Kids between the ages of 12-15 can now get Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at all county-run clinics in Contra Costa.

The County is expanding eligibility after the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommended Pfizer’s COVID vaccine for use in this younger age group. Previously, the Pfizer vaccine was only approved for people ages 16 and older.

The County has already begun working with the Contra Costa County Office of Education, local school districts and Kaiser Permanente to host vaccination clinics at various middle schools and high schools in the coming weeks.

Nearly 700,000 county residents ages 16+ have received at least one dose of vaccine already. About 65,000 residents in Contra Costa fall between ages 12-15.

Pfizer is the only vaccine approved for use by those who are ages 12-17. The other two COVID vaccines in the United States made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are still only available to people ages 18 and older.

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A 42-year-old Pittsburg man was found dead in San Rafael on Wednesday and his co-worker at a Concord landscaping company has been arrested on suspicion of killing him, San Rafael police said.

David Nunez Sanchez didn’t come home after working on a job at an apartment complex on North Avenue in San Rafael on Tuesday, and on Wednesday someone with the landscaping company went out to the job site and found Nunez Sanchez’s work truck, which was locked, according to police.

The employee called police, who learned that Nunez Sanchez had been reported missing to Pittsburg police on Tuesday after not returning home. When officers searched the truck, they found his cellphone as well as his lunchbox with uneaten food in it, police said.

Officers searched the area and eventually found Nunez Sanchez dead and he had been buried under brush and branches. Detectives went to Concord to interview three other employees who were at the job site that day and learned Nunez Sanchez was the supervisor of the work crew, police said.

After an extensive interview, one of the employees, Miguel Jimenez Alejandre, a 33-year-old Bay Point man, allegedly confessed to killing Nunez Sanchez. Police have not released the manner of death or a possible motive for the killing.

Alejandre was booked into Marin County Jail on suspicion of murder.

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Family homelessness will end in five years in California, according to a $12 billion, two-year plan announced Tuesday by the governor.

Family homelessness refers to households with at least one adult and one minor who are homeless, the governor’s office said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is hoping the state Legislature votes to fund the plan, which is based on results over the past year including programs to shelter and house homeless individuals in hotels and motels.

“We are committed to ending family homelessness,” Newsom said at a news conference.

The $12 billion to end homelessness is part of a $100 billion plan to invigorate the state’s economy as the COVID-19 pandemic ends and comes on the heels of a historic state budget surplus.

Newsom’s plan includes an expansion of Project Homekey, which converted hotels and motels into housing for homeless people. It focuses on homeless people with the most acute needs such as people with mental health challenges and seniors most at risk of becoming homeless.

Newsom said shelter does not solve homelessness.

“Housing and supportive services solve homelessness,” he said.

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California would invest more than $100 billion into its public school system under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s revised state budget proposal, expanding behavioral health services and access to pre-kindergarten, Newsom said Wednesday.

The funding plan includes an additional $20 billion on top of the $85.8 billion in Newsom’s initial budget proposal from January, which the governor said at that time was the largest investment in education in the state’s history.

The $20 billion — part of a $100 billion spending plan that Newsom has dubbed the California Comeback Plan — would make pre-kindergarten available to every 4-year-old in the state and create thousands of so-called “community schools” that offer mental health and social services to both students and their families.

“We are looking to transform, not go back to where we were, but to transform our educational system,” Newsom said of the education spending in his budget proposal.

Some of the money, like that for in-school behavioral and mental health services, will be spent over the next five years, Newsom said.

Under the funding plan, the state would make $3.3 billion available to train and support the additional teachers needed to expand the availability of pre-kindergarten and cut the ratio of pre-K students to teachers from 24-to-one to 12-to-one.

The funding plan also includes $2 billion to open personal savings accounts for some 3.7 million low-income, foster, homeless and English-learning youth.

The savings accounts would be seeded with $500 base deposits and could eventually be used to help pay for college or start a business, Newsom said.

Newsom argued that conversations about income inequality do not focus enough on the issue of wealth inequality and that low-income families do not have the proper access to owning assets or even the ability to contribute to a savings account.

“Our children are going to need more beyond the K-12 or even TK-12 experience,” Newsom said. “We’re poised to do something that the academics have been promoting for decades and that researchers have said is one of the best investments in breaking the cycle of poverty.”

Newsom is expected to unveil the full revised budget proposal on Friday.

Newsom and the state legislature will then have until June 15 to approve the budget before the new fiscal year begins on July 1.

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The “Water Cooler” is a feature on Claycord.com where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it.

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday at noon.

Today’s question:

What’s your opinion on off-leash dogs at local parks (not dog parks)? Do you care if the owner takes them off the leash and lets them run around, or does it bother you when dogs are running around, even if they are well behaved?

Talk about it….

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Gas prices in California remain the highest in the nation, according to AAA.

The average price for a gallon of gas in California is now $4.11.

One year ago, the average in California was $2.77.

The cheapest (average) price for a gallon of gas in the U.S. is currently in Mississippi, at $2.68 a gallon.

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A two-alarm fire damaged a church in Concord early Thursday morning, a Contra Costa County Fire Protection District official said.

The blaze was reported at 5:32 a.m. at Christ Community Church of the Nazarene at 1650 Ashbury Drive, located near Clayton Road and Galindo Street.

The first arriving crews found heavy flames coming from a two-story building and fought the fire defensively, eventually extinguishing it by about 6:15 a.m. and saving an adjoining one-story building from burning, Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Peter said.

No injuries were reported as a result of the fire, and its cause remains under investigation, Peter said.

photo credit: Craig Cannon

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The Lafayette City Council on Monday unanimously endorsed a plan that would create a pedestrian and bicycle path down the center of Pleasant Hill Road, from the intersection of Mt. Diablo Boulevard to Acalanes High School.

Lafayette resident Eric Law — who leads the innovation team at the San Francisco-based commercial construction firm Swinerton — got the idea in July 2017 while bicycling from his home near Stanley Middle School to Briones Regional Park near the high school.

Crossing multiple freeway on- and off-ramps, he had a revelation.

“Not only was I scared with the cars racing by, but I realized I was going to have to drive my two boys to high school,” Law said last week.

Law reached out to the city and, nearly four years later, the Safe Route to Acalanes High School Project got the conceptual endorsement of the Lafayette City Council, after getting the support of the city’s transportation and circulation committee.

“It’s a presentation I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time now,” said Councilmember Cameron Burks. “They’ve done a really good job in organizing and coming and presenting this.”

The council didn’t commit any money to the estimated $3.2 million cost of the project. Law said he wanted to get the council’s endorsement before starting an all-out fundraising campaign. Law’s group has requested $238,000 for design and environmental review costs from local State Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan’s office. He said they would also go after federal funding, as well as private donations.

Funding could also come from local developer’s fees and money designated for city art projects, should the path include an art component.

Pleasant Hill Road is a major arterial from state Highway 24 to Lafayette, Pleasant Hill, Martinez and state Highway 4. There are also freeway ramps on both sides of the street.

The relatively short stretch of road also includes Acalanes High School and its more than 1,300 students, many of whom walk and bicycle to school. The controversial 315-unit Terraces of Lafayette development is coming to the corner of Pleasant Hill and Deer Hill roads, first bringing construction traffic, then hundreds of more cars passing through. Springhill Elementary School is also just a few blocks to the north.

According to a city staff report, that stretch of Pleasant Hill Road serves as many as 36,000 vehicles per day.

“Crossing the ramps can be dangerous, and even dissuade(s) experienced riders,” says a report to the council from Mike Moran, Lafayette’s director of engineering and public works. “In fact, the city has heard from numerous parents that they will not allow their children to walk or ride to school if they need to traverse this one unprotected pathway on Pleasant Hill Road.”

Bicycle lanes currently extend through the area, near the freeway ramps, but they’re squeezed between vehicle traffic lanes.

Law said Monday that design work would need to be completely done before Caltrans would even look to approve the project — an 8-to-12-month process, he said.

The Safe Routes Project is “already viewed by Caltrans and CCTA (Contra Costa Transportation Authority) as an ideal project, as it does not impact on/off ramps,” according to a staff report for Monday’s meeting.

For more information on the Safe Route to Acalanes High School Project, people can go to https://www.saferouteto.org/.

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The “Water Cooler” is a feature on Claycord.com where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it.

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday in the noon hour.

What’s your favorite junk food?

Talk about it….

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