RT Bus Pulls Out All the Stops

Story and Photo by Jacqueline Fox  |  2018-02-21

From left to right, Citrus Heights Councilman Albert Fox, Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins, Sacramento Vice Mayor Steve Hansen, Citrus Heights Mayor Steve Miller, behind him SacRT General Manager and CEO, Henry Li, Patrick Kennedy, Vice Chair, SacRT Board of Directors, County Supervisor Sue Frost and Councilman Jeff Slowey participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the city’s new SmaRT bus service at city hall February 12.

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - Move over Uber and Lyft. Sacramento Regional Transit rolled out three new “smart buses” on February 12 that will offer public transit users in Citrus Heights a new way to get around within the city.

No coins needed for the new, on-demand shuttles, which are “ordered” using app-based ride-sharing technology, eliminating the need for advanced scheduling and streamlining the payment process using a smart phone or computer, similar to the same ride-sharing technology used by Uber and Lyft.

SRT’s new "SmaRT Ride” shuttle service will allow residents to virtually “hail” rides on smaller, neighborhood friendly-sized public transit buses.  This first phase of a piloted program for the new service will run for six months to give public transit riders a high-tech options for using SRT’s inter-city bus network, dial-a-ride services and Paratransit services that provide some 8,000 trips annual in the city.

It’s a game-changer for customers like Citrus Heights resident Peter Firpo, who uses a wheelchair and, usually, gets around on Paratransit buses.  He arrived for the unveiling of the shuttle program at city hall via one of the new clean fuel SmaRT Ride buses when the Paratransit bus he’d ordered the day before didn’t show up. 

“I was planning to use the Paratransit bus to get here for this today, but they never came,” said Firpo.  So I downloaded the new SmaRT Ride app, ordered the shuttle and the new bus was at my door within about 10 minutes. If I had waited for the Paratransit bus to get me, I’d have missed this.” 

Firpo said you have to pre-order a Paratransit bus 24 hours in advance. 

The new SmaRT Ride shuttles will provide Citrus Heights residents with curb-to-curb on-demand transit service from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.  SmaRT Ride will connect passengers to destinations in Citrus Heights, including shopping centers, restaurants, movie theaters, community centers, parks, schools and medical facilities.  

You don’t necessarily need a smart phone to use the new service.  Trips aboard the new buses can be scheduled using the app, by phone or online.  Fares for using the new SmaRT Ride buses will run $2.75 per trip or $1.35 for qualifying riders, including students, seniors and those with disabilities.

Citrus Heights is one of the first cities in the nation to adopt the micro transit technology developed by TransLoc. The new service will not only allow riders the opportunity to better manage their time to and from destinations, but also will give them options for avoiding what can amount to long walks between bus stops and home or work.

“This is a turning point in public transit,” said County Supervisor Sue Frost, who added that it is very likely the second phase of the new SmaRT ride shuttle system will expand services beyond Citrus Heights potentially to Watt Avenue, as well as the neighboring communities of Orangevale, Fair Oaks, Folsom and possibly Rancho Cordova.

“I would like to see this program expand beyond our city borders to give riders all over the county the opportunity to have a more efficient option to what we have now,” Frost said.  

A SmaRT Ride request will offer passengers an estimated pick-up time, notification when they are the next passenger in the queue, and alert them when their bus is about to arrive.  The app is tied to a software scheduling program that builds what the city is calling “flexible and efficient transit routes” to manage incoming demand.

Officials from SacRT say the new program represents a pioneering campaign for revolutionizing city bus services. SacRT is the first transit agency to bring a microtransit service to the Sacramento County Region.  As such, it puts Citrus Heights on the cutting edge of the future of transit, delivering rider convenience and potentially enticing more commuters to get out of their cars.

“SacRT is excited to be among a select few transit agencies across the nation leading the way in this new on-demand, microtransit frontier for the transit industry,” said General Manager and CEO, Henry Li. “We believe TransLoc’s demand-response technology has the potential to influence a broader audience to use public transit by conveniently connecting more people and places to our existing system.”

As soon as a passenger requests a pick up using the app, SmaRT Ride will provide them with an estimated pick-up time followed by a notification to let them know when they are the next passenger in the queue.  Riders will also be alerted when their SmaRT bus is about to arrive at their pickup location.

Daily passes also are available for SmaRT Ride service for multiple trips. 

Compassion Through Action

By Jacqueline Fox  |  2018-02-21

The staff members of a Community for Peace.

A Community For Peace Celebrates 10 Years Providing Domestic Violence Support

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - What began a decade ago in Citrus Heights as a crisis hotline for victims of domestic violence has evolved into an award-winning model for success, and the proof is in the numbers.

A Community For Peace (ACFP), through its Foundation For Peaceful Communities, offers a full continuum of trauma-informed social justice support and advocacy for victims of domestic violence, family violence, and sexual assault for women, children and men alike.  Services, provided at no charge, include emergency shelter, short- and long-term housing, children’s therapy, men’s groups, counseling, legal and youth services.

Unlike traditional programs across the state, ACFP doesn’t wait for victims to come to them.  Instead, working in partnership with the Citrus Heights Police Department and the Department of Child Protective Services, ACFP’s

Domestic Violence Response Team (DVRT) is state and county certified to work with police “on scene” by offering direct and immediate support to the victims.

This model, says ACFP Executive Director, Elaine Whitefeather, is serving to break down traditional barriers between victims and law enforcement, barriers that historically keep victims in a cycle of violence, largely due to fear of reprisal by their perpetrators.                                                                  

“Talking to police is one of the biggest reasons for repeat offences of domestic violence,” says Whitefeather, a survivor of domestic violence herself.  “By bringing in an advocate, the police officer can handle the crime scene, get details and do their job, while our trained, first responders work directly with the victim or victims, the child etc. and offer services right in the moment that it is happening.”

Originally called the “Citrus Heights Women’s Center,” the initial mission was to offer domestic violence information, referrals and peer support to victims through a 24-hour crisis hotline.  But by 2008 the emergency shelter, the Soroptimist International House, was up-and-running, offering women and their children a place of refuge.

That same year, then Citrus Heights Police Chief, Christopher Boyd, sat on the board of directors for what was now being called A Community For Peace.  According to Whitefeather, Boyd hired her as a consultant to work alongside the police department to expand its services and structure.  Through a grant from the city, ACFP was able to obtain state and county certifications to provide training for first responders, creating a one-of-a kind model for change.

In 2012, Boyd was awarded the James Q. Wilson Award for Excellence in Community Policing for ACFP’s DVRT First Responders partnerships.  ACFP also has been selected as the Best Social Service agency of Citrus Heights for three years consecutively.

“This program is currently the only one of its kind in the state,” Whitefeather said. 

The statistics support the impact:  In Citrus Heights, the number of domestic violence-related calls to the police department between 2013 and 2017 fell 23 percent.  Other related calls are down and, combined, mark the equivalent of 5.5 fewer domestic violence calls in Citrus Heights for service each week. 

“Between the city of Citrus Heights and the Citrus Heights Police Department, they truly have invested in this issue of domestic violence,” said Whitefeather.  “They have been with us every step of the way and that’s how we have reduced the calls.”

Meanwhile, the number of victims who are requesting restraining orders against their abusers is rising, indicating that growing numbers of victims are willing to come forward.  Restraining orders, explains Whitefeather, are key to preventing an escalation of repeat offenses, often the precursors for escalated violence leading to homicide.

“That’s another barrier being broken,” says Whitefeather, adding that the number of women who also make follow up calls to her agency for help after the DVRT team has met them, also are on the rise.

“I’ve been in the field for almost 40 years and this is the first time where we’ve ever been able to see this,” Whitefeather said.  “Before this program, only eight percent of the time would victims call back for our services.  Today, the number is closer to 60 percent.”

Housing also is one of the biggest barriers for victims of domestic violence, women and men alike.  To that end, ACFP helps fill the gap by providing the emergency crisis shelter, as well as transitional housing and master leased apartments for long-term self-reliance, all through the help of community partnerships, grants and private funding. 

As ACFP celebrates its 10th Anniversary, it does so with plans to open a second emergency crisis center in Sacramento’s Oak Park District this year.  The new center will not only provide identical services to the Citrus Heights location, but also will house an onsite thrift store, a social enterprise pipeline for additional funding to support programs and services, as well as employment opportunities for participants.

“We are looking to now repeat our Citrus Heights model through a partnership with the Sacramento Police Department,” said Whitefeather.  “We conducted a pretty detailed review of the data for the Citrus Heights location, which revealed that large numbers of women were utilizing the center and services but didn’t live in the area.  They were coming from the South Sacramento area.”

The new 6,000-square foot location is being funded, in part, by Soroptimist International, grants and other sources, Whitefeather said.

“Pretty amazing to think of it,” said Whitefeather.  “We started out with $30,000.  Today we have an operating budget of $1 million. 

Services for marginalize individuals, including the LGBTQ community, are also provided through the ACFP Tapestry For P.E.A.C.E. (Personal Excellence Achieved Through Community Empowerment) program, which offers support for victims of sexual abuse and trafficking, as well as domestic violence. 

Whitefeather has plans to open a Tapestry for P.E.A.C.E. coffee shop somewhere in the downtown area, to be staffed by program participants, creating learning and earning opportunities but also another pipeline for funding.

“We have a lot going on, and a lot of work to do,” said Whitefeather.  “More than 80 percent of the staff we have now are survivors, including myself.  So we understand and we give as much as we can because we have all been there.”

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Sunday, February 12, 2017 was a day many of us will forever remember.

I was working on our property when an aide called to inform me that the integrity of the Oroville Dam Spillway was compromised that an estimated 30-foot wall of water was about to uncontrollably rush out of the spillway, and that Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea had called for a mandatory evacuation.

Knowing Sheriff Honea to be a measured person, I knew he would not call for such an order without strong evidence. He must have weighed all the factors in his thoughts and deliberation.

Immediately, I contacted him to offer my full support.

Soon thereafter, nearly 200,000 people of the North State, from Plumas Lake to Oroville, quickly loaded their treasured possessions and pets and evacuated via congested highways.

Despite heavy traffic, residents – no doubt fearing the unknown and dealing with anxiety – evacuated without chaos.

Law enforcement officials and volunteers directed citizens to where they needed to go. Hundreds of first responders assisted and transported those who were most vulnerable. Residents of neighboring regions opened their homes to displaced families.

In this time of high stress and unease, the citizens of our region held their heads high and acted admirably.

Over the next few days, Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) and I visited residents at the evacuation centers. We talked and shared cookies and donuts with our friends and neighbors.

Between the visits, I called the Governor’s Office and the director of the Department of Water Resources (DWR) for status updates.

After this alarming incident, thousands of workers from Kiewit Corporation and its subsidiaries descended onto Oroville to make the necessary repairs to the spillway. Their hard work is greatly appreciated.

But there’s more to be done.

A year later, sediment and debris from the spillway disaster still clog the channels of the Feather River and are strewn along the riverbanks. This disregard for the environment forced Butte County, the City of Oroville and local jurisdictions to file lawsuits against the state. Penalties can be as high as $51 billion.

At the state level, I have held many meetings in my office to discuss repair and communication efforts with state officials and community members. My staff and I continue to work with Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency to get funding to shore up the levees.

Along with Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale), the Oroville Strong Coalition, Assemblyman Gallagher and I travelled to Washington, DC to lobby federal officials. Our request to have the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) delay the license renewal is pending.

This disaster has united our community. We are now stronger than ever.

On the one-year anniversary of the evacuation, community members and leaders, businesses, and public officials affected by the order gathered on the steps of the Capitol to commemorate the event and call for efforts to prevent any similar disaster in the future.

In the coming year, we will continue to encourage the Governor to sign Assembly Bill 1270 (Gallagher), a measure to require more thorough dam inspections which I shepherded in the Senate.

I will continue my efforts to push for $100 million in state funding for flood control efforts and to clean up the Feather River system.

It is also my goal to have DWR include our community in their decision making process. We want a seat at the table when DWR decides to either send more water to Los Angeles or hold back water, among the other decisions they make.  

That’s why I authored Senate Bill 955. This measure would create a citizens advisory commission for Oroville Dam and the Feather River system. This commission would allow for participation by the residents who are directly affected by the dam’s operations and strategic plans.

With the strength and support of the community, I am optimistic that we will achieve these goals for the safety of our people and the prosperity of our local economy.


# # #


Elected to the State Senate in January 2013, Senator Nielsen represents the Fourth Senate District, which includes the counties of Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba. To contact Senator Jim Nielsen, please call him at 916-651-4004, or via email at senator.nielsen@senate.ca.gov. Follow him on Twitter.

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Citrus Heights Student of the Month Honored by Chamber at Luncheon

By Rosa Umbach, Education Chair  |  2018-02-21

(L-R) Phillip Norton of Congressman Ami Bera

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - The Citrus Heights Chamber’s Education Committee honored Ashlynn Brann, 8th grade student at Sylvan Middle School, as the February 2018 Student of the Month. The award was presented at the Chamber’s February 13, 2018, luncheon held at the North Ridge Country Club in Fair Oaks.

Ashlynn has a 4.0 GPA, plays the flute in the school band, and has played soccer for the Citrus Heights Soccer team for nine years. She was one of five students selected from Sylvan Middle School to play in an Honors Band. After several practices, the Band held a performance at Rio Americano High School on February 7th.

Ashlynn’s English teacher, Mr. Shaw, shared that she is always focused on the task at hand and doesn’t allow herself to get distracted. She is very kind, always polite, sociable, and gets along with other students and staff very well. She is a really good student. Always in the top three grades wise in his class, and is sure that is true in all her classes. Her participation is amazing. She is always engaged, participating, and learning.

Local businesses sponsor the lunches for the student of the month and their guests. Many thanks to Stones Gambling Hall as this month’s Student of the Month lunch sponsor and for providing the Student with a gift certificate to Sammy’s Restaurant.

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SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CA (MPG) - The Board of Supervisors on February 6th,  authorized the County Department of Human Assistance (DHA) to enter into an agreement with Wind Youth Services (WYS) for $380,000 for rehousing and supportive services for youth who are homeless or at risk of homelessness; and $160,000 to Sacramento Self Help Housing (SSHH) for navigation and rehousing services for unsheltered homeless populations in unincorporated areas of Sacramento County.  Services will run February through October 2018 and may be extended further. 

In July 2017, the Board approved funding for the implementation of four County homeless initiatives to improve the County’s response to homelessness in Sacramento County.  The initiatives provide for a range of services, including shelter, transitional housing, and permanent housing services specialized for a variety of households: families, individuals, and those experiencing long-term homelessness. Currently those initiatives are all in various stages of implementation.

In September, the Board approved an additional $540,000 in funding to address service gaps in the homeless initiatives and to serve vulnerable subpopulations.​ ​DHA released a Request for Proposals seeking services for families, individuals, transitional aged youth, ages 18 to 24, and unsheltered homeless in unincorporated areas of the County. The County received five responses to the RFP. 

The evaluators determined that the Wind Youth Services program integrated a spectrum of services through a strong partnership among three youth service agencies working to not only support youth experiencing homelessness stabilize in housing and employment, but to help this population avoid homelessness altogether. 

Evaluators also determined Sacramento Self-Help Housing’s (SSHH) proposal addressed a gap in homeless services by expanding engagement and rehousing services for persons experiencing unsheltered homelessness in unincorporated areas of the County.  This program will involve a strong partnership with SSHH, neighborhood leaders, such as the Carmichael Homeless Assistance Resource Team, law enforcement and DHA staff. 

All of the selected programs will provide services that further the County’s objectives to fund services that promote permanent housing placement, residential stability, and increased skill level or income in order to prepare participants to live more independently. 

For more information on the state of homelessness in Sacramento County, visit the Responding to Homelessness website at http://www.saccounty.net/Homelessness/Pages/default.aspx


Source: Sacramento County Media

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Controlling the Chaos When Disaster Strikes

By Jacqueline Fox  |  2018-02-14

Paul Lynch oversees the Rocklin-based Switch Center for Verizon’s Emergency Response Team Unit, which provides onsite backup power and cellular communications networking centers during disasters and emergency situations for Northern California first responders.

Verizon's Emergency Response Center Has Connectivity Covered

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Likely, as you watched recent television or streaming images of emergency rescue operations following the devastating fires and subsequent mudslides in Southern California, for example, you gave little thought to how first-responders on the ground, in the air and elsewhere were keeping the lines of communication flowing as they scrambled into gear to save lives and prepare for recovery operations.

Behind the scenes, mobile carriers such as Verizon Wireless were doing some of the most critical work necessary in these types of situations: addressing cellular network failures, which are common in natural disasters.  Depending on the situation, this can include anything from establishing mobile satellite systems to sending drones into those places humans can’t go, including collapsed buildings, tunnels and unstable structures. 

Recently, officials overseeing Verizon’s Rocklin-based emergency services switch facility held a “Public Safety Day” event, offering some of its clients a tour of their Rocklin switch facility, once of several nationwide keeping an eye on their perspective, regional networking systems, as well as TV news coverage of any and all disasters or emergencies where first-responders are unable to get on the network.

Built in 2003, the facility’s sister location is based in Sunnyvale.  Roughly 30 people work at the Rocklin facility; however, there are more than 100 others centers set up across the country employing more than 46 teams comprised of roughly 160,000 people.

“We like to think of ourselves as ‘pre-responders,’” said Paul Lynch, who manages Verizon’s two Northern California facilities.  “We monitor situations going on all over the country and we have crews on the ground from the get-go to provide onsite support for first responders to make sure they are connected and talking to one another.”

The invite-only tours are offered monthly as a way to show emergency response teams from Cal Fire, police and sheriff’s departments, the Department of Fish Wildlife and others exactly how well-prepared and equipped the company is at providing them with on-demand connectivity during a natural or man-made disaster.

The team will mobilize portable networking call centers, mobile satellite stations and deployment of any one of the company’s veritable barnyard of “cool tools,” such as cells on wheels (COWs), cells on light trucks (COLTS), HVACs on roadside equipment (HORSEs), and generators on a trailer (GOATs).

The Rocklin switch facility tour included a walk through the engineer’s command center or NOC (Network Operations Center), where 24-hour “surveillance” of its networking operations run across wall-to-wall monitors, scrutinized around the clock by a team of six engineers, three on the day shift, three on at night. 

“We don’t highlight any of this,” said Lynch.  “We don’t grandstand what’s behind our network.  But it is important for our customers working in the emergency fields to have confidence in who they partner with and to see up close exactly what we can do and how quickly we can do it.”

Verizon’s Crisis Response Teams, in Rocklin and nationwide, conduct regularly scheduled drills and emergency tests to ensure that they are ready to roll when they are needed, including shutting down the battery rooms and switching over to generators. 

“We don’t want to be the last to know that we’ve got failure,” said Lynch.

Tim Kuka, who oversees the Rocklin facility’s Network Equipment Center (NET) located right next door to the switch facility, gave a tour of the state of the art building.  The tour offered visitors a sneak-peak at Verizon’s local 4-G networking nerve center, a mind-blowingly pristine space known as the Data Hall or “cloud room.”  The building was constructed in 2014 and contains an impressively intricate layout of data backup units and an equally mind-numbing amount of cable.

“If you would take all the conduit in this building alone and stretch it out, it would go all the way to San Francisco,” said Kuka.

First-responders to man-made emergencies also often require backup power and or connectivity support.  Case in point: Verizon’s switch teams worked closely with FBI officials during the mass shootings that occurred at a San Bernardino-based regional center in December of 2015, quickly mobilizing command centers, establishing private networking and satellite communications lines and serving to provide backup power and other services to all agencies aiding victims and overseeing the recovery efforts.

The switch facility and NEC tours culminated with a close-up demonstration of some of those cool tools, including Rocklin’s own RAD (Robotic Assistance Device), a four-wheel robot that looks like a scooter with a camera tower perched on its front end.

“She can go into dull, dark, dirty and dangerous places,” said Jim Larson a vendor with Robotic Assistance Devices, which partners with Verizon to provide the RAD.  “She can be manually operated or put on automatic to handle perimeter security during a disaster or emergency, taking pictures the whole time while emergency personnel are doing their jobs.”

Verizon’s 46 emergency networking teams across the country also are prepared and ready to help set up networking stations with water, food and other supplies, as well as connectivity support relief efforts, specifically by the Red Cross.  Its response teams also will provide first responders and others with handsets, dedicated mobile hotspot devices and private networks. 

“Everything we provide is free, except in cases where we have to set up satellites,” said Lynch.

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A Sweet Goodbye

By Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-02-14

Betty Cooper and Paul Tebbel (second and third from left) recently retired as executives for Carmichael’s Effie Yeaw Nature Center. Among goodbye gifts were paintings by artist David Peterson (left). The Nature Center’s new director (right) is Torey Byington.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The Effie Yeaw Nature Center has bid farewell to two of its most senior staffers. Executives Paul Tebbel and Betty Cooper recently retired after long careers in natural history education.

Cooper (63) served the center for 23 years. When it lost county funding and settled under the wing of the American River Natural History Association in 2010, Cooper assumed a critical financial development role. “ARNHA took a giant leap of faith in taking us on,” she considered. “Continuing our operations required tripling their fundraising.  We all realized how much people loved this place. For more than 40 years, it’s provided education and tranquil space where you really can connect with wildlife.”

Cooper’s greatest success was in partnership with the Sacramento Fine Arts Center. The two non-profits came up with an “Art Where Wild Things Are” gala. In nine years of sipping wine and auctioning art, the event has become the most glamorous night of the Carmichael calendar. “Compared to our more family-oriented programs, this gala is elegant,” explains its organizer.  “We sell out almost every year. It’s great to see well-known artists, philanthropists and elected officials in our beautiful preserve. Fine food, fine art and fine people blend delightfully.”

Paul Tebbel (63) joined the Effie Yeaw staff in 2011. The new executive director’s biggest challenge was managing the transition of a County facility to a nonprofit. “We started from scratch in creating staffing and accounting systems,” he explains. “Most importantly, we had to rebuild public confidence. Many supporters thought we would close.  Our job was to convince them we were still in business. Thankfully, our members came back and provided the support that keeps us thriving. We would not have survived without hardworking ARNHA volunteers and our staff. Betty Cooper has been a fantastic co-leader. There’s nothing she can’t do.”

The retirees’ roles will be taken over Torey Byington, who previously directed a nature facility in Wayland, Michigan. Both Cooper and Tebbel plan to volunteer for future Nature Center projects. “Effie Yeaw and its programs are a great mission,” said Cooper. “The staff and volunteers are like family. That’s not something you can walk away from.”

Learn about the Nature center’s educational programs at www.sacnaturecenter.net

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Non-Profit Wildlife Event Coming to McClellan Park

By Rick Reed  |  2018-02-14

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Help the volunteer heroes of nature at the non-profit Wildlife Care Association of Sacramento and give small animals and birds brought to them injured, orphaned and displaced across our region that second chance by participating in the annual Nuts & Berries Fundraiser.

The event will be a raffle for more than $10,000 in prizes. The Nuts & Berries event will be held on Sunday, February 25, 2018 from 12pm-3pm at McClellan Conference Center located at 5411 Luce Blvd, McClellan, CA 95652.  The festivities will begin at 12 pm when Wild Things Inc. will hold several presentations with exotic animals such as a Capuchin Monkey, an African Crested Porcupine, and a Crocodile.  This will be a casual event which will include door prizes and refreshments.  

The event is open to the public, $5.00 at the door, admission is included with raffle ticket purchase. In addition, we will live stream the raffle draw, so you can watch to see if you won, even if you can’t make the event. The raffle draw will begin at 2 pm and will be live streamed on Facebook @wildlifecareassociation.

These regional volunteers in wildlife rehabilitation need your support to help thousands of small birds and animals recover to return to the environment.  The Wildlife Care Association depends on your donation of time and money to save them.

Visit www.wildlifecareassociation.com to learn more about Nuts & Berries tickets. $75.00 each or two for $140.00.

If you’ve found injured wildlife call 916-965-WILD. Wildlife Care Association of Sacramento serves the public 10am-6pm seven days a week year-round at 5211 Patrol Rd. McClellan Park.

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SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Exactly one year ago today, hundreds of thousands of North Sacramento Valley residents were forced to evacuate their homes as the result of the spillway failures at the Oroville Dam.  Today, on the one year anniversary of this mass evacuation, the legislature passed Assemblyman Gallagher’s (R-Yuba City) dam safety legislation, AB 1270.

On February 7th, after releasing water from series of heavy storms, the spillway at Oroville dam collapsed.  Authorities were forced to use the untested emergency spillway, which also eroded, forcing the evacuation of almost 200,000 people.  Had the emergency spillway broken, a three-story wall of water would have come down the Feather River, causing unimaginable destruction to communities downstream. 

“The Oroville disaster jeopardized lives, property, and California’s water supply and conveyance system.  The silver lining is that the crisis highlighted that we must do more to ensure we are taking care of vital infrastructure, like the levees and dams that protect our communities.  AB 1270 will help us do this by ensuring that California leads national and global efforts to update and modernize dam safety requirements,” said Gallagher.

AB 1270 will require the Department of Water resources to work with independent dam safety and risk management organizations to update dam safety protocols.  These protocols must include things identified the by the forensic team as contributing to the spillway failure, like the review of the original design and construction of dams and auxiliary structures like spillways. 

“Most of our dams are over fifty years old, and many are considered high-risk.  We must do the necessary work to identify deficiencies and correct them,” added Senator Nielsen, a co-author of the bill.

AB 1270 now heads to the Governor’s desk where, if signed, it would take effect immediately.

For more information on Assemblyman Gallagher, and to track legislation visit www.assembly.ca.gov/Gallagher

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SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is alerting customers in the Central Valley to be aware of scam activity with criminals posing as PG&E workers. 

Law enforcement officials in the area have received reports of individuals claiming to work for PG&E going door to door to investigate outages of electric and phone service but refusing to show identification. There have also been new reports of phone scams with callers demanding payments immediately.

These recent reports of imposters have come from the Fresno area but past history indicates that scammers move throughout the region. In the greater Sacramento area, recent reports of scam phone calls related to service shut off and bill payment have been received.

PG&E reminds customers that its representatives will always carry identification and will never ask for immediate payment with a prepaid cash card over the phone or in person.

PG&E offers the following tips to help protect customers from all types of potential scams:

·         PG&E’s Credit Department will not ask for personal information or a credit card number over the phone.  Anyone who has received such a phone call and provided credit card or checking account information should report it immediately to the credit card company or bank and law enforcement.

·         Customers with concerns about the legitimacy of a call about a past due bill, service request or request for personal information are encouraged to call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.

·         Customers should always ask to see identification before allowing anyone claiming to be a PG&E representative inside their home. PG&E employees always carry their identification and are willing to show it to you.

·         If a person claiming to be a PG&E employee has identification and you still feel uncomfortable, call PG&E’s customer service line at 1-800-743-5000 to verify an appointment and/or PG&E’s presence in the community.  If you feel threatened in any way, notify local law enforcement immediately.

·         Customers who have an appointment with PG&E will receive an automated call back within 48 hours prior to a scheduled visit, or a personal call from a PG&E gas service representative prior to a scheduled visit.

PG&E takes security seriously and will actively work with law enforcement to help stop any scam victimizing customers. Anyone who has received such a call can report it immediately by calling PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.

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