Chamber Director Says Farewell to Community

Story and photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-10-05

Carmichael Chamber of Commerce Directors joined CEO Linda Melody (center, with bouquet) at the September business luncheon. Melody announced her departure after nine years at the organization helm.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - After nine years as its lone executive, Linda Melody last week announced her resignation from the Carmichael Chamber of Commerce. From next month, Melody plans a new chapter of life in another small American town: Salinas, Monterey County.

Chamber members heard her decision at their September lunch meeting.  After stunned moments, a standing ovation saluted the hard-working executive. “I dreaded having to tell them I was leaving,” notes Melody. “I saw the shock on people’s faces and realized I had a history with them all. I felt I was going to cry.”

Her decision was made with the support of family and her doctor, who prescribed surgery for a back problem and a less-stressed future pace. “I’ve taken little time off in recent years.” She explains. “I never minded because I loved my job. But after my surgery, I’ll give myself time to recover and to settle into our new home in Salinas.” Most of her family, including siblings and her daughter are now Monterey County residents. “My husband and I had talked for years about moving there,” Melody said. “My family and I are close. I will love to be with them.”

Sacramento-raised Melody began her role with the 70-year-old chamber during a time of administrative and financial upheaval. The new employee worked long hours to reassure members of the organization’s value for businesses and for community. Part-time at first, she achieved more hours as the organization’s bottom line improved. Among fundraisers that assisted this recovery, the annual Person of the Year event became a gala embraced by the community – with media celebrities like Vlade Divac, Kitty O’Neal and Tina Macuha aiding the cause.  Melody and her reenergized directors also found Chamber sponsors. “These companies gain additional visibility,” she explains. “Through them, we gained a stronger financial foundation to work with.”

The Chamber now has nearly 300 members. “I know them as individuals, as well as businesses,” considers the go-between. “Our personal touch isn’t always possible in larger chambers. When members come to our events, I’m able to greet them all by name.”

Job perks have been many. “As a kid, I had a goal to know everyone in the world by their first name,” she recalls. “In Carmichael and beyond, I’ve met so many people. The Chamber has a wonderful relationship with elected representatives; congress members, senators, assemblymen and supervisors – their doors are always open to us. We can discuss issues and often get help from them. Some legislators even help sponsor our events.

“My board of directors is my boss, but presidents and directors came alongside me as a team. When I first started, we were a small Chamber organizing events on our own. We now partner with companies and other chambers; that makes our efforts stronger. We added our Best of Carmichael gala to recognize more people. Many hear criticism for what they do; they don’t always hear praise. When a community decides its favorites, everyone who earns votes feels special.” 

Her retired mailman husband gets his Melody’s own Best of Carmichael vote. “Michael’s been my biggest cheerleader,” she says. “He’s never complained about the long hours or the number of events I’ve attended; he usually comes with me. He’s friendly with all our members.  But he’s looking forward to having more time with me, now.”

“I hope to get back to work after I recover from my surgery,” says the departing CEO. “I’ll look for a job in Salinas. The Carmichael Chamber will always be part of me. I never had a job where I’ve felt so involved and received so much back.  But still feel I’ve much more to give.”

The Carmichael Chamber is now advertising to interview candidates for its CEO position. For information, call (916) 481-1002.

Mingling Mayors – and All That Jazz

Story and photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-10-05

Carmichael honorary mayoral candidates swung into campaign season with teenage jazz musicians during a Carmichael Chamber of Commerce fundraiser.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Carmichael’s annual race for honorary mayor has three candidates with hats in the ring for the 2019 volunteer office.

Realtor and incumbent Mayor Kelli Foley founded Trillium Real Estate on Marconi Avenue. Part of Foley’s fundraising will support the Carmichael Park Foundation.

Jamila Buada owns Arthur Murray Dance Center in Carmichael. The teacher will donate part of her campaign funds to the Alzheimers Association.

Kristen Garl is General Manager of Sacramento Express Employment Professionals office in the North Area. Her chosen nonprofit is the Playmakers, an organization that supports disadvantaged San Juan School District students.

The candidates recently joined forces at “Mayoral Mingle.” Oakmont of Carmichael hosted the Carmichael Chamber of Commerce fundraiser. Blueprint Jazz – a quartet of teenage virtuosos from local high schools – provided jazz. Learn more about the annual mayoral race at

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“Teacher Night” a First at Aerospace Museum

Story and photos by Trina L. Drotar  |  2018-10-05

From preschool to high school, teachers inside and outside of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields came together to learn what the museum has to offer their students and discover new ways to integrate STEM learning in the classroom.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - After a full day of teaching school, instructors came from as far away as El Dorado Hills to attend the Aerospace Museum of California’s first Teacher Night on September 27. From preschool to high school, teachers inside and outside of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields came together to learn what the museum has to offer their students and discover new ways to integrate STEM learning in the classroom. Refreshments and a sneak peek at the museum’s new exhibit, “Our Solar System: an interactive journey,” including a teacher’s exhibit guide, were part of the evening’s curriculum.

The museum is located on McClellan Air Force base where it began in 1986 as McClellan Aviation Museum. Director Tom Jones, who has held the position since March, says that the museum is committed to STEM education for students of all ages and to becoming the best on the West Coast. As a Smithsonian Air and Space Museum affiliate, exhibits like the 2018 “Art of the Airport Tower” and 2017 “DaVinci Inventions” can be brought to Sacramento.

On the main floor, nestled between airplanes, an SR71 jet propulsion engine, and a history of space exploration, were activities for children of all ages, and the teachers took full advantage by seeing how parachutes function or engineering with marbles. Others learned why the moon turns blue and viewed photos of nebulae on one of the many monitors that will accompany the exhibit. Each visitor was treated to a docent led tour of the museum and its grounds.

Upstairs, at the far end, tucked in a hallway, teachers made their way to the Flyers Flight Zone to experience simulated flying on one of the six high-end gaming machines. Museum volunteers, led by Flyers Flight Zone Director Warren Searls, educated the educators and allowed each some hands-on flight time.

“There is a huge shortage of pilots worldwide,” Searls said, adding that the Flight Zone is a way to interest fifth through twelfth grade students in flight and perhaps becoming pilots. In 2017, 10,000 students visited the Flight Zone, and many from Title 1 schools received scholarships for the flight simulations. He wants teachers to encourage students to remain in school and consider taking those STEM classes.

Miss Naomi Endsley, from Orangevale’s Almondale Academy, was one of the first teachers to try the simulator.

“I didn’t crash,” she said, a sentiment echoed by other teachers who took turns at flying to New Zealand, Switzerland, and San Francisco.

Endlsey teaches second and third grades and said that she definitely picked up new ideas for her students. Like many others that evening, she had never been to the museum. She said that she’ll bring her students and let them have the chance to see a piece of history and what technology really is. She engaged in conversation with Karen Jones, the museum’s development director and Tom Jones, museum director, about what technology holds in store for the future.

Twin Rivers Unified School District teachers agreed that they would definitely bring their students, one of several school districts the museum currently facilitates STEM, history, and art learning opportunities with. San Juan Unified School District, UC Davis, Sacramento State University, American River College, University of the Pacific, and charter schools are others.

Director Jones said that the museum has a formal mentorship program with the UC Davis Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.  Sacramento State undergraduate history students are conducting research on the museum’s airplanes and will create videos that may be accessed with QR codes to enhance the static exhibits. At least one Sacramento State graduate student is working on his master’s thesis by building an upcoming exhibit about Bob Hoover who, among other things, was a revolutionary in aerobatic flying. Sacramento City College owns the Fed Ex jet parked in the outside exhibition area and uses it as its classroom.

Even the youngest students can benefit from STEM learning as Kimberly Dillon, preschool teacher at Discovery Learning Center in Fair Oaks, said. She has brought her students to the museum for several trips and said that they really enjoy climbing the planes. Her guest that evening was her son, Anthony.

“Very cool for kids,” was the phrase most often heard from teachers.

For additional information, visit If you go: 3200 Freedom Park Drive, McClellan, CA.

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Chamber Announces Linda Melody's Replacement

Carmichael Chamber Release  |  2018-10-05

Virginia Stone (left) is set to become the Interim Executive Director of the Carmichael Chamber of Commerce, replacing Linda Melody (right).

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Our Chamber Executive Director, Linda Melody, announced at the September 23 business luncheon that she would be moving to Salinas, CA. Her last event will be the business luncheon on October 23. Due to her quick departure, the Chamber Board of Directors decided to appoint an Interim Executive Director. The board will then begin the process of searching for a permanent ED.

The board is pleased to announce that they have appointed board member Virginia Stone, formerly the Executive Director of Oakmont of Carmichael, to be the Interim Executive Director. Please welcome Virginia to this new position.

For more chamber information visit

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Appeals Case Impacts Illegal Camping Ordinance

SacCounty Release  |  2018-10-04

Since January 2018, Sacramento County rangers have issued 1,834 citations for unlawful camping under the County ordinance, and 224 citations for unlawful camping under the City of Sacramento ordinance. Photo courtesy SacCounty News

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - A federal court decision has ruled that illegal camping ordinances are unconstitutional and that local governments cannot cite or arrest anyone sleeping on public property.

On September 4, 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the case Robert Martin v. City of Boise, stating that enforcing anti-camping ordinances when adequate shelter beds are unavailable is unconstitutional.

Because of that ruling, the Sacramento County Department of Parks stopped enforcing the City of Sacramento’s anti-camping ordinance and the County ordinance prohibiting camping without a permit.

Since January 2018, Sacramento County rangers have issued 1,834 citations for unlawful camping under the County ordinance, and 224 citations for unlawful camping under the City of Sacramento ordinance.

The County is currently evaluating enforcement options under existing laws and regulations and will provide information to the Board on next steps. 

Sacramento County Rangers will continue to enforce ordinances including but not limited to campfires, littering, dogs off leash, possession of a shopping cart and environmental degradation. 

“As soon as I found out about the ruling, I suggested our board meet to discuss its implications, especially for my constituents who rightfully demand a clean and safe Parkway,” said First District Supervisor Phil Serna, who represents the lower reach of the American River Parkway. 

“I have many questions, including why County Counsel advised that park rangers not enforce the illegal camping ordinance without notifying or coordinating with board members,” he continued.

Source: SacCounty News

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Del Campo Junior Cougars

Story and photos by Andrea Hatch  |  2018-10-04

Team, Community, Family

FAIR OAKS, CA (MPG) - Who are the Del Campo Junior Cougars (DCJC)? They are a team, a community, and a family. They are a nonprofit supported by businesses throughout the community and have been around since 2006. The Del Campo Junior Cougars are made up of 8U, 10U, 12U, and 14U teams for football and cheer and each team consists of approximately 160 football players and 40 cheerleaders. In 2017 all four football teams made it to the playoffs and three of the four made it to the championships. The 10U Del Campo cheer team took first place at the USA cheer nationals, which is outstanding.

DCJC has an executive board of six, additional committee board of 10, 50 coaches, and the parent volunteers that make the dream work for these kids. The team enforces academic and behavioral contracts to ensure that the kids are taking their school seriously and representing themselves in a respectful manner, on and off of the field. The executive board does not just work during the season, they work year round to be sure there are sponsors to make each season successful. There are several teams throughout the Sacramento area, but as you can see from the numbers of players in this organization, many people choose this team due to the feeling of family and community that is present in this organization.

As you may have recently seen, this team made a boy’s dream come true by bringing him onto the field and having him score their touchdown. For that boy, that was one of the best moments, and a lifelong memory, that may not have been possible without the love, support, and dedication of the Del Campo Junior Cougars.  

Recently, Avante Washington, one of the DCJC players, was in a car accident that caused serious injuries. Avante and his mom were both injured, and Avante had to learn how to walk, again, due to a spinal injury that has caused the loss of movement to his right side. This incident showed the true community that DCJC is made of. Several team members, the DCJC President, and other members of the DCJC family rallied around Avante physically and spiritually.

Avante is now home and was able to be there for the most recent game and DCJC will continue to provide support and help in any way they can because Avante, and all DCJC players are not just football players, they are DCJC family. No player is left behind.

On Saturday, September 29, Del Campo Junior Cougars played Placer. 8U won their game 36-0 and went into a controlled scrimmage, 10U won 38-0 and went into a controlled scrimmage, 12U won 18-16, and 14U had their first loss of the season with a final score of 10-8. Even with 14U’s loss they remain in first place in their division.

The Junior Cougars, win or lose, maintain a positive attitude and continue to build their players up. DCJC know the importance of showing good sportsmanship, no matter the situation. The season is not quite over, so all we can say is “Go Cougars!”

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Creativity Gone Wild

By Elise Spleiss  |  2018-10-04

Local Nonprofits Help Young Authors’ Dreams Come True

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - How many children do you know who have written illustrated, and published their own book?  In Citrus Heights, 125 students, 1st through 5th grade, at the Mariposa Avenue Elementary School have added “author” to their resume, which will follow them through high school and beyond.

This unique program called “Creativity Gone Wild” is taught by members of the Mariposa Literary Academy in Citrus Heights and is designed to inspire students to stretch their minds and use their imaginations in new ways.
The program was the brainchild of Karen Szakacs, a kindergarten teacher at Mariposa in 2014, and Marsha Robinson, a local author of children’s books.  Together with Cherelyn Martello, the three women launched the first academy in 2014.
The spark that ignited the idea for the student authored books came when a kindergarten boy at Mariposa heard Robinson read her book “Rescuing Humphrey” to the class and afterwards raised his hand. He asked her to write another book about Humphrey. She answered by suggesting he write it. He replied, “I don’t know how,” and the Mariposa Literary Academy was born.
Since January, 2014 the Academy has taught 11 after-school academies (two per year) with 125 young authors to-date proudly producing their own hard cover fiction books at the end of the 16-session academy.  A maximum of 12 students are chosen by their teacher to participate in each academy.
The entire book is the work of the student author. They come up with their own fictional story, with a beginning, middle and conclusion, along with illustrations. They begin with a normal life experience such as a camping trip in the woods with their family.  They are told to enhance it using their imagination, such as being transported to another planet by space aliens. The results have truly been mind-boggling.               
To help teach the authors how to illustrate their own books, Peter Blueberry, alias Lance Pyle - a children's book author and illustrator, volunteers his time explaining the art of illustration and helping students with their own work.
Shutterfly, an American internet-based publishing service, prints the books for about $15 each. Each student receives a hardcover book for themselves, a hardcover book to sign for the school library and the Academy receives a paper copy of each student’s book. They have become the most popular books checked out by students.
While instruction and the printed books are free to participants, actual cost per pupil averages $50. In addition to the cost of publishing, funds are used for items such as paper and art supplies, snacks, and photography.
Financially, the Literary Academy, Creativity Gone Wild, is managing to stay solvent with the help of two philanthropic organizations and other donations.

Through word of mouth the Rotary Club of Citrus Heights and Soroptimist International of Citrus Heights immediately stepped up and have continued to provide the largest portion of the over $6,000 needed to fund the program for the last five years. The Optimist Club of Citrus Heights and Mariposa Parent Faculty Organization have also provided funds. 
Robinson stated in an email, “I would like to show my thanks to the organizations that have supported this program, to the volunteers that help us run the program, and to the school itself for allowing us to use their campus.” 
She would also like to invite other schools to look at the “possibilities that an academy like this can provide students” in their schools. The Mariposa Literary Academy would love to share their experiences with local elementary school teachers.

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Arden-Arcade Community to Host Candlelight Vigil

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Members of the Arden-Arcade community will hold a candlelight vigil and healing space to honor the life of De’Sean Rowe-Manns, a freshman at Mira Loma High School who was killed in a hit-and-run accident on Sept. 19.

“Today we will honor the life of De’Sean, but also call for witnesses to this tragedy,” said Danielle Lawrence, Arden-Arcade Black Child Legacy Campaign lead.  “His family deserves justice and we ask for the driver to please come forward.” 

Led by the Black Child Legacy Campaign’s Arden-Arcade Community Incubator Lead, community members will come together for healing, to share stories and call for justice with the family of Rowe-Manns at the parking lot of Arcade Fundamental Middle School today at 6 p.m.

“Arden-Arcade is an extraordinary neighborhood that comes together, especially during times like these, to build healing spaces and community,” said Sierra Health Foundation and The Center President and CEO Chet P. Hewitt.  “Tonight we gather to honor a young man who we lost much too early, with a shared vision that children, youth and families in Arden-Arcade and throughout the city of Sacramento deserve to be in a community where they are safe and cared for.”

The Arden-Arcade Community Incubator Lead is one of seven lead organizations for the Black Child Legacy Campaign, the community-driven movement raising visibility and strengthening efforts of the Steering Committee on Reduction of African American Child Deaths to reduce the number of black child mortalities by 10% to 20% by 2020 in Sacramento County.  For 20 years, the Sacramento County Child Death Review Team has consistently found that African-American children died at a rate two times higher than children of other races. 

All Community Incubator Leads engage in community crisis response in each of the seven targeted neighborhoods of Arden-Arcade, Del Paso Heights/North Sacramento, North Highlands/Foothill Farms, Oak Park, Fruitridge/Stockton, Valley Hi and Meadowview.

Learn more about the Black Child Legacy Campaign at and the Steering Committee on RAACD at

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Superheroes Descend Upon Sacramento

Story and photos by Shaunna Boyd  |  2018-09-28

Wonder Woman poses with three-year-olds Roxy (left) and Isla (right).

DC Wonder Woman Run Series Brings Out the Hero in Everyone

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Sacramento was overrun by superheroes on Saturday, September 22 when the DC Wonder Woman Run Series hosted its inaugural event with a 5K and 10K run through Capitol Mall. Sacramento was the first city in the United States to participate in this race.

The event was produced by SON Events in conjunction with Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment. Sarah Ratzlaff, director of marketing for SON Events, said, “The race has a strong overall theme of women’s empowerment. Wonder Woman embodies strength, bravery, and power. The goal of the event is to show that there’s a Wonder Woman in all of us. That’s why we’re using the hashtag #IAmWonderWoman.”

The festival area was decorated with giant balloons and lined with an array of fluttering Wonder Woman flags. Area streets were blocked off by police cars, flashing their red and blue lights. Approximately 1,300 people participated in the 5K and 10K runs. The first-place finishers were Sandra Khounvichai with a time of 20:26 in the 5K and Stephen Harms with a time of 48:43 in the 10K.

The DC Wonder Woman Run Series is designed to empower the Superhero in everyone, so runners and walkers of all ability levels were encouraged to participate, regardless of their athletic abilities. Many participants had never run or walked in a 5K before this event. After completing the course, each participant was given a Wonder Woman medal. The festivities continued after the race, with a celebration featuring food trucks, a beer tent, face painting, official Wonder Woman merchandise, and a main stage with live musical entertainment.

Race participant Christie Pierce said he was persuaded to join the race just the evening before: “I decided to tag along. I said, ‘Sure, I’ll wear a skirt, I’ll do it.’ But more importantly, I decided to do it because I support strong, independent women.”

Theresa Ivaldi, Karli Cisneros, and Christina Mundy entered the race together. They thought it would be more fun to run together in a group of friends. This was Ivaldi’s first run, and she thought the Wonder Woman run was a fun way to start. Cisneros said, “I love running and love spending time with my friends, so I figured why not combine the two.” Mundy said, “What better way to run a 5K with friends and family than a Wonder Woman run that represents women’s power?” Mundy’s kids, Isabella (10) and Jackson (8), and their friend Sophie Carr (10), all love Wonder Woman. They enjoyed the race and especially loved getting a shiny medal to commemorate their accomplishment of crossing the finish line.

The DC Wonder Woman Run Series will be hosted in Oakland, San Jose, San Diego, and Los Angeles this fall. The Los Angeles run, as the flagship run, will be the largest in the series with 7,000 – 8,000 participants expected. If you would like to participate in one of the upcoming runs, or for more information on the DC Wonder Woman Run Series, please visit the website at

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Sacramento CERT Needs You

Story by Trina L. Drotar; Photos courtesy Sacramento CERT  |  2018-09-28

The Basic CERT course, Level 3, is sanctioned by FEMA and was developed by Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) after the Mexico City and Kobe earthquakes.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Sacramento’s California Emergency Response Team’s (CERT’s) graduation drill took place on Saturday, September 1 from 2 p.m. – 10 p.m. at the Northern California Regional Public Safety Academy in McClellan Park. The community participated and explored their inner actors as volunteer victims with broken arms or legs or other injuries for the day’s free event.

The drills tested the program’s graduates on practical skills including sizing up a building to determine if it is safe to enter; search and rescue; transport; and triage and treatment. They assessed situations simulating burning buildings and locating victims in dense smoke and at night. Graduates radioed transport crews, practiced victim transport before another group assessed injuries, bandaged, and prepared victims for transport to a medical facility said Robert Ross, Chief, Operations, Sacramento CERT, CERT 22.

“Watching, you don’t get to see as much,” he said, adding that the role of victim teaches more to the community who wants to understand what happens during an emergency such as a fire.

Ross explained that most people see only the end result.

“It’s a good way to see them in action and experience it without being in a collapsed building,” he said.

The Basic CERT course, Level 3, is sanctioned by FEMA and was developed by Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) after the Mexico City and Kobe earthquakes. The course, Ross explained, is for everyday citizens with no previous training or particular skills who want to learn how to prepare for a disaster and is offered at no charge.

“Civilians will be on their own for the first 72 hours,” said Ross, and will learn about disaster psychology and how to prepare bags with the necessities to assist in their immediate neighborhoods. Ross said that people don’t often think about bringing items like pet toys when they need to evacuate. Trained civilians can put out small fires and even triage in their neighborhoods if the need arises, but they need to practice, and that’s where the graduation drill comes in.

Graduates learn about fire behavior, which has been especially bad in California this summer, identification of hazardous materials, including those being transported, and terrorism. Upon graduation, CERT trained civilians can assist locally and can transfer their CERT training to other cities or states if they move. Since the Sacramento region is prone to flooding, this would also be covered in local training.

This level is required in order to continue with advanced courses to be certified as a Disaster Service Worker or a First Responder. Additionally, graduates may pursue training to join one of the special teams – Urban Search & Rescue, Animal Response, or Radio Communications.

“During a disaster cell phones won’t work, satellite phones are few and far between,” said Ross. “Ham operators during Hurricane Katrina passed messages. We can talk to Japan if we need to,” he said.

One legally blind team member who used a motorized wheelchair ran the ham radio and was one of the best in Sacramento.

“There are no limitations on who can participate. There are many ways to be involved, with a job for everyone.”

For additional information, visit Look for them at many local public events. The next academy will be held in spring of 2019.

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