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    AUSD votes 4-0 to put parcel tax on ballot

    August 6th, 2009

    By Barbara Grady

    Across California, local public school districts are picking up a job abandoned by the state by passing measures to adequately fund their schools. In ballot measures using words like “emergency” and “education preservation” 44 California school districts asked voters this year and last to approve parcel taxes rather than make students endure crowded classrooms or high school without sports, as the state would have them do.

    In Albany on Tuesday night, the board of education voted unanimously to put an emergency parcel tax measure on the November ballot. It would be a five-year tax of $149 per household (or parcel) per year to plug the holes in school funding brought on by the state’s $11 billion cuts to education. One board member was absent but all others voted for the measure. Read the rest of this entry »

    “Save Our Sports” event coming up

    August 4th, 2009

    The athletes at Albany High School are just not going to let Arnold Schwarzenegger and state legislators take away their bats and balls, championships and opportunities to compete.

    Instead, coaches, athletes and parents have organized “Save our Sports” – a massive fundraising tournament and auction they hope will raise enough money to let AHS continue its 18 interscholastic sports this year despite losing half its sports funding to state budget cuts.

    Their “Save Our Sports” fundraiser is a golf tournament, auction and dinner planned for August 21st at the Tilden Park Golf Course and the Emeryville Hilton Garden Inn.

    The goal of this event is to raise $50,000 to save “all” sports at Albany High School,” said Stephen Dunkle, coach of the high school swimming team and one of the organizers. Read the rest of this entry »

    Citizen Journalism Anyone?

    July 17th, 2009

    A proposal for news gathering on Albany Today
    Dear Albany Today reader:

    Albany received an incredible gift when UC graduate student Linjun Fan decided to set up a news blog about this community for her journalism degree master’s project. AlbanyToday.org became a vehicle for residents to learn about local issues and events. But, alas, Linjun has completed her degree and gone home.

    Since January, I had been helping Linjun when I had time by writing education stories and a few business stories. I felt, and still do, that Albany residents need to know about the decisions and issues affecting their community and I admired the journalism experiment Linjun undertook. But I have had only limited hours to give to Albany Today because my real work must take precedent. That continues to be the case and, as you can see, I file stories only once in a while. Although Linjun in her farewell letter optimistically said I would carry on Albany Today, we had only informally discussed that and I had not yet decided. Now, I have another idea – that WE ALL carry it on. Read the rest of this entry »

    Letter from Albany resident on green living

    July 11th, 2009

    By Catherine Sutton

    Dear fellow Albany residents,

    I want to invite you to join me on a very important project, to start a “Transition Albany Initiative.”

    When I was in England this Spring I saw a premier of the movie Age of Stupid and vowed to put my best energy this year into moving as many people as I could influence towards a lifestyle that would begin to lessen our effect on global warming and climate change.

    A few weeks later I discovered Transition US and took a Training for Transition in Oakland with 35 other people of all ages and demographics. I brought away a lot of good information about the seriousness of the triple threat of Climate Change, Peak Oil and economic insecurity, and, most important, on a positive way to look at the opportunities they present in our very own communities. Read the rest of this entry »

    Albany joins East Bay Green Corridor

    July 8th, 2009

    By Barbara Grady

     The City of Albany has joined the East Bay Green Corridor Partnership, which should open the way for Albany to participate in the green jobs creation and green business recruitment that its neighboring cities of Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville and Richmond pursue.

     Joining should also help Albany to benefit from $76 million in federal Stimulus money awarded to the Partnership for weatherization, green job training, bio-energy research and carbon capture endeavors.

     “We are a small city,” without the space or clout to attract large businesses, said Albany Mayor Marge Atkinson. “But by leveraging strengths with the other cities and sharing information,” Albany can participate and benefit by the burgeoning green economic activity, she said.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Albany celebrates 4th of July

    July 7th, 2009


     “Green, Red, White & Blue Day” in Albany featured lots of games, music and dance but zero waste.


    Jewel Okawachi and Jim Mullarkey of the Albany Historical Society greet visitors.


    Watermelon eating contest gets down to the finish line

    AUSD Board passes budget

    July 2nd, 2009

    By Barbara Grady-Ayer

    After a tumultuous planning season amidst the state’s financial crisis, the Albany Unified School District board of education passed a budget Tuesday night for the 2009-2010 school year. It will spend $46.8 million to educate 3,846 students in five different schools, enduring an 18 percent cut in state funding by getting by with fewer teachers, janitors and secretaries as well curtailed arts, drama, and athletic programs.

    But the district managed to save some key positions and academic programs that were once on the chopping block thanks to a federal Stimulus grant of $987,023 and contributions from the community of $288,000 raised by SchoolCARE. Administrators said they anticipate other fundraising groups will soon announce donations, too. Read the rest of this entry »

    House on Buchanan caught on fire

    June 30th, 2009

    A house on 907 Buchanan Street in Albany caught on fire at around 6 pm Monday. The fire lasted for several hours before firefighters put it out. The house was severely burned but no person was injured.

    Bienvenido Galas, a tenant who lives there, said he was sleeping in his room when he sensed something went wrong.

    “Suddenly everything was hot, ” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

    You can make Albany Today alive

    June 22nd, 2009

    Linjun and Barbara

    Linjun Fan and Barbara Grady on a biking trip recently. Barbara will continue working on Albany Today after Linjun returns to China.

    Dear Readers,

    I’ve finished my studies at the Graduate School of Journalism at UC-Berkeley last month, and am about to go back to my home country China. I am very glad that I’ve served you well with meaningful news stories about the community in the past two years, and thankful for your trust and support of Albany Today.

    At the City Council meeting last week, Mayor Marge Atkinson presented me an award, each members of the Council said words of appreciation to my work, and the audience applauded heartily. I was deeply honored and touched. Two years ago when I first arrived at the town from the other side of the globe, I knew not a single person in town. Now I feel I’ve built such great bonds with so many of you here that it’s hard to say goodbye. Read the rest of this entry »

    City Council honors reporter for developing community news website

    June 19th, 2009

    Council Honoring
    Albany Mayor Marge Atkinson awarded an Appreciation of Work to Linjun Fan for her work of developing Albany Today Monday. The news website is “an invaluable asset to our community”, said the City Council in the document. Photo by Allen Cain. Click here to watch the video recording of the meeting online.

    Albany police seek information from public in investigating man’s death

    June 18th, 2009

    Albany Police are investigating the death of a man whose body was found on the Albany Hill two months ago.

    The man was identified as Alfredo Vega Gamboa, an auto mechanic who lived in Richmond. 33-year-old Gamboa was found dead in the woods on the west side of the hill on the morning of Saturday, April 18th. Read the rest of this entry »

    AUSD Superintendent outlines plan

    June 11th, 2009

    By Barbara Grady-Ayer

    After describing grim financial news she received from state education leaders, Albany Unified School District Superintendent Marla Stephenson on Monday laid out the plan for how Albany schools will function next year with a drastically reduced budget.

    Stephenson said the district will be receiving $1,100 less per student from the state in the new academic year than it did for the year just ending. That is almost a 20 percent loss, she said.

    To view a video of her talk, please click here

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Councilmember starts Car-free Challenge for Albany

    June 10th, 2009

    Bikers are ubiquitous in the town of Albany, which prides itself on being one of the “greenest” cities in California. “Being Green” is in fashion. Albany Councilmember Farid Javandel has signed up for a Car-Free Challenge recently, and resolved to drive no more than 30 miles for the month of June. Can he really achieve that goal? Is it possible for the whole town to follow suit? Here is what Javandel says about  his car-free endeavors: Read the rest of this entry »

    Albany residents petition City to act on nuisance houses

    June 8th, 2009

    Albany resident Mindi Ritzman and Jennifer Dyment wrote the letter below to urge city officials to solve the problems with two dilapidated houses on their block:

    “We live on the 900 block of Jackson Street, which contains two abandoned houses – 947 and 953 Jackson Street. Over the years individuals in our neighborhood have asked the city – Community Development Director, Building Manager, City Attorney, Council Members, and other city staff – for help in correcting these problems. Unfortunately, all of our individual requests have been disregarded. So we created a petition to ask, as a large group of residents affected daily by these properties, that our elected officials on the City Council simply do what is outlined in Chapters 12 & 18 of the Municipal Code. Read the rest of this entry »

    Senior Albany City Staff passed away

    June 8th, 2009

     Barry Whittaker

    Barry Whittaker, an employee of the City of Albany who oversaw major public construction projects, passed away from a car accident recently.

    69-year-old Whittaker was riding his bike at a street crossing in Hercules City when he hit into a car on a recent Monday, according to Ann Chaney, Director of Community Development Department of Albany. Read the rest of this entry »

    Albany High School students traveled to Mali to help build school

    June 7th, 2009


    Kayla Nachtsheim, a sophomore at Albany High School, traveled to a village in Mali, West Africa to help build a school for local children recently. She will give a presentation on her work there on June 24th, Wednesday, 6:15 pm, at the Albany Community Center, Edith Stone Room, together with Jeff Cooper, an AHS junior who also joined the work organized by buildOn.

    Albany Police Department holds Neighborhood Watch meetings

    June 5th, 2009

     Neighborhood watch meeting

    69-year-old Albany resident Judy Tanaka signed her name at a Neighborhood Watch meeting at the Albany Senior Center recently.  The Albany Police Department is holding a series of meetings for each neighborhood in the city to help residents stay alert on crimes.  Contact Karina Tindol, the department’s newly-hired Community Engagement Specialist at 510- 812- 6240 for more information about how you can benefit from the program.  Photo by Linjun Fan.

    Mountain biking at AHS? Origins of a winning team

    June 4th, 2009

    Article and photos by Michael Mejia,  Coach for the Mountain Bike Team at Albany High School.

    Newspapers lowered at the barber shop the other day when Jerry paused during my crew-cut and asked about the Mountain Bike Team. The customers, many old Cougars themselves, understand football and wrestling – but racing mountain bikes as a high school sport? You’re kidding, right? Read the rest of this entry »

    What Governor’s action, May 19 vote mean to Albany

    June 2nd, 2009

    By Barbara Grady-Ayer

    Albany schools are likely to take some very serious hits in September now that California voters defeated the May 19 budget initiatives and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has responded by putting forth another round of harsh cuts.

    Gov. Schwarzenegger in recent days outlined a draconian budget plan that includes taking another $5 billion away from education. Combined with February’s cuts to education, that would mean a loss of at least $1,000 per student by next September.

    Albany Board of Education members say that size cut will all but eliminate the chances of preserving the school programs that it voted in February to put on provisional list for cutting in a worse case scenario.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    School Superintendent introduces latest budget situation

    June 1st, 2009

    Superintendent Marla Stephenson of the Albany Unified School District will give a report to the community on the 2009-10 budget on Monday, June 8th, 6 pm – 7 pm at the Albany Community Center. It’s a good opportunity to find out how the latest state budget cut would impact Albany schools.