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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.

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El Cerrito announces upcoming road pavement work

ec streetwork

El Cerrito is planning to do pavement resurfacing work at a number of locations around town (see the map above) this week and next and advises that minor traffic delays could result.

The announcement from the city:

Roadwork Underway on various City Streets; Expect Temporary Traffic Impacts April 23, 24, 30 & May 1

El Cerrito, CA: Roadwork to improve a number of local streets in El Cerrito is underway. Weather-permitting, the pavement work planned for Wednesday and Thursday, April 23 and 24 will cause minor traffic delays (up to 5 minutes) for local traffic. The pavement work planned for Wednesday and Thursday, April 30 and May 1 will require temporary road or lane closures lasting 3-4 hours resulting in temporary detours and brief delays (up to 5 minutes) to local traffic.

This project is funded by the City’s Measure A Street Improvement Fund, (the El Cerrito Pothole Repair, Local Street Improvement and Maintenance Measure passed by voters in February 2008) and a $354,000 State-Local Partnership Program (SLPP) grant.

The street segments included in this project have moderately distressed pavement and will be resurfaced by applying an Asphalt Rubber Cape Seal treatment that is composed of a two-layer system of asphalt rubber chip seal with a slurry seal surfacing. Work has been underway for the last several weeks mainly constructing curb ramps at various locations associated with this project.

The streets included in this Project are:

· Bay Tree Lane

· Carquinez Avenue – Barrett to Lagunitas

· Cutting Blvd – Arlington to Junction

· Edwards Avenue – Barrett to Pointsett

· Jordan Avenue – Nason to Alta Punta

· Julian Drive

· Julian Court

· Knott Avenue – San Pablo to Key

· Lawrence Court

· Potrero Avenue – Arlington to Douglas

· Regency Court

· Scott Street

· Tamalpais Court

· Yuba Street – North City Limits to Zara

· Waldo Avenue – Pomona to Ashbury

More information, including a map of the project is on the City’s website at: http://ca-elcerrito.civicplus.com/index.aspx?NID=516

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A look at the Albany Theater through the years, part 1

Albany theater 1920s
This photo of Solano Avenue from the late 1920s shows the original Albany Theater, a small one-story building at the left that dates from 1914 and hosted vaudeville. Behind it is the two-story building that was built as an Italian organization meeting hall. The hall would be renovated and reopened in 1935 as the Albany Cinema. In its original form, the meeting hall had two storefronts at street level and a ballroom and meeting rooms on the second floor. Note the Southern Pacific street car tracks (and overhead wires) on Solano and the Key System tracks on San Pablo Avenue in the foreground.

(Click on the pictures for a larger view.)

The movie house on Solano Avenue known over the years as the Albany Theater (or Theatre), Albany Cinema, and now the Albany Twin, is a survivor in an era when many neighborhood film emporiums have closed. Victims include The Oaks at the Berkeley end of Solano, shuttered for several years.
But the Albany Theater was not the original venue with that name, nor was it originally a theater.
It succeeded a one-story predecessor next door on Solano that was built in 1914 and operated as a vaudeville venue.
The second Albany Theater was originally a two-story meeting hall built in 1926 by an Italian-American organization. It had two storefronts on the ground floor and meeting space and a dance floor above.
The building was purchased in 1934 by a successful theater operator who hired Berkeley architect William Garren to redesign the building to show movies. Plans were announced in November 1934 and the building’s interior was gutted and turned into a movie house that opened in 1935.
Garren took control of the theater when the man who hired him died and the well-known architect would go on to manage it for the next 30 years, becoming a popular figure in town, becoming a leader of the business community and serving on Albany commissions.
One longtime resident recalled that homebuilder C.M. MacGregor would annually treat the local kids to a free matinee and ice cream at the theater and would dance down the center aisle wearing a tam o’shanter and singing a little ditty.

Garren had a good run as the unplanned cinema operator, but finally bowed out in 1965. He did remain active in civic affairs for some years to come.
Jack Tillmany, who managed the Albany Theater after Garren stepped down and provided many of the photos and clippings we will post here. He offered the following reminiscences:

In the early 1960s, I managed the Piedmont Cinema in Oakland for Martin Foster, who also operated the Parkway Cinema on Park Blvd. Both of them were tremendously successful, thanks mostly to a well selected format of popular titles, such as the James Bond and Pink Panther series at the Piedmont, and more international fare at the Parkway, seasoned with hotties like Dr. Strangelove and Romeo and Juliet. It was inevitable that Foster would expand and the Berkeley market beckoned. In October 1965 he took over the Albany from William Garren and I was promoted to general manager for the three enterprises. Garren had operated Albany as a mom and pop venue for the local family trade, with Saturday afternoon matinees for the kids, etc., all of which had, by that time, had become part of a bygone era. Foster wanted to appeal to the Berkeley crowd, with more of an off beat, and European flavor, and the changeover was an immediate success, bringing new life into a dying operation, and a new Berkeley audience who had probably never before ventured that far West on Solano Ave.

The earliest (circa 1941) and only photo I’ve ever seen of Albany, is before its 1950 remodeling, when SP trains still ran on Solano Avenue.You can’t see much of the theatre, except its original vertical, and the “Any Seat Any Time 30 cents” sign on the West wall, but that sort of says it all.

Albany circa 1941
The Albany Theatre (“30 cents cents any seat, any time”) about 1941 with a streetcar of the Southern Pacific line in the foreground. At the left is the S.P. (Southern Pacific) Store, managed by Max Etingoff and now Max’s Liquors. Also note there is a street level billboard on Solano at the left of the streetcar.

Tillmany continues:

I really don’t think Garren every quite understood the 1960s or what was happening to his beloved theatre, but it had suddenly become part of the era and Foster was smiling all the way to the bank. I remember one evening, with a sell out crowd inside and a line around the corner and up the block waiting for the next show, and Garren stopped by and just looked around in amazement! Here it is in June 1967, with another tremendous success that Foster had milked dry at the Parkway and then moved up to the Albany for an even longer, continued run, Georgy Girl.

Albany June 1967
The Albany Cinema as it looked in June of 1967. In addition to its original conversion, the building by this time had undergone three remodeling projects inside or outside.

garren1934
Work to convert the meeting hall to a movie house began late in 1934 and it opened in 1935. The interior was gutted and the second floor removed to create an auditorium and the exterior was remodeled and a marquee added. Note that plans included an airplane beacon and a nursery with cribs and toys.

garrenremodel1945
Plans were filed in 1945 to remodel the theater’s interior.

Albany Newspaper 02 6 Jan 1965
Newspaper coverage of an exterior remodeling in 1950.

COMING UP NEXT: BATMAN COMES TO THE ALBANY THEATER

albanytheater2014a
The Albany Twin as it looks today.

albanytheater2014b

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Caltrans overnight paving work at maze will cause closures, detours

Caltrans issued the following news release today about paving work planned at the MacArthur Maze that starts April 24:

Caltrans Plans Polyester Overlay at Maze Structure Beginning April 24 with Full Freeway Connector Closure

ALAMEDA COUNTY – On April 24, 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 MacArthur 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

· 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 MacArthur 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 real-time traffic, click-on Caltrans Quick Maps or follow us on Twitter.

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Richmond: Parks group seeks protection for Field Station shoreline

Richmond’s City Council agenda on Tuesday includes discussion of the electronic billboard at Pacific East Mall next to Interstate 80, which could provide interesting discussion over its legality, which has been questioned by Councilman Tom Butt.
The group Citizens for East Shore Parks, meanwhile, is more interested in the item after the billboard, which is titled “Resolution to Protect the Coastal Prairie at the Richmond Field Station,” submitted by Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles.
CESP issued the following email call to it members:

Please come to the City Council and support a resolution directing staff to remove any consideration in the South Richmond Plan for vehicle traffic through the coastal prairie at the Richmond Field Station- and to prepare alternatives for the Plan that only show vehicle being routed around the coastal prairie.

Why is it important to protect the coastal prairie?
Today, less than one percent of California’s original native grassland ecosystems remain intact! The Richmond Field Station is recognized by the California Native Plant Society for priority protection because it contains the last undisturbed native coastal prairie grassland adjacent to the San Francisco Bay Shoreline. This native grassland is an intact remnant stand that functions as a reference assemblage – invaluable for the study of how this threatened ecosystem functions and as an example of its community type for restoration ecologists. A great goal for the scientists at UC Berkeley.

Click here to view the resolution.

The City of Richmond will post the Council agenda online. Check the website here: http://ci.richmond.ca.us/index.aspx?nid=151.

It is item # I-2– which won’t be until 7:15 pm or later. But, you must sign in to speak prior to the item being called.

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El Cerrito/Richmond then and now: A former drug store building enters the natural food age

Amerio Drugs in its neon sign glory days had an ice cream fountain counter and parking in the back, shared with neighbor El Nido Market.

The neon sign and soda fountain of Amerio Drugs on San Pablo Avenue are long gone, but the building (actually located on the Richmond side of the city limits) is still there.
Amerio succumbed to the fate of most independent pharmacies, eventually being replaced by a paint store and then sitting vacant for a number of years.
After an extensive remodeling it reopened earlier this year as The Annex, the prepared store of the El Cerrito Natural Grocery Company, which established a thriving location next door at the former El Nido Market.
The neon sign on the front of the former drug store has been replaced by a wood facade, with solar panels installed on the roof.

The El Cerrito Natural Grocery Company Annex has opened in the Amerio Drugs building, offering a salad bar instead of ice cream sodas.

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Richmond Museum of History exhibit features home front-themed quilts, including three related to Japanese-American internment

Fourth grade students at Posten Relocation Camp in Arizona stitched their names onto panels they made while imprisoned during World War II.

Richmond Museum of History Director Melinda McCrary describes the quilt made by fourth grade Japanese-American students of teacher Masako Hirata in the Posten War Relocation Camp in Arizona, part of the “Quilts of the Home Front” exhibit at the museum through June 6.
The 70-plus-year-old quilt is one of three on display in the exhibit related to the Japanese-American internment during World War II.

Piecing Memories: Recollections of Internment


“Piecing Memories: Recollections of Internment,” a work by quilters of the Berkeley-based Japanese American Services of the East Bay, has panels of images of life in the camps, including guard towers, prisoners in uniforms and people huddling to shelter themselves from the harsh and dusty desert winds.

Threads of Remembrance


Threads of Remembrance done in three sections, with a middle panel showing a guard tower stitched into the background behind barracks denoting each of the camps.

The exhibit is on display through June 6 and there is a special admission charge of $3 along with the regular museum admission of $2. Museum hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. For more details visit www.richmondmuseumofhistory.org or call 510-235-7387.
See video of the fourth-graders’s quilt and a description of it by museum director Melinda McCrary on the West County blog at www.ibabuzz.com/westcounty/.

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Arlington Avenue in Kensington through the years

Arlington and Amherst avenues circa 1914.

The former Arlington Drugs in Kensington has been a familiar sight since it was opened by Louis Stein Jr. (Cal class of 1924) in the 1920s. The store changed hands a couple of times after Stein retired and finally closed its pharmacy window last year, converting to a general store that closed earlier this year.
The location has recently reopened as the second location of longtime Berkeley business Country Cheese Company. Store co-owner Shirley Ng remodeled the interior to accommodate the change to a food business, but also worked with the U.S. Postal Service to retain the postal window established during the drug store days and beloved by Kensingtonians.
She also said this week that the Rexall Drugs sign on the outside of the store is also something of a local landmark and will be retained.
Here are some views of the area over the years.

Arlington at Amherst circa 1950.

Arlington at Amherst today.

The Rexall Drugs sign will be retained at the Country Cheese Company store.


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Vote online through Friday to help the Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante win a $25,000 grant

The Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante is in a tight Facebook voting competition to land a $25,000 grant from Windmere Realty and is appealing to the community for help.
The club has been a central part of the community for more than half a century and provides minimal cost after school and other programs for young people in its part of El Sobrante and Richmond. An award of $25,000 could be made to go a long way for the nonprofit organization
Voting can be done once a day through Friday at this link or this one. Scroll down to the El Sobrante listing and click. Your vote(s) could be the difference.
Below is the message the club has been sending to its supporters:

Friends and Family,

We really need your help.

Our Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante has been selected as the only NOR-CAL non profit to participate in a Facebook Voting challenge to win a $25,000 grant for our Kids!

Please help us win by taking a few seconds of your day to vote for The Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante by going to the Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante’s Facebook page or by using the link provided below.

You can VOTE ONE TIME, EVERY DAY,
from NOW until APRIL 4th .

Every Vote, Every Day counts and you can help us win 25K for all those children that need us most! Thank you in Advance for joining us for this Challenge!
WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER!

Please Vote for Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante here: https://apps.facebook.com/windermere-re/charitychallenge OR on the Windermere Facebook Page (tab at top): https://www.facebook.com/WindermereRealEstate

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It’s a Beautiful Day plays Point Richmond; another concert coming up

David and Linda LaFlamme and It’s a Beautiful Day (Acoustic) perform their 1969 hit “White Bird” at First United Methodist Church in Point Richmond on March 28.
The next show in the Point Richmond Acoustic concert series will be songwriter Craig Carothers and Bay Area’s own Grammy-nominated duo Quiles and Cloud on April 11. Tickets and details: www.pointacoustic.org.