Meet the candidates: Political forum at John F. Kennedy High School set for Monday, April 28

Candidates for Sacramento City Council District 7 and California Assembly District 9 have confirmed their presence at the political forum at John F. Kennedy High School, which is set for Monday, April 28 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the large, 465-seat, state-of-the-art theater. Moderated by Sacramento City College communications instructor Jared Anderson, and hosted by the Pocket News, Nextdoor Greenhaven, JFK High School, and Access Sacramento, the event is an informational, community building political forum. It is not a debate.

Students at Kennedy and City College have been invited to attend and ask questions – some instructors are offering students extra credit for attending, and volunteers from the League of Women Voters will have a table for voter registration. Candidates will be given two minutes to provide a biography before questions are asked. City council candidates will go first at 6:30 p.m. and assembly candidates will go second. We will also do a plug for Measure B.

If you have any questions you’d like me to save for the forum, email them to me at What follows is some information on Measure B and biographies along with top issues our candidates will be addressing at the forum.

Vote YES on Measure B – For the Libraries

The following measure is approved for the June 3, 2014 ballot. Measure B—Pertaining to a Parcel Tax for Core Library Services:
“Should library services for all City residents including children, teens, adults and seniors, be preserved, including after-school reading programs, homework assistance, library operating hours, 24/7 online access, programs for seniors, and other services, by enacting a new $12 per year single-family residential parcel tax for 12 years, and specified amounts for other uses, adjusted for inflation, that the State cannot take, with independent financial audits to ensure funds are spent only on City of Sacramento libraries?” No argument against was submitted.

The following is taken from “ Measure B augments the existing city parcel tax by just one dollar per month and requires independent yearly audits to protect tax payers. Measure B requires that all funds be spent exclusively for local library services within the City of Sacramento.

Measure B is needed to:
Keep three new libraries operating, provide for the increased demand for online services, ensure that all libraries stay open evenings and weekends so people can actually use our libraries, maintain the library’s after-school homework and reading programs for our school children and story time for preschoolers, provide quality books, library materials, and free children’s programs, protect library operating hours and 24/7 online access to library resources, preserve library services for seniors and families who are trying to improve their lives, allow people who don’t have computers at home access to the internet, continue to make quality library materials, programs, and services available at all libraries.

City Council District 7 candidates

Julius Cherry
Julius Cherry retired from the Sacramento Fire Department at the rank of Fire Chief in 2007 after more than 30 years of service. Prior to becoming Chief, he held the ranks of firefighter, captain, battalion chief, assistant chief, and Deputy Chief of Support Services. Julius has also been a practicing attorney for 22 years, handling a variety of civil matters. He is the CEO of The Cherry Consulting Group, which provides advisory services to fire protection organizations.

Julius chairs the Community Advisory Board for Dignity Health (formerly Catholic Healthcare West). He is past chair and current board member of Goodwill Industries of Sacramento Valley and Northern California. In 2011, he chaired the Sacramento Redistricting Citizens Advisory Committee, charged with advising the city government on reshaping the eight council districts after the 2010 census. From 1994 to 2001, Julius served and chaired the Sacramento County Project Planning Commission, assisting the commission in making entitlement decisions. He is a past board member of the Sacramento County Fair Board as a governor appointee.

A veteran of the United States Air Force, Julius attended night school to earn a Juris Doctorate from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law and a bachelor of science in public administration from California State University, Sacramento. Julius is married with three daughters, one son, and four grandchildren.

Rick Jennings
Why I’m running for City Council? I love this district and this city, where I’ve lived and raised my family since 1986. I believe I have the skills, experience and drive to make this district and city the best they can be.

Running for this office is a natural progression of what I’ve done over the last 28 years in this community. In 1996, I was recruited by then-Mayor Joe Serna to run for the Sacramento Unified School Board and to restore the community’s trust in the school district. I was proud to serve our kids for 12 years, focusing on rebuilding our neighborhood schools and improving student achievement.

I have also been the Executive Director of the Center for Fathers and Families, a non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening families and building communities in Sacramento, for nearly 20 years. The Center currently serves over 1,700 young people daily in before and after school programs and 400 adults with parenting classes and other comprehensive services.

Through the years I have volunteered as a coach for youth sports, served on various boards and commissions and been involved with many neighborhood groups. From the relationships I’ve developed, I am proud to be endorsed by neighborhood leaders like Supervisor Jimmie Yee, May O. Lee, Kathi Windheim, Shane Singh, Lee Dumas, Willie Caston, Didion Elementary School Principal Norm Policar, and the Sacramento Police Officers Association.

It is my commitment to this community and its continued prosperity that has always been my impetus to be involved and I can think of no better manifestation of my experience than to serve on the City Council.

My Priorities in Office: A Strong Economy & Strong Neighborhoods

The City needs to improve its service delivery. From 2007 to 2012, the City cut staff, reduced services, and laid off Police Officers to deal with continued budget deficits. This has hurt our neighborhoods.

As our economy recovers and more resources are available, we must restore city services to their pre-2007 levels and ensure that revenues generated from Downtown revitalization are returned for neighborhood services.

Specifically I will:
Promote public safety by fully staffing police, increasing neighborhood patrols, and supporting and re-establishing initiatives like Cops and Clergy and the Gang Task Force;
Expand neighborhood watch programs and make sure every neighborhood has the support it needs to keep our streets safe;
Encourage small business expansion and job creation by creating local business incubators and ensuring that Delta Shores is built responsibly with jobs for our community and opportunities for small businesses;
Partner with schools and libraries to expand community programs through grants, partnerships and private sector fundraising to provide new opportunities for youth and seniors.

Abe Snobar
I have been a longtime resident of Sacramento and spent all of my formative years being raised in, and by, District 7. As a youth I attended Sam Brannan Middle School in the Pocket Area and later graduated from Valley High School in the Valley Hi area. From Valley High, I went on to earn my bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from California State University, Sacramento. In short, I truly am a “Sacramentan.”

I spent my early professional career as a Special Education teacher and a high school and college football coach. As an employee of the Elk Grove Unified School District for 14 years, I was involved with the district’s success in raising the API scores from the mid-500s to 744, where they sit currently. My passion for teaching is paralleled with my passion for leading. Today, I am part of the Delta Ducks Minor League football team as an assistant coach, a voice in the Entertainment Sports Complex, and I am a member of the Sacramento Metro Chamber as a small business entrepreneur.

My passion for leading, listening, and learning comes second only to raising my two lovely daughters, Sophie and Ella. Vote for Abe.

CA Assembly District 9 candidates

Jim Cooper
Jim Cooper has served his community for more than 29 years – as a highly decorated law enforcement officer, a mayor, a city councilmember, and volunteer working with at-risk youth.

Cooper is currently a captain in the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, where he commands the Court Security Division. As a former commander of the Sacramento Valley High Tech Crimes Task Force, focusing on apprehension of child predators and identity thieves, he oversaw dramatic increases in prosecution and arrests of child predators.

His law enforcement career includes nine years working undercover to fight gang violence and drug trafficking. He has earned numerous awards, including the Bronze Star Bravery for heroic actions during the 1991 “Good Guys” hostage crisis. He also served two years as the Sheriff’s Department’s spokesperson.

Cooper is a lifetime member of the California Narcotics Officers Association and is well-regarded for his youth drug prevention teaching curriculum, to teach students about the dangers of narcotics and educate parents about the warning signs of drug use. He has also taught Criminal Justice at local community colleges and universities.

Cooper has spent the past 13 years serving the people of Elk Grove, as the city’s first mayor, with a total of two terms as mayor and four terms on the city council.

As the city’s first mayor, Cooper helped establish the governing values of fiscal responsibility, transparency, accessibility and regional partnership that the city still tries to live by. The fiscal foundation laid by his administration as mayor was critical to achieving 10 consecutive balanced budgets, building a healthy reserve, and avoiding the police layoffs that have plagued neighboring communities.

Cooper also worked to make Elk Grove one of the region’s greenest cities, and has prioritized balancing growth and preserving the community’s quality of life by tackling issues like traffic, housing, and job creation.

At the same time, he was critical in setting up the city’s first gang/narcotics unit and a local 9-11 Communications Center, and put more police officers on the street.

Cooper has had a lifelong passion for community service and young people, and has served on the boards of the Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers & Big Sisters, WIND Youth Services, and the Sacramento Children’s Receiving Home.

Cooper grew up in Sacramento, is a graduate of the West Point Leadership Academy and FBI National Academy and earned a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from St. Mary’s College.

Darrell Fong
Darrell Fong was born and raised in Sacramento, California and has lived in the Pocket Greenhaven area for nearly 30 years. Darrell attended C.K. McClatchy High School, Sacramento City College, and Sacramento State University.

Darrell was elected to the Sacramento City Council, representing the 7th District, in 2010. Darrell has been a vocal advocate on finding a comprehensive statewide water policy and opposing the delta tunnels, creating jobs through economic development, and keeping neighborhoods safe in the City of Sacramento. Darrell started a community discussion to begin connecting the Sacramento River Parkway to the 119-mile American River Parkway. A strong supporter of working families, Darrell has provided representation to previously underserved communities in the district, providing after-school sports programs for kids.

Darrell, retired in 2009 from the Sacramento Police Department. Where he worked his way up the ranks, retiring as a captain. Darrell held various positions in the police department including, gang detective, patrol sergeant, narcotics and vice sergeant, Internal Affairs sergeant, lieutenant, Watch Commander, Metro Executive Lieutenant, Special Ops lieutenant (K-9, SWAT, EOD). As captain, Darrell served as Captain of the Special Investigations Detail, which includes the gang and narcotics units.

Darrell’s focus on alternative policing methods with kids began while he was supervising the School Resources Officers that provide security for the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) and Natomas School District. He noticed that if kids were given alternatives options and positive direction, they performed better in school and stayed out of trouble. Darrell was the first officer from the Sacramento Police Department to attend and graduate from the Los Angeles Police Department West Point Leadership Program. Darrell has been recognized with resolutions from the California State Senate and Assembly for his work on investigating and suppressing Asian gangs in Sacramento.

A firm believer in community engagement leading to positive outcomes, Darrell has worked to organize monthly community food truck events, which have engaged thousands of constituents. An advocate for Sacramento’s food culture, he worked with members of the Sacramento food community to proclaim Sacramento America’s Farm to Fork Capital.

In addition to his distinguished service to the community as a Council Member and police captain, Darrell has spent innumerable personal house supporting organizations including the Council of Asian Pacific Islanders Together for Advocacy and Leadership (CAPITAL), My Sister’s House Domestic Violence Shelter, Sacramento District Attorney Citizen Academy, and the Organization of Chinese Americans.

Darrell is married to his wife Joy, who works for the State of California, and has three children that have attended local schools. Darrell’s twin brother, Derrick, is a prominent local restaurateur.
As a candidate for Assembly, I committed myself to expand college opportunity by stopping tuition increases. I committed myself to protecting the Delta and the water supplies farmers in our region need. I remain clear on my commitment to closing tax loopholes that result in misery for those who rely on public services and harsh cuts to the public servants who provide those services.

Tim Gorsulowsky
Tim Gorsulowsky was raised in Shreveport, Louisiana where he learned, and continues to live with, the highest level of moral character. While in Louisiana, Tim graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business from East Texas Baptist University with continuing education in the MBA program.

In 1987, after graduating from college, Tim moved to California to assist his brother with organizing a new dermatology surgical practice. While in California, the opportunity arose to open a security services company in San Jose. This company started in 1994 ultimately expanded into a 165-employee operation with more than $4 million in annual revenue.

Tim’s philosophy offered in the business sector was to always treat the employees with high regard, while continually giving the client personal attention to detail. It was unusual to maintain an employee and contract base for an extended five to 10 years, but Tim’s philosophy and business technique proved this longevity could actually be accomplished.

Tim moved to the City of Saratoga, California in 1997 until transitioning to the beautiful City of Elk Grove in 2012.

If entrusted with your vote, Tim will provide a sincere effort to address all issues and concerns, regardless of political party, within the district.

He said, “political party agendas are not my concerns, but the issues and needs of the people I represent are my number one priority. It is my duty to handle these matters with a fair and honest approach, and work diligently for the betterment of all citizens within California.”

Tim’s primary goal is to exceed your expectations during the term by increasing the current socio-economic status in California. This will be accomplished by offering a five- and 10-year tax incentive plans to major companies that will successfully promote new business in California. The reduced business tax revenue will be offset by the revenue received from employment taxes.

Education is a major concern in District 9 that must be addressed by the Legislature. Promoting the longevity of our educators will be accomplished with improving the level of compensation. The plan will require a third party auditing of California school district budgets that will focus on reducing unnecessary expenses, then apportion the funds as a designated increase to our educators.

Many Californians have noticed the increase in DMV fee structure over the last few years. The programs offered by DMV should continue to be automated. This process will be promoted under Tim’s plan for the purpose of reducing the fees charged to residents.

Manuel Martin
My name is Manuel Martin and I am running for the 9th State Assembly district because I want Californians to prosper. For too long we have been voting for the same politicians to go to Sacramento. Year after year the people of California feel as though nothing changes. The truth is the difference between California’s 8 percent unemployment rate and North Dakota’s 2.6 percent unemployment rate is not Washington DC, it’s Sacramento.

I decided to run for office because I’m tired of the same old politicians who get elected just to make friends and cozy up to the lobbyists. While the politicians are in Sacramento networking and dining with special interest lobbyists, it’s the people who suffer. The people of the 9th district deserve a hard working representative.

That’s why I pledge to my constituents, when elected I will have monthly town hall meetings to meet as many people as possible. It’s time we elect representatives who actually want to meet the people and find out what the people need. Your representative should be meeting you, not the lobbyists.

Each Assembly representative receives an annual allowance worth about $30,000 on top of their annual salary. Since I live locally, I don’t need the allowance. I am going to use it to help students achieve a quality education by using my allowance for college scholarships. Education is very sacred to me, and I want to help as many kids prosper as possible. Education is the cornerstone of the American way of life; I will fight to preserve equal opportunity to a quality education for all students. That’s why I am offended by SCA-5, a bill presented by the Democrats in the State Senate which would have allowed California universities to deny students admittance based of the color of their skin. My friends, we should never judge someone according to the color of their skin, yet Democrat Senators wanted to legalize discrimination. It’s horrendous to think we have elected representatives who are living in the Jim Crow era and legislating racial discrimination.

I decided to run for office to preserve the American dream that my family immigrated to the United States for. I am a first generation American whose family came here from the Azores Islands. Like many first generation Americans, English was not my first language I was raised speaking Portuguese. I grew up on my grandfather’s dairy farm and started working at the age of 12. I started a jelly company when I was 19 and was in about 15 stores with my product. I shut down the company to go back to school. I earned an A.S. degree in Business Management from Delta College. I was going to further my education with a degree in economics when I got hired by Hewlett Packard.

“Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer,” as John F. Kennedy once said. I’m here to be your representative not your politician. Feel free to call me 572-9241, or email

Diana Rodriguez-Suruki
Diana Rodriguez-Suruki has a long record of proven leadership at all levels of government. She has served as a manager for both county and state government. In 2008 she was overwhelmingly elected to serve as a Trustee for the Sacramento City Unified School District with over 66% of the vote.

Diana has been a leading advocate against harmful school closures. She has fought for transparency, accountability and proper spending of the school district’s $480 million budget. While serving as president of the school board, she uncovered wasteful spending and worked to redirect those funds into the classroom. She has advocated for the best teachers in our classrooms and closing the achievement gap.

Diana also has a long record of community service including serving in the following capacities:

• Distinguished member of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson’s Transition Advisory Team
• Past Board Member and Secretary for the nationwide Parent/Teacher Home Visit Program
• Chair, Sacramento 2010 US Census Latino Complete Count Committee
• Delegate Assembly Member, California School Boards Association (CSBA)

Diana has also participated in the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, President Obama’s White House Hispanic Policy Summit, and as a guest commentator on National Public Radio. She is a long-time public servant with a combined 15 years of work experience in the public sector. She has worked in all branches of local government – school, city, county and state.

In her experience, Diana has adopted spending priorities and managed county budgets. She has provided oversight and direction for various projects including multi-million dollar health care service contracts and computerized system upgrades. She has analyzed and built state department budgets and has experience identifying potential budget misappropriations. She has also analyzed and researched collective bargaining agreements that ensure public workers are fairly compensated and taxpayers’ money is spent responsibly.

Diana completed the National Economic Policy Institute from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and has a degree in finance from DeVry University. She lives in Sacramento and has three daughters – Ezra, Taja, and Alana. She enjoys cheering for her two youngest daughters at their weekend swim meets where they compete for the Parkway Dolphins swim team.

Three main issues she’ll be focusing on:
1) Strengthening Public Education
2) Improving government efficiency and accountability
3) Cracking down on the influence of big money and special interest groups in politics

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.

Art with a purpose: A Pocket sculptor’s mission to rid lead from ceramics in Bolivia

Here, Bolivian women, are making ceramic pots. The photographer, Miguel Paz, took the photo in 2010 when he returned to his home country. Paz is on a mission to remove lead from the clay in the small town of Huayculi. Photos by Miguel Paz

Here, Bolivian women, are making ceramic pots. The photographer, Miguel Paz, took the photo in 2010 when he returned to his home country. Paz is on a mission to remove lead from the clay in the small town of Huayculi. Photos by Miguel Paz

Editor’s note: This is the second part in a series about a prominent sculptor from the Pocket area whose work inspires and teaches students locally at the Short Center North and internationally in a small Bolivian town called Huayculi.

As was mentioned in the first part in this series about Pocket sculptor Miguel Paz, the artist hails from La Paz, Bolivia and has taken multiple trips back to his home country to share his expertise with fellow artists in an effort to create an international artists’ collective on the most basic level of community building and sharing of ideas and resources.

With a teaching background from Columbia University’s Teachers College and experience working with the Sacramento Arts Commission and also at the Short Center North, Paz is intent on showing townspeople how using natural resources not only produces aesthetically beautiful pieces, but also is healthier. Starting this week, he will be starting a four month class where he will learn how to build an anagama kiln and will be teaching people in Huayculi what he’s learned.

It is not uncommon in Bolivia or in other parts of South America to see ceramic pieces that contain lead and according to an April 7, 2011 article on the topic in Food Safety News, lead has been used in the glazing process for ceramic dishes, bowls, pitchers, plates and other utensils for centuries. Typically, after being fired in a kiln, a piece of ceramic will appear smooth and shiny due to the lead in the glaze.

Upon describing what he saw in Huayculi, Paz said in an interview with the Pocket News: “They are happy firing it at 1,000 degrees. I call it quasi ceramics. It’s not cooked; it’s only basically hardened. The reason why is that they efficiently melt the glaze, which is lead-based at that 1,000 degrees. You can make it run. When it comes out of the kiln, it looks like ceramics, so they are able to sell it.”

Surrounded by homes made from Adobe growing up, Paz was influenced by the material at such a young age. ”Adobe was incredible, so I was very much influenced by that when I was young. But also by 1991, I also began to see there was something that developed, from a cultural point of view that fascinated me.”

“There was a tremendous amount of alcoholism, similar to the Native American story on the reservations. There’s no incentive. Everybody is being taken care of, but there are all of these forces of prejudice and racism and marginalization that deprive individuals of wanting to make something with their lives.”

This discovery came to light during a visit in 1991, after 20 years had passed since Paz’s previous time there. He was living on the East Coast with his wife and daughters (ages 8 and 11), but problems with his marriage led to a separation and as a result he fled back to Bolivia.

“I was mainly just angry, bitter, disillusioned,” Paz said.

“I got a job working in a ceramics firm that was doing exports and imports. It was an interesting relationship, building a work production for making ceramic pieces that could be made there. They were fired electric. It was capital intensive,” he recalled. “It’s not like here where you can go to Alpha Ceramics (4675 Aldona Ln.) or Panama (Pottery, 4421 24th St.). You had to dig. I heard they had kaolin (a rare type of pure clay used in porcelain) down in Southern Bolivia.”

About a year and a half later, he boarded a bus out of Sucre to take him to the land of kaolinite rich rocks, but he never made it. The route from Sucre to Southern Bolivia was a 9-hour ride that tired out the bus driver who fell asleep at the wheel. The vehicle went off the side of a mountain, leaving Paz quadriplegic. “The last thing I remember seeing was nothing but dark in front of me. I swear, I was in the back, I heard screams. So I got up, put on my glasses and it was like light at the end of this dark thing.”

It was about 5 a.m. Paz was airlifted. Doctors saw bleeding, broken ribs, a contusion in the back, two broken collar bones. “It was really bad. I was really fortunate to have made it, but I made it back to the United States because they had no MRI in Bolivia,” Paz said. His mother brought him back to California, where he recuperated and gradually learned to regain strength and movement.

“When my Mom brought me back, I saw I had messed up when you leave children, even though it was a separation. I was very much an artist pursuing my thing. It was about me, me, me, me. It was the machismo, egocentric nature of the artist that I took out on my family.”

The accident, undoubtedly, was life changing for the artist in many ways in relation to his future work at the Short Center North as well as working to eliminate lead from the ceramics in Bolivia.
Because of the accident, Paz “saw the light.”

“It’s so connected you cannot believe. There’s an amazing potential to create art even if they wouldn’t have been able to consider a therapeutic association to rehabilitate. To me, it’s one of the greatest opportunities to work with this population. This is where art really begins, to understand the primal understanding of art. It evolves out of the life story.”

As the disabled population lives in the margins of society, the people of Bolivia Paz has met are also marginalized and he describes art as something readily available to the privilege class. “This is how it all fits. In reality, it’s an unfolding. And this is my own personal investment to do something that truly has a purpose. There’s a reason this is all coming together,” Paz said. “I had the accident. It was a reality check, a rethinking, and reevaluating of the most important principles a person should live by. It was philosophical.”

Paz took up teaching at the Short Center North, where he has enjoyed watching talent flourish from his students with disabilities and over the years, he has made a few trips back to Huayculi. “I came back to the United States and continued on with my life on a level that was more culturally based — how arts and education empower people. That’s what I noticed in Huayculi.”

Paz noticed the appreciation for Bolivian culture the people of Huayculi embodied, and the beauty of it all, has resonated within the sculptor, inspiring him to stay in contact with the community there on a regular basis since 1996. “(I speak to) the people who are producing the indigenous cottage industries — the people who are feeding the local markets.”

On an educational level, Paz wants to teach the importance of not using lead in ceramics and bring back the knowledge that has empowered Bolivians since the Inca. “That’s why in 1991, when I went to Bolivia, when I had the accident, I began to really see there was a real strong cultural ground of the knowledge of what clay can do for people. It’s such an inexpensive material but it’s so culturally embedded in the lives of people.”

But as much as Paz has tried to preach about the danger of lead-based clay, “it’s in one ear and out the other,” he said.

And he’s starting to see the philosophical connection. “It’s the way they have experienced life for so long, being at the yolk of someone else’s beat. Even the Inca was oppressive, but they weren’t into lead back then. Now everybody does it quick, quick, quick because you’re competing against plastics.”

Because of trade agreements, Bolivia has become the recipient of used cars, essentially becoming the dump site for conglomerates that are getting rid of their unwanted vehicles. “You can have a car that’s 5 years old that they are throwing away in Indonesia or Japan or Europe. They sell these cars to people in Bolivia so they can have a job driving a taxi and with it comes with a battery and the battery is already used as it is. There are no recycling efforts for batteries.

“So what the native people, the indigenous people, the artists, what they do, since they cannot afford much, they get their hands on an old battery. They cracked them open; they’ve removed the cells. There are nine cells in there that’s barium. Barium is a lead derivative that is able to collect that electricity. It can dispense on a gradual basis. The duration of it is five to 10 years if it’s well taken care of. By cracking it, you remove these cells, then you grind it. This is done in the open. With a little water, you coat all of the ceramic pieces in the low fire range at 100 to 1,000 degrees.

“Then they stack them on top of each other. Then they separate them and sell them at markets. These things are causing enormous problems. Not only as ultimately reaching the brain, but it’s also destroying the liver, the kidneys, the stomach, the esophagus. All of these problems that are tragic. Changing these from 1996 to today, it’s like fighting impossible odds, almost. The interests are really to increase the livelihood of people going back to the 50s. People weren’t just poor, they were dying. They were holding on with dysentery. The trade off is called denial.”

Paz describes the policies set forth by the World Bank and IMF trade agreements as “truly criminal” established by a ruling class to administrate.

“The only thing that is bad is the barium. And Bolivia is on the other side of the Andes and nobody cares. It’s being used as a glaze in this pseudo ceramics. Because it looks shiny, it’s actually distorting our sense of values. In terms of economy 7 to 10 percent of cottage industries are run by this quick fix. But it’s being discarded. I have just become aware of this as of last year,” Paz said, adding however, it’s not something new; it’s been going on for two generations. “We’re not rabbits or fruit flies. We are human beings. In one generation you can change these forces that are so great.”

While the odds may seem insurmountable to overcome, Paz currently is intent on learning how to build an anagama and show what he’s learned to empower the people of Huayculi to use natural resources to create a healthy local economy. “It would relate itself to an exchange program, a school for the arts and include the individual on a local base to work hand in hand in producing quality work,” he said.

Paz has been inspired by Marc Lancet, an instructor at Solano Community College who co-authored Japanese Wood-fired Ceramics with Masakazu Kusakabe in 2005. Lancet, not only uses wood in the firing process, he’s a master anagama kiln maker who is helping to revive a movement of the ancient type of pottery kiln which was brought to Japan from China in the 5th century and first to the United States in 1995. Akin to the large beehive kilns at Panama Pottery, which are no longer in use, the anagama can be quite ginormous and firings can last weeks.

“He (Lancet) uses natural resources and high fire to create incredibly colorful pieces. What you are exposing is the richness of the clay as it crystallizes. So the appeal of all of this is the coloration. The wood itself, when it reaches high fire, it creates an ash that floats inside of the chamber at high temperature and it floats and descends. It coats and lands on the pieces that are maturing. It’s great,” Paz said.

In the process Lancet uses, none of the glazes are lead based and as far as using wood to fire in Bolivia, well, Paz said the country has a lot of eucalyptus. “With proper management, you can do it. You have to plan on the level of the growth of the eucalyptus,” he added.

From the inspiration of Lancet and Sacramento State University ceramics professor Scott Parady, Paz has learned the beautiful facets the anagama can have on the experience of a community. “We are conscious of the fact it’s a collective and communal experience.” And in relating back to Bolivia, he said: “There aren’t many jobs available in that field, so we need to make the interest in the learning of making ceramics through the people in the humanities – the understanding of art, the children who will become the people who will bring about a social change.”

Stolen bike! Don’t be a victim; lock it up and register it with the police department

Editor’s note: Names have been changed to protect the privacy of a teenage boy and his family. The family has been subject to bike theft in the neighborhood.

Jennifer Smith, a long-time Pocket resident called into the Pocket News in an effort to raise awareness surrounding bike theft. Her 14-year-old son Jim was having lunch with a friend at El Faro Taqueria in the Promenade. Unfortunately, he didn’t lock his bike up and instead he leaned it against a window. He and his friend were sitting inside with the bike in view when all of a sudden two youth, described as being about two years their senior, look Jim and his friend in the eye, before allegedly taking off with the bike.

Jim took off running after the alleged thieves and interestingly a bike belonging to Jim’s friend was not stolen (even though there were two thieves).

Jennifer described the scene: “They just kicked the stand and rode off with it. (Jim) called the police; they said it wasn’t urgent but to file a report. There’s nothing they can do about it. That was such a bummer. We love being down here. The smoke shop (next to El Faro) caught it on tape. His little helper was cussing little (Jim) out. He chased him. My son could have caught up with him. There were all these cuss words. The guys that took it were just a little older, just a little bigger.”

The bike, a 16-year-old Trek cruiser, holds fond memories for Jennifer who recalls riding her three babies around the neighborhood. “People would say, ‘I love your bike.’ I rode it since then. We would get our bikes out and ride along the river. (Jim) got so tall; he was the only one who rode the cruiser. It was mine but he rode it because of his long legs. It was so comfortable. It has high handlebars. Riding around the river was our little family thing to do. I am on the river at least every other day.”

As far as the recent incident goes, Jennifer said, “It dawned on me that my son should have never chased them … it’s just a bike.” And as far as Jim’s friend was concerned, his bike was left. The accomplice rather run from the scene of the crime than take the “rickety bike.”

The alleged was caught on tape wearing a “bright red cap and two pairs of shorts. His other friend was in a grey sweatshirt.” Jennifer said she’s been watching on eBay to see if they could find the bike.

The point to Jennifer’s call, she said, was to remind readers to lock up their valuables.

Coincidentally, the Sacramento Police Department, in partnership with Councilmember Steve Hansen and the City of Sacramento, has launched a free online bicycle registry called Ride On! So here’s a bit of a PSA, courtesy of the City’s website. Registration for the program can be found online as well at:

Why Register?

    Bicycle Identification – If your bike is stolen and is registered with the City of Sacramento, the police department can easily search registration records because your registered bicycle is cross-referenced by name as well as by serial number and registration number.
    Recovered Bikes Returned to Owners – A registered bike greatly increases the likelihood it will be returned to its owner.
    Rider Identification – Bicycle registration aids in identifying the bicycle owner in case of a crash. Many bicyclists don’t carry identification. This is especially true for children.

To the Editor

Friends of the Sacramento River Parkway is devoted to the completion of a multi-use trail on the levee through the Pocket and Little Pocket neighborhoods – a plan approved by the city council nearly forty years ago.

The parkway will improve recreational opportunities and provide a badly needed transportation alternative. Additionally, the parkway will connect Sacramento to the coming Great California Delta Trail – a multi-use trail and bike lanes to the 500 miles of the San Francisco Bay Trail.

But the completion of the parkway will also bring needed improvements to a levee that serves primarily to protect us from flooding. So, we were disturbed to read in the August 15 Pocket News that Dave Williams, a levee maintenance supervisor, opposes completion of the parkway.

“As far as I know, my department is not for it because of maintenance issues,” he announces. “And that’s our stand on it.” We are sincerely grateful for the work that Mr. Williams and his coworkers do, but we hope he is mistaken when he said that his employer opposes the parkway.

Nine private fences and gates stand in the way of the parkway’s completion – and fewer than 70 homes behind those fences increase risks for tens of thousands. In the 95831 zip code alone – Greenhaven/Pocket – the population exceeds 40,000, but fewer than 50 homes sit behind levee fences here.

Mr. Williams apparently does not know that his employer – the Department of Water Resources – objected bitterly to encroachment permits for levee fences in the late 60s and early 70s. Fences had already caused serious erosion when they caught debris and directed the river’s flow against the levee.

DWR also objected that private fences and gates had increased the cost of routine maintenance because of the time needed to get through each locked gate.

In 2005, the chief engineer of the Reclamation Board – the body that considered encroachment permit applications then – raised the safety objection when residents wanted another fence. And in 2011, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers representative raised similar objections and announced the Corps’ opposition to new cross-levee fences.

But that begs the question, if new fences and gates are bad, aren’t existing fences a problem? Yes, they are. In 1998, to address the debris-loading problem, a new state law required that fences be “removable in segments” and that permittees remove the fences as the river rises. Property owners sued. Rather than fight the lawsuit, DWR caved and paid to build five removable fences.

But, since then, DWR has been asleep at the switch in requiring permittees to remove fences as the river rises. As the Corps’ representative said in 2011, “[W]e talk about removable fences, but human nature is they’re not going to remove it. By the time they figure out the water is coming up, they’re trying to do other things.” In fact, levee damage is evident today under at least two “removable” fences.

Good luck finding the permittee to remove the fence anyway. Of the named permittees, we learned last year that at least three permittees were deceased, at least two had sold their property, one was in the name of a neighbor who doesn’t “own” the fence, and one was held by a neighborhood association that likely has no appreciable assets.

Why are assets important? Because permittees have indemnified the state – that is, they have agreed to defend and reimburse the state if their fences and gates cause damage. Deceased permittees don’t remove fences and they aren’t going to reimburse the state.

So, what about the four fences that aren’t removable? In one case, we don’t need to wait for the river to deposit debris against the fence. For two years or more, large debris piles have been heaped against the fence and Mr. Williams’ employer has done nothing about it.

In another case, concertina razor wire – the stuff that tops prison fences – extends from a fence to the river to discourage anyone from skirting the fence. This concertina wire will put Mr. Williams and his coworkers at risk if they need to clear debris or remove this fence during high water.

What’s worse, this fence is at the upriver end of a Sacramento city park – but the park is pretty much closed to anyone but boaters and adjacent residents anyway. The park’s closure presumably protects the privacy of the residents who have gates into this “public” park, even though taxpayers shelled out $1.1 million to settle a five-year lawsuit over ownership of the property.

Right now, the levee doesn’t meet Corps’ standards for adequate access to the levee. The parkway will solve that. The Central Valley Flood Protection Plan calls for all-weather roads on levees. The parkway will solve that with a paved trail constructed without flood funds.

As Mr. Williams notes, “When you get 10,000 other pairs of eyes (observing the levee’s condition), it’s definitely to everybody’s advantage.” DWR recently proposed that neighborhood-watch-type organizations patrol levees for safety issues. You don’t get that when neighbors can keep their neighbors off the levee. The parkway will solve that, too.

Private fences and gates serve the interests of a few while exposing the rest of us to greater risk. Mr. Williams’ employer seems to be complicit by failing to enforce the law and the conditions of encroachment permits. We need DWR to look out for those of us who are at risk from flooding in the Pocket, Little Pocket, and adjoining neighborhoods. Maintaining the status quo will not serve those interests.

Jim Houpt
Carolyn Baker
Albert Balangit
Suzanne Blanchette
Patrice Cox
Don DuPage
Heather Fargo
Ivy Glasgow
Dan Gorfain
Tom Higgins
Roger Johnson
Keith Jones
Anne Rudin
Ray Schwartz

Friends of the Sacramento River Parkway

Patriots recognized by Elks Lodge No. 6


Elks Lodge No. 6 commemorated the memory of 9-11 with a Patriots Day celebration on Sept. 11. At the dinner, which included patriotic items such as “Yankee Pot Roast” and “All-American Apple Pie,” Elks Exalted Ruler Ron Brusato presented plaques to “honor a fire fighter and a police officer who have done meritorious work for the community.”

Captain Mark Ramirez of the Sacramento City Fire Department and Officer Jeffrey Silva were both honored by the Elks that evening.

The purpose of the celebration, according to Brusato, was to never forget those who died on Sept. 11, 2001.

“If 9-11 is ever forgotten, the terrorists have won,” he said. “We won’t let that happen.”


Patriots were recognized at the Patriot Day celebration held by Elks Lodge No. 6 on Sept. 11. Left to right, Ron Brusato, Fire Captain Mark Ramirez, Police Captain Jim Maccoun and Police Officer Jeffery Silva. / Valley Community Newspapers photo by Linda Pohl

Patriots were recognized at the Patriot Day celebration held by Elks Lodge No. 6 on Sept. 11. Left to right, Ron Brusato, Fire Captain Mark Ramirez, Police Captain Jim Maccoun and Police Officer Jeffery Silva. / Valley Community Newspapers photo by Linda Pohl

Robbie Waters Pocket-Greenhaven Library vandalized over Labor Day weekend


Within a week of its grand opening, the Robbie Waters Pocket-Greenhaven Library was vandalized over the Labor Day weekend.

Vandals covered the windows, stonework and walls of the Robbie Waters Pocket-Greenhaven Library over the Labor Day weekend. Citizens stepped forward to clean up the damage. An investigation is ongoing. / Photo courtesy of Lauren Pohl

Vandals covered the windows, stonework and walls of the Robbie Waters Pocket-Greenhaven Library over the Labor Day weekend. Citizens stepped forward to clean up the damage. An investigation is ongoing. / Photo courtesy of Lauren Pohl

Taggers virtually coated the library windows and stonework trim with blue spray paint.

“We were saddened that anybody would do such a thing to our library,” said Jason Weekley, circulation supervisor for the library. “But fortunately, we were able to clean it up quickly.”

Members of the community made calls of support to the library. Many others did the neighborly thing: they picked up buckets, scrub rags and sponges, rolled up their sleeves and got to work cleaning up the damage themselves.

“It really shows the support that the community has for the library,” Weekley said.

Sacramento Police Detectives are continuing to investigate the case.

“Nothing evidentiary value came up on the surveillance tapes,” said Sgt. Norm Leong, public information officer for the Sacramento Police Department. “A dark SUV was noticed in the early morning hours near the library that morning. However, that could simply have been somebody dropping off library books. Or, that person may have been a witness.”


Police received the first call about the library vandalism at 12:46 p.m. on Sept. 5.

“At this time, there are no new leads in the case,” Leong said. “We continue to hope that someone will come forward regarding the vandalism.”

Anyone with information regarding the vandalism of the Robbie Waters Pocket-Greenhaven Public Library is urged to call the Crime Alert Hotline at (916) 443-HELP (4357). Callers can remain anonymous.

Spirit of the Pocket Parade July 3

The annual Fourth of July Spirit of the Pocket Parade, the largest parade event in the Pocket-Greenhaven area, is preparing for another magnificent patriotic celebration and is looking to the community for volunteers and floats. The parade, which is being held on July 3 this year, is a popular community-produced visual spectacle.

Held Saturday, July 3, the Fourth of July Spirit of the Pocket Parade begins promptly at 10 a.m. at Lisbon Elementary School, 7775 S. Land Park Dr., and travels down Windbridge, ending at Garcia Bend Park.
Held Saturday, July 3, the Fourth of July Spirit of the Pocket Parade begins promptly at 10 a.m. at Lisbon Elementary School, 7775 S. Land Park Dr., and travels down Windbridge, ending at Garcia Bend Park.
“We are looking for people to step forward with floats,” said Linda Pohl, parade committee chair. “Our main thing is to make this great visual presentation, so we would like a lot of floats.”

Held Saturday, July 3, the parade begins promptly at 10 a.m. at the former site of Lisbon Elementary School, 7775 S. Land Park Dr., and travels down Windbridge, ending at Garcia Bend Park.

Volunteers are needed to support the efforts (and the fun) of the 16th annual Fourth of July Spirit of the Pocket Parade. To volunteer in positions ranging from pre-parade phone calls, blocking streets (while sitting in a comfortable chair), parade marshals and helping with the after-parade activities at Garcia Bend, e-mail

For more information on volunteering at the parade, contact Pohl at The Pocket News at 429- 9901 or e-mail

The annual Fourth of July Spirit of the Pocket Parade is being held on July 3 this year.
The annual Fourth of July Spirit of the Pocket Parade is being held on July 3 this year.
Parade float entry forms can be picked up at The Pocket News office, 2709 Riverside Blvd., and Pocket Custom Framing, 7485 Rush River Dr., suite 715. Forms can also be downloaded online at Completed entries can be dropped off at these locations or emailed to All pre-registered parade entrants will be part of the parade judging. Entries will be judged against others in their group type.

Preparations are already underway to make the parade bigger and better than ever before.

“We have the Friends of the Library doing something great – they seem to do a great float every year,” said Pohl. “In addition to booths after the parade, we will have a carnival put on by the Friends of the Library and the School of Engineering and it will have games and activities and there will also be a demonstration by the Sacramento Police K-9 Unit.”

A special addition to the event is Sacramento Police K-9 officer Bandit and his handler Officer Gary Dahl as grand marshals of the parade. Bandit was wounded in March during the apprehension of a suspect; he has since fully recovered and is back on duty. TV personalities Nick Toma, from Channel 31, and Angel Cardenas, from Channel 10, will serve as parade MCs, announcing the floats and the parade participants as they pass.


Garcia Bend Boat Ramp closed

Due to the path of the parade, the boat ramp at Garcia Bend Park in the Pocket area will close from 10 p.m. Friday, July 2, until 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 3 for Independence Day festivities.


Parade entry forms

Fourth of July Spirit of the Pocket Parade float entry forms can be downloaded bly clicking here. Download a parade waiver form here.

Brickyard was important Riverside-Pocket area business

The Sacramento Brick Co. brickyard is shown in this 1938 photograph. Bricks manufactured at this now-defunct Riverside-Pocket area business were used in the construction of such famous Sacramento buildings as the Memorial Auditorium, the Elks Building at 11th and J streets and the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. (Photo courtesy of PHCS)
The Sacramento Brick Co. brickyard is shown in this 1938 photograph. Bricks manufactured at this now-defunct Riverside-Pocket area business were used in the construction of such famous Sacramento buildings as the Memorial Auditorium, the Elks Building at 11th and J streets and the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. (Photo courtesy of PHCS)
The Riverside-Pocket area undoubtedly has much history, but it is certainly not everyone who knows that the area has a direct connection to some of the capital city’s most renowned architectural structures.

Buildings such as the Memorial Auditorium, the Elks Building at 11th and J streets, the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, a portion of the state Capitol and various structures in Old Sacramento, for instance, have a commonality that link them together for an obvious local trivia question.

These local landmarks were all constructed with bricks that were made at the Sacramento Brick Co., which opened on Riverside Road (today’s Riverside Boulevard) in 1881.

Additionally, the company, which was originally owned by Thomas Dwyer, also supplied bricks for reconstructing part of San Francisco following the great 1906 earthquake and fire.

By this time in the company’s history, the brickyard was already quite notable, as is evident by a reference in the 1890 History of Sacramento County, which reads: “(The brickyard has) in operation four Quaker brick machines with a capacity of (manufacturing) 140,000 (bricks) daily.”

During summer months, the brick-making plant utilized clay-like soil for its production that was dug from the “clay pit” in the area of today’s Lake Greenhaven, near John F. Kennedy High School.

This c. 1960 photograph shows one of the locomotive engines, which pulled the cars that transported clay from the clay pit to the factory at the Sacramento Brick Co. on Riverside Road. (Photo courtesy of PHCS)
This c. 1960 photograph shows one of the locomotive engines, which pulled the cars that transported clay from the clay pit to the factory at the Sacramento Brick Co. on Riverside Road. (Photo courtesy of PHCS)
The bricks were created according to an on-demand contract basis, yet the demand was high enough to provide enough employment that such a large amount of clay – as it will be referred to for the remainder of this article – was eventually dug from the area that the “clay pit” reached the level of the water table, thus forming the beginnings of today’s Lake Greenhaven.


Brick by brick

The preliminary process of creating the bricks began in the winter, as the clay was dredged and placed on the south bank of the pit for the purpose of having it dry until summer.

Once dry, the clay was loaded into the plant’s ore car-sized locomotives and delivered to the brickyard, which was located about a half-mile away, across Riverside Road. The plant, which was situated on about 250 acres, extended southward from the levee area to near modern-day Gloria Drive.

Overall, about eight cars were used for this process in a rotating sequence along the tracks, which were moved according to the locations of each dredging project.

Once at the brickyard, the clay was loaded onto a large conveyer belt and transported to a hopper before being transferred into what was known as the “pug mill.”

It was at this mill that the clay was mixed with a precise amount of water, so that the bricks would not be too soft or too dry.

Shown left to right, Linda Azevedo, Carolyn Azevedo Peters, Patsy Azevedo, Rosie Azevedo de Oliveira, Carrie Azevedo, John Azevedo, Jr. and Richard Azevedo gather together with dragline operator John Azevedo (seated in background). John Azevedo dug 75 percent of the present-day Lake Greenhaven, which was once the brick company’s clay pit. (Photo courtesy of PHCS)
Shown left to right, Linda Azevedo, Carolyn Azevedo Peters, Patsy Azevedo, Rosie Azevedo de Oliveira, Carrie Azevedo, John Azevedo, Jr. and Richard Azevedo gather together with dragline operator John Azevedo (seated in background). John Azevedo dug 75 percent of the present-day Lake Greenhaven, which was once the brick company’s clay pit. (Photo courtesy of PHCS)
Following this process, the clay was molded into the form of bricks through machinery, which included moving belts and metal cutting wires, which cut the clay into the required size of the bricks.

After being stacked on pallets for the curing process, the bricks were then transferred to kilns for the firing process.

During the plant’s earlier years, 20-foot-wide by 40-foot-long, outdoor kilns, which were made of brick, utilized coal – a heating source that was later replaced by crude oil and for a period of time, gas.

Originally, bricks created at the brickyard were transported by horse-drawn wagons to local construction sites.


Building blocks

Pocket historian Dolores (Silva) Greenslate said that she recalls seeing a brick delivery wagon with a team of horses led by brickyard worker, Joe Prady pass by her childhood home on Riverside Road on various occasions during the late 1920s.

Eventually, the brick delivery wagons were altogether replaced by brick delivery trucks.

In addition to seeing the brick delivery wagons, Greenslate, as well as other children residing in the area at the time, was continuously entertained by the sight of the brickyard’s locomotives crossing Riverside Road.

“It looked as though it was a toy train, which we longed to ride,” Greenslate recalled.

Being that the area was a Portuguese settlement, Greenslate said that the brickyard provided a lot of employment for the local Portuguese people.

John Azevedo, seated to the left, used this dragline to gather clay and load it into locomotive cars, shown to the right of this photograph. (Photo courtesy of PHCS)
John Azevedo, seated to the left, used this dragline to gather clay and load it into locomotive cars, shown to the right of this photograph. (Photo courtesy of PHCS)
Among the Portuguese men who were employed at the brickyard were the locomotive and dragline operator John Azevedo, Joe Lewis, Manuel Enos, Jesse Alves, and Tony, Eddy and William Neves.

Greenslate added that Antone Perry, the son of her great-grandfather, 1850s Pocket pioneer Antonio Pereira Rodrigues, worked at the brickyard for many years.

Antone Perry, whose sons, Alfred and Bill Perry, also worked at the plant, was employed as a brick setter and was known among his co-workers as “Squirrel,” due to his ability to work in small, narrow tunnels, where he stacked bricks to be fired.

Although the Perrys resided within a close vicinity of the brickyard, many others lived in houses located on the brickyard’s grounds.

Four-room, two-story, wood-frame houses, which included upstairs living quarters and kitchen and eating areas, were rented on the grounds for $7 per month.

These homes were not the only houses located on the property, as the site also included the large house of the brickyard’s supervisor, a boarding house for single men and about 20 single-room cabin-like structures.


“Thing of the past”

Although the brickyard is certainly a thing of the past, having been closed on Jan. 3, 1971 due to development in the area, its history remains strong through a variety of elements such as many structures built with Sacramento Brick Co.-manufactured bricks, Lake Greenhaven and even Brickyard Drive, a Riverside-Pocket area street named in tribute to this famous, local landmark.


E-mail Lance Armstrong at

Canine assistant a blessing of the four-legged variety

Dogs, it is said, have been humanity’s best friends since the beginning of time. One ancient legend tells a tale that when Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden, the dog refused to leave them and willingly accompanied them into exile. In fact, the word “Fido” means “I am faithful.”

Canine and human companions, Beth Graham and her Canine Assistant, Sajak, are a team. Sajak helps Beth maintain an independent life both at home and in the workplace. (Photo by Susan Laird)
Canine and human companions, Beth Graham and her Canine Assistant, Sajak, are a team. Sajak helps Beth maintain an independent life both at home and in the workplace. (Photo by Susan Laird)
Whether one believes such stories or not, it is undeniable that Canis lupus familiaris has served humanity well as a beloved servant, protector and non-judgmental, empathetic friend. Every year, new canine talents are discovered by humans that continue to enhance lives – whether it is a dog that can detect medical conditions before they become apparent, or a pup who can console a troubled patient at a medical clinic.

Dogs are amazing.

Pocket area resident Beth Graham would agree. For the past two years, her service dog, Sajak, has enhanced the quality of life of this spunky 29 year old.

Beth was born with a debilitating bone condition called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or OI. Also known as “brittle bone disease,” OI causes bones to easily break or fracture, and connective tissue is defective or unable to be produced in some cases. There are eight varieties of OI. These are graded as Level I, which is the least severe, to Level VIII, which is most severe. Persons with Level IV OI are small in stature with curved spines, barrel-shaped rib cages and have bone deformity that is mild to moderate. People born with OI are very bright and have a “can-do” attitude that is inspirational.

Beth was born with OI that is Level IV. She comes from a family of five, is the middle sibling and is the only one in the family with the condition. Her parents, while protective of her, raised her to reach for her full potential. So much so, that she moved from her native Pittsburg, Pennsylvania home to complete graduate school at Sacramento State and to land a job as a high school counselor at the Sacramento Academic and Vocational Academy (SAVA) in Elk Grove.

“I am completely independent,” she said. “I am in a wheelchair, but I am able to take care of myself. I drive a van with hand controls. I go to work like anybody else.”

It is the development of tools such as motorized wheelchairs, access-friendly vans and others that allow persons with disabilities to lead fulfilling lives. Dogs have long been a part of that equation. Beth was interested in exploring the option of having a canine assistant.

“I was substitute teaching at a school back east when a student with a severe case of muscular dystrophy told me about the Canine Assistants program,” Beth said. “He had a service dog who was amazing. I had grown up with dogs, so I decided to check it out.”

Canine Assistants is a non-profit organization that trains and provides service dogs for children and adults with physical disabilities and other special needs. To date, the program has not only sponsored more than 1,000 Canine Assistants throughout the nation, but also changed the lives of those individuals and their friends and families. In addition to physically assisting those with disabilities, Canine Assistants service dogs are instrumental in removing many of the barriers faced by the disabled in today’s society.

Most Canine Assistants service dogs are born, raised, and trained at the training facility in Alpharetta, Georgia, while some are occasionally adopted from local organizations or breeders. The majority of service dogs are retrievers, including both goldens and Labradors.

The dogs are raised and screened for personality, temperament, and general health. All are trained to provide assistance to a human companion. Some are also trained as seizure response dogs for certain recipients. Following general training, seizure response dogs are trained to perform one of the following behaviors, depending on the recipient’s need: remain next to the person during the course of a seizure, summon help in a controlled environment, or retrieve a phone prior to the seizure when indicated by the recipient. Certain dogs may even develop the ability to predict and react in advance to an oncoming seizure once they are placed with their recipient.

“My mom and I flew to Georgia to check it out,” Beth said. “I had filled out all the paperwork, had my referrals from the doctor and physical therapist and was accepted as a candidate for a Canine Assistant. That’s where I met Sajak.”

Sajak, who was a year and a half old at the time, seemed a little too frisky to Beth at first.

“He was full of energy, and at first I was worried that he might accidentally hurt me,” she said. “They breed the goldens so they are about 50 pounds lighter than the typical golden. Even then, Sajak looked pretty big to me.”

However, Sajak liked Beth from the start. Sajak immediately took to performing tasks for Beth.

“Our trainer Jennifer told me that she had never seen a dog bond to a human so quickly before,” she said. “He was still a puppy. Sajak has mellowed a lot since then.”

For the past two years, Sajak has helped Beth every day. He picks up objects for her on command, turns lights on and off and – most important – can go get help should Beth ever need it.

“He knows the command ‘Go get so-and-so’ – and I’ll name that person,” Beth said. “He will search until he finds that person. At school, he will search the entire school. I am fortunate that we haven’t had an actual emergency there, but it is good to know that he will go find the people I send him to look for. If he shows up without me, those people at school or in my neighborhood know that I’m in trouble and need help.”

Sajak has also developed a talent for which he was not trained: he is able to warn Beth of impending bone breaks.

“He will just refuse to leave my side when I’m on the verge of a break,” she said. “I may not even realize that I’m going to break a bone. There is a train of thought that OI may have chemical cycles that can be a factor in bone breakage. Whatever it is, Sajak is able to detect it – and I’ve learned to listen to him.”

One hundred percent of the Canine Assistants programs budget comes directly from private donations made by corporations, foundations and individuals. Those interested in learning more about the work of Canine Assistants can visit to learn more about these remarkable dogs and how to support the work of the non-profit organization.

Companies such as Milk-Bone have played a huge role in the success of the Canine Assistants. This year, Milk-Bone has donated all marketing efforts to help promote the Canine Assistants program. This includes a return to broadcast advertising, with an ad campaign featuring Canine Assistants recipient Jake Jeter.

The Canine Assistants organization continues to provide assistance as needed to the dogs and their recipients. Should a team be in trouble, Canine Assistants will fly out to provide help if needed.

“Last year, Sajak got very sick. It turned out that he had a form of canine irritable bowel syndrome,” Beth said.

In a turnabout of events, Beth was the caretaker of Sajak.

“I took him to the vet first thing in the morning,” she said. “Sajak was very ill and in the hospital for three days. It was good to know that I could call Canine Assistants if I needed to. Fortunately, the vet I go to is amazing. To this day, Canine Assistants will even help with vet bills if I need it. It is a fantastic organization.”

Fully recovered now, Sajak hops into Beth’s van every morning and joins her in her work at SAVA every day. The students all know him by name. After school, they travel home and go for walks in the neighborhood.

“He is so popular, I have to tell the students that they can greet Sajak only once a day,” Beth said.

Because of Sajak, Beth has been able to juggle a challenging medical condition, independent living and a full-time job in the Sacramento area for over a year now.

Not only does Beth have a valuable assistant, she has a faithful, wonderful companion.

“He is a member of the family,” she said.


E-mail Susan Laird at