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Martinez Celebrates First Pride Event as Hundreds Revel at Waterfront Park
Residents of all ages and backgrounds come together to support LGBTQ+ community; MRC incidents lead to Level 1 Community Warning System alerts; noise limits may be waived for restaurants and bars
Martinez Pride hosts Jaymes Anthony and Bella Adalma entertain the crowd.
Waterfront Park was transformed into a rainbow kaleidoscope of joy on Saturday as hundreds of members of the LGBTQ+ community and their supporters reveled in the inaugural Martinez Pride event.
Originally planned for June to coincide with Pride Month, the event was pushed back to September to give organizers more time to prepare, and it definitely seemed to be worth the wait for the attendees who enjoyed musical entertainment, food trucks, vendor booths and various activities.
The Rainbow Community Center in Concord helped organize the event.
“Amazing,” said Tanner Matthews of the Rainbow Community Center, which helped organize the event, of Saturday’s turnout. “We’re being here, we’re being queer, we’re being loud. That’s what we want to see.
“It’s very liberating to see so many people come out. This is the first Martinez Pride, and it’s blowing us out of the water.”
Matthews noted that the sea of people included every age demographic from young children to seniors, and even dogs decked out in rainbow bandanas.
Participants make positivity pins at one of the many Pride tables
Ringing Waterfront Park were scores of resource and information tables representing various nonprofit organizations and businesses that support and aid that LGBTQ+ community. Among them was Free Mom Hugs, a nationwide organization that promotes love, visibility and acceptance, particularly for those who struggle to find those things within their own families because of their sexual or gender identity.
The San Francisco chapter of Free Mom Hugs was among the nonprofits on hand
Mary Peterson, a Martinez resident for over 30 years who joined the San Francisco chapter of Free Mom Hugs in 2016, said she got involved in the organization because “it’s a message of love. I just feel like we need more of that in our world. When you come out to events like this, you see nothing but a loving community. I wish more people could see that.”
She was thrilled to see such support for the LGBTQ+ community in her hometown.
“They raised the Pride Flag four years ago at City Hall. It was amazing. It’s so well put together,” she said of Saturday’s celebration. “For the inaugural year, it’s amazing.”
A display of handmade greeting cards supporting the LGBTQ+ community
Martinez resident and community activist Nakenya Allen, who helped organize Martinez Pride as well as the city’s inaugural Juneteenth celebration in June, said, “I’m very proud of what I see. I do have a hope for the future for our city to have a more active role in LGTBQ+ activities and events.”
Even dogs got into the spirit of the day.
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Weekend incidents at MRC
The Martinez Refining Co., which has been under the spotlight since the “spent catalyst” release of metal-laden dust last Thanksgiving night, experienced multiple incidents over the weekend that triggered Level 1 notifications through the Contra Costa County Community Warning System.
A flaring event Saturday morning lasting more than 20 minutes triggered an alert at 10:22 a.m. Then, at 12:57 a.m. Sunday, another alert was issued for a “fire incident” at the refinery. No further details about the fire were immediately made public by the refinery or Contra Costa County Health Services.
A Level 1 alert is for notification purposes only, and indicates that no offsite health impacts are expected from the incident.
Also, MRC said in a Facebook post issued at 11:25 p.m. Friday that it was experiencing flaring; it wasn’t clear whether this flaring was related to the incident that triggered the Level 1 alert on Saturday morning. The post read:
The Martinez Refining Company is experiencing flaring that may be heard offsite and is visible mainly to the 680 Freeway and Marina Vista Avenue. We apologize for impacting some of our neighbors and thank our employees who are safely responding to resolve the equipment issue that is causing the flaring. Flares are an essential part of a refinery’s integrated, engineered safety system. They are designed to safely manage excess combustible gases by burning them off efficiently and effectively. As always, we have a community inquiry phone number you can call 925-313-3777 or 925-313-3601 during off work hours. Thank you.
As of 8 a.m. Sunday, there was no mention on the MRC Facebook page or website about the Level 1 incidents from Saturday and Sunday morning. The only posts from the refinery on those days were ones promoting the annual Run for Education fundraiser for local schools scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 30.
There was also no mention of these incidents on the Contra Costa Health Services Facebook page. The Level 1 notifications were made through the agency’s website.
Meanwhile, Contra Costa County Health Services will host a public meeting Monday night at 6 p.m. to discuss and receive comments from the community on the toxicology report documenting the soil impacts of the dust from the Nov. 24-25 spent catalyst release. The toxicology investigation did not find elevated levels of harmful metals in the soil samples tested where the dust landed.
Monday’s meeting will be held at 1025 Escobar St., Room 110. It will also be accessible via Zoom at the following this link: https://zoom.us/j/97867911814
SEPT. 25 UPDATE: I received the following clarifications from refinery spokesman Brandon Matson on the Community Warning System alerts that were issued over the weekend:
The CWS Alert at 10:22 a.m. on Saturday, September 23, was in fact the continuance of a CWS Alert we’ve been renewing daily with the County for the past several weeks related to a unit start-up. Importantly, the associated flaring is primarily the clean combustion of treated process gas that is included in our permit, and is quite different than other flaring that can be noisy or more visible.
The CWS Alert at 12:57 a.m. on Sunday, September 24, was unintentional and immediately corrected with the County – there was no fire at the refinery. We were attempting to renew the CWS Alert mentioned above and were trying out the CWS mobile application in case we want to start utilizing it more to improve our CWS notification timeliness, but we mistakenly checked the “fire” option instead of “flare.”
The flaring that occurred at MRC on Friday night, September 22, was much different than the flaring mentioned above and was due to an equipment issue. We issued a different CWS Alert to the County for that one because the flaring could be heard offsite and was visible to the community – mainly to the 680 Freeway and Marina Vista Avenue. The flaring ended later that night.
Note from Craig: The alerts I referenced in Sunday’s post were all found on the Contra Costa Health Services Hazardous Materials page at https://cchealth.org/hazmat/ The alerts were bannered across the top of the page with boilerplate language that made no distinction between continuing flaring for unit start-ups or other regular refinery operations and those that result from an equipment failure. The inadvertent fire incident alert that was posted at 12:57 a.m. was still on the webpage as of 8 a.m. Sunday morning.
Proposal would exempt restaurants, bars from noise limits
The Planning Commission on Tuesday will consider a proposal for a one-year citywide exemption from noise limits in the municipal code for restaurants and bars, for the purpose of supporting their economic growth. According to a staff report, the proposal comes in response to many requests the city has received from restaurants and bars “related to live/amplified outdoor and indoor music time frames and decibel levels.”
The city plans to use the one-year exemption period to collect data that would then be used for a potential update to the municipal code. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at the City Council chamber and on Zoom. The agenda can be found here: https://granicus_production_attachments.s3.amazonaws.com/martinez/55d87d95cc49aa4f8df0344b6ad564e50.pdf