Youth Rugby Tourney Coming to Town

By Shelly Lembke  |  2017-01-20

The Sacramento Valley Rugby Association will host this weekend's Annual Kick Off Tournament (KOT) on the fields at Cordova High School and Mitchell Middle School. This is the 33rd year for the huge tournament. --Photos courtesy of the Sacramento Valley Rugby Association

This weekend marks the beginning of the 2017 rugby season, with Rancho Cordova again hosting the 33rd Annual Kick Off Tournament (KOT).  The Cordova High School fields will be filled with over 100 youth teams from California and beyond who will travel all the way to Rancho Cordova to participate in the two-day event.

“This is the largest youth rugby tournament in the northern hemisphere,” said Jerry Ahlin, of the Sacramento Valley Rugby Foundation (SVRF) and the KOT Director. In addition to multiple games, the KOT Vendor Village will have food vendors, and multiple booths selling souvenir clothing and equipment.

Boys and girls teams consist of youth and high school-age players from under 8 to 18, according to Nick Freitas, Sacramento Valley Regional Development Officer for Rugby NorCal. There are 100 teams, 60 referees and 1500 people daily, with games going from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Rugby is touted as a game suitable for all ages. Freitas explains, “I can go one and on about this one but I'll give the simple answer. Everyone gets to touch the ball during a game, multiple times. It also helps develop a well-rounded person or athlete. In rugby you can pass the ball, kick the ball or simply run [the ball]. It is also an amazing aerobic experience as the game never stops. You truly have to work as a team in rugby, the sport develops individual who can communicate and operate as a cohesive unit better than any other sport I've been a part of.”

With all the concern of late about injuries to student-athletes, especially the risk of concussion in contact sports, prospective players and families may think rugby would be too rough on the body. Freitas addressed the issue head on, “Rugby is a full contact sport; however, it has the lowest injury rate for full contact sports, by almost half. There are more major injuries in soccer and cross country than rugby. This would shock most people but it's the truth. We teach players how to fall or ‘be tackled,’ keeping the head completely out of the tackle process. Rugby can also be played as a flag or touch game.”

Freitas and Ahlin have a vision for the future of rugby and see Rancho Cordova at the heart of it all. Freitas said, “I've work in some of the roughest areas of LA bringing rugby to the community. In my experience, I've seen not only kids pick up the game but the entire community gets behind the sport. This is my vision for the future of rugby in the area. We hope to have it be a part of the local schools PE curriculum. We also want rugby to be a sense of community pride through the creation of youth leagues as well as community days where the whole family from grandma to the 7-year-old kid can come and play. Rugby is a fun, easy game that can help an entire community grow strong bonds while staying in shape. “

“Rugby at its core is much more than a game. I know lots of other sports also claim this but in my experience, it is the only sport that truly embraces this. One prime example is after every rugby match no matter the level; the two teams come together and have a meal. This instills a true sense of community as well as respect for your opponent. The KOT helps strengthen the bonds between teams competing as well as showing the community how core values can be demonstrated through the sport.

Ahlin is self-effacing and down to earth, and does much of his work behind the scenes. He is a key player in the effort to bring world class rugby to Rancho Cordova. SVRA is moving another step forward soon he said, “We have been told that we will have approval to start moving dirt for our phase one rugby fields in February. Eventually we will have 12 fields for rugby, soccer, football and Lacrosse.”

For questions or comments visit

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River Cats Invite Fans to Nominate Military Family

Source: River Cats Media  |  2017-01-20

The Sacramento River Cats are asking fans to submit photos of loved ones who have or who are currently serving in the military to be featured on Salute to Armed Forces jersey.

Selected photos will be featured on the specialty jerseys worn by River Cats players and will be auctioned off during the game. The annual Salute to Armed Forces Night will take place on Saturday, May 6th when they take on the Reno Aces at Raley Field.

If you or a loved one has served in the U.S. Armed Forces, or know someone who is currently serving, please submit your photo to the "Salute to Armed Forces Jersey Submission" page at or by email to

That night's game will be preceded by the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team game, which will conclude a day dedicated to commemorating those who serve our country.

Fans wishing to submit a photo of a service member must visit and then email with a high-resolution (300dpi) photo of the service member in uniform (must be a picture of just them) and a 2-3 sentence description of said person.

If your photo is selected, you will be contacted with information on how you can preorder the jersey. The Salute to Armed Forces specialty jersey is presented by USAA. Net proceeds from the jersey auction will benefit Blue Star Families, who proudly support military members and their families.

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Rancho Cordova City Council Capsule

By Shelly Lembke  |  2017-01-20

This week’s meeting of the Rancho Cordova City Council was called to order with an invitation for new Rancho Cordova Chief of Police Christopher Pittman to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.  Vice Mayor Linda Budge ran the meeting in place of Mayor Donald Terry who was absent and attending a political conference.

Public Hearing Items included consideration of an Administrative Use Permit and Conditional Use Permit and a letter of Public Convenience and Necessity for the Mi Rancho Grocery Store located at 10669 Coloma Road, to sell beer and wine off-site. Store owners had worked with the Rancho Cordova Police Department in examining the possible increase of crime in the area and to make sure appropriate safety and security measures were made. Several Councilmembers had been to the market and found it both attractive and nicely stocked with fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. According to Vice Mayor Budge, “I thought it was adorable.” The market is located in the Rossmoor Shopping Center. The resolution passed and the applicant can now apply to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the next step in the permitting process.

Regular Calendar Items considered by the Council were the Approval of Final Design and Location of Folsom Boulevard Murals and the selection of Lincoln Village Art Installation and related details. Many of the artists who had submitted selected works were in attendance. The works are intended to improve and enhance the cityscape for residents and visitors and feature a distinct flavor of expression by each art group. Some additional adaptations to plans were requested of the artists and a subcommittee formed by the City Council will continue to work out details of the beautification project.

The Council also discussed and considered the intended Horizons at New Rancho Affordable Senior Housing Project and adapting to Affordable Housing for Families. The Vice Mayor referred to a comparable example in another city, citing it as a possible model for the New Rancho site. Funding gained for the housing is rapidly aging and must be spent soon, but the distribution of the monies was based on the development being solely for seniors. The multi-generational housing model referred to by Budge is in step with current design theory, but there remained some question as to the current design specifications of New Rancho being large enough to accommodate families.

Finally, City Staff asked the Council to adopt a resolution for the purchase of property at 3303 Luyung Drive to develop a corporation yard for the city. Per asking price and current valuation, the investment in the land would be over $1 million.

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FCCP Business Clothing Drive

By Shelly Lembke  |  2017-01-20

The First Annual “Professional Clothing Drive” is being hosted by the Folsom Cordova Community Partnership (FCCP) in Rancho Cordova. According to FCCP Executive Director Robert Sanger, the organization maintains a professional clothing closet at their Job Center.

“The community can access to clothing closet for professional attire to dress for success at job interviews and to start a new job where professional attire is required,” said Sanger. “Many of our customers at the Job Center need clothing support to get that desired job and to get them through the first few weeks until them have their first pay check and add to their professional wardrobe.”

FCCP Resource Development Manager Christopher Clark commented, “The Folsom Cordova Community Partnership is looking for gently used professional wear for our participants in our Job Center to help them feel more confident when going to a job interview.”

Donations can be dropped off at the FCCP headquarters in Rancho Cordova at 10665 Coloma Road, or Silverado Cleaners at 318 E Bidwell Street in Folsom. The FCCP “will happily accept,” said Clark, all sizes of gently used, new or clean apparel. “The Folsom Cordova Community Partnership has successfully helped people in the community find jobs and has helped individuals get back to work. The job training center serves those in need of job training and provides assistance to those that are looking for work.”

“Our professional clothing closet is only available because of our generous community.  We operate it sorely on donations from residents,” said Sanger. The FCCP’s Clothing Closet is at their Job Center, located at 10826 Gadsten Way in Rancho Cordova. “It is a unique experience to see the confidence grow in someone when they slip that jacket on or have a dress that fits them.  They smile and feel like they are ready to walk into the interview room.”

List of Needed Items for both men and women:

  • Blouses
  • Skirts
  • Dresses
  • Shoes
  • Belts
  • Jackets
  • Suits
  • Dress shirts
  • Ties
  • Pants
  • Socks

For more information, contact the FCCP online at or call 916 361 8684.

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Dedication of Garden on Eden Marks Transformation from “Beast” to “Beauty”

Source: Sacramento Suburban Water District  |  2017-01-19

Sacramento Suburban Water District (SSWD) Board Member Kevin Thomas cuts a ribbon with golden gardening sheers to mark the grand opening of the “Garden on Eden,” Carmichael’s newest water-wise demonstration garden. Holding the ribbon are Project Manager Cheryl Buckwalter of EcoLandscape California (left) and SSWD Water Conservation Manager Greg Bundesen. 
--Photo courtesy Meredith Carty

Sacramento Suburban Water District and EcoLandscape California on December 14, 2016 marked the grand opening of the region’s newest water-wise demonstration garden—the “Garden on Eden.”

Named for its location at 4900 Eden Court in Carmichael, the Garden on Eden transforms an ugly groundwater well site (a Beast) into a water-wise garden (a Beauty) for the community to enjoy. Previously, the landscape featured a spotty, high-water use lawn.

“The drought brought new focus and attention to the benefits and beauty of sustainable, low-water use landscaping,” said SSWD Water Conservation Manager Greg Bundesen during the event. “We’ve seen fresh interest in creating landscapes that not only use less water but have many other benefits—from preventing stormwater pollution to nurturing wildlife. This garden is designed to continue that momentum well beyond the drought.”

The garden transformation was part of a workshop series on sustainable landscaping techniques sponsored by Sacramento Suburban Water District and taught by EcoLandscape California instructors. Classroom sessions covered the basics of healthy soil, the differences between compost and mulch, water-wise irrigation, plant placement, integrated pest management, landscape design, among other topics.

Then District customers dug in during two hands-on workshops to help remove the lawn by sheet mulching, install drip irrigation and properly place plants. “Adding a hands-on component to our classroom training made it a much richer learning experience for the participants, and helped get them excited to work on their own landscape,” said EcoLandscape California Executive Director Marian Bender.

The garden features low-water use plants such as Manzanita, Chaparral Currant and Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass, efficient irrigation and unique methods for keeping rainwater on site. As a demonstration garden, the site also includes informational signage that identifies plants, irrigation and rainwater harvesting techniques so that visitors can learn how to create their own water-wise oasis.

“We had several important goals for this project,” said SSWD Board Member Kevin Thomas during the event. “We wanted to provide an opportunity to educate customers about low-water, sustainable landscaping through hands-on workshops and a permanent demonstration garden. We also wanted to be a good neighbor by investing in our community. I think we’ve accomplished that—and more,” Thomas continued. “Right now, you see young plants, soaking in all of the winter rain. Come spring, you will see them beginning to emerge into the vibrant, colorful garden for everyone to enjoy.”

The project is sponsored by Sacramento Suburban Water District in partnership with EcoLandscape California, which served as project manager and provided instruction for workshops, and is part of the District’s ongoing commitment to promoting wise water use and investing in the community.

Learn more about the transformation at Garden on Eden and information about visiting the new demonstration garden at or

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An Eggstravaganza of Delicate Art

By Shelly Lembke  |  2017-01-19

Sacramento’s 27th Annual Northern California Eggstravaganza is just around the corner. The yearly event features free admission in addition to shopping, a raffle and seminars taught by egg artists from around the globe. All proceeds from the raffle will benefit the Sacramento Shriners Hospital for Children.

“Egg artists from around the world will be teaching seminars, exhibiting and selling artwork created from real eggshells: ostrich, rhea, emu, goose – as small as finch eggs,” according to Show Director Diana Macias.

The seminars are February 23-26. Times and fees vary. Pre-registration is required. The exact schedule can be found online at the show website. The artists giving the seminars hail from the US, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Japan, Mexico and Canada.

“Styles of artwork will include Fabergé, pysanka, etched, jeweled, beaded, painted, diorama, jewelry boxes and wearable art to name a few. Vendors will be selling supplies used to create artwork and miniatures,” said Macias.

Visit or email for more information.

Photos courtesy of NorCal Egg Artists, artwork by Rosalie Juarez

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Unsung Heroines Soar in Uplifting ‘Hidden Figures’

By David Dickstein  |  2017-01-19

Set at NASA during America

The movie’s opening scene is a white cop harassing three black women on the side of a road with a broken-down car. Later, white colleagues of these ladies will refuse their using the same coffee pots, water fountains and toilets at work. Career advancement for these blacks and others working at NASA? Not with the policies set by their white superiors. The movie also throws in a couple of civil rights protests to stress the segregated and prejudiced South of the 1960s. And, yet, in the entire 2-hour-plus movie, not a single “N word” is heard or a drop of blood seen.

What is this, “Cool Runnings?”

While both movies address how unfairly and disgustingly bigotry oppresses black people’s dreams for greatness, a PG rating, mainstream marketing and sanitized storytelling do repress their potential to deliver indelible messages for civil rights, and in the case of “Hidden Figures,” equal rights as well. Picture “Schindler’s List” without Jews being killed or dialogue free of anti-Semitic slurs. But like the aforementioned 1993 comedy about the Jamaican bobsled team hoping to make the Olympics, “Hidden Figures” still inspires. Big time.

Set at NASA during America's space race with the Soviets, the Hollywoodized, yet effecting biopic follows three brilliant black female employees who, despite obstacles placed by mostly male and lily-white superiors at Langley Research Center, make significant contributions while shooting for the stars. Thanks to the movie and the book on which it’s based, by Margot Lee Shetterly, these amazing women are unsung heroines no more.

Each lady gets her day in the sun, but at center is NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson). Without her, John Glenn wouldn’t have been the first American in space, and man might not have landed on the moon as early as we did. Computer scientist Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) does the work of a supervisor at Langley, but the glass ceiling is lowered for blacks, especially those who are also women. Engineer hopeful Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) also is hampered by a system that will require miracles and, like NASA’s space program desperately trying to catch up with the Soviets, a series of firsts. The main actresses make the most of their roles, but only one, Henson, gets the stand-taking moment that both audiences and Oscar voters love.

The mostly white supporting cast includes Kevin Costner as a driven, compassionate NASA chief and Kirsten Dunst as Dorothy’s snippy quasi-racist boss. Both are fine, which can’t be said of a lackluster Jim Parsons as NASA’s chief engineer. Haven’t seen a key role performed so flatly since Wile E. Coyote got road-killed.

Flaws notwithstanding, and they really are just nits, “Hidden Figures” blends emotion, heart, drive and even humor to engaging effect. Its Disney-like approach, where hardly a discouraging word is heard or physical struggle shown, does allow for younger audiences. With STEM and equality so key to our country’s future, maybe a movie like this being PG isn’t so bad. 4 of 5 Stars

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Sacramento FBI Teen Academy Applications Available Online

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation  |  2017-01-19

Class Offers Information, Experiences, and More to High School Juniors

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Sacramento field office is accepting applications for the Spring 2017 FBI Teen Academy. This unique opportunity is open to all high school juniors attending any school—public, private, and home school—in the 34-counties the field office serves. The application package is available for download now.

Students selected to participate will spend an entire day at FBI Sacramento field office headquarters in Roseville on Friday, April 7, 2017. Applying and attending the FBI Teen Academy program is free; however, families are responsible for travel to and from the class.

The FBI Teen Academy is a unique opportunity for any student—regardless of career interest—who is curious about the FBI, what the FBI investigates, and how it serves the community. FBI Teen Academy participants engage in activities and discussions about what the FBI does and current topics relative to FBI investigations. Activities may include discussions about cyber safety, terrorism, active shooter situations, and color of law and civil rights investigations; participation in simulated evidence response team and bomb techs scenarios; and frank conversations about online communication and staying safe in an always-connected world.

After completing the class, participants better understand the FBI’s role in their communities, grasp the complexity of FBI investigations, can make lifestyle choices to be safer in their day-to-day lives, and what FBI career paths are available. FBI Teen Academy students often remain connected with the field office to facilitate presentations, mentorship, and more.

Each spring and fall, the FBI Sacramento field office hosts the FBI Teen Academy for 20-36 students who spend a day in FBI facilities to learn about the agency, what it investigates, how it serves its community, how students can make wise lifestyle choices to be safer in their day-to-day lives, and what FBI career paths are available. The opportunity is available to any high school junior in the region the field office serves and can create a lasting connection between the students and the FBI. More than 250 students have attended the FBI Teen Academy in Sacramento to date.

To find the application see

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Celebrate the New Year with Free Flowering Trees

Source: Arbor Day Foundation  |  2017-01-19

Residents in your state can ring in the New Year with 10 free flowering trees by joining the Arbor Day Foundation any time during January 2017.

By becoming a part of the nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation, new members will receive two Sargent crabapples, three American redbuds, two Washington hawthorns, and three white flowering dogwoods.

“These beautiful trees will beautify your home with lovely flowers of pink, yellow and white colors,” said Matt Harris, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “These trees are perfect for large and small spaces, and they will provide food and habitat for songbirds.”

The free trees are part of the Foundation’s Trees for America campaign.

The trees will be shipped postpaid at the right time for planting, between February 1 and May 31, with enclosed planting instructions. The 6- to 12-inch tall trees are guaranteed to grow or they will be replaced free of charge.

Members will also receive a subscription to the Foundation’s bimonthly publication, Arbor Day, and The Tree Book, which includes information about tree planting and care.

To become a member of the Foundation and to receive the free trees, send a $10 contribution to TEN FREE FLOWERING TREES, Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Avenue, Nebraska City, NE 68410, by January 31, 2017.

Residents can also join online at

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Busy Week for Rancho Cordova Law Enforcement

By Shelly Lembke  |  2017-01-19

Rancho Cordova Police Department, acting on a tip, located and detained a suspect on probation. A search proved the suspect to be in possession of a large amount of methamphetamine. The suspect was arrested and booked on new charges. 
--Photo courtesy Rancho Cordova Police Department

An officer involved shooting and the arrest of a known drug dealer were two of the Rancho Cordova Police Department’s (RCPD) major incidents this week. According to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Sergeant Tony Turnbull, a wanted suspect pulled a gun on officers at a storage facility in Rancho Cordova in the 2600 block of Sunrise Avenue. The 29-year-old male suspect had outstanding felony warrants and law enforcement had been searching for him for several days and acted on a tip about the suspect’s whereabouts.

When officers from the Sheriff’s Department Major Crimes Bureau and Special Enforcement Detail located the man, he was inside a vehicle, with a gun in his hand. According to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, “As detectives went to make contact with the suspect, he exited the passenger side of the car with a handgun in his hand. The suspect began to raise the handgun. Fearing for his safety, one of the detectives discharged his firearm at the suspect. The suspect was struck by gunfire and fled on foot into a portal door leading into the storage building. The suspect was subsequently taken into custody and the handgun was secured. Deputies immediately began life saving measures.”

The Sacramento Metro Fire Department arrived on scene and the suspect was transported to a local hospital where he remained until Tuesday evening. According to new Rancho Cordova Police Department Chief Christopher Pittman, the suspect was released and transported to the Sacramento County Jail late Tuesday.

The injured suspect had outstanding felony warrants for his arrest. One warrant was for burglary, grand theft, receiving stolen property and possession of a firearm by a felon and the second was for a violation of mandatory supervision. No one else was injured. An investigation is underway. The officer involved is a fourteen-year veteran and per policy and procedure, is on paid administrative leave pending the investigation.

Also on January 13, the RCPD Crime Suppression Unit (CSU) made use of another tip on the location of a suspect known to be a drug dealer on probation. A probation search found the man in possession of a large quantity of methamphetamine. The suspect was subsequently arrested and booked on new charges.

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