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    Albany falls short of block captains

    November 30th, 2007

    By Linjun Fan

    Less than a third of Albany’s 200-plus blocks have a person who can organize neighbors to evacuate in case of emergency, even though the city’s Fire Department has been trying to get people interested in playing the role for more than a year.

    A block captain is a trained volunteer who is able to coordinate neighbors to evacuate before outside help comes. A neighborhood can better deal with a disaster if they have someone ready for organizing a timely evacuation. Albany started its block captain program after the 1989 earthquake, and once had nearly 200 residents registered as block captains.

    But less than 10 percent of them remained active in 2006. Sandy Weeks, the disaster preparedness assistant of Albany Fire Department, sent out 200 letters to the block captains on her list but just got about 20 replies saying that they were still doing the job.

    “The others said they are too old, or no longer interested, or they don’t have time anymore, or they have moved, ” Weeks said. Read the rest of this entry »


    Advisor hired to assist Albany’s superintendent search

    November 28th, 2007

    By Linjun Fan

    Albany Unified School District Board voted Tuesday to hire a senior educator as its advisor for recruiting a new superintendent.

    Rudy Gatti, a retired veteran school administrator who helped Albany get its current superintendent William Wong five years ago, will come back to assist the board to select a successor to retiring Wong.

    “None of the current board members has been in the position of hiring a superintendent before, so he will give us good professional advice, ” said Charles Blanchard, vice president of the board. Read the rest of this entry »


    Advisor hired to assist Albany’s superintendent search

    November 28th, 2007

    By Linjun Fan

    Albany Unified School District Board voted Tuesday to hire a senior educator as its advisor for recruiting a new superintendent.

    Rudy Gatti, a retired veteran school administrator who helped Albany get its current superintendent William Wong five years ago, will come back to assist the board to select a successor to retiring Wong.

    “None of the current board members has been in the position of hiring a superintendent before, so he will give us good professional advice, ” said Charles Blanchard, vice president of the board. Read the rest of this entry »


    Cleanup work at Albany’s shoreline is extended for several weeks

    November 28th, 2007

    cleanup continued 

    Workers continue cleaning the Albany Shoreline three weeks after the ship Cosco Busan spilled 58,000 gallons of fuel oil into the San Francisco Bay on Nov. 7. Photo by Linjun Fan.

    Despite plans to complete work last weekend, crews are still cleaning the Albany shoreline after an inspection Monday resulted in more work ordered by the Unified Command.

    “Their standards are changing everyday, ” said Darren Johnson, a supervisor of the O’Briens Group contracted to clean up the spill. “It’s political.” Read the rest of this entry »


    Cleanup work at Albany’s shoreline is extended for several weeks

    November 28th, 2007

    cleanup continued 

    Workers continue cleaning the Albany Shoreline three weeks after the ship Cosco Busan spilled 58,000 gallons of fuel oil into the San Francisco Bay on Nov. 7. Photo by Linjun Fan.

    Despite plans to complete work last weekend, crews are still cleaning the Albany shoreline after an inspection Monday resulted in more work ordered by the Unified Command.

    “Their standards are changing everyday, ” said Darren Johnson, a supervisor of the O’Briens Group contracted to clean up the spill. “It’s political.” Read the rest of this entry »


    Cleanup of Albany’s tainted shoreline could be finished by weekend

    November 21st, 2007

    cleaning rocksWorkers are rubbing oiled-tainted rocks on Albany’s shoreline with rugs and pompom-like scrapers, since large sludges of oil have been removed. No chemicals are used to dissolve the oil to avoid further pollution. Photo by Linjun Fan.

    Three quarters of the oil spill along Albany’s shoreline has been cleaned, according to Darren Johnson, a supervisor for the O’Briens Group, the contractor for the oil spill cleanup, and the waterfront could be declared safe by weekend.

    “We are pulling resources here from other places, ” said Johnson. ” The work can be finished by Friday. “

    A record 146 workers were cleaning up the rocks near Albany Beach and at the Bulb Wednesday, 60 of them just arriving in the morning, while the others have been rubbing the tainted rocks in Albany for about 10 days. They won’t take a break on Thanksgiving Day, working for eight hours instead of their usual 12 hours.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Cleanup of Albany’s tainted shoreline could be finished by weekend

    November 21st, 2007

    cleaning rocksWorkers are rubbing oiled-tainted rocks on Albany’s shoreline with rugs and pompom-like scrapers, since large sludges of oil have been removed. No chemicals are used to dissolve the oil to avoid further pollution. Photo by Linjun Fan.

    Three quarters of the oil spill along Albany’s shoreline has been cleaned, according to Darren Johnson, a supervisor for the O’Briens Group, the contractor for the oil spill cleanup, and the waterfront could be declared safe by weekend.

    “We are pulling resources here from other places, ” said Johnson. ” The work can be finished by Friday. “

    A record 146 workers were cleaning up the rocks near Albany Beach and at the Bulb Wednesday, 60 of them just arriving in the morning, while the others have been rubbing the tainted rocks in Albany for about 10 days. They won’t take a break on Thanksgiving Day, working for eight hours instead of their usual 12 hours.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Beautiful moments in Albany

    November 21st, 2007

    dew on spider web

    Morning dew sprinkles on a spider web at Albany Bulb. Photo by Linjun Fan.


    Assemblywoman Loni Hancock blasted Coast Guard as incompetent

    November 19th, 2007

    pb200639.jpgAssemblywoman Loni Hancock spoke to dozens of Albany audience Monday. Photo by Linjun Fan.

    Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, said that the Coast Guard has “big problems” in their response to the oil spill during a speech at Albany Community Center Monday.

    Hancock got the conclusion from a legislative hearing she presided on the issue last Thursday.

    “What we were finding is that basically the Coast Guard has big problems about the way they responded to this and the timeliness of their response, ” Hancock said.

    Hancock said that booms weren’t set up to prevent the oil spill from polluting East Bay shorelines until it’s too late. Read the rest of this entry »


    Sing-a-long for babies at UC-Village in Albany

    November 16th, 2007

    baby singalong Babies are learning to sing and play with intruments at the Community Center of UC-Village in Albany last Monday. The sing-a-long has been going on for a few years there and is open to all Village residents on Monday mornings. Watch the audio slideshow to share some of their happiness. Photo by Linjun Fan.


    Oiled bird saved by patient volunteers

    November 14th, 2007

    pb150590.jpgbird savedPhoto by Linjun Fan.

    Two volunteers stood still several feet from an oiled bird at Albany’s beach for nearly 20 minutes Wednesday, before they finally made a dash to catch it for cleaning.

    Arlene Davis and Martha Wing, volunteers of Oiled Wildlife Care Network, caught the bird with a fishing net using great patience and a secret technique.

    “When they look away from you, you take some steps. When they look at you, you stop, ” said Wing, explaining the tactics they used to get the bird.

    The oiled bird stood close to water when the volunteers spotted it. They had to move gingerly so it wouldn’t flee into the water. The bird seemed to notice the two women when they got close, and keep an eye on them although it seemed to be looking at the water. So the two women had to stand motionless, waiting.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Most of Albany Bulb and Plateau reopen, rocks are being cleaned

    November 14th, 2007

    rocks are being cleanedPhoto by Linjun Fan.

    A second team of about 50 workers came to the Albany shoreline Tuesday and started scraping tar by hand and with spades from tainted rocks near the beach.

    By Wednesday, they had collected dozens of bags of thick tar, but it was unclear how much longer it would take for all the rocks on the mile-long shoreline to be cleaned.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Albany beach cleaned, but rocks remain tainted, and waterfront still closed

    November 12th, 2007

    oil spill 1Photo by Linjun Fan

    Twenty specially trained workers cleaned the Albany beach Sunday, though countless tainted rocks remain.

    The workers of NRC Environmental Services Inc., an Alameda-based company, came to Albany’s beach Sunday morning and finished the cleaning by early afternoon. Wearing protective suits and two layers of gloves, they picked up the oil sludge by hand, put it into plastic bags and carried them away by dumpsters.

    But the large splashes of tar on the rocks near the beach and along the mile-long shoreline were not cleaned. Getting rid of the oil spill on the rocks will require much harder work, since the spill is getting hardened and the rocks are spread out in a mile-long shoreline.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Cleaning-up of oil spill starts on Albany beach

    November 12th, 2007

    oil spill 2

    About 20 workers from an Alameda environmental service company started to clean up Albany beach Sunday morning. They were in protective suits and wore two layers of gloves to reduce exposure to the toxic oil spill. Oil sludges on the beach were picked up, put into plastic bags and carried away by dumpsters. The beach had largely been cleaned-up by 2:00 pm. Sunday. The omnipresent tar splattered on rocks along Albany’s shoreline hasn’t been taken care of. And the Albany waterfront, including the Plateau, remains closed. Photo by Linjun Fan.


    Albany shoreline splattered with oil, beach closed and birds doomed

    November 11th, 2007

    oiled birdA duck at Albany’s waterfront is drenched by oil spilled in San Francisco Bay Wednesday. Photo by Linjun Fan.

    The Albany shoreline has been heavily tainted by Wednesday’s oil spill in San Francisco Bay, when a tanker hit a Bay Bridge tower and leaked 58,000 gallons of oil.

    Clods of thick smelly oil lay on the Albany beach, which is now roped off by caution tape. Rocks on the mile-long shoreline are splattered with oily ooze. Dozens of birds struggle to fly with oil-drenched feathers at Albany Bulb. A few died, their bodies buried in solid tar.

    “I just started to cry, ” said Jean Derr, a dog-walker at Albany’s waterfront who first saw oil approaching the shore on Wednesday afternoon. “I have been watching over the years. This place has been getting full of beauty and wildlife, and getting cleaner, and now it’s ruined.”

    The entire shoreline area of Albany was closed to the public Saturday. East Bay Regional Park District staff are stationed at the entrance of the park to warn people not to enter the area.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Slideshow: Albany shoreline tainted by spilled oil

    November 10th, 2007

    By Linjun Fan 

    Albany’s beach is splattered with solid toxic contaminants and birds struggle with heavily-oiled wings. The beach was closed, and the East Bay Regional Parks District sent a helicopter to inspect the damage from the spill on the waterfront Friday afternoon. Katherine Cody, a homeless person camped at the Albany Bulb, and City Councilmember Joanne Wile are working together to save the dying birds. Watch the slideshow below for more.


    Albany City Council votes to move forward with waterfront planning

    November 9th, 2007

    waterfrontArtwork was created out of trash by amateur artists at Albany Bulb, a former dump sprouting half-a-mile out into the Bay. To the south is Golden Gate Fields racetrack. The Albany waterfront has been the focus of a bitter community fight for years. Photo by Linjun Fan.

    Albany took another “baby step” toward planning its waterfront as the City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to start a public engagement process to figure out what to to with the land.

    The council is trying again after the 160-acre land, which is largely occupied by Gold Gate Fields racetrack, became the center of a bitter community fight in 2006 over commercial development proposed by Magna Entertainment Corp., owner of the racetrack.

    The company dropped its proposal after it was opposed by a large number of Albany residents. But the community is still deeply divided on what they want to see on the land.

    “What we are moving towards here is an Albany plan, and we are looking to have some kind of consensus and vision within the community, “said Albany Mayor Robert Lieber. Read the rest of this entry »


    Albany voters will be asked to approve a pool-rebuilding bond measure in February

    November 8th, 2007

    pool Albany Pool, as the only public swimming facility in the city of Albany, was built in 1950s and is now used by both school students and elder community members. Photo by Linjun Fan.

    Albany voters will be asked to approve a $10 million bond to replace the city’s aging pool in February’s primary election, according to a decision made by Albany Unified School District Board unanimously at a special meeting on Tuesday.

    The bond money would be used to replace Albany Pool with two new pools and several classrooms adjacent to the pool building at Albany High School if approved by 55 percent Albany voters.

    “To get that 55 percent vote approval, you need to be extremely explicit with voters about what you are asking for, ” said Board President Miriam Walden. “The best thing to do is not to ask for a full extension of what we can get, ” she said later.

    The two new pools will both be indoors, the board decided after hearing from Albany residents. Read the rest of this entry »


    Dollar Menu: Albany considers buying historic building for just a buck

    November 4th, 2007

    Memorial BuildingKids played soccer in front of the closed doors of the Veteran’s Memorial Building at Albany on Friday afternoon, Nov.2. Photo by Linjun Fan.

    It seems like an offer Albany can’t refuse – paying Alameda County just $1 for the Veterans Memorial Building, a valuable piece of architecture located in the north side of the city.

    Built in 1930s, the 13,600-square-foot building is one of the most significant historical structures in the city. It is currently used by the county for veterans’ services and occasionally rented by Albany for community events.

    The county is willing to transfer ownership of the building to Albany for the low price as long as veterans’ groups can continue using the venue for their activities.

    “I am totally in favor of acquiring this building, ” said Albany Mayor Robert Lieber. “It only costs us $1 to get it. It’s underutilized now, and the city needs more space. ” Read the rest of this entry »


    A turf sculpture is being built at Albany’s Memorial Park

    November 2nd, 2007

    art at Memorial ParkPhoto by Linjun Fan.

    Oakland artist Gina Telcocci molds her curleycue turf sculpture at the east side of Albany’s Memorial Park on Wednesday afternoon.

    Work began in late October on the  Albany’s new public art piece in Memorial Park, a turf and concrete curleycue designed to match the nearby Veterans Memorial Building and to blend into the park environment.

    The spiraling turf design was chosen by Albany’s Art Committee in spring as part of the city’s parks renovation project.

    “The spiral will look like something coming out of the earth, “said Susan Adame, co-chair of the art committee. “It will be a very organic-looking piece. “

    Read the rest of this entry »