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UPDATED El Cerrito: Air evacuation of injured bicyclist by CalStar helicopter from Cerrito Vista Park

CalSTAR One

A 25-year-old man riding a bicycle on the Ohlone Greenway received “moderate” injuries just after 6 p.m. this evening when he crossed Lincoln Street and was struck by a pickup truck that was unable to stop in time, an El Cerrito Fire Department official said.
The bicyclist was treated by fire Battalion 71 and then taken to Cerrito Vista Park, where the CalStar helicopter was summoned and flew him to John Muir Medical Center, said Battalion Chief Larry Carr.
The cyclist was not wearing a helmet, he said. The driver remained at the scene.
Carr said the injuries were such that treatment at a trauma center was justified, and that the lack of a hospital in West Contra Costa after the closure of Doctors Medical Center was not a factor in the decision.

Photos are by El Cerrito resident Steve Crawford.

CalSTAR One

CalSTAR One

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El Cerrito store grand opening Saturday to feature former Oakland Raider Raymond Chester

A new store selling batteries and light bulbs will hold its grand opening on June 20 with former Oakland Raider tight end Raymond Chester as the featured guest.
The Batteries Plus Bulbs store at 10770 San Pablo Ave. will host the Chamber of Commerce at the ribbon-cutting and invites the public to the festivities — including food, product giveaways, promotions and a raffle — from noon to 5 p.m.

According to a news release, “Gordon Messer, age 53, decided to launch a new career in franchising after working over 30 years in the food industry. A UC Santa Barbara graduate with a mechanical engineering degree, he held several managerial and senior-level positions at Quaker Oats and Fleischmann’s Yeast. In 2006, Messer became a consultant to national wholesale bakeries and formed his own company, Yeast Systems LLC. This job demanded extensive travel, which grew tiresome as it kept him away from his family, which prompted him to use his retirement savings to open the El Cerrito Batteries Plus Bulbs store.”
The store offers more than 50,000 battery and light bulb products, along with battery rebuilds and installation, in-store recycling and local business assistance programs.

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El Cerrito announces road closures on Fairmount and Manila avenues

El Cerrito has announced road closures on Fairmount and Manila avenues this week for paving work.
Fairmount will be closed between Richmond Street and Colusa Avenue from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
Manila will be closed between Richmond and Kearney streets from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday.
Traffic will be detoured around both work sites.
The announcements from the city:

Fairmount Ave – Temporary Road Closure & Detours
Thursday, June 18
The City of El Cerrito, Public Works Department is completing a paving project on Fairmount Avenue between Colusa Avenue and Richmond Street. On Thursday, June 18th, this section of Fairmount will be closed to vehicular traffic from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Vehicles will be detoured to Colusa Avenue, Eureka Avenue, Ashbury Avenue, Central Avenue and Richmond Street. Garbage, Recycling and AC Transit, as well as, local traffic will be allowed through the work zone with minor delays. Emergency vehicles will always have access. Please expect minor delays. Thank you for your patience during this construction work. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact the Public Works Department at (510) 215-4382.

Manila Ave – Temporary Road Closure & Detours
Friday, June 19

The City of El Cerrito, Public Works Department is completing a paving project on Manila Avenue between Richmond Street and Kearney Street. On Friday, June 19th, this section of Manila will be closed to vehicular traffic from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Vehicles will be detoured to Richmond Street, Schmidt Lane and San Pablo Ave. Garbage, Recycling and AC Transit, as well as, local traffic will be allowed through the work zone with minor delays. Emergency vehicles will always have access. Please expect minor delays. Thank you for your patience during this construction work. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact the Public Works Department at (510) 215-4382.

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AC Transit announces bus route detours for Warriors parade

AC Transit has issued the following announcement about bus route detours in downtown Oakland on Friday during the parade and celebration for the NBA champion Golden State Warriors:

AC Transit Salutes the Warriors & Detours Buses for Parade Celebration

AC Transit heartily congratulates the Golden State Warriors for winning the championship of the National Basketball Association, and will re-route buses to accommodate a parade tribute through the streets of downtown Oakland on Friday.

On Friday, June 19, 2015, the city of Oakland will stage a winding celebration that will disrupt all street traffic from the heart of downtown Broadway to the Kaiser Convention Center on the south side of Lake Merritt.

As a result, for the most of the day, there will be street closures and bus detours around the downtown Oakland area. AC Transit is urging its customers to be patient as bus routes will be re-directed and commutes will likely be slowed by significant traffic delays.

Specifically, the parade will affect the area bordered by Grand Avenue to the north; Martin Luther King, Jr. Way to the west; 8th Street to the south; and Lakeshore Avenue to the east.

The bus lines that are subject to detours include the: 1, 1R, 11, 12, 14, 18, 20, 26, 31, 40, 51A, 58L, 62, 72, 72M, 72R, 88, and NL and All Nighter lines 801 and 840.

More details about taking AC Transit to the festivities, including information about the detours on Friday, is available online at www.actransit.org.

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El Cerrito squirrels have a long track record of causing East Bay power outages

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An El Cerrito squirrel pondering a power grab while on a PG&E utility pole in El Cerrito.

The electrical outage that hit the East Bay this week dominated locally focused folks on social media, particularly when a squirrel that got into the Schmidt Lane substation in El Cerrito was named by PG&E as the culprit.

Twitter buzzed with comments, snark and speculation on the rodent that left several cities and some 45,000 households in the dark.

India Today: Squirrel causes massive power outage in US: The squirrel entered the substation in El Cerrito caused the outage…

Gimme Sympathy ‏@weresoclose Squirrel assault shuts down East Bay: In a clandestine raid last night, squirrels shut down an El Cerrito, …

DarkandWondrous ‏@DarkandWondrous: several yrs ago I was in El Cerrito nr that substation—heard a SSSZZT as a squirrel became circuit&power cut

Chris Preimesberger ‏@editingwhiz Jun 8: A squirrel got zapped in a power station in El Cerrito, knocking out power to 45,000 homes and businesses. Sheesh.

Zach ‏@BarroldBonds Jun 8 45,000 people in the East Bay lost power b/c a squirrel got into a substation in El Cerrito and chewed on something. Ya couldn’t make it up.

One commenter said it sounded like a squirrel terrorist attack, another speculated that the squirrel was a “scaperodent” used by PG&E to hide the real reason of the outage.
But the fact is, squirrels dying on suicide missions at the Schmidt Lane substation and bringing the East Bay to its knees is nothing new, as these examples from the Contra Costa Times archives show. In one case the guilty rodent was placed in a plastic bag and stored in a PG&E freezer in Oakland (hopefully not near an employee’s TV dinner) as evidence in case any claims came in against the utility. As the spokesperson noted, blackout by squirrel is considered an “act of nature” and not the utility’s fault. And the nature of squirrels in El Cerrito is to get into the substation and wreak havoc with the equipment. They are a crafty bunch and we suspect there is a large stash of acorns hidden somewhere in the PG&E substation.

Squirrel sparks electricity outage
About 28,000 PG&E customers in Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito and Richmond lacked power for three hours Wednesday
Publication: West County Times
Print Run Date: 5/23/2002
Dateline: EL CERRITO
An errant squirrel met an unfortunate end Wednesday when its encounter with a circuit breaker at a Pacific Gas & Electric substation in El Cerrito knocked out power to thousands of customers temporarily and knocked out the squirrel permanently.
About 28,000 customers lost power at 12:10 p.m. The outage affected homes and businesses in El Cerrito, Richmond and parts of north Berkeley and Albany. Power was flowing to all customers by 3:04 p.m.

Police reported no major problems tied to the outage. Richmond police did take to major intersections to direct traffic in place of dark traffic lights. The city’s Civic Center turned to its emergency generators.

Temporary stop signs were posted at less busy Richmond and El Cerrito intersections.

“We have animals interacting with our equipment occasionally, ” said PG&E spokesman Jason Alderman. “Something of this magnitude is rare.”

Alderman said substations are fenced in and the vegetation around them cut back, in part, to discourage curious wildlife. But given the amount of PG&E equipment and the number of critters, the occasional run-in is inevitable.

The deceased squirrel is now resting in peace in a plastic bag in an Oakland freezer, preserved as evidence for customers seeking proof that their spoiled meat and unset video cassette recorders were not the utility’s doing, Alderman said.

“If it’s an act of nature, as a squirrel is, then we’re not responsible for it, ” Alderman said.

Most customers understand, Alderman said, but “every once in a while, if someone is particularly litigious, the squirrel will be put in a cooler and taken to court.”

Squirrel cuts power to 25,000
Publication: West County Times
Print Run Date: 11/6/2000
Twenty-five thousand customers from El Cerrito to Oakland lost power Sunday morning after a squirrel got inside a transformer at an El Cerrito substation.
The power was out from about 10:25 to 11:55 a.m., said Maureen Bogues, spokeswoman for Pacific Gas & Electric.

A BART spokeswoman, Jeanie Riehl, said the power went out at 10:20 a.m. at the Berkeley BART station.

Most of the customers who lost power were in Berkeley, Bogues said.

The Berkeley BART station was closed at 10:20 a.m. after the station went dark, and it was reopened at noon, Riehl said.

Train power was not affected and service went on as scheduled, except that trains did not stop at the Berkeley station, she said.

Electrocuted squirrel causes power outage
Publication: West County Times
Print Run Date: 11/28/1999
EL CERRITO About 37,000 East Bay homes and businesses lost power Saturday afternoon after a squirrel crawled into a transformer at an El Cerrito substation and was electrocuted, a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. spokesman said.
The downtown Berkeley BART station briefly closed because of the outage, which began at 2:23 p.m., but it reopened at 3:08. Berkeley public-radio station KPFA had to shift to an emergency power generator during the outage.

The squirrel’s electrocution caused the circuit breakers to kick over, spokesman Jonathan Franks said. Affected PG&E customers in El Cerrito, central Berkeley, Emeryville and Albany were without power until after 3 p.m. By rerouting electricity, PG&E restored power to all except about 7,900 customers by 3:05 p.m., said PG&E spokesman Ron Low, and the rest were back in service as of 3:20 p.m.

A similar outage occurred July 4, when another curious squirrel found its way into the El Cerrito substation and was killed.

Power outage caused by curious squirrel
West County Times
Print Run Date: 7/5/1999
A power outage that affected some 38,000 customers in the East Bay on Saturday was caused by a squirrel getting into an El Cerrito substation’s transformer bank, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said.

The problem began around 12:50 p.m. and lasted until 2:10 p.m., said the utility’s Maureen Bogues. It affected customers in El Cerrito, Kensington, Richmond, Albany, Berkeley and Oakland, she said.

The outage was widespread because the transformer bank feeds three substations in Berkeley, Bogues said.

Wayward squirrel blamed for outage
West County Times
Print Run Date: 6/23/1998
El Cerrito — A squirrel that scurried into an area it shouldn’t have is being blamed for the loss of electricity to about 3,400 customers in parts of El Cerrito, Kensington, Albany and North Berkeley on Monday afternoon.
The squirrel got into a circuit breaker at the substation at the end of Schmidt Lane in El Cerrito about 1:20 p.m., said Chris Johnson, a PG&E spokesman.

Workers restored power gradually, and all the customers had electricity by 3:30 p.m., Johnson said.

The squirrel died, Johnson said.

Squirrels, birds and rats are common sources of power outages, although PG&E takes measures to keep them off equipment, Johnson said.

By comparison, the squirrels in Lafayette simply aren’t as determined or well-connected.

Squirrel is responsible for power outage

Publication: Contra Costa Times
Print Run Date: 7/28/1995
LAFAYETTE – A squirrel short-circuited some electrical equipment, cutting power to nearly 3,000 people Thursday morning, a PG&E spokeswoman said.
The outage happened about 7:45 a.m. at Stanley Boulevard and Vacation Drive and cut power to about 2,900 customers in Lafayette and a small portion of Walnut Creek. The outage also cut power to numerous stop-lights and snarled the morning commute going to Highway 24 through Lafayette.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. crews had power restored to 85 percent of the customers by 9 a.m., said Diane Sable, a company spokeswoman. The remaining customers were expected to have power back by noon, she said.

The squirrel didn’t make it, Sable said.

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El Cerrito squirrels are adept at traversing the city’s electrical distribution infrastructure.

ec squirrels
El Cerrito squirrels have been known to gather in gangs to hatch their plots.

pge substation
The Schmidt Lane substation “is the terminus for high voltage electric lines bringing power from the distant Feather River.”

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El Cerrito police seek owner of springer spaniel

spaniel

The El Cerrito Police Department issued the following announcement Tuesday about a dog that was dropped off at the station:

An Older Springer Spaniel female was turned into the El Cerrito Police Department this afternoon. The dog was turned over to Contra Costa Animal Services and taken to the animal shelter in Pinole. Please contact Animal Services in Pinole at 510-374-3966 for more information.

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Richmond: Catahoula Coffee hosting Urban Tilth farm stand of locally grown produce May 24

Richmond community agriculture group Urban Tilth (www.urbantilth.org) will hold a farm stand outside Catahoula Coffee Co., 12472 San Pablo Ave. in Richmond, on May 24 starting at 9 .m.

The group will offer “organic veggies to go with those burgers or to make that heathly and delicious salad you were dreaming of” for the Memorial Day weekend. Offerings will include Freshly harvested lettuce, Swiss chard, dino kale, and herbs such as rosemary, oregano and thyme.

Urban Tilth will also have vegetable starts for planting, including lettuce, tomatoes and sticky monkey flower; seed packets (decorated by students of Verde Elementary) of “Las Tres Hermanas” (squash, beans, corn) and fava beans; and herbal garden products such as bath salts and hand salve.

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El Cerrito mayor to give State of the City Address tonight

El Cerrito Mayor Mark Friedman will give his State of the City Address today (April 28) at the El Cerrito Democratic Club meeting at 6 p.m. at Mt. Zion Presbytarian Church, 545 Ashbury Ave. in El Cerrito.
The evening opens with a social time at 6 p.m., club business at 6:30, and Friedman’s talk at 7 p.m.
The address will be followed at 8 p.m. by a 30-minute talk by Greg Choi of Marin Clean Energy about Community Choice Aggregation and “Going Deep Green.”

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Hercules Library holding Teen Job Fair on April 28

The Hercules Library, 109 Civic Drive, is hosting a free Teen Summer Job Fair from 4 to 6 p.m. April 28 that will offer resources to provide teenagers assistance on finding employment.
Here is the announcement from the Hercules Library:

Teens get real life work advice from local community leaders in Hercules.

HERCULES, CA – April 24, 2015 – Teens glean great advice as local community leaders share their work experiences. On Tuesday April 28th from 4:00 to 6:00, local experts are coming to the Hercules Library to share tips on the job search, and on-the-job expectations.
Looking for work the first time can be daunting. The Hercules Library Teen Job Fair is designed to give teems a head start on the process. They will receive information on where to search for jobs, how to fill out employment applications and key interview tips. Teens will also learn the on-the-job expectations for when they are employed.
Not all work is found in the usual places. There will be resources on finding volunteer opportunities and internships as well. Denise Clarke of the Contra Costa County Office of Education presents the “earn and learn” approach. She will have information on resources throughout the county, including internships availlable through Kasiser-Permanente, Laney College and STEM Summer Camps.
Local H.R. guru Myrtle Dawana teaches how to turn volunteer experience and limited work experience into a more complete employment application. And local sales expert Bob Polacchi gives great guidance in selling yourself in the job interview.
Teresa Gonzalez, a Vocational Transitional Specialist from the West Contra Costa Unified School District, will enlighten teens on the process of getting a work permit through the school district.
The learning does not stop once a job has been obtained. Joseph Wong of McDonald’s will explain on-the-job expectations after an employee has been hired. Teens learn how to handle friends coming into their placed of employment, and how to take direction outside of the classroom.

No registration is required. For more details visit http://guides.ccclib.org/onebook/westcounty.