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Letter from Austria: West Sac kid reports back from Europe


  Editor’s note: Fabi Perez of West Sacramento is in Austria as a Rotary Youth exchange student. He’s sponsored by West Sacramento Centennial Rotary Club Centennial and Pocket Greenhaven Rotary Club. Here’s a report he has sent of the first month of his visit:

By Fabi Perez

So far I have had an amazing time. I arrived on August 8 at around 3 p.m. in Munich, Germany. My flight was smooth from San Francisco to London at about 9 hours. From London I flew to Munich in about 1.5 hours. I can now say that I have been to three European countries in a single day. That thought makes me ecstatic, to say the least.

When I arrived in Munich, my host dad, Christian, was there to greet me. Funny story: I forgot to tell them which airline I was taking, so my host brother, Jakob, was waiting in the other terminal. After that mix-up, we drove to Riedau, Austria, which was about a two- hour drive. On the way there we were exchanging many questions, and getting familiar with one another.

It was an entertaining drive because we drove on the Autobahn (somewhere I had always wanted to go). Once I arrived to my host family my host mother, Elisabeth, greeted me with a tremendous Austrian hug – ha ha. She was extremely excited to meet me and it was a glorious moment. Soon after I put my luggage in my room, my host dad started up his grill and we had a barbeque (here it’s called Grillen. We had Kotelett, Spiess, and Wurst for dinner. It was incredibly good.

I managed to adjust to the time after one day which was good. The next day, I woke up and went on a bike ride with my host parents to get to know the neighborhood. On the way I met one of my host mother’s sisters, Elcha. There I was introduced and we chit-chatted, and we also had Schaumrolle made by her. They are tasty, crispy rolls filled with a sweet cream. Riedau is a small town and it’s quaint. It’s exactly how I like things. The days don’t go too fast; they go at the pace that I like. It’s a wonderful sensation.

Later that day, I met my Host Mother’s other sister, Kirsten. There, I had the pleasure of tasting Austrian pizza. It was tasty. My host parents and their family also asked me if I eat chili and said yes. They told me they had some incredibly spicy chili and then asked me if I wanted to try it. Naturally I did, and they were surprised that I put a lot on it because for them it’s incredibly spicy and for me it was like strong pepper. They were surprised.

THE AUTHOR (center) with host parents Christian and Elisabeth Aigner

The next day I managed to organize some of my belongings because I was going to go to language camp in two days for two weeks. After, I did that I went shopping at the local grocery store, Uni-Markt, with my host mother and younger host brother, Niklas. The store was small, but it was packed with a lot of local merchandise. After that I helped my host mother sort all of the merchandise.

I was lucky that I brought my hand-held video game system because my younger host brother likes to play games. We played some Mario Kart for about an hour which was fun, because my other two host brothers also joined in. The next day my host mother asked me if I wanted to go a wedding. I said I wanted to go, and so we went. The wedding was in Willibald.

It was a wonderful wedding because it was the first European church I had been to. The architecture in it was amazing because it was built in the Gothic period. Later in the day, my host parents and I went to Schärding to meet my host counselor, Klaus. He’s the manager at a sports clothing store. He’s a very nice man, and we discussed with my host parents all the Rotary information.

  After these few days of getting to know my host family I was ready to head off for two weeks to language camp. Before be we left to Altmünster, my host father made Weiner Schnitzel. I saw the process to make it and it was fun to learn. After we had the Weiner Schnitzel we headed off to camp. The drive was two hours long and I took a small snooze 30 minutes before we arrived.

At the camp exchange students trickled in, I was one of the first ones to arrive. There were people from all over the globe. I met students from different parts of the United States:  Canada, Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, and Taiwan. We were a big group of exchange students – 70 altogether. We outnumbered the group that was already there by 50.

I also met two exchange students from California. One of them is Carley Barrett from Benicia the other one is Mark Heisinger from Lake Tahoe. We got along pretty well. Throughout the two weeks I shared a room with three other boys: Juan from Ecuador, Giovanni and Juarez from Brazil.

I also managed to befriend all the other exchange students with great success. The next day we started German lessons. There were six classes: four beginner, one intermediate, and one advanced. I was in the beginner class. Class started off slow because our teachers had to assess at what level we all were so during the first few days kids were floating in and out of class. I was able to switch out to intermediate, but I decided to stay in my class because I didn’t want to overwhelm myself.

In the end my class was the Beginner+/Intermediate class, which was a good thing.

Also, the lake in Altmünster was gorgeous. I swam in it a few times, hiked the area most of the times and also explored Gmunden, the next town over. Later in the week the group of students went on a hike to see Altmünster from the top of a hill. In short it was one of the most beautiful vistas I have seen.

The exchange students also went to the Rotary Club of Gmunden to meet the president and club. The club put on a special presentation of a special military unit for ceremonies, the club president had a Napoleonic-era cannon to be shot into the lake. It was an awesome sight.

  On August 19th we were taken to the oldest salt mines in the world in Halstatt. I was one of the most excited students there because I’m an avid fan of geological terrain. It was an amazing experience to be in those mines and it was at a cool temperature. I was disappointed because there was no place where I could go and extract minerals, but I still managed to buy some Rose Salt at the gift shop, though.

Once we were done in the mines we hike town to the town in Halstatt which is a nice tourist town. There I played giant chess with one of my friends Joel. I found out that China loves Halstatt so much that they made an exact replica of it in China. On the last Saturday at camp we were treated to a special concert by an amazing choir in a church. I think I can say that I will never hear something that angelic again. Before the concert the students were told that we had to organize a talent show and I participated which was nerve wracking, and all the students got to see the cool talents all the others have which was nice.

After leaving language camp and saying goodbye to the others it was time to head back home. Once, home I managed to finally get fully acquainted with my host family. By this time one of my host brother’s, Jakob, had left a few days prior to start his exchange in Mexia, Texas. The past few days have been fun, I have already biked to many places on my own so I can memorize the area. It’s a wonderful place where I’m at because it’s one big back road. That’s what I love. I have also, driven with my host parents everywhere they have gone and I have recently gone to Linz, the capital of Upper Austria. Then on the first of September my town had its annual Trachtenball which enabled me to wear my first Leder Hosen. They are quite comfortable. All in all I am content in Austria. It’s completely different and I love it. I have pictures posted on my blog for viewing at:


I’m extremely grateful of having had this opportunity granted to me. This has been one of my goals since I was little to be living in a different country and I wasn’t thinking of even doing this after high school, but I’m glad that I did. Thank you all for reading.

  You can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper. It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to FreeTrial@news-ledger.com (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

New bowling league for seniors


There’s a new bowling league for those age 55+ at Capitol Bowl, 900 West Capitol Avenue in West Sacramento.

Bowlers of all skill levels are welcome; scores are handicapped. Cost is about $10 per week, and play is at 1 p.m. on Tuesdays. Teams of four can be all male, all female, or mixed.

For more information call either 530-753-5369 or 530-668-9559.

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Oleg Maskaev: running for city council


  Editor’s note: During every West Sacramento election cycle, we invite each of the candidates for city council and school board to sit down for an interview to be published in the News-Ledger. On Oct. 3, we published the following interview with Oleg Maskaev. 

By Steve Marschke, News-Ledger Editor

Oleg Maskaev brings a measure of celebrity to this year’s West Sacramento City Council race. He’s the lone challenger to incumbents Bill Kristoff and Oscar Villegas. He’s also a former WBC heavyweight champion.

OLEG MASKAEV: former heavyweight champ hopes to earn a seat on West Sacramento's city council (News-Ledger photo)

Maskaev beat Hasim Rahman in the boxing ring in 2006 to earn his heavyweight title, defending it successfully later that year against Peter Okhello. At 43, he still trains (albeit at a less-strenuous level) and he plans a few more fights before hanging up the gloves. But Maskaev’s name is already well-known in sporting circles and among the Russian community worldwide.

Still, the boxer says he’s also the same “simple man” who used to work in a coal mine in Kazakhstan, a republic that used to be part of the Soviet Union.

“Everbody says ‘Oleg is a superstar,’” Maskaev told the News-Ledger. “But I’m still a very simple man. I’m still that young guy working in the mine, running in the streets and playing soccer.”

Maskaev met a reporter for an interview this week, in a meeting set up by his campaign manager, David Joyce, and also attended by his campaign videographer. He recounted how he came to be living in Southport with a great boxing career behind him.

“I worked in a mine,” he said. “My father was the boss. What happened was, I almost got killed. . . I was lucky. The wagon, which weighed close to 7,000 pounds, went down while I was working down there. I was cleaning the rails. When I saw it coming, I just jumped aside. For five minutes, I couldn’t talk. People up there were saying ‘Oleg, Oleg, are you OK?”

When his father learned of the near miss, he pulled Maskaev from the mine.

  The younger Maskaev developed a successful amateur boxing career while attending a university.

“Because of boxing, I had lots of privileges,” he recalled. “I didn’t have to go every day to college, because I was training. . . (but) I studied very hard, I passed the tests.”

He earned degrees in engineering and in a subject similar to physical education.

Then Maskaev accidentally lost his amateur status after fighting a pro. But he won that fight — which led to a phone call from New York asking him to come fight professionally. That was in 1994.

Now, the 43-year old prizefighter lives in Southport with his wife and four kids. How did he end up in West Sacramento? The answer lies partly in the town’s thriving Russian community.

“I’d been in West Sacramento a number of times (before moving here) because of my friends,” said Maskaev. “I fought a couple of times in Reno. All my fans in West Sacramento came to watch. I fell in love with the city. It was beautiful, nice, because of the nature, fishing and hunting. And because of the weather – New York is a little cold.”

He moved to the city in 2006.

Why is he running for council?

“I love the community, the city and the people,” Maskaev answered. “(There are) very nice people – I have lots of friends here.” But:

“Some things have to be changed. I know people can trust me. I’m a very easy going man. I can sit down and talk to people.”

Maskaev said he was encouraged to run from both within West Sacramento and from outside. His campaign manager supports conservative Republicans, and Maskaev said his Republican affiliation is important to him in this campaign.

“It’s very important, because I love my family, I love my church and the city,” he commented.

  The local Russian Baptist church has taken a stand against gay marriage. Are social issues like this part of the local campaign?

“I was raised in a hardworking family,” he said. “I was raised to love people and not hate them. When we’re united, we can help each other. Hate has nothing to do with it.”

Asked about his community service experience, Maskaev replied that he is proud to have served as a missionary, speaking to groups of people around the globe.

“It’s very important stuff,” he said. “I’ve spoken to many people. They look at you and want to see who you are inside. . . My message was that when I was young, there were two ways. We have to choose (between) the right way and the wrong way. I chose the right way.”

Maskaev is trying to unseat one of the local city council’s incumbents. How does he feel the council is doing?

“Right now, they are doing bad. There is no question.”

What are they doing wrong?

“What are they doing good right now?” he retorted. “I saw one improvement – sidewalks. That’s all. What about the rest?”

He gestured toward the storefronts in the Southport shopping center surrounding him.

“As you see here, we don’t have any businesses. All the small businesses went out. We can see a lot of spaces available. . . Over by Nugget, there was a nice karate gym. Now, it’s closed. Who’s going to get blamed? Not me – they are.”

What should the city do about the problem?

“They should allow them to come here, and help them.”

What’s the main culprit? Paperwork? Taxes?

“I think taxes,” said Maskaev. “That’s number one, right now,”

He was asked what he thought of the city’s police and fire services. Are they good?

“Not now,” answered Maskaev. “It used to be, yes, but not anymore, because of the budget.”

What can the city to do fix public safety issues?

“They can create a budget for that, (be) more flexible to have more police, more firefighters – it’s very important. Safety for the people.”

Is the city doing a good job improving flood protection?

“I think they’re doing OK. We have to work on that more. How are they doing it? They want to raise the property taxes for the people. It’s going to affect them. We’re going to see more houses (in) foreclosure. We can’t do it that way – we have to make a special source for that.”

Where should the money come from?

“First of all, I have to see my limits and fight with the limits,” he said. “When you’re a politician, for instance you’re on a council, you have to see your limits and what you can do.”

Do the city’s planning policies support good growth patterns?

“I have to see everything. I have to see all the cards and just do my best.”

Is there a role for government to get involved in assisting some development projects? Should taxpayer money sometimes play a role?

“It has to be involved all the time. . . checking every move,” said Maskaev. We can sit down and figure out which way is good for the development and help make sure it’s going to happen.”

Maskaev looks to be mounting a serious campaign. Asked about his fundraising efforts, he answered:

“It’s improving. . . I’m going to talk to the people. I’m a simple man.”

And then a small group began to assemble nearby to assist him on a door-to-door walk in West Sacramento precincts that morning. Time to go talk to some of the people.

  You can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper. It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to FreeTrial@news-ledger.com (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012


Restaurant specials on Wednesday:


From Art Schroeder, City of West Sacramento

West Sacramento’s City Council has proclaimed Wednesday, Oct. 24, as West Sacramento Food Day, in support of the local food economy and healthy eating. The day encourages the public to take advantage of the diverse eateries in West Sacramento.

In a proclamation approved by the City Council Oct. 17, the City of West Sacramento endorses Food Day in the interest of health and the community’s well-being. Safe, healthy diets are a key factor in improving the overall health of citizens. The Food Day also supports the local economy, bringing attention to sustainable family farms and the local agriculture.

The City Council also has a goal of promoting West Sacramento as a food industry hub, with research, distribution, and consumption as essential ingredients of a vital, local economy.

The participating West Sacramento restaurants on Food Day include:

The Eatery, Pooja Indian Grill, Sal’s Tacos, Tsuki Sushi, Vientiane Restaurant, and Wicked West Pizza & BBQ. The list is available at the City of West Sacramento’s website business page: www.cityofwestsacramento.org/business .

On Oct. 24, eat locally for special dishes and discounts. No coupon is needed. Simply mention “West Sacramento Food Day.”

The National Food Day, also scheduled for Oct. 24, was created last year by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, along with over 50 food-related, non-profit and national organizations. The day promotes a nationwide movement in support of healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. For more about National Food Day, visit www.foodday.org .

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Food trucks bring their flavors to WS

A crowd gathers as Sacramento-area food trucks set up camp on the riverfront at River Walk Park, West Sacramento. It was this city's first-ever organized food truck event. (Photo by SAM URREA for the News-Ledger))


By Sam Urrea
News-Ledger Correspondent

The city of West Sacramento enjoyed its first ever “food truck rodeo” festivity at the River Walk Park on September 29, resulting in an apparent success.

Organized by Sacramento Mobile Food, nicknamed “Sactomofo,” the event held more than 20 mobile food vendors from 11 a.m to 7 p.m. There was live music as well.
Dave Feldpausch, a vendor of craft-made popsicles and an associate of “Sactomofo,” expressed his satisfaction at the success of the event.

“I sold out most of my popsicles,” he said. “It was a very productive day. This place is lovely. We’re right next to the river and the atmosphere is just fun,” he said.

The owner of the “Dave’s Dawgs” food car, Dave Clover, shared that view.

  “This is our first time here in West Sacramento, and probably won’t be our last,” said Clover. “Being next to the river is a huge attraction and I am not surprised at the amount of people that turned out today.”

Sactomofo schedules weekly events all around Sacramento and obtains its sponsors and music from online marketing such as Facebook and Twitter.  They also sponsor sporting events, conventions and food-centric events for residents giving them a chance to please their tastes from a variety of associated mobile food vendors.

Founder Josh Lurie-Terrel was delighted to host the event in West Sacramento and seemed pleasantly surprised at the popularity of it.

“A lot of people are here today. This is the best spot we’ve ever had the chance to be by, so we will definitely be back,” he said.

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Meet Coby Pizotti, school board candidate

  EDITOR’S NOTE: Every election cycle in West Sacramento, the News-Ledger invites each candidate for a sit-down interview. The below interview was published in the News-Ledger edition of Sept. 26, 2012. In it, we talk to Coby Pizotti, a candidate for one of three available seats on the school board for Washington Unified School District. If you’re not already a News-Ledger subscriber, look for the special offer following the interview.

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

Coby Pizotti is a relative newcomer to West Sacramento. He and his wife put roots down in the city’s Bridgeway Island area in 2009.

“My daughter was born in March,” Pizotti told the News-Ledger. “That’s actually the reason I decided to run for school board. I wanted to ensure that by the time she goes to public school – and she will go to public school – she will have a school system able to deliver a top-notch education.”

COBY PIZOTTI: challenger for a seat on the WUSD board of trustees in West Sacramento (News-Ledger photo)

Pizotti, 41, is a lobbyist for the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians. A native of Castro Valley and Hayward, he attended Chico State before getting a degree in government from Sacramento State. He has worked for Democrats in the legislature (including Speakers Fabian Nunez and Herb Wesson) and for organized labor, including the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association.

“I believe that the school board should have an advocate who has relationships with members of the legislature,” he said. “That could benefit the board, to have direct access to some of the state’s politicians.”

Has Pizotti been involved in West Sacramento and the Washington Unified School Disrtict before becoming a candidate?

“I have friends at the West Sacramento Recreation Center,” he answered. “I’ve been brainstorming with the basketball coach at River City High to come up with some ideas on how to fundraise for the boys basketball team. I haven’t really had the opportunity to get as involved as I’d like. But I believe my experience will help the school district.”

Has he been observing board meetings?

  “I’ve seen two of them in person and watched one or two on (cable) TV,” said Pizotti. “I think the (current) board is relatively functional in terms of the direction it’s going. They’ve laid down some strict guidelines on what they want to see, and that has resulted in the dramatic increases in the API scores (student test scores) in the past two years. That’s huge.”

What sort of financial shape is Washington Unified School District in?

“The district is in good shape because they’ve taken steps to ensure they have a surplus that’s essentially a rainy day fund,” he answered.

But if the governor’s Proposition 30 doesn’t pass in November, WUSD will – like other districts – have more financial problems. Pizotti urges a “yes” on 30 in November, and a “no” on Molly Munger’s Prop. 32.

Proposition 30 is Jerry Brown’s attempt to close the state budget shortfall, and includes some tax increases.

“For Prop. 30, I’ve helped raise $300,000,” said Pizotti. He was cautiously optimistic that it would pass.

Pizotti explained what he thought his job would be if elected:

“I believe a board member is responsible for setting policy and getting the schools going in the direction they would like to see. It’s the administrators and superintendent who implement those policies. The school board members are responsible, I believe, for listening to their constituents, hearing what students need to be successful, and reaching out to parents to get them more involved.”

“I believe test scores are on the rise,” Pizotti added. “I think the superintendent has done a good job implementing the programs that have increased the scores.”

But “you don’t get tested on vocational education, you don’t get tested on the arts.” So testing isn’t everything, he said.

Pizotti believes that sports helped “helped put me where I am today,” teaching him discipline and team play. And sports, like other extracurricular activities, are vital in the schools.

“Not everyone’s destined for college. We need to prepare students as best we can to find the jobs they want to find,” he said. “And if you have a child involved extracurricular anything, whether it’s debate, band, sports, or clubs, you’re going to have a child that has something to do and is learning a concept like teamwork and the importance of competition and discipline.”

Pizotti isn’t a fan of charter schools.

“In general, I don’t like charter schools,” he explained. “I will not work to eliminate the ones we have, and I will support the kids there. But I will not vote to approve new charter schools. Charter schools take away from the majority of kids at public schools.”


“You can’t run a school like you do a Walmart. While most (charter schools) are nonprofit, there’s a kind of model most charter schools go by, where they don’t have to uphold contracts with labor (unions) to uphold certain standards. And many times, students don’t get the (socioeconomic) diversity they need.”

If the district gets more funding, Pizotti would certainly like to support extracurricular activities and sports. What else?

“Next thing is to hire more guidance counselors,” he said. “Guidance counselors are an integral part of the educational system. Teachers can’t always know what’s going on in the student’s homes. Could it be that mom and dad work three jobs to put food on the table? Or mom and dad are absent? Guidance counselors are the right people to identify these problems.”

They’re also in a prime spot to interrupt bullying, said Pizotti.

If elected, he hopes to create an advisory panel at each school.

“They’d be comprised of staff, parents and teachers,” he said. “They’d report to me and discuss what they need to produce a better educational experience, and produce a happier learning environment for the child.”

And he would like to “work with the police department to create more patrols of our campuses.”

“If Prop. 30 does not pass, I would like to work with W.S.P.D. to create volunteer policing on our campuses – teach people how to report what they see as suspicious. Use retirees and stay-at-home parents.”

Pizotti believes this year’s school board campaign will be vigorously fought. With a fundraising target of $20,00 for his own campaign, he believes he’s a contender to win. He hasn’t got an endorsement from any current board members, but just announced the endorsement of Assemblyman Roger Dickinson.

  You can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper. It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to FreeTrial@news-ledger.com (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

The City of West Sac wants you:


The City of West Sacramento is recruiting citizens to serve on various commissions, overseeing topics such as agriculture and natural resources; arts, culture and historic preservation; the city appeals process; aging; disaster preparedness; economic development; housing; parks and community services; and planning issues.

For more information or an application, visit www.cityofwestsacramento.org or go to city hall, 1110 West Capitol Avenue, third floor. You may also call City Clerk Kryss Rankin at 617-4500.

Copyright News-Ledger 2012