Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Antioch woman is 2022 Contra Costa Humanitarian of the Year, to be honored at MLK event Jan. 18

Wednesday, January 5th, 2022

Adult Humanitarian of the Year, Gigi Crowder of Antioch

Student Humanitarian of the Year, Ygnacio Valley High senior Kaia Morgan of Pittsburg

2022 MLK Humanitarian of the Year Gigi Crowder.

Contra Costa County will commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the 44th Annual Ceremony in 2022.  The Board of Supervisors invites the public to the ceremony on Tuesday, January 18, 2022, at 11 am. This year’s theme is “One People, One Nation, One Dream.”

“Together, we will commemorate Dr. King and commit to improving the lives and future of our children and community members,” said Board Chair, Supervisor Diane Burgis. “We look forward to having you join us at the event to come together and work toward a common vision and goals of acceptance, tolerance, and respect.”

Countywide recognition will be given at the ceremony to the Adult Humanitarian of the Year, Gigi Crowder, Executive Director of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Contra Costa and a 19-year Antioch resident, and the Student Humanitarian of the Year, Pittsburg resident Kaia Morgan, a senior at Ygnacio Valley High School in Concord. Honorees will be recognized for their leadership, advocacy, and service to Contra Costa County, its residents and communities in the spirit of Dr. King’s work and achievements.

About Gigi Crowder

Gigi R. Crowder, L.E. a native of Oakland, CA. is the mother of two biological children; 30-year-old twin sons and has served as a foster mom and mentor to many more through divine interventions. Gigi served for over nine years as the Ethnic Services Manager for Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services and has worked in the Behavioral Health Care field for more than 32 years after completing her studies at the University of California, Berkeley. As a family member of several loved ones who have received private and public mental health services, she is a strong advocate for promoting culturally responsive behavioral health services for all peers and family members. She is unapologetic about focusing efforts to address the needs of African Americans who she deems as the most harmed and neglected due to systemic racism. She created, Black Minds Matter 2! which has given her opportunities to speak across the nation.

Gigi is the Executive Director for NAMI Contra Costa, having accepted this position in January 2018, after serving in a consultant role as their Fund Developer. She is also the FaithNet Coordinator and has advanced efforts statewide to reduce mental health stigma by training Faith Leaders using the Mental Health Friendly Communities training curriculum she co-designed. Gigi promotes utilizing natural resources such as those found in faith/spiritual communities and works hard to advocate for the use of community defined strategies for all, with particular focus on better addressing the needs of unserved, underserved and inappropriately served ethnic and cultural communities. Her current focus is addressing the needs of those living with mental illness who are often criminalized for living with a medical condition.

Highlights of her career are being inducted in the Alameda County Women Hall of Fame for her work in developing programs to enhance employment opportunities for individuals with psychiatric challenges, receiving the 2013 MHAAC Mental Health Achievement Award. She also received the 2016 Multi-Cultural Outreach Award from NAMI California, the 2020 “Making a Difference Award,” from the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County. Gigi is also credited for positioning NAMI CC to beat out 600 other NAMI Affiliates and win the NAMI 2021 Multicultural Outreach Award.

2022 MLK Student Humanitarian of the Year Kaia Morgan.

About Kaia Morgan

According to a tweet by the Contra Costa County Office of Education, Morgan is being honored, “for her commitment and hard work in leading the charge to change the mascot for Ygnacio Valley High” from the Warriors to something else. Following the lead of a teacher at the school, Morgan started an online petition which gathered 750 supporters.

Kaia is a senior at Ygnacio Valley High School. She is an International Baccalaureate student and a cheerleader at her high school, as well as a dancer. She became interested in confronting social issues after gaining awareness of them online and quickly became passionate about addressing injustices against minorities. In February of 2020, she was inspired by a class lesson on the harm of Native mascots to use her voice to speak out against racism on a more local level, starting with the Native mascot at her own high school. She started the Change the Mascot Committee at Ygnacio Valley High School that month, and as of December 2021, their mascot is now the wolves. Kaia currently lives in Pittsburg, CA with her loving parents and two siblings. She plans to attend college in the fall and study psychology.

This is the third year in a row a woman from Antioch has been named the county’s Humanitarian of the Year, with Velma Wilson honored, last year, and current District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker was honored the year before. See the entire list of past honorees.

To learn more about the Dr. King Ceremony, visit on the Contra Costa County website.

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Contra Costa County Supervisor Diane Burgis announces passing of husband Richard Clayton

Saturday, December 11th, 2021

Supervisor Diane Burgis and her late husband Richard Clayton in photo posted on her Facebook page on June 19, 2021.

OAKLEY, CALIF., December 11, 2021 – Supervisor Diane Burgis lost her husband Richard Clayton this morning to suicide. He is survived by his wife, his parents, John and Carol Clayton of England, his brother Barry, (Deb) and sister, Nina (Rob), daughter Kianna and son-in-law Andrew Lee, his stepsons, Jacob, Sam, and Dusty Burgis, grandsons, Arlo, Brody and Huxley, and many beloved nieces, nephews, extended family, and friends.

“Like many of us, Richard’s mental health was severely impacted by the pandemic. I would ask anyone who is suffering from a mental health crisis to reach out for help, and I’m respectfully requesting that you respect my privacy and the privacy of Richard’s family at this difficult time,” said Supervisor Burgis.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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Frazier announces resignation from Assembly to pursue career in transportation, spend time with family, friends

Thursday, December 2nd, 2021

Assemblyman Jim Frazier. Source: Twitter

“It was the best job in the world, helping people and solving problems.”– Jim Frazier

Currently serves Antioch and most of East County

By Allen Payton

In a post on his official Facebook page and Twitter feed, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021 State Assemblyman Jim Frazier (D-11) announced he will be resigning from his position at the end of the month.

In addition to posting his letter of resignation, at 12:32 pm Wednesday, he tweeted, “It has been a joy and a privilege to represent District 11. I extend my sincerest appreciation to each of you. Thank you all.” Frazier posted a similar comment on his Facebook page, writing, “It has been a joy and a privilege to represent District 11. I extend my sincerest appreciation and love for an incredible 9 years of service. Thank you all.”

His announcement dispels the rumors that Frazier, who moved from Oakley to Fairfield a few years ago, would run for supervisor in Solano County, State Senate or Congress, if Rep. John Garamendi was going to retire. But the Assemblyman, was first elected to the Assembly in 2012 following his time on the Oakley City Council, could have served one more term, since members of the state legislature can only serve a total of 12 years in either the Assembly or State Senate or a combination of both, due to term limits in Proposition 28 passed by voters in 2012.

When reached for comment Frazier said, “it’s time to move on and I have a strong urge to get back into the transportation sector, pursue my passion, and help people achieve their goals in transportation.”

“It was the best job in the world, helping people and solving problems,” he continued. I’ve served for 14 years in public service. It’s time to move on.”

Asked about the rumors he might run for another office, Frazier laughed and said, “nobody asked me.”

The press release reads:

“California State Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Fairfield) today announced his resignation from the California State Assembly, District 11, effective December 31, 2021. Mr. Frazier will be seeking new opportunities in the field of transportation.

Assemblymember Frazier said, “This is the best job that I have ever had. I have enjoyed serving the State of California and the 11th Assembly District and greatly appreciate the confidence that my constituents have shown in me over the last nine years. I am proud of the many successes that we achieved together. My future plans are to put to use my passion and experience in the transportation sector, explore new career opportunities and spend additional time with family and friends.”

Mr. Frazier was elected to the California State Assembly, District 11 in November of 2012. The 11th District encompasses portions of Solano, Contra Costa and Sacramento counties and includes the following cities, towns, and areas: Antioch, Bethel Island, Birds Landing, Brentwood, Byron, Collinsville, Discovery Bay, Fairfield, Isleton, Knightsen, Locke, Oakley, Pittsburg (partial), Rio Vista, Suisun City, Travis Air Force Base, Vacaville and Walnut Grove.

Assemblymember Frazier currently serves as Chair of the powerful Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, providing oversight of open meeting laws, Offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State Controller, and State Treasurer, State holidays, seals, and official acts, emergency services, Outdoor Advertising Act (billboards), alcohol, gaming, horse racing, the State Lottery, and tobacco. He has been an advocate for enhanced unemployment and disability policy as chairman of Select Committee on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. As a key member of the Assembly Veteran’s Committee, he supported legislation to improve lives of veterans. Mr. Frazier oversaw and helped coordinate state public works activities while serving as the Assembly Speaker’s appointee to the State Public Works Board. Mr. Frazier previously served as chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, overseeing transportation infrastructure managing $2.3T in annual commerce, and promoting system improvements and job creation.

Additional key accomplishments:

  • Delivered numerous improvements to transportation infrastructure across high-speed rail, highways, and public transportation, securing $30B in total transportation funding and $5.2B for highly impactful SB1 infrastructure project.
  • Fostered legislation to obtain $1.2B in funding for special needs population, supporting and overseeing series of hearings throughout the State of California, evaluating the mission and effectiveness of relevant state agencies.
  • Established reputation as champion for California Delta, serving as key member of Delta Protection Commission focused on protecting fish and wildlife, safeguarding farmers, and ensuring continuous environmental and economic viability of delta by promoting water conservation, improved water quality, and improved management of land use and development.
  • Secured $12 million to remove abandoned and derelict commercial marine vessels throughout the Delta region through the 2021 State Budget.
  • Secured funding for Special Olympics for 6 years, including $20M funding through the 2021 State Budget.
  • Secured funding for Solano First 5 in the amount of $2 million to create a Fairfield First 5 Center through the 2021 State Budget.
  • Secured $500,000 for East Contra Costa Fire Protection District’s training program.
  • Authored legislation for a Veteran Designation of CA Driver’s License to recognize military service, resulting in hundreds of thousands of additional dollars for Veterans.

Mr. Frazier’s was recognized with many awards during his Assembly career. His accomplishments include (partial list): 2018, Legislator of the Year from the California State Commanders Veterans Council, 2017 California Transportation Foundation Elected Official of the Year, Director’s Special Recognition for Infrastructure Advocacy by American Society of Civil Engineers, 2016 Special Olympics Volunteer of the Year, 2016 AMVETS Legislator of the Year, 2015 Decoding Dyslexia: Assemblymember of the Year, 2015 California Transportation Foundation: Elected Official of the Year, 2015 Small Business Legislator of the year by California Small Business Association (CSBA) and California Small Business Roundtable (CSBR), 2015 CA Waterfowl Association, Grant Kenyon Award, Legislator of the Year, Appreciation Award: Sikh Communities of Napa and Solano Counties and Fairfield- Suisun Unified School District.

An avid supporter of non-profits, Mr. Frazier was a Founder and Vice President of the Friends of Oakley Community Foundation from 2007 until 2013. A dedicated volunteer, Mr. Frazier served on the Boys and Girls Club Advisory Board, a Board of Director member for Impact Teen Drivers and dearest to his heart, he has been a volunteer with Special Olympics since 2005.”

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Tri Delta Transit CEO named Small Operators Transit Professional of the Year

Friday, November 19th, 2021

Jeanne Krieg shares a laugh with Rachel Ede, Chair of the CTA Small Operations Committee, while receiving the award on Nov. 3, 2021. Source: Tri Delta Transit

Jeanne Krieg honored by the California Transit Association

By Leeann Loroño, Manager of Customer Service and Marketing, Tri Delta Transit

ANTIOCH, CA, Tri Delta Transit’s CEO, Jeanne Krieg, was honored to receive California Transit Association’s (CTA) distinguished award Small Operators Committee Transit Professional of the Year 2021. She was honored on Nov. 3 during an awards breakfast at the CTA’s 56th Annual Fall Conference & Expo in Sacramento.

The CTA has 52 Small Operator members throughout the state which each operate fewer than 100 buses. The organization gives the award to an outstanding individual who has provided strong leadership and vision to a California transit agency or made a notable contribution that benefits public transit in general.

Krieg has done both of those. She has served as CEO of the agency for 26 of its 44-year history. Krieg has met every challenge the agency has faced, while continuing to grow the organization through innovation that focuses on meeting the transportation needs of Eastern Contra Costa County. Under her leadership, Tri Delta Transit is often first adaptors for programs such as “green business” certifications, Mobility on Demand, real time route applications, mobile ticketing apps, free Wi-Fi, Tri Delta Watch hazard reporting, electric buses, and (soon) hydrogen fueling stations and buses.

“What makes our CEO such a strong leader is not only her passion for the industry and vision for innovation, but also her focus on providing ultimate customer service for our riders,” says Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority Board of Directors Chair Ken Grey. “In addition, she takes as much care of the staff as she does the riders, with an open-door policy, benefits and morale programs, as well as providing training support and personal touches that result in very low turnover.”

Krieg encourages sharing of resources and information, which she does herself by serving on the CTA Executive Committee, for which she served as Chair from 2002 to 2004, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) executive committee, and the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Oversight and Project Selection Committee, not to mention being active on many sub-committees. Her many contributions to the transit industry over her 30-year career have benefitted many other agencies and the industry as a whole.

“I was surprised and honored to receive this award,” Krieg said. “The award really belongs to the board of directors and staff for making Tri Delta Transit such a great organization.”

The Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority, doing business as Tri Delta Transit, is a joint powers agency of the governments of Pittsburg, Antioch, Oakley, Brentwood, and Contra Costa County that provides over 2,500,000 trips each year to a population of over 315,000 residents in the 225 square miles of Eastern Contra Costa County. They currently operate 15 local bus routes Monday through Friday, four local bus routes on weekends, on-demand ride share service Tri MyRide, and door-to-door bus service for senior citizens and people with disabilities.

For additional information about Tri Delta Transit, please visit

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Antioch’s Markstein Sales Company president Laura Markstein honored for work on “Distributors Against Human Trafficking Initiative”

Monday, October 25th, 2021

Laura Markstein (center) is honored with the Public Affairs Award at the 84th Annual National Beer Wholesalers Association Convention Oct. 3-6, 2021 and joined by (L-R) NBWA President and CEO Craig Purser, Markstein General Manager Jennifer Grant, Markstein Director of Operations Tom Roberts, and new NBWA Chairman of the Board Peter Heimark. Photo: Markstein Sales Company

The company has worked relentlessly both locally and nationally to combat human trafficking with programs and promotions aimed at stopping this heinous crime

Markstein Sales Company, the largest woman-owned and operated wholesale beverage distributor in Northern California, announced that its president, Laura Markstein, has been awarded the esteemed Public Affairs Award by the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) for her company’s work helping to end human trafficking in the United States. This award, given to one individual per year, if given at all, was announced at the NBWA 84th Annual Convention earlier this month. As a long-time supporter and sponsor of the local New Day for Children organization that provides funding to help American children who have been recovered from sex trafficking, Markstein took her efforts to a national level during 2021 when her company joined the NBWA’s Distributors Against Human Trafficking Initiative.

As part of its effortsMarkstein installed signage on all of its 75 vehicles that are typically on the roads of Contra Costa and Alameda Counties 14 hours per day, six days per week. The goal of these signs was to raise awareness locally and to provide easy access to hotline information for people that suspect, or know of, human trafficking cases. Markstein also provided personalized training, leveraged from both NBWA and New Day for Children, for all truck drivers and merchandisers so they know what to look out for on their daily routes and in the businesses they serve. Complementing these efforts, Markstein also regularly appealed to other companies around the country to join in the fight to end human trafficking. (See related article)

Owner Laura Markstein places a sign on one of the company’s trucks. Herald file photo.

“Once we learned that our beer and beverage drivers had a unique visibility to many of the prime locations where traffickers often exploit victims, we wanted to leverage our position and do all we could to help fight this tragedy,” said Laura Markstein, CEO of Markstein Sales Company. “While we are proud of the work we have done to help this cause, this is a growing problem in our country and it needs every company and American citizen to do their part to help – whether that be company sponsored programs or simply a watchful eye in someone’s everyday life. These efforts make a tangible difference and we can all do our part to help.”

Human trafficking is a growing problem in the U.S., with more than 11,500 human trafficking cases reported in 2019 alone. California has consistently had the highest human trafficking rates in the United States with 1,507 cases reported in 2019.

“We chose Laura for this award because her company exemplifies what every beer and beverage distributor in the U.S. could be doing to help stop human trafficking,” said Craig Purser, President and CEO of NBWA. “If every member in every state across the country also contributes their part to help spot human trafficking while on their daily routes, we can make significant progress towards ending this criminal activity.”

The NBWA Initiative

In 2020, the National Beer Wholesalers Association launched Distributors Against Human Trafficking, to help combat human trafficking in the United States. Working alongside state attorneys general, NBWA created an awareness training video to help more than 140,000 beer distribution employees in the U.S. recognize and report signs of human trafficking. To date, NBWA has successfully trained nearly 24,000 beer distributors from 207 companies, surpassing its initial goal to train 10,000 distributors by the end of 2021. Beer distributors are uniquely positioned to help fight this heinous crime given their level of access to locations often unseen by the public as they visit around 600,000 licensed retail locations across the country.

About Markstein Sales Company

Markstein Sales Company is a fourth-generation, woman-owned and operated wholesale beverage distributor based in Antioch, Calif. Founded in 1919 with just a horse, a wagon and six cases of beer, Markstein is now in its 102nd year and distributing over four million cases annually to 2000 retailers in the Bay Area. The company’s portfolio is composed of multiple world-class beers including the Anheuser-Busch InBev and Constellation Brands family of beers, several high-quality craft beers and many others, as well as non-alcoholic beverages. Markstein is known for outstanding customer service, dedication to their employees and commitment to the community. The company continues to rank as best in class by retailers and is one of the top ten largest Woman Owned Businesses in the Bay Area. More information can be found at


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Antioch High grad, NY Jets football player Isaiah Dunn honored with Key to the City

Friday, October 15th, 2021

Isaiah Dunn with his Key to the City (center) with local officials and their representatives, including (L to R) a Congressman Jerry McNerney’s office representative, Supervisor Federal Glover, Antioch District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock, Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson, Mayor Lamar Thorpe and Antioch School Board President Ellie Householder, at Antioch High School’s Eels Stadium on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021. Photos by Allen Payton

Announces his foundation will offer “scholarship for standout leadership” to an Antioch High student

By Allen Payton

During a ceremony at Antioch High Eels Stadium, Thursday afternoon, Class of 2017 graduate and New York Jets rookie, Isaiah Dunn, was presented with a Key to the City by Mayor Lamar Thorpe. He was joined by Dunn’s mother, two council members, other officials, coaches, and staff from both the school and city for the presentation before an audience of students, friends and fans.

The 6-foot, 193-pound Dunn was signed by the New York Jets with the biggest contract ever for an undrafted rookie corner. (See related article)

Isaiah Dunn holds his Key to the City plaque with Antioch High Athletic Director Brett Dudley, Coach John Lucido and Principal Louie Rocha.

The scholar athlete also ran track at Antioch High, and played for the Oregon State Beavers on a full ride scholarship where he was honored as a two-time, PAC-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention. He graduated in the spring with a degree in human development and family sciences, in his pursuit of becoming a family therapist.

Principal Louie Rocha speaks during Thursday’s ceremony presenting Isaiah Dunn with the Key to City, while Dunn’s agent, Josh Arnold of Synergy Sports International, Dunn’s mother Jamia Dunn, Dunn, Mistress of Ceremonies Skyelar Cribbs, Mayor Thorpe and Antioch School Board President Ellie Householder look on.

“I’m a Raiders fan,” Principal Louie Rocha shared during his comments. “But now I’m also a Jets fan.”

The Antioch City Council honored Dunn with a proclamation during their meeting, Tuesday night, which Thorpe recited. (See below)

During his remarks the mayor said Dunn played for the Antioch High Panthers on the “Class of 2017 team with Najee Harris”. Thorpe shared some history about the presentation of a key to the city, and that it “comes from medieval times.”

“Isaiah Dunn represents the best that we are and a whole lot more,” he stated.

Thorpe then presented Dunn with a plaque of the Key to the City which was being held by Dallas Ranch Middle School sixth-grader, Elijah Marisett.

Antioch High Head Football Coach John Lucido spoke of Dunn’s “endless hours in the classroom. Sitting in Coach Dudley’s class until 8 or 9 o’clock studying…with his nose in the books. With a little push from Mom.”

“It’s not just on the football field,” he added, speaking to the students in the audience, consisting mainly of this year’s football team.

Isaiah Dunn with his mother, Jamia Dunn who is holding Isaiah’s niece, Jae-Lonnie Hill and Dunn’s older brother Jo-Marlon Jordan.

Lucido then presented Dunn with his own, dirty jersey from his high school years, bringing a smile to Dunn’s face.

“She was coming to class sitting with me and walking the halls” Dunn said of his mother, during his brief speech.

“I’m humbled,” he said. “I plan on giving back to the city that helped me. I’m excited to announce my foundation will be awarding a scholarship for standout leadership in three areas…academics, community service and athletics.”

“Growing up in Antioch…I know it’s a hard environment to be around,” Dunn continued. “Anything is achievable if you put your mind to it.”

Thorpe concluded the ceremony by saying, “These times are important to celebrate our success as a community. This is the true nature and character of who we are as the City of Antioch.”

Then those in the audience greeted and took photos with Dunn who signed autographed photos of himself in his Jets uniform and in action during one of their games, this year.

Rocha mentioned an effort to also present Harris with a Key to the City, as well, but it would have to wait until next spring during the off-season or during the Pittsburg Steelers bye week, this season. But that occurs next week. Dunn was able to be in Antioch because this is the Jets’ bye week, meaning they don’t have a game. Asked if Harris would also be presented with a Key to the City, Thorpe said, “we will see what happens.”





OCTOBER 12, 2021

WHEREAS, Isaiah Dunn is a 2017 Antioch High School graduate, and former Panthers football player who made an indelible impression on Antioch’s local landscape, its institutions and the entire community, and continues to inspire audiences with his limitless potential;

WHEREAS, Isaiah Dunn’s primary position was cornerback at Antioch High School, but he also showed signs of versatility and strength as a wide receiver, averaging 18.9 yards per reception during his high school career;

WHEREAS, in his final year at Antioch High School, Isaiah Dunn made eight touchdowns, seven as a receiver, and a 96-yard return as a kick returner for a touchdown against De La Salle on a nationally televised game;

WHEREAS, Isaiah Dunn also made his mark as a sprinter during the off-season on the Antioch High School track and field team in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter sprints;

WHEREAS, Isaiah Dunn received 10 football scholarship offers before choosing Oregon State University and is proudly celebrated as the first member of his family to be accepted and attend a university, pursuing studies in human development and family sciences as an aspiring family therapist;

WHEREAS, Isaiah Dunn’s career as a defensive back for the Oregon State University Beavers includes starting in 26 of 33 games played with a total of 115 career tackles, 16 pass deflections, 31 forced fumbles and the honor of earning the title of two-time, PAC-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention; and

WHEREAS, Isaiah Dunn recently earned the national distinction of signing the largest ever undrafted free agent contract with the New York Jets shortly after the conclusion of the 2021 NFL Draft.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, LAMAR A. THORPE, Mayor of the City of Antioch, do hereby honor and celebrate the City of Antioch’s son, ISAIAH DUNN, with a

Key to the City, as a true inspiration on and off the field.

OCTOBER 12, 2021


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Kiwanis Club honors Antioch resident Bob Butler for volunteer work during COVID

Sunday, October 3rd, 2021

Presented with the Community Service Award

Kiwanis of the Delta-Antioch Club President Clyde Lewis and Bob Butler with Community Service Award plaque. Photo: Deborah Hicks

By Kiwanis Club of the Delta

People become Kiwanians to connect with the over 600,000 volunteers worldwide dedicated to improving the world one child and one community at a time. This mission is accomplished through activities, programs, and care from our members to the communities they serve.

On March 19, 2020, the world shut down in response to COVID-19. The decision to shut down California (and much of the world) came as the number of cases of people infected with COVID-19 increased, dramatically. Businesses shuttered, schools closed, and panic set in, as nobody knew what would happen.

One community member stood tall and put his life at risk to serve others. Antioch resident Bob Butler took it upon himself to get up early to shop for those unable. Mr. Butler put himself in harm’s way to ensure that members of his community had necessities.

When the pandemic began, stores rationed items people still needed, including food, toiletries, and other things for daily living. However, with the fear surrounding COVID, many people were nervous about leaving their homes. Many in our community had challenges getting to the store for necessities in a non-pandemic environment, and COVID-19 decreased accessibility. This is where Mr. Butler took it upon himself to step up and serve the community by volunteering to shop for those unable.  Using Nextdoor, Facebook, and other media outlets, Mr. Butler would connect with families and community members who needed assistance purchasing essential items such as baby wipes, food, toilet paper, and other basic necessities.

Mr. Butler shopped for seniors who were especially at risk for COVID, parents unable to get away for fear of exposing themselves or their children. While seemingly small, these acts of kindness meant the world to those unable to get to the store themselves.

Hearing about Mr. Butler’s work, Deborah Hicks approached Club President, Clyde Lewis and suggested that the Kiwanis Club of the Delta Antioch show appreciation for his community service. After discussion club members all agreed that honoring Mr. Butler with the Community Service Award was the least, we could do.

Joining a service club is easy, serving the community is where the work happens. Mr. Butler, a reporter for KCBS, works on stories of all sorts, but this time the story is about his dedication to the community.


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2021 AUSD Teacher of the Year Crystal Van Dyke to be honored at annual county gala Thursday

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021

Source: CCCOE

Teaches at Antioch’s Mission Elementary School; gala will be broadcast virtually

Source: CCCOE

Selected as the Antioch Unified School District’s 2021 Teacher of the Year (TOY), earlier this year, Mission Elementary School’s Crystal Van Dyke will be honored this Thursday night at the county’s annual Teacher of the Year Gala. She is one of 21 TOYs from 15 school districts of Contra Costa County, Contra Costa Community College District and Contra Costa County Office of Education. (See related article)

This year’s gala is being broadcast virtually on the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) website, on YouTube and on edTV (Comcast Cable Channel 32). It will include the four finalists giving their three- to five-minute speeches (same speeches given in July). The excitement-filled evening will come to a dramatic close with the announcement of the 2021-2022 Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year.

The four finalists were announced by Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey in June: Alisha Douglass, a ceramics teacher at Liberty High School in Brentwood; Kristen Plant, an English teacher at Miramonte High School in Orinda; Michelle Wilson, an English teacher at Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon; and Christina Zenzano, an English teacher at Rancho Medanos Junior High School in Pittsburg. They were selected from the 21 Teacher of the Year winners within 15 school districts of Contra Costa County, Contra Costa Community College District and Contra Costa County Office of Education.

“It is my pleasure to congratulate the four finalists on the honor of being named one of the county’s top teachers,” Superintendent Mackey said. “All of the professional educators who are being considered for this prestigious award are to be commended and thanked for their professionalism and leadership, especially throughout this pandemic. These four are prominent examples of the great work teachers throughout the county have done over the last year.”

TOY Selection Process

The county’s TOY program is directed by the CCCOE. With such a high caliber of teaching professionals to draw from, the CCCOE’s TOY program uses a three-stage selection process, with a point and percentage system to determine the final candidate as follows:

I Application Screening:

In April/May, a committee representing the county’s education, business, and public-sector partners will meticulously review the applications submitted by the school districts. This committee independently rates each application. After the application screening and scoring are completed, four teachers will be selected to advance to the next phase as semifinalists.

II Classroom Observation and Interview:

In May, a committee of former County Teachers of the Year will observe the semifinalists interacting with their students. Immediately following, the committee interviews the candidates, discussing topics such as their teaching philosophy and techniques. The results of the two screening processes are then combined to determine the four finalists.

III Speech Presentation:

In July, the four TOY finalists will each give a three- to five-minute speech to another panel of a dozen educators, business, and public-sector representatives who will judge the finalists on their speech and presentation skills.

List of past Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year Representatives from 1977 to present (PDF)

The County representatives are announced at the awards dinner gala affair. Local business and community organizations generously donate classroom grants, services and other items to each of the district winners. (See list of donors, here)

History of the TOY Program

In 1972, California began recognizing outstanding teachers, establishing the Teachers of the Year Program. This program is open to all teachers in public schools who teach pre-kindergarten through college. Contra Costa County has participated in the program since its beginning, when Joseph E. Davis, Jr., of the Acalanes Union High School District, was named the county’s first representative.

Since that time, eight teachers from this county have been State finalists: Janet Neill, San Ramon Valley Unified (1975); David Eakin, John Swett Unified (1981); William Thomas, Mt. Diablo Unified (1982); Janice Bergamini, Mt. Diablo Unified (1991); Shauna Hawes, Mt. Diablo Unified (2017); and Kelly Perkins (Mt. Diablo Unified (2019). The County has had four State winners: Mary Allan, Antioch Unified (2001); Janet Gower, Mt. Diablo Unified (2002); and William Pence, San Ramon Valley Unified (1999); and Rosie Reid, Mt. Diablo Unified (2019). Both William Pence and Rosie Reid were selected to represent California at the National Teacher of the Year level.

Follow Contra Costa County’s Teacher of the Year program on Twitter and Instagram at @CoCoSchools and through the hashtag #cocotoy.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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