Yolo DA Receives Grant Funds to Improve Child Abuse Reporting Systems

Source: Yolo County, CA  |  2017-03-24
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 In a press release issued today by Yolo County, District Attorney Jeff Reisig announced that Yolo County has moved a step forward in increasing the safety for children and families in Yolo County.  The District Attorney’s Office, in collaboration with Yolo County Child Welfare Services and with the support of all local Law Enforcement Agencies in Yolo County, has received a three year grant from the California Office of Emergency Services in the amount of $750,000.  The grant opportunity was only open to all California District Attorney’s Offices.  Yolo County was just one of two recipients which were awarded a grant.

The grant will provide funding to develop an Electronic Child Abuse Reporting System (eSCARS).  This innovative system will enable Child Welfare Services, local law enforcement agencies, probation and the District Attorney to improve the communication, transparency, and information sharing in Yolo County in cases involving suspected child abuse.  Los Angeles County is the only county in California operating an eSCARS and will be the model for Yolo County.

The implementation of the Electronic Suspected Child Abuse Report System (ES) Program will not only improve current protocols but also provide Yolo County the opportunity to create new county-wide protocols for child abuse referrals, cross-reporting, and investigations.

District Attorney Jeff Reisig praised the County effort in obtaining the grant.  “This shows the amazing collaboration we have in Yolo County,” said Reisig. “No at-risk child should be lost through the cracks of government bureaucracy. This collaborative and innovative effort is designed to close any system gaps and improve the critical systems we all use to protect kids from abuse.”

www.yolocounty.org


 In a press release issued today by Yolo County, District Attorney Jeff Reisig announced that Yolo County has moved a step forward in increasing the safety for children and families in Yolo County.  The District Attorney’s Office, in collaboration with Yolo County Child Welfare Services and with the support of all local Law Enforcement Agencies in Yolo County, has received a three year grant from the California Office of Emergency Services in the amount of $750,000.  The grant opportunity was only open to all California District Attorney’s Offices.  Yolo County was just one of two recipients which were awarded a grant.

The grant will provide funding to develop an Electronic Child Abuse Reporting System (eSCARS).  This innovative system will enable Child Welfare Services, local law enforcement agencies, probation and the District Attorney to improve the communication, transparency, and information sharing in Yolo County in cases involving suspected child abuse.  Los Angeles County is the only county in California operating an eSCARS and will be the model for Yolo County.

The implementation of the Electronic Suspected Child Abuse Report System (ES) Program will not only improve current protocols but also provide Yolo County the opportunity to create new county-wide protocols for child abuse referrals, cross-reporting, and investigations.

District Attorney Jeff Reisig praised the County effort in obtaining the grant.  “This shows the amazing collaboration we have in Yolo County,” said Reisig. “No at-risk child should be lost through the cracks of government bureaucracy. This collaborative and innovative effort is designed to close any system gaps and improve the critical systems we all use to protect kids from abuse.”

www.yolocounty.org


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The Yolo County Library is offering up more than just books. They are offering Library Bingo as a fun activity for patrons throughout the month of April in celebration of National Library Week. “Every year in April we celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians during National Library Week,” said Interim Library Administrator Chris Crist.

The Yolo County Library invites community members ages 18+ to read, connect and discover with Library Bingo. “This year, the American Library Association’s theme for this event is ‘Libraries Transform.’ We invite our community to celebrate with us by engaging in the transformative power of libraries through interactive Library Bingo. This activity will challenge players to read in a variety of formats and genres, connect with other community members, and discover new experiences and community places,” said Crist.

Activities on the Library Bingo card vary and include reading activities such as “Read a memoir or biography,” as well as social activities like “Attend a library program,” and charitable works such as “Make something and give it away.” Participants are also challenged to explore local resources in their community through activities like “Visit a museum” and push themselves to learn new things such as “Learn 10 words in another language.” 

Bingo cards will be available in English and Spanish at all eight Yolo County Library branches as well as on the library’s website. After completing five consecutive squares in any direction (horizontal, vertical, or diagonal), players must return their cards to the library by May 5 to win a special prize. 

The Yolo County Library supports learning and community engagement and hopes community members will take this opportunity to read, connect and discover with Library Bingo. For more information on the Yolo County Library, visit: www.yolocountylibrary.org


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Proud Pilot Still Flying High

Story and Photos by Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-03-23

Gail Spelis and her father, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Robert J. McMurry, have co-authored a memoir chronicling his life as a WWII pilot. 
--Photo by Jacqueline Fox

Local WWII Pilot Co-Authors Memoir with His Daughter

Picture putting a paper bag over your head and trying to land a C-124, four-engine cargo plane in Iceland, in the middle of winter, with two engines down.

“It’s called ‘zero-zero visibility,’ said retired Air Force Lt. Col. Robert J. McMurry, 96, who actually pulled off that landing and many other nail-biting missions during his 24-year career as an enlisted aviator.

McMurry and his daughter, Gail Spelis have co-authored his memoir, Proud Pilot: A True Story of Family, Wartime and Survival Against the Odds, which traverses his childhood in Omaha, Nebraska, the middle and teenage years in the Bay Area, the events that led to in his enlistment and all things in between. Several chapters are devoted to the many white-knuckle experiences McMurry endured while serving in the air force, including that 1956 mission to an Icelandic refueling station, which he calls “the most harrowing of all.”

Seven years in the making, Spelis says the decision to help co-author her father’s memoir was divinely inspired, but as is the case with many of the close-call stories in the book, its fruition also had a lot to do with timing.

“I had heard my dad tell stories all my life about being a service pilot and I’d always wanted to write this book,” Spelis said. When the economy soured in 2008, her family real estate company took a heavy blow, which put her at a personal crossroads. “The recession came along and I did not know which direction to turn. I was at my desk, praying for guidance and I asked God to show me what he wanted me to do next.”

The creative spirit, says Spelis, came to her almost immediately, however, she began writing a very different book. “It was flowing out of me faster than I could keep up with,” she said. A short time later, as her father was recounting stories during a family reunion, it hit her: “dad’s memoir” was the book she needed to be working on.

“I knew that was it,” said Spelis. “I had my direction and I wanted to honor dad by writing this book to help give his life meaning and purpose,” Spelis said.

More than 50 years had lapsed between the military and the memoir, published in 2015. McMurry was 87 when they began the writing. Between the air force and civilian pilot employment, he clocked some 33,000 hours in the air. He’d survived cancer and other illnesses, and experienced the death of his wife, Jeanne in 2012 after 69 years of marriage.

But memory had a will, and through it all McMurry’s memory had a mission of its own. He is, after all, a member Mensa and, to keep his mind sharp, he works the crossword puzzle every morning. In ink.

“There’s nothing wrong with his memory,” said Spelis, who says she wrote as her father dictated. “I’d ask dad to start in and remember the next thing, and he’d just sit back, close his eyes, put his fingers on his forehead and he’d go right there.”

As a young man, McMurry wanted to be a professional trumpet player. In high school he had his own band, which even backed up a fledgling entertainer and former Burlingame High School alum, singer, TV personality and media mogul, Merv Griffin. “I was never really great at it,” recalls McMurry. “It was frustrating. All artists want to be great at what they do.”

Then, World War II broke out and, as an enlisted member of the National Guard, McMurry was called to active duty on March 3, 1941. Two months in, he found the hours of pulling army caissons and cannons over unforgiving terrain on horseback and sleeping on the ground nothing short of miserable. When a notice was posted announcing pilot training exams, McMurry jumped at the opportunity. He was the only member of his company to pass.

“World War II changed everything for me,” McMurry said.

Spelis said the core of the book was “on paper” in about six months, however, the collection of photos, editing and other finishing touches took seven years. Her passion for her father’s work and their unshakable bond, they both agree, made this “labor of love” a reality.”

“I could not be more proud of Gail, and I enjoyed the whole process,” said McMurry. “We worked for hours every day. We would get tired, and sometimes we’d even forget to eat.”

Proud Pilot, a True Store of Family, Wartime and survival against the Odds, is available online at: www.gailspelisauthor.com/product-page/book


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River Cats Take on San Jose Giants at Raley Field

Source: Sacramento River Cats  |  2017-03-22

The Sacramento River Cats are excited to announce a cross-level scrimmage against the San Jose Giants, the class-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. The two teams will go head-to-head in a scrimmage at Raley Field on Wednesday, April 5, just one day before Sacramento’s Opening Day. Tickets for the game start at just $5 and are available now at www.rivercats.com.

This pre-season scrimmage is an extension of Spring Training and is likely to feature many of San Francisco’s top prospects. Christian Arroyo and Tyler Beede – the system’s top two prospects – are expected to take the field for the River Cats while 2016 first-round pick Bryan Reynolds (No. 4 prospect) may start for the San Jose squad.  Other prospects likely to be involved in the game include Joan Gregorio (No. 7), Jalen Miller (No. 15), Heath Quinn (No. 17), and Sacramento fan-favorite Austin Slater (No. 22).

First pitch on Wednesday, April 5 at Raley Field is set for 6:05 pm. Gates for the game will open at 5:00 pm with parking lots to open at 4:30 pm. Parking will be $5.

General admission tickets start at just $5. There will be a $10 ticket option which includes a general admission ticket, a hot dog, chips, and a soda. Tickets can be purchased online at www.rivercats.com.

All River Cats season ticket members will have tickets to the exhibition game included with their plan. For more information please email tickets@rivercats.com or call (916) 376-HITS (4487).


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Annual Roseville Gem Show Rolls On for 2017

Contributed by James Hutchings, Roseville Rock Rollers Show Chair  |  2017-03-15

Featured, a budding “rockhound” under supervision as she delicately sorts through a tray of semi-precious stones during the Gem Hunt event during the Gem Show. 
--Photo courtesy of Roseville Rock Rollers.

Roseville Rock Rollers 55th Annual Gem, Jewelry, Fossil, and Mineral Show will take place at the Placer County Fairgrounds in Roseville March 25-26. Hosted by the Roseville Rock Rollers, also known as the Roseville Gem and Mineral Society, this year’s show features gemstones, jewelry, fossils and minerals and has something for the whole family.

The group was established in 1960 as a group of local “rockhounds,” according to show chair James Hutchings. That group, deeply interested in the science and art of the earths' natural beauty in rocks and minerals, first met in homes and then as their numbers grew, expanded to the use of a local school room.

This year’s show has dozens of exhibits for attendees, such as jewelry, metal, wire and glass beading arts, fossils, crystals and minerals, but that’s not all. So that attendees aren’t rushed, the show also provides a cafeteria. “A very fine hot lunch is available at our own kitchen in Johnson Hall,” states Hutchings. The group has put together a menu of very reasonably priced food and beverages will also be available at the show’s cafeteria, featuring burgers, philly steak cheesesteaks, chicken salad, baked potatoes pies, cakes and more.

In addition to exhibits, classes and demonstrations, show goers can pan for gold, purchase equipment, buy raffle tickets, have rocks, gems and mineral identified by experts or make purchases at a silent auction.

Wishing to share the art and science of the mineral world, in the tradition of gem and mineral shows around the world, the Roseville Rock Rollers established their own gem and mineral show around 1962. The society grew, the show grew, and the show and the Society moved to the Placer County Fairgrounds where it continues today.

“As the Roseville Gem and Mineral Society has expanded to just under 300 members, the show expanded to support the costs associated with its programs, such as the Rookie Rock Rollers, juniors program, the Annual Scholarship program to Geology Students at Sacramento State Geology Department, and our year round Lapidary shop on the fairgrounds,” said Hutchings. “The lapidary shop on the Fair Grounds is the heart and soul of our Society, where we teach lapidary arts, jewelry fabrication, conduct mineral identification and mini tail gate rock sales.”

Hutchings developed his love for “rockhounding” at an early age. “Personally, I as most young people, was fascinated with rocks minerals and crystals. My parents encouraged me with my first Golden Book of Rocks and Minerals, a book still in current print, and my first rock pick.”

At the age of 38, he became seriously interested in rockhounding and gold mining, attending a mineral identification course at Sierra College, next pursuing an in depth understanding the chemistry and physics that form “these miracles in the earth.” He has put that knowledge to good use today providing what he refers to as a “mini lab” during the show to test rocks, minerals, and gems to provide guest an idea of materials they have in their possession.

While the Rock Rollers must generate funds to keep their programs operating, the primary purpose of any Gem and Mineral Show is to promote the Art and Science of the mineral world, according to Hutchings.

Like many of the group members, an early exposure to rockhounding and lapidary arts often provides a genesis of interest that often blossoms later in life, Hutchings said. “We really work hard, to attract the parents who want to expose their children to the natural world and foster that spark.”

There are presentations and activities for youngsters on identifying and handling specimens of all kinds. Students and Scouts can reinforce their California Rock Cycle curriculum and merit badge information. Scouts can have their mineral finds evaluated for rock type or mineral and validated for their required collection.

Other interesting stops are featured at this year’s show. The Education Station is the place for the "learners,” said Hutchings, “and we are all learners. There [are] demonstrators showing you the actual arts of lapidary, faceting, wire wrapping, and other jewelry arts.” The Fossils for Fun booth encourages fossil hunters to view and purchase or bid on fossils from vendors. NorCal Bats brings a live bat to show how fascinating these mammals (often found in caves along with gems, stones and crystals) are. This year "Rocklin Bach to Rock" students will perform on stage to provide entertainment for the public.

Hutchings suggests visitors come early and plan on spending the day at the show. “We take over the entire fairgrounds with exhibits, demonstrators, and vendors.”

Not to be missed are real treasures the group will have on display. “Folks tend to walk by the display cases,” he says. “These simple, well lighted boxes contain the best of the best of personal collections of minerals in variety or by theme. The displays are, ‘literally’ miniature museums showcasing specimens in the possession of individuals who have spent a lifetime collecting the best of the best of their favorite species of rock or mineral,” said Hutchings.

“We are looking for the general public who are looking for gem stones, set and unset, handmade, and fine art jewelry, and mineral specimens from every corner of the world! We find the single most striking comment from folks who, by accident, end up at our show is, ‘I had no idea such things existed in the world!’”

For more information, tickets and coupons, visit the group’s website at www.rockrollers.com


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Key Affordable Housing Measure Clears Second Hurdle in Senate

By Mike Roth, California Housing Consortium  |  2017-03-15

On March 15th, the approval of SB 2 (Atkins) by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee signified an important step to beginning to address California’s devastating housing shortage. The Senate Transportation and Housing committee approved the measure last month.

“SB 2 is an important measure to begin to right the ship in California after years of failing to invest in affordable homes. This measure will provide thousands of new affordable rental homes in California while protecting general funds and boosting our economy,” said California Housing Consortium Executive Director Ray Pearl. “We are experiencing a massive housing shortage in California and it is time for a commitment to policies that can affect real change. California’s families, children, seniors, veterans and vulnerable residents deserve nothing less than access to safe and affordable homes.”

California has seen a 69 percent overall decline in state and federal investment in production and preservation of affordable housing since the Great Recession in 2008. A new California Department of Housing and Community Development statewide housing assessment finds that California families are facing a harder time finding a place to live than at any point in our history and homeownership rates in California are at their lowest since the 1940s.

SB 2 (Atkins) would enable thousands of affordable rental homes to be built through a $75 fee on real estate transaction documents, capped at $225 per transaction. Sales of homes and commercial properties would be exempted.

CHC is also calling on lawmakers to approve AB 71 (Chiu), which would end a costly vacation home tax subsidy to provide affordable apartments and homes while protecting the mortgage interest deduction crucial for families to afford their first home. These common-sense measures do not dip into the General Fund and would generate additional federal, local and private investment.


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Welcome Back Wounded Warriors

Source: Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team  |  2017-03-10

Cody Rice sends one toward the fences. 
--Photo courtesy WWAST

Amputee Softball Team Returns to Raley Field

The Sacramento River Cats are honored to welcome back the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team (WWAST) to Raley Field this season.

This is the second time the WWAST will take the field here in West Sacramento after making their Raley Field debut in July of 2015. They’ll take on the Sacramento All-Stars, a team composed of local personalities and celebrities. In 2015, Sacramento icons such as former NFL player Adrian Ross and KCRA Sports Anchor Lisa Gonzales were a part of the squad.

The WWAST is made up of brave men and women, both veterans and active duty soldiers, from four of the five service branches, who have sustained injuries resulting in amputation. Through extensive rehabilitation, they have become competitive athletes again, playing against able-bodied teams in competitive, celebrity, and exhibition games across the country.

In addition to functioning as an outlet for veterans and active duty soldiers to compete athletically, the WWAST uses these cross-country games to raise funds for the WWAST Kids Camp, medical research, and rehabilitation equipment. Now in its fifth year, the WWAST Kids Camp seeks to empower young boys and girls with amputations. The camps are led by WWAST players who work as coaches and mentors, helping teach not just softball skills, but more importantly life skills as well.

The game is slated for Saturday, May 6. The WWAST will take on the Sacramento All-Stars at 3:30 p.m. in Game One of a Raley Field doubleheader. The River Cats will then host the division rival Reno Aces at 7:05 p.m. for Salute to Armed Forces.

Following the WWAST/Sacramento All-Stars game, the River Cats will host the Reno Aces in game one of a four-game set. First pitch for part two of the doubleheader is set for 7:05 p.m. with gates to open at 3:00 p.m.

Tickets for the doubleheader are available now and can be purchased by visiting rivercats.com/tickets or calling the River Cats ticket line at (916) 376-HITS (4487).

The mission of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team (a 501(c)(3) charitable organization) is to raise awareness, educate and inspire the public about the strength and resiliency of our wounded warriors, showing how a positive attitude, commitment, dedication and perseverance allow them to overcome any obstacles. See a few videos about their mission here: http://woundedwarrioramputeesoftballteam.org/media/videos/

The Sacramento River Cats are the Triple-A affiliate of the three-time World Champion San Francisco Giants. For more information about the River Cats, visit www.rivercats.com.


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Snowpack’s Water Content Far Above Average

Source: California Department of Water Resources  |  2017-03-10

The Sierra Nevada snowpack continues to build during one of the wettest winters in California’s recorded history. The manual snow survey by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada found a snow water equivalent (SWE) of 43.4 inches. February’s Phillips survey found 28.0 inches of SWE, and January’s reading was 6.0 inches. The March 1 average at Phillips is 24.3 inches.

On average, the snowpack supplies about 30 percent of California’s water needs as it melts in the spring and early summer.  More telling than a survey at a single location are DWR’s electronic readings from 98 stations scattered throughout the Sierra Nevada. Statewide, the snowpack today holds 45.5 inches of SWE, or 185 percent of the March 1 average (24.6 inches).

Measurements indicate the water content of the northern Sierra snowpack is 39.2 inches, 159 percent of the multi-decade March 1 average. The central and southern Sierra readings are 49.0 inches (191 percent of average) and 46.4 inches (201 percent of average) respectively.

State Climatologist Michael Anderson said the winter season has been “historic,” especially in the central and southern Sierra where elevations are higher and where snowfall has been near the 1983 record amount.

The Phillips snow course, near the intersection of Highway 50 and Sierra-at-Tahoe Road, is one of hundreds surveyed manually throughout the winter. Manual measurements augment the electronic readings from about 100 sensors in the state’s mountains that provide a current snapshot of the water content in the snowpack.

Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program, conducted today’s survey at Phillips and said of his findings, “It’s not the record, the record being 56.4 (inches), but still a pretty phenomenal snowpack…. January and February came in with some really quite phenomenal atmospheric river storms, many of which were cold enough to really boost the snowpack.”

Gehrke said the central and southern regions in the Sierra Nevada are tracking close to 1983, which had the maximum recorded snowpack statewide.


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Kiyo Sato Named Woman of the Year at Annual Celebration

Source: The Office of Ken Cooley  |  2017-03-10

“Kiyo has shown tremendous courage and perseverance through her entire life and I am truly honored to see her recognized at the State Capitol for all of her extraordinary achievements,” said Assemblyman Ken Cooley. 
--Photo courtesy Ken Cooley

Assemblyman Ken Cooley and the California Legislature Recognize Sato

Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova) joined the California Legislative Women’s Caucus to recognize women from across the state in celebration of Women’s History Month. This year, Assemblyman Cooley honored Kiyo Sato of Sacramento.

“Like so many Japanese-Americans that were forced to leave their homes in a time of national panic and bigotry, Kiyo did not let it stop her from living an exceptionally full life. She joined the Air Force, became a nurse, raised her family and is now a highly-regarded author,” said Assemblyman Cooley. “Kiyo has shown tremendous courage and perseverance through her entire life and I am truly honored to see her recognized at the State Capitol for all of her extraordinary achievements.”

Kiyo Sato, the eldest child of a Japanese-American immigrant family, grew up before World War II with her eight brothers and sisters in Sacramento, California. Her parents established a thriving family farm on a few acres in the Mather Field area of Rancho Cordova. Home life in the Sato family was a pleasant mix of Japanese and American customs, as Kiyo describes at length in her memoir Dandelion through the Crack and in her more recent book Kiyo’s Story – A Japanese-American Family’s Quest for the American Dream. Kiyo was 19 years old and had just started college in Sacramento when President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 in February, 1942, which forcibly relocated Japanese-Americans from their homes. Kiyo and her family were forced to leave their farm with little more than the clothes on their backs and relocate to an internment camp at the Poston Indian Reservation in Arizona.

At the end of the war, Kiyo and her family were released from the prison camp and briefly worked in Colorado as seasonal laborers before they finally returned to their farm in Sacramento to rebuild their home and their lives. Kiyo’s parents were able to keep their farm, but many Japanese-Americans were not so fortunate and had to start completely from scratch.

Kiyo later joined the United States Air Force, completed college with a Master’s in Nursing and achieved the rank of Captain for the USAF Nurse Corps. She eventually returned home from her service, married, and started her own family in Sacramento. Her four children grew up helping with their grandparents’ farm – a vital part of every Sato family member’s experience.

Kiyo Sato is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Nisei Post 8985, in Sacramento. As a renowned published author, Kiyo was the winner of the 2008 William Saroyan Prize for nonfiction, and winner of the Northern California Publishers and Authors Gold Award for Best First Books, the Sacramento County Historical Society Publications Award, and the NCPA Mark Twain Award in 2012. Kiyo’s favorite saying is “Kodomo no tame ni” meaning “for the sake of the children.”


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