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City of Berkeley votes to return sacred Native land to Ohlone

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  • Ohlone people celebrated on Wednesday over the return of sacred Native land in Berkeley, California.
  • Berkeley’s City Council unanimously voted to give title of the 2.2-acre parking lot to the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust.
  • Mayor Jesse Arreguín said the site is significant as a place for education, prayer and preservation of Ohlone history.

Ohlone people and others rejoiced Wednesday over the return of sacred Native land dating back thousands of years, saying the move rights a historic wrong and restores the people who were first on land now called Berkeley, California, to their rightful place in history.

The 2.2-acre parking lot is the only undeveloped portion of the shellmound in West Berkeley, where ancestors of today’s Ohlone people established the first human settlement on the shores of the San Francisco Bay 5,700 years ago.

Berkeley’s City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt an ordinance giving the title of the land to the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, a San Francisco Bay Area collective led by women that works to return land to Indigenous people. The collective raised most of the money needed to reach the agreement with developers who own the land.

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“We want to be a place for global Indigenous leadership to come and gather in solidarity,” said Melissa Nelson, chair of the board of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, at a celebratory news conference Wednesday. “We want to educate, we want to restore and we want to heal.”

Melissa Nelson, chair of the board of directors of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, speaks at a news conference on March 13, 2024, in Berkeley, Calif. Berkeley’s City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to adopt an ordinance giving the title of the land to the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, a women-led, San Francisco Bay Area collective that works to return land to Indigenous people and that raised the funds needed to reach the agreement.  (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

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The crowd cheered as speakers talked of a movement to restore other lands to Indigenous people.

The site — a three-block area Berkeley designated as a landmark in 2000 — will be home to Native medicines and foods, an oasis for pollinators and wildlife, and a place for youth to learn about their heritage, including ancient dances and ceremonies.

“The site will be home to education, prayer and preservation, and will outlast every one of us today to continue telling the story of the Ohlone people,” Mayor Jesse Arreguín said, adding that their history is “marked not by adversity, but more importantly, by their unwavering resilience as a community.”

Before Spanish colonizers arrived in the region, the area held a village and a massive shellmound with a height of 20 feet and the length and width of a football field that was a ceremonial and burial site. Built over years with mussel, clam and oyster shells, human remains, and artifacts, the shellmound also served as a lookout.

The Spanish removed the Ohlone from their villages and forced them into labor at local missions. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Anglo settlers took over the land and razed the shellmound to line roadbeds in Berkeley with shells.

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“It’s a very sad and shameful history,” said Berkeley City Councilmember Sophie Hahn, who spearheaded the effort to return the land.

The agreement with Berkeley-based Ruegg & Ellsworth LLC, which owns the parking lot, comes after a six-year legal fight that started in 2018 when the developer sued the city after officials denied its application to build a 260-unit apartment building with 50% affordable housing and 27,500 feet of retail and parking space.

JEWISH STUDENTS AT UC BERKELEY FIGHT AGAINST CAMPUS ANTISEMITISM: ‘WE’RE NOT HIDING ANYMORE’

The settlement was reached after Ruegg & Ellsworth agreed to accept $27 million to settle all outstanding claims and to turn the property over to Berkeley. The Sogorea Te’ Land Trust contributed $25.5 million and Berkeley paid $1.5 million, officials said.

The trust plans to build a commemorative park with a new shellmound and a cultural center to house some of the pottery, jewelry, baskets and other artifacts found over the years and that are in the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Corrina Gould, co-founder of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust and tribal chair of the Confederated Villages of Lisjan Ohlone, attended Tuesday’s city council meeting via video conference and wiped away tears after the council voted to return the land.

The shellmound that once stood there was “a place where we first said goodbye to someone,” she said. “To have this place saved forever, I am beyond words.”

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West

Utah squatter takes plea deal in teen farmer's murder; leads detectives to 'skeletal remains'

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When Dylan Rounds went missing just shy of two years ago, the 19-year-old farmer from Idaho had just planted the first crop on his own Utah land.

Local investigators and the FBI found skeletal remains, presumed to be his, in a remote area of Lucin, Utah, a 200-mile drive from Salt Lake City, the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office announced.

“It’s another thing to work through,” his mother, Candice Cooley, said Wednesday morning.

The family had been notified that a plea deal had been reached last Monday after a month of negotiations, she said, and the FBI recovered her son’s remains Tuesday morning.

UTAH FARMER DYLAN ROUNDS REMAINS MISSING AS PRIME SUSPECT CHARGED WITH MURDER

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Dylan Rounds, 19, was last seen in Lucin, Utah, on May 25, 2022, authorities said. (Box Elder County Sheriffs Office)

She said she’s been preparing for the discovery after a month of back and forth before prosecutors and the defense agreed to a three- to 30-year prison sentence in exchange for the location of Rounds’ remains.

She said she is also calling on Utah to enact stiffer penalties after learning of a rejected proposal that would have locked up suspected killer James Brenner for just half as long.

“Our hearts go out to the family of Dylan Rounds,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. “We offer our sincerest condolences for the loss of their family member. We understand that the pain of their loss is immeasurable, and we want to express our deepest sympathies to them. It is our hope that they can find peace moving forward.”

The teen’s last known contact was with his grandmother on May 30, 2022, telling her over the phone that he had to put his grain truck in the shed because it was about to rain.

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Brenner was squatting in a trailer nearby.

MISSING DYLAN ROUNDS: UTAH DEPUTIES NAME SQUATTER NEIGHBOR AS SUSPECT IN DISAPPEARANCE OF 19-YEAR-OLD FARMER

James Brenner exits the courtroom in Box Elder County, Utah

James Brenner exits the courtroom in Box Elder County, Utah in July 2023. Brenner is charged with the murder of 19-year-old Dylan Rounds, whose remains were recovered on Tuesday, April 9, 2024 – nearly two years after his death. (EastIdahoNews.com)

The 60-year-old, who deputies charged with Rounds’ murder last year, led detectives to the teen’s remains yesterday as part of a plea deal, according to authorities.

The Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office identified Brenner as a suspect shortly after the teen went missing. However, without a body it took time to build the case. 

Dylan Rounds

The sheriff’s office said investigators are still working to recover the body of Rounds. (Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office)

Law enforcement spent months canvassing the area in an operation that included K-9s, drones, helicopters, ATVs and horses, but could not find him. But they found his boots and his truck near a barn five miles from his camper. 

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UTAH TEENAGE FARMER MISSING MORE THAN 2 WEEKS AS MOM FEARS FOUL PLAY

Dylan Rounds driving a Tractor as a child

Dylan Rounds, 19, struck out on his own to become a Utah farmer, according to his mom Candice Cooley. He grew up on the family farm in Idaho, where he started learning the business at a young age. (Candice Cooley)

The FBI also got involved, arresting him on federal firearms charges after it emerged that he shot another man in Maryland in the 1980s. 

As part of their search for Rounds, investigators served several search warrants. 

A neighbor told investigators that Brenner asked him to conceal three black powder guns and a .22-caliber rifle without a serial number. After being contacted by the FBI, the neighbor gave the weapons to authorities. Citing past felony convictions, they charged Brenner with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

In March 2023, deputies found Rounds’ phone – and an incriminating video on it that allegedly showed Brenner wearing bloody clothes and cleaning a gun, Cooley previously told Fox News Digital.

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“That phone told us a lot, besides having the video on it and the data,” Cooley told Fox News Digital in September. “Amazing they got the video off of it.”

Dylan Rounds and Mom pose outside log cabin

Dylan Rounds and his mom, Candice Cooley, in an undated photo. (Candice Cooley)

Detectives recovered Brenner’s shirt too – and testing confirmed the presence of Rounds’ DNA on it.

“Everything’s there,” Cooley told Fox News Digital in September. “We know Brenner did it. There’s no ands, ifs or buts or doubts or who else was involved or anything like that. We just need to find Dylan…we want to know what happened that day. Just be able to put things together.”

Rounds bottle feeding pigs as a youngster

Candice Cooley says her son Dylan Rounds was singularly focused on farming. (Candice Cooley)

Rounds’ family began private searches of the area around his final phone ping to no avail. But Brenner led the FBI to the same area, where they found him.

Cooley has described her son as almost entirely focused on his farm. He did not use drugs and did not spend time on video games or social media, she said.

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Brenner was an “acquaintance” of her son, but no friend, she said.

Rounds working on farm as a kid

Dylan Rounds working on the family farm as a child. At age 19, he struck out on land of his own. (Candice Cooley)

Court records show Brenner has also agreed to a plea deal in his federal firearms case.

His past criminal history includes malicious wounding, malicious shooting and three prior convictions for being a felon in possession of a firearm, court records show. He was living on a plot of land next to Rounds’ farm without the owner’s permission, according to authorities.

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San Francisco, CA

Another wet weekend ahead as more rain douses the San Francisco Bay Area

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Another wet weekend ahead as more rain douses the San Francisco Bay Area


Friday morning First Alert Weather forecast 4/12/24

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Friday morning First Alert Weather forecast 4/12/24

02:53

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While the Bay Area remained dry if cooler Friday after several warm days, another round of rain is in store with rain expected across the region by late Friday night, according to the National Weather Service. 

Residents were at least able to enjoy partly sunny skies during the day, with daytime highs mostly in the upper 50s to 60s along the coast and around the bay, and in the upper 60s to 70s across inland areas. There were some low clouds and patchy fog early Friday morning.

After some initial sprinkles, steady showers are expected to begin late Friday evening, continuing at times through Sunday, the Bay Area office of the National Weather Service said. Parts of the North Bay will start to get heavier rain by 9 p.m., which much of the Bay Area can expect more significant rain to begin at midnight or 3 a.m.

Overnight lows will be in the upper 40s.  

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The greatest potential for thunderstorms across the Bay Area and Central Coast — including adjacent waters — will be Saturday afternoon. The primary hazard presented by thunderstorms is large quantities of small hail that may result in slick and hazardous driving conditions if the hail accumulates. 

There could also be gusty winds in thunderstorm cells that can knock down tree limbs, power poles, and other unsecured items. Though skies may partially clear after the first round of precipitation, showers and isolated storms will likely re-develop in the afternoon.   

Conditions will begin to improve with rain tapering off Sunday afternoon.      

Happily, most of the region is expected to get a break from the rain through next week.

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Denver, CO

Denver Tops Poll As Country’s Best Weed City

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Denver Tops Poll As Country’s Best Weed City


As one of the top metropolitan cities in the country, Denver boasts a host of attractions—Coors Field, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Denver Art Museum and many breweries. Yet, according to a poll jointly conducted by Real Estate Witch, an online real estate platform and cannabis information and resource site Leafly, the Mile High City has just been named the best weed city in the U.S. for 2024.

Last year, according to the same poll, Denver slipped to number two but now thanks to its number of dispensaries, four times the average city, the city is back sitting pretty in the top spot.

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The metrics that were used to determine the ranking included the following: legality of cannabis, dispensaries per 100,000 residents, cannabis-prescribing doctors per 100,000 residents, average rating of dispensaries out of five stars, affordability of high-quality weed, fast food restaurants per 100,000 residents and local hiking trails according to the AllTrails database.

The poll uncovered some very interesting findings:

*While Denver is the best weed city, Louisville is the worst;

*Kansas City is the most improved weed city, rising 13 spots from No. 22 in 2023 to No. 9 this year;

*Missouri legalized recreational weed just two years ago, but Kansas City already has double the number of dispensaries per capita as Los Angeles, where weed has been fully legal since 2016;

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*Sacramento has the most affordable pot prices while for the third year in a row, Washington, D.C. has the most expensive weed; and,

*Baltimore has more cannabis-prescribing doctors than any other city, with nearly 14 per 100,000 residents;.

According to the poll the top ten weed cities are: 1. Denver, Colorado 2. Portland, Oregon 3: Las Vegas, Nevada 4. Buffalo, New York 5. Baltimore, Maryland 6. Phoenix, Arizona 7. Seattle, Washington 8. Sacramento, California 9. Kansas City, Missouri 10. Providence, Rhode Island.

To see where your city ranks on this 50 best and worst city for cannabis list, click here.

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