Category Archives: News

Planting Seeds for the Future: River City High School Farm Program Students Harness the Power of Food

By Bia Riaz

Five years ago, a very important seed was planted at River City High School’s after school Greenhouse and Gardens Club. Under guidance of teachers like Ellen Hoffman (retired), and Jennifer McAllister (AP Biology), students learned and shared the values of nurturing and caring for plant life. This love of gardening bloomed into the Farm to Fork Program and Pathway.
The energy and excitement exhibited by the students prompted the school to ask Ms. McAllister to write a course outline and develop a curriculum for the Farm to Fork Program. The first Farm to Fork class started in the spring 2015 term.
Initially, students were placed in the class and had to become familiar with the concept, as it related to their day-to-day lives. McAllister also reached out to parents about the program. Once the students understood the impact of growing and eating seasonal and healthy ingredients, they were motivated to continue the pathway and signed up for additional classes. The pathway for the program offers students the opportunity to learn and understand agriculture and the properties of soil, fertilizers, carbon, nitrogen, water, and the concept of seasonal crops.
As part of the program, the Farm to Fork students participate in planting and caring for the RCHS urban garden located on the school grounds. The most recent crops in the garden include; garlic, onions, beets, radishes, carrots, collards, broccoli, and many more. In the class, students learn how to plant, harvest, wash and pack the produce from the garden. All the produce is then provided to the school cafeteria. The cafeteria at RCHS focuses on developing lunches using the produce in conjunction with other locally sourced ingredients.
According to McAllister, the program has generated a lot of lively discussion in the classroom. The students have developed an understanding of how their food is grown, where it comes from, and the economic issues related to cost and production. “They raised the issue of equality and access to healthy food. They find it frustrating that healthy food is expensive, but they also understand the triple bottom line. You have to have a quality environment, you have to care for the people and animals, but you still need to make a profit. They understand that quality food costs more” Observed McAllister.
Last year the class had the opportunity to visit the Bryte Garden Caffe (Culinary Arts and Food Education) site and learned how to incorporate fresh produce, like pumpkins, into a scratch made pie. They also attended the Farm-to-Fork Festival and the First Harvest Festival. McAllister mentioned that the students were excited to share information and learn more about the Farm to Fork movement in the region. Several students have already volunteered to return to the festival next year.
Although it started as a small class, the interest in the program has grown and more students are requesting enrollment in the classes. Currently, there are 37 students in the Farm to Fork class. On February 9th, the students will be visiting the Fiery Ginger Farm, behind Yolo High School, to experience a working local urban farm. As a teacher at RCHS for 20 years, McAllister expressed how much she enjoyed working with the students. “It is inspiring to see young people get excited about learning. They understand and care about eating healthy. They also understand that they ‘vote’ every time they choose to eat healthy. They let the corporations know, they choose healthy!”
For more on the RCHS Farm to Fork Program, visit their website

Butane honey oil lab found on Kinsington Street

By Monica Stark

At about 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 13, an officer detained eight suspects located in a residence of a butane honey oil lab on Kinsington Street. The lab consisted of a glass extraction vessel, numerous cans of butane, pounds of marijuana shake, stems, buds, two pumps, methamphetamine and methamphetamine pipes. After investigation, it was determined that five of the eight contacted could not be tied directly to the butane honey oil lab or any criminal behavior.
In one of the bedrooms, the officer located marijuana shake stem and buds, extraction vessel and pumps, methamphetamine and two glass meth pipes. The individual who resides in that bedroom was arrested for charges related to those violations. In another bedroom, the officer located Xanax in an unmarked Rx bottle, methamphetamine, a meth pipe, butane, marijuana shake stem and buds, and a digital scale. Two individuals who reside in that bedroom were arrested for charges related to those violations.
In the third bedroom, a marijuana shake stem and bud and a minor amount of finished butane honey oil was found.
It was later found that three suspects were hiding inside the attic. After numerous announcements, the West Sacramento Police Department was preparing to deploy the K-9 when two of the suspects made their presence known. They were taken into custody at that time. Everyone but the third suspect was arrested for manufacturing the butane honey oil.
Based on the officer’s training and experience, the extraction vessel, combined with butane, pumps and a quantity of marijuana is consistent with manufacturing of butane honey oil, a dangerous combination.

A new brewery to open in West Sacramento with intention of hiring low-income staff

By Monica Stark

A new brewery, called Revision Brewing, will open in West Sacramento with the intention of hiring low-income staff after the West Sacramento City Council on Wednesday, Jan. 13, approved his application to the State of California Community Development Block Grant Over-the-Counter Program.
At the meeting, Revision Brewing owner Jeremy Warren addressed the council with the following statement: “We are excited to be able to come to West Sacramento and build a very large state-of-the-art brewing facility that will not only have high recognition in the state of California but also on a national level. We kind of like the approach that you have in the city, being a mosaic. Just want to take the time to say hi.”
The council authorized an amount of a CDBG business loan not to exceed $330,000 to Revision Brewing Company. According to background analysis by Louise Collis, city of West Sacramento senior program manager, the city of West Sacramento receives U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) CDBG funding from the State of California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).
Warren said he found out about the CDBG from the cities of West Sacramento and Auburn. “I used the CDBG program for my previous company Knee Deep Brewing Company in Auburn and when I left they were helpful in referring other cities that might be able to offer the program. I decided to apply for the CDBG as I feel it is great program that assists in hiring low income employees and it helps in creating additional jobs. Without the grant we would have hired fewer employees.,” he said.
Collis’ staff report states that all CDBG funds must be used for projects that address at least one of the three CDBG national objectives:
1) Benefit Low-income households, defined as households at or below 80 percent of area median
household income for Yolo County;
2) the elimination of slums and blight related to physical structures such as homes or commercial
buildings; or
3) Urgent need, which refers to emergencies such as earthquake or flood damage.
According to background analysis by Collis, Revision Brewing Company LLC was formed in August 2015 by Warren, founder and former brewmaster of Knee Deep Brewing Company in Auburn, in partnership with James (Jeb) Taylor.
Revision planned on opening a craft microbrewery and tap room at 825 F St., on the western border of the Washington District, but that location didn’t pan out, noting that they have found several alternatives.
“Right know we don’t want to disclose the locations of the two buildings we are looking at. We did submit LOI’s (letter of intent) to the locations this morning and are waiting to hear back from them. Once we have a signed LOI, I can disclose the locations… In regards to the F street location, we were going back and forth with LOI negotiations and last minute the owners of the building decided to sell the build and felt that the brewery lease would be detrimental to the sale of the building,” Warren said in a written statement.
According to her Collis’ report, the owners of Revision Brewing have a loyal following not just in Sacramento, but across the Western U.S. and East Coast States. A dozen distributors have indicated interest in carrying Revision products. Revision anticipates producing 1,200 barrels in the first year, increasing to 10,000 barrels within five years. Projected revenues are $2 million in 2017, increasing to $4 million by 2019. The total project is expected to cost $1.3 million. Revision Brewing has applied for a $400,000 SBA loan from Community Business Bank and have requested a $330,000 CDBG loan. With the SBA and CDBG financing, they will be able to purchase sufficient brewing equipment to produce quantities needed for interested distributors.
The remaining cost will be paid by the owners. Fulfilling the demands of distributors and staffing the taproom will require the hiring of 13 new employees (11 full-time employee positions) during the first year of operation and Revision anticipates a staff of 25 within four years. At least seven of the initial new hires must be from low-income households. The city’s loan will be secured against the equipment purchased with CDBG funds and with personal guarantees from the business owners. The city currently has a balance of $443,951 in CDBG program income which is dedicated to the completion of the West Gateway Place project and to Bryte Park Phase 2. Additional program income for business loans is not available at this time.

A fiery gem grows in West Sacramento

By Bia Riaz

Image courtesy of their Facebook page.

Image courtesy of their Facebook page.

A simple grassy field behind Yolo High School in West Sacramento was transformed into a vibrant urban farm this past September. Known as the Food for Families Farm Site, this 1.5-acre tract of land became the fourth urban farm created under the West Sacramento Urban Farm Program. Owned by Washington Unified School District, the farm is funded by Raley’s Supermarket. As part of Raley’s Food for Families Program, 25 percent of the farm’s produce is dedicated to providing food to families in need. This urban farm is home to The Fiery Ginger Farm; brainchild of local farmers Hope Sippola and Shayne Zurilgen.
As graduates from the Center for Land-Based Learning’s Farm Academy, Hope and Shayne were excited to have the opportunity to farm in an urban area, and share their agricultural knowledge and experience with the community and the students from local high schools.
Hope had prior experience working with youth at the School Gardens Program at Davis Joint Unified School District. Fellow Farm Academy graduate, Shayne, as a school teacher from Stockton, also had considerable experience working with children and agriculture. “The idea was to have a farm that would provide a hands-on agricultural experience for the kids at the local schools,” Hope said.
Although it is the quiet time of the season, the students from Yolo High have been helping Hope and Shayne get ready for the coming year. Every Thursday, the students learn about the basics of farming and the harvesting process. Some of their activities include: inspecting the vegetables for quality, washing, and packing. Hope shared her excitement about how the students really enjoy the learning process and are very engaged and eager. They recently harvested purple carrots and one of the students expressed, “This one’s rotten!”
As a small urban farm, they do enjoy partnering with other farmers, selling to local restaurants, providing produce for the CSA in the spring season, building strong relationships with surrounding communities, and facing some unique challenges of dealing with different types of soil, land, and infrastructure.
Recently, they partnered with Good Foot Farms to bring a flock of 17 chickens to Friery Ginger Farm. Now their Tuesday and Thursday Farm Stand will feature fresh eggs from their poultry farm partner. This week’s farm stand also offered broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and chard.
They are excited about the coming year and have many activities planned with both Yolo, and River City High School.
Stop by and visit them on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Fiery Ginger Farm Stand behind Yolo High School from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and enjoy the healthy harvests of the new year.

For more information, visit their Facebook Page:

The West Sacramento Police Department Wants to Meet You!

By Bia Riaz

West Sac PD meetingOn Tuesday evening, it was a dark cold night when I braved the winding South River levee road. I then carefully made my way through Dave’s Pumpkin Patch at Vierra Farms to catch the tail end of the West Sacramento Police Department’s Community Meeting; held at the beautiful Bridgeway Lakes Boathouse.

As the officers were wrapping up the meeting, Senior Lead Officer Ryan Lukins was gracious enough to spend a few minutes with me. The meeting, on Tuesday, Nov. 2, was attended by more than 50 residents of West Sacramento. It was an open format without any specific agenda.

Chief Tom McDonald, of the West Sacramento Police Department, had invited the community to meet members of the Police Department for an informal gathering and an opportunity to engage in conversation. People had an opportunity to ask questions and share their concerns on a wide variety of topics. In general, people expressed concerns about a recent uptick in theft for that area.

As the Senior Lead Officer for the Southport beat of West Sacramento, officer Lukins addressed the issues and provided his direct contact information for follow-up and further assistance. The officers also discussed crime prevention tips and shared information about the police department’s efforts to directly address the incidences of theft; including the presence of police officers on bicycles, as well as patrol cars; assigned to rotating 24-7 shifts patrolling the neighborhoods. Additionally, the police department has assigned trained police volunteers on bicycles to monitor the neighborhoods during daylight hours.

I followed up with Sergeant Roger Kinney for additional details. The community meetings rotate every two to three months in the three Police Department beats: (1)Bryte-Broderick, (2)West Capital Corridor, and (3)Southport. The Senior Lead Officer for each beat locates a venue and announcements are posted on a variety of social media platforms such as the police department’s Facebook and Twitter pages. The meetings are also posted the city of West Sacramento’s website. I inquired about reaching out to people who may not have access to computers or smartphones, the elderly, or communities with special needs.

“We work closely with BBCAN (The Bryte and Broderick Community Action Network) to get the information posted at libraries, community centers and senior centers. They even design and develop the fliers for the events to help spread the word,” Kinney said.

According to Kinney, a large number of attendees heard about the meeting through social media pages. The rest of the attendees learned about the meeting through information shared via an application (APP) known as Nextdoor. Approximately 49,000 users from West Sacramento currently use and share information on the Nextdoor APP.

Our neighboring Sacramento Police Department currently uses it to disseminate information. The West Sacramento Police Department is also considering creating a page on the Nextdoor APP. The police department currently maintains an active presence online through Facebook, Twitter and other smartphone apps connected to the city of West Sacramento. These platforms allow people to access police department services quickly and stay informed. People currently have the ability to follow police department tweets, send anonymous tips, submit feedback, and ask questions. While these forms of communication may be convenient for non-emergency situations, people are reminded to always dial 9-11 in emergency and active situations.

The police department has a mission to communicate effectively with the community. In Kinney’s observation, the meetings have helped develop stronger connections with the community and have been an effective way to educate and assist residents with specific concerns and aid with crime prevention. Just within the last seven days prior to the writing of this article, Kinney reported a marked decrease in reports of crime.

On Thursday, Nov. 19, Senior Lead Officer Estrada, will be hosting a morning event, Coffee with a Cop from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m in the center of the city at La Bou Cafe, located at 849 Jefferson Blvd. This event will also be an opportunity to meet officers and voice concerns while enjoying coffee at a local cafe. The next community meeting, scheduled in the evening, will be in the Bryte-Broderick neighborhood area. Details will be announced shortly.

Remember to get there on time for the next community meeting, or you will miss the cookies, like I did. The West Sacramento Police Department is located at 550 Jefferson Boulevard and may be reached at (916) 617-4900. Sgt. Roger Kinney may be reached at

Senior Lead Officer Ryan Lukins may be reached at

West Sacramentan to be featured artist at Blue Wing Art Gallery

You spend your life trying to perfect your technique,
But you only make an impact when you find your own language.
That’s when you start communicating your art…

john nichols-wJohn Nichols will be the featured artist at Blue Wing Art Gallery, 405 Main Street, Woodland, Nov. 6 through Nov. 27. An artist’s reception for John will be held at Blue Wing Gallery on Nov. 6, between 6 and 9 p.m.

John, a lifelong resident of West Sacramento, discovered his passion for creating art at an early age. Continued encouragement from family members along with a motivational art instructor while attending James Marshall High School (Mr. Clarence Locke) instilled his interest in painting with oils and acrylics. Further studies at Sacramento City College in the 1970s, focusing on art history and fundamentals of drawing, continued to inspire his early art.

John has found his love for nature and the outdoors makes his landscape paintings a never-ending interpretation of the connection of nature as it translates into his art. His years of experience in creating art is evident in the realism of his California landscapes and still life subjects, capturing the beauty of light, shadows and a sense of tranquility in his works. Along with plein air painting, his method includes taking photographs or painting a small study on location. From these references he creates larger finished paintings in his studio.

John continues to take advantage of several art classes and workshops offered by a variety of highly-acclaimed art instructors in the Northern California area. John has been able to showcase his artworks throughout the Sacramento area. He continues as a resident artist and teaching workshops at “Gallery 2110” in Sacramento.

Select Exhibits and Galleries:

    August 2003: Guest Artist, Midtown Gallery, Sacramento
    2002- 2004: Various art exhibitions in West Sacramento
    2003 & 2005: Erwin Meier Yolo County Administration Building, Woodland
    February 2015: Red Dot Gallery, Sacramento
    2014 to Current: Gallery 2110, 1023 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento

Selected awards include the “Peoples’ Choice Award”, First Annual Art Show, West Sacramento Civic Center and various awards at the State Fair including “Best Over All.” He has received accolades from this publication and The Daily Democrat in Woodland, as follows: “John’s landscapes and ocean scenes demonstrate his many years of honing his craft,” state the The Daily Democrat. “John’s fascination and love of the great outdoors is evident in his selection of themes to paint,” wrote the News-Ledger. And again another time in the Ledger was the following statement: “The September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in New York had a deep effect on Nichols. ‘We Will Always Remember’ is his memorial to the sad event. He paints the towers before the attack in a night scene. The lights in the building contrast with the dark midnight blue sky as the moon shines down on the unsuspecting city.”
(News Ledger, West Sacramento)

City Partners With West Capitol Ave. Businesses To Curb Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol Beverage Control Sgt. Kathryn Sandberg, A & B Liquors owner Jim Nessar, and West Sacramento Police Officer Rinaldo Monterrosa discuss the T.E.A.M. program at the entrance to Nessar’s store. / Photos courtesy of City of West Sacramento

Alcohol Beverage Control Sgt. Kathryn Sandberg, A & B Liquors owner Jim Nessar, and West Sacramento Police Officer Rinaldo Monterrosa discuss the T.E.A.M. program at the entrance to Nessar’s store. / Photos courtesy of City of West Sacramento

The City of West Sacramento has launched a campaign encouraging local businesses to refuse alcohol sales to inebriated customers. The program, T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Achieves More), is a partnership between West Sacramento Police, the West Sacramento Chamber of Commerce, and businesses with liquor-sales licenses. Its purpose is to promote cooperation and teamwork between businesses and law enforcement in reducing issues traced to careless alcohol sales and consumption.

Fifteen businesses have signed up to join the T.E.A.M. program and have received official decals to post at their entrances.

“We’re thrilled that so many businesses have joined police in this effort,” said City Manager Martin Tuttle. “Working together, the City and store owners can promote a clean and safe shopping environment built upon responsible alcohol sales.”

Through the program, West Sacramento Police visits store owners to discuss alcohol sales to apparently intoxicated people. The T.E.A.M. targets liquor stores, mini marts, grocery stores and gas stations along West Capitol Avenue frequented by a transient population.

Aside from public intoxication incidents, the issue generates additional community problems, including trespassing, littering, loitering, public nuisance and criminal assaults.

To alleviate these issues, the West Sacramento Police Department has already:

Increased police presence in the form of routine foot and vehicle patrols of properties;
Maintained regular contact and relationship-building with property owners and management;
Reviewed responsible alcohol sales with owners and managers.
In addition, the City is addressing such topics as lighting, clear and visible signage, and trash and graffiti at the store properties.

The City adds that businesses engaged in selling alcohol assume a major responsibility in preserving public safety. Selling alcohol to minors and apparently intoxicated persons can result in serious liability including criminal citation, lawsuits, liquor license suspension or revocation, and jail time.

During a six month trial run of the T.E.A.M. program with several liquor stores participating, the City recorded a 92 percent decline in alcohol intoxication within the area.

Source: City of West Sacramento online publication, CityiLights