By Allen Payton
Eight Antioch residents of two assisted living facilities licensed to and operated by the same people, fell ill over the weekend, and three died from possible food poisoning. According to a KTVU Channel 2 news report by Tom Vacar, on Monday, “investigators think a Thanksgiving dinner is to blame.”
Yet, according to Dr. Louise McNitt of Infectious Disease with Contra Costa Public Health during a Monday afternoon press briefing, “All the patients are associated with the same living facility, so it’s unclear if the illness is related to the Thanksgiving Day event or their living situation.”
However, Tuesday morning Michael Weston, spokesperson for the California Department of Social Services, said, “two of the deceased individuals were from Minerva’s Place on Palo Verde Way and the third individual was from Minerva Place IV which is on El Paso Way” in Antioch.
The two residential care homes, described as assisted living facilities, are licensed by Minerva Gonzalez and Emerito Ramon Gonzalez is listed as the Administrator. Each facility is licensed for up to six residents.
In addition to the facilities that are currently open, according to an internet search, there are or have been four other Minerva Place facilities at different addresses in Antioch, including Minerva’s Place Arf, Minerva’s Place #2, Minerva Place II and Minerva Place III.
All eight of those who got sick are believed to have eaten a Thanksgiving dinner at the Veterans Memorial Building and American Legion Hall on West 6th Street in Antioch on Thursday. The annual dinner was provided by the Golden Hills Community Church which rented out the hall, as they have been doing for about the past 30 years.
“We don’t know that the eight elderly people from the assisted living facility actually came to the hall to eat,” said Linda Oransky, who helped organize the Antioch dinner with her husband Jeff. “That was what was reported on the news, but it had not been confirmed.
The church also serves Thanksgiving meals in Brentwood and Bethel Island. There were 825 people who were served meals at the Antioch location and 800 were served at the Brentwood location, according to Brian Sharp, a member of the church, who has been in charge of the Brentwood effort for the past ten years.
“No one else has told me that anyone else has said they got sick,” he stated.
Last Friday and Saturday eight people were admitted into Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch with possible food borne illnesses.
According to a Sutter Health statement released on Monday, “Between Friday, Nov. 25 and Saturday, Nov. 26, Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch received eight patients with probable food borne symptoms. Three patients have died, four patients were treated and released and one patient remains hospitalized. Contra Costa Public Health is investigating the cause and do not believe there is any risk to the general public.”
According to Vacar’s report, “Sutter was not the only one to receive patients.”
He also said the Contra Costa Coroner’s office is performing autopsies.
Vacar reported he was told the sick people were seniors from a senior center, but had not been able to confirm that.
At a 5:00 p.m. press briefing in Martinez on Monday, Marilyn C. Underwood, Ph.D., of Contra Costa County Environmental Health Services and Dr. Mcnitt answered questions.
One reporter asked referring to the church, “do they have the proper food handling permit?”
Dr. Underwood responded.
“The non-profit group that held the Thanksgiving event in Antioch is the Golden Hills Community Church and they’ve been sponsoring this for many, many years,” she stated. “I did speak with them about the type of event they had, does not need to be permitted by Environmental Health. They were using a permitted facility, which is the Veterans Hall also known as the American Legion location in Antioch.”
“And when we spoke with them about the food safety techniques they used they all sounded very appropriate,” Underwood continued. “Again, this is information we discussed with them, today.”
Asked about the senior facility where “are you also looking into the facility where these elderly people came from that they live in,” she replied, “We at Environmental Health do not oversee those particular facilities. They’re actually overseen by a state agency, the Department of Social Services. So we are in touch with them and made them aware of it so that hopefully they will be pursuing it.”
Dr. Mcnitt was able to answer the question, stating “my understanding is that we have been in touch with them but we’re still interviewing patients and just trying to get more information about what could be the cause of the illness.”
When asked what was served that night, Dr. Mcnitt responded, “I don’t believe we have a list of all the food that was served.”
However, Dr. Underwood stated, “In the discussion that we had with the pastor, it’s a traditional Thanksgiving meal: turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, bread. They had pies. So it’s a pretty traditional type of meal for Thanksgiving.”
“We’ve not received reports from any other health care facilities related to this incident,” Mcnitt stated. “At this point we do not believe that there’s any risk to the general public.”
The church serves the Thanksgiving meals to homeless and low-income individuals, and those who don’t want to be alone, on the holiday. For disclosure purposes, this reporter is a member of the church, and has attended the church since 1991. I have participated in the annual Thanksgiving meals many times over the past 20 years, including donating pies from a local bakery, and canned vegetables, and serving in the Antioch location, as well as eating the meal served there, a few times.
Attempts to reach Senior Pastor Larry Adams and Phil Hill, the Executive Pastor of the church, which has campuses in both Antioch and Brentwood, were unsuccessful. However, the church issued the following “Official Statement Regarding Thanksgiving Dinner” on their website Monday evening:
“We recently were informed that several people from the same care facility in Antioch, who were at our Antioch Thanksgiving Dinner, became sick and it is reported that 3 of them have died. County Health officials have informed us that the source of the illness is not known and could have come from any of a number of sources. Our dinner in Antioch is only one of a number of possibilities that County Health is investigating. We are fully cooperating with health officials and are praying fervently for the families who lost loved ones and for others who are sick. We will try to post updates from County Health as we are made aware.”
Also, a post on the church’s Facebook page included the comment, “Please join us in praying for the affected families.”
In addition, both Sharp, and Jeff and Linda Oransky, the organizers of the Antioch meal, were able to share what they had learned, so far.
“We do not know the cause of the contamination,” Sharp said. “It either came from the house or the Thanksgiving Dinner.”
“What I learned from the Antioch chairperson, Jeff Oransky, is an outside group brought food to the hall, last year. They were told not to. They came back again, this year, and handed to people standing in line, prepared meals from food not served in the hall, in plastic containers meant to be taken home.”
Sharp said neither he nor Oransky know if anyone who got sick received one of those meals.
When reached for comment asking about what Sharp said regarding the outside group handing out meals, Oransky said, “Yes, that’s true. They had prepared some meals and were handing them out in Styrofoam, take-out containers, like the ones restaurants hand out.”
“They were out there handing meals to people to whomever they saw,” said Linda. “The people were outside of the hall, at an outside entrance that was not the main entrance, when they entered with the food. They tried to come inside. I met them inside and stopped them. I told them that we couldn’t accept their meals. They told me they had already been handing out meals outside.”
It was food prepared somewhere else and not at the hall.
“That’s why we wouldn’t take it from them or allow them to hand it out to people inside the hall,” Jeff stated. “I don’t know who they were handing them out to.”
The Oranskys lead the annual effort, together.
“We have a team of people that help us,” Jeff shared. “Golden Hills has been serving the Thanksgiving meals for about 30 years.”
The Oranskys have been in charge of the one in Antioch for the past 12.
“This is the first time there’s ever been a medical-related incident like this, that I know of,” he stated. “I’ve been leading it for 12 years and serving for 15 years and I’ve never seen one, myself.”
“Linda and I ate there on Thursday, ourselves” he added, and they didn’t get sick.
Asked if he’d heard of anyone else getting sick since Thursday, Jeff replied, “All I’ve heard is the eight.”
When asked if they knew who the group was handing out the prepared meals, Jeff said, “No. I have no idea who those people were handing out meals.”
Asked if Linda knew, he responded, “We don’t know. She just asked them to go away.”
“With no others reported sick and eight people in one house, it sure seems like the source was likely the house, not outside food,” Sharp added. “But no one knows for sure, yet.”
Department of Social Services
According to the California Department of Social Services’ website, Minerva’s Place was licensed in 2007, Minerva Place IV in 2011 and there have been no complaints for either of the two current locations.
The report from the visit on August 29, 2016 to Minerva’s Place showed no violations. However, under the “Citations” drop down menu, the location has received four citations, two Type A and two Type B. Yet, under Inspections it shows the facility has one Type A and two Type B citations.
Under Other Visits, it shows one Type A Citation on January 30, 2015. It also states “One or more citations may be under appeal. Contact the State Licensing Office for more information. Other visits include anything other than yearly inspections and complaints, where the state may visit for administrative or follow up purposes, such as pre/post licensing processes.
The other two citations were from the visit in 2012, which the website doesn’t provide any details.
The Facility Evaluation Report from the state required five-year visit to Minerva Place IV on April 25, this year, stated “There are violations under California Code of Regulations, title 22 and are listed on 809-D,” “Appeal rights given” and “report reviewed with Minerva Gonzalez.”
“It was just a Type-B Citation for obtaining a doctor’s order saying it’s necessary to have a bedrail for an individual,” Weston explained.
Type B Citations are for violations that can be corrected, such as paperwork or other administrative things. Type A Citations are more serious, and can involve such things as wages, medication errors, food poisoning or death. If a violation is repeated within six months the owners will be fined $150 or the facility can be closed.
“You can have things start to increase,” Weston explained. “So it could be $150 per day if you’re not fixing a deficiency.”
“We’re working with public health officials in Contra Costa County and they will determine to the best of ability what happened and what’s the source of this,” he continued. “We will determine was the proper care and supervision given, and did they seek the appropriate care and in a timely manner.”
“If the facility is the source of this and there was a danger in the facility, we’ll make sure that will be addressed, as well,” Weston added. “Based on that information we’ll take appropriate action, if necessary.”
A call was made to the number listed for both facilities, seeking answers from the Gonzalez’ to the following questions: did the eight residents actually ate at the church’s Thanksgiving dinner? Did any of them receive and eat a meal distributed by the outside group? Did they all go back to one facility and eat or drink anything else? and did they own the other four locations and if so, why were they closed? But, no response was received before publication time.
Please check back later for updates to this report and any additional details.Read More
By Fernando Navarro
On Thursday, November 10, an incident took place in Pittsburg and Antioch which illustrated a major failing of our public education system. Hundreds of Pittsburg High School students, apparently protesting the results of the presidential election, walked out of their classes, off campus, and made their way to Antioch. During their journey, some of them committed acts of violence which resulted in three arrests…and a strain on police resources for both cities, as 23 police officers (15 from Antioch and 8 from Pittsburg) had to be called out to deal with the situation.
Statements by some officers indicated that the PHS principal, Todd Whitmire, joined students in the protest. This has been disputed by Whitmire and Pittsburg Unified School District (PUSD) Superintendent Janet Schulze, who claim Whitmire was with the protesters only to make sure they were safe.
Neither story speaks well of the PUSD leadership. The first would indicate that PUSD administrators are actively working to incite students away from learning and discourse and toward yelling and violence. The second would indicate that PUSD administrators have lost control of their school, and that student whims rule the day.
What we witnessed didn’t come out of nowhere, and didn’t come about because the, “election has been especially emotional,” as a statement by Schulze said. This is the result of years of inept classroom management, which has led to a lack of respect for authority. It comes about because, as with English and math, students don’t appear to be learning basic civics.
I recently lost my bid for election to the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) Board of Trustees. That doesn’t mean I’ll be silent, though. I’ll continue to advocate for the change that’s needed to turn our schools around and deliver better educational, and life-choice, outcomes for our students. And I’ll be encouraging parents to educate themselves about school policies, and to make sure their voices are heard. But I’ll be doing so by speaking and writing in the appropriate forums, not by disrupting traffic, disrupting classes, or by otherwise impinging on the rights of my fellow citizens.
Finally, I applaud Antioch Police Chief Allan Cantando for speaking out about this incident at the PUSD School Board meeting. I applaud AUSD Superintendent Stephanie Anello and Antioch High School Principal Louis Rocha for taking swift action to prevent similar disruptions in Antioch schools.
Now, let’s all come together to provide our students with the educations they deserve.
Navarro is a member of the Antioch Unified School District Board of TrusteesRead More
By Allen Payton
According to the Contra Costa County Elections website, as of 10:43 am, Wednesday, November 23dr, Dr. Sean Wright maintains his lead in the race for Mayor of Antioch. But it has shrunk to just 102 votes or .34% of the vote over incumbent Mayor Wade Harper. There are “approximately 8,500 ballots to be repaired and 28,000 provisionals county wide,” said County Clerk & Registrar of Voters Joe Canciamilla. The final vote count is expected to be completed by Friday, December 2nd.
“I can call all the races right now in the county except for Antioch Mayor,” he continued. “We’re down to ballots that have come in at different times. Ballots with mistakes could have come in at any time. Provisional ballots tend to come in late, generally on Election Day.”
“There are two different trends happening,” Canciamilla explained.” If you look at Election Day results, Sean does better. So I would have to think he does better with provisionals. But I don’t know how many are from Antioch.
There are roughly 607,000 registered voters in the county. We had 442,000 who have cast a ballot. We had a turnout of almost 73%. So a rough number is 11% of the provisionals come from Antioch. Those should theoretically trend in Sean’s favor.”
“All the other races are callable with the exception of Antioch,” he stated. “It is the election that will represent the slogan that ‘every vote does count.’ Every vote could impact the final outcome and it could go either way, right now.”
He was asked how many ballots had been counted since the last update.
“I believe in that batch it was 9,200 ballots that were counted,” Canciamilla responded. “If you extrapolate the traditional line you get to the point where Wade wins. But that doesn’t take into account the Election Day trend which favored Sean. But we’re at the point where there’s no clear, consistent trend that would allow us to make anything close to a valid projection. It’s going to be slogging through and counting them one by one, now.”
“We have multiple sets of eyes looking at each ballot,” he added.
He was then asked if representatives of each campaign can be there to oversee the counting.
“We always welcome observers,” he replied. “Each ballot has to be handled one at a time, and they get handled by multiple people and it just takes time.”
Asked if observers can challenge ballots, he said, “No. The law doesn’t allow observers to challenge an individual ballot, an individual signature match. You can raise issues and they’re entitled to an explanation.”
“At this stage there are very few ballots like that,” Canciamilla continued. “That’s usually over voter registration where it’s a question of if someone is registered or not. This is about whether people have drawn an arrow or crossed something out. If there’s a mistake or a double vote on one item we don’t throw out the whole ballot.”
He was then asked when will the ballot count be completed.
“We anticipate we will have our final unofficial count by next Friday (December 2nd),” he shared. “Then we’ll certify it by the 6th for the presidential election and until the 8th for everything else.”
“Then it goes to the Board of Supervisors on the 13th for their acceptance,” Canciamilla explained. “It will be done that morning.”
Asked about when oaths of office ceremonies could be held, he responded, “We advised the cities, and the school and special districts early on. I sent them a letter that due to the complexity of the ballot, we anticipate requiring the full 30 days to certify the election. So don’t plan on swearing in their folks early, like the week before.”
Asked when is the soonest new officials can be sworn in Canciamilla said, “That night (December 13th) is fine. It doesn’t have to be accepted by the Board to put it on the agenda. You just won’t have the actual OK from the Supervisors. It doesn’t have anything to do with the notice stuff. It’s not up to them to certify the election. Just accept the results.”
He was then asked about recounts.
“There are time frames for people to request recounts,” he stated. “If it gets close enough to where it becomes an issue we will sit down with the candidates and the City to figure something out. The reality is…recounts can be very expensive.”
“The goal is we want people to be comfortable with the results and they’re fair,” Canciamilla added. “This is an unusual circumstance.”
“Of all the races on the ballot, right now this is the only race too close for me to feel comfortable calling,” he reiterated.
For more election results, visit www.cocovote.us.Read More
Toll system installation and testing on the I-680 Express Lanes is in full swing. Testing of the electronic toll signs is scheduled to begin Wednesday, November 23 and will last through the opening of the Express Lanes, scheduled for spring 2017. Through spring 2017, motorists can expect to see dots on the electronic signs throughout the corridor as they are electrified and testing occurs.
During the next testing phase, scheduled for both day and nights the week of December 5, 2016, motorists may observe messages displayed on the electronic signs reading “TEST”, followed by a number (e.g. “TEST 1”); “TESTING” followed by a number (e.g. “TESTING 1”); “$0.00” and “TESTING IN PROGRESS”.
In addition, nightly closures will occur in the northbound and southbound directions on I-680 from Walnut Creek to Dublin in the lanes closest to the median. Approved construction work hours are: Monday through Thursday from 8 p.m. – 5 a.m., Friday from 8 p.m. – 7 a.m., Saturday from 7 p.m. to 10 a.m. During the nightly closures, system generated tolls, e.g. $1.00, and “TESTING IN PROGRESS” will be displayed on the electronic signs. (See photo above.) This type of message will only be visible at night, during lane closures.
This will be the first of three toll system tests through March.
Other I-680 Ongoing Construction Updates:
- When traveling near construction activity
- Always use caution
- Be prepared to reduce speeds
- Follow posted signs
- Intermittent and alternating nightly closures will occur in the northbound and southbound directions in the lanes closest to the median, in the lane closest to the shoulder from Martinez to Dublin. Approved construction work hours are: Monday through Thursday from 8 p.m. – 5 a.m., Friday from 8 p.m. – 7 a.m., Saturday from 7 p.m. to 10 a.m.
- Construction crews will be present on some city streets during the day near I-680 from Martinez to Dublin with temporary and minor pedestrian detours to maintain public safety.
- Temporary k-rail, construction signage and orange plastic fencing will be present from Martinez to Dublin to maintain a safe work zone.
- Construction lighting will be present and directed away from residential areas.
Construction is a dynamic process and information is subject to change without notice. Please use caution while traveling through the construction zone.Read More
From the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff
For 25 years now, representatives from Contra Costa County non-profit agencies were on hand for the annual Marsh Creek Detention Facility Wood Shop Toy Show. They were able to choose from numerous newly handcrafted wood toys and bicycles refurbished by student-inmates. These gifts will then be given to the children who are being served by these agencies during the upcoming holidays.
Joining the non-profit-agency representatives were Contra Costa County’s Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata and Under-Sheriff Michael Casten, as well as numerous representatives from both agencies to celebrate this longtime successful partnership that benefits the community and the student-inmates.
These organizations were able to choose from more than 1,115 beautifully handcrafted wooden toys, such as doll houses, spinning carousels, fire trucks, cars, baby cradles, toy tractors, train sets, and many more. In addition, there were also 95 beautifully refurbished bicycles, ready to ride. All of the toy makers and/or bike mechanics are students in the Contra Costa Adult School, an accredited school directed by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE), located within the detention facility.
Contra Costa County non-profit organizations participating in this special event included: Bay Area Rescue Mission, Brighter Beginnings, Contra Costa County Independent Living Skills Program, CCCOE Early Start Program, El Cerrito Rotary, Friends of Oakley, Shelter Inc., The Salvation Army-Antioch Corps, Shepherd’s Gate, Ujima Family Recovery Services/La Casa, and VESTIA, Inc.
The 2017 Presidential Inauguration will take place on Friday, January 20th in Washington, DC.
The offices of Members of Congress are now accepting requests from residents of each of their districts in California to attend the Inauguration ceremony on the National Mall. As you consider making a request, please keep in mind that available tickets are in outdoor, open-air standing sections and, due to security barriers, ticket holders will have to walk several blocks to the National Mall.
The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) is currently planning the swearing-in ceremonies for the next president on January 20, 2017. The JCCIC and the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) will finalize these plans in December 2016 and January 2017. Historically, the Presidential Inaugural Committee has distributed tickets to members of Congress to provide constituents close access to the swearing in ceremony. The JCCIC anticipates the PIC will continue this practice.
Each office will receive a limited number of tickets, which will be distributed through a lottery system. If you are selected, you will be notified with more specific details regarding ticket pick-up and logistics for the day of the Inauguration.
Tickets are limited to two per party, and may not be redistributed or sold for any reason. You are responsible for picking up your ticket if you are the head of the reservation, as well as your lodging and transportation to and from Washington, DC, along with any other associated travel expenses.
To request tickets from Congressman Jerry McNerney for those who live in the 9th District, please complete the online form on the Congressman’s website by clicking here: https://mcnerney.house.gov/Inauguration.
For those who are represented by Congressman Mark DeSaulnier in the 11th District you must call his Washington, D.C. office at (202) 225-2095.
Those residents in Martinez represented by Congressman Mike Thompson in the 5th District must send an email to email@example.com by December 9th with participants’ first and last names, addresses, the requested number of tickets, a good contact email address, and phone number for the party, and any questions you may have. You will receive an email confirming your request within three business days.
Finally, those who live in San Ramon in Congressman Eric Swalwell’s 15th District, they need to contact his staff assistant Art Motta at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As January approaches, please check this website for updates on ticket requests and other useful information for visiting Washington, DC. The following websites also provide useful information about the Inaugural Ceremonies and associated events.
The 2017 Presidential Inauguration Official Webpage: http://www.inaugural.senate.gov/
The Department of Defense Presidential Inauguration Information Webpage: http://www.inauguralsupport.mdw.army.mil/Read More
By Bryan Scott
A great political victory was won on November 8. The electorate should be congratulated.
No, not President-Elect Trump’s surprising victory. I’m referring to the roughly 60% of the voters in Brentwood who voted “No” on Proposition Z, the flawed utility user tax put forth by Brentwood’s City Council. A similar measure in Oakley received an even greater level of rejection.
Voters in Brentwood and Oakley rejected the tax that was conceived by a self-appointed shadow government “Task Force” comprised of two City Managers, three union leaders, three fire chiefs and the chiefs of staff of two County Supervisors. This group had no public membership, posted no public agendas or minutes, and refused requests for taxpayer participation.
These government fat cats, most of whom are drawing salaries and benefits costing taxpayers in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars, felt entitled to reach into the pockets of taxpayers for another general tax. They used the structural funding problem of the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) as the justification, even though there was no requirement that the tax money collected would be used for this purpose.
Make no mistake- the ECCFPD desperately needs more money.It receives the lowest property tax allocation percentage of all fire districts in the county, 7%, which is roughly five percent below the county’s average. San Ramon Valley FPD gets 15%, Moraga-Orinda FPD collects 21%, and Contra Costa FPD receives 14% of ad valorem property taxes.
ECCFPD does an outstanding job with the funding it gets. Itis probably the most efficient fire district in California, attempting to meet the needs of 110,000 residents spread over 249-square miles. But a fire district with so little funding cannot provide an adequate level of services. As a result, people are dying, according fire department officers, and homes are burning down.
Last year property taxes collected within the ECCFPD territory exceeded $153 million. By state law property taxes are regulated, and their growth is limited. This is good.
What is bad is that local elected leaders have not gotten on board the effort to adjust where this $153 million goes. Elected leaders have yet to recognize the injustice of the situation, and openly support reallocation of these public funds in favor of the fire district.
As with all property taxes, this dollar figure will go up as property values increase. Gus Kramer, Contra Costa County Assessor, sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors on June 30, 2016, telling them that property values within the county had reached a record high of $181.7 billion. Property values in ECCFPD’s territory increased significantly, with values in Brentwood and Oakley increasing by over 8%.
ECCFPD needs a larger share of these funds. It is as simple as that. The hard part is to get government entities to give up, forever, part of the property tax revenue growth that is anticipated to come their way.
Residents of East Contra Costa pay the same property tax rate as the residents of Central Contra Costa, and all fire districts are primarily funded with property taxes. The benefits of California tax laws should apply equally to all citizens.
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution includes the sentence “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
By providing the ECCFPD with only 7% of the ad valorem 1% property tax funding, and allowing emergency response times that are nearly twice as long as in other parts of the county, East County residents are suffering from reduced “privileges or immunities”and unequal “protection of the laws.”
When the allocation rate was set nearly four decades ago there were four volunteer fire districts covering what is now the jurisdiction of ECCFPD, and about 7% of the property taxes collected were spent on fire services. Today there are over 110,000 residents and the district has unionized firefighters, yet the allocation rate is the same.
The government, at the county and state levels, treatsEast County residents differently than residents of other parts of Contra Costa County. This is morally wrong.
Bryan Scott is a Brentwood resident and Co-Chair of East County Voters for Equal Protection, a non-partisan citizens action committee whose aim is to improve funding for the ECCFPD. He can be reached at email@example.com, or925-418-4428. The group’s Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyVoters/.Read More
By Caleb Castle
Wednesday, October 12, 2016 was a historic day for Save Mount Diablo as we successfully sold our five-acre Rideau property at 1650 Curry Canyon Road, Clayton to private buyers, Joseph Favalora and Jane McGuire, as part of our newly expanded Conservation Buyer Program. With this transaction the organization acquired our first, perpetual Conservation Easement on the same land.
The parcel’s preservation has been a three year process, and expands preservation of 4.3 mile Curry Canyon and beautiful Curry Creek to almost 85%. The Rideau property’s oak woodland and riparian habitat along Curry Creek will be protected and strategic trail connections retained to other Save Mount Diablo Curry Canyon properties.
The transaction purchase price also allowed Save Mount Diablo to help pay off remaining debt on our historic Curry Canyon Ranch acquisition. This transaction has also reduced Save Mount Diablo’s liability and expense from ownership of the Rideau property while gaining a new partner – the buyers – in the stewardship and management of that land going forward.
The Conservation Easement that Save Mount Diablo acquired on the Rideau parcel upon the sale of the land to Joseph Favalora and Jane McGuire protected the property’s conservation values while also providing the buyers a one-acre building envelope around an existing house where they now live.
“We welcome Joe and Jane to our team of terrific people who are helping us protect and steward the important open space lands of the Mount Diablo area,” said Save Mount Diablo Executive Director Ted Clement. “Our newly expanded Conservation Buyer Program is bringing in more people and resources to help us with our time-sensitive land conservation work while also providing a new tool, the perpetual Conservation Easement, to use where appropriate.”
“We’ve searched, for the past year, for a home in the average neighborhoods that a first time homebuyer would look. Nothing caught our attention until we encountered the outstanding beauty of this Curry Canyon property,” said Joe.
Jane added, “we knew at first sight that Curry Canyon is where we wanted to call home. Waking up to the green hills, the trees and the many families of deer we share the property with is all we’ve ever dreamed. We couldn’t be more happy.”
Curry Canyon is the largest remaining unprotected canyon on Diablo’s main peaks, between the Diablo summit and the Blackhills – 4.3 miles from Curry Point within Mt. Diablo State Park, northeast down to Morgan Territory Road. The top of the canyon was among the first state park acquisitions in the 1930s. Upper Curry Canyon was acquired in 1965 and 1987.
Save Mount Diablo has now protected approximately 1200 acres in lower Curry Canyon starting with the Wright property in 2001. Nearly 85% of the 4.3 mile canyon has now been protected.
The Rideau conservation easement was a new strategy for SMD and its Conservation Buyer Program. As we have done for many years, we sell strategic land to governmental partners to become part of a public park system and we then utilize the revenue to further our land conservation mission.
Now, in addition to our traditional approach, we also sell some lands to private buyers subject to permanent Conservation Easements, which we will hold, and then utilize the revenue to advance our work. This method allows us to protect properties with important conservation values (wildlife habitat, water resources, scenic vistas, agricultural resources, etc.) that may not be well suited additions to a government park because of their size, location or other factors.
A Conservation Easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a qualified organization, such as a land trust like Save Mount Diablo, which restricts activities on the land to protect its conservation values forever.
Save Mount Diablo is a nationally accredited, non-profit land trust founded in 1971 with a mission to preserve Mount Diablo’s peaks, surrounding foothills, and watersheds through land acquisition and preservation strategies designed to protect the mountain’s natural beauty, biological diversity, and historic and agricultural heritage; enhance our area’s quality of life; and provide recreational opportunities consistent with the protection of natural resources. The organization is currently involved with its important year-end appeal to raise critical resources for its time-sensitive land conservation mission. To learn more and support Save Mount Diablo, please visit www.savemountdiablo.org.
Ted Clement contributed to this report.Read More
By Allen Payton
In the District 3 race for Contra Costa County Supervisor, East Bay Regional Parks District Director Diane Burgis beat Brentwood City Council Member during Tuesday’s elections by a wide margin of 59.45% to 40.31%. In the hard fought battle to replace outgoing three-term incumbent Mary Nejedly Piepho, Burgis placed second in the primary behind Barr, but was able to best him in the General Election.
The latest results from the County Elections office, as of Thursday afternoon give the former Oakley Councilwoman 31,287 votes to 21,580 for Barr, a former Liberty Union High School District Board Trustee. There were another 131 write-in votes in the contest. But, as of Wednesday, there were about 180,000 votes left to be counted in the county, according to County Clerk Joe Canciamilla. That represented almost 37% of the vote.
Burgis issued a statement on Veterans Day, Friday, November 11th, offering her thanks for the victory.
“I am honored to have earned the vote—and the trust—of tens of thousands of voters in District Three. I look forward to representing our community as Supervisor for the next four years.
Since this campaign first began, I have had the privilege to meet thousands of our neighbors and community members, and hear their stories as a candidate for Supervisor. I am so grateful to all of those that gave our campaign their time as we sat down at kitchen tables, in offices or on people’s doorsteps.
My heart has grown a few sizes as I have met countless people who are absolutely dedicated to their community. People who are willing to fight for what is right, take time out of their busy day and work diligently to make our County a better place. It gives me great hope for our community.
I am proud of what we have built here in East County and I am committed to helping us meet our potential. I look forward to what we will accomplish, now that the hard work of campaigning begins to transition to the hard work of governing.
I particularly want to thank everyone who has joined my campaign and gave countless hours in serving our community. Including dozens of local leaders, hundreds of dedicated volunteers and our bravest citizens: our sheriffs, firefighters, nurses and police.
Now we must look forward and work together to accomplish our priorities: faster fire and emergency medical response times, more effective community policing, a pristine Delta, a balanced budget, a strong public transportation network and reduced traffic.
I look forward to working with you as we do what we can to improve our community.
Please visit www.dianeburgis.com to sign up for updates. Thank you.”
The County Elections office has until December 10th to certify the election. Burgis will take her seat on the Board of Supervisors following that.Read More
Contra Costa College (CCC) held a ceremonial ribbon cutting to commemorate the grand opening of their new Veteran Resource Center (VRC) located in the Student and Administration Building. Over 100 people attended the event including community leaders, elected officials, veteran’s organizations, and District and college employees. The Sentinels of Freedom, a national non-profit organization assisting veteran’s transition back to civilian life, collaborated with CCC and its veterans club to create a space on campus for veterans to receive support, study and network with other veterans.
“It was important for CCC to create the VRC for a couple of reasons,” said dean of Enrollment Services Dennis Franco. “First, to have a private, centralized location that veterans could congregate in. Second, to provide a space that veterans could receive counseling, benefit assistance, and also assistance from outside agencies like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Concord Vet Center, and more.”
Veterans now have a home on campus where they can study, network, and support each other. Veterans will also have access to Admissions and Records staff to guide them through the enrollment process and a certifying official to assist them in using their veteran benefits.
“The joining of two communities, the Veterans and the campus of Contra Costa College, working together, the mission at hand, is to support Active Duty, National Guard, Reservist, spouses, dependents and the veterans, to being successful in obtaining higher education,” said CCC veterans club president Leon Watkins.
Today’s ribbon cutting ceremony completes the goal of establishing veteran centers at all three campuses in the Contra Costa Community District.
Contra Costa College is one of three colleges in the Contra Costa Community College District and currently serves almost 11,000 students (unduplicated head county) annually. Since 1948, CCC has provided exemplary educational services to hundreds of thousands of residents from the greater West County area, and is proud of its diverse student body and commitment to individual student success. Excellent programs such as the Center for Science Excellence, The Advocate newspaper, the green Automotive Services program, Middle College High School, the Nursing program, and the Culinary Arts program are known through the state and the nation. A model of excellence, Contra Costa College prides itself on being one of the finest community colleges in the country.
The Contra Costa Community College District (CCCCD) is one of the largest multi- college community college districts in California. The CCCCD serves a population of 1,019,640 people, and its boundaries encompass all but 48 of the 734-square-mile land area of Contra Costa County. The District is home to Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, as well as educational centers in Brentwood and San Ramon. The District headquarters is located in downtown Martinez. For more information visit www.4cd.edu .