Award-Winning Businesses

Chamber Honors Those Making Positive Contributions to Community

By Daniel Barnes
January 2019

The East Sacramento Chamber of Commerce recently presented its 2018 Cecily Hastings Business of the Year award to East Sac Hardware, which opened in 1951 and is owned by Sheree Johnston. The award, named for Cecily Hastings who founded the neighborhood chamber 22 years ago, recognizes a business that has demonstrated a considerable track record of positive contributions to the community.


“In the last 10 years, after Sheree took over running the store from her husband, she has created an extraordinary retail shop,” says Hastings, chamber board member and publisher of Inside Publications. “With both exterior and interior designs, she has created a masterpiece. Retail is extremely challenging with intense competition from not only Home Depot, but also Amazon.” In addition, Johnston generously supports neighborhood causes, including Friends of East Sacramento’s McKinley Rose Garden, Sacred Heart Holiday Home Tour, Pops in the Park and many others. She was honored with the Sacramento Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business Award in 2018, among hundreds of women who were nominated.

The 2018 Lisa Schmidt Volunteer of the Year Award was given to Cindy Leathers and Kelli DeMarco, who co-chaired the community effort to upgrade the playground at the East Lawn Children’s Park.

Named for former volunteer chamber director Lisa Schmidt, the award recognizes individuals who have gone above and beyond in the community by donating their time and effort to make Sacramento a brighter place to live and work.

“These women took a city park project well beyond what was modestly planned by the city,” Hastings says.
The pair raised more than $135,000 in in-kind and cash donations from corporations and individuals. The renovated park—which Leathers and DeMarco turned into a community effort—will be open for business in early 2019.

SacYard Community Tap House + Beer Garden, owned by Dan and Melody Thebeau, won the chamber’s New Business of the Year Award. The 1725 33rd St. location was home to a former automotive garage. Inside, a salvaged wood-truss ceiling shelters an indoor/outdoor bar space with 24 taps to support a rotating selection of celebrated craft brew.

The Special Place Award, which recognizes businesses and places that distinguish East Sacramento, went to the McKinley Village Art Walk. The walk features 10 public art installations designed specifically for McKinley Village by regional artists, including Marc Foster, Gina Werfel, Jeff Myers, Helen Post and lighting designer Michael Sestak. More art will follow as the development is built out.

McKinley Village developer Phil Angelides assembled a community panel led by public art expert Shelly Willis to make the artist selections. Angelides also named McKinley Village’s streets and parks in honor of Sacramento artists and arts leaders, including former Sacramento Mayor Burnett Miller who recently passed away.

“Our community is much the richer for the thoughtful approach and attention to detail that is the hallmark of the McKinley Village Art Walk,” Hastings says. For more information visit

The annual McKinley Rose Garden “prune-a-thon” will be held Saturday, Jan. 5, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The public is invited to join the McKinley Park Volunteer Corps, a group of novice and experienced rosarians, to ready more than 1,200 bushes for spring blooms.
No experience is required. RSVPs are requested, although drop-in help is welcome. To RSVP or for more information, call (916) 452-8011 or e-mail

East Sacramento resident Sarah Caples says that ever since her sons participated with other neighborhood kids in a lemonade stand last summer, the boys had planned to sell hot chocolate in the Fab 40s during the high-traffic holiday season.
“They wanted to be little entrepreneurs and make some money,” Caples says. “We were talking with them at dinner one night, just sharing that good business owners give back to the community.”
Kaleb, 8, Levi, 7, and Jude, 5, decided to donate a share of their hot chocolate profits to charity. But after hearing about the devastation in Paradise, they elected to give every penny to the Camp Fire Evacuation Relief Fund. Each Friday and Saturday night in December, the Caples boys manned their stand on 43rd Street, selling hot chocolate and cookies to the throngs of people enjoying the holiday decorations that adorned the neighborhood.
“We just want to show the kids that even though they’re little, they can still do big things,” Caples says.

The attorney who represented residents in a lawsuit against the city of Sacramento for allowing the McKinley Village housing development in East Sacramento has sued the city over its plan to construct a concrete vault for sewage and rain runoff under McKinley Park.
The lawsuit to stop the McKinley Water Vault was filed in November, just one month after the City Council approved an environmental impact report on the project.
If constructed, the vault would store sewage and rain runoff during severe storms, which currently can cause minor flooding and sanitary sewer outflows in the neighborhood.
Irvine-based attorney Stephen R. Cook filed the lawsuit on behalf of a group called Citizens for a Safe and Sewage-Free McKinley Park. In the McKinley Village case, a state appeals court judge ordered the city to further explain its traffic study, but did not prohibit the construction of the 336-unit development.
Opponents of the McKinley Water Vault have questioned the necessity and location of the project, and the lawsuit cites noise, vibration and air-quality issues as potential problems. The project is expected to take 18 to 24 months to complete. The city will not comment on ongoing litigation.

Students from St. Mary School recently pitched in to perk up nearby East Portal Park. Students and veteran volunteers put a fresh coat of paint on wooden benches, picnic tables, light poles, road poles and the bleachers at the baseball diamond.
The East Portal entrance sign, which had grown worn and faded with age, also received a multi-colored paint enhancement.

According to a 2017 audit of the city’s gender and racial diversity, females are underrepresented in the Sacramento Police Department, accounting for only 32 percent of all employees. To combat the disparity, the city and SPD have partnered to create Behind the Badge, a monthly workshop at that hopes to inspire young women to pursue careers in law enforcement.

“The city has adopted a policy wherein we want our staff to reflect the gender and ethnicity of the city,” says District 3 Councilman Jeff Harris. Behind the Badge has been held once a month at Natomas High School for young women 14 years and older, with an average attendance of 13 people per workshop.

“Female officers come in and talk about what the pathway to get their job was like, what doing the job is like, and to excite interest in these young women.”

Harris believes the workshops have already proven effective, and he anticipates continuing the program in 2019. “A couple of young ladies are seriously interested in going to the academy,” he says. “There’s no reason to quit while we’re having success.”

East Sacramento craft brewery Sactown Union, which boasts one of the largest indoor/outdoor taprooms in the area, recently started filling the space with a weekly open mic night.

Hosted by local musician Autumn Sky, the event happens every Monday from 7 to 9:30 p.m., with signups starting at 6:30 p.m. For a shot of courage before stepping up to the mic, grab a glass of Ode’Leia, Sactown Union’s “Star Wars”-themed Mexican Lager.

Cub Scouts Pack 128 is holding its annual Christmas tree recycling program again this year. The pick-up day is Saturday, Jan. 5. The scouts are requesting a $10 donation per tree. For more information, email

Sacramento Potters Group is holding its Art by Fire Annual Seconds Sale, Saturday, Jan. 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Shepard Garden and Arts Center located at 3330 McKinley Blvd.
The sale will feature less-than-perfect pottery, glass, metal and clay work at affordable prices. For more information, visit
Daniel Barnes can be reached at Submissions are due six weeks prior to the publication month.

Stay up-to-date with our always 100% local newsletter!

* indicates required
Type of Newsletter
Share via
Copy link