Category Archives: News
Flood Agency Visits Southport Elementary
By Michael Dunham
On Monday October 19 the West Sac Flood Protect the City Agency held a presentation at Southport Elementary school regarding flood preparedness.
West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, Darren Suen of the California Department of Water Resources, and Rachael Orellana from the US Army Corps of Engineering all attended the presentation to stress the importance of preparing for a major flood in the city.
Public outreach firm Crocker & Crocker has worked with the West Sac Flood protect the city agency for several years helping them organize their events to reach out to communities to warn them about the dangers of flooding in a city surrounded by levees.
Crocker & Crocker representative Justina Janas said, “We’re hoping that students and the community understand that although West Sac is protected by levees they are still surrounded by water. And even though we’re in a drought even a small rain event can back up storm drains and cause localized flooding.”
The motto of the program is to Plan, Pack, and Protect which refers to the act of communities planning for floods, packing an emergency kit, and protecting yourself with flood insurance.
Janas continued saying, “West Sacramento residents need to remember that the city is basically an island surrounded by 52 miles of levee. If there ever was a large flood, residents may need to evacuate and their home and belongings may be damaged.”
An important part of the program is to educate homeowners on the importance of flood insurance. Many people may not know that homeowners’ insurance policies don’t cover flooding and flood insurance policies take 30 days to become active.
Southport Elementary third grade student Drake Nielsen who attended the event said the most important message he learned to be prepared for a flood was, “To have a plan.”
West Sacramento Foundation All Charities Dinner drew great results for local organizations
By Monica Stark
The West Sacramento Foundation hit another all-time high at this year’s annual raffle and spaghetti dinner, bringing in $70,981 to 35 West Sacramento charities. The ceremonial dinner, held on Saturday, Oct. 17 inside the gymnasium at Our Lady of Grace School on Linden Road, brought smiles and good cheer to those receiving checks and those handing them out.
The Knights of Columbus, a fraternal organization of more than 1.8 million members, showed on Saturday its dedication to its four areas of service as local members dished out plates of delicious spaghetti and salad to the hundreds of hungry community members who awaited the start of the presentation of checks.
What started off with the golf tournament in the late 1980s, netting about $30,000, this year’s West Sacramento Foundation total marks a big accomplishment. The following nonprofit organizations sold more than $5,000 worth of raffle tickets: Veterans of Foreign Wars, River City High School Music Boosters, Southport Elementary PTA, River City Rowing and Our Lady of Grace School.
Richard Stamos, commander at Bryte VFW post 949, said his nonprofit the VFW Riders Association, will be putting the money earned at this year’s raffle ($4,680) toward helping veterans, including helping with hospital bills and memorials. “One guy (a veteran) got kicked out of his house. The West Sacramento Police Department said it was inhabitable. So, we fixed it up… That was about two years ago. This is one fundraiser we do yearly.”
“It is major for us because the economy is bad and it’s hard to raise funds. We’ve been cooking breakfasts, but it’s not been easy. But, we still manage to do it. We’re mostly Vietnam vets. When got home (from war), we didn’t have anything. We told ourselves we won’t have that happen to future vets,” Stamos said.
Drawing a raffle ticket representing Bridgeway Play was the youngest child of Washington Unified School District trustee Sarah Kirby-Gonzalez, Chloe Gonzalez.
What follows is the name of the nonprofit and the total net amount it received because of this year’s raffle: Belfry: $270; Bridgeway Island PTO: $3,159; Bridgeway Play: $2,700; Foster Youth Incorporated: $1,395; Friends of the Main Drain Parkway: $1,350; Holy Cross Knights of Columbus: $1,260; Holy Cross College Preparatory: $2,862; Keystone Christian Missionary Church: $900; Leukemia and Lymphoma Society: $450; Lighthouse Charter School: $3,618; Lighthouse Covenant Church (Youth): $954; Our Lady of Grace Parish Women’s Council: $1,512; Our Lady of Grace School: $8,487; River City Boosters: $945; River City Music Boosters: $5,670; River City Interact Club: $315; River City Rowing: $6,840; Rotary Club of West Sacramento: $270; Rotary Club of West Sacramento Centennial: $1,845; Sacramento West Kiwanis: $945; Soroptomist International of West Sacramento: $549; Southport Elementary PTO, Inc.: $6,669; St. Vincent de Paul – Our Lady of Grace Parish: $1,062; Stonegate: Parent Teacher Association: $2,106; Trinity Presbyterian Church: $405; Up 4 West Sacramento: $1,179; VFW Riders Association: $4,680; West Sacramento Attack: $2,268; West Sacramento Dolphin Swim Team: $900; West Sacramento Christmas Basket Project: $270; West Sacramento Early College Prep Charter School: $1,854; West Sacramento Historical Society: $630; West Sacramento Trail Riders Association: $450; Yolo County Children’s Alliance: $702; West Sacramento Foundation: $1,510.
The Outdoors Next Door: Exploring The Yolo Bypass
By Thomas Farley
If you want to get outdoors but don’t have much time, the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area is a perfect place to go. It is essentially the entire area visible from the Yolo Causeway and its main entrance is only three miles from West Sacramento. You’ll see birds of all kinds, an unusual, intensely managed landscape, and you’ll experience a relaxing break from city pressure. The noise of Interstate 80 barely registers, and you’ll soon find yourself lost in exploration.
The bypass has three main roles.
The first and most important is flood control. To relieve pressure on Sacramento River levees in heavy rain years, the 16,700 acre bypass is allowed to flood.
The second role is to encourage wildlife and habitat. After water recedes in the bypass, or whenever the ground is dry, California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife manages the property. Rice is planted, seasonal and permanent wetlands are maintained, and grasslands are cultivated, all to increase the numbers of waterfowl and other birds.
The third role is education and recreational use. Fish and Wildlife partners with groups like The Yolo Basin Foundation to promote that end.
Heidi Satter is the Foundation’s Education Coordinator. Each year she helps to organize and conduct dozens of field trips to the Bypass for schoolchildren across our region. What better way for them to experience wildlife and wetlands so close to home?
Take the signed auto tour route to experience the many elements of the bypass. It makes a complete loop of open areas, along with interesting side roads. Bring binoculars, water, and a day pack; you may be tempted to park your car to investigate the many foot trails. Annual flooding of ponds is now occurring in preparation for waterfowl season. Located in the heart of the Great Pacific Flyway, the Yolo Bypass will soon play host to countless thousands of birds as they migrate from north to south. Dove season is currently running until Sept. 15, so certain areas may be closed. (Hunting remains an activity as it has for decades, however, this use is controlled and permitted only in specific areas.) Guided monthly tours start on Oct. 10, from 9 a.m. to noon. But you are welcome to drive the bypass roads yourself at nearly any time of year.
Going? Check the information boards posted at the site since not all areas are open at all times. Downloading a map is highly recommended. Dogs are only permitted in the bypass from the causeway to the railroad tracks. Hours are dawn to dusk year round. To get to the bypass, go west on Interstate 80, take the first exit, turn right at the stop sign, and then loop underneath the highway on East Chiles Road toward the signs. The Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Headquarters is located 1.9 miles further down on Chile’s. It’s past Yolo Farmstand and the soccer fields at 45211 County Rd 32B. Open weekdays.
West Sacramento’s port is on a path of profitability
By Thomas Farley
Has the Port of West Sacramento’s ship come in? Or is it still at sea? The landmark facility alongside Industrial Boulevard has struggled for years to keep afloat financially, but new practices suggest that a more buoyant future lies ahead.
The Port made a renewed effort toward profitability after reorganizing its business in July, 2013. At that time, seeking cost reductions and greater efficiencies, the City of West Sacramento turned over shipping management to a private company.
SSA Marine, a worldwide port operator, now leases and manages the Port’s North Terminal cargo facilities. SSA in previous years moved everything at the Port from wood chips to windmills. Frank Patalano is the Terminal Manager for SSA Pacific. He talked about their recent two-year anniversary at the Port, saying that progress is good so far and that one of their challenges turned out to be educational; SSA is learning to become a port administrator, not just a terminal operator. They are now tasked with, among other things, fulfilling various permits and complying with California Air Resources Board requirements. Patalano says that this experience is proving valuable to him as a manager and to SSA Pacific as a company.
Patalano reflects, “One of our biggest accomplishments in the last two years is maintaining the business we have always had, the leader in exporting rice to Japan, as well as building on that current business and adding to it, through the global marketing team that SSA possesses. We are confident. We’re continuing to export rice, we import cement, we’re importing grains like corn and soybeans from around the world.”
The other part of the port equation is the City of West Sacramento, which acts as a landlord to SSA Pacific and some 30 other businesses operating on the sprawling port property. Although SSA is by far the largest tenant, other lessees include a log yard operator, a dredging company, four boat clubs, two transportation and supply companies, a cell tower tenant, and even a beekeeper.
Rick Toft is the Port Business Manager for the City of West Sacramento. He says the Port is also actively seeking development of 300 acres it owns on its south side. Called Seaway, the land is currently rented to a farmer. And like any landlord, the Port must manage its property and sometimes clean up after former residents. A small group of abandoned and derelict vessels floats idle in port. The boats have been made environmentally safe at the cost of millions of dollars but it may be some years before they are completely removed from the water.
Since the City handed off shipping responsibilities the Port is more stable financially. Revenue is modest but in the black. As Toft puts it, “The Port is a positive story in that its been a profitable enterprise since 2013.” Perhaps the Port’s ship has indeed come in. But in the form of an ocean going cargo ship, to be filled with rice and put back to sea.