Baby Basket Drive Raises Most Funds Ever

By Kristin Thébaud  |  2018-01-10

Ana Alvarado receives a baby basket from Sacramento Life Center, thanks to the group’s Baby Basket Drive held each December. Photo courtesy Sacramento Life Center

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - The Sacramento Life Center’s fourth annual Baby Basket Drive for new moms raised the most funds of all four years, totaling $13,746, which will buy 275 baskets in 2018. The drive is held each December to kickstart the 500 baby baskets needed so that every Sacramento Life Center patient who gives birth in the coming year can receive a basket of needed items, including formula, diapers, newborn clothes, pacifiers and more.  Last year’s drive raised $8,470, which bought 170 baskets.

Donations will be accepted throughout 2018 and can be made online at www.saclife.org by writing Baby Basket Drive in the message box on the donation page. Gifts can be made in any increment, but a donation of $50 buys one basket.

“We were thrilled at how many people stepped up to be a baby’s first Santa this holiday season by donating to our Baby Basket Drive,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “Many of our patients come in scared that they might be pregnant, and it’s our job to provide them with a warm, caring support system and resources that will sustain them long after the baby comes. These baskets give new parents a boost of confidence along with much needed supplies.”

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 www.svpclinic.com. For more information about the Sacramento Life Center or to make a donation, visit www.saclife.org


Source: Kristin Thébaud Communications

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The Sweet Sound of Success

By Jacqueline Fox  |  2018-01-05

“Being in an unincorporated area when people feel there is no one there to help them grow their business, we can fill that gap with education, assistance and networking and promotion.  I don’t’ know anywhere else where you can go for all of that for $125 a year.”  Linda Melody, executive director, Carmichael Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Paul Scholl

In 2009 the Carmichael Chamber of Commerce had just over 100 active members, attendance at events and networking luncheons was dismal and it was operating in the red.  In a last-ditch effort to keep the organization open, member Linda Melody was appointed to replace the outgoing executive director.  As the chamber approaches the celebration of its 70th anniversary, active membership has more than doubled since Melody’s arrival, participation is robust. Under Melody’s direction, the chamber also was instrumental in establishment of the Fair Oaks Avenue PBID, now called the Carmichael Improvement District or CID, which is looked to as a model by neighboring communities considering a PBID of their own.  Below, Melody discusses her strategy for reinvigorating the chamber and where it’s headed next.

Q: How did you land your position and what was the chamber’s status at the time?
A: I was already a member of the chamber through my prepaid legal services company.  I actually didn’t know anything about the chamber before I joined but I thought it would be a good way to get exposure.  Then a number of months later the president of the board at the time resigned and the vice president took over.  She contacted me to ask if I would join the board.  About a month later the chamber was broke and my predecessor at the time came in to say her check had not cleared.  We had to pay her with the few renewal fees that had come in.  She left and I was asked to take over.”

Q: How many members were on the roster upon your arrival?
A: We had roughly 342 members on our roster, however, when I started calling and introducing myself as the new executive director, a good number of them laughed on the phone and told me they hadn’t been a member for two or three years.  No one was updating the roster.  When I culled the list down to active members, it was about 113.  Attendance at our monthly luncheons, which were not being held consistently, averaged about 12.  It was really bad.  They weren’t engaged. Then, it was announced that, by the end of that year, if we didn’t raise $4,000, we would have to close the doors.  I was shocked.  It was a really difficult time. 

Q: What was your strategy for keeping the Chamber’s doors open and its resurgence?
A: I would talk with other CEOs and EDs at other organizations and think ‘I am in way over my head.”’ But I knew the chamber needed to be resurrected, so I just started getting to know each one of our members personally.  Our mixers were hit and miss, if held at all, so no engagement there.  Then I really just began by reaching out to the business owners in the community one on one.  I talked to them about the value of the chamber and got to know who they were and what they were looking for. I also started to look at ways to raise more revenue through the addition of new fundraisers and events.”

Q: What new events and programs have you implemented?
A: There was already an installation dinner on the calendar, but I realized that no one really cared about it.  It was not a major event.  So in 2010 I launched the Person of the Year Awards and we folded it into the installation event.  That first year we honored then Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness and we made it a fundraiser. That event is now going to be in its ninth year.  It has really grown to include a full plate of honorees, including Nonprofit of the Year, to which we donate a portion of the event’s proceeds.  We also launched the member orientation breakfast, which is held each quarter.  This event is important because it’s our way of providing those touch points that you need bring members into the fold and keep them active.  It isn’t just about the ribbon cutting.  We also brought in 24 chamber sponsors, as well as some terrific and very supportive event sponsors.  We added quarterly power lunches, and also now partner with neighboring chambers for our multi-chamber mixer, which provides wonderful exposure for our members and an opportunity to meet with other chamber members from surrounding communities.

Q: What is your current membership?
A: We have 272 active members and I know every one of them. I have contact with them throughout the year. Our volunteers call every member to find out if they are coming to the luncheons and events.  It’s all about that personal touch.  Our monthly luncheons now have 100-plus in attendance and we have had dignitaries and officials from all over come and speak.  They are truly well attended and vibrant events now.

Q: Your chamber was instrumental in getting voters to approve the PBID.  Why push for that?
A: That’s right. We are the first chamber to ever orchestrate the beginning of a PBID and we have a seat on the board of the PBID.  We worked very hard and we were just rejoicing when we got the votes we needed.  We went out and we talked to people and said ‘Look, we are not an incorporated city and don’t have the tax base to address the issues of concern on our own.  We pushed to help businesses understand that the PBID would give them a voice and bring in revenue to strengthen their businesses.  Now, we have onsite security and street clean up in place, which is making a huge dent in the problems with blight and crime along the boulevard. We also have hired our administrator to oversee the distribution of funds and operations management. I know it was the right thing to do and now we are seeing the positive results from it.

Q: What’s on tap for 2018?
A: Beginning in January we will be expanding our board of directors from 11 to 14.  We just had our elections and all were approved and will be sworn in on Dec. 19.  We are moving our multi-chamber mixer to the fall because everyone’s calendar is so full in June.  As far as programs go, we are going to be putting a lot of emphasis on education for our members next year.  We want to bring in more speakers to our events who can talk about those issues that members want help with or need to learn more about to grow.  Of course on January 9, we celebrate our platinum anniversary.  The chamber will turn 70 and I’m excited to say I’ve scheduled our first speaker, Barry Broome who serves as the first President and CEO of the Greater Sacramento Economic Council.  Economic development issues are very important here.  When I arrived, we had a 23% vacancy rate.  It is currently under 10 %.  Of course we want to see that number go to zero, but we are definitely moving in that direction.

Q: What is your message to those considering a membership?
A: My message is that the Carmichael Chamber is a very exciting, energized and growing chamber.  In 2016 and 2017 we were identified as the second-fastest growing chamber in the region.  Being in an unincorporated area when people feel there is no one there to help them grow their business, we can fill that gap with education, assistance and networking and promotion.  I don’t’ know anywhere else where you can go for all of that for $125 a year.

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Curling in Sacramento?

By Katie Feldman  |  2018-01-03

Wine Country Curling Club is dedicated to promoting the sport of curling in Northern California. Photos courtesy Wine County Curling Club.

Yes, and The Winter Olympics are almost here!

Sacramento, CA (MPG) - The Winter Olympics are almost here and with that comes the crazy, quirky sport of CURLING. Curling is an ice sport that requires players to slide 42-pound stones over an ice sheet to a target at the other end, known as the house. Considered to be one of the most captivating sports, curling is popularly known as chess on ice and a hybrid of bowling and shuffleboard. Americans flocked to the sport with intrigue and fascination when the Winter Olympics were televised from Torino in 2006, Vancouver in 2010, and Sochi in 2014. The same will be true come February 8th when the Winter Olympics begin in South Korea.
 
Did you know that CURLING is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States?
Did you know that CURLING is one of the few sports that all ages and all abilities can do?
Did you know that CURLING is the only sport that will be shown DAILY during the upcoming Winter Olympics in February?
 
Wine Country Curling Club is dedicated to promoting the sport of curling in Northern California. They curl out of Skatetown Ice in Roseville and offer leagues, learn-to-curl programs, corporate events, tournaments, and adaptive curling (wheelchair curling, blind curling, deaf curling, stick curling, and Special Olympics curling). WCCC curls on Sunday mornings but also offers the occasional Saturday night event and they are one of 4 clubs in California. WCCC is a volunteer-run, 501(c)3 non-profit organization and is a member of USA Curling and the Mountain Pacific Curling Association (MoPac). They hold two tournaments each year which brings over 40 teams (including past Olympians) to the area to compete in a 3-day event.
 
“From hosting watch parties at local bars to holding as many learn-to-curl sessions that we can schedule through Skatetown Ice, we are doing everything in our power to let the Northern California community know that we are here,” said Wine Country Curling Club President Katie Feldman. WCCC has taught approximately 150 people to curl in just this year alone and they anticipate that number to double during the first half of 2018.
 
Wine Country Curling Club is available for live spots (or taped roll) which would be perfect for background video as the newscasters discuss the Winter Olympics results. They are also interested in offering curling demonstrations either on location (at Skatetown Ice or the Downtown Outdoor Ice Rink) as well as in-studio. WCCC can teach TV/radio/print personalities how to curl in less than 20 minutes, so that when they inevitably talk about it in February, they will know the basics of the sport.
 
For more information contact: Katie Feldman, (916) 849-9731 katie@winecountrycurlingclub.com
Check out winecountrycurlingclub.com

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Jamba Juice Opens in Carmichael

By Paul Scholl  |  2018-01-03

Ashley holds up my first order, my favourite, a large Peach perfection! Photo by Paul Scholl

Carmichael, CA (MPG) – Good things often come to those who wait, but I was really getting tired of waiting for Jamba Juice to open. It has been a couple of weeks now, but one of the latest foodie locations to come to the area is now open daily and ready to serve all those who love their juice to start the day.

This location was under construction for many months, held up by permitting and some other issues. Many people in the community were beginning to wonder if it was ever going to become a reality.

Jamba Juice offers a fundraising program for local organizations. It sounds like a good way to help raise funds for a good cause and to eat something really good for you. Stop by and ask the staff for more information.

The Carmichael location is in the same shopping center as Noah’s Bagels and the recently opened Wing Stop, right at the split of Fair Oaks Blvd. and Manzanita Ave. The official address is 7423 Fair Oaks Blvd.

When you stop by to visit tell them you are really glad they are now open and welcome them to the Carmichael community.

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Yep, Pot Goes Legit, Sort of

Story by Jacqueline Fox  |  2018-01-03

Because marijuana remains categorized as a controlled substance under federal law, the state has left it up to individual counties and cities to determine if they wanted in on the action or not, giving them a Dec. 31 deadline. MPG copyright image.

Sacramento County, CA (MPG) - In many cities across California, Sacramento included, the cultivation and sale of recreational cannabis becomes legal Jan. 1, opening the flood gates for an industry widely expected to generate a gold mine for municipalities who have said “yes” to the legitimization of the pot business.

However, Sacramento County, as well as the cities of Citrus Heights, Rancho Cordova and Folsom, among others in Placer County and points across the map, each have stuck to their guns and have banned what they view as the coming of the wild west of commerce. 

Anticipating an uptick in violent crime, robberies, homelessness and headaches, coupled with a complicated process for management of the commercial side of the cannabis industry, these areas have echoed a resounding “NOT” to the cultivation of cannabis in their towns.  There are also too many questions, they say, about how to affectively assess pot farmers on their profits from what is currently a cash-and-carry industry, not to mention the offense of the smell from burning weed wafting over their neighborhoods.

So pot is legit as of Jan. 1, and yet it isn’t, depending on where you reside and how you intend to consume or even grow it. 

If you’re cloudy on the issues, there’s good reason for it.  The medicinal marijuana laws passed several years ago that ushered in the growth of the pot dispensary market made it legal for those with a “prescription” from their physicians to purchase limited amounts of pot.

Proposition 64, passed in November 2016, effectively made it possible for weed growers who are lucky enough to obtain licenses from the state to come out of the shadows and begin cashing in on the commercial recreational pot market, which is expected to generate roughly $1 billion for the state annually.  Tax proceeds on pot farmers’ bounties will, in part, support enforcement and oversight of the industry, among other programs. 

In addition, Prop. 64 allows for the personal cultivation of up to six living pot plants for non-medical purposes, provided they are grown inside a person's private residence or a green house, but not in a field or backyard, as many cultivators have been doing under the radar for years. 

So, where and when will it be legal to grow, sell or possess pot?  And are pot dispensaries legal or not? 

Because marijuana remains categorized as a controlled substance under federal law, the state has left it up to individual counties and cities to determine if they wanted in on the action or not, giving them a Dec. 31 deadline to say so, in order for the approval process for applications from prospective growers to begin Jan. 1. 

The City of Sacramento voted this fall to join the party and is currently cultivating its own guidelines for commercial growing and distribution.  Licensees will be taxed 4% of their proceeds, for starters.  Applications for conditional use permits are required and renewable annually.  Depending on the type of business you want to run, city fees for setting up a grow operation will run you anywhere between $9,000 and $15,000, and between $8,000 and $13,000 to renew the license each year.

But, since it’s a cash flow operation, there are many unanswered questions as to how growers will deposit and move earnings, just one of the headaches fueling the Rancho Cordova City Council’s “no” vote.

“We have been watching all the things the city of Sacramento is going through and we see it as just a headache we do not want to deal with,” said Vice Mayor Linda Budge following her council’s 3-2 vote against lifting the ban on commercial operations Dec. 4.

Sacramento currently has roughly three dozen pot dispensaries, again built out primarily after the medicinal pot laws went into effect, but there is a moratorium on approval of new applications for licenses.  Pot cultivation beyond the legal limit of six plants inside a residence, delivery services and pot dispensaries all remain illegal in Citrus Heights, Folsom, Rancho Cordova and countywide.  

Proponents of Prop. 64 and the decriminalization of the marijuana industry site the stigma of pot and previous felony-level charges for minor offenses that, they say, often stood between offenders’ abilities to find a job or, in some cases, obtain approval for adequate housing.  

Opponents of the law, however, including city officials, law enforcement agencies and county prosecutors  have repeatedly pointed to what they see as a direct through-line between cannabis cultivation and pot dispensaries and serious crime, including murder, which they expect will continue, despite the changes in the law.

“I’ve been a prosecutor for 30 years, and as long as I’ve been involved with cases involving crimes related to marijuana, it has always been a very high-risk, dangerous activity,” said Robert Gold, assistant chief deputy district attorney.  “It is always going to be a dangerous activity whether legal or not, because so many of the growers are less sophisticated.  The bad guys are going to believe that they have a lot of product, a lot of money and probably guns.  And the other thing is, they won’t often report crimes against themselves, which makes them vulnerable victims.”

Gold also cautioned that it remains illegal, regardless of where you live, to carry more than an ounce of marijuana, but conceded the misdemeanor charges that now accompany most minor pot infractions, make it difficult to justify the costs of prosecuting such cases.

“The law certainly has resulted in changing the laws in favor of those who want to make this a business,” said Gold.  “Whether you grow 25 plants illegally or 250,000 plants, it’s a misdemeanor and 180 days in the county Jail.  So even for a convicted felon, it’s now like a speeding ticket.”

POT OR NOT:

Sacramento Region:
The City of Sacramento: YES
Sacramento County: NO
Citrus Heights NO
Folsom: NO
Rancho Cordova: NO
Elk Grove: NO
Galt: NO

Placer County: NO
Roseville: NO
Rocklin: NO

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Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - The SMUD Board of Directors approved a $1.74 billion budget. The 2018 budget provides funding for all capital and operations and maintenance (O & M) programs needed to meet the Board’s Strategic Directions in the year ahead.

The 2018 budget also positions SMUD for changes coming to the utility industry so SMUD can continue to meet our community’s energy needs. The budget sets the stage for operational efficiencies and improvements, as well as expansions of customer offerings in the near future, and opens up SMUD to seek new revenue opportunities.

SMUD is in a strong financial position. SMUD has a robust cash balance and operating cash flow and will fund the majority of capital investment with cash on hand, only planning to borrow $200 million next year. Recently Fitch and S&P upgraded SMUD’s credit ratings to AA, from an already impressive AA-, while Moody’s continues to rate SMUD Aa3. This is the strongest SMUD’s credit ratings have been in 33 years.

The 2018 budget is $161 million more than the 2017 budget, due mostly to higher planned capital expenditures. SMUD continues to upgrade electrical infrastructure to maintain safe and reliable service, as well as invest in the technological foundations to meet future challenges. Offsetting these increases is a lower commodity budget due to declining natural gas costs, which SMUD locked in through hedging programs.

As the utility business evolves, SMUD is increasingly reliant on technological solutions in all business areas. As a customer-owned utility, SMUD continues to focus on improving the digital channels its customers use to do business with SMUD. The 2018 budget includes initiatives to deliver a new SMUDapp with bill pay and outage communications functionality, as well as increasingly personalized customer experiences on SMUD’s digital channels.

In 2018, SMUD embarks on exploring new business opportunities that open new markets and revenue streams. These include expanding opportunities for new revenue in traditional wholesale energy markets, such as successfully selling excess transmission capacity, plus new net revenue from non-traditional sources such as the new e-commerce solution, the SMUD Energy Store.

SMUD signed a contract in 2017 with Valley Clean Energy Alliance (VCEA) to provide Community Choice Aggregator (CCA) services. SMUD’s work with VCEA, which launches next spring, will create a new revenue stream for SMUD and creates possibilities for expansion into other CCA markets.

The capital budget includes funding for improvements and investments to support development of SMUD’s load serving capacity—the amount of power needed to meet high demand during peak summer hours—as well as continued modernization of the grid; regulatory compliance; and customers’ experience dealing with SMUD. Some major capital projects include:

·       Rebuilding Station E and Station G substations downtown.

·       Construction of the new Franklin substation in Elk Grove.

·       Rehabilitation of the SMUD Headquarters building.

·       Re-purchase of Solano Wind 3.

The O&M budget includes funding for the work associated with SMUD joining the Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) in 2019. The EIM is a real-time, wholesale power market managed by the California Independent System Operator that enables participating utilities to buy low-cost energy available across eight western states—the resulting efficiencies of pooling power resources across a wide geographic area provides cost savings and environmental benefits. Other O&M expenditures include:

·       Power plant maintenance and overhauls.

·       Repair costs due to storm and wildfire events.

·       Technological enhancements to existing electrical equipment.

SMUD customers continue to pay significantly less for electricity than most Californians, and as of November 1, 2017, about 32 percent less than residential customers who are supplied by neighboring PG&E.

As the nation’s sixth-largest, community-owned electric service provider, SMUD has been providing low-cost, reliable electricity for 70 years to Sacramento County (and small adjoining portions of Placer and Yolo Counties). SMUD is a recognized industry leader and award winner for its innovative energy efficiency programs, renewable power technologies, and for its sustainable solutions for a healthier environment. SMUD’s power mix is about 50 percent non-carbon emitting. For more information, visitsmud.org.

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Proposed South County Ag Program Would Reduce Groundwater Pumping

Elk Grove, CA (MPG) - The Sacramento County Farm Bureau (SCFB) testified in support of an ambitious recycled water project before the California Water Commission this week in downtown Sacramento. The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District's (Regional SAN) plan would provide a safe and reliable supply of tertiary treated water for agricultural irrigation uses, which would reduce groundwater pumping and cause ground water tables to rise in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region.

Regional SAN is attempting to obtain funding for the project through the Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP) contained in Proposition 1, the water bond that California voters approved in 2014. The WSIP set aside $2.7 billion in funding for water storage projects that improve the operation of the state water system, are cost effective and provide a net improvement in ecosystem and water quality conditions.

"Sacramento County farmers and ranchers smashed crop production records last year by producing a record high $507 million worth of wine grapes, milk, pears, nursery crops and other agricultural commodities," said SCFB Executive Director Bill Bird during testimony before the CWC. "Our members broke that record because they had access to clean and reliable irrigation water supplies. Any project that would increase the reliability and quality of irrigation water supplies for Sacramento County growers has the Farm Bureau's support."

Modeling presented to the CWC showed that the groundwater recharge facilitated by the project would lead to a 20-30-foot increase in the groundwater elevation in the South American Sub-basin, plus increase flows in the Cosumnes River, a tributary to the Delta.

According to testimony provided by Regional SAN during the CWC hearing, the project is consistent with the objectives and intent of Proposition 1, and provides substantial agricultural, ecological, and regional water supply benefits at a low cost, particularly when compared to surface storage projects.

"This project is an example of the type of innovative multi-benefit groundwater projects California needs to implement to ensure our state has a more sustainable and reliable water supply," said Bird. "If Sacramento County growers are not forced to pump ground water for irrigation purposes because they can receive a reliable supply of water from another source at roughly the same price, they won't use those pumps."

The CWC is expected to start allocating grant funding for water storage projects early next year.

 Sacramento County farmers put food on your fork.  Our agricultural operations and products are as diverse as the lands we carefully manage.  We are proud to provide healthy, fresh food for your family and ours.  We invite you to join our efforts to protect Sacramento County's agriculture, rural character, and our ability to produce local, high-quality food for your table.

For more information call the Farm Bureau at 916-685-6958 

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