Category Archives: News

West Sac seniors looking for a little help with their garden

Ray Ledesma & Mary Emma Olbrich have been taking care of a tiny plot of land, and turning it into a pocket park. If your green thumbs are itching to help out a couple of seniors who love to flower garden but just need a little help, then read on. (Photo by Al Zagofsky/News-Ledger)

Ray Ledesma & Mary Emma Olbrich have been taking care of a tiny plot of land, and turning it into a pocket park. If your green thumbs are itching to help out a couple of seniors who love to flower garden but just need a little help, then read on. (Photo by Al Zagofsky/News-Ledger)

NEWS-LEDGER — FEB 11, 2015 —

By Al Zagofsky
Correspondent

If your green thumbs are itching for the first signs of spring, and you’d like to help out a couple of seniors who love a flower garden but just need a little help, then read on.

Mary Olbrich and Ray Ledesma have been taking care of a tiny plot of land, and turning it into a pocket park by growing 20 large potted plants in the shade of a Cinnamomum camphora at Riverbend Manor’s senior housing  in the Broderick section of West Sacramento.

As many of the seniors do not get out much, even more so stay in their apartments most of the day, this pocket park serves as a place to meet visitors, to meet neighbors, or to sit quietly and contemplate the outdoors.

Mary, the more practical of the two, calls the pocket park ad hoc committee the Cummings Garden Group, because the garden is located just off Cummings Way.

Ray, the more poetic of the two coordinators, calls the project My Gate to Heaven. Also helping when the garden are Artis Graham and Rosemary Martinez.

“We are just a bunch of people trying to do a volunteer project,” Mary explained. “We have flowers and herbs. Everything is raised— and there is a trellis.”

“We started the plants in pots as it was to be a container garden. As the plants matured, they needed more room,” Mary said. “There is quite a bit of replanting that we have to do. The Geraniums and Pelargoniums need re-potting, and we planted lemongrass in the herb garden and it really took off.”

Years ago, the city repurposed an elementary school for senior housing and in the development set aside office space for the Parks and Recreation Department. A member of the department began the garden project, but the project was abandoned when Parks and Recreation relocated. When the fledgling pocket park study going to seed, that’s when several residents sought to salvage the effort and create the pocket garden.

The opportunity spoke to Mary, largely because Mary has had a green thumb from the age of five when she helped the family in their Victory Garden during World War II.

“When we did something wrong, my parents would send us out to weed the garden as punishment,” said Mary. “I never told them, but I really enjoyed weeding the garden.”

Ray grew up in the Clarksburg farming area. “My father taught me how to irrigate plants the old Spanish-style way. We grew everything from chilies to zucchini.”

When his parents grew older, Ray explained, “I built a garden because I wanted my parents to have a connection to heaven—because that’s where they were headed.”

The pocket park planters are looking for help from anyone who could volunteer an hour a week. Also they could use some large plastic planting pots and soil—and or someone with a vehicle to transport it. They are not looking for additional plants.

They are also looking for some help trimming roses around the development. “We have a couple of yellow and lavender roses—one has a gorgeous scent when it is in bloom,” Mary noted. Until recently, Mary had been trimming the roses, but she’s currently in a wheelchair and the wheelchair get stuck in the dirt or topples on sloping surfaces.

That’s another reason that Mary enjoys the garden. “My energy level goes way up when I’m out here, and I’m not as sleepy the rest of the day. Especially in the summer time when the plants bloom. The yellow rose bush is incredible—it just blooms and blooms.”

Mary is looking for volunteers at any level of expertise from unfamiliar to master gardener.

If your green thumb is itching to make a difference, call Mary at 916-372-9371.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2015

Driving lesson: officer talks to RCHS teens about real danger behind the wheel

CHP Officer Martine Olivares asks RCHS students to think about what they think is risky behavior behind the wheel.  (Photo by Kaitlyn Donoghue/River City High School)

CHP Officer Martine Olivares asks RCHS students to think about what they think is risky behavior behind the wheel. (Photo by Kaitlyn Donoghue/River City High School)

NEWS-LEDGER — FEB 11, 2015 —

By Farina Khalil
River City High School Journalism Class

River City High School students attended a driving awareness presentation held by the driver’s education teacher, Shannon Woods, in partnership with Impact Teen Driving, an organization that was founded in response to the high frequency of crashes involving teens to which California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers respond.

The goal of the organization is to reduce the number of injuries and deaths suffered by teens as a result of distracted driving and poor decision making. According to their website, impactteendrivers.org, 4,000 teens die each year due to vehicle collision, that’s roughly 11 per day. 75% of it is not related to drugs and alcohol but due to distractions such as cell phones or applying makeup.

“I’ve worked in many areas and on average, in a big area you’ll see 5 crashes [per day] from minor property damage to fatality,” said Officer Martine Olivares, who also talked about how cell phones are a common distraction while driving. In fact, a majority of the calls he gets about teen vehicle collisions are caused by distracted driving.

Debbie Smith, a speaker at the Impact Teen Driving event, spoke about her son Joel Davis, who had died in a car accident in 2005 in Pleasanton because the two passengers in the front were arguing and crashed into a tree. She spoke about her reaction when she found out her son died when she received a coroner’s note she got in the mail.

“My son went from being a person to now being a case number,” said Smith.

The Impact Teen Driving presentation hopes to raise awareness to prevent any type of distraction in the car from taking a driver’s focus from the road, especially for teens because they are young and inexperienced drivers.

“Respect life — you can’t bring it back once it’s lost,” said Smith.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2015

Most years, the Amgen Tour of California has bypassed West Sacramento. But back in 2007, riders sped through town as part of their Sacramento-area stage. Here, they round the corner from Sacramento Avenue to Jefferson Boulevard on their way to the Tower Bridge (News-Ledger photo)

Most years, the Amgen Tour of California has bypassed West Sacramento. But back in 2007, riders sped through town as part of their Sacramento-area stage. Here, they round the corner from Sacramento Avenue to Jefferson Boulevard on their way to the Tower Bridge (News-Ledger photo)

NEWS-LEDGER ONLINE — FEB 19, 2015 —

Cyclists in this year’s edition of the Amgen Tour of California bicycle race will pass through West Sacramento twice on Sunday, May 10, after the race kicks off its first stage at the state capitol. There should be plenty of local spectator opportunities both in the morning as the racers get their start and in the afternoon as they approach the finish.

Stage 1 of the 724.1-mile race will both start and end at the capitol building. It starts at 11 a.m.

“After an initial crossing of the Sacramento River via the iconic Tower Bridge, the race will pass quickly through West Sacramento to River Road,” organizers reported today. “From here, the race will follow the winding Sacramento River through the small towns of Clarksburg, Courtland and Walnut Grove. The stage’s fourth bridge crossing will take the race back over the river into Isleton.”

Later, the athletes will re-cross the river into Rio Vista and travel through Solano County, Davis, Woodland, and back to West Sacramento and across the Tower Bridge. The stage is measured at 127 miles.

Stage two carries the riders from Nevada City to Lodi, and following stages will take place all over the state.

The race finishes with Stage 8, ending at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on May 17.

The News-Ledger will bring more details of the exact local race route as the race approaches.

For more information, visit www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.

  Do you like what you see here?

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Copyright News-Ledger 2015

Fireworks for fundraising: workshop coming up in West Sac on Feb. 26

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER —

Is your West Sacramento nonprofit or church interested in operating a fireworks booth during the 4th of July season to raise money? Attend an informational session about the permit and sales process at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 26, in the city council chambers, 1110 West Capitol Avenue. The permit lottery will be open to applications during the month of March. More info: Kryss Rankin, City Clerk, 617-4500.

Copyright News-Ledger 2015

Catch, neuter & release: volunteers work with feral cats in Southport

A just-fixed feral cat makes a tentative move back to freedom after being released back into its Southport field by local volunteers. The idea was Patricia Kenney’s (she’s above at right), and she was assisted by local cat supporters such as Heather, above left. (News-Ledger photo)

A just-fixed feral cat makes a tentative move back to freedom after being released back into its Southport field by local volunteers. The idea was Patricia Kenney’s (she’s above at right), and she was assisted by local cat supporters such as Heather, above left. (News-Ledger photo)

NEWS-LEDGER — FEB 11, 2015 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

A small group of West Sacramento kindred spirits gathered behind Southport’s Tower Mart on Sunday, February 1, to turn loose about 15 feral cats that they had trapped and then spayed and neutered.

The effort sprung from an experience by Patti Kenney, a local pet sitter, one night just over a month earlier right at the edge of the same parking lot.

“It was December,” recalled Kenney. “It was dark and on was on my way to Bridgeway to do an overnight pet-sit. I went into the deli , and when I came out, there were all these pairs of eyes staring at me from the dark. I counted 12 of them.”

Kenney walked to the edge of the market’s parking lot, where it adjoins a vacant field. She found signs that others had been leaving food for a colony of feral cats.

PATTI KENNEY (News-Ledger photo)

PATTI KENNEY
(News-Ledger photo)

“There’s regular folks that come by,” said Kenney. “When I saw that, I said to them, ‘These cats need to be trapped to stop them multiplying.’”

Some of the folks who were feeding the animals volunteered to help. The group borrowed raccoon-style traps from the SPCA in Sacramento.

“We started with eight traps,” reported volunteer “Margaret” (who asked that her last name not be used). “You can borrow two traps per person.”

Over the month of January, the group set out the baited cages and hauled in most of the animals.  The cats weren’t immediately spayed and neutered, for fear that they would just end up getting re-trapped. Instead, Kenney temporarily collected them.

“They stayed in my spare bedroom,” she said. “All of them were in my spare bedroom.”

She thinks they were unable to trap only about two of the cats.

Members of the cat posse contributed cash to pay the fees to have the animals spayed or neutered and also treated for fleas by the SPCA.

“We had donations of $340 or something like that,” reported Kenney. “I’m pretty sure I spent it all.”

On the afternoon of Feb. 1, this handful of cat-fanciers showed up for the big day. The cats – probably anxious and nervous – were hunkered down in pet cages in the back of a vehicle.

The volunteers carried the cages over to the edge of the parking lot, where the cats would be able to make a run for it into “their” field. Many of the animals were reluctant to leave their cages, and had to be gently coaxed or even “poured” from their cages. But sooner or later, each one finally headed out for the green grass of the Southport field.

They were still feral – escaped or abandoned from local homes, perhaps – but at least they wouldn’t be reproducing and contributing to a growing colony.

The News-Ledger asked Kenney whether she had plans to head up the same kind of effort at any of the other cat colonies in West Sacramento – there have been reports of a lot of cats near shopping centers at Enterprise Boulevard and Lake Washington Boulevard, for example.

“No,” said Kenney. “This was a one time thing for me.”

  Got a comment for publication? Email steve@news-ledger.com.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2015

MoneyGram can be used to pay support

NEWS-LEDGER — JAN 28, 2015 —

From Beth Gabor
County of Yolo

Starting this month, parents will be able to pay their child support in cash at thousands of MoneyGram locations throughout California.

Previously, parents paying child support in cash could only do so by visiting a county or regional local child support agency that accepts in-office payments.  In Yolo County, the Child Support Services office is located at 100 West Court Street in Woodland.  Those who stand to benefit the most by paying through MoneyGram are the self-employed, those working seasonal jobs and those who don’t engage in traditional banking.

“We are pleased that we have been able to make the process easier for parents to pay their child support,” said Yolo County Department of Child Support Services Director Natalie Dillon in a press release. “This partnership with MoneyGram will benefit the parents who owe child support, and will translate into more payments for their children.”

There are approximately 30 MoneyGram locations in Yolo County, over 6,200 throughout California and 39,000 nationwide that provide bill payment services.  Payments can be made at 18 retail chains including CVS, Wal-Mart, Albertsons, Lucky, Raley’s/Bel Air, Food Maxx, 7-Eleven and others.

To make a payment through MoneyGram, parents will need their personal Participant Identification Number (PAR ID) and the group “Receive Code 14630.”  MoneyGram charges child support customers a $1.99 convenience fee.  For many, that is less than the cost of the gas needed to drive to a child support office.  Payments can take up to three days to post, so parents are advised to plan accordingly.

Child support payments may also be made online, by phone and by mail.  In-person payments are still available at the local child support office in Woodland.  Fees are not charged for using these payment options.

For information about payment options or to make a payment online, visit: www.childsup.ca.gov/PaymentOptions or call 866-901-3212.

Copyright News-Ledger 2015

West Sac’s college branch celebrates five years, lays plans to expand

Local college branch: five years old & hoping to grow  (News-Ledger photo)

Local college branch: five years old & hoping to grow (News-Ledger photo)

NEWS-LEDGER — FEB 4, 2015 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

With public speakers, cookies and a martial arts performance, West Sacramento’s branch of Sacramento City College celebrated five years on West Capitol Avenue last Thursday afternoon.

The branch’s success, and the partnerships that helped bring that success, were themes of the day.

Mayor Christopher Cabaldon noted that the college took a gamble on building the new center when demand for community college classes in West Sacramento was unproven. Previously, the college had only offered a limited number of classes in this city in borrowed classrooms. And the branch also took a gamble by choosing a site on troubled West Capitol Avenue – on a stretch that’s now partially redeveloped near city hall.

Cabaldon said the college’s leadership decided, “We’re going to open a new center – we’re going to double-down, triple down.”

And from the city’s point of view:

“We anchored our entire downtown, which didn’t exist, to this facility.”

Now the 1000-block of West Capitol includes the college, city hall, a transit center, community center and nearby library.

Mary Leland, an administrator at the college as well as a West Sacramento school board member, noted the “extraordinary partnerships” involved in the city’s college, school system and city programs.

The college’s local presence started in 1999 with three classrooms and a computer lab on Halyard Drive.

In 2010, it moved into its new three-story building at 1115 West Capitol Avenue, with 11 classrooms, a computer lab, and expanded course offerings. It combined with the college’s Downtown Center and serves about 2,600 students, according to its dean, Art Pimental.

ART PIMENTAL Dean of the West Sacramento branch of Sac City College (News-Ledger photo)

ART PIMENTAL
Dean of the West Sacramento branch of Sac City College
(News-Ledger photo)

“Roughly about 30 percent of our student body have West Sacramento addresses,” Pimental later told the News-Ledger. He also outlined the center’s expansion plans:

“Basically, the plans are to have two additional facilities here at the site,” said Pimental. “Two additional phases. At final buildout, the site will be approximately 80,000 square feet. The current facility is 25,000 square feet.

A 2008 state bond measure may help pay for Phase II.

“The district has approximately $5 million towards Phase II from Measure M,” Pimental explained. “Phase II will cost approximately $12 million.”

So building it will depend partly on help from state bond funds as well as continued enrollment growth. Best case scenario is that construction starts in 2017.

The new facility would be built next to the current structure, on a grassy area to the west close to Carol’s restaurant.  As for Phase III: there is no timeline yet, but construction would occur on the northern, parking-lot side of the current facility.

The next phase would allow the branch to serve more students, build a “wet lab,” and offer new courses that “reflect the needs of the community,” said Pimental.

A planned streetcar line coming to the site from across the Tower Bridge can only help with the branch’s success, he added.

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  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to FreeTrial@news-ledger.com (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2015