Watch the voyage made by the USS Iowa to Richmond

YouTube contributor “Paralleler” has posted this wonderful video of the first leg of the final voyage of the World War II battleship USS Iowa from the Reserve Fleet to Richmond, where it will undergo repairs for at least three months before heading to Southern California to have more work done and then become a museum and memorial.


World War II ships trade nautical greetings at the Port of Richmond

The USS Iowa and the SS Red Oak Victory trade blasts of the horn in greeting in this video from Oct. 28 at the Port of Richmond.

If you can’t wait for the official public visitation day of the battleship USS Iowa, tentatively set for late November, the best viewing location is at the edge of the parking lot at the foot of Harbour Way opposite the Craneway Pavilion. Remember to bring a pair of binoculars.

Meanwhile, we received a nice note from reader Bill Reiley regarding last week’s arrival of the battleship for a three-month stay for repairs and trading blasts of the ship’s horn with the SS Red Oak Victory.

“You further commented that it was like two old military buddies greeting each other,” writes Reiley, a former resident of Red Oak, Iowa. “There is another relationship that perhaps was overlooked. The SS Red Oak Victory was named after Red Oak, Iowa, so perhaps it was two Hawkeyes greeting each other after almost 70 years.”

A good point that completely slipped by us.


Tree planting grows sense of community in the North and East neighborhood in Richmond

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin puts the final shovels of dirt on a tree at the corner of 34th and Esmond on Oct. 22, one of 53 new saplings planted in a joint effort by residents and the city for a fall Arbor Day.
One of the four trees adopted by the household at the corner is dedicated to the memory of resident David Cox, 52, was killed Sept. 23 when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver as he crossed the street in his wheelchair.


First place winners in the Richmond Writes! haiku and poetry contest

Richmond Writes! entrants Verenice Ortiz, Dijonae Denise Davis and Ella Winchester of Sheldon Elementary proudly hold their certificates presented at the City Council meeting.

First place, elementary

“Untitled,” by Emily La, Mira Vista Elementary

It was so funny because toad read
a story to his seeds
Toad thinks that if he does something
hilarious like reading a poem to his seeds
they will grow
Toad was shouting too much but
he will never be able to shout to his seeds
Toad does not have to do all that work

“The Protest,” by Ella Winchester, Sheldon Elementary

Luckys will not hire
Blacks will now march in protest
Five lucky blacks hired

First place, high school

“A Child’s Place,” by Alicia Rosales, Salesian High

When self-expression
Was a temporary tattoo
When lying and cheating
Brought shame upon you.
When a consequence
Was a scary notion
No evil plots
Were put into motion.
When nationality
Was too big of a word to learn
And when sexuality
Was never a concern.

First place, LEAP

“Untitled,” by Antonia Yancy

Walking barefoot on the sand
The horizon was beautiful
Warm, salty and spicy smelling

Special award, Haiku Society of America

“Butterfly,” by Mercedes Mann, Washington Elementary

While the butterfly moves
What do you think
It’s dreaming

Special award, California Poets in the Schools

“My Neighborhood,“ by Richie Rodriguez, Washington Elementary

The loud train tracks by the houses
the park by the houses,
and the families that live in the houses
the cold wind blows in the night,
the dogs howl at the moon,
and the sounds of the TV,
I smell the spaghetti, and the
bananas, and the delicious Hot Pockets,
the hot dogs, and the creamy coffee
in the morning.


New report finds historical significance in Contra Costa Florist building in El Cerrito

The significance of a small, 83-year-old building on San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito has been validated by new Historic Resource Evaluation report commissioned for the Tradeway Project site that was released Oct. 26.
The report by Knapp & VerPlanck Preservation Architects evaluates the history of the site and states that “It is our judgment that the former Contra Costa Florist/Mabuchi House complex at 10848 San Pablo Avenue has historical significance as a property that appears eligible for listing in the California Register (of Historic Places) under Criterion 1.
Criterion 1 covers the category of historic events: “Resources that are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of local or regional history, or the cultural heritage of California or the United States.”
The event in this case is the building’s “association with the Japanese floriculture industry in western Contra Costa County and the settlement of Japanese Americans in this region.”
“The former Contra Costa Florist Shop/Mabuchi House complex appears eligible for listing in the California Register under Criterion 1 for its association with the well-documented community of Japanese American nursery owners and others associated with the cut flower industry in western Contra Costa County during the first half of the twentieth century” the report states, noting later that “10848 San Pablo also appears eligible under Criterion 1 for its association with Japanese immigration and settlement in western Contra Costa County, especially for its association with internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.”
That conclusion is in line with what El Cerrito Historical Society has contended since plans to build a multi-use project featuring affordable senior housing were agreed on by the city and Eden Housing. At a workshop early in October, the society was dismayed when the developer seemed to express surprise about any historical aspects at the project site.
The new report, which directly contradicts a 2008 report by another consultant firm for the Redevelopment Agency that determined the site had no resources of historic value.
Developer Eden Housing maintains that the florist building is out-of-code and would require some investment, and has said that retaining it would reduce the number of residential units the project could contain.
The new report states that “The proposed project would demolish all buildings on the project site and replace them with a mixed-use affordable housing project for seniors with commercial or office space on the first floor level. As a potential California Register-eligible property, the former Contra Costa Florist/Mabuchi House complex appears to be a historical resource as defined in Section 15064.5(a) of the CEQA Guidelines. Unless mitigated the proposed project would likely have a significant adverse effect on the environment.”
“It is just a first step but a very important first step,” noted historical society board member Tom Panas. “It means that if the plan is to change the building in any significant way a full environmental impact report is required. Also, any significant changes to the building will have to be fully mitigated.”
Full EIRs, of course, are expensive and time consuming and could entail additional mitigations.
The new report can be read by clicking the link below.

Historic Resouce Evaluation

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Halloween festivities for all ages set in West County

Here is a roundup of Halloween events in West County:

East Bay Waldorf School presents Wanderers’ Way, a seasonal event on Friday that will take children 10 and under and their families on a journey through the decorated grounds of the school at 3800 Clark Road in El Sobrante.

A guide will take visitors (no scary costumes, please) on the pumpkin-lit paths to see storytellers, fanciful creatures, and ethereal music, with small treasures offered along the way to children and refreshments available at the end.

The tour is $5 per person over age 2. Guided groups leave every 10 minutes from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and reservations are required. To reserve a time slot, call 510-223-3570, ext. 2101.

* Children age 4 to 7 can come in costume to the Hercules Halloween Fest from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday at the Teen Center, for a non-scary tour of the haunted house, followed by arts and crafts, activities, games, and more. Admission is $7 (residents) or $21 for a family of four. Proceeds benefit the Hercules Teen Youth Council.

* Weigh of Life is hosting Spooky Fun Raiser at 6 p.m. Friday at the Veterans Hall, 968 23rd St. in Richmond. The evening includes food, a DJ, performance and dancing. Proceeds from the $45 admission benefit Weigh of Life, a program promoting fitness and healthy eating in underserved communities. Details: 510-323-3052.

* San Pablo Recreation will hold its free Haunted House and Pumpkin Patch from 6:30 to
8:30 p.m. Friday at Davis Park, 1665 Folsom Ave. Brave visitors can walk through the Chamber of Doom, and all ages are welcome at the Pumpkin Patch for storytelling, crafts, face painting, and more. Details: 510-215-3204

* The Pinole Youth Foundation presents its Halloween Carnival and Haunted House from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Fernandez Park, 595 Tennent Ave. Along with the free costume parade and crafts there will be jumpers, face painting, balloons and carnival games for a fee, with proceeds benefiting youth programs. A mega pass is available for $5.

* Richmond presents its Hauntatorium from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Memorial Auditorium, 403 Civic Center. Admission for those who dare to step inside to find Pumpkin Face is $5. A less-scary matinee version for children 10 and under is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

* An Adult Costume Ball will be held by Richmond PAL at its Hal Holt Gymnasium, 2200 Macdonald Ave., from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday. The gala evening will feature dancing, appetizers, drinks, games and prizes for best costumes. For tickets call 510-621-1221.

* El Cerrito’s Halloween Carnival and Haunted House is 2:30 to 7 p.m. Oct. 31 at the Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane. The carnival will have games and prizes for all ages, with ticket sales ending at 6:30 p.m.
The Haunted House (admission $4) has a preschool, lights-on version from 3 to 5 p.m. and the scary, lights-off version from 5:15 to 7 p.m. Affordable food and beverages will be sold.

Canines can get in on the fun at the third annual Dog Parade and Costume Contest at 5 p.m. at Cerrito Vista Park at Moeser Lane and Pomona Avenue. Admission is $5 and there will prizes for entrants and winners.

* Downtown Rhythm and DVC Rock Rhythm and Review headline the Halloween Dance Fundraiser at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Pinole Senior Center, 2500 Charles Ave. Come in costumes or casual/night club attire for an evening includes a cash bar. For tickets send an email to mickeyconnors@sbcglobal.net.

* Come in costume to a Halloween Bike About Town starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Solano Avenue Cyclery, 1554 Solano Ave. in Albany. The Recreation Department and Albany Strollers & Rollers will lead an eerie ride around town in the dark and a limited number of front bike lights will be available for free, first come first served. At ride’s end a vote will be held for best bike-theme costume and best costumed family.

* County Supervisor John Gioia invites families to trick or treat at his office, 11780 San Pablo Ave., Suite D in El Cerrito, this week for alternatives to candy and other sugary sweets.
During open hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed noon to 1 p.m.) this week, A sample bag will be distributed, one per household, while supplies last. For details contact Luz Gomez at 510-374-3231 or Luz.Gomez@bos.cccounty.us.

* The dental office of Dr. Linh Cao-Chan will hold a Halloween Candy Buy Back from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Nov. 2 at 10110 San Pablo Ave. in El Cerrito. The office will pay $1 per pound of unopened candy “and throw in a goody bag with good stuff for teeth.”

Collected candy will be donated to Operation Gratitude (www.operationgratitude.com) to send to troops overseas, and donations of other care package items are welcome. Details: 510-526-4747.


Richmond is pulling out all the stops to welcome LBNL with e-petition

We already know Richmond “hearts” LBNL.
And we’re pretty sure UC Berkeley knows it too after the rousing town hall meeting July 21 at the Memorial Auditorium.
But with other East Bay suitors planning their own pitches, Richmond wants to emphasize its support for the proposal to build the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory second campus at university-owned property on the city’s shoreline.
The banners welcoming LBNL are still up on Macdonald Avenue and similar electronic messages are again being shown on the new marquee at Civic Center and the Jumbotron billboard at Pacific East Mall.
With the university’s decision a few weeks away the city has started an online signature-gathering campaign.
The city manager’s office is advising that “the City is now gathering electronic “signatures” for a petition to be sent to Lawrence Berkeley Lab personnel reminding them that we look forward to welcoming LBNL to the Richmond community. Those wishing to express this point of view are encouraged to provide your e-signature http://www.ci.richmond.ca.us/forms.aspx?FID=207 to know that the Richmond community warmly welcomes LBNL, and that Richmond is a great place to live and work. We will make sure that this electronic petition is sent to LBNL as they finalize their location decision.”


El Cerrito: Shadi Historical Room opens to the public for the first time on Thursday

Attention researchers, local history buffs, students and the like.
Starting Thursday from 4:30 to 6 p.m. the El Cerrito Historical Society will open its room at El Cerrito City Hall, 10890 San Pablo Ave., on a monthly basis.
The Dorothy and Sundar Shadi Historical Room, on the second floor of City Hall, immediately adjacent to the elevator, will be open 4:30 to 6 p.m.on the third Thursday of the month and possibly more frequently if there is enough interest.
The room was made possible by a bequest from the estate of the Shadis, historic figures in the area in their own right.


Reflections on the Home Front Festival in Richmond

Barbara Samson, who first saw duty at McClellan Air Force Base at age 17 during World War II and went back to serve during the Korean War, obliges us by posing for a picture in the Craneway on Saturday.

The Home Front Festival by the Bay has always promised to show what Richmond was and what it can be and organizers have always tried to do just that.
Maybe the event — and the city — have come of age.
The fifth annual event on Saturday at the Craneway Pavilion really delivered with a turnout and atmosphere that far surpassed the first four.
As one observer has written, the feeling of enthusiasm and optimism “was palpable.”
Part of that feeling may be that the Craneway is establishing itself as an event venue. But much of it came from the people who turned out and seemed ready to embrace the city’s history and potential, rather than reeling from it.
Yes, there are major issues to deal with, especially in this economy that hits the lower sectors hardest.
The need for space at the Bay Area Rescue Mission is beyond capacity. Roads need repair. People need jobs.
But consider that Richmond had a memorable outpouring of enthusiasm from the community at the town hall meeting on its bid for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory second campus.
Consider that organizers of the North Richmond Shoreline Festival on Oct. 8 estimate the turnout at better than 1,000.
Consider that the Home Front atmosphere at the Craneway was matched at the event’s secondary site at the SS Red Oak Victory.
A wizened local observer who didn’t want to be named, let’s call her Betty S., agrees and offeres these thoughts:

This year the Home Front Festival at the Craneway was more than I’ve ever dreamed possible. (This) year it crossed some kind of threshold, and took on a life of its own. You could feel it in the air and see it in the faces of the crowd. The Greater Bay Area can list it among the signature events that sets us apart and celebrates this vanguard of democracy that we’ve, together, created here in the wake of WWII. Now we can go about the task of identifying the traditions being set in place (our ranger staff is charged with that) — and taking our places among the extraordinary ordinary folks who’ve made this beautiful area “home.” We’ve built ourselves a vital, ‘happening’, national park, folks. I’m so grateful to have been able to hang around long enough to see it go from dream to reality.

Here are some views from the Craneway:


Vintage photo of El Cerrito Plaza — can you identify the cars?

Here’s a West County Times file photo of El Cerrito Plaza as most remember it, before the Mobil gas station with the freaky cylindrical pumps in the foreground was fenced off and the center had not one, but two bars (the Mel-O-Dee and Kirby’s Station).
Capwell’s (not Emporium) was still the dominant anchor, but the center also had a popular Woolworth’s.
While you revel in the view of how things once were, can you identify the make and year of the car at the pump at the Mobil station or the year of the Caddy being serviced at the garage. What about the van parked in the back?