Nearly 90 percent of older drivers do not make inexpensive adaptations to their vehicles that can improve safety and extend their time behind the wheel, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Common vehicle adaptations like pedal extensions, seat cushions and steering wheel covers can help to improve safety by reducing a senior driver’s crash risk. Seniors aged 65 and over are more than twice as likely as younger drivers to be killed when involved in a crash.

“While many seniors are safe drivers, they are also the most vulnerable,” said Michael Blasky, spokesman for AAA Northern California. “We urge seniors to consider making the necessary adaptations to their vehicles in order to reduce crash risk and extend the time they can continue to drive. Simple, inexpensive features can greatly improve their safety and the safety of those they share the road with.”

The research brief, In-Vehicle Technologies, Vehicle Adaptations, and Older Drivers: Use, Learning, and Perceptions is the first phase in the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s groundbreaking Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers (LongROAD) project.

For this phase of the study, researchers investigated 12 vehicle adaptations and found that fewer than nine percent of senior drivers reported using any of the devices in their vehicles. Some of the inexpensive devices that can be purchased and put to use in new or existing vehicles are: Cushions and seat pads can improve line of sight and can help alleviate back or hip pain; Convex/ multifaceted mirrors can improve visibility and minimizes blind spots; Pedal extension can help drivers obtain a safe distance from the steering wheel/airbag and optimize visibility; Steering wheel covers can improve grip for drivers with arthritic hand joints; Hand controls can help the driver to perform all vehicle maneuvers and functions without the use of lower extremities.

Choosing the right features and working with a trained technician is imperative to safety behind the wheel. Of those drivers who have a device, almost 90 percent reported that they did not work with a trained professional to install the modification, a key recommendation by both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). AAA urges drivers to consult with a trained technician to guide them in making adjustments to their vehicle.

Vehicle adaptions also benefit seniors’ mental health by extending their time on the road. Previous research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that seniors who have stopped driving are almost two times more likely to suffer from depression and nearly five times more likely to enter a long-term care facility than those who remain behind the wheel.

“Knowledge is power when it comes to extending time behind the wheel, and AAA is committed to providing seniors with the information they need to make sound decisions,” Blasky said.

AAA is promoting the report in partnership with the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) to support Older Driver Safety Awareness Week. AAA and AOTA worked in collaboration with the American Society on Aging and AARP to develop CarFit to help senior drivers better utilize the features and technologies in their vehicles. AAA also offers the Smart Features for Older Drivers tool, which can help senior drivers identify in-expensive devices and vehicle features that optimize their comfort and safety.

About LongROAD: Recognizing that lifestyle changes, along with innovative technologies and medical advancements will have a significant impact on the driving experiences of the baby boomer generation, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has launched a ground-breaking, multi-year research program to more fully understand the driving patterns and trends of older drivers in the United States. The LongROAD (Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers) study is the largest and most comprehensive senior driver database on senior drivers incorporating 2,990 participants. It will support in-depth studies of senior driving and mobility to better understand risks and develop effective countermeasures.

Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.

AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers since it was founded more than 100 years ago. Visit AAA.com.

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Cordova Basketball Off to Fast Start

By Mike Bush  |  2017-12-06

Cordova point guard shoots over a Vista del Lago player in the Lancers

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) – Six games in six days.

That is how the Cordova High School boys basketball team started its season last week that has led to a 3-2 start.

“Not a bad start,” said Cordova head coach Fletcher Johnson.

All part of the Lancers’ pre-season schedule in preparing for Sierra Valley Conference that begins next month.

This is also Cordova’s final season in the SVC, as it will be one of six schools that are part of the new Greater Sacramento League, which was created through the Sac-Joaquin Section’s league realignment earlier this year. The new league goes into place next summer for the 2018-22 cycle.

Last winter, Cordova posted an 8-2 record that included a second place finish. Cordova finished with an overall record of 15-12 that included a Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff berth.

Six Lancers, all seniors, returning this season for Johnson are wing players Tyreke Tate and Caleb Clark, both of whom stand at 6-foot and 5’11 respectively. Joining them is point guard Joe Danielyan, wing player DeAndre Ward, one of the tallest players on the team at 6’3 and guard Dylan Sweis.

Joining the team but not ready to play is point guard Calvin Augusta. A wide receiver and defensive back on the Cordova football team that won a share of the SVC title with El Dorado and a playoff berth last month, Augusta is still recovering from a bone broken near his knee suffered in a non-league game three months ago. Johnson is hoping to have Augusta on the floor after the Christmas break.

The rest of the Lancers’ 11-player roster are five juniors; wings Kijon Allen and Sam Danielyan, guards Gabreen Acuna and Raymond Fite and point guard Johnele Sanders, both of whom started at quarterback and running back on the Cordova football team that won the SVC title and playoff berth.

The Lancers are looking to continue to have a strong start. That is important for Cordova, which lost most of its starters to graduation last spring.

“Some of these guys didn’t play last year,” Johnson said.

In a “short amount of time” Johnson said, the Lancers will have four games in the McDonald’s Classic that is being played at Weston Ranch and Edison, both in Stockton this week. On Tuesday, Cordova played at Rocklin. By the time pre-season is done, Cordova is scheduled to have played 17 pre-season games.

“We’re playing a lot of games in consecutive days,” Johnson said. “That will get us in shape and prepare us for league.”

Liberty Ranch, which returns the bulk of its starters from last year’s championship squad, is expected to be the team to be beat, Johnson said. Rosemont and El Dorado should also be tough, along with Union Mine and Galt.

On Dec. 2nd, Cordova beat Foothill 73-57 for seventh place at the Jack Scott Tournament at Rio Americano High. The day prior, El Camino slipped past the Lancers 70-56, and on Nov. 30th on the first day of the tournament, Del Campo posted an 84-50 victory. Cordova picked up its first win of the season on Nov. 28th against Wood of Vacaville with a 59-52 victory. On Nov. 29th at Mira Loma, the Lancers came away with a 71-52 win.

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Lancers Land Plenty on All-SVC Teams

By Mike Bush  |  2017-12-06

Cordova wide receiver Alvin Banks (16) finds room to run after a reception, with blocking from teammate Anthony Diaz in the Lancers

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) – One of the benefits of winning a conference title is one of the players is most likely going to be named MVP.

That is the case for Alvin Banks.

The junior wide receiver and defensive back for the Cordova High School football team was one of 14 Lancers named to the all-Sierra Valley Conference’s first and second teams. Cordova finished its season winning a share of the SVC title with El Dorado, as both went 4-1 in conference and 7-4 overall. The Lancers also earned their second consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff berth.

Banks, who also started as a sophomore last year, had 61 receptions for 1,270 yards, averaging 20.8 yards per reception, and 14 touchdowns. Banks also rushed 30 times for 307 yards and two touchdowns.

Cordova head coach Darren Nill made his case to the rest of the SVC head coaches at their all-SVC meeting last month.

“My point, when I nominated him to the coaching staff was I think he should be the MVP of the league because three of the (Lancers’ five opponents) changed their defenses to play them,” Nill said. “He, absolutely, changes the way people defend your offense. He’s such a talent that you almost have to absolute double-teamed him.”

From his defensive back spot, Banks had 27 tackles that included 19 solo. He also had eight interceptions.

Lancer quarterback Johnele Sanders was named the SVC’s co-MVP on offense with El Dorado’s Danny Bell. A junior, Sanders completed 131 of 206 passes for 2,192 yards and 26 touchdowns. He was also the Lancers’ leading rusher with 1,024 yards on 132 carries and 11 touchdowns, making it 37 total touchdowns.

Another offensive threat for the Lancers named to the all-SVC first team was junior running back Raymond Fite, who had 57 carries for 457 yards and three touchdowns. He also had 10 receptions for 173 yards and two touchdowns.

Banks, along with Sanders and Fite, were part of the all-SVC first team. Joining them were senior running back/defensive end Clifford Bright, who had 44 tackles; senior tight end/outside linebacker Yusef Pugh, who led the Lancers in tackles with 117; junior offensive lineman/inside linebacker Andrew Turner; offensive tackle/defensive end Josh Colvin, who had 42 tackles; junior running back/linebacker Elijah Jenkins and tight end/outside linebacker Ryan McMoore, who had 91 tackles.

Cordova players named to the all-SVC second team were junior offensive/defensive lineman Austin McCoy, junior wide receiver Jeremiah Bankett, junior running back/linebacker Chase Allen and sophomore running back/linebacker/defensive back Jaylen Jones.

For a second consecutive year, Nill was named the SVC’s Coach of the Year. In his three seasons as the Cordova football head coach, Nill has guided the Lancers to back-to-back SVC titles, as well as back-to-back playoff berths. His combined record in the last three seasons is 19-13, which includes 7-4 records this and last season.

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Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - Two of the three leading credit agencies have raised their assessment of SMUD’s credit worthiness. Fitch and S&P upgraded SMUD’s credit ratings to AA, from AA-. Meanwhile, SMUD’s credit worthiness continues to be rated Aa3 by Moody’s. This is the strongest SMUD’s credit ratings have been in 33 years.

The agencies cited improved finances, sound operating fundamentals, competitive rates and a diverse energy portfolio among the many reasons they raised their assessment of SMUD’s credit worthiness.

Exceeding financial goals helps SMUD maintain solid credit ratings and provides for lower interest rates when SMUD borrows. The upgrades are expected to save three basis points (0.03%) on SMUD’s upcoming bond transaction, which is worth $350,000 net value over the term of the debt.  Additionally, SMUD will continue to pay lower interest rates every time the electric utility issues debt in the future.

According to Fitch: “The rating upgrade reflects the district's strong and sustainable financial performance, moderate leverage with manageable capital needs, and management's proactive plans to comply with environmental mandates and adapt to a rapidly evolving industry.”

S&P noted: “We have assigned SMUD a business profile score of '3' on a 10-point scale, with '1' being the highest, reflecting our view of SMUD's competitive electric rates, diverse and coal-free resource portfolio, strong financial management, and stable and diverse service territory.”

As the nation’s sixth-largest community-owned electric service provider, SMUD has been providing low-cost, reliable electricity for 70 years to Sacramento County (and small adjoining portions of Placer and Yolo Counties). SMUD is a recognized industry leader and award winner for its innovative energy efficiency programs, renewable power technologies, and for its sustainable solutions for a healthier environment. SMUD’s power mix is about 50 percent non-carbon emitting. For more information, visitsmud.org.

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The Greatest Story Ever Told

By Margaret Snider  |  2017-12-01

“There is something special about having the opportunity to be part of the greatest story ever told,” King said.  All photos by Mark Spicer

The Live Nativity - Everything Leads to the Stable

Rancho Cordova, CA (MPG) - The Live Nativity is much more than a creche with real people in it.  With a cast of 70 each night, the outdoor presentation takes visitors through the story of the Nativity, past shepherds watching their flocks and the three kings searching for the child, into the city of Bethlehem.  Choirs of angels sing, and recorded narration accompanies the action.  “All aspects of this event, from the traffic flow, to the movement of the cast, have been designed with one purpose in mind:  everything leads to the stable,” said Kristen King, creative director for the event. 

Production assistant Ashley Wagstaff said that her favorite part is knowing that they have live babies in the Nativity. Wagstaff and the “baby liaison” recruit six babies who will be between the ages of 6 and 10 weeks at the time of the performances.  Each night three of the babies are present with their moms, waiting to be chosen for the entrance as the baby Jesus, one for each of the five performances.  “Whichever baby is happy, and set, and sleeping, that’s who goes on next,” Wagstaff said.  “What I love is when they finally realize that it’s a real baby, you hear little kids say, ‘Baby Jesus is real!’” 

Brent Horrocks and 12-year-old son Craig are shepherds in the cast this year.  Each Christmas he and his family read the Bible story and re-enact the Nativity at home just for themselves, with homemade costumes.  “We know the story, but seeing it in a large scale production like this with professional costumes and lighting and cast,” Horrocks said, “it really brings home to you what a wonderful event it was.” 

The Folsom California Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will present five performances each night for four nights, starting every half hour from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., December 7-10.  Reservations are recommended, but not required.  The location is 2100 California Circle, Rancho Cordova, which is across Folsom Boulevard from the Folsom Auto Mall.  Turn onto Birkmont Drive and follow signs to the parking for the Live Nativity. 

“There is something special about having the opportunity to be part of the greatest story ever told,” King said.  “. . . Sometimes the commercialism of the holiday overruns Christmas itself.  This event, in its beautiful setting, provides those much-needed moments to reflect on what is most important – the birth of Jesus Christ.

An average of 6,500 visitors attended the event each year in the two years since it began.  Admission is free. 

For more information and to make reservations, go to www.LiveNativity.org.  Plenty of parking is available and the Live Nativity is wheelchair accessible.

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Reading Can Be "Ruff"

Photos and Story by Margaret Snider  |  2017-12-01

Maddy said reading is fun, and she likes dogs, “Because they’re playful.”

Kids Read to a Dog at Monthly Library Program

Rancho Cordova, CA (MPG) – Learning to read for most kids can be really fun. For other kids it can sometimes be a little “ruff”.

On the second Tuesday of every month between 3:30 and 4:30, kids come to the Rancho Cordova Library at 9845 Folsom Blvd., to Read to a Dog.  “This is our first time we have come here to read to the dogs,” said Maddy, 5.  Maddy came to the library with her brother Daniel, 7, her mother, Rachel Aucutt, and her grandma Judy Ingram.  Maddy said reading is fun, and she likes dogs, “Because they’re playful.”

Children of mostly elementary school age (all ages of children are invited) sit around the library meeting room on colorful carpets reading to one dog at a time, while the dog’s owner sits close by.  The dogs may lie in a relaxed sprawl or sit up watching the reader attentively.

Katie Dekorte, 26, is a youth services librarian and has monitored the Read to a Dog program here since she came to the Rancho Cordova Library last March.  Dekorte, who is a Master of Library Science, was a teen volunteer with a similar program at the Carmichael Library when she was in high school.  In all, she has worked with the Sacramento Public Library System for around nine years.  “It’s something different every day, which is what I really like,” Dekorte said.

The dogs and their humans are members of “Lend a Heart,” a Sacramento-based organization that has provided animal-assisted therapy for 30 years in Sacramento and surrounding counties.  To qualify for the program, said Will Clenney, who participates in the programs with his Plott Hound Sophie, a dog goes through normal obedience training.  Then under a team leader, the dogs and owners have six trial evaluations, paperwork is completed, and if the evaluation is good the dog and owner receive a certificate that they have passed the evaluation process.

Dogs often participate in other types of programs such as visiting hospitals or nursing homes.  They may also go to the airport to calm nervous passengers.  “We have a lot of people whose planes are delayed, the kids are running wild,” said Sue Berli, who was with her dog Diesel at the library Read to a Dog program.  “It’s called Boarding Area Relaxation Corps or BARC for short.”

Kids had more than half a dozen dogs to read to at the November Read to a Dog program in Rancho Cordova.  “(The kids) think it’s fun,” Clenney said. “They’re going to read and then they have a dog there to read to, so that’s kind of a bonus for them.”  The dogs are well behaved and more calm than the dogs most children are familiar with.  That makes it easy for the kids to relate to them.

“So far the kids have loved it,” said Ingram.  “I think Dan’s on his fifth dog now.”

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Leaving a Heart Print

Photos and Story by Margaret Snider  |  2017-12-01

Front, from left, Melody Granger-Mayer, Shelly Blanchard, new FCUSD Superintendent Sarah Koligian, Diann Rogers, Chris Clark, Cyrus Abhar, Angela Griffin Ankhelyi, Angelica Miklos.  Back, Daniel Thigpen, Sarah Aquino, JoAnne Reinking, Linda Burkholder, Matt Washburn, and Curtis Wilson. “It’s difficult work we do, so we have to really count on one another,” Koligian said about her FCUSD team.

FCUSD Superintendent Calls for Teamwork to Help Youth Achieve Their Dreams

Rancho Cordova, CA (MPG)There are many ways to be a leader and a great influence to youth today. Sometimes it is done by “leaving a heart print.”

Dr. Sarah Koligian at the Rancho Cordova November Luncheon called for all those involved in teaching and influencing our kids to “Leave our heart print.”  The new Folsom Cordova Unified School District superintendent referred to the term from a book titled Heart by Timothy Kanold.  It’s all about relationships.  “When the day is done and our students graduate from our schools, what do you think they’re going to remember?” Koligian said.  “It’s the . . . memories that they make when they’re in our schools, those wonderful events that take place, and those teachers and custodians and food service workers, and instructional aides and administrators – all those people that left their heart print, or their legacy.”

Koligian started with FCUSD on July 1.  Previously she was superintendent for Tulare Joint Union High School District and before that for Golden Valley Unified School District in Madera County.  Her years of experience include instructional leadership positions after beginning as a resource teacher at Madison Elementary School in Fresno.

“She has every aspect of school leadership you could imagine and has a wonderful sense of direction for our District,” said Curtis Wilson, assistant superintendent of elementary instruction.  That direction, he said, is “Excellence in learning for all students.”

Koligian has visited all 32 school sites in the District and is now starting on her second round.  She said what she learned was all about the glows and the grows.  “The glows are those things that the schools are most proud of, the successes that they’ve been working so hard to achieve,” Koligian said.  This includes Cordova Villa Elementary teacher Mary Hawkins receiving ABC10 teacher of the year, and Walnutwood High School teacher Jessica Cisneros-Elliott being chosen as 2017 teacher of the year.  There are many stories of individual students excelling; students from Peter J. Shields Elementary are learning how to code.

The grows are the challenges the District is facing, such as support for the new refugee population in Rancho Cordova.  In tune with her heart print theme, Koligian said, “We want to remove the barriers that some families feel about not feeling that welcoming embrace into our schools.  It’s really forming the trust and relationship with our families, feeling comfortable enough to be there and to be fully engaged with their child’s education.” 

What she has learned from her students and from raising her own four children, Koligian said, is that not every child learns at the same rate, in the same way, at the same pace or in the same setting.  “It also formed my philosophy, that we have to offer opportunities for our students to succeed and it may not always be the traditional classroom setting.”   

The District must also continue to challenge the students that are ready for the next step.  “What we’re aiming for is educators and family leaders jointly planning interactive training for family members on how to support college and career readiness. And it starts really at the time that our children enter school as kindergartners.”

JoAnne Reinking, FCUSD Board vice president is pleased with Koligian’s emphasis on a safe, positive, school climate.  “It’s all about the kids,” Reinking said.  “And that message is resonating throughout the District.”

Koligian’s call to action is, “Look at the ways that you can be involved.  It really does take all of us to help our youth reach their dreams, we can’t do it by ourselves.”

Speaking of the Folsom/Rancho Cordova area, Koligian said it has far exceeded her expectations.  Koligian and her husband had passed through the Highway 50 corridor many times on their way to Lake Tahoe, without realizing what was on either side of Highway 50.  They have not found it difficult to adjust to the move.  “It’s been a hidden gem, and it’s just been like opening a gift as I explore and find out about Rancho Cordova, about Folsom and all the wonderful opportunities and offers to the children, to our families, to the community.”

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