A Carmichael Hero

Words and pictures Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2019-02-13

Jack and Jerry Pefley. The couple's 70-plus-year marriage survived war, separation and illness. Jack died recently at the age of 95. Picture by Susan Maxwell Skinner

Carmichael Boy Through and Through -- Jack Pefley Dies, 95

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - A warrior for his nation, his God, his family and his community, Jack Pefley died last month at the age of 95.

Founding one of Carmichael’s oldest clans, his parents and grandparents arrived in with the first wave of colony pioneers in 1910. Town founder Daniel Carmichael sold the family its 10 acres on California Ave. Born in 1923 at 12 pounds, 8 oz, Jack was the third child of Harold and Nellie Pefley. An infant moniker, “the wee one,” stuck all his life.

Jack and siblings Richard and Barbara were rough-and-tumble country kids during the great Depression. They hiked a daily mile to Carmichael School and later, six miles to San Juan High. Community matriarchs Mary Deterding and Effie Yeaw were near neighbors. The children studied psalms at Carmichael Presbyterian (then Carmichael Community Church) each Sunday.

During WW II, Jack followed his brother into uniform. Thus began a 25-year naval career from which he retired as a Commander. Jack claimed he favored the Navy over the Army because he craved “three hot meals a day and no sleeping in mud.” A lifetime passion for aviation began as he learned to fly amphibious craft off Donner Lake.  The farm boy’s extraordinary skill was soon noted. Called an “absolute artist” in the cockpit, he saw action in the Philippines, Japan, Korea. He later dog-fought with Russian MIGs in the Cold War.

During his Korean deployment, he was hailed for getting every war-wounded passenger off a downed PBM Mariner while “working the pedals” to keep the amphibian afloat. He then managed to re-fly and save the aircraft. Asked how he managed, Pefley replied “I’m a Carmichael farm boy and I know how drive a tractor.”

His service continued during peacetime as a Navy test pilot. He mastered jets and survived several crash landings in prototypes that did not pass muster. He also earned a university degree in electrical engineering. Leap-frogging between Berkeley and the Willow Grove Base (PA), he wooed Hatboro native Jerry Kratz. They married in 1948, raised three kids and last year marked a 70th wedding anniversary. The nonagenarian groom offered advice for a long marriage: "be away from home as much as possible," he joked. Indeed, military postings to Japan, Morocco, the Philippines, France -- and his civilian career as a World Airways pilot -- meant many long separations for the Pefleys. 

In 1983, the pilot retired to his Rockin' KP (Kratz-Pefley) Ranch and resumed farm boy chores. Community endeavors included his 42-year support of the Carmichael Chamber of Commerce; board membership for Carmichael Park District and nine decades of fidelity to his church. He offered a wide smile while bicycling neighborhood streets; while lunching with his wife at La Bou or laboring (in lederhosen shorts) among grapevines his ancestors had planted on Palm Drive. Jack Pefley quips were legend and -- like those of many Greatest Generation survivors -- their punchlines were seldom politically correct.

As his health declined, Jack and Jerry moved to Carmichael’s Eskaton Village and recently, to Mercy McMahon Terrace in Sacramento. A few weeks ago, the man of God cheerfully told friends he would soon be in heaven. He left them days later. “Dad’s only complaint was that he would have preferred to die in Carmichael,” says his daughter, Christine Mayer. “He was a Carmichael boy, through and through.”

Jack Pefley is survived by his wife Jerry, children John, Christine, and Patricia, and three grandchildren. His memorial will be celebrated at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery (Dixon) on March 1 at 1pm. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Carmichael Park Foundation or Sacramento Valley National Cemetery.

A New Safe Landing

By Paul Scholl  |  2019-02-08

Sales Director, Jennifer Valcazar (middle, black dress) invites chamber members and her staff to celebrate the grand opening. Pictures are Kelly Foley, Honorary Mayor of Trillium Real Estate; Business Office Manager Neda Soudani; Director of Fun Mai Yang; Virginia Stone, Chamber Executive Director; Gabrielle Rasi, Chamber President; Natalie McNeal, Executive Director. Photo by Paul Scholl

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Change can often be good. Getting together with friends and neighbors to celebrate can be even better.

The Carmichael Chamber of Commerce held a grand opening and ribbon cutting event to celebrate the new management and name change at one of central Carmichael’s senior living facilities.

Braving the rain and wind storm, dozens of local business owners, friends and residents gathered for some simple fun, good food and networking at the after-hours event.

The Landing, formerly known as Sagebrook, has transitioned to an Independent Senior Living environment. During the change they have made many improvements to suit more independent lifestyle seniors.

Sales Director, Jennifer Valcazar, presented a special toast to all of her staff, thanking them for making it a great place to work and for all the love and care they’ve given their residents.

The grounds offer a quiet, quaint and beautiful living setting amongst large redwood trees in a secured gated community, and a fabulous and affordable retirement living option in the sought-after Carmichael neighborhood.

A tour of the facility was available to those attending the grand opening. You could see the environment was one where our residents feel valued.  It’s evident that their goal to make sure every resident in our community loves their stay. They offer spacious studio and one bedroom suites, offering full size kitchens, private patio, meal programs, transportation and activities.

The team is experienced in working with seniors and has made a solid commitment to help and give back to those who built this community. The culinary team has worked hard to develop an innovating and inviting “Farm-to-Table” Dining Program that pleases even the pickiest of eaters.

These Independent Living apartments are filled with residents that have retired and have a desire for a more relaxed lifestyle. Some of the newest residents have come from the Northern California Camp Fire areas and have grown to really appreciate their new neighbors here in Carmichael.

The Landing is located next door to Carmichael Park, with its 38-acre park offering a dog park, off-leash area, sports fields and courts, picnic shelter, and the band shell which holds many concerts and events.

Find out more about the Carmichael Chamber of Commerce at www.carmichaelchamber.com. If you own a business, call 916-481-1002 to learn more about how the chamber can benefit you.

To find out more about The Landing, call 916-481-7105, or visit their website; TheLandingSL.com. They are located at 7125 Fair Oaks Blvd., Carmichael, CA 95608

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Women's Empowerment Receives $25K from US Bank

By Kristin Thébaud  |  2019-02-08

Lisa Culp of Women’s Empowerment receives a check from Jessica Cook of U.S. Bank for Women’s Empowerment’s career-readiness, job training and financial literacy programs for women who are homeless.  Photo courtesy Thébaud Communications

Funds will provide job skills training and financial literacy for homeless women

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) -  Women’s Empowerment has received a $25,000 grant from U.S. Bank Foundation’s Community Possible program. The grant will fund job skills training, career-readiness classes and financial literacy programs for Sacramento women experiencing homelessness.

“U.S. Bank continues to invest in the bright futures of homeless women through its generous donations to our job-readiness programs,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “Our partnership with U.S. Bank ensures women can break the cycle of homelessness by gaining the skills needed to secure employment, regain a home and manage finances. When our mothers become financially self-sufficient, they create a better life for their children.”

Since 2001, Women’s Empowerment has been working to break the cycle of homelessness for women and children in Sacramento. In the initial nine-week program, women who are homeless receive free onsite child care in the group’s child development center and transportation assistance. Each woman works with a master’s level social worker to address her root causes of homelessness. She attends classes on job-readiness, confidence building, health and empowerment, as well as support groups for domestic violence and substance abuse. Financial empowerment courses are provided, including budgeting, improving credit score and second chance checking. With the help of volunteer teachers, women unlearn financial habits and create a step-by-step action plan for achieving their financial goals. Women then focus on job placement with their employment specialist and volunteer career mentor. 

Women who have graduated from the nine-week program can enroll in the group’s graduate services at any point when they need assistance. Services include paid job training, vocational certifications, counseling with a social worker and employment specialist, access to a professional clothing closet, and job retention services for employer and employee.  

“At U.S. Bank, we invest in and support programs and organizations that help people succeed in the workforce and gain greater financial literacy,” said Jessica Cook, assistant vice president at U.S. Bank. “Through our Community Possible giving and engagement platform we are working to close the gaps between people and possibility. Our partnership with Women’s Empowerment is doing just that.”

Women’s Empowerment is an award-winning organization that has graduated 1,554 homeless women and their 3,738 children. Last year, 82 percent of graduates found homes and 76 percent found jobs or enrolled in school or training. The program combines self-esteem courses, job training, health classes and support services to help homeless women across diverse ages, races and cultures. Women’s Empowerment is funded through private donations from the community and receives no government funding except for in-kind rent from the County of Sacramento. To make a donation: www.womens-empowerment.org

Community Possible is the corporate giving and volunteer program at U.S. Bank, focused on the areas of Work, Home and Play. The company invests in programs that provide stable employment, a safe place to call home and a community connected through arts, culture, recreation and play. For more information: www.usbank.com/community.

Source: Thébaud Communications

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New Homes and New Park for Fair Oaks

Story by Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-02-08

The Heritage at Gum Ranch, a new housing community developed by Elliott Homes, is currently under construction on the south end of the Gum Ranch property, northeast of Bella Vista High School. Photo provided by Elliott Homes.

FAIR OAKS, CA (MPG) - The Heritage at Gum Ranch, a new housing community developed by Elliott Homes, is currently under construction on the south end of the Gum Ranch property, northeast of Bella Vista High School. The project will add approximately 250 new homes to the area.

Many streets in the development have been paved and some street signs are already in place. The community’s main entrance, off Kenneth Ave., will be “Gum Ranch Road.” Secondary access will be from Treecrest Ave. to the west and from Madison Ave. to the south.

Ralph Carhart, chairman of the Fair Oaks Recreation and Park District (FORPD) Board, said that “the Gum Ranch property has been like the elephant in the room for decades…Everybody has been curious what would happen there. So there’s some relief that we finally know what is going in.” Carhart explained that various developments have been proposed for the Gum Ranch property throughout the years, but they were opposed by the neighboring residents. Carhart said that he believes this project has been “pretty well supported because it’s consistent with what’s been expected as part of the special planning area.” Carhart described prior proposals that pushed for the development of high-density housing, such as apartments, but Elliott Homes has “evened out the density,” which he believes is very important to the people who live in adjacent neighborhoods.

As part of their development of The Heritage at Gum Ranch community, Elliott Homes will also be building Gum Ranch Park, which will be dedicated to FORPD upon completion. Carhart said that as the density of housing in Fair Oaks increases it is critical to maintain parks and open spaces. He said, “Acres of native oaks have been saved in the area adjacent to Arcade Creek where the late Claudia and Irving Gum formerly sold pumpkins and provided hay rides through the pumpkin patches. The protected oak woodland will be incorporated in the new park as nature walk areas.”

Carhart expressed gratitude that the natural beauty of the property will be preserved, stating how important the property was to the late Irving Gum: “That land was his love.”

Carhart explained that Elliott Homes is developing the park but it will be maintained by the FORPD, funded through district assessments paid by the property owners of the Gum Ranch community. The collected funds are required to be spent maintaining the Gum Ranch Park and cannot be spent elsewhere in the District. While Elliott Homes is paying all the costs associated with development, the FORPD has been involved in the park design and worked with the landscape architects. Carhart said, “It will provide a nice transition from Kenneth Ave., with paths off Kenneth into the nature area that will be preserved with the oaks, and then into the developed park.”

Price Walker, vice president of project development for Elliott Homes, said that the model homes are currently under construction, but work on the park has not yet started. “We plan to start work on the park later this year,” said Walker. “The park will be a great amenity…It will be about four acres in total.” Walker said that native grasses and “the existing oak grove will be preserved,” and Elliott Homes plans to create walkways for easy access through the extensive nature area.

The FORPD has approved the design of the park, and Walker said, “Per our park development agreement with the District we are required to complete the park by April 1, 2020. So we should be under construction this summer.”

The park will have numerous amenities, including an open-turf play area, a tot lot designed with rubber safety material, a spin merry-go-round, a water play area, a wooden climbing structure, an outdoor fitness complex, picnic pavilions with tables and BBQs, and various paths and benches. The park will also have security lighting for increased safety.

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A Singing Valentine Coming Your Way!

By Judi Naill  |  2019-02-07

What a great way to have fun! Ladies from the community are invited to attend rehearsals. Photo courtesy SVC.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Valentine's Day is almost here!  You can give that special someone an unforgettable gift!  Candy, cards and flowers are nice, but adding a Singing Valentine will create a lasting memory!  Quartets from Sacramento Valley Chorus will deliver Singing Valentines on Thursday, February 14.  Your sweetheart, family member or good friend will be surprised and thrilled when a quartet delivers two songs, a rose, candy and a beautiful card to him or her.  The package is only $40, and can be delivered to the home or business of your choice in the greater Sacramento area, including Placer, El Dorado and Nevada County.  Singing Valentines are popular, so call early to ensure availability.  Call 916-761-2998, to arrange for delivery.  

The award winning Sacramento Valley Chorus, under the direction of Master Director, Dede Nibler, has approximately 90 members.  The Chorus is preparing to compete Internationally in New Orleans in September. 

Ladies from the community are invited to attend rehearsals any Wednesday night at 6:30 pm.  For more information, visit SacramentoValleyChorus.com.   

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Sac County Airport Firefighters “Brave the Shave”

 Sacramento County Special Release  |  2019-02-06

Sacramento County Airport Firefighters “Brave the Shave” in honor of  Captain Anderson. Photo courtesy Sacramento County.

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CA (MPG) - Sacramento County Airport Firefighters shaved their heads as part of the second annual “Brave the Shave” in honor of Captain Tim Anderson, a Sacramento County Airport Firefighter who lost his life to cancer in 2017. Brave the Shave was started one year ago by Tim’s son Mason, when his mother Lacey was diagnosed with breast cancer just 6 months after his dad, Captain Tim Anderson died.

After hearing the news of his mom's diagnosis, Mason at 10 years old wanted to have a shaving party in an effort to turn a difficult situation into something positive. Mason challenged local area firefighters to shave their heads with him as a way to honor his dad and support his mother. In 2017, 112 firefighters in 4 states and 2 countries shaved their heads in support of the Anderson family. ​

Mason’s mom Lacey is now cancer free and this year Mason would like to open Brave the Shave up to all firefighters and their families affected by cancer in an effort to make December Firefighter Cancer Awareness month. Firefighters and anyone else wanting to offer their support were asked to shave their heads in the month of December and post the pictures or videos to Mason's Facebook page Brave the Shave with Mason Anderson or his Instagram Brave the Shave Mason Anderson. This year's goal is 150 shaved heads. Mason is only 57 shaved heads away from meeting that goal!

Source: Sacramento County Media

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The Latest Job demand and hiring trends

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Employers are downshifting in the hiring race as 2019 begins. One regional company is reducing workforce by more than fifty percent (50%) as tariff related contract losses impact Sacramento area employment. In direct contacts with regional employers between November 19th and December 17th, Pacific Staffing discovered fifty-six percent (56%) of companies are hiring in the First Quarter of 2019.

Hiring has pulled back from this same time one year ago when sixty-five percent (65%) planned to hire in January, February and March. While the pace of hiring among top Sacramento regional employers has fallen throughout 2018 companies report finding applicants and specific skilled workers remain a top challenge in the new year.

While not a single company surveyed planned first quarter layoffs in 2018, in the first three months of 2019 seven percent (7%) are reducing workforces. Staff reductions are attributed to seasonal change and slower demand for products and services. Forty-four percent (44%) of hiring in the first quarter is for attrition, or replacements, among existing workforces while employers seek just forty-two percent (42%) for growth.

By talking to top regional firms each quarter since 1992, Pacific Staffing has learned there are always hiring challenges for employers, regardless of economic direction. In this first quarter of the new year seventeen percent (17%) of employers also report a continuing challenge with finding enough applicants, despite the slowdown. Others also citing increased minimum wage and hiring specific skilled trades as workplace concerns.

Sales, customer service, accounting/finance, technical, warehouse and shipping experience is in high demand through March. Drivers for route and delivery remain scarce.

The most active sector is Service companies with Manufacturers second, followed by Construction and Retail through January, February and March of 2019.

Sacramento Regional Top Companies Polled by Industry were Service (54%), Manufacturers (25%), Construction (19%) and Retail (2%)

For more information, employment blogs & market surveys go to www.pacificstaffing.com.

Source: Pacific Staffing

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SMUD Awards Nearly $60,000 in Powering Futures Scholarships

SMUD Special Release  |  2019-02-06

Recipients of SMUD’s 2018/2019 Powering Futures scholarships pose with SMUD’s Board of Directors and Executives after being recognized for their hard work and achievements at the Dec. 20 Board meeting. Photo courtesy SMUD

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - SMUD’s Board of Directors recently recognized the 21 college students who have been awarded Powering Futures scholarships for the 2018/19 academic year. All students received scholarships between $1,500 and $5,000, and the opportunity to work at SMUD as a paid intern.

The awards were based on academic merit and financial need, and preference was given to students who have declared a major relevant to SMUD.

Most of the students who receive a scholarship also accept paid summer internships in a variety of SMUD departments, including Grid Operations, Customer Operations, Geographical Information Systems, Warehouse and Fleet Operations among others. The internships provide students with excellent opportunities to learn practical skills and help launch themselves into future careers.

“The Powering Futures scholarship program helps us strengthen our talent pipeline and meet our future workforce needs,” said SMUDHuman Resources, Diversity & Inclusion Director Laurie Rodriguez. “We’re proud to support such an exceptional group of Sacramento students this year, and we look forward to seeing them back in the summer for their internships. They’ll have a great chance to learn about working in the energy industry and gain real-world experience that will help them in all of their future endeavors.”

The 2019/20 scholarship application period began on January 7 and will close on February 24.  For those interested in applying, please visit,smud.org/Scholarships.

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Senator Gaines Sworn in as Board of Equalization Member

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG)  - Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado) was sworn in as an elected Member of the California State Board of Equalization (BOE) during a ceremony held at the Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building in Downtown Sacramento. The oath of office was administered by Governor Gavin Newsom.

“I am excited to continue serving Californians as a taxpayer advocate,” said Senator Gaines. “My new role as a BOE Member comes with different challenges and opportunities, but my number one priority is to ensure hardworking Californians are allowed fair tax policies that create jobs and grow our economy.”

Senator Gaines will represent more than nine million California residents living in the 1st Equalization District, which spans inland California from San Bernardino County to the Oregon border. The five-member BOE is a publicly elected tax board responsible for administering Property Tax, Alcoholic Beverage Tax, and Tax on Insurers programs.

“Californians should be treated with respect and fairness when it comes to tax administration. They are tired of being over-taxed, and over-regulated. I pledge to fight on their behalf,” said Senator Gaines.

Prior to being elected to the BOE, Senator Gaines served 12 years in the State Legislature as a tireless advocate for California’s taxpayers, ratepayers, businesses and families. He fought to protect citizen privacy and led major efforts to bring thousands of new jobs to the state, as well as support critical legislation to strengthen and expand California’s infrastructure.

In addition to his life in public service, Senator Gaines is a successful small business owner, having owned Gaines Insurance for more than 30 years. He has been married to his wife Beth since 1986 and together they reside in El Dorado County and are blessed with six children and two grandchildren.

As a constitutional officer, Senator Gaines is currently the highest-ranking elected Republican state official in California.

Source: Office of Ted Gaines

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Water is Local Rotarian’s Gift for Native Village

By Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2019-02-06

Clean, free drinking water is now a reality for many Ugandans.  Carmichael Rotarian and water engineer Richard Olebe led a campaign to provide the precious commodity for his native village. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Carmichael resident Richard Olebe’s baby brother died after drinking contaminated water in his Ugandan village 67 years ago.

Today, thanks to efforts by Olebe, plus Ugandan and Sacramento Rotarians, more than 10,000 Ugandans will rejoice in safe water. Spearheading the mission, Olebe (73) is well-versed in his homeland’s needs. “My sisters spent hours every day collecting dirty water,” he recalls. “As a result, they couldn’t go to school. It’s not just a Ugandan problem; 300 million Africans don’t have access to safe drinking water today.”

The Kenya and Stanford-trained engineer worked for the California Department of Water Resources for 22 years. He joined Carmichael Rotary Club two years ago. “In 2016, Rotarians from Tororo (Uganda) approached me suggesting a project to improve life for thousands of people,” he explains. “They proposed replacing dirty water supplies for my former village of Iyolwa, in south-east Uganda.”

A plan -- to drill five wells; to dig pipelines and to build tanks for communities and schools – was approved. Fundraising for the $200,000 project began last year. Rotarians in Tororo and Carmichael came up with nearly $60,000. This sum was matched by club members in Sacramento, Uganda and Tanzania. Rotary Foundations Global Matching Funds supplied the balance.  “Iyolwa people began drinking water from our wells at the beginning of December,” reports Olebe.

“These are poor, poor, people. I’m proud we could do this for them. The villagers now have safe, free water for the first time in their lives. Babies won’t die like my brother did. Girls will go to school instead of trudging miles with jerry cans on their heads. Lack of finances prevented this from happening for many lifetimes.”

“The villagers dug the pipelines,” he says. “We’ve given them spare equipment in case of breakages. They’ll also share the cost of employing someone to maintain wells and pipelines.” Now retired, Olebe self-funded several trips to his homeland as the project progressed.  “I’ve seen people’s faces,” he says. “They’re happy and grateful for what we’ve given them. And I’m grateful Carmichael and Tororo could come together like this. Helping a village is one step toward saving the world.”

Learn about Carmichael Rotary at

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