Ban on wood fires extended another day
A record seventh straight Spare the Air alert was called for Saturday as the ban on wood fires was extended for another day due to poor air quality.
Forecasters say Spare the Air alerts also may be called for more days through Tuesday because of lingering cold, stagnant air that is trapping pollution near the ground.
The ban issued by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District prohibits burning wood and other solid fuels in fireplaces, stoves and other devices.
Saturday's is the 11th alert of the season.
-- Denis Cuff, Staff
Memorial observance at UC for Mandela
A memorial observance honoring former South Africa President Nelson Mandela will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus.
Mandela, who died Dec. 5 at age 95, was the central figure in the anti-apartheid movement. In the 1980s, Sproul Plaza was the scene of ongoing protests against apartheid and calls for the university to divest in institutions with ties to the South African government.
The memorial will include music by Kev Choice, Rico Pabon, Rasheed Shabazz and the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir. Speakers will include State Assembly Speaker John Pérez; UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks; Pastor Michael McBride, founder of Berkeley's Way Christian Center; and Gabby Shuman and Marcel Jones of the UC Black Student Union. The observance will conclude with a candlelight vigil.
-- Chris Treadway, Staff
Man falls into bay during fight with wife
Crews from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Alameda County Fire Department tracked down and rescued a man from the bay, near Highway 92, after he crashed his car during a fight with his wife, then fell in the water as the argument continued outside, California Highway Patrol officials said Friday.
The white Honda SUV crashed into a guardrail about 2:25 p.m. while headed east on the San Mateo Bridge high rise, CHP Officer Art Montiel said. A husband and wife inside were reportedly fighting in the car before it crashed near Pier 1.
According to Montiel, the couple got out of the car and continued fighting on the side of the roadway as eastbound traffic ground to a halt. Sometime during the heated argument, which witnesses said became progressively physical, the man fell about 10 to 15 feet into the water.
Within an hour, crews found him clinging to a pier beneath the bridge and rescued him, Montiel said.
Authorities were deciding whether domestic violence charges are warranted.
-- Erin Ivie, Staff
Hearing set Monday on water rate hike
A public hearing on a proposal to increase rates for city water customers will be held Monday.
The proposal calls for residential and business customers to see an annual rate increase of 4 percent over four years to help pay for operations, maintenance and improvements to the city's water treatment and delivery system and to cover increased costs for buying water from the Contra Costa Water District, said a staff report that recommends approval of the higher rates.
Sewer rates would stay the same, which means under the proposal, the rate for combined water and sewer service would go up 3.7 percent annually.
Under the proposal, the average residential rate for combined water and sewer service would go from $79.24 to $82.19, effective in March. Notices about the proposed rate increases were included with utility bills sent out in November.
No action will be taken at Monday's hearing. The matter will come back for possible action at the City Council's Jan. 21 meeting.
Monday's hearing will take place during the City Council meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. in the third-floor Council Chamber, 65 Civic Ave.
-- Eve Mitchell, Staff
Band needs 7,500 pairs of shoes by Monday
The Pittsburg High School Marching Show Band hopes to collect 7,500 pairs of used shoes by Monday to raise money for its upcoming trip to London to perform in the New Year's Day parade.
Shoes can be dropped off at Pittsburg High School, 1750 Harbor St.; Railroad Cleaners, 2195 Railroad Ave.; and Railroad Book Depot, 650 Railroad Ave.
To raise money for the trip, the band is also hosting a benefit concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday that features Mic Gillette, Mark Russo and Mike Williams. The event will be at the high school's Creative Arts Building. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door.
Advance tickets can be purchased at www.eventbrite.com or at Railroad Cleaners or Railroad Book Depot. Donations can also be mailed to Pittsburg High School Band Boosters, P.O. Box 1201, Pittsburg, CA 94565. Make checks payable to PHS Band Boosters.
-- Eve Mitchell, Staff
Reid Christmas party returns this weekend
The 66th annual Charles Reid Foundation Christmas Party will be held noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Richmond PAL Community Center, 2200 Macdonald Ave.
The party, the ongoing legacy of the tradition started by the late Charles Reid in North Richmond, annually provides a visit with Santa Claus and a gift for children ages 2 to 12, along with entertainment and activities for the family.
Children must be present to receive a gift.
For details, contact the Charles Reid Foundation at 510-236-8520.
-- Chris Treadway, Staff
Services restored at state recreation area
The Benicia State Recreation Area is now open seven days a week to cars, city officials have announced.
The park was once slated for closure, and services, including vehicle access on Mondays and Tuesdays, had been cut.
However, Vallejo, Benicia and Solano County contributed $24,000 that the state matched to restore daily operations through June 30, according to a news release.
-- (Vallejo) Times-Herald