Police chief to step down next month
Police Chief Scott Holder, the city's first and only top cop, will retire Nov. 8.
Holder, 50, announced his decision at Tuesday's City Council meeting, ending a 28-year career in law enforcement. He served in San Ramon for 19 years as a police officer, sergeant, detective sergeant, assistant to the police chief and lieutenant, before becoming the city's contract police chief in 2005.
After a council vote to create an independent police department, Holder was named chief in 2006. He created a five-member team to oversee the transition, which included recruiting and hiring 62 employees and developing budgets, policies and procedures.
San Ramon police Capt. Joe Gorton will take over the chief's duties on an interim basis. The city will honor Holder for his service at the Nov. 12 City Council meeting.
-- Jeremy Thomas, Staff
Volunteers will help rebuild park today
A band of volunteers and a Bay Area footwear company will rebuild a dilapidated playground in the Belding Woods neighborhood Saturday. More than 100 volunteers are expected to help rebuild the playground at Belding Garcia Park, at the corner of 17th Street and Coalinga Avenue.
The project, which gained a big boost when Bay Area footwear company Livie & Luca set out to fund a children's playground in a community by donating 10 percent of online sales to the cause, will include a new playground and picnic area, replacing a dozen rusty swings. An area for a new skate park will be prepped as well.
"The new playground will have ADA (American with Disabilities Act) accessibility and will incorporate lots of sensory integration," Livie & Luca co-founder Mitzi Rivas wrote in an email. "It's a dream come true," to build the playground, she added.
The event is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Belding Garcia Park.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for 2:30 p.m. to dedicate the new play area.
-- Robert Rogers, staff
Mt. Diablo district makes appointments
The Mt. Diablo school board Wednesday appointed several administrators, including Walnut Creek Intermediate Vice Principal Kevin Honey as principal of Sequoia Middle School in Pleasant Hill.
"Thank you for bailing out of Walnut Creek and coming over here," board President Cheryl Hansen told Honey after his appointment. "We truly appreciate getting their leadership."
Trustees also appointed Sue Massey Clover as a special education administrator, Rochelle Hooks as a special education program specialist, Sandra Spaulding as a student services coordinator at Olympic High and June Lopez as a transportation dispatcher.
-- Theresa Harrington, Staff
Four cars, travel trailer destroyed in fire
A one-alarm fire destroyed property at an industrial building Wednesday night, a Contra Costa Fire District spokesman said.
Nobody was on the property at 2250 Via de Mercados, off Concord Avenue, when the fire started about 11 p.m. No firefighters were injured, but four vehicles and a travel trailer were destroyed, said Fire Inspector George Laing. The property houses a tow yard and a U-Haul rental facility.
Crews could see dense smoke from a mile away, and when they arrived, a couple of smaller buildings not connected to a larger main building were fully ablaze, Laing said. Inside one of those buildings, two vehicles and propane tanks also were burning.
Emergency vents inside the tanks designed to reduce pressure prevented them from exploding, Laing said.
It took 20 firefighters 35 minutes to extinguish the blaze. Damage to the property and vehicles is estimated at $250,000, he said.
-- Rick Hurd, Staff
Man arrested on drug charges after pursuit
An Antioch man on parole tried to escape officers before he was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of possessing and trafficking narcotics, police said.
Alan Wilson, 38, was taken to County Jail in Martinez, and faces more than a dozen charges after he tried to outrace police in a car and then tried to outrun them, Antioch police Sgt. Tony Morefield said. He was nabbed about 2 p.m. in the 2900 block of Filbert Street after an eight-minute car pursuit and ensuing foot chase, Morefield said.
Police said Wilson had a loaded handgun, a large amount of narcotics and cash. They said they found evidence that he had sold some of the drugs. Among the charges expected to be filed against Wilson are possession and transportation of a controlled substance; possession of marijuana and other substances for sale; felony evading police; carrying a loaded firearm; obstruction of a public officer and violation of parole.
According to Morefield, an undercover team found Wilson near Sycamore Drive and L Street and tried to pull him over, only to see him take off. The pursuit, which Morefield said covered many side streets between Filbert and L streets and reached "high speeds," stopped on Filbert when Wilson ditched the vehicle and tried to run away, Morefield said. Police did not say how high those speeds were.
Wilson tried to escape by walking atop neighborhood fences, but Morefield said he did not get far before officers caught him. He was wanted for violating his parole, Morefield said.
-- Rick Hurd, Staff
New special ed chief for San Ramon schools
Judith Cameron, director of special education for the Fremont Unified School District, will take over Nov. 12 as the new head of the special education program at San Ramon Valley schools.
School trustees selected Cameron, a Danville resident, from a pool of eight applicants Tuesday night. She will oversee a program with 2,400 students, 400 full-time equivalent staff and two administrators currently overseeing the program, one in charge of elementary schools, and the other secondary schools.
In addition to leading Fremont Unified's special education program, Cameron is director of the Mission Valley Special Education Local Plan Area, or SELPA, which includes Fremont, Newark and New Haven schools. She will begin her job as director of the San Ramon Valley Unified SELPA with a base salary of $170,000 a year.
"Our kids with special needs, we learn from them as much as they learn from us, and there is nothing like it," said Cameron. "My vision is that every child has what he or she needs."
She said collaboration is her strength, and she is committed to bridging divides between general and special education.
Cameron has worked in Bay Area education for 30 years, first as a private school teacher, then in public education classroom and administrative jobs in general and special education in Castro Valley, Hayward, San Leandro and Fremont.
-- Ashly McGlone, Staff
City considers Sunday parking charges
The city may, for the first time, start charging for parking on Sundays.
Increases at downtown meters from $1 to $2 an hour, and from 50 cents to $1 an hour in the garages, may soon come to downtown Walnut Creek as well.
At a City Council retreat Friday, the council confirmed changes to downtown parking policies and ordinances, which will be brought up at the December meeting.
Changes supported by the majority of the council include extending meter hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and charging for parking on Sundays.
To drive people into the less expensive city-owned garages, city leaders are looking at allowing the first hour free but rejected the idea of making one garage completely free on Sunday.
-- Elisabeth Nardi, Staff