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West Sac voters will face $49.8 million school bond in November

Local school district doesn’t plan to build any news schools, but does hope to pay for some repairs and upgrades at West Sacramento campuses

— NEWS-LEDGER — JULY 2, 2014 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

West Sacramento voters will be asked to approve a $49.8 million school bond on the November 4 general election ballot.

If the bond measure earns the required 55 percent voter approval, it will help fund the local school district’s laundry list of needed capital improvements –possible items such as fire systems, wheelchair access ramps, heating and ventilation units, windows, paving and security systems.

A motion to place the bond on the November ballot passed 4-0 at last Thursday’s meeting of the Washington Unified School District board of trustees. The action needed all four “yes” votes to take effect – and board member Alicia Cruz overcame her initial reluctance to support a 2014 bond and eventually provided the needed fourth vote.

Board member Adam Menke was absent from the meeting. Cruz joined fellow trustees Katie Villegas, Mary Leland and Sarah Kirby-Gonzalez in supporting the bond.

MARY LELAND: ‘community will support this bond’ (News-Ledger file photo)

MARY LELAND:
‘community will support this bond’
(News-Ledger file photo)

Board member Mary Leland was the first of the group to speak up after hearing a staff presentation on the proposed school bond. She noted that the bond would pay for campus safety measures and “ADA,” or “Americans with Disabilities Act,” compliance.

“I’ve been very anxious to see this on the agenda,” commented Leland at the meeting. “The community is willing to support this bond, and safety is very highly rated on their list. . . In addition, we’re not going to be able to provide career and college readiness if our facilities aren’t up to date.”

“I admit I as on the fence, going back and forth wondering if this was the right time,” added board colleague Sarah Kirby-Gonzalez.

SARAH KIRBY- GONZALEZ:  ‘let the voters’ decide’ (News-Ledger file photo)

SARAH KIRBY-
GONZALEZ:
‘let the voters’ decide’
(News-Ledger file photo)

She called for a “carefully thought-out” bond expenditure plan and warned that “it’s important to realize the bond will not fix everything.” The bond money would pay for about a quarter of the district’s capital improvements costs, said Kirby-Gonzalez.

Trustee Katie Villegas, who as a private citizen headed up a previous WUSD school bond measure, recalled that running a bond campaign is “a ton of work.” That bond paid for the new River City High School campus.

“I literally ran that high school bond day to day from my garage,” she said. “We’re at a time now where we need to make some investments, particularly in the north area, in our aging schools.”

Alicia Cruz, chairing the meeting, initially dissented.

“I don’t feel this is the right time for a bond,” she said, earning a bout of polite persuasion from her colleagues on the board.

ALICIA CRUZ: school board member was reluctant to support this bond (News-Ledger file photo)

ALICIA CRUZ: school board member was reluctant to support this bond
(News-Ledger file photo)

Her colleagues seemed to agree that waiting for the higher turnout of a 2016 presidential election might give the bond a better chance to pass.

“But can our district wait that  much time?” asked Villegas.  At one point, Villegas added:

“This isn’t for building a new high school or anything. This is basic stuff. Have you been to Bryte (Elementary School) lately? It’s horrible.”

Kirby-Gonzalez spoke for the majority when she suggested the board simply vote to put the bond on the November ballot, and then see what West Sacramento voters have to say about it.

“I would argue that we just put it out there,” she said. “We put it out there and let them make a choice.”

Cruz detailed one of her objections, which was to the lengthy list of possible projects that bond money could be spent on.

“What scares me is the list of items the bond will cover,” said Cruz. “I think it’s voluminous. I don’t think it’s specific.”

KATIE VILLEGAS:  campaign will be  ‘a ton of work’ (News-Ledger file photo)

KATIE VILLEGAS:
campaign will be
‘a ton of work’
(News-Ledger file photo)

But despite having “that feeling in your gut that says this is not the thing,” concluded Cruz, she eventually agreed to provide the needed fourth vote.

Why?

“Because I am part of a team and I know the district needs this,” she told her colleagues.

The per-household cost of the bond has been estimated downward. The bond resolution capped the cost at $60 per year for every $100,000 in property value, but the board was advised last week that the actual cost would be about $39 annually for every $100,000 in property value. A $300,000 home, therefore, would be taxed around $117 per year over the life of the bond repayment.

The school district conducted a public survey in February to gauge public support for a 2014 bond.

“Although the results were positive, it was clear that a bond campaign would be needed to ensure the public was aware of the need for facility funding that exceeded both (WUSD’s) and the State’s capacity,” noted a district staff report.

The community has a mixed record of supporting school bond measures.

In other business, the school board was briefed on the school district’s budget. The big picture view of the budget is that WUSD is recovering from several years of deficit spending as the State of California’s finances improve. The local district is, to some degree, repairing and rebuilding programs.

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Coyotes: best admired from a distance

NEWS-LEDGER — JUNE 25, 2014 —

By Mary K. Hanson
Tuleyome Association

You hear their yip-yip-yowling in the early evening and you know immediately what they are: Western coyotes, natives of California who make up one of the three types of wild candids found in North America. Their name comes from the Aztec word coyotl, and their yodeling howls can travel up to three miles.

COYOTE PUP. Click to enlarge. (courtesy Roger Jones,  Tuleyome Association)

COYOTE PUP. Click to enlarge.
(courtesy of Roger Jones,
Tuleyome organization)

Larger than foxes but smaller than wolves, coyotes have carved out a niche for themselves in the ecosystem.  Weighing in at anywhere from 20 to 50 pounds, these smart and highly adaptive predators have keen senses of smell and vision, and can run at bursts up to 40 miles per hour.  These attributes suit them well when they’re on the hunt for rabbits and rodents (which comprise 80% of their diet) as well as frogs, young deer, and even fish.  In fact, coyotes are very good swimmers.  Coyotes will also eat fruit, insects, snakes and carrion.

In our region, the coyotes generally mate in February.  By April or May, the pups arrive (in litters anywhere from 3 to 12) and the mating pair forms a solid family group, feeding and protecting their pups.  Coyotes always set up a “den” site in which to birth and rear their pups, and these dens can be anything from a small cave or rock outcropping, to a hollowed out tree, dense bush, a burrow in the ground… or an abandoned outbuilding.   Pups can start hunting with their parents when they’re about 10 weeks old and remain with them for about 8 months… Although the pups are darling, they’re not play things… and their parents will be fiercely protective of them, so if you come across one, do not approach it.  Photograph it from a distance.

Coyotes mate for life, and live in a social pack structure similar to wolves.  There is typically a mated “alpha” pair (the top dogs) at the head of the pack, and then various generations of offspring and extended family members below them.  Their territories are vaguely circular in shape and usually revolve around wherever their central den is.  Coyotes can be aggressively territorial, especially in the late spring and early summer – which we’re in right now — when their pups are born, and will protect their dens, packs and hunting grounds from trespassers when they have to.  This natural territorial behavior can become something of a problem when humans deliberately (or inadvertently) invite the coyotes into residential areas.

Normally, coyotes are instinctively wary of humans and will avoid contact with them, but when you supply the coyotes with food and shelter these incredibly adaptable animals will quickly lose their fear of you and commandeer your neighborhood for themselves and their offspring.  And you may be feeding the coyotes without even realizing it.  Whenever you leave food outside for your pets or leave bags of garbage in your yard, you are supplying the coyotes (and other animals like opossums, rats and raccoons) with a sure and steady food source.  This can cause a cascade of unwanted issues.  The coyotes may come to view your pets as “interlopers” in their territory and attack them, or view your un-spayed or unneutered dogs as potential mates.  (Yes, coyotes can mate with domesticated dogs.)  They may also hijack your garbage cans as their personal buffets, and your outbuildings as their dens.

In less populated areas where there is more livestock, coyotes can also be an issue. Since leg traps, poisons and other older methods of eradication are now illegal throughout most of California, when coyotes cause problems for farmers and ranchers, they call in professional wildlife damage management specialists who are employed by federal, state, or county agencies to assist them in developing appropriate management strategies for specific situations.  Never try to trap, relocate or kill a coyote by yourself.  Let the professional handle things.

Remember that coyotes are wild animals, not potential pets for you to try to “befriend” or “tame.”  They are handsome, adaptable, intelligent creatures with a lot of fascinating habits — but the best way to view them is from afar.

  Tuleyome Tales is a monthly publication of Tuleyome, conservation organization with offices in Napa and WoodlandMary K. Hanson is an amateur naturalist and photographer who is the author of “The Chubby Woman’s Walkabout” blog.  For more information about Tuleyome, go to www.tuleyome.org.

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June in West Sac: one food plant breaks ground, another expands

FROM LEFT: Mayor Christopher Cabaldon; TOMRA C.E.O. Stefan Ranstrand of Norway; Dr. Volker Rehrmann of Germany, head of TOMRA Sorting; Ashley Hunter, TOMRA Senior V.P. in Belgium and Sacramento (courtesy of TOMRA Sorting Solutions)
FROM LEFT: Mayor Christopher Cabaldon; TOMRA C.E.O. Stefan Ranstrand of Norway; Dr. Volker Rehrmann of Germany, head of TOMRA Sorting; Ashley Hunter, TOMRA Senior V.P. in Belgium and Sacramento
(courtesy of TOMRA Sorting Solutions)

NEWS-LEDGER — JUNE 25, 2014 —

Two days after city officials helped break ground for the 28,000 Shinmei U.S.A. rice bun plant in the Southport Business Park, they helped celebrate a new plant for TOMRA Sorting on Wednesday (June 18) in northern West Sacramento.

The new 60,000-square foot TOMRA Sorting plant at 875 Embarcadero Drive (near Reed Avenue) replaces the company’s former 42,000-square foot building on Seaport Boulevard. The plant includes the “latest technology for sorting nuts, such as almonds, walnuts and pistachios,” reports a spokesperson.

The facility handles fresh and processed foods, and a laboratory to test for aflatoxins.

West Sacramento officials are pursuing a future as a food industry hub; Mayor Christopher Cabaldon has called for the city to become the “Silicon Valley of food.”

Over 50 people work at the West Sacramento plant, the international company reports.

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Soccer comes back to Raley Field

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER —

Soccer returns to Raley Field on July 9, when defending Mexican Premier League champion Club Leon takes on second-place Club America. Visit www.raleyfield.com or the ballpark ticket office for information.

Copyright News-Ledger 2014

Kindergarten registration in West Sac

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER —

The local school district is accepting registration for kindergarten and for “transitional kindergarten” (TK) through August 1.

For kindergarten, a child’s first birthday must occur by September 1, 2014. For TK, the birthday must be between September 2 and December 2. Bring a birth certificate, up-to-date immunization records, copy of utility bill or other address verification, proof of physical (dated since August, 2013), dental exam record, Social Security card (optional). Pick up a registration packet at the Washington Unified School District, 930 Westacre Road.

Call 375-7600 for information.

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Moby, Blondie to perform in West Sac

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER NEWSPAPER —

Booked at the “TBD Fest’ scheduled for October 3-5 on the West Sacramento riverfront are Moby, Blondie, Empire of the Sun and dozens of other artists.

The music, arts and culture festival (formerly held in Sacramento and known as “Launch”) will come to a site on the River Walk near the Tower Bridge, where a public-private partnership is constructing an outdoor venue called The Barn.  For more information or tickets, visit www.tbdfest.com.

For info on West Sacramento’s planned “The Barn” venue, visit this earlier News-Ledger article here.

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Northern Yolo: $75,000 in restitution for care, euthanasia of fighting roosters

One of the fighting roosters seized in a raid of a Dunnigan-area cockfighting site. (Courtesy of Yolo County District Attorney's office)

One of the fighting roosters seized in a raid of a Dunnigan-area cockfighting site. (Courtesy of Yolo County District Attorney’s office)

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — JUNE 25, 2014 —

(Photos added to web version of this article)

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig announced that on June 13, Yolo County Superior Court Judge Daniel Maguire awarded $75,135 to the County in restitution following convictions of an illegal cockfighting operation.

In January, a Yolo County Jury convicted Lorenzo Ponce of Dunnigan on all charges arising out of an “underground” cockfighting ring operated at his home.  Judge Maguire sentenced 63-year-old Lorenzo Pena Ponce to 20 days county jail and three years summary probation for these crimes.

The District Attorney’s Office asked for $106,235.00 from Ponce for the costs of impoundment, care, and euthanasia of the birds taken from Ponce’s property.  Ponce contested the amount at sentencing, and a restitution hearing was scheduled.

In that hearing, a representative from the Sheriff’s Animal Control division testified the County incurred the loss as a result of housing and taking care of the birds for 60 days before the birds lawfully euthanized.  Judge Maguire awarded the county $75,135.00 compensating for forty of the sixty days.  Deputy District Attorney Barry Shapiro, who prosecuted the case, requested that Judge Maguire advise Ponce that he may not own or care for an animal for five years following his conviction.

The restitution will reimburse Sheriff Ed Prieto’s Animal Control Services division.

 

One of the fighting roosters seized in a raid of a Dunnigan-area cockfighting site. (Courtesy of Yolo County District Attorney's office)

One of the fighting roosters seized in a raid of a Dunnigan-area cockfighting site. (Courtesy of Yolo County District Attorney’s office)

“Cockfighting is inhumane and cruel to the roosters and is also a costly nuisance to any county,” said Prieto. “In addition to the time it takes to arrest, book and investigate the offenders, counties must impound and care for the birds until certain timelines are met and the birds are ultimately euthanized.”

The D.A.’s office has reported that officers interrupting the cockfighting event found about 90 birds being raised on Ponce’s property, and had to euthanize some of the injured birds at the scene.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2014