Bird and Breakfast Nature Walk Reveals

Story and photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-04-05

Among river stones, a Killdeer mom patiently incubates her clutch. Her granite-patterned eggs are camouflaged to near-invisibility on the flood plain.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Bird and Breakfast safaris recently introduced 170 nature lovers to feathered species in their busiest season. Two sold-out events continued a spring tradition at Carmichael’s Effie Yeaw Nature Center.

Recent sunny weeks spurred early nest building in the 100-acre preserve. In glades where wild poppies and lupins are bursting into flower, onlookers saw baby hummingbirds take debut flights.

The nature Center’s Audubon-guided nature walks have been a hit for 31 years. Dozens of species were noted last weekend. Herons, egrets and wood ducks sought breakfast in American River shallows.  Killdeer moms were belly-down and incubating on the flood plain. In ancient oaks, red-shouldered hawks delivered lumber for a new nursery. Towhees enjoyed birdie baths in rain puddles.  Bushtits lined their pendulous abodes with plant down and two hummingbird nests - tiny miracles of lichen and cobweb - were viewed through magnifying scopes

American River Natural History Association volunteers cooked a gourmet breakfast for week-one. Carmichael Kiwanis Club members whisked up pancakes for the second, family-oriented safari. The program’s outreach included children for whom bird-watching is a rare opportunity. Carmichael Club volunteer Jackie DeLu noted enthusiastic observations. “These kids have great nature eyes,” she said. “The outing encourages them to take their time and observe.”

Learn about the Effie Yeaw Nature Center at

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Red Door Escape Room Opens in Rancho

Story and photo by Jacqueline Fox  |  2018-04-05

Red Door Escape Room Sacramento opened in February and is the first Red Door location in the region. Photo courtesy Red Door Escape

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - Phones down, brains on.  That’s the order for getting the absolute most out of your experience at the newly opened Red Door Escape Room in Rancho Cordova’s Nimbus Winery complex.

If you aren’t familiar, Red Door is one of a handful of so-called “Immersive Entertainment Experiences” popping up nationwide, where you and a date, or perhaps a group of friends or a few colleagues choose from among a handful of games where you are locked inside a room from which you must escape using only a set of cryptic clues and interactive puzzles—all while the clock is ticking down. 

These multi-sensor games are individually themed and aimed at varying skill levels and ages.  A typical Red Door experience takes about an hour and a half, depending on how skilled you and your team are at deciphering your clues.  You’ll get 15 minutes for a briefing on your game scenario, an hour to get out and then another 15 minutes for “debriefing.”  In between, says Red Door Sacramento’s General Manager, Jarick Collins, the most important thing to remember is to have nothing but pure, unalloyed fun.

“What we want to provide is a unique experience for everyone, no matter how old you are, where you turn off your phones, leave your muscle at the door, bring in your brains and get ready to have fun,” said Collins. 

The fee to play is $30 a person.  There are group and corporate packages available, as well. Each game or episode can accommodate between 2-6 or 2-8 players.  You can choose from five uniquely themed episodes.  (One, called “The Gift,” is actually two identical games, situated side-by-side and intended to be played by two teams competing against one another). 

Others episodes include “Prison Break,” in which you and your teammates are taken hostage by terrorists somewhere deep inside a South Asian jungle and “Taken,” in which you must infiltrate a hotel and rescue a victim of human trafficking.  “Once Upon a Time,” perhaps the most kid-friendly option, asks you to located stolen magical items from a kingdom far, far away.

Red Door also has a party room that can accommodate up to 50 people with a foosball table and a full kitchen for preparing your own food and drinks, or setting up a catered event, such as a birthday party, a family night out, or a corporate outing.

“Red Door is about an experience you go through with others, so our multi-sensory games make perfect options for group events, corporate outings and family nights out where your thinking skills and sense of enjoyment are about all you need,” said Collins. 

The company was co-founded by Dan Huynh, his wife and a third partner in spring of 2015.  Huynh got the idea after his first escape room experience to bring something similar to college students at his church in the Dallas suburb of Southlake.  Students enjoyed the first game Huynh created so much they demanded more.  In no short order it became clear a company was in the making, thus the Red Door Southlake location opened with three episodes.

The company has been on a fast-track for growth since. By summer of 2016, Red Door had clocked in 20,000 guests and the company’s second location was opened in Plano, Texas.  In 2017, Red Door doubled its reach to 40,000 guests.  The Rancho Cordova location, which opened in February, marks the company’s first foray into the Sacramento area.  According to Collins, there is a fourth location planned for a spot just across the county line with a targeted opening for early 2019.

The company has a team of game designers, Huynh included, writers and onsite game-monitors, who track players via computer screens in a “back room,” which is how, if you find yourself stuck and can’t figure out the clues in time to escape, you can get a little help.

“You can ask for help anytime you’re in a room and can’t figure out a clue,” said Collins.  “We can watch players at every step and if they are stuck, we can guide them.” 

There’s also a panic button in every room, just in case things get scary and someone just needs out in a hurry.  But that doesn’t happen often.  Instead, says Collins, episodes tend to create a lot more excitement than worry.

“We are all about the customer experience here, and one of the best parts of that is the sound of people successfully getting out using their brains and their imaginations,” said Collins. 

Red Door is under no illusion that games can “age out” of popularity as technology and imaginations expand.  Without revealing any details, Collins said the company is already working on new, longer, “innovative episodes” to add to its cache of escape experiences. 

For those who just can’t get enough, Red Door offers a loyalty program with rewards for each “level” or episode played.  Get to level five and you play for free for life.  

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Sacramento Life Center Receives Grant to Care for Low-Income Pregnant Women

By Kate Towson  |  2018-04-04

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - American River Bank Foundation has awarded a $14,000 grant to Sacramento Life Center for the nonprofit’s Mobile Medical Clinics that provide free medical services to low-income pregnant women, including pregnancy tests, STD tests, ultrasounds, peer counseling, education and resource referrals.

“This grant from the American River Bank Foundation will provide vital repairs for both of our Mobile Medical Clinics so they can stay on the road, ensuring pregnant women have access to the care they need,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “We are so grateful to the American River Bank Foundation for understanding the transportation barrier faced by many low-income women in our community. With this funding, even more women will receive medical care in their own neighborhoods.”

For a schedule for the Mobile Medical Clinics, visit

“The American River Bank Foundation is committed to supporting organizations that create opportunity, enhance self-esteem and provide physical and emotional well-being for the most vulnerable women and children and the Sacramento Life Center does all of these things,” said Erica Thompson-Dias, Vice-President of Community Engagement for American River Bank. “We’re honored to support this vital work which improves the overall health and wellness of our communities.”

The Sacramento Life Center’s mission is to offer compassion, support, resources and free medical care to women and couples facing an unplanned or unsupported pregnancy. The Sacramento Life Center’s licensed Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic includes a primary clinic and two Mobile Medical Clinics that provide all services for free, including pregnancy tests, STD tests, ultrasounds, peer counseling for men and women, education and resource referrals. The nonprofit also offers a school-based teen education program, a 24-hour hotline and a program for women seeking support after having an abortion. For more information about the Sacramento Life Center’s Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic, visit For more information about the Sacramento Life Center or to make a donation, visit

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Velvety and Breathless

By Orchestra Media  |  2018-04-04

American River College Orchestra presents Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony and Soloist Irina Samarina playing Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D Minor

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Moving from velvety and smooth to turbulent and breathless, Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D minor is considered one of the great Romantic concertos and soloist Irina Samarina has the credentials to tackle the work. This concerto and Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony round out ARC Orchestra’s program on May 2nd at 7:30 pm at the ARC Theater.

The Romantic period is characterized by expanded orchestras and powerful expressions of emotions. The violin concerto is no exception.

“Sibelius’ concerto is full of images of Finland’s nature, cold as fire, dark emotional plains, dramatic melodies, and a lot of lyricism,” explained Samarina. “I love playing this concerto because it gives the soloist an opportunity to shine and gives the orchestra a strong role. The most challenging thing is to blend and balance all the emotions as an ensemble and a soloist.”

Samarina has been playing the violin since she was seven years old. She has a doctorate in musical arts and has traveled as a soloist in Russia, Germany, Italy, France, Israel, and the United States. She is currently playing in Stockton Symphony Orchestra, teaching, and is an active member of Music Teachers’ Association of California.

This will be the first time Samarina has collaborated with the ARC Orchestra.

“It is such wonderful experience,” she said. “I love how the orchestra brings melodies that the soloist is trying to stay on top of. It is great to share and put all thoughts into the music, music that brings a message of light and hope.”

The orchestra is also performing Tchaikovsky’s last symphony, one that reveals the composer’s virtuosity as well as the tragedy of his time. The first movement opens with the brooding bassoon echoed by dark notes coming from the strings before lightening up with a quicker theme from the winds. The second movement proceeds gracefully into the third which is the emotional highpoint of the work. The symphony is groundbreaking in its ending. Tchaikovsky chooses an adagio lamentoso, as slow and melancholy as the words suggest and then the entire work ends in a minor key.

“Some feel that the sixth symphony is Tchaikovsky’s suicide letter to the world,” said

Steven Thompson, ARC Orchestra director. “His death occurred nine days after the scores’ completion in what we now know was a coerced poisoning by a circle of Tchaikovsky’s former law school classmates. Their concern was that Tchaikovsky was about to be outed for being gay (in a severely homophobic Czarist Russia) which they felt would bring dishonor to their alma mater. They convinced him to take his own life through a dosing of arsenic...a horrible and painful death. The events leading up to his decision to end his life seem to have happened after the symphony’s completion date, but the story persists. At times melancholy and emotional and at other times triumphant and heroic, Tchaikovsky wrote that this symphony was the best of his works.”

For more information on the American River College Orchestra and these concerts, contact Dr. Steven Thompson at (916) 484-8433 or visit the ARCO website. General information can also be found at the ARCO Facebook page.

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Supervisor Susan Peters: Firearm Amnesty Program

From Supervisor Susan Peters  |  2018-04-04

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - In an effort to improve public safety, Sheriff Scott Jones and his department along with the Rancho Cordova Police Department will be holding a firearm amnesty event on April 6-7 from 8 am to 5 pm each day.  This will give anyone the opportunity to voluntarily surrender any unwanted firearms in a safe and anonymous environment with no questions asked.

To make this a safe event for all involved, the Sheriff’s Department is asking all participants to check in with the on-duty Deputy Sheriff or Security Officer at any of three facilities listed below prior to removing any weapon from your vehicle.  After participants advise Sheriff’s Department staff about their desire to turn in a weapon, a Sheriff’s Department employee will walk out to their vehicle and assist them in retrieving the firearm, rendering it safe and then bringing it into the Sheriff/Police facility.  All surrendered firearms will be destroyed and disposed of.

The following are the locations of Sheriff’s Department and Rancho Cordova Police Department facilities where firearms can be surrendered anonymously:

Sheriff’s Department North Division

5510 Garfield Avenue

Sacramento, CA. 95841

Rancho Cordova Police Department & Sheriff’s Department East Division

2897 Kilgore Road

Rancho Cordova, CA. 95670

Sheriff’s Department Central Division

7000 65th Street, Suite B

Sacramento, CA. 95823

The Board of Supervisors supports this firearm amnesty program and encourages anyone wishing to participate to come to one of the above facilities and turn in any firearm in a safe and secure setting with no questions asked.

Thank you.


Supervisor, Third District

District 3 - Susan Peters  

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Music Industry Event Coming to Tim’s Music

By Tad Frease  |  2018-04-04

Group to perform ‘Where the Rivers Meet.’ Photo courtesy The Sacramento Valley Music Industry

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The Sacramento Valley Music Industry Forum “mini” will be held this year at Tim's Music located in Carmichael at 6118 Fair Oaks Blvd. on Saturday, April 14 from 12-4 p.m. 

This event will feature many activities pertaining to the music community and will be an important and informative event for musicians as well as other artists.  There will be a songwriter showcase highlighting original music now being created in our community and an industry consultation table will be accessible to discuss the needs of local musicians.

There will also be industry professionals in attendance.  The industry series panel will include Brian McKenna (Abstract), Danielle Vincent (1st Fest), Jim Hart (promotional advisor with Tim's Music), Scott Tei and Angela (Nicholson's Music). They will be discussing venues, festivals and events in the Sacramento Valley region as well as changing issues and supporting arts in our community.

An artist series panel discussion will also be held with Myki Angeline, Julian Mendoza, Michael Lorda and Ben McClara (Sacramento Preparatory Music Academy). They will all be discussing emerging trends and changes currently in the music industry.

A red carpet media opportunity is available for photos and videos to support emerging artists.

This will be a good chance for musicians to network with other artists as well as learning about the changing landscape of the industry.

Creative Edge, Mayor Steinberg’s arts consultation group, will be in attendance willing to hear comments and suggestions posed by artists. There will also be a “buzzboard” for any comments or statements by the attendees. California Lawyers for the Arts will also be represented for industry legal questions and information on becoming a C.L.A. member.

“Anyone involved in a musical endeavor shouldn't miss this event,” said Eric Chun, organizer and director of the SVMI Forum.  Eric, who is also a professor of music at American River College and formerly with Warner Bros. calls this event the “mini” because it is a pre-cursor to a larger event in Sacramento this Fall. “Anyone in a band, writing or recording music or making films or music videos should put this on their calendar,” he said. “This will be a fun and productive day for everyone.”

Even those who are not musicians but want to contribute in some way to the music community are welcome and encouraged to attend. Admission is only $5.00 (kids under 12 are free) and a portion of the proceeds go to Girls Rock Sacramento and the NAMM foundation.

For more information, go to the Sac Valley Music Industry Forum Facebook page or contact Creative Music Services at

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Women’s Empowerment Graduates 1,500th Formerly Homeless Woman

By Kate Towson  |  2018-04-04

Recent graduate Cynthia Miller and her children. The award-winning organization has graduated 1,503 homeless women and their children. Last year, 92 percent of graduates found homes and 77 percent found jobs or enrolled in school or training.

24 women once homeless graduate from the Sacramento job-readiness program

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Community members from across Sacramento witnessed Women’s Empowerment graduate its 1,500th formerly homeless woman, Cynthia Miller of Citrus Heights, in mid-March. Miller joined 23 other graduates as they completed the comprehensive nine-week job-readiness program for homeless women.

Miller was homeless with her three young children when she was accepted into  Women’s Empowerment’s job-readiness program.

“Women’s Empowerment truly gave me hope and it boosted my confidence. It was so empowering because it made me realize how much I have to offer our community.”

Miller’s immediate goal is to attend college in the fall to obtain her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certificate and begin working at a senior living facility.

“My ultimate goal is stop this cycle of homelessness so my children don’t have to grow up in it anymore. I plan on providing a stable home for them and enrolling them in a school where they can make friends for life. Having all of the support from Women’s Empowerment helped me discover that achieving my dreams is possible.”

Held at the VFW Post 67 in Sacramento, 100 graduation attendees heard each graduate’s story and future plans. Each woman accepted their certificates of achievement from Intel, the California Assembly and Women’s Empowerment. She received a new handbag filled with a day planner and other items designed to help her succeed from the generous employees of Dignity Health, and enjoyed a lovely reception sponsored by Kiwanis Club of Greater Sacramento.

 “Our graduation ceremonies are a unique community event where women like Cynthia can be celebrated for their accomplishments,” said Lisa Culp, executive director of Women’s Empowerment. “At Women’s Empowerment, we know that employment and education are the most long-term solutions to truly ending homelessness. And today 24 formerly homeless women are re-joining our workforce, regaining safe housing and breaking the cycle of homelessness for themselves and their children. They are ready to achieve their dreams.”

Women’s Empowerment was featured on NBC’s The TODAY Show in 2015 for offering the most comprehensive job-readiness program in the Sacramento area designed specifically for women who are homeless and their children. The award-winning organization has graduated 1,503 homeless women and their children. Last year, 92 percent of graduates found homes and 77 percent found jobs or enrolled in school or training. The program combines self-esteem courses, job training, health classes and support services to help homeless women across diverse ages, races and cultures. Women’s Empowerment is funded through private donations from the community and receives no government funding except for in-kind rent from the County of Sacramento. To make a donation:


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