Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bits and pieces coming together

My last posts have been all about our island fire station closing. It’s been very upsetting to me and all of us living here. However there is hope for getting the station to serve an important function. We’ve applied to have it declared a historic structure. If it is designated, then we can start refurbishing it with the help of a licensed contractor supervising volunteer laborers. Funds will be needed for materials.
How do people raise money for a good cause? They make quilts, of course. My printer has been printing, my machine has been humming. Today I did a template for the centerpiece.
 I enlarged my sketch and am now laying out fabrics to use. The stripe at the top right will be for the Quonset Hut building front section, the red brick fabric will be used for the brick outside-wainscoting along the front, the brown for the shingle trim, the off-white for the cement block walls, and the blue for the sky. It’s fun to pull from my stash. I’ve found two fire truck photos to put in the bays. I’ll print the photos on fabric.
This is the photo (below) of the station that I am copying, but the quilted one will have the doors open.
 I’ve finished another aspect of the quilt by printing a composite photo on cloth (2012 and 1951). I am really pleased with it. It will be fun to quilt around the arched Quonset Hut roof tying the two parts together. I’ll emphasize a few other details with quilting, too.
I needed help with a caption for the composite piece. So I went on Facebook to our Bethel Island group, posted a photo, and asked for ideas. Jack Whitener, our Island fire chief from the 1970s and 1980s, came up with a wonderful caption: “There is no future without a past.” I printed it out the caption on fabric and I will appliqué it on the finished quilt.

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to ...

In the olden days there were not any fire hydrants on Bethel Island. Nowadays there are fire hydrants, but they don’t have any water in them. Sometime in between there was water pumped from the slough available for the hydrants.
Here we are in 2012 and our hydrants are covered with burlap and don’t work. When the new bridge to the island was built, the big pump was taken out. I’m pretty sure the water pipes to the hydrants are still underground along Bethel Island Road.
Do you suppose we could get a new pump at the bridge? If there are leaks in the pipes to the hydrants they could be fixed. Who knows about this?
If there was a fire near downtown, it would be good to have a water source here. If water tenders come to the island from Oakley and Brentwood it would be good if they could fill up on the island when their tanks run out instead of going back to their stations five or more miles away.
The last records I saw showed that Bethel Island’s tax paid to the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District was over $700,000 per year. Maybe some of that money could be allocated to a new pump at the bridge. Perhaps there are plumbers on the island who can test the pipe and tell us what needs to be done. I’m sure there would be willing volunteers to do some digging down to the pipes and help repair them under the supervision of a licensed plumber.
I don’t think we should have to wait and hope the Delta Coves project will bring water to the hydrants.
This is an editorial.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Saving grace (we hope)

Heather Campbell and I took our “Application for Nomination” to Martinez yesterday. We are hoping to get the Bethel Island Fire Station approved as a historical building by the County’s Historical Landmarks Advisory Committee, and then by the Board of Supervisors. If the building is chosen, we can refurbish it and have it ready as a command center and gathering place for paid-on-call firefighters and emergency medical responders here on Bethel Island.
East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) could not fix up the building because it was in a floodplain and had to be raised up in the air if they worked on it. However, there is an exemption from the FEMA floodplain rules if a building is a Historic Structure it does NOT have to be raised above the mean flood height.
The BIMAC approved the application at Tuesday night’s meeting and put up some money for the application fee. Islanders also contributed for the fee. Thanks to Page Pratt, Grant, Dori Anderson, and Marguerite Lawry we could pay the $500 application fee yesterday!
            See my post from July1 about the closing of the station.

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Sunday, July 08, 2012

Mixed blessings

 It’s good to go to church, at least for me. You never know what abundance you will receive. Today, at St. Alban’s in Brentwood a parishioner brought lots of fresh fruit to give away. That’s the wonderful thing about living in East Contra Costa County, California. There are fruit orchards, berry patches, and corn fields. It’s the perfect growing spot. I took some plums and peaches home.
My neighbor, Mary, works at a farmers market and yesterday she stopped by my house and gave me a basket of very ripe strawberries. I ate most of them last night.
To preserve these treats, I made a quick batch of mixed fruit refrigerator jam. My jam is 100 times better than the stuff called “mixed fruit” at the supermarket.
My blessings were mixed, but all good. Here is a guideline recipe. I did not use any water or lemon juice, just fruit and sugar today. It cooked for about 20 minutes.

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Sunday, July 01, 2012

The doors rolled down this morning

 A few of us were there at 8 a.m. this morning, July 1, 2012, when the last shift went off duty. A new shift didn’t arrive to take their place. Our Bethel Island Fire Station is closed.
Ben Whitener, Karen Israel, Captain Robert Ruddick, Joni Fraga-Pratt, Page Pratt, Bob Kenny

It was a sad goodbye. A volunteer fire department started on the Island in 1948. In the early 50s, a Quonset Hut was erected to house the engine. In the 1970s a paid chief and an assistant were hired and the station was manned 24/7 with paid-on-call volunteers. The firefighters have been protecting the Island for 64 years.
A single medical emergency person will be on the site for a while. Engines will come to the Island from the nearby towns of Oakley and Brentwood (over 5 miles away). The reason for the closure, we are told, is that a bond measure on the recent ballot did not pass.
This morning, about 45 minutes after the station closed, a medical call came in. The firefighters just stood there. They could not go to give aid. About 10 minutes later a fire truck from Oakley arrived on the Island.
Plans are afoot to preserve the station and get it designated as an historic structure. You will learn more about this in further posts.

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