Carmichael Man Adds Humor to Reading for the Blind

Source: Kristin Thébaud Communications  |  2016-04-18

Walt Farl worked in radio for 10 years after visiting a radio station at age 8 that was 25 miles from his hometown in Minnesota. Photo courtesy Kristin Thébaud Communications

Walt Farl of Carmichael has a growing audience of people with low vision who listen to him read grocery store ads on Society for the Blind’s Access News program. Yes, grocery ads.

“People are eternally grateful for what Access News readers do, but what can you do with grocery ads? I have a little fun with it and take a little bit of license,” Farl said. “Food can take you back to people, places or things that you’ve known because families come together over the table. It draws your memories back from day one.”

The former radio personality began volunteering with Society for the Blind’s Access News program in fall 2010 to keep up his voiceover talents. He now reads grocery store ads four hours a week through Access News, which gives local people with low or no vision the chance to hear audio recordings of newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and print media, as well as local ads from grocery, drug, discount, and department stores, 24 hours a day.

Despite offering readings for local magazines such as Comstock’s and Sactown, as well as national media such as People and Newsweek, Access News’ radio ads with Farl are some of the most popular segments.

“Most of the ads I read revolve around stories,” Farl noted. “I saw a Raley’s ad for bologna and remembered how much I liked bologna and ketchup sandwiches as a kid. Food brings you back to family; Thanksgivings when aunts and uncles would come over or backyard barbecues with friends. Everybody has a story to tell and you never run out of them.”

Farl worked in radio for 10 years after visiting a radio station at age 8 that was 25 miles from his hometown in Minnesota. To this day, he can still remember the microphone and the room that seemed so big.

“Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, there was always a radio on,” Farl remembered. “We would listen to radio for baseball games.”

When Farl was a teenager, his dad purchased a radio station to make sure there was still a small, local station in the suburbs of Minneapolis. That’s where Farl spent the first five years of his radio career before heading to Jackson, Wyoming, and discovering the FM frequency that was considered underground radio in the 1960s.

Eventually he ended up in the oil business and then in the mortgage industry, but never lost his love for radio. Since 2010, his volunteer work with Society for the Blind has kept him involved in the radio industry.

“I should probably pay Society for the Blind for what I’m able to get away with,” Farl said laughing. “Sometimes it’s irreverent, and at the end of the day, listeners may not remember the price of spare ribs, but I hope they had a good time.”

For 60 years, Society for the Blind in Sacramento has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers that included the Lions Clubs of America to a nationally recognized agency and the only rehabilitative teaching center for a 26-county region of northern California.

The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for 6,000 youth, adults, and seniors experiencing vision loss each year.

For more information or to make a donation, visit

Carmichael Radio

Boating Scheduled to Resume at Pyramid Lake on May 2

Source: DWR Public Affairs Office  |  2016-04-28

Water Level Was Lowered to Allow Maintenance at Nearby Castaic Powerplant

Pyramid Lake’s water level will have risen enough following a planned drawdown over the past week that boating on the lake will resume on May 2, the Department of Water Resources announced today.

Boating was suspended on Friday April 22 as the water level was lowered to facilitate maintenance work at the nearby Castaic Powerplant. The drawdown lowered Pyramid Lake’s level from 2,571 feet to 2,563 feet and made the boat ramp unusable.

Boating was suspended to ensure boaters would not be left without an ability to remove their boats from the lake once the boat ramp became inoperable. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department cleared the lake of boats on April 22, and the ramp was barricaded and the boating concession closed.

Inflows from the State Water Project to Pyramid Lake have slowly increased the lake’s storage in the past week, and the boat ramp will be available for use once again on Monday morning.

Scheduled water deliveries to Southern California customers continued without interruption during the Castaic Powerplant work.

California has been dealing with the effects of drought for five years. To learn about all the actions the state has taken to manage our water system and cope with the impacts of the drought, visit Drought.CA.Gov. Every Californian should take steps to conserve water. Find out how at

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Each year, the IRS mails millions of notices and letters to taxpayers for a variety of reasons. If you receive correspondence from them:

Don’t panic. You can usually deal with a notice simply by responding to it.

Most IRS notices are about federal tax returns or tax accounts. Each notice has specific instructions, so read your notice carefully because it will tell you what you need to do.

Your notice will likely be about changes to your account, taxes you owe or a payment request. However, your notice may ask you for more information about a specific issue.

If your notice says that the IRS changed or corrected your tax return, review the information and compare it with your original return.

If you agree with the notice, you usually don’t need to reply unless it gives you other instructions or you need to make a payment.

If you don’t agree with the notice, you need to respond. Write a letter that explains why you disagree, and include information and documents you want the IRS to consider. Mail your response with the contact stub at the bottom of the notice to the address on the contact stub. Allow at least 30 days for a response.

For most notices, you won’t need to call or visit a walk-in center. If you have questions, call the phone number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice. Be sure to have a copy of your tax return and the notice with you when you call.

Always keep copies of any notices you receive with your tax records.

Be alert for tax scams. The IRS sends letters and notices by mail. They don’t contact people by email or social media to ask for personal or financial information. If you owe tax, you have several payment options. The IRS won’t demand that you pay a certain way, such as prepaid debit or credit card.

For more on this topic, visit Click on the link ‘Responding to a Notice’ at the bottom center of the home page. Also, see Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process. You can get it on at any time.

If you need to make a payment visit or use the IRS2Go app to make payment with Direct Pay for free, or by debit or credit card through an approved payment processor for a fee.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on

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The American Lung Association State of the Air 2016 released recently found that the Sacramento region continues to make significant gains in reducing pollution, reporting fewer particle pollution days and the lowest ever unhealthy ozone days.

“The State of the Air 2016 report shows us that our clean air laws are working but we must increase our efforts to cut pollution that puts lives in our community at risk,” said Olivia J. (Gertz) Diaz-Lapham, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in California. “Pollution from petroleum fuels and other sources is harming our residents, contributing to the incidence of asthma and other chronic lung conditions. Air pollution costs our communities in health care spending, lost productivity, reduced quality and length of life.”

Covering air pollution data collected in 2012 to 2014, the report measures the two most widespread pollutants, ozone and particle pollution, which are dangerous to public health and can be deadly. Unhealthy ozone days have fallen by 53 percent, and unhealthy spikes in particle pollution have fallen by 76 percent over the course of the State of the Air.

Moreover, annual particle pollution levels have dropped by 23 percent. These improvements were driven by passenger vehicle and diesel emission controls, along with strong local wood burning restrictions. The Sacramento metropolitan region includes El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties.

Despite these improvements, more still needs to be done as all counties in the region except Yolo County received a failing grade for ozone pollution, and both Placer and Sacramento failed for daily particle pollution. Drought weather conditions, combined with ongoing traffic, diesel and wood smoke pollution contribute to high levels of pollution in the region.

Climate change is a growing threat to air quality in California. Drought weather conditions and wildfires related to climate change are contributing to elevated levels of particle pollution in the San Joaquin Valley and other areas of the state. Key sources of soot include wood burning devices, transportation sources such as diesel engines in trucks, buses and freight, and smoke from wildfires. These soot particles are so small that they can lodge deep in the lungs and trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes, and can even be lethal. In the Sacramento region, more than 200,000 residents have asthma, including 52,000 children.

“Sacramento continues to have air quality challenges but we are making progress in cleaning up the air. We know that climate change factors are contributing to increased levels of ozone and particle pollution, and will make it harder to meet federal health-based standards,” said David Tom Cooke, MD, Head of the UC Davis Section of General Thoracic Surgery and member of the Lung Association’s volunteer governing board. “Our most vulnerable loved ones, including children and seniors and those battling lung diseases such as lung cancer, asthma, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema, suffer the greatest. We must redouble our efforts to transition off of fossil fuels for transportation and energy generation by investing in zero emissions solutions.”

To address the challenge of air pollution and climate change, the American Lung Association in California and major health and medical organizations urge the public and policy leaders to strongly support the federal Clean Air Act and the federal Clean Power Plan as well as California’s strong clean energy and clean air policies.  This year the lung association is also calling for support of Senate Bill 1383 (Lara) to set clear targets for reducing “super pollutants” like black carbon from diesel exhaust and wood burning that threaten public health locally and are accelerating climate change. 

For more information on the State of the Air 2016 report, the public should visit:

Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting For Air” through research, education, and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit

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Redeeming Goods and People

Source: ATALS Thrift Store  |  2016-04-22

Paul and wife, Cheryl Hobson. ATLAS refers people to local and county services and trains volunteers to mentor homeless people, abused women, addicts, and others whose lives are out of control. It also networks with churches and other groups to build community.

Paul Hobson, a burly 43-year-old former football player, manages the ATLAS Thrift Shop on Fair Oaks Boulevard, which is celebrating its second anniversary.

As a non-profit, the store finances efforts in Carmichael to help needy people turn their lives around by “Attaining Truth, Love and Self-Control.” ATLAS and the store are both about redemption — like Paul’s own life.

Four years ago, Paul was one of the scores of homeless people drifting along the Carmichael’s streets and hanging out in its parks. He slept on the stairs at a local church that sometimes gave him food. When the church asked him to leave, the woman who would become his wife let him live in her apartment until he threw a TV remote at her in a fit of anger, breaking her nose.

The domestic violence arrest that came the next day began another sorry chapter in a Paul’s 20-year downward spiral of drug and alcohol addiction. Beginning at age 18, he had walked in and out of several recovery programs. He always relapsed. Nothing could compete with drugs.

His addiction began when he was about to begin classes at American River College. He had turned out for football practice there and worked a graveyard shift as a security guard to pay his way. To keep alert, Paul started using methamphetamines, known on the street as “meth,” “crank,” or “speed.”

“I was staying up nights, using crank,” he said in a recent interview. “I never made it through the second football practice, and never started classes. I got hooked on crank. You get this great feeling. You’re excited. Everything is fun. It feels great. I started hanging out in bad places.”

Paul called in sick too much to keep his job. He went on the street but still managed to find drugs.

“I continued to use drugs and spiraled downward. I began to have trouble with the law. My father tried to help by getting me into a recovery program for 28 days. It didn’t help because I would still go out and get drugs. There were no drug tests.”

Paul supplemented his addiction with alcohol. At age 25, he totaled his brother’s car and was charged with driving under the influence.

“I got clean for a while, but went back on meth for 8 years. I obtained opiate pills from a doctor, then turned to heroin.”

Still, he managed to stay sober for months at a time. He was sporadically involved with Alcoholics Anonymous and with an AA sponsor.

“Then I went on a bender and was offered Norco in the emergency room. That gave me the idea to call the doctor for more Norco pills. I said I still needed it for pain control. I burned down two apartment kitchens, once while shooting up heroin, and was jailed for a while. After my release, I managed to avoid most of the 160 AA meetings the court ordered me to attend.”

When Paul was arrested later on the domestic violence charge, a breakthrough came in the squad car.

“A cop said, ‘You’re a pretty good guy, inside.’ He asked me if he could pray for me before he took me to jail. In jail, I prayed and promised to quit drugs. I prayed a lot and they dropped the charges. But after my release I went back on alcohol and meth.”

The key turn-around came when Child Protective Services (CPS) referred Paul to a rehabilitation program for 90 days.

“This is when I started to get free from drugs and alcohol. I heard things that made sense. Someone read from the AA book that our only hope is divine intervention. Something came over me. God told me, ‘Stay where you are. You’ll spend Christmas here and all other Christmases with your family.’ I started crying. Then it hit me, ‘I’m not 100 percent in.’ I got down on my knees and prayed, asking God to save my life.

“Little things matter. I needed a ride to a domestic violence class downtown. My wife Cheryl had told me about ATLAS and to call Scott Young (the director). He drove me to class, and then back to rehab. He asked if he could pray with me, and it took off from there. I started to pray regularly and to pay attention. We met once a week. God sent someone my way through ATLAS.”

Released from the rehab program, he attended a CPS-sponsored class for six months and has been sober ever since. Eventually, he became manager after ATLAS leased the store in May 2014.

ATLAS refers people to local and county services and trains volunteers to mentor homeless people, abused women, addicts, and others whose lives are out of control. It also networks with churches and other groups to build community.

Paul receives and prices goods that are donated in an alley behind the store. He also oversees store employees. In his spare time, Paul coaches defensive linemen for a high school football team. He also participates in a men’s small group. And he talks with transients.

“Sometimes, when I see a homeless person in our alley, walking around in worn-out shoes, I’ll offer a pair from our donations, also clothes. I can relate to what it feels like to be homeless. I can say, ‘Hey, I used to be like you.’ Many of them think that nobody can understand what they’re going through.

“God placed me in that alley so I can share my experiences and help. I find out why they’re here and fill Scott in. Right now, I’ve got a guy in a rehab program for a 90-day stay. I’m being mentored by Scott and I watch what he does. There are needs on the streets everywhere.

“There are days when I feel like giving up. Most of the time, I realize that it’s not my job to fix people. But I can touch them if I can be in touch with God.

“Carmichael is coming together. We at ATLAS are here to help. We tell people, ‘We’re accepting your slightly used goods and helping needy people in the community. It’s not an overnight deal, but when you donate, you’re already doing God’s work in Carmichael.’ ”

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SCSO Caps 20th Season with European Masterworks and New CD Release

Source: SCSO  |  2016-04-21

The Sacramento Community Center Theater will cap their 20th season with a performance featuring three contrasting choral orchestral works by Haydn, Vaughan Williams, and Dvoràk. Photo courtesy SCSO

Conductor Donald Kendrick and the SCSO plan to cap their landmark 20th season on May 14th at 8 p.m. at the Sacramento Community Center Theater with a performance featuring three contrasting choral orchestral works by Haydn, Vaughan Williams, and Dvoràk. But the celebration doesn’t end there! The evening will also serve as a huge CD release party as the SCSO plans to unveil its 9th professionally mastered CD — Carmina Burana II — at this year-end performance.

Haydn’s Harmonimesse will serve as the evening’s main musical fare, complemented by Vaughan Williams’ An Oxford Elegy, and Dvoràk’s Psalm 149 on the first half of the concert.

“The Harmoniemesse will bring back so many warm memories as this was the amazing work that we featured during our first self-funded European tour to Munich, Prague, Vienna, and Budapest in 2004,” said Conductor Donald Kendrick. Four outstanding soloists and narrator Phillip Rider will join the SCSO Team on stage for this performance.

“A post concert reception, projected supertitle translations, and Don Kendrick’s electric and educational pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. will enhance the evening’s enjoyment for our concert attendees,” added SCSO Board Member Charlene Black.

According to SCSO President James McCormick, “Our new CD is a live recording of our very well-received Carmina Burana performance on March 5th, 2016 at the Community Center Theater. We’re thrilled that the CD will also showcase the American première of English composer Jonathan Dove’s Psalms for Leo. The amazing 12-page color CD insert promises to add great value to the CD itself.”

SCSO European Masterworks tickets are $30 to $45 with a 50 percent discount for students. For tickets, call the Sacramento Community Center Box Office at (916) 808-5181 or visit for both tickets and information.

For more information about this press release, please contact Jeannie Brown, Director of Marketing at (916) 496-0175 or President, James McCormick at (916) 536-9065.

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Senator Gaines’ Classic Car Collector Bill Passes

Source: Office of Senator Gaines  |  2016-04-20

Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado) recently announced that his Senate Bill 1239, which would exempt collector vehicles manufactured prior to the 1981 model year from biennial smog-check inspections, passed out of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing with bipartisan support and is now on its way to the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

“Collector cars and trucks are a unique and important part of California history and need to be preserved,” said Senator Gaines. “Extending the exemption to 1981 is a common-sense way to encourage that these vehicles remain on display for all to see, drive and enjoy.”

Current law allows smog-check exemptions for classic or collector cars for vehicles model year 1975 or older. However, there are many vehicles that were built after 1975 that are currently owned and operated as collector cars, such as late seventies and early eighties Corvettes, Mustangs and Mopars. Many of these vehicles are featured in classic car shows and community parades and events throughout California that help support the economy.

In order to qualify for the exemption, owners of classic and collector vehicles must insure their cars with collector car insurance. Collector car insurance places specific mileage restrictions on the vehicles, as dictated by the insurance company. Vehicles are often limited to a usage cap of around 5,000 miles in a year. This ensures the integrity of the vehicle stays intact, as well as minimizes the environmental impact that the smog check regulates.

According to the Association of California Car Clubs, there are approximately 162,000 vehicles with model years covered by this bill. Compared to the approximately 27 million motor vehicles in California, this bill will provide an exemption to just over one half of one percent of vehicles on the road today.

Senator Ted Gaines represents the 1st Senate District, which includes all or parts of Alpine, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Shasta, Sierra and Siskiyou counties.

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Sacramento Life Center Receives $12.5k From American River Bank to Care for Low-Income Pregnant Women

Source: Kristin Thébaud Communications  |  2016-04-20

Marie Leatherby of Sacramento Life Center accepts a check from American River Bank to help low-income pregnant women. Photo courtesy Kristin Thébaud Communications

American River Bank has awarded a $12,500 grant to Sacramento Life Center for the nonprofit’s Mobile Medical Clinics that provide free medical services to low-income pregnant women, including pregnancy tests, STD tests, ultrasounds, peer counseling, education and resource referrals.

“This grant from American River Bank will almost fully cover the costs of having one of our Mobile Medical Clinics on the road one day a week for a year,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “We are grateful to American River Bank for supporting low-income pregnant women in our community and understanding the importance of women receiving care in their own neighborhood so transportation isn’t a barrier.”

For a schedule for the Mobile Medical Clinics, visit

“The Sacramento Life Center does amazing work coming alongside and supporting young women in need,” said David Taber, president and CEO, American River Bank. “This organization is truly a lifesaver.”

The Sacramento Life Center's mission is to offer compassion, support, resources and free medical care to women and couples facing an unplanned or unsupported pregnancy. The Sacramento Life Center’s licensed Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic includes a primary clinic and two Mobile Medical Clinics that provide all services for free, including pregnancy tests, STD tests, ultrasounds, peer counseling for men and women, education and resource referrals. The nonprofit also offers a school-based teen education program, a 24-hour hotline and a program for women seeking support after having an abortion. For more information about the Sacramento Life Center’s Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic, visit For more information about the Sacramento Life Center or to make a donation, visit

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Coming of Age During the Holocaust: A Day of Remembrance

By Elise Spleiss  |  2016-04-18

A young Gina Parker. From the age of 15 to 22, Parker survived five labor concentration camps from 1939 to 1945, three in Poland and two in Germany. Photo courtesy of Tamara Theodore

Holocaust Remembrance Day is May 5th, 2016. On Sunday, May 1st, 2016 the Sacramento region will have an opportunity to learn about the experiences of two Holocaust survivors during World War II. This is a highly educational event and children and teens are encouraged to attend with their families.

The theme for this year’s Sacramento Yom HaShoah (Day of Remembrance) Commemoration is: “The Holocaust: Coming of Age during the Holocaust.”

The stories of survivors Gina Parker and Rita Rimalower-Nettler will be told by their daughters, Tamara Theodore and Michele Gold. Both survivors were 15-years-old when their stories began.

Theodore will tell her mother, Gina Parker’s story in public for the first time.  From the age of 15 to 22, Parker survived five labor concentration camps from 1939 to 1945, three in Poland and two in Germany. She also suffered through but survived two “death marches.” She was finally freed from the second march by Russian troops on April 23rd, 1945 at the age of 22. She weighed 65 pounds and was wearing only a prison dress, a high heel shoe and a boot. The march began with 10,000 prisoners but only 20 had survived from her group.

In 2007 Parker visited the classroom of Janet Smith, a teacher at Lincoln High School. Her talk was readily received by the students. Theodore will have thank you notes from these students at her talk. Gina Parker died on February 19th, 2013 of COPD, a pulmonary disease, related to enforced testing done on her by doctors during her incarceration.

Theodore said that she often felt guilty when she asked her mother about her experiences. Even though those memories made her physically ill Parker maintained, “I will go to the grave with the pain I have and the loss I have. But I don’t have any bitterness towards the Germans. They were duped.”

Michele Gold is an educator at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust and author of “Memories that Won’t Go Away: A Tribute to the Children of the Kindertransport.” Gold’s mother was Rita Rimalower-Nettler who was 15-years-old when became one of 10,000 Jewish refugee children brought from Germany to Great Britain from 1938 to 1940 on the Kindertransport. She arrived in England on March 3rd, 1939 and was taken in and raised by a loving family. Gold uses the more than 40 post cards discovered in her mother’s belongings following her death in 2008 to tell her story. The cards which had been written to her aunt and uncle in Switzerland tell the of Rita’s attempts to discover what had happened to her parents.

This special event will include a candlelight procession at 6:15 p.m., a poetry reading and recognition of the student winners of the “Tribute to the Rescuers” essay contest. The international contest, sponsored by the Institute for Holocaust Education, asks contestants to recognize an historical individual or group who showed moral courage with a tie into the Holocaust.

The commemoration is Sunday, May 1st from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Mosaic Law Congregation, 2300 Sierra Boulevard, Sacramento. For more information: (916) 488-1122.


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The Power of Music Closes Generation Gap

Source: River City Chorale  |  2016-04-18

Del Campo Madrigal Choir, conducted by Pam Mitchell, joins with the long established River City Chorale in its Spring Concert, April 29th and May 1st. Photo courtesy River City Chorale

The younger generation cannot imagine a world without social media, while those of us over a certain age may not be fluent with anything beyond email, but there is one thing that we all understand: the power of music.

While styles may be different, it is still possible to span the years separating younger and older singers with beautiful choral music. Come hear it for yourself, when the Madrigal Choir of Del Campo High School, conducted by Pam Mitchell, joins with the long established River City Chorale in its Spring Concert, April 29th and May 1st.

The program with also feature two teenage soloists: Shelby Pierce, alto, and Colin Regan, baritone. Shelby has been singing since she was about 4-years-old. She enjoys many genres of music, but her heart belongs to Broadway. Her goal is to go to a performing arts school and major in music. Shelby is a junior at Del Campo High School. Colin sings with the Waldorf High School Choir at the George Washington Carver School of Arts and Sciences. He plays a number of musical instruments and is an award-winning tap dancer and Irish Dancer. Colin is also a writer, and his greatest dream is to write film scores for movies.

The River City Chorale has, in the last year, launched a Young Artists Program, the goal of which is to provide young singers with the opportunity to perform for audiences beyond their high school friends and family, as well as to have the opportunity to sing with an established adult group with professional accompaniment. They trust that it will be a joyful and productive meeting of music lovers across the generations!

The River City Chorale is the longest existing community choir in the greater Sacramento area; it is entering its 40th year of providing beautiful and accessible music at convenient venues. Fifty-five voices strong, the Chorale is well known for offering eclectic programs of both secular and sacred music that appeal to a very wide audience. Conducted by the talented Richard Morrissey and accompanied by the highly skilled Theresa Keene, there will surely be something for everyone to enjoy.

The Friday, April 29th concert will be held at Northminster Presbyterian Church, 3235 Pope Avenue, Sacramento, starting at 7:30 pm. On Sunday, May 1st, the venue is the First Baptist Church of Fair Oaks, 4401 San Juan Avenue, starting at 4 pm. Tickets are $15 in advance; $20 at the door. Tickets for children under 12 are $5. Parking is free. Go to or call (916) 331-5810.

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