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River City students climb a roof and aim for the sun

    A solar voltaic panel is passed to the roof of an Alabama Avenue home, as students in the high school’s enginnering and science academy learn how to install a sun-powered system. (Photo by Al Zagofsky/News-Ledger) NEWS-LEDGER -- NOV 26, 2014 --

A solar voltaic panel is passed to the roof of an Alabama Avenue home, as students in the high school’s engineering and science academy learn how to install a sun-powered system. (Photo by Al Zagofsky/News-Ledger)
NEWS-LEDGER — NOV 26, 2014 —

NEWS-LEDGER — NOV 26, 2014 —

By Al Zagofsky
News-Ledger Correspondent

For Fay and Russell Landry, one sunny day leads to another, for on Tuesday, November 18 they received a free photovoltaic solar energy system that not only will nearly eliminate their electrical costs while contributing to a greener planet, but offered the opportunity to River City High School students to be part of their solar system installation.

The solar system installation and teaching program was coordinated by Hillary Tellesen – volunteer training coordinator at GRID Alternatives, “GRID Alternatives and the Yolo Office of Education have developed a partnership to have the River City High School students come out and learn about solar installation,” she explained. “We are funded through the California Solar Initiative and through corporate donations.”

The nonprofit works with lower income homeowners, in sunny areas, and with roofs less than 12 years old to install solar systems.

GRID Alternatives  has been working with Deborah Bruns, the science coordinator at the Yolo County Office of Education. “My role in the county office is to connect teachers with resources that help them and their students,”  she explained. “One focus right now is to give students real world experiences that might get them excited about college and careers in a variety of fields, but particularly in the sustainable energy field.”

Solar voltaic panel is placed onto an array rack by, left to right: Estefano Arellano, a senior at River City High School; Nidhi Solanki - a volunteer from  UC Davis; and Mike Scharma - the solar installation supervisor with GRID Alternatives.  (Photo by Al Zagofsky for the News-Ledger)

Solar voltaic panel is placed onto an array rack by, left to right: Estefano Arellano, a senior at River City High School; Nidhi Solanki – a volunteer from UC Davis; and Mike Scharma – the solar installation supervisor with GRID Alternatives.
(Photo by Al Zagofsky for the News-Ledger)

“I am excited about this program because I think that students often don’t know how they’re learning in class applies to the real world, and how it might apply to them as citizens, as consumers, and as workers,” Bruns continued. “I think becoming familiar with the solar energy industry is an exciting opportunity.”

“There are jobs available now and in the future, and they may as citizen consumers may one day have solar panels on their own house. The city of West Sacramento has really made it possible by putting money towards education for kids.”

Mike Scharma – the solar installation supervisor with GRID Alternatives, directed the installation and the instruction of the students. “We are installing a 2.04 kW solar array using eight 255-watt panels which is designed to supply close to 100 percent of the family’s usage,” he said. According to Scharma, the system would have cost upwards of $10,000, and would be eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit.

Scharma and his construction assistant, Anton Muller, instructed the students in the cutting and bending of electrical conduit, the splicing of mounting rails, and the installation of solar panels.

“This program is awesome because the kids not only learn what’s in the classroom but they also get hands-on experience on real-life applications on what they learned in the classroom,” noted Sedikeh Yusufi, Engineering and Science Academy teacher at River City High School.

Estefano Arellano, a senior at River City High School climbed unto the roof to complete the installation. “This is a good project that the school Incorporated because it gives students a hands-on experience at something they may want to do in the future,” he said.

Dan Beveridge – outreach coordinator with GRID Alternatives  works with families to qualify them for the program. “I’ve been walking the streets of West Sacramento, almost all of it at this point,” he said, “trying to find clients. We are still looking to get 40 more clients this year.” Interested homeowners may call Dan at 530-680-3852.

Homeowners Fay and Russell Landry, shown above on their porch, said that both the installation by the students and the solar system were “awesome” and “exciting.”  (Photo by Al Zagofsky)

Homeowners Fay and Russell Landry, shown above on their porch, said that both the installation by the students and the solar system were “awesome” and “exciting.”
(Photo by Al Zagofsky)

Homeowners Fay and Russell Landry said that both the installation by the students and the solar system were “awesome” and “exciting.” In June 2014, they purchased their Alabama Ave. home in West Sacramento.

“I think it is very important to have collaboration between businesses, nonprofits, city agencies, and schools because students can actually be a force for change and help out on projects like this while they are learning,” added Deborah Bruns. “So it’s a win-win for the school and for the community. But it does take all of us working together and collaborating to make it happen.”

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Copyright News-Ledger 2014

West Sac and the Yolo County region see property values rebound

NEWS-LEDGER — JULY 9, 2014 —

(Editor’s note: several additional pieces of information have been added to this article taken from the News-Ledger’s print edition)

Yolo County’s property assessment roll has topped $21 billion for the first time, reports county assessor Joel Butler.

“The improving real estate market and thriving agricultural economy, coupled with new construction and (reassessment due to) changes in ownership” are responsible for lifting the value 6.56 percent this year, to $21.8 billion, he said.

City by city:

Woodland’s assessed values increased by 9.47 percent, West Sacramento’s by 7.14 percent, Winters by 6.15 percent and Davis by 4.49 percent. The unincorporated parts of Yolo County grew in value by 6.11 percent.

Davis has a total (secured and unsecured) property value of about $6.92 billion, followed by West Sacramento with $5.65 billion, Woodland at $4.74 billion,  and Winters at $455 million. Unincorporated areas of the county add another $4.05 billion worth of value to the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

Individual property values are now available at the Yolo County website at www.yolocounty.org/assessor. Make sure to have your street address or Assessor Parcel Number handy to look up your value. If you don’t have computer access, you may call (530) 666-8135 to get your property value information.

Do you think your property is valued — and therefore taxed — too high? You’ll find information on “assessment appeals” at the same website, www.yolocounty.org/assessor.

  Do you like what you see here?

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Copyright News-Ledger 2014

Council votes to allow indoor cultivation of marijuana, within limits

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — JAN 22, 2014 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

The West Sacramento City Council voted 4-0 last week to allow cultivation of marijuana within city limits – but only in certain places, by certain people and in limited spaces.

Marijuana cultivation remains illegal under federal law.

The new city rules are meant to reconcile the state “Compassionate Use Act,” which allows people to use marijuana for medical purposes, with the rights of their neighbors. City staff say that outdoor marijuana cultivation attracts crime, for example, and generates an unwelcome odor from the plants.

In late 2012, the city placed a moratorium on outdoor cultivation of the plant.

Last week, the council approved new rules that continue to prohibit outdoor growth. The rules also require a city permit to grow marijuana. They restrict cultivation to people who live on their own residential property, allow it to be grown on up to 120 square feet of indoor space. Growing is prohibited within 600 feet of schools or child care centers.

The city planning commission recommended that distance be increased to 1,000 feet, but the city council did not adopt that recommendation. Staff said a 1,000-foot buffer “could essentially result in a de facto ban.”

Those wanting to grow marijuana will have to present medical documentation to get a permit.

One member of the public spoke out against the rules, saying, “In my opinion, (marijuana) is a forerunner to something much worse. I’m against seeing it even get started in our community.”

CITY COUNCILMAN OSCAR VILLEGAS said West Sacramento has carefully studied the issue before acting. (News-Ledger file photo)

CITY COUNCILMAN OSCAR VILLEGAS said West Sacramento has carefully studied the issue before acting. (News-Ledger file photo)

Councilman Oscar Villegas commented on the proposed rules:

“It’s not as if we’re acting like cowboys here. We’ve been very methodical and thoughtful.”

Mayor Christopher Cabaldon joined council members Oscar Villegas, Mark Johannessen and Bill Kristoff in supporting the new rules. A final reading of the ordinance is scheduled for the Feb. 5 city council meeting.

Marijuana dispensaries are still outlawed in the city.

 

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Copyright News-Ledger 2014

 

A new way to finance home energy upgrade

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER —

An alternative financing program is available for property owners who wish to upgrade their heating and air conditioning systems, solar systems, roofs, windows and other systems. The “PACE” program offered by Ygrene Energy Fund is now available in Yolo County.

The program offers 100 percent financing to projects on properties that have at least 15 percent equity, and is available for both homeowners and commercial projects. The financing is bound to the property rather than the individual or business on it, and transfers with the property to a new owner like a property tax.

Visit www.CleanEnergyYolo.com. Using the promo code “UPGRADEYOLO” will earn a savings on the $50 application fee.

Copyright News-Ledger 2013