• Antioch’s present should come from Judge Saundra Armstrong, who should grant the city a victory in its litigation against several African-American women charging the police with racial discrimination. Antioch officials and police have been doing only what any responsible city must do to ensure a healthy community: fight crime and solve neighborhood problems. Antioch residents will also be unwrapping the bow on a new community center in Prewett Park next summer, catering to kids of all ages. Now if only the money can be found to keep it in operation.
• Bethel Island’s big present is the replacement of the rickety, 61-year-old Bethel Island Bridge with a $14 million wider, safer, stronger bridge designed to survive earthquakes and serve island residents and visitors for the next 50 years. It’s scheduled to be completed in November.
• Brentwood is in the midst of constructing its own present: a new civic center. Planned to open in 2012, it includes a 60,000-square-foot city hall, 32,000-square-foot community center, 280-space parking structure, 102 new trees, a tripling of the size of the Brentwood library and a water feature, history walk and permanent stage to enhance activities at a revamped City Park.
• Byron’s airport is being eyed by a private company for purchase and expansion. Whether public or private, we wish for things to start taking off at that long-underutilized resource for all of East County. And we wish that the long-simmering dream to revive the nearby Byron Hot Springs Resort, once the crown jewel of East County, will come true.
• Our wish for Discovery Bay, which is by far the prettiest community in East County but has the ugliest political turmoil, is peace on Earth (and water) and good will to men (and women) in the coming year. May there be nothing but sweetness, harmony and productive decision-making at Community Service District meetings.
• For Knightsen, which is the quietest, most low-key community in East County, we wish another year of benign neglect by the county. Nothing much ever happens in Knightsen, and that’s the way that most folks like it.
• Oakley’s best present in the coming year might be the development of the shopping center at Laurel Road and O’Hara Avenue. If it’s successful, it could kick start economic development on all four corners of that busy intersection, bringing much-needed local shopping, jobs and sales tax revenue to the city coffers.
To long-suffering East County motorists, we wish speedy work in the next year on the widening of Highway 4 and construction of the eBART line from the Bay Point BART Station to Antioch – although we’ll be forced to wait until 2015 until those presents are ready to open. And to everyone, we wish a speedy end in 2010 to this too-long recession, bringing more jobs, pay and hope to one and all.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Brentwood Press family to yours.