Part of the Bay Area News Group

Fremont school board places $650 million bond measure on June ballot

By Chris DeBenedetti
Monday, February 24th, 2014 at 5:16 pm in Uncategorized

It would be Fremont Unified’s largest bond measure. Do you plan to vote for it?

FREMONT — The school district’s aging facilities are in such need of major repair that board members have placed Fremont Unified’s largest bond, a $650 million campus-improvement measure, on the June ballot.

The five-member board’s unanimous decision came last week in response to a report that found the district’s renovation wish list could cost as much as $1.6 billion, Superintendent James Morris said.

The bond money would be spent to remove asbestos, renovate deteriorating classrooms and science labs, update technology infrastructure and repair faulty electrical wiring in a district with 33,000 students using facilities nearly a half-century old, he said.

“All 42 of our (campuses) are aging, out-of-date and need significant repairs,” board President Lara Calvert-York said in a news release. “Upgrading our schools and classrooms will protect the quality of academic instruction in core subjects.”

For more, click here.


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Union City: Hazardous waste shipments lead to arrests of two former execs

By Chris DeBenedetti
Monday, February 24th, 2014 at 5:12 pm in Uncategorized

From last week:

UNION CITY — Two former executives of a Union City waste disposal company have been arrested on suspicion of grand theft and conspiracy for illegally disposing of hazardous waste.

Kirk Hayward and Charles Seaton are accused of using Clearwater Environmental Management to dispose of hazardous waste after the company lost its transport license in 2007 following a state investigation, the Department of Toxic Substances Control said Tuesday in a news release.

That case culminated in the felony conviction of Hayward, who was sentenced to 60 days in jail and a $70,000 fine.

In July 2011, investigators found evidence of new wrongdoing when they served a search warrant at Clearwater’s facility, in the 33200 block of Western Avenue, the state agency said. There, they discovered that Hayward and Seaton illegally transported hazardous waste, used another transporter’s name on official industry records, and defrauded some of their customers.

For more, please click here.

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Fremont, Hayward restrict e-cigarette sales, temporarily ban new vapor lounges

By Chris DeBenedetti
Monday, February 24th, 2014 at 5:09 pm in Uncategorized

Coming up for air today after an especially busy few weeks. Getting back into the swing of things, here’s what will be in tomorrow’s Argus (and Oakland Tribune and Daily Review) …

FREMONT — The opportunity for e-cigarette entrepreneurs to open new vapor bars and hookah lounges in Fremont and Hayward has gone up in smoke — for now, anyway.

Both East Bay cities temporarily banned new such businesses earlier this month, while allowing existing retailers to stay open pending further study of the trendy smoking products’ health effects.

Fremont’s City Council added e-cigarettes to its list of prohibited smoking products on Feb. 11, Community Development Director Jeff Schwob said. It also placed a 45-day moratorium on new retailers and vapor bars, where customers use the smokeless devices.

The battery powered devices heat a small amount of nicotine — sometimes flavored — to create a vapor that users inhale. The method avoids cigarette byproducts such as tar and chemicals.

“People might think they’re not harmful because they’re not regulated,” Schwob said, noting that the city will err on the side of caution. “Basically, we’re treating e-cigarettes the same as we treat regular cigarettes.” But are they the same? The Food and Drug Administration is expected to rule soon on that question, and some states and cities have held off enacting regulations until then.

For more, click here.

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Fremont police ask public for help finding bank robbery suspect

By Chris DeBenedetti
Thursday, February 6th, 2014 at 4:48 pm in Uncategorized

Fremont police announcement released today:

Date:  Thursday, February 6, 2014

Time Reported:  12:18 p.m.

Incident:  Bank Robbery

Location:  Wells Fargo Bank, 39265 Paseo Padre Parkway (Central Downtown area)

Earlier today, a bank robbery occurred at the Wells Fargo Bank located at 39265 Paseo Padre Parkway in Fremont.  Just before 12:20 p.m. an unknown suspect entered the bank and handed a robbery demand letter to one of the employees.  The employee complied with the note and the suspect fled the bank on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash.  Multiple officers and robbery detectives responded to the area, but the suspect was not located.

The suspect is described as a black male adult in his late 20’s to early 30’s, 5’10” – 6’01,” thin build, wearing a black beanie with a white bandana under it, black framed sunglasses with green neon on the sides, a brown jacket with a gray hooded sweatshirt and a visible orange color “A” on the chest,  jeans and was carrying a black backpack. Video surveillance of the robbery was obtained and we are making several photos available in an attempt to identify the suspect.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Fremont Police Department’s Robbery Unit at 510-790-6900, email Detective Bryce Loughery directly or submit an anonymous tip via Nixle.

Thank you for your assistance.

For more (including photos of the suspect), click here.

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Fremont-based water district urges conservation, offers water-saving program as drought persists

By Chris DeBenedetti
Wednesday, February 5th, 2014 at 11:05 am in Uncategorized

FREMONT — Uncertain about its traditional water sources, southern Alameda County’s water district has urged residents to conserve and is offering some homeowners free plumbing service to help save.

As the state’s water shortage worsens, those measures might be the beginning of a long, complex effort to manage dwindling water supplies amid California’s third consecutive dry year, Alameda County Water District leaders said.

Even with some rain over the weekend, this is California’s driest year since rainfall record-keeping began in the 1840s, district leaders said.

“It’s uncomfortable to be an urban water agency and not be able to make better predictions about our future water supply, but that is where we are,” said Walt Wadlow, the Fremont-based district’s general manager.

Some 40 percent of the district’s supply comes from Alameda Creek watershed, and it buys 20 percent from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s Hetch Hetchy water system.

The district’s remaining 40 percent of water usually comes from the State Water Project, but that agency last week cut off the supply for cities and farms statewide for the first time in its nearly 54-year history. That announcement put already challenged local water suppliers on the hunt for alternative sources.

For more of the story, click here.

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Tri-Cities Interfaith Council to hold celebration Saturday

By Chris DeBenedetti
Wednesday, January 29th, 2014 at 9:02 am in Uncategorized

A press release form the Tri-Cities Interfaith Council:

Tri Cities Faith Traditions Come Together to Forge a Deeper Understanding

The Tri-Cities Interfaith Council is thrilled to announce that on Saturday, February 1, 2014 from 1 -4 PM they will host Tri Cities first World Interfaith Harmony Celebration. World Interfaith Harmony Week was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2010, in a resolution that states: “mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace” and so they “established World Interfaith Harmony Week as a way to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith.”

The local lead organizer of the event, Moina Shaiq, is a member of the Alameda County Human Relations Commission and founder of the Muslim Support Network.  She said she wanted this event to happen in the Tri Cities area, “To build bridges of understanding, respect and support among diverse people of faith through education, dialogue and socialization and to strengthen family and community in solidarity with others across lines of race, class and religion.”

The afternoon event will give space for many different faith traditions to be represented by their local communities.  Participants from local communities of Atheist, Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Unitarian Universalist and more will have booths showcasing their beliefs, traditions and sacred objects.  There will also be an hour long moderated discussion between leaders of the faith communities that is sure to be entertaining and enlightening.  The event will take place at the Fremont Veterans Memorial Building in Niles, which is located at 37154 2nd St. in Fremont, California.

“Fremont is an incredible community, and a big part of what makes it so special is its diversity.  With more languages spoken in the homes than in any other city in the world, we are truly living the American dream.  This event intends to bring all of our traditions together to look for common understandings and shared values.  The differences we find can also be exciting and educational if we approach them non-judgmentally,” said co-planner Rev. Jeremy D. Nickel, the local Unitarian Universalist minister at Mission Peak UU in Fremont.

Anyone is welcome from any or no faith at all!


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Fremont: Developer reviving $200 million Asian- and European-themed mall that stalled in ’07

By Chris DeBenedetti
Friday, January 17th, 2014 at 10:36 am in Uncategorized

Anybody remember when this very same mall idea on Stevenson Boulevard, next to Newark, was on the verge of being built back in 2007? It’s back. Story by colleague George Avalos.

FREMONT — A stalled $200 million retail mall here is being revived by a development group that wants to turn the retail, restaurant and high-rise hotel complex into a shopping and dining magnet for the Bay Area, the realty firm handling the Asian- and European-themed project said Thursday.

The Globe mall in Fremont will eventually total 450,000 square feet of shops, restaurants and cultural spaces, plus a 12-story, 248-room hotel that will have views of San Francisco Bay and be visible from Interstate 880. The mall will consist of a series of “villages,” each a building incorporating themes associated with a certain part of Asia or Europe.

For more, click here.

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Alameda County Water District paying $280,000 for history books celebrating its centennial

By Chris DeBenedetti
Friday, January 17th, 2014 at 10:31 am in Uncategorized

From earlier this week:

FREMONT — To celebrate its centennial, the Alameda County Water District is spending about $280,000 to publish two books on its rich history, just as it raised water rates for the 12th consecutive year.

The district board president said the expenditure is right in line with the agency’s mission to educate the community about its valuable water resources. “People are always surprised to learn that ACWD is California’s first and oldest county water district and it’s the oldest government agency in southern Alameda County,” said Paul Sethy.

But Fremont resident Eric Tsai sees things a bit differently. “It’s a waste of ratepayers’ money,” he said, suggesting the district would do better spending the money on “replacing pipes or paying off its debt.”

The district has assembled an experienced team to develop the books: It will pay $219,000 to the Water Education Foundation, a Sacramento nonprofit organization that specializes in state water issues and history, to produce the publications, and another $60,000 to Paul Piraino, the district’s ex-general manager, to research agency history and serve as the main author. Piraino, a district employee for 27 years, receives an annual pension of about $250,000.

Formed in 1914, the Alameda County Water District today serves 336,000 people in Fremont, Newark and Union City, and has an annual budget of $119 million. It employs 238 full-time workers, whose future pension and health costs, estimated at nearly $130 million, are partly why the agency has raised rates each year since 2003.

For more, click here.

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Plan okayed to dump Patterson Ranch soil in Dumbarton Quarry pit

By Chris DeBenedetti
Friday, January 17th, 2014 at 10:28 am in Uncategorized

In today’s paper:

FREMONT — Developers can dump hundreds of tons of pesticide-laden soil into the Dumbarton Quarry without endangering the health of nearby residents or visitors to the park planned atop the fill, a state agency has ruled.

The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board says that soil from Patterson Ranch — a 102-acre former farm at Ardenwood Boulevard and Paseo Padre Parkway, where developers plan to build 500 homes — contains about a dozen pesticides but their levels that do not threaten human life or the area’s groundwater.

As a result, as much as 210,000 cubic yards of the soil — equivalent to a 100-foot-high mound of dirt covering an entire football field — can be dumped in the quarry, said Keith Roberson, an engineering geologist with the agency.

But the approval comes with conditions, Roberson said.

For more of the story, click here.


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Fremont Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition this weekend

By Chris DeBenedetti
Friday, January 10th, 2014 at 9:14 am in Uncategorized

Hey, if you’re looking for something to do this weekend, check this out:

FREMONT — The Fremont Symphony Orchestra this weekend will hold its 47th Young Artist Competition, with auditions scheduled Saturday and the finals on Sunday.

Twenty-one students ranging from 10- to 22-years-old are scheduled to participate. The contest’s top prize, the Phyllis Merrifield Award, is $1,000 and an appearance with the Fremont Symphony Orchestra next year. The second and third prizes are $500 and $250. An award reserved for students 15 and younger also is $250.

The contest judges will be Fremont Symphony Orchestra Music Director Gregory Van Sudmeier and concert pianists, Gregory Taboloff and Justin Levitt.

The finals competition will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger. Tickets will be available at the door of Ohlone College’s Recital Hall, Room 133, Building 2, 43600 Mission Blvd.

Information available at 510-793-6375.

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