Tag Archives: press

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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Holidays bring Bruce Williams to mind

NEWS-LEDGER — NOV 26, 2014 —

  Note: Someone once said that as long as we are remembered, we really never die, and the following column, which was written more than two decades ago, is reprinted below in memory of Bruce Williams, a longtime friend, and a very special West Sacramentan:

BY DARYL FISHER, News-Ledger Features Editor

BY DARYL FISHER, News-Ledger Features Editor

The Thanksgiving holiday means different things to different people. For my parents, it’s a time to get together with all their kids and grandchildren for a big turkey dinner out at my uncle’s house in Davis; for my oldest son, it means his birthday is only a few hours away; for my other two sons, it means a glorious week off from school; and for my wife and daughter, it means cheerfully sorting through a bejillion newspaper ads in search of slashed prices and potential Christmas presents.

For a number of years, though, Thanksgiving weekend has also meant that it was time for me to get off my duff and help out with the setting up of the West Sacramento Little League Christmas tree lot.

There has been a WSLL Christmas tree lot ever since I can remember. For years, it was the league’s most important fundraiser, and countless West Sacramentans have participated in going up to the snowline on Thanksgiving weekend to truck back the trees and set up the lot. Hundreds more have volunteered their time to help sell the trees, usually signing up for one or more nights during the Christmas season to watch over the lot and assist customers in locating the perfect tree for them.

Most of the people who have spent a number of years working at the WSLL Christmas tree lot will tell you that it quickly turns into a labor of love. In fact, I know of nothing which puts one into the Christmas spirit faster than an evening of assisting young boys and girls hunt for that one special tree, which, when located, so obviously belongs in their home.

During those years when I spent a number of late-November and early-December evenings at the lot, there was always one person I could count on to help me out on short notice. I would often phone him on a Friday or Saturday night and plead with him to replace someone who had plans they just couldn’t cancel.

“You don’t have to beg me, Fish,” Bruce Williams would say, using an old childhood nickname he knew I hated. “You know I love selling them Christmas trees.”

I would thank him profusely and then yell, “And stop calling me Fish!”

When Bruce arrived at the Christmas tree lot, he would always be properly outfitted for the occasion. Unlike me, who could never remember to bundle up and wear gloves, Bruce was an experienced outdoorsman and he would always stroll in decked out like he was going on a camping trip to the Himalayas. While I would jump up and down in my windbreaker and blow on my hands in an unsuccessful effort to stay warm, he would happily wander all around the lot, talking to just about everyone and anyone (Bruce always loved to `visit’) who walked through the gate, obviously enjoying himself and snug as a bug in a rug in his thick down jacket.

When the customers would finally begin to thin out, we would often stand around and talk for hours about the good old days, when growing up in West Sacramento seemed so uncomplicated. For most of the years of our youth, Bruce and I lived only a couple of blocks away from each other, he on Rockrose Road and me on Michigan Boulevard. We started high school at James Marshall together in 1961 (by the way, Bruce was voted the best looking boy in the entire school in our senior year) and we were in countless classes together. Later on we coached our sons together in Little League and our shared memories stretched all the way back to neighborhood garage dances, choosing each other on the same pickup teams in P.E., getting bad grades from the same teachers, and even dating some of the same girls.

As the nights at the Christmas tree lot would get late, Bruce and I would almost always get around to swapping war stories about Vietnam. He’d tell me about some of the hot LZ’s he had flown into and describe some of the many exotic places he had seen during his travels with the United States Air Force, and I would brag about the little First Infantry Division aero rifle platoon that had been my faraway home for that long ago year. The night would fly by and I would always leave the lot grateful that after all these many years, Bruce Williams was still my friend.

Bruce has been gone for a little over six months now, and for all those many people whose lives he touched (including my daughter and oldest son, who have long been convinced that Bruce Williams was the nicest guy in West Sacramento), this  will be their first Christmas without him. It’s not going to be easy for any of us, especially for Penny and their boys, Jason and Ryan, but in this special season of thanksgiving, how thankful I am for all my memories of Bruce, and especially for those chilly laugh-filled nights together at the West Sacramento Little League Christmas tree lot.
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Copyright News-Ledger 2014

Contracting license sting leads to charges against 12 in West Sac

NEWS-LEDGER — NOV 26, 2014 —

State officials conducted a sting operation Nov. 5-6 to catch people violating contractor laws. A total of 112 people may face criminal charges resulting from the sting, reports the California State License Board (CSLB).

The sting took place in seven cities — including West Sacramento, where ten people were cited and another two will face felony charges for using another person’s contractor’s license.

“Several of the suspects we targeted turned out to be repeat offenders and criminals with a history of violent crimes and drug violations,” said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands in a press release. “If you knew their backgrounds, you’d never allow them into your home.”

Investigators called unlicensed operators and obtained home improvement bids on projects that included painting, landscaping, tree removal, drywall work, fencing and other work. Some of the suspects were targeted because they had advertised on the Craigslist internet site.

The sting was an attempt to catch some of them practicing contracting without a license. The penalty for conviction is up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

Many of the suspects will also be charged with illegal advertising, for not including a license number in their ads. Contractors without a license can still bid on jobs valued at less than $500, but their ad must state that they are not a licensed contractor.

Seven of the suspects used contractor’s license numbers belonging to “legitimate” contractors, reports the CSLB.

The board urges customers to check up on the licensing of potential contractors by visiting www.cslb.ca.gov or calling 800-321-2757. The website also contains tips for consumers.

Copyright News-Ledger 2014

Hundreds get help at ‘giveaway day’

Moises Castillo, a second grade student from Bridgeway Elementary School, volunteered to help give away clothes at the Children's Alliance 8th Annual Community Give-Away Day (Photo by Lori Aldrete)

Moises Castillo, a second grade student from Bridgeway Elementary School, volunteered to help give away clothes at the Children’s Alliance 8th Annual Community Give-Away Day (Photo by Lori Aldrete)

NEWS-LEDGER — NOV 26, 2014 —

From Lori Aldrete
Aldrete Communications
for the Yolo County Children’s Alliance

It’s a long way from Detroit to West Sacramento.  But for 37-year-old Latina Taylor and her daughter Jamaica Rayne, a student at Westfield Village Elementary, they are feeling the love of the West Sacramento community and the Yolo County Children’s Alliance.

As Latina collected her free turkey dinner, a blanket, toys for “Maka”, and clothes for herself and her mom, she repeated over and over, “Thank you.  Thank you!” to the volunteers helping more than 600 people needing a helping hand at the 8th Annual West Sacramento Community Give-Away Day on Saturday, November 22 at Westfield Village Elementary School.

Life hasn’t been easy for Latina the past few years as the single mom gave up her dream of finishing college at Sacramento State to care for her 6-year-old daughter with serious health issues.  She says she feels stereotyped when people look at her “outer shell” and “Coming here today made me feel good.  I like to help people, and for people to help me right now….” She paused as tears welled up in her eyes and added, “I’m blessed, so blessed.”

Latina Taylor and her daughter Jamaica (both at right) pick up a holiday turkey at the Community Giveway Day held in West Sacramento over the weekend. (Photo by Lori Aldrete on behalf of Yolo Children’s Alliance)

Latina Taylor and her daughter Jamaica (both at right) pick up a holiday turkey at the Community Giveway Day held in West Sacramento last weekend.
(Photo by Lori Aldrete on behalf of Yolo Children’s Alliance)

Latina and Jamaica aren’t alone.  For some children it will be their only coat to keep out the winter cold.  For 400 families it now means having a real turkey dinner instead of an empty refrigerator at Thanksgiving. And for hundreds of children who may not get many holiday presents, the annual event sent them home with new toys.

Yolo County Supervisor Oscar Villegas and West Sacramento City Council member Chris Ledesma joined numerous student volunteers from River City High School to greet residents and help them navigate through the large multipurpose room and the walkways outside to fill bags full of free food, clothes, toys and blankets.

Yolo County Children’s Alliance Executive Director Katie Villegas expressed her gratitude for the many people and organizations that donated their time and resources. “We need a lot of help to make this give-away day happen.  Each donation, no matter the size, helped send someone home knowing their community cares about them.”

Thousands of dollars were donated.  Two local community leaders, Yolo County Supervisor Oscar Villegas and Marty Swingle, owner of Cap West Realty teamed up for a two-tiered match challenge that resulted in $2,000 being raised.

In addition to hundreds of small individual contributions, “YCCA Children’s Champs” Tim Stewart and Sierra Health Foundation each donated $2,500.   Dr. Dick Huang, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 447, and the Northern California Construction Training donated at the “Helping Hands” level of $250.

The community give-away was hosted by the Yolo County Children’s Alliance in partnership with the Yolo Food Bank, First 5 Yolo, West Sacramento Foundation, St. Joseph’s Mobile Mall and West Sacramento Grocery Outlet.

For more information about the event or to find out how to help with it next year, call the Yolo County Children’s Alliance at 530-757-5558 or 916-572-0560.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2014

Want to stand up for kids? Yolo CASA needs volunteers

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER of WEST SACRAMENTO —

Yolo CASA, a nonprofit that specializes in advocating for children as they spend time in the foster care system, needs new volunteers. Training provided. Successful volunteers will spend time with the child they’re paired with, talk to professionals and caregivers in that child’s life, and advocate in the court system for the child’s best interests.

Call (530) 661-4200 or email volunteer@yolocasa.org. Next training session is in the evenings, Feb. 2. Orientation is noon on Thursdays at 724 Main Street, Ste. 102 in Woodland.

Copyright News-Ledger 2014

All welcome at church’s Thanksgiving

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER —

Anyone who needs a free Thanksgiving meal is invited to First Baptist Church, 2124 Michigan Blvd. for lunch today.

Turkey and all the trimmings will be served from noon to 1:30 p.m.

The church can be reached at 371-2111.

Copyright News-Ledger 2014

‘Sport Stacking’ comes to Westfield school

Third graders at Westfield Village Elementary School intent on ‘sport stacking’ in the school auditorium Thursday morning, November 13   (News-Ledger photo)

Third graders at Westfield Village Elementary School intent on ‘sport stacking’ in the school auditorium Thursday morning, November 13
(News-Ledger photo)

NEWS-LEDGER — NOV 19, 2014 —

News-Ledger Staff

Several grades of kids at Westfield Village Elementary School took part in a ‘Sport Stacking’ exercise last week. They worked in shifts in the school auditorium, for an event that was designed as an attempt at a Guinness world record. The maker of the specially-designed “Speed Stack” cups hoped to have 600,000 people across the world doing the activity at the same time. Last year, they had 555,932.

At the Poplar Avenue school, Principal Michele Giacomini led the program, timing the kids as they reconfigured their cup stacks for speed and precision.

Copyright News-Ledger 2014