The Spirit of Children Campaign is devoted to helping hospitalized children.

Patients arrived in the central activity area of Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California dressed as princesses, storm troopers and adorable little monsters.  Child life specialists dressed as superheroes guided them in a cupcake decorating activity.  Even though it was the first Wednesday in February, Halloween was the inspiration.

The Therapeutic Recreation & Child Life team organized the Halloween party as a thank-you to the Spirit of Children Campaign, which raises money to support activities that allow hospitalized children to engage in play.

Representatives from the Spirit of Children Campaign arrived for the party at the Northern California Shriners Hospital with a giant check for $42,752, representing money raised and donated to support the therapeutic recreation and child life programs.  The funds were raised by Spirit Halloween stores in the Sacramento area. In the weeks leading up to Halloween, Spirit Halloween employees organized activities ranging from bake sales to face painting to support the Spirit of Children Campaign.

“We are extremely grateful to Spirit of Children for supporting opportunities for play and self-expression so kids can be kids even when they are hospitalized,” said Melissa Grialou, manager of the Therapeutic Recreation and Child Life program at the Shriners Hospital in Sacramento.  “We have enjoyed working with the Spirit of Children team. Through their community service and fundraising activities, they have brought a generous spirit of fun to the children here at Shriners Hospital.”

Shanda Pierce, who owns and operates 21 Spirit Halloween stores in Northern California, said the goal of the Spirit of Children Campaign is to help make a child’s hospital experience positive – not scary.

“It is important to us that every dollar raised by local Spirit Halloween stores stays right here in our community,” says Pierce. “It takes an immense amount of heart to ask strangers to donate to a cause. I am very proud of our Spirit employees. They have amazing hearts,” she adds.


Solar Company to Bring Jobs to County

Source: Sacramento County Media  |  2017-02-17

China Sunergy Co., Ltd., a specialized solar cell and module manufacturer, announced today that Sunergy America LLC (a subsidiary of China Sunergy Co., Ltd.) entered into a lease agreement with McClellan Business Park in Sacramento County.

The new plant will be located in a 140,000 square-foot building in McClellan Park and will be the company’s first U.S. facility. Expected to begin operations in May 2017, the company will create more than 200 new jobs locally.

“The arrival of CSUN Solar to McClellan Park is outstanding news for the region,” said District 1 County Supervisor Phil Serna. “CSUN could have chosen any site in the United States for their manufacturing and assembly operations, and they recognized the value of doing business in Sacramento County. This signifies real progress as our business community continues to grow.”

Sacramento County’s Office of Economic Development partnered with other area organizations, such as the Greater Sacramento Economic Council, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA) and the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) to assist in completing the lease transaction.

The new plant will have fully automatic production lines and will aim to serve customers across the United States.


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Sutter’s Fort to Present “Hands on History: By Land and By Sea”

Source: T-Rock Communications  |  2017-02-16

Continuing a series of popular, interactive and fun “Hands on History” activities offered each month, Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park (SHP) will present a special “Hands on History: By Land and By Sea” event on Saturday, February 18, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Fort visitors will be delighted to see the recently completed restoration of the historic walls, gates and blacksmith shop plus have the opportunity to step back in time to the 1840s to understand the two different ways emigrants originally came to California -- by land or by sea -- while sharing the unique challenges they faced and what daily life was like during their journeys. In fact, Sutter’s Fort was once home to sailors who “jumped ship,” trappers who became overland trail guides because of the failing fur trade, wagon train parties looking for a new life, and soldiers who served in the Mexican-American War and whose services were terminated in California – 3,000 miles from their homes in the east.

Fort guests will hear the amazing tales of adventure and survival these nomads experienced on the journeys and enjoy participating in daily activities of the different skills and trades they used in their new California home. A few of the special hands-on activities awaiting Fort visitors include helping to pack a wagon while making choices about what to bring along for their journey of a lifetime, determining latitude with a sailing sextant, hoisting a laden barrel, weaving rope, learning simple knots, creating maps with available resources, joining the Navy and receiving pay in Stonington Bank $2 bills, and even marching around the Fort with the NY Volunteer fife and drum corps. And, of course, popular demonstrations of black powder weaponry in action will take place including the crowd-favorite firing of Sutter’s cannon.

Admission to Sutter’s Fort SHP costs $7 per adult (18 and older), $5 per youth (ages 6 to 17) and is free for children 5 and under.  For more information, call 916-445-4422 or visit www.suttersfort.org

Every Californian should take steps to conserve water. Find out how at SaveOurWater.com. Subscribe to California State Parks News via e-mail at info@parks.ca.gov or via RSS feed.


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Auto Museum Gears Up for Beer Week Early with “Zero to 60s: A Mad Men Office Party”

Source: T-Rock Communications  |  2017-02-16

Thirsty for some fun? Spirits and brew enthusiasts are invited to attend a very special cocktail party presented by the California Automobile Museum titled “Zero to 60s: A Mad Men Office Party” on Friday evening, February 24, 2017 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. The Swinging 60s is the theme for the Museum’s annual fundraising event. Adult guests are encouraged to dress the part in sharp suits with skinny ties, or a chic cocktail dress and bouffant hairdo! The Museum will provide party games and the conga line.

Approximately 25 of today’s popular microbreweries – such as Alaskan Brewing, Dry Diggings Distillery, New Helvetia and Wildcide Cider -- will be on-site for sampling along with a variety of locally produced wines, cocktails and alcohol-free “mocktails.”  Guests will also be treated to music and dancing, photo ops with classic cars from the Museum’s impressive collection, and tasty food (for purchase) available from popular food trucks set-up on-site including Chando’s Tacos, Culinerdy Cruzer and Sweet Spot, to name a few. In addition, a relaxing VIP lounge will be set-up with exclusive drinks and cocktail demonstrations for those who desire an extra special sampling experience.

Guests must be 21 years or older. Tickets cost $45 (general admission) or $65 (VIP) per adult through February 19 or $55 (general admission) or $75 (VIP) per adult beginning February 20 and at the door. For more information about the “Zero to 60s: A Mad Men Office Party” or the California Automobile Museum in general, please call 916-442-6802 or visit www.calautomuseum.org

Since opening in 1987, the California Automobile Museum tells the story of over 130 years of automotive culture and history.  Exhibiting makes and models of all kinds, the Museum strives to preserve, exhibit, teach and tell the stories of the automobile and its influence on our lives. For more, visit www.calautomuseum.org or call 916-442-6802.


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Governor Brown Announces Recent Appointments

Source: The Office of Governor Brown   |  2017-02-16

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. recently announced the following appointments:

Cindy Messer, 48, of Sacramento, has been appointed chief deputy director at the California Department of Water Resources, where she has served as assistant chief deputy director since 2016. She was deputy director of the Planning, Performance and Technology Division at the Delta Stewardship Council from 2012 to 2016 and assistant executive officer at the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy from 2010 to 2012. Messer served in several positions in the Division of Environmental Services at the California Department of Water Resources from 1999 to 2010 including senior environmental scientist, environmental program manager, section chief and environmental scientist. She earned a Master of Science degree in conservation biology from California State University, Sacramento. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $162,948. Messer is a Democrat.

John Mann, 50, of Sacramento, has been appointed deputy director of legislation at the California Department of Technology. Mann has served as communications director in the Office of California State Senator Tony Mendoza since 2014. He was communications director at the Alex Padilla for Secretary of State campaign from 2013 to 2014 and in the Office of California State Senator Alex Padilla from 2011 to 2014, at the Pedro Nava for Attorney General campaign from 2009 to 2010 and in the Office of California State Assemblymember Pedro Nava from 2006 to 2010. Mann was a consultant for the California State Senate Democratic Caucus from 1999 to 2005 and in the Office of California State Senator Jack O’Connell from 1995 to 1998. He served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Niger from 1988 to 1991. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $102,000. Mann is a Democrat.


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River Cats Unveil Promotion Schedule for 2017 Season

Source: Sacramento River Cats  |  2017-02-16

The Sacramento River Cats are thrilled to announce the promotions schedule for the 2017 season, with the team’s home opener Thursday, April 6. The 2017 promotions schedule is loaded with premium giveaways, new theme nights, five specialty jerseys, and much more.

Over the course of the team’s 71 game home schedule, the River Cats will host 23 fireworks shows – one on every Orange Friday and Sutter Health Saturday plus another for our Independence Eve celebration. In addition, fans can look forward to five exciting giveaways, including a Johnny Cueto Giants shimmy bobblehead (April 21), a River Cats superhero jersey-cape (May 19), a River Cats reusable tote bag (June 9), a Buster Posey “Buster Hugs” blanket (July 28), and a “Moods of Madison Bumgarner” t-shirt (August 11).

Brand new for 2017 are four unique heritage nights, including Hispanic Heritage Night (April 21), Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Night (May 20), Irish/Scottish Heritage Night (May 26), and Italian Heritage Night (August 31). The River Cats will also host an Easter Brunch event (April 9), a Sactown-celebration with 916 Night (June 30), Equality Night presented by Lasher’s Elk Grove Subaru (July 7), and for the first time ever, make merry with Christmas in July on July 27. Also new for the 2017 season is Sactown Grown Night, a farm-to-fork-themed night to celebrate the region’s leading efforts in agricultural sustainability and healthy living (July 29).

Sactown Grown Night also features one of the season’s five specialty jerseys: a nod to the area’s agricultural prominence. The team’s other specialty jerseys include a moving, fan-inspired jersey celebrating our local military members for Salute to Armed Forces (May 6), a vintage comic-themed jersey for Comic Cat night (June 17), a patriotic jersey for Independence Eve (July 3), and a peach jersey in the style of the Rockford Peaches of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (September 2).

Returning for 2017 are Orange Fridays. Fans are encouraged to break out their River Cats – or San Francisco Giants – orange and attend a pregame party featuring live music and drink specials before the team takes the field in orange Sactown jerseys. This year, Orange Fridays will also feature postgame fireworks shows, a new addition for the 2017 season.

Also returning are Raley’s Wellness Wednesdays (featuring activities such as yoga or cross training on the field, a riverfront bike ride, and more) and Thirsty Thursdays featuring the Tito’s Trolley.

Additional highlights include Bark in the Ballpark (April 23), Fin Fest (June 9), STAR WARS® Night (July 8), Princess & Pirate Night (August 19), Frank ‘N Stein Oktoberfest (September 1), and Fan Appreciation Night (September 3) among many others.

Single-game tickets go on sale at noon on Sunday, March 5 at the Round Table Pizza Ticket Office at Raley Field with an 11 a.m. advance opening for River Cats Season Ticket Members. An online presale will be available on Wednesday, March 1.

More details on all of the upcoming season’s promotions can be found online at rivercats.com/promotions. Promotions and dates are always subject to change.

The Sacramento River Cats are the Triple-A affiliate of the three-time World Champion San Francisco Giants. For more information about the River Cats, visit www.rivercats.com.


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Open Letter to Northern Californians From Senator Jim Nielsen

By Jim Nielsen  |  2017-02-16

On Sunday, North State residents were alarmed by the alert from the Department of Water Resources about the potential failure of the auxiliary spillway at Lake Oroville.

Within hours, the great people of the North State, from Plumas Lake to Oroville, peacefully evacuated their homes due to the damaged spillways at Lake Oroville. Nearly 200,000 people loaded their most valuable possessions, pets and essential needs into vehicles and headed on to crammed highways.

In heavy traffic, North State residents - fearing the unknown and dealing with anxiety, no doubt - evacuated without incident.

Law enforcement officials and social workers helped steer 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 strangers.

Construction crews filled bags of rocks overnight so helicopters could drop them into the spillway at first sunlight. Workers continue to watch water levels around the clock.

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

These are amazing actions of kindness, cooperation and patience.

The world’s eyes are upon us. Thank you for showing the world how great Americans are.

Sincerely,

Jim Nielsen

Senator, Fourth District


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NASA Report: San Joaquin Valley Land Continues to Sink

Sources: NASA and DWR  |  2017-02-16

Approximate location of maximum measured subsidence (9m) in the San Joaquin Valley, Ca. (1925-1977) attributed to aquifer-system compaction caused by groundwater abstraction. Signs on pole are positioned at approximate former elevations of land surface. Pictured is Dr. J.F. Poland. 
--Photo by R.L. Ireland, USGS, ca. 1977

New NASA radar satellite maps prepared for the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) show that land continues to sink rapidly in certain areas of the San Joaquin Valley, putting state and federal aqueducts and flood control structures at risk of damage.

“The rates of San Joaquin Valley subsidence documented since 2014 by NASA are troubling and unsustainable,” said DWR Director William Croyle. “Subsidence has long plagued certain regions of California. But the current rates jeopardize infrastructure serving millions of people. Groundwater pumping now puts at risk the very system that brings water to the San Joaquin Valley. The situation is untenable.”

A prior August 2015 NASA report prepared for DWR documented record rates of subsidence in the San Joaquin Valley, particularly near Chowchilla and Corcoran, as farmers pumped groundwater in the midst of historic drought. The report released recently shows that two main subsidence bowls covering hundreds of square miles grew wider and deeper between spring 2015 and fall 2016. Subsidence also intensified at a third area, near Tranquillity in Fresno County, where the land surface has settled up to 20 inches in an area that extends seven miles.

Additional aircraft-based NASA radar mapping was focused on the California Aqueduct, the main artery of the State Water Project, which supplies 25 million Californians and nearly 1 million acres of farmland. The report shows that subsidence caused by groundwater pumping near Avenal in Kings County has caused the Aqueduct to drop more than two feet. As a result of the sinking, the Aqueduct at this stretch can carry a flow of only 6,650 cubic feet per second (cfs) – 20 percent less than its design capacity of 8,350 cfs. To avoid overtopping the concrete banks of the Aqueduct in those sections that have sunk due to subsidence, water project operators must reduce flows.

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR), which operates the State Water Project, is analyzing whether the subsidence-created dip in the Aqueduct will affect deliveries to Kern County and Southern California water districts. If the State Water Project allocation is 85 percent or greater, delivery may be impaired this year due to the cumulative impacts of subsidence in the Avenal-Kettleman City area.

The NASA analysis also found subsidence of up to 22 inches along the Delta-Mendota Canal, a major artery of the Central Valley Project (CVP), operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The CVP supplies water to approximately three million acres of farmland and more than two million Californians.

Also of concern is the Eastside Bypass, a system designed to carry flood flow off the San Joaquin River in Fresno County. The Bypass runs through an area of subsidence where the land surface has fallen between 16 inches and 20 inches since May 2015 – on top of several feet of subsidence measured between 2008 and 2012. DWR is working with local water districts to analyze whether surface deformation may interfere with flood-fighting efforts, particularly as a heavy Sierra snowpack melts this spring. A five-mile reach of the Eastside Bypass was raised in 2000 because of subsidence, and DWR estimates that it may cost in the range of $250 million to acquire flowage easements and levee improvements to restore the design capacity of the subsided area.

There are thousands of groundwater wells near state infrastructure that could be contributing to the subsidence recorded by NASA.

In response to the new findings, and as part of an ongoing effort to respond to the effects of California’s historic drought, state officials said they will investigate any legal options available to protect state infrastructure. DWR also will investigate measures for reducing subsidence risk to infrastructure, including groundwater pumping curtailment, creation of groundwater management zones near critical infrastructure, and county ordinance requirements.

DWR is conducting its own study of the effects of subsidence along the 444-mile-long California Aqueduct and other State Water Project features and in coming months will identify potential actions to remediate damage. A comprehensive rehabilitation to restore the full California Aqueduct to its original design capacity would likely cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars. A focused triage to address conveyance losses in the most affected portions of the canal may cost tens of millions of dollars per location.

In addition, DWR will work with local water managers to identify specific actions to reduce long-term subsidence risk and consider whether to incorporate further emphasis on reduction of subsidence risk into the ongoing implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

An historic package of laws enacted by the Governor in September 2014, SGMA requires local governments to form sustainable groundwater agencies that will regulate pumping and recharge to better manage groundwater supplies. The Act requires groundwater-dependent regions to halt overdraft and bring basins into sustainable levels of pumping and recharge by the early 2040s. Groundwater supplies between 30 percent and 60 percent of the water Californians use in any year. Bringing basins into balance will eliminate the worst effects of over-pumping, including subsidence and the dewatering of streams.

San Joaquin Valley land subsidence due to groundwater extraction was observed as early as the 1920s. The most extensive monitoring and research related to subsidence in the Valley was carried out in the 1950s through the 1970s because of concerns about subsidence-related damage to the state and federal water projects. The SWP’s 444-mile-long California Aqueduct was designed to take into account subsidence risk. Since the 1960s, subsidence has required repairs such as the raising of canal linings, bridges, and water control structures on the Aqueduct and on the CVP’s Delta-Mendota and Friant-Kern canals.

Besides aqueducts, the increased subsidence rates have the potential to damage levees, bridges, and roads.

Long-term subsidence already has destroyed thousands of public and private groundwater well casings in the San Joaquin Valley. Over time, subsidence can permanently reduce the underground aquifer’s water storage capacity.

There has been no comprehensive estimation of damage costs associated with subsidence. Due to the gradual nature of the impacts, costs will often be covered as part of normal operations and maintenance. Subsidence-related repairs have cost the SWP and CVP an estimated $100 million since the 1960s.

Read NASA’s latest report, “Subsidence in California, March 2015-September 2016.” Sources: NASA and DWR


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Scam: “Can You Hear Me?"

Source: Better Business Bureau Media  |  2017-02-16

Use Caller ID to screen calls, and consider not even answering unfamiliar numbers. If it’s important, they will leave a message and you can call back.

The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about an old scam with a new twist. The “Can You Hear Me?” scam has long been used to coerce businesses into purchasing office supplies and directory ads they never actually ordered, but now it’s targeting individual consumers, as well.

In the last few days of January, more than half of the reports to BBB Scam Tracker have been about this one scam. Consumers say the calls are about vacation packages, cruises, warranties, and other big ticket items. So far, none have reported money loss, but it’s unclear how the scams will play out over time, or if the targets will be victimized at a later date.

Here’s how it works: You get a call from someone who almost immediately asks “Can you hear me?” Their goal is to get you to answer “Yes,” which most people would do instinctively in that situation. There may be some fumbling around; the person may even say something like “I’m having trouble with my headset.” But in fact, the “person” may just be a robocall recording your conversation… and that “Yes” answer you gave can later be edited to make it sound like you authorized a major purchase.

BBB is offering consumers the following advice:

  • Use Caller ID to screen calls, and consider not even answering unfamiliar numbers. If it’s important, they will leave a message and you can call back.
  • If someone calls and asks “Can you hear me?”, do NOT answer “yes.” Just hang up. Scammers change their tactics as the public catches on, so be alert for other questions designed to solicit a simple “yes” answer.
  • Make a note of the number and report it to bbb.org/scamtracker to help warn others. BBB also shares Scam Tracker information with government and law enforcement agencies, so every piece of information is helpful in tracking down scammers.
  • Consider joining the Do Not Call Registry (DoNotCall.gov) to cut down on telemarketing and sales calls. This may not help with scammers since they don’t bother to pay attention to the law, but you’ll get fewer calls overall. That may help you more quickly notice the ones that could be fraudulent.
  • Check your bank and credit card statements regularly for unauthorized charges. It’s also a good idea to check your telephone and cell phone bills, as well. Scammers may be using the “Yes” recording of your voice to authorize charges on your phone. This is called “cramming” and it’s illegal.

Report scams to BBB Scam Tracker (www.bbb.org/scamtracker).

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands, and charities they can trust. BBB Serving Northeast California, founded in 1928 and serving 24 counties, is one of 113 local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico. For reports on businesses and for information about BBB services, please visit our website at www.bbb.org/sacramento or call (916) 443-6843.


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