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


WestCAT adds extra commuter buses during BART strike and stresses that it is facing no labor issues

In the run-up last week to a possible BART strike (which has happened) and an AC Transit strike (which hasn’t happened — yet), a Bay Area broadcast outlet erroneously announced on social media that WestCAT, was also facing a strike.
Not so, emphasizes the agency, which issued the following statement:

WestCAT Buses Keep On Keepin’ On

July 1, 2013, Pinole, CA – Despite several unsubstantiated rumors of a possible WestCAT driver strike, which have been circulating since early last week, WestCAT drivers rolled out bright and early this morning as scheduled. In fact, additional transbay service to San Francisco was included with the morning rollout. WestCAT and MV employees woke up early this morning ready, willing and able to add their assistance to the thousands of commuters displaced by the BART work stoppage.

Everyone at WestCAT has been gearing up for the possibility of a BART strike for several weeks now. As confirmation came in, dozens of staff began arriving early at key locations from Hercules to San Francisco to assist displaced commuters, provide directions or just reassurances to those who might be unfamiliar with bus operations.

“A special thank you goes out to the WestCAT drivers, dispatchers and maintenance crew who are doing an incredible job today given the very demanding conditions, which are likely to continue for the duration of the strike,” said WestCAT General Manager, Charles Anderson.

It will not be known for at least a few days the impact the additional riders will have made to WestCAT’s overall ridership, but staff expects that it will be significant.

WestCAT will continue to place frequent updates to its strike contingency plan on the agency’s official website http://www.westcat.org/bart.html for the duration of the BART work stoppage. Customers can also call WestCAT information at 510-724-7993. For access to all of the Bay Area transit contingency plans go online at alert.511.org or call 511 for more trip planning options and travel needs.

WestCAT serves a West County area of just over 20 square miles that includes Pinole and Hercules and the unincorporated areas of Montalvin Manor, Bayview, Tara Hills, Rodeo, Crockett, and Port Costa.


Conference at Pinole Wells Fargo on Tuesday


March 8, 2013


David Sharples, ACCE

(415) 377-9037




Report provides first-ever look at a major bank’s current foreclosure pipeline in California’s cities and the impact of these foreclosures on the State’s economy.

WHAT: Press conference and call to discuss new state-of-the-art findings regarding Wells Fargo’s current foreclosure pipeline and consequences for California’s economy in 2013.

Photo opportunity: homeowners protesting at bank that is foreclosing on them.

WHO: Members of the Community Group ACCE including struggling homeowners

WHEN: Press Conference: Tuesday, March 12 at 1:30pm

WHERE: Wells Fargo Branch,1374 Fitzgerald Dr., Pinole, CA

WHY: The foreclosure crisis continues to damage California’s economy. On Tuesday, policy experts will release a state-of-the-art report documenting the number of homes currently facing foreclosure in California and the economic consequences of these foreclosures for neighboring homeowners, local and state governments, investors, and the families who will lose their homes. The data is broken out by city for the largest 21 cities in California for tailored local reports. The report was written by the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE).

Although Wells Fargo recently announced a record $19 billion in profit in 2012, the bank continues to resist a comprehensive program of mortgage principal reduction, despite the fact that economists from across the political spectrum believe principal reduction is the key to generating a robust recovery for California. If Wells Fargo carries through on its current foreclosure threats, California homeowners

primarily neighbors of foreclosed homes will see a $3.3 billion reduction in their property values.



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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Pinole ribbon-cutting Friday will dedicate expanded restaurant

due Rose 2

A ribbon-cutting will be held at 5 p.m. March 1 to dedicate the expansion of Ristorante due Rose, which offers Italian cuisine at 1596 Fitzgerald Drive in the Pinole Vista Shopping Center.

The restaurant has expanded into space formerly occupied by Fabric Depo that almost doubles the eatery’s space, including the addition of a bar and private dining room.

As part of the opening celebration Ristorante due Rose will offer beer and wine specials from 5 to 10 p.m. this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as live music all weekend.


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:

Toys For All Ages​
Gift Cards
Gift Wrapping Paper
Clothes (new and/or slightly worn)
Shoes (new and/or slightly worn)
Non-perishable food
Roller Racks
Roller Bags
Gift Bags
To Go Food Containers (1000)
Eating Utensils
Hand Sanitizer
Bottle Water (40 cases)
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.


Pinole: National Punctuation Day on Monday will celebrate the presidential election

The ninth annual National Punctuation Day, that event founded in Pinole that promotes correct use of punctuation (or in the age of texting, the use of any punctuation at all), returns on Monday with an election year focus.
Here is the official press release:

The ninth annual National Punctuation Day (NPD), the September 24 holiday that reminds America that a “semicolon is not a surgical procedure,” celebrates the 2012 presidential election with a literary challenge — vote for your Presidential Punctuation Mark in one, highly punctuated paragraph!

The rules for contestants competing for a box of punctuation goodies are: Write one paragraph with a maximum of three sentences using these 13 punctuation marks to explain which should be “presidential,” and why: apostrophe, brackets, colon, comma, dash, ellipsis, exclamation point, hyphen, parentheses, period, question mark, quotation mark, and semicolon. You may use a punctuation mark more than once, and there is no word limit.

Contest entries must be received by September 30 to be considered for prizes.

Founded in 2004 by former newspaperman Jeff Rubin, NPD is listed in Chase’s Calendar of Events and The Teacher’s Calendar, two directories published by McGraw-Hill.

The NPD website, in addition to highlighting the latest in literacy news and featuring incorrectly punctuated signs from all over the world, serves as a resource that helps educators teach good writing skills and helps students understand the basics of punctuation. Business people worldwide use it as a reference guide.

There’s even a punctuation newsletter! The Exclamation Point! contains articles on the latest literacy news from around the world, book reviews, and commentary.

NPD is celebrated in public and private schools, and universities, businesses, and corporations with activities, games, programs, and contests. It has inspired people to pay attention not only to their p’s and q’s, but also their commas, semicolons, and ellipses. NPD reminds us of the importance of proper punctuation for communicating clearly at home, school, or at work.

NPD has received worldwide media attention. Each year, Rubin is a guest on dozens of radio shows, and NPD receives significant newspaper coverage throughout the United States and the world. NPD has been covered in Canada, England, Korea, Australia, Ghana, and the Philippines.

“Casual shortcuts bred by e-mailing and text messaging have no place in school papers or professional business writing,” Rubin says. “In the business world, words have power and help decision-makers form impressions immediately. Careless punctuation mistakes cost time, money, and productivity.

“Successful people have good communication skills, and that includes knowing how to write properly. Punctuation counts. A misplaced comma can alter the meaning of a message.”

Visit the NPD website to learn how schools and companies can participate in National Punctuation Day and to schedule an interview with Jeff Rubin.

What can you do to participate in National Punctuation Day on September 24?
1. Visit the NPD website to become familiar with punctuation rules and issues.
2. Organize punctuation activities at your school, library, or office.
3. Share punctuation peeves with founder Jeff Rubin on his website.
4. Send photos of incorrectly punctuated signage to Jeff Rubin at his website.
5. Forward this information to spread the importance of proper punctuation.


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 (www.self-sustainingcommunities.org), 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.


It’s the annual herring run in Point Richmond

If you haven’t been to Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline in Point Richmond lately, word is obviously out among the sea gulls that this is the place to be.
The annual herring run is an event not to be missed, but so far this year the buzz (or squawk) is not as great as last year.
A few seal lions were around Saturday and the pelicans came out at sunset, but right now it’s the sea gulls’ show and all we can do is think of Hitchcock.


West Contra Costa Science Fair award winners

The 55th annual West Contra Costa Science Fair awards ceremony was held Feb. 9 at Contra Costa College in San Pablo.
Of the 186 entrants, 65 middle school and 16 high school students won a total of 88 awards.
The eight West Contra Costa Unified schools participating in the fair were Juan Crespi, Lavonya Dejean, Helms, and Portola Middle Schools, Elizabeth Stewart and Mira Vista K-8 Schools, as well as El Cerrito and Pinole Valley High Schools. There were about 50 judges participating from the Alameda County CA Superior Court, Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Bio-Rad Laboratories, Chevron Corporation, Chevron Oronite, Cisco, Contra Costa College, CSU Northridge, Northwestern University, Synopsys Outreach Foundation, UC Berkeley, UC Extension, USDA Western Regional Research Center, and the West Contra Costa Unified School District. The judges evaluated the projects in the categories of Behavioral, Biological, and Physical Sciences for seventh through twelfth grades.
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