SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) -Today, a bill by Assembly Republican Leader Brian Dahle (Bieber) to ensure the state has a plan for dealing with discarded electric vehicle batteries passed its first legislative hurdle. Currently, there are more than 450,000 electric vehicles on the road, yet there is no plan for dealing with these batteries when they eventually reach the end of their useful life. Assembly Bill 2832 received unanimous support from the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee.

“This year, we will hear a bill that would make California go to 100 percent electric vehicles on our roads, yet we have no idea what to do with these cars when they no longer work,” said Dahle. “Eventually, the state will have millions of discarded batteries on its hands. We must have a plan in order to avoid an environmental catastrophe.”

All batteries are considered hazardous waste in California when discarded. Assembly Bill 2832 would require the Department of Toxic Substances and Control to work with stakeholders to identify a plan to reuse or recycle batteries from electric vehicles at the end of their useful life. The plan would need to be submitted to the Legislature by July 1, 2020.

The bill now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for approval.

Assembly Republican Leader Brian Dahle serves the 1st district.

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SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Today, Democrats on the Assembly Committee on Public Safety killed legislation that would have protected victims of domestic violence. Assembly Bill 2462 by Assemblyman Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach) would have required a judge or magistrate to consider whether a victim of domestic violence had been strangled or suffocated before allowing their aggressor to post bail.

“It is vital that we give victims of domestic violence time to seek help and get away from their abusers,” Harper said. “I am disappointed that Capitol Democrats do not want to help them from being trapped in the agonizing cycle of domestic violence.”

Experts across the medical profession agree that manual or ligature strangulation is “lethal force” and is one of the best predictors of a future homicide in domestic violence cases. According to The Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention, the odds for homicide increase 750% for victims who have been previously strangled, compared to victims who have never been strangled.

“No woman should ever have to experience what I experienced. It is shameful that Democrats voted against the rights of victims today.” said Patricia Wellman, a domestic violence victim who brought this bill idea to Assemblyman Harper. “After my husband strangled me, he was released from jail in fewer than three hours. For the next five weeks, he stalked me. If he had gone in front of a judge, I would never have had to struggle with this life-threatening ordeal.”

Assemblyman Matthew Harper represents the 74th Assembly District; he is the former Mayor of the City of Huntington Beach. The 74th Assembly District includes the cities of Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Irvine, Laguna Woods & Laguna Beach.

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If passed, Bill 825 will have punishing effect on women-owned companies, veterans, and the formerly incarcerated

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA(MPG) - A committee of the State Senate will this week consider a dual-action bill that would simultaneously prohibit most construction companies from competing on Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation projects for 10 years and eliminate pre-apprenticeship curricula that has facilitated employment opportunities for thousands of men and women in California.

A hearing on Senate Bill 825 will be held by the Senate Labor & Industrial Relations Committee in Room 2040 of the State Capitol, Wednesday, April 11, at 9:30 a.m. The hearing can be viewed live on the California Senate website.

Section 2 of Senate Bill 825 would erect a barrier against smaller construction companies, including those owned by women and minorities, by requiring CDCR to sign a 10-year community workforce agreement (Project Labor Agreement) for all construction of $500,000 or more. 

Community workforce agreements, or PLAs, are exclusive construction contracts between public agencies and labor unions for projects such as prisons, schools, hospitals, and police and fire stations.  While well-intended, the exclusive nature of these PLA/CWA contracts prevent local contractors and small-business owners from competing for projects.

Traditionally, PLAs require the use of union labor, even if the successful bidding company is non-union. So, when a non-union company is granted the contract, it must perform the work using union workers rather than their own skilled and trained employees. Therefore, a company may not hire its own employees for a particular job, including workers who were formerly incarcerated. 

Additionally, SB 825 would prohibit use of the National Center for Construction Education and Research’s (NCCER) CORE curriculum, a curriculum that 18,000 individuals have completed in the past 10 years at one of 108 locations throughout California. The California Department of Education, the state Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the California State University system, and the state’s community college system have all partnered with NCCER. Instead, SB 825 would turn all pre-apprentice training over to labor organizations. 

“The community workforce agreement contained in Senate Bill 825 would discourage nearly 82 percent of California’s construction workforce from competing for and winning construction contracts,” said Michele Daugherty, President and CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Northern California. “Furthermore, limiting inmates to just union labor when 80 percent of construction jobs in California are provided by contractors not signed to a collective bargaining agreement, severely hampers their pursuit of a construction career. We should keep every possible door of opportunity open for those who served time and now seek a new chapter in their life.”

Testifying in opposition to SB 825 will be:

  • Christine Leone of San Jose, who started her own electrical contracting company, Leone Electric, 1993
  • Jay Hanicek, owner of American Plumbing Systems in Rancho Cordova, who started his business as a single dad
  • Robert Stewart, a superintendent for Oakland-based Helix Electric, who is a graduate of a prison training program.
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Red Door Escape Room Opens in Rancho

Story and photo by Jacqueline Fox  |  2018-04-05

Red Door Escape Room Sacramento opened in February and is the first Red Door location in the region. Photo courtesy Red Door Escape

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - Phones down, brains on.  That’s the order for getting the absolute most out of your experience at the newly opened Red Door Escape Room in Rancho Cordova’s Nimbus Winery complex.

If you aren’t familiar, Red Door is one of a handful of so-called “Immersive Entertainment Experiences” popping up nationwide, where you and a date, or perhaps a group of friends or a few colleagues choose from among a handful of games where you are locked inside a room from which you must escape using only a set of cryptic clues and interactive puzzles—all while the clock is ticking down. 

These multi-sensor games are individually themed and aimed at varying skill levels and ages.  A typical Red Door experience takes about an hour and a half, depending on how skilled you and your team are at deciphering your clues.  You’ll get 15 minutes for a briefing on your game scenario, an hour to get out and then another 15 minutes for “debriefing.”  In between, says Red Door Sacramento’s General Manager, Jarick Collins, the most important thing to remember is to have nothing but pure, unalloyed fun.

“What we want to provide is a unique experience for everyone, no matter how old you are, where you turn off your phones, leave your muscle at the door, bring in your brains and get ready to have fun,” said Collins. 

The fee to play is $30 a person.  There are group and corporate packages available, as well. Each game or episode can accommodate between 2-6 or 2-8 players.  You can choose from five uniquely themed episodes.  (One, called “The Gift,” is actually two identical games, situated side-by-side and intended to be played by two teams competing against one another). 

Others episodes include “Prison Break,” in which you and your teammates are taken hostage by terrorists somewhere deep inside a South Asian jungle and “Taken,” in which you must infiltrate a hotel and rescue a victim of human trafficking.  “Once Upon a Time,” perhaps the most kid-friendly option, asks you to located stolen magical items from a kingdom far, far away.

Red Door also has a party room that can accommodate up to 50 people with a foosball table and a full kitchen for preparing your own food and drinks, or setting up a catered event, such as a birthday party, a family night out, or a corporate outing.

“Red Door is about an experience you go through with others, so our multi-sensory games make perfect options for group events, corporate outings and family nights out where your thinking skills and sense of enjoyment are about all you need,” said Collins. 

The company was co-founded by Dan Huynh, his wife and a third partner in spring of 2015.  Huynh got the idea after his first escape room experience to bring something similar to college students at his church in the Dallas suburb of Southlake.  Students enjoyed the first game Huynh created so much they demanded more.  In no short order it became clear a company was in the making, thus the Red Door Southlake location opened with three episodes.

The company has been on a fast-track for growth since. By summer of 2016, Red Door had clocked in 20,000 guests and the company’s second location was opened in Plano, Texas.  In 2017, Red Door doubled its reach to 40,000 guests.  The Rancho Cordova location, which opened in February, marks the company’s first foray into the Sacramento area.  According to Collins, there is a fourth location planned for a spot just across the county line with a targeted opening for early 2019.

The company has a team of game designers, Huynh included, writers and onsite game-monitors, who track players via computer screens in a “back room,” which is how, if you find yourself stuck and can’t figure out the clues in time to escape, you can get a little help.

“You can ask for help anytime you’re in a room and can’t figure out a clue,” said Collins.  “We can watch players at every step and if they are stuck, we can guide them.” 

There’s also a panic button in every room, just in case things get scary and someone just needs out in a hurry.  But that doesn’t happen often.  Instead, says Collins, episodes tend to create a lot more excitement than worry.

“We are all about the customer experience here, and one of the best parts of that is the sound of people successfully getting out using their brains and their imaginations,” said Collins. 

Red Door is under no illusion that games can “age out” of popularity as technology and imaginations expand.  Without revealing any details, Collins said the company is already working on new, longer, “innovative episodes” to add to its cache of escape experiences. 

For those who just can’t get enough, Red Door offers a loyalty program with rewards for each “level” or episode played.  Get to level five and you play for free for life.  

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Sacramento Life Center Receives Grant to Care for Low-Income Pregnant Women

By Kate Towson  |  2018-04-04

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - American River Bank Foundation has awarded a $14,000 grant to Sacramento Life Center for the nonprofit’s Mobile Medical Clinics that provide free medical services to low-income pregnant women, including pregnancy tests, STD tests, ultrasounds, peer counseling, education and resource referrals.

“This grant from the American River Bank Foundation will provide vital repairs for both of our Mobile Medical Clinics so they can stay on the road, ensuring pregnant women have access to the care they need,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “We are so grateful to the American River Bank Foundation for understanding the transportation barrier faced by many low-income women in our community. With this funding, even more women will receive medical care in their own neighborhoods.”

For a schedule for the Mobile Medical Clinics, visit www.svpclinic.com.

“The American River Bank Foundation is committed to supporting organizations that create opportunity, enhance self-esteem and provide physical and emotional well-being for the most vulnerable women and children and the Sacramento Life Center does all of these things,” said Erica Thompson-Dias, Vice-President of Community Engagement for American River Bank. “We’re honored to support this vital work which improves the overall health and wellness of our communities.”

The Sacramento Life Center’s mission is to offer compassion, support, resources and free medical care to women and couples facing an unplanned or unsupported pregnancy. The Sacramento Life Center’s licensed Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic includes a primary clinic and two Mobile Medical Clinics that provide all services for free, including pregnancy tests, STD tests, ultrasounds, peer counseling for men and women, education and resource referrals. The nonprofit also offers a school-based teen education program, a 24-hour hotline and a program for women seeking support after having an abortion. For more information about the Sacramento Life Center’s Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic, visit www.svpclinic.com. For more information about the Sacramento Life Center or to make a donation, visit www.saclife.org.

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Velvety and Breathless

By Orchestra Media  |  2018-04-04

American River College Orchestra presents Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony and Soloist Irina Samarina playing Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D Minor

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Moving from velvety and smooth to turbulent and breathless, Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D minor is considered one of the great Romantic concertos and soloist Irina Samarina has the credentials to tackle the work. This concerto and Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony round out ARC Orchestra’s program on May 2nd at 7:30 pm at the ARC Theater.

The Romantic period is characterized by expanded orchestras and powerful expressions of emotions. The violin concerto is no exception.

“Sibelius’ concerto is full of images of Finland’s nature, cold as fire, dark emotional plains, dramatic melodies, and a lot of lyricism,” explained Samarina. “I love playing this concerto because it gives the soloist an opportunity to shine and gives the orchestra a strong role. The most challenging thing is to blend and balance all the emotions as an ensemble and a soloist.”

Samarina has been playing the violin since she was seven years old. She has a doctorate in musical arts and has traveled as a soloist in Russia, Germany, Italy, France, Israel, and the United States. She is currently playing in Stockton Symphony Orchestra, teaching, and is an active member of Music Teachers’ Association of California.

This will be the first time Samarina has collaborated with the ARC Orchestra.

“It is such wonderful experience,” she said. “I love how the orchestra brings melodies that the soloist is trying to stay on top of. It is great to share and put all thoughts into the music, music that brings a message of light and hope.”

The orchestra is also performing Tchaikovsky’s last symphony, one that reveals the composer’s virtuosity as well as the tragedy of his time. The first movement opens with the brooding bassoon echoed by dark notes coming from the strings before lightening up with a quicker theme from the winds. The second movement proceeds gracefully into the third which is the emotional highpoint of the work. The symphony is groundbreaking in its ending. Tchaikovsky chooses an adagio lamentoso, as slow and melancholy as the words suggest and then the entire work ends in a minor key.

“Some feel that the sixth symphony is Tchaikovsky’s suicide letter to the world,” said

Steven Thompson, ARC Orchestra director. “His death occurred nine days after the scores’ completion in what we now know was a coerced poisoning by a circle of Tchaikovsky’s former law school classmates. Their concern was that Tchaikovsky was about to be outed for being gay (in a severely homophobic Czarist Russia) which they felt would bring dishonor to their alma mater. They convinced him to take his own life through a dosing of arsenic...a horrible and painful death. The events leading up to his decision to end his life seem to have happened after the symphony’s completion date, but the story persists. At times melancholy and emotional and at other times triumphant and heroic, Tchaikovsky wrote that this symphony was the best of his works.”

For more information on the American River College Orchestra and these concerts, contact Dr. Steven Thompson at (916) 484-8433 or visit the ARCO website. General information can also be found at the ARCO Facebook page.

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Rebuilding With Hope

Story by Jacqueline Fox  |  2018-04-04

Volunteers for Rebuilding Together, a nonprofit in Sacramento, join forces to revamp deteriorating homes and nonprofit centers across the region for the elderly, those with disabilities, veterans and needy families with children.  Photo courtesy Rebuilding Together

Nonprofit Revamps Homes for Those in Need

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - There is no question the Sacramento region is short on housing, specifically affordable housing.  But what happens to existing homes for seniors and others in need when repairs are necessary but there are no resources to make them?

One leaky roof could put a senior on a fixed income into a financial spiral toward desperation and risk of homelessness.  Same goes for low-income families with children, those living with disabilities and low-income veterans.

Enter Rebuilding Together, a Sacramento-based nonprofit organization that marshals the muscle of skilled labor, the heart of volunteers and the generosity of corporate and private donors to provide home rehabilitation services and programs to help individuals in need remain in their homes.  Services include new roofs, paint jobs, electrical upgrades, yard clean up, energy saving upgrades and other preservation programs.

“One thing we talk a lot about here is the issue of a lack of housing in our community,” said Carrie Grip, who has served as the agency’s executive director for nearly two decades.  “But there’s also the fact that we have many houses across our communities that are substandard and causing health and safety issues that, if not repaired or mitigated, threaten to put homeowners at risk of losing them.”

One of the largest recipient groups of support from Rebuilding Together, says Grip, is seniors, who comprise the fastest-growing population nationwide.  Many have lived in their homes for decades and are facing down challenges of getting older in their aging homes with limited funds for making necessary and, in some cases, life-saving upgrades and repairs.

“Sacramento is not equipped to handle the growing senior population,” said Grip.  “There is no place for many seniors who lose their homes to go. So, it’s a lot cheaper for them if we can fix a roof, a leaky pipe, paint the house or install safety bars and other things that will allow them to stay in their homes safely.”

Originally called “Christmas in April,” Rebuilding Together was launched in 1991 when roughly 70 volunteers joined forces to make repairs to the home of an elderly and disabled resident in Sacramento.  They restored the roof, painted, rebuilt fences, made some electrical repairs and cleaned up her yard. Thus a movement was hatched. 

Today, Rebuilding Together (the name was changed in 2001) is comprised of 160 chapter affiliates nationwide. The Critical Repair and Accessibility Program provides services all year long and, to date, has served hundreds of area homeowners.   The Sacramento chapter is preparing for its signature event, the 2018 Rebuild Day, which actually takes place over two days, Friday and Saturday, April 20 and 21. 

This year, 13 homes in the Rancho Cordova community have been identified for Rebuild Day.  The organization has received a grant for $150,000 from the city’s community enhancement fund to support the event and ongoing services.  A typical home fix, says Grip, can range from $5,000 all the way up $30,000, depending on the condition of the home. 

“The money goes fast because the need is so great,” said Grip.

Grip said her agency also has received roughly $300,000 from the city’s community development block grant program that will be used for other facets of the organization’s rehabilitation programs and services, which include the Safe at Home and Energy Conservation programs.

Other community partners include SMUD, the Regional Water Authority, UC Davis, the Sacramento Association of Realtors®’ Foundation, as well as local service clubs—all of whom have volunteers who, by the way, says Grip, also show up for Rebuild Day.

“This is truly a collaborative effort,” said Grip.  “Our partners in the community are outstanding supporters and we are fortunate to have those relationships.”

Rebuilding together also has an ongoing partnership with the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, which allows for continued work across the region.  The agency, says Grip, plans to expand its services in 2019 and is currently seeking funding to do so.  In addition, a new partnership with AARP is helping to create “Lifelong Home” outcomes through its “Home Fit” classes for seniors. 

“The AARP provides a training program for seniors to show them how to make their homes more senior-friendly so they can avoid having to move as their needs change,” said Grip.  As we all know, allowing seniors to remain in their homes wherever possible, can make a huge difference in their health and wellbeing.”

Low-flow and raised toilets, weather stripping for doors and windows and other conservation features, as well as grab bars for showers, hand rails and shower seats and wheel chair ramps are in high demand, and, says Grip, the need is growing, particularly in Rancho Cordova.  

 “The funding is here for us to do our work, so yes we are focused in Rancho Cordova for now, but it’s also an area where we can make a significant impact,” said Grip.

Rebuilding Together Annual Rebuild Day
When: Friday to Saturday, April 20 and 21
Time: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (variable shifts)
Sign up at: rebuildingtogethersacrmanto.org
E-mail:
Seconome@rebuildingtogethersacramento.org
Call: (916) 455-1880

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