Property Business Improvement District Gets Underway

By Shelly Lembke  |  2017-01-20

Spearheaded by the Carmichael Chamber of Commerce, after a special vote, a new Property Business Improvement District (PBID) has been formed to give a fresh face to local businesses in the Carmichael corridor.

According Carmichael Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Linda Melody, the new PBID will be a win-win for citizens and businesses, as well as the city. The PBID is a non-profit, with a 501C6 designation as a “mutual benefit” non-profit, now known as the “Carmichael Improvement District, Inc.

“It will serve to help bring improvements to Carmichael and draw the business community together. Carmichael is the 16th PBID in Sacramento County, where an assessment is voted on by business property owners, who also help to decide what the funds will be used for. Best of all, those monies stay in Carmichael,” said Melody.

The PBID will be responsible for improvements and services within the designated area, which include a variety of enhancements such as streetscape, image improvements, advocacy, better safety, cleanliness, economic and administration upgrades. All this will be funded and directed by property owners.

According to the Carmichael District website, the Management District plan is available online. “Detail on the concerns and solutions offered by this entity may be found on this site ( along with board leadership detail and a bit of history on this significant effort for our future. District operations will create clear and demonstrated improvements for ownership, bettering the experience of all who live, work and enjoy Carmichael now and in the years ahead.”

The Carmichael Chamber of Commerce has been around for nearly 70 years. As issues and times have changed, the PBID is one tool the Chamber can use to find workable solutions for businesses in the corridor.

“Property owners are concerned about safety and security, about the homeless issue, about economic development in Carmichael and other things as well. The funds provided by the assessment will be used to help remedy some of these issue,” said Melody. “Beyond the challenges of today, we really want to see owners working together with other owners to create a fresh vision for what Carmichael can be in the future.”

Melody has been on board from the very beginning and intends to stay committed to the process. “The Chamber would like to see a more beautiful, vibrant Carmichael where the crime rate is cut down, properties are beautified and empty storefronts are filled again. We picture businesses and residents working together to help make Carmichael a place where they are proud to work and live.”

Any business property owner can become involved by contacting the Chamber. Board seats are available. Residents have the option to serve on committees. “If someone sees the vision for Carmichael, we can find ways to plug them in,” according to Melody.

Melody said the start of the project is only months away, beginning with establishing the new non-profit, drafting bylaws and filling board positions. Financing funds will become available in the spring and she looks forward to seeing the results.

Monthly meetings begin in February at the Carmichael Library meeting room on the fourth Thursday, 5605 Marconi Ave, Carmichael, CA 95608 on the Fourth Thursday of each month between 1:00PM and 2:30PM.  Board meetings are open to the public. The Carmichael Chamber of Commerce can be contacted at Full details and board applications can be found at

River Cats Invite Fans to Nominate Military Family

Source: River Cats Media  |  2017-01-20

The Sacramento River Cats are asking fans to submit photos of loved ones who have or who are currently serving in the military to be featured on Salute to Armed Forces jersey.

Selected photos will be featured on the specialty jerseys worn by River Cats players and will be auctioned off during the game. The annual Salute to Armed Forces Night will take place on Saturday, May 6th when they take on the Reno Aces at Raley Field.

If you or a loved one has served in the U.S. Armed Forces, or know someone who is currently serving, please submit your photo to the "Salute to Armed Forces Jersey Submission" page at or by email to

That night's game will be preceded by the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team game, which will conclude a day dedicated to commemorating those who serve our country.

Fans wishing to submit a photo of a service member must visit and then email with a high-resolution (300dpi) photo of the service member in uniform (must be a picture of just them) and a 2-3 sentence description of said person.

If your photo is selected, you will be contacted with information on how you can preorder the jersey. The Salute to Armed Forces specialty jersey is presented by USAA. Net proceeds from the jersey auction will benefit Blue Star Families, who proudly support military members and their families.

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Youth Rugby Tourney Coming to Town

By Shelly Lembke  |  2017-01-20

The Sacramento Valley Rugby Association will host this weekend

This weekend marks the beginning of the 2017 rugby season, with Rancho Cordova again hosting the 33rd Annual Kick Off Tournament (KOT).  The Cordova High School fields will be filled with over 100 youth teams from California and beyond who will travel all the way to Rancho Cordova to participate in the two-day event.

“This is the largest youth rugby tournament in the northern hemisphere,” said Jerry Ahlin, of the Sacramento Valley Rugby Foundation (SVRF) and the KOT Director. In addition to multiple games, the KOT Vendor Village will have food vendors, and multiple booths selling souvenir clothing and equipment.

Boys and girls teams consist of youth and high school-age players from under 8 to 18, according to Nick Freitas, Sacramento Valley Regional Development Officer for Rugby NorCal. There are 100 teams, 60 referees and 1500 people daily, with games going from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Rugby is touted as a game suitable for all ages. Freitas explains, “I can go one and on about this one but I'll give the simple answer. Everyone gets to touch the ball during a game, multiple times. It also helps develop a well-rounded person or athlete. In rugby you can pass the ball, kick the ball or simply run [the ball]. It is also an amazing aerobic experience as the game never stops. You truly have to work as a team in rugby, the sport develops individual who can communicate and operate as a cohesive unit better than any other sport I've been a part of.”

With all the concern of late about injuries to student-athletes, especially the risk of concussion in contact sports, prospective players and families may think rugby would be too rough on the body. Freitas addressed the issue head on, “Rugby is a full contact sport; however, it has the lowest injury rate for full contact sports, by almost half. There are more major injuries in soccer and cross country than rugby. This would shock most people but it's the truth. We teach players how to fall or ‘be tackled,’ keeping the head completely out of the tackle process. Rugby can also be played as a flag or touch game.”

Freitas and Ahlin have a vision for the future of rugby and see Rancho Cordova at the heart of it all. Freitas said, “I've work in some of the roughest areas of LA bringing rugby to the community. In my experience, I've seen not only kids pick up the game but the entire community gets behind the sport. This is my vision for the future of rugby in the area. We hope to have it be a part of the local schools PE curriculum. We also want rugby to be a sense of community pride through the creation of youth leagues as well as community days where the whole family from grandma to the 7-year-old kid can come and play. Rugby is a fun, easy game that can help an entire community grow strong bonds while staying in shape. “

“Rugby at its core is much more than a game. I know lots of other sports also claim this but in my experience, it is the only sport that truly embraces this. One prime example is after every rugby match no matter the level; the two teams come together and have a meal. This instills a true sense of community as well as respect for your opponent. The KOT helps strengthen the bonds between teams competing as well as showing the community how core values can be demonstrated through the sport.

Ahlin is self-effacing and down to earth, and does much of his work behind the scenes. He is a key player in the effort to bring world class rugby to Rancho Cordova. SVRA is moving another step forward soon he said, “We have been told that we will have approval to start moving dirt for our phase one rugby fields in February. Eventually we will have 12 fields for rugby, soccer, football and Lacrosse.”

For questions or comments visit

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Dedication of Garden on Eden Marks Transformation from “Beast” to “Beauty”

Source: Sacramento Suburban Water District  |  2017-01-19

Sacramento Suburban Water District (SSWD) Board Member Kevin Thomas cuts a ribbon with golden gardening sheers to mark the grand opening of the “Garden on Eden,” Carmichael’s newest water-wise demonstration garden. Holding the ribbon are Project Manager Cheryl Buckwalter of EcoLandscape California (left) and SSWD Water Conservation Manager Greg Bundesen. 
--Photo courtesy Meredith Carty

Sacramento Suburban Water District and EcoLandscape California on December 14, 2016 marked the grand opening of the region’s newest water-wise demonstration garden—the “Garden on Eden.”

Named for its location at 4900 Eden Court in Carmichael, the Garden on Eden transforms an ugly groundwater well site (a Beast) into a water-wise garden (a Beauty) for the community to enjoy. Previously, the landscape featured a spotty, high-water use lawn.

“The drought brought new focus and attention to the benefits and beauty of sustainable, low-water use landscaping,” said SSWD Water Conservation Manager Greg Bundesen during the event. “We’ve seen fresh interest in creating landscapes that not only use less water but have many other benefits—from preventing stormwater pollution to nurturing wildlife. This garden is designed to continue that momentum well beyond the drought.”

The garden transformation was part of a workshop series on sustainable landscaping techniques sponsored by Sacramento Suburban Water District and taught by EcoLandscape California instructors. Classroom sessions covered the basics of healthy soil, the differences between compost and mulch, water-wise irrigation, plant placement, integrated pest management, landscape design, among other topics.

Then District customers dug in during two hands-on workshops to help remove the lawn by sheet mulching, install drip irrigation and properly place plants. “Adding a hands-on component to our classroom training made it a much richer learning experience for the participants, and helped get them excited to work on their own landscape,” said EcoLandscape California Executive Director Marian Bender.

The garden features low-water use plants such as Manzanita, Chaparral Currant and Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass, efficient irrigation and unique methods for keeping rainwater on site. As a demonstration garden, the site also includes informational signage that identifies plants, irrigation and rainwater harvesting techniques so that visitors can learn how to create their own water-wise oasis.

“We had several important goals for this project,” said SSWD Board Member Kevin Thomas during the event. “We wanted to provide an opportunity to educate customers about low-water, sustainable landscaping through hands-on workshops and a permanent demonstration garden. We also wanted to be a good neighbor by investing in our community. I think we’ve accomplished that—and more,” Thomas continued. “Right now, you see young plants, soaking in all of the winter rain. Come spring, you will see them beginning to emerge into the vibrant, colorful garden for everyone to enjoy.”

The project is sponsored by Sacramento Suburban Water District in partnership with EcoLandscape California, which served as project manager and provided instruction for workshops, and is part of the District’s ongoing commitment to promoting wise water use and investing in the community.

Learn more about the transformation at Garden on Eden and information about visiting the new demonstration garden at or

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An Eggstravaganza of Delicate Art

By Shelly Lembke  |  2017-01-19

Sacramento’s 27th Annual Northern California Eggstravaganza is just around the corner. The yearly event features free admission in addition to shopping, a raffle and seminars taught by egg artists from around the globe. All proceeds from the raffle will benefit the Sacramento Shriners Hospital for Children.

“Egg artists from around the world will be teaching seminars, exhibiting and selling artwork created from real eggshells: ostrich, rhea, emu, goose – as small as finch eggs,” according to Show Director Diana Macias.

The seminars are February 23-26. Times and fees vary. Pre-registration is required. The exact schedule can be found online at the show website. The artists giving the seminars hail from the US, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Japan, Mexico and Canada.

“Styles of artwork will include Fabergé, pysanka, etched, jeweled, beaded, painted, diorama, jewelry boxes and wearable art to name a few. Vendors will be selling supplies used to create artwork and miniatures,” said Macias.

Visit or email for more information.

Photos courtesy of NorCal Egg Artists, artwork by Rosalie Juarez

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Unsung Heroines Soar in Uplifting ‘Hidden Figures’

By David Dickstein  |  2017-01-19

Set at NASA during America

The movie’s opening scene is a white cop harassing three black women on the side of a road with a broken-down car. Later, white colleagues of these ladies will refuse their using the same coffee pots, water fountains and toilets at work. Career advancement for these blacks and others working at NASA? Not with the policies set by their white superiors. The movie also throws in a couple of civil rights protests to stress the segregated and prejudiced South of the 1960s. And, yet, in the entire 2-hour-plus movie, not a single “N word” is heard or a drop of blood seen.

What is this, “Cool Runnings?”

While both movies address how unfairly and disgustingly bigotry oppresses black people’s dreams for greatness, a PG rating, mainstream marketing and sanitized storytelling do repress their potential to deliver indelible messages for civil rights, and in the case of “Hidden Figures,” equal rights as well. Picture “Schindler’s List” without Jews being killed or dialogue free of anti-Semitic slurs. But like the aforementioned 1993 comedy about the Jamaican bobsled team hoping to make the Olympics, “Hidden Figures” still inspires. Big time.

Set at NASA during America's space race with the Soviets, the Hollywoodized, yet effecting biopic follows three brilliant black female employees who, despite obstacles placed by mostly male and lily-white superiors at Langley Research Center, make significant contributions while shooting for the stars. Thanks to the movie and the book on which it’s based, by Margot Lee Shetterly, these amazing women are unsung heroines no more.

Each lady gets her day in the sun, but at center is NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson). Without her, John Glenn wouldn’t have been the first American in space, and man might not have landed on the moon as early as we did. Computer scientist Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) does the work of a supervisor at Langley, but the glass ceiling is lowered for blacks, especially those who are also women. Engineer hopeful Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) also is hampered by a system that will require miracles and, like NASA’s space program desperately trying to catch up with the Soviets, a series of firsts. The main actresses make the most of their roles, but only one, Henson, gets the stand-taking moment that both audiences and Oscar voters love.

The mostly white supporting cast includes Kevin Costner as a driven, compassionate NASA chief and Kirsten Dunst as Dorothy’s snippy quasi-racist boss. Both are fine, which can’t be said of a lackluster Jim Parsons as NASA’s chief engineer. Haven’t seen a key role performed so flatly since Wile E. Coyote got road-killed.

Flaws notwithstanding, and they really are just nits, “Hidden Figures” blends emotion, heart, drive and even humor to engaging effect. Its Disney-like approach, where hardly a discouraging word is heard or physical struggle shown, does allow for younger audiences. With STEM and equality so key to our country’s future, maybe a movie like this being PG isn’t so bad. 4 of 5 Stars

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Sacramento FBI Teen Academy Applications Available Online

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation  |  2017-01-19

Class Offers Information, Experiences, and More to High School Juniors

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Sacramento field office is accepting applications for the Spring 2017 FBI Teen Academy. This unique opportunity is open to all high school juniors attending any school—public, private, and home school—in the 34-counties the field office serves. The application package is available for download now.

Students selected to participate will spend an entire day at FBI Sacramento field office headquarters in Roseville on Friday, April 7, 2017. Applying and attending the FBI Teen Academy program is free; however, families are responsible for travel to and from the class.

The FBI Teen Academy is a unique opportunity for any student—regardless of career interest—who is curious about the FBI, what the FBI investigates, and how it serves the community. FBI Teen Academy participants engage in activities and discussions about what the FBI does and current topics relative to FBI investigations. Activities may include discussions about cyber safety, terrorism, active shooter situations, and color of law and civil rights investigations; participation in simulated evidence response team and bomb techs scenarios; and frank conversations about online communication and staying safe in an always-connected world.

After completing the class, participants better understand the FBI’s role in their communities, grasp the complexity of FBI investigations, can make lifestyle choices to be safer in their day-to-day lives, and what FBI career paths are available. FBI Teen Academy students often remain connected with the field office to facilitate presentations, mentorship, and more.

Each spring and fall, the FBI Sacramento field office hosts the FBI Teen Academy for 20-36 students who spend a day in FBI facilities to learn about the agency, what it investigates, how it serves its community, how students can make wise lifestyle choices to be safer in their day-to-day lives, and what FBI career paths are available. The opportunity is available to any high school junior in the region the field office serves and can create a lasting connection between the students and the FBI. More than 250 students have attended the FBI Teen Academy in Sacramento to date.

To find the application see

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Celebrate the New Year with Free Flowering Trees

Source: Arbor Day Foundation  |  2017-01-19

Residents in your state can ring in the New Year with 10 free flowering trees by joining the Arbor Day Foundation any time during January 2017.

By becoming a part of the nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation, new members will receive two Sargent crabapples, three American redbuds, two Washington hawthorns, and three white flowering dogwoods.

“These beautiful trees will beautify your home with lovely flowers of pink, yellow and white colors,” said Matt Harris, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “These trees are perfect for large and small spaces, and they will provide food and habitat for songbirds.”

The free trees are part of the Foundation’s Trees for America campaign.

The trees will be shipped postpaid at the right time for planting, between February 1 and May 31, with enclosed planting instructions. The 6- to 12-inch tall trees are guaranteed to grow or they will be replaced free of charge.

Members will also receive a subscription to the Foundation’s bimonthly publication, Arbor Day, and The Tree Book, which includes information about tree planting and care.

To become a member of the Foundation and to receive the free trees, send a $10 contribution to TEN FREE FLOWERING TREES, Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Avenue, Nebraska City, NE 68410, by January 31, 2017.

Residents can also join online at

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Longstanding Clean and Sober Program Helps Many

Story and Photos by Margaret Snider  |  2017-01-13

Owner and founder Don Troutman, left, with Rik, a resident at Clean and Sober Transitional Living.  Begun in 1989, based in Fair Oaks, the now 14 homes and 120-plus residents of Clean and Sober Transitional Living represent the oldest and largest transitional living community in Northern California.

Thirty years ago, in a letter to a girlfriend, Don Troutman, owner and founder of Clean and Sober Transitional Living, wrote, “My brother was taken from us, not from a natural illness, was not shot with a gun, but was shot with a needle and the needle killed him! Alcohol and drugs! My already sworn enemy has killed my brother.” That was the catalyst that resulted in CSTL with its nontraditional approach to recovery from alcoholism and drug use.

Troutman had been a recovering alcoholic for over a year when his brother died. Two years later he started CSTL with the purpose of providing a place where recovering addicts could be among those who can understand what they are going through. His first house included Troutman and three other recovering alcoholics who agreed to be sober and abide by the rules. Since 1989, it has evolved to a community consisting of six Phase 1 homes for 73 residents and eight Phase 2 homes for 48 residents, for a total of 14 houses. It has always been private pay, never receiving any sort of government subsidy.

When they come to CSTL, residents have usually completed 30 to 60 days of detox and treatment. “Everything you learn in treatment episode is like a block of ice,” Troutman said. “You take a block of ice and you set it into the sun and it is going to melt away.” Therefore the need for a clean and sober living place. “If you took that block of ice and you put it in a freezer or a refrigerator, it’s not sitting in the sun and it lasts a lot longer. It takes a while for a person to buy into and adopt a new life style. It’s a process, it’s not an event.”

The CSTL community is a way of life for Troutman, and what he has learned through the process has resulted in benefit to 6,000 people to date, with a nearly 50% success rate.

When challenges appear, alcoholics and users tend to drink or use as the solution to their difficulties. It is not the solution, Troutman said, it is the problem. The solution is the recovery process. “In Don’s community, people have developed the skills so that relapse rates are very low,” said Susan King, CSTL Outreach. “It is private pay and they are taxpaying members of the community. They work, they go to school. Some of them live here a long time.”

People who come to the community might have looked weak and timid before, said Troutman, but, “When they come in here, they turn out to be role models and house managers. It’s incredible what people can discover about themselves while they’re here.”

The group is almost like a tribe, Troutman said. “We’re self-contained, we have our own government, we have our own congress, we have our own court, we have our own senior peers which are like our police force, more or less,” Troutman said. “And really we get very little outside interference from many problems.”

Resident Shelby, 23, turned to alcohol when she was 16 and had problems at home. “When I turned 20 I got into meth and heroin,” Shelby said. After her husband died from an overdose, she knew she must think seriously about recovery. Now a resident at Clean and Sober Living and clean for six months, Shelby has a regular job but is taking it slowly. “Once I come back here it’s a relief, it’s like my safe zone. Everyone’s still here, and the relationships that you build are so amazing . . . There’s just a connection here. It’s really hard to explain, but we just understand each other here. It’s like a different kind of family.”

Another resident, Rik, 58, has lived his life in and out of treatment programs. He has been clean for over a year and is a Phase 2 resident. He is now kitchen manager, and cooks dinner for at least 60 people for two dinners and three breakfasts a week.

Residents learn to be leaders and participators in life rather than just sitting on the sidelines. “Our future is as great as we would like it to be,” Troutman said. “Whatever you think you might want to be, supersize it, go further, because there’s nothing to stop you from getting there.”

Shelby has great hope for the future. “As long as I stay clean and sober, I see myself going back to school,” Shelby said. “I want to actually be a drug and alcohol counselor . . . But for right now I just have to look out for myself and get myself ready and continue what I’m doing, so in the future I know what’s in store for me.”

Rik is happy where he is. “My family supports me,” Rik said. “I’m kind of doing what I want to do. I really am. I’ve lived a pretty good life. I have four great kids, none have any addictions, which I’m very blessed about.”

Troutman’s old letter ended with the statement, “As if this disease is not cunning enough, the addict will not heed the advice and the concerns of those who are close. But Satan’s curse has a loophole, and that is that the addict will listen to a complete stranger.”

For more information go to, or call 916-961-2691. “They never call us or the treatment program and come to a dead end,” Troutman said.

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Best of Fair Oaks Event to Announce Winners

MPG Staff  |  2017-01-13

The Best of Fair Oaks event will announce the local winners in many business categories chosen by the voting by Fair Oaks residents.

To be eligible to win a category for the Best of Fair Oaks businesses must be located in Fair Oaks. All votes were cast through the web site at

This year’s event will be held on Thursday, January 19th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at North Ridge Country Club, 7600 Madison Avenue in Fair Oaks. To purchase tickets to the event, contact the Fair Oaks Chamber of Commerce at 916-967-2903.

The event is open to the public provided a ticket is purchased. You do not need to be a Chamber member to attend. If you are a local business owner and want to see how much fun the chamber events are before you join, plan to attend this event! The Best of Fair Oaks is an annual fundraising event sponsored by the Fair Oaks Chamber of Commerce.

Voting was completed on December 31st and tabulated by MPG staff.

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