Chamber Director Says Farewell to Community

Story and photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-10-05

Carmichael Chamber of Commerce Directors joined CEO Linda Melody (center, with bouquet) at the September business luncheon. Melody announced her departure after nine years at the organization helm.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - After nine years as its lone executive, Linda Melody last week announced her resignation from the Carmichael Chamber of Commerce. From next month, Melody plans a new chapter of life in another small American town: Salinas, Monterey County.

Chamber members heard her decision at their September lunch meeting.  After stunned moments, a standing ovation saluted the hard-working executive. “I dreaded having to tell them I was leaving,” notes Melody. “I saw the shock on people’s faces and realized I had a history with them all. I felt I was going to cry.”

Her decision was made with the support of family and her doctor, who prescribed surgery for a back problem and a less-stressed future pace. “I’ve taken little time off in recent years.” She explains. “I never minded because I loved my job. But after my surgery, I’ll give myself time to recover and to settle into our new home in Salinas.” Most of her family, including siblings and her daughter are now Monterey County residents. “My husband and I had talked for years about moving there,” Melody said. “My family and I are close. I will love to be with them.”

Sacramento-raised Melody began her role with the 70-year-old chamber during a time of administrative and financial upheaval. The new employee worked long hours to reassure members of the organization’s value for businesses and for community. Part-time at first, she achieved more hours as the organization’s bottom line improved. Among fundraisers that assisted this recovery, the annual Person of the Year event became a gala embraced by the community – with media celebrities like Vlade Divac, Kitty O’Neal and Tina Macuha aiding the cause.  Melody and her reenergized directors also found Chamber sponsors. “These companies gain additional visibility,” she explains. “Through them, we gained a stronger financial foundation to work with.”

The Chamber now has nearly 300 members. “I know them as individuals, as well as businesses,” considers the go-between. “Our personal touch isn’t always possible in larger chambers. When members come to our events, I’m able to greet them all by name.”

Job perks have been many. “As a kid, I had a goal to know everyone in the world by their first name,” she recalls. “In Carmichael and beyond, I’ve met so many people. The Chamber has a wonderful relationship with elected representatives; congress members, senators, assemblymen and supervisors – their doors are always open to us. We can discuss issues and often get help from them. Some legislators even help sponsor our events.

“My board of directors is my boss, but presidents and directors came alongside me as a team. When I first started, we were a small Chamber organizing events on our own. We now partner with companies and other chambers; that makes our efforts stronger. We added our Best of Carmichael gala to recognize more people. Many hear criticism for what they do; they don’t always hear praise. When a community decides its favorites, everyone who earns votes feels special.” 

Her retired mailman husband gets his Melody’s own Best of Carmichael vote. “Michael’s been my biggest cheerleader,” she says. “He’s never complained about the long hours or the number of events I’ve attended; he usually comes with me. He’s friendly with all our members.  But he’s looking forward to having more time with me, now.”

“I hope to get back to work after I recover from my surgery,” says the departing CEO. “I’ll look for a job in Salinas. The Carmichael Chamber will always be part of me. I never had a job where I’ve felt so involved and received so much back.  But still feel I’ve much more to give.”

The Carmichael Chamber is now advertising to interview candidates for its CEO position. For information, call (916) 481-1002.

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Mingling Mayors – and All That Jazz

Story and photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-10-05

Carmichael honorary mayoral candidates swung into campaign season with teenage jazz musicians during a Carmichael Chamber of Commerce fundraiser.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Carmichael’s annual race for honorary mayor has three candidates with hats in the ring for the 2019 volunteer office.

Realtor and incumbent Mayor Kelli Foley founded Trillium Real Estate on Marconi Avenue. Part of Foley’s fundraising will support the Carmichael Park Foundation.

Jamila Buada owns Arthur Murray Dance Center in Carmichael. The teacher will donate part of her campaign funds to the Alzheimers Association.

Kristen Garl is General Manager of Sacramento Express Employment Professionals office in the North Area. Her chosen nonprofit is the Playmakers, an organization that supports disadvantaged San Juan School District students.

The candidates recently joined forces at “Mayoral Mingle.” Oakmont of Carmichael hosted the Carmichael Chamber of Commerce fundraiser. Blueprint Jazz – a quartet of teenage virtuosos from local high schools – provided jazz. Learn more about the annual mayoral race at

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“Teacher Night” a First at Aerospace Museum

Story and photos by Trina L. Drotar  |  2018-10-05

From preschool to high school, teachers inside and outside of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields came together to learn what the museum has to offer their students and discover new ways to integrate STEM learning in the classroom.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - After a full day of teaching school, instructors came from as far away as El Dorado Hills to attend the Aerospace Museum of California’s first Teacher Night on September 27. From preschool to high school, teachers inside and outside of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields came together to learn what the museum has to offer their students and discover new ways to integrate STEM learning in the classroom. Refreshments and a sneak peek at the museum’s new exhibit, “Our Solar System: an interactive journey,” including a teacher’s exhibit guide, were part of the evening’s curriculum.

The museum is located on McClellan Air Force base where it began in 1986 as McClellan Aviation Museum. Director Tom Jones, who has held the position since March, says that the museum is committed to STEM education for students of all ages and to becoming the best on the West Coast. As a Smithsonian Air and Space Museum affiliate, exhibits like the 2018 “Art of the Airport Tower” and 2017 “DaVinci Inventions” can be brought to Sacramento.

On the main floor, nestled between airplanes, an SR71 jet propulsion engine, and a history of space exploration, were activities for children of all ages, and the teachers took full advantage by seeing how parachutes function or engineering with marbles. Others learned why the moon turns blue and viewed photos of nebulae on one of the many monitors that will accompany the exhibit. Each visitor was treated to a docent led tour of the museum and its grounds.

Upstairs, at the far end, tucked in a hallway, teachers made their way to the Flyers Flight Zone to experience simulated flying on one of the six high-end gaming machines. Museum volunteers, led by Flyers Flight Zone Director Warren Searls, educated the educators and allowed each some hands-on flight time.

“There is a huge shortage of pilots worldwide,” Searls said, adding that the Flight Zone is a way to interest fifth through twelfth grade students in flight and perhaps becoming pilots. In 2017, 10,000 students visited the Flight Zone, and many from Title 1 schools received scholarships for the flight simulations. He wants teachers to encourage students to remain in school and consider taking those STEM classes.

Miss Naomi Endsley, from Orangevale’s Almondale Academy, was one of the first teachers to try the simulator.

“I didn’t crash,” she said, a sentiment echoed by other teachers who took turns at flying to New Zealand, Switzerland, and San Francisco.

Endlsey teaches second and third grades and said that she definitely picked up new ideas for her students. Like many others that evening, she had never been to the museum. She said that she’ll bring her students and let them have the chance to see a piece of history and what technology really is. She engaged in conversation with Karen Jones, the museum’s development director and Tom Jones, museum director, about what technology holds in store for the future.

Twin Rivers Unified School District teachers agreed that they would definitely bring their students, one of several school districts the museum currently facilitates STEM, history, and art learning opportunities with. San Juan Unified School District, UC Davis, Sacramento State University, American River College, University of the Pacific, and charter schools are others.

Director Jones said that the museum has a formal mentorship program with the UC Davis Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.  Sacramento State undergraduate history students are conducting research on the museum’s airplanes and will create videos that may be accessed with QR codes to enhance the static exhibits. At least one Sacramento State graduate student is working on his master’s thesis by building an upcoming exhibit about Bob Hoover who, among other things, was a revolutionary in aerobatic flying. Sacramento City College owns the Fed Ex jet parked in the outside exhibition area and uses it as its classroom.

Even the youngest students can benefit from STEM learning as Kimberly Dillon, preschool teacher at Discovery Learning Center in Fair Oaks, said. She has brought her students to the museum for several trips and said that they really enjoy climbing the planes. Her guest that evening was her son, Anthony.

“Very cool for kids,” was the phrase most often heard from teachers.

For additional information, visit If you go: 3200 Freedom Park Drive, McClellan, CA.

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Chamber Announces Linda Melody's Replacement

Carmichael Chamber Release  |  2018-10-05

Virginia Stone (left) is set to become the Interim Executive Director of the Carmichael Chamber of Commerce, replacing Linda Melody (right).

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Our Chamber Executive Director, Linda Melody, announced at the September 23 business luncheon that she would be moving to Salinas, CA. Her last event will be the business luncheon on October 23. Due to her quick departure, the Chamber Board of Directors decided to appoint an Interim Executive Director. The board will then begin the process of searching for a permanent ED.

The board is pleased to announce that they have appointed board member Virginia Stone, formerly the Executive Director of Oakmont of Carmichael, to be the Interim Executive Director. Please welcome Virginia to this new position.

For more chamber information visit

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Sacrificing the Parkway

SacCounty Release  |  2018-10-04

Since January 2018, Sacramento County rangers have issued 1,834 citations for unlawful camping under the County ordinance, and 224 citations for unlawful camping under the City of Sacramento ordinance. Photo courtesy SacCounty News

Appeals Case Impacts Illegal Camping Ordinance

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - A federal court decision has ruled that illegal camping ordinances are unconstitutional and that local governments cannot cite or arrest anyone sleeping on public property.

On September 4, 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the case Robert Martin v. City of Boise, stating that enforcing anti-camping ordinances when adequate shelter beds are unavailable is unconstitutional.

Because of that ruling, the Sacramento County Department of Parks stopped enforcing the City of Sacramento’s anti-camping ordinance and the County ordinance prohibiting camping without a permit.

Since January 2018, Sacramento County rangers have issued 1,834 citations for unlawful camping under the County ordinance, and 224 citations for unlawful camping under the City of Sacramento ordinance.

The County is currently evaluating enforcement options under existing laws and regulations and will provide information to the Board on next steps. 

Sacramento County Rangers will continue to enforce ordinances including but not limited to campfires, littering, dogs off leash, possession of a shopping cart and environmental degradation. 

“As soon as I found out about the ruling, I suggested our board meet to discuss its implications, especially for my constituents who rightfully demand a clean and safe Parkway,” said First District Supervisor Phil Serna, who represents the lower reach of the American River Parkway. 

“I have many questions, including why County Counsel advised that park rangers not enforce the illegal camping ordinance without notifying or coordinating with board members,” he continued.

Source: SacCounty News

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Del Campo Junior Cougars

Story and photos by Andrea Hatch  |  2018-10-04

Team, Community, Family

FAIR OAKS, CA (MPG) - Who are the Del Campo Junior Cougars (DCJC)? They are a team, a community, and a family. They are a nonprofit supported by businesses throughout the community and have been around since 2006. The Del Campo Junior Cougars are made up of 8U, 10U, 12U, and 14U teams for football and cheer and each team consists of approximately 160 football players and 40 cheerleaders. In 2017 all four football teams made it to the playoffs and three of the four made it to the championships. The 10U Del Campo cheer team took first place at the USA cheer nationals, which is outstanding.

DCJC has an executive board of six, additional committee board of 10, 50 coaches, and the parent volunteers that make the dream work for these kids. The team enforces academic and behavioral contracts to ensure that the kids are taking their school seriously and representing themselves in a respectful manner, on and off of the field. The executive board does not just work during the season, they work year round to be sure there are sponsors to make each season successful. There are several teams throughout the Sacramento area, but as you can see from the numbers of players in this organization, many people choose this team due to the feeling of family and community that is present in this organization.

As you may have recently seen, this team made a boy’s dream come true by bringing him onto the field and having him score their touchdown. For that boy, that was one of the best moments, and a lifelong memory, that may not have been possible without the love, support, and dedication of the Del Campo Junior Cougars.  

Recently, Avante Washington, one of the DCJC players, was in a car accident that caused serious injuries. Avante and his mom were both injured, and Avante had to learn how to walk, again, due to a spinal injury that has caused the loss of movement to his right side. This incident showed the true community that DCJC is made of. Several team members, the DCJC President, and other members of the DCJC family rallied around Avante physically and spiritually.

Avante is now home and was able to be there for the most recent game and DCJC will continue to provide support and help in any way they can because Avante, and all DCJC players are not just football players, they are DCJC family. No player is left behind.

On Saturday, September 29, Del Campo Junior Cougars played Placer. 8U won their game 36-0 and went into a controlled scrimmage, 10U won 38-0 and went into a controlled scrimmage, 12U won 18-16, and 14U had their first loss of the season with a final score of 10-8. Even with 14U’s loss they remain in first place in their division.

The Junior Cougars, win or lose, maintain a positive attitude and continue to build their players up. DCJC know the importance of showing good sportsmanship, no matter the situation. The season is not quite over, so all we can say is “Go Cougars!”

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Creativity Gone Wild

By Elise Spleiss  |  2018-10-04

Local Nonprofits Help Young Authors’ Dreams Come True

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - How many children do you know who have written illustrated, and published their own book?  In Citrus Heights, 125 students, 1st through 5th grade, at the Mariposa Avenue Elementary School have added “author” to their resume, which will follow them through high school and beyond.

This unique program called “Creativity Gone Wild” is taught by members of the Mariposa Literary Academy in Citrus Heights and is designed to inspire students to stretch their minds and use their imaginations in new ways.
The program was the brainchild of Karen Szakacs, a kindergarten teacher at Mariposa in 2014, and Marsha Robinson, a local author of children’s books.  Together with Cherelyn Martello, the three women launched the first academy in 2014.
The spark that ignited the idea for the student authored books came when a kindergarten boy at Mariposa heard Robinson read her book “Rescuing Humphrey” to the class and afterwards raised his hand. He asked her to write another book about Humphrey. She answered by suggesting he write it. He replied, “I don’t know how,” and the Mariposa Literary Academy was born.
Since January, 2014 the Academy has taught 11 after-school academies (two per year) with 125 young authors to-date proudly producing their own hard cover fiction books at the end of the 16-session academy.  A maximum of 12 students are chosen by their teacher to participate in each academy.
The entire book is the work of the student author. They come up with their own fictional story, with a beginning, middle and conclusion, along with illustrations. They begin with a normal life experience such as a camping trip in the woods with their family.  They are told to enhance it using their imagination, such as being transported to another planet by space aliens. The results have truly been mind-boggling.               
To help teach the authors how to illustrate their own books, Peter Blueberry, alias Lance Pyle - a children's book author and illustrator, volunteers his time explaining the art of illustration and helping students with their own work.
Shutterfly, an American internet-based publishing service, prints the books for about $15 each. Each student receives a hardcover book for themselves, a hardcover book to sign for the school library and the Academy receives a paper copy of each student’s book. They have become the most popular books checked out by students.
While instruction and the printed books are free to participants, actual cost per pupil averages $50. In addition to the cost of publishing, funds are used for items such as paper and art supplies, snacks, and photography.
Financially, the Literary Academy, Creativity Gone Wild, is managing to stay solvent with the help of two philanthropic organizations and other donations.

Through word of mouth the Rotary Club of Citrus Heights and Soroptimist International of Citrus Heights immediately stepped up and have continued to provide the largest portion of the over $6,000 needed to fund the program for the last five years. The Optimist Club of Citrus Heights and Mariposa Parent Faculty Organization have also provided funds. 
Robinson stated in an email, “I would like to show my thanks to the organizations that have supported this program, to the volunteers that help us run the program, and to the school itself for allowing us to use their campus.” 
She would also like to invite other schools to look at the “possibilities that an academy like this can provide students” in their schools. The Mariposa Literary Academy would love to share their experiences with local elementary school teachers.

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