Category Archives: News

Local ‘Knights’ chapter earns honor

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER –JAN 7, 2014 —

A West Sacramento fraternal group reports it won an honor for the 2013-2014 service year.

The Knights of Columbus Council #9469 were named  a “Star Council” chapter.

“The award recognizes overall excellence in areas of membership recruitment and retention, promotion of the fraternal insurance program, and sponsorship of service-oriented activities,” said the organization.

Knights of Columbus is a Catholic lay organization with 1.8 million members spread over 15,000 councils internationally.

Grand Night Glen Mochel, head of the local council, called the award “quite an honor for us.”

Copyright News-Ledger 2015

Hats: for ladies and domed reptiles —

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER –JAN 7, 2015 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

December 20 turned out to be “the best birthday ever!” reports Cindy Breninger of Southport.

That day, a sketch of her little tortoise in a handmade decorative “hat” was part of a front-page article in the Wall Street Journal. The article explored people who put holiday focus on their pets.

Shortly afterward, “Neil” the tortoise also made appearances on Fox 40 and Good Day Sacramento.

CINDY BRENINGER bought several copies of the Wall Street Journal from the Southport Starbucks after her business received a front-page mention on Dec. 20. A sketch of her tortoise, ‘Neil,’ appeared at the bottom of the page. (Photo by her son, Brandon Potts)

CINDY BRENINGER bought several copies of the Wall Street Journal from the Southport Starbucks after her business received a front-page mention on Dec. 20. A sketch of her tortoise, ‘Neil,’ appeared at the bottom of the page.
(Photo by her son, Brandon Potts)

Neil is a little guy, not even six inches in diameter.

“He’s kind of a smaller one,” said Breninger. “He’s around six years old, but you never really know with tortoises. We got him August 10, 2012. He’s named after Neil Armstrong (first man on the moon), who was my son’s hero.”

Breninger is a legal secretary at her day job, but a side-business helped give rise to Neil’s holiday hat.

Six-inch wide Neil the tortoise got his 15 minutes of fame last month, with TV and newspaper appearances. Here is he modeling a pair of New Year’s hats. (Courtesy of Cindy Breninger)

Six-inch wide Neil the tortoise got his 15 minutes of fame last month, with TV and newspaper appearances.
Here is he modeling a pair of New Year’s hats.
(Courtesy of Cindy Breninger)

“I have an ‘Etsy’ business,” said Breninger. “I make ‘fascinators,’ those mini top hats that ladies wear. Princess Kate wears a lot of ‘fascinators.’ So I put one on Neil.”

“Etsy” is a website that plays host to crafters who sell hand-made goods. Breninger sells her people hats and now her tortoise hats there at her online shop called “Deerwood Creek Gifts.” The shop name comes from Breninger’s childhood home on Deerwood Street in West Sacramento, which had a “sort of” creek behind it.

“One lady bought two hats for her tortoises – matching Santa hats!” said Breninger.

Has the local and national attention gone to Neil’s head at all?

“Maybe a little bit,” allowed Breninger.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2015

West Sac council okays new community — minus the gate

‘The Promenade’ is located in the Southport Business Park,  near Cooper Island Road and Bridgeway Island (From City of West Sacramento staff report)

‘The Promenade’ is located in the Southport Business Park, near Cooper Island Road and Bridgeway Island (From City of West Sacramento staff report)

NEWS-LEDGER — DEC 31, 2014 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

— A couple of larger issues — the desirability of gated communities and the density of local development — emerge during discussion of project  —

The West Sacramento city council has approved a 222-home subdivision in Southport. The project – which abuts Southport Parkway, the Bridgeway Island Subdivision and Savannah Parkway – was designed as a gated community, and approved last month in a 4-2 vote at the city planning commission.
Usually, that would be the last word for approval. But in this case, Mayor Christopher Cabaldon appealed that decision, calling it up to the city council for review. The council took it up on Dec. 17.
Gary Mandarich of Mandarich Developments told the council that his company was “expert” at projects like this one with high-density detached homes. The Southport project, called Promenade, is designed to put the 222 units onto 18.3 acres, with a homeowners association and a gym, pool and event room.
Mandarich used as an example his development of gated properties in other cities, which helped him reach a “higher profile” of buyer.

  “We went to the city and said ‘Look, when you are buttoned up against an arterial road, like Southport Parkway, you need gates. The consumers don’t want to go onto (their) roads and feel invaded by people with easy access. You put gates on it, it’s a beautiful project. . . The nature of our business is to build nice, boutique projects.”
(Comments cited in this article come from the city’s video feed of the council meeting.)
Mayor Cabaldon asked him if the project would be viable without gates. After a pause, Mandarich answered:
“We can have a project that is viable without gates. We don’t think it will be successful, but it could be viable.”

MAYOR CHRISTOPHER CABALDON is against having gated communities in West Sacramento  (News-Ledger file photo)

MAYOR CHRISTOPHER CABALDON is against having gated communities in West Sacramento
(News-Ledger file photo)

Cabaldon explained that gated communities are not in his vision of West Sacramento – although the city has one higher-end gated subdivision called The Rivers as well as a gated apartment complex and a gated cluster of homes on Bastone Court. Cabaldon said the city leaders essentially held their nose when approving the gate at the Rivers (which is open during the day to preserve public access to the river) back in 1996, when the project was known as Lighthouse. Said Cabaldon:
“There was widespread universal opposition in the community to the concept that a community which is full of neighborhoods which had been divided from one another repeatedly by the railroad tracks, by the freeway, and by the ship channel would voluntarily start to carve itself up, and this was offensive to the residents of West Sacramento.”
The council approved that gated community largely because it had inherited a development deal partly negotiated in advance by county officials, he recalled.
Mandarich, the Promenade developer, said that gating a community helped his target homeowners (such as single women raising children, and retirees) to feel safer.
Cabaldon said that whether gates improve safety is, at best, unclear in the research.
“These studies show that gated communities result in lower amounts of community participation, lower levels of community cohesion, a higher psychological sense of segregation – none of the things we are trying to accomplish,” said the mayor. “Personally, as I was in 1996, I am very opposed to the idea that we would approve gates.”
The city doesn’t currently have a formal policy about gated communities in the city.
Other opinions on the council varied as the five-member body deliberated about Promenade.

COUNCIL MEMBER BILL KRISTOFF prefers high-density single home project to a possible apartment complex (News-Ledger file photo)

COUNCIL MEMBER BILL KRISTOFF prefers high-density single home project to a possible apartment complex (News-Ledger file photo)

Council member Bill Kristoff liked the fact that the single-family project would take place instead of an apartment complex, which was what the zoning seemed to call for.
“I like the fact that it’s not an apartment complex,” he said. “I don’t have a problem if it is gated.”
Kristoff did worry about the smaller setbacks (the close distances between the homes and their neighbors) that was being proposed to accommodate the high-density housing.
Council member Beverly Sandeen worried that gating the project would be “about segregating and not having the open world that we love and cherish in West Sac.”
“I have been and will continue to be opposed to gating,” she said.
Council member Mark Johannessen called the design “a decent project for the city,” adding that he is “not really dead set against gating.”
Colleague Chris Ledesma said that you can have a high density project along a busy road – like the projects at Metro Place or Ironworks in West Sacramento – and it can work without a gate.
“What worries me about gated communities is the sense of segregation they do tend to breed, that somehow they are separate from the rest of the community and somehow they’re entitled,” said Ledesma.
Ledesma joined Johanessen and Cabaldon in worrying also about the precedent set by allowing this project to take a piece of land zoned for apartments and substitute a project with lower densities. They worried about “having to make it up later,” changing the zoning in other city properties in order to meet home-building commitments to the region and to the state, and in order to put enough people in the city’s “villages” to support community shopping and retail opportunities.
Kristoff seemed more defensive of low-density construction as a rule:
“One of the things I think we need to also remember is that if everything is high density, it is a slum, and it becomes one very quickly,” said Kristoff. “We have seen it built time and time again in other major cities. There needs to be that balance of higher density and lower density.”
Cabaldon rebutted that the reason you can ride a horse to the Target store in West Sacramento is because the high density developments that supported Target were built near the horse-owning properties.
The policy question about density was tabled for another day.
When Ledesma made a motion to support Promenade – but without a gate – the motion passed with a majority vote.   (Editor’s update: the final vote included a ‘no’ from Bill Kristoff and ‘ayes’ from the other four members of the council.)

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Copyright News-Ledger 2014

Knitting for the world

NEWS-LEDGER — DEC 31, 2014 —

By Al Zagofsky

Vona Giese of West Sacramento wondered if it was a prank when the caller said, “Hi, I’m the costume designer for the NCIS television show.”

VONA GIESE at work (photo by Al Zagofsky)

VONA GIESE at work (photo by Al Zagofsky)

(SPOILER ALERT: If you’re an NCIS fan, you may wish to skip the next paragraph).

She asked Vona that to make a couple of pairs of finished booties and another couple of partially finished booties for an upcoming episode. In the episode, the forensic scientist, Abigail “Abby” Sciuto, is expecting a child and knitting booties.

The designer discovered Vona by searching the Internet and discovering her Giese DesiGns online store where she sells he hand-knitted fingerless gloves, mittens, scarves, booties, and hats for babies, kids and adults.

Through her Internet store, Vona has sold her knitted goods to customers in the United Kingdom and Australia, and in every state except Hawaii—where, she explained, “They really don’t need woolen booties.”

Unexpectedly, her most popular item is fingerless gloves. “They like it because the tips of their fingers are free so they can use their cell phones and can do texting,” she explained. “They use them to ride their bikes. Some high-tech offices are kept very cold to keep the equipment chilled, so they can still use the keyboard and keep their hands warm.”

Vona is a native of the Northern California town of Covelo. Her mother and grandmother loved to sew, crochet and knit, although they never taught her to knit; she was self taught—learning from a book and asking questions of her mom’s friend when she could not quite figure it out.

“My mom always sewed,” Vona noted, “and she taught me how to sew. I sewed from the time I was six or seven. I started out making potholders and dishcloths.”

“She had a Brother portable electric sewing machine. When I was real small, before I learned to sew, she had a Singer treadle machine.“

One day, a traveling salesman came to town selling sewing machines. “My dad asked my mom if she would like a sewing machine.”

Her mom said, “The treadle machine I have works perfectly fine.”

“He turned around and gives it to her,” Vona said. “He had already bought it.”

Vona started knitting at age 9, and by high school, she had a side business making Barbie doll outfits: dresses, boots, hats and skating outfits for one or two dollars each.

“I had a blast,” she said. “My 4-H teacher contacted the local television station and I was on news. But I never saw it because there was a big storm and the power was off. That was before we had VCRs.”

After receiving an Art degree from Sacramento State College, Vona returned to Covelo, and for ten years operated Country Crafts and Yardage. But when the local economy waned, she returned to Sacramento to study Home Economics—hoping to teach.

Her timing was poor. “The schools were closing their programs in home economics,” she explained. “So I took jobs in fabric stores, alteration places, and selling and making dresses for porcelain dolls.”

Later, she met and married Del, a retired Air Force serviceman whose hobbies are running marathons—he’s completed 80, and tending his garden—he’s a master gardener.

After some time in Utah, they settled in West Sacramento. Now Vona works several craft fairs each year, sells her knitting on her web site, and has been teaching knitting at the West Sacramento Community Center.

She sells about 200 knitted items a year through her web site and at craft fairs. Sometimes, she thinks that she could sell more.

“But I would have to work a lot harder,” Vona concluded. “It’s probably fine about the way it is now, so Del and I can have time to

do things together.”
Vona Giese’s knitting can be viewed at: http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/home/giesedeseigns, and at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/giesedeseigns.

Copyright News-Ledger 2015

Mike McGowan, Mick Martin & other West Sac-related musicians will ‘Rock the Box’

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER —

Local and native West Sacramento musicians will headline a concert on Sat., Feb. 7, at the “Black Box Theater” inside the city community center, 1075 West Capitol Avenue. Performers will include Mick Martin, Lew Fratis, Mike McGowan and Cindy Tuttle, along with other guests. Refreshments and microbrews available for purchase. $10 donation; net profits will go to the parks department’s fund to acquire a mobile stage. The show is at 8 p.m.

MICK MARTIN, a native of West Sacramento who has played with many of the great bluesmen, will be part of the show February 7 in West Sacramento (courtesy photo)

MICK MARTIN, a native of West Sacramento who has played with many of the great bluesmen, will be part of the show February 7 in West Sacramento (courtesy photo)

The show is in conjunction with an exhibit called “Rock and Radio Remembered,” featuring memorabilia from the Sacramento Rock and Radio Museum. The exhibit at the community center will be curated by Dennis Newhall, a West Sacramento native. The exhibit will feature an opening reception the night of the concert (Feb. 7) and will be available for viewing during business hours through February.

Visit www.westsacfun.org.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2014

Wise breaks receiving record for River City High School football

NEWS-LEDGER — DEC 31, 2015 —

By Laura Asatryan
River City High School Journalism Class

River City senior Aaron Wise broke the varsity football single season reception record this season with 46 receptions. The record was previously set by Malik Dumetz in 2013.

Before Malik, the record had been set by Malcom Floyd, who is now a receiver for the San Diego Chargers.

AARON WISE Now the record-holding RCHS football receiver, he hopes for a spot at the US Air Force Academy  (photo by Laura Valdez/RCHS Journalism)

AARON WISE
Now the record-holding RCHS football receiver, he hopes for a spot at the US Air Force Academy
(photo by Laura Valdez/RCHS Journalism)

“It feels amazing because I never actually thought I’d break a record,” said Wise. “I just wanted to play and have fun and work harder to try to get better.

Now that the football season is over, Aaron is setting goals for his future. He is hoping to be accepted into the U.S. Air Force Academy which, through a difficult application process, requires a nomination from a member of Congress.

“It’s a really big deal…the Academy is basically like a university but sponsored by the military. It’s really hard to get into that school and that’s why they interview you,” said Wise.

U.S. representative for California’s 6th congressional district Doris Matsui has nominated Wise for the Academy and after being interviewed by a representative, he felt optimistic about his chances at being accepted.

“The interview was great and straight to the point. During the interview it was like a college asking me standard questions. I felt comfortable knowing all I had to do was answer the questions honestly,” says Aaron.

Aaron is now waiting for a response via email about being accepted into the academy. If his hard work on the football field was able to pay off by breaking a record, Aaron is hopeful of achieving his next goal.

River City Varsity Wide Receiver Coach Mark Uy said, “I’ve never seen anyone work harder than Aaron. He worked himself to be a great football player. Great in the classroom and great on the field.”

  Do you like what you see here?

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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 2014

West Sacramento gets new vice mayor, or ‘mayor pro tem’

Mayor Christopher Cabaldon (right) is sworn in for another two-year term at the helm of the City of West Sacramento. (Photo & info from AL ZAGOFSKY/copyright News-Ledger 2014)

Mayor Christopher Cabaldon (right) is sworn in for another two-year term at the helm of the City of West Sacramento. (Photo & info from AL ZAGOFSKY/copyright News-Ledger 2014)

NEWS-LEDGER — DEC 24, 2014 —

Mayor Christopher Cabaldon was sworn in for another two-year term last Wednesday by Kryss Rankin, City Clerk. Cabaldon easily won re-election during the November local ballot.

Also reelected last month were city council members Mark Johannessen and Chris Ledesma, who each earned another four-year term from local voters.

Johannessen finished up a stint as ‘mayor pro tem’ last week. The council selected Chris Ledesma (whose face can be seen above, just left of Cabaldon) as ‘mayor pro tem’ for the coming year. It’s essentially a vice mayor’s post.

In West Sacramento, the mayor’s position is a two-year, separately-elected position. The other four members of the council receive four-year terms. Every two years, two of those seats go up for reelection.

Copyright News-Ledger 2014