Deadline for applications is Monday, Sept. 18
Do you know a local non-profit in need of funding? Tell them about the 2017 Dow Community Advisory Panel (CAP) Grant. We invite eligible organizations in East Contra Costa County to submit grant proposals for projects supporting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and contribute to improving our community and environment.
Last year, the Dow Community Grant helped our friends at Discovery Bay Odyssey of the Mind prepare for their trip to the Odyssey of the Mind Eurofest competition in Minks, Belarus. The teams, consisting of 8th graders from Excelsior Middle and 5th graders from Discovery Bay Elementary, took home 1st and 2nd place trophies from the GLOBAL competition.
We continue to support STEM/STEAM organizations this year with our 2017 CAP Grant. Apply today. Deadline to apply is September 18.
Begin review of marijuana regulations
By Daniel Borsuk
Retailers of menthol and flavored tobacco products that are located within 1,000 feet of a public, private school, playground, park, or library in Contra Costa County will be required to sell off their inventory by the end of 2017 now that the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 on Tuesday to approve an ordinance creating tobacco sales restrictions and a cap on tobacco retail licenses.
Supervisors limited the number of tobacco retailers in unincorporated Contra Costa at 90.
Supervisors drafted the ordinance after conducting public hearings on how menthol and flavored tobacco products have serious health consequences for teenagers congregating at schools, playgrounds, parks or libraries that are within 1,000 feet from a store selling those tobacco products that are known to lead to heart and cancer health problems later on in life.
Some of the ordinance’s provisions include:
- Failure to obey the new law could mean a retail license suspension of 30 days for the first violation, up to 90 days for a second violation within two years after the first violation, and up to one year for a third and subsequent violation within two years after the first violation.
- Although the county tobacco law sets requirements on the how retailers sell cigars, including little cigars that must be sold in a package of at least 10 cigars, the ordinance states “This requirement does not apply to cigars that have a sale price of at least $5.”
- The ordinance bans retailers from posting tobacco displays on their premises.
- The law prohibits pharmacies from selling tobacco products.
- The ordinance also requires retailers to “examine the identification of a person who reasonably appears to under the age of 27 before the tobacco retailers sells tobacco products or paraphernalia to that person.”
“The National Association of Tobacco Outlets opposes this ordinance,” said Jaime Rojas, a NATO representative, “because it represents a bad case of government overreach. You are forcing retailers to sell off an inventory within six months or face consequences.”
“You are taking a big step towards improving public health,” said Dr. Phillip Gardner of the University of California at San Francisco. He hailed the supervisors action because it will help reduce the influence of menthol flavored tobacco products especially on the African American community.
During the supervisors’ meeting, nothing was disclosed about how the ordinance will be enforced between the Sheriff’s Department, Health Department and perhaps Planning Department and at what cost to county taxpayers.
“Currently we have no idea what the costs will be to enforce this ordinance,” County Administrator David Twa told the Contra Costa Herald after supervisors voted. “Just wait when the board adopts the recreational marijuana ordinance (see item below). Expenses will go up dramatically then.”
“We will not begin enforcement on whether a retailer is within the 1,000-foot buffer until Jan. 1,” said District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville.
In the meantime, the passage of the ordinance put retailers on notice they should not be reordering flavored tobacco products if they are located within the 1,000-foot buffer zone, said District 1 Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond.
Review of Marijuana Regulations
In other business, Supervisors also kickstarted the review process on how to regulate commercial cannabis enterprises in unincorporated Contra Costa County in compliance with the voter approved State Proposition 64, the legalization of recreational marijuana sales.
During the presentation, supervisors were shown eight preliminary land use maps of where outdoor and indoor cannabis enterprises could potentially operate in unincorporated county.
Planning officials were instructed to present at a future meeting revised land used maps showing other buffer configurations.
The board voted 5-0 to permit County Administrator David Twa to negotiate with the consulting firm of Hinderliter, de Llamas & Associates to prepare a study with recommendations on options for taxation for various cannabis activities.
Twa did not disclose what the county will pay the Hinderliter, de Llamas & Associates because the price has yet to be negotiated. Twa said information from the Hinderliter, de Llamas & Associates study would be used to draft a proposed countywide cannabis tax measure that would need to go before voters at the next general election, November 2018.
“If the tax fails to pass, so does the marijuana law in the county,” Twa told supervisors.
Gita Dombroski, owner of an Oakland cannabis nursery who said he has $4 million in the bank and wants to expand his nursery operations into Contra Costa County, warned supervisors that they are heading in the wrong direction by potentially levying high taxes.
“You need to be realistic. Your taxes are going to be too be too high and they will dissuade prospective businesses from coming to your county,” he said.
Instead of investing in Contra Costa County, Dombroski said he will open up another nursery in Oakland.
Cannabis proponent Max Fogarty objected to the county proposal of establishing a 1,000-foot buffer between cannabis businesses and public and private schools, parks, playgrounds and libraries, and a 500 foot distance from existing tobacco retail establishments.
“Why 1,000 feet from a school, playground or library. It does not make sense,” said Fogarty
“Not everyone feels the way you do. We need to protect our communities” said Gioia in defense of the buffers.
By Dave Roberts
Six hundred and thirty-five employees at USS-POSCO Industries in Pittsburg may be laid off July 10, according to a warning notice the company filed with the California Employment Development Department. The potential, temporary layoffs, which were filed under the state’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification system, comprise the largest chunk of more than 3,000 layoffs filed by 42 California companies in May.
USS-POSCO filed the layoff notice on May 9 and it remains to be seen whether it goes through with the layoffs.
However, Kevin Romick, a manager at the Pittsburg plant said “It is my understanding that there are no layoffs that are imminent. The business conditions dictate we are required by law to post this type of letter if we anticipate laying off more than 50 people.”
“We’re hoping and expecting business to pick up,” he added.
The plant filed a similar notice 3½ years ago. At that time, George Kunst, general manager of employee relations for USS-POSCO, told the San Francisco Business Times, “We have issued a WARN notice on a periodic basis due to economic uncertainty. We have no immediate plans to lay off anybody. We have had periodic layoffs for the last several years.”
The company processes hot-rolled steel so that it can be used for items such as office furniture, building materials, containers, conduit and automotive parts, according to the article.
The first Pittsburg steel facility opened in 1910 as a 60-man foundry under the name of Columbia Steel. In the 1920’s, the plant expanded to include the West’s first nail mill, and later, the first hot dip tin mill west of the Mississippi, according to the company’s website. Today it’s a joint venture company of U.S. Steel Corporation and POSCO of the Republic of South Korea.
The company receives mixed reviews from employees on the Glass Door employment review site. Positive comments include good pay, benefits and interesting work environment. Negative comments include lack of work, unmotivated employees and unfair management. Under the “advice to management” category, one worker wrote, “Treat everybody the same. Quit trying to police everyone and pay attention to Quality and Preventive Maintenance. There’s a reason we went from number one to the bottom of the totem pole.”
Hear from keynote speaker astronaut Captain Scott Kelly
At this time last week the East Bay Leadership Council (EBLC) team was putting the finishing touches on what they had hoped would be a memorable night. They were not disappointed.
The 31st Annual East Bay USA event, at the Concord Hilton, drew 330 business and civic leaders, gave a chance to learn about how the major sponsors support innovative STEM programs, provided networking opportunities over local wine, and featured an inspiring keynote by astronaut Captain Scott Kelly, (USN, Ret.) who left the attendees feeling like the sky was not the limit.
“The evening was made possible by 27 companies and 26 community leaders whose commitment to the East Bay Leadership Council makes our work possible. Thank you again to all of our sponsors,” said Kristin Connelly, EBLC President and CEO. “I hope you will save the date and join us on January 18, 2018 for East Bay USA’s 32nd Annual celebration.”
About Captain Kelly
Kelly served a one-year mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in 2015, then served as the ISS Branch Chief within the Astronaut Office. He served as a backup crewmember for ISS Expedition 5 and as the Astronaut Office Space Station Branch Chief. Kelly also served as a Flight Engineer for ISS Expedition 25 and as the Commander of ISS Expedition 26.
Selected by NASA in April 1996, Kelly reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1996. Following completion of training, he was assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office Spacecraft Systems/Operations branch. A veteran of three space flights, Kelly has logged more than 180 days in space. He served as pilot on STS-103 in 1999 and was the Mission Commander on STS-118 in 2007. Following STS-103, Kelly served as NASA’s Director of Operations in Star City, Russia.
Kelly is the recipient of two Defense Superior Service Medals, the Distinguished Flying Cross, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, two Navy Unit Commendations, the National Defense Service Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, NASA Distinguished Service Medal, NASA Exceptional Service Medal, NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, two NASA Space Flight Medals, and the Russian Federation Medal for Merit in Space Exploration.
Assemblymember Jim Frazier will be a special guest at an upcoming free workshop for East Contra Costa County businesses that want to learn more about using social media to promote their work. Co-sponsored by the Antioch and Brentwood Chambers of Commerce, the workshop will run from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Friday, January 27, 2017, at the Lone Tree Golf & Event Center, 4800 Golf Course Road in Antioch.
The “Boost Your Business” event will give participants up-to-date tools, insights and best practices for using Facebook and Instagram to grow their business. Participants will also hear tips and tricks from local business owners and learn about creative ways to reach out.
The workshop is free, but registration is encouraged. To sign up, or for more information, visit https://boostantioch.splashthat.com.
To contact Assembly member Jim Frazier please visit his website at www.asmdc.org/frazier or call his District Office at 925-513-0411. Follow and “Like” him on Facebook for updates on events and happenings in the 11th AD.
Fifth award during three years in business
By Allen Payton
Pacific Senior Care Services, LLC owned by Antioch resident Kelly Gonzales, has been selected for the 2016 Best Businesses of Walnut Creek Award in the Home Health Care and Senior Services organizations categories by the Best Businesses of Walnut Creek Award Program. This is the second time since 2014 that Pacific Senior Care Services has been selected for the awards.
Each year, the Best Businesses of Walnut Creek Award Program identifies companies that the organization believes have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Walnut Creek area a great place to live, work and play.
Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2016 Best Businesses of Walnut Creek Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Best Businesses of Walnut Creek Award Program and data provided by third parties.
“I’m honored to receive these awards, in just our third year of business,” said Gonzales. “We strive to meet elder needs with love and compassion, as our slogan states.”
They place seniors and others in care homes and senior facilities, offer senior care referral services, as well as senior insurance services through their affiliated company.
This is Pacific Senior Care Services fifth award since she formed her business in April, 2014. They also received the 2016 City Beat News Spectrum Award bestowed on companies for their excellence in customer service.
About the Best Businesses of Walnut Creek Award Program
The Best Businesses of Walnut Creek Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Walnut Creek area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.
U.C. Berkeley announced, Wednesday that it has joined forces with Richmond-based CyberTran International (CTI), Stantec, a global architecture and engineering firm, and a group of small businesses to apply jointly to the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change grant competition. The grant would finance the development of the rapid, Ultra Light Rail Transit (ULRT) system technology pioneered by CTI.
UC Berkeley’s Partners in Advanced Transit and Highways (PATH) has decades of experience in the automated vehicle field.
“We can definitely apply our automated vehicle system technology to ULRT,” said researcher Xiao-Yun Lu.
“ULRT has the potential to revolutionize how we travel and commute,” said CTI President Dexter Vizinau. “Automated rail shuttles that travel in a network up to speeds of over 100 mph will reduce the cost of building and maintaining transit systems while greatly increasing convenience and providing an alternative sustainable mode to today’s congested highways and roads, and reducing toxic emissions.”
The John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s grant program, launched in June, will award only one grant applicant a year of $100 million. It is a “competition…to fund a single proposal that promises real and measurable progress in solving a critical problem of our time,” according to the organization’s website.
“Solving society’s most pressing problems isn’t easy, but we believe it can be done,” said MacArthur President Julia Stasch. “Potential solutions may go unnoticed or under resourced and are waiting to be brought to scale. Every three years, we plan to award $100 million to help make one of these solutions a reality. Through 100&Change, we want to inspire, encourage, and support other people’s ideas, here in our hometown Chicago, across the nation and around the world, about how to address major challenges and enable real progress toward a solution.”
“We believe that 100&Change can have a ripple effect beyond what a single $100 million grant enables,” said Cecilia Conrad, MacArthur’s Managing Director leading the competition. “Setting audacious goals is inspiring. Clear evidence of impact can encourage other funders to invest in solvable problems more broadly, and applicants who do not receive the $100 million grant will still receive valuable feedback on and attention to their ideas.”
“These funds will help us to bring this very important technology to market at low, medium and 100-plus miles per hour speed applications. Our team is ably skilled to succeed in introducing this radically innovative and effective technology to the globe,” said Neil Sinclair, CTI’s Chairman. “We are very happy to be teaming with UC Berkeley’s PATH group along with the rest of the team on this project.”
ULRT is a computer operated on-demand and direct-to-destination transit system using individual rail shuttles. Studies have shown the system to cost an order of magnitude less to build and operate. It was originated at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory. The program proposal is a three year $100M project resulting in the completion of the commercialization of the technology. CTI engineers compare ULRT to the Internet. Vehicles travel under computer control to off-line stations based on real time passenger demand. The demand can come from passengers in stations pushing a button, or through smart phone pre-scheduling.
CyberTran International’s offices are located at the UC Berkeley Global Campus Richmond Bay, in Richmond, California. For more information on CyberTran, visit www.cybertran.com. For more information on the 100&Change Competition, click here.
As a matter of disclosure, the publisher of this website is a part owner of a company with a financial interest in CyberTran International, Inc.
Company creates “Call to Action” during Breast Cancer Awareness Month for EMCOR’s 8th Annual “Protect Yourself. Get Screened Today” campaign
Performance Mechanical, Inc. (PMI) of Pittsburg, proudly announces that 40 of its construction workers at various job sites throughout the area are wearing EMCOR Pink Hard Hats in October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as a “Call to Action” supporting breast cancer screening and awareness as part of EMCOR’s 8th Annual “Protect Yourself. Get Screened Today.” campaign. PMI employees will be seen by scores of people as they work at a host of client locations, ranging from commercial and healthcare, to manufacturing and industrial facilities.
A market leader in industrial mechanical contracting services, Performance Mechanical, Inc. is a subsidiary of EMCOR Group, Inc. (NYSE: EME), a Fortune 500® leader in mechanical and electrical construction, industrial and energy infrastructure, and building services for a diverse range of businesses.
“This is EMCOR’s 8th consecutive year of spearheading the national Pink Hard Hat initiative. Over the years people have come forward to say they believe this unique way of raising awareness of the importance of breast cancer screening has had a positive impact on their own lives or that of a
loved one,” stated Andy Hosler, President & CEO, Performance Mechanical, Inc. “Many of our employees wear hard hats on a daily basis for personal protection, and we’re proud of their commitment to wear an EMCOR/Performance Mechanical Hard Hat in October to raise awareness for breast cancer, reminding women and men they can help protect themselves by getting screened.”
PMI employees will be joined by thousands of additional EMCOR employees nationally wearing Pink Hard Hats during October at hundreds of work sites, ranging from hospitals to bridges, malls to military bases, and data centers to refineries.
The “multiplier effect” continues as even more people are reached with the “Protect Yourself. Get Screened Today.” message when EMCOR employees take the Pink Hard Hats home each night and they are seen by spouses, daughters, sisters, neighbors, and many others.
Millions more people will be reached nationally by EMCOR’s fleet of 7,000+ service vehicles, including PMI vehicles, which are displaying Pink Hard Hat posters during October with the “Protect Yourself. Get Screened Today.” campaign message.
Visit EMCOR’s Pink Hard Hat site: http://www.emcorgroup.com/pinkhardhat
About Performance Mechanical, Inc.
Founded in 1985, Performance Mechanical, Inc. (PMI) is a full-service industrial mechanical contractor providing process piping and equipment installation, civil, structural, instrumentation, and boiler installation and repair to electrical generating plants, food and beverage producers, pipeline compressor and metering stations, manufacturing facilities and water treatment plants. PMI’s expertise also includes mechanical maintenance service for industrial turnarounds and maintenance for refineries, terminals, and chemical plants. Headquartered in Pittsburg, California, PMI is a subsidiary of EMCOR Group, Inc. (NYSE: EME), a Fortune 500 company with estimated 2016 revenues of ~$7.4B. EMCOR is a leader in mechanical and electrical construction, industrial and energy infrastructure, and building services. A provider of critical infrastructure systems, EMCOR gives life to new structures and sustains life in existing ones by its planning, installing, operating, maintaining, and protecting the sophisticated and dynamic systems that create facility environments—such as electrical, mechanical, lighting, air conditioning, heating, security, fire protection, and power generation systems—in virtually every sector of the economy and for a diverse range of businesses, organizations and government. EMCOR represents a rare combination of broad reach with local execution, combining the strength of an industry leader with the knowledge and care of 170 locations. The ~33,000 skilled employees of EMCOR have made the company, in the eyes of leading business publications, amongst the “World’s Most Admired” and “Best Managed”. EMCOR’s diversity—in terms of the services it provides, the industries it serves and the geography it spans—has enabled it to create a stable platform for sustained results. The Company’s strong financial position has enabled it to attract and retain among the best local and regional talent, to undertake and complete the most ambitious projects, and to redefine and shape the future of the construction and facilities services industry. Additional information on EMCOR can be found at www.EMCORGroup.com.