Tag Archives: sacramento

Breweries fermenting in West Sac: two mini-breweries to join Rubicon here


By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

After going many decades without a local brewery in West Sacramento, 2013 looks like a good year for beer:

Sacramento’s Rubicon Brewery continues to assemble its new production facility near Ikea. It will start producing styles perhaps including its “Monkey Knife Fight Pale Ale” sometime this summer, reports majority owner Glynn Phillips.

And at least two more craft brewers plan to start on a smaller scale, artfully combining water, malted grain, hops and yeast in smaller breweries in the city’s Industrial Boulevard area.

On tap for one of those locations is Jackrabbit Brewing Co., courtesy of Ed Esten and partners. Edsten has some experience with microbrews.

“I had a small brewery back in 2000-2001 in Woodland,” he said. “The other (partners) are all avid homebrewers and beer aficionados. We’re hoping and planning to open in mid-summer. We’re all bringing our skills.”

Edsten’s Woodland operation was called Edsten Brewing Company.

The new brewery will be a bit bigger, with “five barrel” capacity (about 155 gallons at a time).

“We intend to focus on Belgian, British and German styles. We plan to be a brewery only, without any beer served on premises.”

Partly for that reason, he asked to keep the exact location confidential for the moment.

Elsewhere in the same neighborhood, though, is the new “Bike Dog” brewery, already with an avid following on Facebook and with plans to have a tasting room as well as on-site brewery.

  Co-owner A.J. Tendick met with the News-Ledger recently at Bike Dog’s space at 2534 Industrial Boulevard, near Stone Blvd. The warehouse-like unit was still largely empty and unfinished. Blue tape marked the planned locations of the cooler (to hold kegs), brewing equipment and other gear.

“By state and local statute, a brewery is allowed to sell their own brew directly, so we plan to have a tasting room up front, with a small production facility in back.” said Tendick, standing next to a “temporary” plywood bar. He’s a homebrewer who has dabbled in helping out some acquaintances in the industry.

“One of the other partners and I have been brewing together for about five years, and he was brewing for years beyond that,” he said.

“We’re sort of in this newer wave of breweries. . . that have started calling themselves ‘nanobrewers.’ We’re going to be at the small end of that, with six kegs, or three barrels or about 90 gallons (of capacity),” said Tendick.

He expects Bike Dog to emphasize kegs rather than bottles.

“On a scale this small, we won’t have any trouble selling a few kegs. The craft beer scene is getting pretty good in Sacramento. If the brewer is any good, the best beer is local beer, because it doesn’t always travel well. One of the other things we can do here is sell beer to go in a half-gallon ‘growler.’”

There are four partners, who know each other through their workplace, a regional government agency. Pete Atwood will probably be the primary brewer, although others will help, said Tendick.

“At this kind of scale, we all are assuming we’re going to keep our day jobs for many a year,” he added.

Some of the funding is coming from “crowd sourcing”:

“We’re funded well to get open and to do the bare minimum of a tasting room, but we really would like to make it a much nicer space, and we’d like to do that without waiting for beer sales to pay for it.”

So they’ve created a “Founders Union” to bring in small investments.

“You get some free beer on Fridays, and some schwag, and at higher levels you get your name on one of the seats that will eventually be here.”

What kind of beer will they brew?

“Pete and I are kind of unrepentant ‘hop heads,’” answered Tendick, referring to some purposely aggressive brews now in fashion. “We’re a fan of West Coast IPAs (India Pale Ales) and variations of that. It’s definitely the fastest-growing style and that bodes well for us. Pete’s a big fan of the Belgians, English beer, Irish stouts, that kind of thing.   We’re going to plan to open with two, to keep it simple and get our feet underneath us.”

Tendick said Bike Dog chose West Sacramento partly because some properties are zoned by the city specifically to be friendly to breweries.

Where did the name “Bike Dog” come from?

“One of our partners is kind of an outlier, but the rest of us own dogs and ride bikes – before I had a baby, I rode fanatically. If you look around, a lot of beer names have something to do with bikes or something to do with dogs. We just looked at each other and said ‘let’s put them together! Bike Dog!’”

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Copyright News-Ledger 2013

Typing ‘Rivercats’ may cost you a buck


With baseball season getting underway, we just received this missive from the front office of the Sacramento River Cats here in West Sacramento. No doubt, there’s a degree of “tongue in cheek” going on here. The press release follows:

“You’ve been warned: the moniker ‘River Cats’ is comprised of two words, with a capital ‘R’ and a capital ‘C.’ Effective immediately, all members of the local and national media, River Cats corporate partners, full- or part-time River Cats staff, and season, flex, and mini-plan ticket holders will be fined $1 for spelling ‘River Cats’ incorrectly.

“All money collected will go to the River Cats Foundation, which has contributed more than $1.5 million in cash and $16.2 million in in-kind donations to the greater Sacramento community since 2000.

“The Sacramento River Cats franchise is one of the most well-known teams in professional baseball, in spite of the relative obscurity of river cats themselves (apologies to Dinger). However, even after 11 division championships, four PCL championships, and two Triple-A National Championships, the name is consistently misrepresented at the local and national level.

“For clarification, the following are incorrect iterations of the name ‘River Cats,’ and therefore subject to the $1 fine:

— Rivercats

— RiverCats

— rivercats

— river cats

” Twitter mentions, text messages, and handwritten notes are the lone exceptions to this mandate. Intra- and interoffice email correspondences to and from River Cats staff are subject to the fine, as are television graphics, print media references, and Facebook posts.

“Any questions or complaints regarding this new policy can be directed to the River Cats media relations department.”

Copyright News-Ledger (note: that’s not “news ledger”) 2013

With its back to the wall, port tries a new business plan

VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE of a ship docked at the Port of West Sacramento, looking north towards a peninsula that is home to local recreational boaters (News-Ledger file photo)

VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE of a ship docked at the Port of West Sacramento, looking northwest towards a peninsula that is home to local recreational boaters (News-Ledger file photo)


Local leaders say turnaround hasn’t come & it’s time to change business model

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

With the “B-word” – bankruptcy – returning to conversations about the Port of West Sacramento in recent months, the port’s governing board last Wednesday adopted a business plan that calls for a major change in strategy.

“We’re proposing that the port shift to a different focus – that would be a ‘landlord’ basis,” West Sacramento City Manager Martin Tuttle told the port’s governing commission. The commission then listened to a presentation from city staffer Aaron Laurel detailing a 22-point action plan that called for reducing overhead and maximizing income from the port’s landholdings.

Staffers hope the new plan will stop the bleeding. The port has shown annual deficits of about $821,000 to $1.48 million (33 percent to 43 percent of revenue) during the past six years, often backfilled by one-time land sales and by support from the now-disbanded city redevelopment agency.

“There’s a tremendous financial risk to the city right now, given the port’s financial situation,” said Laurel, an economic development manager for the city.

West Sacramento took over majority control of the port in 2006 – the last time the facility faced bankruptcy fears. The half-century old port was originally created by a governing district consisting of all of Sacramento County plus eastern Yolo County, with most of the governing board members appointed by the City and County of Sacramento. It was called the “Port of Sacramento.” With the port in financial trouble and a lack of regional will and resources to fix the problem, Sacramento agreed to divest most of its interest, and it then became the “Port of West Sacramento.”

  Laurel told the port commission Wednesday that, despite a number of promising business ventures, the facility’s cargo still lacks diversity (rice shipping is the mainstay) and revenues are still short.

Fixing the problem starts with cutting costs.

“The number-one recommendation in this category is to implement administrative cost reductions,” said Laurel, “and to move staff currently at the port over to the public works department. There is an impact to the City.”

Laurel said the plan would move the duties and costs of some port personnel to the city, and make other changes saving around $600,000 per year.

Another major part of the plan is to stop directly operating the port’s terminals – instead leasing the North Terminal facility to a cargo handler, and exchanging the vagaries of cargo revenue for the stability of a rent check from the new tenant. Staff hope to find a new terminal tenant within the next few months, preserving the port’s role as a rice shipper in the process. Rice handling brings in about $2 million annually.

The strategy also calls for maximizing the potential of other property, including the 270-acre Seaway project in Southport. This is “arguably the Port’s most valuable and promising long-term asset,” said the city staff report. The port will need to work with city government to find ways to upgrade infrastructure at Seaway and other port properties in order to ready it for development, the report added.

The port should also explore marketing some of its unused Delta properties, including Prospect Island and Decker Island, as “habitat mitigation” projects for developers.

Michael McGowan, West Sacramento's Yolo County Supervisor and chairman of the port commission (courtesy photo)

Michael McGowan, West Sacramento’s Yolo County Supervisor and chairman of the port commission (courtesy photo)

Listening to the business plan’s bullet points were port commission members Bill Kristoff, Oscar Villegas and Mark Johannessen (all West Sacramento city council members) along with Mayor Christopher Cabaldon and the commission’s chairman, Yolo County Supervisor Mike McGowan.

Their response was earnest and supportive.

Johannessen noted that the plan calls for continuing to find money to deepen the port’s shipping canal to allow larger ships and heavier loads.

“We’re at 30 feet, and 35 feet is where about 80 percent of the world’s fleet is,” he said. “It’s going to take a sustained effort to do that (deepening).”

Kristoff seconded an effort to diversify cargo, noting that “I know we’ve said it before – but it’s something that can really happen at the port.”

He also approved of the plan to keep working on creating a “marine highway,” connecting this port to other regional ports using containers and barges on the waterways.

The status quo hasn’t been good enough, noted Villegas, who was also supportive of the new strategy.

“This organization – our city, our port – it just doesn’t work,” he said. “We’ve given it our best shot, and it’s clear it doesn’t work.”

Referring to the reorganization around 2006, Cabaldon echoed that point.

“This is extraordinarily serious,” said the mayor. “All of us were, one way or another, involved the last time we had a set of recommendations. . . which didn’t happen. We failed miserably.”

“We are at a point where if we don’t have an option that will work for sure, we are facing the option of closing,” he said.

Cabaldon said that, with or without federal funding, it was “necessary for the long-term certainty of the port” that it find a way to deepen the canal. He urged the board to stiffen the recommendation in the new plan both to find a way to pay for the channel work and to make the “marine highway” real.

Cabaldon also asked staff to see if the former partners in the port – the city and county of Sacramento – would be willing to untie the port’s hands some more by dropping the agreement they negotiated when they gave up control. The agreement includes a number of inconvenient provisions, reported Laurel. It also reserved the right for Sacramento to share in certain newly-generated revenues if they were to occur.

The rest of the commission agreed.

Chairman McGowan noted one other complaint, in an apparent reference to the waiting list new members face when trying to get into the Lake Washington Outboard Club, which leases land at the port.

“Since we’re no longer a regional facility and we’re a local facility, I’d like to revisit why we have non-district residents who are members of the boat club,” said McGowan. “I have some ‘homeboys’ who can’t get in because of somebody from Carmichael.”

The West Sacramento Chamber of Commerce submitted a letter of support for the new port business plan. A representative from the local longshoremen’s and warehouseman’s union expressed concern about preserving union rights as port property was repackaged for lease to a private operator, but did not otherwise oppose it. (Several local unions did fight the transition from regional control of the port to local control around seven years ago.)

The port commission approved the new business plan – with a few modifications – by unanimous vote.

“Hopefully, it’s the last time we have to do a plan like this for many years,” commented McGowan.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2013

Woman apparently drowns in car while calling 911 for help

NEWS-LEDGER — MARCH 20, 2013 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

A West Sacramento woman called 911 as her car went into the river on the morning of March 13, but rescuers weren’t able to locate the sinking car until it was too late.

The woman was identified as Mussarat Parveen Chaudhary, 58.

According to various media reports, Chaudhary was driving her Toyota Camry back from a job at Cache Creek Casino Resort shortly after 8:10 a.m. She phoned her daughter to say the car’s brakes weren’t working properly. The call disconnected, but Chaudhary then called 911 to report – speaking Punjabi – that the car was in the river. Dispatchers scrambled to find a translator.

  The West Sacramento Fire Department reports that a rescue boat and fire crews joined the CHP and Yolo County sheriff’s department, responding to the Elkhorn area north of West Sacramento.

“In route, dispatch advised all units that the driver of the vehicle was talking to dispatch as the vehicle was sinking,” said a fire department press release.

Firefighters couldn’t see the car, but borrowed a private boat and started searching. Firefighters in “dry suits” also went into the river.

At about 10 a.m., with no sign of the victim’s car, the operation went from “rescue” mode to “recovery” mode. Fire crews left the scene while CHP and DART (the Drowning and Accident Rescue Team divers) kept looking.

“Ultimately, the vehicle was located and a body was recovered approximately six hours later and ¼ mile downstream by DART,” said the fire department.

Copyright News-Ledger 2013