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The Year in Review - 2012



University of California leaders announced this morning that Lawrence Berkeley National Labs has selected the Richmond Field Station as the location of its second site. Lexi Pandell.

Lawrence Berkeley National Labs selects Richmond for second site.

“George wasn’t just a black mayor,” said Councilman Nat Bates, whose career in Richmond politics began in the 1960s alongside his friend and mentor's. “He was a mayor for all people." Robert Rogers.

George Livingston, former Richmond mayor, laid to rest



Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus took the stand Wednesday, the first time the jury has heard from him since testimony began in the racial discrimination lawsuit filed against him. Rachel Waldholz.

Magnus defends himself in discrimnation suit

After more than a month of proceedings, one of Richmond’s biggest murder trials in years is in the jury’s hands. Closing arguments Thursday painted two starkly different pictures of the evidence against Joe Blacknell III. Robert Rogers

Closing arguments recount Richmond crime spree, differ on whether Blacknell responsible

Later this week, more than a dozen young men suspected of being Central Richmond’s most violent offenders will be sitting around a table at the city’s civic center. They will be surrounded by Richmond residents, community leaders, clergy, law enforcement, and the District Attorney in an effort to engage them in a conversation about ending gang violence in the city. Mark Oltmanns

Richmond’s first Ceasefire “call-in” to debut soon



The USS Iowa, a World War II-era ship that’s the fastest battleship ever built, stands out in the Richmond marina. The 887-foot long gray hull dwarfs the surrounding ships and containers that are scattered around the harbor. Thomas Kleinveld

WWII battleship USS Iowa overhauled in Richmond, becomes floating museum

Joe Blacknell III was found guilty Thursday of 20 felony counts, including the first degree murder of Marcus Russell in 2009. Robert Rogers

Blacknell convicted in murder of Marcus Russell, other counts.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky last Thursday morning, and the sun beat off Richmond Bay in an inlet just east of Point Richmond. In this part of Richmond, the natural mixes closely with the industrial: construction equipment and piles of scrap metal standing a quarter of a mile high jutted obtrusively into the view of the sun on the water. Wendi Jonnasen

Dangerous levels of DDT pollution in the Richmond Harbor



If you live in the Bay Area, there’s one question you’ve probably asked at some point: why on earth doesn’t BART run past midnight? Over Presidents Day Weekend, it did. When construction shut down parts of the Bay Bridge, BART ran around the clock between San Francisco and the East Bay. We head underground to find out what happens when the trains don’t stop — and why it can’t be like this all the time. Rachel Waldholz

The night that BART didn’t stop

On Monday morning, the County Assessor’s Appeals Board denied Chevron’s appeal of its tax assessment value for the years 2007 – 2009. Representatives from the oil giant had argued that the county had overvalued the property taxes due from the company’s Richmond oil refinery, and that it was owed a refund of up to $73 million. The appeal was the largest in the county’s history, according to County Assessor Gus Kramer. Lexi Pandell and Rachel Waldholz

Board denies Chevron’s tax assessment value appeal



City council leaders in Richmond voted 5-2 on Tuesday night to put a special soda tax proposal on the November 6 ballot. The soda tax would add a one cent per ounce surcharge to soda and other sugary fruit drinks that contain less than ten percent juice. Spencer Whitney

Soda tax voted on to Richmond ballot

David Meza was the victim of a hit-and-run incident in March. A white sedan struck him as he rode his bicycle near Pennsylvania Avenue and Harbour Way, then sped away. Robert Rogers

Ride of Silence raises awareness for Richmond bicyclists



After 20 years, on June 1st, West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) was able to pay off its $47 million state loan to the state of California four years ahead of schedule. WCCUSD, previously known as the Richmond Unified School District, filed for bankruptcy in 1991 and became the first district in the state to enter receivership. Spencer Whitney

WCCUSD pays off debt

A study of the average weight of students in middle schools throughout California reveals that cities in Alameda and Contra Costa counties have a high number of children who fall into the category of overweight or obese, including nearly half of the kids in Oakland and Richmond. Theresa Adams

Nearly half of students in Richmond and Oakland overweight, study finds



From January through May of this year, reporter Alexis Kenyon wandered through the neighborhoods of Richmond taking photos and audio recordings of the people she met. She asked individuals to tell her anything about themselves or Richmond. These are the people she met and what they had to say. Alexis Kenyon

Richmond: Voices and Images

Under a full moon, thousands gathered on Tuesday evening at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond to celebrate the 4th of July a day early. Richmond’s annual fireworks show drew spectators from cities around the Bay Area. Jennifer Baires

Richmond celebrates 4th of July with fireworks and music



Richmond Confidential is getting reports of a large fire burning at the Richmond Chevron refinery. Early this evening, Richmond residents reported hearing sirens and seeing flames that were visible from miles. The rising plumes were dark black, nearly blotting out the sun as they drifted eastward. They were as dark and looked as dense as thunderclouds in certain spots. Jennifer Baires, Spencer Whitney, Becca Friedman and Tawanda Kanhema

BREAKING: Fire at Chevron refinery in Richmond

A fire engulfed part of a Chevron oil refinery in Richmond Monday evening, sending large plumes of smoke and chemical fumes into surrounding residential areas. Large plumes of dark smoke with a pungent smell of chemicals hovered over Richmond at sunset, as fire sirens wailed and streets were cleared. Tawanda Kanhema & Jennifer Baires. Fire engulfs part of Chevron refinery in Richmond

When he was 20 years old, John Roulac had no idea that the pain and sluggishness he was experiencing while shooting hoops would lead him to found Nutiva, one of the fastest-growing health food companies in the United States, which will soon move into a new warehouse in Point Richmond and expects to hire about 100 local workers. Jennifer Baires

Health food company Nutiva moving to Richmond, hiring 100 workers



A U.S. district judge told city attorneys this morning that Richmond didn’t “stand a chance of a prosecution” in enforcing its campaign disclosure laws against an anti-soda-tax group. Rachel de Leon

Federal judge grants anti-soda-tax committee exemption from campaign disclosure law

The results of the state’s high school exit exams, released near the end of August, show that students in the West Contra Costa County School District lag behind the state average in combined English and math scores. Lauren Kate Rosenblaum

Richmond high school exit exam scores released



The story of Romeo and Juliet: It’s an archetype that’s as old as the ancient Romans and the tale of “Pyramus and Thisbe,” whose defiance of a bitter family feud for love cost them their lives. In the 1500s, William Shakespeare borrowed from the myth, turning the story into his classic play that’s been retold and reimagined across settings and media, from Broadway’s “West Side Story” to Hollywood blockbuster “Romeo Must Die.” Rachel Witte

Young poets adapt ‘Romeo and Juliet’ to tell story of Richmond gang violence

Due to a surge in player turnout this season, Richmond High School's football program has fielded its first junior varsity team in two years.

“It feels like I’m out there representing Richmond,” Juan Esparza said. “It makes me want to get out there and work harder.

Rachel Witte

Ready to Play



When the official returns came in on Wednesday morning, Richmond voters had decided that after the most expensive campaign in city history, what they wanted was familiar faces. Incumbents Nat Bates and Tom Butt were re-elected to the City Council, and Gary Bell, who will return to the dais after an eight-year hiatus, will take the seat vacated by retiring Councilmember Jeff Ritterman. The city’s proposed tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, Measure N, was defeated. Stephen Hobbs, Rachel de Leon, Rachel Witte, Tawanda Kanhema faces ELECTION RESULTS: Voters seek familiar faces

For many high school teams, a 6-4 record and a 4-1 record in league play might seem like an average season. For the Richmond High School junior varsity team, it was more than head coach Andy Odisio could have ever expected. “I know for many players, just about 99 percent, it was the first time that they had been involved in football,” Odisio said to his players. “And that for some of you, the scrimmage against Concord was the first time ever competing on an organized team.” Stephen Hobbs.

JV football celebrates championship season

Point Pinole is perfectly silent except for the squawks of birds flying overhead and the occasional cringe-inducing crunch under foot. The low tide exposes a muddy stretch of shoreline, the rocks red and Martian-like under the setting sun. Sean Greene

Wading with the oyster catchers



Meet Young Shorty Doowop, or Y.S.D., one of Richmond’s rising stars — a female rapper and R&B artist who’s been writing her own songs since childhood. She performs around the Bay Area, dishing up beats from her first album, “I Love All My Fans: The Mixtape” and a new single, “Flexin’ on Em” (which comes with its own dance). Sara Bernard and Justin Pye Bandwidth: Hip hop artist YSD makes waves in Richmond

For the third year in a row the Kaiser Permanente Richmond Medical Center has been listed as one of the best hospitals in the country by the Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit group that surveys hospital performance. Justin Pye

Kaiser Permanente Richmond Medical Center receives top hospital designation