Fire damages two homes, no injuries

A morning fire damaged two homes in the El Cerrito hills Jan. 21.

The single-alarm blaze broke out at 8:13 a.m. at 8311 Terrace Drive and spread to a neighboring home at 920 Contra Costa Drive, just off Moeser Lane, El Cerrito Fire Department Battalion Chief David Gibson said.

A total of 27 firefighters plus command staff had the blaze contained within 45 minutes, Gibson said.

The majority of the damage was to the exterior of the properties, he said.

No on was injured. The cause remains under investigation.

Community blood drive needs donors

The USDA Laboratory in Albany is holding a community blood drive from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 28 outside the Albany Teen Center, 900 Buchanan St.

All donors are welcome to look for the American Red Cross bus outside.To schedule an appointment go to redcrossblood.org and enter sponsor code USDA, or Steven Huynh at 510-559-6096.

Drop-ins are also welcome.

Chinese New Year festivities in Albany

Children 12 and under can welcome the Year of the Horse at a free Chinese New Year event from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Jan. 30 at the Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave. The festivities will include music and lion dance, crafts and treats.

Children's program at El Cerrito Library

Children 2 and older and their families can hear a story, build with Legos, Duplos and Quatros, and maybe even explore some books at the free "Books and Blocks" program from 11 a.m. to noon Feb. 1 at the El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave. Details: 510-526-7512.

Fundraiser benefits Contra Costa Chorale

The community singing chorus Contra Costa Chorale, which just started rehearsals for its spring concert "New York, New York!" last week, is holding a gala fundraiser from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 8 at Hillside Church, 1422 Navellier St. in El Cerrito.

The evening will include wine-tasting, music, games, food and a silent auction. Tickets are $25. Reservations: 510-932-7887.

The chorale began spring concert rehearsal on Jan. 13 and welcomes all voice types to join the chorus, no auditions are necessary. To learn more call 510-255-0703 or visit www.ccchorale.org.

Free workshop on Covered California

A free Covered California information session will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4 at the El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave.

A volunteer from the Contra Costa Affordable Care Act Team, CoveredCA Community Outreach Network, will explain the healthcare exchange marketplace and be available for one-on-one drop-in counseling on options. Details: 510-526-7512.

Family dance event at Community Center

The Family Sweetheart Dance will have pre-Valentine's music, dance games and treats for young people and their families from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 8 at the El Cerrito Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane.

Advance admission, recommended because space will be limited, is $4 per person or $12 for a family of four, available at the Recreation Department office. Tickets at the door, if available, will be $5 each. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

For more details call 510-559-7000.

Event Description:

Put on your dance shoes and bring your little someone special to our Family Sweetheart Dance! Recreation Staff will be on hand with great music, dance games and treats for everyone to enjoy. Please purchase tickets in advance; limited tickets available at the door, space permitting.

Annual Exchange Club crab feed benefit set

The annual Albany-El Cerrito Exchange Club crab feed is set for 6 p.m. Jan. 25 at the El Cerrito Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane.

The cost is $40 per person and proceeds benefit girls soccer at El Cerrito High School and other youth programs. The evening includes a raffle and no-host bar, and outside alcohol or food to take home is not allowed.

For tickets or more details contact Sally Dinwoodie at 510-219-4591 or sallydinwoodie@sbcglobal.net.

St. Mary's High hosting annual crab feed

Tickets are now available for the annual Saint Mary's High School crab feed and silent auction fundraiser on Feb. 1 in the gymnasium of the school, 1294 Albina Ave. at the Albany-Berkeley border.

Tickets are $45 each or $425 for a table of 10, and reservations can be made by clicking the crab feed link at www.saintmaryschs.org.

No tickets will be sold at the door.

Albany traffic panel has vacancy

Albany is seeking candidates for an opening on its Traffic and Safety Commission. For an application call 510-528-5710 or download the form at www.albanyca.org. Applications should be submitted to the City Clerk at City Hall, 1000 San Pablo Ave.

ECHS class of 2014 brick fundraiser

The Class of 2014 at El Cerrito High School is selling personalized bricks to raise money for Grad Night. Engraved bricks are available for $100 for three lines of 20 characters each and can commemorate present or past students or faculty, a loved one, or offer personal wisdom or humor. Details: Claire Content at contentcastro@yahoo.com.

El Cerrito seeks input on smoking regulations

El Cerrito is asking residents to take an online survey at www.el-cerrito.org/smoking on types of regulations desired to protect the public from secondhand smoke.

A workshop will be held 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 27 at City Hall, 10890 San Pablo Ave.

Input will be used in drafting an ordinance for consideration next year.

For more details contact Assistant City Manager Karen Pinkos at kpinkos@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us or 510-215-4302.

Media committee has vacancies

Albany is seeking applicants for three vacancies on its Community Media Access Committee. Those interested in serving can call 510-528-5710 for an application that should be filed with the Deputy City Clerk in the Administration Office, City Hall, 1000 San Pablo Avenue, Albany, CA, 94706.

Applications are online at www.albanyca.org.

Library has foundation databases available

The El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave., is now offering The Foundation Directory Online, calling it a "valuable new resource" for nonprofit organizations and other grant seekers in West Contra Costa County.

Reservations for computers can be made at ccclib.org or by calling 510-526-7512.

-- Chris Treadway