There is a lot of news to report from the Richmond Museum of History, which is preparing for a historic launching, has landed some significant grants, and is seeing some changes in its administrative side.

The biggest news is the announcement that plans are in place for the historic World War II cargo ship SS Red Oak Victory to make its first voyage under its own power since the vessel was retired in 1968.

The announcement was made informally by Richmond Museum Association President Lois Boyle last month and made officially by her in the latest issue of the association's newsletter.

"The hard work of our volunteers has paid off and the funds from our grants and fundraising efforts have been well spent," Boyle writes in announcing plans for the ship to set sail this Veterans Day (Nov. 11).

This is a major milestone for the ship, which was taken to dry dock in September 2011 for major refurbishing of its hull.

A limited number of "Sail Certificates," which allow the purchaser to be aboard the ship for the long-awaited voyage, are now available and should be purchased before the July 30 reservation deadline.

Certificates are $20 each and six are required to redeem for the sailing. To purchase or get more details visit the gift shop on the Red Oak, 1337 Canal Blvd. in the Port of Richmond, or call 510-237-2933.

  • The Red Oak is owned by the Richmond Museum Association, which this week announced it had been chosen for a $10,000 Cal Humanities Community Stories Grant that will be used to compile and preserve the stories of older volunteers who have worked tirelessly on the restoration of the Red Oak Victory.

    The project is titled "For the Love of the Ship: Elder Volunteers on the SS Red Oak Victory."

    According to the Cal Humanities website, "Community Stories (previously the California Story Fund) is a competitive grants program to support story-based public humanities projects that collect, preserve, interpret and share the stories of California communities -- past and present."

    The one catch is that "cash or in-kind match is required," according to the website.

    Richmond community agriculture organization Urban Tilth is a past recipient of a Community Stories grant.

  • Meanwhile, a grant announced in November by the West Contra Costa Education Fund will allow the museum to start an outreach program this spring at Richmond High School and involve students in the history of their city.

    The Richmond During World War II Outreach program will teach 11th-graders at RHS about the contributions Richmond made to the war effort and the consequences of the war on the city.

    The program will supplement state-mandated instruction on the war and "we hope that by teaching local history to the students, we will instill a new sense of pride in the young people who live in the city of Richmond," writes Melinda McCrary.

    McCrary is the new docent at the Richmond Museum of History at Fourth Street and Nevin Avenue and her arrival is just one of the administrative changes taking place.

    Lois Boyle is stepping down after 30 years as board president of the Richmond Museum Association and decisions on her successor and the election of other board members will be made when museum members hold their annual meeting at 2 p.m. Jan. 13 at the museum.

    WEST COUNTY NOTES: The emergency pantry operated by the Salvation Army in El Sobrante had hundreds of toys and bags of clothes and groceries to distribute to the needy during the holidays thanks to the annual donation drive conducted by firefighters from Pinole.

    This is the 20th year that personnel from the Pinole department have worked with the Salvation Army post to provide for local needs during the holidays.

    "Donors range from local families to local businesses and schools, all willing to share the holiday spirit," wrote Battalion Chief Brian Lowry in a news release thanking the community for its generosity. "Our collection bins overflowed numerous times and the Salvation Army's van was stuffed to capacity on multiple trips between the fire station and the El Sobrante mission."

    He added that, "Off-duty firefighters also made trips in their personal vehicles to make sure the toys got to the kids in time."

  • The next sign-up day for the San Pablo Baseball Baseball Association, which has divisions for ages 7 through 14, is 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Maple Hall, 13831 San Pablo Ave. Future registration days will be held at Davis Park from 1 to 4 p.m. on Jan 12, Feb 2, Feb 15.

    The league is also seeking volunteer coaches. Details: 510-986-9220 or sanpablobaseball.clubspaces.com.

  • Registration for the Richmond Little League is also still open.

    To sign up go to the Richmond PAL building at 2200 Macdonald Ave. during open hours or call 510-621-1227 or 510-621-1221 from 2 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday for more details. January is also the deadline for registering and screening managers, coaches, umpires and volunteers.

    For more details, contact Mark Torres at mtorres@rpal.org.

    Contact Chris Treadway at 510-262-2784 or ctreadway@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/christreadway. Stay up-to-date on West Contra Costa news at IBABuzz.com/westcounty.