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Contra Costa County Mayors' Healthy Cookoff
by Mayor Tim Flaherty
Jul 24, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend
The 6th Annual Contra Costa County Mayors’ Healthy Cookoff competition will be held at Todos Santos Plaza in Concord on Thursday, July 31st . Nineteen Contra Costa County cities were invited to bri...


Bark For Life on Aug. 2 - Register Now
Woof’s happening? Dog of all sizes and breeds are invited to “take a bite out of cancer” at the fourth annual Bark For Life of Pleasant Hill. This cancer-fighting fundraiser will be held from 9 a.m...
Jul 21, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend
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Pleasant Hill's Blues & Brews
On Saturday, July 19 crowds of people came to enjoy the 5th Annual Blues and Brews Festival. It was a day of craft beer tasting, beach ball dodging, delicious food and free music, including Caroomp...
Jul 19, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend
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Mt. Wanda Full Moon Walks
Join National Park Service rangers for a full moon walk on Saturday, July 12 on Mt. Wanda, part of the John Muir National Historic Site (NHS) in Martinez. This free, two-hour program begins at 7:30...
Jun 23, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend
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A Northern California wildfire more than tripled in size Saturday, threatening vineyards and hundreds of homes, while a new blaze prompted evacuation of a community in Yosemite National Park.

Pushed by 20 mph wind gusts, the so-called Sand Fire that began Friday in the Sierra Nevada foothills raced through more than 6 square miles of drought-stricken grasslands east of Sacramento.

The blaze, which has burned five homes and seven outbuildings, led to evacuation orders covering about 515 homes in and around the River Pines Estates community in Amador County.

"The fire's moving in and around homes in the area," said Lynn Tolmachoff, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. "The leading edge is bumping up against residences as we speak."

Firefighters battled the flames through the day in triple-digit temperatures. At first, the fire moved away from vineyards in the Shenandoah Valley, but a mid-afternoon wind change caused the flames to split and some crossed fire lines and headed down into a section of the wine country, Tolmachoff said.

The wildfire burned within 200 yards of the Story Winery in Plymouth on Friday, and the business was closed Saturday.

"We've got CalFire guys using our tasting room as a lookout point," owner Rob Campbell told the Sacramento Bee (http://bit.ly/1rIoXjk ).

Sunset brought some relief, with slightly cooler and calmer weather.

"The wind has died down. It's definitely helping the firefighters out," Tolmachoff said. "We're not seeing the large flames. But now it's extremely smoky."

The fire was only 20 percent contained by nightfall despite efforts by 1,464 firefighters and aircraft that included a DC-10 air tanker.

CalFire says a vehicle that drove over dry vegetation started the fire, which has sent up huge plumes of smoke and worsened air quality in the Sacramento area.

Meanwhile, a 500-acre fire that began Saturday afternoon threatened homes and cabins in Yosemite. Evacuations were ordered in Foresta, a community of about 45 homes inside the park where many park employees live, spokeswoman Kari Cobb said.

An additional six homes outside the park also were evacuated, she said.

The area is well away from the heavily touristed Yosemite Valley, but road closures could add a half-hour to the drive in for park visitors, Cobb said.

About 300 firefighters were battling the blaze in an area scorched in a 2009 fire, Cobb said.

Wildfires also burned in other Western states. The nation's largest wildfire, the 618-square-mile Buzzard Complex in eastern Oregon, was 95 percent contained Saturday as crews also battled other fires in the state.

There was also progress on Washington's largest wildfire, the 390-square-mile Carlton Complex in north-central part of the state, which was almost 60 percent contained. Cooler weather and rain helped firefighters get a handle on the lightning-caused fire, but heat and wind picked up Saturday. Officials increased their estimate of burned homes from 150 to 300 Friday.

In Utah, evacuation orders for 200 homes in Summit County and 10 homes in Utah County were lifted. No homes burned and there were no injuries. One of the fires started early Saturday when two teenagers playing with fireworks ignited dry grass and brush, police said.

Other wildfires burned in Utah, Colorado and other states in the West.

2014-07-27 19:24:27 -0700

A very special delivery came to two Bay Area families in quite an unusual way this weekend when two fathers delivered their sons on different parts of Northbound 101.

Hanna Sahourieh and his wife Naomi of San Bruno said they were headed to Kaiser Hospital in San Francisco on Friday morning, but their unborn son had other plans.

Sahourieh was forced to park his SUV on the split between 101 and Interstate 80 and deliver his son when his wife’s water broke and the couple was stuck in traffic.

“Right when I saw the head start to come out I just parked the car, jumped out, dodged traffic and started to get honked at,” he said.

Minutes later, Sahourieh delivered his son at 10:49 a.m. on the freeway.

“She pushed, (the baby) popped right out and he landed on my hand right there in the middle of the freeway in the car,” he said.

Mom said she was only focused on her baby and was glad to hear him cry.

“With my daughter, she didn’t cry at all,” Naomi said. “So when he came out and started crying, I was like, oh my gosh, he’s good, he’s healthy.”

Sahourieh drove his wife and son to Kaiser in San Francisco to make sure their nine pound, one ounce bundle of joy was okay. Doctors let dad cut the umbilical cord in the car.

The couple named their son Jiries Hanna Sahourieh, but a family member nicknamed the newborn “Way-Way,” a nod to his freeway delivery. It’s a delivery his family will never forget.

“It’s just a blessing and he’s healthy so that’s all that matters,” Naomi said.

Although it is rare for families to have roadside deliveries, another father delivered his son on Saturday afternoon in Novato, also on Northbound 101 near the Olompali State Park exit with the help of a dispatcher from the Marin County Communications Center.

2014-07-27 17:34:51 -0700

A truck spraying mosquito-killing insecticide will be driving around parts of San Mateo and Hillsborough Monday evening, in an effort to combat the spread of West Nile Virus.

According to the county Mosquito and Vector Control District, similar mosquito-fogging efforts took place on July 21 this year.

However, despite that effort, county officials report that mosquitoes have since tested positive for the virus.

In order to prevent any human cases, mosquito fogging is scheduled to take place beginning at 9 p.m. and concluding by 5 a.m. Tuesday.

The area to be treated is roughly bordered by Peninsula and Second avenues in San Mateo, and North Idaho Street and Severn Lane in Hillsborough.

In order to mitigate personal risk of infected mosquito bites, the vector control district recommends eliminating all sources of standing water on personal property, and wearing bug repellent containing the chemical DEET.

2014-07-27 17:21:54 -0700

One of Liberia's most high-profile doctors has died of Ebola, officials said Sunday, and an American physician was being treated for the deadly virus, highlighting the risks facing health workers trying to combat an outbreak that has killed more than 670 people in West Africa — the largest ever recorded.

A second American, a missionary working in the Liberian capital, was also taken ill and was being treated in isolation there, said the pastor of a North Carolina church that sponsored her work.

Dr. Samuel Brisbane, a top Liberian health official, was treating Ebola patients at the country's largest hospital, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center in Monrovia, when he fell ill. He died Saturday, said Tolbert Nyenswah, an assistant health minister. A Ugandan doctor died earlier this month.

The American physician, 33-year-old Dr. Kent Brantly, was in Liberia helping to respond to the outbreak that has killed 129 people nationwide when he fell ill, according to the North Carolina-based medical charity, Samaritan's Purse.

He was receiving intensive medical care in a Monrovia hospital and was in stable condition, according to a spokeswoman for the aid group, Melissa Strickland.

"We are hopeful, but he is certainly not out of the woods yet," she said.Early treatment improves a patient's chances of survival, and Brantly recognized his own symptoms and began receiving care immediately, Strickland said.

The American missionary, Nancy Writebol, was gravely ill and in isolation in Monrovia, her husband, David, told a church elder via Skype, according to the Rev. John Munro, pastor of Calvary Church in Charlotte, N.C.

Munro said the couple, who had been in Liberia for about a year, insisted on staying there despite the Ebola threat. "These are real heroes — people who do things quietly behind the scenes, people with a very strong vocation and very strong faith," Munro said.

There is no known cure for the highly contagious virus, which is one of the deadliest in the world. At least 1,201 people have been infected in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, according to the World Health Organization, and 672 have died. Besides the Liberian fatalities, 319 people have died in Guinea and 224 in Sierra Leone.

Ominously, Nigerian authorities said Friday that a Liberian man died of Ebola after flying from Monrovia to Lagos via Lome, Togo. The case underscored the difficulty of preventing Ebola victims from traveling given weak screening systems and the fact that the initial symptoms of the disease — including fever and sore throat — resemble many other illnesses.

Health workers are among those at greatest risk of contracting the disease, which spreads through contact with bodily fluids.

Photos of Brantly working in Liberia show him swathed head-to-toe in white protective coveralls, gloves and a head-and-face mask that he wore for hours a day while treating Ebola patients.

Earlier this year, the American was quoted in a posting about the dangers facing health workers trying to contain the disease. "In past Ebola outbreaks, many of the casualties have been health care workers who contracted the disease through their work caring for infected individuals," he said.

There is no known cure for Ebola, which begins with symptoms including fever and sore throat and escalates to vomiting, diarrhea and internal and external bleeding.

The WHO says the disease is not contagious until a person begins to show symptoms. Brantly's wife and children had been living with him in Liberia but flew home to the U.S. about a week ago, before the doctor started showing any signs of illness, Strickland said.

"They have absolutely shown no symptoms," she said.

A woman who identified herself as Brantly's mother said the family was declining immediate comment when reached by phone in Indiana.

Besides Brantly and the two doctors in Liberia, Sierra Leone's top Ebola doctor and a doctor in Liberia's central Bong County have also fallen ill.

The situation "is getting more and more scary," said Nyenswah, the country's assistant health minister.

Meanwhile, the fact that a sick Liberian could board a flight to Nigeria raised new fears that other passengers could take the disease beyond Africa.

Nigeria's international airports were screening passengers arriving from foreign countries, and health officials were also working with ports and land borders to raise awareness of the disease. Togo's government also said it was on high alert.

Security analysts were skeptical about the usefulness of these measures.

"In Nigeria's case, the security set-up is currently bad, so I doubt it will help or have the minimum effectiveness they are hoping for," said Yan St. Pierre, CEO of the Berlin-based security consulting firm MOSECON.

An outbreak in Lagos, a megacity where many lived in cramped conditions, could be a major public health disaster.

The West Africa outbreak is believed to have begun as far back as January in southeast Guinea, though the first cases weren't confirmed until March.

Since then, officials have tried to contain the disease by isolating victims and educating populations on how to avoid transmission, though porous borders and widespread distrust of health workers have made the outbreak difficult to bring under control.

News of Brisbane's death first began circulating on Saturday, a national holiday marking Liberia's independence in 1847.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf used her Independence Day address to discuss a new taskforce to combat Ebola. Information Minister Lewis Brown said the taskforce would go "from community to community, from village to village, from town to town" to try to increase awareness.

In Sierra Leone, which has recorded the highest number of new cases in recent days, the first case originating in Freetown, the capital, came when a hairdresser, Saudata Koroma, fell ill. She was forcibly removed from a government hospital by her family, sparking a frantic search that ended Friday.

Kargbo, the chief medical officer, said Sunday that Koroma died while being transported to a treatment center in the east of the country.

2014-07-27 16:53:46 -0700

A coroner's official says a 20-year-old man has died after lightning struck 14 people at popular Venice Beach in Los Angeles and Catalina Island.

Los Angeles County coroner's Lt. Larry Dietz says the man was taken from the beach and pronounced dead at a hospital Sunday afternoon.

Dietz says he can't confirm whether the man was a swimmer who was pulled from the water and given CPR.

Thirteen people, including a 15-year-old boy, were jolted by lightning at the beach as rare summer thunderstorms hit Southern California.

Nine went to hospitals, including one who remains in critical condition.

Lightning also struck a 57-year-old man on a golf course on Santa Catalina Island but he was taken to a hospital in stable condition.

2014-07-27 16:21:22 -0700
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