Reconciling a Rivalry

Story and photo by Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-03-27

(Left to right) San Juan Unified School District Athletics Director Ron Barney, Rio Head Coach Sam Stroughter, El Camino Head Coach JP Dolliver, Playmaker Founder Greg Roeszler, and Playmaker Director Phil Dubois plan to bring rival teams together through community service. Photo by Shaunna Boyd

Playmakers Brings Rival Players Together to Serve Underprivileged Kids

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) – Last October, during the last game of their season, the football teams from local high schools Rio Americano and El Camino forfeited the game due to bad conduct — a bench-clearing brawl that ended the season with a lot of bad blood on both sides.

After hearing about the brawl, Greg Roeszler was inspired to find a way to turn the situation into a positive for both the players and the game itself. Roeszler — or Coach Roz, as he is affectionately called — has a long history with football: he played at Encina High School and at San Diego State University, went on to play for the NFL, and then eventually returned to Encina to coach the varsity football team. Coach Roz now runs a local non-profit, The Playmakers Organization, that coaches character through leadership and provides free programs to underprivileged and at-risk youth. 

Coach Roz saw an opportunity to heal the rift between Rio and El Camino through shared service to the community. He invited El Camino Head Coach JP Dolliver, Rio Head Coach Sam Stroughter, and San Juan Unified School District Athletics Director Ron Barney to join him and Playmaker Director Phil Dubois at a meeting to discuss a unique idea. Coach Roz suggested that the coaches and selected members from each team work together to serve at the upcoming Tim Brown Playmaker 9-1-1 Camp for Kids on April 12.

The Playmakers Organization is bringing retired Oakland Raider and NFL Hall of Fame player Tim Brown to West Sacramento for a free one-day football camp for at-risk and special needs kids. Coach Roz suggested that serving together at the camp could create a sense of camaraderie between rival players. He said, “There are so many good things that will come out of this. … Players being led by the most powerful guys in the community in serving at-risk underprivileged kids — using the greatest game that God put on the face of the earth as the magnet.”

Barney said the District fully supports the teams “doing something positive for the community and at the same time developing positive relationships between the two schools.” Barney explained that a good rivalry motivates the players to perform at their best and is based on mutual respect. He said teams all over the country deal with this type of problem all the time, and he hopes this could be an example of positive change. “This is big. … It takes people to step up to make a difference. … I think we’re on the ground floor of something good here,” said Barney.

The respect between Dolliver and Stroughter was evident. Both coaches agreed that the fight was the result of a few bad apples, and most of the players were out on the field trying to break it up. Stroughter said, “I had kids in the locker room afterward crying because they were seniors and that was their last game, and a handful of people did the wrong thing and ruined their last game.”

Both coaches also expressed frustration with social media, which they believe escalated the rivalry to the point that some of their players were throwing punches on the field. Dolliver said the kids typed things to each other with a screen between them that they never would have said face to face. “These kids are missing out by not treating this rivalry as a positive. … Without Rio, that last game of the season is just another game,” said Dolliver.

Stroughter and Dolliver are both committed to coaching their players on character as well as football. As Coach Roz said, “This is about loving the game more than loving the fight. … We can take this thing and turn it into something that’s good for the game. … We’ve all been in football a long time. Has anyone ever heard of reconciliation like this? ... What if Sacramento has figured out and is implementing how you take a bad rivalry and make it a good rivalry, how you take a bad situation and turn it into a good situation? This could be the model. … We very well could be on to something here beyond just our community.”

If you are interested in learning more about The Playmakers Organization or signing up a youth for the Tim Brown Playmaker 9-1-1 Camp for Kids, visit

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The Butterfly Effect

By Trina L. Drotar  |  2019-03-27

Angela Laws, Monarch and Pollinator Ecologist at Xerces Society

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The Western monarch butterfly population has declined, according to Xerces Society, by 99.4% in fewer than four decades. Angela Laws, Monarch and Pollinator Ecologist at Xerces Society, said that although this species’ numbers have been declining since the 1980s, the “sharp drop in numbers this year is alarming.”

Extinction is a possibility for this iconic brown and orange species. Environment California, Xerces Society, lawmakers, ecologists, and citizens throughout the state are working to preserve the Western monarch.

California Assemblyman Mark Stone (29th District) authored AB-2421, Wildlife Conservation Board: Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Rescue Program, which was approved by Governor Jerry Brown on September 26, 2018.

Stone said that in addition to the butterfly’s iconic status, it is also “an indicator species that is helping us begin to understand the impact we are having on the habitats that monarchs, as well as native bees, beetles, and birds, depend on to survive.”

The Wildlife Conservation Board met in Sacramento on March 7 and approved guidelines for the Monarch and Pollinator Rescue Program. Grant project applications will be announced on the board’s website. Applications will be accepted year round for one of the four annual review periods. Funds may be used for restoration or enhancement of breeding habitat on private or public lands and may be used for seasonal or temporary habitats.

At a presentation at Pietro Talini’s Nursery in January, Laws said that the Thanksgiving count of the

Western monarch showed an 86% drop since the 2017 count. “Several factors come into play,” she said, “and one is the loss of habitat and loss of food.” She is currently working with City of Sacramento District 3 councilmember, Jeff Harris, to plant a butterfly garden at Niños Parkway in South Natomas and encourages others to do the same.

Since the majority of the overwintering land is located on private property, residents and land owners may be the best hope for the species, whose numbers are down to an estimated 200,000 from its high of 10 million in the 1980s.

Native milkweed is necessary for the butterfly’s survival and is being lost due to land development and herbicide use. It can, however, be planted, as Laws and Harris are doing, in gardens and other locations. The milkweed is critical since it is where the butterfly lays its eggs and the caterpillar feeds on the plant so that it can grow and become a monarch.

Native nectar plants are also necessary since they provide the food for the adult monarch. Both plants need to be available in order for the monarch to thrive through its complete lifecycle and during overwintering.

According to Xerces Society, “the Sacramento Valley, Sierra Nevada Foothills, and Coast Range are vital to the survival of the first generation of monarchs produced each spring,” and the group is urging the state to work to protect the butterfly by protecting its habitats from pesticide use, better manage overwintering sites and restore breeding and overwintering habitats.

Other ways that individuals can help are to contribute to citizen science by making and logging observations of the monarch, stop using insecticides and herbicides which not only harm the butterfly, but these can also kill milkweed. Xerces Society and Environment California also encourage people to encourage others to do the same.

 According to Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, increased habitat has helped the Eastern monarch butterfly numbers to rebound, but she said that a single good year is not an indicator of future years and calls for continued protection.

In June, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will make a determination whether to add the monarch to the list of threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. USFWS has been reviewing data since the request was submitted in 2014.

For additional information, visit

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Prominent life-long Sacramentan, Gregg Lukenbill, first managing partner of the Sacramento Kings, builder of two Arco Arena’s and the Hyatt Regency Hotel alarmed at “reckless” City Staff proposal, calls on community to speak out


Sacramento, CA (MPG) - On Tuesday, March 26, the Sacramento City Council is poised to approve an environmental plan concerning the Del Rio Trail which, if adopted as currently proposed, would cause irrevocable permanent destruction of the historic Sacramento Southern Railway, the original “Delta Farm-To Sacramento Fork” Sacramento Delta agriculture pipeline responsible for much of the capital city’s unique global identity and rich agricultural heritage. Gregg Lukenbill, prominent life-long Sacramentan and historian, is calling on all Sacramentans and railroad enthusiasts alike to persuade the City Council to save the Sacramento Southern Railroad and preserve our cultural history.

 “The Del Rio Trail bike and walking path can peacefully co-exist alongside the Sacramento Southern Railway without destroying the historical tracks, berms and other crossings,” says Lukenbill. “Any destruction of the rail crossings is unnecessary and would conflict with California State Parks long planned and previously approved cultural education train ride from Meadowview to the California Delta town of Hood. Sacramento is so much better than this—we can progress into the future and support alternative transportation systems while honoring and maintaining our historic and irreplaceable railroad infrastructure.  Let’s not make the same mistake we made with the Alhambra Theater,” an historic landmark that was destroyed in favor of a supermarket.

The Sacramento City Planning department is recommending the destruction of 8 intersection rail crossings, a significant grade change, and trestle bridge in the Final Environmental Impact Report to be considered by the City Council on Tuesday at 5 pm with no recognition or mitigation that the train exists. This section of track must be left intact to complete the 50+ year documented vision celebrating the City of Sacramento’s historic role in creating the Sacramento Delta National Heritage Area and today’s farm to fork movement.

Railroad enthusiasts have already painstakingly restored nearly 4 miles of track, the last 3,000 feet in 2017-2018 headed southbound from Old Sacramento, by volunteering tens of thousands of hours and personal contributions of tens of millions of dollars in cash and rail vehicles in this half century-plus effort.  The section of the Railroad corridor that the City proposes to unnecessarily damage been planned for three decades to periodically transit empty equipment from the California Parks Railroad Museum Maintenance Shops in Old Sacramento for federally required maintenance for the Delta/Farm to Fork historical education train to Meadowview Road. No passenger train is proposed through South Land Park.  If the City Council approves the staff recommendation on Tuesday, the maintenance yard in Old Sacramento will be severed from the rest of the historic rail line planned by State Parks since the 1960’s into the Delta, undermining decades of planning and tens of millions of dollars of State Parks investment. The federal government has already evaluated and declared the entire Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the 24.5 Sacramento Southern Railroad Branch Line to Hood/Walnut Grove, and the adjoining town of Locke as national historic resources.

Lukenbill forever altered the course of Sacramento history when in 1985, against the wishes of the City Council, he relocated the Kansas City Kings to ARCO Arena in Sacramento County, then mostly just open farmland and fields. No one can deny that Sacramento was forever changed as a result, and the sleepy governmental hub finally found its home on the world’s stage with its professional basketball franchise.  But Lukenbill knows that Sacramento deserved its place in the limelight well before Arco Arena.  He truly believes Sacramento, as the City that won the West through the Gold Rush, Railroads, Folsom Power House and Delta agriculture, and similar forgotten Sacramento history, must be preserved and shared for future generations. 

“We really are at a pivotal moment with this proposal,” says Lukenbill. This is purely a Sacramento quality of life decision.  All we are asking to share a right of way that was acquired for this train that the City staff is hijacking for the sole benefit of one Council District.”

“Are we going to rob future generations the opportunity to learn about our delta heritage on the Sacramento Southern Railway for a few residents who bought their homes knowing the railroad was there? Or are we going to be truly “World-Class” and do what other world-class cities do—embrace and celebrate our legacy, preserving it for everyone to enjoy?”

Lukenbill hopes that people with similar quality of life concerns will attend the Sacramento City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 26th at 5 pm and speak in favor of preserving the historic Southern Sacramento Railroad as a functioning railway so that all those who have already donated their time, energy, and money to saving it didn’t do so in vain.  There is adequate room for both the bike and walking path and the railroad, and the path can easily be aligned to ensure safe crossings of tracks where they intersect streets.  Furthermore, contrary to assertions of some neighbors, no tourist trains are proposed to run through South Land Park, just occasional rolling stock and maintenance equipment.

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SACRAMENTO, CA – The Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) Board of Directors approved a new bus network proposal, which comprehensively redesigns SacRT’s bus system. “We are excited to begin the process of rolling out our new bus network in a few months,” said SacRT General Manager/CEO Henry Li. “To ensure the success of the new network, SacRT will conduct frequent monitoring of the new bus service to optimize and adjust service where it’s needed most.”

A draft plan was released for public review on December 10, 2018. Since then, major outreach efforts took place to let riders and stakeholders know about the proposed plan, called SacRT Forward.

Based on the comments received, and reviewing ridership and demographic data, staff spent the past two and half months making adjustments to the plan. A revised bus network proposal was released for public review on February 18, 2019, and approved by the SacRT Board of Directors on February 25, 2019. The new service is expected to start in summer 2019.

“We have been actively listening to our riders and the community for the past year and a half to make changes that will best fit their lifestyle and help improve mobility options for the Sacramento region,” said SacRT Board Chair and Sacramento County Supervisor Patrick Kennedy. “Travel patterns have changed, regional mobility options have been expanded and development has occurred on the periphery.”

The focus of the new network has been on building a solid network of core routes on major corridors that will lead to economic growth and reduce congestion. Adjustments have been made to almost every route, some minor and some much more substantial, which will provide improved schedules and better service reliability. The new network consists of: 27 regular routes; 14 peak hour only routes; All routes have 7-day service (with the exception of bus route 33); All routes have 45 minute or better service (with the exception of one rural route); Complements the new 15-minute weekend light rail service

In many areas that don’t have high demand for fixed-route bus service, or are not designed for large buses to navigate the neighborhood, SacRT will deploy SmaRT Ride microtransit service.

Annual bus ridership is forecasted to go up between 400,000 and 1,000,000 boardings a year with the new service improvements. For route by route details, visit

SacRT operates approximately 70 bus routes (fixed-route, dial-a-ride and microtransit) and 43 miles of light rail all within a 400-square mile service area throughout Sacramento County, which includes service in the cities of Citrus Heights, Folsom, Rancho Cordova and Elk Grove. Sacramento buses and light rail trains operate 365 days a year. SacRT's entire bus and light rail system is accessible to the disabled community. ADA services are provided under contract with Paratransit, Inc.

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Sacramento County Employees Show They Care

By Andrea Hansen, Sacramento County  |  2019-03-07

Troy Givans, left, and Supervisor Patrick Kennedy present the ceremonial 2018 Employee Giving Campaign check on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019.  Photo courtesy Sacramento County

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CA (MPG) - Every year, Sacramento County employees participate in an employee-organized fundraising campaign to support local and global nonprofit organizations. To report on the success of the 2018 Employee Giving Campaign, the Campaign’s Chair and Director for the Office of Economic Development, Troy Givans, presented the results on Jan. 29 to the Board of Supervisors.

The theme of this year’s campaign, “Sacramento County Cares,” highlights the generosity and concerns that employees show when they support the causes that improve the quality of life in their local communities and the world around them.

This year’s campaign included a new online donation system, Giving Matters 365, which expanded the County’s paperless initiative and streamlined donations through only payroll deductions, and credit/debit card contributions. 

Giving campaign events included the annual 5K race/walk held at Discovery Park and a successful golf tournament held at Ancil Hoffman Golf Course.

Donations were provided to six federations of charitable organizations, as well as 17 non-profit Sacramento County programs that serve our communities. 

The grand total of the 2018 donations came to $273,024.

2018 Chair, Co-Chairs and Loaned Executives:

Chair, Troy Givans, Office of Economic Development

  • Loaned Executive: Kim Lettini

Co-Chair, Chief Lee Seale, Sacramento Probation

  • Loaned Executive: Peggy Hower, Monika Lopez and Cindy Coy

Co-Chair, Doug Sloane, Waste Management

  • Loaned Executives: Eric Vanderbilt and Melissa Schultz

Sacramento County Departments with the highest donations:

  • 1-99 Employees – County Counsel; County Clerk/Recorder
  • 100-299 Employees – Public Defender; Assessor 
  • 300+ Employees – Sheriff; Human Assistance 

Source: Sacramento County Media

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SAFE President and CEO Dave Roughton Named Businessman of the Year

By Carole Ferguson  |  2019-03-07

SAFE President and CEO Dave Roughton the 2019 Businessman of the Year.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce has named SAFE President and CEO Dave Roughton the 2019 Businessman of the Year.

“I am extremely honored and humbled to receive this award,” Dave Roughton said. “I love the Sacramento area, and I am proud to be able to contribute to Sacramento’s regional success by helping our members and small businesses gain financial wellness through products and services that put their needs first. I also believe it’s vitally important for local companies like SAFE to actively support Sacramento’s regional growth and prosperity through economic development and non-profit engagement.” 

Dave was nominated by longtime Sacramento public relations and advertising executive Jane Einhorn. Her nomination reads in part: “Dave has led SAFE through tremendous growth, solidifying it as the second largest credit union in the Sacramento area. … Dave has been an active leader in the credit union industry for many years, having served on the California Credit Union League Board, Legislative and Regulatory Advocacy Committees, CO-OP Board of Directors, and as chair of the WesCorp Supervisory Committee. He’s also an engaged member of the Sacramento business community, serving on the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce board.

Within SAFE, Dave has set a course for his company that led to the credit union recently being named the No. 1 Best Place to Work by the Sacramento Business Journal. Dave’s business philosophy reflects the lessons he learned working with many great leaders throughout his career: to have happy and loyal members, you must first have happy and loyal employees; inspire employees to provide exceptional experiences; walk the talk on promoting work-life balance; and show you believe in your employees by providing career growth opportunities and celebrating their successes.”

Prior to joining SAFE in 1999, Dave worked for Arthur Andersen LLP for more than seven years in its Business Consulting and Audit practices. Dave is a CPA; he earned an MBA from the University of California, Davis, Graduate School of Management and a BS in Business Administration from the University of New Hampshire, Whittemore School of Business & Economics. In addition, Dave serves as the 2nd Vice Chair and Board Director for the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce, serves as the Treasurer and Board Director for Align Capital Region and is a Board Director and Past Chairman of the Board for The First Tee of Greater Sacramento.

 SAFE is federally insured by the NCUA. Find out more at

 Source: Marketing Department, SAFE Credit Union

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In Harmony with Nature

Story by Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-03-07

Each year almost 3,000 students visit Soil Born Farms on field trips. Students tour the farm and explore the Youth Garden. Photo by Guy Galante, courtesy Soil Born Farms

Soil Born Farms Promotes Healthy Living

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG)  - Soil Born Farms started as a small one-acre urban farm in Sacramento in 2000. Almost 20 years later, the non-profit farm is producing local organic food along the American River Parkway on the historic 55-acre American River Ranch, located at 2140 Chase Drive in Rancho Cordova. The mission of Soil Born Farms is to empower people to participate in the local food system while connecting to the environment and creating deeper roots in the community.

Terese Hollander Esperas, Soil Born Farms project manager, explained that the urban agriculture and education project strives to promote healthy living and engage the community to “get back to the roots” through a variety of programs, classes, workshops, and events.

Some of Soil Born Farms’ upcoming classes include Winter One-Pot Meals, The Wonders of Fungi and Mushrooms, Cooking with Citrus, Growing Medicinal and Culinary Herbs, Raising Backyard Chickens, and Intermediate Urban Backyard Beekeeping. They also offer Bird Walks and a Spring Gardening Clinic. You can even attend a free Composting Workshop and a free Make Your Own Solar Cooker class. (For the dates and prices of classes, visit

Starting last month, Pop-Up Farmstand events give visitors the opportunity to purchase produce while enjoying tastings, live music, kids’ activities, and beverages and baked goods available for purchase. The Farmstand also features Millie’s Mercantile & Greenhouse Garden Gift Shop. Upcoming Pop-Up Farmstands will be held on March 9 and March 23.

Starting on April 6, the farm will begin hosting Saturday at the Farm, a weekly event featuring the American River Ranch Farmstand, open Saturdays through December 14. Visitors can meet the farmers who grow the food and enjoy the beautiful rural setting of the American River Ranch while listening to live music and purchasing produce fresh from the field. Magpie Café offers fair-trade coffee and pastries, and other hand-crafted items are also available for purchase.

Soil Born Farms’ biggest event is the Day on the Farm, a festival held every May. More than a thousand people attend each year, and it’s a wonderful opportunity for local families to experience all the farm has to offer. “It’s a really fun day. Many community groups come to the farm and lots of organizations come together. It’s a really fun way to experience the farm,” said Hollander Esperas. The American River Ranch Farmstand is open during Day on the Farm, in addition to various vendors, booths, gardening classes, cooking demonstrations, workshops, tours, nature walks, and draft horse demonstrations. The festival also features live music, games, a raffle, an array of delicious foods, face painting, and lots of activities for the kids. Day on the Farm will be held on May 19 this year, and there is a $5 suggested donation for attendance.

“We utilize these events to promote our mission. And the farm is a wonderful oasis for people to learn and to experience nature,” said Hollander Esperas.

Members of the community can support the farm and enjoy the bountiful harvests through the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. CSA members purchase farm shares twice a year to help cover the farm’s costs. In return, members get to pick up boxes of fresh produce each week during the growing season.

Hollander Esperas said that Wellness Wednesdays are a great way to experience the beauty of the farm at the American River Ranch. During March through September, visitors can start their Wednesday with a morning yoga class on the farm at 8:00 AM for a $10 suggested donation. Hollander Esperas said, “It’s a great way to be outside experiencing nature…It’s very peaceful.”

Soil Born Farms’ year-round garden team welcomes volunteers every Wednesday to assist farm staff. Volunteers get the opportunity to learn about medicinal herbs as well as native plants, flowers, and trees. Volunteers also help with the greenhouses, plant sales, caring for the orchard, and planting and harvesting fruits and vegetables. Hollander Esperas said it’s a wonderful opportunity to “get exercise, fresh air, and sunshine while talking to the farmers, getting knowledge, and building skills.”

There are many opportunities for kids to enjoy the farm. Each year almost 3,000 students visit Soil Born Farms on field trips. “There’s a bus at the farm almost every day,” said Hollander Esperas. Students get to take a tour of the farm and then participate in a variety of activities, such as working in the Youth Garden, playing an educational game, or creating a craft project inspired by nature. And no visit to the farm would be complete without tasting foods fresh from the gardens.

There is a lot for kids to explore at Soil Born Farms. And there are lots of animals to see, including cows, horses, chickens, and pigs. A play structure and a discovery area allow kids of all ages to learn and play. The farm also offers summer camps and afterschool programs.

Soil Born Farms is open to the public Monday through Saturday, and visitors can explore the rural setting through self-guided tours. Hollander Esperas said, “The farm is special because it’s a peaceful, serene place where people can come to get away from the busy, technologically driven world and reconnect with the land and get back to basics. It’s an environment that makes people feel connected and like a part of the community.”

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