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DUI checkpoint tonight, say police


The West Sacramento Police Department’s Traffic Unit will be conducting a DUI/Drivers License Checkpoint tonight (July 5) beginning at 7:00 p.m., reports W.S.P.D. Lieutenant Tod Sockman. The checkpoint is scheduled to go until 3 a.m.

Sockman did not announce the location of the checkpoint within the city. His department’s policy is to announce the checkpoints in advance as a drunk-driving deterrent, without providing advance notice of the location.

Drivers passing through the checkpoint will be screened for signs of intoxication, and their licenses may be checked as well. Those suspected of being under the influence may be pulled aside for additional scrutiny, including a field sobriety test.

“Over the course of the past three years, DUI collisions have claimed 2 lives (in West Sacramento)  and resulted in 34 injury crashes harming 44 of our friends and neighbors,” said Lt. Sockman in a press statement.

Funding for this checkpoint is provided to West Sacramento Police Department by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Copyright News-Ledger 2013

Yolo: ‘compliance check’ for sex offenders


Law enforcement agents throughout the county conducted a compliance sweep of over 110 registered sex offenders — arresting ten of them for  violations such as possession of pornography, possessing children’s clothing,  or failing to register at a current address.   Investigators seized 22 computers and other “smart” devices used by the registered offenders, taking them for further study of their contents.

Overall, 86 percent of the offenders were found in compliance with their requirements.

Fifteen agencies participated — including the Yolo County District Attorney’s office, California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation, and the Sacramento Valley High Tech Task Force, along with the FBI.

“The fact that nearly nine out of ten of our sex offenders were in compliance shows that collectively we have been successful on a daily basis of supervising sex offenders in the county,” said D.A. Jeff Reisig in a press release. “But each year during ‘Operation Vigilance,’ we catch a number of these offenders through face to face contacts and because of the efforts of  our highly trained computer forensic experts.”

At least five of those arrested in the sweep were West Sacramento residents.

Copyright News-Ledger 2013

Beer garden eyes site on South River Road: partial reincarnation of ‘Brew It Up!’


By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

One of the first things into the re-purposed “Pioneer Bluffs” area of West Sacramento may be a brewery and beer garden from a principal at the former “Brew It Up!” restaurant in downtown Sacramento. Mike Costello, the former president, general manager and CEO at that establishment, said last week his current group is  “very close” to signing a lease on South River Road.

MICHAEL COSTELLO: at center of plan for beer garden on South River Road (file photo, courtesy of Jennifer Schumacher/River City High School faculty)

MICHAEL COSTELLO: at center of plan for beer garden on South River Road
(file photo, courtesy of Jennifer Schumacher/River City High School faculty)

Costello aims to create a “regional draw,” saying “we’re really excited about being able to fill in the gap for casual, family-friendly dining.”

He declined to specify the exact site under negotiations, but acknowledged it is on South River Road, south of the Pioneer Bridge freeway overpass, and not directly on the water.

“It’s huge – more than 20,000 square feet,” he added, saying the site will likely be home to other tenants including, possibly, a farmers’ market and a coffee roaster. Those tenants, too, could come in quickly.

“Our goal is to be brewing in four months, and have the pub fully outfitted in six months,” said Costello. “It’s on the Pioneer Bluffs, so its name will have something to do with Pioneer Bluffs.”

Those bluffs are most notable where the deep water ship canal currently severs South River Road. But the City of West Sacramento is now proceeding on a long-planned new bridge to connect South River Road across this canal, linking the city’s eastern riverfront from Southport to the freeway and Bridge District. The new brewery and commercial center could be the first major tenant in as the “Pioneer Bluffs” begin an expected transition from older industrial uses to a more urban, riverfront style.

What is on tap, so to speak, at the new establishment?

“There will be a beer garden and outdoor event space,” said Costello. “There will be a personal brewery (where customers can make their own beer). That’s one of the things that sets this brewery. . . . apart from every other craft brewer in Northern California. It creates a fun relationship with customers.”

“Brew It Up!” went out of business in 2011 after about eight years in Sacramento and about seven previous years in Davis. Costello said there were some lessons learned, and there will be adjustments to the business plan.

“The big, glaring mistake we made. . . was to walk in on day one with two much debt,” he said. “We also had a lease structure that started out all right, but over the years increased as most leases do.”

The economy also took a toll, and the menu probably overreached.

“Conceptually, one of some of the things we realized we probably should have changed was to tighten the menu, tighten the focus,” he said.

“This will be a much tighter-focused menu. . . really creative and tasty hot sandwiches, and a good set of entrée salads, and a great set of appetizers that will go well with beer. We’ll tighten up the wine menu and the liquor menu. The focus will be on the beer side.”

“There will be about 30-36 taps, with maybe 20 or two dozen of our own (beers) and a great selection of guest taps.”

“Our target is to produce about 1,200 barrels a year in the first year,” said Costello. That’s 37,200 gallons, at 31 gallons per barrel. The new brewery will focus on on-site sales at first, because that’s where the higher profit margins are.

Special events and outdoor events will be stressed – and some of those could even begin within the next few months, said Costello.

“Of course we’re going to do Brew Fest, also Oktoberfest,” he commented. “One of the other ideas we have is to do a huge pumpkin carving festival. And we could start doing some food trucks and festivals on the site as soon as we get the lease, just to draw attention.”

About a dozen investors are involved, reports Costello, adding that his role will be that of an employee.

At “Brew It Up!,” said Castillo, “I was president, C.E.O., general manager and all that. Basically, this time around, I’ll be general manager. I’ll have a front house manager, a kitchen manager. I’ll be involved in the brewing, but there will be a team of brewers.”

The year 2013 seems to be a big one for beer brewing in West Sacramento. Sacramento’s Rubicon Brewing is opening a production facility near Ikea, and a couple of “nano-breweries” called Jackrabbit and Bike Dog plan to open up near Industrial Boulevard and the port.

Costello believes this growth is partly because of brewery-friendly zoning laws in West Sacramento. It may be easier to navigate the red tape here than it is across the river, he said.

The brewery appears to be landing in this city after a regional site search.

“Over the last year and a half, we’ve been looking at dozens of sites downtown (Sacramento), eastern Sacramento and in West Sacramento,” he reported.

“As I talk to other businesses. . . there is definitely a sense of West Sacramento being more attuned to start-ups in the beverage industries,” said Costello. “The zoning changes they made here really make it simple for a star-up brewery, or even an existing brewery, to do business.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if there are two or three more on our heels that decide to land over here, which is going to make this city alone a real destination for beer tourists.”


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Copyright News-Ledger 2013


New light may become West Sac landmark


EDITOR’S NOTE: The News-Ledger reported in May that a blue ribbon of light was scheduled to go up — about 200 feet up — around a grain storage facility at the Port of West Sacramento. Tonight’s the night it turns on.

Here’s the full statement from Art Schroeder, spokesman for the City of West Sacramento:

Beginning tonight about 9:30, a bright blue LED light band becomes part of the region’s skyline, to be seen on the horizon for miles. The blue light, nearly 200 feet above ground, circles the Port of West Sacramento’s bulk grain facility at 2895 Industrial Blvd. It signifies an important change: for the first time in its 50-year history, the Port’s terminal operation was now in the hands of a private company, SSA Pacific (SSA).

  The 200-foot tower at the Port of West Sacramento lit up with an LED band of blue light, above, in an artist’s simulation (Courtesy of the City of West Sacramento)

The 200-foot tower at the Port of West Sacramento lit up with an LED band of blue light, above, in an artist’s simulation (Courtesy of the City of West Sacramento)

The new lighting band was installed to celebrate the new lease agreement with the Port, marking the transition of the Port’s maritime facilities to SSA. The agreement goes into effect July 1. “The new lease arrangements will allow SSA to further expand our role, attract new investment, and increase business through the Port, which will be good for the City of West Sacramento and increase jobs in the area,” said Mark Knudsen, President of SSA Conventional, parent company of SSA Pacific.

The new agreement provides guaranteed rent payments to the Port of West Sacramento and shifts all maritime-related operational expenses to SSA, enabling the Port to reduce administrative costs and focus on development of its real estate assets. “We’re redefining and redesigning the Port and this is a critical first step,” said Mike McGowan, chairman of the Port Commission.

The lease is in effect for the next five years and can be extended by 5-year increments for a maximum of 20 years. Minimum annual rent payments to the Port begin at $650,000. The lease also provides for additional revenues to the Port, in the event of shipping tonnage increases. As part of the agreement, the Port is absolved of $850,000 in existing debt to SSA. The lease serves as a cornerstone of the Port’s recently-adopted business plan, which positions the Port as a landlord entity focused on new real estate revenue.

The LED-lighting design now widely in sight atop the Port facility was created by Fluoresco, a West Sacramento-based lighting company.

Copyright News-Ledger 2013