Category Archives: Politics

Mill Street Pier Opens In Bridge District

City officials gathered for the grand opening for the $1.3 million rehabilitated Mill Street Pier. It is the latest amenity in the emerging Bridge District. Pier sits 25 feet over the Sacramento River providing breathtaking views of the water, downtown Sacramento, and the nearby Barn entertainment hub.

Mayor Pro Tem Mark Johannessen, City Manager Martin Tuttle, Julie Alvis, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the California Natural Resources Agency gathered as the West Sacramento Fireboat “Boat 41” put on water spray show on the river in West Sacramento’s Bridge District, just steps south of the Barn.

West Sacramento Deputy Fire Chief hopes to inspire more diverse fire crews as she takes over as Fire Chief in Woodland

By Daniel Wilson

Early in her career, West Sacramento Deputy Fire Chief Rebecca Ramirez, who will take over as the first female fire chief for the Woodland Fire Department on Feb. 27, said she received a compliment that embodied what she and most women desire in their careers.

It came in the form of overhearing an “old timer” on the phone telling someone that she was a woman but that he just considered her a part of the crew.

“That, to me, had always stood out as all I ever wanted,” Ramirez said. “Don’t look at me for my gender or the color of my skin or the way I speak; Look at me as what I can contribute to the organization.”

Ramirez said she has never felt discriminated against as a woman in firefighting. By working as hard as possible and being as selfless and respectable as possible, she feels she’s been able to overcome any barriers she has faced.

“I am glad to be representing women in leadership roles, particularly in roles that are not so typical, [like] the fire service,” said Ramirez, who started her tenure with the West Sacramento Fire Department in 1993. “I think we have struggled in getting women into the fire service as a whole and we need to work on that a little bit. Maybe for people seeing me in that role, some young girls…will realize that fire service is a true opportunity for them.”

Battalion Chief Steve Binns, who’s worked for the West Sacramento Fire Department since 1990, will be replacing Ramirez as deputy fire chief.

As battalion chief, Binns is responsible for working hands-on with the fire crew and running day-to-day operations for the department. In his new role, he’ll work closely with the fire chief to balance budgets, implement new programs and processes and run current programs like consortium training sessions, where all of the county’s fire departments learn to cooperate in preparation for large-scale emergencies.

“It’s just more broad-based, more higher-level looking at things,” Binns said. “I’ve always kind of operated on today and at this [new] level, [I’ll] need to operate more about tomorrow.”

Ramirez said the fire department works diligently to help prepare its staff for the job above them in the case of promotion, so Binns already has some experience with some of the duties of his new role.

“We’re going to definitely miss her,” Binns said. “We’re on a steep learning curve over the next two or three weeks, [but] she’s still going to be in the county, so we’re going to talk often, I’m sure.”

Some of Ramirez’s contributions to the West Sacramento Fire Department will have a long-lasting impact on the city.

In recent years, she was directly involved with improving the city’s Insurances Services Office rating, which ranks the department on its abilities to provide fire protection services and sets insurance rates for city residents and businesses based on the ranking.

She also worked to secure a $1.2 million grant in May to purchase Self-Contained Breathing Apparatuses, which are worn on the backs of firefighters and provide them with breathable air while inside a burning building, for the department’s firetrucks.

“She has been an amazing person to work with,” said West Sacramento Fire Chief John Heilmann. “I think I’ve learned more from her than she’s probably learned from me.”

Ramirez’s new role is part of a restructuring of Woodland’s fire and police departments, which are both currently led by Public Safety Chief Dan Bellini.

With the announcement of his retirement, the city decided Bellini’s position should be eliminated in favor of a more traditional set up, according to a Feb. 2 press release from the city of Woodland. The fire and police chief positions were previously combined following cutbacks as a result of the 2008 economic downturn.

“I think it’s good for the county and good for the fire department,” Heilmann said. “I think everyone will benefit in the end.”


Ramirez found out about her new position in early February.

“It was very exciting to find out about it and I was a little overwhelmed by it,” Ramirez said. “The support and the encouragement that I’ve received from the city of West Sacramento has been just truly amazing.”

West Sacramento City Manager Martin Tuttle said he is confident in Ramirez’s future in Woodland and is proud of the legacy she’ll leave behind in West Sacramento.

“Chief Ramirez is a pioneer in fire service and a great role model for women who are pursuing a career in fire,” Tuttle said. “She’s done a great job for us. Her appointment of Woodland expands West Sacramento’s fire department. That’s good, I think in terms of cooperation with other departments.”

Though it will take a while to assess where improvements need to be made and how to approach them, Ramirez said the crew at the Woodland Fire Department will help make the transition a smooth one.

“They’re a very dedicated group, who’s committed both organizationally and on an individual level to the citizens,” Ramirez said. “Their culture is solid, their firefighting skills are solid and the city philosophy is very supportive of the fire department.”

Tuttle said he thinks the West Sacramento Fire Department’s deputy fire chief role is being left in good hands with Binns.

“He’s outstanding,” Tuttle said. “The department won’t miss a beat. We’re going to miss Ramirez, but to her credit, there’s a lot of folks who can step into leadership positions.”

Showing Options and Building Confidence

By Michele Townsend

linda lunaA community meeting was held and hosted by Washington Unified School District for the families of Holy Cross Academy to introduce them to our school district. Many of the students that attend HCA are the second or third generation in their families that have attended that school. WUSD wanted to reassure the families that if their children transfer to Washington Unified, at HCA’s closing this spring, their children will not be forfeiting the quality of their education. “Our school district is nothing like it was 15 years ago,” said Superintendent Linda Luna.

Many years ago our school district was very poor. The buildings needed updating, not a single one of our schools tested at grade proficient, and our curriculum in all grades needed a complete updated overhaul. WUSD, every level of the entire staff, and all of the students and families have completely changed that.

Superintendent Luna explained the structure of our district, followed by an introduction of the Board of Education members in attendance, assistant superintendents, other administrators and principals from several elementary schools. She explained their positions, and the duties they perform. In addition she explained how we have evolved to our current district structure. As our district has grown and changed, there has been a need of altering existing positions and developing new ones. The teachers have all learned the new curriculum first, so that they can effectively teach it. New schools have been built, old schools have been renovated, and technology has been brought current. We now have award winning schools and students. We have students being recruited and being awarded scholarships from major universities nationwide, and we have a 95 percent graduation rate! We are definately NOT the district we used to be.

In preperation of school enrollment, many parents look at our schools state test scores and become concerned. However, if you look at a school’s state test scores, it does not project an accurate picture of their eduaction quality. Here’s why… Testing is done at a certain time, and ALL students must be tested. There are many sub groups that the children are grouped in to, however they do not include, and do not make adjustments for things like how long the student has been in the country, what kind of education were they getting prior to coming here, what language do they speak, is the test given in their language and in a structure that they understand, etc? As you can imagine, the accuracy of those numbers representing our quality of education quickly becomes faulty. So WUSD would like those interested in enrolling in our district to look what we have to offer, and the outstanding things that are occuring with our students and schools. Washington Unified has amazing programs and technology at every level for almost every demographic of student. Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Services, Amber Lee said “We try to know every student by name and by need, and if there is a need that we cannot help you with, we do our very best to rectify that!” The beauty of the programs that WUSD has addopted, is that they arent just “a class”, they are life changing, career building programs that are set up to transition from primary to secondary to college to career.

River City High School is now an amazing place. If you have never taken a tour of it, you really should! (They offer them every year shortly before the new school year begins – however you can arrange it if you need to at any time) The departments and special programs range from robotics, to forensics, to engineering, to culinary, to farming to the fine arts and so many more. We have career and community building opportunities and more students attending college than ever in the history of school in West Sacramento.

One mother of an HCA student expressed her concern of bullying. Amber Lee in combination with Westfield Elementary Principal Roxanna Villasenor explained that in addition to the no tollerance rule, they go beyond that by teaching and incorporating anti-bullying techniques on a daily basis.

They bring in the Reach One Alliance, with Kevin Bracy throughout the year. (He is amazing!) Principal Villasenor also told about a monthly get together for coffee between parents and principal that is informal and casual where they discuss any topic, creating a family type of community within the school.. Another father/grandfather of HCA students asked about prayer, and religeon practices at school.

Much to most people’s surprise there is a Bible club at River City, as well as a group of Muslim students that pray together. One thing that was consistant throughout every administrator, principal, board member or teacher who attended the meeting was that there is an open door policy throughout the district. All families are encouraged to call, come in or log onto the district website with any questions, concerns, or needs!

Swearing In For Mayor, Council Members

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Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, along with Council Members Beverly “Babs” Sandeen and Quirina Orozco were sworn into office at a City Hall ceremony last night.

Cabaldon and Sandeen were re-elected to office. Orozco beat a strong field to replace recently retired Council Member Bill Kristoff. It was the Mayor’s 10th time taking the oath!

Also at the meeting, West Sacramento resident and Olympic athlete Kim Conley was presented with a proclamation recognizing her achievements as a world class runner and a role model for the West Sacramento community.