Parking changes start on April 7

The parking changes the city council approved last year will take affect April 7, when parking meter enforcement hours will shift from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to the new hours of 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

That's right -- free Sunday parking is no longer.

And the rate will double in downtown, from $1 an hour to $2. To help lessen the blow, the city has made the first hour free in all city-owned garages, including the one on Broadway at Cypress and the two on Locust Street. This does not affect the privately owned garages, many of which are already free or have parking meters on the first floor. Monthly passes can be purchased for the city garages for $25 a month. To purchase a monthly pass go to www.lazparking.com.

The changes will bump parking revenue overall, after expenses, from $1 million to $3.1 million annually.

The additional revenue from the parking changes will be spent on saving for future parking structures, downtown police officers and other downtown programs, which could include the Lesher Center.

'American Idol' contestant headlines Centennial Heritage Day

Country singer and former American Idol contestant Matt Rogers will be the main attraction at the Centennial Heritage Day at Borges Ranch, the second signature event of Walnut Creek's yearlong Centennial celebration, set for Saturday, May 17, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The popular annual event -- this year with added Centennial-related attractions -- takes visitors back in time to celebrate Walnut Creek's early ranching days at historic Borges Ranch, the former home and ranch of Frank Borges, who ranched cattle in the early 1900s. Tickets are now available online at www.WalnutCreek100.com, and at Walnut Creek City Hall, 1666 N. Main St., Walnut Creek.

The day will kick off with a show performed by the Amigos de Anza Equestrian Drill Team, who recently performed at the Tournament of Roses Parade. There will be a Ranch Days Costume Parade, in which children will "parade" their favorite early 1900s ranch attire. Then at 11:30 a.m. season three American Idol finalist Rogers will perform at both 11:30 a.m. and again at 2:30 p.m. The first 150 ticket purchasers will receive VIP event passes for a special midday meet-and-greet event with the country star.

Additional music and entertainment will be provided by Ancestral Water Band, Second Calling, the East Bay Fiddlers and the Diablo Mountain Cloggers.

Food and beverages will be available for purchase from Off the Grid, food-truck dining experience, offering local barbecue and country western fare. Pleasant Hill 4-H will also sell hot dogs and chips.

The day's activities also feature:

  • Farm animal demonstrations, including sheep shearing

  • Pony rides

  • Children's games and crafts

  • Short walking tours in the Shell Ridge Open Space

  • Tours of the historic 1901 ranch house and 1903 carriage barn

  • Heritage home-arts demonstrations

    Tickets are $5 for children (2-17) and $7.50 in advance or $10 day of event for adults and include all entertainment, demonstrations, tours and shuttle transportation. A small fee will be charged for craft supplies. There are no refunds on tickets.

    Parking at the ranch is limited, so only those with disabled placards may drive to the ranch on Heritage Day. All other guests must park at Northgate High School, 425 Castle Rock Road and take shuttle buses to the ranch. First shuttle leaves Northgate High at 9:45 a.m.

    Grullon new KP co-physician-in-chief

    Dr. Kenneth Grullon, an obstetrician/gynecologist in the Antioch area, has been named as the new co-physician-in-chief of Kaiser Permanente's Diablo Service Area.

    Grullon, 49, replaces obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. David Niver, who retired last

    month from Kaiser Permanente with nearly 35 years of service. Grullon will serve

    alongside surgeon Dr. Judy Lively, overseeing a team of more than 800 Kaiser Permanente physicians in Central and East Contra Costa County and the Tri-Valley Area of Alameda County.

    Grullon joined The Permanente Medical Group in 1998 after three years at San

    Francisco General Hospital as chief of obstetrics and assistant clinical professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco.

    He is married with two children. His family lives in Lafayette.

    Behind the scenes at 'Real Housewives'

    Playwright and actor Molly Bell and Center REPertory Artistic Director Michael Butler will offer an up-close look -- with a "backstage perspective" -- of their newest production "The Real Housewives of Walnut Creek: The Musical" Wednesday, April 2 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Walnut Creek Library, 1644 N. Broadway, Walnut Creek.

    Registration for this free Live! From the Library event is required; go to the Library Foundation's website (www.WCLibrary.org) to reserve a seat.

    "Inspired by one of America's favorite (and perhaps despised) reality series, 'The Real Housewives of Walnut Creek: The Musical' channels all the craziness and catfights that -- for better or worse -- keep audiences tuning in for more," Butler said in a news release

    Molly Bell's first musical was "Becoming Britney, which she co-wrote with Daya Curley. It premiered at The New York International Fringe Festival in 2008. Bell also was named best actress at the festival. Bell is also a director and choreographer with more than 30 musicals and plays to her credit.

    Outside of the theater, Bell is a creative consultant for both large and small businesses including Netflix and eBay, and created Charitable Fabulosity/Divas For Life, a concert series that raises money for individuals and families battling cancer.

    CERT training registration now open

    Registration is under way for Walnut Creek's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT.) basic training, to be held April 9 through May 31. CERT. teaches everyday people how to safely and effectively respond to the needs of the community in the critical hours following a disaster. CERT. graduates are sworn in as volunteer Disaster Service Workers for the City of Walnut Creek.

    Classes will be held Wednesdays from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. April 9 through May 21, with a final class drill the morning of Saturday, May 31. There is a $25 class fee. Registration information is available at www.walnut-creek.org/cert or by calling 925-256-3556.

    -- Compiled by Elisabeth Nardi