Local Leadership Matters

Story and Photo by Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-06-15
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Graduates from the 2016-17 Citrus Heights Leadership Program, alongside Citrus Heights Chamber of Commerce Board Chair, Johnnise Downs and City Councilwoman and program founder, Jeanne Bruins, prepare for a bus tour of the city as part of their culmination day celebration.

After a five-year hiatus, the Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Citrus Heights program relaunched in fall of 2016 and, on June 7, 22 participants graduated from the 10-week civic and business engagement course designed to foster civic leaders and bolster business owners’ with tools for growth.

Launched initially in 2003 by City Councilwoman Jeanne Bruins, then the executive director of the chamber, the Leadership Citrus Heights program (LCH) is modeled on components of similar programs offered by various chambers’ of commerce across the region. The goal is to offer individuals who have an interest in civic engagement and business development issues a condensed, but comprehensive education on everything from city incorporation processes and fiscal management, to public safety, code enforcement policies, and even a history lesson or two about the city’s founders and growth.

“Most of the chambers offer a similar type of program and, at the time we launched this one, we were such a new city, and I felt we could really benefit from something like it,” said Bruins. “So, after we worked on the outline for it for about a year, we put a team of very capable people together that included city officials, business people and even faculty members from American River College, and then came up with our courses, which is very closely modeled on the program offered by the Folsom Chamber of Commerce.”

Although not a requirement, one of the goals is to develop community leaders, activists, visionaries and advocates who demonstrate an interest in the future of Citrus Heights, Bruins said. While some of the current cohort participants are already working for the city in various capacities, others are local business owners. The other purpose of the course is to help local business owners educate themselves about the city from the inside out in order to advance their goals and grow their customer base.

For Bruins, who attended the cohort graduation June 7, having 22 participants in the first session after five years on hiatus, is a good sign of solid community interest and support for the program.

“I’m thrilled to see so many tremendous people taking advantage of the program,” Bruins said before she, Chamber Board Chair Johnnise Downs, and 17 of the 22 grads boarded a hired coach for the final component of the curriculum: An hour tour of the city, which Bruins narrates.

“It’s kind of a tradition for me to be asked to do the city tour,” said Bruins, who said it includes stops to discuss current development projects, historical points of interest and city landmarks.

Leadership Citrus Heights (LCH) is broken up into monthly workshops or “modules,” each with their own area of focus, led by civic leaders, business executives and city officials alike. This cohort’s workshop leaders and topics included History of Incorporation, Ethics & Quality of Life, taught by Danny Vera, vice president of operations at San Juan Medical Center, among others. Community and Economic Development Director, Rhonda Sherman ran a course on Economic & Community Development/Conflict Resolution with Dale Covey, president of the Antelope Crossing Business Association. A Public Safety, Code Enforcement and Entrepreneurship and Strategic Planning course was led by Maurice Johnson, assistant chief of the Sacramento Metro Fire Department and Citrus Heights Police Sergeant, Jason Baldwin.

The cohort also got to sit in on mock city council meetings and attend a session with City Manager, Chris Boyd focused on management, finance and communication techniques.

Perhaps one of the best known LCH alumni is former Citrus Heights City Councilman, Mel Turner, who was elected to serve on the city council in 2010 and remained on the council until his passing earlier this year. Bruins said she encouraged Turner to take the LCR course when he told her he was thinking about running for his first election.

“I told Mel that if he was serious about running for city council, he had to get into the next LCH program because it would give him a solid foundation in how things work,” Bruins said.

Lizabeth Branbila, 18, a San Juan High School Senior, is one of the two high school students to receive a scholarship for the 2016-17 course. With plans to first study psychology at William Jessup University in Rocklin in fall, Branbila said one of her teachers at San Juan suggested she take advantage of the program.

“This was a really cool opportunity for me because it really taught me a lot about the city and how things work,” said Branbila. “Everyone who taught the modules brought something different to the table and it was very educational.”


Author Susan Spann Brings “Betrayal” to Barns & Nobel

Story by Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-06-27

Susan Spann has already signed her next book deal in the Shinobi series: “Trial on Mt. Koya,” which she said picks up where “Betrayal at Iga” leaves off.

Ninja assassins, espionage, family betrayal and medieval clan bloodshed are playing out across the Iga province in Samurai era Japan, the setting for Fair Oaks resident and award-winning author Susan Spann’s latest addition to her Shinobi Mysteries series, which she’ll read from and discuss at Barnes & Noble on Saturday, July 22.

Spann’s new novel, “Betrayal at Iga” (Seventh Street Books), which releases July 11, promises a rare glimpse into the private world of a Ninja Clan, specifically the family life of her returning protagonist, Hiro Hattori, a trained ninja assassin now working as a detective alongside his sidekick, Portuguese Jesuit, Father Mateo.

This new, Samurai style “who done it” is Spann’s first attempt to take her readers into an actual ninja province, in this case Hiro’s hometown of Iga. Hiro and Father Mateo are in Iga seeking refuge while the assassination of an ambassador trying to negotiate a warring clan peace treaty occurs. Hiro must confront his own past and family members, as the crime may or may not have been committed by his former lover, mother, or someone else.

“I get to take readers into the actual Ninja province with this book,” explains Spann. “I wanted to continue with the Hiro series but really go deeper into the more personal side by taking readers into the day-to-day life of a ninja clan to show how ninjas actually lived and trained at home. This isn’t something you get to see very often.”

Back in Iga, Hiro confronts an old flame who is primary suspect in the case, largely because she has opposed the signing of the peach treaty. His mother is also a potential suspect. As ninjas themselves, both women are trained assassins. In fact, Hiro and his entire family are ninjas, however, with the launch of series, Hiro finds himself on the other side of justice, permanently assigned to provide security to Father Mateo. Now, the pair operate as a sort of Japanese version of Watson and Holmes. This time, the murder hits close to home.

“This is an emotional journey for Hiro,” explains Spann, who said she spent roughly nine months researching the book in Iga in 2015. In “Betrayal at Iga,” Hiro gets to interact with his mother and grandfather, and his former lover, so it is very personal.”

Spann’s first novel, “Claws of the Cat: A Shinobi Mystery” (Minotaur, 2013), was a finalist for the Silver Falchion Award for Best First Novel. The novel launched the Hiro and Mateo crime-solving adventures, loosely modeled on the traditional mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, in which paired detectives with seemingly opposite backgrounds, personalities and cultural DNA, work in tandem to get to bottom of the latest caper.

Spann is at once a transactional attorney with a private practice focused on business and publishing law, and an award-winning novelist with a degree in Asian studies from Tufts University. Originally from Southern California, Spann says she wanted to be a writer since she was a young girl, hooked initially into the mystery genre by the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Agatha Christy works, as well as James Clavell’s “Shogun.”

“This is just a genre I’ve been in love with forever,” she said. “All the time growing up I wanted to write,” Spann said. “I was drawn to the mystery novels I read as a young girl, but later I really got hooked on the genre after reading ‘Shogun.’ That book really inspired me.”

Spann has already signed her next book deal in the Shinobi series: “Trial on Mt. Koya,” which she said picks up where “Betrayal” leaves off, which has Hiro and Father Mateo sent to deliver a message to a Buddhist Priest in Koya. In preparation for the forthcoming series addition, Spann spent several months living in a Buddhist temple in Koya, where she said she was granted wide access to historical information and important details about the Buddhist priests in the region of the era.

“Researching the next book was a wonderful adventure and I am very excited for the upcoming release,” Spann said.

Spann’s other works include “Blade of the Samurai,” “Flask of the Drunken Master” and “The Ninja’s Daughter.”


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Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) thanks customers for their conservation efforts as it came close to breaking an all-time record for electricity use on Thursday, June 22.

While PG&E expected to reach record electricity use, an afternoon and evening sea breeze in the Bay Area provided relief to some of the heat risk and electric demands.

The heat wave drove up energy demand close to levels not seen since 2006 – especially due to air conditioner use to combat the heat. PG&E was ready for the high energy usage and ensured the company had enough energy supply, including renewables like solar energy, to meet the needs of their customers. Once the sun sets and renewables are less abundant on the grid, customer conservation efforts between 4 and 7 p.m. become even more critical.

Since the heat wave first began during the afternoon of Friday, June 16, PG&E has restored approximately 379,000 customers, activated 19 local emergency centers and deployed about 5,100 field employees who supported power restoration during the heat wave. PG&E employees continue to work to restore service for the remaining customers who have experienced heat wave-related outages.

Customer demand for energy during the heat wave on Thursday, June 22 reached its highest point at 20,754 megawatts (MWs). The energy company’s all-time system peak load was on July 25, 2006, when customer demand for electricity hit 22,468 MWs. The California Independent System Operator (ISO), which manages the state’s energy grid, said peak usage across California was 42,000 MWs.

PG&E reminds customers that small behavioral changes can make a big difference in reducing demand on the power grid during periods of extreme heat while helping customers to stay comfortable.

For tips on how to save this summer, visit www.pge.com/summer.


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Sacramento Public Library Seeks Local Authors for Upcoming Author Fair

Source: Sacramento Public Library  |  2017-06-27

Sacramento Public Library seeks 45 local authors to showcase their work at its upcoming local author fair being held at Central Library on Sunday, Aug. 27. The fair, which will be the third of its kind at the Library, is being provided to allow local authors the opportunity to present their new work to avid readers.

Forty-five authors will be selected to participate in the fair by a committee of Library staff. Books must have been published within the past 18 months. The deadline to apply is Monday, July 10. The application can be found at www.saclibrary.org.

This year’s fair will feature award-winning author Reyna Grande as the keynote speaker. Grande recently released The Distance Between Us, a memoir about her life before and after illegally emigrating from Mexico to the United States.


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Railroad Museum is Now a Smithsonian Affiliate

Source: T-Rock Communications  |  2017-06-21

Union Pacific 4466 is an 0-6-0 type steam locomotive built in October 1920 for the Union Pacific Railroad (UP) to perform switching chores and transfer runs. The locomotive currently resides at the California Railroad Museum. 
-- Photo courtesy Neil916

California State Parks and the California State Railroad Museum & Foundation are proud to announce the California State Railroad Museum is now officially recognized as a Smithsonian Affiliate.

“We are delighted to officially begin our Affiliate partnership with the California State Railroad Museum, an organization which has previously worked alongside the Smithsonian in scholarship and historic preservation,” said Myriam Springuel, Interim Director, Smithsonian Affiliations. “The story of railroading is very much the story of building the foundation of the United States and we are proud to partner with this museum which tells this national story from its beginnings in California. The collections, scholarship and expertise of the Smithsonian will be well matched by those at the California State Railroad Museum; we expect both organizations to benefit a great deal from this collaborative relationship.”

Located in Old Sacramento State Historic Park, the Railroad Museum joins a network of 216 organizations throughout the nation that are committed to serving the public through educational outreach, artifact loans, traveling exhibitions and collaborative research with the Smithsonian. Smithsonian Affiliations help to build a bridge between the local experiences available in individual communities with the national heritage preserved and displayed at the Smithsonian.

“We are proud that the Railroad Museum is now an official Smithsonian Affiliate,” said Ty Smith, Museum Director for the California State Railroad Museum. “Aligning the Railroad Museum with the Smithsonian Institution will help us further our mission of connecting people to California's railroad heritage. This partnership is both intellectual and material and will advance our ability to create a world-class experience to each and every guest who visits the California State Railroad Museums and Old Sacramento State Historic Park.”

Widely recognized as North America’s most prestigious rail museum, the California State Railroad Museum showcases more than 150 years of railroad history in 225,000 square feet of space. Each year, approximately 600,000 guests from all over the world visit the Railroad Museum, to see and experience the immaculately restored full-scale locomotives and railroad cars, impressive toy train collection, interactive and ever-changing exhibits, and much more.

“We look forward to networking and working collaboratively with other Smithsonian Affiliates to further our collective goals to educate, interpret and engage the public with the unique and memorable experiences we have to offer,” said Cheryl Marcell, President & CEO of the California State Railroad Museum Foundation.”

For more information about the California State Railroad Museum & Foundation, please call 916-323-9280 or visit www.californiarailroad.museum/.


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The Center for Jobs and the Economy recently released its full analysis of the May employment data.

In the State Employment Growth Rankings, California dropped to 3rd place behind Florida and Texas Between May 2016 and May 2017, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data shows the total number of employed in California increased by 250,000 (seasonally adjusted), or 13.4% of the total net employment gains in this period for the United States. California dropped to 3rd place behind Florida (which has a civilian working age population only 55% as large as California’s) at 409,600 and Texas (68% as large) at 254,800.

Measured by percentage change in employment over the year, California dropped to 33rd highest. Adjusted for population, California dropped to 35th.

The report shows California’s Labor Force Participation Rate at its lowest level since 1976. California’s participation rate (seasonally adjusted) in May declined to 62.0%, while the US rate dropped only 0.2 point to 62.7%. Improvement in the unemployment rate at both the California and national levels came from these contractions in the labor force numbers.

The seasonally adjusted California participation rate in May was at its lowest level since 1976. The unadjusted rate was at its second lowest level since 1976. In the recent May Budget Revision, the Governor again pointed to the increasing share of lower wage jobs as one of the prime causes of slowing state revenues growth.

“The level of wages has been revised downward, and cash receipts have been significantly below forecast.” - Gov. Jerry Brown.

Brown continues to not take responsibility for the many lost high paying jobs leaving California for better business climates in other states. California ranks last in the United States for being pro-business. Over one-third of jobs growth over the past 12 months has been in the low wage industries.

For additional information and data about the California economy visit www.centerforjobs.org.

Source: Centerforjobs.org


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Capitol Pops Patriotic Concert July 2nd

Story and Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2017-06-21

Kurt Pearsall will lead the Capitol Pops Concert Band at Fair Oaks Village Park, July 2.

A free July 2 (Sunday) concert at Fair Oaks Village Park will set a patriotic mood for the nation’s birthday. Lead by maestro Kurt Pearsall, the Capitol Pops Concert Band’s volunteer members will offer an all-American program that will include marches, anthems and swing tunes.

Susan Skinner is featured vocalist. A God Bless America finale will include the audience in a sing-along with the 60-piece ensemble. Children are welcome. The park is located at 4238 Main Street in Fair Oaks. Downbeat is 6:30 pm.

Sheltons Unlimited Mechanical Services of North Highlands is concert sponsor. Learn about the Capitol Pops Concert Band at www.capitolpops.org.


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Cooley Honors Local Business at 2017 Salute to Small Business

Source: From the Office of Ken Cooley  |  2017-06-21

Assemblyman Cooley awards Kniesel’s for their contributions to the community. 
-- Photo courtesy Office of Ken Cooley

On Monday, June 5, Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova) honored Kniesel’s Collision, Inc. as the 8th Assembly District’s 2017 Small Business of the Year.

Every year, members of the California State legislature take time to honor a small business from their district. The Salute to Small Business event provides an opportunity for small business owners to meet and share success stories with other small business owners from across the state. The California Small Business Association is a volunteer-driven, non-profit, non-partisan organization with the mission to provide small businesses with a meaningful voice in state and federal government.

“To honor Kniesel’s Collision as my Small Business of the Year brings me great pride,” said Assemblyman Cooley. “Kniesel’s commitment to customer service and to their employees truly exemplifies servant leadership.”

After emigrating from an Austrian refugee camp after World War II, Richard Kniesel founded Kniesel’s Collision in 1968. Richard has since handed the reins over to his two sons, Robert and Tom. Having grown up in the business, they remain strong in their commitment to the family’s founding core values: integrity, trust, and quality. Kniesel’s Collision also provides support to numerous charitable organizations including local food banks, high school athletic booster clubs, Boy Scout Troops, Court Appointed Special Advocates, and breast cancer research.

“It is truly an honor and I am humbled to be recognized as the Small Business of the Year for our area,” said Richard Kniesel. “When I landed at Ellis Island in the early 1950’s, I was bound for Chicago, Illinois, but by the grace of god, I came to Citrus Heights instead, and I am forever thankful.”

Assemblyman Ken Cooley represents the 8th Assembly District which includes the communities of Arden-Arcade, Carmichael, Citrus Heights, Rancho Cordova, Rancho Murieta, Rosemont, Wilton and other portions of unincorporated Sacramento County. For more information, please visit http://asmdc.org/members/a08/


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Divine Love: the Answer to Universal Health

Submitted by Christopher Cheney  |  2017-06-21

José de Dios Mata, is originally from Spain, but has been living in the United States for a number of years.

International Speaker to Address Effective Health Care Through Prayer

Jose de Dios Mata, of Elsa Illinois, will give a free lecture to the public in Carmichael on Thursday, June 29 at 7:30 p.m. The talk is titled “Divine Love: The Answer to Universal Health” and is sponsored by First Church of Christ, Scientist, Carmichael, as a gift to the community and will be given in the church edifice at 4949 Kenneth Ave., Carmichael, During the talk free parking and child care are included.

This lecture is about the power of God as divine Love and the direct influence for good it can have on lives individually and collectively when spiritually understood. It explores the Biblical basis of God as divine Love whose law Christ Jesus taught and practiced in his healing and teaching ministry. It brings out the relevance of his command “to love your neighbor as yourself” and the worldwide healing impact this can have.

The ideas in this lecture make clear the importance of loving from the standpoint of God, Love, as our source and each of us as God’s tenderly cared for children. Praying from this standpoint heals disease, saves us from wrong thinking and acting, and awakens us to the reality that our lives are safe in the law of Love. How powerful divine Love is to answer every problem we might be facing. This lecture includes experiences of healing that resulted from prayer and a deeper understanding of God as divine Love based on the teachings of Christian Science.

The speaker, José de Dios Mata, is originally from Spain, but has been living in the United States for a number of years. As a teenager, he felt a special interest in music and decided to study guitar, with an emphasis on flamenco. This led him to form his own group and perform in various venues.

Later, he worked for the government for a decade, the last five years of which were spent as a special agent in the Intelligence Services. In his personal life, he faced an enormous challenge in early 1979. A relative’s sudden illness, for which the doctors could find no cure, as well as his own almost complete loss of hearing due to a congenital lesion, which he was told would require immediate surgery or result in total deafness - and he could not continue in his position at work until he had surgery - forced him to seek a solution to these difficulties. He chose not to have surgery. After trying a series of different alternatives, in December of that year José de Dios was introduced to Christian Science by a doctor, his guitar student, who knew of his reluctance towards conventional medicine and encouraged him to explore this system of spiritual healing. Both situations were quickly and completely healed solely through reading the textbook of this religion, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.

He soon realized that the spiritual understanding he had just achieved enabled him to heal others. After several years of proving the practical effect of these teachings in the healing of illness and other inharmonious situations of day-to-day life, he gave up his career in 1986 and decided to move to the United States to enter the public practice of Christian Science as his only profession. His desire to teach others how to practice spiritual healing led him to take Christian Science Normal Class in 2009,in Boston, in order to become an authorized Christian Science teacher in Spain.


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Feral Cats Project Seeks Volunteers and Community Support to Curb the Feral Cat Population

By Linda Morgan, Director Sacramento Feral Resources  |  2017-06-21

Spaying/Neutering of stray, feral, and abandoned cats will prevent hundreds of litters of kittens, literally thousands of cats yearly.

Unwanted feral/stray cats are everywhere and the proverbial “kitten-season” is in full-swing. In an effort to help these newborn kittens, people often put them in a box and rush them to the local shelter. Too often the outcome for these kittens isn’t what the well-intentioned person expected. So how can you change this outcome? Spay/Neuter of stray, feral, and abandoned cats will prevent hundreds of litters of kittens, literally thousands of cats yearly, from being born in areas where they are not wanted and struggle to survive on their own.

Sacramento Feral Resources (SacFerals) recently introduced the Feral Cats Project.

The focus of the Project is to recruit volunteers and involve residents county-wide to help humanely curb the feral cat population in Sacramento County through a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program. We are looking for the best ways to reach residents in communities throughout the County.

Feral cats are a neighborhood issue that can have good resolution when working together to TNR. In fact, Sacramento County supports TNR - not euthanasia, starvation, or relocation (which is illegal) of feral cats. The good news is that there are low-cost and free spay/neuter clinics available.

Residents who want to help improve the feral cat situation can learn more about the Project, feral cats, TNR, feral colony assistance, and other volunteer opportunities at monthly Free Feral Cats Workshops. Workshops open to the general public. Meetings are held at 5605 Marconi Ave in Carmichael. The Workshop Schedule, class descriptions, and sign-up information is available online: www.sacferals.com.

Why establish a Feral Cats Project? In 2013 SacFerals introduced a public website to offer resources and assistance to anyone with feral cat issues. Over time, traffic to the website as well as requests for help have substantially increased. During the past two years, SacFerals has received reports of more than 9,000 feral/stray cats. The need for assistance has out-paced the current volunteer staff.

With an estimated 98,000 – 220,000 feral cats in Sacramento County, as the saying goes, “It takes a village” to make a huge dent in reducing the number of litters born in the County every year and to ultimately control and reduce the community feral cat population in Sacramento County.


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