Diamond in the Rough

Story and Photo by Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-03-22

Doug Ose, manager of Gibson Ranch County Park is pushing for a long-term renewal of his contract to manage the 325-acre park.

The County board of supervisors is preparing to weigh the options presented by developer Doug Ose to frame a renewed contract for his continued private-level management of Gibson Ranch County Park. 
On Monday, Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost toured Gibson Ranch for the first time since Ose assumed management of the 325-acre nature reserve and events center in 2011. Due to steep financial losses, the county was on the brink of closing the park. After her tour, Frost said she supports a fast-track to renewing a contract with Ose before his current agreement expires April 30th.  From her perspective, no one wants to see Gibson Ranch close.
“It’s a beautiful space and we want to do everything we can to continue to let the community have access to this wonderful space,” Frost said. She stopped short of discussing specifics in either Ose’s proposal or those the Sacramento County Dept. of Regional Parks have put on the table. “I am not sure what the board will ultimately approve or not approve, but we are set to discuss all of the items and ideas and make a decision very soon.”
For Ose, the clock is ticking. “As of right now, I’ll be out of here on April 30th unless we can agree on something better,” said Ose. 
Ose said he’s asked the county to consider a 20-year contract that would likely include increasing the park’s entry fee from $5 to $8, adding as many as 50 full hook-up RV camp sites, and the designation of the park as an official graduation space for local high schools.
“The ground rules have changed, and now we are at a point where I think we all want to see Gibson Ranch continue to remain open, but I need to stop the bleeding,” said Ose, who asserts that, although he saw a $22,000 profit in 2015, monthly losses in 2016 mounted to roughly $20,000 a month, largely due to increases in labor costs.
Visitation to the park however, is substantial.  According to Ose, roughly 100,000 visitors came through the gates of Gibson Ranch in 2016. There are currently 90 special events on the books for 2017, including 43 weddings. Nonetheless, Ose, who is also a former congressman, said the costs of maintaining the facility are outpacing revenues.
“I have to pay for 14,000 hours a year to run the place,” Ose said. “Somebody’s got to paint, trim trees, take care of the livestock, answer phones and book events. But with the costs of labor, insurance and electricity going up since we took over, the deal we have with the county is simply no longer working,” 
That deal involves payment by Ose of $1 a year for rent and half of his profits to the county.  In turn, the county agreed to pay Ose $500,000 over the current life of the contract for deferred maintenance, a much lower amount, Ose says, than it would have had to pay if the county managed the park on its own, considering the labor-intensive work involved.
“The primary difference between the government’s history of running the park and our tenure is that we can work seven days a week because we are not bound by government labor laws,” Ose said, adding that the county was losing roughly $5 million annually prior to his contract.  “We’ve proven the theory that the county doesn’t have to lose $5 million a year. In fact now they are about $2.5 million ahead.”
Regional Parks Director Jeff Leatherman did not return calls for comment.  Ose said he’s not sure what Regional Parks wants for Gibson Ranch, but hopes they will see the value in the details of his renewal proposal. 
The RV park idea, for example, claims Ose, could be one of the most viable options for ramping up revenue without significant changes to the park’s natural setting, something Regional Parks has had concerns about in the past.  Ose said he’s had an engineer come out to evaluate the space available for the RV sites and, if approved, he thinks that piece alone could generate as much as $12,000 a month.  Combined with event revenue and a hike in the entry fee, Ose says, things could easily turn around.
At the core of Ose’s proposal, however, is the request to lengthen his contract. A 20-year lease, as opposed to another five-year lease, he claims, would give him the time to implement significant revenue-generating programs and amenities.
“I have asked the county to consider a 20-year contract, something long enough to really put this private corporation to work,” Ose said. “We’ll see what happens, what the other ideas are, and hope for the best.”

CLARIFICATON OF SUE FROST'S POSITION:
County Supervisor Sue Frost has not said she specifically supports a plan to renew Doug Ose’s contract to manage Gibson Ranch, as was reported (Diamond in the Rough, March 24).  Frost does support a quick resolution to keeping the doors of the park open and, alongside the full board of supervisors, will be weighing all the options presented.


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Sanctuary State Puts Californians in Harm’s Way

From the Office of Senator Jim Nielsen  |  2017-03-22

Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama)

Sacramento, CA (MPG) - Along partisan lines, Senate Democrats passed two legislative proposals that would make California a safe haven for convicted felons who are in the country illegally and provide free legal service for them.
Former chairman of California’s state parole board, Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama), and sheriffs across the state denounced the Democrat-controlled legislature’s actions.
“How many more lives have to be harmed before Sacramento politicians wake up and realize these policies are dangerous for our communities?” said Senator Nielsen. Nielsen represents the families of two sheriff’s deputies killed in the line of duty by a convicted criminal who was deported twice for committing several crimes, for membership in a drug cartel, and for entering the country illegally. “This is not about immigration; this is about enabling criminal behavior and activity that endangers our citizens.” 
The California State Sheriffs’ Association stated in their letter to the author, “This bill creates a severe public safety problem.”
Specifically, Senate Bill 54 (De León), is a legislative proposal that would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies, school police and security departments from sharing information about criminals with federal officials.
The second measure Senate Bill 6 (Hueso) would provide free legal services to arrested individuals. SB 6 takes general fund monies from programs like scholarships for college students to give to organizations to defend criminals.
“California leaders must protect the safety of our citizens from convicted felons who are here illegally – not hire lawyers for them,” said Senator Nielsen.
To contact Senator Nielsen, please call him at 916.651.4004, or via email at senator.nielsen@senate.ca.gov.


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Honoring A Special Lady During Women’s History Month

By Sheila LaPolla   |  2017-03-22

Centenarian, Lieutenant Lynn Balmer. Photo Courtesy: Brenda Sheriff, President American Legion Auxiliary Unit 637, Citrus Heights, CA.

Women’s History Month celebrates the vital role of women in American history. The vibrancy and legacy of women past and present unifies and nourishes our collective whole as we march onward towards fundamental human equality.

Lieutenant Lynn Balmer, born September 12, 1907, on the family homestead in Plumas, California, has seen history unfold before her eyes and is creating a bit of history herself. At 109 years old, Lt. Balmer is the oldest living female veteran in the United States. She is the second oldest veteran in the United States (Corporal Richard Overton of Austin, Texas is the oldest veteran at 110 years old).

After WWII started, Lynn Balmer joined the military, “to free a man for active duty.” She served in the U.S. Coast Guard and achieved the rank of Lieutenant (junior grade) LTJG. Lt. Balmer secured a top-secret clearance and worked in Military Intelligence. Using her keen mathematical abilities, she read and interpreted weather maps and charts and used morse code to help ships navigate through dangerous waters and adverse weather conditions between the United States and England.

Prior to her military service, Lt. Balmer was an elementary school teacher, teaching her first class in 1927. She later taught mathematics to high school students. In 1943, her passion for teaching and love for her students, (having no children, she treated each and every child as her own) gave way to her patriotism and love of country when she enlisted in the U. S. Coast Guard.

Yes, Lt. Balmer entered two noble professions and gave of her immense talents whole heartedly.

Between the years of 1946 and 1967 she attended the University of Washington part time, taught mathematics to junior high school students, volunteered at a children’s orthopedic hospital, and was a professional skater to boot! She retired and moved to Chico, California, in the late 1990s with her husband, Charles (now deceased). At 109 years old, she presently lives comfortably in an assisted living facility in Chico, adored by her loving family.

Lynn Balmer’s passion for life lives on. She tells stories about living through World War 1, living through the nationwide flu epidemic in 1918 by wearing bags of asafetida around her neck to school, living through the Great Depression, and when there were shortages of grain and sugar, feeling very lucky that her father had bees so their family of nine children had honey.

The Women’s Suffrage movement was going strong in her childhood and when Lynn was 18 years old, she remembers that her mother got to vote for the first time in her life during the 1920 election. When Lynn became of legal age, she, too, proudly exercised her right to vote and encourages all women, young and old, to exercise their hard-earned right to vote.

Lt. Balmer’s deep love of country and patriotism still flourishes. As a veteran, she is a member of our nation’s largest veterans service organization, the American Legion. She is a lifetime member of American Legion Post 709, Rancho Cordova, where her nephew, Sgt. Ken Hicks, U.S. Air force veteran, is Historian. On her 108th birthday, she was recognized by American Legion Post 709 as the oldest living female member of the American Legion. (See photograph.)

She is also a lifetime member of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 637, Citrus Heights, California, where her Great-niece, Brenda Hicks Sheriff is President, and Virginia Hicks (Sgt. Hick’s wife and Brenda’s mother) is Treasurer.

On September 12, 2017, Lt. Lynn Balmer will celebrate her 110th birthday. She did not, and does not, let life pass her by. She still has richness of character, strength, gentleness, and her pioneer spirit.

During Women’s History Month, it is only fitting we pay special tribute to Lt. Balmer during her golden years and reflect upon and celebrate the lives of famous women pioneers and leaders in our history, as well as celebrate the unsung woman heroes of our daily lives.

Source: Sheila LaPolla Historian, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 383, Fair Oaks, CA


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It’s Almost Fair Oaks Fiesta Time

By Dot Boyd, Fair Oaks Chamber of Commerce  |  2017-03-22

Spring has sprung and the Fair Oaks Chamber is getting all of its chickens in a row, for the 68th Annual Fair Oaks Fiesta! Join us on Sunday, May 7th, from 9 am to 4 pm to enjoy a fun, family day in Fair Oaks Village! If you’ve been before, you know that it’s a day chock-full of fun, starting with the Fair Oaks Sun Run (before 9 am), www.fairoakssunrun.com, the Pancake Breakfast put on by the Orangevale-Fair Oaks Grange, and the dazzling Classic Car Show with some 300 classic beauties on display. You sure don’t want to miss the hilarious Toilet Bowl Race and the crowning of Miss Fair Oaks. Do you know a girl, aged 15-19 who either lives in or goes to school in Fair Oaks who has a heart for leadership and a desire to serve as an Ambassador of her community? If so, be sure she knows to submit her application no later than March 29th. Please visit www.fairoakschamber.com for entry details. This is not a beauty contest and a scholarship is attached. But wait, there’s even more! There will be children’s activities, live music and performances, arts and crafts vendors, shopping and dining in The Village, food trucks and all-around fun for all.

Then before you know it, June will be here and the 24th Annual A Taste of Fair Oaks will take place on Friday, June 9th, from 6 pm to 9:30 pm. You don’t want to miss this festive, fun-filled evening of wine & craft beer tasting, gourmet food sampling, live and silent auction items, music, classic cars and more! Get your tickets early. No tickets sales at the door.

See you in Fair Oaks!


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Seeking the Next Miss Fair Oaks

From Fair Oaks Chamber of Commerce  |  2017-03-22

We Are Looking for the next Miss Fair Oaks.  Do you want to get involved in the Fair Oaks Community? If you would like to become or know a young lady who be a good representative for our city see below:

Become our Fair Oaks “Good Will Ambassador” and have the experience of a lifetime!

The Fair Oaks Chamber of Commerce is now accepting applications for Miss Fair Oaks 2017-18. The Deadline for applications is Wednesday, March 29.  The new Miss Fair Oaks will be crowned during the Fair Oaks Fiesta on May 7.

Applications can be downloaded from the F.O. Chamber website at fairoakschamber.com or picked up at the Chamber office, 10014 Fair Oaks Blvd.  (916- 967-2903). Miss Fair Oaks Chair is Ronda Leuty at 916- 521-4993. Application Fee $50.

Applicants must live in or go to school in Fair Oaks. Applicants must be 15 to 19 years of age. No prior experience is necessary.

Here is also what Audrey Nunez, our Miss Fair Oaks Ambassador, runner up for Miss Fair Oaks in 2017, said about her experience. (The Miss Fair Oaks runner up becomes Miss Fair Oaks Ambassador.) “Being able to represent such an amazing city is what I have strived for ever since I joined pageants. I love Fair Oaks and all the amazing people who work so hard to keep it beautiful. Being Miss Fair Oaks Ambassador I have been able to create a group of amazing friends and be a part of something very special.”


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River Cats Take on San Jose Giants at Raley Field

Source: Sacramento River Cats  |  2017-03-22

The Sacramento River Cats are excited to announce a cross-level scrimmage against the San Jose Giants, the class-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. The two teams will go head-to-head in a scrimmage at Raley Field on Wednesday, April 5, just one day before Sacramento’s Opening Day. Tickets for the game start at just $5 and are available now at www.rivercats.com.

This pre-season scrimmage is an extension of Spring Training and is likely to feature many of San Francisco’s top prospects. Christian Arroyo and Tyler Beede – the system’s top two prospects – are expected to take the field for the River Cats while 2016 first-round pick Bryan Reynolds (No. 4 prospect) may start for the San Jose squad.  Other prospects likely to be involved in the game include Joan Gregorio (No. 7), Jalen Miller (No. 15), Heath Quinn (No. 17), and Sacramento fan-favorite Austin Slater (No. 22).

First pitch on Wednesday, April 5 at Raley Field is set for 6:05 pm. Gates for the game will open at 5:00 pm with parking lots to open at 4:30 pm. Parking will be $5.

General admission tickets start at just $5. There will be a $10 ticket option which includes a general admission ticket, a hot dog, chips, and a soda. Tickets can be purchased online at www.rivercats.com.

All River Cats season ticket members will have tickets to the exhibition game included with their plan. For more information please email tickets@rivercats.com or call (916) 376-HITS (4487).


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Board Approves Homelessness Reduction Initiatives

Source: Sacramento County Media Department  |  2017-03-22

Some of the proposed system would simplify access to shelter entry and maximize bed utilization.

On March 21st, 2017, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved four initiatives to reduce homelessness with the intent to improve the family homelessness sheltering system; support the strategic use of transitional housing; establish a low-barrier Full Service Rehousing Shelter, and implement a new supportive Rehousing program that will employ intensive case management and Rehousing supports in conjunction with dedicated Public Housing Authority housing resources.

County Initiative #1, to Redesign Family Homelessness Response and Shelter System seeks to modify contracts to require family shelter to prioritize unsheltered families, establish low barrier requirements, mandate family acceptance of housing services and exit most families to permanent housing within 45 days. The proposed system would simplify access to shelter entry and maximize bed utilization.

With County Initiative #2, Preservation of Mather Community Campus (MCC) Residential and Employment Program, the County would provide replacement funding to continue transitional housing and employment programs at MCC for 183 single adults experiencing homelessness when HUD Continuum of Care funding sunsets on September 30, 2017.

With County Initiative #3, Full Service Rehousing Shelter, the primary purpose of the shelter is to serve those with the highest barriers to traditional services and shelter. Staff proposed that the County fund a local provider to open a 24-hour, low-barrier Full Service Rehousing Shelter designed to shelter and rapidly re-house persons who are difficult to serve in traditional shelters or services. Stable exit will be the primary objective of on-site case management.

County Initiative #4, Flexible Supportive Rehousing Program, would employ a “frequent utilizer” approach to targeting the highest cost users experiencing homelessness to identify eligible participants. The Program would provide a highly flexible solution, employing proactive engagement, “whatever it takes services”, and ongoing housing subsidies to engage and stably re-house the target population.

Today’s report to the Board provided implementation milestones and timeframes, essentially a “roadmap” to reduce homelessness. Comprehensive efforts to reduce homelessness have been augmented in the last year:

On October 18, 2016, the Board held a workshop on homelessness: “Homelessness Crisis Response: Investing in What Works.”

A second workshop was held on November 15, 2016, called “Increasing Permanent Housing Opportunities for Persons Experiencing Homelessness.”

On January 24, 2017, County staff presented a comprehensive package of strategic recommendations to improve outcomes for people experiencing homelessness.

On January 31, 2017, the Board of Supervisors and the Sacramento City Council held a joint workshop on homelessness.

On February 28, 2017, the County hosted a stakeholder meeting with approximately 60 persons in attendance representing 36 organizations to help shape the initiatives.

Department of Human Assistance Director, Ann Edwards, stated, “I am excited about the Board’s commitment to taking these steps to reduce homelessness in our community.”


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