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Students engage at Alameda Community Learning Center. Photo courtesy of David Hoopes.

It's that time of the year again: Parents of fifth graders all over the Island are applying to middle schools for next fall. To help families navigate their options last year, The Alamedan asked the leaders of all seven of Alameda’s free, public middle schools – a list that includes charter, magnet and traditional schools – to offer some basic information about their programs. This year we're reprising the piece by reader request, with updates noted in the text.

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Karim Preuss, owner of Dandelion Flowers and Gifts Shop, in her Park Street Plaza boutique. Photo courtesy of Karim Preuss.

Wander down the cozy hall of Park Street Plaza, and you’ll find a charming shop that Park Street Business Association has named its 2014 Retailer of the Year.

Dear Editor:

I am the co-owner-operator of Bladium Sports & Fitness Club at Alameda Point. We moved our business from San Francisco to Alameda over 15 years ago, and have grown to one of the largest employers at Alameda Point. Our facility hosts thousands of visitors each week and employs over 120 people.

Photo by Marty Beene.

Earlier this week, President Obama gave his annual State of the Union speech. While watching part of it, it occurred to me that we should all take stock of ourselves in a "State of the Body" evaluation.

Alameda’s housing authority is preparing to open the wait list for its Section 8 rent voucher program next week, the first time in a dozen years new spots have been available.

People who apply will face stiff competition for a spot on the list, while the lucky few who succeed in winning one will face a tough rental market.

Every December for the past 40-plus years, members of the Alameda Family Services League have put on the Holiday Home Tour, the major fundraiser for Alameda Family Services.

Blogger and roving photographer Richard Bangert took his trusty camera to Alameda Point and caught a series of pictures of the season's foliage, birds and human visitors. Here's a selection.

City Council members opted early Wednesday to move forward with a set of recommendations for strengthening the city committee that mediates rent disputes – and, over the objections of Mayor Trish Spencer, to consider gathering data on the rent market here and in other cities to inform discussion about additional steps the city could take to protect renters.

The City Council tacked rising rents on Tuesday. Here's what the council did and what you had to say about it.

Our first encounter with Fred “the Fonz” Gaspar took place kitty corner from Alameda High School at Rider’s Drive-In, which was at Oak Street and Central Avenue. Fred was 10 years older, drove a ‘48 Ford pickup and had a reputation that scared us to death.

When the federal government shut Naval Air Station Alameda's doors, in 1997, the prevailing wisdom was that cleanup of the toxics the Navy left behind would be complete in a few years, for less than $100 million. Eighteen years and more than a half billion dollars later, the cleanup team working to clear and contain contamination at the federal Superfund site.