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Archive for the 'Rodeo' Category

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.

Posted on Monday, February 3rd, 2014
Under: community, Crockett, El Sobrante, Hercules, History, Pinole, Port Costa, Richmond, Rodeo, San Pablo | No Comments »

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.


Posted on Thursday, January 16th, 2014
Under: Albany, community, Contra Costa County, Crime, Crockett, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Hercules, Kensington, Pinole, Port Costa, Richmond, Rodeo, San Pablo | No Comments »

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

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, the El Sobrante Historical Society at, the Pinole Historical Society at, or the Richmond Museum of History at 510-235-7387 or

Posted on Wednesday, January 15th, 2014
Under: Albany, community, Contra Costa County, Crockett, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Hercules, History, Kensington, Pinole, Port Costa, Richmond, Rodeo, San Pablo | No Comments »

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

Posted on Friday, January 10th, 2014
Under: Albany, Berkeley, community, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Hercules, Kensington, Pinole, Richmond, Rodeo, San Pablo, Schools | No Comments »

1940: When a trip to the service station was worth dressing up for


Gas was only 18 cents a gallon in 1940 (equivalent today of about $2.40 a gallon) and competition was so fierce among oil companies that they not only gave you free road maps, they boasted about how much extra service they provided, checking the oil and tires and cleaning the windshield.
Union Oil promised “Minute Man” service with no sales pressure, leaving this couple free to converse while their roadster is tended to.
Note that the “76″ logo is square, rather than the familiar round version we know today.
The longtime Union Oil refinery in West County, originally established in 1897 in what was then a company town known as Oleum, is now the Phillips 66 refinery in Rodeo.



Posted on Friday, August 23rd, 2013
Under: History, Rodeo | No Comments »

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 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 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.

Posted on Monday, July 1st, 2013
Under: Crockett, Hercules, Pinole, Port Costa, Rodeo | 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 »

Caltrans announces more ramp closures for work in Hercules

A late announcement from Caltrans:

On Thursday night, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and Friday night, from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., there will be various lane closures on eastbound I-80, between State Route 4 and the Crockett off-ramp.

Ramp Closures for Landscape Activities
· On Wednesday, July 27, and Thursday, July 28, Caltrans will close the eastbound I-80 Hercules off-ramp from 10 p.m. to 6.a.m. Detour: exit at the eastbound I-80 Willow Avenue off-ramp
· The eastbound State Route 4 to eastbound I-80 connector ramp will be closed Wednesday night, July 27, and Thursday night, July 28, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and Friday night, July 29, from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. Detour: Continue north on San Pablo Avenue to Willow Avenue and turn right. Continue on Willow Avenue. Take the on-ramp to eastbound I-80.
· The westbound SR 4 to eastbound I-80 connector ramp will be closed Wednesday night, July 27, and Thursday night, July 28, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and Friday night, July 29, from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. Detour: Continue on John Muir Parkway. Turn right on San Pablo Avenue. Continue on San Pablo Avenue to Willow Avenue and turn right. Continue on Willow Avenue. Take the on-ramp to eastbound I-80.
· Friday night, July 29, the eastbound I-80 Hercules off-ramp is scheduled to be closed from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. In addition, the eastbound I-80 Willow Avenue off-ramp is scheduled to be closed from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. Note: the eastbound Hercules and Willow Avenue off-ramps will not be closed at the same time. As the contractor completes work at the Hercules off-ramp, work will proceed to the Willow Avenue off-ramp. Detour: During the Willow Avenue off-ramp closure, drivers may reach Willow Avenue by taking the State Route 4/Hercules exit (right lane), then turn left on Willow Avenue.

Posted on Wednesday, July 27th, 2011
Hercules, Rodeo | No Comments »

A little help from the church

It hasn’t been an easy year for public education. For the John Swett school district, the state budget cuts have translated into layoffs, program cuts and elimination of basics like librarians and custodians.

Pastor John Wright of Full Gospel Fellowship Church in Hercules has decided some local help is needed. Wright has teamed up with Steve Trotter, principal of Rodeo Hills Elementary School in Rodeo, and launched a new web site:

The site has a general list of needed items (everything from colored pencils to glue sticks to disinfectant wipes) and drop-off locations. Right now Full Gospel is the only official drop-off point but more are coming.

Teachers in all grades at Rodeo Hills have also posted their personalized wish lists on the site.

So if you’ve got some extra school or office supplies around the house, or you don’t mind picking up a little extra while doing your back-to-school shopping this summer, check out the new site!

Posted on Monday, July 18th, 2011
Under: Crockett, Hercules, Port Costa, Rodeo, Schools | No Comments »