Archive for the ‘Recreation’ Category

Mayor, councilwoman, parks commission chair propose programs for Antioch youth, reducing gun violence, ammunition storage ordinance

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe speaks at a press conference about youth programs and violence prevention, in front of the Antioch Community Center at Prewett Family Park, on Thursday, May 6, 2021.

By Allen Payton

During a press conference Thursday morning, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe, along with District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker and Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Marie Arce, introduced several proposals for youth programs, including summer and after school jobs and internships, as well as more school safety staff and an ordinance on keeping ammunition separate from guns in the home. (See complete video of press conference it begins at the 1:55 mark)

Thorpe first introduced the city’s new Parks and Recreation Department director, Brad Helfenberger.

“I worked for the City of Emeryville creating new programs for youth,” he said. “I look forward to working with the city council in investing in our youth.”

Thorpe then spoke about youth in the community.

“Antioch is the second largest city in our county and growing because of youth,” he said. “Kids under age 18 make up a third of Antioch’s population.”

He then introduced, “my new homegirls from (Diablo Valley) Mom’s Demand Action.” Seven members attended the press conference, including some from East County, but none of the 99 members they claim live in Antioch were in attendance.

Thorpe then shared some statistics saying, “Roughly 72% of Antioch’s students are on free and reduced lunch. 30% of them are English learners. Currently, only 49% of students are meeting the state reading standards and in mathematics 60% of our children don’t meet state standards. When our seniors graduate high school, only 23% of students are prepared to go to a four-year college or university.”

“Please don’t take this as an indictment on our school system,” he continued. “My hats off to our local teachers for the many instances of beating the odds by taking a kid living in absolute chaos and producing the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first round NFL draft pick, Najee Harris; producing an undrafted free agent like Isaiah Dunn and taking him all the way to the New York JETS; taking a kid living on the streets of Antioch with his family, like Sage Bennett, providing him a little stability during the day and preparing him to become a full ride scholarship recipient at UC Berkeley.”

“Right now, at Antioch High School, there is a 16-year-old little girl, who immigrated here from Asia, who literally just learned English a few years ago, getting ready to graduate and enter a pre-dental program at the University of the Pacific,” Thorpe shared.

“By no means is this an indictment on our school system,” he reiterated. “However, it is an indictment on all of us and what our values reflect.”

“In Antioch, we’ve placed a high premium on criminalizing kids than we have on investing in their development,” Thorpe continued. “Don’t take my word for it, look at the city’s budget, its plain as day. And yet, we only seem to talk about our youth when something bad has happened, to point out what they’re not doing right and with absolute contempt.”

“That’s not right,” he stated. “But as mayor, I want our young people to know that I hear you. I hear you when it comes to after-school programs, summer job opportunities, a space for you to express yourselves, equity and safety in our community and much, much more.”

Six Summer Youth Programs

“This summer, we are going to be launching six youth-centererd, pilot programs from May to August, as a way to offer youth alternatives to the streets,” Thorpe stated. “One of these programs is called the Middle School Pop Up Park Program. This will be the city’s first program that specially targets middle school students as our summer recreational programs do not tailor to middle school aged students.”

“These pilot programs will help us gather data and determine scalability,” he continued. “In addition, I’ll be advancing four measures at the May 25th council meeting to aid in this effort.”

Those four proposals include the following:

  1. Develop Midnight Basketball initiative that targets middle and high school students:
  2. Acquire property for youth to legally and safely use off-road vehicles such as ATV’s, dirt bikes, etc.
  3. Continue the Summer Bus Pass initiative
  4. Develop a Parks and Recreation rate structure for AUSD students who qualify for the Free or Reduced Lunch Program to increase access to summer recreational programming

Thorpe also mentioned expanding the Council of Teens.

“We’ll be launching a COVID-19 workforce program…and build an Antioch internship program focusing on ages 18-24 or 15-24,” he shared.

Thorpe mentioned few more proposed initiatives, including a Youth Art Expression program.

Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Arce then spoke, saying that the Youth Services Advisory Committee gave input in the development of the programs. She focused on the issue of access and affordability.

“We created a mock enrollment to enroll two adults and two children” but “the enrollment fee would consume 42% of income” of those or those on the free school lunch program “and 30% of income” for those who qualify for the reduced lunch program.

The plan is to offer the programs for free to those who qualify.

Gun Violence Prevention

Thorpe then spoke about long-term strategies for community-led violence prevention and intervention strategies.

“Obviously, violence continues to be a challenge for many Bay Area cities including Antioch,” he stated. “We all know, gun violence is a national problem and Antioch is not immune from it. In some parts of Antioch gun violence is a normal occurrence.”

Thorpe spoke of the resolution that the city council recently approved in support of federal legislation on gun violence.

Torres-Walker then spoke on the issue saying, “I have lived in this community for six years. My first experience was gun violence. There were many efforts but nothing sustainable because the city lacked the will and the resources.”

“On March 29th I was informed by the police chief that the Antioch Police Department and Oakland Police Department were working together,” she shared. “The press release of April 15 was no surprise to me.”

“Now my son can walk to the store, safely,” Torres-Walker stated. “I informed the chief that we are not going to arrest our way out of this problem. The chief agreed. Those on the Gang Violence Task Force also agreed.”

“We need to curb gun violence in Antioch to make our city safe,” she continued. “But not just gun violence, all violence is up during the pandemic.”

She then spoke of “establishing a task force that will be led by the community and supported by experts…and our police department who show up after violence has occurred but not curb violence.”

Proposed Safe Ammunition Storage Ordinance

Thorpe then shared that he will “be advancing three items for the (May) 25th (council meeting)” including “a Community Led Violence Task Force and an ordinance for safe storage of ammunition.”

Michelle Sinnott, an Alamo resident and Co-Lead of Diablo Valley Moms Demand Action, spoke about gun ownership in America and the impact of gun violence against Black Americans.

“There are more than 393 million civilian-owned firearms in the United States, or enough for every man, woman and child to own one and still have 67 million guns left over,” she stated. “From March through May 2020, an estimated 5.9 million guns were sold, an 80% increase over the same time period (the previous) year.”

“Black Americans are disproportionately impacted by gun violence,” Sinnott continued. “They experience nearly 10 times the gun homicides, 15 times the gun assaults and three times the fatal police shootings of white Americans.”

“Firearms are the leading cause of death for American children and teens,” she shared. “More than 1,800 children and teens die by gun homicide every year. For children under the age of 13, these gun homicides most frequently occur in the home and are often connected to domestic or family violence. Black children and teens are 14 times more likely than white children and teens of the same age to die by gun homicide. Black Americans are nearly two times as likely to die from COVID 19 as white Americans and four times as likely to die from gun suicide.”

“Street outreach programs like the ones being proposed by the mayor and Council Member Walker are associated with up to 37% reductions of gun injuries,” said Sinnott. “Violence intervention programs provide evidence and community informed comprehensive support to individuals who are at the greatest risk of gunshot victimization.”

She then spoke of safe storage of guns and ammunition saying, “secure storage prevents shootings by disrupting unauthorized access to firearms.  Make our homes and communities safer by storing guns securely.  Store them locked and unloaded, separate from ammunition.”

“That is what the ordinance would require,” Sinnott explained.

“An estimated 54% of gun owners do not lock their guns securely,” she continued. “Every year 350 children under the age of 18 unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else; 4.6 million children live in homes with at least one unsecured gun; and 80% of gunfire on school grounds occurred because shooters under the age of 18 got their gun from their home or a home of friends and relatives.”

“Suicide is impulsive, and with COVID and increasing isolation the number of suicides is growing,” Sinnott shared. “Assume children and teens can find guns and keep those weapons locked and unloaded to save lives. We saw a 30% increase in unintentional shooting deaths by children in March through May of 2020 versus March through May average over the past three years.”

“The idea that these devices defeat the purpose of owning a gun for self-defense is simply not true,” she stated. “There are many affordable options for firearms that provide owners with quick access to their guns.

“Moms Demand Action support these measures. Let’s make Antioch safer for everyone,” Sinnott concluded.

Long-Term Recreation Programming

“The last item is long term recreation programming,” Thorpe shared. “We’ve got to invest in our children.”

Arce spoke again saying, “we also reached out to community-based organizations. Our programs should be
equitable, sustainable programs for our youth. We have several great community organizations that want to partner with us.”

She then spoke of food access through farmers markets.

“Downtown residents lack access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” Arce said and proposed a youth-run farmers market to learn directly from farmers and learn sustainable farming. “It reduces carbon emissions and increases biodiversity.”

“We can add some after school and summer programs and possibly create Antioch’s own farm,” she continued. Arce spoke of the desire “to create an inclusive environment for youth with all abilities. There is a lack of space, accessibility and parental knowledge. Many spend their days in our parks because it’s free. But during winter months this is a health risk.”

“We are proposing our rec department offer access to programs, and include wrap-around services,” she added.

She then proposed “an All-Abilities Day at the Antioch Water Park” and “after school and summer programs.”

“The youth focus group does not represent all the youth of Antioch,” Arce pointed out.

She then mentioned a “music development program and workshop partnering with LMC and use of their recording studio.”

“We can also partner with CBO’s (community-based organizations)” Arce said, mentioning a basketball program and community garden. “A dedicated space for them to feel safe and welcome.”

She then spoke of “opportunities to connect with employers. Possibly a job fair.”

“The youth would like to see our trails and traffic safety improved so they can travel to school,” Arce continued. “We can create a safe and enjoyable space for our youth in Antioch.”

Thorpe then spoke of “five additional measures to proactively deal with traffic and school safety issues, including private schools” including possible traffic calming devices and a “bicycle garden that will provide hands-on bicycle, pedestrian, and driver safety education designed for both programmed and independent learning in a comfortable, fun, permanent, car-free facility.”

“One of the difficult things as an elected official is to hear the cries of a grieving mother no matter what the circumstances…as they express what they want changed,” he said, then spoke of the mother of Jonathan Parker, the Deer Valley High Student shot and killed following a basketball game, last year.

“Only one simple goal, that we prevent from happening to others what happened to her son,” Thorpe stated. “What she’s asked for is extra security at major AUSD events.”

He then spoke of authorizing police officer overtime for major after school events and suggested Neighborhood Watch members to volunteer at basketball and football games.

“We just need people…watching our children to ensure these events are more safe for our young people,” the mayor added.

Torres-Walker then spoke about “increased campus safety at our local schools.”

“For many years I’ve had the opportunity to work on school safety and environment as a parent and advocate,” she said.

“We operate in a deficit love for our young people,” Torres-Walker said, quoting a pastor.

She spoke of the student, last year who tried to become a student trustee on the Antioch School Board, but was not appointed. That was because the student hadn’t followed the required rules.

“Our school district is not the only perpetrator of this deficit love,” Torres-Walker said. “I’m sure our students feel this deficit love when they don’t feel safe going to and coming from school.”

She then spoke of “school climate and school site safety plans to hire school safety professionals to make our schools safe. We also need people prepared to address safety on our campuses.”

“I’m also recommending we review the REACH program,” Torres-Walker said. “I have heard this program has had much success, but I have not received reports.” She spoke of making changes “or get rid of it if it’s not working for our young folks.”

Thorpe then wrapped up the press conference with some concluding remarks.

“As we enter these summer months all I can say to our young people, plead with you, not to resort to guns,” he said. “Torres-Walker and I are the only council members with children in our schools. We will be criticized. But I don’t care.”

“Be safe this summer. To cease fire. We want to help. But we can’t do it with violence,” the mayor continued. “We want to meet you 99% of the way there but you need to meet us 1% of the way.”

“They’re not always listening in Washington, even though it’s common sense,” Thorpe then said, directing his comments to the Moms Demand Action members. “But dammit, we’re listening, here.”

“I call on family members…I beg you when you see a family member pick up a weapon, call the police…and keep our people alive,” he concluded.

Questions on School Safety Staff

When asked what does she mean by school campus safety professionals, Torres-Walker responded, “every school district has school safety folks…to decrease violence to counsel young folk. What we need to do is make sure they’re trained and equipped.”

She and Thorpe were asked about their votes to cancel the $750,000 federal grant for placing six police officers known as School Resource Officers or SRO’s, on Antioch middle and high school campuses.

“Yes, absolutely I voted against the federal grant just like when there was an opportunity to vote for Cal VIP funds to reduce gun violence in 2019 and the council and chief passed it up,” Torres-Walker responded.

Asked if the Cal VIP funds are still available, she said, “Cal VIP funds are always available for intervention and prevention of gun violence. Antioch has the opportunity to get this funding.”

“We are petitioning the governor right now to increase it to $114 million,” added Sitton.



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Get away to Skylark Shores Resort at Clear Lake

Friday, April 23rd, 2021

“I invite all my friends and everyone in Antioch to visit us at Skylark Shores Resort, this year. We are committed to providing a clean, safe and fun resort where our guests create happy memories that will last a lifetime.”- Jeff Warrenburg, General Manager

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Paradise Skate Roller Rink in Antioch reopens Wednesday night

Wednesday, April 21st, 2021

WOW, it has been 400 days since we had to close Paradise Skate Roller Rink in Antioch. We get to open TONIGHT. Catch is you have to make a reservation, sign a release. Bring that release, your energy, your mask and most important your smiles. We start at 7:30 pm.

Click here to make that reservation. Paradise Skate Antioch – A PartyWirks Partner

We’re located at 1201 W. 10th Street in Antioch.

Follow us and Like our Facebook page.

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Kiwanis Club presents checks to winning schools in annual, virtual Holiday Run competition

Friday, April 16th, 2021

Members of the Kiwanis Club of the Delta-Antioch present checks and certificates to the principals of Antioch Middle and Carmen Dragon Elementary Schools on Thursday, April 15, 2021.

Over 15,000 miles were logged during the 12-day competition

By Allen Payton

Members of the Kiwanis Club of the Delta-Antioch presented checks of $500 each to three schools in Antioch, this week, rewarding them for their participation in the service organization’s annual Holiday Run and Walk for Health. This year, the competition was held virtually and required participants to run or walk and log their own miles during a 12-day period. The top Antioch schools that formed teams and participated in each category were Deer Valley High, Antioch Middle and Carmen Dragon Elementary. Checks were presented to the schools, this week with two done by club members on Thursday, April 15.

The students could recruit whomever they wanted to run for their team and Prospects High School, with one of the smaller teams, recruited some ultra-marathoners and almost beat Deer Valley. Both teams logged over 2,000 miles.

Paul Schorr, who has led the organizing of the event in previous years, said the club has held the competition for the past 43 years. This was their 44th year.

“Katie Young stepped up and coordinated the event, this year,” he shared.

“Close to 600 participants signed up,” Young said. “They logged their miles they walked or ran over a 12-day period. A total of about 15,000 miles were logged. A couple teams recruited ultra-marathoners.”

“And 2,000 miles were from our school,” said Antioch Middle School Principal Lindsay Wisely.

“I think you did a heck of a job coordinating,” she said to Young.

“On behalf of the faculty staff and students we are grateful for the support from the Kiwanis Club,” Wisely stated. “We have a running club on campus and plan to use the funds for equipment and prizes associated with our club.”

During the presentation to Carmen Dragon Elementary, Principal Mark Hemauer said, “we had 31 participants who completed 1,837 miles.”

Asked how he planned to spend the money Hemauer replied, “I’d like to use it for our PE program because it was a physical activity and competition for when the students come back, hopefully fully next year.”

“I really appreciate the Kiwanis Club organizing this, I’ve been a runner in past years. But continuing it this year during the pandemic and having them give back to us is really special,” he added.

Deer Valley teacher Michael Green, the school’s head coach for both the cross country and track teams, received the check on March 31, during the Delta-Antioch Rotary Club meeting.

“The funds will be used to take those same runners who helped us earn that money to multi-school invitational cross-country races,” he said.

“Thank you to the Kiwanis Club for doing these great events and I encourage others to join their club and other service clubs to serve our community,” Green said.

Club President and Antioch Unified School District Board of Trustees Vice President, Dr. Clyde Lewis shared thoughts from both of his positions.

“This is an example of community and schools working together. Our goal as a Kiwanis Club is to engage, encourage and promote collaborative opportunities,” he said. “As a school district this approach mirrors the support and relationship building that we hope to promote in our young leaders.”



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Tonight: Roddy Ranch Golf Course Habitat Restoration and Public Access Plan meeting

Thursday, March 11th, 2021

Due to habitat concerns and other considerations, the planned Deer Valley Regional Park will remain in “landbank” status and closed to the public, for the foreseeable future.

The East Bay Regional Park District is developing a new Regional Park at the former Roddy Ranch Golf Course in Antioch. The plan being developed will restore native grassland habitat and include paths and facilities for walking, jogging, and picnicking. The former golf course property will be a part of the larger 3,500-acre future Deer Valley Regional Park.

Date: Thursday, March 11, 2021
Time: 6:30-7:30 P.M.
Meeting Zoom link:
Meeting ID: 933 0494 2688

Join us via Zoom for the first public meeting and learn about:
• Habitat restoration, recreation, and public access planning
• A summary of existing conditions, constraints, and opportunities
• Project timeline and other opportunities to be involved

Project Site map of former Roddy Ranch Golf Course parking lot. Source: EBRPD

See Existing Conditions Report and Attachments.

The park district, in partnership with the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy, began purchasing land in 2009 that would become the future Deer Valley Regional Park. Jack Roddy sold his ranch to the park district, including the now-closed golf course, in various transactions from 2014 – 2018. Due to habitat concerns and other considerations, Deer Valley Regional Park will remain in “landbank” status and closed to the public, for the foreseeable future. The 230-acre former golf course is anticipated to be the first part of the future Deer Valley Regional Park to open for public access. (See related article)

Ridgeline between the former Roddy Ranch Golf Course (left) and Deer Valley (right), Photo: Stephen Joseph.

Learn more about the project history on Roddy Ranch – Restoring Habitat and Public Access on a Former Golf Course.


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Sabrina Landreth named new East Bay Regional Park District General Manager

Thursday, March 4th, 2021

Fifth generation East Bay native, former Oakland City Administrator, Emeryville City Manager

By Dave Mason, Public Information Supervisor, East Bay Regional Park District

Sabrina Landreth. Source: EBRPD

The East Bay Regional Park District’s Board of Directors today approved the appointment of Sabrina Landreth as General Manager. She is the first female and the tenth General Manager appointed in the Park District’s 87-year history.

“Our Board is thrilled to have Sabrina join our organization,” said Dee Rosario, President of Park District Board of Directors. “She has all the right elements of urban public sector leadership experience and especially understands the diversity of the East Bay communities we serve.”

Ms. Landreth has deep roots in the East Bay as a fifth generation native who has held the top executive leadership positions managing the cities of Oakland and Emeryville.  She is a U.C. Berkeley graduate with a master’s degree in Public Policy, in addition to receiving a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

“I am honored to be appointed by the Board as the District’s next General Manager,” Landreth said. “I look forward to continuing to build upon the great work the District does to improve the quality of life for our East Bay community, while adhering to its social and environmental responsibilities.”

Most recently Ms. Landreth served as City Administrator in Oakland from 2015- 2020, where she is credited with strong fiscal management and developing a capital improvement program that included community equity goals and has become a model program for local governments around the country.  She also worked for Oakland as Deputy City Administrator, Budget Director, and Legislative Analyst to the City’s Finance Committee.

Previously Ms. Landreth served as City Manager of Emeryville and as staff in the California State Assembly advancing state and local legislative initiatives.

Ms. Landreth succeeds Robert Doyle, who retired as General Manager after a 47-year career with the Park District.  She will begin her new position at the Park District on Monday, March 15 just four days after her 45th birthday.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.


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Antioch Police to investigate Tuesday dirt bike riding incident with new councilwoman’s sons following profanity-laced Facebook rant

Thursday, December 31st, 2020

“I will be hiring an outside, independent investigator to conduct the investigation.” – Antioch Police Chief T Brooks

Antioch Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker in a Facebook Live video she posted on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020. Screenshot of video now on YouTube.

By Allen Payton

On Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020 two boys were stopped by Antioch Police for riding a quad and dirt bike on city streets. The quad was seen by this reporter pulled over in the 1900 block of A Street, facing south in the right, northbound lane. Their mother is new Councilmember Tamisha Torres-Walker who represents District 1.

She posted a nine-minute, tearful, profanity-laced Live video on one of her Facebook pages, later that day, calling the Antioch Police “motherf—-rs” and “a—holes”, and complaining they chased down her sons, side swiped them, bumped the quad and pulled out their tazers, but didn’t use them. Tores-Walker said she told the police officers “you don’t know who I am” but claims she said that because she doesn’t care that she’s a council member.

“I don’t care. I don’t care. Like, when I say ‘you don’t know who I am’ you better believe that I’m saying I don’t give a f—- about being a city council member. That’s what I’m saying,” she said in the video. “So, when I say ‘you don’t know who I am’ I’m not trying to say ‘I’m a city council member.’ What I’m trying to say is I don’t give a f— about being a city council member. That’s what I’m trying to say, that you don’t know me about my kids.”

“I fixing to get off of this Live, right now,” Torres-Walker continued with a chuckle. “I’m so mad, right now. I’m not scared enough to back down from this sh–. My son is all f—ed up, right now, because he didn’t know what y’all was going to do and this is a child. So, yes, I will be filing a complaint.”

“This sh– is just out of line,” she concluded.

The video has since been removed from her Facebook page. But was able to capture and post it on YouTube. The video can be viewed, here. (Warning: video contains graphic language)

In the video, Torres-Walker mentions her two sons who were “out here having fun” including one who is 13 years old. The age of her other son was not shared. Efforts to reach her for more details and to answer questions were unsuccessful prior to publication time, including if they live on or near A Street and if she’s aware it’s illegal to ride dirt bikes and quads on city streets.

Chief Brooks Responds

In response to questions about the incident and what the Antioch Police Department had to say about it and will do, Chief T Brooks offered the following, official response: “I am aware of the video and the incident in question. I take these allegations very seriously and have initiated an investigation into the matter. In order to ensure a fair, impartial, and objective process is completed, I will be hiring an outside, independent investigator to conduct the investigation.”

In addition, an APD sergeant said he expected a press release about the incident to be issued, soon.

Councilmembers Asked About Possible Censure

Finally, immediately prior to publication, Mayor Lamar Thorpe, Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson and Council Members Lori Ogorchock and Mike Barbanica were asked if any of them will consider censuring Walker for her comments, as Antioch residents have been asking on social media. That’s especially in light of Wilson’s successful effort to not merely censure former Planning Commission Chair Kenny Turnage, but her, Thorpe’s and Ogorchock’s votes to remove him for his controversial comments about COVID-19 on Facebook, earlier this year.

Please check back later for updates to this report.

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2021 Contra Costa County Fair canceled

Thursday, December 10th, 2020

ANTIOCH – As a major event facility, The Contra Costa Event Park has been weighing all of its options, as we monitor the evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. There is no higher priority than the safety of our Fairgrounds family, patrons, vendors, promoters and sponsors at the Contra Costa Event Park. It is with heavy heart and great regret due to this ongoing situation the Contra Costa Event Park Board of Directors met last night and unanimously voted to cancel the 2021 Contra Costa County Fair scheduled for May 13 – 16.

We understand that this decision has both financial and emotional impact on all of our Fair partners. After thoughtful consideration, we do not feel it would be a responsible decision to continue with the planning of the 2021 Contra Costa County Fair, when it could potential be canceled at the last minute.

The Contra Costa County Fair has been an annual event for over 80 years, and has operated uninterrupted, with the exception of a few years during World War II. The Fair is a large part of our communities’ history and tradition, and the decision to cancel the 2021 Fair did not come lightly.

We thank the community and all of our partners for your continued support during these challenging times.

We look forward to seeing you all safe and healthy for the 2022 Contra Costa County Fair May 12 – 15.


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