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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 Cerrito opposition forming to AT&T antenna proposal

Flier posted last weekend by El Cerrito High School.

Unhappiness with proposed AT&T cell towers is now spilling over from Kensington to El Cerrito.
Fliers about antenna installations that would block views and would be primarily to serve Kensington residents were placed on utility poles over the weekend, including the one above in front of El Cerrito High School.
Opponents of the proposal plan to attend the Design Review Board meeting at 7:30pm Aug. 7 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 10890 San Pablo Ave. to make their feelings known and also plan an even bigger turnout when it comes before the City Council on Aug. 20.

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‘Liberty Valance’ will ride into El Cerrito on Aug. 8

The trailer above is good, but doesn’t do justice to “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” the 1962 masterpiece directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne, James Stewart and the badass Lee Marvin. Not to mention Vera Miles, Edmond O’Brien, Andy Devine and Woody Strode.
This one is a great western and a great movie period, and it will be on the big screen in glorious black and white at 7 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Rialto Cinemas Cerrito, 10070 San Pablo Ave. in beautiful El Cerrito.
The showing is hosted by and benefits the Friends of the Cerrito Theatre and as with all Cerrito Classics, you should get your tickets early.

Ransom Stoddard: You’re not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?
Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

Election Council President: [at the territorial statehood convention] The chair recognizes its old friend; that distinguished member of the Fourth Estate, founder, owner, publisher and editor of the Shinbone Star, Mr. Dutton Peabody, Esquire!

Dutton Peabody: Thank you, thank you, Mister Chairman, for those kind words; but why don’t you tell them the whole truth: founder, owner, editor, and I also sweep out the place.

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Kensington meeting Tuesday on cell phone antenna process

County Supervisor John Gioia has sent out the following advisory:

    AT&T Hosts Informational Open House in Kensington
    Learn more about AT&T cell application process; County planner on hand

AT&T is hosting an open house in Kensington to provide information and answer questions on the cell antennae/node application process. The wireless company has applied to Contra Costa County for permits to build six new cell sites in Kensington, located on PG&E power poles.

County planners will be on hand to provide information on the permit application process. As the applications move through the permitting process, each one will be carefully reviewed and and analyzed by planners.

Details:

When: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 23
Where: Kensington Community Center, 59 Arlington Ave., Kensington
For more information: Ken Mintz, AT&T External Affairs Ken.Mintz@att.com
To read the applications, go to Supervisor Gioia’s KMAC web page.

The Kensington Municipal Advisory Council (KMAC) will review the application at its regular public meeting at 7 p.m. July 30 at the community center (same location as above).

KMAC will make an advisory recommendation to accept or deny the applications to County planners, who in turn will make a recommendation to the County Planning Commission. The Planning Commission’s decision can be appealed to the Board of Supervisors.

Public comment on the applications is welcome in a variety of ways throughout the process; at public meetings, or by snail mail or email or phone to the principal planner, Francisco Avila, 925-674-7801; Dept. of Conservation and Development, 30 Muir Rd., Martinez Ca. 94553

I am carefully watching the process and listening to public input in the event the applications are appealed to the Board. The process is expected to take a few months.

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Caltrans announces ramp closures on Interstate 80

Caltrans issued the following announcement about upcoming work on Interstate 80

Alameda and Contra Costa Counties –Caltrans has scheduled ramp closures on eastbound and westbound Interstate 80 for construction activities for the Interstate 80 Integrated Corridor Mobility Project.

· The eastbound I-80 Central Avenue on-ramp will be closed Monday night, May 13, and Tuesday night, May 14, from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

· The eastbound I-80 Powell Street on-ramp will be closed Monday night, May 20, and Tuesday night, May 21, from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

· The westbound I-80 Carlson On-ramp will be closed Monday night, May 20, and Tuesday night, May 21, from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

· The eastbound I-80 Ashby Avenue on-ramp will be closed Wednesday, May 22 and Thursday, May 23, from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

This work is weather dependent, and if delayed due to weather conditions will be rescheduled. Please drive cautiously through the construction zone and leave a safe traveling distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you. Please remember to “Slow for the Cone Zone.”

The I-80 Integrated Corridor Mobility project will provide safety improvements for the traveling public; mobility and efficiency during commute hours; automated, integrated technology to manage traffic efficiently; real-time traffic information for travelers; with tax dollars funding SMART solutions.

Follow us on Twitter @CaltransD4. Follow the project at #80ICM. For more information, please visit the webpage at http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/projects/80icm/

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Kensington had electrifed mass transit 65 years ago

A Key System car on Arlington at Amherst in Kensington, 1947.

Rail service was once available to hillside residents of Berkeley and Kensington, as seen in this 1947 photo provided by El Cerrito train and history fanatic John Stashik shows.
The electric-powered trains ran from Kensington to Berkeley until service was replaced by a bus line a year later.

Judging from the comments made last week at the meeting on El Cerrito’s Climate Action Plan, there are folks who would love to see something similar in the hills today.

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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.
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In 1920 they were trying for half a bridge to San Francisco

An illustration in the Sept. 29, 1920 Oakland Tribune of the proposed Key System ferry pier extension to Yerba Buena Island. I'm guessing this drawing was done by famed cartoonist Jimmy Hatlo early in his career (he started at the Trib doing auto section cartoons.)

Any idea of linking the East Bay to San Francisco was still just a pipe dream in the first quarter of the 20th century, when the only way to get to the city was by ferry. But there were ideas to ease the commute, including a proposal floated in 1920 that would have extended the Key System pier all the way to Goat Island (the popular name of the day for Yerba Buena Island).

The Key Route pier was once hailed as "the longest in the world."

The Key Route pier already extended fairly close to Yerbe Buena Island, as seen in this 1935 aerial view of the construction of the Bay Bridge.

The pier was already touted as the longest in the world at the time, and an extension would have closed the relatively short remaining distance to Yerba Buena.
Years before the design of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge came up with a similar idea, the pier extension plan called for a tunnel through the island, this one bored at a different angle and connecting train service with a new ferry pier on Yerba Buena’s western side.
From there it would be a mere 1.25-mile ride to the Ferry Building on the San Francisco waterfront.
The plan was hailed by Oakland business and elected officials, particularly for what the idea of making the daily commute not only easier, but safer.

“(Oakland) Mayor Davie, Mayor Bartlett of Berkeley, Joseph E. Came secretary of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, Rutus Jennings, head of the large project for the Berkeley waterfront and others today expressed themselves in favor of the plan as one that would bring the two great cities of San Francisco bay closer together and one that would eliminate duplication of certain public services as well as the danger of fog to transbay traffic.” the Tribune reported.

Ferries and competing rail systems were king as far as commuting at the time. There were thousands of East Bay riders making the train-ferry connection to San Francisco each weekday via both the Key System and the competing Southern Pacific rail and ferry lines. East Bay officials “strenuously” opposed an alternative plan that would have instead extended the pier of the rival SP.
In fact, the conservative officials of the time seemed to be calling for a consolidation of the two rail lines — not a coincidence as establishment of the state’s original highway system was well under way to accommodate all the new motor vehicles being purchased.
The golden age of public transit was ending, the rail operations (the Key System was the locally owned operator) lost money and interest, and just 17 years later the Bay Bridge opened.

This 1933 road map shows how many ferry lines criss-crossed the Bay in the days before the bridges.

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Christmas in Richmond organizers need help providing for the needy on Dec. 25

Christmas in Richmond is a tradition that since 2005 has delivered food, presents and warm clothing to the city’s destitute on Christmas day.
The effort, which now has nonprofit 501(c)(3) status, was started by Burgundie Spears, then a college student who wanted to give back to her community.
Spears, her mother, Edna Campbell, and sister, Aaliyah Washington, have continued the tradition of devoting their Christmas to helping others, but they are making a last-minute appeal for community assistance to make this year’s event possible.
This year’s distribution will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the North Richmond Senior Center and at the Nevin Community Center.
Christmas in Richmond has the following wish list for anyone who can lend a hand:

Bicycles
Blankets
Toys For All Ages​
Gift Cards
Gift Wrapping Paper
Clothes (new and/or slightly worn)
Shoes (new and/or slightly worn)
Non-perishable food
Toiletries
Roller Racks
Roller Bags
Backpacks
Gift Bags
To Go Food Containers (1000)
Eating Utensils
Napkins​
Hand Sanitizer
Bottle Water (40 cases)
Cups
Foil
Donations can be brought to the Courtyard Mariott Hotel at 3150 Garrity Way by Hilltop mall from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, or Spears can be reached at 510-932-6817 for more information. The Christmas in Richmond website is www.christmasinrichmond.org.

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El Cerrito is final home to a New York Yankee great

Imagine trying to field at second base with the glove Tony Lazzeri used.

The final resting place of San Francisco native and baseball Hall of Famer Tony Lazzeri, who was born 109 years ago today (Dec. 6, 1903), is in El Cerrito.
Lazzeri attended Galileo High School, then played minor league baseball from 1922-25, when his contract was purchased by the New York Yankees after he hit 60 home runs in 197 games for Salt Lake City in 1925.
Lazzeri debuted with the Yankees in 1926 and became part of the team’s famous lineup — alongside Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig — dubbed “Murderer’s Row” by sportswriters of the day.
He went on to a standout 13-year major league career, then returned to the Bay Area to play for the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League.
Lazzeri died in 1946 at age 42 from injuries after he suffered an epileptic seizure and his remains are now at Sunset Mausoleum in El Cerrito. The Find-A-Grave website has a picture of the memorial site, but mistakenly says it is at the neighboring Sunset View Cemetery.
Lazzeri played in six World Series with the Yankees and one with the Chicago Cubs.
He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1991.