Safeway and Big Lots on Jefferson Boulevard closing

Safeway and Big Lots on Jefferson Boulevard closing

By Monica Stark The Safeway on West Capitol Avenue and Jefferson Boulevard will be closed by the end of the month, Wendy Gutshall, director of public and government affairs, Safeway Northern California More »

West Sac Kids Give Back

West Sac Kids Give Back

Local children help homeless with creation of cheer packs By Michele Townsend Three years ago, a boy from West Sacramento told his mom that he wanted to do something for the homeless. More »

Westmore Oaks 6th graders built solar suitcases for Kenyan students

Westmore Oaks 6th graders built solar suitcases for Kenyan students

By Monica Stark Sixty students in Ms. Garcia’s science club elective at Westmore Oaks built six solar suitcases and sent two of them off to a school in Kenya—a learning experience that More »

 

Dead body found in West Sac fire

By Michele Townsend

At 5:20 a.m., on Saturday, Feb. 10, West Sacramento Firefighters were dispatched to a fire in an empty lot at 600 West Capitol Ave., arriving at the lot where the former Welcome Grove Motel and Trailer Park once stood, to find a small fire burning. Though the motel and trailer park have been cleared from the property, there are a few remnants still remaining of buildings that were once there. They found the fire within the concrete and “half walls” that sit back in the trees.
Once the fire was extinguished, it was then that they saw the charred human remains within the fire that they had just put out. They stopped what they were doing, and called in the police.
Police arrived at the scene; crime scene tape went up, and they began a death investigation. At this time, it is unknown if the burned remains are that of a man or a woman. A full forensics team was brought in to insure a complete workup of the scene.
West Sac Police Sgt. Roger Kinney said, “It is way to early to know if this person met with foul play. It may be a freak accident, or an unusual natural incident. We just don’t know yet.” He continued with “Could it be a crime? Yes. And if it is, we will handle it. But that’s what we have these folks out here for.”(Referring to the forensics team). The forensics team is conducting what they call “A total forensics station, with lasers and everything,” he said.
Crime scene investigators and several detectives are now gathering data and clues in hopes that they will be able to identify who this person is, and just exactly what happened. Kinney mentioned the homeless population in this area of West Sacramento, but said it is unknown if the lot was a camp. They plan on covering every inch, to gather the information that they need.

No more Memorial Park for the little league

By Michele Townsend

West Sacramento is buzzing with the news that Memorial Park, located on Euclid Street, will no longer be the home of West Sacramento Little League.
The little league came to West Sacramento in 1953, and by 1954 West Sacramento chartered its first league with Little League International. Memorial Park has been the home of that league for the past 65 years, but 2018 will be the final baseball season played at that park.
Each year the league grows, and after the merging of WSLL and Washington Little League a couple of years ago, WSLL has grown to some 20 teams.
Each team plays a minimum of 10 games per season. When you add in All Stars, playoffs and tournaments — the number of baseball games that have been played there, in 65 years, would be pretty amazing. In turn, the number of kids that have ran those bases, would be just as amazing! So, after generations of play, it is no wonder that the community is sad to see the league lose its home.
What some do not understand, is that those involved have known this was coming for several years.
In 2010, a lawsuit settlement imposed that upgrades to five parks need to be completed by 2020. Improvements for Bryte park have to be completed by 2015 but are under way and should be done in the next few months. They include new bathrooms, a drinking fountain, curb ramps and parking. Required ADA improvements per the settlement agreement have already been completed at Summerfield Park, Touchstone Park, Pennsylvania Park, and Circle Park.
Again, the City of West Sacramento and the league have known this was coming and have actively been working and planning so that West Sac Little League could enjoy its home for as long as possible.
The city released the following statement, “Due to a court ordered settlement, the City is required to implement ADA improvements to Memorial Park no later than 2020. In addition, Public Works has a large sidewalk and street improvement project slated for the area that will impact accessibility to the park during construction. This will have an impact on all of the activities at Memorial Park but none greater than Little League. The City has been in discussions with the volunteer leadership of West Sacramento Little League regarding the necessity to close Memorial Park for the 2019 season due to the construction and the need to find a new permanent home for West Sacramento Little League. The City is working with Little League to try and address the field shortage the closure will create and to identify temporary and long term solutions as Little League has a rich and strong history in the community and provides a vital program for our City’s youth. We are confident that working together we will find solutions to continue this great tradition and allow the program to grow.”
Both West Sac Little League and city officials would like for the community to be aware that they consciously waited this long to make these improvements at Memorial Park.
Paul Hosley, Director of Public Information, stated, “There is a long and rich history of sports activities, including Little League, at Memorial Park. A conscientious decision was made to wait as long as possible to implement the changes at Memorial Park in order to: 1) Allow Little League to continue to play at the historic location before permanent changes needed to be made; 2) Schedule needed improvements at other parks cited in the litigation first, again, to allow activities to continue at Memorial Park for as long as possible; and 3) Budget the funds to implement the necessary ADA improvements over the past ten year period. Not all the improvements to all the parks could be done at one time.”
West Sacramento Little League 2018 Umpire in Chief Tom Benett said, “We want people to know that we are working with the city. It’s all friendly. The city is not just kicking us out!”
So what solutions have they come up with? As of now, the plan is for WSLL’s “home base” to be moved to the Alyce Norman/ Bryte baseball fields, located on Carrie Street, starting with the 2019 baseball season. “I mean, we use those fields now, as well as other fields around town,” said Tom Bennett. “So, it won’t be that new.” Currently the little league has practice and games at multiple sites throughout the City including Alyce Norman, Bryte, and Bridgeway Lakes parks as well as Memorial Park.
While Little League will not be able to play the 2019 season at Memorial Park, City staff and Little League leadership are confident that the 2019 season can be played at the remaining youth sports facilities located throughout the city using creative scheduling.
As for 2020, and beyond, there is talk of building a sports complex, as well as talk of adding fields to locations such as Westmore Oaks Elementary (also referred to as “Old River City High School”). The City is looking at reuse options for Westmore Oaks Elementary School fields that could accommodate temporary as well as permanent youth sports fields that could address the long term needs of not only Little League but other youth sport organizations in the City. The GOAL is to have “all of the kinks” worked out by 2020.
Above all, Little League is alive and well in West Sacramento. They will always welcome kids and volunteers alike. And this entire situation is a good example of why those Little League meetings are important!
WSLL will continue to work with the planning committee and other officials to insure that our future ball players will have available to them, the same Little League program that has been such a key point in the development of so many of us!  The City’s Parks and Open Space Master Plan update is currently underway with opportunities to provide input regarding the City’s future needs related to recreation and leisure activities. Please visit  HYPERLINK “http://www.planwestsacparks.com/participate.html”planwestsacparks.com for more information.

New bat rule affects little leagues near and far

By Michele Townsend

Little League Headquarters enacted a new rule that has some people scrambling. As of Jan. 1, all previous baseball bats that have been allowed to be used in Little League, for Jr divisions, and below, will now be illegal. USA Baseball, the governing board for the sport of baseball, stated “Testing and evaluating of youth baseball bats has evolved into a science. So much so that the standard has also evolved to where USA Baseball, is adopting a new method for measuring bat performance in the testing of youth bats that will go into effect on January 1, 2018. The new USA Baseball bat standard (USABat), was developed by a USA Baseball committee of scientific experts. Effective on January 1, 2018, Little League Baseball® will adhere to the new USABat standard. No bats previously approved for use in Little League Play (Junior League Baseball and below) will be permitted to be used in any Little League game or practice, or other Little League function, event, or activity.” This rule is for the game of baseball only. It will not affect little league softball.
The science of bat development has developed as a strategic part of the game. There used to be only wood bats, although the length, weight and diameter were different. As the game has evolved, so has the development of the bat. Aluminum alloy bats began being used for their light weight, and integrity. The fact that these bats would not split or break, like a wood bat can do, was welcomed. A few years ago, the composite bat was introduced. Composite bats incorporate a reinforced carbon fiber polymer, or composite, into the bat’s construction. The composite material can make up all or part of the bat. But it’s not just the material of the bat that is important. The length, the weight, and the diameter of the barrel, all play into the science of the bat. In addition, there are oval or round handles, and those handles can be wrapped in different materials. Each bat has what is known as the “Bat Performance Factor (BPF)”.
The bat performance factor plays a role in what kind of hit the player can get from that bat, in short, it determines how fast the ball comes off of the bat. The new USA bats that are required will eliminate discrepancies with different length bats and allow a more universal performance factor. These bats will provide a wood-like standard for youth organizations, and is described by USA Baseball, as providing the long term integrity of the game.
Having new bat rules is not new to the little league organization. Every year Little League National releases a list of bats that are illegal and it is the responsibility of the umpire to know and check the teams’ equipment prior to each game.
Joey Tignor, Umpire in Chief of District 6 (District 6 includes: Antelope, Foothill Farms, Fulton El Camino, Grant, North Natomas, Rio Linda and West Sacramento) said, “We’ve known that this was coming for a couple of years, so we’re (the umpires) are ready for it.” He also stated “I think that it’s a good thing. It will make it more uniform for all of the kids. With some previously allowed bats, the ball just came off of the bat too fast.” PJ Schneider, Umpire in Chief of District 5 (District 5 includes: Arden, Carmichael, Citrus Heights, College Glen, Eastern, Fair Oaks, Rancho Cordova, Rosemont, Sunrise, Whitney and Northridge), “This shouldn’t come as a surprise to people. We’ve been telling leagues and parents for a couple of years, so they should be ready.” He went on to say, “This is a leveling factor, and will give all of the kids the same opportunity based on their own performance. It’s also a safety issue. It should keep some of the smaller kids in the infield from getting hurt”. Alan McCullough, Umpire in Chief for District 7 (District 7 includes: Airport, East Sacramento, Florin, Land Park, Oak Park, Parkway, Pocket and Tahoe Tallac), was unavailable for comment. If a game is scheduled, and a team does not have the appropriate equipment, it will be the umpire’s call to arrange for the teams to share the bats, or to reschedule that game. The games will NOT be played with illegal equipment.
Manufacturers and retailers have been preparing for the change.
According to Troy Bedal, Manager of Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sacramento, ”Dick’s is stocked up and ready to go” for the rush of bat sales. They sent all of the illegal bats back to the manufacturer at the end of last year. “We’ve already got sales running.” He continued with “Dick’s is very active with community sports leagues. We know that some leagues are struggling and we have many sponsorship opportunities available.”
There is a Dick’s Sporting Goods in Sacramento, Elk Grove, Folsom and Roseville.
Little League Seniors Division, High School Baseball and College Baseball will continue to use BBCOR standards baseball bats, and Softball will continue to follow ASA regulations.

Safeway and Big Lots on Jefferson Boulevard closing

By Monica Stark

The Safeway on West Capitol Avenue and Jefferson Boulevard will be closed by the end of the month, Wendy Gutshall, director of public and government affairs, Safeway Northern California Division, told the News-Ledger in a written statement. Gutshall said Safeway anticipates all employees will be able to be placed in surrounding stores. Meanwhile, shoppers have been taking advantage of the 25 percent off everything sale.
“The decision to close a store isn’t one we make lightly or without a great deal of deliberation. Like all retailers, we’re constantly evaluating the performance of our portfolio of stores, and our teams work hard to make all of our stores successful. That said, it’s occasionally necessary to close locations that aren’t meeting company goals,” she stated.
“Closing an underperforming store is always a tough decision, but we’re focused on growing our business and running great stores where people love to shop. That’s what will enable us to offer the products and services our customers value most throughout Sacramento,” Gutshall continued.
She, however, did not address the following additional questions:

Will Safeway open another location in West Sac? If not, why not?
How many employees currently work at the West Sacramento one?
Does the store experience more shoplifting than average?
How long has the West Sac Safeway location been there?
Are there other California locations that are closing for the same reasons as this one? If so, which ones? Have you received pleas to have Safeway stay? (It seems a lot of neighbors are sad it is closing.)

As Safeway prepares closing its West Sacramento location, neighboring Big Lots is also shutting its doors, spawning discussion on web forums regarding shoplifting and homelessness affecting the success and viability of the stores.
Meanwhile, Mayor Christopher Cabaldon says there is no reuse project or store slated to move in right away. He explains the property is privately owned and the City does not select tenants, and the owner is beginning to market the spaces (about 50,000 square feet) to new retail tenants. No project plan to renovate or build something new has been submitted to City Hall.
“Even though our city’s population has tripled since Safeway opened, the supermarket and drugstore industries have tightened, as many traditional stores have been squeezed on the high end by the Nugget, Whole Foods, and others, and on the other end of the spectrum by groceries at Target, WalMart, Grocery Outlet, and online via Amazon. Like Raley’s two blocks away, Safeway has been an important employer and community institution, and we’re sorry to see them go, but the economic reality they’re facing is undeniable,” he wrote.
He continued by acknowledging the change the three generations that Safeway has been at the site has faced. “An entire downtown grew up next door, as the Civic Center, college, library, senior apartments, preschool, teen center, theater, gallery, and community center came online over the past few years. West Capitol Avenue next to the shopping center got a complete makeover and daytime consumers from the offices, residents, and students who now inhabit the downtown. Walgreens and Capitol Bowl did major renovations. Multiple motels came down. A new transit center connected the whole city to the place, along with bikeshare linking downtown and the northern and waterfront districts. And the new streetcar line will start right at the shopping center’s front doorstep.
“The modern land use plan for downtown envisions and allows a much more dynamic, mixed-use, retail-focused center where Safeway and Big Lots now sit. Instead of the 55,000 square feet of retail space, the City would now permit ten times that much, along with housing, offices, and parking. The pictures below from the West Capitol Avenue Streetscape Master Plan give a sense of what’s possible (although the pictures reflect a 2007 design aesthetic). If you’re familiar with the latest Midtown projects, it permits projects on the scale of the Ice Blocks or the Cannery. Click through to the link below to see the full plan and imagine what’s possible.
T”o emphasize, this is a private commercial center and the property owner will decide whether and how to fill the existing spaces and/or to rebuild or sell the parcel for a mixed-use retail project that would serve the West Sacramento of today and tomorrow. But the window of opportunity is open.”

So, with that, dear reader, what would you like to see in place of Safeway and Big Lots? Send an email with your suggestions to editor@news-ledger.com.