Part of the Bay Area News Group

Writing coach program puts out call for volunteers

By Chris Treadway
Friday, January 10th, 2014 at 12:47 pm in Albany, Berkeley, community, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Hercules, Kensington, Pinole, Richmond, Rodeo, San Pablo, Schools

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

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UPDATE: Dismantling of historic former Richmond tugboat has started

By Chris Treadway
Thursday, January 9th, 2014 at 11:58 am in El Cerrito, History, Richmond

John Stashik of El Cerrito sends this update on the tugboat Edward J. Engel, part of the Santa Fe Railway barge-moving fleet for 25 years and now meeting its demise at a shipyard in Alameda:

Two days after I snapped that photo the shipyard began cutting it up. Here’s a photo snapped by Amtrak Engineer Phil Gosney showing the wheel house gone.

You can read more about the Engel and its history, with related links, in this post.


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Outlook gloomy for historic Richmond tugboat salvaged in Oakland Estuary

By Chris Treadway
Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 at 11:23 pm in Richmond

An artifact of Richmond’s railroad and maritime history remains afloat in an Alameda boat yard, but faces a future that is uncertain at best. The tugboat Edward J. Engel, built in 1945 and named for the Santa Fe Railway president at the time, was once part of a fleet that moved barges from Richmond to points around the Bay from 1945 to 1969, when the railroad discontinued service as trucks became the preferred way to move freight.
These are photos and a bit of background on the Engel from John Stashik of El Cerrito, who knows about such things:

A bit of Richmond history here. This tug boat was built for the Santa Fe Railway and was part of their San Francisco Bay “navy” that moved car barges from Ferry Point in Richmond to San Francisco (Fisherman’s Wharf and China Basin), Alameda, Oakland, and Tiburon.

Two photos: at work in 1946 in San Francisco, and 1-1-2014 at Bay Ship & Yacht in Alameda snapped as I motored on by. Partially submerged since 2007 in the Oakland Estuary it was refloated and moved to the shipyard. I don’t know what will happen next.

This article describes the raising of the Engel from the Oakland Estuary in December after it was found to be leaking oil into the water and impeding boat traffic.
In another era, it would have simply been turned into a floating restaurant.



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Group reports of December sea lion rescue from Cerrito Creek

By Chris Treadway
Tuesday, January 7th, 2014 at 1:07 pm in Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, environment

From the December e-newsletter of Friends of 5 Creeks:

(Sick) Sea Lion on tidal Cerrito Creek

On Saturday, Dec. 21, the Marine Mammal Center rescued a disoriented sea lion that had swum up tidal Cerrito Creek to Pacific East Mall, at the foot of Albany Hill. Most wildlife sightings are exciting: River otters are making their way into cities; F5C members recently enjoyed watching a great horned owl on the edge of Codornices Creek.

This sighting, however, was not good news. The young male sea lion was sick from domoic acid. This deadly toxin is produced by so-called “red tide” algae, and accumulates in shellfish and other prey that birds and mammals eat. Blooms of these toxic algae seem to be becoming more common in San Francisco Bay.

The likely reason seems surprising: The Bay is becoming clearer. Our cities discharge massive amounts of nutrients to the Bay in treated sewage. But a muddy bay kept sunlight from stimulating growth. Today, though, dams trap mountain erosion that formerly washed downstream. Mud washed down by hydraulic mining over a century ago is dwindling. The Bay’s hardened shorelines can’t erode. And recent lack of rain and storms means little new erosion or disturbance.

Our Cerrito Creek sea lion — still being cared for at the Marine Mammal Center as this is written — is not proof of anything. But life really is a web. Even lowly mud, or lack of it, has far-reaching effects. Our Feb. 3 Bay Currents talk, Mud Matters, will explore these fascinating interconnections, as well as some hopeful ways that mud may help us protect and revitalize the Bay. Please join us!

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El Cerrito curtails Community Center services Tuesday in memory of staff member Angela Saridis

By Chris Treadway
Monday, January 6th, 2014 at 11:01 am in community, El Cerrito

The El Cerrito Recreation Department issued the following announcement this morning:

El Cerrito Community Center Office Services Limited & H20 Aerobics Cancelled

To honor the life of longtime City of El Cerrito staff member, Angela Saridis and in support of the Saridis Family, on Tuesday, January 7th there will be very limited Office Services 10:30am-2:00pm & Water Aerobics is canceled to permit staff to attend funeral services.

Customers are encouraged to visit/call the office before 10:30am or after 2:00pm. We thank you in advance for your understanding.

Funeral Arrangements for Angela Saridis:

Viewing: Monday, January 6th 4pm-8pm
Location: Sunset View Mortuary, El Cerrito

Funeral Service: Tuesday, January 7th 11 am
Location: Oakland Greek Orthodox Church
4700 Lincoln Ave Oakland

-City of El Cerrito Recreation Department

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El Cerrito: A Christmas classic from the King Cole Trio, which played in town at the Kona Club in 1948

By Chris Treadway
Wednesday, December 25th, 2013 at 1:15 pm in Contra Costa County


A lot of top acts played El Cerrito during the city’s night club era, and among the best was the King Cole Trio, which came to the Kona Club for a one-week engagement in August of 1948. The trio, led by the smooth vocals of Nat King Cole, had a major hit in 1946 with “The Christmas Song,” which became a classic of the season. Listen to the song below, then click this link to read a great story by Mark Evanier about “The Christmas Song” and its co-author, sing Mel Torme.

(Thanks and a tip of the hat to Paul Hallaman for pointing us to the video.)

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El Cerrito police seeking robbery suspect

By Chris Treadway
Monday, December 23rd, 2013 at 4:56 pm in Crime, El Cerrito



El Cerrito police today issued an advisory and photos of the suspected perpetrator of a robbery on Kearney Street on Dec. 20:

Advisory: Robbery Suspect

On Friday, December 20th, at approximately 1330 hours, the pictured suspect followed a woman into the 400 block of Kearney Street. He then yanked her purse off her shoulder and fled on foot. The victim had just purchased a pot and began to strike the suspect numerous times in the upper body region. The suspect was able to wrench the victim’s purse free and flee on foot. The suspect may now have a contusion on his face. The El Cerrito Police Department is asking the public’s assistance in this case. If you can identify this suspect, please contact the ECPD (510) 215-4414 ext 40, reference case number 13-24069. You can always be an anonymous. Let’s solve this one together.

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Overnight lane closures on Carquinez Bridge scheduled for Saturday night

By Chris Treadway
Friday, December 20th, 2013 at 4:08 pm in Crockett, transportation

Three of the four lanes on the eastbound Carquinez Bridge will be closed starting at 11:55 p.m. Dec. 21 and reopen no later than 6 a.m. Dec. 22, Caltrans announced Friday.
The closure is needed to repair a bridge deck joint and the project is being scheduled to minimize traffic disruption, but there still may be delays, the agency warned.

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El Cerrito: Specialized alphabet spelled out goals for boys at historic Chung Mei home

By Chris Treadway
Thursday, December 19th, 2013 at 12:53 am in Berkeley, community, El Cerrito, History


The Chung Mei Home for Chinese Boys was founded in Berkeley in 1923 and operated in El Cerrito from 1935 to 1954, but it was only this year that its historical significance received official recognition.
A reception tonight at El Cerrito City Hall celebrated the finding that the site of the former orphanage is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Also on display were bound copies of the home’s newsletters from 1928-44, recently donated to the El Cerrito Historical Society.
Several alumni of the home attended the reception and described their memories of life there to those in attendance, much of it involving the discipline and values stressed at the Baptist-sponsored Chung Mei.
In the video above, Paul Chan, now a Dublin resident, recites from memory the Chung Mei alphabet the boys had to repeat each day, each letter standing for a desired virtue.

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Richmond firefighters raise funds for Doctors Medical Center

By Robert Rogers
Wednesday, December 18th, 2013 at 4:48 pm in community, Contra Costa County, History, Richmond, San Pablo

Richmond firefighters raised more than $8,000 this fall by selling pink “Richmond Fire” T-shirts. The money will go to funding breast cancer treatment programs at the Doctors Medical Center Cancer Center in San Pablo our center.

Fire officials will present the hospital a check at 1:45 p.m. Thursday in the cancer center’s parking lot.

A fire truck will be on hand, said DMC spokeswoman Remy Goldsmith.

Firefighters sold the T-shirt at community events to raise the money.

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