Parade of Patriots for Memorial Day

Story and photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-06-01

Veterans of Korean, Vietnam and Middle East conflicts joined a salute during Memorial Day observances in Carmichael.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Carmichael's Vietnam Memorial was this week, setting for commemorations to those who served their country. Flags, music, prayers and remembrances were shared by more than 150 visitors, many of them veterans.

The first-known monument to the Vietnam War in the USA is in Earl J. Koobs Nature Area, at the now-shuttered La Sierra High School. First dedicated in 1973, the lofty steel structure and its plaque honor La Sierra graduates who died during Vietnam years. Patriotic ceremonies have been held in its shadow for 17 years.

A paternal figure at the tributes, Earl (“Ranger Jack”) Koobs, was a La Sierra teacher who taught many volunteers or draftees for Vietnam service. The science teacher also fostered development of the nature study area that bears his name. Koobs died in 2015. Under the aegis of Carmichael Kiwanis and other organizations, his reserve is now a center for community service. At least 15 Boy Scout Eagle Scout projects have been completed in its five acres; Carmichael Organic Gardening Club maintains a butterfly garden; California Montessori Project and many other community supporters maintain vegetation and trails for environmental education.

Heroes recalled on the nature area’s central monument are:

Robert D. Anderson, Mark W. Burchard, Robert S. Bynes, Jerry Cowsert, Kenneth R. Escott, Gary R. Field, Herbert Frenzell, Frank Thornburg, Ralph Guarienti, Larry H. Morford, Thomas C. Pigg, Randall B. Rainville, Kim Richins, Jeffry Tharaldson, Robert A. Willis.

Earl J. Koobs Nature Area is open to visitors on the second Saturday of each month, from March to October. For information, go to  or visit the Koobs Nature Area site on Facebook.

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5th Annual Sacramento Taco Festival  Adds Wresting

Sac Taco Fest Release  |  2018-06-01

This year’s Festival has attracted the nationally recognized disc jockey and TV personality Big Al Sams.

DJ Big Al Sams to Host This Year’s Taco Eating Contests

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - The 5th Annual Sacramento Taco Festival, which is held on Del Paso Boulevard between El Camino Ave. and Arden Way, is comprised of several event components that has made it fun and unique among Northern California festivals.  Three of these events have become especially popular among Taco enthusiasts, the Taco Eating Contest, Northern California’s Chihuahua Beauty Contest, and Professional Wrestling.  But it’s the new contests that will focus on culture and history.

This year’s Festival has attracted the nationally recognized disc jockey and TV personality Big Al Sams, a favorite among fans of KHYL 101.5 (V101fm) and “Mark at the Movies.”  Big Al, originally from Chicago, will be hosting this year’s Taco Eating Contest, which is being sponsored by V101fm/iHeart Radio.  It is a contest that measures the person who can eat the most regular size tacos in 60 seconds, with the winner walking away with The Taco Trophy, a guaranteed $100 prize money plus the pot collected from the $5 entry fee.  Last year’s winner set a new record of eating 6 tacos in 53 seconds.

“We’re very excited to have Big Al Sams join us this year as host of the Taco Eating Contest,” Says Festival Coordinator Mina Perez.  “He’s going to make this annual contest much more fun than what it already is and I understand some of the wrestlers a joining the competition too.”

Speaking about wrestlers, Action Coast Empire is back for its third year providing some action-packed grappling, that will include some of Northern California’s most popular wrestlers, including “The Russian Wolf” Alexis Darevko and North Sacramento’s own Brittney Wonder.  The afternoon wrestling will feature for the first time, a much sought after wrestler – the very ominous “FunnyBone.”

“We were perhaps the first festival to feature professional wrestling as part of the entertainment,” says Perez.  “And our tradition continues this year because of its popularity and we always make sure we have men and women wrestling.”

Perez adds that the unique entertainment throughout the festival is what makes it fun, interesting, and ideal for the whole family.

“The contests and people winning prizes is one of things the Taco Festival is becoming known for,” she says.  “This year we’re adding a singing contest where all contestants must sing at least a minute and a half of the Academy Award winning song “Remember Me” from the Disney/PIXAR move “COCO,” and we also have a Crazy Hat contest - it’s a light-hearted attempt to rival the Kentucky Derby’s hat wearing tradition, and which history we share.”

Once called Rancho Del Paso, in the mid to late 1800s North Sacramento was the world’s largest racehorse breeding and pasturing ranch owned by James Ben Ali Haggin, whose horse “Ben Ali,” became the only Kentucky Derby winner from the region.  But it was the great stallion “Salvatore” that won international fame by beating Tenny in a challenge race that captured the hearts of millions.  Ridden by legendary Jockey Issac Murphy, an African American whose tragic story is yet to be formally told, Salvatore beat Tenny by a nose in the June 25, 1890 race.

The 5th Annual Sacramento Taco Festival is scheduled for June 2, 2018 from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm on Del Paso Boulevard in Old North Sacramento.  Tickets are $7 online (Eventbrite) and $10 at the gate.  Children 12 and under are free.  For more information or tickets visit

Source: Sacramento Taco Fest Media Release

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SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - To help ensure voters can get to the polls on Election Day, June 5, California law allows workers to take up to two hours off work to vote if they are unable to during non-work hours.

“Californians should make a plan now for how they will cast a ballot on Election Day,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said. “Every registered voter has a right to cast their ballot before the polls close. If you can’t make it to your polling place outside of working hours, you have the right to take time off to vote, without a loss of pay.”

California Elections Code section 14000 allows workers up to two hours off, without a loss of pay, to vote if they do not have enough time to do so in their non-work hours. The law requires workers to notify their employers two working days before the election if they need to take time off to vote.

Polling places are open between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.

Also, every California employer is required to post, in a visible location, a notice informing employees of their rights at least 10 days before an election. The Secretary of State’s office offers these free, print-ready notices in 10 languages at:

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Wildlife Care Volunteers Critical

By Rick Reed  |  2018-05-29

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The non-profit wildlife rehabilitation group has taken in over 1000 birds and small animals in May that need a real friend - right now! Thousands more are coming in June and July.

Volunteers to help care for and feed injured and orphaned wildlife give them a second chance to live. Wildlife Care Association of Sacramento has a variety of roles including that filled by volunteer Dave Gish.  As a community volunteer he’s given over 1600 hours and logged hundreds of miles returning over 500 creatures to the wild in releases across the Sacramento region since 2016. WCA volunteers like Dave return wildlife to the area it came from originally on release back to nature.

Volunteers have fed, raised and rehabilitated wildlife while others from across the community staff the Hotline, manage the office and keep the WCA facility up and operating thru the busy season.

Dave Gish also volunteers as a facility gardener working to maintain the grounds when not on the road to release rehabilitated wildlife back to nature. Wildlife Care volunteers provide 98% of the critical skills needed to keep these heroes of wildlife on track. Working with skilled animal care staff and our community volunteer coordinator, it’s the people from across the region from all walks of life that make the difference in life or death for wildlife.

By taking in thousands of creatures to live again and return to the wild, the WCA heroes of nature help keep the balance in our environment to preserve our quality of life.  Volunteers are the most critical part of the mission to save wildlife across the Sacramento region that began more than 45 years ago. Visit to take part in saving wildlife!

If you find wildlife injured, orphaned or displaced by human activity call the Wildlife Care Association of Sacramento Hotline at 916-965-WILD.

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Nature Center Hosts Fundraiser

Story and photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-05-25

Canvases donated by high profile Sacramento artists like Pat Mahony (left), Marcy Friedman and Boyd Gavin will be among art auctioned for the benefit of the Effie Yeaw Nature Center. Judges awarded sculptor Sandy Whetstone (at right) the Best of Show prize for her creation called "Leda and the Swan." The Wild Things exhibition can be previewed at Sacramento Fine Arts Center in Carmichael.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Now in its ninth year operating as a non-profit, the Effie Yeaw Nature Center is preparing for its “Art Where the Wild Things Are” fundraiser with new patronage. As honorary chair, Pat Mahony Getz and her husband Randy follow such luminaries as Magazine publisher Cecily Hastings, artists Marcy Friedman and Greg Kondos, Congresswoman Doris Matsui and the late Russ Solomon.

Administered by the American River Natural History Association, the facility and its preserve welcome almost 100,000 visitors per year. “The Center has a special history in this community,” notes retired Effie Yeaw executive Betty Cooper. “Caring supporters keep us open and available for future generations.” Part of the funds raised on June 9 will provide free nature enrichment programs for schools that could not otherwise afford them.

The Sacramento Fine Arts Center is a vital gala partner and an art show that supports the fundraiser and offers work from throughout Sacramento.  Jurists are artists Marcy Friedman and Boyd Gavin. Celebrity artists contributing this year include Jian Wang, Pat Mahony, Boyd Gavin, David Peterson, Gregory Kondos, Maria Winkler and Terry Pappas. Celebrated landscapist Earl Boley will be remembered with a canvas donated by his widow, Susan Leith.  Keith McLane of KLM Auctions will wield the gavel.

Silent auctions will offer more award-winning work. From May 15, these can be viewed in a free “Art Where the Wild Things Are” exhibition at the Fine Arts Center (Gibbons Drive), Carmichael. This year’s selection includes several entries by nature photographers.

A sunset supper and beverages are part of the $100 per person gala admission, which runs from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Nature Center in Ancil Hoffman Park. Valet parking is free. Table sponsors are welcome. For information on the event, visit

To learn about the Sacramento Fine Arts exhibition, visit  “Lake bottom” by Boyd Gavin and a study of Carmichael creek by Jian Wang are among VIP donations to be auctioned at the June 9 gala.

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Dunmore Wins National Coach of the Year

By Scott Crow, ARC Communications  |  2018-05-25

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association has named American River College tennis head coach Steve Dunmore the National Junior College Coach of the Year.

ARC Women’s Tennis Coach Earns Top Honor from Intercollegiate Tennis Association

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - American River College (ARC) women’s tennis head coach Steve Dunmore has been honored as the National Junior College Coach of the Year by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA). This award recognizes Dunmore as the top women’s tennis coach for all community and junior colleges in the US. It follows Dunmore’s selection as the ITA’s California Coach of the Year.

“This is a richly deserved honor for Steve,” said Athletics Dean Derrick Booth. “Steve is hard-working, dedicated to the art of coaching, cares for his athletes off and on the court, and is tireless in his efforts to strengthen our program.”

The ITA praised Dunmore for being highly respected in the northern California community college tennis community for his team’s quality of play and sportsmanship. The coaching award recognizes more than just success on the court, as it also credits those coaches whose teams have a track record of sportsmanship and service off the court.

“I’m very humbled and honored by this award,” said Dunmore. “This award recognizes the great things happening here at ARC and I’m very excited about our program’s future.”

In 2018, ARC women’s tennis finished second in northern California and enjoyed a 13-2 record. Several student athletes made deep runs in the state championships tournament in both singles and doubles competition.

Dunmore has helped turn around a tennis program that in 2016 did not win a single match. The Beavers were 9-4 in 2017 and then were NorCal runners-up this year.

In addition, the ARC men’s tennis program has finished second in the state for the past three years, winning the NorCal title all of those years.

“We’ve got something special going here at ARC,” Booth noted. “I encourage local tennis athletes to check us out and think about the opportunities we have to offer.”

For more information, please visit

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Meghan and Harry – A Royal Way Forward

Story by Susan Skinner  |  2018-05-25

Prince Harry and his Californian bride posed with wedding attendants at Windsor castle. Among royal duties, the couple will act as youth ambassadors for the Queen. Photo courtesy St James Palace, London

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - On a sunny day in 1981, I watched Diana Spencer marry Prince Charles. Their son Prince Harry was also blessed with a sunny wedding day. There the similarities ended. Thirty-seven years have passed, and times sure have changed.

Little boys when I last saw them, bridegroom Harry and brother William now parade balding Windsor pates. Two of William’s children were among bride Meghan Markle’s junior attendants. Kate Middleton’s middle-class family exuded more allure than their royal in-laws and celebrity wedding guests garnered more attention than anyone. Even the nuptial soprano claimed meeting George Clooney was the best part of her day.

With a showbiz bride at the altar, Hollywood did indeed meet Holyrood. But what really defined this event was an unapologetic decree that multi-culturalism rules in a marriage that represents the state of Britain’s Commonwealth. Stunning in Givenchy, a mixed-race bride strode the aisle alone. She was not property to be given away. She took her father-in-law’s arm for a few final steps, allowing the stunning symbolism of a future king’s blessing. The word “obey” was absent from her vows.

You begin as you mean to continue. This wedding indicates a non-negotiable path for a modern duke and duchess and an apparently accepting royal family.

Meghan’s path to a splendid marriage was strewn with carpet tacks rather than rose petals. She hails from a crisis-prone clan. She’s American and divorced. If this was enough to rule out Wallace Simpson as a royal bride in 1936, family baggage is now more common than coronets among Windsor ranks. She might be an actress but the happiness she has brought to the Queen’s once-troubled grandson is no act – Harry’s wedding day tears were real. Moreover, the bride promises to be a stunning weapon for Windsor popularity. The arcane tradition of divine right survives only through adaptability and the new duke and duchess will help make royalty relevant to millions.  As an actress, Meghan will smile and charm her way through a life-sentence of tedium; as humanitarians who bring attention and energy to good causes, she and her besotted husband will be fantastic ambassadors for the Windsor “Firm.”

Thirty-seven years ago, no one could have told me Elizabeth II would hear a pulpit-thumping sermon steal her Archbishop of Canterbury’s thunder; that her grandson would exit his wedding to gospel anthems and ululations from Middle Eastern fans. But she is wise to endure Meg and Harry’s conquest. She accepts that millions will embrace the cosmopolitan couple like rock stars. Their children will endear royalty to future generations of her multicultural Commonwealth. Best yet, the Sussexes are too distant to the throne to threaten succession!

So, Meaghan may borrow Queen Mary’s tiara any time she likes. The Windsors will bend over en arrière to avoid mistakes that alienated a previous people’s princess. In his address, Episcopalian Bishop Michael Curry contended love was a fire – if harnessed – that could change the world. If the Sussex marriage is good, Meghan and Harry’s love might just do that. Wish them well.

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