the information you need to enter exhibits, is now available on the Fair’s website at www.ContraCostaFair.com. Both paper entries and online entries are currently being accepted. Simply visit the Fair Office in Antioch or log-on to the Fair’s website at www.ContraCostaFair.com to complete the entry process.

The Fair is accepting paper entries until April 30 and on-line entries will be accepted until May 5. In order to accommodate exhibitors, the Fair Office will be open from 8 am – 8 pm on April 30 to accept paper entries. If you prefer to enter online, visit the Fair’s website from now until May 5 at midnight to complete the process.

The Fairgrounds is also accepting coloring contest forms and cook-out paper entries from now until May 17 at 5 pm.

This year’s Contra Costa County Fair is May 30 – June 2. For information, visit www.ContraCostaFair.com or call the Fair Office at (925) 757-4400. If you’re interested in receiving a copy of the Fair’s free electronic newsletter, visit the Fair’s website to sign up.

 

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Antioch police arrest boy in high school bomb threats, three more made Thursday morning

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

There were three additional bomb threats called in to the Antioch Police Department concerning area schools this morning. The first was called in at 7:43 AM stating there was a bomb at Black Diamond Middle School. The second two calls were made at 9:39 AM and 10:50 AM; both of those calls were reports of bombs, again, at Deer Valley High School.

The Antioch Police Department sent officers to all three of these events, responding in mutual cooperation with the Antioch Unified School District to evaluate the credibility of each report. All of the incidents this morning and over the past four days have been determined to be hoaxes. At no time were students of any of the effected schools in any danger.

Following-up on a lead after the third bomb threat of the morning, APD Officers and Detectives were able to identify and subsequently arrest a juvenile in connection with these false bomb threats. The juvenile later admitted to making the bogus calls to investigators.

Investigators are still looking into the false bomb threat made at Antioch High School, yesterday.

Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to call Detective Koch with the Antioch Police Department at (925)779-6895. You may also text a tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using key word ANTIOCH

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Assemblymember Frazier Authors Bill to Protect College Students From High Bank Fees

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

AB 1162 will require colleges and universities to set in place safeguards for campus debit card programs to ensure that students are not unfairly targeted

SACRAMENTO, CA – A bill to protect student’s financial aid from predatory bank fees has been introduced by Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Oakley). Assembly Bill 1162 requires college boards to adopt policies that best serve the needs of students when negotiating contracts with financial institutions to disburse a student’s financial aid onto debit cards.

As college and university budgets have shrunk, many have begun to use third-party servicers to disburse financial aid and issue credit balance refunds to students on debit cards. While many schools are obtaining revenues and reducing costs by outsourcing these services, the relationships between schools and financial institutions have raised questions because students end up bearing some costs directly.

In May 2012, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group released The Campus Debit Card Trap: Are Bank Partnerships Fair to Students, exposing companies and colleges engaging in this unfair practice.

Colleges must set in place regulations for campus debit card programs to ensure that students are not unfairly targeted,” said Assemblymember Frazier. “In my book, charging our college students high fees for using their financial aid is a predatory practice that needs to be reformed.” 

Assemblymember Frazier is leading the way to protect students with AB 1162 and has gained national recognition and support in a recent press release by Congressman George Miller (D-Contra Costa).

I applaud Assemblymember Frazier for examining this important issue,” said Congressman Miller. “While I continue to have very deep concerns about financial aid disbursement cards, his new bill will help ensure that students’ limited financial aid dollars aren’t being pilfered by hidden fees and penalties. Congress and the states must do everything in their power to ensure banks play by the same rules on campus as they do off campus, and that schools enter any deals with financial institutions with their students’ best interest in mind.”

AB 1162 was approved by the Assembly Higher Education Committee with a 9-3 vote and will go on to be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee in May.

To contact Assemblymember Jim Frazier please visit his website at www.asmdc.org/members/a11/ or call his District Offices at 707-399-3011 or 925-778-5790, or his Capitol Office at 916-319-2011.

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Find out about TriLink – a potential new transportation link between Brentwood and Tracy

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Residents of Contra Costa, San Joaquin, and Alameda County are invited to attend a series of three Open Houses to learn about a potential new transportation link between Brentwood and Tracy.

Twelve local communities, including Antioch, together with environmental and business advocates, are collaborating to explore the feasibility of creating a high quality transportation facility that would connect State Route 4 near Brentwood to the Interstate 580/205 corridor near Tracy.

Known as TriLink or State Route 239, this facility could potentially improve access for those who live and work in the region, and support inter-regional goods movement operations that create jobs locally.

First identified in 1959, SR-239 is a legislatively approved, but unconstructed route in the California state highway system. SR-239 is a potential multimodal link between SR-4 near Brentwood and I-205 west of Tracy in San Joaquin County. The route has not been adopted by the California Transportation Commission (CTC); however, Contra Costa County was awarded $14 million for initial study and planning under SAFETEA-LU in 2005. Administration of the study, now called TriLink, was transferred to the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) in January 2012.

Learn about how TriLink could affect the region and what route options are under consideration. Come to any of the following open house meetings:

Thursday May 2, 2013 from 6:30 to 9:00 PM

Brentwood Community Center, Multipurpose Room A

35 Oak Street, Brentwood, CA

Wednesday May 8, 2013 from 6:30 to 9:00 PM

Tracy Transit Center, Room 103 & 104

50 E. Sixth Street, Tracy CA

Thursday May 16, 2013, from 6:30 to 9:00 PM

Mountain House Community Services District Board Room

230 S. Sterling Drive, Suite 100

Mountain House, CA 

For more information, visit www.TriLink239.org or email outreach@TriLink239.org

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Kiwanis club to hold Restaurant Tour Fundraiser this Sunday

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

SoEast Antioch Restaurant Tour

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California earns ‘D’ grade from small businesses, Bay Area again ranks as top region in state

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

CA Biz Survey graphic

“The local and state agencies make it extremely difficult to be legitimate, but at the same time show very little interest in accountability to enforce the mandated requirements on the dozens of local companies that are not permitted.” Moving company owner, Roseville

(San Francisco, CA) 4/25/2013: Thumbtack.com, in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, has released the second-annual Thumbtack.com Small Business Friendliness Survey showing that although California again did not perform well in various categories, earning an overall ‘D’ grade from small business owners, the state did manage to improve from last year’s failing grade. 

The Thumbtack.com Small Business Friendliness Survey is the only survey to obtain data from an extensive, nationwide universe of job creators and entrepreneurs in order to determine the most business-friendly locations. While there are various “business climate rankings” that rate locations as good or bad for business, there are no others that draw upon considerable data from small business owners themselves.

In surveying thousands of small businesses across America, we found that clear and consistent regulations and relevant training programs are among the most important factors in determining how they view their region’s friendliness,” said Sander Daniels, co-founder of Thumbtack.com. “Given the enormous size and importance of California’s economy, it is particularly important that state and local officials listen to the concerns of the state’s small business owners and provide them with an environment conducive to growth and success.”

Some of the key findings for California include:

  • California earned a ‘D’ grade, up from an ‘F’ in 2012. Although the state struggled overall, it ranked above average for its online resources for small businesses. www.thumbtack.com/ca

  • The Bay Area was the top rated region in California for the second year in a row, followed by the Central Coast. San Francisco was the state’s highest ranking city, followed by San Jose.

  • Nationally, professional licensing requirements were more important to small business owners than taxes in determining a state’s overall business-friendliness, confirming the findings from last year’s study.

  • African-American and Hispanic small business owners were more likely than their white counterparts to encourage others to start a new business.

  • The top ranking states overall were Utah, Alabama, New Hampshire, Idaho, and Texas.  The lowest rated were Illinois, California, Hawaii, Maine and, in last place, Rhode Island.

  • California’s highest grade was a ‘C+’ for its small business training and networking programs.

  • Within California, more than a third of small businesses rated obtaining and keeping health insurance as “Very Difficult.”

It is critical to the economic health of every city and state to create an entrepreneur-friendly environment,” said Dane Stangler, director of Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation.  “Policymakers put themselves in the best position to encourage sustainable growth and long-term prosperity by listening to the voices of small business owners themselves.”

The full survey results can be seen here and include full sets of rankings, easily searchable quotes from California small businesses, regional comparisons within states, and Census data comparing California’s key demographics against those of other states.

“For me, it’s not any one thing that makes doing business difficult, it’s adding them all up. Workers comp insurance and rules, business insurance, contractor license requirements, corporate requirements, and taxes. The more legit you become, the harder & more expensive it is. The resources available might be great (classes, internet help, etc.), but when just trying to hang in there, it’s very hard to take advantage of them.” General contractor, San Francisco

Survey methodology

Thumbtack.com surveyed 7,766 small businesses across the United States. The survey asked questions about the friendliness of states and cities toward small business, such as:

  • “In general, how would you rate your state’s support of small business owners?”

  • Would you discourage or encourage someone from starting a new business where you live?” and

  • Do you think you pay your fair share of taxes?”

Thumbtack and Kauffman ranked states and cities against one another along more than a dozen metrics.  The full methodology paper can be found here.

What is Thumbtack.com?

Thumbtack is a place where you can hire help locally. Need photographers, general contractors, wedding photographers or plumbers?  Tell us what you need, and we’ll provide 3-5 bids on that job to your email inbox within 24 hours. More than 275,000 small businesses and freelancers have listed their services on Thumbtack nationwide.

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