Out & About

By Jessica Laskey
January 2023

Up Close & Personal

New zoo concepts feature immersive experience

The Sacramento Zoological Society and city of Elk Grove have released a series of concept drawings for the planned state-of-the-art zoological park.

The drawings by SHR Studios and Mangolin Creative depict a multi-phased, modern zoo featuring an immersive experience where visitors get up close to the wildlife. Guests can even stay overnight in a luxury tent-cabin with views of the hippopotamus lake.

“The most exciting part of these conceptual renderings are the depictions of the interactions between the animals and people,” says Jason Jacobs, executive director of the Sacramento Zoological Society.

“An incredible zoo doesn’t just take care of animals; it also takes good care of people,” he adds. “We want this new zoo to be one of the best in the United States and something that Elk Grove and the entire region can really be proud of.”

The next steps include developing a schematic design and financing plan, and completing an environmental impact review. The Elk Grove City Council is expected to formally consider the new zoo project later this year.
To view the drawings, visit saczoo.org/about-us/new-zoo.


The basketball court at Muir Park on C Street is looking extra spiffy these days thanks to a vibrant new mural installed by Midtown Association and its nonprofit arm Midtown Parks.

Local artist and curator Manuel Fernando Rios led the artwork, which highlights and preserves the rich Chicano and Latino history of the surrounding neighborhoods. Rios was mentored by the late Ricardo Favela, a founding member of the Royal Chicano Air Force artist collective.

“When I saw the opportunity to create the designs for this project, my team—Tomás Montoya and Amar Azucena and I—were excited to share the history of the Chicano, Chicanx, Latino and Latinx people in a colorful and historically accurate way by chronicling Mexican heritage all the way back to Olmec indigenous culture,” Rios says.

The designs incorporate local landmarks, such as Tower Bridge and Washington Neighborhood Center, and highlight everyday activities like skateboarding and playing basketball, “both activities central to preserving and continuing our culture,” Rios says.


Story Center, Fairytale Town’s much-anticipated newest attraction, is now open.

“It’s a wonderful day for the children and families of Sacramento,” says Fairytale Town Executive Director Kevin Smith-Fagan. “In this space, kids will grow in creative thinking, which is the foundation of problem solving and is crucial for success in life.”

The quaint thatched cottage and its adjacent outdoor classroom will host rotating exhibits and activities to give visitors a “multicultural and welcoming” place to write, illustrate and act out their own original ideas. The center will also serve as home base for the Land Park Community Association and events.

The building was designed by Land Park resident Tim Mattheis of WMB Architects and constructed over 13 months by Otto Construction, which built the original Fairytale Town castle in 1959. It has been outfitted with custom furnishings designed by local artist and Sac City professor Gioia Fonda.

Access to Story Center is included in paid park admission. For information, visit fairytaletown.org.


Have you ever wondered who your ancestors were, where they came from or how they made a living?

Members of the Genealogical Association of Sacramento gather monthly to share research and discoveries, and hear from a guest professional genealogical researcher.

GAS meets the third Wednesday of every month at 11:30 a.m. at Belle Cooledge Library, 5600 South Land Park Drive. For information, visit gensac.org.


The California Office of Traffic Safety has granted Sacramento County Public Health and partner agency Mercy San Juan with $71,500 to administer a program to help educate parents and caregivers on how to properly secure children in a car safety seat.

The grant will cover a variety of community outreach events and focuses on underserved and refugee communities. The program runs through Sept. 30.

“Like seat belts for teens and adults, correctly installed car seats are the best protection for children while they are traveling,” says OTS Director Barbara Rooney.

For information, Sacramento County residents can contact Riley Stoltenburg at stoltenburgr@saccounty.gov or call (916) 875-6094.


The Alchemist Community Development Corporation’s Community Gardens project has received a $5,000 grant from SAFE Credit Union to help purchase a solar-powered generator and other supplies to expand its program in the River District and Oak Park.

Founded in 2004, Alchemist CDC connects communities by addressing food access issues and providing locally grown produce at affordable prices to underserved neighborhoods.

“We look forward to holding more workshops and demonstrations on how to prepare the fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables that have been grown in the gardens,” says Alchemist’s Neighborhood Empowerment Manager Joe Robustelli.

The grant will benefit the Mirasol Village Community Garden in the River District, Oak Park Sol Garden in north Oak Park, and Oak Park Art Garden and Pansy Community Garden Park, both in central Oak Park. For information, visit alchemistcdc.org.


Citrus Heights resident KamDyn Hardin has won a $10,000 Bridging the Dream Scholarship for High School Seniors from Sallie Mae in partnership with Thurgood Marshall College Fund. He is one of only 25 recipients selected out of 1,000 applicants nationwide.

Hardin was chosen based on his academic performance and upstanding character, both in his academic and personal life. Now a freshman studying business management at Louisiana State University, he plans to use his degree to create a business in sports and entertainment marketing.

“The Bridging the Dream Scholarship has allowed me to attend the college of my choice … while pursuing my dream of becoming a successful student-athlete and entrepreneur,” Hardin says.


Sacramento State Environmental Studies Professor Dr. Michelle Stevens and her students have received one of 15 Anchor Grants from the university to support their work at Bushy Lake to save endangered turtles and restore wetland and riparian acreage.

Bushy Lake along the lower American River is a vital habitat for northwestern pond turtles, whose numbers are declining due to habitat deconstruction made worse by recent fires. Stevens and her students regularly trap, measure, weigh and release turtles to keep tabs on the population. They also plant, water, pull invasive weeds, clean up trash and document other area wildlife.

Now in its second year, Sac State’s Anchor Grants help fund projects designed to improve student success, advance equity and inclusion, and further community engagement.


National meat purveyor Farmer John recently presented Court Appointed Special Advocates Sacramento with $25,000 to support its commitment to children in the foster care system through court-appointed volunteer advocates.

The endowment is part of Farmer John’s California Kindness Project, a grant program designed to support nonprofits making an impact in their local communities. CASA Sacramento was selected out of 120 applicants.

“We want to extend a special thank you to our dedicated volunteers for their endless support and advocacy for the young voices of Sacramento,” says CASA Sacramento Executive Director Carol Noreen. “Thanks to their hard work and compassion, we’re able to continue spreading kindness to our community and work towards providing children in our city with safe and permanent homes.”


The UC Master Gardeners of Sacramento County’s “2023 Gardening Guide & Calendar” is a feast for the eyes with beautiful photos of irresistible edibles.

Each month includes advice and science-based tips for planting, irrigation, fertilizing, pruning and pest management for the entire garden. A seasonal guide for planting and harvesting vegetables in the Sacramento region is also included.

Proceeds from calendar sales support Master Gardener community projects. The guide/calendar is available online at sacmg.ucanr.edu for $10, including tax, plus postage.

Also purchase at Emigh Ace Hardware (3555 El Camino Ave.), Fair Oaks Boulevard Nursery (4681 Fair Oaks Blvd.), Green Acres Nursery & Supply (four locations), Plant Foundry Nursery & Store (3500 Broadway) or Talini’s Nursery & Garden Center (5601 Folsom Blvd.).


Eppie’s Wellness Foundation (formerly Eppie’s Great Race Foundation) made one last $290,000 donation to support Sacramento County Regional Parks before it was dissolved last month.

Of the donation, $140,000 will be placed in the Regional Parks’ restricted funds to be used for future Therapeutic Recreation Services over the next 10 years.

The remaining $150,000 will be used to complete construction of the Gibson Ranch Sensory Playground Pathway to Play project, which will create a play area designed to be accessible and inclusive for all children, especially those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Sacramento restaurateur and entrepreneur Eppie G. Johnson founded Eppie’s Great Race in 1974 to raise funds for local causes dear to his heart. Up until the final race in 2018, the event raised more than $1.5 million.

“Eppie had a deep appreciation for the American River Parkway and he was an avid supporter of Therapeutic Recreation Services, a recreation program offered through the department serving those with a variety of disabilities,” says Liz Bellas, director of Regional Parks. “We will be forever grateful to Eppie and his family and the tremendous generosity they have shown Regional Parks over the years.”


The next time you’re at the Milagro Centre in Carmichael, don’t miss the newest art space, Salt & Light Gallery.

Local developer Allan Davis offered artist and Carmichael resident Michelle Andres the space to show her work and that of a small stable of other artists to “lift people’s spirits and have positive visual relationships,” Andres says.

“The work is light and uplifting, lending a sense of hopefulness and calm,” she continues. “It offers a place to rest, look and breathe.”

Salt & Light Gallery is nestled between the Bella Bru Event Center and Serritella’s restaurant. For information, visit saltandlightgallery.art.


Girl Scouts Heart of Central California recently held its annual STEM Expo at Camp Pollock to provide hands-on experiences designed to foster curiosity and confidence in science, technology, engineering and math.

The event featured a variety of activities in partnership with local organizations for 142 participants. Highlights included solar bracelet making, ecology and botany learning, robot programming and play, paper rockets and more.
STEM is one of the four pillars (along with outdoors, life skills and entrepreneurship) that forms the foundation of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. For information, visit girlscoutshcc.org.


The Wall Street Journal has named Sacramento International Airport the top airport in the nation out of 50 of the country’s busiest airports.

Airports were evaluated across 19 categories, from on-time performance and security waits to customer satisfaction and ticket prices.

Sacramento ranked highest among all airports surveyed in the reliability category, and ranked high in arrival and departure times, low flight cancelations, quick taxi and security clearance times, and a max walking distance of only 1,213 feet. For information, visit sacramento.aero.


The 15th class of the California Hall of Fame was recently inducted by Gov. Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom at the California Museum on O Street.

The inductees include actor and singer-songwriter Lynda Carter, chef Roy Choi, physicist Steven Chu, ice skater Peggy Fleming, sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild, choreographer Alonzo King, teacher and former astronaut Barbara Morgan, soccer player Megan Rapinoe, singer Linda Ronstadt, artist Ed Ruscha and the band Los Tigres del Norte.

Launched in 2006, the California Hall of Fame honors history-making Californians for achievements in arts, business and labor, entertainment, food and wine, literature, music, public service, science and sports. For information, visit californiamuseum.org.


If you’ve always wanted to sing Duruflé’s “Requiem” with a live orchestra, now is your chance.

The Capital Chorale is looking for singers of all voice types to join rehearsals starting Thursday, Feb. 2, at 6:30 p.m. at Pioneer Congregational United Church of Christ at 2700 L St.

The concert will take place Friday, March 31, at 7 p.m. To be included in the roster of singers, email Music Director Elliot Jones at musicdirector@pioneerucc.org. For information, visit pioneerucc.org.

Jessica Laskey can be reached at jessrlaskey@gmail.com. Submissions are due six weeks prior to the publication month. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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