The fourth annual Alameda Spelling Bee held at Otis Elementary School Feb. 2, saw last year’s third place finisher, Ella Banchieri, take the honor as the Island’s top speller for 2019. She and second-place finisher Elena Morishige dueled through spelling increasingly difficult words. The words in the final showdown included: phenomenon, complexion, propinquity, ricochet, tumultuous, surveillance, aggregation (which both spellers misspelled), catastrophe, circumference, dementia and finally, scrumptious.
Alameda is accepting the 21st century challenge to create a city that is healthy, inclusive and resilient. Some challenges the Island City faces include traffic, high housing costs, aging infrastructure and increasingly, the impacts of climate change. Alamedans have experienced three major wildfire smoke incidents in the last 15 months, including weeks of unhealthy air quality due to the recent Camp Fire. Less visibly, the San Francisco Bay is gradually rising, threatening our shoreline parks, businesses and homes.
Ocean Cleanup (OC) announced on New Year’s Eve that it has shut down its experiment to collect debris from the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” (GPGP) — a mass of refuse and debris known as a gyre. OC said that “structural malfunctioning of the cleanup system” has forced the company to return to Alameda earlier than planned.
“We will set sail as soon as an appropriate weather window is available,” OC stated.
Jim Franz ‘Retires’
The year began with the city giving Jim Franz, aka the “Energizer Bunny,” a royal send off. Franz moved to Alameda in 1981, where he got a job with the Red Cross and volunteered to sit on Alameda’s Social Service Human Relations Board.
His involvement in community affairs so impressed his fellow Island City dwellers that they named him “Man of the Year” and “Humanitarian of the Year.”
On Saturday, Dec. 15, the Alameda community celebrated a historic occasion with the grand opening of Jean Sweeney Open Space Park.
The 25-acre park is located on the former Alameda Belt Line Railroad property on the west side of the island. The site now includes open space areas and active uses such as a natural based playground, picnic pavilion and a segment of the Cross Alameda Trail for bicyclists and pedestrians.
On Dec. 5, 1867, California Governor Henry Huntly Haight used his inaugural speech to rail against the citizenship and voting rights of formerly enslaved Africans and Asians and immigration from Asia.
Some 150 years later, on Dec. 5, 2017, I contacted the Haight Elementary School PTA and encouraged them to initiate the process to rename Haight. Students and parents petitioned to rename the school. The Haight Renaming Committee solicited name suggestions, hosted a community forum and held two student-centered elections.
The Camp Fire in Butte County started Thursday, Nov. 8, and impacts were felt in Alameda almost immediately. Air quality quickly reached unsafe for sensitive groups. Smoke from The Camp Fire, the most destructive and deadliest fire in California history, continued to worsen Bay Area air quality to hazardous levels. Residents were advised to stay indoors, keep windows and doors closed and close fireplace dampers. When outside, residents were encouraged to avoid exertion and wear properly fitted N95 respirator masks.
Imagine going back in time and strolling along Park Street in the 1950s. If you’re anything like me, you’d be paying attention to the cars parked on the street as much as the shop windows.
That’s what it was like last Saturday at the downtown Alameda Classic Car Show. There were more than 400 cars in attendance, so many that the show spanned six blocks of Park Street between Buena Vista and Encinal avenues. The weather was a perfect 75 degrees and thousands were on hand to enjoy the show but not so many that spectators couldn’t take their time.
Local activists, concerned constituents and community leaders gathered at City Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 3, to send senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein a clear message: Vote “no” on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination. The activists cited that his “hostility toward women and lack of credibility make him unfit to serve a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court.”