The 76-acre Hanson Hills property on the eastern slopes of Mt. Diablo, will become part of the future Deer Valley Regional Park, extending the park’s southern boundary to Marsh Creek Road. The East Bay Regional Park District purchased the former ranch land, located south of Antioch and west of Brentwood, from Save Mount Diablo for $730,000, its appraised fair market value. East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy contributed $547,500 toward the cost and funds from Measure WW covered the remainder.
“This beautiful property will be a tremendous asset for generations of East Bay residents,” said Park District Board Member Diane Burgis, whose ward includes the Hanson Hills property. “It’s also a critical part of the Marsh Creek watershed. We’re thrilled to be able to protect this ecologically sensitive area forever.”
The property encompasses canyons and ridges covered with blue-oak forests and native grasslands, as well as a seasonal stream that drains to Marsh Creek. The ridgetops provide panoramic views of Mt. Diablo, the Marsh Creek corridor and Morgan Territory Regional Preserve. It’s also home to eagles, hawks, coyotes, mountain lions, deer, foxes and other species. The acquisition secures important land links that provide habitat for a number of special status species including the California red-legged frog and Alameda whipsnake.
The acquisition represents an important piece in long-term efforts to preserve land around Mount Diablo. Save Mount Diablo acquired the property from the Hanson Family in April, 2014. The Hanson children, now all in their 80’s, remember fishing for steelhead with their grandfather in Marsh Creek, just across the road, and camping out on warm nights atop the tallest hill. It was important to the family that the land they love so dearly be protected forever.
Ted Clement, executive director of Save Mount Diablo, spoke to the importance of partnerships in conserving land in the region.
“We are thrilled to help ensure the permanent protection of 76-acre Hanson Hills through our partnerships with the East Bay Regional Park District and the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy,” Clement said. “With this transaction not only have we preserved essential wildlife habitat and ensured the protection of a strategic parcel that can later support outdoor public recreation and education, but we have also generated funds to protect more lands around Mount Diablo.”
“This acquisition is another positive step for conservation in east Contra Costa County,” said Pittsburg Councilman Salvatore Evola, chair of the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy board. “It is valuable to have a local land trust, the East Bay Regional Park District and the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy working together to conserve valuable landscapes for species while also providing park and recreation opportunities for the growing population.”
The land will remain closed to the public (“land banked”) until the Deer Valley Regional Park Land Use Plan is completed.
Save Mount Diablo is a non-profit 501(c)(3) conservation organization, which has been preserving lands on and around Mount Diablo and educating the public to the mountain’s natural values since 1971. Preserved lands have increased from 6,788 acres in one park to more than 110,000 acres in more than 40 parks and preserves. Save Mount Diablo continues to preserve, defend and restore the remainder of the mountain for people and wildlife to enjoy. Contact: Save Mount Diablo, telephone: (925) 947-3535, fax: (925) 947-0642, 1901 Olympic Blvd., Suite 320, Walnut Creek, CA 94596; www.SaveMountDiablo.org
The East Bay Regional Park District is a system of beautiful public parks and trails in Alameda and Contra Costa counties east of San Francisco Bay, established in 1934. The system comprises 120,700 acres in 65 parks including over 1,250 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and nature learning. www.ebparks.org
For information, please contact East Bay Regional Park District public information supervisor Carolyn Jones at (510) 544-2217, email@example.com.
Detectives from the Sexual Assault Unit of the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff Investigation Division have arrested 21-year-old Lafayette Thomas of San Francisco following an investigation.
Alleged acts of molestation that occurred in August in unincorporated Oakley were brought to the attention of the Office of the Sheriff. Detectives immediately launched an investigation and confirmed them. Thomas was arrested last Thursday, September 22, 2016.
Thomas was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility on three counts of child molestation and one count of sexual battery. He is being held in lieu of $205,000 bail.
Thomas, who lives on Treasure Island, is known to frequent parks in San Francisco, including Golden Gate Park. Detectives believe there may be additional victims. Thomas is known to inappropriately contact children in parks.
Anyone with any information is asked to call (925) 313-2625. For any tips, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866-846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message.Read More
On Wednesday, September 28, 2016, at about 11:35 PM, Valley Station Deputy Sheriffs were dispatched to a report of a carjacking at a residence on the 4300 block of Conejo Drive in unincorporated Danville.
Two armed suspects apparently entered the victim’s garage after he arrived home. One of the suspects stole some of the victim’s personal belongings and a black colored 2014 Honda Pilot SUV. The second suspect got into a white colored sedan with paper license plates.
The vehicles fled westbound onto Camino Tassajara and Sycamore Valley Road. Danville Police Officers spotted both vehicles as they approached Highway 680 and initiated pursuits of both vehicles. The pursuit went onto northbound 680 and westbound on Highway 24 before being terminated.
The carjacked Honda Pilot was later found abandoned in the city of Oakland in the area of Oakland Avenue and Pearl Street.
The suspects remain outstanding. The victim was not injured. The investigation is continuing. Anyone with any information on this incident is asked to contact the Office of the Sheriff at (925) 313-2600. For tips, email: email@example.com or call (866) 846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message.Read More
WHO: Hundreds of social workers, eligibility workers, and community supporters
WHAT: 1,100 Contra Costa workers represented by SEIU 1021 to go on strike, in protest of County Executives’ unfair labor practices against social workers and eligibility workers.
Workers and their community allies are protesting the intimidation of workers and the County Executives and Board of Supervisors’ failure to address the recruitment and retention crisis at Contra Costa Employment and Human Services Department.
WHEN: Friday, September 30, 2016 – Day 1 of Unfair Labor Practice Strike
8:00 am – media availability at the picket lines
Noon – community rally featuring members of the Richmond and El Cerrito City Councils, social workers and eligibility workers
5:00 pm – picket lines go down for the day
WHERE: 1305 MacDonald Avenue, RichmondRead More
All county offices to remain open during strike
In response to a pending strike by SEIU Local 1021 at several County facilities starting on September 30, Contra Costa County officials want to assure the public that County services will continue during the strike.
The County claims it offers wage and benefit package already agreed to by the majority of the County’s bargaining units, including AFSCME 2700; AFSCME 512; Local 21; Teamsters 856; and Western Council of Engineers
Contra Costa County is currently in contract negotiations with SEIU 1021, the union that represents approximately 1,050 employees in Contra Costa County. In spite of 25 bargaining sessions over the past six months between the County and SEIU 1021, the union has given notice to County officials that they plan to strike and picket at County facilities.
The Union’s last proposal contained a demand for wage increases totaling 17% over three years, and a substantial increase in the County’s share of health care costs.
The County’s last proposal included the following offers:
- Wage increases totaling 10% over three years, which has been the amount agreed to by the majority of the County’s bargaining units, including AFSCME 2700, AFSCME 512, Local 21, Teamsters 856 and the Western Council of Engineers. The 10% wage increase that is being offered to SEIU Local 1021 will cost the County almost $9 million over the three-year period.
- Health Insurance options that would reduce costs for employees.
- For the calendar year 2016, the County is picking up 100% of the health care premium increase, and will share equally (50/50) of any increases in 2017. Moreover, should employees next year, in 2017, take advantage of some of the plans that actually cost less than they did in 2016, the County’s share of the premium will not go down, resulting in enrolled members receiving 100% of any savings achieved. The cost of picking up 100% of the premium increase for 2016 and paying 50% of the increase in 2017 will cost the County more than $11 million for all the bargaining units.
- The County is committed to providing a safe work environment for all of our employees and clients, and has provided several proposals designed to address safety concerns expressed by SEIU Local 1021.
“The County is disappointed that the Union would take this action. We remain hopeful that an agreement on a successor Memorandum of Understanding can be reached in the near future,” said David Twa, Contra Costa County Administrator. “In the meantime, we want to assure the public that County services will continue.”
The Memorandum of Understanding between the County and SEIU Local 1021 expired on June 30, 2016. Negotiations between the County and SEIU 1021 started on March 22, 2016. Most of the remaining issues are related to salaries and health insurance costs. The Union represents primarily employees in the Employment and Human Services Department.Read More
“if you cherish free expression, and free speech rights generally, you should be worried”
By Allen Payton, Editor & Publisher
I rarely write about national issues on the Herald websites or newspaper, but this one is too important not to as what could happen in the next few days could affect not only my business but any and all internet-related media and any business and individual who uses the Internet.
The Obama Administration supports allowing the international takeover of the Internet, which was developed here in America, first by our military, and is currently controlled by American interests.
If that happens, some unelected body made up mostly of representatives of foreign governments, which in general oppose and work against American interests and the freedoms we enjoy in our country, will be in control of the most powerful information and commerce tool ever created.
The UN could ultimately take control and it is not favorable to America and hasn’t been for years. Back in 1985 while working as an intern for then-U.S. Senator Pete Wilson in Washington, D.C., I had the opportunity to travel to New York over Thanksgiving weekend to visit a college buddy. He had to work the day after the holiday, so I spent it being a tourist in Manhattan.
One of my last stops was the United Nations building. While in the gift shop I met and struck up a conversation with a delegate from the U.S. State Department and asked him what his thoughts were on the institution. His response was rather eye-opening.
“This place is a joke,” he said. “It’s the U.S. and Israel against the world and once in awhile our old friend Great Britain will abstain.”
Well, things haven’t changed much in the 31 years since then, and actually they’ve become worse. While I believe it’s always better to talk things out than to fight them out, as the delegates to the UN spend much of their time doing in that deliberative body, the decisions they can make once they have control of the Internet could prove disastrous.
Let’s remember who some of the nation states that are members and their policies toward the Internet in their own countries. China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, just to name a few. Do we want their views, which are anathema to our God-given, constitutionally-protected freedoms of religion, speech, and the press be the ones governing or influencing how the Internet operates in our country? What about even England, Scotland or France, where certain comments that we consider disagreements and debate, can get you arrested for “hate speech”?
In a television interview on Wednesday, Ajit Pai, a senior member of the Federal Communications Commission, said “This proposal is to essentially give up the US oversight role that it’s had for the last 20 years, basically for the entire commercial lifespan of the Internet to a company called ICANN, which is an international organization, which includes a number of foreign countries.”
Pai further stated, “[I]f you cherish free expression, and free speech rights generally, you should be worried, I think, when there’s — this oversight role’s going to be ceded to potentially, foreign governments who might not share our values.”
This needs to be stopped, and now.
Congress is debating the issue today and our representatives need to hear from us, now. Please join me in contacting them and urging them to vote to stop the Obama Administration from allowing the international takeover of the internet scheduled for Saturday, October 1st.
Rep. Jerry McNerney
Washington, D.C. Office (202) 225-1947
Antioch Office (925) 754-0716
Stockton Office (209) 476-8552
Rep. Mark DeSaulnier
Washington, D.C. Office (202) 225-2095
Walnut Creek Office (925) 933-2660
Richmond Office (510) 620-1000
Rep. Mike Thompson (represents Martinez, Hercules and Crockett)
Washington, D.C. Office (202) 225-3311
Vallejo Office (707) 645-1888
Rep. Eric Swalwell (represents San Ramon)
Washington, D.C. Office (202) 225-5065
Pleasanton Office (925) 460-5100
Senator Diane Feinstein
Washington, D.C. Office (202) 224-3841
San Francisco Office (415) 393-0707
Senator Barbara Boxer
Washington, D.C. Office (202) 224-3553
Oakland Office (510) 286-8537Read More
On Thursday night, September 22, in an energy-filled and packed Concord Hilton banquet room, Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata, announced Shauna Hawes, of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District and Gina Minder-Maldonado of the Oakley Union Elementary School District as the 2016-2017 Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year.
Shauna Hawes teaches computer applications/technology to grades 6-8 at Valley View Middle School, in Pleasant Hill. The 18-year teacher has been with the Mt. Diablo Unified School District during her entire teaching career. Prior to her current position, Hawes taught 6th grade core (English, history, and reading) at Valley View. Before coming to Valley View, she taught 5th grade (all subjects) at Hidden Valley Elementary, in Martinez, from 1998-2007.
“I have worked closely with Shauna Hawes for the past several years,” says Foothill Middle School teacher Margaret Elliott. “Shauna does not work for awards or accolades, but simply to inspire and impact all those she comes in contact with each day. She believes that all students should have the same opportunities that her students have. Shauna is what you could call ‘open-source.’”
Gina Minder-Maldonado has recently begun her 26th year of teaching. For the past 18 years, Minder-Maldonado has taught at Oakley Elementary School, in Oakley. Currently teaching 2nd grade, Minder-Maldonado’s former teaching experience includes preschool through 5th, as well as adult education.
“For the last 25 years, Gina Minder-Maldonado has challenged the students in Oakley to dream big, do the best they can each and every day, and treat one another with kindness and respect,” said Oakley Union Elementary School District Assistant Anne Allen. “Her classroom is a magical place – a place where children and adults to go to breathe in an environment that makes learning anything possible, celebrating mistakes normal, and creating independent thinkers a goal.
Their pathways to becoming this year’s Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year:
After both teachers were named Teacher of the Year by their school districts, last March, Hawes and Minder-Maldonado successfully proceeded, with the other 17 eligible county candidates, through a rigorous countywide selection process, including an application screening, classroom evaluation and interview, and speech presentation. Their fellow finalists were Summer Rodriguez, Liberty Union High School District (Liberty High) and Joyce Rooks, San Ramon Valley Unified School District, (Creekside Elementary).
The impressively large audience was made up of the TOYs’ family members and friends, as well as numerous local educators, business partners, and elected official representatives. Kicking off the festivities were three songs performed by the tremendous Hillview Junior High Jazz Band. The Pittsburg school’s 23-piece band was led by their teacher Diane Klaczynski. Klaczynski is a former Pittsburg Unified School District Teacher of the year.
The evening also featured Sakata introducing the TOY class of 2016-2017, individually on stage, as she shared with the audience her visits to each of the teachers’ classrooms and the comments their students gave her about their teachers. In addition, each honored teacher told the audience about which teacher inspired them to follow a career in education. This was followed by speeches of the four TOY finalists on the topic: “What I have learned from my students.” After the finalists’ speeches were given, Sakata announced the two Teachers of the Year.
Hawes and Minder-Maldonado will now compete with all the other California county representatives in the California State TOY competition. The California State Teachers of the Year are expected to be announced in early October. The county TOY program is coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education.
For additional info and a complete list of this year’s TOYS, visit the CCCOE’s Teacher of the Year Web page.
Survey seeks input on future of the campus and school theme
WHAT: Informational meeting on reopening of Holbrook School for the 2017-2018 school year
WHEN: Thursday, September 29, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Holbrook School, 3333 Ronald Way, Concord, 94519 (Directions)
Holbrook School is reopening for the 2017-2018 school year. The community is invited to a meeting to discuss facility plans, programs, and to talk about the future of the campus. The meeting will be held on September 29th from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. in the multi-use room at the Holbrook campus, 3333 Ronald Way, Concord. Snacks will be provided, and child care will be available. MDUSD is committed to a quality academic program that prepares all our students for the 21st century. A survey (English or Spanish) has been developed for the community to provide input on how the district can best accomplish this, and also to solicit input on proposed themes for the school, including:
- Technology (integration of technology into the curriculum that is student-centered and aligned to the Common Core State Standards)
- Visual and Performing Arts (school-wide focus i.e. music, art, theater)
- Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) (school-wide focus in these four areas extended beyond the standards and hands-on)
- Project based learning (Classroom approach in which students actively explore real-world
- problems and challenges and acquire a deeper knowledge)
For additional information, please contact Stephanie Roberts, Director of Special Projects, at 925-682-8000 x6203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Read More
MDUSD Special Education assistants earn teaching degrees through specialized program at St. Mary’s College
Critical shortages of fully-credentialed Special Education teachers are a well-documented national problem, with data showing that the number of Special Education credentials issued in California decreasing 21% from 2011 to 2013. As the demand for Special Education professionals increases, the consequence of this teacher shortage creates challenges for school districts across the country.
To respond to the need for qualified Special Education teachers, St. Mary’s College of California (SMC) Kalmanovitz School of Education has created an innovative, reciprocal partnership with the Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD). Under the program, MSDUSD employees currently serving as Special Education assistants in the classrooms or serving individual students as one-to-one assistants, are enrolled in a two-year program with extensive and intensive coaching and classroom support that helps them earn an intern credential for Mild/Moderate Special Education that deems them to be highly qualified Special Education teachers.
“We are incredibly proud of this opportunity for staff who, on a daily basis, work with, care for, and have a profound and personal impact on the lives of students with physical, learning, or other disabilities,” said Dr. Nellie Meyer, Superintendent for MDUSD. “This partnership will help us develop a tailored pipeline for teacher candidates who match our needs and have already shown a deep commitment to working in the best interest of our students.”
The program was co-designed by Drs. David Kraft and Peter Alter, co-directors of the Education Specialist program at SMC; Dr. Wendi Aghily, MDUSD Director of Special Education; and Leyla Benson, MDUSD Director of Personnel.
“This partnership will allow us to strengthen the preparation education specialists receive so they can enter the classroom with confidence that they can fully address both academic areas, and other domains, such as communication and social/behavioral issues,” said Dr. Alter.
The initiative includes three components that set it apart from traditional teacher preparation programs.
- All classes are being held at MDUSD facilities to decrease travel time and increase convenience for the candidates.
- By pooling resources, MDUSD and SMC are able to provide an increased amount of ‘in the classroom’ support and coaching. In the first year of the program, a group of district-funded coaches provide ongoing feedback, demonstration lessons, classroom resources, and support with classroom management. In the second year, candidates are moved to an intern credential that deems them to be highly qualified Special Education teachers. During this intern phase, MDUSD and SMC have developed a formal plan of support provided by support personnel by both the District and the college. It is estimated that each candidate will be provided over 100 hours of support over the academic year.
- The program of study has been modified so that courses typically taught in multiple semesters have been condensed to allow multiple courses to be taught within each semester. Additionally, the program has been extended from 18 months to two years. Collectively, the modifications allow teacher candidates to attend classes for two evenings each week, allowing for a home/work/school balance.
In the inaugural year of the program, 12 individuals began the course of study. By this time next year, all candidates will be eligible to become the teacher of record in their classroom. In two years, they will have completed their coursework and will be able to fill the need for education specialists within the District, and begin a new journey on their career path.
“We see some tremendous talent among our Special Education assistants, and with a program such as this which provides reduced tuition and loan forgiveness, it’s an opportunity we hope they can’t turn down,” said MDUSD’s Leyla Benson.
“The role of a Special Education teacher isn’t easy, but it’s incredibly rewarding – for both the teacher and the student,” said Dr. Wendi Aghily. “There is no shortage of phenomenal moments. When you help a student achieve something beyond what he or she thought possible, it’s as meaningful personally as it is professionally. We dream big on behalf of all students. And we want our Special Education assistants to dream big too and become a teacher. There is no greater calling, and we will help them get there.”
For additional information about the program, please contact Dr. Wendi Aghily at aghilyw@mdusd or 925-682-8000 x 4047.Read More