2021 Year-in-Review Part 2

File photo Dennis took an extended leave in December after more than 15 years with the Sun.

2021 Year-in-Review Part 2

Part II
The second half of 2021 was filled with stellar moments, but was ultimately marred by a horrific tragedy. Here are the most memorable moments between July and December 2021.

July 1 was the launch of the Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Service. The ferry service station cost $23 million construction began in 2019 and was completed in 2020. The launch of the ferry service was deferred a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding and support for the project were provided by the Alameda County Transportation Commission, Alameda Point Partners, the City of Alameda, and the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA). The Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal is WETA’s third ferry terminal within the City of Alameda.

APD’s Violent Crimes Unit assisted in the arrest of seven individuals on July 5, for their involvement in a series of robberies throughout the Bay Area. The involved parties are believed to be members of a robbery crew, according to Hayward Police Department (HPD) reports. The members were charged with 54 total counts, including robbery, aggravated kidnapping, firearms charges, and narcotics violations, according to reports. The robberies took place in cities within Alameda Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Solano, and Sacramento counties. This robbery crew targeted businesses such as Starbucks, Walgreens, CVS and Rite-Aid.

Several Alameda businesses were hit with lawsuits by a serial lawsuit filer who is taking advantage of a legal loophole. Michael Lee, owner of Sandwich Board at 2412 Webb Ave., and Mark Rodgers, owner of Lola’s Chicken Shack at 1417 Park St., are two out of dozens of business owners along Park Street served an American with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit by Orlando Garcia. Garcia has a disability and uses a wheelchair. ADA violations cited in the lawsuits include slope entrances being too high and not offering an ADA-compliant table outside the businesses. Garcia and his lawyer have filed dozens of similar lawsuits throughout the Bay Area including in San Francisco and Oakland.

On July 29, the community members gathered to honor the newly named Chochenyo Park. The celebration included speaker remarks, music and a picnic dinner. Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft joined Corrina Gould — tribal spokesperson for the Confederated Villages of Lisjan and Co-Founder of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust — and Rename Jackson Park members Raquel Williams and Rasheed Shabazz in addressing those gathered for the celebration. Recreation and Parks Commissioner Adrienne Alexander, Rhythmix Executive Director Tina Blaine “Bean” and artists from Creating Our Future also spoke. On Jan. 19, the City Council directed staff to dename Jackson Park due to the atrocities committed by its namesake, President Andrew Jackson.

On Aug. 6, Encinal Junior/Senior High School students, staff, alumni, and Alameda community members gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony in front of the school’s new courtyard. The new campus includes: a new class room building overlooking the Bay, fully modernized 200, 300, and science buildings, new landscaping and student gathering areas in the front of the campus, outdoor basketball courts, upgraded fire alarms, PA systems, phones, clocks, classroom technology and campus power systems. The renovation of the new campus took two years to complete.

In August, several Alameda firefighters traveled 280 miles north of the city to help extinguish the Monument Fire near the town of Big Bar. By Aug. 7, the fire had burned 44,317 acres. The fire wasn’t fully contained until Oct. 27 after burning 223,124 acres. A July 30 lighting strike ignited the blaze.

East Bay Regional Park District (EBPRD) workers reached an agreement with the EBPRD Board of Directors to end a work strike threat on Aug. 31. EBPRD workers received salary increases that are on par with the median salary of similar Bay Area public agency employees. The new agreement was reached after eight months of negotiating. The new deal ended the threat of a strike, which would have impacted Labor Day Weekend festivities at the park district’s 73 parks. Park employees were scheduled to hold a strike vote, but board members presented park workers with a new proposal, breaking an impasse, and returning both sides to the negotiating table.

On Sept. 7, City Council provided direction to city staff regarding allocating $28.68 million in funding provided by the Federal Government through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021. The money is earmarked to assist with recovery from the economic and public health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan was to spend the funds on a transitional housing program, permanent supportive housing through the acquisition of Marina Village Inn or a newly built facility, supplementing the Feed Alameda Program and Alameda Housing Authority projects.

Encinal High School (EHS) defeated Alameda High School (AHS), 41-7, to win its fifth-straight Island Bowl on Sept. 10 on Stargell Field. The game was played after the 2020 iteration was canceled. Senior EHS quarterback Garrett Deatherage threw for 236 yards and four touchdowns. The Jets (2-0) opened the scoring when Deatherage found Kenneth Lorenzo in the endzone for a 26-yard strike. Jet tight end Alex De La O and wide receivers Kenneth Lorenzo and Marques Singleton also caught touchdowns from Deatherage. Hornet quarterback Lee John Majerus scored AHS’ lone touchdown on a 35-yard scamper into the endzone.

Nicholas “Nick” Luby was announced as the new Chief of the Alameda Fire Department (AFD) on Sept. 15. His tenure began on Oct. 18. Luby was the Deputy Chief of Operations with the Oakland Fire Department (OFD) prior to his position with AFD. Luby took over the reins from interim Fire Chief Rick Zombeck who retired.

Hundreds of Alamedans and other local residents gathered at Washington Park on Oct. 4, for the Alameda Women’s March. Approximately 200 Alamedans joined 120,000 other Americans at 650 marches across all 50 states demanding abortion justice and access to reproductive freedom for all. Marchers began the day at Washington Park, 740 Central Ave., at around 9 a.m. and made their way to City Hall to close out the event. Hundreds of signs proclaiming pro-choice statements were present at the march. These signs read “My Body My Choice,” “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” and many more.

Residents of the West End were hit with a power outage on Oct. 21, around 5 to 6:30 p.m. According to Alameda Municipal Power (AMP) assistant general manager Chris Ferrara, the outage was unplanned. Ferrara said the outage was caused by customer-owned equipment by the Coast Guard. The outage at U.S. Coast Guard Base Housing in Alameda began around noon that day.

Alameda resident and Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan was struck and killed while crossing Shore Line Drive on Nov. 3. Chan, a Stanford University graduate, was the Alameda County Supervisor in the Third District from 1995 to 2000 and from 2010 until her death. She was a member of the California State Assembly from 2001 to 2006. Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft released a statement on the City’s website where she cited Chan’s dedication to helping seniors, children and combating poverty.

“On behalf of the Alameda City Council and the City of Alameda, we extend our deepest sympathy to the family, friends, and colleagues of Supervisor Wilma Chan,” stated Ashcraft. “Supervisor Chan was a tireless advocate for seniors, children, and families, promoting programs that advance children’s health, and help lift people out of poverty, and so much more.”

APD, Public Works, and the Transportation Planning Department officials are conducting a review of the incident. Chan’s death highlights the city’s ongoing traffic safety concerns. According to APD, this is the fourth traffic related fatality Alameda has seen this year. She is survived by her two children and two grandchildren.

Alameda-based Astra Space Inc. completed its first commercial orbital rocket launch on Nov. 19, at its Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak, Alaska. Astra’s launch system successfully demonstrated the orbital placement of a test payload to an inclination of 86 degrees at an altitude of 497 km or 310 miles, according to Astra Director of Product Management Carolina Grossman.
“Reaching orbit is a historic milestone for Astra,” said Astra Chairman and CEO Chris Kemp. The rocket that launched is called the Astra Rocket 3. The Astra Rocket 3 is 11.6 meters long with a diameter of 1.32 meters. It is designed to carry 100 kilograms in Lower Earth Orbit.

On Nov. 20, a driver of an SUV heavily damaged the fence that defines the entrance to Lincoln Park. The driver took a wide turn and crashed into the fence. The driver tried to flee from the scene, but witnesses pursued him through the park. They called 911 and Alameda Police Department officers arrived and placed the driver under arrest. This was the second time this year that a driver inflicted damage on this fence. On Feb. 22, a pickup truck also damaged the fence.

On. Dec. 2, our esteemed publisher, mentor and friend, Dennis “The Menace” Evanosky was forced to take an extended leave of absence from the Alameda Sun due to an ongoing health situation. Dennis had been with the Sun for more than 15 years. Dennis has been an Alameda staple outside of the paper with his many history lectures and walking tours.

The death of Mario Arenales Gonzalez was ruled a homicide, according to the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau’s (ACCB) autopsy report. The report, conducted by ACCB’s Chief Forensic Pathologist Vivian Snyder, was released on Dec. 10. The report stated that “the toxic effects of methamphetamine” was the leading cause in Gonzalez’s death — the toxicology report detected .9 milligrams of meth per liter in his system along with a small amount of amphetamine. However, other contributing factors include physiologic stress from the altercation and restraint by Alameda police officers. A lawsuit on behalf of Gonzalez’s four-year-old son, Mario Jr., was filed after the report was released.

The City of Alameda’s Alameda CARE (Community Assessment Response & Engagement) Team started its pilot program on Dec. 16. The team, led by the Alameda Fire Department (AFD), provides an alternative response to nonviolent, noncriminal individuals facing a mental health crisis. Shifting certain responsibility for managing mental health crises from the Alameda Police Department (APD) to non-police agencies was a recommendation of the community-led committees on police reform and racial equity. At its March 16 meeting, the Alameda City Council unanimously approved moving forward with this program. The request for a non-APD response team for mental health calls began after police bodycam footage of the detainment of Mali Watkins outside his residence was released on June 5, while nationwide protests to the George Floyd killing by Minneapolis police officers were ongoing.

City of Alameda    Wilma Chan passed away on Nov. 3 in Alameda in a traffic accident. She spent decades serving the city of Alameda as an Alameda County Supervisor.
Encinal Journalism    The Encinal Jets won their fifth straight Island Bowl in September.