Something to Tweet About

Story and pictures by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-01-17

Dramatic in takeoff, the great egret is one of many avian species likely to be observed during two Bird and Breakfast events at Effie Yeaw Nature Center. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - There’s more to ornithology than binoculars and obliging birds. Add a nature preserve resonant with avian song; throw in an expert docent; garnish with breakfast fit for a kingfisher. You then have the Effie Yeaw Nature Center’s popular spring fundraiser.

“Bird and Breakfast;” will this year be staged on Saturdays March 17 and March 24, at the center’s Ancil Hoffman Park facility.  Reservations are required; the two-event fundraiser sells out every year.  Participants will likely see 40 or more species and no bird gets left behind; Sacramento Audubon guides get as excited about tiny finches as rock-star herons, snowy egrets and – yes, it’s possible – a bald eagle fly-by.

Equally fascinating are home-building habits during the most industrious time of the avian year. Because Audubon scouts locate nests in advance, visitors will likely see wren, hawk, woodpecker and titmice abodes. Higher and harder to spot, some hummingbirds will have nested by March. Nest-watching is enhanced by on-site viewing scopes.

A 27-year spring tradition, the $40 ($35 for American River Natural History Association or Audubon members) safari is followed on March 17 by gourmet breakfast. The March 24 foray is for ages six and up. This family-friendly program invites adults for $10 and children for $5. Discounts apply for ARNHA or Audubon members. Groups are welcome. Carmichael Kiwanis will serve a pancake breakfast on this date.

Silent auctions of bird-related goodies accompany breakfast. Proceeds assist the Nature Center.

Neither weekend excursion is recommended for very young children. Participants should wear stout shoes and bring binoculars. Bird and Breakfast begins at 8 a.m., both days. Learn more about the fundraiser at  

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - During January, blood donors can double their impact by giving blood with BloodSource and benefitting Make-A-Wish® Northeastern California and Northern Nevada at the same time. BloodSource will track the number of blood donations received at all 15 BloodSource Donor Centers and nearly 150 community blood drives during the month. For each blood donation, BloodSource will make a monetary donation to Make-A-Wish®, up to a grand total of $7,500.

“BloodSource and Make-A-Wish® provide young patients with hope, happiness and a new life,” said Erin Frye, marketing manager for BloodSource. “Many wish recipients are also young blood recipients. We look forward to continue supporting Make-A-Wish® and helping them grant even more wishes for children throughout our community.”

“We are honored to partner with another life-changing organization like BloodSource and that once again the local chapter of Make-A-Wish® was chosen as the beneficiary for this campaign. The funds raised will go directly to granting another local child’s life-changing wish,” said Make-A-Wish® CEO Jennifer Stolo.

In addition to giving blood, donors can also donate to Make-A-Wish® by logging onto and giving their MyBloodSource Rewards to Make-A-Wish®, equating to a personal monetary donation.

Last April, more than 15,200 donors stepped up to support a similar campaign that raised nearly $8,000 for Make-A-Wish®.

To schedule a donation appointment, please visit or call 866.822.5663.

Make-A-Wish® creates life changing wishes for children with critical illnesses and are on a quest to bring every eligible local child’s wish to life. Research has shown that a wish is an integral part of a child’s treatment journey. Make-A-Wish® Northeastern California and Northern Nevada was established in 1983 as one of the early local chapters of Make-A-Wish® America.  Since then, the chapter has granted more than 6,300 wishes to children within its 37-county service area. For more information about Make-A-Wish Northeastern California and Northern Nevada, call 916.437.0206 or visit

BloodSource has been this area’s nonprofit community blood provider since1948, and serves patients in more than 40 hospitals throughout Northern and Central California. It is a Blood Systems blood center. Blood Systems is one of the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit community blood service providers, currently serving more than 1,000 hospital and healthcare partners across 28 states to provide comprehensive transfusion medicine services for patients in need.

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Carmichael Chamber Announces New Board

MPG Staff  |  2018-01-17

Photo courtesy Carmichael Chamber of Commerce

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - The Carmichael Chamber’s 2018 Board of Directors will celebrate the Chamber’s 70th anniversary this year. Pictured (front row) Virginia Stone of Oakmont of Carmichael (Secretary); Gabrielle Rasi DDS (President); Joe Green of ICA Custom and Handmade (Vice President); Jim Alves of SMUD (Treasurer); (back row) Linda Melody, Carmichael Chamber Executive Director; Artie Van Winkle, representing residential members; Barbara Safford of Friends of the Carmichael Library; John Foderaro of Guild Mortgage; Katie Pexa of Farmers Insurance; Julie Hubbs of Woodworker Life Coaching; Rick Oster of Oster Consulting Group, and Kelli Foley of Trillium Real Estate, the 2018 Honorary Mayor of Carmichael. Not pictured is Heidi Standard of Aflac.

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State Point Media (MPG) - The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that California's adolescent birth rate continues to decline. In 2015, there were 17.6 births per 1,000 females aged 15-19: a 10 percent decline from the 2014 rate of 19.6 and a 62 percent decline from the 2000 rate of 46.7.

"By empowering young people with the knowledge, tools and resources to make healthy choices, California is succeeding in reducing births among adolescents," said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith.

The adolescent birth rate decreased across all racial and ethnic groups between 2000 and 2015. During this time, the adolescent birth rate dropped among Hispanics from 77.3 to 27.0, among African-Americans from 59.1 to 19.7, among Whites from 22.3 to 6.9, and among Asians from 15.0 to 2.9.

Despite declining birth rates, racial disparities persist in adolescent childbearing in California. African-American and Hispanic adolescents were three to four times as likely to give birth as White females. Additionally, the adolescent birth rate varies considerably across counties, from a low of 6.7 in Marin County to a high of 43.1 in Del Norte County.

California has a number of programs aimed at preventing adolescent pregnancy and improving pregnancy outcomes among young women. CDPH funds the Information and Education Program, the Personal Responsibility Education Program authorized through the Affordable Care Act of 2010, and the Adolescent Family Life Program for expectant and parenting adolescents. Also, the state provides no-cost family planning services to eligible men and women, including adolescents, through the Family PACT Program.

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‘Individual Ownership’ Model Fuels Local Economy

Sacramento County, CA (MPG) - More than 110,000 consumers over the past year chose to become members of a local credit union headquartered in Sacramento County as of Sept. 30, 2017 (third quarter), according to the 3rd Quarter Credit Union Trends Report for Sacramento County.

Sacramento County now boasts 1.35 million individuals who are “member-owners” of 10 locally headquartered credit unions — a record high (the last historical peak was 1.05 million in 2009). Each person owns an equal share of his or her respective credit union, with all profits reinvested to benefit every member in the form of better interest rates and lower or no fees.

How these credit union members are spending their money on homes, remodeling projects, new and used automobiles, higher education, surviving life events, and other big-purchase items provides a key barometer into what’s happening across the local economy.

This news release reflects year-over-year trends in local loans and deposits and is published by the Ontario, CA-based California Credit Union League. Local consumers who are members of Sacramento County-based credit unions continue taking on first-mortgages to purchase or refinance homes. First-mortgages rose 11 percent, hitting a record $3.96 billion. (This may include fixed-rate, adjustable-rate, purchase, traditional refinance, and cash-out refinance mortgages). They are turning home equity into cash for remodeling or other large purchases. Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) and second-mortgages combined increased 5 percent, reaching $557 million — an amount not seen since 2015.

Credit union members have slid into the driver’s seat of a newer car or truck more often. New auto loans rose 31 percent, hitting a record $3.6 billion. Used auto loans rose 22 percent, hitting a record $3 billion.They remain true to the habit of paying for life through credit cards. Credit card lending increased 6 percent, hitting a record $628 million.

Members are also trying to save more money and increasingly using credit unions to transact purchases/bill-pay. Total deposits rose 9 percent, hitting a record $15.1 billion (including record individual amounts in checking, savings and money market accounts).

“These credit union trends will continue as long as the economy continues to perform well,” said Dwight Johnston, chief economist for the California Credit Union League.

He noted some areas of concern. Employers are having increasing difficulty finding workers in a tight labor market, which will limit economic growth “to some degree.” He also has concerns the economy may start running out of steam by late 2018. Consumer spending might be “good” by then, but its growth rate could still disappoint. If Wall Street reacts negatively to consumer spending numbers versus expectations, businesses could somewhat pull back on spending and hiring plans.

However, “There is nothing that suggests an economic slowdown is imminent, which makes the overall picture for credit unions bright,” Johnston said. “In fact, the business-skewed tax bill Congress recently passed should accelerate economic growth through at least the third quarter of this year.”

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As travel demand decreases after a busy holiday travel season, prices at the pump should decrease as well

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - Californians will kick off 2018 with the most expensive gas to begin a year since 2014, according to AAA, but prices are expected to fall in coming weeks as travel demand subsides after a busy holiday travel season.

At $3.10, California’s average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline today is 33 cents more than drivers paid in January, 2017. At nearly $3.23 per gallon, San Francisco residents are paying the highest prices for gas in Northern California -- 3 cents more than motorists in South Lake Tahoe, which normally tops the charts for the region.

“Last year was a historic travel season, with AAA forecasting record travel numbers for nearly every holiday, but prices historically will drop after the ball drops on New Year’s Eve,” said Michael Blasky, a spokesman for AAA Northern California. “Californians today are paying about 60 cents more than the national average, which AAA attributes to the state’s strong economy, higher taxes on gasoline and stricter environmental regulations."

The last time Californians started a year paying more than $3 for gas was in 2014, when the average price in January of that year was $3.62. Gas prices rose above $4 that summer.

Still, January prices don't always indicate how prices will move throughout a year. Motorists in California paid just $2.55 for regular unleaded gas to begin 2015, but by May were paying above $3.70 per gallon.

Oil prices were more stable in 2017, with prices for a barrel hovering around $50 much of the year. Prices rose late in the year and began 2018 over $60 a barrel, a 2-year high. 

“With global oil producers trying to scale back their production, supply could drop while demand for energy remains high,” Blasky said. “If they’re successful in cutting back oil production, gasoline prices will likely rise as well to meet the demand.”

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CDPH Offers Free Radon Test Kits

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - January is National Radon Action Month and the cold winter months are the best time to test for this odorless and colorless gas. CDPH is offering free test kits to households in California throughout the month of January, or until supplies run out.

Radon, a naturally occurring gas, is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, according to the Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Testing for radon in your home is a simple process,” said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. “Taking steps for remediation, if needed, can be critical for indoor air quality, and improving the safety of your home.”

The kits are provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s State Indoor Radon Grant fund, and are limited to one free test kit per household. The aggregated information from the test results will be used to update statewide Radon Potential Maps, which show the likelihood of radon in a specific region.

Test kits can be ordered through the CDPH Indoor Radon Program webpage or by calling the program toll-free at 1-800-745-7236. Options for remediation of radon in the home are available at the CDPH Indoor Radon Program.

Additional information about National Radon Action Month is available on the EPA National Radon Action Month website at


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Thera-poodle at work

Words and pictures by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-01-12

Open wide. Dr. Rasi and Sir Winston demonstrate examination etiquette for two-year-old patient Lillian Kavanagh. Mom Angela and dental technician Lindsay LaMantain (right) look on. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner

Sir Winston interns at Carmichael Dentistry

Carmichael, CA (MPG) - Carmichael Chamber of Commerce president Gabrielle Rasi and her staff have the glorious smiles of dental professionals. From one employee, however, flashes a bonus grin. Poodle Sir Winston Churchill’s white canines are truly canine. “I brush his teeth every day,” says Dr. Rasi. “Puppy breath is lovely. Doggie breath isn’t. That can mean dental disease.”

Sweet-breathed Winston has critical employment in Rasi’s Coyle Avenue dentistry. Salaried with love and treats, the three-year-old is comforter-in-training. “People are sometimes stressed at the dentist,” explains Rasi. “Winston’s still working for his therapy diploma, but he already helps anxious patients. He leans against them or puts his head in their laps. He’s a big, fluffy, teddy bear.”

Named for the legendary British Prime Minister, the doggie diplomat is latest in a series of pooches at the practice. Rasi is married to fellow dentist Dr. Kevin Tanner and for 13 years, the couple’s Labrador Hudson welcomed patients to Rasi’s surgery. When Hudson retired, poodle Lola succeeded him. Eventually, when Lola followed Hudson to doggie heaven, Rasi and Turner adopted Winston. “Standard poodles are smart,” she explains. “They’re also hypo-allergic. They don’t shed or affect people with allergies. They love and protect.”

Sir Winston started therapy internship at two years old. All Stage Canine Development consultant Miranda Viani regularly schools the wooly student. Beyond nursing-home visits, dog and trainer haunt busy places to desensitize the intern among moving objects and loud noise. “He still gets excited when he sees kids,” notes his trainer. “He’s learning the difference between play time and work time.”

“Winston lives for love,” observes Rasi. “He just can’t get enough of kids. We recently had a three-year-old who was scared and crying when she arrived for her examination. Soon as she saw Winston, she started laughing and petting his poufy head. With a loving friend beside her, she knew no one would harm her.”

Winston’s meal breaks are supplied from his own shelf in the office fridge. He heads purposefully for patio doors to indicate bathroom needs. “He sits outside my examination room door when I’m working,” says his boss. “He knows he’s not allowed in during procedures. But he’s ready to spoil people with love as they leave. My patients ask for Sir Winston by name. Some visit – without appointments – just to bring him treats or toys. He shakes hands. He takes center-stage in the lobby. Without Winston, work would be much less fun.”

“He’s also king of the castle at home,” confirms Rasi.  “He knows when it’s Saturday and he sleeps in with us. When I get up Monday morning, he waits for me at the garage door. If I tell him he must stay home – sometimes I have meetings he can’t attend -- I feel I’ve ruined his whole day.”

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Carmichael Improvement District Hires Management Team

Story and photos by Jacqueline Fox  |  2018-01-12

Jenifer McDonald, founder, McDonald Association Management Company, Inc., and newly appointed Carmichael Improvement District administrative manager. Photo by Jacqueline Fox

Carmichael, CA (MPG) - The board of directors for the Carmichael Improvement District (CID) for Fair Oaks Boulevard, has signed a contract with a Sacramento-based management firm to, in part, oversee all financial and contractual agreements with its members and service providers, as well as the crafting of the CID’s long-range strategic plan.

Jenifer McDonald, founder of McDonald Association Management Company, Inc., is a long-time resident of Carmichael.  Her company has been delivering association management services to trade organizations and nonprofits, among other entities, since 2004.  This will be its first foray into the business of managing the administrative processes for a Public Business Improvement District or PBID, which involves a collective of roughly 437 commercial property owners operating within the 410-acre Fair Oaks Boulevard Business Improvement corridor, as well as contracted service providers overseeing security and street clean up.

“I’m very excited to be able to roll up my sleeves and get down to work with our board of directors to ensure the longevity and vitality of the CID,” said McDonald.  She brings more than two decades of experience in the California State Legislature, as well as executive management for some of the state’s largest trade associations, including the California Dental Hygienists’ Association, the California/Western States Chapter of the ESOP Association, the Association of California Healthcare Districts/ALPHA Fund.

McDonald also has provided executive management services for the California Association of Joint Powers Authorities (CAJPA) and The California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors of Northern California.

McDonald’s contract with the Carmichael Improvement District is for three years.  Her appointment completes a short list of contractual agreements between CID board members and outside agencies hired to oversee different components of the CID’s infrastructure and services to its stakeholders.

In July, CID board members awarded contracts to Matt Carroll, owner of Sacramento-based Paladin Private Security, and Hilary Gould, owner of Fair Oaks-based Gould Electric and PBID Maintenance to provide armed security patrol and street maintenance services respectively to the roughly 437 commercial businesses located within the CID’s 2.5 mile boundary lines. 

McDonald’s role will be to ensure the viability of those and future contracts with the CID, as well as the facilitation of the collection of property assessments, which fund the CID’s budget of just under $302,000.  She will be working closely with CID board members to craft its strategic plan, further develop CID policies, complete build out of the its member database and pushing to bring in new members.

“One of my first orders of business is already in progress,” said McDonald.  “That is to take the CID member database and really get to know who our members are, reach out to them and then start working on developing relationships with the rest of the area business and property owners to begin building up our membership.”

The PBID for Fair Oaks Boulevard, or the CID, was approved by just under 70 percent of local property owners in the fall of 2016.  Its renewable, five-year agreement with the county may be expanded to include a wider tax base and coverage area over the next five years.

CID Meeting Information:

CID Board meetings are held at the Carmichael Library meeting room at 5605 Marconi Ave. on the fourth Thursday of each month from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. These meetings are open to the public.


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Average residential customer bill will be reduced by $1.20

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - SMUD has removed the state-mandated SB-1 solar surcharge from all customer bills. Part of Governor Schwarzenegger’s “Million Solar Roofs Initiative,” the surcharge—currently equal to $0.0016 per kilowatt-hour of electricity usage or about $1.20 on an average SMUD customer monthly bill—was initiated in 2008.

Funds from the surcharge were used to help develop residential and commercial solar capacity throughout SMUD’s territory. Overall, the funds will have helped build approximately 125 megawatts of solar generation over the last ten years. This includes incentives for residential and commercial customer solar installations, Smart Home developments, and SolarShares™ developments. A recent example of how these funds were used is the $1.4 million awarded to the Sacramento International Airport to support their installation of two new solar arrays totaling 6.8 megawatts in capacity. The arrays produce enough electricity to handle approximately one-third of the airport’s power needs, saving the airport approximately $850,000 in energy costs each year.

Per the state mandate, the SB-1 solar surcharge was in effect until SMUD had collected $130 million. SMUD reached that cap in late December and immediately removed the surcharge. SMUD has disbursed approximately $125 million of these funds to date and will disburse the remaining funds by the end of 2020.

Per earlier approval by SMUD’s Board of Directors of the Chief Executive Officer & General Manager’s Report & Recommendation on Rates and Services, a rate increase of 1.5 percent for all residential customers and 1 percent for all business customers took effect on January 1, 2018. With the removal of the SB-1 solar surcharge, the average residential customer using 750 kilowatt-hours per month of electricity will now see an average net increase of about $0.42 per month ($1.62 average increase due to the rate increase less an average $1.20 SB-1 solar surcharge). Removing the surcharge from business customer bills will, on average, offset the entire 1 percent rate increase.

For more information about SB-1, visit For more information about SMUD’s rates, visit

Source: SMUD Media

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