Veterans Day Service Recalls Community Heroes

Story and photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2019-11-14

Military veterans and supporters joined a salute during November 11 observances in Carmichael.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) – Carmichael’s Vietnam Memorial was last weekend central to Veterans Day commemorations. Flags, music and memories were shared by 180 visitors.

Among speakers was Congressman Ami Bera’s representative Matthew Ceccato, a Purple Heart Army veteran currently contesting a Sacramento Board of Supervisors seat. “There’s no place I’d rather be today,” Ceccato told fellow veterans. “It’s up to us to keep the sacred trust this country has to respect its veterans. We must uphold the contract they made with their blood and tears.”                                                                                                            

The first-known California monument to the Vietnam War, the memorial is in the Koobs Nature Area on Engle Road. First dedicated in 1973, the steel edifice honors La Sierra High School graduates who died in the war. The nature preserve is named for the late Earl (Ranger Jack) Koobs, a La Sierra science teacher who fostered its establishment as a place of remembrance.

November 11 attendees were invited to make dedications loved ones who had served and died. Rock singer Todd Morgan performed “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and 89-year-old Korean veteran Bill Fellers offered a heartfelt trumpet version of Taps.

Heroes named on the nature area’s monument are: Robert D. Anderson, Mark W. Burchard, Robert S. Bynes, Jerry Cowsert, Kenneth R. Escott, Gary R. Field, Herbert Frenzell, Frank Thornburg, Ralph Guarienti, Larry H. Morford, Thomas C. Pigg, Randall B. Rainville, Kim Richins, Jeffry Tharaldson, Robert A. Willis.

Earl J. Koobs Nature Area is open to visitors. For information, go to or visit the Koobs Nature Area site on Facebook.

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CA (MPG) - The gross value of all agricultural products in Sacramento has topped all previous records, Agriculture Commissioner Chris Flores told the county Board of Supervisors on Sep. 24. The value increased by $24 million in 2018, pushing the gross production number past the half-billion-dollar mark.

The gross value was $520,613, 000, which translates to “the greatest amount of agricultural production in our county, ever,” Flores said.  

Wine grapes continue to be the county’s leading commodity. More than 30 varietals of wine grapes are grown on more than 36,000 acres in Sacramento County. Harvested wine grapes are sold to home winemakers, small boutique wineries and large production wineries across California.

Every year, the value of specific commodities rises or falls based on weather, supply and demand, and market forces. In 2018, wheat, rice and almonds (among other crops) experienced slight increases. Poultry, pears and tomatoes (among others) experienced slight downturns.

Top 10 Commodities Produced in Sacramento County in 2018: (1) Wine Grapes, (2) Milk, (3) Poultry, (4) Pears, (5) Nursery stock (6) Aquaculture (fish, crustaceans, mollusks and aquatic plants), (7) Hay (alfalfa), (8) Cattle & Calves (9) Rice, (10) Field Corn

County agriculture puts the “farm” in the farm-to-fork movement, with more than 500 farmers, growers and agricultural producers making their home in Sacramento County. Most farms and dairies are family-owned.

The 2018 Crop and Livestock report can be found in Sacramento County libraries and on the Sacramento County Agricultural Commissioner’s website.


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SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - The California Trucking Association (CTA) and two California independent owner-operator truck drivers filed an amended complaint with the U.S. Southern District Court seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the employment test set forth in the Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court (Dynamex) decision, which was subsequently codified by the California Legislature in the form of Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5). AB 5, (Lorena Gonzales, D - San Diego), was passed by the California Legislature and signed into law on September 11, 2019, by Governor Gavin Newsom.

“AB 5 threatens the livelihood of more than 70,000 independent truckers,” said CTA’s CEO, Shawn Yadon. “The bill wrongfully restricts their ability to provide services as owner-operators and, therefore, runs afoul of federal law.”

In the suit, plaintiffs argue that the classification test in the Dynamex decision and codified by AB 5 is preempted by the supremacy and commerce clauses in the U.S. Constitution and is in direct conflict with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSA) and the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA).

The new test denies a significant segment of the trucking industry the ability to continue operating as independent owner-operators in California, forcing them to abandon $150,000 investments in clean trucks and the right to set their own schedule and become their own boss.

AB 5, rather than addressing the issue of employee misclassification for all California workers, replaced a longstanding multi-factor test for determining independent contractor status with a one-size-fits-all method, consisting of highly restrictive criteria, riddled with carve-outs and exemptions for specific businesses and industries. Under the new test, independent truckers will be forced to work as employees.

“AB 5 has implications that go beyond employment classification in California,” said Robert R. Roginson, an attorney for CTA. “With more than 350,000 independent owner-operators registered in the United States, the new test imposes an impermissible burden on interstate commerce under the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause and infringes upon decades-old congressional intent to prevent states from regulating the rates, routes and services of the trucking industry.”

For decades in California, more than 70,000 predominantly minority-owned truckers have built their businesses as independent owner-operators. These truckers have just recently invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in their vehicles to meet the nation’s strictest air quality laws.

“Independent truckers are typically experienced drivers who have previously worked as employees and have, by choice, struck out on their own. We should not deprive them of that choice. Some of the country’s most successful trucking companies were started by entrepreneurial independent truckers,” Yadon added. “We can protect workers from misclassification without infringing upon independent truckers’ right to make a living in California.”

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SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CA (MPG) - In California, there are more than 62,000 youth living in foster care and more than 34,000 waiting for a permanent family. In Sacramento County alone, there are 1,690 children and youth in out-of-home care with about 350 of them needing a loving and affirming forever family. 

Each November during National Adoption Month, Sacramento County wants to remind the community that you can make a difference in the life of a child by becoming a resource parent/family. These resource parents, once known as foster parents, provide love, parental care, guidance and stability to children until they can either return to their parents or provide a permanent home through adoption or legal guardianship.

Whether you are married or single, gay or straight, a homeowner or a renter, an aunt, teacher or simply a loving person that wants to positively impact the life of a child, Sacramento County Department of Child, Family and Adult Services hopes you will consider fostering a child. 

We have a particular need for new resource families that can help us move children from a group home setting to a family-based setting. The more families who can open their doors to our children and youth, the better. We are looking for resource families who are able to foster all ages, but particularly, teenagers, LGBTQ youth, African-American children, children with medical needs, emergency/last-minute placements and homes for sibling sets. 

Sacramento County supports, trains and offers guidance, support and assistance to resource families to make sure the journey is a positive transition. While reuniting children with their biological families is the primary goal, staff can help resource parents adopt or take legal guardianship when reunification is not possible.  There is now only one approval process, which creates a continuous care experience for children, as they will not have to switch homes at the point of adoption. 

On November 6, we pause our busy lives long enough to speak the names of thousands of California children who are waiting in foster care for the love and support of a permanent family. Sacramento County and several adoption agencies are hosting the 31st Annual Calling Out of Names at the State Capitol in Room 112 from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.  During the vigil, adoptive parents, child advocates, community leaders and elected officials will take turns reading the names and ages of every single child in California that is waiting for a permanent family. Sadly, some names have been read year after year.

Another event to recognize National Adoption will be held later in the month, when Sacramento Superior Court judges and staff, Department of Child and Family Adult Services, Child Protective Services, Sheriff’s Department, Lilliput, Sierra Forever Families, Uplift, Koinonia, CASA and Soroptomist of Greater Sacramento come together to celebrate the adoptions of several children and their forever families. Along with the adoption proceedings, there will be refreshments and activities for children including hand painting, family photos, balloons and much more. 

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a resource family for local foster children or an adoptive parent, please attend the next Resource Family/Adoptive Parent Orientation or call (916) 875-5543 and visit the Sacramento County Department of Child, Family and Adult Services Resource Family web page.


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A Fair to Remember

Story and photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2019-11-14

Christmas fair founder Heidi Cardena (left) joins Pastor Rich Reimer, Santa Claus and vendor Inge Baylocq at the American River Community Church.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - The American River Community Church will host its fourth annual Christmas Market on Saturday, November 16, from 9 am to 3 pm. Anyone can join the fun. Founded by German-born church member Heidi Cadena as a fundraiser for the congregation’s ministries, the event was previously called the German Christmas Market. Attendance is boosted by the Sacramento German community, for whom gift markets – fragrant with sausages and sauerkraut – are beloved Christmas traditions. 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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SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) released the following statement after Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 113, a housing trailer bill into law. The newly-signed legislation addresses the state's plan to spend $331 million in national mortgage settlement funds. Senate Democrats passed SB 113 on a partisan vote.

The $331 million was created as part of the National Settlement Defense Fund in 2012 following the mortgage crisis. The funds were intended to help distressed homeowners who were victims of predatory lending. But Governor Jerry Brown used the funds to backfill the state budget. The National Asian American Coalition (NAAC) sued the state of California in 2012 for the return of the funds and was finally victorious in July 2019.

Both the previous and current Democratic governors, Brown and Newsom, appealed earlier court rulings against their actions until the California Supreme Court directed the state of California to assist homeowners as originally promised.

In September, Governor Newsom's administration testified that it plans to take a year or more to set up a nonprofit trust that would invest the funds in still-unknown ways, and that it would only spend investment profits, not the actual settlement funds. 

“Since 2015, Senate Republicans have been fighting to help struggling homeowners who suffered during the mortgage meltdown. Families should have had their victory at long last, but instead the Newsom administration has concocted a scheme to study the issue for another year and then channel the funds through a vague and possibly risky investment trust. 

“This decision will create a needless delay of potentially two more years before homeowners might see a dollar in assistance from unknown investment profits.  Also, if the investments lose money, there is no guarantee that the trust would have any profits to spend on homeowner assistance. 

“Families in California already face affordability issues in our state, and now this overdue assistance is delayed once again. This legislation should have simply directed the state to immediately spend the $331 million for its intended purpose of assisting homeowners, not create more delays and disappointments,” said Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove.

Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove represents California's 16th Senate District which encompasses large portions of Kern, Tulare and San Bernardino counties and including the cities of Bakersfield, Barstow, California City, Exeter, Frazier Mountain, Joshua Tree, Mojave, Needles, Ridgecrest, Rosamond, Taft, Tehachapi, Twentynine Palms, Tulare, Visalia, Yucca Valley and portions of the Kern River Valley. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


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Students Celebrate Diverse Cultures at Annual Global Expo at Rio Americano

San Juan Unified School District  |  2019-11-14

Students from Afghanistan, Egypt, Russia, Ukraine, Iraq and Mexico were among many displaying their cultural heritage at the Global Expo. Photo courtesy SJUSD

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - The cultures and traditions of more than a dozen countries came alive during the 4th annual Global Expo at Rio Americano (GEAR).

More than 90 students representing different countries shared their diverse traditions with others. The event featured food, art, games and traditional dances from around the world. 

“I felt the need to make sure my students didn’t turn their backs on their homeland, their culture, their language and GEAR was born,” said Mirna Jope, Rio Americano teacher and lead organizer of the event.

The event drew more than 2,000 people throughout the day.

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SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) – More than 4 million mattresses have been recycled in California by the Bye Bye Mattress program since it began in 2016, according to the recently released 2018 Annual Report from the Mattress Recycling Council (MRC). “The continued growth of the Bye Bye Mattress program demonstrates California is still a global leader in waste reduction at a time when the recycling industry is facing significant challenges,” said MRC’s Managing Director Mike O’Donnell.

Key to that success is MRC’s ongoing efforts to increase program accessibility for all Californians, no matter where they live in the state. In 2018 alone, MRC reported more than 1.4 million mattresses were recycled, an increase of 11 percent from the year before. In addition, more than 80 percent of mattresses discarded in California are now being diverted from landfills, where they would otherwise take up valuable and limited space.

“Easy access to the Bye Bye Mattress recycling network is vital to program participation,” said O’Donnell. “We accomplish this through innovative collaborations with mattress retailers, solid waste facilities and curbside collection programs. We also have non-profit partners, including the California Conservation Corps, Goodwill Industries and Habitat for Humanity.”

MRC increased the number of no-cost permanent collection sites from 163 to 190 across the state in 2018. Bulky item collection programs grew from nine to 40 and collection events increased from 74 to 97. Today, all of California’s 58 counties have access to mattress recycling services.

In addition, MRC’s digital mapping analysis shows that 93 percent of Californians live within 15 miles of the program’s collection network. Even in rural counties, access was measured at 79 percent. This accessibility is even greater when including mattress retailers that are required by law to offer to take back old mattresses during new product delivery.

“We are raising awareness among Californians that mattresses are recyclable and that no-cost recycling options exist throughout the state,” said O’Donnell. “Recycling mattresses keeps them out of landfills and off of our streets, alleys and other public spaces that are often targets of illegal dumping.”

MRC helps combat illegal dumping by participating in local and state task forces as well as through the Illegally Dumped Mattress Collection Initiative. This program collects data on illegally dumped mattresses and uses these statistics to target affected communities. Each year, $1 million is budgeted to fund clean-up activities.

“We are proud of the success of the California mattress recycling program,” continued O’Donnell. “Through MRC, the mattress industry has demonstrated its commitment to environmental stewardship, fostering sustainability and a greener future.”  

The Mattress Recycling Council was formed by the mattress industry to operate recycling programs (known as Bye Bye Mattress) in states which have enacted mattress recycling laws – California, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Since its inception in 2016, the program has recycled more than 4 million mattresses in California through a network of partnerships with local governments, solid waste facilities, non-profit organizations and small and minority-owned businesses throughout the state. For more information, go to

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