Author Archives: Editor

Using science to make the world a better place: Westmore Oaks students made “solar suitcases” to energy poor schools in the Philippines

By Monica Stark
editor@news-ledger.com

Jennifer Garcia and her students over at Westmore Oaks are at it again – using science to make the world a better place. Recall the recent story on the rain barrels? Now, in Garcia’s words are “doing an even more amazing project,” building six life changing solar suitcases for folks in the Philippines and given to schools that do not have electricity. The suitcases will be used to provide light and a charging station for lap tops, cell phones, and lights to lend out to students. We Share Solar is the nonprofit organization that does this. They have been doing this in many other places that are rebuilding after disasters or are developing countries. Asked how the project came to be, Garcia said explained that colleague and the “amazing lady next to me” in the picture, Deb Bruns, invited her to attend a solar suitcase training earlier this year. “She is from YCOE (Yolo County Office of Education) and has been an amazing asset to my teaching for a few years. I want to thank Deb for her continued support. She also brought several amazing people that were a tremendous help.”

Solar suitcases are portable solar systems from We Share Solar that will be donated to energy poor schools in the Philippines. They are a 12-volt DC stand-alone solar power system. (Basically the Photovoltaic cell charges the battery in the case. There are four ports to charge electronic devices or power lights that are also included.)

This educational experience encouraged civic engagement through building awareness of energy poverty and sustainable development. This also teaches students more energy literacy while reinforcing STEM skills through the assembly process, Garcia said.

The students completely wired the suitcase. They followed a process just like engineers to inventory the materials and all the way through the wiring process. The students even went through the steps to commission their suitcase and ensure it was working properly. Final steps were installing the components into the transportable and mounting cases (after writing greetings inside to the recipients).

Garcia said her class prepped for about a week and spent two, three-hour days to build. “I had worked out a temp schedule with the other teachers so I could keep this class for three periods both days,” she said.

Describing the students’ reactions as “priceless”, Garcia said when she first explained where the suitcases were headed and how they were to be used in schools without electricity and how hard that is for us to imagine (not having electricity), it was a very touching moment.

“I really saw empathy in my students. My students understand that they made something that will drastically change another person’s life for the better. My students know that they are making a difference,” she said.

“Once we were completed with the build, commission, and lighting up…everyone was so proud!!!! We were also a bit exhausted. It was a lot of hard work, mentally and physically. But, the feeling of accomplishment were all worth it!”

Sunpower actually paid for the teacher kit and the six student kits. They also will be adding photovoltaic cells and batteries to each of the student’s kits once they arrive in the Philippines. So, an additional big thanks goes to Sunpower!

“This was an amazing experience for my students! It was an amazing experience for me! They made something that will be a life changing tool for many!! My students changed the world!!!! I am so proud of my students!”

March Drought Spotlight Honoree – Diane in Southport

By the city of West Sacramento

upcloseWhile running through the neighborhoods of West Sacramento, Diane loved how much color and variety she saw in other people’s front yards. These landscapes seemed like inviting places to relax. Her lawn, however, was just a place to walk by. On a winter day in the second year of the drought, she and her spouse decided to replace their grass and dead tree with a real sitting area, full of colorful plants that would provide variety all year round. Not only is their new front yard beautiful, it requires very little water. In fact, their water usage has been cut by more than half.

Diane used Next Door to inform the city about her drought tolerant yard. If you would like to nominate your yard, or someone else’s, email ryanb@cityofwestsacramento.org or call 617-5025. You can also use Next Door to make a nomination, as well as stay informed about neighborhood events. Visit nextdoor.com to get started.

To learn how you can make the change with your landscape, visit these sites:
Save Our Water – Landscaping 101
Be Water Smart – Top Ways to Save
EcoLandscape California – Design Plans for The New California Landscape
Beyond the Drought – Smart Irrigation Scheduler

West Sacramento City Council Newsletter

(Courtesy of the city of West Sacramento)

CITY MANAGER’S OFFICE

Yolo Leaders Forum
The city is hosting the next Yolo Leaders Forum on April 27, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Galleria. LAFCo staff is working on developing the topic “Families and Poverty” and is beginning to talk to subject matter experts and line up potential speakers.

Farmers Market Planning
Representatives from Parks and Recreation, Police, Fire, Community Relations, Community Development, Public Works and the West Sacramento Chamber met Thursday to plan for the Farmers Market season. The market will operate on Thursdays starting May 19, through August 25, on West Capitol Avenue in front of City Hall. Four Dig-In Dinners are scheduled, along with musical acts and other special events.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Revision Brewing CUP
The Planning Division received a Conditional Use Permit application from Revision Brewing to operate a brewery and taproom at 1000 Riverside Parkway. The brewery would be 22,374 square feet and would include a 3,100-square-foot taproom. The applicant indicated they plan to produce 1,200 barrels of beer in the first year and increase to 10,000 barrels a year within 5 years of opening. Staff anticipates the item going before Planning Commission at the April 21, meeting. Unfortunately, Revision Brewing was unable to secure a site in time for the City to submit a grant application to HCD on their behalf. They are moving forward with private financing.

Liberty Specific Plan
Liberty has resubmitted their Specific Plan version #3 for a 1,503 unit project. The last submittal of the proposed Specific Plan was in March 2015.

FIRE

Youth Fire Academy – CPAT
The WSFD Youth Fire Academy recently participated in the Candidate Physical Agility Test (CPAT) at the Fire Consortium Training Center in Sacramento. The FCTC provided proctors, orientation, and a practice CPAT for each cadet. This concluded the mock hiring process for the cadets and will be followed by the upcoming Tower Week to complete their training.

River Rescue
On the evening of March 14, at approximately 10:50 p.m. the West Sacramento Fire Department, in conjunction with Sacramento City Fire Department, responded to a reported male adult yelling for help from the Sacramento River. On arrival in the area, witnesses reported the male had been in the water for approximately ten minutes. Fire crews from both sides of the river began their search from the Tower Bridge downstream. West Sacramento’s Fire Boat 41 was launched from Miller Park where they began an upstream search. Sacramento Metro Fire’s helicopter joined the search and at one point located the victim downstream but quickly lost him due to debris and high water flows. All fire department units were redirected further downstream. Boat 41 responded back down stream where they were waived down by fisherman in a boat on the river who reported hearing the male yelling for help and directed Boat 41 to the area. Boat 41’s crew used search lights to find the male floating on his back with his face just above the water. The male was pulled into the boat and immediately transported to Miller Park for medical aid and transport to the hospital.

PARKS and RECREATION
Statewide Quality Rating Improvement System Consortium Meeting
On March 17, Early Learning Services Staff attended the Statewide Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) Consortium Meeting to learn more about the IMPACT grant we will implement next year, and find out how all counties in the state are planning to transition from current funding to the next iteration of QRIS dollars. Staff learned a lot and was able to network with other counties to see how they will leverage local funding to improve quality of childcare and preschool.

Community Center Turns Five (Learning Ladder is Four)
The children from Learning Ladder helped celebrate the big 5 for the Community Center by singing a medley of Happy Birthday songs. They practiced hard all week, and used their voices, and air guitars to convey the enthusiasm and excitement of the day. While the Community Center opened its doors five years ago, Learning Ladder turns 4 years old on April 4. On that first day, there were just three children enrolled. Now with a yearly waiting list of close to 100, it’s definitely a success.

Adult Softball is Back for the Spring
Adult Softball is back for the spring at Bryte Park as of March 18. The men’s league takes place on Mondays, while co-ed leagues will run on Thursdays and Fridays. All games are played on Softball fields #3 and #4. Follow the season on Instagram at @WestSacSports.

Adult Co-ed Soccer Began Play Sunday
The co-ed soccer season began spring league play March 20, at Bryte Park. The adult co-ed soccer league runs two seasons annually. Each team is guaranteed eight games with qualifying teams completing in the playoffs.

Club West Fantasy Baseball Tournament
Seventy A.S.E.S. After School Program middle school students from four different campuses participated in the Club West Fantasy Baseball Tournament on March 16, at Westmore Oaks Elementary School. Fantasy Baseball is a statistic based math enrichment program based on Major League Baseball player stats. Students have been playing Fantasy Baseball all school year long in preparation for the tournament. A team from Westmore Oaks A.S.E.S was the tournament champion.

Art Guild Exhibit at Gallery 1075
The West Sacramento Art Guild is displaying a collection of the varied artists within the local Guild. They held an opening reception on March 3, to celebrate their variety of exciting art mediums. The exhibit will be on display the entire month of March so please come by to see their talent.

POLICE

Police Services Coordinator
Welcome, Taylor Nelson. Taylor is filling a unique new position as a Police Services Coordinator. She has been a local resident for many years and comes to us with a strong background in community relations. The city is excited that she will be coordinating various types of community meetings, events and spearheading efforts to continue to build a better connection with our community.

Intervention
On March 17, officers were dispatched to a suicidal female on the “I” Street Bridge. We found the woman standing on-top of the bridge in tears and several bystanders were trying to talk her down. Officer Thruelsen, a seasoned veteran officer quickly arrived and he along with bystanders convinced the young woman to come off of the bridge. Our Mental Health Clinician quickly responded and was able to facilitate immediate mental health assistance. We captured a photo of the bridge, next is Officer Thruelsen buying a sandwich for the young woman and Thruelsen briefing the clinician. This is a job well done by members of our community who worked together with police and avoided a tragedy.

Employees Pass Commercial Driver’s Training Test
Last year we were able to send a few of our new employees through a Commercial Driver’s Training hosted by Caltrans concluding with them easily passing the rigorous testing process with the DMV and obtaining their commercial driver’s license. This year we were unable to make our schedules mesh with Caltrans to facilitate the need of new staff. Instead, Luke Forbis and Joe Scali, two of the drivers that received their license last year stepped up and trained our new employees Sean Green and John Keith. Both drivers had no problem passing the difficult tests required by the DMV and are now licensed to operate our commercial vehicles. Congratulations to all four.

WaterWise Workshop
The Environmental Services Division is hosting a WaterWise Workshop on March 28, from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Community Center. This class will cover two major solutions to water waste: fixing toilet leaks and setting irrigation controllers. These topics were chosen because they often appear difficult for residents. We will show them how easy it is to solve these common issues. So far, 14 residents have registered. Residents may sign up through email or phone by contacting Ryan Burnett, Water Conservation Coordinator: ryanb@cityofwestsacramento.org or 916-617-5025.

UPCOMING EVENTS
March 23 – SRCSD/SASD Board Meeting (700 H St) – 9:30 a.m.
March 23 – Economic Development & Housing (Chambers) – 6 p.m.
March 24 – LAFCo Meeting (Woodland) – 9 a.m.
March 24 – WUSD Board Meeting (Chambers) – 6 p.m.
March 28 – Special Arts, Culture & Historic Preservation Commission Mtg. (Chambers) – 6 p.m.
April 2 – Summerfield Park Grand Re-Opening – 10 a.m.
April 4 – City/School 2×2 Meeting (Rm 238) – 5:30 p.m.
April 5 – Parks, Recreation & Intergenerational Services (Chambers) – 6 p.m.
April 6 – Port Commission – (Chambers) – 5:15 p.m.
April 6 – City Council Meeting (Chambers) – 7 p.m.
April 7 – Planning Commission (Chambers) – 6 p.m.
April 8 – Fire Apparatus Dedication Ceremony (Station 45) – 10:00 a.m.
April 11 – Environment & Utilities Commission (Chambers) – 6:00 p.m.
April 11 – YCTD Board Meeting (Woodland) – 7:00 p.m.
April 13 – Yolo/Solano AQMD – 9 a.m.
April 13 – SRCSD/SASD Board Meeting (700 H St.) – 9:30 a.m.
April 14 – WSAFCA Meeting – 11 a.m.
April 14 – Successor Agency Oversight Board (Chambers) – 3 p.m.
April 14 – WUSD Board Meeting (Chambers) – 6 p.m.
April 18 – Yolo Habitat Conservancy Board Meeting (625 Court St) – 5:30 p.m.
April 20 – UP4WS Executive Board (Rm 104) – 8:00 a.m.
April 20 – City Council Meeting (Chambers) – 7 p.m.
April 21 – Planning Commission (Chambers) – 6 p.m.
April 27 – SRCSD/SASD Board Meeting (700 H St.) – 9:30 a.m.
April 27 – City/County 2×2 Meeting (Rm 311) – noon
April 27 – Yolo Leaders Meeting (Galleria) – 4 p.m.
April 28 – LAFCo Meeting (Woodland) – 9 a.m.
April 28 – WUSD Board Meeting (Chambers) – 6 p.m.

Trees for Tomorrow offers free shade trees to West Sac residents

By Monica Stark
editor@news-ledger.com

Tree Davis, a non-profit urban forestry organization, has partnered with the city of West Sacramento on a three-year grant to plant and care for 1,000 new trees. These trees are available for free to residents, schools, parks, etc. in neighborhoods north of the deep-water channel.

Kelly Conroy, the new executive director of Tree Davis, explained that the program aims to increase tree canopy in neighborhoods with a traditionally low number of trees, as a healthy urban forest provides so many benefits to neighborhoods including higher property values, lower crime rates, reduced rates of chronic illnesses like asthma and diabetes. “By planting trees in these areas, we aim to not only build a healthy urban forest, but healthier communities,” Conroy explained.

Funding for the Trees for Tomorrow program has been provided by the California Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund through the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), Urban and Community Forestry Program. The grant provides over $500,000 to plant and care for 1,000 new trees in under-canopied neighborhoods of West Sacramento.

The Urban Forest Manager for the city of West Sacramento has selected a number of tree species that are appropriate for the city’s climate and soils. “We are really focusing on large-canopied trees which will provide the greatest benefits while making sure the right tree is planted in the right place by considering things like underground or overhead utilities, space available for the tree to grow, etc. We want these trees to grow for many years and provide benefits – not complications with infrastructure,” Conroy said.
A healthy target for canopy coverage in any city is 25 percent, she said. “It can be hard to translate that into a specific number of trees, and we know 1,000 new trees will make a difference, but there’s always room for more!”

Conroy said Tree Davis currently works with many community partners to provide more workshops throughout the community. “We are hoping to give workshops at local schools, churches, and community centers to bring the information directly to each neighborhood. We are also hoping to work with interested neighborhoods directly. If someone is very interested in planting trees in their neighborhood and can gather their neighbors together, we can create a custom workshop and tree planting event with them!”

Tree Davis is a non profit urban forestry group founded in 1992. Our mission is to enhance and expand the urban forest by teaching residents how to plant and care for trees. This will be the first program partnership with West Sacramento and Tree Davis is excited to bring their resources together to make a big impact in Yolo County. The benefits trees provide like reduced greenhouse gas in the atmosphere don’t stop at city limits; these 1,000 trees will directly benefit the residents of West Sacramento and the entire region.

For those familiar with the free tree program in Sacramento, Sacramento Tree Foundation has provided the Sacramento Shade Tree Program in partnership with SMUD for many years with a focus on shading homes to reduce energy use. Davis Tree’s program is similar (though not funded by a utility company) in that it provides free trees throughout the community and really focuses on educating residents. “The urban forest belongs to all of us and these programs really strive to build community investment in our trees to make sure they live long, healthy lives. Without community members planting, caring for, and advocating for our trees, our urban forest would not be sustainable. Sacramento Tree Foundation was also awarded a grant through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund which focuses specifically on under canopied neighborhoods in South Sacramento,” Conroy said.

To receive up to three free trees, residents must attend the workshop to learn about properly planting and caring for their tree. They must also promise to plant their trees in responsible locations on their property (call 811 before you dig to check for utilities, make sure the size of the tree will not interfere with any infrastructure, etc.) and to keep their tree(s) alive and healthy so they continue to provide benefits to the entire community. Residents must also live within the target area for this project.

With a Bachelor’s degree from UC Davis in Biological Sciences coupled with a love for environmental education, Conroy joined Tree Davis as the Executive Director in September 2015 after four years with Sacramento Tree Foundation. “Trees have always symbolized so much to me – vitality, strength, perseverance, etc. They also give so much to our urban areas like cleaner air, cooler temperatures, and beautiful landscapes that I can’t help but appreciate them!”
And as an aside, asked what her favorite tree is, Conroy said, “My favorite urban tree is the Ginkgo. It’s such an ancient tree with interesting fan-shaped leaves and it turns vibrantly gold in the fall. It also happens to do very well in our hot, dry climate!”
The next workshop will be held on April 6 from 6 to 7 p.m. inside the Community Center at 1075 West Capitol Ave. For more information, email info@treedavis.org or call 530-758-7337. People can also follow Tree Davis and the West Sacramento Tree Program on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the program, workshop dates, planting events, and more.

Little Leagues Merge in West Sacramento

By Michele Townsend

WSLL BoundariesLittle League came to West Sacramento in 1953. It was a much simpler time then, and it seemed the entire town was excited about bringing baseball to the children of our community. It was a common sight to see a team photo hanging on the wall of local businesses.

Its popularity took off like wildfire. West Sacramento’s Little League became official when it was chartered in 1954 by Williamsport, allowing for the children in our league to be eligible for advancement in competition beyond our town limits.

It wasn’t just West Sacramento that was organizing a local little league. Little leagues were popping up all over the Sacramento area. By 1954, California was being divided into 33 original districts.

West Sacramento fell within the boundaries of D6. Once the district offices were established, it became the responsibility of those offices to handle the chartering of new leagues. By then, baseball had become so popular in West Sacramento that it was decided a second league was needed. D6 chartered its first league, and Washington Little League was born in the Broderick/Bryte area.

Now, 60 years later, little league is still going strong in West Sacramento. It is still a common sight to go into businesses and see a team photo hanging on their wall to show the support that they have given our kids.

The town has grown a lot in 60 years, but the original little league boundaries within our town have remained the same. Washington Little League sits between the river and the freeway, leaving no room for expansion and creating a land-lock for that league. Many of the families within these boundaries are established, and still remain in their homes. This is a wonderful thing.

However, the children from that area of the community have now grown, and moved on to live their own lives with children of their own. There are of course still children on the north side of town, so though Washington Little League was small, it still managed to stay afloat.

All rule changes are made in Williamsport, and apply to all chartered little leagues. In 2014, the boundary rules changed. It would now be allowed to play little league in the area of where the child goes to school. When the new boundary rule was put into play, many children from Washington Little League moved over to West Sac Little League. There are more kids, more games, more variety. What’s not to love? With the numbers of players dwindling on the Washington side, it seems the league can no longer sustain itself. Washington Little League President, Teresa Blackmere stated, “It’s sad really. We’ve held on as long as we could, but the simple truth is we just don’t have the kids.” In 2015, Washington Little League had 75 registrants, allowing for only one junior and major teams, two Minor teams and four Tball teams.

However, do not fear. Baseball is still booming in West Sacramento. West Sac Little League is growing bigger and stronger by the year.

In 2015, West Sac Little League had 660 kids registered to play ball. West Sac’s President, Ron Yarbrough stated that “the merger between the two leagues in West Sacramento is not official yet, but it will be by next year. So, for this year, any kids that wanted to sign up, we did it by waiver.” When asked if they were already utilizing the fields in the Washington area, he stated “Oh yeah, with this many kids, we use the fields all around town. However, we have put money into improvements and repairs on those fields, and we just invested $45,000 to improve the fields at Memorial Park. You really should come and see them. They are beautiful. Major league quality.”

Opening Day is March 19th at Memorial Park. So, this spring, if you find yourself looking for a fun day, and something to do – head on over to one of the ball parks and catch a game. Support the kids, share in the excitement, and have a good time! Remember that everybody out there is a volunteer, so please be supportive.

West Sacramento Prepares for Storms, Possible Flooding

A flood watch has been issued for Yolo County and surrounding communities in anticipation of heavy rains over the next several days. The National Weather Service says excessive rainfall on already saturated soils and swollen rivers will likely result in some minor flooding through Sunday.

The City of West Sacramento and the Yolo County Office of Emergency Services are working together to monitor the situation and provide helpful information to the public.

Residents are urged to take caution around rising rivers and streams. Motorists are advised to avoid flooded streets and to be on the lookout for debris on the roads resulting from strong winds and runoff.

The West Sacramento Fire Department’s Office of Emergency Services will be providing continuous monitoring of the weather and river levels; and general situation status.

Public Works has increased staff levels to handle any storm related issues, including downed trees and detours around flooded streets.

Sandbags are being made available for residents and businesses. See sandbag location map.

The West Sacramento Police Department has conducted patrols along the river to inform the public of potential river levels rising.

The Reclamation Districts are monitoring levee conditions, and during periods of heavy rain checking the function of the internal drainage system 24 hours a day.

What can you do?
Register with Yolo Alert to receive messages about important public safety information.
Keep your cell phones charged.
Have a flashlight and batteries in case the power goes out.
Have an emergency kit at home and in your car.
For information regarding current river levels, please visit the California Data Exchange Center.

Additional resources:
National Weather Service Forecast
National Weather Service YouTube Channel
City of West Sacramento Website
Yolo County Office of Emergency Services
West Sac Flood Protect

Raiders Soccer Starts Strong

By Noemi Zavala
RCHS journalism student

soccer
The RCHS Girls’ soccer team won 1st place in last weekend’s tournament in Turlock. The tournament is hosted by Pitman High School and is a competitive tournament with schools based out of the Central Valley area.

The River City Girls Soccer team had 4 wins and 0 losses while scoring 10 goals and giving up only 2.
RCHS varsity soccer coach Kamal Singh was pleased with the team’s overall performance saying, “They have been working extremely hard during the offseason in preparation for this.”

During the tournament, players and coaches from River City were approached by other teams and parents praising their play and asking where River City was located.

Singh proudly said, “They definitely know we are from West Sacramento now.”

Sophomore Alejandra Pinedo, who was brought up from the jv team to play midfield for the tournament said, “The coaches are really supportive and my teammates are really hardworking and fun to play with.”