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Ninth Annual Chanukah Festival

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Ninth Annual Chanukah Festival

This Sunday, Dec. 2, join Chabad Mid Pen for the Ninth Annual Chanukah Festival at Courthouse Square.

Come out and watch as a giant glow in the dark Menorah will be lit. Guests can enjoy entertainment, music, latkes and donuts, and an amazing time for the whole family, including Ben Kramarz live and a Chanukah Gelt Drop.

The event includes children’s activities at 4 p.m. and the Menora lighting at 4:30 p.m.

For more information click here.

San Mateo County History Museum writes new page in Redwood City history

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By Janet McGovern and Brian Douglas

The history of San Mateo County government in Redwood City has been a bit of a love/hate relationship. The jails, the bail bondsmen, the halfway houses, people complained, arrived courtesy of county government. Sure enough, so did scores of county workers to eat in Redwood City restaurants and shop at stores. On the other hand, when they went home at night, the sidewalks rolled up. But that’s history, really.

Anyone who’s arrived during the last 10 years would have to consult history to learn about “Deadwood City” and the time before the seat of county government emerged as the Peninsula’s entertainment and culture butterfly. And irony of ironies, the Cinderella transformation owes very much to a partnership among county government, the city and its redevelopment agency to repurpose the landmark San Mateo County Courthouse for a history museum fronting on a central plaza.

“I like to think of us as being at Ground Zero for that,” said Mitch Postel, the president of the San Mateo County Historical Association, which runs the museum that occupies the former courthouse. “When we moved in in 1998, it was pretty lazy around here.” He took a walk on a recent Thursday night and was stunned by how crowded downtown was. “We really did play a part to help downtown Redwood City to be as vibrant as it is now…

“In 2019, we will have been open to the public exactly 20 years,” he continues. The history museum was “a very willing and able partner, never questioned the mission and were right there in the corner when the city needed us.”

Built in 1910, after the 1906 earthquake devastated the latest prior courthouse, the spectacular domed edifice faces the Fox Theatre on Broadway, architectural and cultural bookends in a still unfolding story of change, rooted in history.

What to compare the courthouse with? Not much survived after 1906, certainly not major public buildings. There are some splendid private residences, including the Filoli Estate in Woodside and Ralston Hall in Belmont. South San Francisco has a beautiful, though smaller city hall, and San Francisco’s is impressive too but on a much larger scale.

“I can’t think of anything other than the City Hall of San Francisco that can compare,” says Ken Rolandelli, who has long been active in historic preservation in Redwood City. “For a community such as ours to have something that looks like this does is quite a source of pride.” People come from all over to attend concerts on Courthouse Square, he adds, and “Redwood City is really a happening place because of it.”

What a difference a few decades make. Not that long ago, visitors to the old courthouse came to pay traffic tickets and property tax bills or to arm wrestle in Small Claims Court. Today, they’re drawn by concerts, art shows and festivals outdoors and indoors to the museum’s exhibits, research archives, lectures, school tours, Victorian teas, as well as a gift shop that offers discounts during certain events. Museum space is also rented for weddings, receptions, dinners and other private parties. (San Mateo County owns the courthouse, as well as two other offsite historic locations that the historical association operates, Sanchez Adobe in Pacifica and the Woodside Store.)

Almost 40,000 people visited the museum and archives last year, and the other sites and outreach pushes the total to nearly 60,000. Thousands of school kids from all over the tour the museum.

The Day of the Dead celebration held every year on the first Sunday in November brings out more people to the museum than any other event in the year. Now in its eighth year, the “Día de las Muertos” celebration has grown from 500 to more than 3,700 celebrants who toured the old courthouse last year, according to Carmen Blair, the museum’s deputy director. The event is cosponsored with Casa Círculo Cultural, and with the Redwood City Library and the Parks & Art Foundation.

This year’s celebration will be on Nov. 4 and will begin with a procession down Broadway to Courthouse Square, where food purveyors and vendor booths will be set up. Music and dancing add to the festivities as well as a chalk mural. Then from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., the courthouse will be open for children to do crafts in the rotunda while other visitors can see a display of altars in the ceremonial Courtroom A; the altars will remain on display for the following week.

Former Redwood City Mayor Barbara Pierce has just completed a term as chairwoman of the historical association board. The city, she notes, has a large population of families from Mexico and the event “really helps to bring a whole new set of people to the museum and to downtown who might not otherwise.” The high-quality celebration “really honors their tradition,” Pierce says, adding that last year, 2,000 people came through the museum in two hours.

Originally affiliated with what was then called San Mateo Junior College, the historical association got its start in 1935 and created a local history “museum room” in 1941. It moved around within the downtown San Mateo campus until a 6,000-square-foot space was created in 1959 in the new College of San Mateo campus overlooking the city.

By the late 1990s, meanwhile, use of the historic courthouse for trials was winding down. In 1939, a space called “the Fiscal Building” had been added to the front of the building for an expanded office workforce and the stately columns were torn down. An addition to the rear of the structure on Marshall Street was built in 1941. But with the post-World War II growth of county government, more office space was needed and the eight-story Hall of Justice was built in 1963, followed through the years by additional county buildings and a new campus on Tower Road in San Mateo.

In 1998, the museum moved to the old courthouse in Redwood City. That was the good news. The bad news was that the annex buildings were still occupied by county office workers, which meant that the entrance to the museum was not through the front door facing Broadway, but through a side door on Hamilton Street.

The needs of the museum and the renaissance of downtown converged to create what led to the restoration of the historic courthouse, a revitalized museum and a great public plaza. However, making those pieces come together took a lot of heavy lifting by dedicated people.

Rolandelli was part of a committee that was formed to restore the courthouse to its original splendor and create a public plaza that would replace a lawn and simple pathway. The task was daunting enough: relocate the county employees along with removing the three-story Fiscal Building without damaging the historic courthouse structure. Then faithfully reproduce the original columns, façade and wide stairway from photo archives and create a plaza that was contemporary yet would complement the classic courthouse architecture.

Fundraising for the restoration project had its own challenges, especially after the dot.com stock market bubble burst, but between funds from redevelopment, foundations and passing the hat, the finances worked. An unforeseen problem originated in Sacramento, where the head of the state architect’s office was an enthusiast for works that President Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration had created. That presented an obstacle to dismantling the Fiscal Building.

As a compromise, the committee agreed to save a fresco in the front lobby that had an historic Art Deco image. Rolandelli and other committee members agree that for Redwood City and San Mateo County, that was a battle well worth winning. In 2005, work began to demolish the Fiscal Building, restore the original courthouse façade and construct the plaza. The following year, the city celebrated the opening of Courthouse Square.

That’s not to say the Fiscal Building didn’t have its good points or its fans. Rolandelli recalls that Jean Cloud, another pioneer in historic preservation efforts, “didn’t want to see it come down.” The WPA structure “was actually quite nice. It’s just unfortunate that they stuck it in front of the courthouse. … The overriding factor was that (the removal in 2005) was going to uncover the historic gem behind it.”

Not only did the demolition open the entrance to the courthouse, it allowed for the creation of Courthouse Square, where events take place almost year-round ranging from concerts to a salsa festival and from an Oktoberfest to corporate events. On most Tuesday evenings, the Redwood City Improvement Association lights up the courthouse exterior with a changing 3D light show.

Working in collaboration, city and county governments invested about $20 million in restoring the landmark courthouse for the museum, including seismic repairs and upgrades to the structure and to the stunning stained-glass domes in the atrium and in Courtroom A. The county continues to maintain the structure and currently has crews working to restore the deteriorating sandstone exterior walls. The museum gets an annual $200,000 subvention from the county, which also provides electricity, gas and water services.

Museum officials take justifiable pride in the fact that it has been accredited since 1972 by the American Alliance of Museums. Accreditors go “measure everything about you,” Postel says, from financial reports, governance, standards of exhibitions, care of the collections, compliance with rules for nonprofits and more.

“It’s not easy to get accredited,” he adds. “There are about 40,000 museums in America and only about 1,000 are actually accredited. It’s so rigorous that a lot of museums don’t go through it.” During the transition from CSM to downtown, it wasn’t easy, he recalls with a laugh. “It was a horrible time to be reaccredited. We were still cleaning up all the dirt from construction. We moved in too soon. One of the things you have to do if you are a museum is you have to be really clean.” But accreditors knew “we were really trying,” he says.

A 2011 report by the AAM’s visiting accrediting committee offered high praise for the historical association for maintaining “a commitment to high standards during a period of unprecedented growth and change for the organization.” A reviewer was struck by “the spirit and drive of the staff” and board members seemed actively engaged, focused on the future and results-oriented. One of the “inspiring” highlights for the visitors was meeting leaders of the active and committed volunteers, including docents and people who raise funds at a used bookstore.

The reviewers also took note of the fact that the majority of the budget comes from private contributions and earned income, and comparatively little from public funds, a validation of the level of commitment from the board and support from the community. Of the total 2018-19 $1,588,500 budget, about $550,000 comes from the annual campaign and corporate and foundation support and another $200,000 from the annual San Mateo County History Makers dinner.

Where some small museums “get a bit too bogged down in the minutiae of little stuff,” Postel says, “I think we do a better job than most history museums in putting our story in context of the larger themes of Western and American history.” In planning the exhibit space, care was taken to show the county as a microcosm in a larger narrative – the story of native Californians, the impact of the missions, immigration and so on – as well as what in San Mateo County history is unique.

Caltrain, for example, operates on a rail corridor that dates back to 1863-64 and was the first commuter railroad west of the Mississippi. The first bit of highway constructed for the automobile was built between San Bruno and Burlingame, according to Postel. Then, of course, there’s the story of Silicon Valley and the entrepreneurs who pioneered in electronics, biotechnology, internet and other leading-edge endeavors.

Many displays include interactive aids to provide more depth as well as hands-on involvement. Young visitors to the Journey to Work gallery are encouraged to ride in a stagecoach, weigh gold, send a telegram and drive a streetcar. Nearly every gallery includes tangible material to recreate an historic experience. Visitors can experience what it took to pack a person’s worldly possessions in a shipping trunk. Or choose to interconnect stones just as workers had done to build the Crystal Springs Dam.

The county’s shipping legacy is celebrated in the Charles Parsons’ Ships of the World exhibit where remarkable ship models he made are displayed. (A fun fact: The San Carlos was the first ship to sail into San Francisco Bay.) The gallery also presents murals and artifacts of some of the great sailing ships that wrecked on the county’s rugged coast along with the original Fresnel lens from the Montara Lighthouse that later helped sailors avoid disaster. The museum also celebrates Redwood City’s legacy as San Francisco Bay’s deep-water port, the port’s importance to the city’s growth and its continued contribution to commerce.

From the beginning, immigration has played a major role in the county’s development and that dynamic is celebrated in the Land of Opportunity exhibit where people from all parts of the world have made the Peninsula one of the most culturally rich in the nation. Colorful costumes of early settlers present a striking display.

Silicon Valley technology has been a dominant economic force in the county and the History Makers exhibit takes a tour through recent history and showcases the entrepreneurs and other business people who made a major impact. On one of the exhibit’s walls, a static mural timeline of entrepreneurs will soon be replaced with two large flat screens to bring contemporary, dynamic life to that space.

One of the newest exhibits celebrates the county’s fame in the surfing community. No, not just web surfing, but riding the giant waves at Mavericks Beach, just north of Half Moon Bay. Visitors start by stepping on a surfboard near a big window overlooking the plaza and Fox Theatre. From this perch, it’s possible to imagine that this 40-foot perspective is what Mavericks surfers experience when they begin their amazing descent. Then one can take a few steps into a high-tech surfing interactive display, mount a surfboard and choose a wave to ride.

A large video screen interacts with foot manipulations on the board to negotiate down a selection of waves, safely make it through a passage with rocks on either side and dismount. The virtual experience lets visitors test surfing skills without getting wet.

Courtroom A is a destination for museum visitors as well as a popular space for special events. Like the domed rotunda, this large courtroom was restored to its 1910 origins. Superior Court Judge George Buck, whose portrait hangs on the wall, presided there until 1932. In fact, cases were heard in the historic courtroom until 1998.

District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe’s roots are deeply connected to downtown Redwood City and its courts. His father had considered going to work for a big law firm in San Francisco but a judge in the historic courthouse urged him to practice law in San Mateo County. He did — for five decades. Steve began his career at the DA’s office in 1975 when it was located in the old courthouse and he was sworn in as district attorney in Courtroom A.

The famous courtroom is still used for ceremonial events such as swearing in new judges. During most regular museum hours, visitors can sit at the bench, named in honor of retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor who worked in the county’s district attorney’s office after graduating from Stanford Law School in the early 1950s.
“The museum has grown over the years just like Redwood City has grown,” Pierce says, “and it just keeps getting better and better. And there are wonderful plans for the future.”

Lathrop House, one of the Peninsula’s oldest mansions, built in 1863 by Benjamin Lathrop, San Mateo County’s first clerk, will be carefully moved to the back of the courthouse where Hamilton and Marshall streets intersect. The house currently sits on land on Hamilton Street opposite the Hall of Justice, where the county has plans for constructing offices and a plaza. The historic house was last moved in 1905 from Broadway, where the Fox Theatre now sits. Back then, the movers placed logs under the structure and pulled the big house with horses.

Redwood City resident Dee Eva, a member of the historical association board who has been involved with the plans for the relocated Lathrop House, says a company which specializes in historic properties will be handling the transportation job.

“It’s a clear shot,” she says. “They will pick it up, move it forward onto the street, then they are going to pull it down the street in the same orientation a couple hundred feet across Marshall Street and then just back it up and put it on the lot.” The interior furnishings have been removed and stored in containers for the moving date, which has slipped several times. A new foundation and utility work still need to be done before Lathrop House can move to its new home behind the museum.

Rolandelli had had his doubts about how moving the house might affect its listing on the National Register of Historic Places. But at a meeting in May in Palo Alto, the state Historic Resources Commission said the status would be unimpaired, which took care of that concern.

Eva, who has been advocating for a Redwood City history museum for several years, says two interior walls will be taken down to create space for a gallery where city memorabilia and artifacts can be exhibited. Realtor John Shroyer, who has a collection of bottles and ephemera, will provide the first display. She and Pierce say the move should prove beneficial because Lathrop House will be open more often because of the connection with the museum.

“I think it’s the crown jewel of Redwood City historic properties,” Eva says. The house will be illuminated in such a way that it will look dramatic and “really shine.”

According to Eva and Historical Association President Postel, plans are also in the works for a new carriage house to showcase the 30 mostly Brewster era (1810 to 1905) carriages that have been stored in the museum’s 5,000-square-foot warehouse. The carriages that came to the museum once belonged to Lurline Matson Roth, who owned the Filoli Estate. Plans call for a two-story structure next to Lathrop House at the corner of Marshall Street and Middlefield Road. The proposed design would create an open-air rooftop space that could be used for gatherings such as small weddings, parties and corporate events. Postel says many private collectors own carriages and vehicles that could be displayed too.

More immediately, there are plans to have a natural history gallery and redo the immigrants and entrepreneurs galleries, he adds. After 34 years on the job, Postel says his enthusiasm is undiminished. “I am having so much fun,” he says. “It’s great to work here, just with a terrific staff and the volunteers have always been the best group of volunteers.”

Ready to make some more history.

Neighbors oppose plan to relocate Whipple crosswalk

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Neighbors opposed to plan to relocate Whipple crosswalk

A proposal to relocate a crosswalk on Whipple Avenue in Redwood City has upset several neighbors.

Based upon a 2017 road analysis, city staff determined that the crosswalk at Woodstock Place should be relocated to Iris Street to increase pedestrian safety. A design of the new enhanced crosswalk at Iris St. was completed early this year and advertised for construction in July 2018.

Problem is, residents living on Whipple said they only heard about the project when the city sent a letter less than two weeks ago.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, the project contract was scheduled to be awarded. Following complaints from multiple neighbors, however, no decision was made in order to allow for further public outreach.

The problem of high traffic volume and speeding on Whipple Avenue dates back several years. In 2010, neighbors fought to get additional crosswalks installed on Whipple. In 2011, two were installed on Woodstock and on Nevada Street along with other safety enhancements such as additional signage. Since then, neighbors say, there have been no major accidents or injuries in the area, and the crosswalk has been useful for students traveling to schools.

When it came time in 2015 to conduct a paving project on Whipple, public outreach led to renewed interest in safety enhancements on Whipple, according to the city. Some short-term enhancements were installed when the paving project was done in 2016. At the same time, according to city staff, consultants were hired to evaluate safety enhancements. An ensuing study looked at four locations in the area for potential enhanced crosswalks and decided having one at Iris Street rather than Woodstock was optimal.

About a half-dozen neighbors who came to Monday’s City Council meeting to oppose the plan disagree with that finding. Further complicating matters, in 2016 the city approved a permit allowing a homeowner to relocate his driveway, which now runs into the Woostock crosswalk, a probable code violation.

Photo: City of Redwood City

‘Next Generation Dunkin’ set for grand opening in San Carlos

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'Next Generation Dunkin' set for grand opening in San Carlos

A “Next Generation Dunkin'” is opening Wednesday at 240 El Camino Real in San Carlos.

Calling it the Dunkin’ “store of the future,” the new shop will have “innovative new features such as a cold beverage tap system and a sleek new interior design,” the company said on social media. The company, which last month announced a rebranding from Dunkin’ Donuts to simply Dunkin’, has been opening dozens of next generation coffee shops this year.

“Doors open at 5 a.m., and the first person in line will receive a $150 Dunkin’ gift card, with the second and third guests in line receiving a $50 gift card each,” according to an eventbrite for the grand opening.

A ribbon-cutting will occur at 8 a.m., and there will also be free food and beverage samples, special giveaways to the first 100 people in line, and an appearance from Dunkin’s mascot Cuppy. Dunkin’ will also donate to the San Carlos Education Foundation as part of the event.

The store will open seven days a week, from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Menu items include specialty coffees, espresso, sandwiches, and baked goods, including donuts.

Photo credit: Twitter @DunkinNorCal

Redwood City intends to transition to district-based elections

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Redwood City staff recommends transition to district-based elections

In response to the threat of costly legal action, the Redwood City council on Monday unanimously announced its intent to transition from an at-large elections system to a district-based elections system.

As first reported last month by Climate Magazine columnist Mark Simon, Redwood City recently joined a long list of state jurisdictions in receiving a letter from the law firm Shenkman & Hughes alleging that its current system of at-large elections discriminates against minority voters and candidates.

While at-large elections allow voters of the entire city to elect the seven councilmembers, a district-based system has voters voting solely for the councilmember who resides in and aims to represent their particular district of the city.

In the letter to Redwood City officials, Malibu attorney Kevin Shenkman said the at-large system violates the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) of 2001. His letter threatened litigation if Redwood City did not voluntarily switch to district-based elections.

In its report to council, Redwood City staff did not defend the at-large election system. Rather, staff advised that challenging the legal threat would likely be costly and unsuccessful.

According to a staff report, “the threshold to establish liability under the CVRA is extremely low, and prevailing CVRA plaintiffs are guaranteed to recover their attorneys’ fees and costs. As a result, every governmental defendant that has challenged the conversion to by-district elections under the CVRA has either lost in court or settled/agreed to change its election system and been forced to pay at least some portion of the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees and costs.”

When the City of Palmdale attempted to defend its at-large council election system in court, it was forced to pay $4.7 million in plaintiff’s legal fees, not counting nearly $2 million in legal defense fees. Santa Barbara, Whittier, Anaheim and Modesto incurred legal fees of between $600,000 and $3 million in settling such challenges, staff said.

“All of these cases ended with those cities adopting by-district elections,” the staff report says.

Locally, seven jurisdictions have either chosen to adopt district elections or are preparing to do so, including Half Moon Bay, Menlo Park, South San Francisco, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and two local school districts. Santa Clara was court-ordered to implement district elections even though voters in the city rejected such a system in June.

Proposals by Redwood City staff include reducing council seats from seven to six under a district-based elections system, with the mayor’s position elected in at-large system. Other alternatives include red “ranked choice voting,” “cumulative voting” and “from district” elections formats, according to the staff report.

Should council approve the transition to district elections, public hearings will be held to seek input on drafting district maps. The conversion to district elections is expected to cost Redwood City about $175,000.

Freewheel Brewing Company hosting stand-up comedy hour Thursday night

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Freewheel Brewing Company hosting hour of stand-up comedy Thursday night

What’s so funny about Redwood City?

Well, you can find out for yourself on Thursday night.  From 8 p.m. to 9, settle in for an hour of stand-up comedy at Freewheel Brewing Company, 3736 Florence Street (and since it’s at Freewheel, naturally the event is also free).

They call it “Good Suds,” with local and touring comedians – and the “suds” part, that’s Freewheel’s beers.  You do have to pay for those, but if it turns out that “what’s so funny about Redwood City” is, not so much – well, at least there’s beer.

Meantime, you can take a look at Thursday night’s line-up, and refresh yourself on any of the other details, at the Good Suds Facebook page here.

Deputy honored as hero after response to domestic violence incident on Caltrain tracks

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Person struck by Caltrain at Main Street

A San Mateo County sheriff’s deputy is set to be honored as a hero this week in connection with his response to a domestic violence incident at the Belmont Caltrain station on May 31.

At the station that day, a suspect allegedly held his girlfriend over the tracks while a train was approaching — and with her 4 year old son watching, officials said. Deputy Pedro Miqueo responded to the scene, arrested the man and allegedly went above and beyond the call of duty to assist the woman and child.

This week, Miqueo is one of three people who will be recognized for heroism at the Board of Directors meetings for both Caltrain and SamTrans.

After the arrest, Miqueo treated the mother and son “with care and compassion, connecting them with crisis counselors at Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse (CORA), driving her to the child’s school when she was unable to do so herself and staying in contact with her after the incident to provide further support,” according to the transit agencies.

The deputy will be honored with an award at the Joint Powers Board meeting on Thursday, Sept. 6.

Two more heroes set to be recognized at the SamTrans board meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 5. They are Hector Tagal and Jaime Gonzalez, two RediCoast vehicle operators who sprung into action when they came upon the scene of a car accident on La Honda Road in La Honda. They called 911 about an overturned car containing an unconscious driver, then proceeded to free the driver from the vehicle by the time paramedics arrived.

“A 911 dispatch officer called the RediCoast office to thank them for saving the man’s life,” according to officials.

“Our District is lucky to have a dedicated group of employees and dedicated law enforcement professionals that take their work very seriously,” said Jim Hartnett, GM and CEO of the San Mateo County Transit District. “It is of no surprise to me that, when dangerous situations come up, that they rise to the occasion and do what they can to keep the public safe.”

Redwood City police deploying pedestrian safety campaign in September

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Redwood City police deploying pedestrian safety campaign in September

In response to a rise in pedestrian deaths statewide and nationally, Redwood City police are urging both drivers and pedestrians to be aware of each other.

With California Pedestrian Safety Month falling in September, the Redwood City Police Department is partnering with the California Office of Traffic Safety on a “Pedestrians Don’t Have Armor” campaign seeking to reduce pedestrian deaths, which have increased statewide by nearly 33 percent since 2012. In 2016, 867 pedestrians were killed and more than 14,000 were injured on California roadways alone, according to data provided by Redwood City police.

In September, police intend to identify trouble spots in the community and to deploy a public campaign that features pedestrians clad in body armor made from car parts. The campaign aims to remind drivers and pedestrians alike of the need to be aware of one another.

“Whether you are walking or driving, there is a shared responsibility when it comes to looking out for one another,” OTS Director Rhonda Craft said in a statement.

Police offered these tips for peds and drivers:

Pedestrians
• Be obvious and predictable, crossing at crosswalks or intersections only, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible if there is no sidewalk.
• Make eye contact with drivers; never assume a driver sees you.
• Look left-right-left before you step into the crosswalk: having a green light or the “WALK” signal does not mean it is safe to cross.
• Look for cars backing up, including white backup lights or signs the vehicle is running. Don’t dart out between parked cars.
• Avoid distractions. Don’t walk and use your phone at the same time.
• Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective materials (or use a flashlight) at night.

Drivers
• Be alert for pedestrians, especially at intersections and crosswalks where they have the right of way.
• Put down the cell phone and just drive.
• Use extra caution when backing up. Look for bicyclists or pedestrians who may be approaching.
• Be patient and courteous. Wait for pedestrians to cross street or intersection before proceeding.

Mystery surrounds Redwood City Kaiser patient’s missing wedding ring

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The family of a man dying from cancer at Redwood City Kaiser Hospital says his wedding ring went missing inside the hospital, according to a report from ABC7 Bay Area.

Bill Halvorsen, who earned a Purple Heart while serving in Vietnam, was later a firefighter and has been married to Penny Halvorsen for 47 years, “never took off his wedding ring,” the news station reported.

Family members were confused when they noticed the ring missing from his finger on Saturday morning, and his son Pete says it had to have been taken off. “There’s no way it had accidentally fallen off,” he told ABC7.

The family wonders if hospital staff removed the ring. A hospital spokesperson told ABC7 Bay Area that the ring has yet to be found after an extensive search of the rooms where he was treated and trash bins. The hospital staff even consulted the linen supplier and interviewed all staff members who worked with the patient.

The traditional gold band is inscribed on the inside with Bill and Penny and 12/11/1971, according to the news report.

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