Richmond: Eastbound I-580 lane closures at Richmond-San Rafael Bridge announced

Caltrans issued the following release today about lane closures for its ongoing work on Interstate 580 at the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge:

Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Eastbound Lane Closures Begin Monday Night, 8:30 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Contra Costa County – Caltrans has scheduled lane closures on eastbound Interstate 580 at the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. The closures are necessary so that the paint crew can move scaffolding to a new location.

· One lane will be closed Monday night – Friday night, from 8:30 p.m. to 4 a.m.

· This work will continue through mid-June.

· No closures are scheduled for Friday night, May 23 and Monday night, May 26.

Motorists should expect travel delay and allow more time to reach their destination. Drive cautiously through the construction zone. Leave a safe traveling distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you and “Slow for the Cone Zone.”

For more information about Caltrans projects, visit the webpage at http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/


Smartphone thefts prompt warning from Berkeley police about distracted walking

Berkeley police have issued the following advisory this week in the wake of ongoing street robberies of smartphones:

Berkeley Police Reminder: Avoid Distracted Walking

If you’re reading this message on your smartphone while walking alone, put your phone away and look around.

Smartphone robberies from lone pedestrians at night account for the largest number of robberies in Berkeley. Some simple steps can reduce your chances of being a victim.

Don’t use your smartphone while outside. Walk with others when possible. Be aware of your surroundings.

Of the 309 pedestrian robberies last year, 63 percent occurred with people who were walking alone and 58 percent had their smartphone in their hand.

Some victims had phones forcibly taken from them. Others were convinced by seemingly friendly strangers to take their phone out of their pockets or let a stranger borrow it.

Be aware of locations and situations that could make you more vulnerable to crime – such as alleys, doorways, parking lots and stairwells.

Berkeley is not unique. Smartphone robberies have become a problem throughout the country due to their high value and easy sale on black markets. They are sold for hundreds of dollars and often shipped abroad.

Using your phone’s security features can also be a deterrent. For example, people using Apple products with the latest operating system, iOS7, can permanently disable a stolen phone using the Activation Lock feature.

Please report suspicious activities by calling the Berkeley Police Department at 510-981-5900. If it is a life threatening emergency or a crime in progress dial 911.


Richmond: Interstate 580 repaving work planned

Caltrans will be doing nighttime repaving work this week on Interstate 580 just before the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and advises motorists to expect delays. The agency issued the following announcement Friday afternoon:

Interstate 580 Scofield Avenue and Western Drive
Bridge Decks Replacement Project
Lane and Ramp Closures for Paving

Contra Costa County – Lane and ramp closures resume for the Interstate 580 construction project just east of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.

· Wednesday night, May 7, and Thursday night, May 8, Caltrans will close one eastbound lane and one westbound lane from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.

· Friday night, May 9, Caltrans will close one eastbound lane and one westbound lane from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.

· The eastbound I-580 on-ramp from Stenmark (formerly Western) Drive will be closed May 7 and 8 from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., and May 9 from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Detour: travel east on I-580 across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, exit at San Quentin, and return to eastbound I-580.

· During these closures, motorists should expect travel delay and allow additional time to reach their destination.

This is an active construction site and the 45 MPH speed zone will be enforced by the California Highway Patrol. Drive cautiously through the construction zone and leave a safe traveling distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you and “Slow for the Cone Zone.”

For more information about the project, call the message line at (510) 286-5820 or visit the Caltrans webpage at http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/580scofieldave/


Friends of 5 Creeks gardening tips to minimize water use

Some advice from the latest newsletter from Berkeley-based Friends of 5 Creeks (www.fivecreeks.org):

Water-saving tips

Learn how to lose your lawn: For many homeowners, the easiest way to save water (along with effort and money) is to shrink or get rid of lawn. The Bay Friendly Coalition offers a free workshop, with individual advice, at 10:30 AM Sat., May 3, at the California Native Plant Society’s Native Here Nursery, 101 Golf Course Dr., in Tilden Park. This also is a great place to find drought-tolerant, wildlife-friendly, replacement plants.

Nursing new plantings through the summer: Our delicious late rains have been a reprieve, but summer will be dry. With time, it is possible to develop a flourishing garden that needs no watering. (Summer water under coast live oaks, our species of the month, can kill them.) But even drought-tolerant plants generally need some summer water until their roots are established. At F5C’s restoration projects, we found that tough natives survived with deep watering once a month from June or July to October.
Drip irrigation usually saves water, but it can be leak-prone and costly to install. Here are some techniques that don’t require even drip irrigation:

Most basically, plant in fall, giving plants a rainy season in which to get established. Use lots of mulch, which holds water like a sponge, shades the soil, and discourages water-stealing weeds.
Along with a new plant, install a tube with a small opening at the bottom that lets water drain slowly to deep roots. Fill it occasionally. The tube can be a commercial product – or an upside-down plastic soda bottle.
Use a bucket or bag with a small opening that drains slowly. As with tubes, these can be commercial products – or old buckets or plastic trash bags.
Consider a tree tube or tree shelter. This is a translucent plastic tubes, held in place with a stake, serving mainly to protect young trees from hungry animals. But they also help retain moisture in windy areas, and condensation inside the tube can provide a little extra water.
Consider commercial gels that release water slowly, such as DriWATER.

Submit your own water-saving tip to the group at https://app.icontact.com/icp/sub/survey/take.

Click here for to read the F5C information sheet, “Why Should You Save Water? And How?”


WWII Wednesday: Olive Oyl works as a wartime welder


Olive Oyl was already a popular cartoon star by the time the United States entered World War II, but still did her part during the war by puncing the clock as a welder. Amorous advances by co-workers Popeye and Bluto lead to some workplace safety issues, however.

While work on the Popeye cartoon “Mess Production” started months earlier, it actually was released by Famous Studios on Aug. 24, 1945, 10 days after VJ Day.
The cartoon incorporates a number of gags from two 1930s black-and-white Popeye cartoons from the Fleischer Studios (predecessor of Famous Studios): “A Dream Walking” and “Lost and Foundry,” as well as the 1942 Superman cartoon “Destruction, Inc.”, a wartime cartoon with Lois Lane in the Rosie the Riveter role.



El Cerrito and Richmond high school athletes of the 1940s and ’50s relive glory days at annual reunion

Sights from the annual Newell Sports Luncheon, a gathering April 25 at the Salesian Boys & Girls Club in Richmond that reunites 1940s and 1950s athletes who attended Richmond Union and El Cerrito high Schools.

cerro square
Baseball greats Jackie Jensen, Ernie Broglio, Mickey Mantle, Darrell Johnson, and Billy Martin at the opening of Martin’s Cerro Square Club (formerly the Six Bells) in El Cerrito in 1961.

ruhs 1951 champs 2 landis
The 1951 Richmond Union High Oliers team that tied with El Cerrito for the league title. The team had two players named Jim Landis, and one of them went on to a major league baseball career.

richmond merchants
The Richmond Merchants team.

reid bates dedication
Charles Reid and Nat Bates at the dedication of the Sheilds Reid Center. Reid played baseball for the Pierce Giants of Richmond. Bates was on the El Cerrito High Gauchos squad in the early 1950s, when his teammate was Pumpsie Green, who later broke the color barrier as the first black player with the Boston Red Sox.

pierce giants 1921
The Pierce Giants, an early black team, in 1921.

oil can
The Richmond Oilers were well represented at the luncheon.

kamb trophy
Ron Kamb, left, presents a plaque of appreciation to Jack Newell, second from right, for “keeping athletics alive.” Next to Kamb is Pete Schober, and on the right is RUHS grad Mike Farmer, who went on to play at USF and in the NBA.

jim landis 3
Jim Landis holds a picture from his playing days with the Chicago White Sox.

el cortez
The 1948 champion El Cortez merchant team.

ec baseball 1950s
Ernie Broglio (back row) was one of the members of the El Cerrito team, playing high school and American Legion ball before starting a professional career.

art smrekar
Three-time gold medal water skiing champion Art Smrekar, a graduate of Richmond Union High.


Berkeley’s UC Theatre through the years

UC Theatre 1917
The theater as it looked when it opened in 1917.

Plans to renovate and reopen the historic UC Theatre on University Avenue in Berkeley were announced last week.
Here is a look at the landmark movie house over the years:

UC Theatre 1917small
Another view from 1917.

UC Theatre 1924small
By 1924 the theater had added a marquee and vertical sign.

UC Theatre 1933small
The theater in 1933. It was the height of the Great Depression and a repossessed furniture store was next door.

UC Theatre 1942
The theater soldiered on during World War II.

UC Theatre 1968small
The UC Theatre in 1968, when its neighbor was the underground newspaper Berkeley Barb.

UC Theatre Interior RTF small
Interior of the UC Theatre in its heyday.

UCT Watercolor Rendering_Small
Watercolor rendering of the theater as it would look renovated as a performance venue.


A look at the Albany Theater through the years, part 2: The great Batman promo of 1966

Albany Batman January 1966 a

Former Albany Theater manager Jack Tillmany offers this great reminiscence about the Batman promotion at the movie house in 1966 that was tied in not to the wildly popular TV show that debuted that year, but to the reissue of the black-and-white 1940s movie serial issued during the war:

In late 1965 Columbia Pictures had tremendous success with the re-release of their 1943, 15 episode serial, Batman and Robin, selling it as a “High Camp Folk Orgy” (love that 60s vernacular!). In San Francisco it played to turn away crowds, week after week, at the Presidio, and I convinced Foster to play it at the Albany. Since it was my idea, I had to promote it for all it was worth, and had two of my employees dress up as Batman and Robin, and drive around Berkeley in the Batmobile, which was actually a 1959 black Chevrolet convertible, which belonged to one of them, and couldn’t have been more perfect. They had a ball, and we sold out just about every performance night after night, for several weeks.

Unfortunately, Tillmany adds that he can’t remember who the two employees were who got to portray the Dynamic Duo.
The promotion and serial screening arrived in Albany in January 1966, the same month the TV show hit the air.

More photos of Batman and Robin’s appearance at the Albany Theater are below (click for larger views), along with video of the opening sequence of the 1943 serial.

Albany Batman January 1966 b

Albany Batman January 1966 c

Albany Batman January 1966 d

Albany Batman January 1966 e

Albany Batman January 1966 f


Berkeley Yacht Club will mark 75 years with special postal cancellation on Sunday


The U.S. Postal Service announced a special event on April 27 to celebrate the 97th Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association Opening Day on the Bay and the 75th Anniversary of the Berkeley Yacht Club:

Special Postal Cancellation Marks 75th Anniversary of Berkeley Yacht Club and 97th Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association Opening Day on the Bay 2014

Distinct Global Ocean Stamp Plaques Presented

Berkeley, CA — In celebration of the 97th Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association (PICYA) Opening Day on the Bay 2014 and the 75th Anniversary of the Berkeley Yacht Club, the U.S. Postal Service will provide a special cancellation with the Sea Surface Temperatures Forever Stamp that depicts Earth temperatures generated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). There will be two ceremonies at this event. The first ceremony is at the end of the 97th Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association Opening Day on the Bay at 5pm. The second ceremony opens the evening celebrations for the 75th anniversary of the Berkeley Yacht Club at 6pm.

When: Sunday April 27, 2014

4-8pm Sale of Stamp and Free ‘Building Bridges Special Postal Cancellation’

5pm Ceremony Presenting Stamp Plaque to Pacific Inter-Yacht Club Association
6pm Ceremony Presenting Stamp Plaque to Berkeley Yacht Club

Where: The Berkeley Yacht Club, 1 Seawall Drive, Berkeley, CA www.berkeleyyc.org

This Building Bridges pictorial cancellation is a line drawing created especially for this event by Building Bridges Art Director Karen Lile and artist Aneka Bean, inspired by a photograph of the Golden Gate Bridge with sail boats, power boats, and a tug boat in parade for PICYA Opening Day on the Bay. This special cancellation is part of the Building Bridges Series which began in 1996.

The Global: Sea Surface Temperatures Forever Stamp went on sale April 22, 2014 for customers to mail a one-ounce First-Class letter overseas. Customers may buy this stamp and have it cancelled by the Building Bridges Special Postal Cancellation, only from 4pm-8pm at the Berkeley Yacht Club. This $1.15 stamp is also available at usps.com/stamps, at 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), at Post Offices nationwide or visit ebay.com/stamps to shop from a wide variety of postage stamps and collectibles.

The 1.27 inch diameter stamp depicts a visual representation of the planet’s sea surface temperatures. It shows the Earth with North America at the center and parts of South America, Asia and Europe just visible on the edges, surrounded by vivid bands of color throughout the oceans.

The image on the stamp is one frame in a 1,460-frame animation created from a computer model of Earth’s climate by NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. The animation has been used by Science On a Sphere, a room-sized educational display that projects a variety of images and views onto a sphere six feet in diameter. The full animation shows how the surface temperatures of the oceans vary seasonally and change over time, and how surface ocean currents transport heat and water around the globe.

The image also combines the depiction of sea-surface temperatures with visible vegetation on land masses, an element derived from a satellite composite created by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Postal Service Art Director William Gicker designed the stamp.

As part of the postal cancellation and Global Ocean Stamp celebrations, there will be entertainment and refreshments.

More information on Building Bridges may be found on www.buildingbridgesofpeace.com


Caltrans reschedules paving work at MacArthur Maze

Rain this week prompted Caltrans to reschedule the start of its paving project at the MacArthur Maze to April 29. The agency issued the following announcement today:

Caltrans Polyester Overlay at Maze Structure Delayed Until April 29th Due to Weather

ALAMEDA COUNTY – On April 29th, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will initiate a paving project in the I-580/I-80 maze structure. Construction crews will lay down a fresh coat of durable, long-lasting polyester concrete.

The work schedule will be Tuesday night through Sunday morning every week for the course of the project. During the closure the McArthur on-ramp will be closed and traffic detoured to Powell Street. The first closure will be westbound I-580 to eastbound I-80 connector (full closure). Changeable Message Signs and detour routes will be clearly visible.

Closure Times

Tuesday – Thursday

· 11:00 P.M – 5:00 A.M

Friday – Saturday

· 11:59 P.M – 7:00 A.M

Detour Routes

There are currently two detour maps available on the Caltrans District 4 website. Please visit the website to view Detour Map 1 and Detour Map 2

· Westbound I-580 traffic will be detoured on I-80 westbound to the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge Toll Plaza parking lot where commuters will be able to return to I-80 eastbound.

· The McArthur on-ramp to I-80 eastbound will be closed and traffic detoured to Powell Street on-ramp to I-80 eastbound.

Motorists should expect delays in the area and are advised to use alternate routes during the closure period. Drivers are advised to remember that traffic fines are doubled in construction zones.

Please “Slow For The Cone Zone.” For the most up to date traffic information, visit our webpage or follow us on Twitter.