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Bay Area briefs
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Sewage worker's unused sick time worth $145K

MARTINEZ  (AP) — It seems working with California sewage isn't sickening.

Central Contra Costa Sanitary District sewage engineer Alan Grieb cashed in 2,138 hours of unused sick time when he retired last year, adding about $145,000 to his final paycheck.

The Contra Costa Times says the district also counted most of that check toward Grieb's pension.

And the banked sick days were counted as time he technically worked, adding more than a year to his 31-year career.

Those perks combined to bump up Grieb's pension checks by another $800 a month for life.

District general manager Ann Farrell, who is negotiating with unions to rein in sick time payouts, describes Contra Costa County as the poster child for pension spiking.

Refinery fire phone notifications bungled

MARTINEZ  (AP) — Contra Costa County wants to replace a telephone alert firm that bungled emergency notifications during the smoky Richmond refinery fire.

It took more than three hours for 18,000 residents near the refinery to get calls advising them to shelter in place after the fire started at the Chevron Corp, refinery on Aug. 6.

The San Francisco Chronicle says the county's Katherine Hern told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that the CityWatch system didn't perform to expectations.

The CityWatch system costs taxpayers about $90,000 a year.

Hern says she's meeting Wednesday with another firm.

But she says other firms may not be much better because all emergency notification systems are known to overload regional telephone networks.

Ex-officers armed underage security workers

OAKLAND  (AP) — Two former Richmond police officers have been sentenced for arming young members of the Explorer program and hiring them to work for their private security firm.

The San Francisco Chronicle says a federal judge in Oakland on Tuesday sentenced 32-year-old Danny Harris to six months in a halfway house and 34-year-old Raymond Thomas to six months of home detention.

The former officers admitted in a plea deal reached in March that they illegally bought guns for underage employees working at their security company. They also tried to obstruct a federal investigation.

Investigators say some of the security firm employees were recruited the Police Department's Explorer program, which introduces young people to careers in law enforcement.

Police seek suspects in Oakley vineyard heist

OAKLEY  (AP) — Authorities are searching for suspects who stole more than 1,200 pounds of wine grapes from an Oakley vineyard.

The Contra Costa Times reports that thieves stripped about $1,500 worth of grapes from 81 plants on Stan Planchon's vineyard around 1:30 a.m. Monday.

The 90-year-old Planchon says he saw flashlights among the rows of zinfandel vines and went outside to confront the thieves, but they fled in a truck before he reached them.

Oakland police say at the scene they recovered another vehicle that was covered in bullet holes and had been reported stolen out of Antioch. No suspects had been arrested or named Wednesday.

Grapes from the 180-year-old vineyard are used in wine made by Rosenblum Cellars, an Alameda-based winemaker known for inexpensive, high-quality zinfandel.