Saluting All Those Who Served

Story and pictures by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2017-11-19

Senator Jim Nielsen joins a salute by Rancho Cordova High School ROTC Cadets. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner

Veterans and Community Stand for the Flag

Sacramento County, CA (MPG) - “Too many people, regard freedom as an entitlement,” Senator Jim Nielsen told a weekend Veterans Day audience, “It’s not an entitlement, it’s an obligation – an obligation to serve. There are those who disparage our flag and our pledge. We need to stand up and say no to that. Thousands of soldiers died so that flag would not touch the ground. Renewing our patriotism is a good thing; for we are a great nation.”

The Fourth District representative was speaking at Veteran’s Medical Center. Nearly 500 Sacramento County veterans and supporters attended the gathering held at former Mather Field Air Force base.

This year’s event theme was “From Argonne to Afghanistan.” The two locations represent a century of American military effort. An allied offensive at Argonne Forest (France) spanned less than two months and ended WW1. Now in its 16th year with no end in sight, the Afghan war is recognized as America’s longest conflict.

At the Mather event, Marion D. Smith and Bob Burns -- 90 and 91 years old respectively -- grasped weathered hands as two of the few WW II survivors. From 1945 t0 46, Smith was a radar specialist on the USS Livermore. He later served the Army Reserves. Bob Burns extended his WW II Army career during Korean and Vietnamese theaters.

The stalwarts were joined by 94-year-old Kiyo Sato, whose Japanese-American family grew strawberries at Mather in the 1930s. Sato, eight brothers and sisters and their parents were interned in Wyoming during war years. After her release, the eldest daughter achieved a college degree, nursing qualifications and eventually reached the rank of Captain in the US Air Force.

“I was born here,” says the Rosemont resident. “I feel the same emotion about America as any citizen.  I will never stop working for this country to again be a beacon of hope.”

Sacramento, CA (MPG) - On November 19, 2017, at approximately 0220 hours, the driver of a 2007 Honda Accord was driving westbound on US-50 approaching Mather Field Road in an unknown lane, reportedly racing another vehicle at high speed.  The driver of the Honda lost control, and the Honda entered the #4 lane, facing a northerly direction.  An Elk Grove resident was driving her 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe in the #4 lane when the front of the Hyundai struck the right side of the Honda.  The right front passenger in the Honda was killed upon impact.  At an unknown point during the incident, the driver of the Honda was ejected into the #2 lane, where he was struck by a BMW 328 from Manteca.

The occupants of the Honda have not been positively identified.  It is unknown if the Honda's occupants were wearing their seat belts prior to the initial collision.  Evidence at the scene indicated alcohol and/or drug use may have contributed to this collision.

This is an ongoing investigation.  If you have any information regarding this incident, please contact the California Highway Patrol's East Sacramento Area Office at (916) 464-1450.

Source: CHP Media

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Co-Housing Project Breaks Ground in Fair Oaks

By Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-11-19

From left to right, Katherine McCamant, founder of CoHousing Solutions, Richard Rozumowicz, civil engineer, Charles Durrett, architect, Marty Maskall, future resident and leading organizer of the project, Darryl Berlin, construction project manager, and Rachel Bardis and Katherine Bardis of Bardis Homes.  Photo by Louise Mitchell, courtesy EcoHousing

Fair Oaks, CA (MPG) - Following two years of planning, site tours, pot lucks, workshops and even wine tastings to celebrate baby steps taken along the way, the first shovel of dirt has been dug for a planned cohousing project with units sold on the promise of a “Family-friendly Green Neighborhood” for New York Avenue.

Future residents, of the Fair Oaks EcoHousing development, alongside individuals hoping to build something similar in other parts of Sacramento County, as well as construction and development representatives for the project, and the leading figures in its development and execution got a break in the rain long enough to snap a group photo in front of the 3.7-acre development site Nov. 3.  Then they walked over, together, to Smokey Oaks Tavern on nearby Fair Oaks Boulevard for an official reception and speeches.

“I was thrilled to see how many people joined us for the groundbreaking,” said future Fair Oaks EcoHousing resident and founder, Marty Maskall, who has been working to get the concept for the project from her mind, on to paper and to this point for most of the last decade.  “Supervisor Susan Peters (who attended the event) complimented the future residents on our persistence to pursue our vision.  I can't wait until the homes are built and we can move in.”

That is slated to happen sometime in spring of 2019.  Meanwhile, the Fair Oaks EcoHousing project has been endorsed by the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS), which also honored Maskall as the 2016 Environmentalist of the year.

The celebration officially kicked off construction of the 30-unit, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood that will feature private townhomes and “flats” ranging in size from two to four bedrooms and priced between the mid-$300’s and the high $600’s, solar and sustainable energy sources and other green living features.

The village in the making already has owners for all but two of the 30 homes available, a sign of just how popular the idea of cohousing has become and how quickly folks are ready to buy in.  Prices range from $300,000 to $600,000, depending on the square footage.  Owners also will pay a monthly homeowner association fee, likely between $300 and $400.”

It is estimated that, over the last 25 years, more than 160 cohousing communities have popped up nationwide Cohousing neighborhoods in the Sacramento region include Southside Park Cohousing downtown, Nevada City Cohousing in Nevada City, Wolf Creek Lodge in Grass Valley, and three communities in Davis.

“This is not a new concept,” says Kathryn McCamant, founder of Co-Housing Solutions and consultant on the Fair Oaks EcoHousing project.  Her company is considered to have pioneered the development of cohousing in North America, including Sacramento County.  “We modeled our cohousing projects initially on similar projects in Denmark that go back decades.”

She and her husband, Charles Durrett, who served as the leading architect for the Fair Oaks development, have co-authored two books on sustainable cohousing and collaborated on a number of cohousing developments.  They also live in the Nevada City Cohousing development built in 2008.

McCamant said the concept is easy to sell as it attracts like-minded, conscious-living individuals who support community spaces and ideas for co-existence. Finding the construction funding for cohousing projects, however, she said, is not as straightforward, even though funds would be largely guaranteed by multiple mortgage payments, in this case, 30, upon the selling of the final two units.

“We ended up having to go all the way down to San Diego to Torrey Pines bank to get a loan approved for the Fair Oaks CoHousing project,” said McCamant.  “We just couldn’t get lenders to understand, let alone support the concept.”

That concept involves a place where residents share communal ethos and commit to a lifestyle that balances independent living with shared experiences.  Residents can cook and share meals together, participate in group events and outdoor activities and nurture the spirit of communal living as they see fit.  Tossing a wave to a neighbor three times a year while getting the morning paper, however, won’t cut it.

“Garage door communities, where people pull up at night, put their cars away and never go anywhere else in the neighborhood is not working so well,” said Durrett.  “Cohousing affords an opportunity for shared living experiences using open, shared living spaces.  They aren’t meant for someone who wants to isolate.”

Fair Oaks EcoHousing will offer 3.7 acres of outdoor living and play space, a community pool, spa, workshop, dining and entertaining facilities, a lounge, kids’ playroom, designated space for yoga and music, and two guest bedrooms for extra accommodations.

Some of the future Fair Oaks EcoHousing residents who attended the groundbreaking ceremony were not shy in expressing how long and sometimes difficult the process of getting from concept to construction has been.  The shoveling of that first mound of dirt, they said, was significant on many levels, as it represented the first tangible move toward moving day.

"I feel as though we have somehow emerged as victors after a sustained battle with numerous obstacles,” said Anne Birchfield of Sacramento and a co-founder of the project.  “I am optimistic about all of our futures.”

Obstacles aside, Fair Oaks EcoHousing already is being used as a model for other groups hoping to form a cohousing development. 

“What an exciting day to see all of you there with your shovels, spades and smiles,” said Anne Geraghty, who is building a coalition to support development of the Washington House Cohousing project in west Sacramento. “We are looking forward to following in your footsteps.  Thanks for leading the way.”

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Guiding Veterans in Tough Times

Story and photos by Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-11-19

Aging With Dignity is hosted by Ed Outland, live, Saturday on KTKZ (1380 am) from 1 to 2 p.m. and also on KSAC (105.5 fm). Photo courtesy Ed Outland.

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - Ed Outland is not a veteran.  As a young man, however, he planned to serve his country, as did his father, a career serviceman.  But those hopes were dashed when he developed an illness that disqualified him for enlistment.

“I was drafted in 1969 and I wanted to be a pilot,” says Outland, founder and CEO of Family Heritage Group, LLC in Fair Oaks.  “I found out I had a form of spina bifida and that was it. I didn’t get to go.”

Flash forward several decades (and careers) later and Outland, 71, heads up a company offering financial estate planning and related services for individuals and their family members.  He’s found a circuitous but important way to serve his country by providing pro-bono financial services to aging, sick and injured veterans to ensure they receive, at minimum, access to a little known government entitlement benefit that a vast majority of his clients don’t even know they qualify for.

Sure, Outland has to keep the lights on, so his core company, which currently carries a portfolio of roughly $11 million, centers on financial and estate planning services for the elderly, helping them navigate the wildly complicated qualification process for Medi-Cal benefits, the state’s Medicade program for low-income individuals, and guiding clients on the purchase of life insurance, annuities and other investment and retirement vehicles.

But Heritage Group has a niche market serving veterans with critical medical issues, ensuring they and or their spouses receive assistance through the Aid & Attendance program (A&A) offered through the US Dept. Of Veteran’s Affairs (VA).  The benefit, which can be combined with social security and Medi-Cal, can be used to pay for non-service related medical expenses, including long-term care fees and other expenses due to a catastrophic illness.

Outland does not charge for helping veterans get this benefit.  For those veterans who may have assets exceeding qualifying levels, Outland works with them to redirect their assets in order to meet the requirements.

“Roughly 96 percent of the financial services and catastrophic illness planning we do with veterans is pro-bono work,” says Outland.  “We help them or, if need be, the spouse, apply for the A&A benefit so they can deal with medical expenses with dignity and not have to go broke doing it.”

There are fewer and fewer financial advisors willing to dive into the tangled web of entitlement benefits, according to Outland, who has been working with veterans for about 11 years.  Over that period, he’s established good relationships with the skilled nursing facility community, working with staff and ensuring residents are signed up for and receiving the full range of government entitlements needed to pay for their care and board.

 “This work is not for the weak willed or faint of heart,” says Outland.  “Believe me, the VA doesn’t like us very much.”

To qualify, a veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty with one day during a time of war and a clean discharge from service between Dec. 7, 1941 and Dec. 31, 1946 for WWII; June 27, 1950 to Jan. 31, 1955 for the Korean Conflict, and between Aug. 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975 for the Vietnam War.  Veterans with at least two years of active duty service during the Persian Gulf War from Sept. 2, 1990 up to present day, also qualify.

While most of his VA pro-bono clients do not have much money saved, Outland works to help all who apply for the A&A benefit to qualify.  The VA stipulates applicants can have only a maximum $30,000 in assets if single, $50,000 if married.

But for most, the A&A benefit represents the last option for financial aid to cover medical care costs.  Few have wealth management portfolios to break apart and redirect.

“Many of our veterans come in the door with $50 in their savings accounts,” says Outland.  “Getting these benefits is life-changing for them.”

Part of Outland’s work with others also involves dispelling myths, the biggest one being that if you have money you can’t qualify for Medi-Cal.  And that myth is widely prevalent among a good majority of WWII veterans and their family members who are struggling to balance paying for medical care without depleting their assets and robbing their children of an inheritance.

“The greatest generation of veterans is dying off,” says Outland.  “So our job is to make sure that the $10 trillion that roughly comprises their total wealth is passed on to their families and not sucked up by the ever-increasing costs of long-term medical care and expenses.”’

Outland said of the roughly 16 million veterans who served in WWII there are roughly 750,000 still living.  He estimates there also are roughly 2.5 million WWII widows still living who are entitled to the benefit and can apply for it.  They just need to know it’s there.

“That’s a lot of veterans and widows out there and most of them don’t have a clue the benefit is there for them,” Outland says.

Receiving the Aid & Assistance benefit has made it possible for veterans from all backgrounds to fill the gap between Medi-Cal coverage, Social Security and pension payments and costs of long-term care, among other things, which amounts to an average of close to $7,000 a month in many places.  As of January 2015, a veteran and spouse could qualify for as much as $2,126 a month through the program.  The A&A benefit for single veterans is currently set at $1,794 a month, and for surviving spouses the benefit is $1,156 a month. 

“It truly can mean that someone can age with dignity in a good facility and pay for it without having to lose everything they’ve spent their lives saving up,” Outland said.

Outland also has an hour-long, weekend radio program offering listeners financial and estate planning guidance, He’s successfully parlaying a long, first career in radio advertising sales and station management into a passion helping people manage their money, preserve their family’s wealth and plan for the future.

“I’m self-taught,” said Outland.  “I got tired of doing radio sales day in and day out.  I have been doing this for 28 years now and I guess you could say it really is a second career.”

Outland said when he “discovered” the Aid & Assistance benefit was available there were reportedly roughly 400 recipients in the Sacramento County region signed up for and receiving it.  As of January of this year, he estimated his firm had successfully completed roughly 6,000 A&A cases for veterans. 

“It was like the sky opened up,” Outland said.  “We’ve got to get the word out there that these benefits are available.”

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A True Hero and Survivor

By Elise Spleiss     |  2017-11-19

Okinawa survivor Bob Mellor proudly displays his Navy photo, his Navy uniform and the American Campaign, Asiatic Pacific Campaign and World War II medals he earned during his service in the Battle of Okinawa. Photo by Elise Spleiss

Battle of Okinawa Survivor Part of Final Battle of World War II

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - At the age of 20, Bob (Junior) Mellor, had no way of knowing he was soon to be part of what would be known as ‘history’s greatest conflict on land and sea’, the Battle of Okinawa, also known as Operation Iceberg. Many who unknowingly become a part of history in the making often just see it as part of the job. It is no different for Bob Mellor, now 92.

His patriotic T-shirts and original Navy uniforms hanging in his closet, the glass case full of photos and other service memorabilia are silent reminders of his service while his extensive collection of World War II and other combat movies bring those days back to life for him. And Bob loves to proudly talk about those days to any fortunate enough to hear his stories.

Bob joined the U.S. Navy on October 6, 1944 in San Francisco. He took a train to San Diego Naval Training Center where he completed his basic training as a Seaman Apprentice Class on December 28, 1944. The same day he was transferred to Landing Craft School where he graduated three months later on March 6, 1945.

During his training Bob took a leave to visit his older brother, Ray Mellor whose ship, the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Fanshaw Bay, had come in for repairs following a Japanese attack that had burned the flight deck. While on board Ray, a Gunner’s Mate on the ship, showed his brother the 5-inch anti-aircraft guns where he worked. Ray survived the war, thanks to the metal case covering his Bible when he took shrapnel to the chest during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines.

Upon completion of Landing Craft School Bob Mellor was transferred to the West Pacific where he was trained to drive a 30-foot Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM) boat. He was immediately made a cockswain, in charge of the ship and its crew, and trained in the Pacific Ocean in 15 to 20-foot breakers. Mellor said he liked the training and “found it no harder than plowing a straight furrow” back home on his family’s 156-acre ranch in Delhi, California.

During his three-month training in preparation for the invasion of Okinawa, Mellor brought in supplies, hauled liberty parties and took sailor transfers to other ships on the high seas. He participated in a week-long shake-down cruise and amphibious landing off Catalina Island before boarding a Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) headed for Pearl Harbor where he trained in all the sea channels driving a landing craft.

On March 17, 1945 Mellor was assigned to LSM 424 (Landing Ship, Medium) and was sent to the south islands in the Pacific where he joined a larger fleet of landing craft and mine sweepers. At 203 feet-long, his ship resembled a small aircraft carrier and carried over 100 guns, mortars and rockets of various sizes.  Mellor’s ship was part of the fleet that by the end of March would number 1,300 headed to the invasion of Okinawa. Only 325 miles from Japan, Okinawa was the last stronghold to defeat before reaching Japan.

Finally, on April 1, 1945 the U.S. and allied forces invaded Okinawa. Mellor and his men landed in Buckner Bay. By the end of the day, it had become the largest amphibious landing in the Pacific theater of World War II with 50,000 troops landing.

One of the pilots flying from the carrier U.S.S. San Jacinto was a young pilot by the name of George H.W. Bush. Bush and other pilots conducted bombing raids in their TBM Avengers to clear the way for Mellor and other landing crafts to land safely on Okinawa. However, attempting to prevent U.S. and Allied landings was the Imperial Japanese ‘super-battleship” Yamato, along with its fleet of Japanese aircraft carriers and destroyers. 

Mellor recalls that just after his ship had unloaded its pontoons and hardware for the floating docks, they were attacked briefly in a kamikaze attack by a Japanese Zero fighter plane. He and his men survived that attack and with the equipment provided, three U.S. Army and three U.S. Marine Corps divisions aided in the successful completion of the assault on Okinawa.

On April 7, 1945 the Yamato, the largest battleship in the world at 80,000-tons was sunk by the Avengers after 10 torpedo hits. The Yamato had been the former flagship of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, mastermind of the Pearl Harbor attack.

The war ended on June 22, 1945 but Mellor had one more assignment to complete. On June 26, Mellor took his LSM 424 to the north end of Okinawa and picked up U.S. Marines from the 1st Marine Division at Hedo, and transported them to the North China Sea where they boarded 40 ships to go home. 

More than 12,000 American servicemen were killed at Okinawa and over 38,000 wounded or missing. Japan lost 100,000 men, plus a loss of up to 150,000 civilian Okinawans.

Mellor continued his life following his Navy days with his high school sweetheart, Elma Louise Voyles. They married in 1946, following his discharge from the Navy and her graduation with honors from Livingston High School in Livingston, California. Their first home was a chicken house in the backyard of Clint Lovelady’s Ranch in Delhi, California. They converted the chicken house into their home of one year, then moved to a farm in Delhi where Bob work full-time plowing fields and milking the cows. Their toilet was an outhouse.

In 1950 Mellor took a job at McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento where he worked for 34 years before retiring as a “Scheduler’ for airplane repairs.

The Mellor’s had four children, three adopted over a span of fifteen years. After two children, they upsized from their home in North Highlands to 5-acres in Fair Oaks. After 54 years of marriage, Elma passed away in 2000.

Mellor now lives with his daughter, Lynne at her home in Roseville. He spends much of his time watching his extensive collection of WWII movies and other classics dating back to the 1930’s.               

He enjoys his pastime, especially as, referring to his waning memory, each time he watches a favorite movie like Midway or Flying Tigers, it’s like watching it for the first time.

As the number of our surviving World War II veterans are rapidly dwindling, our younger generations are either never studied or are forgetting their sacrifices. Stories like these are a memorial to the thousands of people who worked, fought and died to preserve our way of life today. They cannot be forgotten.

Sources: Mellor Family History by Dr. Dennis L. Mellor

The Collings Foundation; World War II Day by Day by Antony Shaw

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Del Campo High Schools football team goes undefeated for the regular season

SJUSD Release  |  2017-11-19

Athletic Director at Del Campo High School Sharon Props said she is proud of Del Campo’s football team. Photo courtesy SJUSD

Fair Oaks, CA (MPG) - The Del Campo High School football team made history on Nov. 3 when it went undefeated in the regular season for the first time in the team’s history. The Cougars defeated Bella Vista High School by a score of 67 – 0 to cap off the season and move into the playoffs.

On Thursday, Nov. 9 the Cougars defeated Buhach Colony in the first playoff game for a record so far of 11 – 0. Mike Dimino, head coach of Del Campo’s football team, said the strategy moving forward is to work hard to improve each game.

“The secret of this team’s success is their team chemistry,” Dimino said. “But aside from that, they are making the right decisions off the field. We like to win, obviously, but the thing I’m most proud of is the fact that we’re between 50 to 75 percent B averages for the whole team.”

Athletic Director at Del Campo High School Sharon Props said she is also proud of Del Campo’s football team.

“We’ve never been 10 – 0 before, so everyone is very excited,” Props said. “We have 31 seniors that built this team, so they’ve been playing together for a long time — a lot of the junior classmen have also been playing awhile — so it’s a good culmination that they’ve stuck together this long and have achieved what they have achieved.”

The last time a football team in San Juan Unified School District achieved this milestone was during the 1994 – 1995 season when Rio Americano High School went undefeated during regular season. The team was eventually knocked out of the playoffs after it lost to Del Oro High School in the Division 2 Section Final. Dimino is hopeful the Cougars will be able to go all the way to the state championships this year.

Quarterback Tyler Dimino, the son of Del Campo’s head coach, shares that sentiment.

“I’m hoping to go far in the playoffs,” Dimino said. “I have trust in this team. I think we’re very good and we can do it.”

“I feel very good in our abilities and we’ve shown them on the field,” said left tackle/defensive tackle and senior Jordan Ford. “We all have great chemistry together and we work hard and practice.”

Del Campo’s next playoff game is against Sacramento High School on Nov. 17.

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Kiwanis Club of Carmichael Kicks Off Sales of See’s Candies

By Linda Martin  |  2017-11-19

Proceeds from all sales are utilized to support the visual and performing arts programs in San Juan Unified School District and other community arts events.  Photo courtesy Kiwanis of Carmichael

Kiwanis Club of Carmichael Kicks Off Sales of See’s Candies

Carmichael, CA (MPG) - The Kiwanis Club of Carmichael will be holding its annual holiday See’s Candies sales event starting on November 24 and ending on December 24, 2017.  The sales will take place at the H&R Block office ( next to Starbuck’s) at the Bel Air Center Complex at 4005 Manzanita Ste. #9 in Carmichael.  The hours of the sales are from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.  Special pre-sales prices are available if purchases are made before November 23, 2017.  Please contact Michael Koerner at (916) 717-1731 for information regarding these sales.

Proceeds from all sales are utilized to support the visual and performing arts programs in San Juan Unified School District and other community arts events.  To experience how these funds support our jazz programs in the school district, please plan on attending the 36th annual Wayne Reimers Jazz Festival at Rio Americano High School on January 25, 2018 where jazz bands at our elementary, middle and high schools will be participating in a non-competitive festival where they receive constructive feedback by professional adjudicators.  You will have an opportunity to hear some amazing young musicians. 

As the holiday season approaches, please remember that if you wish to purchase See’s candies for friends, employees, neighbors or family members, come by our convenient location and help us support our local schools and the arts in the community.

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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:


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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:   

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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

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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