Walnut Creek Downtown History Tour Saturday

It's time to walk the city's sidewalks and learn about the rich history of Walnut Creek.

A Downtown History Tour sponsored by the Walnut Creek Historical Society is being offered and the first one kicks off this Saturday, Feb. 8.

This easy 90-minute guided walking tour brings to life the early times and development of what has become a Bay Area destination.

The tours will be held on the second Saturday of each month. Check-in begins at 9 a.m. at the fountain at Liberty Bell Plaza on the corner of Broadway and Mt. Diablo Boulevard. The tour begins at 9:30 a.m. and is free. A booklet with historic photos of the sites visited may be purchased at the tour for $5.

Registration in advance is required and space is limited. To sign up for the tour go to the Walnut Creek Historical Society's website www.walnutcreekhistory.info and click on "Walnut Creek Downtown Tours."

City works on plastic bag ban

Walnut Creek is pursuing an ordinance to prohibit the distribution of single-use carryout plastic bags by any retailer, with the exception of restaurants and nonprofit charitable thrift stores. Under the ordinance, all grocery and retails stores in Walnut Creek would no longer provide plastic bags at checkouts. Stores may sell paper bags for a minimum of 10 cents for each bag. Protective plastic or paper bags, without handles, for items such as meat, fresh produce, dry-cleaned clothes and prescription medications will be allowed. Consumers will have the option to bring their own reusable bags or pay for paper bags. The City Council will consider the proposed ordinance March 4.

Public comments are welcome now through Feb. 28 through an online survey (www.walnut-creek.org/opentownhall).

To view the proposed ordinance language, visit www.walnut-creek.org/bringyourbag. A community meeting will be held 6 p.m. Feb. 11, City Hall, 1666 N. Main St., Walnut Creek.

Centennial collectibles now available

It will be another 100 years before collectibles like these will be available again: Centennial-theme gifts are now on sale.

Now open online is the Walnut Creek Centennial store, where people can buy everything from T-shirts to totes.

The official online shop of the Walnut Creek 100 Centennial Celebration offers merchandise with the Centennial logo on T-shirts and sweatshirts for men, women, and children, as well as mugs, tote bags, baseball caps, infant onesies, water bottles and dog T-shirts.

The website can also point history buffs in the right direction to buy some of the Walnut Creek historical books that have been published over the years. Go to WalnutCreek100.com for more information.

West Downtown plan workshop set

A community workshop to focus on the West Downtown Specific Plan will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 12 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 1924 Trinity Ave.

The focus will be on urban design and streetscape standards -- basically, how things in the west downtown area will look. The input will help to determine the form of new buildings, such as how big and tall things structures should be and where parking should be located. This specific plan will guide the development of the western portion of downtown west of California Boulevard.

The Feb. 12 workshop will be interactive. For more information go to www.walnut-creek.org.

Diablo Dems' Trans-Pacific trade deal

Carleen Pickard, managing director of the human rights organization Global Exchange, will discuss the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement at the meeting of the Diablo Valley Democratic Club at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the Ygnacio Valley Library, 2661 Oak Grove Road in Walnut Creek.

The agreement would govern 40 percent of U.S. imports and exports and is expected to affect the environment, economic justice, Internet accessibility, availability of generic drugs and basic human rights. Pickard will explain what is known so far about the agreement, who is supporting it and how the public can work toward fair trade and environmental sustainability.

For more information, call 925-946-0469 or go to www.dvdems.org

'Singing Valentines' now for hire

The Walnut Creek-based Devil Mountain Chorus is again this year dispatching barbershop quartets from among its members to deliver "singing valentines" in the area between Feb. 10 and 15.

The chorus's valentine chairman, Dwight Lang, said the quartets -- dressed in white tuxedos and red vests -- will sing a couple of love songs to a chosen recipient, and present that person with a box of chocolates and a red rose anytime between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. on those days.

This is a fundraiser for the chorus, part of the Barbershop Harmony Society and with about 50 members, almost all from central Contra Costa.

The cost is $50. To order a Singing Valentine, contact the chorus at 925-289-9126.

Szaky new Host Lions club president

Edward E. Szaky has been chosen as the 90th president of the Walnut Creek (Host) Lions Club, and will lead the community service group through the myriad activities planned during its 90th anniversary year.

Szaky is president of Matrix Association Management, a division of Matrix Real Estate Services of Walnut Creek. He also heads his own general contracting and development firm, Pinnacle Construction Services. He is a longtime resident of Lafayette.

Civil grand jury members needed

The Contra Costa County Superior Court is seeking applicants to serve on the 2014-15 civil grand jury.

The 19-member civil grand jury monitors and reports on city and county governments, special districts and school districts. Terms are for one year.

The civil grand jury's membership is supposed to reflect the demographic makeup of the county. Approximately 60 applicants will be interviewed by the grand jury selection committee, made up of Superior Court judges.

The judges will nominate a pool of about 30 applicants who will then be fingerprinted. The 19 new grand jurors will be selected from the pool by random drawing June 13 and be sworn in the same day.

The new grand jurors should be available the last two weeks of June to get acquainted with each other, meet with outgoing jurors and department heads, tour county facilities, select committees and familiarize themselves with responsibilities and procedures.

Grand jurors should expect to devote 20 hours a week to grand jury service. If employed, they should apply only if they can be released from their jobs to perform grand jury duties.

Grand jurors will receive a stipend for attending meetings and will be reimbursed for allowable travel expenses and receive a permit to park in Martinez while performing grand jury duties.

Applicants must be at least 18, a United States citizen, and must have resided in Contra Costa County for at least a year before being selected. Grand jurors cannot hold any elected office within the county while serving on the grand jury.

Prospective applicants should contact the Office of the Civil grand jury at 925-957-5638 or visit www.cc-courts.org/grand jury for more information.

The deadline to apply is March 28.

Walnut Creek Restaurant Week 2014

Walnut Creek Downtown will hold its 3rd ever Restaurant Week, April 21-27. With over 35 participating restaurants offering special prix-fixe menus, this is a chance for residents and out-of-towners to try the city's various restaurants for an often discounted price.

Sponsorship Opportunities are still available for businesses to be a part of this citywide event.

For more information contact Heather McNeil at 925-639-2556.

Medical trial in Walnut Creek looking for participants

Patients ages 22 to 75 years who have been suffering from chronic pain affecting lower limbs for more than six months, without lasting success with other treatments are invited to participate in a nationwide study centered in Walnut Creek.

IPM Medical Group announced recently that it will participate in a U.S. clinical study aimed at establishing the safety and efficacy of the investigational Axium Neurostimulator System for patients with chronic lower limb pain. Dr. Kasra Amirdelfan is hosting a patient information event where patients can learn more about the trial.

One patient information date remains for Thursday, Feb. 20. Those interested in registering for these free events go to www.ACCURATEStudy.com or call 1-888-978-8397.

-- Compiled by Elisabeth Nardi.