Over the Fence

New Replacement For The Irreplaceable Daisy Mah?

Land Park Rock Garden superstar Daisy Mah has been retired from the city of Sacramento for over a year now. She’s probably furiously mulching and tending to her own backyard garden right now. A lot of Land Park residents who enjoy the Land Park Rock Garden were concerned they’d never find a suitable replacement for Daisy. Those are some tough garden gloves to fill. There was an online petition with more than 600 signatures that pleaded with the city of Sacramento to find a qualified replacement for Daisy.

The petition and saber rattling worked because Parks and Recreation was listening.

Parks and Rec spoke to Human Resources and have finished a brand new classification for the position Daisy Mah once occupied. According to Parks and Rec’s Lori Harder, who spoke at the Land Park Community Association meeting last month, “It’s to not just address the Land Park Rock Garden, but also other specialty gardens like community gardens and those that take a lot of input from the community.” This newly created position will be given a grand title, and a salary scale just below Park Supervisor. In other words…more money for more expertise. A Land Park garden superstar!

One Land Park resident stood up at the meeting and expressed concern it wouldn’t work out after speaking to the Parks Director. He mentioned issues on “salary and such” and that the issue isn’t settled, but he hoped it would be. Lori Harder then said, “It’s actually coming together nicely.”

So, it looks like there will be a new replacement for the hard to replace Daisy Mah early next year. Let’s hope Parks and Recreation is under the “salary cap.”

You’ve Been Framed

Terry Spencer poses with one her custom frames inside the shop. / Photo by Greg Brown

Terry Spencer poses with one her custom frames inside the shop. / Photo by Greg Brown

Spencer’s Custom Framing, located in the strip mall at 5101 Freeport Blvd., will soon be celebrating their 30th anniversary in Hollywood Park. It’s a true local treasure. I recently talked to the owner Terry Spencer, who was sipping coffee and working on a couple of framing projects. She said, “I get to start where the artist stops.”

It’s fun to shoot the breeze with Terry and talk about the neighborhood. She’s lived in Hollywood Park with her husband Roger for more than 35 years. “I’ve been walking to work for 30 years,” Terry told me.

Her loyal customers rave about her talent and skill with custom framing. Just ask Yelp, she gets rave reviews! Terry was working on some beautiful antique oval portrait frames and rejuvenating some civil war memorabilia when I was at the shop. If you need anything framed for the holidays, check out Spencer’s and tell Terry, “Happy Anniversary!”

Got an item for Over The Fence? Email greg@valcomnews.com

Over The Fence

Bring us your Tootsie Pops

Dr. Jill Whitney is a dentist on Freeport Boulevard who is also good deed doer. Every year, she and her staff have a Halloween Candy Buyback Program. The program encourages kids to bring in their leftover Halloween candy they begged all night for in exchange for cold hard cash.

They better not buy candy with it!

This year, Dr. Whitney’s office collected 84 pounds of candy. They gave a dollar for every pound. Not to mention the 16 pounds her husband collected at his work.

It’s for a good cause, too. All the candy they collect gets sent to Operation Gratitude along with lots of toothbrushes. Operation Gratitude sends it to U.S. soldiers overseas in holiday care packages. I bet it’s a nice treat for our men and women in uniform. Tootsie Rolls, Snickers, and Smarties probably remind them of home.

Another benefit of the Candy buyback is saving the kid’s teeth from high sugar exposure for an extended period of time. I remember when I was a kid we covered a large swath of trick-or-treating ground, which meant a pillowcase full of sugar-filled Halloween candy. I had leftovers ’til Christmas! I also made quite a few unpleasant trips to the dentist.

Debbie Podesta, the office manager, told me “Dr. Whitney does things she likes to do. Little charities. She’s just that way.”

BBQ and new bikes
Sutterville Bicycle Company recently had a big grand opening and barbecue with all the fixin’s. There were hotdogs, hamburgers, even some turkey burgers. They also were playing some groovy funky tunes that complemented some of the groovy bikes the shop had for sale. The new owner, Jeff Dzurinko, took over ownership of the bike shop about six weeks ago from the initial owner, so it was more like an Open House than a Grand Opening. Jeff said, “I can’t wait to get to know some of the neighbors.”

He’s already getting some local love from the neighborhood. (See posts on the Facebook page.)

“The people in the neighborhood have been nothing but supportive to me and I’m happy to help them out with their bicycling needs,” Jeff said, referring to it as “a grassroots kind of bike shop.”

“I think having this sized shop allows me to be more personable and allows me to give that one on one experience that customers can appreciate,” he added. And Jeff definitely has that. He was greeting the folks who came to the grand opening with handshakes and a friendly “hello.”

One thing Jeff wants to put a big emphasis on is service and repairs. Jeff is a very experienced technician and is capable of working on all sorts of bikes. Does your bike chain keep slipping? Need a tune-up? Head on over to see Jeff. He also does custom-built bikes and custom orders.

He had some cool old school used bikes in the shop, a wide array of different style bikes. He’s got vintage bikes from the pre-war era along with accessories and parts to those old bikes. He’s also got a lot of ’70s, ’80s and ’90s era BMX bikes. It kind of reminded me of being a kid hanging around the bike shop.

Jeff said, “The BMX bikes are cool, and not only are kids buying them, but adults that had them when they were kids want to buy them for their kids now.”

They also have comfortable, efficient, modern bikes that are perfect for a work commute.

The Sutterville Bicycle Company is located in a tricky area. Sutterville and Attawa right next to the Sutterville Bypass. That hill will get your quads in shape once you get your bike in perfect working condition at the new bike shop on the block.

The Safeway Gas Station at Natomas Town Center on Del Paso Road is very busy. Photo by Greg Brown

The Safeway Gas Station at Natomas Town Center on Del Paso Road is very busy. Photo by Greg Brown

Curtis Park Village voices say ‘no’ to proposed gas station

A fight’s a brewin’ in the Curtis Park Village development. Developer Paul Petrovich and members of the Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association are duking it out again – this time over a Safeway gas station, err, make that the Curtis Park Village Neighborhood Fuel Center as the project is being called.

Wordy. They’re gonna need a giant glowing sign for that.

The Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association has come out against the fueling station and kiosk that would be part of the Safeway Supermarket being proposed.

The Curtis Park Village Neighborhood Fuel Center, or the Safeway Gas Station, would be open 24 hours a day. There will also be a large kiosk where busy commuters can get their Redbull, snacks, beer, cigarettes and anything else they need at 3 in the morning.

The proposed gas station will have eight pumping stations, including 16 gas pumps and will be open 24 hours a day.

I spoke with Curtis Park resident Nancy McKeever over the phone and she really did her homework on the proposed friendly neighborhood fueling station. She is very much opposed to any gas station in Curtis Park Village. She’s uber opposed.

When I asked her about it, she sarcastically said, “We didn’t know we needed one.”

Nancy told me about how the Curtis Park neighborhood has worked hard for a high quality urban infill project. Every step of the way they have fought tooth and nail for this infill development to be the kind of project the neighborhood could be proud of. They’ve worked to increase densities of housing, to make streets punch through so the old neighborhood is connected, to get a bridge over the railroad to connect the neighborhood with the transit station. They’ve also butted heads with Paul Petrovich over park space.

Now they’re going toe to toe over the Safeway gas station and kiosk.

The grocery store is not the problem. It’s the gas station. Nancy said, “It’s not transit serving. It does not honor multi-million dollar public investment; it degrades it. Not only does it not provide transit riders and value to that investment and the bridge that’s going over it, it greatly detracts because of the amount of traffic it’s going to pull in to get gas at the fueling station.”

I drove on out to the Natomas Town Center on Del Paso Road and the Safeway gas station was doing brisk business. This gas station on Del Paso Road has six pumps, the one proposed for Curtis Park Village is eight pumps so it would be larger. A lot of Safeway gas was being guzzled up, so much in fact there was also a huge gasoline truck parked at the gas station. They can’t keep the gas tanks filled! The truck driver was taking a smoke break along the sidewalk before he hit the road to the next Safeway gas station to fill ’er up.

In their letter to the Sacramento City Planning Division, the Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association states, “The overall purpose of this PUD’s development guidelines is to ensure that the proposed uses of this infill development blend with and enhance the quality of life and charm of the existing Curtis Park neighborhood. Compatibility with the existing neighborhood has been the watchword for a very long time. The proposed gas station works against this general purpose. One of the objectives for this goal is to encourage the use of public transportation and to develop appropriate linkages to surrounding neighborhoods including pedestrian, bicycle, vehicle and alternative transportation modes. A gas station in this location frustrates this goal.”

I reached out to Paul Petrovich via email and he referred me to former City Council member Rob Fong. I guess Paul is handling some media matters for Petrovich Development. I wanted to know what Petrovich thought of the neighborhood’s opposition to the fuel station and the rumor that Safeway won’t move in without a gas station. Fong said via email, “As part of the final executed lease, Safeway required that its lease be contingent upon the Landlord obtaining the necessary approvals to build the fuel center. Vice Mayor Jay Schenirer will be organizing a community meeting in early January to discuss all of the retail options for Curtis Park Village and to receive input from the neighborhood.”

No fuel center? No Safeway?

The Curtis Park Village Neighborhood Fueling Station Battle Royale continues in January at the Sierra 2 Center.

If you have an item for Over The Fence, email Greg@valcomnews.com

OVER THE FENCE: Patio expansion at Land Park Golf Course

The outside of Mulligan's Café before the plaza expansion. Photo by Greg Brown

The outside of Mulligan's Café before the plaza expansion. Photo by Greg Brown

The Land Park Golf Course is planning to expand the clubhouse patio area outside Mulligan’s Café. They’re going to open things. They’ll add 10 additional tables with colorful sun-shade umbrellas. The added tables would be used by golfers as well as soccer parents and other park users. One park user, Hollywood Park resident Kerry Herd-Babich, was getting a hot cup of coffee at the café while her husband David practiced his short game on the putting green. She told me “Every morning we walk around the park, it’s wonderful.” Then they relax and hang out on the patio outside of Mulligan’s Café.
The $42,500 expansion is being done thanks to retiring County Supervisor Jimmie Yee. Jimmie has always been a huge supporter of The First Tee, their core values, and what they do for the kids.
Jimmie told me over the phone he likes to visit William Land to relax, sit around the clubhouse, and watch golfers enjoy the putting green. Jimmie is also an avid golfer and hopes to play once a week in retirement.
The golf course put a new cart barn near the putting green a few years ago and that got Jimmie thinking, “that’s nice to have the cart barn there but they need something between the two…there’s just nothing there.”
He told this to Tom Morton, the head of Morton Golf, which operates quite a few golf courses in the Sacramento area. That’s when they came up with the idea of expanding the plaza between the cart barn and Mulligan’s Café.
Jimmie had some leftover tobacco litigation funds from the County and was able to use the money to help fund the new plaza expansion. Jimmie also generously donated money from his campaign fund to the Land Park Volunteer Corps that does a lot of work to keep Land Park clean.
The Land Park Volunteer Corp gets to have lunch on Jimmie!
Jimmie told me, “I’m winding down. The only way to donate my remaining funds is to give it to charitable organizations.”
Jimmie added, “That’s the big story, in a little nutshell.”

The Elvis and AC/DC pinball machines were getting a good workout at Phono Select Records. Photo by Greg Brown

The Elvis and AC/DC pinball machines were getting a good workout at Phono Select Records. Photo by Greg Brown

Pinball At Phono Select
Phono Select Records in Hollywood Park recently had a fun pinball and toy event. The clacks and dings of the pinball machines wafted through the Phono Select building while music played in conjunction. Free pinball! The machines were some of the coolest, too. Metallica, AC/DC, Elvis and Medieval Madness were all lined up in a row for folks to “play the silver ball.”
Phono Select Records plans on more pinball parties as well as having pinball and other video games permanently at the shop. And this should make your day…The Dirty Harry pinball machine is coming soon!

Purple Fox Takes Over Trezhers
The Purple Fox is a new arts and crafts store on Riverside Boulevard in Land Park. It is taking over the old Trezhers Gift Shop location in the strip mall across from Vic’s Ice Cream.
The Purple Fox features arts and crafts from a variety of local artists. The store is part consignment, part retail, according to the new owner Linda Cobarruvies. Linda told me, “I’ve been wanting to open a shop for a long time and I thought, now’s the time.”
Linda, a former teacher, was eager to show me around her little shop. There was a smorgasbord of handcrafted decorative items, jewelry, and one-of-a-kind gifts. I mentioned I had a 5-year-old son and she went over to the display of handmade animal plushies, chose the light blue kitty and said, “Please give this to your boy to cuddle with.” He loved it when I brought it home and immediately squeezed and cuddled with the soft Bellzi Plush toy.
One of the products on display I noticed immediately were the Dammit Dolls. When you get frustrated or irritated instead of pounding the desk, you slam the doll against something and yell, “Dammit!” It’s the perfect thing to own when the in-laws visit for the holidays.
The Purple Fox will be a convenient place for teachers in the area to pick up craft supplies for the classroom. They also offer classes on crafts, card-making, knitting, quilting and more.
I asked Linda where she came up with the name Purple Fox and she told me, “Purple is my favorite color, and a fox is very crafty. I sent the idea to my friends and they all loved it!”
The Purple Fox is located at 3214 Riverside Blvd. They’re on the web at www.purplefoxgifts.com

New Porcelain Neon Sign at Freeport Bakery. Photo by Greg Brown

New Porcelain Neon Sign at Freeport Bakery. Photo by Greg Brown

Freeport Bakery gets neon signage
Next time you drive past Freeport Bakery in the evening take a look at the classic porcelain neon sign they just installed. It gives off a nice warmish glow. The sign with pink neon flowers is patterned after the decadent Freeport Bakery cakes.
Owner Marlene Goetzeler said, “I’ve been wanting to do an iconic sign for a while. I wanted our logo, but with some style, old school signs with a modern flair.”
Marlene talked to quite a few sign makers, even one from Austin, Texas, but couldn’t find the right fit.
Then she met Ben Kenealey of “Light In The Night Neon.” It was a perfect match. “From the minute we met, I knew he was the right person,” Marlene said.
“That was a fun sign to do,” Ben told me. “I started telling Marlene my ideas and she kept getting more and more excited, even to the point to where she was giddy about it. She was a great person to work with.”
They actually had to send the signs out of state for the porcelain work. No one really makes them much anymore because other materials are less expensive. Ben said, “The porcelain has an old nostalgic feel you’re not gonna get anywhere else. If you watch American Pickers and that kind of thing they’ll pull out these old porcelain signs they always rave about.”
Ben, who is one of the few glass benders left in the Sacramento area, bent the glass used for the signs at his shop on Keifer Boulevard. It was then assembled at Pacific West Signs and installed on the North and South ends of the Freeport Bakery building.
Marlene said, “Finally after all these years Freeport Bakery has some great signage!”
Got an item for Over The Fence? Greg@valcomnews.com

Over the Fence: Look, up in the sky, it’s a drone in Land Park!

Some drone videos showcase remote Alaskan ice caves, cascading waterfalls in Costa Rica, even earthquake damage in Napa. Sacramento resident Tim Pantle showcases the beauty of the Sacramento area with his aerial photos and drone videos on his blog “Love Where You Live”.

I hung out with Tim while he was getting aerial views of the Urban Cow Half Marathon that was held in William Land Park recently. He also filmed some nice shots of the golf course, Fairytale Town and the Sacramento Zoo.

We spoke about the good, the bad, and the ugly of quadcopters. Drone videos have been somewhat controversial but Tim is the “Mister Rogers of drone video operators.” He does nothing nefarious — just good, wholesome, fun videos of the Sacramento area.

What spurred Tim’s quadcopter hobby is he wanted to start a blog of some kind. One day, he saw a picturesque drone video of the old Fair Oaks Bridge and he was hooked. “I’ve always been that tech-geek and used to be really into photography,” Tim said. He loves the challenge of “getting the good shot.”

He was getting plenty of good shots of the Urban Cow Half Marathon and William Land Park the day we got together.

At the start of the half marathon, the announcer told runners to “wave to teh drone,” as Tim’s Phantom 2 Vision Quadcopter was filming over head.

When Tim was filming on the fifth hole at Land Park Golf Course, a golfer took a practice swing from the fairway then turned around to smile and wave. The drone makes a loud buzzing, swarm-of-bees sound, so I was surprised the golfer let the quadcopter bother him. Most golfers demand complete silence before hitting a fairway wood on a par 4 hole.

The Phantom 2 Vision reminds me of the Starship Enterprise from the old Star Trek series. It has a similar look. If you can operate a joystick, you can certainly operate a quadcopter. Tim syncs it up with GPS. It’s the ultimate in tech gadgetry for a photographer. If the battery goes dead, or it loses connection with his remote it’ll fly back to where it started and land. It has a brain! The controller has a WiFi extender that allows the drone to send a signal to his phone so he can see what the camera sees.

The Phantom 2 Vison has quite a few different names, including an aerial drone, quadcopter, UAV or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. The term drone came about because the vehicles sounded like worker bees known as “drones.”

Tim’s a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker and he thought the quadcopter or drone would be a great aspect of selling real estate. “Unfortunately I can’t use it for real estate because of FAA rules of no commercial, at the time that I bought it that rule wasn’t in place.”

There are a few rules when it comes to the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. The laws are still trying to catch up with the technology.

You cannot use it for commercial purposes. You can’t go above 400 feet. It’s also a big “no no” in national parks. Yosemite National Park has banned drones after they became a nuisance to vistors of the park. Another rule is you can’t fly within three miles of an airport.

Whereas Tim uses his drone for good, clean, wholesome fun, other drone operators aren’t as level headed and responsible as Tim.

There have been many publicized incidents of aerial drones causing problems. One drone operator flew over a nude beach in Hawaii that created an online stir.

Technically, there’s nothing illegal about being a “creepy pest” because it was a public beach. When the operator was confronted by one of the sunbathers he accused him of breaking the law by being nude in public, which is technically illegal in Hawaii.

Got that? Being nude illegal, filming people nude, legal.

One man actually shot down a New Jersey man’s drone after it hovered near his home. He blew it out of the sky with his shotgun. Kaboom! The guy who shot down the drone was arrested and charged with Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose and Criminal Mischief. Oops.

Then there is the case of a 17-year-old teen who was innocently filming the shoreline of a beach in Florida. A woman became enraged and assaulted him because she thought he was filming bikini-baring beach goers. The video of the confrontation is quite disturbing. The woman called the police; but, after they viewed the I-Phone video from the teen’s camera, she was arrested for assault.

Tim told me he thinks “some of the news coverage is overblown.”

I spoke with Rob Watkins at RC Country Hobby on Folsom Boulevard and he said, “I’m more concerned in the type of person and how they’re flying them than the quadcopters themselves.”

Rob mentioned an incident where a guy was flying his drone over the Sand Fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills. It caused the grounding firefighting aircraft.

“We sell a lot of them here and they’re fun to fly. It just concerns me what people are doing with them,” Rob said.

What Tim is doing with his drone videos is making people feel good. The feedback Tim gets is all positive. His most popular drone video is the Del Campo High School campus. He’s actually from the graduating class of ’86. His quadcopter gives an aerial documentation of the campus as it slowly glides over the mighty oak tree that is at the center of the campus. The aerial video ends on the newly build Cougar football stadium. He also has an ethereal soundtrack that plays during the video. It elicited quite a few emotional responses on a Del Campo High School reunion page. Gregory Hansel, a class of 1984 alumni said, “Am I the only one who got a bit emotional seeing that? School hasn’t changed much. A lot of memories.”

Tim also has an enchanting drone video of the Sacramento River at the Tower Bridge. The quadcopter glides right over the golden bridge to reveal an aerial shot not many people have seen — the tip top of the Tower Bridge. It’s accompanied by some Joe Satriani-style guitar riffs. He also filmed a video of the American River near the Fair Oaks bluffs and bridge, another picturesque drone video of the area Tim calls home.

If you search You Tube, there are numerous beautiful, edgy, and just plain magical videos of nature’s beauty. These drone videos, by far, outnumber the irresponsible and innocuous ones that tend to get headlines. Waterfalls, cliff diving, and amazing Alaskan glacier views are just some of the subjects drone videos have beautifully captured.

Drone videos are also publicizing social justice like the Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong. There is an aerial drone video of hundreds of thousands of people in the street peacefully protesting.

There’s also aerial drone videos by The Swandiri Institute, an organization focusing its research on the political-ecology and social-ecological analysis of environmental change happening in Indonesia.

Drones are even helping to save the whales. The Ocean Alliance is a group that uses aerial drones to collect a broad spectrum of data from the whales without disturbing them. From the data, they advise scientists and policy makers on pollution and how to prevent the collapse of marine mammals and other sea life.

See? Aerial Drones are being used for good.

Which brings me back to Sacramento’s drone video photographer, Tim Pantle. He takes great pleasure in making drone videos that people have an emotional connection to. Tim also uses his common sense. “I don’t fly over people’s houses and if somebody shows any inkling they’re upset, I just leave. I’m not looking for any trouble.”

Tim is very careful and cautious with his quadcopter. When we were together, his plan was to fly over the Sacramento Zoo, but he was also a bit hesitant. Tim said, “I don’t know if I could fly over the zoo because it might disturb the animals. Common sense says, don’t bug the animals.”

He did manage to get some aerial footage of the zoo and no animals were disturbed.

Whether it’s Sacramento parks, historic bridges or our beautiful waterways Tim only uses his quadcopter for good. He also takes pride in giving Sacramento a bird’s eye view of the city he loves.

To check out all of Tim’s videos go to www.LoveSacramento.Blogspot.com

Got an item for Over The Fence? Greg@valcomnews.com

Over the Fence: Slow down for wildlife in Land Park

John and Christina Maradik-Symkowick stand where they hope a new Hollywood Park sign will be constructed along Freeport Boulevard.

John and Christina Maradik-Symkowick stand where they hope a new Hollywood Park sign will be constructed along Freeport Boulevard.

Feathers flew everywhere in Land Park when a driver hit a goose slowly waddling across Land Park Drive between the baseball fields and the pond area. Details of the fowl fatality are sketchy. Perhaps the driver was speeding, texting, or just not paying attention. No clue on the make and model of the car.
A witness said the goose was suffering and in obvious pain. Suzanne Vice of Land Park told me via e-mail “It was very difficult for me to see.” She went on to say, she was tearful and what got to her the most was the gaggle of geese standing next to the dying goose. The geese gathered around their fatally injured friend and made loud, frantic noises.
It was a chaotic scene.
The City of Sacramento Parks and Recreation website mentions “do not feed the wildlife” They should add, “and don’t hit them with your Ford Focus either.”
Suzanne mentioned to me that “maybe better signage for drivers to be aware of wildlife crossing the street as well as many pedestrians, children, and joggers that cross the street as well.” She just thinks people should slow down.
Maybe a wildlife crossing sign could get drivers to slow down on that stretch of Land Park Drive. Maybe a goose crossing guard…hey, they have one for DMV workers on 24th!
I see a sign
Hollywood Park deserves a sign. Plenty of other established Sacramento neighborhoods have signs marking their territory. Why not Hollywood Park? Hollywood Park resident John Maradik-Symkowick is sprearheading an effort along with his wife Christina to get a Hollywood Park sign placed along Freeport Boulevard to “put the neighborhood on the map,” as John put it.
They found a perfect spot too. A small rectangular piece of city-owned property next to the Regional Transit bus stop. The little strip of land is located between the King of Curls and the Freeport Dental office. There’s a beautiful large pine tree and even some small palm trees growing on the “perfect place for a sign” spot. John joked about making the sign look like the Hollywood sign in the hills of Hollywood.
It obviously wouldn’t be that large and extravagant but John hopes it would make a similar impact. Maybe a 1950s era type sign.
A lot of Sacramento residents don’t even know where Hollywood Park is. When people ask “Where is Hollywood Park?,” the replies are usually, “Across from Raley’s” or “Do you know where Hollywood Hardware is?”
If there’s a sign, residents can say, “Look for the Hollywood Park sign.”
At least that’s the plan. John, who is also on the HPNA Board, has met with Sacramento City Council member Jay Schenirer’s office to discuss the possibility of a Hollywood Park sign. The proposed site is on city owned property. There’s even electrical that can be used to shine a light on the sign and surrounding area at night.
John and his wife came up with the idea together. Then John brought it to the attention of the HPNA.
When we were standing at the proposed spot for the sign, his wife Christina told me, “This is the fun phase. The dreams and aspirations as well as engaging with the community. Then comes the nitty gritty stuff”.
The nitty gritty stuff… like funding for the sign and implementation.
Where will the dough come from? The HPNA could pitch in some funds. The City of Sacramento might be able to contribute as well. There has been discussions about fundraisers too.
Local volunteers are also welcome. John put out a call for local artists, craftspeople, or “anyone with a creative itch that needs scratching”. He’s also been in talks with City Signs on Freeport with design ideas.
If the project moves forward, the HPNA board plans to pick a set of final designs to be voted on at a future Neighborhood Association General Meeting. A neighborhood sign that would reflect the neighborhood. Nothing too flashy….but something that would complement all the 1950s-era homes in the quaint little neighborhood that wants to burst out of the shadows of the more popular local neighborhoods.

Pho comes to Freeport Boulevard
Fatty Cow Hot Pot along Freeport Boulevard is the restaurant that never opened. They never served one hot pot. A lot of remodeling was done inside the former Futami Japanese Restaurant earlier this year but Fatty Cow never actually opened its doors for business.
People who like Hot Pot will have to set their sights elsewhere. I noticed a new sign had replaced the old sign of the fat cow licking his spoon.
The new restaurant will now be called Pho Garden, only this time the restaurant will actually open. The doors were not open when I dropped by but Sherry the psychic next door looked into her crystal ball and told me they would open Oct. 6.
Never doubt a psychic.
There are new neon signs in the window and some giant palm tree like plants ready to be placed around the restaurant.
I spoke over the phone with Jonathon Lam, who’s in charge of hiring the restaurant employees, and he told me they are “very excited about opening in the neighborhood.” He couldn’t give me any information on why Fatty Cow Hot Pot never actually opened. They never served one hot pot. So forget the hot pot and get ready for some pho on Freeport.
Got an item for Over The Fence? Greg@valcomnews.com

They write the songs in Land Park

Ted Bazarnik, a Land Park resident, is part of the Nashville Songwriters Association. He's trying to get one of his songs recorded by an artist. Photo by Greg Brown

Ted Bazarnik, a Land Park resident, is part of the Nashville Songwriters Association. He's trying to get one of his songs recorded by an artist. Photo by Greg Brown

An artist can’t record a song without the words and music of a songwriter, but a catchy ditty with a good hook line can catapult an artist to the top.

The recording artist is always on the lookout for THAT BIG HIT.

That’s where the Nashville Songwriters Association International comes into play. NSAI is the world’s largest not-for-profit songwriters’ trade association. Established in 1967, the membership of more than 5,000 active and pro members spans the United States and six other countries. NSAI is dedicated to protecting the rights of and serving aspiring and professional songwriters in all musical genres.

The Northern California chapter is located right here in Sacramento and has more than 450 members.

The Northern California Chapter of the NSAI gathers at the Sierra 2 Center in Curtis Park on the second Wednesday night of each month. They get together to discuss and share their songs, bouncing ideas off of one another in a supportive and collaborative way. It’s a great way for them to inspire each other and have fun too.

I spoke with Gabrielle Kennedy, who is the Northern California coordinator for the NSAI and she told me, “We have pros, people that make their living being songwriters and musicians, come to Sacramento from Nashville quite often.”

A wide range of music industry professionals travel from Nashville several times a year to visit the local chapter of the NSAI. Last month, Rick Beresford, best known as the writer of the George Jones hit “If the Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me Her Memory Will,” hosted an all day workshop and gave feedback to folks attending. In September, Dan Hodges, a prominent music publisher, will be looking for songs to pitch to today’s country stars in a special event being held at Sidedoor Studios in Fair Oaks.

Another special event that will be held in late September is a workshop called “Arranging The Hits,” where writers can find out how to write and record their songs to sound like commercial hits. Larry Beaird from Nashville-based Beaird Music Group will be hosting the workshop. He’s one of Nashville’s top musicians who has played on the recordings of stars like Rascal Flatts, Faith Hill and Trace Adkins.

Members of the NSAI get feedback based on what their goals are. “Not everybody’s goal is to be on the radio, but if your goal is to be on the radio, then there is a certain type of structure that’s more common. You want it to be catchy and have a good hook,” Gabrielle said.

Most country music artists do not write their own songs, but there’s actually a greater opportunity in country versus pop to be a songwriter because your chances of getting something commercially cut are greater. “But it’s really tough,” Gabrielle told me.

If you are a member of the NSAI, you can send a song in once a month and they’ll have a pro critique it for you and send it back. You get professional guidance.

Members are also supporting one of the only organizations that go to Congress and lobby for the rights of songwriters. “That’s what NSAI’s primary purpose is,” Gabrielle said.

You’re paying a yearly due to fight legislation and to make sure your rights as a songwriter are protected. Right now they’re trying to get the royalty rate for songwriters increased for digital music. Currently the songwriters get 9 cents, and if they collaborate, they have to divvy that up.

NSAI is more important than ever due to the digital world like streaming music through Pandora. Pandora is a little “loosey goosey” when it comes to reporting which songs and artists are being listened to. It’s very difficult to keep track.

Gabrielle, who worked for CBS/Sacramento radio 10 years ago, set her radio career aside and decided to pursue her music dreams. She initially started a band with her sister called Gabscourt. Her sister got married and had two children and that left Gabrielle to continue to pursue her singer-songwriting career alone.

Gabrielle excitedly told me it looks as though she may get her first label cut soon. An artist named Canaan Smith signed to Mercury Records and he’s going to be coming out with his first album after the first of the year. They wrote a song five years ago with “some guy from Bermuda named Richard” as they like to refer to him.

Richard Bassett and Gabrielle actually met at an NSAI event in Lake Tahoe and began to collaborate. A Nashville publisher came to Sacramento at an NSAI event and she pitched the song to him and he loved it! He thought they both had a lot of talent so he invited them to come to Nashville to write with some seasoned Nashville writers.

“That was my first introduction about how Nashville does its songwriting. From that initial trip, I met Caanan and we all started writing songs together. One of those songs we wrote with him is looking like it’s gonna be a part of his first album,” Gabrielle said.

I mentioned to her “I bet that’s exciting,” and she told me, “Until it’s at Target or I can go to iTunes to buy it, I’m not gonna believe it til I see it.”

The song titled, “This Cigarette,” is about how a love, or person you’re in a relationship with, can treat you like their cigarette. “It’s kind of gritty country,” Gabrielle told me.

Shown here are local members of the Nashville Songwriters Association. The local chapter meets at Sierra 2. Photo by Greg Brown

Shown here are local members of the Nashville Songwriters Association. The local chapter meets at Sierra 2. Photo by Greg Brown

In a matter of time

You’re gonna burn me again
Light me up just long enough
For me to feel like it’s something
You’ll give me what I want
Pressing me to your lips
But you’ll put me out again
Like the end of this cigarette

She sent me the demo and I have a feeling the song will be headed to iTunes and the Target on Broadway next year!

You also may run into Gabrielle in the aisles at Target too, since she’s a Land Park resident.

Another member of the local chapter of the NSAI is Ted Bazarnik. He also lives in Land Park. He’s 72 years old and he’s not satisfied sitting around watching Matlock reruns, although he did quip, “I sometimes do that too.”

“When I was young, I was a musician,” Ted said. He started making music when he was about 16 years old in Auburn, New York. Mainly rock and roll and R&B. They performed on the college circuit: Syracuse University, Cornell, Colgate, and all those places back in the 1950s into the 1960s.

His band was called “Chuck Rubberlegs Shady and the Esquires,” which is quite a mouthful.

He decided to get out of the music business and go into law enforcement. He has a degree in Criminal Justice and worked for the University of California Police Department for 20 years. When he retired, he went to Utah and worked for the State Department Of Public Safety for 17 years and while he was in Utah he became interested in country music.

Ted went from fighting crime to writing country songs.

“I dated a cowgirl for awhile and she loved country music.” It kind of rubbed off on Ted. “She loved to sing along to all the country songs in the car.” He thought the music had great storytelling.

Ted was inspired to write her a song and everybody loved it. It was called “A Girl Named Tracey.” They still keep in touch to this day.

He got serious about song-writing once he moved back to California. Ted thought to himself, “I need something to do. I’m too old to get out on the road and play clubs and stuff…I’m 72 and have bad knees. But my brain still works!”

He started surfing the web and found NSAI. He went down to Nashville to visit a friend and he “fell in love with the place. I absolutely went crazy. I stopped by the NSAI office and told them, ‘sign me up.’”

When he got back to Sacramento, he contacted Gabrielle Kennedy, who headed up the Sacramento chapter, and that’s how it all started.

Ted isn’t afraid of technology either. He uses Facebook regularly and even pitched his first demo via Skype. He pitched it to Curb Records and they loved so much they added it to their catalog. He also pitched the demo at a local NSAI workshop. Steve Bloch, who has a publishing company in Nashville, liked it and took it with him back to Nashville. It’s a big deal having a music publisher put a song in their catalog. The song is called, “Wish I May.” The idea came to Ted while he was sitting on his deck and he had the TV going at the same time. As Ted tells it, “I heard the Disney ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’ that comes on before the movie…and I thought I’ll write a song about wishes.”

“Wish I May” is about a guy who’s been searching for somebody special and he knows that somebody special is out there for him.

Ted regularly collaborates with the other members of the NSAI including Chris Burrows of Sacramento and singer-songwriter Andrea Stray who lives in San Francisco. He appreciates the collaborations and thinks it makes the songs much better when there are different voices and talents contributing. He’s definitely not a one-man band.

Ted stays really active and gets out and goes to local concerts. He went to the Palms Playhouse in Winters to see singer-songwiter Holly Williams, who is Hank’s granddaughter. He also recently saw Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. He also hasn’t forgotten his rock roots. Ted attended the Kiss concert with one of his sons when they came to town. It was on his bucket list.

Ted really doesn’t date, he says, because he’s “having too much fun.” He told me his wife passed away from cancer back in 1997 and he would do anything to have her back. “I’ll never find anybody like her. When you find a jewel, it’s pretty difficult to find another one.”

After his wife passed, he did meet a couple of women, like the cowgirl in Utah, but he pretty much focuses on his songwriting, friends, and family these days.

“I fell in love with this songwriting thing and we have a great group of people. This group has brought me more happiness than you’ll ever know.”

Ted loves the songwriting process, heading to Nashville, going to the meetings, and the studio, and meeting all the artists. Ted said, “For me, it’s a brand new world.”

Ted’s ultimate goal is to get one of his songs recorded by an artist, which is very difficult because in Nashville alone there’s over 45, 000 writers. “The thing is if you don’t try, nothing will ever happen. I’m having a hell of a good time trying,” Ted said.

To learn more about the Sacramento chapter of the NSAI call 476-5073 or e-mail Gabrielle Kennedy at Gabrielle@Gabscourt.com They’re also on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/NSAISacramentoChapter

Over The Fence

Dog Problems at da Vinci
Hollywood Park has gone to the dogs. Well sort of. Unlike Land Park, Tahoe Park and Curtis Park, Hollywood Park technically doesn’t have a park. There is, however, a large green field area at Leonardo da Vinci School that neighbors use when school is not in session.
Call it Hollywood da Vinci Park School Field. Hollywood Park Field School?
Whatever you want to call it, it’s a nice local neighborhood gathering spot for children, parents, as well as dog owners to enjoy. Families and friends get know each other at the school playground. Lately the talk has been about the issues at the neighborhood gathering spot. Mainly, is Hollywood Park going to the dogs?
Unfortunately, there have been some irresponsible dog owners wrecking the fun for the majority of the neighbors who gather at the Leonardo da Vinci School area. Some of the dog owners are letting their four-legged creatures run rampant all over the school and creating tension among parents and other dog owners. As soon as some dog owners reach the school, they unleash their dogs and off they go to confront leashed dogs, run after children, and poop all over the soccer field and school playground. It’s a minority of dog owners ruining things for the rest of the neighbors. A few bad apples.
There was a recent dog confrontation when Hollywood Park resident Gina Knepp, who runs the Front Street Animal Shelter, walked her dog over to the school. Before she could even enter the gate with her leashed dog, four unleashed dogs came charging at her. She asked the women to “please leash their dogs.” Gina said, “I got some lip, I gave some lip.” Obviously it’s a volatile situation and folks lose their cool in a tense situation like that.
Another dog confrontation that occurred at the school earlier in the year was equally as nasty.
Nearby City Farms resident Jennifer Souza was walking her Russell Terrier mix when two unleashed border collies darted right towards her and her dog. She asked the two owners if they could leash their dogs and one of the women called her the “B word” and the other woman said, “No, we like to use the soccer field as an off-leash dog park.” More unpleasantries were exchanged and the women basically said, “We can do what we want.”
The off leash dogs are also terrorizing children who visit the school, including my 5-year-old son. He was innocently riding his bike on the school blacktop area when a large Boxer started chasing him. My wife was able to shoo the dog away to get my son off his bike and slowly walk to the gate to exit the school grounds.
You don’t know what’s going on in the mind of a dog. That’s what scares some parents. You just don’t know.
HP resident Mike Lasker who was at the school with his small children is a surgery resident at the UC Davis trauma unit and he told me, “We see a lot of dog maulings and attacks at the trauma unit. A lot of the victims of these dog attacks are children”. Sobering statistics.
The dogs aren’t just on the field. They’re running amok at the playground, they’re slurping out of the drinking fountain, they’re at the basketball courts.
Some neighborhood dog owners are treating the entire Elementary school like a dog park.
There is a dog park a few minutes from Hollywood Park on Fruitridge and South Land Park. There’s also the hardly used Mangan Park just across Fruitridge Boulevard where there’s a signal and crossing lane. Lots of choices.
Another big problem at the Leonardo da Vinci Field is the unleashed dogs are pooping all over the school and the owners aren’t cleaning up after them. It could be nicknamed Fecal Field! The school custodian told me it’s a real problem. They even poop in the playground sandbox area and the kids step in it. Dave the custodian added, “People aren’t supervising their dogs.”
There are some evenings when the LdV Field is full of harmony. Kids kicking the soccer ball around with their mom, a family playing baseball on the other end of the field and parents watching their children frolic around the school playground. There are definitely some responsible dog owners who pick up after their dogs and keep them leashed at Leonardo da Vinci School. Local resident Mike Carroll was enjoying the Leonardo da Vinci school grounds with his two well-behaved leashed Greyhounds.
Mike Lee and his wife Alisha were at the school with their children and small pit bull mix, although Mike said, “We don’t come here as much as we’d like because of the dogs off-leash.”
His wife Elisha added, “It all boils down to responsible dog ownership.”
The entire topic of the dog problems at the school were discussed on the Hollywood Park Facebook Group. The online conversation got a little heated when some dog owners felt they were being singled out.
The good thing to come out of all the back and forth on social media was outgoing school board member Patrick Kennedy, a Hollywood park resident and member of the Facebook Group, saw all the hubbub and decided to do something. He took action. That’s when new colorful signs were placed all around the school that say, “Kids First, keep this in mind while walking dogs.” There’s a little drawing of a man walking a dog on a leash as well as picking up after the dog. There is also a city code listed which refers to the dog poop ordinance. It’s a gentle reminder to dog owners who visit the school.
At first there was even controversy about the signs, which was surprising. Someone actually said, “Who put those signs up? Is that even legal?” That’s when the mystery do-gooder was revealed. It was the work of Sacramento City School Board member Kennedy. Patrick mentioned on the Hollywood Park Facebook Group, “Consider the signs one of my last official acts! And know they came from comments on this FB page.”
Will the sign curtail all the bad behavior of the irresponsible dog owners? I’ll keep you posted.

Starbucks/Noah’s Rumored to be coming to Land Park…or Not
Capital Power Equipment on Freeport Boulevard, which was in business for more than 50 years in Land Park, recently shut its doors and serviced their last lawn mower. The owners are retiring.
Since the lawn mower shop closed, rumors have been rampant about what and who will take-over the old building next to Taylor’s Kitchen and across the street from Marie’s Donuts.
The latest rumor is Starbucks Coffee and a Noah’s Bagels could be moving in.
Uh oh. Get ready for a huge traffic jam of Venti proportions!
Dave Hunter over at Taylor’s Market told me he had heard of a Starbucks/Noah’s Bagels combo “similar to the development across from The (Old) Spaghetti Factory on J Street.”
Dave said he met the mystery buyer about three times and he “has a vision how he wants things done. We have not seen or heard from the guy who is purchasing the property in about two months.” But that’s how they heard about the Starbucks/Noah’s Bagels rumor.
A Starbucks/Noah’s Bagels doesn’t really fit the neighborhood businesses in that small section across from Marie’s Donuts. Starbucks can be a real in-and-out sort of business…grab and go and that would wreak even more havoc on that busy intersection that’s already a bit of a traffic nightmare.
Dave said, “I’m not against a Starbucks or Noah’s Bagel’s,” but he’d like to see a different business going in there.
He mentioned the brand new development in Curtis Park, Curtis Park Village, would be a great location for a Starbucks or a Noah’s bagels to go in.
Dave added, “We have Freeport Bakery, Marie’s Donuts sells coffee, Vic’s Coffee Shop, La Bou by the Zoo and a Starbucks a mile down the Boulevard.” Plenty of coffee choices for residents to get their caffeine fix.
Marlene Goetzer, who owns Freeport Bakery told me, “I’m not worried about it business-wise because they’re a different business model. I would like to see something independent go in there because our little strip is pretty independent rather than a chain. I’m also a little concerned about parking. That’s a major issue. Seems like a bad fit for that spot. She added, “I’m not against people opening up businesses I just think there’s a better fit.”
Then she declared, “I’m pro-business. I’m a capitalist.”
Starbucks is actually looking for a site in the area. Maybe that is how the speculation got started.
I spoke to the commercial broker, Fred Springer, and he said, “It’s always interesting where these rumors come from because I think that would have been a perfect Starbucks and Noah’s Bagels location”.
Tri Commercial actually approached the broker for Starbucks as well as the real estate rep for Starbucks and they never even replied to Mr. Springer
So straight from the broker, “At this point in time, to the best of my knowledge, I am not aware of any deal with either Starbucks or Noah’s Bagels”.
Although Fred wasn’t exactly under oath.

Jade Fountain Café Gets a Remodel
The Jade Fountain Café has been closed for remodeling since March. There have been quite a few hungry diners dropping by only to find a sign saying, “Closed for remodeling.” The management also thanked their valuable customers for their patronage over the years.
There is a slew of Chinese restaurants in the little strip mall, but Jade Fountain Café seems to be a local favorite. Folks love the porridge!
There has been an old storage pod in front of the restaurant since the middle of March with no activity, until recently.
When I dropped by the family owned restaurant the jovial owner, Randy Lee, told me they were making some upgrades to the place. Keeping some old, adding some new. Lee told me they’ll have more comfortable seating for diners; they’re opening up the kitchen area and making the restaurant brighter with new paint and interior.
Lee added, “It’s gonna look nice!”
He also told me they’re replacing the worn, faded, sign in front of the restaurant. Look for the grand re-opening at the end of August.
Got an item for Over The Fence? Greg@valcomnews.com

Over the Fence

Cowboy Jerky At The State Fair

Jerry “Crawdaddy” MaloneI’m a fiend for beef jerky, a beef jerky connoisseur if you will. Every year I attend the California State Fair and one of my regular stops is Jerry’s Cowboy Jerky Stand. Some of the best beef jerky I’ve chewed on is Jerry’s Cowboy Jerky. Jerry’s has been at the California State Fair for 25 years, according to Andrew Osbourne, who now runs the show at the jerky stand.

The cowboy jerky compound is located on 24th and Fruitridge Road in South Sacramento. It’s a local family-owned business. It all started when Andrew’s father-in-law, Jerry “Crawdaddy” Malone, retired from the Los Angeles Police Department and became a commercial pitchman. One day, Jerry saw a beef jerky booth and thought to himself: “You know what? That’s the way to go.”

It was as simple as that.

So, that’s what he did, as Andrew told it. Cowboy Jerry Malone passed away back in 2012, but his jerky booth lives on.
They only employ friends and family at Jerry’s jerky stand. “We try to take care of the people who take care of us. They volunteer and come to the fair for free and we make sure they don’t go hungry.” Andrew quipped, “They work for jerky.”

I was thinking of filling out an application.

As I tore into the flat hickory stick, Andrew helped customers and told me about his beef jerky empire. My head was sweating from the spices while I doused my tastebuds with ice cold water after a few bites.

The jalapeno shooters are their spiciest jerky. They used to sell something called the 911 Jerky. It was so hot that his father-in-law was afraid of a lawsuit. Andrew remembers one time this girl was “probably 100 pounds, soaking wet and she ordered the 911 jerky, ate it, and never batted an eye. Then there was the guy who looked like he could probably bench press a house try the 911 jerky and he turned to tears,” Andrew said.

They have a large variety of protein-packed jerky to choose from at Jerry’s. From sweet to spicy. The Cowboy slab to the steak jerky. The teriyaki jerky is the most popular. They sell about 1,200 pounds of jerky each year at the State Fair.

They also sell churros, caramel corn, pretzels, and giant dill pickles. One woman was looking at the big jar of pickles in water and said: “That’s the biggest pickle I’ve ever seen.” Andrew called them the Double Dills.

Then he asked me, “Do you like nachos?” I joked, “Only the gluten free nachos.” He called them “Dirty” nachos…I was intrigued.

He brought back a huge pile of nacho chips, smothered with cheese, and shredded beef jerky. Dee, who’s worked with Andrew for 10 years, came up with the idea for “Dee’s Dirty Nachos” – catchy name, tasty snack. I really could not stop eating them. I was taking notes with my nacho-tainted fingers. I was making a pig of myself. I’m glad my wife wasn’t around to see it.

Beef jerky is pure Americana. It’s not just for cowboys. Since 1996, jerky has been selected by astronauts as space food several times for space flight due to its light weight and high level of nutrition. I guess the beef jerky pairs well with Tang.

I personally like it for fishin’ trips and road trips. It’s a handy snack.

Jerky is also commonly included in military field rations. It is particularly attractive to militaries because of its light weight, high level of nutrition, and long shelf life.

Every year they have servicemen that come to the jerky stand and stock up on the Cowboy jerky as they’re getting ready to go overseas. They better have lots of water in the canteen!

One year they had some leftover jerky. Two of Andrew’s nephews were stationed over in Iraq and he sent them each two or three pounds of jerky. “They were the heroes of their unit, everybody loved it,” Andrew said.

You can find Jerry’s Cowboy Jerky stand in Buildings A and C. Don’t forget the toothpicks!

Curtis Park Caramels Enter The Cookies and Confections Competition

Curtis Park resident Brenda Alexander Mitchell started entering the State Fair contests in 2008 because she wanted a blue ribbon.

Her first entry was a craft competition – a toe-sock chicken. It made honorable mention in Arts And Crafts. That just wet her appetite for more State Fair contesting. She was hooked. “I just love the Fair,” she said.

This year Brenda, who’s nickname is “Bee,” is making Earl Grey Caramels for the California Kitchen’s Cookies and Confections competition. She had tasted some chocolate infused with Earl Grey tea and that’s where the idea for the Earl Grey Caramels came from.

She’s dipping the bottom of the caramels in chocolate and sprinkling some salt on top. Instead of See’s Candies, it’s Bee’s Candy!

She’ll have some stiff competition at the California Kitchen Cookies and Confections contest. They don’t want just a hunk of brown caramel. “It’s gotta look pretty.” The judges are looking at taste, texture, consistency and appearance. None of the judges are Oompa Loompas, but one is a culinary teacher at American River College.

This is the first time Brenda has made candy for a State Fair competition. The last time she entered a competition for the Fair it was in cookies. She made Mexican chocolate chip cookies. In 2012, she won her division and won best in show. It was fun because she got a really big ribbon.

She took a year off from competing in the State Fair contests in 2013 because she says, “I was busy dieting.” She actually lost 70 pounds last year. Hopefully she won’t gain anything back from all the caramel and chocolate taste testing. “There’s lots of sampling, you gotta get it right,” Brenda told me.

She gave me a sample of the caramel, dipped in chocolate with a sprinkle of salt on top. It gave it a little crunch. I could also taste a small hint of the Earl Gray tea. She was still perfecting it while I spoke to her in the decadent smelling kitchen. She was perfecting the caramels all day and into the night.

She updates her progress on her Facebook page and posts photos of the caramels. One of her Facebook friends commented: “I would love to try them!!!! Can I just subscribe to your dessert of the month club???? YUMMMMMMM!”

I’m sure Brenda hopes the judges are as wildly enthusiastic about the caramels as her Facebook pals.

Brenda said one of the reasons she loves caramel so much is she used to wear braces and could never have the chewy candy.

Tempering is the key to good chocolate. If you properly temper your chocolate, it realigns the crystals in the chocolate to give it a shiny look and also gives it that snap like when you bite into a Hershey’s chocolate candy bar. It also keeps it from melting in your hand.

Brenda added, “and you need a good thermometer.”

She used an oiled sterling silver knife to cut the caramels into squares. “You don’t want to just squish the candy,” Brenda said.

She also added the best ingredients. The Earl Grey tea was from Teavana in the Arden Fair Mall and the caramel ingredients were from Corti Bros.

Brenda just does it for fun and every year she’s won something. “I can’t imagine that my luck might hold out but I’m hoping that I can get some attention with this”. I’m rooting for Bee’s candy to win Best In Show.

Iron Steaks on 13th and Broadway is now being called “Iron Grill” or simply “Iron.” Even their website address has changed www.Irongrillsacramento.com.

The owner of Iron Grill, Bill Taylor, told Land Park News his reasoning, “With beef prices moving up almost 30 percent, we are looking at what we can do with other food. We still do steaks and do them well, but we want to provide people with options and our chef is passionate and loves being creative. People want value and it’s not enough to be static. Keeping the menu simple allows us to be flexible.”

Executive Chef Keith Swiryn and the chefs at Iron not only grill some of the best steaks in town, they also offer jambalaya, fried chicken, and pasta primavera. Numerous new entres to choose from. Iron Grill…they’re more than just steaks.

If you have an item for Over the Fence, email greg@valcomnews.com.

Over the Fence

Classic Ford Thunderbird at the DIY Car Club

Classic Ford Thunderbird at the DIY Car Club

Tucked away off Fruitridge Road, east of the railroad tracks, is a cool, do-it-yourself auto club where people can meet, mingle and work on their vintage automobiles.

It’s the Sacramento DIY Classic Car Club. Robert Mitchell, a self-described car nut, runs the auto club.

If you have a vintage or classic vehicle, you can come to the shop and do anything from a tune-up or a complete restoration. Robert formed the car club because the city, homeowners associations, and some neighbors don’t want you tinkering with your car on your driveway.

According to Robert, there’s a backlash against auto do-it-yourselfers. “It’s actually become epidemic,” he said.

The car club is a good place to work on your hot rod or classic car without the neighbor worrying about the “eyesore” on the driveway.

The idea of the DIY Auto Club started when Dwayne Zajic of Zajic Appliances had a vacant building that needed a lot of work and he gave Robert a deal on the rent if he fixed the place up. Dwayne told him, “Turn it into a toy box.” And that’s what Robert did. It’s a giant toy box full of vintage cars in the middle of restoration.

Classic cars are in Robert’s blood. He actually grew up in a machine shop near the Indianapolis 500 Motor Speedway. That’s where his love of the automobile began.

He’s currently working on a 1959 F-100 truck. He’s taken her all the way down to the bare frame, sandblasted it, and now he’s putting it back together. It’s his lifelong hobby.

The folks at the car club are trying to keep young people involved in the automotive and restoration hobby. “There are a lot of young people out there that love old cars,” Robert said, pointing out that there are no auto shops in the schools anymore and kids are discouraged to work on the newer cars unless they’re an electronics genius. “When the young folks come in, we try to hold their hands and help them,” Robert said.

Robert’s face lighted up and his voice became animated when he led me over to a classic, black Ford Thunderbird. “This is one of the most beloved classic auto mobiles in the country, the Ford Thunderbird,” he said. According to Robert, the Thunderbird and Corvette were the two most beloved classic automobiles in the country. These cars have their own clubs internationally and they’re very rare and hard to find.

The club member’s Ford Thunderbird had been sitting in the garage for 12 years collecting cobwebs. The owner got it started the other day and decided to bring it in. He’s been working on it day by day after work. “He tinkers with it a little bit and we’ve got this thing running beautifully now. It purrs like a kitten,” Robert said. There are still a few things that need to be done to the jet-black classic Ford Thunderbird, but when he’s done with it, he’ll be able to take it out on the street and drive it every day. It’s the perfect car to cruise on over to the Westwind Drive-In and watch a double-feature under the stars.

Trying to find parts for the vintage automobiles is like searching for buried treasure, which is part of the fun of vintage car restoration. Robert scours the Internet for car parts, and other times, he checks out local salvage yards. In Northern California, there are a few old salvage yards that are dedicated to vintage automobiles, including in Winters, Williams, and Colfax. There, he rummages through the parts, looking for the ones he needs.

There’s a fee charged to become a car club member and it has to be a classic car “from the muscle car era back.”

I joked, “So no AMC Pacers?”

Robert paused and told me, “If somebody had an AMC Pacer, they would be very welcome. Believe it or not that has become a classic car,” Robert said.

He added that he was at a car show in Lincoln and somebody had completely restored an AMC Gremlin. The Gremlin was the laughing stock of the auto world back in the 1980s and now it’s considered a classic car.

The young AND the old partake in the DIY Auto Club. One member of the club is 87 years old. He has a collection of 23 classic cars and he still comes in and tinkers. There’s a father and son who are restoring a 1965 Mustang. They live in San Francisco and there’s nowhere they can work on their car. They are coming up on weekends for a father and son restoration project.

I told Robert, “I wish I knew how to work on cars.”

And he told me, “That’s what we’re here for.”

So, even if you have a low IQ for working on cars, you can learn by joining the DIY Car Club. They provide all the tools and know-how that you need. You may even end up a greasy-monkeying car nut!

If you’re interested in learning more about the DIY Auto Club, they’re located at 2700 Fruitridge Road, and, on the web, at www.sacdiyccc.com. Their phone number is 916-202-3649.

Over the Fence

If you want to check out this 3,700-square-foot, seven-bedroom, six-bathroom house in Carleton Tract that Charlotte and Ray rebuilt, it’s at 2361 20th Ave. Debra Sciotto of Keller/Williams is the agent.

If you want to check out this 3,700-square-foot, seven-bedroom, six-bathroom house in Carleton Tract that Charlotte and Ray rebuilt, it’s at 2361 20th Ave. Debra Sciotto of Keller/Williams is the agent.

Last October, I mentioned in “Over The Fence” an enormous 3,700-square-foot, seven-bedroom, six-bathroom house in Carleton Tract was getting a complete makeover by Lincoln Creek Builders. I made a few wisecracks about how it didn’t fit the neighborhood and also told of the colorful history of the home. Most of the homes in Carlton Tract, which is north of Hollywood Park, are three bedrooms with one bath and less than 1,500 square feet.
The biggest house on the block is now up for sale. Charlotte Kyle of Lincoln Creek Builders contacted me about it. She wasn’t even upset about my initial column, although she wasn’t fond of the term McMansion, which is isn’t. It’s the Hotel Carleton!
Charlotte says she loves the place because it’s “full of personality” just like Charlotte.
There have been some elegant upgrades to the home. They also kept some of the cool original things too. It’s not ticky tacky. The home has a colorful history…there was even a counterfeiting operation back in the 90s. I asked if they found any cash in the walls, but no such luck.
The house is solid, not fancy. “We take pride in what we do. We aren’t your ordinary fix and flip type of people,” Charlotte said. Charlotte and her business partner Ray Post both have lifetime construction backgrounds.
I asked Charlotte, “Why this house and why Carlton Tract?” She said, “The price was right and looking at the house we could already see it done. We’re visionaries. It’s just built into who we are. We care about tying in with the style of the house and uniformity. We take a lot of pride in who we are and the product we put out and I think it shows.”
The first thing I noticed when entering the two-story house is the two elegant staircases. One to go up and one to go down. The French doors upstairs lead out to the deck where you can look down at the newly landscaped backyard. The deck had been taken down when they moved the house from behind the Land Park Ski and Sports many years ago.
All the improvements are too numerous to mention. There was a lot of attention to detail. The bathrooms were gutted and double sinks and a jacuzzi tub were installed. Charlotte boasted how she did all the elegant tile work, too. The kitchen is all new with quality Viking appliances and a neat-o pantry. All new lighting, too. I bet Giada De Laurentiis would love to cook linguine in clam sauce in the redesigned kitchen.
Charlotte and Ray have both enjoyed being in the Carleton Tract neighborhood. Even though it’s hard work, Charlotte told me, “we’re kind of on vacation because we’re in a new area and we get to meet all the nice interesting people in the neighborhood.”
I thought, Carleton Tract isn’t exactly Catalina Island!
They have kept some of the original character of the home including the bird aviary in the backyard. They cleaned it up, painted it, and redid the new birdhouse. Charlotte said, “I didn’t have the heart to just get rid of it.”
While I was talking to Ray about the aviary and landscape, Charlotte interrupted saying, “Somebody’s gonna get in trouble if they put that hose on top of my plants one more time.” Ray said, “I didn’t do it.”
I asked, “Are you sure you’re not married?”
If you want to check out the house that Charlotte and Ray rebuilt it’s at 2361 20th Ave. Debra Sciotto of Keller/Williams is the agent.

I scream you scream we all scream for ice cream. Right? It’s hot in Sacramento in the summer and a refreshing ice cream cone is a good way to cool off and enjoy a tasty treat.
That’s what a group of customers in Land Park thought, too. I noticed a large group of Asian American folks leaving Happy Corner Café and heading to Rite –Aid on Freeport Boulevard for some of their famous Thrifty Ice Cream.
They all went over to the ice cream counter and peered through the glass to see what flavor they wanted. Rocky Road? Orange Sherbet, Cookies and Cream? All the while laughing, talking and enjoying the evening together.
I heard over the Rite-Aid sound system: “Assistance in ice cream, please.”
I was in the antacid aisle getting some Rolaids when I noticed a woman come from the back of the store. She slowly made her way to the main counter…not the ice cream department.
The group of folks waiting for ice cream were waiting…and waiting…and waiting…until they eventually just gave up. They all walked out of the Rite-Aid together.
It was quite a scene, too. They made their displeasure known by just walking out the door. A silent protest.
Maybe they should screamed for ice cream!
Not sure why the Rite-Aid employee did not help them. Perhaps scooping ice cream is above her pay grade? Some customers looked puzzled. There was an air of uncomfortableness in the store. A giant band of customers just left the store together and the employee said, “Oh well, it’s just ice cream” and proceeded to carry on a long conversation with an elderly male customer.
Then a new group of people wandered over to the ice cream counter. Folks love Thrifty Ice cream! The employee kept on chit chatting when the other worker told the customers waiting patiently that she’d “be there in a minute.” You could tell she was irritated by her co-worker completely ignoring the patrons waiting for two scoops of Vanilla.
When I left the store the employee was still chit chatting with a customer about something and there were more people waiting in line to order a scoop of Mint Chip.
Maybe Rite-AID could use a full-time ice cream scooper – somebody with big forearms that stands there waiting for hot, sweaty customers jonesing for an ice cream cone.

A duo of dishes in Land Park has made for interesting conversations between neighbors.

A duo of dishes in Land Park has made for interesting conversations between neighbors.

Love Thy Neighbor…except if they own a satellite dish.
That’s what is happening in Land Park. Both parties did not want their real names to be used, so I went with Pro-Dish/Anti-Dish to identify them.
A woman on Land Park Drive is flabbergasted by her next door neighbor’s satellite dishes. Two satellite dishes peer down on her backyard and taunt her from the side of her neighbor’s roof. Her family moved to the charming Land Park home more than a year ago with the satellite dishes next door “not understanding it had such an impact on my landscaping. Visual damage is being done to my property,” she said.
The anti-dish lady told me, “I can see them outside every window. Every window. They’re in my sight line…and I told my neighbor that. They are a visual imposition.”
An unsightly satellite dish is hardly the biggest problem a neighbor can be faced with. Loud obnoxious parties, a constantly yapping dog, or even a meth lab would seem to be more of an imposition.
But I guess to some people a satellite dish is a neighborhood eyesore, especially when it’s staring right back at you. #firstworldproblems right?
The two families were actually friendly with each other in the beginning. Their children played together and they had dinner a couple of times. I joked she was probably buttering them up to get rid of the satellite dishes.
“Would you like some dessert…and can you dump the dish?”
At first the neighbors tried to work together to come up with a solution. “When you move into a neighborhood you always hope that people can work together and that your neighbors care what you’re looking at.” The anti-dish lady said.
The pro- dish couple were thinking about switching to Comcast after their Direct TV contract was expired to placate their neighbor. That would have been six months down the road which was too long of a wait for the anti-dish lady.
Moving the dishes, which are facing south, would have created a reception issue.
The pro-dish lady said, “I guess I feel like it’s not that we weren’t willing to compromise. I felt like she really took control of the situation before we really had a chance to compromise.”
The anti-dish lady has forged ahead with her own solution. She had a designer come in and design a pergola that was up to code and attached to the fence. She also purchased large planters and has planted bamboo to camouflage the two dishes.
Only time will tell what this might do to the pro-dish neighbor’s satellite reception as the bamboo grows to the sky. Right now, they seem to have no problem with it.
The pro-dish neighbor said, “She sort of took ownership of the fence so they could do whatever they wanted to do to the fence. And we were OK with that.”
There are some other innovative ways people are camouflaging satellite dishes.
In Germany, there is an artist who has come up with a creative way to make satellite dishes more attractive. Daniel Knipping calls it satellite dish art. He paints images like a ferocious tiger, a happy baby, even a classic Chevy Chevelle, directly onto the dish to make it more eye-catching.
Another way people are camouflaging satellite dishes is through the website, www.sqish.co.uk/gallery.php.
It’s billed as a “discreet alternative to a satellite dish” with various patterns pasted onto it from faux-brick finishes to fake wood-slat patterns and more.
Even if you think a satellite dish is an ugly eyesore and would like to tear it off your neighbor’s roof, you can’t. It’s not legal. People who own satellite dishes have rights.
When Congress passed the telecommunications Act in 1996 they instructed the Federal Communications Commission to adopt the Over-the-Air Reception Devices rule concerning governmental and nongovernmental restrictions on viewers’ ability to receive video programming signals from direct broadcast satellites. The rule has been in effect since October 1996, and it prohibits restrictions that impair the installation, maintenance or use of antennas used to receive video programming.
In other words, I’m watching “Game of Thrones” on my Dish, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
I asked the anti-Dish lady if they’ll still have dinner parties after all this and she gave out an exacerbated, “Noooooo.” But who knows? Maybe they can patch things up and all watch “Neighbors” together when it comes to Direct TV.
Got an item for Over The Fence? Greg@valcomnews.com