SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The elected SMUD Board of Directors approved a $1.71 billion budget. The 2019 budget provides funding for all capital and operations and maintenance (O&M) programs needed to meet the Board’s Strategic Directions in the year ahead and in future years.

The 2019 budget is $25 million less than the 2018 budget, which is primarily due to lower planned capital expenditures, though SMUD anticipates an exciting and transformational year as the electric company continues laying the foundation for the future. Next year’s budget includes funding for many industry-leading initiatives and a variety of programs and investments that support the development of SMUD’s load-serving capacity, grid modernizations and compliance with regulatory requirements. Support for outreach and communications to educate customers about SMUD’s move to time-of-day pricing is also included.

Some major capital projects for next year include the rebuilding of three major substations that serve large numbers of residential and commercial customers, hydro generation facilities work and the designing and building of a new energy control facility. Completion of the SMUD Headquarters remodeling project, and new and ongoing technology projects are included as well.

Other major projects include removing and replacing more than 50 circuit miles of cable; automation of a couple of dozen high-voltage switches; upgrades and expansion of the downtown Sacramento electrical distribution network; expansion of the grid into new communities in Folsom and Rancho Cordova; and improvements at a bulk substation that serves the Arden area.

SMUD continues to be in a strong financial position. In 2017, Fitch and S&P upgraded SMUD’s credit ratings to AA, from an already impressive AA-, while Moody’s continues to rate SMUD Aa3. To maintain these credit ratings, which continue to be the highest in three decades, SMUD has a strategic financial target to maintain strong operating cash flow. Forecasted 2019 operating cash flow cover is 1.76 times operating cash flow, which exceeds the SMUD Board’s minimum target of cash flow cover of 1.5 times operating cash flow and supports a higher level of proposed capital spending. The higher credit rating produces a lower cost of borrowing.

SMUD customers continue to pay significantly less for electricity than most Californians, and as of September 1, 2018, more than 30 percent less than customers who are supplied by neighboring PG&E.

As the nation’s sixth-largest, community-owned electric service provider, SMUD has been providing low-cost, reliable electricity for more than 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, visit smud.org.

Source: SMUD Media

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Society for the Blind Members to Join National Fitness Challenge

By Kristin Thebaud  |  2019-01-04

Society for the Blind members join the challenge. Photo courtesy Society for the Blind.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Society for the Blind, a Sacramento-based nonprofit serving blind and low vision people in Northern California, has received a grant from Anthem Blue Cross and CareMore Foundations to create opportunities for individuals to participate in the National Fitness Challenge, an initiative founded by the United States Association of Blind Athletes and the parent Foundation of Anthem Blue Cross and CareMore. Society for the Blind is one of 17 organizations across the nation that is participating in the National Fitness Challenge and is using grant funding to offer adaptive yoga classes, walking groups, running clinics and other sports and fitness activities that can help people who are blind or low-vision to maximize healthy lifestyles. These activities will be offered over the course of eight months to help hundreds of youth and adults to increase physical fitness levels and live healthier lives.

“The goal of the National Fitness Challenge is to help people with visual disabilities to live more active lifestyles,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “The program launched during Blindness Awareness Month in October, and through May 31, 2019, will highlight what people with visual disabilities can do, rather than what they cannot do. We are lucky to live in an age where a person with vision loss can achieve most anything they set their mind to doing, and we are grateful to Anthem Blue Cross Foundation and CareMore Foundation for helping us to empower this year’s participants.”

This year’s challenge integrates technology and social media to inspire participants to set goals, create team environments and encourage leadership. Each participant has been provided with a Fitbit Flex 2 wearable – a universal way to measure activities, calories burned and number of steps taken. Participants also have the opportunity to utilize Fitbit Coach, which is a personalized training app that provides adaptive video workouts and audio coaching. Foundation grant funding is being used to provide Fitbits, fitness and nutritional instruction, performance prizes as well as technical and financial support for all participants.

“Research has consistently shown that individuals who participate in regular physical activity to improve their health have higher energy levels, lower risk of health-related diseases, improved psychological health, and lower rates of depression and anxiety,” said Ricardo Young, CareMore Health Medical Director. “We are proud to support members of the Society for the Blind through our collaboration with the National Fitness Challenge, and to create access to activities supporting healthier individuals and stronger communities.”

More than half of those who are blind or low vision in the United States do not participate in even a limited physical fitness routine, mostly due to barriers to accessible fitness or misconceptions about their abilities. Individuals of all abilities should have equal opportunities to engage in activities that improve health outcomes, so the National Fitness Challenge aims to increase access to fitness and health for blind and low vision people. 

“Anthem Blue Cross Foundation is committed to removing barriers and increasing access to critical programs and services that help individuals and communities to lead healthier lives,” said Dr. Barsam Kasravi, Interim Anthem Blue Cross Medicaid Plan President. “We are proud of our Foundation’s ongoing support of people with visual disabilities and are confident that this support will go a long way in helping Californians to improve their overall wellness while enjoying the physical and emotional benefits of exercise and group sports.”

Since 2011, the parent Foundation of Anthem Blue Cross and CareMore has provided $1.3 million in grant funding to U.S. Association of Blind Athletes for the National Fitness Challenge initiative and has impacted thousands of Americans with visual disabilities by partnering with 40 different agencies across the country. To learn more about the National Fitness Challenge, visit www.usaba.org/NationalFitnessChallenge

For more than 60 years, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for more than 5,000 youth, adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information: SocietyfortheBlind.org

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Bringing Hope to the Camp Fire Children

Submitted by Bringing Hope to the Camp Fire Children  |  2019-01-04

Carl Burton bringing toys to Camp Fire Children.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Republicans of River City and American River Republican Women joined with California Federation of Republican Women in raising items and funds to help families of deadly wildfires in Northern and Southern California.

Carl Burton, President of RRC, said, “We collected enough toys for the of fire victim’s children to fill up my jeep, and we made delivery of them last Saturday, December 15, to Oroville Municipal Auditorium.”

Bonnie Williams, President of American River Republican Women, said, “Our neighbors are in trouble they need our help, so we are going help.”

Because of the Butte County, Camp Fire surpassed all other fires in California becoming the most destructive fire in our history, burning over 125,000 acres and obliterating over 6,453 homes.  It was also the deadliest fire with 88 dying in the fire, mostly older Americas.

It’s not too late to help join us in supporting our neighbors dealing with their losses. This Christmas season, we are suggesting gift card donations.”  Give gift cards from Gas Stations, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowes; groceries from Albertsons, Ralphs, Safeway, Save-Mart, Stater Bros., Trader Joes, and Vons; clothes from J C Penney, Kohls, Macy's, and Target.

For Northern California victims, please send gift cards to: Republicans of River City, P.O. Box 1776, Carmichael, CA 95609

Burton said, first as Americans and as Republicans, we believe “No one may forsake their neighbors when they are in trouble.  Everybody is under obligation to help and support their neighbors as they would themselves like to be helped.” Martin Luther 1483-1546

Source: Republicans of River City

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AMERICAN PICKERS to Film in California!

By Emily Chafetz, CINEFLIXUSA  |  2019-01-04

Photos courtesy AMERICAN PICKERS

Mike Wolfe, Frank Fritz, and their team are excited to return to California! They plan to film episodes of the hit series AMERICAN PICKERS throughout the region in March 2019!

AMERICAN PICKERS is a documentary series that explores the fascinating world of antique “picking” on History. The hit show follows Mike and Frank, two of the most skilled pickers in the business, as they hunt for America’s most valuable antiques. They are always excited to find sizeable, unique collections and learn the interesting stories behind them.

As they hit the back roads from coast to coast, Mike and Frank are on a mission to recycle and rescue forgotten relics. Along the way, the Pickers want to meet characters with remarkable and exceptional items. The pair hopes to give historically significant objects a new lease on life, while learning a thing or two about America’s past along the way.

Mike and Frank have seen a lot of rusty gold over the years and are always looking to discover something they’ve never seen before. They are ready to find extraordinary items and hear fascinating tales about them.

AMERICAN PICKERS is looking for leads and would love to explore your hidden treasure. If you or someone you know has a large, private collection or accumulation of antiques that the Pickers can spend the better part of the day looking through, send us your name, phone number, location and description of the collection with photos to: americanpickers@cineflix.com or call 855-OLD-RUST.

facebook: @GotAPick

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AUBURN, CA (MPG) - The Placer County Department of Public Works announced they will be hosting a series of workshops intended to engage residents and business owners on desired improvements related to transportation programs and systems in Granite Bay. 

Workshops will be held at the Eureka School district offices on Eureka Road on Jan. 9, Jan. 23, Feb. 6 and Feb. 20 at 6:00 p.m.  

“Our county transportation systems are integral to a good quality of life for residents, visitors, and our local business owners,” stated Ken Grehm, Director of Public Works. “These workshops are intended to provide key stakeholders in our community an opportunity to learn, discuss, and provide feedback on policies that affect them every day.”

The initial meeting will provide an overview of the circulation element of the community plan, outline community discussion topics and provide an initial overview of vehicle-related traffic volumes.  The following subsequent workshops will provide an opportunity for County engineers and planners to engage with community members interested in effecting transportation systems and policies for the future. 

The Placer County Department of Public Works provides a wide range of public services outside of city limits such as road maintenance, bus service, public works engineering, and more. You can visit their website here.

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AUBURN, CA (MPG) - Placer County Health Officer Dr. Robert Oldham has been reappointed to California’s Tobacco Education and Research Oversight Committee, where he has served since 2015.

The legislatively-mandated advisory committee is charged with overseeing the use of Proposition 99 and Proposition 56 tobacco tax revenues for tobacco research, control and prevention education. Oldham and other members provide advice to the Department of Public Health, the University of California and the state Department of Education. The committee also publishes and periodically updates a state master plan for tobacco control and research.

“I am privileged to continue to serve in this role, and there is important work ahead,” Oldham said. “Use of e-cigarettes is on the rise nationally and locally among youth, and we need to be vigilant to protect our young people.”

The Food and Drug Administration recently announced that use of e-cigarettes among high school students nationwide skyrocketed in just the last year, spurring an advisory from the U.S. Surgeon General this week. The percentage of high-school-aged children who reported using e-cigarettes within the past 30 days rose by more than 75 percent between 2017 and 2018, and use among middle-school-aged children increased nearly 50 percent.

In Placer County, nearly a quarter of 11th graders reported having used an e-cigarette in 2018 — significantly higher than the number smoking whole cigarettes. But teens who smoke e-cigarettes are statistically much more likely to start smoking cigarettes, also.

E-cigarettes are devices that heat a liquid into an aerosol that the user inhales, or “vapes.” They are unsafe for children and young adults, as most contain nicotine, which is addictive and can harm adolescent brain development.

“There is a misperception out there that e-cigs are harmless water vapor, and this is absolutely untrue,” Oldham said.

Parents and community members can find more information and tools to use with children and teens online at e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov.

Additionally, Placer County was recently awarded a U.S. Department of Justice grant to increase tobacco enforcement in schools. Those interested in learning more about tobacco prevention and control efforts in the county are encouraged to contact the Tobacco Prevention Program at 530-889-7161.

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ROSEVILLE, CA (MPG) - Over 400 acres of wildlife habitat and fertile rice land in Lincoln are set to be conserved in perpetuity with the Placer County Board of Supervisors today approving $1,380,500 in Placer Legacy open space funds to buy an agricultural conservation easement on the land. 

The Lincoln property, owned by Kirk and Michelle Scilacci, represents a unique opportunity to preserve a piece of land that has multiple benefits for agricultural preservation, floodwater retention and habitat conservation. The property holds 350 acres of rice production and approximately 50 acres is used for dryland farming. While the land will remain in private ownership, Placer County would retain the rights through the easement to use the rice fields as floodwater storage from Nov. 15 to March 31 of each year. Storing floodwater on the property also provides migratory bird and salmon habitat. 

“Projects such as this are a perfect example of the benefits of private-public partnerships in land conservation,” said District 2 Supervisor Robert Weygandt. “This land offers benefits to the community, to agriculture and to the surrounding ecosystem. In their decision to partner with the Placer Legacy Program, the Scilaccis are permanently protecting a wildlife habitat, conserving the many natural resource benefits and safeguarding beautiful open space here in Placer County for generations to come.”

The board’s decision is contingent upon the receipt of $990,000 from the state's Department of Conservation Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program.

Contributing to the placement of an agricultural conservation easement over the property helps accomplish the Placer Legacy Program’s open space conservation goals and complements the Placer County Conservation Program.

The PCCP is a progressive and proactive strategy for identifying where development should occur in western Placer County while preserving important natural and agricultural resources. If approved, it would streamline the federal, state and local permitting process. The PCCP would also ensure up to 47,000 acres of permanent land conservation in Placer County, required as mitigation for that development.

More information about Placer Legacy is available by calling the Planning Services Division at 530-745-3000 or visiting the Placer Legacy website, here.

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