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My commencement advice? Go forth, grads — but first, lose those saggy pants

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — JUNE 5, 2013 —

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wanted to give one of those high school graduation commencement speeches. You know, where you put on a cap and gown and stand up in front of a whole graduating class and tell them what you think they need to know about life and how they should go about having a good one. But the last time I did any public speaking my daughter told me my nose twitched the whole time from being nervous, so I probably wouldn’t make much of a commencement speaker. Anyway, it’s still fun to think about what I would like to tell a gymnasium full of graduating high school seniors who weren’t allowed to leave until I was through, and I think it would go something like this:

Let me begin my remarks this evening with some long ago words from Socrates: “Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners and contempt for authority. They show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents and chatter before company. They gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”

Socrates’ buddy, Plato, went ever further, writing “What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders and disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?”

And some guy named Hesiod, who lived about four centuries before Socrates and Plato were even born, threw up his hands in disgust and said, “I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words.”

So, it would seem that for as long as there has been recorded history, old people (even wise ones) have been convinced that young people were going to screw up the world as they knew it. Yet, for better or worse, the human race is still here, so young people must be doing something right.

Okay, this is the place in my speech when I am supposed to tell you to live up to your potential, follow your bliss, and make a difference in the world. But since I assume all of you will be trying to do those things, I will skip all of that and just pass along the following specific advice:

Be kind, especially to yourself. Life is a tough go and it’s really true that in the end, only kindness matters.

Be generous, with both your time and your money. You were really blessed to be born in such a free and wealthy country and you need to give back whenever possible.

Don’t suffer fools gladly, even if they are related to you. The fools of this world are full of negative energy and eager to weigh you down and make you heavy. You need to get them out of your life as soon as possible.

For all of you guys out there who have spent much of the past four years strolling through hallways and referring to the girls you passed as bitches, whores, and worse, you might want to start knocking that off, since those young girls that you so easily disrespect are soon going to be your wives and the mothers of your children. Not to mention that you might have daughters yourself someday.

  For those of you who habitually use cuss words as adjectives, know that your future employers are going to demand that you have a much better grasp of the English language. Oh, and the last I looked, there is no good-paying job on earth (unless you are really good at rapping) that will allow you to show up at the office with your pants falling off your butt.

Remember that before anything really magical can happen in your life, you have to imagine it first.

Try not to spend too much time watching the news, especially Fox News. We don’t need more Dittoheads in this world.

Make time to go down roads that go nowhere, or at least go walkabout on some of the ones that have been less traveled.

To all of you who aren’t too interested in politics, you need to be. If you don’t vote, know that those who always do are old and set in their ways and often could care less about the things that are going to shape your lives, like climate change, the cost of entitlement programs, and the global economy. Plus our elected politicians always seem to love to start new wars, and you are going to be the ones who are sent off to distant places to fight and die in them, assuming of course your generation is brave enough to insist that we stop having an all-volunteer army to do our dirty work for us.

Never stop being curious. It may kill cats, but it’s what keeps human beings truly alive and well.

For those of you who are in love with credit cards, you need to know that compound interest can be your best friend, or your very worst enemy.

Remember that life is never fair or just and that it belongs to those who are willing to risk.

And most important of all, put your computer games, iPhones, and other electronic gadgets down every now and then and look into the faces of others!

_________________

  Daryl can be reached at:
daryl@news-ledger.com

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Copyright News-Ledger 2013

 

MADD honors prosecutor, local cop

Jonathan Raven, a Yolo County Prosecutor honored by 'Mothers Against Drunk Driving.' (courtesy of Yolo County District Attorney's office)

Jonathan Raven, a Yolo County Prosecutor honored by ‘Mothers Against Drunk Driving.’ (courtesy of Yolo County District Attorney’s office)

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — JUNE 5, 2013 —

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has given its “Prosecutor of the Year” award in California to Jonathan Raven, Chief Deputy District Attorney in Yolo County. The award “is presented to one prosecutor who has made a significant impact in one or multiple cases and worked closely with MADD,” reports the office of District Attorney Jeff Reisig.

Judy Utter, a senior victim services specialist for MADD, said she saw Raven make a difference in a local case in which a family lost their daughter in a DUI accident.

“The judge was ready to let the defendant out of custody when Jonathan stood up and cited a new constitutional amendment giving victims the right to speak out at bail hearings,” said Utter, quoted by the D.A.’s office. “Jonathan spoke with me and the mom outside and the mom made a passionate statement to the judge in open court. The judge did not let the defendant out of custody.”

At the same recent award ceremony, several regional police officers were honored by MADD for fighting impaired driving. They included West Sacramento officer Matt Boudinot.

 

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Copyright News-Ledger 2013

 

Free local orchestra concert Sunday

West Sacramento Community Orchestra (News-Ledger file photo)

West Sacramento Community Orchestra (News-Ledger file photo)

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER NEWSPAPER —

The West Sacramento Community Orchestra invites you to a free concert at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 9, at the civic center galleria (1110 West Capitol). On the program are Buck’s “Festival Overture,” Fillmore’s “Lassus Trombone,” Custer’s “Star Trek Through The Years” and a tribute to Elvis by Ricketts, among other selections.

The orchestra will also play at 7:30 p.m. on June 11 at Centennial Methodist Church at 5401 Freeport Blvd., Sacramento. For information, call 991-5262.

Copyright News-Ledger 2013

West Sacramento school board plans special, strategic meeting

NEWS-LEDGER ONLINE — JUNE 7, 2013 —

West Sacramento’s public school district announced yesterday they will hold a special strategic session on Saturday. The meeting will cover “governance team building” as well as “goals, objectives, policies and priorities” for the school board and district.

The special session begins at 9 a.m. on June 8 in Room 75 at the Washington Unified School District office, 930 Westacre Road. It is a public meeting.

A facilitator from the California School Boards Association will assist the discussion.

Copyright News-Ledger 2013

Farmers market kicks of at 4:30 p.m.

Sorting through fresh cherries, West Sacramento Farmers Market on West Capitol Ave.(News-Ledger file photo, 2011)

Sorting through fresh cherries, West Sacramento Farmers Market on West Capitol Ave.(News-Ledger file photo, 2011)

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — JUNE 5, 2013 00

Today (Thursday, June 6) is opening day for the 2013 edition of the West Sacramento Farmers Market.

The market will be held Thursdays, 4:30 p.m. to dusk, on part of the street in front of city hall — 1100 West Capitol Avenue.

Opening night includes a sit-down dinner cooked up by Chef Jess Milbourn of The Eatery and City Councilman Chris Ledesma.  A portion of the proceeds goes to charity (this week, it goes to the Elderly Nutrition Program of Yolo County). The special dinner event continues the first Thursday of each month at the market.

Seating for the dinner is 100. As of Monday, reports a chamber spokesperson, some tickets were still available.

Look for tickets to the “Dig In!” dinner at www.westsacramentochamber.com/events or call 371-7042. Tickets are $40.

Special to the first night of this year’s market is the installation of a piece of large community artwork at the site. Artists Paula Wenzl Bellacera of West Sacramento and Taylor Gutermute of Sacramento have organized the project — the first part of a two-year Yolo County “Mandala” effort. Residents from age two to 90 have chipped in to create 254 individual pieces of art from local agricultural materials. The two professionals have been preparing the weavings, mosaics and paintings to come together into a ground-level work that honors the Yolo County’s agricultural heritage. The piece will be dedicated at 4:30 p.m., and will remain up near city hall “semi-permanently.”

 

  Do you like what you see here?

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  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 2013

 

Controversial, downed ‘butternut’ tree becomes West Sacramento park sculpture

KIDS TEST THE ELEPHANT SCULPTURE headed for Emile ‘Whitey’ Boisclair Park on Lake Washington Boulevard. The beast is currently waiting at a Sacramento art studio. (photo courtesy of artist Adam Bradley)

KIDS TEST THE ELEPHANT SCULPTURE headed for Emile ‘Whitey’ Boisclair Park on Lake Washington Boulevard. The beast is currently waiting at a Sacramento art studio. (photo courtesy of artist Adam Bradley)

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — MAY 29, 2013 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

From something old, something new:

Thanks to the City of West Sacramento, a Sacramento sculptor, a chainsaw, and a deal with a West Sacramento preservation group, a hunk of that old “butternut tree” removed from the Bridge District in 2010 will soon see new life in a local park.

Artist Adam Bradley has turned the chunk into the bust of an elephant, soon to be installed as a climbable play structure in a Southport park. The city has just finished soliciting bids for the installation work. Kids will begin clambering on the elephant sometime in the next few months at Emile “Whitey” Boisclair Park, 1728 Lake Washington Boulevard.

“Butternut tree” is in quotes here because, while environmentalists fought so save the big tree in the belief that it might be the largest butternut specimen in existence, city officials say it really wasn’t.  It was neither a butternut nor “a tree,” they told the News-Ledger, and it hadn’t (as some believed) been alive since the 1850s.

That is: the tree wasn’t one specimen, but three grown together, said city urban forest manager Dena Kirtley. That was apparent after the West Sacramento Conservancy lost its preservation battle and the tree was removed to make way for Bridge District development.

“You could clearly see the three trunks,” she commented last week.

Long before that, UC Davis walnut expert Chuck Leslie looked at the nuts from the tree and concluded they were “classic examples of paradox (walnut) nuts – they don’t even resemble a butternut.” The “paradox walnut” is a hybrid of black and English walnuts. The big tree didn’t have a graft line, so city officials think it grew from seeds and not from nursery stock.

The massive tree on Tower Street -- between Raley Field and the US 50 freeway bridge -- in 2010. (Photo by ERIC HARDING, www.ebharding@me.com.  The original image was stitched together from a number of smaller images)

The massive tree on Tower Street — between Raley Field and the US 50 freeway bridge — in 2010.
(Photo by ERIC HARDING, www.ebharding@me.com. The original image was stitched together from a number of smaller images)

CalTrans photos supplied by the city and the memories of a former resident near the tree site, Dale Payne, seemed to support the theory that the tree was much younger than 150 years old. So did a look at the growth rings after it was chopped, said Kirtley.

But the tree on Tower Street, just north of the US 50 bridge over the river was, by all accounts, very big.

The conservancy’s Jeri Wingfield reported in 2010:

“I went and got a long measuring tape and asked my husband Bill to help me measure it. It was something like 22 feet, four inches around.”

In any event, following a controversy argued out on both sides of the Sacramento River, the big tree came down in 2010.  But not before a legal challenge and a settlement between the City of West Sacramento and the West Sacramento Conservancy. Some of the terms of that deal:

“The city will plant 45 specimen trees (24-inch box) in heritage groves. The selection of the trees, planting sites, and planting process will be determined in consultation with the Conservancy,” a City of West Sacramento press release said at the time. “The city will install a commemorative plaque recognizing the large, hybrid butternut tree. The city will arrange to have the wood from the tree reused in a manner that respects the size and quality of the wood, including artwork, furniture and other interior decorations that can be viewed by the public. A cross-section of the tree trunk showing the rings and age of the tree will be donated to the West Sacramento Historical Society.”

The City also agreed to install a monument honoring the 1850s-era C.W. Reed nursery at the site, although officials don’t believe the big tree came from the nursery. That plaque has been designed by local artist Jahn Kloss. It hasn’t yet been installed.

The City’s Dena Kirtley said local government made several big chunks of the downed tree available to “as many local wood sculptors and artists as we could find.”

Artist Robert Beauchamp of Zamora made a “really nice bench with end tables” that will go outside the city council chambers,” she told the News-Ledger.

“Adam Bradley ended up with the very large chunk,” added Kirtley. “It was from the base of the tree, so it was pretty massive.”

That’s the one that is headed for the park playground.

“I think it was just under 5,000 pounds when I received it,” Bradley told the News-Ledger. “It probably lost 500-600 pounds of water weight (before carving).”

Why an elephant?

“He lets the wood talk to him,” said Kirtley. “We both saw the elephant, actually.”

“We looked at this piece we liked, and at the material, and imagined what it could be,” said Bradley. “It definitely had the shape of an elephant’s head. I did some drawings with an elephant’s bust in mind, and the city liked that.”

The entire elephant project – including installation – will cost about $16,000, said Kirtley. She said that is not too different from the cost of installing a play structure at a park. The carving cost was about $4,500.

“I didn’t count the specific (labor) hours,” said Bradley. “I’ve probably got about 50 hours into carving it. We used chainsaws and power tools. We sculpted it with the chainsaw and detailed it with power tools.”

Because of the elephant’s massive size and the fact that it will be mounted off the ground, Kirtley and Bradley believe it will last “for decades.” That’s even with a bunch of little kids climbing up the elephant’s trunk.

Information about Bradley’s “DAB Art Studio” in Sacramento is at dab-art.weebly.com.

The tree came because the low spot it sat in was deemed the best place for some infrastructure in the city’s Bridge District, north of the freeway.

  JERI WINGFIELD, member of the West Sacramento  Conservancy (courtesy/file photo)

JERI WINGFIELD, member of the West Sacramento
Conservancy
(courtesy/file photo)

What does the West Sacramento Conservancy think of the elephant sculpture that is coming out of the deal over the old “butternut tree”?

Member Jeri Wingfield, speaking for herself, still mourns the old tree on Tower Street.

“It was a beautiful tree, and it’s too bad it had to go, but the way the world is, you have to go with it,” she recently told the News-Ledger. “I think the City tried to make a good bargain with us. . . Having a beautiful sculpture come out of it is terrific.”

   Do you like what you see here?

  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 2013

 

Help name a new city park

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER —

Do you know someone or something worth honoring through the naming of a local park?

The City of West Sacramento is accepting nominations for a name to attach to a new park to be built at the confluence of West Capitol, Evergreen and Sycamore avenues. Name suggestions will be forwarded to the city parks commission and then the city council. Pick up a nomination form at the Parks & Recreation desk at the community center, 1075 West Capitol Avenue, or online at westsacfun.org.

Turn it in at the community center desk by 5 p.m. on June 21.

Copyright News-Ledger 2013