Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Antioch priest appointed first ever volunteer Con Fire Chaplain

Friday, July 28th, 2023
Con Fire’s first ever volunteer Chaplain Fr, Robert Rien.

By Contra Costa County Fire Protection District

We are pleased to announce that Father Robert Rien has accepted the newly created position of volunteer Fire Chaplain – lead as part of the fire district peer support program. He is the first-ever official Fire Chaplain for Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. This appointment is effective immediately.

He has been the Pastor of St. Ignatius of Antioch Parish in Antioch for the last 18 years. During that time, he served as Chaplain for the Antioch Police Department and for the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District. He holds the distinguished Master Chaplain Certification from the International Conference of Police Chaplains.

Father Robert Rien is a native of Oakland, California, and is a Priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland for the past 50 years. Ordained in 1974, he served parishes in Alameda and Contra Costa County. Three years after ordination, he served as the Catholic Chaplain for the 349th Military Air Lift Wing, stationed at Travis Air Force Base for five years.

Before being assigned to parishes in Contra Costa County in 2001, he served as Chaplain for the Oakland Fire Department. In addition to his other duties and responsibilities, he serves as Catholic Chaplain for both Sutter-Delta and Kaiser Deer Valley Hospitals.

Additionally, he serves as a Regional Chaplain for the East Bay Regional Park District and a Contra Costa County Peer Support Services Association member.

Father Robert currently resides in Antioch. When not tending to his parish, he enjoys reading, cooking, and watching the 49ers, Warriors, and Giants. He appreciates being with friends and loved ones.

Located in East County, Father Robert can be reached by email at Please assist Father Robert in becoming familiar with the District and join us in making him a welcome part of the Con Fire team!

Following battle with cancer, getting remarried owner gives Antioch’s top roofing company to employees

Thursday, July 20th, 2023
Dean Rogers (left) is giving his business to employees José Calderon (right) and Octavio Rios. Photos by Allen D. Payton

Dean Rogers’ life changed by God, retiring after 30 years in business

By Allen D. Payton

Antioch resident Dean Rogers is giving his business, Rogers Roofing, to his two long-time employees, Octavio Rios and José Calderon. It follows his recovery from terminal cancer last year, which took his right lung, being cancer-free for eight months and getting remarried last month.

Rogers said he wasn’t answering his phone for over a year and yet Rogers Roofing was still voted the best roofing company in Antioch in the 2022 People’s Choice Awards.

At 61, after 30 years in business, he’s decided to retire and turn over the company to Rios and Calderon who have been with him for 20 years. Rogers will continue to advise from behind the scenes. The new owners have agreed to service the warranties of existing customers as they continue to grow the business with new ones.

“We built a reputation on quality, and it lasted. It does work,” Rogers stated.

He then shared of his experience with lung cancer.

“When I was facing cancer and possibly dying, I was never afraid,” Rogers shared. “Pastor Ron (Bowman) said that’s because ‘faith overcomes fear’. I always believed in God. But until I was faced with terminal cancer, I was forced to look at my relationship with God and I felt immediately the light come through There’s definitely a God. Jesus is my Savior.”

“Good people don’t go to heaven. Forgiven people do,” he stated. “So, I ended up witnessing every day to my nurses. I was reading little devotionals. When I was on the respirator, I would ask them to read to me.”

He was at UCSF Medical Center for 11 days. Rogers experienced four setbacks including sepsis and pneumonia. They removed his right lung, both chambers, he shared.

“Now, my mission is to spread the Good News. I never miss a chance to witness,” Rogers shared. “Love is a gift from God. God is good. God is love.”

“I’ve learned how to do everything including golfing, I just have to really monitor myself,” he explained. “

Kim and Dean Rogers celebrate after their wedding officiated by Pastor Ron Bowman on June 30, 2023, at the Lone Tree Golf & Event Center

As part of starting his new phase of life, Rogers just got remarried on June 30th after dating his fiancé, Kim Bloom for the past eight years.

“We met at a Brentwood park, where I was walking my dog,” he shared.

The wedding was held at Lone Tree Golf & Event Center and officiated by Pastor Ron Bowman of Antioch Covenant Church, which is located at 1919 Buchanan Road in Antioch, Rogers wanted readers to know.

New Owners

Calderon, from Oakley, and Rios, of Riverbank, will be partners under the new ownership for the company.

“I wasn’t surprised,” Calderon said. “It’s been something we’ve been thinking about for a long time. We look forward to taking over and making it what it used to be – good roofs and good work.”

Asked why he’s giving them his business instead of selling it Rogers said, “Because they helped me build the company and so my past customers can be taken care of and future customers.”

“The plan is to start slow keep on doing good work and see what the future brings,” Calderon stated. “We’re not looking to get too big.”

“As an owner operator you’re getting both the family-friendly service and experience,” Rogers added. “Quality is what we’ve been looking for from the beginning. It’s paid off. What lasted? Quality.”

“I’m proud of this community, I’ve contributed as I can and I’m not leaving. We’re a part of Antioch. Just like Jimmy Bean and Eddie Beaudin, who have been good examples to me.”

Customers can still call the company at (925) 706-9396.

Acting Antioch city manager leaving for new position in Modesto

Thursday, June 15th, 2023

Ebbs’ last day is July 14, will leave City without manager, assistant manager, community development director

Forrest Ebbs. Source: City of Antioch

By Allen D. Payton

Acting Antioch City Manager Forrest Ebbs announced to the city council and staff, on Thursday, June 14, 2023, that he will be leaving for a new position with the City of Modesto as a Deputy City Manager. His last day will be July 14. With the expected departure of City Manager Con Johnson who has been on paid leave since middle of March, following council’s direction to the city attorney during their closed session this past Tuesday night, that will leave Antioch without a city manager, assistant manager and community development director, which Ebbs retained as his official title during the brief time as acting city manager.

It has been “a little over eight years as Community Development Director,” Ebbs said when reached for comment.

Asked about the accomplishments during his time in the position he spoke of the three divisions in the department saying, “the Building Division has grown to be more appropriate for a city of our size. We have gone to an online submittal process for building permits. We just launched it.”

“In Planning, we’ve created many new opportunities for housing and ways to revitalize commercial corridors,” Forbes shared. He oversaw the entitlement process of all projects in the new home Sand Creek Focus Area, except for Kaiser during his tenure.

“In Code Enforcement we’ve grown from four budgeted positions to 18 to better serve the community,” he added.

Asked about how long he’d been considering a new position, Ebbs said, “Throughout my career I’ve looked for opportunities to try out new challenges. But this is something I’ve been pursuing for a couple years.”

Asked if the current acting position helped prepare him for his new one Ebbs replied, “I’ve learned a lot in the last three months and I’m appreciative of the council for having the confidence allowing me to do that.”

He will be one of two deputy city managers for the city with a population of a little over 200,000. Modesto’s official motto, which can be seen on an archway sign at the intersection of 9th and I Streets is “Water, Wealth, Contentment, Health”.

Asked when he started the process with Modesto, Ebbs said, “It’s been a typical recruitment process. I applied to them a couple months ago. It was a competitive national recruitment.”

Asked about his replacement in Antioch he shared, “The city council will make a decision on the acting city manager in the next couple weeks. I will be presenting some names to them and they will ultimately make the decision of how they want to proceed with an acting city manager.”

Asked about an acting Community Development Director he said, “I’ll be looking internally to backfill that position. The reality is the department staff have stepped up so it’s not going to be much of a transition.”

Ebbs is married with three children – the oldest is 19 and a freshman in college, another, age 16 is in high school and a 12-year-old in middle school.

“It was a family decision,” he shared.

They live in Lodi so his commute will be shorter.

“It’s the same distance but it’s a quicker drive,” Ebbs added.

Antioch Schools Education Foundation to celebrate Antioch Teacher of the Year Thursday

Tuesday, April 25th, 2023

Former Antioch High coach Mike Hurd honored with naming of track

Monday, April 24th, 2023
Mike and Lisa Hurd next to his plaque and the sign over the entrance to the track and Eells Stadium at Antioch High School. Photos by AHS

By Allen D. Payton

The track at Antioch High School is now named after former coach Mike Hurd, who was honored during a dedication ceremony at the school on March 29, 2023. The 1964 Antioch High grad was the Panthers’ cross country and track coach from 1970-79 leading his teams to multiple league and North Coast championships.

“I found out, it was before COVID and I only found out because my wife went to a school board meeting…to present what they were going to do,” Hurd said. “It’s terrific. It’s very humbling. The thought that there were people that thought highly enough to do this. I feel really blessed.”

“I stand here because I’ve got God at my back and this wonderful woman by my side,” Hurd said during the ceremony, getting choked up while speaking of his wife, Lisa. “Thank you to Gary, Tom, Louie, Trine, John, the full committee that worked on this. It’s not something that I would have ever campaign for. But I’m so blessed to have friends who thought it was important to do.”

During the ceremony, Gary Bras of the Antioch Sports Hall of Fame and a member of the track and field team when he was in high school said, “When he was done with us, we were men and women and little did we know the lessons that he taught us would take us through the rest of our lives.”

Former Antioch High Principal Louie Rocha also spoke at the ceremony, “We’re so thankful and appreciative, Coach Hurd, for not only for what you did in high school, but how that carried on to the years beyond our high school experience. Many of us thank you for instilling upon us the skills, the self-confidence, and the belief about setting goals and reaching and striving for those to be attained.”

A post on the Antioch High School Facebook page reads,Legendary coach Mike Hurd, a 1964 Antioch High graduate, returned to Panther Country after college and took the school’s track program to an unprecedented level.

On Thursday, March 29, 2023, he was honored for his more than 10 years of leading and inspiring hundreds of student athletes during the dedication of the Mike Hurd Track.

At the ceremony attended by family, friends and many of his former students, Coach Hurd recounted several stories from the glory days of the 1970s, which included an impressive 16 league championships and three North Coast Section Divisional titles.

He is the winningest coach in the history of Antioch High School’s track and field and cross country. Hurd is also an inductee in the Antioch Sports Legends Hall of Fame.

Congrats to Coach Hurd!”

“It’s never been about me it’s always been about the athletes and my coaches. I got plenty of recognition as a head coach,” Hurd said later during an interview with The Press. “It was more shocking than anything else. My feelings are somewhat between embarrassment and humble. I think what it does is it reinforces that you made an impact in their life and that was the most important thing. To be able to teach them some life lessons through athletics and be able to take those life lessons forward to teach to their children and the people that followed. That was the key thing.”

Martha Goralka is the 2022 Antioch Citizen of the Year for Most Impact

Saturday, April 22nd, 2023
Antioch 2022 Citizen of the Year for Most Impact Martha Goralka (with plaque) is joined by Chamber Board Member Michelle Copeland, District 3 County Supervisor Diane Burgis, past Chamber chair Ana Walker and Executive Director Daniel Sohn on Friday, March 24, 2022. Photo by Allen D. Payton

Antioch Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Daniel Sohn read the following about 2022 Citizen of the Year Most Impact, Martha Goralka during the annual Gala Friday, March 24, 2023.

“When you need help or assistance, we are always told to look for someone who is ‘busy’.  Over the years, Martha Goralka is not only someone who is ‘busy’, but she knows how to get it done and does it correctly.

She is a 50 plus year member of the League of Women Voters.  She has served as a past president, past co-president and for the past six years has served as the Voter Service Co-Chair in charge of candidate forums and Roundtables, as well as a variety of duties.

As a 34-year member of the Rotary Club of the Delta/Antioch, she was Charter president in 1989 and carries a perfect attendance record.

She participated in building casitas in San Luis Rio Colorado, delivered wheelchairs in Mexico City and Monterey, Mexico.  Worked the ‘Polio Plus Vaccination Day’ for children in India as well as visiting Rotary projects in Uganda and Zambia, Africa.  She has participated in ‘Home Team’ projects doing minor repairs for seniors, Meals on Wheels deliveries, Bedford Center pandemic deliveries and much more.

Other areas she has tirelessly worked in:  Chapter QS of the P.E.O. Sisterhood raising money for women’s scholarships, grants, loans and a woman’s college, the Antioch Chamber of Commerce both as an employee and a volunteer, Delta Learning Center, Antioch Schools Education Foundation, Arts & Cultural Foundation of Antioch, the PTA, the Bond Oversight Committee and the list goes on and on.

At this Gala, we celebrate you tonight, Martha. Thank you for all you have achieved over the years.”

“Others I’ve worked with seem to believe ‘Martha really doesn’t do anything she just shows up.’ I’ve come to think of myself as a catalyst that everything else happens around,” Goralka said. “In Antioch people donate their time, their treasure and their talent.”

She said when she first started at the Antioch Ledger newspaper, she met “Leo Fontana who has been an inspiration.”

“Antioch is a big, small town. Everybody seems to know everybody else,” Goralka continued.

She said she met her husband, Joe through their participation in Rotary.

“My whole family has been behind me, and I so appreciate it,” said Goralka.

She volunteers most of her time at the Delta Learning Center she shared.

“There are so many of you that I know and wanted to mention,” Goralka added.

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report which first appeared in the April/May print edition.

Antioch Chamber to honor 2022 Citizens, Businesses, Youth, Non-Profit of the Year Friday night

Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

The Antioch Chamber of Commerce will honor the 2022 Citizens of the Year at the annual Gala Friday night, March 24, 2023 as well as the Businesses, Non-Profit and Youth of the Year. Martha Goralka was named the Citizen of the Year for Most Impact and Mary and Bob Franchetto, were named the Citizens of the Year for Lifetime Achievement.

Rivertown Treasure Chest will be honored as the Small Business of the Year and TreVista Senior Living is the Large Corporate Business of the Year. Mateo Castro, a senior at Antioch High School was named the Youth of the Year and the Delta Learning Center was selected as Non-Profit of the Year.

2022 Veterans of the Year who were honored on Veterans Day last November are Pat Jeremy for Most Impact and Autrey James received the Lifetime Veteran of the Year award. They will also be honored Friday evening.

The Chamber will also install the new president and board of directors and announce the organization’s Ambassador of the Year.

Photos of and details about each of the winners will be published following the event to be held at the Lone Tree Golf and Event Center.

Antioch High grad, Pittsburg native and Brentwood college student in running for scholarship

Thursday, March 16th, 2023

One of seven Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s 459 semifinalists from Contra Costa County for highly competitive undergraduate transfer scholarship

Other college scholarship programs offered for middle, high school students

By Julia Florence

Lansdowne, Virginia – On March 9, 2023, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation announced 459 semifinalists for the highly competitive Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. Brentwood resident Ryan Mattson, in his last semester at Sacramento City College and was selected as the only representative of the Los Rios Community College District to be named a semifinalist.

The native who grew up in Pittsburg, CA and is a 2006 graduate of Antioch High School is one of seven semifinalists in Contra Costa County. The six other community college students named semifinalists are Eliette Bustos Barocio and Hosna Ramzi from Los Medanos College and Ivan Hernandez, Jessica Kim, Karla Morales De Leon and Mayari Lanz Amezcua from Diablo Valley College.

The Foundation awards community college students who have demonstrated exceptional academic ability, leadership, service and a determination to complete their bachelor’s degrees at top four-year institutions.

“I was accepted into Columbia University in New York City and await confirmation or denial from Stanford, Yale and UC Berkeley,” Mattson shared.

He plans to study political science and history but has not finalized his major at Columbia.

Mattson has worked in the trades, specifically automotive repair and maintenance at Winter Chevrolet in Pittsburg and has a 15-year-old son who attends Liberty High in Brentwood.

“I believe the reason for my singularity comes from students not being informed of this scholarship opportunity,” he said. “If the community knew age did not matter and scholarships were available to the determined, I believe our community would garner not only the nation’s best minds but also the most driven individuals.”

This year’s semifinalists were chosen from a pool of more than 1,700 applicants and attend 215 community colleges in 38 states. Some of the latest research from the American Talent Initiative estimates that roughly 50,000 high-achieving students from low income backgrounds could transfer to four-year colleges each year but don’t, often due to cost. The Cooke Transfer Scholarship is designed to create a clear pathway to a four-year degree by offering up to $55,000 per year along with academic advising and access to a network of peers.

“By lifting the financial burden of pursuing a four-year degree off their shoulders, our goal is to help students take full advantage of a four-year college experience without taking on student debt,” said Seppy Basili, Executive Director of the Cooke Foundation. “This year’s selected semifinalists reflect the deep bench of talent across our community colleges today, and we’re looking forward to getting to know them better in our final application review process.”

The Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship offers unparalleled support to community college students. In addition to the generous financial support, selected Cooke Transfer Scholars will receive educational advising from the Foundation’s Deans of Scholar Support to guide them through the process of transitioning to a four-year school and preparing for their future endeavors. They will also have access to opportunities for internships, study abroad, graduate school funding, and the incomparable connection to a robust network of more than 3,000 fellow Cooke Scholars and Alumni.

According to the foundation’s website, scholarship recipients earned a 3.92 average community college GPA, 70% participated in an honors program or pursued honors coursework and 67% held a leadership role in a club or activity. They will be announced in April.

A list of this year’s Cooke Transfer Scholar semifinalists, their respective community colleges and hometowns can be viewed here. To learn more about the Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, visit the website here.

Named for and Funded by Canadian-American Businessman

According to Wikipedia, “Jack Kent Cooke was a Canadian-American businessman in broadcasting and professional sports. Starting in sales, Cooke was very successful, eventually becoming a partner in a network of radio stations and newspapers in Canada. Cooke moved to the United States and built a business empire in broadcasting and professional sports franchises. Cooke was the owner of the Washington Redskins (NFL), the Los Angeles Lakers (NBA), the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), the Los Angeles Wolves (United Soccer) and Toronto Maple Leafs (IL minor league baseball team). He also developed The Forum in Inglewood, California, and FedExField (named Jack Kent Cooke Stadium when it opened, months after his death) near Landover, Maryland.”

According to the foundation’s website, Cooke was born in Canada in 1912. “As a young man, he was an athlete and musician, with a love for ice hockey, the saxophone, and the clarinet. He dreamed of pursuing a formal education, but that dream was cut short when he left high school during the Great Depression to work full time to help support his family. Nonetheless, Mr. Cooke believed education was a life-long pursuit. He was a passionate student his entire life and was knowledgeable in fields as diverse as literature, music, sports, and architecture. When he died in 1997, Mr. Cooke left the bulk of his fortune to establish the Cooke Foundation and provide remarkable students with the chance to soar.”

More Scholarship Programs for Middle, High School Students

The foundation also offers three other scholarship opportunities. The Cooke Foundation College Scholarship Program is the largest undergraduate scholarship program available to high-achieving high school seniors with financial need who seek to attend the nation’s best four-year colleges and universities. The high school seniors will receive up to $55,000 per year for up to four years to complete a bachelor’s degree. They will also be eligible to apply for the Cooke Graduate Scholarship after graduating with their bachelor’s degree, which is worth up to $150,000.

The Cooke College Scholarship Program is available to high-achieving high school seniors with financial need who seek to attend and graduate from the nation’s best four-year colleges and universities.

This year’s 45 recipients entered the Cooke Young Scholars Program as 8th graders in 2019. As a cohort, they have attended two residential summer programs together. During the summer before 8th grade, Young Scholars spent three weeks at the University of Pennsylvania exploring social and political issues through project-based service-learning and academic study. This past summer, Scholars took part in an inquiry‐based enrichment experience at the University of Connecticut, participating in experiential research projects.

The Cooke Young Scholars Program is a selective five-year, pre-college scholarship for high-performing 7th grade students with financial need. It provides comprehensive academic and college advising, as well as financial support for school, Cooke-sponsored summer programs, internships, and other learning enrichment opportunities.

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.