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Grand opening of new $65 million Contra Costa County Administration Building celebrated

Thursday, July 11th, 2024
The grand opening of the new Contra Costa County Administration Building and Plaza was held on Tuesday, July 9, 2024. Photos: Contra Costa County

A new government facility to better fit its environment

Includes new plaza, public law library

By Kristi Jourdan, PIO, Contra Costa County

County and city officials celebrated the grand opening of Contra Costa County’s new Administration Building Tuesday morning, July 9, 2024. Located on Pine Street in the heart of downtown Martinez, the three-story cutting-edge office administration building and civic plaza was unveiled on the historic grounds previously occupied by a taller, outdated office tower and a jail dating back to around 1902. Both were demolished to make way for the modern development including the County’s other new administration building across Escobar Street that houses the Board of Supervisors’ Chambers.

Members of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors and the Martinez City Council, county staff and representatives of both Webcor Builders and design firm Perkins & Will gathered for the building’s grand opening.

Speakers included Board Chair and District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover, District 1 Supervisor John Gioia, District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen, District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis and District 4 Supervisor Ken Carlson, Chief Assistant County Administrator Eric Angstadt and Martinez Mayor Brianne Zorn, and representatives of design firm Perkins & Will and Webcor Builders.

The new County Administration Building and Plaza.

The new $65 million building replaced a programmatically obsolete and contextually out of scale office tower and showcases state-of-the-art architecture that harmonizes beautifully with the surrounding historic buildings. It also rejuvenates the public plaza formed by the vacation of a city street within the County administration campus. It embodies sustainability with on-site photovoltaics for high-performance energy use, responsibly sourced finishes, and low embodied carbon materials.

The entrance and a retail space inside the new County Administration Building.

The development significantly enhances community space by adding a new public law library, ground-floor retail spaces, and a parking garage. The plaza also includes street improvements and an advanced stormwater system tailored to the site’s unique groundwater challenges and topography. Internally, the building acts as a hub for several County administrative departments, including the Public Defender, County Sheriff’s Civil Division and the Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice, consolidating essential services under one roof to improve service delivery and enhance community interaction.

The new building marks a significant contribution to Contra Costa County, where modernity meets tradition and community service meets innovation.

Alexandra Pony of Pony Communications and Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

Former Antioch nanny pleads guilty to sexual abuse of small child

Thursday, July 11th, 2024
Michelle Hidalgo in a post on her Facebook page on October 26, 2022.

Sentenced to 15 years to life

By Ted Asregadoo, PIO, Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office

A 29-year-old resident of Antioch was sentenced today, July 11, 2024, in Contra Costa Superior Court for sexual abuse of a young child.

Michelle Nicole Hidalgo, was sentenced by the Honorable David Goldstein after she pled guilty to engaging in sexual acts with a child 10 years old or younger [PC 288.7(b)]. Hidalgo was a nanny to the minor victim and has been in custody since her arrest on September 22, 2023. As part of a negotiated agreement, Hidalgo was sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison – which will begin immediately. She was also ordered to register as a sex offender for life.

On September 21, 2023, the Contra Costa County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force was alerted to sexually explicit images of a small child being shared on X (formally Twitter). A search warrant was served at a residence in Antioch, seized equipment used in the production and distribution of pornographic images of minors and Hidalgo was arrested.  She was employed as a part-time nanny for the victim’s family. (See related article)

Pursuant to her plea, Hidalgo admitted to abusing the child on September 19, 2023. Evidence also demonstrated Hidalgo created visual depictions of the abuse and shared those images with other X users. Text messages sent from Hidalgo to others were recovered. Those messages indicated her intent to further

abuse the child the next time she was with the victim. Investigators are currently working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to ensure those images are flagged if shared online in the future.

“The sentence delivered today reflects the severity of the crime committed,” said District Attorney Diana

Becton. “Our system of justice is dedicated to protecting victims and safeguarding the community by holding offenders accountable.”

Deputy District Attorney Jenna Franklin from the DA’s Sexual Assault Unit prosecuted the case. The investigation was led by the Contra Costa County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC). Detectives and investigators who participated in the ICAC investigation are from the Walnut Creek, Concord, Pleasant Hill, Brentwood, Oakley, Pittsburg, San Ramon and Danville police departments, the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, Special Agents from the United States Secret Service and Homeland Security Investigations, and Inspectors from the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.

According to the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office, the five-foot, three-inch tall, 250-pound Hidalgo is Hispanic was born on December 23, 1994 and is being held in the West County Detention Facility on $800,000 bail. Her Facebook profile shows she lives in Antioch and is from Pacifica, CA where she studied at Terra Nova High School.

Case No. 01-23-02982 | The People of the State of California v. Hidalgo, Michelle Nicole

Long-time Antioch Reserve Officer Frank Rupani passes

Wednesday, July 10th, 2024
Frank Rupani in a 2016 photo posted on his Facebook page and in his Antioch Police Reserve Officer uniform. Photo (right): APD

By Antioch Police Department

It is with a heavy heart that we inform you about the passing of Reserve Officer Frank Rupani. Frank was a dedicated member of the Antioch Police Department for over 26 years, serving our community with utmost commitment and professionalism.

He began his service on October 30, 1997, and has received numerous commendations and letters of appreciation from the public. In May 2014, Rupani was honored by then-Chief Allan Cantando as a Reserve Sergeant.

Prior to his retirement from the APD Reserve Unit in 2017, Rupani was assigned to assist the Parking Enforcement unit with a huge backlog of abandoned vehicles in the City. According to then-Police Chief Tammany Brooks, Rupani had been instrumental in getting the number down to a manageable level. He continued to serve the citizens of Antioch by transitioning to the Volunteers In Police Service (VIPS) program and could be seen at community events, including parades in downtown Rivertown, as well as Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies.

Following his retirement Frank Rupani was honored with a plaque for his 20 years of service by then-Chief T Brooks as Captain Tony Morefield looks on during an Antioch Police Ceremony on May 17, 2018. Photos: APD

Officer Rupani’s unwavering dedication to his duty and his selfless service to the Antioch community will always be remembered. He was a true asset to our department, and his loss will be deeply felt by all of us.

During his time with us, Officer Rupani exemplified the values of integrity, compassion, and bravery. He was not only a respected colleague but also a trusted friend to many. His positive impact on our community and the lives he touched cannot be overstated.

As we mourn the loss of Officer Rupani, let us also remember and celebrate the incredible legacy he leaves behind. His contributions to public safety and his unwavering commitment to serving others will continue to inspire us all.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Officer Rupani’s family, friends, and colleagues during this difficult time. We extend our deepest condolences and offer our full support to those affected by this loss.

According to his Facebook page, Rupani is from Burgettstown, Pennsylvania and studied of his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at The University of Akron.

Please join us in honoring Officer Frank Rupani’s memory and the invaluable service he provided to our community.

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

Con Fire experiences 30% increase in July 4th incidents over last year

Wednesday, July 10th, 2024
The fire on the hill behind the Hillcrest Crossroads shopping center off Hillcrest Avenue and Larkspur Drive in Antioch started about 10:30 PM on July 4, 2024, and burned to the fence line behind the buildings at the bottom and the homes on Locust Court at the top. Fire & Rescue crew members head down off the hill near the KFC after extinguishing the fire. Photos by Allen D. Payton. Aerial shot of the area burned on the Hillcrest Avenue side of the hill. Photo by Con Fire.

Antioch had most fire-related calls

By Allen D. Payton

According to a report by the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire), they responded to a total of 317 incidents from 10:00 AM on July 4, 2024, to 3:00 AM on July 5th. That’s an increase of 30% over the 243 incidents Con Fire responded to last year.

Source: Con Fire

Of this year’s incidents, 129 were fire-related including 92 exterior fires, 16 vegetation fires, 13 structure fires and eight other types of fires. All four categories experienced increases over 2023 with more than double for exterior fires.

Antioch had the most fire-related calls with about 45 total, followed by 20 for Pittsburg and 10 for Bay Point. All other cities and unincorporated communities in the Con Fire service area had fewer than 10 fire-related incidents.

Source: Con Fire

Calls for significant fires began Thursday at 10:30 AM with a vegetation fire on Leland Road in Pittsburg confirmed to have been started by fireworks at consumed 10 acres. The last significant incident was another vegetation fire that started about 10:30 PM in Antioch on the hill off Hillcrest Avenue behind the Hillcrest Crossings Shopping Center between where KFC and the County Market Asian grocery store are located. It caused the evacuation of six homes.

Source: Con Fire

According to Con Fire PIO, Captain Christopher Toler, a care home on Lotus Court was first evacuated, then fire personnel decided to evacuate all six homes closest to the fire. Structure protection was in place and the fire stopped at the fence lines at both the top and bottom of the hill.

See videos of the Antioch fire here, here, here and here.

See live animals at Antioch Library Wed., July 10

Tuesday, July 9th, 2024
Photo: Antioch Community Library

By Antioch Community Library

Join us tomorrow, Wednesday, July 10, 2024, at 1:30 pm for an exciting presentation by Wildmind Science Learning as we are transported to the tropical world of the rainforest. Featuring live animals such as the armadillo, coendou, macaw, skink, and spectacled owl, audience members will be introduced to the wide variety of animals and plants that call the rainforest home.

The Antioch Library is located at 501 W. 18th Street. For more information about the library visit Antioch | Contra Costa County Library.

Antioch Water Park After Dark: Christmas in July this Friday night

Tuesday, July 9th, 2024

By City of Antioch Recreation Department

The Antioch Water Park presents Christmas in July featuring Aloha Ice this Friday, July 12, 2024! Enjoy refreshing shave ice, delight in a special appearance from Santa, and embark on an exciting scavenger hunt throughout the park!

Along with these fun activities, the first 50 people to enter the park will receive vouchers for FREE shave ice from Aloha Ice!

Tickets are $11 per person at AntiochWaterPark.com or $13 at the door and include night swim.

The Antioch Water Park is located inside Prewett Family Park at 4701 Lone Tree Way.
*Shave ice is not included in admission, without voucher, all shave ice must be purchased.

Don’t miss out and come celebrate with us!

Antioch to open cooling centers on July 10 & 11

Tuesday, July 9th, 2024

By City of Antioch

Due to the excessive heat occurring throughout this week, with the temperature forecast of 102 degrees on Wednesday and 105 degrees on Thursday, the City of Antioch is providing cooling centers for your convenience. Residents without home air conditioning or with conditions made worse with extreme heat and poor air quality are encouraged to seek out the cooling centers.

Cooling centers will be held:

Wednesday and Thursday, July 10th and July 11th | 12pm-8pm

Nick Rodriguez Community Center | 213 F Street, Antioch

Antioch Community Center | 4703 Lone Tree Way, Antioch

Let’s do our best to stay cool, Antioch.

Congressman Garamendi announces he has early stage, treatable blood cancer

Tuesday, July 9th, 2024
Rep. John Garamendi announces his cancer diagnosis in a video on his X feed on Monday, July 8, 2024 and his official photo.

By Office of Representative John Garamendi

WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman John Garamendi (CA-08) on Monday, July 8, 2024, released the following statement about his diagnosis of early stage, treatable blood cancer:

“My wife Patti, a leader in the Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program, ensures I stay vigilant about preventative screenings and care. Freezing abnormal bumps is standard, but a call from my doctor changed everything: “When will you be back in California? You need to come in for a series of tests.” Thus began my journey with early-stage Multiple Myeloma, a form of treatable blood cancer. 

“Today, I started my path to remission with chemo-immunotherapy as an outpatient at Kaiser Oncology in Sacramento. With early detection, excellent doctors, and the love and support of Patti, our entire family, my extraordinary staff, and congressional colleagues, I know I’ll get through this while continuing to serve my constituents and advance American democracy. I’m grateful our President initiated the Cancer Moonshot and that California’s efforts in stem cell research and taxing cigarettes in the 1980s for cancer research have advanced therapies benefiting not only me, but every family dealing with cancer.

“Throughout my treatments, which my doctor expects will last a few months, I will continue working on my long list of projects and goals for my constituents in Contra Costa and Solano counties. However, alongside destroying cancer cells, chemotherapy weakens natural antibodies and the immune system. My doctors have cautioned me to minimize exposure to COVID-19, flu, and other viruses, so I will limit travel to Washington and public events during the treatment process.

“My thoughts and support are with families managing cancer or any health condition, and with the doctors, nurses, and medical personnel who offer comfort and hope. I am confident that the treatments will be effective, allowing me to continue serving impacted families and my constituents in Congress for years to come.”

In a video post on his X (formerly Twitter) feed on Monday, Garamendi read his statement and wrote, “Like 1.9 million Americans each year, I recently received the dreaded call from my doctor informing me that I had cancer. I am thankful to have caught this early, and we are confident that I will soon be in remission.”

The 79-year-old Garamendi represents the northern waterfront and western communities of Contra Costa County including the northern portion of Antioch in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.