Archive for the ‘East County’ Category

Los Medanos College to hold Investiture Ceremony for Pamela Ralston, Ph.D., its 7th president Oct. 19

Tuesday, October 17th, 2023

By Juliet V. Casey, Director of Marketing, LMC

Dr. Pamela Ralston, President, Los Medanos College. Photo: LMC

Pittsburg, Calif. – Los Medanos College officially welcomes Pamela Ralston, Ph.D., as its seventh president at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 19 with a reception and Investiture Ceremony at the Pittsburg Campus Student Union, 2700 E. Leland Road. The event will feature speakers, including Pittsburg Mayor Shanelle Scales-Preston.

Ralston took the helm at LMC, overseeing its Pittsburg Campus and Brentwood Center, in January 2023 as interim president. She stepped in for President Bob Kratochvil, who retired. The Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board in July named her to the permanent position.

“Our East County community deserves the best, and we believe Dr. Ralston fits that description,” Interim Chancellor Mojdeh Mehdizadeh said. “She has the qualities of leadership, experience and commitment to serve all students, particularly for students of color, which makes her an excellent choice as president of Los Medanos College.”

Since joining LMC, Ralston has aggressively worked to increase student enrollment for transfer and for career and technical education. During her time at LMC, Ralston has emphasized the “serving” aspect of the college’s mission as a federally designated minority- and Hispanic-serving institution. Her work also has focused on outreach and inviting student and community voices to civic discussions on local and regional topics.

Before coming to LMC, Ralston was president of the Santiago Canyon College. Prior to joining SCC, she held numerous administrative and academic appointments at Santa Barbara Community College District, College of the Desert in Palm Desert, and Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo. She was a faculty member and division chair of English and Written Communications at Tacoma Community College (TCC). Before joining TCC, she was an American Studies lecturer at the University of Washington.

Ralston received her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Oregon and her master’s and doctoral degrees in comparative literature from the University of Washington. She has earned excellence in teaching awards from Tacoma Community College and the University of Washington and was honored with a Fulbright fellowship for doctoral research at the Royal Library and University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

About Los Medanos College (LMC): LMC is one of three colleges in the Contra Costa Community College District, serving the East Contra Costa County community. Established in 1974, LMC has earned federal designations as a Minority-Serving and Hispanic-Serving institution. It offers award-winning transfer and career-technical programs, support services, and diverse academic opportunities in an inclusive learning environment. With exceptional educators, innovative curriculum, growing degree and certificate offerings, and state-of-the-art facilities, the college prepares students to succeed in their educational pursuits, in the workforce, and beyond. LMC’s Pittsburg Campus is located on 120 acres bordering Antioch, with an additional education center in Brentwood.

Personal flying electric vehicle tested at Byron Airport

Thursday, October 12th, 2023
Pivotal’s eVTOL “Opener” was tested at Byron Airport. Video screenshot.

The new eVTOL goes on sale in 2024

By Contra Costa County District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis

George Jetson would feel right at home if he visited Byron Airport.

That’s because in recent years, companies like Pivotal have been testing their innovative personal flying electric vehicle prototypes at Byron. (See video) Last week, Pivotal unveiled the Helix, a new eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) vehicle in development since 2011. The Helix will be priced at $190,000 when it goes on sale in 2024.

Pivotal’s Helix personal aircraft will be available for purchase next year. Source: Office of Supervisor Burgis

Testing innovative technologies at Byron was our goal when I worked with the Contra Costa County Airports Division to partner with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the Federal Aviation Administration and other agencies to make our Contra Costa County airports official unmanned aerial system test sites. Byron Airport and Buchanan Field are in perfect locations to test drones because of the open testing areas and their proximity to the various aviation companies headquartered in the Bay Area (Pivotal is based in Palo Alto). Learn more about our Bay Area Test Site, a.k.a. “Drone Town USA” on the Contra Costa County Airports website or by watching the video.

Having groundbreaking testing facilities in Contra Costa County is just the first step. In the medium and long term, we’re working to have the vehicles of the future developed and even manufactured locally. In the meantime, I’m proud to have products tested in District III ready for sale to aviators everywhere.

Buddy Kniss wins Hobby Stock Nationals at Antioch Speedway

Tuesday, October 10th, 2023
Buddy Kniss piloted Dave Baca’s #33b car to the $3,000 Hobby Stock Nationals win. Photo by Katrina Kniss

Gallaher, Robbins, McLeister also win

By Candice Martin, DCRR Racing

Antioch, CA…October 6-7…Buddy Kniss of Oakley won the 50 lap Pacific Coast General Engineering Hobby Stock Nationals Saturday night at Antioch Speedway. The 2019 IMCA Modified champion got the ride in the Dave Baca owned entry and made the most of it. The $3,000 victory was the biggest of his career.

Three-time Watsonville Hobby Stock champion Rob Gallaher of San Jose ended up with the win on Friday night, putting him in the Trophy Dash on Saturday, which he also won. Gallaher motored into the lead at the start, followed by 2020 champion James Thomson of Pittsburgh and Kenneth Robles of Rio Vista. Thomson made an inside pass on the back stretch on Lap 2 to grab the lead, but Gallaher came back strong on the outside in the fourth turn a lap later. A yellow flag waved for a flat tire on the Nick DeCarlo of Martinez car on Lap 4. Gallaher continued to lead the restart with Robles briefly moving into second. Thomson went low in Turn 4 a lap later to reclaim second and then made an inside pass on the back stretch on the eighth lap to take the lead from Gallaher once again. Kniss briefly took second from Gallaher, but Gallaher moved back around on Lap 9. Saturday night arrival Nick Johnson of Bakersfield made a high pass in Turn 4 on Lap 10 to grab third, and the battle intensified up front.

Gallaher made an inside pass in Turn 3 of the 12th lap to take the lead, and Johnson went low in Turn 2 a lap later to claim second. Johnson began smoking as he made an outside pass in Turn 4 on Lap 14 to take the lead from Gallaher. However, Gallaher came roaring back on the inside for the lead on Lap 15. A yellow flag flew for Robles, Aidan Ponciano of Oakley and Steven Johnson of Bakersfield in Turn 2 on Lap 16. Gallaher led the restart with Kniss motoring into second ahead of Nick Johnson. Another yellow flag waved on Lap 19. The restart saw Nick Johnson make a big move on the inside to take the lead from Gallaher. DeCarlo grabbed second. Johnson was still leading the way despite serious smoking issues. Following a Lap 27 yellow flag, Kniss made an inside pass to settle into second. Following a yellow flag on Lap 35, Kniss took the lead from Nick Johnson on the restart. 

A yellow flag waved on Lap 39 for Robles. The restart lap saw contact between Nick Johnson and DeCarlo, and a yellow flag waved once again. Johnson retired, and Buddy Kniss now led Jared Baugh of Pittsburgh and Chester Kniss of Antioch. Chester Kniss pitted with a flat tire during a lap-48 yellow flag. Buddy Kniss led the restart and brought it home to victory ahead of Baugh, Lance Hurst of Madera, Jewell Crandall of Antioch and Charlie Bryant of Oakley.

Rob Gallaher X won the Friday night Hobby Stock Main Event. Photo by Katrina Kniss

On Friday night, they ran a twin heat race format that earned the driver’s points and 15 starting spots in the preliminary Main Event. Rob Gallaher of San Jose would end up with the win following the two post-race disqualifications of Chris Long of Antioch and Colten Haney of Brentwood. 

The first round of 10-lap heat race wins went to Gallaher, Robles, Steven Johnson, Michaela Taylor of Oakley and Long. The next round of heats went to Buddy Kniss, Thomson, Haney, Bobby Motts, Jr. of San Pablo and Long, making Long the only driver to win two heat races.

Long started up front with Haney in the Friday preliminary Main Event, but Haney led the opening lap. Long went by on the inside a lap later to take the lead. Motts settled into an early third, but he brought out a Lap 11 yellow flag. Long continued to lead Haney and track champion Grayson Baca of Brentwood. A final yellow flag bunched the field on Lap 18. Haney surprised Long by taking the lead, but Long went low in Turn 1 on Lap 19 to reclaim first. Gallaher had settled into third, and they took the checkered flag with Long ahead of Haney, Gallaher, Baca and Robles. Following the tech disqualification of Haney and Long’s failure to go directly to tech after the race, Gallaher was elevated into first ahead of Baca, Robles, Thomson and Buddy Kniss.

Jimmy Robbins ended up getting the Figure 8 win aboard his X Super Stock. Photo by Katrina Kniss

Jimmy Robbins emerged with his first Figure 8 Main Event win of the season following multiple disqualifications. This was also the Mike Conley Salute, paying tribute to the recent Hall of Fame inductee.

DJ Keldsen of Newman had won the previous four races and took the early lead over Robbins, who was piloting his Super Stock on this occasion. Dakota Keldsen of Watsonville was an early third before being passed by his uncle, John Keldsen of Watsonville. John has won roughly 150 Figure 8 races throughout his illustrious career in California. A Turn 3 pass on the fourth lap gained John Keldsen the second position, and he set his sights on DJ. 

Following a red flag on Lap 10 for a fire under the hood of the Dakota Keldsen car, John Keldsen surprised DJ by charging into the lead. The battle intensified between the two before DJ Keldsen made a pass as they exited Turn 2 on Lap 14. Undaunted, John Keldsen kept his foot in it and stayed on the inside as they went into Turn 3. Unfortunately, he hit an infield tire and rolled, bringing out a red flag. At that point, DJ Keldsen exited his car to check on his uncle and the race was stopped. Following some incidents after the races, all three Keldsen cars were disqualified, putting Robbins in the winner’s circle ahead of Michaela Taylor of Oakley and Mike Conley, Jr. of Antioch.

Devin McLeister #7b won the 600 Micro Sprint Main Event. Photo by Katrina Kniss

Devin McLeister of Stockton picked up the win in the 15 lap 600 Micro Sprint Main Event. He started on the pole and enjoyed a good battle with Fremont’s Ryan Dotson before the they scored the 1-2 finish. Bobby Caldeira of Salinas finished third.

Following a week off, racing returns in a big way with the Fifth Annual Bill Bowers Memorial West Coast Nationals. The big money affair will include the IMCA Modifieds, Sport Modifieds and Stock Cars along with the recently added Pacific Coast General Engineering Hobby Stocks. The Friday night portion will pay tribute to Hall of Famer JD Willis as well. For further information, go to or check out the Antioch Speedway by PROmotions Facebook page

Friday, Oct. 6, 2023 Race Results 

Pacific Coast General Engineering Hobby Stocks 

Heat Winners Round 1 (10 laps)-Buddy Kniss James Thomson, Colten Haney, Bobby Motts Jr, Chris Long. Heat Winners Round 2 (10 laps)-Rob Gallaher, Kenneth Robles, Steven Johnson, Michaela Taylor, Chris Long. Main Event (25 laps)-Rob Gallaher, Grayson Baca, Kenneth Robles, James Thomson, Buddy Kniss, Chester Kniss, Steven Johnson, Kevin Brown, Michaela Taylor, Breanna Troen.

Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023 Race Results

Pacific Coast General Engineering Hobby Stocks

Heat Winners (10 lap)-Buddy Kniss, Charlie Bryant, Chester Kniss, Jared Baugh. Trophy Dash (4 laps)-Rob Gallaher. B Main 1 (15 laps)-Nick DeCarlo, Steven Johnson, Tyler Irwin. B Main 2 (15 laps)-Nick Johnson, Brad Coelho, Aidan Ponciano. Main Event (50 laps)-Buddy Kniss, Jared Baugh, Lance Hurst, Jewell Crandall, Charlie Bryant, Chester Kniss, Anthony Vigna, Rob Gallaher, Brad Coelho, James Thomson.

Figure 8

Main Event (15 laps)-Jimmy Robbins, Michaela Taylor, Mike Conley Jr, John Keldsen DQ, DJ Keldsen DQ, Dakota Keldsen DQ.

600 Micro Sprints

Heat Winner (8 laps)-Devin McCleister. Main Event (15 laps)-Devin McCleister, Ryan Dotson, Bobby Caldeira, Charlie Kight, Austin Cobb DNS, Don McCleister DNS.

Highway 4 in Brentwood to close for trail overcrossing construction tonight, Tuesday night, Oct. 9 & 10

Monday, October 9th, 2023

Between Lone Tree Way and Sand Creek Road

Single-lane closures Wed.-Sat. nights, Oct. 11-14

By City of Brentwood

The construction of the Mokelumne Trail Bicycle and Pedestrian Overcrossing span over State Route 4 (“SR4”) in Brentwood requires a temporary nighttime freeway closure in both directions for two consecutive nights.  Additionally, there will be single lane closures for several subsequent nights.   

 The highway will be closed in both directions, between Lone Tree Way and Sand Creek Road on the following dates/times:   

Monday, October 9, 2023 from 10:00 p.m. until 4:00 a.m., the following morning.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023 from 10:00 p.m. until 4:00 a.m., the following morning.

Detours will be in place as follows:

Eastbound traffic will be directed to exit at Lone Tree Way, go eastbound to Shady Willow Lane, then southbound on Shady Willow Lane to Sand Creek Road, before proceeding westbound on Sand Creek Road to the eastbound State Route 4 on-ramp.

Westbound traffic will exit on Sand Creek Road and go eastbound on Sand Creek Road to Shady Willow Lane, then northbound on Shady Willow Lane to Lone Tree Way, and proceed westbound on Lone Tree Way to the westbound State Route 4 on-ramp.

There will be single-lane closures in the eastbound and westbound directions on the following dates/times:

Wednesday, October 11, 2023 from 10:00 p.m. until 4:00 a.m., the following morning.

Thursday, October 12, 2023 from 10:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m., the following morning.

Friday, October 13, 2023 from 11:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m., the following morning.

Saturday, October 14, 2023 from 11:00 p.m. until 8:00 a.m., the following morning.

Visit the Mokelumne Trail Bicycle and Pedestrian Overcrossing web site for more information on the project.

Driver of crashed stolen Kia arrested at Antioch mall Friday

Friday, October 6th, 2023
Antioch Police assisted Pittsburg Police in pursuing suspects in a stolen Kia that crashed in the parking lot of Somersville Town Center on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023. Photo source chose to remain anonymous.

Another stolen Kia found overturned at Antioch Skatepark Thursday

By Allen D. Payton

During a Pittsburg Police pursuit of a stolen Kia the driver crashed the vehicle at Somersville Towne Center in Antioch Friday Oct. 6, 2023. Antioch Police assisted Pittsburg PD with a foot pursuit of the suspect. The driver was taken into custody. According to mall security a female passenger who ran from the car was able to flee through the mall.

Another stolen Kia was discovered by Antioch Police overturned after being driven over ramps at the Antioch Skate Park in Prewett Family Park Thursday morning Oct. 5.

Stolen Kia was discovered by Antioch Police at the Antioch Skatepark on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023. Photo source chose to remain anonymous.

About six Kias and Hyundais stolen each day in Antioch. Eight were recovered in just the last three days and the drivers and passengers were all ages 13 to 16.

Los Medanos College hires new athletic director

Friday, October 6th, 2023

Marty Storti joins LMC from Saint Mary’s College

Marty Storti is the new Los Medanos College Athletics Director. Source: LMC

Los Medanos College (LMC) is pleased to announce Marty Storti as Athletics director, effective Oct. 2, 2023.

“Mr. Storti comes to us with a wealth of experience in intercollegiate athletics administration” Vice President of Student Services Tanisha Maxwell said. “We are confident he will help elevate our sports and help our student athletes achieve their highest potential.”

Storti, who joins LMC after a career of more than 20 years as a coach and athletic administrator at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, said he is eager to work with student athletes at the community college level.

“At Saint Mary’s, I designed the recruiting protocols for Club Athletics that included transfer students. We engaged and helped many community college athletes navigate the admissions and financial aid processes,” he said. “LMC, as a feeder school to UC Davis and Berkeley and other great universities, gives student athletes a unique opportunity with a unique set of support systems to help them win and graduate.”

Over the course of his tenure at Saint Mary’s College, Storti managed numerous areas within the athletic department, including human resources, strategic planning, and program assessment. In his role, Storti oversaw athletic camps, campus recreation, event management, facilities, sports medicine, and strength and conditioning. He also served as the sports supervisor for several teams, which included baseball, cross country, track, men’s golf, women’s rowing, men’s soccer, and softball. 

“LMC is an attractive opportunity, given its potential for growth in the athletics, from increasing the number of sponsored sports to increasing the number of student athletes. We will demonstrate how important student-athletes can be to the institution and the broader community,” he said. “Sports at LMC can be that light that guides more students toward higher education and long-term success.” 

As assistant vice president for Club Athletics, Storti spearheaded a departmental rebranding initiative for recruiting and revenue generation. Under his leadership, Storti introduced a student-athlete council and devised a comprehensive student leadership development program. His oversight resulted in a notable rise in student-athlete applications and enrollments. He led successful revenue-generating initiatives, which led to increases in facility rentals, camp revenue, ticket sales, and annual fundraising.  

Under his administrative leadership, several of Saint Mary’s teams achieved national success. Storti was the men’s soccer sport administrator when they participated in the 2011 NCAA tournament, where they reached the elite eight. He served as the lead administrator for men’s rugby, contributing to their historic achievements by securing USA Rugby D1A (highest level) National Championships in 2014, 2015, 2016 (7s), and 2017. 

Storti earned his master’s degree and bachelor’s degree in business administration from Saint Mary’s College.

About Los Medanos College (LMC): LMC is one of three colleges in the Contra Costa Community College District, serving the East Contra Costa County community. Established in 1974, LMC has earned federal designations as a Minority-Serving and Hispanic-Serving institution. It offers award-winning transfer and career-technical programs, support services, and diverse academic opportunities in an inclusive learning environment. With exceptional educators, innovative curriculum, growing degree and certificate offerings, and state-of-the-art facilities, the college prepares students to succeed in their educational pursuits, in the workforce, and beyond. LMC’s Pittsburg Campus is located on 120 acres bordering Antioch, with an additional education center in Brentwood.

Brentwood party call leads to gun arrest of Antioch woman

Monday, October 2nd, 2023
Zyann Martin. Source: her Facebook page posted on Jan. 1, 2018.

Charged with 1 felony, 2 misdemeanors for being drunk, on probation for DUI, carrying concealed, loaded stolen weapon

By Brentwood Police Department

Last week, Brentwood Officers responded to the 1600 block of Ceylon Drive for a party complaint. Our Dispatch received additional calls reporting there was a fight and someone had a gun.

When officers arrived, they saw several partygoers in the street, including an adult female who matched the description of the suspect with a gun.

The female, identified as 24-year-old Zyann Chablis Martin of Antioch, was found to be in possession of a loaded stolen gun. Martin who was heavily intoxicated at the time officers contacted her, was also on probation for DUI. According to her DUI occurred early last year.

Martin was placed under arrest and transported to the Martinez Detention Facility. According to, Martin was charged with one felony and two misdemeanors: 25400(C)(2) PC – carrying a concealed stolen weapon (F), 496(A) PC – receiving/etc. known stolen property (M) and 647(F) PCdisorderly conduct alcohol (M). According to the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department, as of Monday, October 2, 2023, she bonded out of custody.

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

Antioch Councilman, businessman, retired police lieutenant Mike Barbanica kicks off campaign for Contra Costa Supervisor

Saturday, September 23rd, 2023
Source: Barbanica for Supervisor campaign

Third candidate to announce for District 5 to replace Glover; touts major endorsements

On Thursday, September 21, Antioch City Councilman, business owner, retired police lieutenant Mike Barbanica announced his campaign for Contra Costa County Supervisor District 5. The campaign held its kick-off event later that evening at the Deputy Sheriff’s Association Hall in Martinez.

“We had a better turnout than expected,” Barbanica shared following the event. “We had well over 100. All the tables were full. It could not have been a more successful event. It was incredible.”

Barbanica is a 21-year veteran of the Pittsburg Police Department, where he retired in 2007 as a police lieutenant and earned the Bronze Medal of Valor Award for his service. Barbanica and his team were credited by the police chief with bringing about a 20% decrease in crime. Barbanica and his wife Kristine are the owners of Blue Line Property Group where they help local families access affordable housing. In 2020, Barbanica, a Democrat, was elected to the Antioch City Council and currently represents District 2.

“I am thrilled to announce my campaign for Supervisor for Contra Costa County District 5,” Barbanica said. “With over 20 years of experience protecting our community as a police officer and now an elected councilmember with a thriving small business that is taking on the housing crisis, I will proudly put my public service track record up against all-comers while I continue to fight for Contra Costa families. I will do what it takes to ensure Contra Costa County is a place where every family has an equal opportunity to thrive. I will use my experience as a long-time police officer and now councilmember to tackle the housing crisis, ensure we get serious about public safety, and build a stronger community for all who call Contra Costa County home.”

Barbanica is a real estate broker and owns Blue Line Property Management in Antioch handling both residential and commercial real estate sales, leasing and management.

Barbanica is running for Contra Costa County Supervisorial District 5, which spans the north shore of Contra Costa County, including the cities of Hercules, Martinez and Pittsburg, and portions of Antioch and the unincorporated communities of Alhambra Valley, Bay Point, Briones, Rodeo, Pacheco, Crockett, Tormey, Port Costa, Mt. View, Vine Hill, Reliez Valley, and Clyde. 

He enters the race with a growing list of influential and respected endorsers, including Mary Knox, Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney,  Sue Rainey, former Mayor of Walnut Creek, Mary Erbez, former Mayor of Pittsburg, Frank Aiello, former Mayor of Pittsburg, Angelica Lopez, Pittsburg City Councilmember, Tony Oerlemans, Brentwood City Councilmember, Sean Wright, former Mayor of Antioch, and Arne Simonsen, former Antioch City Clerk and City Councilmember, as well as the United Steelworkers Local 326.

So far, he will face Pittsburg Mayor Shanelle Preston and Pittsburg Councilman Jelani Killings in the primary election in March. Filing closes December 8.

More About Barbanica

Barbanica, a lifelong resident of Antioch, is the small business owner of Blue Line Property Group in Antioch. He has received numerous awards for his teaching and coaching of others, including the California and Hawaii Region “Outstanding Brokerage of the Year” and the region’s “Broker of the Year.” Barbanica also authored an international bestselling book. 

Before serving residents’ real estate needs, he began his career with the Pittsburg Police Department where he served 21 years and retired in 2007 as a police lieutenant. On the force, Barbanica ran a street level narcotic and crime unit for six years that was credited with reducing crime by 23% in Pittsburg.

In 2020, Barbanica was elected to represent District 2 on the Antioch City Council where he’s been cracking down on dilapidated properties, improving public safety, and getting small businesses the funds they need to succeed. 

Barbanica is also active in the Antioch community, is a member of the Elk’s Club, the local Knights of Columbus, the Peace Officers Research Association of California, the National Association of Realtors, the Pittsburg Italian American Club, and other service organizations. 

Barbanica is married to Kristine Barbanica, and together they have raised three children in the Antioch community and are grandparents to 4 grandchildren.

For more information on Barbanica for Contra Costa County Supervisor, please visit

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.