Christine Schiavo

Chevron settles for $200,500 with county and state over 2021 diesel spill in San Francisco Bay

The Contra Costa County district attorney’s office announced Friday that it and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have reached a settlement with the Chevron Richmond Refinery over a 2021 pipe rupture that dumped nearly 800 gallons of diesel into San Francisco Bay. Under the agreement, approved Monday in Contra Costa County Superior Court, Chevron will cover cleanup costs of $130,543.26 and will pay $70,000 in civil penalties to the state and county. “Corporations must be held strictly liable for…

Newsom signs family leave expansion to benefit lower paid workers

On Friday, California expanded family leave benefits, making it easier for lower wage-earns to take time off after the birth or adoption of a child, or to care for a family member. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 951, which extends for two years the family leave law that was set to expire at the end of this year. And in 2025, workers earning less than the state’s average wage — about $57,000 a year — will go from a…

At high risk for monkeypox? Richmond vaccine clinic is taking appointments

Appointments for monkeypox vaccinations at the Richmond Auditorium can now be made online for people at high risk of contracting the disease, Contra Costa Health Services said in a news release Wednesday. Appointments are required for the clinic on 25th Street and Nevin Avenue, and at one in Concord. Previously, Health Services required people to fill out a form requesting an appointment. They were then put on a waiting list for the vaccine. But an increase in supply has enabled…

Rosie the Riveter park’s most famous ranger retires at age 100

America’s oldest active park ranger, Richmond’s Betty Reid Soskin, who weaved her real-life experiences in the 1940s into programs at the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, retired quietly Thursday, six months after celebrating her 100th birthday. Soskin spent her last day on the job doing the work she has enjoyed for more than a decade — educating the public at the park, the National Park Service said in a news release. Soskin has been involved with the…

Striking Richmond Chevron steelworkers replaced, as negotiations stall

Steelworkers at Chevron’s Richmond refinery are on the third day of a strike reportedly over wages and hours. About 500 workers represented by United Steelworkers Local 5 went on strike Monday. A day before the strike, the company replaced those employees with non-union members. “The transition was handled with professionalism and respect on all sides, in response to the union’s plan to begin the strike at midnight,” Chevron spokesperson Tyler Kruzich said in an email. In a news release posted…

Mental health team will now handle some 911 calls in Contra Costa County

Mental health emergencies account for more than 1 in 10 of the 911 medical calls in Contra Costa County. A new program will now address those calls with crisis teams that include behavioral health professionals. This week, Contra Costa Health Services unveiled the Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime program, which will get clinicians involved in accessing medical calls and determining when a crisis response team is needed. The county is now hiring for the A3 pilot program, with plans to have the…

High absences prompt WCCUSD to close schools for two days

With a flare in COVID-19 cases keeping many students and teachers out of school this week, the West Contra Costa Unified School District has decided to shut down on Friday and Monday. The district will take two “smoke days” that the state allows superintendents to use at their discretion, to deep clean its buildings, Superintendent Kenneth “Chris” Hurst said in a news release Wednesday. Hurst attributed the high absentee rate to the omicron variant of the coronavirus, which is raging…

WCCUSD adds COVID-19 test sites to keep kids safe at school

Three more COVID-19 testing sites opened up this week for students and staff in the West Contra Costa Unified School District, which resumed in-person classes on Monday amid a coronavirus spike propelled by the highly contagious omicron variant of the virus. The district already was offering tests at most schools and on Tuesday, added the Alvarado Adult School in Richmond, the Ohlone Elementary School campus in Hercules, and the district central office in Richmond to that list. Those sites are…

New rule: Appointments needed for rapid tests at Contra Costa County sites

Contra Costa Health Services is now requiring appointments for COVID-19 rapid tests at its Richmond and San Ramon sites until further notice, as demand for the tests brought lines to testing centers this week. With the winter holidays coinciding with the arrival of the omicron variant in Contra Costa County, people have been flocking to Health Services test sites at 25th Street and Nevin Avenue in Richmond and at 2600 Camino Ramon in San Ramon, hoping to get tested ahead…

Three people test positive for omicron in Contra Costa County

Contra Costa Health Services reported Monday that it has identified the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19 in three people in Contra Costa County. “We knew it was just a matter of time before the omicron variant appeared in Contra Costa County,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County health officer, said in a news release. “We’ve been encouraging anyone who is eligible to get a booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to do so. With today’s news…

WCCUSD pushes vaccine mandate back a month

Students in the West Contra Costa Unified School District have until Feb. 18 to get vaccinated against COVID-19, after the School Board extended the deadline by more than six weeks. The School Board agreed to push back the deadline last week, as Contra Costa County reported that only about 1 in 4 children under 12 had been fully vaccinated, and fewer than half had received a dose of the vaccine. Q&A: What WCCUSD parents want to know about the COVID-19…

100-year-old park ranger Betty Reid Soskin feted by national media, honored by WCCUSD

It was a big week for Betty Reid Soskin, who turned 100 years old on Wednesday and was honored that day with the renaming of an El Sobrante middle school for her. Soskin has been an activist in the Bay Area and a park ranger in Richmond for many years and shows no sign of slowing down. She’s familiar to West Contra Costa school children who have taken her tours through Richmond’s National Historical Park, which has sites throughout the…

Smoky Chevron flare alarms residents, spews sulfur dioxide into air

A day after the Richmond Chevron refinery belched a plume of heavy smoke that wafted across the Richmond skyline, the company said the issue prompted a low-level community warning and was “quickly corrected.” Richmond interim fire Chief Michael Smith told the San Francisco Chronicle that the billowing smoke captured in photos on social media Tuesday afternoon was caused by a low-level flaring incident. The level is the company’s lowest and was issued “to keep residents informed,” Tyler Kruzich, a Chevron…