Meet FORPD Board’s Newest Member: Raymond James Irwin

Story by Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-02-08

Raymond James Irwin, the newest board member of the Fair Oaks Recreation and Park District, at Fair Oak’s annual Chicken Festival in Village Park. Photo provided by Raymond James Irwin.

FAIR OAKS, CA (MPG) - Rayond James Irwin is the newly elected member of the Fair Oaks Recreation and Park District (FORPD) Board. At 27 years old, Irwin is one of the youngest people to be elected to the Board.

Irwin’s term on the Board will not be his first time in public service; he was appointed to the Fair Oaks Community Planning Advisory Council (CPAC) in 2016 by the Board of Supervisors. The CPAC is a planning commission that approves local projects, and Irwin believes his time on CPAC will help inform his decisions on the FORPD Board “because I have super local experience in government specifically for Fair Oaks and have seen projects that have come up that positively or negatively impact our community.”

Irwin was “born and raised in Fair Oaks” and described why he chose to run for election to the Board: “I’ve seen the community grow, develop, and change. I’ve used the parks many times in my life. I thought it was time to have a millennial voice on the board, to offer another voice that hadn’t been there before.”

Four people were running for two open seats on the board, but Irwin assumed that incumbent Ralph Carhart would be re-elected, so he viewed it as three people running for one seat: “It was something…I’m grateful to have been elected, especially considering I didn’t put out any signage or raise any money for the campaign. I just talked to people and put my information into the voters’ guide. I was just a presence in the community.”

Irwin said he is “excited, thrilled that Measure J passed.” He is looking forward to the good that the money can do in the community. He said, “Residents saw the need for that…They’ll be paying a little more, but putting so much into the community.” He is eager to see a rec center built, and for the updates to Village Park and Plaza Park. Irwin also wants to see the Fair Oaks Clubhouse—which is currently a 1930s mission-style building atop a steep hill—updated for better ADA compliance.

“I would also like to champion WiFi in the parks, which we could turn off at sunset to ensure it’s being used properly. Parents these days work very hard, and sometimes work very different hours. I don’t want them to miss their kids’ games because they have to work. I want them to be able to bring their laptop to the park so they can do both,” said Irwin.

Although Irwin wants to make sure the parks offer plenty of fun and recreation for families, he said the park district “needs to think of everyone. There are many single people without children living in Fair Oaks, and parks and recreation shouldn’t just be focused on kids and families. We have a lot of opportunities to create recreation opportunities for everyone.”

Irwin is also a local business owner. In October 2018, he opened Sacramento’s only champagne and bubbles bar—Fizz—which is located just across the walkway from the Golden 1 Center downtown. Irwin said, “It’s a great location. It’s been amazing, truly a blessing. It’s been going better than anticipated.”

“As the owner of a bar, it’s so joyous to see people get together to share a drink and spend time together. I would like to see events in the parks where people can bring food and wine and enjoy an evening out,” said Irwin. “I want the parks to create community through recreation. And offer options that can speak to a younger demographic.”

Irwin is a graduate of Jesuit High School. From there, he entered the conservatory to study opera. Irwin said he loves to sing and has performed in Italy, France, and Canada.  And although he enjoyed his time abroad, he wanted to come back home to the Sacramento area.

Using his talents to help the community, Irwin said, “I have given several concerts in the community where I have raised money for the Alzheimer’s association, WEAVE, Women’s Empowerment, St. Vincent De Paul Society, and Blue Line Arts.”

While getting his degree in opera, Irwin also minored in marketing, which he said enabled him to “speak both languages.” He worked for the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra overseeing the daily operations of their marketing communication. He initiated live tweeting during performances, which led to Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra trending both locally and nationally.

“From opera, to champagne, to politics—it’s been a wild ride. But I’ve just always followed my passions,” said Irwin. “I’m in this position [on the Board] because I want to serve….If the community has ideas or input about what they want to see in the parks, I want to hear from them.” Irwin urges anyone who wants 

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New Homes and New Park for Fair Oaks

Story by Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-02-08

The Heritage at Gum Ranch, a new housing community developed by Elliott Homes, is currently under construction on the south end of the Gum Ranch property, northeast of Bella Vista High School. Photo provided by Elliott Homes.

FAIR OAKS, CA (MPG) - The Heritage at Gum Ranch, a new housing community developed by Elliott Homes, is currently under construction on the south end of the Gum Ranch property, northeast of Bella Vista High School. The project will add approximately 250 new homes to the area.

Many streets in the development have been paved and some street signs are already in place. The community’s main entrance, off Kenneth Ave., will be “Gum Ranch Road.” Secondary access will be from Treecrest Ave. to the west and from Madison Ave. to the south.

Ralph Carhart, chairman of the Fair Oaks Recreation and Park District (FORPD) Board, said that “the Gum Ranch property has been like the elephant in the room for decades…Everybody has been curious what would happen there. So there’s some relief that we finally know what is going in.” Carhart explained that various developments have been proposed for the Gum Ranch property throughout the years, but they were opposed by the neighboring residents. Carhart said that he believes this project has been “pretty well supported because it’s consistent with what’s been expected as part of the special planning area.” Carhart described prior proposals that pushed for the development of high-density housing, such as apartments, but Elliott Homes has “evened out the density,” which he believes is very important to the people who live in adjacent neighborhoods.

As part of their development of The Heritage at Gum Ranch community, Elliott Homes will also be building Gum Ranch Park, which will be dedicated to FORPD upon completion. Carhart said that as the density of housing in Fair Oaks increases it is critical to maintain parks and open spaces. He said, “Acres of native oaks have been saved in the area adjacent to Arcade Creek where the late Claudia and Irving Gum formerly sold pumpkins and provided hay rides through the pumpkin patches. The protected oak woodland will be incorporated in the new park as nature walk areas.”

Carhart expressed gratitude that the natural beauty of the property will be preserved, stating how important the property was to the late Irving Gum: “That land was his love.”

Carhart explained that Elliott Homes is developing the park but it will be maintained by the FORPD, funded through district assessments paid by the property owners of the Gum Ranch community. The collected funds are required to be spent maintaining the Gum Ranch Park and cannot be spent elsewhere in the District. While Elliott Homes is paying all the costs associated with development, the FORPD has been involved in the park design and worked with the landscape architects. Carhart said, “It will provide a nice transition from Kenneth Ave., with paths off Kenneth into the nature area that will be preserved with the oaks, and then into the developed park.”

Price Walker, vice president of project development for Elliott Homes, said that the model homes are currently under construction, but work on the park has not yet started. “We plan to start work on the park later this year,” said Walker. “The park will be a great amenity…It will be about four acres in total.” Walker said that native grasses and “the existing oak grove will be preserved,” and Elliott Homes plans to create walkways for easy access through the extensive nature area.

The FORPD has approved the design of the park, and Walker said, “Per our park development agreement with the District we are required to complete the park by April 1, 2020. So we should be under construction this summer.”

The park will have numerous amenities, including an open-turf play area, a tot lot designed with rubber safety material, a spin merry-go-round, a water play area, a wooden climbing structure, an outdoor fitness complex, picnic pavilions with tables and BBQs, and various paths and benches. The park will also have security lighting for increased safety.

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A Singing Valentine Coming Your Way!

By Judi Naill  |  2019-02-07

What a great way to have fun! Ladies from the community are invited to attend rehearsals. Photo courtesy SVC.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Valentine's Day is almost here!  You can give that special someone an unforgettable gift!  Candy, cards and flowers are nice, but adding a Singing Valentine will create a lasting memory!  Quartets from Sacramento Valley Chorus will deliver Singing Valentines on Thursday, February 14.  Your sweetheart, family member or good friend will be surprised and thrilled when a quartet delivers two songs, a rose, candy and a beautiful card to him or her.  The package is only $40, and can be delivered to the home or business of your choice in the greater Sacramento area, including Placer, El Dorado and Nevada County.  Singing Valentines are popular, so call early to ensure availability.  Call 916-761-2998, to arrange for delivery.  

The award winning Sacramento Valley Chorus, under the direction of Master Director, Dede Nibler, has approximately 90 members.  The Chorus is preparing to compete Internationally in New Orleans in September. 

Ladies from the community are invited to attend rehearsals any Wednesday night at 6:30 pm.  For more information, visit   

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Sac County Airport Firefighters “Brave the Shave”

 Sacramento County Special Release  |  2019-02-06

Sacramento County Airport Firefighters “Brave the Shave” in honor of  Captain Anderson. Photo courtesy Sacramento County.

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CA (MPG) - Sacramento County Airport Firefighters shaved their heads as part of the second annual “Brave the Shave” in honor of Captain Tim Anderson, a Sacramento County Airport Firefighter who lost his life to cancer in 2017. Brave the Shave was started one year ago by Tim’s son Mason, when his mother Lacey was diagnosed with breast cancer just 6 months after his dad, Captain Tim Anderson died.

After hearing the news of his mom's diagnosis, Mason at 10 years old wanted to have a shaving party in an effort to turn a difficult situation into something positive. Mason challenged local area firefighters to shave their heads with him as a way to honor his dad and support his mother. In 2017, 112 firefighters in 4 states and 2 countries shaved their heads in support of the Anderson family. ​

Mason’s mom Lacey is now cancer free and this year Mason would like to open Brave the Shave up to all firefighters and their families affected by cancer in an effort to make December Firefighter Cancer Awareness month. Firefighters and anyone else wanting to offer their support were asked to shave their heads in the month of December and post the pictures or videos to Mason's Facebook page Brave the Shave with Mason Anderson or his Instagram Brave the Shave Mason Anderson. This year's goal is 150 shaved heads. Mason is only 57 shaved heads away from meeting that goal!

Source: Sacramento County Media

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The Latest Job demand and hiring trends

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Employers are downshifting in the hiring race as 2019 begins. One regional company is reducing workforce by more than fifty percent (50%) as tariff related contract losses impact Sacramento area employment. In direct contacts with regional employers between November 19th and December 17th, Pacific Staffing discovered fifty-six percent (56%) of companies are hiring in the First Quarter of 2019.

Hiring has pulled back from this same time one year ago when sixty-five percent (65%) planned to hire in January, February and March. While the pace of hiring among top Sacramento regional employers has fallen throughout 2018 companies report finding applicants and specific skilled workers remain a top challenge in the new year.

While not a single company surveyed planned first quarter layoffs in 2018, in the first three months of 2019 seven percent (7%) are reducing workforces. Staff reductions are attributed to seasonal change and slower demand for products and services. Forty-four percent (44%) of hiring in the first quarter is for attrition, or replacements, among existing workforces while employers seek just forty-two percent (42%) for growth.

By talking to top regional firms each quarter since 1992, Pacific Staffing has learned there are always hiring challenges for employers, regardless of economic direction. In this first quarter of the new year seventeen percent (17%) of employers also report a continuing challenge with finding enough applicants, despite the slowdown. Others also citing increased minimum wage and hiring specific skilled trades as workplace concerns.

Sales, customer service, accounting/finance, technical, warehouse and shipping experience is in high demand through March. Drivers for route and delivery remain scarce.

The most active sector is Service companies with Manufacturers second, followed by Construction and Retail through January, February and March of 2019.

Sacramento Regional Top Companies Polled by Industry were Service (54%), Manufacturers (25%), Construction (19%) and Retail (2%)

For more information, employment blogs & market surveys go to

Source: Pacific Staffing

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SMUD Awards Nearly $60,000 in Powering Futures Scholarships

SMUD Special Release  |  2019-02-06

Recipients of SMUD’s 2018/2019 Powering Futures scholarships pose with SMUD’s Board of Directors and Executives after being recognized for their hard work and achievements at the Dec. 20 Board meeting. Photo courtesy SMUD

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - SMUD’s Board of Directors recently recognized the 21 college students who have been awarded Powering Futures scholarships for the 2018/19 academic year. All students received scholarships between $1,500 and $5,000, and the opportunity to work at SMUD as a paid intern.

The awards were based on academic merit and financial need, and preference was given to students who have declared a major relevant to SMUD.

Most of the students who receive a scholarship also accept paid summer internships in a variety of SMUD departments, including Grid Operations, Customer Operations, Geographical Information Systems, Warehouse and Fleet Operations among others. The internships provide students with excellent opportunities to learn practical skills and help launch themselves into future careers.

“The Powering Futures scholarship program helps us strengthen our talent pipeline and meet our future workforce needs,” said SMUDHuman Resources, Diversity & Inclusion Director Laurie Rodriguez. “We’re proud to support such an exceptional group of Sacramento students this year, and we look forward to seeing them back in the summer for their internships. They’ll have a great chance to learn about working in the energy industry and gain real-world experience that will help them in all of their future endeavors.”

The 2019/20 scholarship application period began on January 7 and will close on February 24.  For those interested in applying, please visit,

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Senator Gaines Sworn in as Board of Equalization Member

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG)  - Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado) was sworn in as an elected Member of the California State Board of Equalization (BOE) during a ceremony held at the Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building in Downtown Sacramento. The oath of office was administered by Governor Gavin Newsom.

“I am excited to continue serving Californians as a taxpayer advocate,” said Senator Gaines. “My new role as a BOE Member comes with different challenges and opportunities, but my number one priority is to ensure hardworking Californians are allowed fair tax policies that create jobs and grow our economy.”

Senator Gaines will represent more than nine million California residents living in the 1st Equalization District, which spans inland California from San Bernardino County to the Oregon border. The five-member BOE is a publicly elected tax board responsible for administering Property Tax, Alcoholic Beverage Tax, and Tax on Insurers programs.

“Californians should be treated with respect and fairness when it comes to tax administration. They are tired of being over-taxed, and over-regulated. I pledge to fight on their behalf,” said Senator Gaines.

Prior to being elected to the BOE, Senator Gaines served 12 years in the State Legislature as a tireless advocate for California’s taxpayers, ratepayers, businesses and families. He fought to protect citizen privacy and led major efforts to bring thousands of new jobs to the state, as well as support critical legislation to strengthen and expand California’s infrastructure.

In addition to his life in public service, Senator Gaines is a successful small business owner, having owned Gaines Insurance for more than 30 years. He has been married to his wife Beth since 1986 and together they reside in El Dorado County and are blessed with six children and two grandchildren.

As a constitutional officer, Senator Gaines is currently the highest-ranking elected Republican state official in California.

Source: Office of Ted Gaines

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