Once again it’s the time of year when fresh tomatoes are center stage, sparking a new energy throughout Yolo County. Monster machines bounce through dusty fields heaping 25-ton capacity trailers with another More »
The Barn kicked off its weekly Friday night Off the Grid food truck and music event with large crowds on Friday, Aug. 5. Located at 985 Riverfront Street, the Barn is a More »
West Sac schools celebrated Read Across America Day
By George Kazanis
Special to the Ledger
On March 2, schools throughout the Washington Unified School District participated in the National Education Association’s (NEA) Read Across America Day—a year-round literacy project that encourages readers, both young and old, to experience the joys of reading while celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday. It is estimated that more than 45 million readers nationwide participated in reading events this year. The goal is to remind parents of the crucial role they play in their children’s education because it’s a fact: Children who read frequently are better readers and better students.
Right here in West Sacramento, thousands of children were getting into the reading excitement, too. District Superintendent, Linda C. Luna, joined third graders from Stonegate Elementary and first graders from Bridgeway Island Elementary for classroom read-ins featuring a Seuss classic, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”
Community members and other special guests visited classrooms throughout Washington Unified to show their support and encourage our youngest learners that reading is a fun activity that helps increase their vocabulary and improves their reading fluency and comprehension.
Floodplain experiment points to water policy solutions to support both salmon recovery and agriculture
UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, the California Department of Water Resources and non-profit organization California Trout have launched an expanded experiment to better understand how the Sacramento River system can support healthy salmon populations.
For the first time this year, the agricultural floodplain habitat experiment will compare food web productivity and fish growth in three different kinds of river habitat. For the course of the experiment, a group of juvenile Chinook salmon will be held in underwater pens on flooded rice fields, as in years past; a second group will be held in pens floating in an agricultural canal; and a third group will be held in floating pens nearby in the Sacramento River. The experiment began on February 19 and the fish will be released after approximately four weeks.
Born in the gravels of mountain streams, Central Valley salmon migrate to the ocean where they grow for 1-3 years before returning to rivers to spawn. Juvenile fish that are larger and healthier when they enter the ocean have better odds of returning as adults.
“Floodplain habitats are essentially a bug buffet for small fish,” said Jacob Katz, PhD, Central California Director for California Trout. “Our previous results have shown that the food-rich floodplains appear to act as an important pit stop for juvenile fish, where they can fuel up on their downstream journey to the sea.”
Unfortunately for hungry salmon, more than 95 percent of natural floodplain wetlands have been eliminated by the development of the Central Valley for farms and houses. In previous years, this experiment has shown that off-season agricultural fields can provide critical floodplain habitat for endangered fish.
“Fish have little opportunity to reap the benefits of floodplains because they are nearly all cut off from river channels,” said Louise Conrad, PhD, of the California Department of Water Resources. “The Yolo Bypass is one of the last remaining active floodplain areas in the Central Valley. Enhancing the opportunity for salmon to access and use its floodplain areas could make a huge difference for salmon while also helping to recharge groundwater and improve flood safety.”
For four consecutive winters, experiments conducted on rice fields at the Knaggs Ranch property on the Yolo Bypass documented the fastest growth of juvenile Chinook salmon ever recorded in the Central Valley. These results suggest that through better planning and engineering, farm fields that produce agricultural crops in summer could also produce food and habitat for fish and wildlife during winter when crops are not grown.
“At this point, we feel confident that giving native fish access to the food-rich environment of the floodplain will play a critical role in recovering imperiled salmon,” said Carson Jeffres, field and lab director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences. “Now we are interested in how food made on the floodplain can benefit the entire river and Delta.”
The experiment suggests that floodplains on farmland can also be thought of as “surrogate wetlands” that can be managed to mimic the Sacramento River system’s natural annual flooding cycle, which native fish species evolved to depend upon. Agricultural run-off water is used to flood the fields for the duration of the experiment. This recycled water fuels the floodplain food web before being flushed back into the Delta ecosystem through agricultural canals, adding to the food supply for all fish living in the system. No new water is used to conduct the experiment.
This natural process of slowing down and spreading out shallow water across the floodplain creates the conditions that lead to an abundant food web. Sunlight falling on water makes algae, algae feeds bugs, and bugs feed native fish and birds. In contrast, very little food to support aquatic life is produced when rivers are narrowly confined between levees.
“California’s water supply for both people and fish will be more secure when our water policy works with natural processes, instead of against them,” noted Dr. Katz. “This work leverages ecology as technology and points us toward efficient and cost effective real-world water solutions that support both fish and farms.”
Members of the media are invited to visit the experiment site at Knaggs Ranch on the Yolo Bypass near Sacramento between now and approximately March 15th, when the fish will be released to continue their journey to the ocean. The site is also open for tours on Wednesday afternoons throughout the course of the experiment. To make arrangements for a media tour, contact Nina Erlich-Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 510-336-9566 or 415-577-1153.
It’s A Dog’s Life in West Sacramento
By Julia McMichael
West Sacramento has two off leash dog parks with separate areas for small and large dogs. While Summerfield Park is being renovated for ADA compliance, Sam Combs off leash dog park is in full swing. The visitors vary by time of day.
Ginger, Blue and Belle, Lily, Jinsi, Zeusie, Zowie, Bodie and Bazil, Brownie, Loudean, Reggie and Montgomery, Moose, Lucie and Lizzie, Tiki and Petey, Cocoa and Trixie are all regulars at the Sam Combs dog park. The dogs range from the most beautiful and well trained pedigrees to rescue dogs and just plain mutts. What distinguishes them all however, is that their owners make the effort every morning and sometimes every evening to give them proper exercise and socialization.
Dog owners Christine and Ron Gibbs told me, “Introducing Jinsi to new people and dogs helps him to socialize. It’s healthy mentally and physically for the dogs.”
As the dogs play, residents get to know each other and socialize. New resident, Jamie Mauhay says, “We moved to West Sacramento almost a year ago without knowing a soul, and through the dog park have met so many amazing people, even some we consider good friends! It’s a great place to bring creatures together — both furry and not.”
Each dog, like their owners, has a distinct personality.
Reggie, the standard poodle is a working dog and the diplomat of the dog park. Ginger, the golden retriever is the gentle beauty who has grown from shy puppy to playful and confident playmate.
Loudean may be one of the smaller dogs (a rat terrier), but she is also one of the fastest.
Loudean and her best friend Brownie race the park together during their play dates.
Jinsi is busy learning tricks, until he spots his best friend, Ginger.
All Tiki, Belle and Lucie care about is chasing their ball. They endlessly retrieve. Belle comically hides behind trees to await the throws.
Bodie and Bazil are German shorthair pointers. The German shorthair pointer, incidentally, just won the Westminster Dog show as Best of Show. Bodie endlessly patrols the park and climbs trees in pursuit of squirrels. It is clear that she is always on the job. Her brother, Bazil is more sociable. Montgomery is a much smaller terrier, but also climbs trees in pursuit.
Every hour at the park brings new residents out. The eight o’clock hour is for nine to fivers. Commuters come even earlier. Retirees come out with the sunshine. Others come to the park for an evening romp. West Sacramentan, Mary Jane Zeemer said, “We couldn’t have large dogs in the city without access to a dog park.”
Prior to the dog park being built, many residents told me that Sam Combs park was an unfortunate meeting ground for unsavory characters. When the dog park was constructed, people and their animals were drawn to the park and the undesirables went elsewhere.
The park is supplied with tennis balls during the holidays by some tennis loving benefactors. Many times, treat bags are left for the dogs. The city provides dog bags for clean ups.
Summerfield Dog Park is currently closed while the park has an Americans with Disabilities (ADA) compliance renovation. It has been closed since November. The renovation also includes a new play structure, sidewalks, benches, picnic tables, and a restroom.
Unlike Sam Combs Dog Park, Summerfield Dog Park is lighted for evening use. Summerfield Park, despite the closed areas, still has plenty of grass for games and walks and a new landing for viewing the park.
Superintendent of Parks and Recreation, Sam Cooney, told the News Ledger that Summerfield will reopen on April 1. “It will have improved fencing, improved staging and gates, and accessibility. We have also removed large Poplar trees, but will replant trees on Arbor Day (April 29). We will also remove trees at Sam Combs to add more sunshine so that new turf can grow. We will also improve irrigation. Wood chips ‘cause some dogs have pad problems so turf is a better option. It also makes it easier to remove dog waste for the owners. Future amenities depend on the Budget Committee.”
There are 35 parks in West Sacramento, but for dog owners, the dog parks provide a necessary amenity for their doggy pals. Ginger’s owner, Bert adds, “It’s fun to come here!”
Summerfield Park is located at 2950 Linden Road and Sam Combs Park is located at 205 Stone Blvd.
Yolo County Men Convicted of Burglary Spree
On Feb. 23, 26-year-old Winters man Louis Scott Campos and 28-year-old Woodland man Love Davis III plead no contest to six residential burglaries, which are strikes, and two additional felonies, vehicle theft and burglary of a trailer. The defendants also admitted enhancements alleging that at three residences the victims were inside their homes during the burglaries, according to a press release from District Attorney Jeff Reisig’s office.
The burglaries were all committed between Dec. 23, 2014, and Jan. 17, 2015, in the cities of Winters, Woodland and in rural Yolo County. The spree began after the first victim, Campos’ neighbor, asked him to watch their house while they were on vacation. They broke into many homes, garages and out buildings stealing a variety of possessions including vehicles, ATVs, trailers, electronics, and other valuables, according to the release.
These crimes were particularly brazen and heinous as the thieves broke into homes in broad daylight and, on three occasions, the residents were home at the time of the break in. The spree came to an end when the Yolo County Sheriff deputes apprehended Campos and Davis shortly after their attempt to get away by driving through muddy farmland on stolen ATVs.
District Attorney Jeff Reisig emphasized the importance of prison sentences in these cases. “Residential burglaries are among some of the most serious and offensive crimes our office prosecutes. Yolo County residents deserve to feel safe in their homes and residential burglaries deprive them of that right.” The prosecuting attorney, Deputy District Attorney Jennifer McHugh commended the diligent investigation completed by the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department. “The Deputies went above and beyond in piecing together this crime spree which allowed us to obtain justice for the victims.”
On March 21, 2016, Judge Steven Mock will sentence the defendants to eight years and eight months in State Prison. At that hearing the victims will have an opportunity to address the court and the defendants about the impact the crimes have had on their lives.
Source: District Attorney Jeff Reisig’s office
Did You Know Dogs Must Be Licensed in the City of West Sacramento?
Yep. It’s the law, falling under Yolo County Ordinance 6-1.406.
The reason is two-fold. First, licensing increases the likelihood that your pet will be reunited with you if he or she becomes lost. Second, licensing your dog also helps prevent against rabies outbreaks by requiring all dogs to be vaccinated for rabies.
It’s easy to get a new license or renew an existing one. Call Yolo County Animal Control at 916-375-6492 with questions.
Also please remember to keep your dog on a leash. West Sacramento’s leash law (Municipal Code Section 6.16.020, Dogs on leashes) states, “No owner shall permit his or her dog to be in any residential, commercial or industrial area, other than on private property where the dog is maintained by or on behalf of its owner, unless the dog is restrained by a leash not exceeding eight feet in length. The only exceptions are Police K-9s, dogs assisting those engaged in hunting with a license, and dog training or exhibitions conducted with the permission of the property owner.
Further, dog owners are required by law to clean up after their pets (Municipal Code Section 6.16.220).
Please be a responsible dog owner!
Source: cityilights.org, the city of West Sacramento’s online news source
The city council unanimously approved outside contractor, NeighborWorks Homeownership Center, to provide loans for first-time homebuyers
At its Feb. 17 meeting, the council agreed to authorize the city manager to execute a 12-month contract with the consultant for an amount not to exceed $58,284 for administration of homebuyer assistance programs; and authorize the city manager, or his designee, to extend the contract for up to two additional 12-month terms.
In his report to the council, Raul Huerta, Sr. Program Manager for the city of West Sacramento, wrote that housing staff has historically administered these housing assistance programs, with the First Time Home Buyer Program only being administered by a consultant from 2009 through 2011. The FTHB Program has been one of the most popular city homeownership programs and has provided more than 60 low-income buyers the opportunity to own their first home.
However, because of the housing market collapse that began in 2007, demand for homebuyer assistance loans had been non-existent, according to Huerta’s report. With the resurgence of the housing market and continuing low interest rates, staff began to see an increased demand for homebuyer assistance loans. In response to the increased demand, housing staff applied for and received a $500,000 home grant award for homebuyer assistance in 2014. As a result of staffing changes and existing workload demands, staff has determined that administration of the FTHB program and possibly some components of other homeownership programs would be most effectively managed by a consultant. This approach would ensure efficient and timely processing of applications as well as timely expenditure of the 2014 home grant funds.
Criticizing the proposal, though ultimately voting in favor of the item, council member Bill Kristoff questioned why it didn’t pass through the city’s Economic Development Advisory Commission. “I think EDAC really deserves to hear this. One of the questions I have is –It looks like we have half-a-million-dollar-home-grant award, or we’re going to shoot for that — How many homes can be purchased with $500,000 for first-time homebuyers?”
In response, Huerta said noted the city has already been awarded the funding and that they are anticipating assistance for 10 to 12 homebuyers, depending on the amount of funding each homebuyer receives. “Unfortunately, because of the timing trying to get the contract, it didn’t jive with the current calendar for EDAC; so, we weren’t able to take the contract to EDAC,” he said.
Huerta said there is a waiting list of close to 80 people who are trying to apply for the first time home-buyer program. “We did open applications late last year and we’ll put some on hold until we process. We have a couple of (potential home-owners) that are going through the process and have several on queue to get their applications processed,” he said.
Pressing on, Kristoff reiterated with a limited amount of money from the home grant, it’s imperative that EDAC is involved. “This is a first-time homebuyer program. We are only really talking about eight residences possibly, and I don’t know of too many homes out there that are sitting at $25,000; $30,000; $40,000; $50,000. I don’t know of too many of those that wouldn’t require cash infusion to get that home up to par. So it’s important for EDAC to look at these kinds of things so they can flush out and we get the biggest bang for our buck, and now we’re contracting with some outside company, NeighborWorks, and we’re going to pay them 50 grand. I assume this is coming out of the homebuyers assistance program and so that is even less money… I bring this up because I really don’t want to see this kind of thing happen again.”
The city administers a number of homeownership programs including the First Time Homebuyer Assistance Program, which provides low-interest loans for low-income buyers; an Inclusionary Housing Program, providing units affordable to low- and moderate-income persons; and a Shared Equity Housing Program for low-income buyers. By way of these programs, the city promotes homeownership among a wide range of income levels to retain the vitality of older neighborhoods and to make homeownership an affordable option for the workforce.
Mark your calendars: West Sac art show and reception set for March 3
The West Sacramento Art Guild will be displaying a wonderful collection of their varied talents at the Gallery 1075 located at 1075 West Capitol Ave. During the entire of March, a show will be held within the gallery and on Thursday, March 3 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. a reception will be held. The show provides an opportunity for the public to meet the artists on a personal basis and for folks to ask questions.
Everyone is welcome and anyone interested in joining the guild will be given information by attending. Do make this a date on your calendar to come and enjoy beautiful art, completed by award winning local artists. For more information, call JoJo Gillies at 371-3165.