Over The Fence with Greg Brown

Rail To Trail in South Land Park

Director Jazmin Jamias and co-director Kristine Gerolaga pose in front of the new movie section at Awesome Video.  /  Photo by Greg Brown
Director Jazmin Jamias and co-director Kristine Gerolaga pose in front of the new movie section at Awesome Video. / Photo by Greg Brown

The Del Rio Trail in South Land Park sounds like something John Wayne would have rode a Stagecoach through in one of those old movie Westerns. “Alright, pilgrim. I’ll meet you on the Del Rio trail.”
The natural trail has primarily been used by locals as a 4-mile public walking trail. One spot along the trail is nicknamed the “Secret Glorious Place” by a local Waldorf pre-school teacher.
The sights and sounds of birds and bees are everywhere. California poppies and wildflowers blooming throughout the trail. There’s also a strong scent of springtime in Sacramento along the trail.
There’s a “No Trespassing” sign that everybody ignores and some janky gates that don’t keep anybody out. The trail is lined with backyard fences along the way.
The Del Rio Trail is owned by Regional Transit. They bought it back in the 80s as surplus property thinking one day they’d run the Blue Line through there. These days they have no use for it.
It’s now up for sale. I saw the new For Sale sign staked on the corner of San Mateo and Riverside.
The State Parks and Recreation Commission was proposing an excursion train full of tourists chugging through the four mile stretch of the Del Rio Trail on its way to Pocket Road from Old Sacramento. There would be a stop in between at the Sacramento Zoo. Once the neighborhood learned about it they mobilized and expressed vocal opposition to the train traffic traveling through their quiet neighborhood.
It worked.
State Parks backed down and agreed to remove the four-mile neighborhood section from its general plan and a revised plan was adopted last May. The State Parks and Recreation Commission approved the train stations at the Sacramento Zoo and at Pocket Road.
This raises a question as to how will the trains travel from Old Sacramento to Pocket Road without using the South Land Park tracks?
Could there be a round two battle brewing over the tourist trains?
Hopefully, not. Although, there are still concerns from local residents.
A group of neighbors have joined together with the leadership of the South Land Park Neighborhood Association and the City Of Sacramento. They call themselves the South Land Park Trail and Greenbelt Committee. The committee includes residents from South Land Park Hills, South Land Park Terrace, and local high school students. They are creating a neighborhood action plan for the four miles of abandoned tracks that run from Sutterville Road, behind Sprouts, and extends to Pocket Road near Freeport Boulevard. It would be a multi-use trail. Pedestrians, bicyclists and dog walkers would co-exist in harmony along the urban trail.
In the wider sections of the trail they’d like to create community gardens where a school group or neighborhood could plant organic gardens. Some parts of the Del Rio Trail can get gritty. Wider sections towards the South are brownfields with some trash from Freeport and illegal camping. The goal is to improve and protect the neighborhood.
Give the trail some TLC.
I met with Brian Ebbet and Sharon Louie on the Del Rio Trail one sunny afternoon to learn more about the rail to trail idea. Brian and Sharon are both members of the South Land Park Trail and Greenbelt Committee, also known as the “rail to trail” team.
“The rail to trail proposal is more than just a local amenity, it’s also to prevent the trains from coming through our neighborhood,” Brian told me. They want to be pre-emptive and pro-active.
“There’s a pot of money out there for bike trails,” Brian said.
The project is being considered for future grant funds that have a goal of improving bicycle and pedestrian mobility. The next step for the Rail to Trail team is to reach out to the community and engage with residents.
If you want to be a part of the rail to trail team or have comments or suggestions, contact Committee Chairperson Sharon Louie at SharonL6251@gmail.com

Movie Making At Awesome Video

Awesome Video, the iconic Land Park video store on the corner that has outlasted them all, recently became a movie set for some aspiring student filmmakers from San Francisco State University.
For several days a cast and crew took over Awesome Video and shot a short film entitled “I Hate The Color Red.” It’s a story about a brother and sister who inherit their parents’ video store. They try to keep the video store alive, and in part, their parents alive, too.
The title idea, “I Hate The Color Red”, comes from the fact that the video store is in the red. Another reason for the title is Redbox, as well as the red envelopes Netflix uses to deliver their movies.
The film’s producer Laura Chenault quipped, “Redbox is the bane of the video store owner’s existence.”
The director of the short film, Jazmin Jamias, told me it was hard to find a video store big enough to film in.
When she first stepped foot in Awesome Video she was impressed with the size, the look, and all the cool posters on the wall. She thought the store had a nostalgic sense to it.
Jazmin was also excited about finding an old school video store jewel like Awesome Video. “When I saw the ‘Criterion Collection’ I knew this was my video store.”
The owner of Awesome Video, Maithu Bui, agreed to the filming because she has a passion for movies. “This is just like a love affair, that’s why I am here. The store is for the neighborhood and this is a neighborhood picture. I hope neighbors see us that way.”
Where did the idea of the short film come from? Jazmin was thinking about the things she liked to do when she was younger. “When I was in high school I was going to the video store almost every day,” he said.
Jazmin mentioned she had a Blockbuster Video and a Hollywood Video in her hometown of Vallejo. Going to the video store, sifting through the movie titles and talking to other movie lovers is “Something I miss doing,” Jazmine said.
When Netflix came out and Redbox followed, the local video stores started disappearing. Hollywood Video, Blockbuster…gone. Now it’s all about streaming movies on demand from the convenience of your couch.
Awesome Video has outlasted them all!
“The movie is really about human connection, Jazmin said. That was one of the biggest things I wanted to convey”. She added, “Sometimes technology takes that away.”
Producer Laura Chenault, told me “I devour movies and film and I love Awesome Video, I wish we had one in my neighborhood, I really do.”
Once the film is completed I’ll let readers know when and where they can see it. I even make a cameo in the film with my five year old son, Freddy. Perhaps a special exclusive red carpet showing at Awesome Video. Wouldn’t that be, awesome?
Got an item for Over The Fence?


MLK Jr. K-8 School students performed “The World Would Be Better” at annual ceremony

Photo courtesy of Sacramento City Unified School District
Photo courtesy of Sacramento City Unified School District

Martin Luther King Jr. K-8 School students performed the song “The World Would Be Better” — composed by MLK student Karina Morales — at the Third District PTA’s 23rd Annual PTA Reflections Ceremony on March 13 at the California Automobile Museum.

Karina received an Award of Excellence for the composition.

The theme of this year’s Reflections art competition was “The World Would Be a Better Place If…” Students from Matsuyama, Sequoia and Sutterville also performed at the ceremony.


LiLu handbag auction to be held at ACC in the Pocket

Members of LiLu are girls and boys from Sacramento high schools who meet throughout the year to create and sew one-of-a-kind handbags to sell at their annual fundraiser for the Wind Youth Service Center. The Wind Youth Service Center provides outreach, social services, and emergency shelter for homeless youth, ages 12-22. These services range from giving teens a place to wash and dry their clothes to teaching them day-to-day skills. So far, LiLu has raised more than $55,000 for the Wind Center! The teen-run non-profit was founded in 2000 by high schoolers, Libby (“Li”) Abbott and Lucy (“Lu”) Plumb-Reyes. – Source: Sacramento City Unified School District
This year’s auction will be held on Saturday, May 2 from 1 to 3 p.m. at ACC Senior Services Center, 7334 Park City Dr. and the Pocket area folks involved are getting jazzed. One of the organizers, Pocket resident Angela Wood, said the deejay has been lined up, bag tags completed by Genevieve Didion eighth graders, the pre-set sale table filled, and more than 30 handcrafted bags waiting to be walked down the runway!

The following local high schoolers wrote about why they have gotten involved making these handbags and about the sewing skills they’ve developed.

Name: Alexis Louie (Current LiLu President)

How many bags have you made?

This fiscal year, LiLu members have designed and sewed over 50 bags. I have been a member of LiLu for three years. Over the past three years, I have created approximately 10 bags.

Describe what they look like:

From calico to chambray, tapestry to tweed, and all in between, LiLu members plan, design, cut, stitch, and embellish one- of-a-kind bags. I like piecing together fabric that would not necessary go together at first glance. The creative aspect is what I enjoy the best.

Why are you participating in this event?

As I mentioned before, I enjoy designing and executing my design. Over the past year, my goal as President has been to keep our non-profit active and strong. I like teaching new members how to sew…the look on their faces when they finish their first bag is priceless!!!

Have you ever sewn before?

I, personally, have sewn since I was in middle school; however, more than half of all LiLu members have had no sewing experience. They are creative people who are drawn to the idea of “kids helping kids.”

Name: Ebonee O’Bryant

How many bags have you made?

I’ve made two bags.

Describe what they look like:

My first one was really simple the outer lining was blue with flowers on it. And my second one had another floral pattern but with a stripe down the front that makes the pattern pop.

Why are you participating in this event?

I’ve been friends with the president since freshman year and she’s been telling me about her club and how it helps teenagers like me but who are less fortunate. I think it’s a good way for me to give back while also doing something I like.

Have you ever sewn before?

I had no idea how to sew before this. I hadn’t really planned on ever learning how to sew but now I have a useful skill that will help in the future.

Name: Michelle Veu

How many bags have you made?

4 bags

Describe what they look like:

A majority of my bags follow a more earthy/nature approach with some kind of unique element to really tie it all together.

Why are you participating in this event?

I’d really like to be a part of the event that is setting forth all of our hard work and see how it all goes. Fingers crossed we do well!

Have you ever sewn before?

Before joining Lilu I only had experience sewing on buttons, if that.

Blake Kaiser-Lack

How many bags have you made?

3 and a half

Describe what they look like:

I made a flap bag with a brown exterior and blue inner lining using some sort of material square as my flap. My favorite I made was this mustache bag. I used this sort of fluffy black material I had at home as the mustache and sewed it onto a white strip on the top of the bag and the rest is black.

Why are you participating in this event?

I participate in Lilu because I believe it not only builds my own skills as a sewer, but also allows me to give back to the community in a fun, club-based way. Lilu really allows me to embrace my creative side and in a way, helps me break gender stereotypes on traditional skills men and women can have. Yes, I’m a guy, and I believe I am an awesome sewer.

Have you ever sewn before?

I started sewing summer last year and now I know how to use multiple sewing machines and have even improved my hand sewing. I even resewed my broken backpack this year by hand.

Name: Brianna Davis

Amount of bags:

Currently 4

Describe what they look like:

One has a teacup and saucer on the front, floral bag with polka dot straps, another has elephants all over it with two sewn on flowers w/buttons and polka dot straps, the third is floral with lots of pink and tan tones and polka dot straps and a sewn on bow made from lace trimming, and the fourth is polka dot and solid color on both sides with lace covering where the materials meet with plain dark pink straps

Why are you participating in this event?

I really enjoy making these bags and seeing how they turn out. The auction is so fun to participate in, modeling the bags off and letting people see them. I love that the proceeds from our auctions benefit Wind Youth Services and the homeless teens they help.

Have you ever sewn before?

Before participating in Lilu, I did not know how to sew with a machine or by hand, but its surprisingly easy once you get used to it.

If you go:


LiLu handbag auction


Saturday, May 2 from 1 to 3 p.m.


ACC Senior Services Center, 7334 Park City Dr.

Ticket price:

$10 adults, $5 students
Websites: http://windyouth.org/”http://windyouth.org


New Tech students beat expectations, help others for Senior Projects

Photo courtesy of Sacramento City Unified School District Shown here is New Tech High School senior Ben Johnson who competed in his first triathlon as part of his Senior Project.
Photo courtesy of Sacramento City Unified School District Shown here is New Tech High School senior Ben Johnson who competed in his first triathlon as part of his Senior Project.

Sacramento New Technology High School senior Ben Johnson competed in his first triathlon as part of his Senior Project.

Johnson, who has cerebral palsy, participated in Indoor Triathlon USA’s event in San Francisco, where athletes swam for 10 minutes, biked for 30 minutes and ran for 15 minutes.

“I wanted to do a triathlon, because I wanted to learn how to swim and ride a bike, and learn how to run better,” Johnson says. “I also wanted to prove to myself that I could do anything I set my mind to. My whole life, all of the doctors and psychologists told me that I would never make it, that I wouldn’t live and I wouldn’t walk.This event was a little way of proving them wrong and showing that Benjamin Johnson is not a statistic, just an every day strong adult.”

At the event, Ben was supported by his family, New Tech staff and several of his fellow competitors.

“For the first time in years, I feel like I can do anything I want to do,” Johnson says. “Cerebral palsy does not define who I am. I am strong.”

Another New Tech senior, Nohely Alcala, spent the year collecting 81 backpacks and the school supplies to fill them for third and fourth graders at Primaria Gabriela Mistral in Uruapan, Michoacan, Mexico. She personally delivered the supplies as part of her Senior Project.

“I really enjoy working with children and giving back to others,” she says. “When I grow up, I want to be a teacher and I felt like this was a great opportunity for me to get closer to my career goal…I also really believe that change begins with just one person and I want to be that person.”

Alcala says her father attended a “small, overcrowded school” similar to Primaria Gabriela Mistral.

“I want the donated school supplies and backpacks to be a motivation to the students that receive them.”


Levee Protection: Sacramento and American Rivers

In a New York Times article (1979) Michiko KaKutani interviewed writer Joan Didion, a fifth-generation Sacramentan who wrote extensively about our Sacramento rivers. KaKutani said, “…Sacramento is a valley town where the summers are hot and plagued by drought, and where the winters are cold and menaced by flood. It is a landscape of extremes.”

Although they bask in the beauty and recreational fun of the rivers, Sacramentans who live near the Sacramento and American Rivers go on alert when the floodplain subject comes up. Even though California is in historic drought time, the river levees must be kept safe with constant repair. Levee wall seepage has happened in some areas for decades and record storms have haunted Sacramento.
California State, SAFCA, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have released draft plans for $1.46 billion in Sacramento levee work. Costs are typically shared by the Federal Government and California State. SAFCA is holding community meetings in April to seek comments from residents about the proposed river levee projects. Deadline for the comment period ends May 4, 2015.

SAFCA is a Joint Powers Agency, formed in October 1989, in the aftermath of the February 1986 flooding. Levee vulnerability was exposed during this time when several levees nearly collapsed under the strain of the storm.

In 2013, speaking before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Richard M. Johnson, Executive Director of the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (SAFCA) said, “The Sacramento region is one of the most at-risk areas in the country from the standpoint of potentially devastating flooding.”

Johnson says the goal of the proposed levee improvements is to actively move forward so the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will not start the remaping process.

According to the SAFCA website, “Sacramento Area Flood History,” in the 1840’s, John Sutter who settled Sacramento considered the proximity of two mighty Rivers, the American and the Sacramento, a significant benefit to the fledgling settlement. Yet since, record storms have devastated the Sacramento area.

On December 9, 1861, the American River Levee failed east of 30th street, flooding what is now known as River Park. The water then overran the City’s levee built to protect it. To relieve the rising water levels, the levee at R & 5th Streets was cut to drain the “lake” but houses were swept away in the current of the cut in the levee.

Sacramento streets were raised in response to the floods of 1861-62. Streets east of the Sacramento River to about 12th Street were raised as much as 14 feet. In 1862, newly elected Governor Leland Stanford had to travel in a rowboat to his inauguration at the Capitol.

The First Comprehensive Flood Control Plan was written in response to the 1878 flood. The plan subsequently came to include a system of levees, weirs, and bypass channels to protect existing population centers.

Folsom Dam was authorized in 1944 by the Flood Control Act . It gave the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers power to build a dam on the lower American River. The Dam was completed in 1956.

Just after the ground was broken on Folsom Dam in 1951, the American River watershed began to experience massive storms. In 1956, a record storm filled Folsom Dam in a week, and the Dam saved Sacramento from flooding.

Another record storm in 1964 caused engineers to re-evaluate storm frequency. They concluded that Folsom Dam was designed to handle a 120-year storm.

The February storm of 1986 dumped 10 inches of rain on Sacramento in 11 days. After two days of releases from Folsom Dam, it was downgraded to a 60-year storm performance.

Pete Ghelfi, Director of Engineering for SAFCA in an interview with KSTV Channel 32 said, “1986 was a benchmark year. It was really the worst storm on record, the largest storm we’ve had in the 150-year history of Sacramento.”

Greenhaven homeowner Bob Aldrich says, “We lived in Campus Commons by the American River during the 1986 flood. I was a reporter for KHYL/KAHI Radio and would go up to the levee and then report from my home office. After moving furniture upstairs, we, with our cats, voluntarily evacuated Campus Commons by the one route out and stayed in the south area with family. We moved to Greenhaven near the Sacramento River in 2003.”

Improvements to the American River levees in 2005, included deep under-seepage cutoff walls and erosion protection. This provided Folsom Dam 100-year protection for much of the American River floodplain, except the Pocket and Meadowview communities. More than 55,000 properties with 100-year flood protection were eligible to receive lower cost for Preferred-Risk flood insurance policies.

Improvements in 2007 to the Sacramento River levees and the South Sacramento Streams levees expanded protection for the Meadowview and Pocket communities. More than 26,000 properties became eligible to receive the lower cost flood insurance.

Greenhaven/Pocket homeowner Muriel Farrell says, “It’s hard to pay flood insurance on my home and on a rental I have, but I know it’s necessary. During flood threats, I’d lie in bed at night and worry about what I would do if I had to leave in an emergency.”

The proposed river levee projects will reduce risk of flooding to approximately 120,000 residential homes. This will allow FEMA to re-certify the levees. In addition to federal standards, the California Legislature approved legislation requiring all California to meet the 200-year level of flood protection.

Upon approval of the draft of the Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), construction would start no earlier than 2016 in the North Sacramento Streams area (Natomas) and no earlier than 2017 along the Sacramento River East Levee (Pocket/Greenhaven). These improvements will also enlarge the Sacramento Bypass that was built a century ago to divert floodwaters away from Sacramento.

Pocket homeowner Kathi Windheim says, “The levee seepage is worrisome, and the 200-year flood protection certification is important.”

Currently officials say the levees are safe, but just do not meet newer safety standards.

For more information on levee projects, a list of community meetings, and to make comments on the DEIR , contact:
SAFCA website http://www.safca.org
SAFCA Project Ombudsman Jay Davis) jdavis@gualco.com
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Project Manager Dan.P.Tibbitts@usace.army.mil

Leigh Stephens is a CSUS retired professor of journalism and the author of the book, Covering the Community.

Free yoga continues to grow: Tahoe Park resident discusses Yoga in the Park at McKinley and Tahoe parks

Photo courtesy of Yoga in the Park Shown here are yoga practioners taking advantage of free yoga in Tahoe Park at 9 a.m. on Sundays at the corner of 59th Street and 11th Avenue.
Photo courtesy of Yoga in the Park Shown here are yoga practioners taking advantage of free yoga in Tahoe Park at 9 a.m. on Sundays at the corner of 59th Street and 11th Avenue.

On Saturdays it’s 9 a.m. at McKinley Park near the rose garden, on Sundays it’s Tahoe Park. Yoga practitioners venture out to the grass, lay out their mats and enjoy hour-long yoga sessions free of charge by registered yoga teachers.
What began in 2009 by Gina Garcia with free weekly classes in her living room quickly grew to more than 50 on average in McKinley Park. And it was those classes that were some of Tahoe Park resident Zach Stahlecker’s first experiences with yoga. “I consistently practiced out there on Saturdays even when I had a regular studio practice,” he said. By 2013, he began assisting YITP with helping set up, clean up and offering assists (or adjustments) to students as they practice.
Meanwhile, over the last several years, Zach has seen a shift in the Tahoe Park neighborhood. “It is craving a connection to the city, and to each other,” he said.
With the Sanskrit word “yoga,” which is translated to mean “yoke; bring together. Or, union,” Zach noted there is something very special about practicing yoga in a community where economics, age, or experience level is not an issue. So passionate about Saturdays at YITP at McKinley, he started YITP at Tahoe Park on Sundays. “My friend Jodi Dillon and I would alternate teaching Sundays. Our largest class last year was almost 70 people. And we are expecting much more than that this year.”
Recently Gina has stepped away from YITP and Zach already had the experience with scheduling teachers, so it was a natural progression that he carry on these responsibilities, which he says, “is truly an honor.”
There are a few additional parks around Sacramento that are contenders for YITP, but nothing is solid, he told the East Sacramento News.

Cougar football gears up for annual rib dinner in the new stadium

Photo courtesy Alex Gomes is a new assistant coach for Kennedy's football program. He played football under head coach Matt Costa when both of them were at Mira Loma a few years ago.
Photo courtesy Alex Gomes is a new assistant coach for Kennedy's football program. He played football under head coach Matt Costa when both of them were at Mira Loma a few years ago.

As the new Cougar stadium at John F. Kennedy High School symbolizes a sense of pride among athletes, the football program itself has seen great changes, including the hiring of some great coaches like Alex Gomes, an all-time leading receiver in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and former California State University, Sacramento quarterback Blake Mori as well as former Sac State line coach Jason Cutone and a few Kennedy alumni.
Head coach Matt Costa spoke with the Pocket News about the football program as it gears up for the third annual rib dinner and auction to be held on Friday, May 1 inside the new stadium. The dinner and auction, which will go from 6 to 9 p.m. will include dinner, raffle, door prizes (must be present to win!) and Games! Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children and students. Dinner will include a plate of ribs or chicken, side dishes, a roll and desert. Bottled water or can of soda is included in the ticket price. There will be additional drinks on hand for purchase. Contact Head Football Coach Matt Costa for questions or additional tickets at 508-7831 or email jfk.cougarfootball@gmail.com.
Costa simply loves football. “As a fan there really is nothing like it,” he says, “especially at the college level. The pageantry and the effort put in to the game by these athletes at the high school and college level amazes me. As a player I loved hitting people. It’s a lot of fun to know that on any given Friday or Saturday you can be a hero to your friends. As a coach, I really love the preparation. The games are fun but it’s Monday through Thursday that I enjoy the most. I do miss playing, but I love coaching more.”
Costa graduated in 1999 from El Camino High School and in 2000 from American River College, and in 2003 from the University of Saint Mary. He played four years at El Camino High School, two years at American River College, and two years at The University of Saint Mary. He also played one season for the Northern Valley Lions, and one season for the Woodland Wolf Pack.
Costa began his coaching career as a student assistant at the University of Saint Mary. Then he was the defensive coordinator at Immaculata High School in Kansas during a state title run. After that, he moved back home to Sacramento and started coaching at Mira Loma High School as a junior varsity assistant. He left Mira Loma and became the junior varsity head coach at C.K. McClatchy for two seasons, after which time he left CKM to become the first athletic director and head football coach at Cristo Rey High School, where he started the Athletic Program at Cristo Rey. In 2009, he left to become the head football coach at Mira Loma, taking the team to the playoffs for the first time in more than 15 years before coming to Kennedy. Costa also did stints at the semi-pro level with the Northern Valley Lions as their defensive coordinator and with the River City Gators as a linebackers’ coach.

Asked what he enjoys most about coaching specifically at JFK, Costa couldn’t name just one thing. “I love teaching and coaching at JFK for a multitude of reasons. First, I work for the best principal in the Sacramento area. I am not saying that because he is my boss, I am saying it because it’s the truth. The guy holds people to a high standard which I respect. He is as down to earth and as real as it gets. He is definitely a great guy to work for. Second, I love the students and athletes at JFK. A large percentage of my ball players really a working hard at this thing. They have allowed us as coaches to coach them up and as a result each year we have gotten better. The players are buying in to what we are doing. Now I would really like to see the community buy in to the program as much as the kids have. You could really see that buy in from the school when we beat CKM 30-28. Third, the facilities are amazing. Last, I just really love the JFK community, teachers, staff, admin, kids, really all of it. They bought into me when I took this program over at its worst. I mean it doesn’t get any lower than it was three years ago. They allowed me to do what needed to be done to get it going again. They bought into me, so I have bought into the JFK community. I love getting up and coming to work.”
From making playoffs at Mira Loma to coaching in the Kansas playoffs, Costa has experienced many successes along his career thus far, but beating C.K. McClathcy last year trumps all of that. Speaking about that monumental game, Costa said, “There is a huge rivalry between the two schools and it has seemed to really have been extremely negative since the fight. We were down three scores and came back to win the game. That’s tough to do in high school football. That to me was a big turning point in our program. It just shows that we as a staff have spent three years now talking about doing the right thing and it is paying off huge.”
There has been a few players over the years that have stood out as star athletes. Defensive tackle Chigoze Nnoruka , “was just one heck of a ball player,” Costa says, and Damonte Jones is another off this year’s squad. “Your defense plays a lot better with a 4.0-GPA PACE kid running the show,” Costa said. Last year, Floyd Hillis-Cooper was by far the most underrated offensive threat in the area. “Him along with Silencio Raktowski at Line Backer my first two years here really helped to keep things going when success was measured in just being able to put a squad on the field all season.
“Prior to coming to Kennedy I would have to say Alex Gomes, now my assistant coach, was by far the one that stands out I my mind. He was simply amazing. He made more plays in bad situations than anyone I have ever coached. By far the best overall football player I have ever been around. He was one of those guys that would take an entire team on his back and force them all to win a game. He is by far the best overall competitor I have ever coached. If someone put him in a circle drawing competition he would figure out a way to win that too.”
Alex also spoke with the Pocket News about playing under Costa at Mira Loma and his current position as assistant coach. “The relationship is different. He’s still my boss. I get a little bit more say now. It’s good because we both trust each other. It’s a healthy environemnt. We’re able to talk out what we are thinking, always end up coming to a conclusion as team,” he said.
Recalling what playing football was like before Costa came to Mira Loma High School, Alex said the team hadn’t had a lot of success. Alex said he never had much control over the field, but Costa was able to bring out that strength out of Alex. “With Matt, it was the best season I ever played and I would do anything he asked.”
Including coaching for him. Alex always wanted to get into coaching, so when Costa asked if Alex would be his assistant coach, Alex took the job (which was back in November) with open arms. “It’s a good opportunity for me and I’m glad to help out.”
Alex graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history and earned his social studies teaching credential. He has been substitute teaching at JFK.
If you go:


Third annual rib dinner and auction


Friday, May 1 at 6 p.m.


Cougar Stadium at John F. Kennedy High School, 6715 Gloria Dr.


Kennedy High School PACE program sets students up for Kennedy High School PACE program sets students up for success

The following were submitted profiles of Pocket area nonprofits.

UCLA. UC Berkeley. UC San Diego. Stanford. Carnegie Mellon. George Washington University. What do all of these prestigious universities have in common? Students who are graduates of the PACE program. Program in America and California Exploration (PACE) at John F. Kennedy High School is a rigorous, four-year advanced, academic, public school program nestled right here in the Greenhaven/Pocket area.
PACE teachers set up students for success in high school, college, and beyond. PACE offers advanced classes that challenge students to work to the best of their abilities. The teachers are extremely devoted and enthusiastic about teaching and their knowledge and insight allows students to engage and interact with their curriculum. As PACE student Robyn Crittendon, Class of 2017 says, “PACE teachers are dedicated to their work and the success of their students. They provide a supportive atmosphere within the classroom and actively encourage students on both the individual level as well as the class as a whole”
A hallmark of PACE are the summer programs for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. Before freshman year, students spend three weeks at Sacramento State, taking PACE classes and getting familiar with how it feels to be on a university campus. In freshman year, PACE book clubs led by community volunteers open up the world of literature to students. Students read books such as Cannery Row, When the Emperor was Divine, Counting Coup, and The Secret Life of Bees. The book club leaders are very dedicated and strive to help students thoroughly understand the deeper meaning of the writing in the novels. Book club is a great stepping stone for advanced English classes such as AP Literature that students take in senior year.
Another unique facet of PACE is a community service requirement. PACE students are required to volunteer at different organizations or at events for at least 30 hours annually. You’ll find PACE students working at libraries and animal shelters, tutoring and coaching younger students, and helping at fundraising events. Through this, students learn more about our community and “give back” through volunteering.
One of the most remarkable activities that PACE provides is field trips. The field trips help students to become well-rounded and cultured individuals through visiting a multitude of museums like the de Young and college campuses such as Stanford, University of Santa Clara, and more. In addition, students are also given opportunities to go beyond their comfort zones and experience camping trips, attend plays locally and at the Ashland Shakespeare Festival, and even go abroad to countries like Turkey, Greece, and Peru. Fundraising by the PACE students and families and donations allow students to be able participate in these field trips at a reasonable price.
Students in PACE are part of an ambitious, tight-knit community where their peers are determined to learn and succeed. Within this community, PACE students push their peers past their boundaries. Graduating senior Ari Steinberg, soon-to-be UC Irvine Anteater remarks about PACE, “It provided me with an environment which embodied success. It surrounded me with peers who were driven to do great things which in turn not only motivated me to succeed; it provided me with an environment that taught me how to achieve.” Sophomore Jack Parsh says “PACE at Kennedy has been a huge part of my high school life. It challenges and motivates me to do better in school to go to a better college. Despite the extra work, PACE offers opportunities and more options for my future careers. The program offers field trips that go to different universities and they show the success in college that come from hard high school work such as AP courses, advanced classes, and teachers that want you to succeed.” PACE students thrive because of all the amazing aspects of the program, which cost much more than regular funding for public schools. These enriching activities are only available because of donations given to PACE from families and members of the community. On May 5, 2015 everyone will have the opportunity to contribute to such a superb program through Sacramento’s Big Day of Giving. The Big Day of Giving is 24 hours of online giving, sponsored by Sacramento Region Community Foundation and other local foundations and businesses. On May 5th, go to http://www.bigdayofgiving.org and search for JFK PACE to make your donation. You will be supporting the education of students like us. Thank you for your support.

Aging well at ACC

“I just want to thank you and your staff for providing such a wonderful service for seniors… I want to thank you tremendously… I just can’t thank you guys enough!” That comment was left on the voicemail at ACC Senior Services. ACC, which has been in the Pocket/Greenhaven neighborhood since 1987, provides community-based programs and services for seniors and family caregivers. The goals of the programs are to help seniors age well and live as independently as possible. The compliment was left for ACC Rides, a transportation service run by a handful of staff and 100 volunteers. ACC Rides takes seniors living in nine zip codes in Sacramento County, to doctor appointments, dialysis, grocery shopping, senior lunch centers, and more. Maybe you’ve seen their wheelchair accessible vehicles with the distinctive round logo, dropping off seniors at Kaiser or at the bank.
ACC offers classes and workshops through the Lifelong Learning & Wellness Program. Classes and clubs include Pickleball, the fastest growing sport for seniors, ping pong, and aqua fit. We hear Hawaiian music played by the ukulele clubs and rock ‘n roll by the guitar clubs. The boom boom boom of taiko drum lessons inspires us in the afternoon. Seniors waltz at ballroom dance classe, line dance, and do hula. There are five different types of tai chi classes, four different types of yoga classes, including “Senior Yoga,” swimming lessons in the summer, and a whole range of computer, photography, and videography classes. The Utilities Education program helps people understand their phone and PG&E bills and help with disputed bills with the companies.
A special focus of ACC programs is serving family caregivers, individuals and families taking care of a senior loved one. The Bridge to Healthy Families offers caregiver support in the form of care plans, referrals, home safety assessments, in-home respite and more. Volunteers assist in many ways at ACC, from driving for ACC Rides, to teaching classes, to helping in the office. Volunteer Jo says, “There’s a variety of things to do, the people are nice, and I feel wanted.” Both Jo and Volunteer Shirley say, “I like talking to people and helping out the seniors.” Funding for these programs comes from nominal fees, grants, and donations.
This year, ACC is participating in the 2nd annual Big Day of Giving on Tuesday, May 5, 2015. The Big Day is an online 24-hour giving challenge brought to the region by the local community foundations, including the Sacramento Region Community Foundation. Last year, the Big Day raised over $3 million from 12,000 donors for about 400 non-profits.
At midnight on May 5, an online giving portal ( http://bigdayofgiving.org) will open to accept donations for all registered non-profits. The donor searches for “ACC” to get to a dedicated ACC donation page. The minimum online donation is $25, the maximum is $10,000. Each gift is 100 percent tax deductible.
ACC will celebrate with free activities for Big Day donors on May 5 — Pickleball, Boy’s Day arts & crafts, taiko, electric keyboard, tai chi, and more. Like us on Facebook to find out more, see our website www.accsv.org, or call 393-9026.

Danish immigrant has rich musical resume

Henrik Hansen is shown leading a musical performance last March. Photo courtesy of Henrik Hansen
Henrik Hansen is shown leading a musical performance last March. Photo courtesy of Henrik Hansen

Editor’s Note: This is part two of a two-part series pertaining to the Capital Contemporary Orchestra and its Danish conductor Henrik Jul Hansen.

Danish immigrant Henrik Jul Hansen, who directed the Capital Contemporary Chamber Orchestra in a local performance last weekend, has enjoyed a lengthy and successful career in music.
During a recent meeting with this publication, Hansen, 60, who resides in midtown Sacramento, shared details about that success, his career and his love for music.
Hansen explained that he became fascinated by music at a very young age.
“I had an experience when I was 5 years old,” Hansen said. “My dad (introduced him to the music of Italian composer Giacomo) Puccini (1858-1924). One morning he said, ‘Henrik, come in and listen to this.’ And so, there was this wonderful sound coming out of this opera music, and I don’t know why, but I suddenly realized that music was going to be my life. I felt that my soul was vibrating on a musical note, and it was like I understood that language. It’s like second nature to me.
“I sort of like realized that it was figuring out how to express myself with words. That was going to be my task. Expressing myself with music, that would be easy. This thing of expressing myself with words was kind of what I needed to learn in this life. I don’t know how I knew this, but I knew this at the age of 5.
“It really was wonderful. I started piano there (in Denmark) when I was 5. I got into music appreciation and piano lessons already there when I was 6. And I got into a school that really favored music, and later on in high school, they also had a special music tradition.”
In recalling how he became a conductor, Hansen said, “I started conducting when I was 16. I was in a choir, and it was my music teacher that did that. And he said, ‘Can you take over a rehearsal for me?’ He gave me a week’s notice. Can you believe it? It was really a scary day. We were doing ‘Messiah.’ I took over the rehearsal, and then people said it was like I had been sitting in that chair all along.
“That was really how it started. It gave me a chance to see if this is really what I wanted, and then I went to the university in conservatory in (his birthplace of) Copenhagen, took an education there, went to the Royal Academy (College) of Music in Stockholm, and in Drogden also, and did my post graduate studies there.”
Since coming to the United States in 1988, Hansen has had many musical opportunities.
As for the earliest of those experiences, Hansen said, “I actually had an English girlfriend, who had family over here (in America), so we went over here that summer (in 1988),” Hansen said. “I totally fell in love with America, and I was accepted for Tanglewood the next year, and so, everything took off from there.”
In October 1989, Hansen had his debut concert at Carnegie Hall with a 94-piece orchestra that he had compiled during his time in Tanglewood.
Hansen was able to acquire grants and he was in part sponsored by the Danish consulate.
After working with an orchestra in New York for a couple of years, Hansen became involved in a research project of American music that took him to many parts of the United States.
In remembering that time in his life, Hansen said, “They had a big collection at the Library of Congress, so I started researching this composer, and went to all the places that he had lived and ended up in California. And I thought, California is really lovely and I would like to settle down here, and I got married here (to Donna Pozzi in 1996) and it has been a very special place for me.”
Hansen said that he became involved with the Sacramento Ballet during the following year.
“I started working for the Sacramento Ballet playing piano for them, and they tried me out as a conductor, and they liked what I did,” Hansen said. “So, that was ‘Peter and the Wolf.’ And the following year, we did ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ and then we did (another production), and then we started doing all the Nutcrackers.”
In the meantime, Hansen created his own orchestra in the capital city, because the Sacramento Symphony had folded when he arrived in Sacramento.
Hansen worked with other musicians and established the Gold Country Chamber Orchestra in 1998. The orchestra’s last concert was held in May 2011.
Hansen also auditioned for the Merced Symphony, and eventually worked with that symphony for about 16 years.
As explained in the previous article of this series, the Capital Contemporary Chamber Orchestra’s first concert on April 11 was billed as a “reunion concert,” because the orchestra was formed as a re-creation of the former Gold Country Chamber Orchestra.
Toward the end of his interview with this publication, Hansen spoke about his philosophy toward working in music.
“That’s what it’s all about: You have to have fun, you have to have a good time, you have to do things that fill your passion and your heart,” Hansen said. “And if you can share them with some other people and if people like it, then I think you are very lucky.”


Pocket area area nonprofits gear up for the May 5 BIG Day of Giving

For 24 hours on May 5, Sacramento will again come together for a BIG Day of Giving. According to the Big DOG website, the goal is to raise $5 million from 25,000 donors for over 500 nonprofits in a 24-hour giving challenge as part of the national campaign called GiveLocalAmerica. To participate, local donors can go to http://www.bigdayofgiving.org to give and support the nonprofits. In 2014, our region’s BIG Day of Giving raised more than $3 million from more than 12,000 donors for 400 nonprofits and ranked No. 2 in the nation. Let’s make it No. 1 this year.

On www.bigdayofgiving is a powerful online community tool called Giving Edge and it can help you find nonprofit organizations, learn about the impact they are making, and make a donation. Each nonprofit in the database is a partner of GiveLocalNow, a movement to increase local giving.

What follows below is a listing of Pocket area nonprofits that are participating in the Big Day of Giving. The listing also includes links to the organizations’ Giving Edge profiles.

Meals on Wheels by ACC

, 7375 Park City Dr., promotes the general welfare and to enhance the quality of life for older adults by identifying, developing, and providing culturally sensitive nutritious meals and related activities.

Carrie’s TOUCH, Inc.

, 372 Florin Road, No. 197, breaks the silence that adversely impacts the African American community with regard to breast cancer in order to significantly increase the number of survivors.

Capitol INDIE Collective

, 7485 Rush River Dr., provides education and a platform for independent artists to be inspired, practice their art form, and deliver compelling works of art making impact with personal meaning and social relevance from several different disciplines, backgrounds, and demographics.

ACC Senior Services

, 7334 Park City Dr., promotes the general welfare and enhance the quality of life for our community by identifying, developing and providing culturally sensitive health and social services for older adults.

JFK PACE Parent Committee

, 6715 Gloria Dr., is a Small Learning Community (SLC) at John F. Kennedy High School. PACE offers students a four-year rigorous academic program with an emphasis on Advanced Placement classes in math, science, English, history, and Foreign Language.