Another Star is Born

Story and pictures by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-12-02

Sacramento Fire Fighters recently helped restore Palm Drive’s Christmas tree star. Firefighter Jason Baldwin scaled a 100-foot ladder to replace lights on the Carmichael landmark.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Stretched by calls to fight Butte County fires, Sacramento firefighters recently found time to foster Christmas cheer at home. Thanks to the officers and Property and Business Improvement District leaders, the old Post Office star on Palm Drive shines more brightly.

Located in the central business area, the historical route is lined with Canary palms that community matriarch Mary Deterding planted around 1909. At the same time, her neighbor John Scroggs nourished a deodar cedar. The exotic transplants grew up with Carmichael. Scroggs’ cypress became famous in 1960, when the US Post Office planned a Palm Drive facility. Federal architects sentenced the evergreen to the saw mill.

Carmichael’s famed naturalist Effie Yeaw lived yards from the giant and began a petition to save it.  Washington DC relented. Marking the community victory, a low concrete wall and a plaque for Effie Yeaw remains beneath the tree.  Later in its 100-plus years, the deodar was crowned with a five-foot star whose illumination became a Christmas tradition. Long-time residents recall finding their way home on winter nights by the lofty icon.

The ornament shone through many more Decembers after the Post Office moved to Fair Oaks Boulevard. About 10 years ago, its wiring fizzled. The deodar remained dark until last year, when PIBD chairman Gary Hursh beheld its forlorn bauble. “PIBD’s trying to improve the quality of local businesses and our residential environment,” the attorney explained. “We decided the star needed to be relit.” AAA Crane Company owner Gary Matranga rose in a crane basket to string new lights on the stellar frame. As night fell last December, the lights came on again.

Gary Hursh this year supplied brighter lights and a new mission for firefighters. The job was completed last week when officer Baldwin restrung the icon. “We work hard to keep people safe,” observed Baldwin. “But by doing something like this, we have a chance to bring joy to the community.”

Power comes courtesy of RES T+D, an energy company now occupying the old Post Office. The Post Office Star will shine till January 2019 at 5945 Palm Drive. Learn about PBID at

InSight Now On Mars

Ashley Gudzak, Aerojet Rocketdyne  |  2018-12-02

NASA’s InSight Mars lander successfully touched down on the red planet with assistance of
Aerojet Rocketdyne descent and landing propulsion. Credit: Lockheed Martin

Aerojet Rocketdyne Propulsion Delivers to Planet’s Surface

REDMOND, WA (MPG)  – Using sophisticated propulsion devices provided by Aerojet Rocketdyne, NASA’s Mars InSight lander successfully touched down on the surface of the red planet Nov. 26.

The final phase of lnSight’s descent was powered by 12 Aerojet Rocketdyne MR-107N 50 lbf engines, providing variable pounds of pulsed thrust throughout its descent, which began firing after the lander jettisoned its parachute and heat shield. The engines maneuvered the craft clear of the falling parachute before bringing it gently to the Martian surface, where it will gather data on the planet’s seismology, rotation and internal temperature.

“We provided propulsion for every phase of this important NASA mission, from launch to landing,” said Eileen Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president. “A mission like this leaves no margin for error and our systems successfully performed their critical roles as expected.”

Mars InSight began its journey May 5 with its launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Aerojet Rocketdyne supplied the RL10C-1 main engine and 12 MR-106 reaction control thrusters for the rocket’s Centaur upper stage, as well as helium pressurization tanks for the vehicle’s first and second stages.

During InSight’s roughly six-month cruise to Mars, four Aerojet Rocketdyne MR-106B thrusters, each generating four pounds of thrust, kept the probe on target via five trajectory correction maneuvers. Meanwhile, four MR-111C thrusters, each generating one pound of thrust, kept the craft stable and pointed in the right direction.

These same thrusters provided the final trajectory and pointing adjustments as the lander approached the Martian atmosphere. Aerojet Rocketdyne also supplied two helium pressurization tanks on the lander.

Mars InSight will study the deep interior of Mars, examining in depth its crust, mantle, and core. Aerojet Rocketdyne engines have flown aboard every successful U.S. Mars mission, including orbiters and landers. Additionally, Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion systems have taken NASA probes to every planet in the solar system and even beyond. The agency’s two Voyager probes, which launched in 1977, are equipped with Aerojet Rocketdyne thrusters. Voyager 1 is in interstellar space, while Voyager 2 is in the heliosheath, the outermost layer of the heliosphere.

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Deck the Halls with Brats and Strudel

Story and pictures by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-12-02

Festival founder Heidi Cadena (left), Pastor Richard Reimer and vendor Inge Inge Baylocq welcomed Santa Claus to the Walnut Avenue church gymnasium.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Chestnuts roasted, sausages sizzled and strudel were enjoyed at American River Community Church’s third annual German Christmas Fair last weekend. While Pastor Richard Reimer donned holiday apparel – elfen hat and lederhosen – a traditional Santa Claus granted Christmas wishes.

Attendance was boosted by the Sacramento German community, for whom gift markets – fragrant with cider and sauerkraut – are beloved Christmas traditions. Church member Heidi Cadena began the event three years ago as a fundraiser for the congregation’s ministries.

Among Carmichael’s longest-established places of worship, the American River Community Church is located at 3300 Walnut Avenue, Carmichael. Learn more at

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Hot Hits for Heroes

Story and picture by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-12-02

Singer and keyboard player Mary Maguire led Lady and the Tramps during a free concert at Sacramento Veterans Hospital, Mather.

Concert Entertains at Mather VA Hospital

MATHER, CA (MPG) - While hospital visits aren’t often music for outpatient ears, veterans recently enjoyed three hours of classic rock at Sacramento VA Medical Center, Mather. Sponsored by the Home of the Campaign, the event continued veteran week celebrations with free 340 pizza lunches, tee shirts and patient visits.

Volunteers from Hewlett Packard Enterprise led a volunteer force for the outreach.

Lady and the Tramps’ concert was originally planned for outdoors but poor air quality nudged activities into the hospital lobby. Unfazed, the group performed classic rock tunes for a mobile but appreciative audience.

Home of the Brave was Established in 2012 by Hewlett Packard employees in in Houston TX and Herndon VA. The group later partnered with Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service; the VA Homeless Program and Soldiers Angels. Corporate contributors include Perspecta, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Micro Focus. The campaign’s mission to honor and support veterans has created giving events all over America, with volunteer activities such as patient visits at health centers. Fundraising and sponsor donations provide hats, blankets, water bottles and backpacks to thousands of veterans in 42 states, and in Washington DC and Puerto Rico.

Learn about Home of the Brave at

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Jingle Bell Run Honors Local Arthritis Warrior

By Carol Chamberlain  |  2018-12-02

Jeremy with his mom. Photo courtesy 3fold Communications

Six-year-old fights juvenile arthritis every day

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - In a Carmichael home where a family with three boys under 10 live, super heroes are widely respected, and even part of the décor.  Breakfast is served on top of Avenger placemats and Superman and Thor are nearby. Ironically, the kid eating his cereal from a bowl placed on top of Black Panther (his favorite) is a superhero in his own right. He is sharing his own battle with juvenile arthritis to bring awareness to the disease.

Six-year-old Jeremy Kelley will leave Black Panther behind and don a reindeer suit for a day the whole family is celebrating. Jeremy will be leading the Reindeer Games and Kid Run at the Arthritis Foundation’s 2018 Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis, supported by Sutter Health (where Jeremy’s mom works). The race takes place on December 9.

“Our honorees and volunteers are what make this event memorable every year, and this year we’re humbled to honor Jeremy Kelley who, along with his parents, is a true arthritis warrior,” says Heather Funk, the Arthritis Foundations’ Pacific Southwest region development director. “We are all pulling for him to be able to finish the Kid Run.”

Jeremy’s warrior-status journey started right before his third birthday. He was simply doing what kids do when they are three, but had a decidedly different outcome.

“Jeremy jumped off the couch in the living room and onto a beanbag chair,” his mother, Jaime Kelley says.  In a few days, his leg was swollen to triple its size. X-rays didn’t show any damage, but Jeremy didn’t improve over time. Clearly, jumping off the couch was not the issue.

The Kelleys went to their own pediatrician, were referred to Shriners Hospital and got an appointment several months later. By that time both knees and an ankle were severely swollen, and Jeremy was back to crawling. Doctors there did testing, but were also stumped by Jeremy’s severe symptoms. Shriner Hospital suggested taking Jeremy to UC San Francisco, where doctors there gave him aggressive joint injections.  They worked.

“He started running around like crazy, the previous six months seemed like a bad dream,” Jaime Kelley remembers. “We couldn’t believe we had Jeremy back.”

Unfortunately, the “miracle” really wasn’t. Despite Jeremy’s new-found mobility, the disease wasn’t subsiding.  More shots followed, and injecting the medicine was up to mom. Jeremy developed a bad case of shot anxiety, turning the household into turmoil when it was time for yet another one. Knowing the injection routine was impacting the family and hoping the disease was in remission, the doctors decided to give Jeremy a break from the rigid shot regime. The symptoms returned.

So now the Kelleys are in management mode, continuing with the injections sometimes, seeing a therapist for the shot trauma — and coping. Pain is still prevalent, and doctors say the remedy is harsh:  push through it.

“It’s something we will just have to deal with,” says Jaime, “Right now we are trying yoga.” Grateful for the help she received from the Foundation, Jaime is now an Arthritis Foundation activist who mentors— and learns from — other parents and the staff and board of the Foundation.

Andrew Pete, service line director for Perioperative Services at Sutter Medical Center Sacramento, is the Northern California Arthritis Foundation chair. He is one of many Sutter Health community volunteers who donate expertise and services to nonprofits throughout the region.  

“People assume that arthritis is a condition you get when you get old,” Pete says. “But our Arthritis Warrior Jeremy confirms that kids get arthritis too. We want people to know the symptoms and get help because there are treatments available.”

Juvenile arthritis affects more than 300,000 children in the U.S., a figure experts consider on the low side. Considering the obstacles and determination parents must endure to convince their medical provider that the symptoms are more than just kids being kids, the disease is underreported and appallingly undertreated.

The Arthritis Foundation is trying to change the trajectory of misdiagnosis by funding cutting-edge research for new treatments and discovering a cure, advocating for health care access, and offering support to victims of the disease.

The Jingle Bell Run is part of that strategy. It is a holiday event where at least 1,000 people will gather at Sacramento’s Crocker Park to join the movement to conquer the disease. The 5K run encourages participants to dress in festive costumes and get moving to raise awareness and funds to cure America’s #1 cause of disability. To register, visit, 

Meanwhile, Jeremy loves to escape his trials and play Pie Face, a game-in-a-box with rules that dictate that if you are the unlucky opponent, a lever slaps whip cream all over your face. Jeremy thinks it’s hilarious.

Source: 3fold Communications

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ARC Breaks Ground on New STEM Center

By Ben Barber  |  2018-12-02

The STEM groundbreaking kicks off the next phase. ARC has launched a major fundraising effort for STEM Innovation and 21st Century Science. Photo by Tatyana Torgashev, courtesy ARC

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - This Fall the campus of American River College has provided new challenges for students and staff with the groundbreaking of a new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) building.  The 38,000 sq. ft. three-story building will replace the Liberal Arts Wing that has existed at the college since the 1960s.  The demolition of the Liberal Arts Wing has forced students and staff to abandon routine parking lots, walkways, and drop off points formerly familiar, a necessary complication to a much needed infrastructural upgrade.

Design elements of the new building will provide shared, flexible and movable space and labs for programs and disciplines that include Business & Computer Science, Mathematics, Astronomy, Physics and Engineering. The second phase of the project will benefit the Science division (which produces 47% of ARC's graduates and is the largest division in the Los Rios Community College District) with long-awaited lab space modernization and state-of-the-art wet labs for biology and chemistry.

Many successful and notable alums in the fields of science, healthcare, engineering, biotech and research have benefited from their start at American River College. This new STEM Center will offer greater opportunities to even more students.

ARC has launched a major fundraising effort for STEM Innovation and 21st Century Science. This campaign will seek to raise $3.5M in private support and provide a margin of excellence for students in both phases of the project. Private funding will be used to enhance the construction with industry lighting, technology and lab equipment. 

Sources:  Kirsten DuBray,

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Getting Pumped Up

By Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-11-25

Ed Marszal (left) shares his company headquarters with a collection of vintage gasoline pumps. Daughter Annie and son Adam are executives for Marszal’s Carmichael-based business that operates in four US states. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - A business that began on a Carmichael street corner is now one of Sacramento’s most geographically far-flung enterprises.

Owned by the Marszal family – and with father, daughter and son as executives -- California Retail Management pumps petroleum at 42 stations in four US states. All outlets have convenience stores and the combined operation has a more than 350 employees. It’s an understatement that Ed Marszal has come a long way from the Ohio college graduate who left the Army and sold auto accessories. “I felt I could run a gas station at least as well as some guys I was selling tires to,” he recalls. “In 1981, an old Chevron station on the Marconi and Walnut corner became available. I didn’t plan an empire. I just wanted to make one station work.”

In days of full-service, the boss pumped gas and employed mechanics for repairs. He mopped floors and cultivated a personal touch with customers. When daughter Annie (now Marszal’s development executive) was born, he covered his macho premises with pink ribbons. “That got us in the newspaper and brought new customers,” he says. “People like family businesses. I still have full-service available at all our stations; we make sure someone will always run out to help a customer. We’ll never charge for air or water. Cashiers are the most important people in our company. Being nice is not something you can teach; but friendliness determines whether a customer comes back.

“One day a lady asked me where she could get her car washed. I washed her car myself.  My employees watched and learned never to pass up an opportunity to extend service. Yeah, I kept her tip; I earned it. From then, we put carwashes in our stations.” While alert to innovation, Marszal treasures the continuity of old retainers and family. Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Valentina has been his right hand for 34 years. Executive Tim Skovensky has provided what Marszal calls “glue” for company operations for 12 years. Daughter Annie has worked nine years for her dad and son Adam joined his marketing team in 2015. “My kids began as cashiers,” he says. “I wanted them to learn how important that role is. They’ve done their share of cleaning restrooms, too.”

Outside Sacramento, the family now has stations in Maui, Oahu, Nevada and Ohio. 2019 plans include a new El Dorado Hills outlet. The founder and Susan -- his wife of 37 years -- live quietly in Carmichael. Their national operation is run from an anonymous building near Manzanita Avenue.

At HQ, the boss houses an arsenal of vintage petrol pumps, telephones and slot machines. “I found the first of my collection in a Rancho Cordova bar,” he explains. “In the 1950s, every oil company had distinctive pumps and they were works of art. I love seeing them restored and gleaming. They’re relics of an industry dear to my heart.”

In 40 high-octane years Marszal has seen oil companies and retailers come and go. “Many of our competitors lost their focus on service,” considers the survivor. “Over 40 years, service is what constantly opened doors for us to gain more customers.

“The gasoline engine will be around for many more decades. As for gas stations, I believe the strong and the friendly will survive.”

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Railroad Museum CEO Cheryl Marcell to Serve on Prestigious HeritageRail Alliance

By Traci Rockefeller Cusack   |  2018-11-25

Railroad Museum CEO Cheryl Marcell. Photo courtesy Sacramento Railroad Museum.

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) – California State Railroad Museum Foundation President & CEO Cheryl Marcell has been named to serve on the prestigious board of directors for the HeritageRail Alliance, a nationwide organization dedicated to promoting the common interest of entities engaged in the business of tourist, scenic, historic or excursion railroading, railway and trolley museums. The official announcement was made at the HeritageRail conference held last week in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Marcell will serve on the board for a three-year term ending in 2021. 

With an impressive and expansive background in business development and the airport industry, Marcell joined the California State Railroad Museum Foundation in April 2015 where she has been instrumental in helping to reinvigorate and pave exciting new paths for the California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento and Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown. 

Marcell’s new role on the board of directors comes at an important time for the rail industry. May 2019 marks the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad when, along with the rest of the country, the California State Railroad Museum & Foundation plan to present a series of exciting events, activities and exhibits to commemorate the historic achievement that helped to shape and connect the nation. For more information about the California State Railroad Museum Foundation, please visit www.californiarailroad.museumand for information the HeritageRail Alliance, please visit

The mission of the California State Railroad Museum Foundation (CSRMF) is to generate revenue and awareness on behalf of its destinations, while supporting the preservation, interpretation and promotion of our railroad heritage. The Foundation provides funding for ongoing support of numerous programs, both at the museum's Old Sacramento location and at the historic park in Jamestown, Calif. For more information, please visit

Source: T-Rock Communications

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SMUD X-rays High-voltage Lines

SMUD Media  |  2018-11-25

Suspended from a helicopter, a lineworker conducts X-ray photography on a SMUD transmission line in the Sierra. The work helps SMUD identify potential issues in advance so they can be repaired and help avoid power outages that could affect thousands of customers. Photo courtesy SMUD Media

Working to Prevent Large Power Outages

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - SMUD’s high voltage transmission lines in the Sierra deliver large amounts of power from SMUD’s hydroelectric facilities to customers in the valley. A fault on one of those lines can significantly impact the electrical system, potentially leaving thousands of customers in the dark. Critical to the lines’ capability are splices that enable the lines to be continuous. As transmission lines are strung or repaired over time, the splices, which are tubular sleeves, can degrade.

To find potential faults SMUD is using state-of-the-art portable X-ray photography to inspect major transmission lines that feed the SMUD grid. Since the X-ray data collected is live, any potential issues are found immediately and repairs are promptly made to arrest future failure.

These high-voltage lines are strung atop high lattice-style towers. Maintenance and repairs on them can involve a lot of work, sometimes more than a hundred feet above the ground, and the work is typically done while the lines are energized so power can flow without interruption.

“Having this tool available to us helps eliminate the guesswork,” said SMUD Chief Energy Delivery Officer Frankie McDermott. “It provides another level of protection to help prevent outages on our transmission lines and helps us to harden the SMUD grid.”

To do the X-ray inspections that see inside the critical splices, they brought in lineworkers from Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), who are certified to do what’s called “barehand” work on energized transmission lines high above the ground while suspended from a helicopter.

Barehanding is a technique that safely allows transmission lineworkers to “bond on” and have direct contact with energized, high-voltage lines to perform work. Special protective clothing, including gloves, socks and boots, place the lineworker within the field of electricity that surrounds the energized conductor, allowing the electricity to flow around their body.

The work is part of many ongoing projects to improve and enhance reliable power delivery. The transmission lines in El Dorado County enable SMUD to deliver power from the Upper American River Project (UARP), SMUD’s huge system of hydroelectric power plants in the Sierra. The UARP’s nearly 700 megawatts of clean power can provide about 20 percent of SMUD’s power in a normal water year, which can be crucial especially in summer months when market power is more expensive.

Reliability is a core value of SMUD, a policy set by the SMUD Board of Directors who is elected by SMUD customers. To fulfill that policy, SMUD continues to bolster the infrastructure that comprises SMUD’s grid. For more information about SMUD, visit


Source: SMUD Media

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Vehicle vs Bicyclist on September 19

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CA (MPG) - On September 19, 2018 at approximately 5:20 a.m., the California Highway Patrol (CHP) was dispatched to a call of a traffic collision involving a vehicle versus a bicyclist on Watt Avenue near Whitney Avenue. A 14 year old boy was riding his bicycle on Watt Avenue when he was struck and killed by a vehicle. The driver of that vehicle fled the collision scene.  

CHP investigators began a criminal investigation in an attempt to locate the suspect vehicle and identify the responsible driver. With the assistance of witnesses, physical evidence, and information provided to Crime Stoppers, the suspect vehicle, a green 2000 Toyota Sienna, was located. A search warrant was obtained and vehicle was seized as evidence. Through subsequent investigation a person of interest, Edward John Flores (04/02/1968) of North Highlands, was identified as the possible driver involved in this collision.

On November 05, 2018, Flores came to the North Sacramento CHP Area office and spoke with CHP investigators. During the course of their conversation with Flores, investigators developed probable cause and arrested Flores for being the driver of the Toyota at the time of the collision.

Flores was booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail on charges of felony hit and run and driving with a suspended license.

Any additional information about this news release should be directed to Officer Mike Zerfas who will be available at the CHP North Sacramento Area business phone number: (916) 348-2337, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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