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El Cerrito assault victim flown to Muir Medical Center on Monday

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Air ambulance at Cerrito Vista Park on Monday. Photo courtesy of El Cerrito resident Steve Crawford.

A man was flown to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek on Monday afternoon after he was assaulted and suffered a head injury on the BART Path near Fairmount Avenue around 5:25 p.m.
The man, who is about 60, “was initially treated by El Cerrito Fire Department paramedics and then transported to Cerrito Vista Park by AMR where the REACH air ambulance transported him to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek,” according to El Cerrito Fire Department Battalion Chief Michael Pigoni.
No further details of the incident were immediately available.

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‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ is next Cerrito Classic

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The Cast of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” includes (from left) Eric Idle, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones and Michael Palin.

The next showing in the Cerrito Classics presented by Friends of the Cerrito Theatre will be the 1975 comedy “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” at 9:30 p.m. July 14 at the Rialto Cinemas Cerrito, 10070 San Pablo Ave. in El Cerrito.

A comedic send-up of the grim circumstances of the Middle Ages as told through the story of King Arthur and framed by a modern-day murder investigation. When the mythical king of the Britons leads his knights on a quest for the Holy Grail, they face a wide array of horrors, including a persistent Black Knight, a three-headed giant, a cadre of shrubbery-challenged knights, the perilous Castle Anthrax, a killer rabbit, a house of virgins, and a handful of rude Frenchmen.

Details and advance tickets are available online.

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Richmond and greater community rally around 94-year-old park ranger with donations to Betty’s Fund

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The community far and near has backed up its expressions of affection and appreciation for Betty Reid Soskin with an outpouring of financial support after the 94-year-old Richmond resident was attacked and robbed at her home on June 27.
Two different fundraising efforts were set up after news of the attack on the oldest active ranger in the National Park Service was made public.
A gofundme drive that was established by Nicholas Arzio of El Cerrito exceeded its goal of $15,000 in just two days and is now closed. Control of this fund was turned over to Soskin for her use.
The fundraising effort of the Rosie the Riveter Trust is continuing.
The trust issued the following announcement on July 2:

Dear Friend,

On Monday, June 27, NPS Ranger Betty Reid Soskin was robbed an assaulted in her home. The intruder even stole the special coin handed personally to Betty by President Obama at the 2015 National Tree Lighting Ceremony. We are all upset by this horrific news, but relieved to report that she is recovering well, with no major injuries.

The outpouring of love and support for Betty during this time has been truly moving. Obviously, she has inspired thousands across the nation with her powerful story, brilliant insight and incredible will.

If you have not already done so, we would like to invite you to make a contribution of any size to Betty’s Fund.

All funds raised beyond immediate needs will be used, as Betty has asked, to complete a film in progress that contains vital documentary information about Betty’s life and impact. This is the legacy that she wants to continue passing on to younger generations, and a remarkable testimonial to her strength of spirit. Go to www.rosietheriveter.org to donate, and to view the first clips from this important project. You can also mail checks to Rosie the Riveter Trust, PO Box 71126, Richmond, CA 94807, ear-marked “Betty’s Fund.”

You are welcome to send cards to Betty via the Park’s Visitor Center. Betty is not, understandably, taking calls or visitors, and has expressed that she does not wish to receive flowers at this time. Address cards and letters to:

Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park Visitor Center
Attn: Betty Reid Soskin
1414 Harbour Way South, Suite 3000 (Oil House)
Richmond, CA 94804

Thank you for your support during this difficult time.
Sincerely,

Marsha Mather-Thrift, Executive Director
Rosie the Riveter Trust
www.rosietheriveter.org

The gofundme effort resulted in this response from Soskin, who turns 95 in September:

Here is a special thank you statement from Betty: “Your gifts will help me re-establish my home on the planet and that I am grateful for, because I do not want to move. I am going to reclaim my space from the violation. I could not have done it without your help! There will be fresh paint, new carpeting, a restoration.”

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Ortman family history in Berkeley goes beyond ice cream

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Ortman’s Ice Cream Parlor at Solano and Colusa avenues.

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Since it’s a holiday weekend in July, it seems like a good time to remember a favorite ice cream name of the past — Ortman’s.
Bill Ortman was a Berkeley native and a veteran of World War II who opened an ice cream parlor on Solano Avenue after the war, moving it to Solano and Colusa avenues in 1950, where it continued until 1993. The location is now a Starbucks.
There was a second Ortman’s location at the top of Fairmount Avenue in El Cerrito that was popular, but did not last as long as the Berkeley parlor.
The Ortman family has a long association in Berkeley, in particular with the dairy business in the city’s early days, as columnist Hal Johnson explains below in a 1943 column in the Berkeley Gazette.
In addition, as noted in Ortman’s 2012 obituary, “Bill’s father (Charles) was a Lieutenant with the Berkeley Fire Department, and was killed in 1939 while saving three children from a burning house.”

Steve Finacom of the Berkeley Historical Society wrote about the fire and rescue in 2014 in his “Berkeley: A Look Back” column in the Berkeley Voice:

“First Lieutenant Charles J. Ortman, 45, is dead today following his heroic rescue of three young children from the smoke-filled home of Mr. and Mrs. George G. Rogers, 1837 Rose Street, shortly after 8:30 last night, ” the Berkeley Gazette reported Feb. 2, 1939.
Ortman lived across the street from the Rogers home. He was off duty and at home, when “the fire tapper in the house sounded” — we’ll assume that was a device to alert off-duty staff that there was an alarm — and he heard on his shortwave radio that the call came from his block.

Rushing outside, Ortman found his neighbors on the street and smoke pouring out of their front door. Entering the house he rescued their 4-year-old granddaughter and her siblings, twin babies, just as on duty firemen arrived. Ortman then grabbed a hose and led the effort to put out the fire in a bedroom. Inspecting the attic, he died of an apparent heart attack.

City flags flew at half-staff for the Berkeley native, a member of the department since 1912.

The funeral took place on Feb. 3, starting at Berg’s Funeral Home, 1936 University Ave.

Traffic was stopped as the cortege moved up Shattuck to University, then north to St. Mary Magdalene Church, where a requiem mass was held.

Ortman was survived by his wife and two children. He was, the paper said, one of 112 fire department staff in 1939.

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A 1903 ad for the Peralta Jersey Dairy owned by Henry Ortman.

Below is the 1943 column by Hal Johnson about Henry John Ortman’s North Berkeley Jersey Farm. It recounts a 1903 fire at the dairy that was extinguished with buckets of milk and may have inspired Bill Ortman’s father to join the Berkeley Fire Department.
The Henry J. Ortman House is not only still standing at 1824 Rose St., it was selected for one of this year’s Preservation Awards from the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association commending its renovation.

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A cow grazes in North Berkeley with the Peralta Park Hotel in the background.

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An ad for the El Cerrito location of Ortman’s 1954.

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A 1959 ad for Ortman’s in El Cerrito.

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Solano at Colusa shortly after Ortman’s became a Starbucks location.

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Overnight closure of I-80 in Richmond and San Pablo set for June 18

Interstate 80 will be closed in both directions between Barrett Avenue in Richmond and San Pablo Dam Road in San Pablo from 11 p.m. June 18 to 7 a.m. June 19, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority is warning.
The closure allows work on the major project to upgrade the congested San Pablo Dam Road/I-80 interchange.
“These closures will enable crews to grade (properly adjust and align) falsework recently constructed for a new pedestrian overcrossing at Riverside Avenue, which will replace the current overcrossing.When complete, the new overcrossing will extend across Amador Street, enhancing safety for Riverside Elementary School students and the community.”
A map of local detour routes around the closed portion is below.

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For more details call the project hotline at 510-277-0444 or visit http://ccta.net/SanPabloDamRoad. Construction updates will also be posted to Twitter at @i80spdr.

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Video: El Cerrito tolerance celebration includes moment of silence for Orlando shooting victims

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El Cerrito Mayor Greg Lyman welcomes celebrants to the city’s first Loving Day observance at City Hall on June 12, 2016, and asks for a moment of silence for the victims of the mass shooting the day before in Orlando, Florida. He also explains the significance of the city celebrating a court ruling allowing interracial marriage by noting that Dorothy Clark and Sundar Shadi were forced to go from California to Nevada to legally marry in 1934 before returning to their home in El Cerrito.

Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto of El Cerrito’s Human Relations Commission explains the history of Loving Day and the landmark court decision behind it at the city’s first Loving Day observance at City Hall on June 12, 2016.

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Tilden Regional Park steam trains celebrating 64 years this weekend

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The popular steam trains in Tilden Regional Park known collectively as the Redwood Valley Railway will celebrate 64 years of operation this weekend.
“All four engines will be steamed up both days including guest engines from our sister railroads,” the railway volunteers say.
The celebration is 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 4 and 5 at the Tilden Park Steam Train off Grizzly Peak Boulevard at Lomas Cantadas Road.

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Eastshore Highway, ancestor of Interstate 80, officially dedicated in El Cerrito 79 years ago this week

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The granddaddy of the Bay Area freeway system was dedicated 79 years ago this week at a ceremony at San Pablo Avenue and Hill Street in El Cerrito on May 27, 1936. The Eastshore was the first newly built highway in the Bay Area, constructed to handle traffic heading to the new Bay Bridge and Oakland and relieve the increasing volume on San Pablo Avenue. At the time it was dedicated it was described as “one of the most modern and finest stretches of roadway in California.”
Modern or not, the highway saw continual upgrades almost from the time it was completed. The highway was expanded from two lanes to three in each direction and in 1940 stoplights were added at the entrances on Ashby and University avenues in Berkeley.
Then as now, officials in Berkeley were hard-pressed to figure out how to handle the complex interchange at Gilman Street.
In 1942 a second roadway branching off at Albany and originally dubbed the Shipyard Highway, was created using more Bay fill to handle the volume of traffic from defense workers going to the Kaiser shipyards in Richmond. That roadway is now a portion of Interstate 580 and connects to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.
The Eastshore Highway became the Eastshore Freeway in the 1950s, expanded and extended through West Contra Costa to the Carquinez Bridge. Today the successor to the cornerstone of the Bay Area freeway system is 10 lanes wide, with dedicated carpool lanes, yet it consistently ranks at or near the top of the most congested freeways in the Bay Area.

Eastshore Highway under construction in 1934.
Original caption: “S. F.. BRIDGES.. S. F. OAKLAND; E. B. FILL LEADING TOWARD BERKELEY” from the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection

Eastshore Highway April 1936.
Original caption: “This aerial view looking north toward Berkeley from the Distribution Structure of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge shows the Berkeley Fill which will be completed in time for the opening of the great bridge to automobile traffic early in November. Highway engineers under the direction of C. H. Purcell, Chief Engineer of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and State Highway Engineer, are designing this approach to be one of the finest and safest arterials in California.” From the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection

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With the Bay fill in place the contracts to build the actual highway were awarded in June of 1936.

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Contractors ran into trouble in August of 1936 when a portion of the fill collapsed.

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Berkeley took advantage of the newly enclosed area to the east of the highway by creating Aquatic Park in 1936.

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Workers construct Aquatic Park in Berkeley in 1935.

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Berkeley also extended Gilman Street to the highway, awarding a paving contract in October 1936 to provide another entrance.

Eastshore Highway 1938.
Original caption: “Division of the Eastshore Highway approach to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge with a medial strip was the Bay Region’s most important recent contribution toward the cause of accident prevention, in the opinion of traffic experts. The result has been a minimum of collisions on one of the most heavily traveled thoroughfares in Northern California.”
From the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection

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The portion of the Eastshore Highway north of University Avenue took longer to construct because it ran inland from the Bay and had to cross railroad tracks, which required construction of a bridge by Albany Hill and digging through hills in the Richmond Annex. Above is the elevated roadway at Albany Hill, along with Albany’s original entrance to the highway at Pierce Street.

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Albany quickly found out that there were problems with the entrance at Pierce Street, including visibility, the volume of traffic and cars driving the wrong direction on the one-way route to the on-ramp.

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The first crash on the new portion of the highway was recorded in July of 1937.

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This September 1937 aerial view from the Oakland Tribune shows the original route of the highway.

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Crockett: Lane reductions and ramp closures scheduled on Carquinez, Zampa bridges

Caltrans has issued the following announcement about Interstate 80 resurfacing work that will mean Lane reductions and ramp closures on the Carquinez, Zampa bridges tonight through May 26:

Nighttime Lane/Ramp Closures Scheduled for Interstate 80 (I-80) Carquinez Bridge –
May 19 through May 26

Crockett/Vallejo, Calif. – Caltrans is conducting work for a project to resurface Interstate 80 (I-80) across the Carquinez and Zampa Bridges between Crockett in Contra Costa County and Vallejo in Solano County.

The following closures will impact I-80 eastbound and westbound across the Carquinez and Zampa Bridges nightly:

• I-80 EB and WB will have lane reductions from Thursday May 19 at 8:00 PM until Friday May 20 at 5:00 AM.

• I-80 EB and WB will have lane reductions from Friday May 20 at 11:00 PM until Saturday May 21 at 10:00 AM.

• I-80 EB and WB will have lane reductions from Monday May 23 through Thursday May 26 from 8:00 PM until 5:00 AM the following day.

• The on ramp to I-80 eastbound at Pomona Street in Crockett may be closed intermittently for the same time periods. Motorists will detour to Cummings Skyway.

More information is available at: http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/carquinezzampabridgesmaint/

Motorists should drive with caution through the work zone. Get real-time traffic on Caltrans Quickmaps: http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/ Or follow Caltrans on Twitter: http://twitter.com/CaltransD4. Caltrans appreciates your patience as we work to maintain California’s highways. Please #BeWorkZoneAlert.