Community Unites for Fallen Heroes

Story and picture by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2017-11-08

It is fitting that today we continue to remember each honoree’s service and sacrifice. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - Carmichael and Fair Oaks stalwarts gathered in last Saturday’s rain to recall fallen heroes of nation and community. The annual “Wall of Honor” ceremony was observed at Patriots Park.

Built in 2008, the reserve’s stone monument is dedicated to 13 local men -- from military, police, CHP and fire-fighting forces -- who died in service during Carmichael Park District’s 55-year existence.  Their sacrifice unites surrounding neighborhoods each November. The 13 named heroes fell in uniforms of the U.S. Army, Marines, Air Force, Navy, CHP, police and firefighting services. Plaques recall sacrifice from the Vietnam War years until the present time. 

Ceremony attendees included bereaved families; elected representatives and park district leaders. Congressman Ami Bera and County Supervisor Susan Peters were among last Saturday’s speakers. Dr. Bera said the nation should “stop and consider values that bring us all together.” The best way we can remember our heroes, he suggested, “is to continue the service that they began.”

Supervisor Peters noted that the wall’s plaques named individuals who shared one commitment. “They put service above self,” she said. “regardless of whether they wore a Sheriff’s uniform or that of the Highway Patrol or a branch of the armed services or of fire protection, each was dedicated to the common good.

“It is fitting that today we continue to remember each honoree’s service and sacrifice.”

A new name will soon be added to the wall. In August, Deputy Robert French -- a former member of the Sheriff’s local Problem-Oriented team in the North Division -- died in an August shootout on Fulton Avenue. The tragedy will be recalled next year when Deputy French’s plaque joins those on the Wall of Honor.

Heroes commemorated by the recent ceremony were:

CHP Officer Ronald E. Davis

Army Specialist James E. Schlottman

Army Leiutenant Robert S. Byrnes

Airforce Captain Olin E. Gilbert Jnr

Army Sergeant Larry H. Morford

Firefighter Dean W. Rhoades

US Navy pilot Lieutenant  J. G. David A. Warne

Marine and firefighter Sergeant Brian E. Dunlap

Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin P. Blount

 Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph M. Kievernagel

Army Sergeant Ronald L. Coffelt

Army Specialist Raymond N. Spencer Jnr

Deputy Sheriff Danny P. Oliver

Anyone may visit Patriots Park at 6825 Palm Avenue, Fair Oaks.

Girl Scouts STEM Center Opens in Sacramento

By Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-11-08

Girl Scouts at the Teevhah STEM Center 2 work with mechanical toys as part of an exploration into electronic engineering. (Photo Credit: Girl Scouts of the USA)

Sacramento County, CA (MPG) - Silly boys. Science and technology also are for girls, and the Girl Scouts Heart of Central California (GSHCC) is about to prove it to you.

On Wednesday, Nov. 8, the GSHCC will open the region’s first STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Center + Makerspace, an all-girl facility that will serve as a hub for innovation and exploration across the world of tech and science for girl scouts in the council’s 18-county region.  

The STEM Center + Makerspace, modeled on the Girl Scouts of the USA’s other STEM Centers already operating in other parts of the country, will offer girls scouts in grades K-12 the region’s first open structured learning and development space where they can unleash their curiosity and skills and explore and innovate through a broad range of activities that include a deep dive into the study of robotics, circuitry and programing, as well as the environmental sciences.

“Girl Scouts is uniquely qualified to offer support for girls to work creatively in a single-gender environment, where they can explore new interests and collaborate with other girls,” says Dr. Linda Farley, GSHCC CEO.  “The STEM Center + MakerSpace is an investment in the next generation of Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers and Leaders (G.I.R.L.s.), and will serve as a hub for girl innovation, exploration and discovery for Girl Scouts throughout our 18-county region.”

The GSHCC serves roughly 30,000 girls and 10,000 adult Girl Scout members in counties across Sacramento, Stockton and the Modesto area.  Its new STEM Center, sponsored in part by Intel Corporation, includes the MakerSpace, which encourages the use of design thinking and collaborative problem solving.

“At Intel, we are committed to opening doors to opportunity for girls here in Northern and Central California, and we believe this STEM Center + Makerspace will inspire these girls and give them the skills they’ll need to become future innovators,” says Courtney Martin, Intel public affairs director.

A ‘task force’ of local female innovators and Girl Scout members will collaborate on the new STEM Center’s formation and operations.

The Girl Scout’s push for girl leadership and training in STEM is being fueled by the organization’s drive to reverse what it points to as a decline in the country’s number and efficacy of its STEM-related industries.  Putting STEM in front of girls, first at the pre-college level, the organization hopes, will build on their interest and confidence in the fields of math, science, technology and engineering.  In turn, that knowledge and experience can be expanded at the college level, creating a pipeline of STEM-trained women ready to take their education on to build life-long careers.

According to the organization, America’s status as the world’s leading technology and science innovator appears to be slipping, pointing to a 2015 Pew Research Center report, which suggests that only 29 percent of Americans rated their country’s K-12 education in STEM subjects as “above average” or “the best in the world.”

Since 1912, Girl Scouts has served as one of the most widely supported, all-girl leadership development organizations in the world.  There are currently 112 regional Girl Scout councils across the country representing roughly two million members, where they focus on building courage, confidence and character, and yes, cookies.

But the creation of Girl Scout STEM Centers aims to ratchet up the impact of membership, specifically by working to fill the gaps in educational instruction in the fields of science, engineering and technology and give girls a chance to build careers across sectors that have, in some cases, remained out of reach.

“With our focus on mechanical engineering, biological and environmental sciences, programming and robotics, girls develop skills that have the potential to change their lives,” Farley said.

For more information, please visit: www.girlscoutshcc.org

 

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Jennifer Wood Chosen Environmentalist of the Year

By Lori Morales, CCL  |  2017-11-08

Jennifer Wood. Photo courtesy CCL

Award goes to Sacramento Citizens’ Climate Lobby Volunteer

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - Jennifer Wood received the Environmentalist of the Year Award from the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) November 8th. Jennifer is a volunteer with the Sacramento Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), and she was honored along with other champions of the environment at the annual awards ceremony.

Jennifer Wood founded the Sacramento Chapter of CCL in January of 2013 because of CCL’s emphasis on citizen engagement and its focus on bipartisan national policy. She began as the volunteer Group Leader for the Sacramento Chapter and is now a volunteer Chapter Coordinator, focusing on groups in the Central Valley and Sierras. Jennifer stated: “CCL has an approach that can bridge the political divide and bring many voices into the conversation. We advocate for national climate policy that is equitable, effective, and efficient.”

CCL, which has 84,000 members globally and chapters that cover every Congressional District in the U.S., trains volunteers in the skills of citizen engagement and helps members exercise their political voice. The Sacramento CCL chapter has grown to over 800 members and has developed relationships with Representatives Doris Matsui and Ami Bera, demonstrating community support for common-sense national climate policy. 

Members meet with local elected officials and community leaders and educate the public about national climate solutions. Last June, seven chapter members traveled to Washington, D.C. for CCL’s annual conference, and joined 1,000 volunteers as they lobbied every member of Congress about the need for national climate action.  “It was a life changing experience to participate in grassroots organizing.” said Edith Thacher, Sacramento chapter co-lead, “Imagine hundreds of volunteers walking the halls of Congress, meeting with each representative or their staff, expressing a unified message, and respectfully discussing the congressperson’s perspective on climate action.”

Commenting on the award, Jennifer said, “This award belongs to my Chapter’s members as much as it does to me. There is no CCL without the volunteers and there is no political will for change unless citizens speak out and become active”.

For more information see the CCL Sacramento Chapter website: https://www.sacramentoccl.org/   

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Local Leaders Take Dam Advocacy Efforts to D.C.

From the Office of Senator Nielsen  |  2017-11-08

Senator Nielsen

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama), Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) and representatives from the Oroville Dam Coalition will be traveling to Washington D.C. next week to seek federal assistance with outstanding issues relating to the spillway crisis.

“My constituents living downstream of the Dam are appreciative of the relentless efforts to re-build the spillway in advance of the upcoming storm season. But too many issues remain unresolved,” said Gallagher. “Most obvious is the massive sediment buildup in the Feather River. We don’t need studies and talk, we need to see action.”

The group will be attending a series of meetings with Commissioners and staff from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The schedule also includes briefings with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the United States Army Corp of Engineers, as well as meetings with the Federal Highway Administration regarding Highway 70 improvements.

“Since February, we’ve been told by DWR and other state agencies that ‘everything is on the table’ when it comes to the future of the Oroville Dam complex,” said Nielsen. “We are hopeful that our federal partners will help us get the answers we need and ensure that our communities are given a seat at the table as long-term plans are being developed. This trip is another step to ensure that our community's voice is heard.”

Butte County Supervisor Bill Connelly, Oroville Chamber of Commerce President Sandy Linville, and Darin Gale with the City of Yuba City will be in attendance representing the Oroville Dam Coalition. 

The Oroville Dam Coalition was established to ensure a united voice from downstream communities in the aftermath of the evacuation on February 12th.  

Senator Nielsen represents the Fourth Senate District, which includes the counties of Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba. To contact Senator Jim Nielsen, please call him at 916-651-4004, or via email at senator.nielsen@sen.ca.gov.

Assemblyman James Gallagher represents the 3rd Assembly District, which encompasses all of Glenn, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba counties as well as portions of Butte and Colusa counties.

Source: Office of Senator Nielsen

 

 
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Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - SMUD has posted the names of customers and vendors who have not yet cashed checks dated between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014. The list of names will remain online until December 22, 2017. Each year SMUD posts this information in an effort to locate the money’s rightful owner.

Claims for these uncashed checks should be filed on or before December 22, 2017 with SMUD Unclaimed Monies, 6201 S Street, Mail Stop K109, Sacramento, CA 95817-1818 or by calling (916) 732-7440.

Replacement checks will be issued only to the payee whose name is on the list, or upon proof of death, to the payee’s beneficiary. The claimant’s name must be included on the list of unclaimed checks for the claim to be considered valid. Checks not claimed by December 22, 2017 become SMUD property under California Code Section 50050-50057.

Source: SMUD

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Fat Chance, Fast Change

By Rick Reed  |  2017-11-08

Jason Ra Bromleyy, before his “Fast Change” with Robinson’s TKD. Photo courtesy Rick Reed

Motivation for Men this Holiday Season

Like the Titanic’s meeting the iceberg, our holiday excess with gravy is disaster, dead ahead! For men sitting all day at work then watching sports season after season on the couch, the nachos are not our friends.  The holiday meals ahead are like that proverbial iceberg in our diet. How did thirty-five year old Jason Ray Broumley get so cut and recapture his younger self? He says it was three things, two of them will power and Taekwondo.

Not TNT, but Taekwondo blew inches off his waist, as Jason describes his once sorry state, “Way too heavy, walking around it was awful my back was aching, short of breath, it actually felt like I was never going to be able to do anything physical, you know, ever again.”

That kind of mental stress can make it worse for many men as they end up eating from the guilt felt in being too heavy and unhealthy. A vicious cycle sped up as hearty fat loaded meals are the centerpiece on the holiday calendar. WebMD reports obesity as 20% over your normal weight for your height. They also tie heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and many other potentially life-threatening ailments to being overweight. 

How did Jason break the cycle? He says determination was his key, “I definitely wanted something different, I wanted to change my life.” And with time, training and support it has. “I feel healthier now than I ever have in my life because of Taekwondo” he said.  From 260 to 180 with four inches less to carry around the middle, Jason says TKD has been an inspiration to also improve his diet.  “I make better food choices, and haven’t eaten fast food in years, so training is more than just a workout. It’s incentive to live better.”

Jason says he tried gym work, but found it mind-numbing and uncomfortable, “Kind of monotonous, same old thing every time, boring!”  His choice to become healthier with TKD was influenced by his father studying martial arts at a time he wasn’t interested. Another factor was making time to get his health in order, The Black Belt says, “I wanted something challenging. I was going to be learning a skill. It’s something different every time I go. I’m learning something new every time so I think that’s why I chose Taekwondo.” Whatever form of exercise, getting off that couch, up from that seat and away from the screen are the first steps for men losing and controlling weight.

Rust may be good patina on old pickup trucks, but bad for men who ‘rust’ when they rest too much, and modern society keeps us sitting more often. A bridal services business owner often working at his computer, Jason Broumley found Robinson’s Taekwondo as his choice for healthy fitness, and founder Grandmaster Clint Robinson an inspiration. Movement is the key, flexibility the door to better days as body, mind and spirit are welded in the desire to lose weight and be healthy. According to the slimmed down Ray, “A better state of mind, physically sure, and spiritually too I think. Taekwondo has done that for me, for sure.”

Making the decision to get healthy is critical, but Jason says, just showing up to train is half the battle.  “I didn’t think I was going to come back. After class I was down on the mat thinking I might not get up! But, I just kept going back.”  That determination proved to be self-fulfilling as weight loss, muscle and a better state of mind gives life new vigor. Jason’s wife Bundi says, “His stress level has gone way down. He’s more relaxed.” And yes, men being relaxed and healthy is sexy. “Yes,” Jason testified, “I would definitely say it is.” That’s the third thing!

So, enjoy the holidays, eat in moderation then get up, get busy with movement and take a fat chance on a fast change! Gain more from life like Jason, whatever exercise works for you. If you would like to try Taekwondo drop by a Robinson’s TKD location for three free lessons, compliments of Jason and Messenger Publishing Group.

For more information visit www.robinsonstkd.com

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Cannabis Sellers Must Register with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration

By Paul Cambra, CDTFA  |  2017-11-08

You gotta register man! Stock photo

Sacramento, CA (MPG) -  Individuals planning to sell cannabis or cannabis products beginning January 1, 2018, must register with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) for a seller’s permit. Cannabis cultivators, processors, manufacturers, retailers, microbusinesses and distributors who make sales are required to obtain and maintain a seller’s permit as a prerequisite for applying for a license with the Bureau of Cannabis Control, the Department of Food and Agriculture, or the Department of Public Health. It is easy and convenient to register online with the CDTFA. Individuals who already have a seller’s permit (including a permit previously issued by the Board of Equalization) do not need to register for a new one.

In addition, distributors of cannabis and cannabis products must also register with the CDTFA for a cannabis tax permit – which is separate from a seller’s permit – in order to report and pay the two new cannabis taxes to the CDTFA starting in January 2018. Registration for the cannabis tax permit will be available on November 20, 2017.

Beginning January 1, 2018, two new cannabis taxes will be in effect. A 15 percent excise tax is imposed on purchasers of cannabis and cannabis products. Retailers are required to collect the excise tax from the purchaser and pay it to the cannabis distributor. A tax on the cultivation of cannabis that enters the commercial market is imposed on cultivators, who are required to pay the cultivation tax to either a distributor or manufacturer depending upon the nature of the transaction. The cultivation tax rates are $9.25 per dry weight ounce of cannabis flowers, and $2.75 per dry-weight ounce of cannabis leaves.

Individuals who operate a cannabis business that does not make taxable sales will need to obtain a certification letter from the CDTFA indicating that their business does not require a seller’s permit. The certification letter will be available through the CDTFA online registration system beginning November 20, 2017. Individuals may also sign up for CDTFA Cannabis ListServ notifications for the latest information on how to comply with the new laws related to cannabis businesses.

More information about the permits necessary to collect these new taxes is available in this special notice and in the Tax Guide for Cannabis Businesses.

 

Source: CDTFA

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Will Taxpayers Stand a Chance Against New Bureaucracy?

By George Runner, BOE  |  2017-11-03

George Runner, BOE

In September, two Inland Empire small business owners exposed sloppy work by a state auditor during two tax appeals that were heard before the State Board of Equalization. In doing so, the business owners scored unlikely victories against powerful state government.

As an elected member of the board who heard the case, my job isn’t to protect the state from itself. My job is to provide agency oversight and apply tax laws fairly and equally. If the state is at fault, taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook. It’s that simple.

The improbable victories, however, raise an important question: Will ordinary taxpayers stand a chance against the new and powerful Office of Tax Appeals beginning January 1?

In the first case, a state auditor lost sensitive taxpayer information, causing the taxpayer to go through the tedious work of changing all her accounts since her driver’s license, social security number, bank account numbers and other sensitive information were included in the missing paperwork.

The state never found her records, but that didn’t stop auditors from “guesstimating” she owed more taxes.

In the other case, the auditor visited an Upland restaurant owner. The auditor made careless errors and used unfounded assumptions to justify a much higher tax bill than was warranted.

After hearing testimony, Democrats and Republicans voted in favor of the two taxpayers, relieving them of thousands of dollars in taxes, penalties and interest the state claimed they owed. After a long and lengthy appeals process, the two taxpayers prevailed, and in the process, helped expose some serious problems.

With these cases in mind, we all should be aware not every taxpayer has resources to fight the state, even when it’s clearly wrong. As matter of fact, the two businesses owners represented themselves before the board without attorneys. It’s easy to see why many worry the deck is stacked against the little guy. After all, the state has a horde of auditors, collectors and lawyers on payroll—all at taxpayer expense.

When taxpayers prevail, it gives hope. It signals that maybe, just maybe, there are checks and balances that correct injustice. But, why didn’t supervisors and managers catch these problems during the appeals process? And what will happen next year when state workers, rather than elected officials, start hearing tax appeals?

Earlier this month, the Legislature and governor hurriedly enacted faulty legislation creating positions for state employees who will be paid annual salaries of up to $143K to hear tax appeals. It’s an open question whether these new panels will be fair to taxpayers.

Concerns are already growing that there could be conflicts of interest.

In fact, nothing in the new law prevents the state from filling positions with its own tax agency attorneys.

My Democratic colleague Fiona Ma is so concerned about this possibility that she sent a letter to the governor warning:

“If we were to allow these same biased attorneys to serve as Administrative Law Judges on this new panel, I believe we would be doing a grave injustice to taxpayers and be setting the reform effort up for failure.”

She’s right. It would be incredibly naïve to think unelected bureaucrats won’t be pressured into ruling against taxpayers to protect state coffers. If that were to happen—and it will—it would add additional stigma to an already misguided reform effort that stripped taxpayers of their rights.

George Runner is an elected member of the State Board of Equalization.

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Soaring to New Heights

Story and pictures by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2017-11-03

Guided by teachers Becky Page and Tavia Pagan, Orangevale kindergarten pupils enjoy an American River nature walk. The children display pictures of the rare bald eaglets they named Peekaboo and Poppy. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner

American River Eaglets Named and Famed

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - What’s in a name? Monikers chosen by children for local bald eagle babies are on the lips of raptor fans all over the world.

In the space of 12 weeks, siblings “Peekaboo and Poppy” fed, flapped and eventually flew before the kindergarten children’s eyes. Thanks to photos and social media, thousands of followers -- some from as far away as the Arab States -- experienced the growth of eaglets deemed closest-hatched to Sacramento in recorded history.

For the record, Department of Fish and Game gurus documented the American River chicks as Eaglet One and Eaglet two. Anthropomorphism – the practice of bestowing human traits and names on wild animals – is discouraged by scientists. However, nobody told the Golden Valley River School children that. “Peek and Poppy” flew the nest in June but the huge bald babies will soar in the children’s memories forever. “We walk the American River trail every week,” explains teacher Tavia Pagan. “One day in fall (2016), an adult bald eagle flew right over the children. We all knew the national bird. It was extra special to see it right in front of us.”

Weeks later, the junior naturalists beheld a huge nest. “It was exciting,” recalls fellow teacher Becky Page. “We decided to keep an eye on things. All through winter, the children looked forward to visiting what we called ‘our eagles.’ One day in spring, we heard a new little sound from the nest. We realized it was a hungry baby.”

The snowy-crowned parents began supplying the nest with fish from the river. Eventually, bystanders saw a fluffy head rise to welcome deliveries. “One of the children named him ‘Peekaboo,’ explained teacher Pagan. “We all started calling him that.” When a second baby crested, the teachers asked their classes to volunteer another name. Poppy was the final choice; evoking flower-lined river trails and the magic of a wee head popping above the nest. Delighted by Facebook reports, raptor lovers world-wide soon adopted the names. By pure serendipity, the kindergartners also nailed eaglet genders. Peekaboo, they decided, was a boy and Poppy his little sister. Beak shape – a text-book sex identifier  – eventually proved truth had come from the mouths of babes.

Federal law protects bald eagles. As the chicks grew, the school party and other trail users were soon warned against lingering near the raptors’ nest tree. Cordons went up and Park Rangers cautioned visitors. “We were still able to do our walks,” explains teacher Page.  “The children were reverend. They used their whisper-voices near the nest. They knew to respect the eagle family’s space. We could see Peekaboo and Poppy when they began to flap their wings. Then we saw one of them on a branch. One day, we saw there was only one baby left.”

Alpha chick Peekaboo fledged first. A week later, his sister flew the coop. For weeks, their dutiful parents continued food deliveries in and near the nesting tree. In summer, the juveniles began hunting on their own. By fall, they had found territory downriver. “The children were concerned about where Peek and Poppy were,” says teacher Pagan. “We encouraged them to use their imagination.”

The teachers consider the five and six-year-olds’ eagle encounter has blessed them with extra wildlife appreciation. “We hope this experience helps them grow into people who protect nature,” says Tavia Pagan. “We protect what we love. And we only love what we experience.”

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Local Teens Host Public Speaking Banquet

By Jennifer Harris, Toastmasters  |  2017-11-03

Attendees at the Toastmasters Youth Leadership Program event. Photo courtesy Toastmasters

Carmichael, CA (MPG) - For eight weeks, a group of Sacramento area homeschool students participated in a Toastmasters Youth Leadership Program. At a showcase banquet on October 25, the students presented a typical Toastmasters meeting demonstrating their public speaking skills with informative speeches and impromptu responses. 

During the Toastmasters program, students learned how to give speeches, become better listeners, become more comfortable in front of an audience, evaluate speeches, and speak with limited preparation.

Carmichael Toastmasters sponsored this program which is offered free nationwide as a service to the community. Jennifer Harris, a member of Carmichael Toastmasters Club #2213, coordinated the Youth Leadership Program.

The program was led primarily by the students, who served as President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Sergeant-At-Arms. Mrs. Harris guided the participants as they learned how to conduct a meeting and how to improve their speaking abilities.

The showcase banquet was held at a Sacramento Public Library on Wednesday, Oct. 25th. The banquet began with a meal, then transitioned into a typical Youth Leadership Program meeting. Several participants gave speeches or participated in Table Topics, an impromptu-speaking exercise. The audience was also invited to participate in Table Topics. It was sure an inspiring evening! 

For more information about the Toastmaster Youth Leadership Program, visit www.toastmaster.org.

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