Why you may not be able to use a Visa credit card at Foods Co. soon

Originally published by SacBee.com on Aug. 1, 2018

Foods Co. Supermarket shoppers in Northern California who use a Visa credit card to pay for groceries may soon have to choose an alternative payment method.

The grocery chain’s parent company, Kroger Co., has been in an ongoing dispute with Visa over fees and regulations. Should the two companies not come to an agreement, Foods Co. will stop accepting the cards at 21 of its stores beginning Aug. 14.

Four of those Foods Co. locations are in Sacramento.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Visa stated that it wishes to continue working with Kroger to resolve the issue.

According to CNBC, customers will still be able to use Visa debit cards and all other forms of payment accepted by the stores.

Kroger is the nation’s second-largest retailer behind Walmart. American retailers pay billions of dollars in swipe fees each year. Swipe fees are incurred by retailers each time a consumer uses a card. MasterCard and other credit card issuers charge these fees as well.

Kroger announced Monday that if a resolution is not reached, it may stop allowing the use of Visa credit cards across its entire network of 2,778 stores, which include Ralphs and Food 4 Less in Southern California, according to Bloomberg.

This story was also published in the print edition of The Sacramento Bee in the business section on page 5C Aug. 3, 2018


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Sacramento Kings to match wildfire relief donations 100 percent

Originally published by SacBee.com on Aug. 1, 2018

The Sacramento Kings and the American Red Cross have teamed up to help families and individuals affected by the devastating California wildfires.

Donations are being matched by the team 100 percent and all proceeds will go to wildfire relief, according to information posted on Facebook and tweeted Wednesday.


Donations are being accepted in amounts of $10, $50 or $100 via the team’s ticket purchasing portal. The donations can be purchased similarly to buying tickets, meaning the dollar amounts can be multiplied by selecting more “tickets” in the drop down menu.

Alternatively, donations can be made by calling 916-526-1471.

Officials say donating money is the best way to help fire victims rather than sending items, because too much of the physical goods end up going unused and in landfills.

Update (Aug. 2): As of 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, the Kings have stopped matching donations, but are still accepting community contributions online. The team matched $15,000 in fan and community donations for a one-day total of $30,000.

This story was also published in the print edition of The Sacramento Bee in the local section on page 3B Aug. 2, 2018

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They had to leave Milkshake behind. How one family discovered their goat had survived

Originally published by SacBee.com on July 28, 2018

When destructive wildfires like the Carr Fire descend upon homes in the dead of the night, families have little time to round up the kids, the family photos, the vital documents and the cats and dogs into the car to get to safety.

But what do you do for a stubborn goat?

One family from Keswick, the community northwest of Redding that was devastated in Thursday’s firestorm, had to leave their goat, Milkshake, behind. But it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Not only did the family of four children and two adults along with their four dogs not have room or resources to transport Milkshake, he was also not cooperating because he was afraid of the flames.

“He wasn’t having it,” said Mariz Brown, Milkshake’s owner.

With just minutes before their 5-acre property at Iron Mountain Road and Keswick Dam Road was engulfed in flames, Brown and her children left the area in one vehicle while her husband stayed behind to pack some belongings and their dogs into his pickup. Milkshake just wouldn’t budge, Brown said.

Brown’s husband left the water hose running, turned on the sprinklers and filled a small pool with water for Milkshake before escaping.

Brown has not been allowed to return home, but identified her pet on a live Facebook video from Sacramento Bee reporter Ryan Sabalow and videographer Hector Amezcua on Friday. She said her family’s property was almost completely destroyed, so she was surprised to see Milkshake during the live coverage of the aftermath of the fire.

See video here.

Milkshake is now being cared for by the Shasta County Animal Shelter, which Brown says has been checking on animals displaced in the fire and keeping them healthy until families can return.

“We had all kinds of fruit trees and flowers all around the driveway leading up to the gate,” Brown said. “It’s all gone. You can’t even tell those were there.”

The family has been staying at nearby hotels and at a friend’s house since the evacuation, and Brown said they hope to reunite with Milkshake soon.

This story was also published in the print edition of The Sacramento Bee with the cover story on page 14A July 29, 2018. 


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What to do and see during the final weekend of the California State Fair

Originally published by SacBee.com on July 27, 2018

All good things must come to an end. For the California State Fair, that end is this weekend.

Fortunately, the fair’s organizers have saved some of the best events, exhibits, competitions, theme days and concerts for last. Here’s the lowdown on all of the best things to see and do during the event’s last three days.

Friday, July 27

Friday’s biggest events include two classes. The first is a wine class with Michalea Rodeno of Villa Ragazzi Winery, which is located in Napa Valley. Villa Ragazzi is the first California winery to plant Sangiovese, a type of wine grape native to Tuscany, according to the California State Fair’s website. Attendees of this 2 p.m. class will learn all about the grape’s flavor and geography.

The second class is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will focus on the sweet flavors of California honey. At the “Taste the Nuances of California Honey!” class, Amina Harris, director of the Honey & Pollination Center at UC Davis, will take attendees on a journey up and down California through their taste buds as they sample honey from all over the state. Some of the honey varieties include Avocado, Blackberry, Coriander and Orange Blossom, according to a description of the event. Attendees will also learn about how bees produce honey.

Tickets for both classes are limited and can be reserved by visiting the State Fair’s website. They run $10 each for the wine class and $5 each for the honey tasting class. Tickets may also be purchased at the California Education Center in the Save Mart California Kitchen, where the classes will take place, prior to the event.

Other top things to see and do on Friday include an exotic bird demonstration, a free horse ride program, and performances by several artists, including Latin Party Crew, The Greg Kihn Band and Dave Russell Band.

In addition, the finals days of the thoroughbred horse races will take place through the end of the State Fair at the Racetrack Grandstand from 2:15 to 6:30 p.m. daily. For more information on this free event, see the State Fair’s horse racing web page.

Saturday, July 28

Some of Saturday’s most notable events include a high school cooking challenge at the Save Mart California Kitchen, the Racetrack Grandstand’s wiener dog races and the California Forest Foundation Forest Center’s chainsaw carving presentation with Matt Holms of Always Carving.

Other events include performances by Mr. Wonderful at the Blues and Brews Lounge, “The Grill” cooking demonstration and sampling event, and the day’s Toyota Concert Series performance by The Spinners.

For more details on these events and to check times and availability, visit the State Fair’s website.

Sunday, July 29

The final day of the 2018 California State Fair will be a themed “Out at the Fair” day celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. In addition to encouraging fair goers to dress up and show their pride, the Turf Club will host a buffet. For buffet reservations, Fair organizers say to call (916) 920-5131. There will also be an “Out at the Races” event. The day will end with a “Diva Drop” at the Bungee Jump in the carnival at 6:30 p.m.

From 11:30 a.m. through 6 p.m., Papa Murphy’s Park, home of the Sacramento Republic FC, will host the second California State Fair Cornhole Championship. This event, where competitors toss bean bags to score points, will feature 50 all-ages teams of two people each in a tournament for bragging rights, according to a description of the event.

The day will also feature the final concert of this year’s Toyota Concert Series on the Golden 1 Stage where fans can rock out with UB40 along with Ali, Astro and Mickey. Concerts are free, but tickets can be purchased for reserved seating.

Other events on the State Fair’s final day include a “Future of Food” National Geographic exhibit, cheese sampling with El Mexicano and a performance by drum crew Sacramento Taiko Dan.

Other stuff to know

These final three days are your last chance to enjoy the rides, chow down on unique food creations, and see the tree circus, freestyle motorcross, blacksmith demonstrations, art and photography exhibits, acrobats of Hebei China, hypnotist and other daily events.

Keep in mind that the State Fair is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day except for the final Sunday when it closes at 9 p.m. There will also be no fireworks show on the final day.

For more on other new additions to the State Fair this year, how to stay cool and save money, what food to check out and how State Fair workers keep the food safe, check out The Sacramento Bee’s other coverage at sacbee.com/entertainment/state-fair.

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Grab a freebie from MAC on Sunday for National Lipstick Day

Originally published by SacBee.com on July 26, 2018

What better way to celebrate National Lipstick Day than to grab a free tube in a favorite shade?

You can do just that as retailer MAC, which is short for Make-Up Art Cosmetics, is offering the freebie in one of nine shades on Sunday, July 29.

According to an advertisement on the company’s website, no purchase is necessary to get the free lipstick in-store, but the offer is only valid while supplies last.

For those who want to skip the crowds, the freebie is available online with a $25 minimum purchase.

MAC has several locations in Sacramento, including a location inside Arden Fair and at Arden’s Nordstrom as well as one at 414 K St. downtown. The company also has nearby locations in Citrus Heights, Roseville and Folsom.

Those interested can plan ahead by checking out the shade choices here.

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Local reporter exclaims ‘this is insane’ as she and camera operator flee Carr Fire

Originally published by SacBee.com on July 26, 2018

A local news crew got a little too close to the story they were covering when flames from the Carr Fire near Redding approached the road in a matter of seconds.

Lemor Abrams, a reporter for CBS 13 in Sacramento, posted a short video documenting the incident just after 4 p.m. Thursday on her Instagram account.

According to her post, she and Jeff Bell, a camera operator and the driver of the news van, were shooting footage of the rapidly-growing Carr Fire in the Redding area of Shasta County when the flames suddenly took over a tree on the side of the road, forcing them to take shelter in the van.

The Carr Fire was 28,763 acres and 10 percent contained as of 4:23 p.m. Thursday.

See Instagram post here.

“This is insane,” Abrams can be heard saying in the clip. “Look at how quickly this fire just jumped the freeway.”

Abrams then instructs Bell to “get in the car” before saying, “that was scary” after closing the door of the van.

No one was hurt in the incident.

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Kids can get outside this July with educational app at five West Sacramento parks

Originally published by SacBee.com on July 25, 2018

For kids who dream of being detectives, a new app may provide just the opportunity for those fantasies to become reality. Well, augmented reality at least.

The city of West Sacramento has teamed up with the makers of mobile app Agents of Discovery to bring its “educational mobile gaming platform that uses augmented reality to get youth active” to five parks around town through the end of July. The app allows kids ages 5-12 to get outdoors and complete missions to win prizes.

The game can be played by downloading the app from the Google Play Store on Android devices or the App Store on Apple devices and heading to one of the five participating parks. These include Bryte Park, Riverwalk Park, Clarksburg Branch Line Trail, Summerfield/Patwin Parks and Bridgeway Lakes Community Park.

Once there, kids use the app to hunt for virtual objects and complete objectives, similar to finding Pokemon characters in the popular Pokemon Go app. Some of the missions and challenges include searching for and catching virtual objects, coloring in objects, filling in blanks with image clues, finding and photographing real-life plants and animals, matching images and sounds and more.

It’s noted by the app maker that phones or tablets used to play the game need to have the app downloaded, but once it is on the device and the park’s activities have been downloaded, a Wi-Fi or data connection is no longer needed. However, GPS settings need to be turned on while playing the game because questions are prompted based on the player’s specific location.

According to the city of West Sacramento’s webpage for the program, “field agents” can email a screen shot of their in-game accomplishments to “headquarters” at City Hall and receive four passes to the city’s Summer Cinema Series at the West Sacramento Recreation Center and Community Center.

The program is available in cities all over the nation through partnerships with city leadership and organizations like the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service.

“West Sacramento residents have already downloaded Agents of Discovery more than any other city in California.” Mayor Christopher Cabaldon wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday, adding that the current run is a pilot program.

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Could McKinley Park earn historic designation? This committee could nominate it

Originally published by SacBee.com on July 25, 2018

The California State Historical Resources Commission will meet in Sacramento next month to consider nominations for federal historic designation of seven state sites, including the city’s McKinley Park.

The quarterly meeting of the state commission will take place at 9 a.m. Friday, Aug. 3, in the auditorium of the State Resources Building at 1416 Ninth St. McKinley Park is being considered because of its landscape architecture, including the Fredrick N. Evans Memorial Rose Garden, according to a news release from the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

If McKinley Park is nominated and designated, it will join more than 90,000 other places on the list, which also features iconic Sacramento buildings like Memorial Auditorium.

Sites listed on the National Register of Historical Places are recognized as being significant in American history, architecture, art, archaeology, engineering and culture, according to the National Park Service, who oversees the list. Listed sites are eligible for federal protections, specific tax provisions and historic preservation.

The popular 33-acre park, located at 601 Alhambra Blvd., was originally named East Park when it opened in 1872. At the time, it was owned by the Sacramento Street Railway Company and used for streetcars.

It was purchased by the city in 1902 and annexed within city limits. The city renamed it in honor of the 25th U.S. president, William McKinley, a year after his assassination.

The park includes the Clunie Memorial Clubhouse and the Iva GardShepard Garden & Arts Center. The park also features tennis courts, picnic areas, a baseball diamond, running and walking paths, a basketball court and a playground.

Six other sites being considered for nominations are St. Helena Public Cemetery in Napa County, Thacher School Historic District in Ventura County, Martinez Grammar School Annex in Martinez, Beverly Fairfax Historic District in Los Angeles, Canterbury Apartment Hotel in Hollywood and Ramona Main Street Colonnade in San Diego County.

McKinley Park has not been without its fair share of problems, including dealing with drug users and cleanliness issues in the past.

More information on the meeting can be found at the Office of Historic Preservation website.

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How to get a free Auntie Anne’s soft pretzel through July 30

Originally published by SacBee.com on July 25, 2018

Few things are better in life than free food.

Soft pretzel chain Auntie Anne’s is offering a buy one, get one free deal on its signature snack to celebrate National Aunt and Uncle’s Day on Thursday, July 26.

The coupon, which can be downloaded or accessed on your mobile device, is for a free Handmade Classic Pretzel with the purchase of another Handmade Classic Pretzel. You don’t even need to be an aunt or uncle or have your aunt or uncle with you.

Note that the coupon states it can’t be combined with other offers and is valid at participating locations in the U.S.

Although the coupon is intended to celebrate aunts and uncles, it’s valid now through July 30, so you don’t have to purchase your pretzels on Thursday.

Auntie Anne’s has Sacramento locations inside Arden Fair and inside the Walmart at the recently-opened Delta Shores shopping complex.

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Channel 40 weatherman Darren Peck departs station for ‘an opportunity in Seattle’

Originally published by SacBee.com on July 25, 2018

Channel 40 meteorologist Darren Peck is trading reports of the Delta Breeze, wildfires and valley heat for gray skies and wet, rainy forecasts in Seattle.

The longtime weatherman reported the Sacramento area forecast for the last time Wednesday at the Fox affiliate KTXL. His colleagues offered goodbyes and wishes of good luck with a special segment on the morning show.

The segment showed some of Peck’s “finest moments” with Fox 40 over the past seven years, including bloopers, funny on-air moments and some of Peck’s interactions with the station’s resident cat, Chroma Kitty, who frequents the outdoor weather set.

The video montage ended with a message from the station that read “Bye, Darren. Thanks for all the memories. Love, Fox 40.”

Anchors Simone De Alba, Martina Del Bonta and Paul Robins followed the video with a conversation about their time together. The crew presented Peck with a Seattle-themed cake and gave him a card.

“There’s an opportunity in Seattle,” Peck said during the segment. “They need somebody to come up and fill in some gaps up there, so I’m gonna go up there and try out the Pacific Northwest for a little while. This was not an easy decision by any means. I love Northern California, and I love working with all of you guys.”

Robins wrote a Facebook post announcing his friend and co-worker’s departure.

“The best dang weatherman in the world is leaving us,” Robins wrote. “Darren has been a wonderful friend as we have worked together for the last seven years. He’s one of the brightest, most capable and clever people I’ve ever known, and I’ll miss him a bunch.”

Followers of Robins posted messages of support, wishing Peck luck and “great success” as well as telling stories about watching Peck on the morning broadcast for many years.

“This was Darren’s choice and we will miss him,” Monika Diaz, KTXL’s news director, told The Bee. “We wish him the best in Seattle.”

Peck said in a Facebook post that he will be working for King 5 News for the rest of the summer and “perhaps longer.”

This story was also published in the print edition of The Sacramento Bee in the local section on page 2B July 31, 2018.



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