Crime up 50%: East Sacramento residents hear from authorities on safety issues

During the crime and safety meeting sponsored by the City of Sacramento at the Clunie Center Wednesday, Aug. 27, Glen Faulkner, a Pocket area resident and Sacramento Police Executive Lieutenant for East Area Command, told the standing room only crowd that his data indicates the past 90-day period included a total of 70 reported car and home break ins compared to 35 last year.

Not a good sign.

Evidence that indicates a perception that crimes are on the increase in our area may not simply be the result of something like the increase in popularity of Nextdoor.com.

The good news is that due to good community engagement, and new innovative police practices, reported crime overall in Sacramento is down. Large turnouts at community meetings such as this one give Faulkner hope that more progress can be made.

A couple of years ago, the Sacramento Police Department employed 804 officers. After the severe recession that number dipped to a low of 620, a number that has since been slowly climbing. What this means to the police is that an activated well-trained citizenry working closely with the police department is absolutely critical to our safety.

A citizenry that knows how to spot trouble, and what to do when they suspect something is not right, can help reduce crime possibly more than any other factor, says Faulkner. Therefore, one of the police department’s biggest requests is for individuals to join a neighborhood watch and regularly attend neighborhood association meetings where officers often directly assist and inform the public.

Faulkner, and other officers, stayed long after the meeting was over to offer helpful tidbits to concerned neighbors letting them know that using the words “I suspect someone is casing our street” versus “there is a strange person on our street” can make the difference between meaningful police intervention as opposed to virtually no action.

The event was moderated by Council Member Steve Cohn who did a good job ensuring time was well managed in a one-hour presentation that included open Q&A along with public safety updates from Faulkner, parks safety updates from rangers Joe Cushing and Robert Conroy, and neighborhood watch and Nextdoor.com police liaison Jena Swafford. Also in attendance was Assemblyman Dr. Richard Pan and candidates Jeff Harris and Cyril Shaw who are both running to replace Cohn.

Jena Swafford helped inform us about trainings the department officers our communities, how the police use Nextdoor.com, and the robust amount of resources available on the www.sacpd.org website. Growing in popularity are home surveillance cameras which connect to home computers and which can now be registered to the police department on their website to allow the police to directly review any incidents caught on camera. Newsletters, a calendar of events, educational videos, and subscription to daily activity reports are also available on the site.

Cushing and Conroy fielded tough questions from the audience about the homeless problem we face. In fact, earlier that day Cushing had spent 10 1/2 hours helping to relocate many of the homeless. He explained that both the police and the park rangers share jurisdiction of the parks. The rangers are also suffering from budget cuts. Often Cushing has only one ranger on patrol to cover 250 parks throughout the city.

Cushing and Conroy confirmed what some in the audience expressed particular concern with – “the revolving door” and its associated expenses. It is a term used to describe when someone, often homeless and in need of help, is booked on a minor charge and then released four hours later only to be re-booked again and again. Officers directly involved say it does, indeed, exist.

As pointed out in prior East Sacramento News coverage the issue of homelessness and its associated challenges (economic and social) is a growing concern – one that has severely impacted not only Sacramento, but other communities throughout the nation.

Rather than simply tossing up one’s arms and resigning to the belief that there is nothing really that can be done about these problems, models of intervention involving the police are proving that such thinking is convenient, but simply not true.

Large cities, even in highly conservative populations such as San Antonio, provide examples of models of care that dramatically improve outcomes while at the same time saving tens of millions of dollars each year.

Faulkner’s newly promoted partner in the police department, Darryl Brian, explained that he is a U.S. military veteran who was stationed in Germany. He has seen many of his close friends struggle with serious issues only to end up homeless and on the street. Faulkner and Brian are now being mandated by their superiors to direct more attention to these models.

Working with Sacramento Steps Forward, a non-government organization, various agencies such as law enforcement, mental health, homeless, addiction, veteran’s affairs, medical health etc. are creating effective “wraparound” services to help ensure that issues such as The Revolving Door change into Doors of Opportunity for those needing help.

Those readers wishing to find out more about our police and safety in our neighborhoods are invited to meet at Starbucks on 38th and J Street with East Sacramento area Lt. Alisa Buckley Thursday Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. The meeting was set up by Eastsacpetpal.com owner Leanne Mack.

Tuesday Club of Sacramento ceases operations after 117 years

Former Tuesday Club of Sacramento members Nancy Leneis, left, and Anita O’Bryan met with the East Sacramento News last week to discuss the decision to cease operations of the club, which met for many decades at the organization’s clubhouse, just south of Sutter’s Fort. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Former Tuesday Club of Sacramento members Nancy Leneis, left, and Anita O’Bryan met with the East Sacramento News last week to discuss the decision to cease operations of the club, which met for many decades at the organization’s clubhouse, just south of Sutter’s Fort. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Editor’s note: This is the first article in a series about the Tuesday Club of Sacramento.

The Tuesday Club of Sacramento, a women’s organization that was founded 117 years ago, has come to an end.
In a meeting with the East Sacramento News last week, former Tuesday Club members Anita O’Bryan and Nancy Leneis explained the decision to cease operations of the club.
“The Tuesday Club took a very difficult vote to disband, because of declining membership, and less (members) were able to come due to health (issues),” Leneis said. “And younger people are not as interested in clubs, so they decided to disband. And it was a vote of the board taken first and then a vote of the entire membership at a meeting (at the Dante Club earlier this year).”
O’Bryan, who was one of the club’s 50-year life members, as she had been a member of the club since 1959, added that the club had been contemplating the idea of disbanding since last year.
“A year before that (final decision), we felt that the club was in trouble and should we consider closing,” said O’Bryan, whose mother, Irene Sweet, was a former president of the club. “And we tried to see if we couldn’t get it going before we made the final decision with the membership.”
Another former Tuesday Club member Irene Ryder was the first person to inform the East Sacramento News about the club’s demise.
At that time, Ryder said, “We have probably had our last meeting as a club.”
And after those words became a reality, a decision was eventually made to break the unfortunate news about the club to the public through the East Sacramento News.
That decision was partially made due to the fact that the club had met just west of East Sacramento for the majority of its years of operation.
The major timeline dates of the process of ending the club were provided by Laura Asay, the club’s last secretary, as follows:
“Dec. 10, 2013: Board of Directors meeting. Board voted to begin the process to terminate the Tuesday Club’s 501(c)(3) status by the end of the program year in May 2014.
Jan. 8, 2014: Date of letter to all Tuesday Club members advising them of vote to be taken at the Jan. 20, 2014 luncheon meeting, on whether or not to dissolve the Tuesday Club of Sacramento.
Jan. 14, 2014: Board of directors meeting. President Hunter reported (that) she talked (to) our attorney, who said the vote (would become) effective when cast, and the dissolution (would become) effective when the documents (were) filed with the Secretary of State.
Jan. 20, 2014: General membership luncheon meeting. Before the regular luncheon meeting, a special business meeting was held with all attending members to discuss the possible dissolution of the Tuesday Club of Sacramento. Our attorney was in attendance to answer any questions the members may (have desired to ask). There were 29 (of the then-57) Tuesday Club members in attendance at the special business meeting. Ballots were distributed, and 19 members voted to dissolve and seven members voted not to dissolve.”
In its latter years, all Tuesday Club meetings consisted of monthly lunches at the Dante Club from October through April.
Each meeting included a program, which featured such attractions as a speaker or a live musical performance.
Leneis noted that in recent years these programs have focused on community talents, which she described as being “very rich.”
Additionally, Leneis noted that beyond the club’s foremost position as a social club for women, the organization also provided service within the community.
“Every president had a service project, I think maybe one big one a year, although the sewing section always did one for the Children’s Receiving Home (of Sacramento at 3555 Auburn Blvd.),” Leneis said.
Despite the loss of the Tuesday Club, members of its sections continue to gather, as they did in the past. Those sections are the sewing, arts and crafts, book and bridge sections.
In speaking about the continuance of three of those groups, O’Bryan said, “It’s the same people. We enjoy reading and we like to discuss what we’ve read recently, and we’ll keep going. We meet once a month in homes. The bridge section continues to be active, too. I think most of the time they have one table, where in the past they had two tables or more. They’re playing, because they’re enjoying the people they’re with. It’s not for the game. These ladies have played together for decades. And the arts and crafts section is very active, and it continues. We’re not letting go of the whole thing.”
Leneis added, “The sewing section has met for many years in homes, but if there was a large project that needed more space, they would meet at a place where they had more sewing machines available. Of course, some years, we met at Meissner Sewing (and Learning Center at 2417 Cormorant Way), and we met there once a month in their room. They graciously allowed us to meet there. And the book sections, how they met depended on the section. I was in a different section (than O’Bryan), and we met in restaurants. We would give book reports at the restaurant and you were assigned what month you were giving a book report. And usually, you gave a book report every other year.
O’Bryan, in reminiscing about one of the earlier Tuesday Club sections, said, “We used to have a travel group. We took good trips. I went to China with a Tuesday Club group. We went to Los Angeles on the bus. We went to Hearst Castle.”
At the time of its disbanding, the club had about four 50-year members, as well as many 40 and 25-year members.
Both O’Bryan and Leneis expressed their sorrow for the loss of the Tuesday Club.
“I’m very disappointed, because (the Tuesday Club) has been, and I’ve said it before, like a second home to me,” Leneis said. “I’ve spent many happy years at the Tuesday Club with my mother and my aunt and friends.”
And Leneis added, “I think (the disbanding of the club) was with great sadness for many of the members, because this is a club with members who have been in for decades and decades, and the women stay and they have very close friendships. I think we all looked forward to Tuesday Club meetings and seeing our Tuesday Club lady friends, and to lose that, it hurts the heart.”

Lance@valcomnews.com

Congratulations to our very own: Lance Armstrong

The Sacramento County Historical Society will recognize Valley Community Newspapers’s very own historical writer, Lance Armstrong, at its annual dinner, to be held Tuesday, March 25 at 6 p.m. at the Dante Club, 2330 Fair Oaks Blvd.

Lance Armstrong was born at Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacramento and has had a lifelong interest in the rich history of his native city and region.

At a very young age, Lance excelled in English courses and writing proficiency and creativity, and as a teenager, he was awarded a special medal for his excellence in creative writing by the San Juan Unified School District.

It was also during his teenage years that he created his own single-page newspaper, which he distributed to friends in various states. And because of this fact, occasionally Lance has humorously told people that by the time he was 16 years old, he was the editor of a national newspaper.

Lance’s early interest in history led to his many years of researching local histories and preserving historical documents, photographs and other historical items from throughout Sacramento County and other areas of the Golden State in his vast personal collection, which is recognized as the Lance Armstrong Collection.

After graduating from California State University, Sacramento with degrees in journalism and music, Lance began his professional writing career, which includes his work for local newspapers such as the East Sacramento News, Land Park News, Arden-Carmichael News, Pocket News, Elk Grove Citizen, The Sacramento Union, Capitol Weekly, Sacramento Downtown News, Sacramento Midtown News, Old Sacramento News, Natomas Journal, The Folsom Telegraph and the Sacramento News and Review.

Lance, who is presently employed by Valley Community Newspapers in Sacramento, has used his knowledge, researching abilities and personal archives in the process of producing local history articles for each of these publications.

These informative and entertaining articles provide a valuable resource for the present and future understanding of the area’s rich history.

The majority of Lance’s local history articles include oral history quotations from his interviews with people from various levels of society.

His local history articles have been positively recognized by various newspapers and organizations.

For instance, in a review of local newspapers in the Jan. 8, 2009 edition of the Sacramento News and Review, one of that publication’s writers, Cosmo Garvin, wrote: “Lance Armstrong’s writing on Sacramento history is always interesting.”

In 2006, the Elk Grove Historical Society presented Lance with an honorary lifetime membership for his continuous articles and other efforts in preserving the 150-year history of the Sacramento County city of Elk Grove.

Lance, who is also a member of the Sacramento County Historical Society, received another honorary lifetime membership six years later from the Portuguese Historical and Cultural Society (PHCS) for “his work in documenting the lives and contributions of the many Portuguese and Portuguese descended persons who were instrumental in developing the Riverside-Pocket area of Sacramento.”

In commenting about the latter honor, PHCS President Mary Ann Marshall said, “We are very appreciative of the many Portuguese-related articles that (Lance) has written for the Pocket News and we are pleased with the opportunity we have to archive them for future generations to have access to them. Lance did a wonderful job in making these stories come to life.”

In another honor, Lance received national recognition from the Grand Lodge of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, in 2011, for his article, “Elks Lodge No. 6 has extensive history in Sacramento.”

The article, which was first published in the January 7, 2010 edition of the Pocket News, was selected as the country’s best newspaper article written about the Elks that year.

In addition to his hundreds of local history newspaper articles, Lance is the author of Echoes of Yesterday: Elk Grove – the first book in his Echoes of Yesterday history book series.

In 2007, Echoes of Yesterday: Elk Grove was recognized as the nation’s top regional history book for that year by the American Authors Association.

Lance is presently nearing the completion of several comprehensive history books about Sacramento from the times of Captain John Augustus Sutter to present.

His other endeavors include his regular contributions as a professional newspaper photographer and volunteering as a judge at the annual Camellia Society of Sacramento Camellia Show Photography Contest. He is also a public speaker, a musician and an avid music memorabilia collector with an emphasis on collecting concert posters and LP records, ranging in genres from rock and blues to jazz and country.

Tahoe/Colonial Collaborative community center bids farewell

TCC supporters show their support with a little body language.

TCC supporters show their support with a little body language.

Two Tahoe Elementary School girls entered the Tahoe/Colonial Collaborative after school on Thursday, Jan. 9, asking the community center’s coordinator Kelly Conley about the Girl Scouts program that the center hosts. Just a seemingly typical afternoon, Conley responded: “Girl Scouts aren’t today. It starts next Thursday. Turn (your papers) into the office; turn them into Ms. Curry or Ms. Stacy.” “OK,” one of the girls said and they were off.

While it was just a normal interchange at the TCC, it was Conley’s last day at the center, which has had an open-door policy in place for the last 14 years in its current location, 5959 8th Ave., next door to Tahoe Elementary School. But as of Saturday, Jan. 11, the center’s day-to-day operations have shut down, at least to a certain extent, as some partners like the Girl Scouts of America which offers a lunch-time program for Tahoe Elementary students, will continue to operate as usual, but will have to go directly through the school to obtain use permits. Conley announced the center’s closure on Dec. 31, 2012 to about 700 neighbors and supporters on the TCC email list.

She wrote: “For almost twenty years, the Tahoe/Colonial Collaborative (TCC) has contributed greatly to the fabric of our community and those of us around the table – some newer faces, some from the 1990’s – feel so blessed to have called this our work for so many years. The time has come, however, to let TCC be a part of our community’s history, and put our energy into some of the initiatives of the future. Effective January 1, 2014, TCC will be closed, but the work of building a healthy and safe community for all our children will continue!”

Last year, was the first neighborhood citrus harvest in Tahoe Park. More than 60 volunteers harvested fruit from 24 tree sites throughout the neighborhood! The TCC was instrumental in helping gather more than 2,500 pounds of fruit for donation to Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services. Photo courtesy

Last year, was the first neighborhood citrus harvest in Tahoe Park. More than 60 volunteers harvested fruit from 24 tree sites throughout the neighborhood! The TCC was instrumental in helping gather more than 2,500 pounds of fruit for donation to Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services. Photo courtesy


In an interview with the East Sacramento News, Conley discussed the fond memories she has had working as the TCC’s coordinator. “I’m going to miss working here. This place has been my life for the past four years,” she said, as her 18-month-old daughter Sarah and 9-year-old daughter Julia wondered in and out of the center over the course of the interview, keeping each other entertained.

TCC held a farewell celebration on Saturday, Jan. 11 where photos and archives from the past were shared amongst attendees. Conley gave away the last of the TCC memorabilia and they shared snacks and stories. It wasn’t much of an emotional farewell, however. “It was more like laughing and enjoying the years of services over the years. It didn’t feel like a mourning kind of thing. Just let’s celebrate what we did for the community and not mourn what we are losing. We did provide 20 years of service to this community,” said Conley.

Opened in 1994, the Tahoe/Colonial Collaborative celebrated its 19th anniversary last December and the organization has been at its current location for the last 13 years. TCC’s formation began out of humble beginnings with parents and friends working out of each other’s homes and through a program called CARE which met at Colonial Park (address).

In its early years, TCC took on big initiatives, including several 4,000-home surveys, fights against prostitution on Stockton Boulevard, take back the night initiatives, and more. As time went on, the focus became more and more on supporting families and kids, making sure they felt connected to one another and to this quaint little community many of us call home.

TCC was instrumental in partnering with local elementary school principals to bring State Department of Education dollars to the community for resources and support staff, and together in 2000 brought a Community & Family Resource Center to the neighborhood. For the last fourteen years, this Center has been a hub of community, offering thousands of hours of mentoring and homework help, recreation and education camps, free meeting space for small community groups, and access to information.

True to that since the start, TCC has been a place for families and the community to gather as well as being a hub of information. Fliers and pamphlets decorate the walls with bulletin boards, updating folks with the latest neighborhood news and an entire computer lab has been available to visitors all free of charge.

As the coordinator for the center since September 2009, Conley has taken up the task of helping people with the computers and connecting people with resources, such as the Second Harvest Food Bank and the Women’s Wellspring Center. It has offered a health and safety fair in Tahoe Park each June and has organized a Bike Rodeo held in the Tahoe Elementary playground where children were offered helmets free of charge. The center has offered free spring, summer and winter programs for children. “I’d have a lot of kids. During our winter and spring program, I’d have been 20 and 30 kids, depending on the year and it was a good mixture of children from Tahoe Elementary and Mark Twain Elementary where we’ve collaborated with both communities and both neighborhood associations or neighborhood groups. Some older people would use the computers and I would help them with what I could, and they would just come in, do what they needed to do and be on their way.”

Conley, a mother of four and 19 weeks pregnant with her fifth, said she has two older children who have been a part of the TCC “for a very long time. I would say eight to 10 years. My older boys are 17 and 14. We are a little bit crazy, but we enjoy having children. And TCC has been fantastic.” When she and her husband Jason decided they were going to try for their fourth child, Conley went to the TCC advisory board after she was pregnant and said she would continue working if she could bring her new baby to work. And everybody who was on the board was on board, she said.

“It was challenging at times (with Sarah at work), especially when I was trying to write an email and she just turned off my computer. Thank goodness for auto-save. So there have been little challenges here and there with having her here, but it has been a blessing having her with me and not have to find daycare. Having my fifth child and soon to have a 2 year old and a newborn, I will be a stay-at-home mom and a volunteer to the community.”

Asked how many groups have used the space, Conley said: “I can’t even count on the top of my head how many, but currently we have the Tahoe Park Neighborhood Association and three home-school groups that use it during the day time for classes. So we have a science class on Fridays, a writing class on Wednesday, and a labor and technology class on Tuesdays.”

For groups that have charged their members to their particular clubs, the TCC just in the last year, has charged them $15 per use for the room to help offset insurance and Internet costs. “So the groups that charge to use, we charge them, just a small fee. So $15 and they have about 15 kids in a class, so they charge a $1 per kid per session, then it pretty much pays for it. It’s not anything we were trying to make it uneasy for them.”

Conley said while the Bike Rodeo, the annual health and safety fair and the day-to-day use of the site will no longer be offered, those interested in using the community center, should contact Tahoe Elementary. “This room here is open for community use, so they will have to go through the school to get a school district permit to use the center. There will be a small fee for that.”

The center has relied on grants from the Sierra Health Foundation and an endowment from the Building Healthy Communities Foundation, among others, to operate the roughly $2,000-a-month facility.

Conley said TCC is working with Tahoe Elementary School Principal Katie Curry to transfer leadership of the center to the Tahoe Park Neighborhood Association; and we are pleased to share that much of our supplies have gone to support the work of Rose Cabral and Rosette Nguyen in Colonial Park, as they revive Shirley Johnson’s after school programs. The TCC webpage and Facebook page will remain up for six months, after which we will close those as well.

McKinley Village update

If all goes according to Riverview Capital Investment’s plan, McKinley Village will have the first phase of homes up for sale as early as April 2015 if approved by the City Council early next year.
The proposed project consists of development of 328 residential units, a neighborhood recreation center, parks and other public spaces on about 48-acre site located along the south side of the Capital City Freeway, north of the Union Pacific rail lines, largely east of Alhambra Boulevard and largely west of Lanatt Street in the northeast area of downtown Sacramento.
A variety of residences are proposed on different lot sizes. The proposed project includes three parks that total about 2.4 acres, including about 1-acre neighborhood recreation center and pool. The overall density of the project is about 10.9 units per acre and access to the project site would be provided from A Street and 28th Street to the west of 40th Street to the east.
It has been hailed as well as dismissed as a smart growth, infill community project.
The long awaited Environmental Impact Report was released in early November and concluded that the project would have “less than significant impacts on traffic.” The City of Sacramento’s recently completed traffic study looked at the effects of McKinley Village on local traffic and, as part of the study, analyzed 16 streets and 25 intersections east of the Capital City Freeway. The study evaluated the traffic Level of Service (LOS) when McKinley Village traffic is added to existing traffic conditions. All 16 streets analyzed in the study will operate at LOS A (free flow conditions with no congestion) during peak drive times even with the development of McKinley Village.
Twenty-three of the 25 intersections east of the freeway that were analyzed will operate at the same level of service during peak drive times with or without McKinley Village. The new intersection at C Street between 40th Street and Tivoli Way will function at LOS A even during peak drive times.
McKinley Village will contribute funding for traffic signal and other improvements at three local intersections (Alhambra Boulevard/H Street; Alhambra Boulevard/E Street; and 33rd Street/McKinley Boulevard.)
In spite of the results, some neighborhood organizations are organizing around how to “effectively comment” on the EIR, one of which is the East Sacramento Preservation. The group has its December meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 10 from 7-8 p.m. in the East Sacramento Room at Clunie Clubhouse where the topic will be addressed. According to the group’s website, the organization opposes the design of homes.
Included in the petition on the website is the following: “(The) project does not fit within the character of existing neighborhoods and threatens to impact traffic, cause congestion and threaten safe pedestrian and bicycle access to Theodore Judah Elementary School. As proposed, this is a private, isolated community project that would negatively impact adjacent neighborhoods, schools, roads and residents. The proposed McKinley Village will exist as an isolated car-based community that lacks urban-style access to public transportation, shopping and entertainment. The only community connection will be increased car traffic on existing neighborhood roadways. The proposed McKinley Village location would expose future residents to poor air quality, noise pollution and potential flood risk.
“The proposed McKinley Village is not infill. It is an expansion of East Sacramento and not an East Sacramento style neighborhood. The proposed construction of 328 new homes will result in additional burdens on neighborhood schools, particularly Theodore Judah Elementary School and Sutter Middle School and may alter the current school boundaries. Access points at 28th Street, Alhambra (Boulevard) and Lanatt Street would provide for a more seamless community.”
In speaking about the design of the project, Phil Angelides, in an interview with the East Sacramento News, spoke on how the project is intended to fit in with the feel of McKinley Village homes as well as neighborhood landmarks with homes ranging between 1,295 square feet to 3,100 square feet.
“The recreation center’s plans have been modeled after McKinley Park’s Clunie Center and the roof-forms modeled after the Shephard Garden (and Arts Center),” he said, adding that it would be suitable for receptions, weddings, family and neighborhood gatherings.
A recreation center owned and maintained by the homeowners association will serve as the community’s civic center, offering a neighborhood pool, indoor and outdoor spaces for community gatherings and events and space for retail use such as a cafe, restaurant or yoga studio. Bikeways and walkways will stitch together the neighborhood and connect McKinley Village, McKinley Park, Midtown, Sutter’s Landing and the American River Parkway. The rec center will have a swimming pool of 75 feet long, spreading six lanes across, which will enable the development to have a swim team if desired by the homeowners association. He said McKinley Village will be doing an art in public places program.
Angelides said they have carefully selected which homes go where, so no two homes that look similar to each other are near. “That’s an unprecedented level of variation within the community,” he said.
As far as the homes near the railroad, there will be a 25-foot engineered sound wall that supposed to prevent the same type of train noise that you might find in River Park or Curtis Park.
Before the EIR was released, at the Oct. 24 City of Sacramento’s Planning and Design Commission meeting, neighbors from both sides spoke in favor and against the project.
Bob Reid, a lifetime Sacramento resident who grew up in East Sacramento at the corner of 40th Folsom and who attended such schools as David Lubin, acknowledged Angelides’ contributions to the community and said he was drawn to the project because of its design, which includes tree lined streets, large porches, an easy commute for workers. Included in his statements, he said: “This project is an opportunity to carry on the feeling of East Sacramento, so to speak … I simply support this because the style and feel of the neighborhood reminds me of the childhood home I grew up in.”
Terry Kastanis, who lives on 41st Street and who is a former city councilmember, asked to consider one principle: Is this site appropriate for housing? “I am well aware of long hours and controversies and in no doubt will receive more in weeks to come.” Speaking about the location of the project, Kastanis asked the commissioners if they are willing to take a chance on flooding and disaster. Commenting on the design, he asked rhetorically, how would people exit the area to safety. “I am aware of the economic gain of this project but is this site appropriate for housing? Is this the last piece of land available for housing?”
Rosalyn VanBuren, executive director of Our Kids’ Community Breakfast Club, a program that offers breakfast, arts and crafts and educational activities at the Oak Park Community Center has since the age of 6, lived in Sacramento, attending Sacred Heart Elementary School and Bishop Manogue High School. She said the project would give more options for housing to those who would want to live in the central city, adding that the project seems consistent with Sacramento Area Council of Governments.
Rob Finley of the group Neighbors United for Smart Growth, which is comprised of neighborhood association leaders, PTA members, neighbors instrumental of saving schools from closure, principals of the McKinley Rebuild project, said the group believes something will be built on this plot of land, but they want something that would be built that the neighborhood supports. While the group is sympathetic to what other groups have issue with (ie: the site being near railroad tracks, congested freeway), Finley said NUSG is focused on traffic concerns.
“Instead of using major existing arteries, the project inappropriately relies on narrow, neighborhood streets where children play, ride their bikes and walk to school.”
“As the 2008 traffic study for the previous subdivision displayed, approximately 6,000 daily additional car trips will be realized by both each the 28th Street crossing and the Lanatt Street crossing. At this volume, one does not have to wait until the 2013 traffic study to know there will be traffic impact on midtown and East Sacramento,” Finley said.
He commented on the 28th Street access point that will that will force people to cross the street that has 41 trains cross on a daily basis, some that often sit idle. Finley said Union Pacific has plans to increase the amount of trains coming through. He said NUSG has met with the developer, but that the developer won’t change those plans.
Resident Michael Murphy suggested the developer add 78 additional units (or 20 percent more housing) to the project to offset the cost of making Alhambra Boulevard an access point. That increase, he said, would not only generate on average $500,000 per home, it would conform to SACOG standards. He asked the planning commission to require the developer to add the bike tunnel in the first phase of development, as opposed to the third. “If you did it in the first phase, you would teach them to use bicycles and to walk and not use their cars.”
Marie Booth and Dave DeGmilla presented the commission with 419 letters of support. Booth said her children are excited they will be able to purchase a home large enough for their growing families with modern amenities.
Pamela Milchrist said had she known signatures were being collected at the meeting, she would have 100 signatures from 40th Street alone. She questioned whether there would be any consideration of residents’ mental and physical health especially with the increase of train traffic.
Patty Kleinkneckt, executive director of the River District, said the group supports the project’s mixed housing options, which are close to Sacramento’s urban centers with reasonable density. “As we look at adding housing, we welcome McKinley Village.”
Jim Brown, executive director of Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates, said the key to bikability is to accommodate all kinds of bikers. He also suggested the bike tunnel be built in the first phase of development, as opposed to the third.
Ellen Cochrane, president of the East Sacramento Preservation, said the organization came out with a statement “opposed as proposed”. Speaking about the design of the project, Cochrane said the organization objects to the two-car garages and lack of mass transit to service the homes.

editor@valcomnews.com

East Lawn Children’s Park was established through generous donations

East Lawn Children’s Park at the southeast corner of 42nd Street and Folsom Boulevard was constructed in 1989. Photo by Lance Armstrong

East Lawn Children’s Park at the southeast corner of 42nd Street and Folsom Boulevard was constructed in 1989. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Editor’s Note: This is part 14 in a series about the rich history of and associated with East Sacramento’s award-winning East Lawn Memorial Park.

It may be one of the city’s smallest parks, but East Lawn Children’s Park at 1510 42nd St., at Folsom Boulevard, certainly draws its fair share of daily visitors.
Once a part of the grounds of East Lawn Memorial Park, this 153-foot by 99-foot park provides plenty of space for its young visitors, who enjoy spending time in its tot play area.
Encompassing the space of about three single-family home lots, the park, which is a tot in its own right when compared to the majority of the city’s parks, is sufficient in size for the neighborhood it serves.
Efforts to have a city park constructed at the site date back to December 1985, when the owners of the nondenominational cemetery first considered donating the property to the city.
In August 1986, East Lawn’s owners finally made an official offer to the city, as they agreed to deed the property to the city, build a park on the site and operate it for 10 years.
East Lawn’s only stipulation for the donation and construction of the park, which had an estimated value of $150,000, was that it be allowed to name the park.
Prior to East Lawn’s announcement, many residents of the area had been concerned that the site, which had sat undeveloped for decades, might be used for an apartment complex or office structure.
Although many neighbors of the site also demonstrated strong opposition to the then-proposed park, it was reported in the Oct. 17, 1986 edition of The Sacramento Union that their tone had changed and that they had become hopeful that the city would accept the cemetery’s offer.
The neighbors’ early concern, according to The Union, was that the presence of a park at the site would attract “rowdies to the quiet neighborhood.”
The property’s eventual use as a children’s park with the lack of amenities such as picnic tables, tennis court and restrooms represents a compromise to those neighbors’ concern regarding the site’s establishment as a park.
Craig Peterson, East Lawn Memorial Park manager, explained that the idea of a children’s park was not entirely well received.
“There were some neighbor ladies waving diapers on poles (near the site),” Peterson said. “They didn’t want dirty diapers in the park.”
Although their wish was not granted, some neighbors requested that the site not be referred to as a park, as they feared that the name would attract “undesirables.”
Neighbors were also concerned with the timing of the cemetery’s attempt to donate the property to the city, since that attempt was made at about the same time that East Lawn applied for a permit to add a mortuary on its grounds. Protests by neighborhood residents led to the end of East Lawn’s drive to add a mortuary to its property.
But with an eventual overall approval for the park from neighbors and the completion of a carefully written agreement, the donation of the park site was accepted by the city council on Dec. 16, 1986. The park was also approved by the city Planning Commission about two months later.
When Don Hart was named as East Lawn’s president in March 1988, the park had yet to be constructed.
During the following May, East Lawn, which had an escape clause in its pact on the property with the city, requested and was granted a delay in its donation while Hart became familiar with his then-new position.
Some supporters of the park project feared that the delay might be a sign that East Lawn would renege on the donation.
On June 23, 1988, The Sacramento Bee reported that East Lawn had decided to honor its donation, but that the cemetery was no longer offering $50,000 worth of improvements and 10 years of park maintenance.
It was also reported in the article that a pro-park campaign led by neighborhood resident Cindy Leathers influenced the cemetery board’s decision to complete its donation. The campaign resulted in about 200 postcards and a petition, which were delivered to Hart’s office. The petition was signed by about 500 local residents.
In another article, which was published on Sept. 8, 1988, The Union reported that city park officials had accepted the 42nd Street and Folsom Boulevard parcel for use as a city park. But it was also noted in the article that the property “must await development, because the city has no money available.”
An update regarding the site appeared in the June 1, 1989 edition of The Bee.
In that update it was noted that “a frenzy of philanthropy is transforming a simple patch of ground into a full-blown East Sacramento park – the East Lawn Children’s Park.”
The article noted that local businesses and neighbors contributed labor, materials and money to establish the park.
This type of action was not unprecedented at park sites in Sacramento.
For instance, similar action was taken by people in the community to establish East Sacramento’s East Portal Park and Portuguese Community Park in the Pocket area.
Donations for the East Lawn project included $20,000 from the Rotary Club of East Sacramento, $15,000 from a single fundraising event that was attended by about 150 community members, and sand for the sandboxes from Geremia Pools.
According to the article, the park’s new playground would be completed in about one to two months.
Among the improvements to the site were a children’s play area and a new fence that replaced the site’s aging, 3-foot-tall fence.
Last week, East Sacramento residents Doug Pope and Terry Kastanis, who were serving as members of the city council during the city’s involvement with the East Lawn park project, reflected upon their memories of the site.
Pope, who represented East Sacramento as a member of the council from 1977 to 1989, said, “There was a period of time (that passed) from when East Lawn said that they wanted to make the donation. Actually, preceding that donation was a lot of discussion with East Lawn about their future plans for that parcel. Those discussions ultimately led to them making a decision that they would donate it for neighborhood use.
“(Prior to the creation of the city park, the site) was actually being used (by the community for such things as touch football and fly-casting practice). I don’t remember if it was actually mowed though. It was kind of a little bit of an eyesore, if I recall right. But it was being used. (The idea) was to clean (the site) up and make it usable for the neighborhood. For a period of time, there were – and there still are, I think – young families around there. It was a good use of a piece of land, and they let the young kids go around there and play.
“I think it’s a great amenity in the neighborhood and it looks really nice. It’s kept up well. I’m not close to it, so I’m not aware that they’ve had any issues, but I don’t believe they’ve had any issues. But it looks great and you can go by and you see people using it all the time, which is what it’s meant for, so it’s really gratifying to see that occur. It’s matured just fantastic. It has turned out to be I think better than everyone envisioned.”
In remembering the process, which led to the creation of the park, Kastanis, who served on the council from 1981 to 1994, said, “It was kind of like East Lawn didn’t know quite what to do with (the property). It was just vacant land that East Lawn had. It was kind of a hangout and people were kind of congregating there. I think they started using it like a park and finally East Lawn relented and gave it to the city as the East Lawn park.
“It was a great community gesture on the part of East Lawn. They didn’t have to do that and they gave that property to the city for a park, and I think that’s commendable.”

Janey Way Memories #100

Celebrating the 100th Janey Way Memories Column
It seems hard to believe, but four years ago, on July 2, 2009, I penned my first Janey Way Memories column.  Much has transpired since that date:  my third and fourth grandchildren came into this world, a president won re-election, and I witnessed a total eclipse of the sun.  All the while, the Janey Way stories have continued to play out on the pages of the East Sacramento News.
Do you recall some of the adventures we have shared?  Remember the pit, the vacated sand and gravel site behind the houses on the east side of Janey Way where the Janey Way Gang played? Remember Ole Man Charlie, the sometimes frightening watchman who chased us around the pit.  In the end, we found that he wasn’t really very scary at all.
How about “Scooters and Sidewalk Surfing”, you may remember doing that yourself?
Do you recall how my brother Terry, Randy Puccetti and I pulled off the famous great beer heist?
That first year I also told you about building a Christmas tree fort and how that led to “Christmas Tree Wars.”  Sadly, I also told you about the loss of my good friend Mike Gilson in Viet Nam—not all of my stories have been fun.
Writing this column has also given me the chance to tell you about some of the extraordinary people who lived on Janey Way such as my mother and father, Martin and Mary Relles, Dom Costamagna who helped us survive to adulthood, Lou Viani, the Mayor of Janey Way and the many other unique characters who once lived in my neighborhood.
In writing this column, I’ve also had the opportunity to recall many great things about Sacramento such as the Alhambra Theatre, the Memorial Auditorium, the old California State Fair on Stockton Blvd. and Edmonds Field, the home of the Sacramento Solons baseball team.
I must tell you that I have really enjoyed sharing these stories of my youth with you.  Doing so, reminds me of what a great city Sacramento is and what a great life I have experienced here.
Over the next year, I hope to share many more Janey Way Memories with you.  You can help me with this by sharing some of your Sacramento childhood memories with me.  Just email me at marty@valcomnews.com.  I look forward to hearing from you, and also to sharing more of my Janey Way Memories with you.

East Sacramento area schools will benefit from the passage of Measures Q and R: See how your neighborhood school could be improved

Measures Q and R were local school bond measures to upgrade and renovate local school facilities that were both passed in the November election. According to the Sacramento City Unified School District, the average age of the local schools is 50 years and need significant updating.

All money raised by Measures Q and R will stay in our community and cannot be taken away by the State. No money can be spent on school administrator salaries. An independent citizens’ oversight committee will monitor expenditures and ensure all funds are spent properly.

If you are interested in being on the committee, contact Gabe Ross, Chief Information Officer at 643-9145 or email improvesacramentoschools@gmail.com

Here are breakdowns of how your neighborhood schools fare and how they should be improved.

DAVID LUBIN

David Lubin Elementary School was constructed in 1975. During the 2006 modernization, renovation and upgrades were made in the following areas: health and safety, site exterior and miscellaneous upgrades. The school’s facilities received high ratings for completion of maintenance and safety procedures. The frontage street inhibits ability for a gracious welcome. The unsafe environment posed by overlapping bus and parent drop off leads to unsafe arrival and departure. There is no flashing light to indicate a pedestrian crosswalk.

Visitor and staff parking is inadequate. Accessible parking stalls and path of travel needs reconfiguring/relocating. Irrigation and drainage at the play fields needs to be reworked to resolve flooding and muddy conditions. Refurbishing of the blacktop, shaded small group seating areas, and clear definition of specific hardscape uses based on age-appropriate activities would be a positive upgrade. Providing a shade structure would improve the stage presence and encourage additional activity use such as outdoor learning and lunchtime dining.

Poorly patched flooring needs new finishes at Kit Carson Middle School. This is one of many examples of physical improvements that can be made because of the passage of measures Q and R. / photo courtesy

Poorly patched flooring needs new finishes at Kit Carson Middle School. This is one of many examples of physical improvements that can be made because of the passage of measures Q and R. / photo courtesy

KIT CARSON

The site is just more than nine acres in a fully developed residential neighborhood just off Folsom Boulevard. The site is small but appears adequate for this school that was built in 1976, This existing Middle School campus is in generally fair condition and has been looked at as a viable candidate to be converted into an IB Program to support Grades 7-12.

The buses currently bring about 70 percent of the students to school and create some traffic issues within the neighborhood. The buses must route through the neighborhood to enter and exit the school but are able to loop from Folsom Boulevard and back with reasonable convenience. There are, however, no designated passenger loading and unloading zones, no separation for parents and buses and no barrier free drop off spaces.
Drop offs take place along the “N” Street frontage and in the staff parking lot at the west side of the campus. Both locations currently generate traffic conflicts and unsafe conditions. At a minimum, a barrier free drop off space is required and a designated drop off lane is recommended. The public and main entrance to the school and administrative offices is located along “N” Street and at some distance from the available visitor parking.

Additional parking area is recommended and should be located in reasonable proximity to the school’s entrance and administrative office. There have been recent path of travel upgrades to the staff parking lots but more is needed to be fully code compliant.
The campus is a pleasant homogenous design with good internal circulation and the core secured by ornamental steel gates. The campus is well planned for a compact facility and suited to the neighborhood. However an updated color scheme would be more appropriate for the age group. Some modernization has been completed to upgrade restrooms for code compliance but has left unsightly patches in tile finishes. Additional upgrades for code compliance are needed throughout the campus.

The school buildings were built with little consideration for energy efficiency and improvements could be made through the use of more efficient windows and mechanical systems. Benefits could also be gained through more efficient lighting and effective energy control systems. The student gathering areas of the campus are primarily associated with the Quad. This area is well located, adequate and in reasonably good condition. The student snack bar is adjacent to the Quad.

The athletic fields and paved play courts are adequate for the current enrollment but in fair condition. Resurfacing is needed for some areas of the courts and water efficient irrigation recommended for the play fields.

Based on the opportunities, facility conditions and code issues identified in this report, the Kit Carson School appears to be a fair candidate to support the facility and programmatic transformation to a 7-12 IB School.

SUTTER

The site is 7.5 acres in a confined fully developed semi-urban location and is unsuitably small for this middle school. A typical suburban site for this size school would be at least twice the area. The school was built in 1958 and serves just more than 1,200 students with most of the classrooms on second and third floors.
Access to the campus is along I Street just off Alhambra Boulevard. A drop off lane was added along “I” Street but conflicts with traffic into and out of the parking areas remain. There is no convenient turn a round or loop routing for buses. Parking is less than adequate and adversely affects student circulation. In addition to street, parking and drive conflicts there are significant “path of travel” issues around and within the campus. While the area is served by public transportation, there is no fully compliant path of travel to the campus. These are apt to become major circumstances with future modernization.

The upper floors are served by stairs and a single elevator. The fifty plus year old school was built with little consideration for energy efficiency and improvements could be made through the use of more efficient windows, wall systems and mechanical systems.

Benefits could also be gained through more efficient lighting and effective energy control systems. The structure is primarily steel and masonry with large areas of window wall systems including awning windows and spandrel panels.

The condition and age of the windows and window system shows signs of deterioration and has numerous leaks. In addition to the overall condition issues, the windows and panels are single glazed un-insulated and inefficient. The interior corridors on the second and third floors of the main classroom building are wide and lined with lockers, but access to and from the classrooms does not comply with code.

These conditions will likely require significant upgrades with any future modernization. The design of the school is dated and the classrooms and amenity areas reflect the age of the school with some deterioration and many barrier free access issues. The student snack bar has access to the Quad for outdoor eating. The gathering areas of the campus appear adequate and in reasonably good condition. The campus core has a small “Quad” area that appears underutilized.
The campus core is secured by unsightly ornamental steel gates and fencing.

THEODORE JUDAH

Theodore Judah is a historical structure built in 1937, and is the oldest continuously used elementary school in the district. The original building has been renovated to improve HVAC, technology capability, and classroom casework / sink accessibility, but a considerable amount of site and building accessibility non-compliance issues remain. Outdated and unused heating radiators in classrooms could be removed to gain additional casework and storage.

The buildings, including the portable classrooms, are in need of renovation and repairs. The cafeteria, kitchen, staff lounge, auditorium, and administration area all require refurbishing and modernization for code compliance.

The core of the campus has many instructional gardens and potential outdoor learning areas. Efforts are in progress to improve landscaping, but irrigation and drainage is in poor condition at the entry turf areas and playing field. The current orientation of the
portable classroom buildings makes site supervision difficult. Bus and parent drop-off is provided curbside only. The absence of accessible paths of travel should be resolved.

Information for this story is courtesy of SCUSD.

State Indian Museum at Sutter’s Fort to close

Sitting in his office at the California State Indian Museum last week, Rob Wood spoke about the current California Indian Heritage Center project, which would eliminate the necessity of the longtime East Sacramento museum on the grounds of Sutter’s Fort.

Rob Wood, who serves as the heritage center’s project manager, has played an integral role in the efforts to bring the new center to West Sacramento by 2016. (Photo by Lance Armstrong)
Rob Wood, who serves as the heritage center’s project manager, has played an integral role in the efforts to bring the new center to West Sacramento by 2016. (Photo by Lance Armstrong)
The new center is scheduled to open in the summer of 2016, following the completion of the 50,000-square-foot first phase of the project at its selected 43-acre West Sacramento site, across from Discovery Park and overlooking the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers.

 

Revisiting history

Although the museum has continuously operated between its adobe walls that were built in the likeness of the fort 70 years ago, Wood, who serves as the heritage center’s project manager, said that the museum’s size has always been a problem.

“From the date (the museum) was built, it was inadequate in terms of its size,” Wood said. “This (museum) is probably about 4,000 square feet and we’re projecting that at final build-out, (the new center) will be 125,000 square feet.”

Wood added that the vastness of the museum’s off-site collections, which he endearingly, yet unofficially refers to as “tribal treasures,” is so great that only about 5 percent of the entire museum archives are currently on display in the museum, which for the most part consists of displays created in the mid-1980s under the direction of the museum’s former curator, Mike Tucker.

Further emphasizing the magnitude of the inadequate size of the museum, Wood said, “We have about 3,500 baskets (in storage) alone.”

But looking forward, Wood shared details about the future heritage center, which he has so passionately devoted his time to helping it become a reality.

The now-70-year-old California State Indian Museum is shown in this 1950s photograph. (Photo courtesy of the California State Indian Museum)
The now-70-year-old California State Indian Museum is shown in this 1950s photograph. (Photo courtesy of the California State Indian Museum)
“(California) State Parks has been trying to make this (center) happen probably since about the 1970s and it is part of the relationship that State Parks has with the Native American community,” Wood said. “This project is extremely exciting. It gives us an opportunity to do what we haven’t been able to do in terms of telling the story of California Indians. Mostly what’s shown here (at the museum) are things from the North Coast and there are some dabblings from some other stuff from throughout the state. The idea of this (future) facility, too, is to take a greater statewide look of what we’re able to do there.”

Wood added that it is also an important element of the project to create a place where California Native Americans can “tell their own story in their own way.”

“It’s been a big deal throughout this project through consultations with native folks to have them involved in this project, so it speaks with what we call the ‘native voice,’” Wood said. “There was an interpretive document created in consultation with Indian advisors and academic advisors to accomplish that.”

 

The new museum

Although Wood recalled seeing concepts for a new State Indian Museum in Folsom as early as 1978, it was not until this century that much progress was made on this endeavor.

With the 2002 legislation through SB 2063, the center’s task force was established for the purpose of assisting in the development of the center and seed money was acquired for preliminary planning.

The future California Indian Heritage Center will be located on a 43-acre site, along the Sacramento River in West Sacramento. (Photo courtesy of the California State Indian Museum)
The future California Indian Heritage Center will be located on a 43-acre site, along the Sacramento River in West Sacramento. (Photo courtesy of the California State Indian Museum)
From 2003 to 2007, the task force conducted a statewide site search with the Folsom Lake area being held as the backup plan for the project’s site.

During a large portion of this search, the Richards Boulevard area was considered, but the land acquisition, Wood said, “got too complicated and too expensive.”

In 2007, West Sacramento came forward with the now-selected site, which was offered as a donation.

A 20-acre parcel, which is owned by an Alaskan native corporation and located just north of the Broderick Boat Ramp, may also be incorporated into the overall project.

Additionally, the project consists of a secondary site in the Natomas area, just across from the Richards Boulevard area and near Camp Pollock, a Boy Scout camp located at 1501 Northgate Blvd.

Cathy Taylor, district superintendent of the Capital District for California State Parks, said that the (Natomas area) site was once considered as a main site for the project.

“For quite a long time, we had negotiated with the city of Sacramento about locating the facility out in (the Natomas) area,” Taylor said. “The American River Parkway, however, has a lot of restrictions about what can be built (there). There are limitations in the parkway about how large a facility can be and so we looked at the Natomas area as really more of an outdoor, interpretive space that could be used for large events. We aren’t going to do a lot of huge overnight gatherings in the West Sacramento site, where the center is itself, but we can certainly do that at the Natomas site.”

Taylor added that the parkway plan is limited to about 30,000 square feet of interpretive space and as a gathering area, it could include such amenities as an amphitheater, a stage and an outdoor, shaded interpretive programming site.

“It would be more of an outdoor type of facility than a (large) interpretive center,” Taylor said.

The center, which is projected to be paid for through one-third state funds and two-thirds private funding, is in its general plan stage for about the next 18 months and once this stage is completed, work on the project’s preliminary plans and working drawings will begin.

Taylor said that when the working drawings are completed – which may be about a two-year process – actual construction on the project can proceed.

Although it is uncertain when the project will be completed in its entirety, Taylor said that the center will be a world-class facility that will be well worth the wait.

“The California Indian Heritage Center has been a long time coming,” Taylor said. “It’s important for California Indians, but it’s also important for this community to have a project of this importance with this subject matter in the capital city. It’s a huge attraction for the city.”

 

E-mail Lance Armstrong at lance@valcomnews.com.

Sacred Heart Church is rich with architectural, spiritual, social history

Among East Sacramento’s most renowned architectural structures is the Sacred Heart Church at 3860 J St., where for eight decades, many local residents have come to gain spiritual guidance, while making many lifelong friends along the way.

Monsignor Robert P. Walton stands in front of the Sacred Heart Church at 39th and J streets, where he has served as the church’s pastor since 2002. (Photo by Lance Armstrong)
Monsignor Robert P. Walton stands in front of the Sacred Heart Church at 39th and J streets, where he has served as the church’s pastor since 2002. (Photo by Lance Armstrong)
Just last week, for instance, longtime Sacred Heart Church members Carolyn Granucci and Bev Geremia met with the East Sacramento News to discuss their many memories of the church, its influence in their lives and the friendships they have made during this time.

Geremia expressed her gratitude for the local Catholic church, its parish school and the many people, including Granucci, who she has made longtime friends with through her membership in the church.

“I’ve definitely made a lot of friendships over the years and our family has made a lot of friendships (through the church),” Geremia said. “Many of my children’s best friends are from their days at Sacred Heart School and through the church. It’s just that kind of a place.”

Granucci echoed Geremia’s words and added that although many of her closest childhood friends from Sacred Heart School, as well as the church, moved away from Sacramento many years ago, various reunions have proven that these friendships remain extremely strong.

“We can go many years without seeing each other and then when we get together, we pick up right where we left off, like we were never apart,” said Granucci, a lifelong member of the church who attended Sacred Heart School from 1944 to 1953.

The many stories of close friendships and spiritual ties among the church’s parishioners date back to the establishment of the church in 1931.

 

Parish people

In 1922, noting that there was a need for a permanent parish church in East Sacramento, Bishop Patrick Keane, who served as the third Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Sacramento from 1922 to 1928, purchased the property where the church would later be built.

The Sacred Heart Church, which was designed in the fashion of a church in Ireland, was dedicated by Bishop Robert Armstrong on June 5, 1931. (Photo by Lance Armstrong)
The Sacred Heart Church, which was designed in the fashion of a church in Ireland, was dedicated by Bishop Robert Armstrong on June 5, 1931. (Photo by Lance Armstrong)
Following the Oct. 6, 1929 death of the parish’s first pastor, the Rev. Philip Brady, Bishop Robert J. Armstrong appointed the Rev. Michael L. Lyons to serve as Brady’s successor. Lyons began these duties on Sunday, Dec. 1, 1929.

The following year, Lyons, who decided that the time was right for the construction of permanent parish buildings in East Sacramento, consulted Armstrong, who recommended that a church and priest offices be constructed on the 39th and J streets property that Keane had purchased.

Although the topic of constructing a parish school in East Sacramento was also discussed around this time, the idea was temporarily abandoned due to the inability to secure teachers.

The parish was fortunate to have the talented architect Harry J. Devine, among its members during its early years.

Devine, who had previously designed other churches in Northern California, was commissioned to create the plans for the new church and the offices and residence of the priests.

By November 1930, the plans were completed and William C. Keating was selected as the project’s general contractor.

Despite their quality, fine craftsmanship and many details, the new, $139,000 church buildings were constructed in a considerably short period of time.

Within a month after the plans were completed, work began at the 39th and J streets site, which had previously been home to the two-story East Sacramento Public School building, which was later briefly used by Christian Brothers High School students and faculty during the construction of the high school’s new campus at 21st and Y (now Broadway) streets.

 

Expanding the faith

The cornerstone of the church was laid on Sunday, March 15, 1930 and about four months later, the priests’ residence and offices were completed and being utilized by the priests, who had been living in a rented residence at 3801 H St.

The interior of the church is rich with details, including its domed ceiling, statuary, marble pillars, paintings, stained glass windows and pair of altars. (Photo by Lance Armstrong)
The interior of the church is rich with details, including its domed ceiling, statuary, marble pillars, paintings, stained glass windows and pair of altars. (Photo by Lance Armstrong)
To the delight of members of the parish, the lead, front page headline of the Sunday, Sept. 13, 1931 edition of The Register, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Sacramento, read: “New Sacramento church to be dedicated Sunday (Sept. 13).”

During this special, dedication day, Bishop Armstrong blessed the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which had been known as St. Stephen’s Church at its original site.

The name, St. Stephen’s Church, was used by the parish for its temporary church structure on the 39th and I streets property that had been purchased by Brady, who had believed it would be too expensive to have parish buildings constructed at the 39th and J streets site.

This name change resulted through a petition requesting that the church be dedicated to the “Sacred Heart.”

The petition was signed by about 500 parishioners and presented by the Women of the Altar Society of St. Stephen’s.

Permission to change the church’s name was later granted by Bishop Armstrong.

The small, square, temporary church building, which held its first Mass on Feb. 7, 1926, had received its name upon the request of Ellen Bowden, who provided funds for the development of the church and whose father and brother were both named Stephen.

 

Classic design

The Sacred Heart Church, which was designed in the fashion of a church in Ireland, is known for its brick architecture, decorative terra cotta, high, domed ceiling and many other details, which include 22 stained glass windows, 16 paintings, which include a series depicting the crucifixion of Christ, five large statues and 12 chandeliers.

Bev Geremia, left, and Carolyn Granucci are among the many dedicated members of the Sacred Heart Church. (Photo by Lance Armstrong)
Bev Geremia, left, and Carolyn Granucci are among the many dedicated members of the Sacred Heart Church. (Photo by Lance Armstrong)
Seven of the stained glass windows were imported from Ireland in the spring of 1932.

The church also includes a pair of altars, 72 wooden pews and 10 large marble pillars, which support a dozen archways on the south end of the church.

Early events in the church included the first wedding – the marriage of Mary O’Brien to Adam Charles Goetz – on Sept. 18, 1931 and the first confirmation on March 30, 1932.

In 1934, with the assistance of the Sisters of Mercy, Lyons helped develop the parish’s Sacred Heart School, which initially served first through fourth grade students. By the fall of 1936, the school included eight grades.

The school, which is located at 3933 I St., began with 60 students, who met in four temporary classrooms within the old St. Stephens Church building.

A “permanent” school was built in 1945 and has since lost its “permanent” status, as a new Sacred Heart School is being constructed across the street from the current school. The new school is scheduled to open in September.

The church’s current pastor, Monsignor Robert P. Walton, said that the church’s elementary school is an integral part of the parish’s history.

“It’s difficult to separate the church’s history from the school’s history,” Walton said. “Sacred Heart Church is synonymous with the parish school.”

Jeanne Winnick Brennan, a spokesperson for Sacred Heart Church, said that the opening of the new school is a great accomplishment in today’s world.

The 1953 graduates of Sacred Heart School are among the school’s more than 3,000 alumni. (Photo courtesy of Carolyn Granucci)
The 1953 graduates of Sacred Heart School are among the school’s more than 3,000 alumni. (Photo courtesy of Carolyn Granucci)
“The school is so rooted in this community that it is getting a new (school site and buildings) and that’s an unusual situation when many schools are closing,” Brennan said. “So, that’s a lot to be thankful for.”

The forthcoming school opening will undoubtedly begin one more important chapter in the parish’s extensive history, which began 84 years ago.

This history includes the celebration of the Sacred Heart Church’s 75th anniversary in 2006.

During this celebration’s Feast of Sacred Heart Mass, Monsignor Walton summarized the church’s importance to many people in the community in a very fitting fashion.

“This sacred space is so much more than great architectural beauty, magnificent, stained glass windows, inspiring space and liturgical appointments. It is filled with living memories of people…who have called Sacred Heart Church their spiritual home, and for many of you, for most of your lives.”

 

E-mail Lance Armstrong at lance@valcomnews.com.