Archive for November, 2016

County Health Services ID’s two more cases of illness linked to Thanksgiving dinner, rules out 21 foodborne diseases

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

The Contra Costa Health Services issued the following announcement at 5:44 p.m.:

Update on Public Health Investigation of Incident in Antioch

Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) has now identified two additional people who fell ill soon after eating food from a Thanksgiving charity event in Antioch.

All people who became ill developed symptoms within 24 hours of ingesting food served at the charity event and we don’t expect to see new cases.

These two newly discovered people didn’t seek medical attention and have recovered. There are now 19 total people known to have fallen ill—including three people who died—after eating food served at the Antioch American Legion auditorium, 403 West Sixth St., on Thanksgiving.

Anyone with leftover food from this event should not eat it and throw it away. Anyone who ate food from the Thanksgiving Day event and is now feeling sick should immediately contact their medical provider and also call CCHS at 925-313-6740.

Tests of biological samples from the reported cases came back negative for 21 foodborne diseases, including salmonella, E. coli and norovirus. CCHS is sending samples to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) to test for other agents that are common but testing is not locally available. Results from the CDC tests may not be available for months.
Our Public Health and Environmental Health divisions continue to work in collaboration on the ongoing investigation

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Golden Hills Community Church issues updated statement on possible dinner related illnesses and deaths

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

According to Larry Adams, Senior Pastor of Golden Hills Community Church in Brentwood and Antioch, the following updated statement about the Thanksgiving dinner they served in Antioch, last Thursday, and the possibly linked illnesses and three deaths, was posted on the church’s website on Tuesday night:

This past week we were alerted to an outbreak of illness in our community that could have been related to our annual Thanksgiving meal served in Antioch. Golden Hills Community Church has been seeking to help meet this need in the community for over 30 years with meals served to many thousands of people. As the week unfolded, we met with Contra Costa Health officials seeking to assist them in any way possible to determine the source of the illness. The preliminary evidence seemed to point away from the food that we served to over 800 people that day.

Our greatest concern has been twofold. First and foremost we are grieving for those who have lost precious loved ones and for those who have endured this illness. The loss of life is a human tragedy that no amount of investigation can undo. While we do not, even now, know who these individuals are, this has not stopped us from grieving and praying diligently for these families.

Secondly, we have wanted to hear from the Health Department their  determination of the real cause of this illness, regardless of our connection. Truth will help prevent future occurrences of this type of illness and perhaps keep others from having this horrible experience.

We still do not have any conclusive word from County Officials regarding this matter. We continue to do what we can to help with the investigation that is ongoing. Evidence that once pointed away from the meal that we provided to so many, now seems to point back that direction. We will continue to await the final findings, to pray for all those affected, and offer to do what we can to help those who are hurting. We thank those who have joined us in prayer and ask you to continue in your efforts.

The church’s website is

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County Coroner identifies three Antioch victims of possible food-related deaths

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

By Allen Payton

The Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff Coroner’s Division has identified the three victims in the possible food-related deaths that occurred in Antioch, on Wednesday afternoon.

They are identified as: 43-year old Christopher Cappetti, 59-year-old Chooi Keng Cheah and 69-year-old Jane Evans. They were residents at assisted living facilities in Antioch.

Autopsies for the victims show all three had similar intestinal abnormalities. The Forensic Pathologist is trying to determine the causes of death, which are pending the results of various tests.

The Coroner’s Division continues to work with Contra Costa Health Services on this case.

According to Michael Weston, spokesperson for the California Department of Social Services, “two of the deceased individuals were from Minerva’s Place on Palo Verde Way and the third individual was from Minerva Place IV which is on El Paso Way” in Antioch.

In a Wednesday afternoon interview, he shared additional information about the homes where those who died resided.

Owned and operated by Emerito Ramon and Minerva Gonzalez, they have “four different facilities in two different licensing categories,” Weston stated.

Two are “residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFE) assisted living. They can be for seniors age 60 and over,” he explained. “But it can be individuals with like needs. There’s some flexibility in that area.”

When told of the one man who died who was age 43 and another age 59, Weston replied, “That wouldn’t be uncommon to have. It just depends on the needs of that individual. I don’t know the exact type of clients they serve. An RCFE may be a better fit for somebody even if they’re not at the age of 60, yet.”

The Gonzalez’ also own two adult residential facilities (ARF) in Antioch, which are “basically a residential care home for people age 18 through 59 with mental health care needs or people with physical or developmental disabilities,” Weston stated.

Those are Minerva Place II with State License #79200259 at 2831 Vista Way and Minerva Place III with license #079200232 at 1128 Monterey Drive.

Two more locations with the Minerva name in Antioch are listed on the internet, including Minerva’s Place Arf at 1911 Wilson Court and Minerva’s Place #2 at 2833 Fortuna Court, but don’t appear on the state’s website.

“They may have other facilities that don’t require a license,” Weston explained. “It depends on the level of care need, like a boarding house and if people administer their own medications. The licenses are for 24-hour care facilities.”

“Room and boards, (also known as) board and care homes, don’t require licenses,” he continued. “Halfway houses don’t require licensing, either. You’d have to talk to the local city or the county, whoever is in charge, regarding any restrictions they may have for that.”

Residents from another home in Antioch were also at the Thanksgiving dinner served by the church.

“We were made aware that Rose’s Garden Adult Residential #3, license number 079200512, also had individuals at the event,” Weston shared. “That’s an adult residential facility.”

But, he couldn’t share if any of those residents had fallen ill or went to the hospital due to health privacy laws.

“So five different facilities we’ve been in contact with regarding this,” he added. “The fatalities are related to the Minerva Place locations.”

Attempts to reach the Gonzalez’ for comment and to answer questions about the matter have been unsuccessful.

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County Health Services claim nine more people possibly got sick at Antioch Thanksgiving meal served by church

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016
The American Legion Hall and Veterans Memorial Building in Antioch where the Thanksgiving dinners were served last Thursday.

The American Legion Hall and Veterans Memorial Building on West 6th Street in Antioch where the Thanksgiving dinner was served, last Thursday, November 24, 2016.

By Allen Payton

The Costa Health Services (CCHS) announced on Tuesday, they are investigating several new cases that are likely related to a foodborne illness outbreak reported in Antioch over the weekend. CCHS investigators on Tuesday contacted an additional eight people who were likely sickened by food or drink from the same event. None of those patients are currently hospitalized.

During a second press conference on the matter in Martinez on Tuesday afternoon, Environmental Health Director Marilyn Underwood and Dr. Louise McNitt, Communicable Disease Medical Director, stated there is now a ninth additional person who was reported to also become sick due to eating at the same dinner. That brings the total number of people who claim to be sickened by the meal served by Golden Hills Community Church to 17.

Eight cases of possible foodborne illness connected to the incident, including three that resulted in death, were reported to Public Health on Nov. 25 by Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch. All of the eight patients reported by Sutter Delta ate food from the holiday event.

It is now reported that all eight were residents of three different senior care, assisted living, group home facilities of four in Antioch owned by the same couple. Calls to the administrator and licensee of the homes, asking them why some of their staff and residents, as well as they and their family attended the Thanksgiving meal intended for the homeless, low-income residents and those who didn’t want to be alone on the holiday, were not returned before publication time.

In an attempt to clarify information about where the food was prepared, that was served at the Antioch event organizer Jeff Oransky explained that, “some of the food is prepared in people’s homes like the turkey, ham, and some of the stuffing, and then brought to the hall. The only things prepared on site are instant mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn and green beans.”

He mentioned the small size of the kitchen at the hall as the reason. Asked about how he can control the quality of the food being prepared and brought in, he replied, “We’ve had discussions about that” since last Thursday. “We’ve never had a problem before.”

“We’re pretty careful,” Oransky explained. “Every year we buy 600 disposable gloves and we  run out of every one of them. We generally don’t touch the food, even with the gloves. We use the ladles and utensils, and we keep everything heated. Nothing just sits out.”

“The other issue is the to-go meals,” he continued. “Some people come in and take a to-go meal to take home. Others eat there and also take a meal home. As far as I know they haven’t determined if these people (who got sick) did one or the other, or both.”

Asked if there were delivery of prepared meals from the hall, Oransky said, “No, not that I know of. We don’t deliver them. I don’t have enough people to do that.”

“We have Meals On Wheels deliveries. But they have nothing to do with the food at the hall,” he clarified. “Those meals are all professionally prepared and delivered to people’s homes, who are Meals On Wheels clients. But Meals On Wheels doesn’t deliver on Thanksgiving, so we take it over and deliver for them. But, we don’t deliver food prepared from the hall.”

Asked about serving the Thanksgiving Day meals in the future, Golden Hills Community Church Executive Pastor Phil Hill, said “the county health services told us in the future we would have to get a permit and that means that all food would have to be prepared in an approved commercial facility.”

Asked if that will be required even if it’s determined that the church is not at fault, he responded, “Correct.”

An email asking for the name of the group distributing prepared meals outside of the hall, to people standing in line waiting to get in for the Thanksgiving meal was sent to Vicky Balladares, Communications Officer for Contra Costa Health Services.

She replied, “Our Environmental Health folks are trying to get the name. As far as I know they have not been able to get a name yet.”

Anyone who ate food from the Thanksgiving Day event at the Antioch American Legion Hall and Veterans Memorial Building at 403 West Sixth Street, and is now feeling ill should immediately contact their medical provider. Anyone who is not ill, but has food or drink from the event, should throw it away. The general public can call (925) 313-6700 for more information.

County health investigators are in the process of collecting biological samples from the reported cases for testing at county and state public health laboratories.

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U.S. Marshals arrest fugitive from Santa Clara County jail in Antioch Tuesday night

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016
U.S. Marshals Deputies and Antioch Police Officers arrested an escaped inmate from the Santa Clara County jail at the Twin Creeks Apartments in Antioch, Tuesday night, November 29, 2016. photos by a resident who chose to remain anonymous

U.S. Marshals Deputies and Antioch Police Officers arrested an escaped inmate from the Santa Clara County jail at the Twin Creeks Apartments in Antioch, Tuesday night, November 29, 2016. photo provided by a resident who chose to remain anonymous



By Allen Payton

The U.S. Marshals apprehended an escaped inmate from the Santa Clara County jail, at the Twin Creeks Apartments on James Donlon Blvd., Tuesday night, about 9:30 p.m. According to Sgt. Tom Fuhrmann the Antioch Police assisted the Marshals.

According to a report by NBC Bay Area, which was first to break the news, 26-year-old Desean Campbell was one of two inmates who broke out of jail before Thanksgiving, using bedsheets to rappel down to the ground the day.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Undersheriff Carl Neusel said Campbell was hiding out in his sister’s attic when he “crashed through the ceiling” and was arrested by the Marshals and Antioch police. Campbell’s sister, 24-year-old Marcaysha Alexander, was also arrested for harboring a fugitive.

In an interview on Wednesday morning, Frank Conroy, Supervisory Deputy United States Marshal, in San Francisco, said, “It’s a collective effort” with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and Antioch Police Department.

Asked how the Marshals Service became involved, he responded, “The sheriff’s office contacted us over the weekend, after it happened. We saw it on the news. They asked if we could help them out.”



Asked how they were able to catch both Campbell and the other escaped inmate, Conroy stated, “A lot of information came in from the public. We also got a lot of information from their criminal history and associates with their police interactions. With both of that type of information coming in we were able to determine people they knew. One in particular was a family member.”

That was Campbell’s sister, Marcaysha.

“We were able to develop information of a chance he was there,” at her apartment, he explained. “We conducted surveillance beginning in the early afternoon hours on Tuesday.”

“There were some people coming and going and we believed people were at that particular apartment,” Conroy continued. “So we decided to approach and see if anyone was in there at about 9:30 p.m.”

Asked if anyone answered or if they had to kick the door in, he said, “No. No one came to the door but we heard some movement inside. He (Campbell) tried to go up into the attic but he ended up falling through the ceiling. We heard him fall, and then he just came to the door opened it and surrendered.”

A $20,000 reward was offered and a tip led authorities to Alexander’s apartment. The money will be shared with the person or people who helped the Santa Clara County sheriff’s office, Neusel said.

An Antioch resident was on the scene and at 9:28 p.m. provided the Herald with the first photos of the Marshals’ and Antioch police action at the apartments.

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Young Antioch man shot, killed while breaking into residence, Wednesday night

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

By Sergeant Tom Fuhrmann, Antioch Police Investigations Bureau

On Tuesday, November 29, 2016 at approximately 11:55 PM, Antioch Police Officers were dispatched to the 2900 block of Winding Lane on the report of an intruder breaking into a residence and that the intruder had just been shot.

When officers arrived they found a 21-year-old, male, Antioch resident (the intruder) suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Emergency medical care was provided, but the male subsequently died on scene.

The intruder was known to the residents in the home. The residents are all cooperating with the investigation. APD Investigators are in the early stages of the investigation and no arrests have been made at this time. Police are not looking for any outstanding parties to this incident and believe all involved have been accounted for.

No further information will be released at this time. Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to call Detective Vanderpool with the Antioch Police Department at (925) 779-6988. You may also text a tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using key word ANTIOCH.

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Antioch Council approves moratorium on non-medical marijuana, Prosserville Park playground improvements

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

By Nick Goodrich

The Antioch City Council met on Election Night, Tuesday, November 8th, for its regular meeting, and approved an interim moratorium on non-medical marijuana in the city, as well as improvements to the Prosserville Park playground.

Interim Non-Medical Marijuana Moratorium

With the expected passing of Proposition 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational use in California that night, Antioch was forced to reevaluate its take on the legality of non-medical marijuana, and take action to either reinforce its current stance or align with the state.

As an urgency ordinance it required four votes to pass. But, in a 5-0 unanimous vote, the Council stuck to its guns, choosing to approve of an interim moratorium on non-medical marijuana use in the city. The state ballot measure passed by 57-43%.

A Council decision in January of this year banned the cultivation of marijuana within city limits for any purposes, including for medical use. However, after Prop 64’s approval by voters, the state of California made it legal for individuals to grow up to six plants for personal use, beginning on November 9th. The sale and taxation of marijuana for recreational use was also legalized, but will not go into effect until January 1, 2018.

In the meantime, the Proposition allows for cities to regulate certain aspects of medical and non-medical marijuana, City Attorney Michael Vigilia reported.

“It really depends on which way the cities want to go,” he told Council, noting that surrounding cities like Pittsburg, Oakley, and Brentwood have enacted similar moratoriums to that approved by Antioch.

In Antioch’s case, the moratorium prohibits any commercial activity involving marijuana that the state could issue a license for, including outdoor cultivation for personal use and indoor cultivation for personal use that does not comply with state law.

According to the staff report on the agenda item, “the following commercial non-medical marijuana uses are prohibited by the moratorium: cultivation; manufacture; testing; retail; distribution/delivery; microbusiness; and any commercial marijuana activity that may be licensed by the state.”

However, the moratorium only lasts 45 days unless the Council has another voter to extend it. The ordinance reads, “This ordinance shall take effect immediately upon its adoption by not less than a four-fifths vote of the Antioch City Council but shall be of no further force and effect 45 days from its date of adoption unless the City Council, after notice and public hearing as provided under Government Code section 65858(a), (b) and adoption of the findings required by Government Code section 65858(c), subsequently extends this Ordinance.”

That will end in 2018, when Prop 64 goes into full effect, at which time Antioch growers will be free to cultivate the plants in their homes for recreational or medical purposes.

Prosserville Park Playground Improvements

The Council held an additional public hearing on the proposed playground improvement at Prosserville Park, and approved the plans in another 5-0 vote.

The resolution approved by the Council includes $50,000 to be directed to the project from the city’s Delta Fair fund, to help complete the purchase order with Oakland-based Miracle Play Systems, which will design and implement the plans.

The project cost, just north of $300,000, includes a $40,000 grant from Miracle, which is in the midst of conducting a statewide grant program to help fund improvements to California parks and play structures.

The $40,000 grant to Antioch was the largest of Miracle’s current grant cycle, city staff reported.

Members of the East County Regional Group (ECRG), funded by California’s “First Five” children’s health initiative, showed up Tuesday night to support the project and offer their voices to Council.

Nikita Crawford, Co-Chair of ECRG, said that families living near Prosserville Park are eagerly awaiting the improvements.

“The children that live by the park deserve a nice playground, not the old, unsafe one that is there now,” she said.

Crawford also noted that the idea of converting the tennis courts at Contra Loma Estates into basketball courts, which would not be possible until next year, would be good for the community as well.

“It’s what we want, and it’s what we’re interested in…it teaches good sportsmanship and teamwork, which helps you be successful later in life,” she said.

Antioch resident John Jones, Executive Director of the Contra Costa Childcare Council and a Chairman of the First Five Commission, also spoke to Council in support of the improvements.

In Jones’ opinion, parks bring more to the community than just a place to play.

Safe parks and playgrounds help children stay active and get outdoors in an age where videogames are becoming the norm, he said. They also provide a gathering place for the community, which inspires a more neighborly society and safer community for everyone.

“Having something local, safe, and clean is very important,” he concluded.

Other ECRG members spoke on the current status of the park, saying that it has become unsafe due to drug use and other illegal activity.

Better parks will help to revitalize the downtown community, they told Council, and give parents confidence that their children will have a safe place to play and have fun.

In the end, the Council wholeheartedly approved of the project, and granted the needed $50,000 to execute the purchasing agreement with Miracle Play Systems. They also directed city staff to look into funding for the Contra Loma Estates basketball courts conversion when that project becomes available.

Residents can expect the Prosservile Park improvements to begin next year.

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Visit with Santa at Somersville Towne Center, now through Dec. 24.

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016


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