Rancho Cordova Honors Volunteers

By Margaret Snider  |  2017-03-16

Cordova Community Council pick for Rancho Cordovan of the Year is Tracey Harris. Said MC Ken Rudolph at the awards presentation, “Tracey... does not set his schedule for time off until he knows when he will be need-ed to help make the fireworks explode at the Fourth of July or help the Air-show fly.” 
--Photos by Rick Sloan

On March 10, at “Get Your Golden Ticket,” the Community Volunteer Awards program, Tracey Harris was named the Rancho Cordovan of the Year. Harris received the honor for his untiring work for the community over a period of years, in many capacities, including helping Moose Lodge golf tournament to raise more than $54,000 for the Cordova Food Locker.

“Tracey, so many people know you, so many people love you, and so many people are here tonight because they want to join us in thanking you for all you do for our community,” said Ken Rudolph of Good Day Sacramento, Master of Ceremonies for the event.

Harris expressed his gratitude for the honor. “We couldn’t do it without everybody that’s here in the community,” Harris said. He shared a memory of going with his friends to the Jerry Lewis Twin Cinema as a child to see Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which was the theme for the night.

The program started out with the Sunrise Elementary School Choir singing and acting out songs from that movie. Led by teacher and director Trevor Harding, the kids in costume created a fitting start for the 18th year of this annual event. After their rousing performance, Rudolph presented the eight awards for the various categories of volunteer work.

Jim Purvis received the Distinguished Community Service award for his paralegal work with Senior Legal Hotline and Neil Orchard Senior Activities Center in Rancho Cordova. “I feel good when I help people help themselves, and give them information that they then use to have power to resolve their problems,” Purvis said.

Kaiser pediatrician Catherine Vigran, who will retire next month, earned the Outstanding Service to Youth honor for her care for kids in many ways above and beyond her service as a doctor. “I’d like to let everyone know what a pleasure it’s been to work in this community and to see children grow up and go on to do what they’re going to do to make their contribution,” Vigran said.

Outstanding Teen Service Award went to 13-year-old Anthony Lacayo. An 8th grader, he racked up 150 hours of volunteer service last year. “You can count on him, and he volunteers with his whole heart,” said Linda Burkholder in her nomination letter. “He stands out for his ever-willing spirit, his reliability and his passion for helping others.”

The “We could not have done it without you” award went to David McFarland. As pastor of New Life Center on Zinfandel Drive, McFarland was afraid his preschool would not be able to continue during the recession in 2008. He built a children’s train, and with that and the influx of students transferred from Cordova Neighborhood Church, the preschool continues on. Now the train adds special flavor to many community events.

Campus Life at Mills Middle School, an arm of Youth for Christ, received the honor for Outstanding Service by a Faith Organization. Coordinator Jenny Arnez accepted the award. “This is a team award,” Arnez said. “They love kids so much that they share their whole lives. They do life together. And that’s why kids are impacted by what happens at Mills.”

The Distinguished Community Service Organization went to Whisker Warriors, unsung heroes operating to reduce animal overpopulation and promote responsible pet ownership. “It takes a herd of cats to get things done,” a representative for the group said. “So I’d like to recognize our entire group.”

Chick-fil-A was honored as Distinguished Community Business Partner, Rudolph citing the words of founder Truett Cathy: “Nearly every moment of every day we have the opportunity to give something to someone else – our time, our love, our resources.” Owner/operator of Chick-fil-A Rivergate Cordova, Liviu Vizitiu, has taken this to heart. “Our passion is really anything that’s got to do with youth and education, we’re there,” Vizitiu said. “We know that the future is in our youth and we want to partner with that... I can’t wait to continue to work with all of you and help as much as we can in this community.”

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Hacker Lab Tests Waters in Rancho Cordova

By Shelly Lembke  |  2017-03-16

Dozens of people from business owners to ordinary citizens showed up at a Town Hall Idea Fest in Rancho Cordova (above). Attendees came both to hear from Hacker Lab representatives and to offer ideas of how the start up incubator might most effective serve the Rancho Cordova entrepneurs interested in joining. 
--Photo courtesy City of Rancho Cordova

Sacramento area “startup incubator” Hacker Lab recently partnered with the city of Rancho Cordova to host a Town Hall Idea Fest in February, seeking input and feedback from the community about what the possibilities for Hacker Lab could look like both for the nonprofit itself, as well as potential members.

The Town Hall Idea Fest was the next step in Hacker Lab’s feasibility study as the organization weighs its options in deciding where to open its third location in the Sacramento area. Beginning with its first site in the city of Sacramento, the group most recently opened a facility in Rocklin, working closely with that city and Sierra College. The Rocklin Hacker lab is currently expanding to nearly double the current size. Both locations have met with enthusiastic responses from sponsors, the cities and a booming membership, and it appears that Rancho Cordova is poised to follow suit.

The Idea Fest was held February 23 in Rancho Cordova at the American River Brewery. A crowd of over 100 people attended and brought a gaggle of ideas for what they felt the group could offer at a potential Rancho site, known as an Innovation Center.

Thus far, Hacker Lab is garnering a wide range of support from Rancho Cordova tech businesses, the city itself and citizens of all ages. Rancho Cordova Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Operations Office Diann Rogers is just one businessperson who sees the possibility of economic exponential growth for the city. Rogers is very supportive of Hacker Lab choosing Rancho Cordova for its next facility and has been since the beginning.

“The Rancho Cordova Chamber of Commerce strives to promote the prosperity of our members. The Hacker Lab would be an amazing addition to our business community,” said Rogers. “Their mission and that of the Chamber go hand-in-hand seeking to develop opportunities and foster creative ideas. Collaboration is a key part of our mission. Collaboration with Hacker Lab will be a win for all in Rancho Cordova.”

According Ashley Downton, Community Relations Specialist with the city of Rancho Cordova, Hacker Lab is currently considering some of the following relationships and offering for a new facility in Rancho Cordova:

  • Partnering with Soil Born Farms in Rancho Cordova for events.
  • Partnering with post-secondary schools in Rancho Cordova such as the Agee Fashion Institute.
  • Partnering with the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency on workforce development initiatives.
  • Partnering with the Cordova Community Council on events for artists in Rancho Cordova.
  • Beginning the search for potential locations for an innovation center in the City of Rancho Cordova.

“The overall goal of a Hacker Lab in the City of Rancho Cordova will be to support and create a maker and manufacturing community and brand Rancho Cordova as the region’s ‘Maker City,’ said Stidham.

While initial conversations between Hacker Lab and the city of Rancho Cordova have been quietly going on for some time, it is only recently that the news became known to the public. Representatives from Hacker Lab attended a City Council session late last fall, including their founding CEO Gina Lujan. Lujan is a Sacramento native and community innovation powerhouse.

Lujan’s credentials read exactly as the mover and shaker she is, having over 20 years as an Innovation Consultant and award-winner withthe likes of Northup Grumman, Toyota, Sacramento and Tuolumne and Sacramento Counties, Latina of Excellence in Information Sciences and Technology, Women’s Day, Women Who Mean Business and more. Lujan also excels at forging alliances with educational institutions and providing tech training and programs to underserved or at-risk youth in local communities, providing students with opportunities to see how acquiring technical knowhow could change their lives for the better.

“I strategize, build momentum, & develop opportunities for my team to execute innovative projects for our region, & community.”

Of her vision and direction of her team’s efforts, Lujan has been quoted online as saying. “We focus on community building, hacker & maker space development, regional support, & corporate, academic, and government innovation through grassroots education and spaces.” She has also has been quoted as describing herself as a “Visionary Orchestrator/Community Evangelist. I hack issues and support the wonderful world of creators.” In short, she gets things done.

Lujan’s outreach efforts began with an ad on Craigslist, but she and the nonprofit Hacker Lab have come a long way since then. In November, she appeared at a TEDx gathering in Livermore, speaking on the success of the group in inspiring crafts persons, small businesses and individuals by supplying tools, training and support for startups in the Sacramento area.

Currently, Hacker Lab member benefits, according to the group’s website, are effective and wide-ranging. “Our goal is to provide you with all the resources you need to learn new skills, meet people and launch a new venture.  This includes access to mentors, networking opportunities, and tons of more hands on tangible benefits.” To that end, Hacker Lab facilities currently include blazing fast Internet connections, unlimited specialty coffee, private conference and meetings rooms, web hosting, free job board postings, storage, a kitchen, laser printing and copying, 24-hour keycard access, manufacturing tools, equipment and space (a 3D printing lab, laser cutter, wood shop and tools, metal shop and tools and MIG, TIG and Oxy welding equipment) an Electronics Lab, Computer Lab and Textile Lab in their CoWorking and Maker Spaces.

Hacker Lab itself focuses on providing “Workspace,” education and a sense of community to all members. Dozens of classes in everything from working with bamboo to coding and more are provided for members. They describe themselves as “[A] Community for hackers, makers, entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses. We've got tech classes, maker space, prototyping tools…” We’re striving to be your go-to resource for all things education and entrepreneurship. From coworking, to rapid prototyping, learning. Our goal is to provide you with all the resources you need to succeed. Learn new skills, meet people, access equipment, and launch a new venture.  This includes access to mentors, networking opportunities, and tons of more hands on tangible benefits.”

The group has a clear statement of its philosophy and mission: “We believe that technology can change the world and the starting point is education. Hacker Lab aims to educate folks and spark innovation with community driven resources Collectively we can build a brighter future using lean methods in both education and business.”

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Cordova Softball Improving as Season Continues

By Mike Bush  |  2017-03-16

Cordova softball player Alexis Wygand puts down a bunt against Galt in an SVC game on the Lancers’ field on Tuesday. Wygand is one of two fresh-men on the varsity squad this season. 
--Photo by Rick Sloan

A mixture of returning and new players is taking the field for the Cordova High School softball team.

Those Lancers are also playing under new head coach Kimberly Little, who takes over for Tracy Cole, who didn’t return after one season because of a recent promotion at his employer. Little has coached high school softball before taking the Cordova job earlier this year.

Back this year are five players, all of whom were on last year’s team that earned a Sierra Valley Conference playoff berth that produced an 11-14 overall record that included a 7-8 mark in conference play. Heading the list is centerfielder Leila Cooper, who batted .412 last spring; second baseman/shortstop Sierra Reyes and Julia Rosales, all seniors. Rosales batted .400 last spring, and Reyes .306.

Returning for Cordova is sophomore catcher Mason Pittaro, who also had one of the big bats for the Lady Lancers last spring with a .453 batting average and 23 RBIs. Pittaro also had six doubles, five triples and four home runs. Cassandra Rucker rounds out the list of returning players, now a sophomore after being moved to the varsity team as a freshman last spring. Rucker had a .269 batting average last spring.

Newcomers to this year’s squad are Lizzy Cariveau and Samantha Lee, both juniors who were on the school’s frosh-soph softball team last spring. Other players are sophomores Vivi Luque, Hunter Norton and Agnus Budge. Two freshmen move up to this year’s varsity squad is Jasmine Hull and Alexis Wygand.

“We are young, but a very talented team,” said Little of this year’s team. “We are improving each and every game. This is an amazing group of hunger, eager to compete.”

This season, Cordova is off to an 0-6 start, which includes an 0-2 mark in the SVC. But the Lady Lancers and the rest of the conference play 15 games.

As for the SVC, the teams to beat this season, Little feels Liberty Ranch, which has an 8-0-1 record, and Rosemont are those teams. Union Mine, behind University of the Pacific bound pitcher Bethany Hammer, won the SVC title last spring. The Diamondbacks, who lost to Liberty Ranch in an SVC game, 8-1, on Tuesday, are 1-1 in conference and 4-2 overall.

Yesterday, Thursday, Cordova played at Liberty Ranch. Next Monday, the Lancers play at Capital Christian in a non-league game at 5:30 p.m. Then on Tuesday, Cordova welcomes Hammer and Union Mine in an SVC game that is scheduled to start at 4 p.m.

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Annual Roseville Gem Show Rolls On for 2017

Contributed by James Hutchings, Roseville Rock Rollers Show Chair  |  2017-03-15

Featured, a budding “rockhound” under supervision as she delicately sorts through a tray of semi-precious stones during the Gem Hunt event during the Gem Show. 
--Photo courtesy of Roseville Rock Rollers.

Roseville Rock Rollers 55th Annual Gem, Jewelry, Fossil, and Mineral Show will take place at the Placer County Fairgrounds in Roseville March 25-26. Hosted by the Roseville Rock Rollers, also known as the Roseville Gem and Mineral Society, this year’s show features gemstones, jewelry, fossils and minerals and has something for the whole family.

The group was established in 1960 as a group of local “rockhounds,” according to show chair James Hutchings. That group, deeply interested in the science and art of the earths' natural beauty in rocks and minerals, first met in homes and then as their numbers grew, expanded to the use of a local school room.

This year’s show has dozens of exhibits for attendees, such as jewelry, metal, wire and glass beading arts, fossils, crystals and minerals, but that’s not all. So that attendees aren’t rushed, the show also provides a cafeteria. “A very fine hot lunch is available at our own kitchen in Johnson Hall,” states Hutchings. The group has put together a menu of very reasonably priced food and beverages will also be available at the show’s cafeteria, featuring burgers, philly steak cheesesteaks, chicken salad, baked potatoes pies, cakes and more.

In addition to exhibits, classes and demonstrations, show goers can pan for gold, purchase equipment, buy raffle tickets, have rocks, gems and mineral identified by experts or make purchases at a silent auction.

Wishing to share the art and science of the mineral world, in the tradition of gem and mineral shows around the world, the Roseville Rock Rollers established their own gem and mineral show around 1962. The society grew, the show grew, and the show and the Society moved to the Placer County Fairgrounds where it continues today.

“As the Roseville Gem and Mineral Society has expanded to just under 300 members, the show expanded to support the costs associated with its programs, such as the Rookie Rock Rollers, juniors program, the Annual Scholarship program to Geology Students at Sacramento State Geology Department, and our year round Lapidary shop on the fairgrounds,” said Hutchings. “The lapidary shop on the Fair Grounds is the heart and soul of our Society, where we teach lapidary arts, jewelry fabrication, conduct mineral identification and mini tail gate rock sales.”

Hutchings developed his love for “rockhounding” at an early age. “Personally, I as most young people, was fascinated with rocks minerals and crystals. My parents encouraged me with my first Golden Book of Rocks and Minerals, a book still in current print, and my first rock pick.”

At the age of 38, he became seriously interested in rockhounding and gold mining, attending a mineral identification course at Sierra College, next pursuing an in depth understanding the chemistry and physics that form “these miracles in the earth.” He has put that knowledge to good use today providing what he refers to as a “mini lab” during the show to test rocks, minerals, and gems to provide guest an idea of materials they have in their possession.

While the Rock Rollers must generate funds to keep their programs operating, the primary purpose of any Gem and Mineral Show is to promote the Art and Science of the mineral world, according to Hutchings.

Like many of the group members, an early exposure to rockhounding and lapidary arts often provides a genesis of interest that often blossoms later in life, Hutchings said. “We really work hard, to attract the parents who want to expose their children to the natural world and foster that spark.”

There are presentations and activities for youngsters on identifying and handling specimens of all kinds. Students and Scouts can reinforce their California Rock Cycle curriculum and merit badge information. Scouts can have their mineral finds evaluated for rock type or mineral and validated for their required collection.

Other interesting stops are featured at this year’s show. The Education Station is the place for the "learners,” said Hutchings, “and we are all learners. There [are] demonstrators showing you the actual arts of lapidary, faceting, wire wrapping, and other jewelry arts.” The Fossils for Fun booth encourages fossil hunters to view and purchase or bid on fossils from vendors. NorCal Bats brings a live bat to show how fascinating these mammals (often found in caves along with gems, stones and crystals) are. This year "Rocklin Bach to Rock" students will perform on stage to provide entertainment for the public.

Hutchings suggests visitors come early and plan on spending the day at the show. “We take over the entire fairgrounds with exhibits, demonstrators, and vendors.”

Not to be missed are real treasures the group will have on display. “Folks tend to walk by the display cases,” he says. “These simple, well lighted boxes contain the best of the best of personal collections of minerals in variety or by theme. The displays are, ‘literally’ miniature museums showcasing specimens in the possession of individuals who have spent a lifetime collecting the best of the best of their favorite species of rock or mineral,” said Hutchings.

“We are looking for the general public who are looking for gem stones, set and unset, handmade, and fine art jewelry, and mineral specimens from every corner of the world! We find the single most striking comment from folks who, by accident, end up at our show is, ‘I had no idea such things existed in the world!’”

For more information, tickets and coupons, visit the group’s website at www.rockrollers.com

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AmeriCorps Alum Now Leads Program in Rancho Cordova

Source: Kristin Thébaud Communications  |  2017-03-15

Andrea Aguinaldo

As Andrea Aguinaldo coordinates the region’s AmeriCorps VISTA program from her office at United Way California Capital Region in Rancho Cordova, she remembers why she chose to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA.

“After I graduated from college, I was hungry to be part of something bigger than myself,” Aguinaldo said. “So I decided to join the AmeriCorps VISTA program, a national service project with a mission to eliminate poverty.”

During National AmeriCorps Week, and Aguinaldo and her colleagues at United Way California Capital Region saluted the 40 AmeriCorps VISTA members who dedicate a year or a summer to serving the Sacramento region.

“These young people dedicate a summer or a year of their lives to bringing change to local communities across the nation,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “Many are assigned to projects far from where they grew up. They gain valuable experience through their service to communities in need. Here in Sacramento, many nonprofit organizations rely on these dedicated individuals.”

The AmeriCorps VISTA program in the Sacramento region, as well as the service of this region’s members, is valued at $419,000. Members are serving locally at Communities and Health Professionals Together/UC Davis Pediatrics, Health Education Council, Lutheran Social Services, Opening Doors, PRO Youth and Families, Sacramento Loaves and Fishes, Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness, Sacramento Self Help Housing, United Way California Capital Region, Wellspring Women’s Center, WIND Youth Services, Women’s Empowerment and Woodland United Way.

During Aguinaldo’s two service terms, she served in a rural county in Northern California and in the greater Los Angeles area.

“My service years were defined by moments of persistence through situations that were beyond my comfort zone,” Aguinaldo said. “I learned how to work with people who did not always share my perspective, and I witnessed the harrowing and extensive realities of child poverty. For each difficulty I faced, I found that it was the community I served that ultimately uplifted me with its generous tenacity.”

“It’s more important than ever to make sure people know how incredibly valuable AmeriCorps VISTA members are to our community and the work of nonprofits in our region. Their service is vital to our community’s health,” Bray said.

VISTA was founded in 1965 as a national service program to fight poverty in America. In 1993, VISTA was incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs under the umbrella of the Corporation for National and Community Service. AmeriCorps VISTA taps the skills, talents and passion of more than 8,000 Americans annually to support community efforts to overcome poverty. Members make a year-long, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project at a nonprofit or public agency. They focus their efforts to build the organizational, administrative and financial capacity of organizations that fight illiteracy, improve health services, foster economic development and otherwise assist low-income communities.

United Way California Capital Region is leading the AmeriCorps VISTA program in the Sacramento region as part of its efforts to increase capacity at local nonprofits and schools for its Square One Project, United Way’s 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of local students who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones for success in college or career.

Now as Aguinaldo serves at United Way as the coordinator of the AmeriCorps VISTA program in the Sacramento region, she has the opportunity to encourage other members in their work.

“I don’t think the amount of service I do will ever equate to the meaning these communities brought into my life,” Aguinaldo said.

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Key Affordable Housing Measure Clears Second Hurdle in Senate

By Mike Roth, California Housing Consortium  |  2017-03-15

On March 15th, the approval of SB 2 (Atkins) by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee signified an important step to beginning to address California’s devastating housing shortage. The Senate Transportation and Housing committee approved the measure last month.

“SB 2 is an important measure to begin to right the ship in California after years of failing to invest in affordable homes. This measure will provide thousands of new affordable rental homes in California while protecting general funds and boosting our economy,” said California Housing Consortium Executive Director Ray Pearl. “We are experiencing a massive housing shortage in California and it is time for a commitment to policies that can affect real change. California’s families, children, seniors, veterans and vulnerable residents deserve nothing less than access to safe and affordable homes.”

California has seen a 69 percent overall decline in state and federal investment in production and preservation of affordable housing since the Great Recession in 2008. A new California Department of Housing and Community Development statewide housing assessment finds that California families are facing a harder time finding a place to live than at any point in our history and homeownership rates in California are at their lowest since the 1940s.

SB 2 (Atkins) would enable thousands of affordable rental homes to be built through a $75 fee on real estate transaction documents, capped at $225 per transaction. Sales of homes and commercial properties would be exempted.

CHC is also calling on lawmakers to approve AB 71 (Chiu), which would end a costly vacation home tax subsidy to provide affordable apartments and homes while protecting the mortgage interest deduction crucial for families to afford their first home. These common-sense measures do not dip into the General Fund and would generate additional federal, local and private investment.

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Lancers Baseball Too Much for Titans

By Mike Bush  |  2017-03-15

Lots of hits was the theme for the Cordova High School baseball team last week.

The Lancers banged out 16 hits, which led to a 24-2 win over Burbank on the Titans’ field in a non-league contest on March 10th. The game was called after five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.

Leading the way for Cordova (1-3) was Spencer Gudgel, who went 3-for-4 that included two doubles. Lancer players who had two hits in the game were Ryan Tipton, Trevor Ready, Zack Guererro and Jeremy Buck. Tipton also smacked a double, along with teammates Nick Ravareau, Colby McDonald and Jordan Meyers.

The Lancers’ Logan Appino, one of six seniors on this year’s Cordova squad, walked four times in the game. That led to stealing three bases. Guererro and Buck had two stolen bases each.

On the mound, Cordova used three pitchers against the Titans’ bats. Appino started the game for the Lancers, going two innings and allowed only one hit. Closing the game was Austin Smith. Burbank had only three hits.

The Lancers started Sierra Valley Conference action on Wednesday, hosting Rosemont. Today, Friday, Cordova plays at Union Mine to continue SVC action.

Tomorrow, Saturday, Cordova plays another non-league game at Sheldon of Sacramento. That game is scheduled to start at 10 a.m.

Next Monday, the Lancers return to SVC action at El Dorado. On Tuesday, Cordova host Florin in non-league game, and play at Galt in SVC game next Wednesday. All games start at 4 p.m.

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