SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Did you know that residential water use in the United States accounts for nearly 9 billion gallons of water each day and most of it goes toward watering our landscapes? And that as much as half of it is wasted?

You can help make a difference and water more efficiently by installing a WaterSense-labeled weather-based “smart” sprinkler controller.

Instead of running according to a preset schedule, weather-based sprinkler controllers adjust for local weather conditions and run based on the needs of your plants and soil conditions. The controllers use real-time measurements, historic weather information and information about your yard to determine the precise amount of water that is needed.

Replacing a standard clock timer sprinkler controller with a WaterSense-labeled weather-based controller can save you over 8,000 gallons of water annually. And there are even models available you can control from your phone and sync up with your other “smart” devices at home.

You’ll have a healthier yard, use less water and you’ll no longer have to worry about setting it.

You can find out more at:

And be sure to visit to apply for a rebate for a new controller.

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Former River Cats Outfielder Eric Byrnes Returns to Raley Field Tuesday, July 24

Sacramento River Cats Release  |  2018-07-19

Former River Cats outfielder, Eric Byrnes.

11-year Major League Veteran Visits Sacramento to Promote Let Them Play Foundation

WEST SACRAMENTO, CA - Former Sacramento River Cat and 11-year Major League outfielder Eric Byrnes will make a stop at Raley Field on Tuesday, July 24 as he promotes the Let Them Play Foundation and his attempted Triathlon Across America. Byrnes played parts of three seasons in Sacramento from 2000-2002, and will be at Raley Field to throw the ceremonial first pitch, sign autographs for fans, and present a grant to a local youth sports organization on behalf of the Let Them Play Foundation.

Byrnes made his River Cats debut during the teams’ inaugural season in 2000, and played a total of 198 games across three seasons in Sacramento. He was a career .298 hitter in Triple-A and is honored on the River Cats’ Wall of Fame at Raley Field. Byrnes went on to play 11 seasons in the Major Leagues with the Oakland Athletics, Colorado Rockies, Baltimore Orioles, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Seattle Mariners. He is known best around baseball for his high energy, speed, and hustle.

Since his retirement from baseball in 2010, Byrnes has stayed active as a world-class endurance athlete, a television broadcaster, author, and philanthropist. He will be stopping in Sacramento on July 24 during the second leg of his Triathlon Across America in which he will swim the seven miles from AT&T Park in San Francisco to Oakland, then bike 2,344 miles from Oakland to Chicago, and finally run the final 846 miles from Chicago to Yankee Stadium in New York.

The mission of the Let Them Play Foundation and Triathlon Across America is to raise awareness and funding for national and local organizations that are committed to expanding youth physical education and after school activity programs. For more information about the Let Them Play Foundation or to donate, please visit

Tickets are still available for the July 24 game against the Omaha Storm Chasers. For more information, please call the River Cats ticket hotline at (916) 371-HITS (4487) or email

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A Notice from the Delta Stewardship Council Regarding the CA WaterFix Project

By Delta Stewardship Council  |  2018-07-19

For more information visit the Delta Stewardship Council at


To All Interested Persons:

The Delta Stewardship Council (Council) is aware that the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has identified the WaterFix project as a covered action, and posted a draft certification of consistency with the Delta Plan on its WaterFix website:

As a result, the Council has ended early consultation efforts with DWR (see Water Code section 85225.5). Out of an abundance of caution, the Council (including its staff and consultants) is now placing itself under ex parte communication restrictions in anticipation of its quasi-judicial role with respect to the WaterFix project (see Government Code section 11430.10). This means that Councilmembers, Council staff and consultants cannot and will not communicate about or discuss the WaterFix project with any person outside of the Council.  The one exception is a communication concerning the administrative or procedural status of the WaterFix project. Those inquiries shall not be regarded as ex parte communications, and may be directed to this email address:

If you have any questions about the covered action process, please visit the Council website at: If you would like to receive listserv notices about the WaterFix certification of consistency if/when DWR files it with the Council, you may subscribe to that listserv here (scroll to "Get Updates" and click "Subscribe"): The Council’s covered action appeals procedures may be found here:


Kind regards,

Jessica Pearson, Executive Officer

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ZZ Top, George Thorogood, Michael Ray to Play California State Fair

Special Release  |  2018-07-19

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, ZZ Top will play Papa Murphy’s Park at Cal Expo with very special guests George Thorogood and the Destroyers and Michael Ray on July 26.  Tickets range from $49.50 - $86.00 and includes entrance into the California State Fair on July 26.  

ZZ Top holds the distinction of being one of the longest running bands with the original line-up.  Billy F Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard reflect their Texas roots in everything with their non-stop rock and blues, resulting in over 50 million albums sold worldwide.  “Yeah,” says Billy, guitarist extraordinaire, “we’re the same three guys, bashing out the same three chords.”  With the release of each of their albums the band has explored new ground in terms of both their sonic approach and the material they’ve recorded. ZZ TOP is the same but always changing.   Their latest release, Live - Greatest Hits From Around The World, is a reflection of their enduring presence as a top tier live attraction.  It was recorded at locations on three continents and includes Jeff Beck guesting on the classic “Sixteen Tons.”

Over the course of the last four decades, George Thorogood, with his longtime legendary band, The Destroyers -- Jeff Simon (drums, percussion), Bill Blough (bass guitar), Jim Suhler (rhythm guitar) and Buddy Leach (saxophone) -- has sold more than 15 million albums, released 16 studio albums – including six gold and two platinum discs -- and performed more than 8,000 live shows. George Thorogood and the Destroyers’ catalog of hits include: “Who Do You Love?,” “I Drink Alone,” “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” “Move It On Over,” “Get A Haircut,” and the anthemic “Bad To The Bone.”   In 2017, George Thorogood’s released his first-ever solo album, PARTY OF ONE, which landed in the Top 10 on Soundscan’s “Top Current Blues Albums” chart, marking George’s fastest-selling album in nearly 20 years. 

July 26 at 6:30 PM

Papa Murphy's Park

At Cal Expo


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Labor Agreements Reached with Bargaining Units

By SacCounty News  |  2018-07-18

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CA (MPG) - The County of Sacramento and the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 39, which represents the Water Quality/Stationary Engineers Unit, have reached a tentative agreement for a three-year contract. The agreement is pending ratification by Local 39 membership. The agreement is expected to go to the Board of Supervisors on July 24, 2018.

The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Local 146 also reached a three-year tentative agreement with the County. AFSCME membership has ratified the agreement and it will go to the Board of Supervisors for approval on July 24, 2018. Local 39 and AFSCME bargaining units represent roughly 500 employees each of the County’s approximately 12,000 employees.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 2015, which represents the In Home Supportive Services employees previously reached an agreement which was approved by the Board of Supervisors on July 17, 2018. 

In addition, the County has reached agreements with 13 other bargaining units and negotiations are in progress with the 13 remaining bargaining units. Each of the County’s agreements are for three â€‹years along with an unrepresented employees pay plan that went into effect July 1, 2018.

To date, the County has agreements with the following bargaining units:

  • 002/004 (SCALE): Law Enforcement Support
  • 003 (DSA): Deputy Sheriffs
  • 006 (Local 39): Operations & Maintenance
  • 010 (SCPAA): Accountants
  • 013/014 (EMSSC): Environmental Management Specialists  Sacramento County
  • 019 (SCPA): Probation Non-Supervisory
  • 026 (ETTI): Engineering Technicians and Technical Inspectors
  • 027 (UAPD): Physicians and Dentists
  • 028 (UPEC): Information Technology Systems
  • 029 (LEMA): Law Enforcement Management Association
  • 034 (SCAPA): Sacramento County Administrative Professionals Association

Sacramento County has a total of 30 bargaining units.

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The Espresso Book Machine: A Savory Vehicle for Sacramento Area Authors

Story and photo by Andrew Rose  |  2018-07-13

Watching the EBM, one is reminded of the Everlasting Gobstopper machine from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Three hundred eighty authors and counting have published their works through I Street Press at the Sacramento’s Central Public Library.  On the second floor one will find the Espresso Book Machine (EBM).  This isn’t a venue for selling lattes to local bookworms.  On the contrary, the EBM is state of the art machinery, and is budding writers’ self-contained means of making their work known.

The first EBM was unveiled at the New York Public Library in 2007.  Now more than fifty such contraptions exist in such far flung locations as Johannesburg and Abu Dhabi.  Sacramento’s unit, installed in 2011, is one of only two EBM’s in California.

The machine occupies the space of two storage freezers one might have in their garage.  But it’s a heck of a lot more interesting to watch.  Witnesses marvel as a book is molded and formed before their eyes.  This includes binding the text to a cover with hot glue.  Watching the EBM, one is reminded of the Everlasting Gobstopper machine from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  A 300-page volume takes about five minutes to print.  Like the Everlasting Gobstopper, a single, self-contained unit comes out at the end.  It’s literally hot off the press.  Wonka’s magical candy was designed to last forever.  Similarly, a new paperback is there for the ages.

On the introductory video for the I Street Press, Rivkah Sass, Director of the Sacramento Public Library, describes the appeal of the EBM.  “Most of us have a book inside us,” she proclaims.  “And I Street was really about how do we, as the library, become that center of community-based publishing for the Sacramento region.”

Through I Street Press, authors can self-publish.  Before such technology existed, a writer would traditionally send his/her work to a publisher, or possibly fifty publishers, with hopes that one of them would pick up their book.  The sole way for a writer to earn his/her stripes was through a publishing house.  A would-be author could do it alone, but hiring a bookbinder was a costly vehicle.  So-called vanity publishing had a negative implication in its very name.  But now, the ball is in the author’s court, as technology such as the EBM is allowing these individuals greater flexibility with their printed words.  It’s truly changing lives for authors of all levels. 

One individual whose life was enhanced through the I Street Press is Lance Pyle.  Pyle employs the nom de plume Peter Blueberry as the author of The Agency of Obnoxious Laughter.   In the tradition of Shel Silverstein, Pyle combines humorous poetry with illustrations.  I Street Press got Pyle started, and now he has a series of more than twenty poetry books.  Pyle’s career as an architect flourished, and then his life took a dramatic turn when he was diagnosed with throat cancer.  He was forced into retirement and “didn’t have anything to do.”  That’s when Pyle started dabbling with rhymes, accompanied by drawings.  The prolific poet and artist has created his volumes without benefit of writing or art classes.  Pyle says of newfound creativity, “I didn’t know I had it until I had to go find it.”  He has now sold more than 3,000 of his books independently. 

Pyle, as all I Street Press authors, got started through an initial meeting with librarian Gerald Ward.  Ward maintains the I Street Press as a one-person operation.  While each book on the EBM is printed the same way, Ward recognizes that every author’s needs are different.  Some are accomplished writers, while others come to the I Street Press with merely an idea.  No matter where one is in the writing process, Ward is happy to encourage the writer’s endpoint of holding their very own book in his/her hands. 

The initial librarian’s consultation is free of charge.  After assessing the would-be author’s needs, Ward will point the individual in the right direction to get started on their book.  This might include hiring an outside editor or taking a writing class.  Ward states, “Whether 40 or 700 pages, there is a $6 charge per book and 3 cents per page.”  The writer may complete a proof copy as part of the package.  The fine-tuning process continues until the final copy is completed.  The end product is an actual published book, complete with ISBN, copyright, and bar code.  Additional fees for set-up and revisions are arranged between Ward and the author.  The I Street Press is a nonprofit organization.  Fees paid by authors using the EBM are contributions to the library to help maintain its services.      

Those interested in the I Street Press are encouraged to see the process first hand.  For more information, go to

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Honoring the Last of Our Big Band Dinosaurs

Story and photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-07-13

Hal Geist (third left) posed with other Sacramento big band leaders at Carmichael Park in 2008. Geist was joined by Erv Boschee, Ted Morgan, Buddy Harpham, John Skinner and George Bruno. All have since died. Final survivor Geist will be honored at a July 28 memorial.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Yet another Sacramento Big Band leader has gone to the heavenly ensemble. Former Carmichael resident Hal Geist died of natural causes on May 29. The trumpet player was 81.

A celebration of his life will be held at La Sierra Community Center on Saturday, July 28. All are welcome to share memories and enjoy a performance by the Hal Geist Little Big Band. Downbeat is 1 pm.

A long-time booster of local music and a 26-year Carmichael Kiwanis Club member, Hal relocated to Santa Rosa in recent years to be near his wife’s family. “He always looked forward to his weekly Kiwanis Newsletter,” says Lynne Geist. “We often drove back to Carmichael for lunch with friends. He loved going to Noah’s Bagels for a chocolate chip muffin.”

Geist grew up on a Pennsylvania farm. At nine, he ditched piano for trumpet and was sent to practice in the barn. “His five brothers hated his practicing,” says his wife. “I guess the cows and horses were more tolerant.” During Korean War years, teenage Hal was often called on to play TAPS for fallen schoolmates. After graduation, he joined the US Marine Corps as a bandsman and served four years at Parris Island (SC). Corporal Geist played hundreds of parades, concerts and ceremonies. He first married at 19 years old and fathered two sons.

The ever-practical farm boy had a flair for math and engineering. After the military, he found heavy construction jobs in Long Island, NY. He later brought his skills to Northern California. As superintendent for several construction companies, Geist managed highway projects that included sections of I-5, US 101, US 207 and bridges in the Sierra and Cascade ranges.

He established Carmichael residency more than 40 years ago. He and his third wife met at the bank where she worked. “He was starting the River City Concert Band,” recalls Lynne Geist. “I’d studied flute in high school; Hal convinced me to get back into music.”

While active in local entertainment, Geist ran two air filtration businesses. He also restored classic cars and motorcycles. “My husband was always a farm boy at heart,” attests his wife. “He took country drives to see the livestock. He just loved animals and naturally, anything related to music put him in a good mood.”  

Beyond his own professional ensemble, Geist’s trumpet was a mainstay for Carmichael Kiwanis Big Band volunteers. He also led the Sacramento Valley Symphonic Band on Chinese and Australian tours. Travelling had its challenges: “Hal wouldn’t eat anything that looked strange to him,” recalls Lynne Geist. “He was a Pennsylvania boy who wanted meat, potatoes and corn. He adored any sort of pie. He was a patriot: he teared up for any good rendition of ‘Star Spangled Banner.’”

Geist once boasted a horn collection that included more than 200 trumpets. “Everywhere I travelled, I had to buy one,” he laughed. “I never had to hock a horn and I never had my horn taken from me. Of course,” he added modestly, “some people might have wanted to take my horn from me…”  

During his life, rock began an unstoppable conquest. As Elvis and the Beatles transformed dancing and musical culture, brassy dance ensembles gradually faded to nostalgic Americana. Though Geist and most of his bandleader contemporaries are now at rest, their names and commitment to musical excellence are legend.

Anyone may attend the Hal Geist memorial event on July 28. La Sierra Center is located at 5325 Engle Rd. Bequests in his name may be sent to Carmichael Kiwanis or the Sacramento SPCA.

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