The Rise of Urban Farms

The Rise of Urban Farms

Volunteer Day at Lake Washington Farm By Bia Riaz The City of West Sacramento, an urban center situated in the midst of Yolo County’s rich rural farm traditions and home to More »

West Sacramentan to be featured artist at Blue Wing Art Gallery

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 will be More »

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

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

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 More »


RCHS welcomes new honorary cheerleaders

By AnnaMaria Corona
RCHS Journalism Student

Two River City High School students from Nancy Abplanalp’s special needs class were invited to cheer with the junior varsity cheerleading squad last Friday night during the Raider’s home game against Yuba City.

Students Alina Corona and Mia Corralejo had the opportunity to help excite the crowd and encourage the football team in what turned out to be very close and tense game that came down to the last play.

Besides being close to all the action on the field, Corralejo said that what she liked most about cheerleading was the new friendships she has been able to make with the other members of the squad.

The two new honorary cheerleaders participated in the routines with the assistance of senior cheerleader Samantha McCormack.

McCormack is Abplanalp’s teacher assistant in her class. It was McCormack’s idea to have the two girls come out and cheer and she took the lead in organizing the details of this event. McCormack also designed and ordered custom t-shirts online for the two girls to wear during the game.

“It was really fun. Seeing Mia and Alina having fun and being so excited, they took the stress away,” says McCormack.

Mia and Alina have been invited to join the cheerleading squad for the remainder of the football and basketball seasons at all home games. They will cheer next Friday the 23rd at River City’s senior night during junior varsity’s last home game of the season against Woodland.

When asked her reaction to seeing her daughter cheer for the first time, Alina’s mom, Melissa Corona said, “It makes me so proud of our community’s high school students and cheerleaders to see how welcoming and supportive they have been. It was such an emotional experience to see the girls do something I never thought they could.”

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.

Meet West Sacramento ultra-marathoner Karen Bonnett

By Monica Stark

“There is only one other person who has completed the Grand Slam and Kona in the same year — This is the Kona Slam. I want to be the second person, and I fully intend to give it my all when the next opportunity arrives,” Karen said.

Ultra-marathoner Karen Bonnett of West Sacramento has a lofty goal- to be the second person ever (the first female ever) to complete the Grand Kona Slam of running. The typical Grand Slam of running is to run the following four 100-mile trail races in one summer: Old Dominion, Western States, Leadville and Wasatch. Each is considered progressively more difficult, and each offers its own tricks and treats, according to Runners World Magazine. But the Grand Kona Slam includes the aforementioned events with Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon World Championships added in for good measure. Only one other person, Paul Terranova of Texas, completed that informal event in 2012.

“There is only one other person who has completed the Grand Slam and Kona in the same year — This is the Kona Slam. I want to be the second person, and I fully intend to give it my all when the next opportunity arrives,” Karen said.

Karen was on pace to complete her goal this year before an injury during Wasatch took hold this year.

Karen completed the first three races in the Grand Slam Series and at mile 10 of Wasatch, she fell into a hole and fractured her Distal Fibula. “I did not know it at the time as we thought it was a bad sprain and I could work it out. Three miles later, I was picked up by some people riding their ATV on the road and they insisted I walk no further. I had a pretty bad hobble. So of 400 miles, I did 313, ugh.”

“When I fell at Wasatch I went down hard and in a lot of pain. A very loud scream accompanied this as well. I was running this with my friend Ernie Floyd. When he heard me scream, he ran down the hill to help rescue me. Many runners helped assist me, gave me tape to wrap my ankle, gave me Ibuprofen, and biofreeze.

“Ernie and his son helped me get back on my feet and work it out. Again, we thought it was a bad sprain. Ernie stayed with me for about two miles as we got to the top of the climb. It took us over two hours to do those two miles.

“I begged him to go on as this would be his 10th Wasatch finish and that is what he was striving to attain. He finally left me and I kept on as I was hobbling down the mountain for three miles to the aid station. A mile into my lonely painful journey, three ATV came up and stopped to see if I was ok. This was the moment reality was hitting me and I fell into tears. They persisted with kindness to take me down the mountain, so I got a ride down. My dream was crushed, my year ended with a slam as I came to realize my ankle was not good.

“My husband was to pace me at night but since I did not finish he was able to pace Ernie. I took Nattu to Brighton Lodge where we waited for Ernie to arrive. When he did he was ready to quit, but with food and force on our part Nattu and Ernie departed. Ernie did finish his 10th Wasatch and received a ring for this 1,000 (mile) accomplishment.

“Ernie’s parents always come to his races and this year was more special as they are dealing with health issues. Ernie felt this may be his father’s last attempt to showing up at Wasatch for his son. At the award ceremony they present ‘ The Spirit of Wasatch award’. This goes to a runner who has gone out of their way to do something out of the ordinary on the 100 mile event.

“This was given to Ernie for his heroism of helping me. This was double-awesome for his dad to be a part of this and see his son get this award. Oh BTW Ernie is about 58 and his parents are in their 80s.”

Karen’s background in running began before she even started lacing up. Coming from many years of cycling and accomplishing many 200-mile bike rides, she has competed in 1,200-kilometer (745-mile) events, including the Gold Rush 1,200K out of Davis, Paris-Brest-Paris and Boston-Montreal-Boston. She then decided she should at least try running, so she ran her first marathon, the California International Marathon, in 2000 for the millennium, and her second was the CIM three years later which she qualified for the elite Boston Marathon. She dabbled with running off and on over the years until about 2007, and in 2008, she upped the miles, running her first 50 miler, the American River 50. She was so excited the next day, she signed up for the Tahoe Rim Trail 50 miler. At this event a friend of her talked her into her first 100-mile run, the Rio Del Lago in 2008.

The longest distance Karen has run was at Across the Years race and in 48 hours she ran 148 miles; she was the first lady in that event in 2011 in Arizona. She plans to go back this year and see how close she can get to 200 miles in two days. Across The Years is a fixed-time event featuring several race options, from as many as six days to one. The object is to travel as far as possible in the time allotted.

Last year, she was training hard for the Tahoe Ironman and she was not able to start due to the fire. She really wanted to try and get a slot for the Kona World Championships. So last year, she registered for Tahoe and Boulder Ironman races in 2015.

One of the biggest inspirations of Karen’s over the course of her running years has been her husband Nattu Natraj who is also a long distance runner. The two were married on June 22 just prior to their honeymoon – the Western States 100-miler (which starts in Squaw Valley and ends in Auburn.)

“On the first Saturday of December (of 2014) the lottery for the Western States is held at the high school in Auburn. We attended and I was the first person picked out of the audience at the high school. This is why I decided on the wedding date and place,” she said.

To Karen, running has become a passion as it keeps her healthy (except for the hurt ankle) and she has a deep passion for fitness and health. “I love feeling strong and healthy and I love helping or inspiriting others to do the same. My passion in life is fitness and inspiring others to do the same. I hope to be doing this forever in my life.”

River City High School weekly sports calendar

Oct. 21 to 28

Wednesday, Oct. 21
Girls tennis versus River Valley at 3:30 p.m. at home
Water polo versus Roseville (girls varsity, boys varsity and boys junior varsity) at home

Thursday, Oct. 22
Boys soccer versus Woodland; junior varsity at 4 p.m. and varsity at 5:30 p.m., away
Girls tennis versus Rocklin at 3:30 p.m. at home
Water polo versus Rosemont (Boys varsity, girls varsity and boys junior varsity) at home

Friday, Oct. 23
Water polo will have a Delong Tournament will be held all day in Merced
Football versus Woodland at 5 and 7 p.m. at home

Monday, Oct. 26
Girls tennis versus Rio Linda at 3.30 at home
Volleyball versus Woodland at 4, 5, 6 p.m., away

Tuesday, Oct. 27
Water polo versus El Dorado (girls varsity, boys varsity and boys junior varsity) away
Boys soccer versus River Valley at 5:30, 7 p.m., away

Wednesday, Oct. 28
Girls tennis will participate in the T.C.C Tournament, all day away
Volleyball versus River Valley with matches at 4, 5, and 6 p.m. at home

West Sacramentans: You’ve got yourself a great city

By Monica Stark

West Sacramento News-Ledger's new editor, Monica Stark

West Sacramento News-Ledger’s new editor, Monica Stark

To be honest, it has been quite awhile since I spent any significant time here. Back in 2004 after I graduated from college, I started substitute teaching for the Washington Unified School District. I remember working with the youngest children and the oldest and during that time I saw the diversity of West Sacramento. The sounds of the Russian and Spanish languages emerged from the playgrounds as many of the youngest children were English language learners. With my degree in English, it was a humbling experience for me helping children hone their language skills.

Years later, after taking a reporting job at the Woodland Daily Democrat, for a short time I interned with the Yolo County Public Defenders Office in the investigations department. Much of our work was in West Sacramento. It was a very enjoyable experience interviewing alleged criminals and getting their stories but what I remember most was lunchtime. West Sacramento has amazing taquerias and burger joints.

After a meeting with the owners of the West Sacramento News-Ledger, I was so excited by their offer. George and Kathleen Macko are like parents to me. While I am working this position part-time after hours from home, during the day I work as the editor for Valley Community Newspapers in Sacramento, which includes the Land Park News, East Sacramento News, Pocket News and Arden-Carmichael News. Taking on the added responsibility of covering a whole new area is absolutely thrilling to me, especially working for a newspaper that is highly respected by such a tight-knit city you all are lucky to call home.

As much change is happening here in this city and at this newspaper, I will do my due diligence advocating for quality news that is interesting, informative, fun and maybe sometimes odd.

I tell my friends that this paper is different than any other paper I’ve ever read. Its hometown feel really thrives on community support and so there’s not a whole lot of gate-keeping of information like at the bigger newspapers. It really is made up of both community and professional journalism. It would not succeed without all the input from the readers.

So keep sending your story ideas, events for the calendar, columns, announcements for weddings/engagements, births and etc. to, and I’ll do my best to get them printed.

I’d like to know what your favorite things to do around town are, so send me an e-mail or meet me at the brew pub. (I’ll likely be there.) I really want to hear what you have to say.

Reach Monica Stark at

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.