Soaring to New Heights

Story and pictures by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2017-11-03

Guided by teachers Becky Page and Tavia Pagan, Orangevale kindergarten pupils enjoy an American River nature walk. The children display pictures of the rare bald eaglets they named Peekaboo and Poppy. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner

American River Eaglets Named and Famed

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - What’s in a name? Monikers chosen by children for local bald eagle babies are on the lips of raptor fans all over the world.

In the space of 12 weeks, siblings “Peekaboo and Poppy” fed, flapped and eventually flew before the kindergarten children’s eyes. Thanks to photos and social media, thousands of followers -- some from as far away as the Arab States -- experienced the growth of eaglets deemed closest-hatched to Sacramento in recorded history.

For the record, Department of Fish and Game gurus documented the American River chicks as Eaglet One and Eaglet two. Anthropomorphism – the practice of bestowing human traits and names on wild animals – is discouraged by scientists. However, nobody told the Golden Valley River School children that. “Peek and Poppy” flew the nest in June but the huge bald babies will soar in the children’s memories forever. “We walk the American River trail every week,” explains teacher Tavia Pagan. “One day in fall (2016), an adult bald eagle flew right over the children. We all knew the national bird. It was extra special to see it right in front of us.”

Weeks later, the junior naturalists beheld a huge nest. “It was exciting,” recalls fellow teacher Becky Page. “We decided to keep an eye on things. All through winter, the children looked forward to visiting what we called ‘our eagles.’ One day in spring, we heard a new little sound from the nest. We realized it was a hungry baby.”

The snowy-crowned parents began supplying the nest with fish from the river. Eventually, bystanders saw a fluffy head rise to welcome deliveries. “One of the children named him ‘Peekaboo,’ explained teacher Pagan. “We all started calling him that.” When a second baby crested, the teachers asked their classes to volunteer another name. Poppy was the final choice; evoking flower-lined river trails and the magic of a wee head popping above the nest. Delighted by Facebook reports, raptor lovers world-wide soon adopted the names. By pure serendipity, the kindergartners also nailed eaglet genders. Peekaboo, they decided, was a boy and Poppy his little sister. Beak shape – a text-book sex identifier  – eventually proved truth had come from the mouths of babes.

Federal law protects bald eagles. As the chicks grew, the school party and other trail users were soon warned against lingering near the raptors’ nest tree. Cordons went up and Park Rangers cautioned visitors. “We were still able to do our walks,” explains teacher Page.  “The children were reverend. They used their whisper-voices near the nest. They knew to respect the eagle family’s space. We could see Peekaboo and Poppy when they began to flap their wings. Then we saw one of them on a branch. One day, we saw there was only one baby left.”

Alpha chick Peekaboo fledged first. A week later, his sister flew the coop. For weeks, their dutiful parents continued food deliveries in and near the nesting tree. In summer, the juveniles began hunting on their own. By fall, they had found territory downriver. “The children were concerned about where Peek and Poppy were,” says teacher Pagan. “We encouraged them to use their imagination.”

The teachers consider the five and six-year-olds’ eagle encounter has blessed them with extra wildlife appreciation. “We hope this experience helps them grow into people who protect nature,” says Tavia Pagan. “We protect what we love. And we only love what we experience.”

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E&E Legal Forced to Sue for Failure to Records Shared with Activists Involving Their Inappropriate Lobbying Practices

Sacramento, CA (MPG) - The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) has filed suit under California's Public Records Act (PRA) against the state's Attorney General Xavier Becerraa for withholding all but one email showing or mentioning its work with partisan and environmentalist activists to use law enforcement in going after opponents of the "climate" political agenda".  Under Kamala Harris, California's OAG had participated in the since-collapsed "Climate-RICO" cabal organized by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, but kept its involvement off-screen.  The new AG, Becerra, has since suggested that he has indeed been working with activists, correspondence to, from or discussing which E&E Legal sought in its PRA request.

Specifically, in July, E&E Legal requested records "concerning the Office of Attorney General’s work with private outside parties to pursue, as targets of investigation, perceived opponents of a political and policy agenda shared by the Attorney General and these outside parties."  The complaint specifies the public records sought, in the form of correspondence that was sent to, or received from, the Attorney General, or members of his Executive Office, and certain named parties or entities of interest because of their involvement in the AG Climate RICO scandal beginning roughly six-months prior to the request:
"[C]opies of any email correspondence dated between February 1, 2017 and the date you process this request, a) which correspondence was sent from or to (including also as cc: or bcc:) Attorney General Becerra at any address, or members of the Executive Unit of the Attorney General’s Office (including also as cc: or bcc:) and b) which correspondence is also to or from (including also as cc: or bcc:), or which uses or mentions, any of the following individuals, entities, or email domains:

  1. Richard Graves
  2. Matthew Palevsky
  3. Tom Matzzie
  4. Ethical Electric
  5. Brian Arbogast
  6. Lee Wasserman
  7. RL Miller
  8. Stephen Heintz
  9. Erin Suhr (an employee of Fahr LLC)
  10. Pawa (including but not limited to mentioning in, e.g.,
  11. Frumhoff (including but not limited to mentioning in, e.g.,
  12.  Any email address that includes

The OAG initially delayed its response, and then produced only a single document with little relevance to what E&E Legal sought.  OAG withheld all other potentially responsive records claiming the records were 'privileged.'  On the basis of E&E Legal's experience with other "Climate-RICO" AGs, as well as information and belief, E&E asserts this is likely baseless given the request encompasses documents shared with outside parties, and work with private, third-party political activists. No such privileges should apply to these records, unless AG Becerra will claim, as has NY's Schneiderman however implausibly, that he has 'deputized' partisan activists, donors and environmental pressure groups.

"As a California citizen and independent journalist, I have seen this act many times with the state government and their chosen third-party groups," said investigative journalist Katy Grimes, an E&E Legal Senior Media fellow and co-petitioner on the suit.  "We ask the Court to confirm that the blindfold on Lady Justice reflects how our laws are to be applied equally to all citizens and groups, and not a tool for lobbying by those that elected officials deem sufficiently politically-correct."

In addition to California, E&E Legal is embroiled in similar lawsuits in New York and Vermont, home of the two co-ringleaders of the AG Climate-RICO scheme.  The effort entailed a gathering of nearly twenty state-attorneys general, who were joined at their public announcement by climate "investor" Al Gore, vowing to use every legal tool at their disposal to shut down dissent on the 'climate change' issue and to seek a tobacco-style global settlement from ExxonMobil and other fossil-fuel companies.  E&E Legal's public record requests and subsequent litigation in Vermont and New York, and other states, exposed this scandal, leading to most of the attorneys general to flee from the climate crusade.

"Once again we find ourselves having to litigate a routine public records request with a state's attorney general," said E&E Legal President Craig Richardson.  "Apparently when these attorney generals are required to follow the same laws they are elected to enforce, they hide behind legal smokescreens and stonewalls."

The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) is a 501(c)(3) organization engaged in strategic litigation, policy research, and public education on important energy and environmental issues. Primarily through its petition litigation and transparency practice areas, E&E Legal seeks to correct onerous federal and state policies that hinder the economy, increase the cost of energy, eliminate jobs, and do little or nothing to improve the environment.

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Sacramento, CA (MPG) - The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today commemorated California Flood Preparedness Week by encouraging residents to prepare for flood season.

“Extreme weather and natural disasters are a way of life in California,” stated Jon Ericson, acting chief of the state’s Division of Flood Management. “Taking the right steps now can mean all the difference to you and your family if flooding occurs.”

More than 7 million California residents are at risk of flooding, and many don’t realize it. Flooding happens throughout the state, from rural communities to urban areas, at the base of hills and along the coast. In fact, every California County has received a flood-related emergency declaration in the past twenty years.

This year many communities are at an extra risk for flooding because of wildfire damage. Flooding after wildfire is often more severe, as debris and ash left from the fire can form mudflows. These mudflows can cause considerable damage that is not covered by homeowner’s insurance, however if the mudflows are related to flooding then NFIP flood insurance may cover the damage. Please check with your insurance provider for details.

Be Flood Ready by following these steps: Talk to your insurance agent about buying flood insurance, or contact the National Flood Insurance Program for information. 1-800-427-4661; Make an evacuation kit. Tips are available at: ; Make an evacuation plan. Familiar routes may not be accessible during a flood; Stay informed during heavy storms; Don’t walk or drive through flood waters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.

More information is available at:

DWR also cautions the public not to wait if they are told to evacuate, as first responders may not be able to reach residents later.

The state, through DWR’s Emergency Rehabilitation Program, is coordinating with local, state and federal agencies to support repair and rehabilitation work on project levees damaged during the 2017 storm season. The state has committed $80 million to repair 30 critical sites this year, prepare designs for 10 more future sites, and jointly prepare contingency plans for 100 additional sites in preparation for this year’s rainy season.

Source: DWR

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In the Spirit

Story and photos by Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-10-27

Shanda Pierce, Franchisor Spirit Stores and sponsor of the party, and William Banks, 5, a Chico resident undergoing treatment at UC Davis.

UC Davis, Shriners Hospitals Party Down With the Kids

Sacramento County, CA (MPG) - Children, few would argue, should never have to spend a single day in a hospital bed, hooked up to life-saving monitors and medications, undergoing treatments for things like cancer, head trauma from accidents and the myriad things that can go wrong.  But, sadly, many do.

To make things feel a little better, to normalize the experience to some degree for the children admitted as patients (and their families) at UC Davis Children’s Hospital and Shriners Hospitals for Children in Sacramento, staff and supporters delivered the “spirit” of Halloween, literally and figuratively, and threw them all a big fat party Oct. 18 and 19.

It’s an annual event, says Shanda Pierce, who, alongside her husband, Kirk own more than 20 Spirit Halloween pop-up stores across the Central Valley, as well as Sacramento, Placer and Yuba Counties, and as far north as Redding, CA. 

For the last six years, the Pierce’s and several of their Spirit Halloween store employees have brought costumes, backpacks, toys, face paint, photo booths, craft fixings, live character “actors,” along with a boat-load of Halloween fun to UC Davis’ Children’s Hospital and organized a Halloween bash for the children admitted as patients and their visiting family members. 

In addition to the parties, in the weeks prior to Halloween, Spirit Halloween stores across the region organize a range of fundraisers, including the company’s Vampire Ball, a purple pumpkin painting contest, as well as in-store outreach to Halloween customers to benefit UC Davis programs.  And, last year, Spirit of Halloween fundraisers expanded to include support for Shriners Children’s Hospital next door and now both facilities are recipients of the company’s program.

“Spirit Corporation, our parent company, actually started this program for children’s hospitals back east several years ago and we began participating in 2011,” said Pierce.  “We start planning for the Halloween party and raising funds in all of our stores right after we open in early September, and we don’t stop until we close the doors November 2.”

To date, the Pierce’s stores have raised roughly $360,000 for UC Davis Children’s Hospital, and the company, via the generosity of its customers and other fundraising channels, generated just under $50,000 for Shriner’s the first year of participation, Pierce said.  “Every penny, 100 percent of what we raise in the stores and through fundraisers goes to fund the two facilities’ children’s programs now.”

For William Banks, 5, of Chico, CA and his mother, Amanda, the Halloween “spooktacular” brought a welcome respite from the day-to-day routine they’ve been operating on since he was diagnosed with lymphoma in August.  Banks’ wore a contagious, ear-to-ear smile as he spent the afternoon painting his face and head, crafting and mingling with other kids and their families—doing everything a kid should be doing this time of year, never mind the cart of medications and monitoring devices he had to push around the party.  Those things are just part of life right now.

“This is so great,” William said, freezing for selfies with his mother, taking in the attention from staff, media representatives from this paper and others, including local TV reporters, and of course his fellow patients. “I feel really happy today,” he said, and then went off to paint the top of his head tiger style.

Lisa and Jason Chandler from Cottonwood, CA, joined their daughter, Anastacia Reynolds, 12 for the fun at UC Davis.  Anastacia is recovering from a near-hanging accident on a swing set that has l eft her with a traumatic brain injury, from which she is recovering at a pace that has even astonished her doctors, according to her parents.

“This place is amazing,” said Lisa Chandler, wrapping her arms around her daughter who must currently use a wheel chair to stay mobile.  “We can’t believe how awesome all this is. She’s making such amazing progress and this is really a great way to give her and all the kids a chance to socialize and just be kids for a little while.  This facility is absolutely amazing.  They are the best.”

The UC Davis Child Life and Creative Arts Program is a direct beneficiary of Spirit Store donations.  The program helps coordinate the Halloween party, as well as other events throughout the year, including a holiday with Santa at Christmas.  But its core services provide an ongoing menu of programs and services for patients and their parents through the work of child life specialists, as well as music and art therapists, among others, who deliver a range of powerful coping strategies and educational information for the patients and their parents.

Diana Sundberg who runs the program at UC Davis, said the donations and party made possibly by Spirit Stores is a vital part of the process of keeping kids’ spirits high as they go through what is, in most cases, the scariest time of their lives.  

“We do everything we can to help minimize fears and normalize the hospitalization experience for the children,” said Sundberg.  “By throwing the kids a Halloween party with costumes and games, we give them something they can recognize from home, be a part of, and a little bit of normal that they can carry with them while they are going through their treatment or in the recovery process.  It’s a very scary experience for kids to be away from home, let alone in a hospital. So bringing in Halloween fun for them is one of the ways we work to take those fears away, even if for just a little while.”

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Railroad Museum to Showcase a “BIG Weekend of Small Trains”

By Traci Rockefeller Cusack   |  2017-10-27

Come enjoy the “BIG Weekend of Small Trains”. Photo provided by T-Rock Communications

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - California State Parks and the California State Railroad Museum & Foundation have exciting plans to dazzle and delight visitors with a special “BIG Weekend of Small Trains” on Saturday, November 4 and Sunday, November 5, 2017. 

Typically held the weekend after Thanksgiving, this family-favorite small train extravaganza has been moved earlier in the month and will serve to help to kick off the holiday season this year. The special event showcases a magical assortment of trains, hundreds of feet of track and an array of buildings and accessories. For the “BIG Weekend of Small Trains,” local organizations and devoted enthusiasts will set up shop in the Museum, filling the Roundhouse with delightful model and toy train layouts of every description while being surrounded by impressive full-scale locomotives. Visitors of all ages will marvel at the variety of locomotives that pull pretend passengers and scaled-down shipments through all kinds of scenery, whether modeled on real places or created in the imaginations of the collectors.

“BIG Weekend of Small Trains” visitors are also encouraged to explore the Museum that is home to 225,000 square feet of exhibits and beautifully restored railroad cars and locomotives that illustrate railroad history in California and the West.

All “BIG Weekend of Small Trains” activities are included with Museum admission: $12 for adults; $6 for youths ages 6-17; free for children ages 5 and under. For more information about the reading program or the California State Railroad Museum in general, please call 916-323-9280 or visit

Source: T-Rock Communications

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FBI Announces Results of Operation Cross Country XI

Sacramento, CA (MPG) - The Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), announced October 18th, that 84 minors were recovered and 120 traffickers were arrested as part of Operation Cross Country XI, a nationwide effort focusing on underage human trafficking that ran from October 12-15, 2017.  

Within the FBI Sacramento field office’s 34-county area of responsibility, the FBI and its law enforcement partners conducted operations in the four metropolitan areas: Chico, Fresno, Sacramento, and South Lake Tahoe. Local recoveries of minors and pimping arrests during Operation Cross Country are as follows:

  • Thursday, October 12, 2017
    Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department recovered one minor
  • Friday, October 13, 2017
    FBI and Chico Police Department recovered one minor    
  • Saturday, October 14, 2017
    Porterville Police Department arrested an adult male on felony pimping charges.

In addition to successful recovery of two minors and the arrest of a pimp, more than 23 arrests were made for a variety of charges including prostitution and probation violations. The following agencies participated in Operation Cross Country XI. Butte County District Attorney’s Office, El Dorado District Attorney’s Office, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, Fresno Police Department, Hanford Police Department, Placer County Sheriff’s Department, Porterville Police Department, Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, Sacramento County Probation Department, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, Sacramento Police Department, South Lake Tahoe Police Department, and Tulare County District Attorney’s Office.

This is the 11th iteration of the FBI-led Operation Cross Country (OCC), which took place this year in 55 FBI field offices and involved 78 state and local task forces, consisting of hundreds of law enforcement partners. This year’s coordinated operations took place with several international partners, including Canada (Operation Northern Spotlight), the United Kingdom (Aident 8), Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines. 

“We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation’s children from harm.  Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested—and the number of children recovered—reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “This operation isn't just about taking traffickers off the street. It's about making sure we offer help and a way out to these young victims who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of abuse."

As part of Operation Cross Country XI, FBI agents and task force officers staged operations in hotels, casinos, and truck stops, as well as on street corners and Internet websites. The youngest victim recovered during this year’s operation was 3 months old, and the average age of victims recovered during the operation was 15 years old. Minors recovered during Cross Country Operations are offered assistance from state protective services and the FBI’s Victim Services Division. Depending on the level of need, victims are offered medical and mental health counseling, as well as a number of other services. 

“Child sex trafficking is happening in every community across America, and at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, we’re working to combat this problem every day,” said NCMEC President and CEO John Clark. “We’re proud to work with the FBI on Operation Cross Country to help find and recover child victims. We hope OCC generates more awareness about this crisis impacting our nation’s children.”

Operation Cross Country XI is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative, which began in 2003 and has yielded more than 6,500 child identifications and locations. For additional information on Operation Cross Country XI and the Innocence Lost initiative, please visit

Examples of stories from various cities that took part in Operation Cross Country XI:

On October 13th, FBI Denver recovered two minor girls—one 3-month-old and one 5-year-old. The subject, a friend of the children's family, offered an undercover officer access to the two children for sexual purposes in exchange for $600. The FBI is working with Child Protective Services to conduct a forensic interview and secure safe placement of the children. The subject was placed under arrest.

Also on October 13th, a 16-year old female victim was recovered by FBI El Paso, after an undercover agent called an online advertisement for entertainment. Shortly thereafter, the agent met with a 21-year-old female, who offered a fee of $200 to engage in sexual intercourse with her and another female, the 16-year-old victim. Further investigations revealed that a second adult female drove the minor and the 21-year-old to the undercover’s location. Both female subjects have been arrested on federal charges.   

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Sacramento, CA (MPG) - The Sacramento County Superior Court has entered a judgment against California Electronic Asset Recovery (CEAR), an electronic waste recycler in Mather, for hazardous waste management violations.

Under the terms of the judgment, the company will pay the Department of Toxic Substances Control a total of $390,000.

The judgment follows a series of DTSC inspections over a three-year period (2012-14) that found multiple violations of the state’s Hazardous Waste Control Law. DTSC has continued to inspect the facility in recent years and has found no violations.

“Compliance with the hazardous waste law is very important in protecting public health and the environment, and DTSC appreciates CEAR taking the steps necessary to comply with the law,” said Keith Kihara, Chief of DTSC’s Enforcement and Emergency Response Division.

CEAR operates an indoor treatment machine that shreds electronic devices and metal components into small pieces and sorts them. Among the items recycled by CEAR are televisions, monitors and computer equipment.

The company’s violations included the illegal treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous waste containing lead, cadmium, copper and zinc, among other compounds, and failure to operate its facility in a manner to minimize the release of hazardous waste.

For general inquiries about toxic waste contact the Department of Toxic Substances Control by phone at (800) 728-6942 or visit To report illegal handling, discharge, or disposal of hazardous waste, call the Waste Alert Hotline at (800) 698-6942.

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