To Reach Our Goal

By Jan Float  |  2018-01-10

Now it is time for Gold River to reunite resident teammates and welcome first-timers to the Stingrays Family. Photo courtesy Gold River Stingrays

Gold River, CA (MPG) - In this past season, the Gold River Stingrays dove into the water in early spring and climbed out onto dryland in late summer – as unprecedented League victors! In addition to their iconic “We Believe” cheer, it was the season for them to adopt a second credo: “Heart & Soul to Reach Our Goal.” And each of their believing and spirited swimmers obviously took it to heart. Gold River has the fewest number of athletes in its top-tiered Comstock Division. Competing against teams two to three times larger, in last season’s Championships Meet, the fun-loving and hard-working Stingrays captured First Place! Here’s the triumphant team gathered around its well-deserved Golden Goal.    

For those athletes who meet rigid time standards, their season’s crescendo is the Nor Cal Swim League Meet of Champs. Out of a field of 53 teams, with “Heart & Soul to Reach Our Goal,” Gold River nabbed Second Place! Every swimmer is credited with significant individual and team contributions. Incredibly, both Jason Feldkamp and Brady Calkins slammed first to the wall and broke League records in all of their races. It was a season for the record books, and for several successful Stingrays to then join teams competing in 50-meter vs. 25-yard pools.  

Now it is time for Gold River to reunite resident teammates and welcome first-timers to the Stingrays Family. Last season’s momentum is still flowing; this season’s excitement is growing. To accommodate both the returning swimmers and the new, early online registration has already opened. Go ahead and take a sneak peek at their Website: https://www.goldriverstingrays.org. [Note the action-packed swimming events and laid-back social events!] While the website is filled with important information, anyone with questions may contact Coach Jeff at 916.638.7001 x30 or coachjeff@goldriverstingrays.org.

With renewed “Heart & Soul to Reach Our Goal,” it is time now to plan ahead for the Stingrays’ inaugural function, a Parents’ Meet and Greet. Those of you interested in team participation are invited to come mix and mingle with the awesome coaching staff, knowledgeable board members and experienced parents, all of whom are eager to answer your inquiries and share their knowledge. Mark your calendars for February 8, 7:00 pm pm until 8:30 pm, at Fort Rock Brewing.

March Clinics are on the horizon, and then the Stingrays launch off the starting blocks into what should be quite the season. “We Believe” in Gold River!   

Free Tax Help Available Through United Way

By Kristin Thébaud  |  2018-01-16

Diana Clay of United Way California Capital Region helps a local family prepare taxes through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program led locally by United Way. Photo courtesy United Way

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - Local households throughout the Sacramento region that earned $54,000 or less in 2017 can receive free tax help in person through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) effort led by United Way California Capital Region with support from Citi Community Development. The program will kick off at the first Super Saturday event on Jan. 27 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Grant Union High School in Sacramento, where IRS-certified volunteers will provide free basic tax return preparation with electronic filing. For more Super Saturday events and weekday sites available during tax season, call (916) 498-1000 or visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org/FreeTaxPrep. Sacramento residents can call 2-1-1.

“We want to make sure more Sacramento-area households are financially healthy, and that starts with not spending unnecessary money on tax preparation and making sure they receive all of the refunds to which they are entitled,” said Stephanie Bray, United Way California Capital Region president and CEO.   

Through VITA, the national IRS program that offers free help to people who make a limited income and need help preparing their tax returns, local IRS-certified volunteers will help Sacramento-region households claim tax credits, including federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC and Cal EITC), Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. This year, more households are eligible to earn up to $6,500 in federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits, including those who are self-employed. Many Cal EITC-eligible households are not legally required to file taxes due to low income, however if they do file, they can claim the state and federal credits for which they are eligible. Those who file for EITC, Cal EITC or Child Tax Credit should plan for their refund to be delayed until Feb. 27. 

“We want to encourage people to plan ahead for this delay instead of using refund advance products that can end up being very costly in the long run,” Bray said. “And don’t pay a preparer if you qualify for free VITA services. You won’t receive your refund sooner.”

Local households that made $66,000 or less in 2017 can file state and federal taxes online for free at MyFreeTaxes.com, sponsored by United Way Worldwide. The site provides households with free tax help they can trust so they can maximize refunds and credits. As with VITA, the site helps people save an average of $200 in preparer fees, guiding users through federal and state filing with software powered by H&R Block. Users need a valid email address, income forms and Adjusted Gross Income from 2017.

Funding support from Citi Community Development will enable United Way California Capital Region to increase capacity and reach of the local VITA program to meet additional need and demand over the next two years. The funding will help expand the number of sites offering free tax preparation and increase the number of volunteer tax preparers. 

“Nearly 20 percent of households in the Sacramento region are living on low incomes, and nearly half lack the savings to sustain an unexpected shock to income,” said Vicki Joseph, Northern California market manager for Citi Community Development. “By expanding access to free tax preparation services, United Way is enabling more families in need to benefit from this vital tax credit and help build their financial resiliency.”

Other sponsors of United Way’s 2018 free tax preparation programs include U.S. Internal Revenue Service, SAFE Credit Union and SMUD. For a list of collaborating partners, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org/VITA

United Way California Capital Region is leading these free tax preparation programs as part of its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of local students who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. Household financial well-being is a key factor in student success. Through nine decades of work and research across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties, the local United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones for success in college or career. To donate or volunteer, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org

Citi Community Development leads Citi’s commitment to financial inclusion and economic empowerment for underserved individuals, families and communities across the U.S. Through innovative collaborations with municipalities, community groups and leading nonprofit organizations, the group harnesses Citi’s expertise, products and services to help expand opportunity for all. For more information: CitiCommunityDevelopment.com, @Citi on Twitter, YouTube.com/Citihttp://Blog.Citi.comFacebook.com/Citi and LinkedIn.com/company/citi.  

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State Point Media (MPG) - The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that California's adolescent birth rate continues to decline. In 2015, there were 17.6 births per 1,000 females aged 15-19: a 10 percent decline from the 2014 rate of 19.6 and a 62 percent decline from the 2000 rate of 46.7.

"By empowering young people with the knowledge, tools and resources to make healthy choices, California is succeeding in reducing births among adolescents," said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith.

The adolescent birth rate decreased across all racial and ethnic groups between 2000 and 2015. During this time, the adolescent birth rate dropped among Hispanics from 77.3 to 27.0, among African-Americans from 59.1 to 19.7, among Whites from 22.3 to 6.9, and among Asians from 15.0 to 2.9.

Despite declining birth rates, racial disparities persist in adolescent childbearing in California. African-American and Hispanic adolescents were three to four times as likely to give birth as White females. Additionally, the adolescent birth rate varies considerably across counties, from a low of 6.7 in Marin County to a high of 43.1 in Del Norte County.

California has a number of programs aimed at preventing adolescent pregnancy and improving pregnancy outcomes among young women. CDPH funds the Information and Education Program, the Personal Responsibility Education Program authorized through the Affordable Care Act of 2010, and the Adolescent Family Life Program for expectant and parenting adolescents. Also, the state provides no-cost family planning services to eligible men and women, including adolescents, through the Family PACT Program.

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As travel demand decreases after a busy holiday travel season, prices at the pump should decrease as well

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - Californians will kick off 2018 with the most expensive gas to begin a year since 2014, according to AAA, but prices are expected to fall in coming weeks as travel demand subsides after a busy holiday travel season.

At $3.10, California’s average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline today is 33 cents more than drivers paid in January, 2017. At nearly $3.23 per gallon, San Francisco residents are paying the highest prices for gas in Northern California -- 3 cents more than motorists in South Lake Tahoe, which normally tops the charts for the region.

“Last year was a historic travel season, with AAA forecasting record travel numbers for nearly every holiday, but prices historically will drop after the ball drops on New Year’s Eve,” said Michael Blasky, a spokesman for AAA Northern California. “Californians today are paying about 60 cents more than the national average, which AAA attributes to the state’s strong economy, higher taxes on gasoline and stricter environmental regulations."

The last time Californians started a year paying more than $3 for gas was in 2014, when the average price in January of that year was $3.62. Gas prices rose above $4 that summer.

Still, January prices don't always indicate how prices will move throughout a year. Motorists in California paid just $2.55 for regular unleaded gas to begin 2015, but by May were paying above $3.70 per gallon.

Oil prices were more stable in 2017, with prices for a barrel hovering around $50 much of the year. Prices rose late in the year and began 2018 over $60 a barrel, a 2-year high. 

“With global oil producers trying to scale back their production, supply could drop while demand for energy remains high,” Blasky said. “If they’re successful in cutting back oil production, gasoline prices will likely rise as well to meet the demand.”

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CDPH Offers Free Radon Test Kits

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - January is National Radon Action Month and the cold winter months are the best time to test for this odorless and colorless gas. CDPH is offering free test kits to households in California throughout the month of January, or until supplies run out.

Radon, a naturally occurring gas, is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, according to the Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


“Testing for radon in your home is a simple process,” said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. “Taking steps for remediation, if needed, can be critical for indoor air quality, and improving the safety of your home.”

The kits are provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s State Indoor Radon Grant fund, and are limited to one free test kit per household. The aggregated information from the test results will be used to update statewide Radon Potential Maps, which show the likelihood of radon in a specific region.

Test kits can be ordered through the CDPH Indoor Radon Program webpage or by calling the program toll-free at 1-800-745-7236. Options for remediation of radon in the home are available at the CDPH Indoor Radon Program.

Additional information about National Radon Action Month is available on the EPA National Radon Action Month website at www.epa.gov/radon/national-radon-action-month-information

Source: www.cdph.ca.gov

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Recent Employment Trends Show Real Concerns

Pacific Staffing Reports    |  2018-01-10

A shortage in the Sacramento region of qualified applicants has grown to include entry level/general labor applicants, construction trades, equipment operators and licensed route and delivery drivers. File photo.

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - The ongoing active Sacramento hiring marketplace raises employer concerns in the first quarter of the New Year. In speaking directly with top employers Pacific Staffing discovered hiring, retention and payroll pressure among 2018 employment market concerns.  Pressure from increasing competition with higher wage firms based in the Bay Area also causing pay issues in Sacramento.

In telephone contacts between November 23 and December 15th , sixty-five percent (65%) of regional companies report they plan to hire in the first three months of 2018. That projected hiring is lower than the previous quarter, as thirty-five percent (35%) of employers say no hiring is anticipated in January, February and March.

With a robust demand for workers, Pacific Staffing also learned that some regional companies are paying signing bonuses for scarce skillsets and retention of current skilled workers to maintain workforce needs. While eight percent (8%) of hiring in the first quarter is attributed to seasonal needs, not a single company is reporting any layoffs in the new calendar’s first three months. Overall demand is evenly split with 43% of employers attributing hiring to replacements, and for expansion.                       

A shortage in the Sacramento region of qualified applicants has grown to include entry level/general labor applicants, construction trades, equipment operators and licensed route and delivery drivers.  Companies also report strong demands for bookkeeping, accounting/finance, customer service and sales.

Having surveyed Sacramento regional employers since 1992 each new year brings new challenges. In 2017 those changes included Basic work ethics- less loyalty to employers and dedication to doing a job, as noted in our previous trends report.  In between August 23 and September 20, regional employers also were asked if people and their expectations of work were making it difficult to manage. This question generated the largest single positive response as seventy-seven percent (77%) said Yes, noting people were ‘unrealistic’, ‘underqualified’, and younger workers less driven to work. This change in ‘work ethic’ as ‘generational’ attitude with an ‘entitlement’ outlook is causing attendance, productivity and retention issues.

More cultural change came to the front as a surprising number of Sacramento HR contacts noted more parental interference in hiring and workplace settings as reported in our previous report for quarter three of 2017. Pacific Staffing learned one quarter, or twenty-five percent (25%) of all companies reported having had this experience recently when asked about it directly. This (parental interference) is an unwelcome new trend and seems to be growing in the workplace, with employers suggesting it was embarrassing ‘meddling’ for both parent and adult children.

For more information, employment blogs and market surveys go to www.pacificstaffing.com.

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SMUD Crews and Equipment Head to Puerto Rico

SMUD Special Report  |  2018-01-10

SMUD personnel load heavy duty line trucks, tools and equipment onto trailers for shipment to Puerto Rico. SMUD line crews along with other public power utilities will assist with power restoration efforts in Puerto Rico to restore power that has remained out since Hurricane Maria hit the island territory on September 20. Photo courtesy SMUD

Sacramento’s electric company committing lineworkers, trucks and equipment to help get the lights back on

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - SMUD shipped 15 utility trucks to Lake Charles, Louisiana recently where they will be loaded onto a barge for the voyage to Ponce, Puerto Rico, which is expected to take about 10 days.

SMUD, along with the American Public Power Association, is working with other public power utilities to send crews to restore power in Puerto Rico as the island U.S. territory continues to rebuild after Hurricane Maria hit last September. SMUD is a not-for-profit public power electric utility and a member of the APPA.

The trucks will be off-loaded at Ponce’s port and then more than a dozen SMUD lineworkers will fly to Puerto Rico, gather their trucks and tools, and head into the island interior to begin restoration work.

While most of the power outages in the island’s largest city, San Juan, have been restored, SMUD, along with Richmond (Indiana) Power and Light, Norwich (Connecticut) Public Utility and Commonwealth Utilities of the Northern Mariana Islands will be doing power restoration work in the territory’s suburban and rural areas. SMUD and the other utilities’ work is expected to take two months or more. SMUD will rotate its crews after about 30 days and replace them with fresh personnel.

SMUD’s involvement is part of the utility industry’s ongoing response as several electric companies have signed onto a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to work with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), the electricity provider on the island, as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in ongoing efforts to restore power to the people of Puerto Rico. The MOU was developed by the APPA, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). It serves as a plan that allows electric companies on the mainland (that are members of APPA, EEI, or NRECA) to enter into emergency agreements to provide resources and workers to PREPA on a not-for-profit basis.

SMUD is community-owned and has a long history of providing utilities outside its Sacramento County service territory with mutual-aid assistance. SMUD’s labor, materials and other costs for the effort, which are expected to be about $5 million, will be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, so SMUD customers won’t be impacted financially. SMUD will also have plenty of crews and equipment to respond to any power outage issues locally.

Source: SMUD media

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Proposes returning $7.5 billion budget surplus directly to taxpayers

Sacramento, CA (MPG) - Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado) today announced legislation that will give the $7.5 billion budget surplus back to hard-working California families and businesses in the form of a refund check.

“While California taxpayers continue struggling to make ends meet, the Legislative Analyst’s Office reported that the state is sitting on a budget surplus of an additional, unexpected $7.5 billion,” said Senator Gaines. “The reason there is a surplus is because Legislative Democrats have continued to overtax Californians and it’s time to send that money right back to taxpayer pocketbooks.”

The legislation will take the state’s $7.5 billion surplus and return it to the taxpayers. Every Californian who filed taxes for 2016 will get their share of that surplus back in a refund check from the government that could amount to hundred dollars per taxpayer.

“I know the legislature will be tempted to continue the tax-and-spend cycle by sinking every extra dollar into expanding an ever-growing list of government services and projects, like granting more rights to undocumented immigrants and funding the boondoggle that is High-Speed Rail.

“But we cannot continue to price families and small businesses out of the state, sending them to neighboring states where the tax burden is much lower. We can’t keep fixed-income seniors teetering on the edge of poverty. That’s why I’m carrying a bill to get every single tax filer a refund of the money they overpaid to the government. It’s their money and it’s our obligation to return it.”

Senator Ted Gaines represents the 1st Senate District, which includes all or parts of Alpine, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Shasta, Sierra and Siskiyou counties.

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Sutter’s Fort Presents “Hands on History: Catch Gold Fever” 

By Traci Rockefeller Cusack   |  2018-01-10

As an event highlight, Fort visitors are invited to spend the day enjoying hands-on activities such as gold panning. Photo courtesy Sutter

Sacramento, CA (MPG) - California State Parks, Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park (SHP) and Friends of Sutter’s Fort are proud to present an interactive and fun “Hands on History: Catch Gold Fever” event on Saturday, January 20, 2018, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  

Fort visitors will have the unique opportunity to step back in time and explore an era that changed California forever. The gold discovery at Coloma echoed around the world and triggered the largest migration in United States history. Thousands of immigrants gambled and came to early California to try to strike it rich. They left family behind, spent life savings, and borrowed money all in the pursuit of gold. Many miners bought one-way passage on ships bound for California, and abandoned ships clogged the port in San Francisco as miners and sailors took off for the hills. Miners stopped at Sutter’s Fort before they headed for the hills in their quest for gold, and the Fort was often the first place to which they returned for supplies and entertainment. Sadly, the dream of riches was not often the reality and many left the hills with only disappointment in their pockets.

As an event highlight, Fort visitors are invited to spend the day enjoying hands-on activities such as gold panning, parlor and card games (and other games of chance) and “Pioneer dress-up Station” activities where families dress as pioneers (perfect for picture-taking). In addition, there will be a display of guns and weapons from the Gold Rush era and demonstrations of black powder weaponry in action including the crowd-favorite firing of Sutter’s cannon. 

In addition, Friends of Sutter's Fort will be sampling out popular gold rush nugget chocolates and featuring gold rush-related items for sale in the on-site Store so visitors can bring a bit of gold rush history home with them.

All “Hands on History” activities are included in the cost of admission. Sutter’s Fort SHP admission costs are as follows: $7 per adult (18 and older), $5 per youth (ages 6 to 17) and free for children 5 and under. For more information, call 916-445-4422 or visit www.suttersfort.org

The Friends of Sutter’s Fort is a nonprofit 501 c 3 organization dedicated to the enhancement, preservation and protection of Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park, and educational and interpretive programs at the park. Friends of Sutter’s Fort is a Cooperating Association for California State Parks since 2006. Friends of Sutter’s Fort is the major funder of both restoration work and programs at Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park. Through the generosity of our donors, in the past 3 years alone, we have funded several major projects including the painting of the exterior walls, the restoration of the blacksmith shop and the painting of the interior walls (currently underway). In addition, we are proud to provide funding to support the educational programs at the park.  For more information, please visit www.suttersfort.org

 Source: T-Rock Communications

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Curling in Sacramento?

By Katie Feldman  |  2018-01-03

Wine Country Curling Club is dedicated to promoting the sport of curling in Northern California. Photos courtesy Wine County Curling Club.

Yes, and The Winter Olympics are almost here!

Sacramento, CA (MPG) - The Winter Olympics are almost here and with that comes the crazy, quirky sport of CURLING. Curling is an ice sport that requires players to slide 42-pound stones over an ice sheet to a target at the other end, known as the house. Considered to be one of the most captivating sports, curling is popularly known as chess on ice and a hybrid of bowling and shuffleboard. Americans flocked to the sport with intrigue and fascination when the Winter Olympics were televised from Torino in 2006, Vancouver in 2010, and Sochi in 2014. The same will be true come February 8th when the Winter Olympics begin in South Korea.
 
Did you know that CURLING is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States?
Did you know that CURLING is one of the few sports that all ages and all abilities can do?
Did you know that CURLING is the only sport that will be shown DAILY during the upcoming Winter Olympics in February?
 
Wine Country Curling Club is dedicated to promoting the sport of curling in Northern California. They curl out of Skatetown Ice in Roseville and offer leagues, learn-to-curl programs, corporate events, tournaments, and adaptive curling (wheelchair curling, blind curling, deaf curling, stick curling, and Special Olympics curling). WCCC curls on Sunday mornings but also offers the occasional Saturday night event and they are one of 4 clubs in California. WCCC is a volunteer-run, 501(c)3 non-profit organization and is a member of USA Curling and the Mountain Pacific Curling Association (MoPac). They hold two tournaments each year which brings over 40 teams (including past Olympians) to the area to compete in a 3-day event.
 
“From hosting watch parties at local bars to holding as many learn-to-curl sessions that we can schedule through Skatetown Ice, we are doing everything in our power to let the Northern California community know that we are here,” said Wine Country Curling Club President Katie Feldman. WCCC has taught approximately 150 people to curl in just this year alone and they anticipate that number to double during the first half of 2018.
 
Wine Country Curling Club is available for live spots (or taped roll) which would be perfect for background video as the newscasters discuss the Winter Olympics results. They are also interested in offering curling demonstrations either on location (at Skatetown Ice or the Downtown Outdoor Ice Rink) as well as in-studio. WCCC can teach TV/radio/print personalities how to curl in less than 20 minutes, so that when they inevitably talk about it in February, they will know the basics of the sport.
 
For more information contact: Katie Feldman, (916) 849-9731 katie@winecountrycurlingclub.com
Check out winecountrycurlingclub.com

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