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Will Albany close the gateway and warm up to its new “Urban Village” branding image?

The Albany city brand -- soon to be Gateway free?

The Albany city brand -- soon to be "Gateway" free?

It looks like Albany will no longer be the “Northern Gateway to Alameda County,” swapping that longtime and geographically factual motto with the more upscale sounding “Urban Village by the Bay,” the product of “$13,550 plus expenses, for a total of up to $16,000” to hire a consultant to facilitate branding workshops in May.

The result of all that effort is that the City Council is poised to adopt “Urban Village by the Bay” as the city motto on Tuesday. Mind you that mottos are no longer simply attempts at a catchy or descriptive slogan, but “brands” carefully crafted create an image, give a location an identity and make it a more inviting place.

The new motto is the result of meetings held in May for Albany’s Branding Project by South Carolina-based consultant firm Arnett Muldrow & Associates and “Urban Village by the Bay” was introduced at a “‘reveal’ presentation” (don’t you love consultant-speak?) on May 5.

A city motto should probably convey more than the “Gateway” slogan, which fit nice on the Albany city flag and stationery, but was most useful as an answer to an out-of-town motorist who rolls down the window and asks “Where the hell am I?” “Why, you’re in the Northern Gateway to Alameda County, stranger.”
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Winning student entries in the Pinole Historical Society essay contest

COLLINS-Aryanna Davis _6th grade_

COLLINS-Zachary Holloway _3rd grade_

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West County weekend part 3: Classic cars in Pinole’s Old Town — now with video



The 20th annual Cruisin’ in the Sun Classic Car Show in Old Town Pinole on Sunday drew more than 6.000 people who strolled San Pablo Avenue and Fernandez Park next door to see 265 classic and meticulously cared for American-made rides from 1975 and earlier. Music in the video is by the Dave Crimmen Band, whose drummer was wearing the same Sun Records shirt as your columnist.

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West County weekend part 2: Second annual Pow-wow in Richmond


Native American flag and eagle stick bearers and dancers begin to assemble for the grand entry at the second annual Pow Wow gathering, held at Nicholl Park on Saturday in Richmond. The photo was taken shortly before people with video and still cameras were asked to turn their devices off.
The well-attended event included dance and drumming exhibitions and competitions.

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Student mural on Richmond Greenway will get an official welcome Thursday

Detail of the mural on the side of the Eighth Street building.

Detail of the mural on the side of the Eighth Street building.

Students from Gompers High School, known as the Gompers Guerrillas, relax Friday after working on the mural along the Richmond Greenway in this photo by David Meza.

Students from Gompers High School, known as the Gompers Guerrillas, relax Friday after working on the mural along the Richmond Greenway.

The mural accompanies Gompers Garden, a school-tended vegetable garden of raised beds on the greenway.

The mural accompanies Gompers Garden, a school-tended vegetable garden of raised beds on the greenway.

The next chapter in the ongoing saga of the Gompers Garden mural will be on Thursday. That’s when city digniataries, including Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, will join students for the dedication of the new artwork(Mural 2.0), created to replace the original, which was eradicated as graffiti even though permissions and go-aheads had been obtained from the property owner and city representatives.

A story on the mural will be in the West County Times next week.

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El Cerrito scores big on pothole report

The MTC pothole report singles out El Cerrito as a road maintenance success story.

The MTC pothole report singles out El Cerrito as a road maintenance success story.

El Cerrito lags behind Orinda in home prices, per capita income and local schools (all related, as any real estate agent will tell you).
But when it comes to the condition of local streets, Orinda has to take a back seat to its counterpart in West County.
That news comes from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which ranked El Cerrito second in the Bay Area in its latest pothole report, released this week.
El Cerrito earned a total of 85 (or “very good”), just behind Brentwood, which tallied 86 on MTC’s pavement condition index, or PCI score.
The ranking is a major turnaround for El Cerrito, which lagged near the bottom just three years ago (a 53 score in 2006), before the city successfully pushed through a half-cent sales tax measure in 2008 dedicated to road repair.
The change prompted the MTC to single out El Cerrito in its report, which cites the city as “A Pavement Success Story.”
San Pablo also fared well for 2010, pulling in a “very good” ranking of 80 in the survey, a nice climb from a 67 score in 2006.
Hercules (73) and Pinole (70) were both ranked “good” for 2010, Richmond was in the “at-risk” ranking with a 2010 score of 55, while Albany was in the “fair” category with a 66.
So what about Orinda? It climbed three points from to 2006 to a score of 49 (still categorized as “poor”), which kept it ranked in the bottom five of the survey, keeping company with St. Helena, Larkspur, Sonoma County and Rio Vista.
Besides, Orinda has half as many BART stations as El Cerrito and none of the views of the Bay.

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Koshland Award honorees will lead civic engagement initiative in San Pablo

The Koshland Committee of the San Francisco Foundation has selected 15 community leaders in San Pablo for its 2011 Daniel E. Koshland Civic Unity Awards, which will be presented at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Maple Hall, 13831 San Pablo Ave.
The ceremony kicks off a five-year, $300,000 civic unity and involvement initiative.
The Koshland Award winners:
Sgt. Humberto Alvarez, San Pablo Police DepartmentJoseph Camacho, ASU president, Contra Costa College
Gladys Garza, patient advocate, Brookside Community Health Center
LaZena Jones, community school director, Walter T. Helms Middle School
Khammany Mathavongsy, nonprofit consultant
Mayra Padilla, director of the Metas program at Contra Costa College
Lisa Raffel, immigration integration division officer, Catholic Charities of the East Bay Maria Resendiz, healthy start coordinator, Ford Elementary School
Alexina Rojas, director, First 5 Family Center West Contra Costa
Gonzalo Rucobo, executive director, Bay Area Peacekeepers Inc.
James Solis, program coordinator, Project FOCUS
Nancy Thome, youth services program manager, City of San Pablo
Robert Turner, executive director, 21st Century Mentors Foundation
Norma Valdez-Jimenez, Puente Project counselor, Contra Costa College
Meuy Yong Saephan, Hand to Hand Program coordinator, Lao Family Community Development Inc.


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Richmond: Paying tribute to the life of teacher, administrator and mentor Sylvester Greenwood

Posted here is a tribute composed by his friends and family to Sylvester Greenwood, a well-regarded longtime teacher and administrator for the Richmond Unified and West Contra Costa Unified school districts.
Greenwood, who died June 9, will be remembered at a service at 11 a.m. Monday at Berkeley Mount Zion Baptist Church, 1400 Eighth St. in Berkeley.

Sylvester Greenwood
February 17, 1945 – June 9, 2011
Thursday, June 9, 2011 was a sad day in the city of Richmond, California to hear the news that Sylvester Greenwood had passed. His legacy will forever live on.
Mr. Greenwood had a tremendous impact on the lives of children, youth and families in West Contra Costa Community. He was a success story, he was a role model, he was a compassionate teacher and administrator with the school district, he was always willing to support and contribute to worthy causes. Everyone in the community knows “Greenwood.” If you ever are with him in the community you will observe person after person come up to him and say “Hey Greenwood…you remember me? I remember the time I came to your office and ….” This was usually followed by some success story, an update on their life, where they are working now, how their parents are doing, or other updates. Many have gone to see him and have come out as “Greenwood Kids.” If we were to give Mr. Greenwood a title it would be the Godfather of West Contra Costa.
Precious memories will be cherished by his loving wife Brenda; his devoted daughter, Dr. Sylvia Greenwood; and his darling niece, Sunobia Amanda Hurd. He also leaves two brothers, Harrison (Mary Jo) and Poley Hood (Patricia) Greenwood; and one sister Versia Dean Greenwood; brother-in-law, Rodney Keith Hurd; and many nieces, nephews, relatives, friends and West Contra Costa Unified School District Family.

“If I was to give him a title it would be ‘The Godfather of West Contra Costa’”
– Thomas Scott

“It is truly a divine moment when God sends someone into your life that not only impacts it, but totally transforms it. That is what happen when God sent Mr.Greenwood into my life and I’m grateful to him and God.”
– Rev. Dwayne D. Eason

Greenwood was a member of the Association of California School Administrators, past chair of the ACSA State Committee on Urban Affairs, a board member of the Richmond Police Activities League and the Richmond Unified Education Fund, board member and past president of the University of San Francisco Alumni Association, past director of the Richmond Exchange Club, past president of the Richmond Association of School Administrators, past board president of the Richmond Young Men’s Christian Association, and past chair of the deacon board and member of the Trustee Board at Berkeley Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church.


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El Cerrito biographer rolls into Richmond to discuss forgotten bicycling star Major Taylor

Detail from the flier for the Fix The Cycle: a Major Taylor Celebration of community health and mobility events on Friday and Saturday in Richmond.

Detail from the flier for the "Fix The Cycle: a Major Taylor Celebration of community health and mobility" events on Friday and Saturday in Richmond.


Bicycling historian, author and El Cerrito resident Andrew Ritchie will read from and sign copies of his book “Major Taylor: The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World” at the Bicycle Art Salon gathering from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at Bridge Art Space, 23 Maine Ave. in Richmond.

Dinner will be served prior to the reading at a suggested donation of $10, with payment in advance required.

The book is an updated and expanded version of Richie’s 1988 biography on the now largely forgotten black bicycle racer who was once one of the world’s most celebrated athletes at the turn of the last century.

Richie is also a historian of technology and an activist who “lives in El Cerrito, California, with two cats, many books, a huge collection of old photographs, and a 1977 Jaguar XJ12L,” according to his blog.

The blog has a section with a large collection of rediscovered photos of Major Taylor found in during “a digital search of Gallica, the archive of the Bibliotheque nationale, Paris.”


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