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Yolobus to Honor Rosa Parks

Posted: 2015-11-30  Yolo County, CA (MPG)

On Tuesday, December 1st, all Yolobus buses will have one seat marked and reserved in memory of Rosa Parks, “mother of the civil rights movement,” on the 60th anniversary of the start of a lengthy bus boycott begun by Ms. Parks in a memorable fight for civil rights six decades ago. Rosa Parks died on October 24th, 2005, less than two months before the 50th anniversary of her boycott, but her legacy continues now on this 60th anniversary.

On December 1st, 1955, Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. She was arrested and fined for violating a Montgomery city ordinance. The matter escalated and led to a 381 day boycott of the Montgomery public bus system. She was vindicated when a Supreme Court Decision struck down the Montgomery ordinance under which Miss Parks had been fined, and outlawed racial segregation on public transportation.

Miss Parks probably never imagined that her coffin would one day be placed in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol building and visited by thousands of mourners, yet this is exactly what happened 10 years ago.

“We are honoring Miss Parks on this date for the sacrifices she made and the risks she took at speaking up during a very trying time in our history,” said Terry Bassett, executive director of the Yolo County Transportation District. “It is fitting that we reserve a seat on all of our buses on the 60th anniversary of the day Parks refused to give up her seat. While reserving a seat on each bus in her name may seem like a small gesture, it recognizes the important contribution this brave woman made so that people of all colors could be treated with dignity, respect, and empathy.”

Source: Yolo County Transportation District

Harvest Festival to Celebrate New Bryte Campus

Posted: 2015-11-29 | West Sacramento, CA (MPG)

On Tuesday, November 10th, the Bryte Career and College Training Campus held a Harvest Festival and Open House to celebrate the new Bryte Campus and CAFFE (Culinary Arts and Farm to Fork Education Program). The new campus was renovated from the old Bryte Elementary School that closed because of poor enrollment. In August, there was an official ribbon-cutting ceremony aimed at the media. “It was an opportunity for the parents and the community to come out who hadn’t had an opportunity to see the facility yet and get better acquainted with the project and what we have been doing as a district to showcase these things and put this program in place for our students,” said Giorgos Kazanis, administrator of communication and community outreach. The Harvest Festival was organized and publicized as a public event to draw the West Sacramento community to Bryte Campus to learn about their new programs, enjoy some good food, and explore the offerings of some vendors.

The event was well-attended and gave students the opportunity to run all aspects of the cafe. This included running the cashier positions as well as preparing and serving food. Students were also involved with running the CAFFE booth and running demonstrations for the parents to view so they could see what their students learn.

“They were manning all of the stations,” said Kazanis. “They were operating the cafe area, a full service restaurant. They had a cashier at the counter, with more kids in the back working in the kitchen serving up spaghetti and salad. They also had a booth that was more representative of the program itself. Kids were there representing the program. If anyone from the public wanted to learn a little bit more about the curriculum side and what they are working on every day. They were giving tours of the facility to anyone who wanted to check out the kitchens. A couple of the kids did cooking demonstrations and offered free snacks to the audience.” The vendors and information booths that attended the event were Avon, the Center for Land-Based Learning, Christmas Crafts, CAFFE, PTSA, Mary Kay, Miche Bag, and Scentsy.

This showcases how the CAFFE program is preparing students for culinary occupations in the future with skill-based training. The Washington Unified School District has been involved in increasing the number of skill-based programs in the face of students graduating into an America that is increasingly demanding skilled workers.

Seniors Celebrate Thanksgiving

Posted: 2015-11-26 | West Sacramento, CA (MPG)

If you arrived late to the Senior Community Center, you had to get at the end of the line—and it was a long line. The local seniors were anticipating another pre-Thanksgiving Day luncheon at the Senior Community Center. Over fifty local seniors took their seats at the round tables and waited for the cue to line up at the buffet. They filled their plates with seasonal dishes like ham, turkey, stuffing, yams, mashed potatoes, green beans, ambrosia salad, and, for dessert, pumpkin pie. The food was served up by Rayna’s Catering.

Entertainment was provided by a local group, Encore at Christmas. The group consisted of two couples who were dressed in festive seasonal costumes. They harmonized beautifully as they performed Christmas songs and encouraged the attendees to sing along. The seniors joined in by singing along to all of the verses of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” complete with hand gestures accompanying the lines of the song.

Luncheon tickets were drawn for door prizes, and the attendees were awarded many fun gifts. Prizes included a day bus trip to Thunder Valley Casino, as well as comfortable blankets, prayer shawls, and an infinity scarf. The creator of the crocheted prayer shawls told the seniors about the history of the shawls.

Janet Burke, who enjoys the exercise and scrapbooking classes that are offered at the center, said she never misses the luncheon. It is always a great time to see old friends and start the holiday season each year. Nelson Fong, at 83 years of age, loved the tasty buffet dishes and meeting new friends.

This annual event, which is offered at the price of just $12, is a great opportunity for the local seniors to join their friends, win prizes, and get into the spirit of the season. The attendees thanked the staff members for their dedication to them and the fun day that they provide every year.

Local Activist Honored by City Council

Posted: 2015-11-25 | West Sacramento, CA (MPG)

The City of West Sacramento has lost one of its most dedicated residents, William “Bill” Lowell. Upon hearing of Lowell’s death, Mayor Christopher Cabaldon said, “William Lowell, the most prolific, thoughtful, musical, and regular participant in city council hearings, has passed. An extraordinary citizen.”

Lowell was remembered at this week’s City Council meeting. The City Council dedicated “his” chair in recognition of his dedication and ongoing contributions to the City of West Sacramento.

Lowell attended almost every West Sacramento City Council meeting since the City was incorporated in 1987. He may have missed a few meetings, but when he could not be present, he called the City staff to let them know that he had another engagement.

Lowell was the first person to speak at the meetings. Each West Sacramento City Council meeting opens with “presentations by the public not on the agenda within the jurisdiction of the Council.” The speaker is allowed just three minutes to speak to the Mayor and the Council members. They talk and the Council listens intently. There are no questions allowed from the Council. This is because any items that are discussed or acted on by the council must first be noticed on the agenda.

Of course, the comments that Lowell offered were noticed. They were various items that he had observed during his travels around the city. He rode Yolobus, the only public transit system that provides daily service in the West Sacramento area. Lowell talked about his trips on the bus and how Yolobus could make the ride easier for local senior citizens. He was their advocate. Lowell wanted easier access for them to get on and off the buses and be able to use carts to carry their groceries home from the local grocery stores.

He offered criticism about what he saw taking place in his city. Bill was the “eyes and ears” of the residents who did not attend the meetings. The City staff believes that he attended more meetings than most staff and Council members. In the three minutes that Bill was allowed to speak, he was never boring. He offered advice about local food establishments and retail shopping alternatives. He wrote poems and sometimes he sung his lyrics. He was always prepared and always spoke first.

Bill read all of the Council agendas and was certain to point out what he perceived to be errors in the presentation. He shared information about signs, lights, unsafe curbs, tree branches that needed trimming, and other items that he felt needed attention from the City staff. His expertise in critiquing government was not only aimed at local government—he was also active at the Yolo County, State of California, and Federal levels.

Bill Lowell was born in Salinas, California on May 31st, 1939. He was raised in Olivehurst. After he graduated from junior college, he worked for the State of California in the accounting department. He also worked as a mail carrier before he retired in the early 1980s. He relocated to West Sacramento in 1980 and immediately became immersed in local and regional political issues. His insight, comments, and suggestions for the City of West Sacramento will be missed.

Source: City Council Meeting November 18th, 2015

Go Red, Not Black This Friday

Posted: 2015-11-25 | Sacramento Region, CA (MPG)

Save the Redwoods League and California State Parks invite the public to skip the shopping malls the day after Thanksgiving and instead opt outside by visiting a redwood state park for free on Free Redwood Parks Day!

Entry to the participating California redwood state parks for day use on Friday, Nov. 27th, 2015, will be free of charge. Find the complete list of all 49 California redwood state parks at

Day-use hours at parks is typically 8:00 a.m. to sunset. Hours of individual parks may vary. Please check operating hours for the California redwood state park you wish to visit at

All visitors wishing to take advantage of Free Redwood Parks Day-Use Pass must go to to download and print out a paper copy of the Free Redwoods State Parks Day-Use Pass, which must be presented to state parks staff at the entry gate or, if no state parks employee is on duty, displayed visibly on your vehicle’s dashboard to avoid being charged a fine. Free admission is only good for day use only.

Free trip guide and brochures available on the website ( as well as much more information. You can also follow the hashtags #OptOutside #IntoTheRedwoods at and at

Skip the crowds and the chaos at the mall this Black Friday and experience the peace and beauty of your local redwood state parks instead!

Bring your friends and family to explore beautiful ancient redwood forests.

Source: Save the Redwood League

Washington Unified School District Update

Posted: 2015-11-24 | West Sacramento, CA (MPG)

At River City High School (RCHS), Judy Tan won the CSTEM Teacher of the Year Award. Toni Marvelli and the Wind Ensemble have received recognition and been selected to perform at the CMEA State Band and Orchestra Festival. RCHS girls’ tennis has made it to the section championship. Canine detectors have come to the RCHS campus twice in November and, between the two visits, there was only a single hit. A female student ran when the dogs showed up, but she had already been identified.

At Westfield Village Elementary, Westfield Village welcomed their new principal, Roxanna Villaseñoras. On November 16th, there was an ALL/CVF leadership meeting, and on November 18th there was a District Grade Level Collaboration. Upcoming activities at Westfield Village are a visit from Officer Bowers of the West Sacramento Police Department on December 2nd, a visit from the Fire Department on December 4th, and a field trip to Safeway on December 8th that will cause classes to start at different times.

At Southport Elementary, the students of Westport write poetry for the World Peace Rose Garden Poetry Contest every fall. A committee chose 12 winners and those authors were given the opportunity to read their poem on an outdoor stage to the entire student body and guests. This contest, held each spring, has over 2,000 entries from six countries.

At Stonegate Elementary, the fifth grade class at Stonegate went to the “Mission to Mars” at the Discovery Museum. The second grade class went to the Explorit Science Museum. Upcoming events at Stonegate are the CHIPS for Kids Toy Drive 2015, where students will collect toys and stuff a patrol car full on December 11th, and canned food donations, where students will collect donations to send with the sixth grade AVID students as they volunteer at the Food Bank on December 8th.

At Elkhorn Elementary, temporary fencing has been erected around classrooms 1-19 and the cafeteria while a roofing project is underway.

At Riverbank Elementary, first grade students at Riverbank took a walking field trip to the Fire Station. Riverbank held an awards assembly for students in the sixth through eighth grade. Students in every grade level now have access to Chromebook (Google laptop) carts and teachers are teaching students to work within the Google environment.

Sources: Giorgos Kazanis

Winter Weather Creates Challenges for Area Homeless

Posted: 2015-11-20 | West Sacramento, CA (MPG)

The winter weather, with rain and cooler temperatures, creates new challenges for the homeless in the area. Last year at this time, the Bridge to Housing Program was initiated. Under this program, long-term homeless residents were moved from encampments along the river to a converted motel. At that location, they received job and life counseling and were directed to services that included mental health and substance abuse treatment. But this winter, no motel is available to help them.

Just three months ago in August, the West Sacramento City Council approved a $20,000 payment from the general fund to cover the costs of hiring a homeless coordinator. They share the cost of the homeless coordinator with the cities of Winters and Woodland. The homeless coordinator focuses on program management for West Sacramento. Services include outreach, assessment, and police department requests for service and homeless encampment cleanups.

The homeless coordinator also works to maintain access to cold weather shelter beds at a facility that operates in Woodland from November 15th to March 15th. Under the terms of the agreement, the cities of West Sacramento, Woodland, and Winters will have a collective total of just ten beds per night during the cold weather.

The last count of homeless individuals, which took place in January 2015, indicated that there were a total of 167 people in West Sacramento who were considered to be homeless. Of these, less than 25 were classified as children. The total number of homeless counted in the Yolo County area were 498.

Woodland has an emergency shelter for homeless people in the area. It is located at Fourth and Hope. Individuals and families are welcome to go to the emergency shelter. While there, the staff can identify their needs and by doing so, connect them to the appropriate resources.

In 2010, a study was funded by Community Development Block Grant funds. This fund is managed by the State of California Department of Housing and Community Development. The study was entitled “One Piece at a Time: Ending and Preventing Homelessness for Yolo County Residents” (2010-2020).

The cities of Davis, Woodland, Winters, and West Sacramento all signed on. The plan was to create partnerships with public agencies, non-profit service organizations, faith-based organizations, rental property owners, and community members throughout Yolo County. The plan’s goals included prevention of homelessness for those at risk, providing a wide range of housing opportunities, supportive services to help them to maximize their self-sufficiency, and effective implementation.

Homelessness is on the rise in Yolo County. Associate Management Analyst Tracey Dickinson recently shared with the Board of Supervisors that the number of people identified as homeless in Yolo County is 498. The Board of Supervisors issued a report based on a survey of the homeless in the county. Sixty percent of those counted were between the ages of 25 and 54. Sixty-four percent reported that they had no family. Seventy-four percent reported that that had at least one health issue, which included PTSD, substance abuse, severe mental illness, developmental disabilities, and a physical illness or disability. Twenty-nine percent of them stated that they had three or more of these issues.

With winter weather now upon us, the question that many local residents are asking is where the homeless will seek shelter. Is it up to the West Sacramento City Council to come up with a plan for housing them? Should they direct them to Woodland, where shelter may be available? Should the homeless go to Sacramento where their services are also strained?

There are very few options available, but it is clear that studying the problem and issuing reports is not working. According to the “One Piece at a Time” study, “the efforts that are underway to end homelessness for Yolo County residents and their needs are still unmet.”

Sources: 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness; “One Piece at a Time: Ending and Preventing Homelessness for Yolo County Residents”; January 26th, 2015 Homeless Count Overview conducted by the Yolo County Homeless and Poverty Action Coalition; Bridge to Housing Pilot Project.

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