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Caltrans overnight paving work at maze will cause closures, detours

Caltrans issued the following news release today about paving work planned at the MacArthur Maze that starts April 24:

Caltrans Plans Polyester Overlay at Maze Structure Beginning April 24 with Full Freeway Connector Closure

ALAMEDA COUNTY – On April 24, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will initiate a paving project in the I-580/I-80 maze structure. Construction crews will lay down a fresh coat of durable, long-lasting polyester concrete.

The work schedule will be Tuesday night through Sunday morning every week for the course of the project. During the closure the MacArthur on-ramp will be closed and traffic detoured to Powell Street. The first closure will be westbound I-580 to eastbound I-80 connector (full closure). Changeable Message Signs and detour routes will be clearly visible.

Closure Times

Tuesday – Thursday

· 11:00 P.M – 5:00 A.M

Friday – Saturday

· 11:59 P.M – 7:00 A.M

Detour Routes

· Westbound I-580 traffic will be detoured on I-80 westbound to the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge Toll Plaza parking lot where commuters will be able to return to I-80 eastbound.

· The MacArthur on-ramp to I-80 eastbound will be closed and traffic detoured to Powell Street on-ramp to I-80 eastbound.

Motorists should expect delays in the area and are advised to use alternate routes during the closure period. Drivers are advised to remember that traffic fines are doubled in construction zones.

Please “Slow For The Cone Zone.” For real-time traffic, click-on Caltrans Quick Maps or follow us on Twitter.

Posted on Friday, April 18th, 2014
Under: Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, transportation | No Comments »

Richmond Museum of History exhibit features home front-themed quilts, including three related to Japanese-American internment

Fourth grade students at Posten Relocation Camp in Arizona stitched their names onto panels they made while imprisoned during World War II.

Richmond Museum of History Director Melinda McCrary describes the quilt made by fourth grade Japanese-American students of teacher Masako Hirata in the Posten War Relocation Camp in Arizona, part of the “Quilts of the Home Front” exhibit at the museum through June 6.
The 70-plus-year-old quilt is one of three on display in the exhibit related to the Japanese-American internment during World War II.

Piecing Memories: Recollections of Internment


“Piecing Memories: Recollections of Internment,” a work by quilters of the Berkeley-based Japanese American Services of the East Bay, has panels of images of life in the camps, including guard towers, prisoners in uniforms and people huddling to shelter themselves from the harsh and dusty desert winds.

Threads of Remembrance


Threads of Remembrance done in three sections, with a middle panel showing a guard tower stitched into the background behind barracks denoting each of the camps.

The exhibit is on display through June 6 and there is a special admission charge of $3 along with the regular museum admission of $2. Museum hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. For more details visit www.richmondmuseumofhistory.org or call 510-235-7387.
See video of the fourth-graders’s quilt and a description of it by museum director Melinda McCrary on the West County blog at www.ibabuzz.com/westcounty/.

Posted on Monday, April 7th, 2014
Under: Berkeley, El Cerrito, Richmond | No Comments »

Richmond harbor used for regional park district oil spill training

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The Shoreline Unit of the East Bay Regional Park District held an oil spill training on Wednesday in the water between the Marina Bay Yacht Harbor and Barbara and Jay Vincent Park in Richmond.
Training sessions are not new, but since 2012 have been increased to twice a year by the EBRPD unit as a result of the Cosco Busan oil spill in 2007 and the Dubai Star oil spill in 2009, both of which had consequences for the district’s shoreline parks, said EBRPD fire Capt. Aileen Thiele.
“When something real happens, there are things you prepare for and things you haven’t prepared for,” she said. “We now have formalized training that the unit puts on.”
Two representatives of the state Department of Fish and Game were also involved in the exercise.
The Dubai Star spill resulted in a damage assessment of $850,000 for natural resource restoration and improvements at Crown Beach and other shoreline areas in Alameda.
The Cosco Busan spill reached district shoreline areas in Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Oakland and Richmond.

Posted on Wednesday, March 26th, 2014
Under: Albany, Berkeley, Contra Costa County, environment, Richmond | No Comments »

Remembering the Berkeley Heliport

An SFO helicopter takes off from the Berkeley Heliport in this Berkeley Chamber of Commerce photo from the early 1960s.

It seems quaint and even hard to imagine in these days of national security and air travel safety restrictions, but Berkeley once had its own heliport where airline passengers could board an SFO 10-passenger Sikorsky helicopter bound for San Francisco or Oakland international airports. Some airlines included the service at low or no cost as part of the airfare.
The heliport was located on the waterfront west of the Eastshore Freeway (Interstate 80) just north of University Avenue and operated from 1961 to 1974, when San Fracncisco Oakland Helicopter Airlines relocated its operation to the roof of the new Holiday Inn in Emeryville.
The Berkeley facility was part of a network of heliports that included downtown Oakland, downtown San Francisco, central Contra Costa and Marin County, and at one time was touted as the most patronized system of its kind in the United States.
The Berkeley Heliport, which the Chamber of Commerce took the lead in attracting and promoting, broke ground in September 1961 and opened later that year. It was touted as a certain economic boon for the city, particularly in attracting conventions.

Dignitaries at the groundbreaking for the Berkeley Heliport in September 1961.

Along with the attraction of avoiding Bay Area freeway traffic and free parking, it offered the novelty of getting to fly over the area in a copter.
A low point for the Berkeley facility came in 1972, when an armed man entered the heliport and demanded to be taken via helicopter to the airport, where he intended to hijack a plane to Cuba. He was eventually talked out of those plans by a Berkeley police sergeant.

Coverage of the attempted 1972 helicopter hijacking in Berkeley.

Dignitaries arrive at the Berkeley Heliport in 1962.

SFO Helicopter Airlines was touted as the world’s busiest in 1962.

Berkeley Chamber of Commerce map of sightseeing destinations includes the heliport (No. 2).

Along with passengers, priority mail was ferried by helicopter to Bay Area airports.

A 1973 ad for SFO Helicopters.

Delta Airlines promoting helicopter service in 1967.

The era of the Berkeley Heliport ended in 1974, when SFO relocated it to Emeryville. SFO ceased operations in 1976.

Posted on Friday, March 14th, 2014
Under: Berkeley, History, transportation | No Comments »

Views and mementoes from the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island 75 years ago


The Oakland Tribune ran this depiction of the Bay in 1936 with Treasure Island added by an artist to the aerial photograph.


In 1938, with the fairgrounds still under construction, a live remote radio broadcast was held featuring a band performing on a plane circling the Bay while their vocalist sang simultaneously from Treasure Island. Art Linkletter emceed for the broadcast originating on KSFO and sent out on the CBS radio network.


The Court of Flowers at night.


Here are the official lyrics to “The Bells of Treasure Isle,” the anthem of the Golden Gate International Exposition that was played a lot in 1939 and probably never heard again for decades.

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Chesterfield, semi-official sponsor of the World’s Fair on San Francisco Bay. Just ask your guide.


A nighttime view of Treasure Island from its Siamese twin, Yerba Buena Island.


San Francisco Mayor Angelo Rossi went on stage when “King of Swing” Benny Goodman and Goodman and his orchestra wowed a packed house in July 1939.


California Gov. Culbert Olson wanted to shake hands with Mr. Goodman.


Nighttime view of the statue of Pacifica.


A promotional card from the PG&E exhibit.


Postcard of Court of the Hemispheres.


Souvenir stamps.

Bet you’ve never heard the official theme of the GGIE.

The Tower of the Sun.

Posted on Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
Under:
Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, History, Richmond | No Comments »

Saga of Patty Hearst kidnapping began 40 years ago on this date


Newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst was kidnapped by members of the Symbionese Liberation Army 40 years ago today from her apartment on Benvenue Avenue in Berkeley.
The kidnapping followed the assassination of Oakland schools Superintendent Marcus Foster by the SLA three months earlier and set off a long saga that lasted almost two years.
The site of the kidnapping is commemorated here.

Posted on Tuesday, February 4th, 2014
Under: Berkeley, Contra Costa County, History | No Comments »

Morrie Turner and “Wee Pals” blazed a new trail in the comic strip world of 1965

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From the Oakland Tribune comics page in April 1965.

Martha Ross has written a nice piece on cartoonist Morrie Turner, who died Saturday at age 90.
The piece notes that Turner “broke racial barriers in the 1960s when he became the first African-American to have a syndicated comic strip — the gently humored, ethnically diverse ‘Wee Pals,’ which still runs daily in the Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times.”

It might help to have some perspective on the world of comic strips when “Wee Pals” debuted in the Oakland Tribune in April 1965.
At the time, the only other sign of something on the comics page even remotely resembling diversity outside of Turner’s new creation was the strip “Li’l Abner” by Al Capp, which definitely reflected sensibilities of an earlier era with its world of hillbillies and “Injuns.”
Turner introduced a new sensibility to the comics page, delivering an ongoing message of equality and inclusiveness, and dropping in countless tidbits of otherwise unsung history along the way that educated young and old alike.

Posted on Tuesday, January 28th, 2014
Under: Art and entertainment, Berkeley, History | No Comments »

Congresswoman Lee calls for halt of post office building sales

post office august 012.2

The following statement on the sale of historic post office buildings was issued Tuesday by the office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee:

Congresswoman Barbara Lee: Postal Service Must Halt Historic Buildings Sales

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Barbara Lee explained today that multiple provisions included in the omnibus appropriations bill unveiled on Monday urged the U.S. Postal Service to halt sales of historic post office buildings. One provision instructs the USPS to enact a moratorium on the sales until after the release of a pending Inspector General report on the legality of the sales. A second provision directs the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to issue a report on how to ensure the USPS follows the law in its sales of historic properties.

The Inspector General report, which Congresswoman Lee formally commented on, will also examine whether the USPS is following applicable historic preservation laws in their historic building sales procedures and whether they have solicited sufficient public input in this process. Many community leaders and government officials feel that the laws have been skirted in these sales.

“The language in the omnibus appropriations bill is clear: the USPS needs to put sales of historic Post Offices on hold while we wait to see what the Inspector General’s report and the ACHP reports say,” said Congresswoman Lee. “Buildings like the Berkeley Main Post Office are central to our communities and our cities, and while the USPS continues to grapple with financial woes, it must not resort to selling off historic properties without complying with federal historic preservation laws. Based on the legislative language included in the omnibus bills, I expect the USPS to immediately halt all pending sales.”

Posted on Tuesday, January 14th, 2014
Under: Berkeley, development, History | No Comments »

Writing coach program puts out call for volunteers

WriterCoach Connection is seeking volunteers for its upcoming training:

Volunteer Writing Coaches Needed for Teens: Free Trainings Start January 14

WriterCoach Connection volunteers help teens develop confidence and gain
competence in their thinking and writing skills. Our volunteers work with students
on their classroom writing assignments providing one-on-one support for every
student in a participating class.

No prior experience is necessary; you bring the commitment and we’ll provide the
training and ongoing support that you need to work effectively with students,
including your own.

If you can commit to a regular 1-2 hour time slot, 2-4 times per month during the
school day–we especially need coaches for 8:00 and 9:00 am class periods in some
locations– we invite you to join over 600 volunteers, many of whom feel this is
”the highlight of my week!”

We currently need coaches at: Albany Middle School; Life Academy and Fremont High
in Oakland; El Cerrito High and Portola Middle School in El Cerrito; Berkeley High
and King and Longfellow Middle Schools in Berkeley.

New coach trainings begin January 14. Join us now for the best opportunity you’ve
ever had to learn to help teens think critically and find their voice.

For more information about our program, and to register online, please go to
www.writercoachconnection.org.

Posted on Friday, January 10th, 2014
Under: Albany, Berkeley, community, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Hercules, Kensington, Pinole, Richmond, Rodeo, San Pablo, Schools | No Comments »

Group reports of December sea lion rescue from Cerrito Creek

From the December e-newsletter of Friends of 5 Creeks:

(Sick) Sea Lion on tidal Cerrito Creek

On Saturday, Dec. 21, the Marine Mammal Center rescued a disoriented sea lion that had swum up tidal Cerrito Creek to Pacific East Mall, at the foot of Albany Hill. Most wildlife sightings are exciting: River otters are making their way into cities; F5C members recently enjoyed watching a great horned owl on the edge of Codornices Creek.

This sighting, however, was not good news. The young male sea lion was sick from domoic acid. This deadly toxin is produced by so-called “red tide” algae, and accumulates in shellfish and other prey that birds and mammals eat. Blooms of these toxic algae seem to be becoming more common in San Francisco Bay.

The likely reason seems surprising: The Bay is becoming clearer. Our cities discharge massive amounts of nutrients to the Bay in treated sewage. But a muddy bay kept sunlight from stimulating growth. Today, though, dams trap mountain erosion that formerly washed downstream. Mud washed down by hydraulic mining over a century ago is dwindling. The Bay’s hardened shorelines can’t erode. And recent lack of rain and storms means little new erosion or disturbance.

Our Cerrito Creek sea lion — still being cared for at the Marine Mammal Center as this is written — is not proof of anything. But life really is a web. Even lowly mud, or lack of it, has far-reaching effects. Our Feb. 3 Bay Currents talk, Mud Matters, will explore these fascinating interconnections, as well as some hopeful ways that mud may help us protect and revitalize the Bay. Please join us!

Posted on Tuesday, January 7th, 2014
Under: Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, environment | No Comments »