Archive for February, 2022

Antioch Councilwoman, community leaders, residents participate in Sycamore neighborhood Walk Against Violence

Monday, February 28th, 2022

Participants Walk Against Violence on Manzanita Way and Lemontree Way in Antioch’s Sycamore neighborhood on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. Photos (left) and video screenshot (right) by Allen D. Payton

To get residents if they “see something, say something” and to “reimagine Antioch as a safe place”

Torres-Walker takes swipes at former Councilwoman Motts, former Chief Brooks about gun violence program, Motts responds, email exchange posted on Facebook refutes accusation against Brooks

By Allen D. Payton

A Walk Against Violence was held in Antioch’s neighborhood with the city’s historically highest crime rate on Saturday, Feb. 22 to get residents to say something if they see something. Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker, in whose District 1 the neighborhood is located, joined leaders of other community organizations including Bonified Sisterhood, 100 Years, and Mom’s Demand Action, and residents in walking up and down the sidewalks, beginning at Contra Loma Estates Park and ending at the Sycamore Square Shopping Center at the corner of Sycamore Road and L Street. (See related article)

They chanted “end all violence, no more silence” as they walked, holding signs with messages including “Love Is Not Violence”, “Violence is a Disease. Let’s Stop the Spread” and “An eye for an eye will only make the world go blind.”

“We want to show some love, show support. We stand against violence but in love and that we care,” said Kibibi Columbus, as the first of several speakers before the walk began. “I want to live and not die. Thank God for men and women like you who do work like this all the time. We want to reimagine Antioch as a safe place.”

Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker speaks to attendees at the Walk Against Violence.

“Kibibi is also part of a community solutions group…to address issues of violence. I’m just excited to be here,” Torres-Walker said. “I intentionally walked in this community when I ran for office because I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid, today.”

She spoke of Alexis Parson and 15-year-old Malik El-Ameen, who were killed in a double homicide in the Sycamore neighborhood last month, as the reason for the walk. The suspect in custody is Malik’s father. (See related articles here and here)

“They were left to rot in their home because no one said anything,” Torres-Walker stated. “If you see something you’ve got to say something. It will save a life.”

“I know it’s because of fear,” she continued. “But the violence is going to continue so why not say something? “Hurt people hurt people and generational pain is what we’re dealing with.”

Councilwoman Torres-Walker speaks.

She then read from prepared remarks saying, “Regional efforts to address violence began in 2016 with the use of AB109 realignment dollars and between 2017 and 2020 over 30 residents were engaged in efforts to reduce violence in Pittsburg and Antioch.”

“After three years of planning, the money dried up, the meetings were cancelled, and the community stopped responding. Shame on us,” Torres-Walker continued. “March 10th, 2020 I reached out to then-Councilmember Joy Motts, then-Chief Brooks, and school board member Ellie Householder in an effort to get the city to apply for CalVIP (California Violence Intervention and Prevention) funding, totaling $9 million to get out a head of the violence we are all experiencing today. But no. Joy Motts never responded to my emails and Chief Brooks not only denied that there was even a problem and never even considered applying for these funds.”

However, that’s not completely accurate as information posted on the councilwoman’s official Facebook page refute her claim about Brooks. Please see below both Motts’ response and that information.

“Back then, the state identified Antioch as seven or more homicides and a homicide rate at least 25% higher than the statewide homicide rate,” she added. “Not alarming but still significant.”

Pastor Damon Owens of Genesis Church speaks at the Walk Against Violence.

“This year with the support of Moms Demand Action and Every Town, the City of Antioch applied for a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the BSCC (California Board of State and Community Corrections) to combat gun violence,” Torres-Walker stated.” According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: 32.9% of California women and 27.3% of California men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes. In 2007, there were 174,649 domestic violence-related calls to law enforcement; many other incidents went unreported. 40% of reported incidents involved weapons. Between 2009 and 2011, while other types of homicides decreased, domestic violence fatalities in California increased by 11%. Domestic violence homicides comprise 11.8% of all California homicides. According to the Family Crisis Center one in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence.”

“Important to remember and lift up the fact that communities impacted by violence have essential expertise about what produces safety, what constitutes accountability, and what facilitates healing,” she continued. “I believe that any work to reduce the cycle of violence in our community must be deeply rooted in the wisdom, power, and engagement of the people whose lives are most at stake. Every last one of us must be involved and make sure that those at the center issue of violence are a part of the solution equation.”

Members of Moms Demand Action participate in Saturday’s Walk Against Violence.

Nina Carter, founder of Bonified Sisterhood spoke next saying, “I moved to Antioch in 2003. I was a Hairdresser. Moving from Oakland was a culture shock for me and my three sons. There were a lot of services not available in Antioch. There were not any services for inner city youth in this community. That’s what made me open my program for the youth.”

She’s a first-responder for homicide families, Carter shared.

“I’m located at 2008 A Street. We have provided cars for people. We hold grief groups for women who have lost their children,” she continued. A lot of things I do are spirit led and faith based…for impacting this community for services we need…to change the narrative how African-American, high needs families that have been forgotten about, so we can learn to police our communities.”

Michele Sinnott with Moms Demand Action spoke briefly saying, “No one should have to live like this. No one should have to die like this. We are a huge fan of Tamisha Walker and Nina Carter. We offer grief support for anyone affected by gun violence. We’re here because we care.”

“What if we circumvented the problem before the cycles of violence happen?” asked Pastor Damon Owens of Genesis Church. “We planted our church over here” in the Sycamore neighborhood because of the high unemployment rate, there.

Owens said he owns three Dickey’s BBQ Pit restaurants, where he provides jobs to people he works with.
He spoke of World Impact, a 50-year-old ministry, which according to their website, empowers urban leaders and partners with local churches to reach their cities with the Gospel” in “communities of poverty”.

“The gospel’s got to be lived out, right here in the streets,” he stated challenging other ministers to get involved.

“We’re looking for transitional housing for people coming out of prison…and our foster youth coming out of foster care,” Owens added.

Interim City Manager Con Johnson was in attendance, meeting and speaking with others, and remained during the speeches, but left prior to when the walk began.

The participants then walked north on Manzanita Way, east on Sycamore Drive, then south and east on Lemontree Way, then north on L Street to the Sycamore Square Shopping Center at the corner of Sycamore Drive, which has been the sight of criminal activity. It’s also where Mayor Lamar Thorpe held a press conference in response to Torres-Walker’s request for four more police officers to be added to the budget to patrol that neighborhood. Thorpe would only commit to more overtime for current officers on the force, blamed the business and property owners for the crime, and threatened to tear down the shopping center. (See related articles here and here)

LeJon Aka Fahim and Patrick Scott of 1 Hundred Years in Richmond participated in the Walk Against Violence.

During the walk two of three founders of 100 Years Enterprise, Patrick Scott and LeJon Aka Fahim spoke of their non-profit business based in Richmond and named for the 100 years that they collectively spent in prison.

“We go to juvenile hall. We go to continuation schools to reach at-risk youth and teach them to reacclimate and try to get them from making early death decisions.”

“We have a center…we mentor, we’re about to start a STEM program, there for the kids,” Aka Fahim said. “We like to call it kids with a lot of opportunity. It’s all about servitude and it’s all about giving and letting everyone know whatever their calling is to run to it, don’t run from it. As long as it’s positive. That’s what we’re doing. We’re just letting everyone know you can change, and it starts with a thought. That’s what 100 Years is about. But it’s bigger than that. It’s all about bringing people together with love.”

“You can find us on 1HundredYears.biz, on YouTube 100 Years Enterprise. Check us out,” Scott mentioned. “We have podcasts and everything on there, as well as our website where we give consultations, and one-on-ones for at-risk youth and return to citizens.”

Asked if they’re going to do anything in Antioch, they both responded, “Yes.”

“That’s why we’re here,” Scott stated.

“As long you bring us in, we’re coming,” Aka Fahim added.

Motts Responds to Torres-Walker’s Accusation

In response to Torres-Walker’s comment about former Councilwoman Joy Motts never responding to Torres-Walker’s emails, Motts wrote, “I have no recollection of ever receiving an email from Ms. Walker during my time on Council.  I have nothing on my personal email from her and unfortunately do not have the ability to research my former Council email. What I do know is that all emails from constituents, either I responded to, or were forwarded to the City Manager for response and consideration, or direction to staff.”

Posts of Emails with Brooks on Torres-Walker’s Facebook Page Refute Her Claim

Post of a portion of the emails between Torres-Walker and city officials on her official Facebook page on Feb. 27, 2021. Screenshot.

Torres-Walker’s posted on her official Facebook page on Feb. 27, 2021, her email conversation with Chief Brooks about the CalVIP grant which shows that he was already working on pursuing the grant right as the COVID situation hit in mid-March 2020.

“Again want to acknowledge at this moment families and individuals in our community that have been impacted by gun-related violence not just in the past few days but over the last few years this to[o] must be addressed with credible violence prevention strategies, resources, and good public policy.

Since the death of my brother in 2005 who was shot 23 times coming home from work in the city of Richmond [I] have been committed to fighting gun-related violence in particular and making sure that no one else has to lose their life to this very unnatural experience and their families do not have to suffer as a result of inaction from our local elected officials who could invest in credible violence prevention solutions that can get at the root cause of gun violence in our communities.

I as a resident have for the past 4 years been working with Community groups, the office of Reentry and Justice for Contra Costa County, Pittsburg Police Department, Antioch Police officers, and local ceasefire efforts to try to get our local elected officials here in the city of Antioch to buy into strategies to reduce gun violence.

Antioch was warned years ago that the trends of gun violence was approaching our city and that if we didn’t do something right away it will cost us more in the end in the form of human lives and resources. This call to action fell on deaf ears.

See my correspondence below regarding issues of gun violence early last year and the response from our Antioch police chief as well as then school board member Ellie Householder.

My email: 03/10/2020

Hello City council Members Wilson, Motts, and Chief Brooks

David Muhammad and the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (NICJR) are in the early stages of exploring a potential violence prevention and intervention efforts to assist us in Antioch. To my understanding they have made many attempts to partner with our leaders in public office and public safety for this great opportunity with very little success.

As many of you may already know our police department is understaffed even and violence with firearms are 50% higher this year than it was last year. Antioch is on the BSCC (Board of state and community corrections) list of cities that needs support in this area and I agree considering recent events. 1.5 million more or less is not enough but it’s a start the RFP for CAL VIP has been released. See attachment.

I am hoping that there is a strong interest in applying for funding and partnering with NICJR. Here are a few important dates that you all should be aware of. March 13, 2020 is the deadline for city departments or CBO to submit a letter of intent. I strongly suggest the city submit a letter with NICJR as a key thought partner. April 10, 2020 is the deadline to submit the full application.

We hope to hear from you all as soon as possible.

More on Cal VIP:

Formerly known as the California Gang Reduction, Intervention & Prevention (CalGRIP) grant, the State Legislature established the California Violence Intervention & Prevention (CalVIP) grant in FY 2017-18. CalVIP encouraged jurisdictions to develop local approaches that would meet the diverse needs of each community.

Until FY 2017-18, eligibility for the CalVIP grant was open only to California cities. By law, cities were required to pass through a minimum of 50 percent of the funds to one or more community-based organizations (CBOs). With the FY 2017-18 Budget, eligibility was extended to include CBOs who can now apply directly for CalVIP funds.

For eleven years, the CalVIP grant was funded annually at $9 million. With the enactment of the FY 2019-20 Budget, a one-time appropriation of $21 million was included, for a total appropriation of $30 million. Of that amount, the FY 2019-20 State Budget Act calls for the BSCC to retain five percent ($1.5 million) for administrative operations and $1 million is earmarked for the City of Los Angeles. The remaining $27.5 million must be distributed through a competitive grant process, administered by the BSCC staff and led by the members of the CalVIP Executive Steering Committee.

Grant Period

Successful proposals will be funded for a three-year grant project period commencing on July 1, 2020 and ending on June 30, 2023.

However, an additional six months (July 1, 2023 through December 31, 2023) will included in the term of the contract for the sole purposes of:

1) Finalizing and submitting a required Local Evaluation Report, and

2) Finalizing and submitting a required financial audit.

Eligibility to Apply

AB 1603 limits eligibility to cities in California that are disproportionately impacted by violence and the community-based organizations (CBOs) that serve them. Either the city itself or a department within the city may serve as the applicant.

Eligible applicants may not submit more than one proposal.

However, any applicant may apply as a direct grantee and may also be listed as a subgrantee on a different proposal. If an applicant intends to apply directly and is also a subgrantee on another proposal, the proposals cannot be duplicative and must fund separate and unique activities.

As defined by AB 1603, a city is disproportionately impacted by violence if any of the following are true:

(1) The city experienced 20 or more homicides per calendar year during two or more of the three calendar years immediately preceding the grant application.

(2) The city experienced 10 or more homicides per calendar year during two or more of the three years prior to the grant application and had a homicide rate that was at least 50% higher than the statewide homicide rate during two or more of the three calendar years immediately preceding the grant application.

(3) The applicant otherwise demonstrated a unique and compelling need for additional resources to address the impact of homicides, shootings, and aggravated assaults in the applicant’s community.

(Penal Code, Section 14131, subd. (e).)

Cheif (sic) Brooks response: 03/11/202

Good morning Tamisha,

It appears perhaps you are not fully informed of the current situation involving the Antioch Police Department and our efforts to participate in the Cal VIP grant. We have already had several discussions with the Office of Reentry & Justice, met with David Muhammad on January 24 (along with Pittsburg PD), and have another meeting scheduled on March 17 to discuss our grant application strategies. Additionally, the Antioch Police Department has already submitted a letter of intent to the BSCC.

Therefore, I’m a bit confused with your statement you’ve had ‘very little success’ trying to partner with us. I’m also curious as to how you determined ‘violence with firearms are 50% higher this year than it was last year’ in Antioch?

Partnerships and collaboration such as this depend on trust and open lines of communication. I hope this is something that can be accomplished if we move forward jointly in these efforts.

Ellie Householder even responded as a School board member: 03/11/2020

Tamisha, Chief Brooks, et. al.,

I appreciate all the work you have done to address safety issues in Antioch. As a Board member, I am interested in helping and being involved in any way that is helpful and appropriate. Please let me know if there are meetings I can attend or other ways I can support ya’lls efforts.”

—————————-

Post on Torres-Walker’s official Facebook page on Dec. 15, 2021. Screenshot.

In another post on her official Facebook page on Dec. 15, 2021, Torres-Walker wrote about the CalVIP grant program, “We can save lives and advance peace in Antioch. #FundPeace

In 2019 Antioch was identified as a city that qualified for CalVIP funds to invest in violence prevention and intervention efforts that would have curb[ed] gun-related violence in our city but the leadership in the city then didn’t rise to the occasion with the sense of urgency we needed to compete for millions.

In 2019 the funding was roughly $30 million again Antioch has an opportunity to advance peace and reduce gun-related violence through applying for CalVIP funds which through the efforts of Moms demand Action and Every Town has been increased to $209 million this cycle.

Antioch is worth the investment and can access up to 6 million in funding to combat gun violence.

I hope that our City leaders, new city manager, police chief, and community groups pull together to fund peace in Antioch.”

—————————-

APD Participates in National Gun Violence Prevention Program

As previously reported, last year, the Antioch Police Department was selected for the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Public Safety Partnership program that focuses on gun violence prevention, for which current Interim Police Chief Tony Morefield applied at Brooks’ direction. (See related article)

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Gov. Newsom lifts mask mandate for unvaccinated indoors March 1, schools March 12

Monday, February 28th, 2022

Still required on public transit

Joined by governors of Oregon, Washington to offer more updated health guidance for the three western states

SACRAMENTO – With declining case rates and hospitalizations across the West, California, Oregon and Washington are moving together to update their masking guidance. After 11:59 p.m. on March 11, California, Oregon and Washington will adopt new indoor mask policies and move from mask requirements to mask recommendations in schools.

State policies do not change federal requirements, which still include masks on public transit.

Statement from California Governor Gavin Newsom: “California continues to adjust our policies based on the latest data and science, applying what we’ve learned over the past two years to guide our response to the pandemic. Masks are an effective tool to minimize spread of the virus and future variants, especially when transmission rates are high. We cannot predict the future of the virus, but we are better prepared for it and will continue to take measures rooted in science to keep California moving forward.”

In California, starting March 1, masks will no longer be required for unvaccinated individuals, but will be strongly recommended for all individuals in most indoor settings. After March 11, in schools and childcare facilities, masks will not be required but will be strongly recommended. Masks will still be required for everyone in high transmission settings like public transit, emergency shelters, health care settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters and long-term care facilities. As always, local jurisdictions may have additional requirements beyond the state guidance.

Newsom also presented his COVID SMARTER Plan introduced on Feb. 17, which stands for Shots, Masks, Awareness, Readiness, Testing, Education and Rx.

Statement from Oregon Governor Kate Brown: “Two years ago today, we identified Oregon’s first case of COVID-19. As has been made clear time and again over the last two years, COVID-19 does not stop at state borders or county lines. On the West Coast, our communities and economies are linked. Together, as we continue to recover from the Omicron surge, we will build resiliency and prepare for the next variant and the next pandemic. As we learn to live with this virus, we must remain vigilant to protect each other and prevent disruption to our schools, businesses, and communities––with a focus on protecting our most vulnerable and the people and communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.”

In Oregon, the Oregon Health Authority rules requiring masks in indoor public places and schools will be lifted after 11:59 p.m. on March 11. Other state and federal requirements, such as those for health care settings, public transit, and other specialized settings, will remain in place for a period of time.

Statement from Washington Governor Jay Inslee: “We’ve continued to monitor data from our state Department of Health, and have determined we are able to adjust the timing of our statewide mask requirement. While this represents another step forward for Washingtonians, we must still be mindful that many within our communities remain vulnerable. Many businesses and families will continue choosing to wear masks, because we’ve learned how effective they are at keeping one another safe. As we transition to this next phase, we will continue to move forward together carefully and cautiously.”

In Washington, indoor mask requirements will be lifted as of 11:59 p.m. on March 11. This new date does not change any other aspect of the updated mask requirements Inslee announced last week. Masks will still be required in certain settings including health care, corrections facilities and long-term care facilities. The Washington State Department of Health will be issuing new guidance for K-12 schools next week so schools can prepare to implement updated safety protocols.

 

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Letters: Former Thorpe supporter offers reasons he now backs Antioch mayor’s recall

Sunday, February 27th, 2022

Claims mayor is lying about recall proponents

Publisher’s Note: With apologies, this letter was received in the Herald’s junk email folder on Wednesday, Feb. 9 but not discovered until Sunday, February 27.

Dear Editor:  

Mayor Lamar Thorpe, tonight you lost a supporter.  I am sure my one vote won’t be missed and my one signature that I have decided to give towards your recall won’t be the difference maker, but I am choosing to sign anyway.  I was firmly in your camp when you ran for council in 2016 and once again when you ran for mayor in 2020.  I was sold on the vision that you said you had for our city, on your campaign slogan of transparency, and your promise to listen to us citizens.

When the news hit that you’d been served with recall papers I was angry for you.  Although I thought the post of the picture of you with the framed petition was childish and beneath an elected official, I brushed it aside as an act of a hurt man that wanted to appear strong.  I believed you when you said it was a very small group of individuals that wanted you removed.  I even bought into the idea that it was racially motivated.

Then I saw you start to advertise for a fundraiser calling the residents trying to recall you “Karens”.  I couldn’t believe that you would stoop to name calling and bullying.  The mayor of our city should be above any tit-for-tat tactics, and it was really off putting to see you treat residents that way.  You are still their mayor and are supposed to represent the best of us.  This was a poor representation.

Sadly, I missed the celebration of our city that took place downtown on Sunday.  I would have liked to attend but was at least able to see the pictures and watch the videos online.  I cannot even explain to you my level of embarrassment and horror when I heard that an event that was meant to celebrate the last 150 years in Antioch was used as an opportunity to discredit the recall attempt against you.  Your speech took away some of the joy instead of enriching the day.

The tipping point came today.  I happened upon a TikTok video of you making fun of the recall attempt, yet again.  What I saw were two boldfaced lies.  The first lie was that those attempting to recall you are against body-worn cameras.  Mayor Thorpe, meeting minutes are public and easily accessible.  The names I have seen advertising your recall signings are repeated, several times, in the minutes asking for body-worn cameras.  This was not a simple misunderstanding; you are actively attempting to discredit these individuals.

The second lie was that they do not want the Sycamore Corridor cleaned up.  Did you know there was a neighborhood cleanup, here last month?  I did, because I live here.  It was the recall volunteers that were here, walking the streets, picking up the trash, and chatting with us residents.  This video made me want to look more at your social media and that is where you lost me.

I could not believe what I saw when I went to your Facebook page.  You posted that you’ve cleaned up Sycamore, you even had the police here to take a photo with you.  How can you post this and completely ignore the woman and teen that were killed here?  How can you say it’s safe when there was a shootout here in broad daylight just last week?  The only conclusion I can draw is that you wanted to appear as if you’ve made these changes because the recall petition mentioned how you responded to the businesses in Sycamore Square.  You created an illusion to make it look like you’ve done something there when in fact nothing has changed.  You are trying to use those of us that live here as a political pawn, and I am ashamed that I ever supported you.

Miguel Vazquez

Antioch

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Antioch High teachers create pantry with supply of personal care products for female students

Friday, February 25th, 2022

Photos: AUSD

Receive donations from the community

“Nearly 80% of our students now qualify for free or reduced lunch” said Superintendent Anello explaining the reason for the need

By Antioch Unified School District

It started as a simple request and now is a valuable resource for many students at Antioch High.During their PE classes, teachers Lisa Cuza and Shannon Emerson had many young women asking for items like toothpaste, deodorant, feminine hygiene projects and the like.

Last fall they started a little area in the girls’ locker room dubbed Lady Panther Pantry, which they stocked with basic toiletries like the items above along with hair ties, shampoo, chap sticks, hand sanitizer, razors and toothbrushes.

They initially received donations through various organizations, including the Bethel Island

Woman’s Club. “They have been very generous,” said Emerson.

The supply area was set up with the honor system.

“I can’t express how impressed we are with the level of respect the ladies show our little pantry. It hasn’t been misused in any way,” Emerson added.

However, with half the school year down, so were supplies.

Word spread about the need and within two weeks, the AHS coordinator’s office overflowed with donations from staff and community, including Peggy Daniel, Dr. Bob Deloso, Alice Harden, Cindy Justice and Dr. Matthew Liautaud. Additionally, many alumni stepped up like sisters Janet Aceves, Ann Bergerhouse and Kay Carden, who asked their neighbors to join their drive and ended up with $1,000 in product and gift cards. Total donations added up to about $2,000.

“They are some amazing folks everywhere who care about our kids,” Emerson shared. “We are so very appreciative and full of gratitude for others sharing in our goal of making sure all ladies at AHS have all they need. One less stress for these young people can make a big difference.”

Questions about the program were asked of AUSD Superintendent Stephanie Anello including, “why is the pantry necessary? Where are the parents of the female students who didn’t have those supplies? Why aren’t they providing them for their daughters? Is there an effort to educate the parents about their responsibilities to do so?”

Anello responded, “As a school district, we offer many resources for our students – from free lunches to health van access and counseling.”

“In this particular instance, the teachers at Antioch High decided to help their students in need with some very basics that, for a variety of hardship reasons, they don’t have access to on a regular basis,” she continued. “The community at large happily and quickly decided to lend a helping hand and support the school.”

“Not that we don’t try to help parents if they ask, but our main focus is to assist and educate our students. Nearly 80% of our students now qualify for free or reduced lunch. In fact, only 15% qualify for reduced, the rest for free lunch which indicated that their household income is a challenge,” Anello shared, explaining the reason for the need.

(If interested in helping, email trinegallegos@antiochschools.net) #WeAreAUSD

Please check back for any updates.

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

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House on AUSD property on Deer Valley Road in Sand Creek area to be torn down

Friday, February 25th, 2022

Aerial view of the property at 6600 Deer Valley Road owned by the Antioch school district. Source: AUSD

Used for storage, vandalized, Board declared it “obsolete”

By Allen D. Payton

Screenshot of Facebook post of the “rant” about the house being demolished.

The house owned by the Antioch Unified School District, located at 6600 Deer Valley Road south of Dozier-Libbey Medical High School and southeast of the Antioch Kaiser Medical Center, will be torn down after years of sitting vacant and being “terribly vandalized” according to AUSD Superintendent Stephanie Anello. The board voted to demolish it.

In a recent comment on Facebook, Cambria Dejesus wrote, “Rant… Demo to be done on the school property on Deer Valley Rd.  A beautiful home built in the late 80’s or early 90’s, remodeled for use for the school board, which they no longer use, voted to be destroyed due to vandalism.  It has permanent seating in the yard for at least 100 people, gazebos, and it’s an absolute shame that it set to demo.  I lease property from AUSD and offered to lease it so it can remain to possibly introduce FFA or some agriculture program to the curriculum but was told the board already voted to demo. There is minimal damage to the home from vandalism but something that would stop if occupied.   I think it’s a crying shame it’s going to be destroyed.   Shouldn’t the money be spent on the students, some use planned for the property that will give Antioch’s students a place to get away from it all and perhaps save a few from taking the wrong path.  Country heals.  Rant over.”

Questions were sent to AUSD Superintendent Stephanie Anello asking, “is this true? If so, has the district been using the home? If so, how? If it’s not being used why hasn’t the district been renting it out to someone to create a revenue stream? What are the plans for the property and how many acres does it include?”

According to Anello, “The Board declared the home on the property as ‘obsolete’ at a Board Meeting, as the home has not been used or occupied in decades and has been terribly vandalized over the years. I am not aware of any money being used in the past to renovate the property as stated” in the comment. “To clarify, it has been used for storage, just not used for staff or students.”

“Right now, it is being leased for grazing and we have no immediate alternative plans,” she added. “Our plans will, of course, change depending on the development of the area.”

The property consists of 20.98 acres.

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Walk Against Violence in Antioch’s Sycamore neighborhood Saturday, Feb. 26

Friday, February 25th, 2022

By Allen D. Payton

A Walk Against Violence in Antioch’s Sycamore neighborhood, which has been the city’s highest crime area for over two decades, will be held on Saturday, Feb. 26 at 2:00 p.m. It begins at Contra Loma Estates Park. The meet-up location is at the apartment complex adjacent to the park at 2405 Sunny Lane.

“It’s a community event by a group of individuals and local leaders who recognize the need to reduce crime in the Sycamore neighborhood and to come alongside them and encourage the residents if they see something to say something. We want to share a message of being responsible to love and care about our neighbors, said Kibibi Columbus. “We also need to keep our community lifted up in prayer.”

Antioch District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker, who represents the Sycamore neighborhood and has called on Mayor Lamar Thorpe to add the hiring of four more police officers to the budget to focus on that part of the city, will be in attendance.

“I’m just inspired by this effort,” she said. “I hope this brings the community together, and I will be there to support.”

Safe Return Project and Lift Up Contra Costa are some of the organizers, Columbus shared.

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Study shows increased screen time during COVID leading to mental health issues for children

Friday, February 25th, 2022

Source: healthychildren.org

Screen Time Use Among U.S. Adolescents During the COVID-19 Pandemic Findings From the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study

By Antonia Ehlers, PR and Media Relations, Kaiser Permanente Northern California

In today’s world, it’s not uncommon for children to be connected to their phones and laptops. Some sneak devices on their laps under the dinner table, while others are slow to respond to real conversations when they’re texting their friends. It’s a whole new world, but increased screen time might be leading to more mental health issues, according to “Screen Time Use Among U.S. Adolescents During the COVID-19 Pandemic Findings From the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study” published in the Journal of the American Medical Association-Pediatrics (JAMA-Pediatrics).

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, many children increased screen time use due to online school, stay-at-home orders and general social isolation,” said Richard Freed, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at Kaiser Permanente Antioch Medical Center. “JAMA-Pediatrics recently reported that children nearly doubled their screen time use during the pandemic. Unfortunately, this increase is posing mental health risks for kids because it displaces the activities we know are helpful to children and adolescents, including quality time with family, physical activity, and engaging with their teachers and school communities.”

The cumulative effect of excessive screen time is leading to ongoing mental health issues for children.

“Children are experiencing anxiousness and stress in part because screen time has remained elevated even as pandemic restrictions are lifted,” Freed added. “It’s important for parents to understand how too much screen time can negatively impact children’s mental health, and there are ways parents can help reduce the amount of time their children spend on screens.”

Below are some tips for helping your child cut back on his or her screen time use:

  • Help children and adolescents engage with the activities we know support their mental health, including time with family and physical activity, as that leaves less time for screens.
  • Kids might need parent support and structure to get back into school routines, such as shutting down screens and completing homework.
  • Cutting back on screen time use does not mean no screen time at all. Try setting some limits on children’s usage and work on a plan to limit the amount of time per day they are on their screens.
  • Don’t allow children to have use of their screens before bedtime, which can disrupt sleep. Encourage them to read books or play quiet games instead.
  • Model good behavior. Put your own screens away and show children the importance of finding other activities to occupy their time.
  • Encourage children to play outdoors or take up a new hobby. Find ways to expand their in-person social interactions, such as joining a club or an after-school activity.
  • Go on walks, have family game nights, start a family book club, or work on puzzles. Find other ways to keep your children occupied and engaged.
  • Talk to your children about the importance of staying engaged with others and how screens prohibit them from developing the social skills they need to be successful.
  • If your child continues to withdraw or seems anxious or stressed, talk about what might be happening and offer solutions to help.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics has a tool at healthychildren.org/MediaUsePlan to help you create a plan for screen time.

 

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Antioch Black History Month event at Black Diamond Middle School Friday night

Friday, February 25th, 2022

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