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Caltrans work at MacArthur Maze will mean overnight traffic detours

Caltrans issued the following announcement today about its planned overnight work at the MacArthur Maze that starts June 5 and is expected to last through June 30:

Caltrans Plans Concrete Removal and Bridge Deck Overlay at Maze Structure

ALAMEDA COUNTY–The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is performing night time full closures of either or both westbound Interstate 80 to eastbound Interstate 580 and westbound Interstate 580 to eastbound Interstate 80 connectors to remove concrete and overlay bridge deck. Construction is expected to be ongoing until September 2014.

To ensure worker and public safety, the MacArthur on and off ramps will be also rehabilitated and closed during construction.

Full Closures of 580 West – 80 East Connector and 580 West MacArthur On-ramp
June 5 through June 30, 2014
Monday night until Friday morning 11:00 P.M – 5:00 A.M.
Saturday night and Sunday morning 12:01 A.M. – 7:00 A.M.

Full Closures of 80 West – 580 East Connector and 580 East MacArthur off-ramp
June 5 through June 30, 2014
No full closures will take place until June 23rd

Motorists are advised to use the following detour during the work. Detour Signs will also be posted. All work is weather permitting.

Detour for Interstate 580 West to Interstate 80 East traffic:
Motorists will continue on Interstate 80 west towards San Francisco, take “PARKING LOT EXIT ONLY” exit on the left to the Toll Plaza parking lot, and merge to Interstate 80 east.

Detour for Interstate 580 West MacArthur on-ramp traffic:
Motorists will turn right on San Pablo Ave (alternatively turn right on Hollis St), turn left on Powell St and merge to the 80E.

Detour for Interstate 80 West traffic:
Motorists will continue to Interstate 880 South, exit at the West Grand Ave off-ramp, turn right on West Grand Ave and merge to the 580 east Maritime/West Grand on-ramp.

Detour for Interstate 580 East MacArthur off-ramp traffic:
Motorists will take the next exit to Webster St.

Motorists should expect delays and allow for extra travel time.

For real-time traffic, click-on Caltrans Quick Maps at: http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/
Or follow Caltrans on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/CaltransD4
Caltrans appreciates your patience as we work to maintain our highways.

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As Memorial Day approaches, a look back at El Cerrito honoring military personnel 70 years earlier

ec vets memorial 1944a

In the photo above from the Richmond Independent from June 1944 (click it to enlarge), the Louis Hagen post of the American Legion in El Cerrito dedicates a plaque in front of the veterans building on Stockton Avenue honoring those from the city on active duty in the armed forces during World War II. Members of the post at that point were veterans of World War I, where El Cerritan Hagen had died in combat.

The annual placing of flags for Memorial Day on the graves of military veterans buried at Sunset View Cemetery in El Cerrito will take place on May 24 and volunteers who want to help are welcome to take part.
There will also be a first-ever Memorial Day observance on May 26 at a veterans assistance office in Richmond.
You can find more details here.

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Friends of 5 Creeks gardening tips to minimize water use

Some advice from the latest newsletter from Berkeley-based Friends of 5 Creeks (www.fivecreeks.org):

Water-saving tips

Learn how to lose your lawn: For many homeowners, the easiest way to save water (along with effort and money) is to shrink or get rid of lawn. The Bay Friendly Coalition offers a free workshop, with individual advice, at 10:30 AM Sat., May 3, at the California Native Plant Society’s Native Here Nursery, 101 Golf Course Dr., in Tilden Park. This also is a great place to find drought-tolerant, wildlife-friendly, replacement plants.

Nursing new plantings through the summer: Our delicious late rains have been a reprieve, but summer will be dry. With time, it is possible to develop a flourishing garden that needs no watering. (Summer water under coast live oaks, our species of the month, can kill them.) But even drought-tolerant plants generally need some summer water until their roots are established. At F5C’s restoration projects, we found that tough natives survived with deep watering once a month from June or July to October.
Drip irrigation usually saves water, but it can be leak-prone and costly to install. Here are some techniques that don’t require even drip irrigation:

Most basically, plant in fall, giving plants a rainy season in which to get established. Use lots of mulch, which holds water like a sponge, shades the soil, and discourages water-stealing weeds.
Along with a new plant, install a tube with a small opening at the bottom that lets water drain slowly to deep roots. Fill it occasionally. The tube can be a commercial product – or an upside-down plastic soda bottle.
Use a bucket or bag with a small opening that drains slowly. As with tubes, these can be commercial products – or old buckets or plastic trash bags.
Consider a tree tube or tree shelter. This is a translucent plastic tubes, held in place with a stake, serving mainly to protect young trees from hungry animals. But they also help retain moisture in windy areas, and condensation inside the tube can provide a little extra water.
Consider commercial gels that release water slowly, such as DriWATER.

Submit your own water-saving tip to the group at https://app.icontact.com/icp/sub/survey/take.

Click here for to read the F5C information sheet, “Why Should You Save Water? And How?”

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Vote online through Friday to help the Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante win a $25,000 grant

The Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante is in a tight Facebook voting competition to land a $25,000 grant from Windmere Realty and is appealing to the community for help.
The club has been a central part of the community for more than half a century and provides minimal cost after school and other programs for young people in its part of El Sobrante and Richmond. An award of $25,000 could be made to go a long way for the nonprofit organization
Voting can be done once a day through Friday at this link or this one. Scroll down to the El Sobrante listing and click. Your vote(s) could be the difference.
Below is the message the club has been sending to its supporters:

Friends and Family,

We really need your help.

Our Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante has been selected as the only NOR-CAL non profit to participate in a Facebook Voting challenge to win a $25,000 grant for our Kids!

Please help us win by taking a few seconds of your day to vote for The Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante by going to the Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante’s Facebook page or by using the link provided below.

You can VOTE ONE TIME, EVERY DAY,
from NOW until APRIL 4th .

Every Vote, Every Day counts and you can help us win 25K for all those children that need us most! Thank you in Advance for joining us for this Challenge!
WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER!

Please Vote for Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante here: https://apps.facebook.com/windermere-re/charitychallenge OR on the Windermere Facebook Page (tab at top): https://www.facebook.com/WindermereRealEstate

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Richmond and its industrial neighbors in 1939

Above, is an early 1939 promotional aerial view/map of Richmond and its surrounding area. Much of the Richmond shoreline in the foreground has yet to be reshaped for the Kaiser shipyards, including leveling a large hill.
In the background (below) are the West County towns past Richmond on two-lane Highway 40 and San Pablo Avenue, including the forgotten heavy industry company settlements, such as Giant (dynamite manufacturing), Oleum (oil refinery) and Selby (metal smelting).
Click on each photo for a larger view.

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Police offer tips on how to avoid being “skimmed”

Police are circulating this flier explaining “skimming” and how to avoid falling victim to a thief when using a debit card at an ATM or a store checkout counter.
An incident involving a “shoulder surfer” was reported in Hercules last week.

skimming

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1940s El Cerrito home movies offer glimpse of life during wartime and after

amerio
Fairmount School crossing guard in front of Amerio Drugs on San Pablo Avenue.

Posted here are excerpts of home movies of El Cerrito in the 1940s and 1950s that the family of Arthur Lorenzo Hopkins shared with the El Cerrito Historical Society that show slices of life in a city was still early in its development and in many ways still rural. Living just a few doors north of El Cerrito High School, the Hopkins family raised crops and livestock in the double-deep back yard of their home on Pomona Avenue, including cows, chickens and turkeys.
A team of horses is seen plowing a vacant lot across the street (still there) to plant a World War II victory garden and student crossing guards from Fairmount Elementary School stop traffic on San Pablo Avenue (look for Amerio Drug Store and the old Bank of America location).
Home movies that seem to be of little interest to anyone outside the family that took them can be an invaluable to historical societies trying to record what life was like in different eras. They add a dimension different that complements still photographs and written records.
Maybe you have a reel of film or an old VHS or Beta tape tucked away somewhere that could be digitized and shared with future generations (the original returned, of course). Historical societies would love to find out.
Contact the El Cerrito Historical Society at elcerritohistoricalsociety@yahoo.com, the El Sobrante Historical Society at eshistory@gmail.com, the Pinole Historical Society at info@pinolehistoricalsociety.org, or the Richmond Museum of History at 510-235-7387 or info@richmondmuseumofhistory.org.

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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.

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West County: Red flag warning tonight through Saturday morning

It’s red flag weather and the El Cerrito Fire Department issued the following notice:

The National Weather Service has declared that there will be a Red Flag Warning in place from 1800 hours (6:00 pm) tonight through 0600 hours (6:00 am) Saturday morning. This is the most dangerous point in the fire season when cool temperatures and sparse amount of rain can lead to complacency. A north wind (off shore) event with the predicted wind conditions, critically low humidity and low fuel moisture is a very serious condition.

The Fire Department will be placing signs in the Parks to notify the public against the use of the BBQ’s or any open burning. Please report any signs of smoke and in the event of any type of fire or downed trees, assume a power line is involved until proven otherwise. Insure all your co-workers and personnel maintain their Situational Awareness, keep a lookout in the hills and surrounding areas when outside, call or report any problems and maintain a safe distance from any incident.

The following weather report is from the National Weather Service:

EAST BAY HILLS AND DIABLO RANGE-…RED FLAG WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 6 PM THIS EVENING (Thursday) TO 6 AM PDT SATURDAY FOR GUSTY WINDS AND LOW HUMIDITY FOR THE EAST BAY HILLS ABOVE 1000 FEET…

* AFFECTED AREA: FIRE ZONE 511 EAST BAY HILLS AND DIABLO RANGE. THE HILLS OF CONTRA COSTA…ALAMEDA AND INTERIOR SANTA CLARA COUNTY ABOVE 1000 FEET INCLUDING MOUNT DIABLO AND HENRY COE STATE PARKS.

* TIMING: THE STRONGEST OFFSHORE WINDS WILL DEVELOP TONIGHT INTO FRIDAY MORNING WITH VERY LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY VALUES FRIDAY AFTERNOON. CONDITIONS WILL ONLY SLOWLY IMPROVE OVER THE WEEKEND.

* WIND: NORTHEAST WINDS 15 TO 25 MPH WITH FREQUENT GUSTS 35 TO 45 MPH AND LOCAL GUSTS IN EXCESS OF 50 MPH ABOVE 2500 FEET.

* HUMIDITY: 20 TO 30 PERCENT TONIGHT…DRYING TO 10 TO 20 PERCENT BY FRIDAY AFTERNOON

* IMPACTS: THE COMBINATION OF DRY FUELS…STRONG WINDS AND LOW HUMIDITY WILL CREATE CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS WHERE ANY NEW IGNITIONS COULD SEE RAPID FIRE GROWTH.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A RED FLAG WARNING MEANS THAT CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE EITHER OCCURRING NOW…OR WILL SHORTLY. A COMBINATION OF STRONG WINDS…LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY…AND WARM TEMPERATURES CAN CONTRIBUTE TO EXTREME FIRE BEHAVIOR.

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El Sobrante church holding free Musical Montage concert Friday

The community is invited to attend Music Montage, an evening concert by 14 local musicians performing a mix of styles, at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Hope Lutheran Church, 2830 May Road in El Sobrante.
The concert will feature instrumental and vocal ensembles that will include a flute and cello duet, an organ solo, a vocalist accompanied by piano, a flute sextet, and a trombone quartet.
Admission is free and any donations will go toward the purchase of mosquito nets for families in malaria-prone areas.
The performers will be Antonia David (flute), Ellen DeCarlo (flute), Megan Delvanthal (flute), Lisa Dwiggins (cello), Jean Fisk (organ), Michele Friedman (flute), Debbie Grisso (piano), David Hemphill (trombone), Toni Link (flute), Carolyne Melson (voice), Justin Mar (bass trombone), Curtiss Mays (trombone), Pat Mullan (trombone), and Rosanna Stephens (flute).
The members are also planning a concert in December and welcomes interested musicians to audition. For more detail email Ellen DeCarlo at hope.concerts@yahoo.com.