Hawthorne Drive fire station set for closure

Contra Costa County supervisors voted Tuesday to shutter four fire stations, including the station at Walnut Creek, Station No. 4 on Hawthorne Drive, in an attempt to keep the county's financially struggling Contra Costa Fire Protection District afloat.

All four stations would close by Dec. 15, and Walnut Creek would be left with three stations.

Contra Costa Fire Chief Daryl Louder explained that the stations selected for closure were picked taking into account response times, mutual aid availability and what would help the district's entire system maintain service. He added that ConFire would need to close an additional one or two stations by next fiscal year if no new revenue is found.

The other stations to close are in Martinez, Lafayette and Clayton.

'Walnut Creek on Ice Gala' Jan. 19

The second annual Walnut Creek on Ice Gala will be held on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, beginning at 6:30 p.m., to mark the end of the rink's eight holiday season of operation.

There will be wine, beer, champagne and a no-host cocktail bar, dinner, and two ice-dancing performances -- one by US professional skaters and another by ABC7 News Anchor Dan Ashley and his skating partner Paulette Bleam. There also will be a performance by the rock band PUSH.

Tickets are $125 per person or $1,150 for table of 10. Please RSVP by Dec. 28.

The event will be fully tented and heated, and there will be valet parking.

Assistance League helps schoolchildren

Assistance League of Diablo Valley's eight hands-on philanthropic programs target every age group in the community, helping those who are at-risk and in need.

One meeting the needs of students -- some 4,000 this year -- is nationally acclaimed Operation School Bell that provides clothing for elementary schoolchildren.

The Assistance League also supports foster youth through its scholarships and community programs. Don Graves, coordinator for Contra Costa County Independent Living Skills Program, recently thanked the organization for the scholarships, and noted recipients received more than money -- they got a feeling of self-worth and the knowledge that someone believes in them and their future.

To learn more about Assistance League of Diablo Valley's other philanthropic programs, its Corporate Partnership Program, and primary fundraiser, the Way Side Inn Thrift Shop, at 3521 Golden Gate Way in Lafayette, visit diablovalley.assistanceleague.org. To learn how to help foster youth, visit www.cocoilsp.org.

Kiosks at 'Liberty Bell Pop-up Plaza'

A half-dozen retail kiosks showcasing specialty retailers are now in place at Liberty Bell Plaza, the open area (with fountain) on the northwest side of the intersection of Mt. Diablo Boulevard and Broadway downtown.

The plaza is owned by the city of Walnut Creek, and making it a more interactive area is part of the city's Economic Development Plan.

In addition to the kiosks, the re-christened "Liberty Bell Pop-up Plaza" will offer a variety of live entertainment. For more information, go to www.popupplazawc.com.

Saint Mary's College's 'Jan Term' speaker series

The theme of the 2013 January Term Speaker Series at Saint Mary's College is "Inspired,"and the featured guest speakers for the "Jan Term" lecture series explore black catholic gospel traditions, indie culture and the catholic church, modern day slavery and leadership to change the world.

Speakers include Jason Connell, who heads up Ignited Leadership, a dynamic Washington, D.C.-based human service organization dedicated to building a better world, one leader at a time,; Father Edward Branch, the Catholic chaplain for the Atlanta University Center; Kaya Oakes, the celebrated author of "Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture," with observations on popular culture and on how a lapsed Catholic rediscovers her faith; and humanitarian photographer Lisa Kristine, author of "Slavery," who will share her stories about traveling the world for two years while documenting human trafficking and the horror of modern-day slavery.

The speaker series is an annual staple of Saint Mary's intense monthlong "Jan Term," when students are encouraged to step out of their comfort zones, explore new intellectual territory and take classes that often embody the Lasallian tradition of social action.

All lectures are free and open to the public and, unless otherwise noted, will be in the Soda Activity Center at Saint Mary's College, 1928 St. Marys Road, Moraga.

East Bay Women's Conference is March 4

The 2013 East Bay Women's Conference, with keynote speaker Marlo Thomas and featured speaker Lisa Kristine, takes place March 4, at the San Ramon Marriott.

Both women have had significant impact on the lives of women around the world and continue to act and speak out for positive change.

Thomas is an actress and a social activist, and is national outreach director for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Kristine is a photographer who has traveled the world for 25 years to tell human stories, including some tragedies.

ABC 7 news anchor Dan Ashley will emcee the conference that blends keynote and featured speaker presentations; breakout sessions focused on contemporary issues; exhibitor booths; a fully stocked bookstore and author signings.

The conference is presented by the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce and Chevron Corporation. The $195 ticket price includes continental breakfast, lunch and afternoon reception.

Tickets for the conference, which has sold out its previous seven years, are now on sale to the general public. Go to http://www.walnut-creek.com and click on the Women's Conference photo on the face page.

'Peaceful Schools' conference Feb. 2

The Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center in Walnut Creek will hold its second annual Creating a Peaceful School Conference from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at Seven Hills School, 975 N. San Carlos Drive in Walnut Creek.

The conference is designed for anyone who works with young people in grades K-12, including parents, teachers, administrators, classroom aides, school personnel and after-school program providers.

The aim is to help participants develop the skills they need to make the classroom, the school and the community a more peaceful place.

The keynote speaker is Ron Claassen, a professor of peacemaking and conflict studies at Fresno Pacific University and director of the Restorative Discipline Project. The focus of the conference will be the use of restorative justice in the classroom setting.

Workshops and classes will cover a variety of topics.

Registration is $35 through Jan. 7, and $40 thereafter. A catered lunch is included. Continuing education credit will be available through Saint Mary's College for a small additional fee.

Full descriptions of presenters and topics and related information will soon be available online. For more information or to register, go to www.mtdpc.org; call 925-933-7850, or e-mail margli@mtdpc.org.

-- Compiled by Sam Richards