Historic Rail Building Reborn as Bank

October 30, 2007

By Nicholas Kusnetz

The Mechanic’s Bank opened its new Point Richmond branch in the newly restored Santa Fe Reading Room Monday, marking the rebirth of one of the city’s oldest buildings. Representatives from city and state government joined bank officials and community leaders to commemorate the event at the corner of Garrard Boulevard and East Richmond Avenue.

The opening marks years of work by Point Richmond residents and community groups, which moved the structure from its original place at the Santa Fe Rail Yards north of Point Richmond to its new spot at the gateway to the historic and wealthy neighborhood.

“This is one of those situations where the outcome is greater than the sum of its parts,” said Richard Mitchell, Richmond director of planning and building services. “From a planning standpoint, this works well.”

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Hundreds Flock to Richmond’s House of Terror

October 29, 2007

Halloween came early this year at Richmond’s Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center. The House of Terror, a haunted house and Halloween festival sponsored by the city’s recreation department, was in full swing even before the sun began to set on Saturday afternoon. Friday was the opening night for the two-day event.

Exactly how terrifying is this House of Terror?

“We even had parents running out of here last night,” said Kymberlyn Carson-Thrower, recreation and program coordinator for the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center on Harbor Way South.

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Renewed Focus on English Proficiency at School Meeting

October 26, 2007

MDAC Meeting

From left to right: Raul Morales, Harpreet Sandhu, Jorge Tovar and Jessica Tovar discuss parent teacher conferences at the opening meeting for the Multilingual District Advisory Committee

By Nicholas Kusnetz

Parents and teachers of English learners met Thursday night with the goal of doing more this year to help their children move quicker to English proficiency. At the opening meeting of the Multilingual District Advisory Committee, members discussed how to speed reclassification, when a student is no longer considered an English learner.

“Too many of our students are taking too long to meet our requirements,” said Susan Dunlap, district administrator with English language services, in an earlier interview. Read the rest of this entry »

Not Doing Anything Friday? Why Not Meet the Mayor?

October 26, 2007

Friday, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin will host Richmond’s first weekly opportunity to meet with the mayor.

“I want to hear from everyone who attends so there will be an opportunity to sign up to speak with a limited time to share ideas or ask questions,” said McLaughlin, in her most recent e-newsletter.

The Friday meetings are open to the public, and will be held at the Whittlesey Community room next to the Richmond Public library between 5:30 and 6:30 in the evening. In this hour, McLaughlin invites the public to speak, but also admits that not all questions will be answered on the spot.

“Some will likely require follow-up,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin is a member of the Green Party, and was elected mayor of Richmond on November 7, 2006. She has lived in the city since 2001.

Extra Police on Richmond Streets

October 25, 2007

By Nicholas Kusnetz

In anticipation of an escalating territorial conflict, the Richmond Police Department has extra officers on the street today, with several two-man cars patrolling the city’s south side.

The move comes a day after a 7-year-old boy was hit in a drive-by shooting and on the same day as the funeral of Ramona Price, 44, who was shot on Chanslor Avenue last week, also in a drive-by. The police fear emotions after the two events could fuel a larger conflict, said Lt. Mark Gagan.

“There’s going to be a very passionate response,” Gagan said.

Gagan did not directly associate the two shootings, but said there is a specific battle unfolding.

“It looks like Fifth and Chanslor is fighting with 20th and Chanslor,” he said.

The boy, who suffered a broken thigh, was shot on the 400 block of South 38th Street. He is in stable condition.

As The College Cycle Begins, Richmond Youth Fall Through the Cracks

October 24, 2007

By Anna McCarthy

For anyone thinking about going to college, now is the time to begin looking seriously for funding. Or so says the Foundation Center-San Francisco spokesperson Scott Ullman, who recently presented a workshop on finding money for college at the Richmond Public Library.

But few students enrolled in the Richmond public high schools are even considering college, let alone worrying about how to pay for it.

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Court Sets Hearing Date for the Diaz Brothers

October 24, 2007

Last Friday, the trial for two brothers charged with the murder of San Pablo man last year was set Friday for December 11, according to Judge John Sugiyama of the Contra Costa Municipal Court.

Rafael Diaz Valencia, 19, is charged with murdering 21-year-old Jose Cervantes on November 21, 2006. His brother, Hector Manuel Diaz, is charged as an accessory to the murder. Both face prison time, and Valencia may face the death penalty.

The brothers were arrested after their victim named Rafael Diaz as the man who shot him just before he died at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. San Pablo police arrested the suspects that same morning at their homes in Rodeo and Hercules, and they were taken into custody at the Martinez County Jail.

According to Contra Costa Times, at the time, the murder marked the sixth for San Pablo in 2006, which was the highest murder rate since 2003.