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1938: Rodeo time in El Sobrante, starring cowboy Montie Montana

A 1938 ad for the Contra Costa County Horse Show and Rodeo, starring famed cowboy and trick roper Montie Montana.

The organizers of the the Contra Costa County Horse Show and Rodeo at Castro Ranch in El Sobrante, a benefit for the county recreational summer camp, pulled out all the stops by featuring star cowboy attraction Montie Montana, the famed rope trick artist who had already started a movie career in Hollywood.
Montana’s acting credits include “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (1962) and “The Man From Frisco,” a fictionalized story based on Henry J. Kaiser that was shot at the Kaiser Richmond shipyards in 1944.
Montana, who died in 1998, was well known for his rope stunts, with the most infamous coming when he roped Dwight Eisenhower during the 1953 presidential inauguration (below). According to his biography on, the Secret Service was not happy about the stunt. At bottom is a video of Montana in the 1953 inaugural parade.

Posted on Thursday, April 25th, 2013
Under: El Sobrante, History | No Comments »

West Contra Costa Science Fair results

The West Contra Costa Science Fair has announced the results of this year’s competition:

The West Contra Costa Science Fair held an Awards Ceremony on Thursday, February 28, in the Knox Performing Arts Center. Dr. Donna Floyd, Interim Vice President of Contra Costa College, told the audience the first WCCSF was held 55 years ago on this site. Dr. Bruce Harter, Superintendent of the West Contra Costa Unified School District and former secondary science teacher, described some of the projects that caught his eye such as the one about texting on a keyboard vs. a flat screen and another on how to shut down WiFi. Dr. Mayra Padilla, Direct of STEM & METAS Program at Contra Costa College encouraged the students to look into the opportunities for high school students at CCC.
A total of 96 awards were presented to 85 students in grades 7 through 12 from eight West Contra Costa Unified schools: Crespi, DeJean, Helms, and Portola Junior High Schools; Mira Vista and Stewart K-8 Schools; as well as El Cerrito and Pinole Valley High Schools.
Of the 152 projects on display in the Gym Annex Room 40 from Monday, February 25, until just after the Awards Ceremony, 90% came from 7th and 8th graders. However, of the 10% that came from the high schools, 93% were winners of first- through fourth-places and special awards while only 51% of the 7th and 8th grade projects won the awards. There were no 9th grade projects.
Of the four categories, 57% of the projects were in Physical Science; 24% were in Biological Science; 16% in Behavioral Science and only 3% in Mathematics.
Portola Junior High students won the most awards with 29 garnered from the 32 projects submitted. Their awards included two 1st places, six 2nd places, eight 3rd places, ten 4th places and three special awards.
Overall there were 6 first-place winners, 14 second-place winners, 23 third-place winners, 42 fourth-place winners and 11 special awards.
The first-place winners also each received a Bio-Rad cash award: seventh-grader Colm Hayden (“Can Redwood Absorb and Release Fog?”) from Portola; seventh-grader Nicole Stokowski (“How Do Differences in Mass Affect Conservation of Angular Momentum?”) from Mira Vista; eighth-grader Jacqueline Rojas (“What Abilities Does Your Brain Have?”) from Helms; eighth-grader Nora Gest (“Which Nuts Have the Most Calories?”) from Portola; tenth-grader Andrew Brodsky (“The Effects of Barrel Size on Projectile Velocity”) from El Cerrito High;and eleventh-grader Sydney Gallion (“Natural Frequency and Length”) from El Cerrito High.
Other special awards included math puzzle books Dennis Claudio presented to the seventh-graders Minahil Khan (“Reverse the Multiplication”) and Paulo Del Rosario (“Switch or Stay?”) both from Crespi; as well as a book on graph theory presented to Mark Ohlmann (“Can You Run Out of Luck?”) from Pinole Valley High, The Hal Magarian Memorial Award went to seventh-grader Julia Walker (“Rosemary’s pH Preference”) from Portola Junior High. The Bill Tobin Award was given to Mark Ohlmann from Pinole Valley High.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, March 7th, 2013
Under: El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Hercules, Kensington, Pinole, Richmond, San Pablo, Schools | No Comments »

El Sobrante Boy Scout Troop benefit spaghetti feed is Saturday

Boy Scout Troop 127 in El Sobrante holds its annual spaghetti feed from 5 to 8 p.m. March 2 at El Sobrante United Methodist Church, 5151 Argyle Road at Appian Way, El Sobrante.

Join us for a tasty feast of spaghetti and meatballs, salad, bread, drinks and dessert. $9/adults, $7/kids & seniors, and $25 for a family of 4. Funds raised from this event stay in the local troop and will go towards scholarships and equipment for local and long-term hikes and backpacking.

Posted on Friday, March 1st, 2013
Under: El Sobrante | No Comments » program announces nearly $1 million in school funds

For Immediate Release


Fuel Your School Program Benefits 111,925 Students in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties program funded $958,739 for 960 classroom projects

based on 8+ gallon fuel purchases and online project postings


san ramon, Calif., Jan. 16, 2013 Chevron U.S.A. Inc. and today announced that its 2012 Fuel Your School program funded $958,739, benefitting 960 local public school classroom projects and impacting 111,925 students in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Through Chevron’s 2012 Fuel Your School program, teachers at 344 public schools in Alameda and Contra Costa counties received critical classroom resources. Linda Townsend Bryson, a first-grade teacher at Peres Elementary School in Richmond, received hands-on science materials, including a Big Screen Microscope and slides, as well as books on forces and motion, to help increase her students’ scientific awareness.

“Despite coming from economically challenging environments, my students can shine when given the right opportunities,” Townsend Bryson said. “With the tools received through Fuel Your School, my students have better and more exciting opportunities to learn about the world around them.”

Through the Fuel Your School program, Chevron contributed $1 for purchases of eight or more gallons, up to $1 million, from Oct. 1 to Oct. 31 at participating Chevron and Texaco stations in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, adding up to a total contribution of $958,739 to benefit public school classroom projects posted on

“We’re proud to give back to our local communities through working with specialized and innovative nonprofits, such as,” said Andrea Bailey, community engagement manager at Chevron. “The Fuel Your School program exemplifies Chevron’s commitment to supporting teachers, students and schools by helping them receive the resources and tools they need in their classrooms.”

The purpose of the Fuel Your School program is to help support and improve critical education programming and resources, particularly in the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math – to help prepare students for the growing number of technical jobs in the modern economy, including possible engineering positions at Chevron.

“Teachers spend on average more than $350 of their own money every year on materials for their students,” said Charles Best, CEO of “This incredible demand explains why the Fuel Your School program with Chevron has grown to impact nearly 112,000 students this year in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.”

In 2012, the Fuel Your School program expanded from two markets, Alameda and Contra Costa counties, and Salt Lake and Davis counties, Utah, to seven additional markets, including Sacramento County, Kern County and Orange County in Calif.; Multnomah County, Ore.; Harris County, Texas; St. Tammany, Orleans and Plaquemines parishes, La.; and Jackson County, Miss. A total of $4.49 million was generated at participating Chevron and Texaco stations in October 2012, benefitting 5,673 classroom projects at 1,733 K-12 public schools in the nine U.S. markets. Since its inception in 2010, Fuel Your School has benefitted a total of 8,915 classroom projects.

An infographic showing the impact of the 2012 Fuel Your School program and top most requested STEM resources for classrooms is available at Portions of projects were funded by other third-party donations.

About Chevron

Chevron is one of the world’s leading integrated energy companies, with subsidiaries that conduct business worldwide. The company is involved in virtually every facet of the energy industry. Chevron explores for, produces and transports crude oil and natural gas; refines, markets and distributes transportation fuels and lubricants; manufactures and sells petrochemical products; generates power and produces geothermal energy; provides energy efficiency solutions; and develops the energy resources of the future, including biofuels. Chevron is based in San Ramon, Calif. More information about Chevron is available at


                Founded in 2000, is an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need. Public school teachers from every corner of America post requests, and individuals can give directly to the ones that inspire them. To date, 250,000 public and charter school teachers have used to secure $165 million in books, art supplies, technology, and other resources that their students need to learn.


# # #


Contact: Brent Tippen, Chevron Corporation,  


Brent Tippen
Media & External Communications

Chevron Spokesman

Policy, Government and Public Affairs 
Chevron Corporation

Posted on Friday, January 18th, 2013
Under: Albany, Berkeley, Contra Costa County, El Sobrante, Richmond, Schools | No Comments »

Free apple and cherry trees will be distributed Tuesday in Richmond

Fruit trees. Tomorrow. Distributed 5-6 p.m. Tuesday in the parking lot at Civic Center Plaza on Macdonald Avenue.
The trees are being given out by the group Self-Sustaining Communities (, which has distributed almost 10,000 trees in the East Bay since 2009.
Most recently, there were 400 trees handed out at Richmond’s compost giveaway on Saturday.
The group was started in El Cerrito and is now based in Richmond and most of the trees have been directed to low-income communities in West Contra Costa as a way to help people provide for themselves.
The trees are donated by growers in the Central Valley.
This time there are no qualifications and almost 900 trees that need homes and may bear nutritional fruit with the proper care.
Here is the announcement from group founder Linda Schneider.

We were unexpectedly given 1308 apple and cherry trees, somewhat at the last minute. They are all bare root.

They are Gala, Granny Smith, Fuji apples, and Bing, Rainier, Van and Brooks cherries.

Thanks to Jennifer Ly with the City of Richmond, Eduardo Martinez and Tony Wolcott, 400 trees total were given out Saturday with the compost giveaway.

The City is having another giveaway between 5:00 and 6:30 in front of the Richmond City Hall, in the parking lot, tomorrow, Tuesday. Because we have so many, and time is of the essence, we would like to get these out as quickly as possible.

This will be open to all — the goal being we want as much local food and greening throughout entire neighborhoods as possible, and because it also creates meaningful social activity and community. These are not for resale or business.

Thank you so very much.

Posted on Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Under: El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Pinole, Richmond, Rodeo, San Pablo | No Comments »

No West County community column on Sunday — here’s why

My plan on Thursday was to attend the reopening ceremony of the historic Maritime Center in Richmond, then rush back to the office to file a story on the event and write the community column for Sunday’s edition.
That plan came crashing down, when I came crashing down myself, tripping on the sidewalk and injuring a finger pretty badly. Instead of hurrying back to the office, I was hurrying to the emergency clinic at Kaiser Richmond, which, thankfully, was nearby.
This note is just to explain why there won’t be a column on Sunday as I recuperate and to offer my apology to all the readers and contributors who depend on it for their community news. I plan to be back at work next week, typing laboriously with the fingers I can still use.

Posted on Friday, September 30th, 2011
Under: Albany, Crockett, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Hercules, Kensington, Pinole, Port Costa, Richmond, Rodeo, San Pablo | 1 Comment »

Views of the El Sobrante Stroll

A large turnout came to San Pablo Dam Road for the El Sobrante Stroll on Sept. 18. We briefly considered taking a side street near the freeway to look for parking, but quickly changed our mind when we saw it was Va Verde, site of the famous Richmond sinkhole that swallowed parked cars last year.

Posted on Sunday, September 18th, 2011
Under: El Sobrante | No Comments »

El Cerrito: Ode to a funky, fun and historic recycling center

This is how the Recycling Center looked in May.

This is how the Recycling Center looked in May.

Heres how the same area looks today.

Here's how the same area looks today.

The interim site shrank; users had no say.

The interim site shrank; users had no say.

A new configuration had come into play.

A new configuration had come into play.

The city told drivers they couldnt stay.

The city told drivers they couldn't stay.

Deer still roam, but scurry away.

Deer still roam, but scurry away.

A new video project wants to look at yesterday.

A new video project ( wants to look at yesterday.

Posted on Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011
Under: El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Pinole, Richmond, San Pablo | No Comments »

A mountain lion? In El Cerrito? Police say yes

Last week it was a mountain lion that met its end on Highway 13 in Oakland.
It was less than a year ago that a mountain lion that prowled North Berkeley back yards was killed by police.
Friday there was another incident, this time in El Cerrito.
The El Cerrito Police released a report and advisory today on a call to investigate an injured deer part way up the hills on the north side of town. Officers examined the deer and “determined it had been attacked by a younger mountain lion.”
Here is the text of the press release, which offers sound advice for when you’re outside:

On July 1, 2011, officers from the El Cerrito Police Department and Contra Costa County Animal Control responded to the 5800 block of Charles Avenue in regards to an injured deer. Upon examining the deer and evidence at the scene, officers determined it had been attacked by a younger mountain lion.

Although mountain lion attacks on persons are rare, the El Cerrito Police Department recommends the following safety tips when encountering a mountain lion. Do not approach a mountain lion. Do not run from a mountain lion, but slowly walk away while facing the mountain lion. Do not crouch or bend over in front of a mountain lion. If a mountain lion approaches you, make yourself look larger by extending your arms and waving them while making lots of noise or throwing rocks or other objects at the lion. Don’t leave small children or pets outside unattended. Deer proof your landscaping by avoiding plants deer like to eat.

If a mountain lion is sighted, residents are asked to call the El Cerrito Police Department at (510) 237-3233 or Contra Costa County Animal Control at (925) 646-2441. More information about mountain lion encounters can be found at the Department of Fish and Game website

Posted on Sunday, July 3rd, 2011
Under: El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Richmond | 2 Comments »

Richmond: Paying tribute to the life of teacher, administrator and mentor Sylvester Greenwood

Posted here is a tribute composed by his friends and family to Sylvester Greenwood, a well-regarded longtime teacher and administrator for the Richmond Unified and West Contra Costa Unified school districts.
Greenwood, who died June 9, will be remembered at a service at 11 a.m. Monday at Berkeley Mount Zion Baptist Church, 1400 Eighth St. in Berkeley.

Sylvester Greenwood
February 17, 1945 – June 9, 2011
Thursday, June 9, 2011 was a sad day in the city of Richmond, California to hear the news that Sylvester Greenwood had passed. His legacy will forever live on.
Mr. Greenwood had a tremendous impact on the lives of children, youth and families in West Contra Costa Community. He was a success story, he was a role model, he was a compassionate teacher and administrator with the school district, he was always willing to support and contribute to worthy causes. Everyone in the community knows “Greenwood.” If you ever are with him in the community you will observe person after person come up to him and say “Hey Greenwood…you remember me? I remember the time I came to your office and ….” This was usually followed by some success story, an update on their life, where they are working now, how their parents are doing, or other updates. Many have gone to see him and have come out as “Greenwood Kids.” If we were to give Mr. Greenwood a title it would be the Godfather of West Contra Costa.
Precious memories will be cherished by his loving wife Brenda; his devoted daughter, Dr. Sylvia Greenwood; and his darling niece, Sunobia Amanda Hurd. He also leaves two brothers, Harrison (Mary Jo) and Poley Hood (Patricia) Greenwood; and one sister Versia Dean Greenwood; brother-in-law, Rodney Keith Hurd; and many nieces, nephews, relatives, friends and West Contra Costa Unified School District Family.

“If I was to give him a title it would be ‘The Godfather of West Contra Costa’”
– Thomas Scott

“It is truly a divine moment when God sends someone into your life that not only impacts it, but totally transforms it. That is what happen when God sent Mr.Greenwood into my life and I’m grateful to him and God.”
– Rev. Dwayne D. Eason

Greenwood was a member of the Association of California School Administrators, past chair of the ACSA State Committee on Urban Affairs, a board member of the Richmond Police Activities League and the Richmond Unified Education Fund, board member and past president of the University of San Francisco Alumni Association, past director of the Richmond Exchange Club, past president of the Richmond Association of School Administrators, past board president of the Richmond Young Men’s Christian Association, and past chair of the deacon board and member of the Trustee Board at Berkeley Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church.

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Posted on Friday, June 17th, 2011
Under: El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Richmond | 1 Comment »