Vision Test for Pre-Schoolers

Story and Photos by Steve Liddick  |  2016-06-24

Public health nurse Kiyo Sato shows pre-school children at the Edward Kelley School in Rancho Cordova her Blackbird Screening System tools. They include cardboard glasses with flaps that allow a child to see a flash card one eye at a time. --Photo by Steve Liddick.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that three-percent of children in the U.S. suffer from amblyopia (lazy eye). If not corrected by the age of four, it is often irreversible. The organization’s survey further reports that only 25-percent of preschool children receive vision testing of any kind.

How do you check the vision of a small child who has not yet developed communication skills and has the attention span of a butterfly?

In 1975 Kiyo Sato had tried everything she could find to test the vision of children from three to five-years-old. “Nothing was working,” she said. “Nothing I could find on the market.” The standard eye test uses letters preschoolers have not yet learned and images they may not be able to identify.

So the public health nurse took matters into her own hands. She invented the Blackbird Vision Screening System. Kiyo’s method starts out by the telling an interesting story about blackbirds swooping back and forth, up and down. Then she incorporates the animated tale with a series of flash cards with the image of a blackbird in flight to determine whether a child has a vision deficiency.

The subject sits exactly 20-feet away from the tester. They wear cardboard glasses with flaps that allow them to see out of each eye separately. As the images shown get progressively smaller, the child indicates the direction the blackbird is flying: up, down, left or right. In that way the tester is able to determine whether the child needs corrective lenses.

Enthusiastic youthful bystanders often get into the procedure. “Up,” shouts one youngster.

“It’s Kaspar’s turn,” their teacher said. “You’ll get your chance.”

“The children have fun doing it,” Kiyo said. “Also, they are trying to get my attention.”

Indeed, Kiyo Sato has that special way of relating to young people. They like and trust her. “They know me as a friend and share personal things with me,” she said. “There is an openness that is so remarkable and I enjoy that.”

Of the 16 children tested at a recent session, two youngsters, or approximately 12-percent of the group, were found to suffer from amblyopia and would need medical attention to correct the lazy eye condition.

In the four decades since Kiyo’s original inspiration she has used her system to test thousands of children.

As successful as the program has been in weeding out vision problems among the young, it has not attracted the interest of institutions such as the World Health Organization, which uses old standard testing programs that are ineffective for children as young as those who have benefitted from the Blackbird system. A letter in response to a recommendation to the agency about Blackbird said, “We are well covered for vision screening.”

On this day, Kiyo Sato has set up at the historic Edward Kelley School on Bradshaw Boulevard in Rancho Cordova. The school was built in 1869 and has been in service ever since, although it is now a pre-school facility.

Ironically, the school is where Kiyo, herself, got her early education. She attended from 1930 to 1937. “It was the best education I got in my whole life,” she said, standing on the very stage where she received her eighth grade graduation diploma 79 years ago.

The years since have been a long, hard journey: Kiyo was incarcerated with all west coast Japanese-Americans during World War II, became a registered nurse, raised four adopted children on her own, invented the Blackbird System, wrote a book about her family’s imprisonment (Kiyo's Story: A Japanese-American Family's Quest for the American Dream), and continues, at the age of 92, as one of the oldest active nurses in the nation.

For more information about the Blackbird Vision Screening System, go to:

Sheriff Takes Aim at Criminal Justice Realignment

Story and Photos by Margaret Snider  |  2016-06-24

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones (left), with Jane Toff of Toastmasters International and Kyle Macdonald, Jones’s campaign manager in his bid for Congress.

As guest speaker at the Rancho Cordova luncheon on June 17, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones spoke bluntly. “In my entire career I have never seen the criminal justice system or public safety challenged as much as it is right now,” Jones said. “It’s been a sequence of events and mindsets that transitioned us to where we are.”

Going back to realignment in the 2011 time-frame, Jones said, the Supreme Court insisted the State prison system must reduce the prison population by a certain number by a certain date. “There are really only two ways to reduce prison population,” Jones said. “You close the front door, or you open the back door.”

The State’s efforts to respond to the court’s ultimatum resulted in realignment and Proposition 47. Closing the front door left criminals on the street, their felonies changed to misdemeanors, and prisoners were sent to County jails instead of State prisons. Opening the back door resulted in more criminals receiving early release. Titled the safe neighborhoods and schools act, Proposition 47 had nothing to do with safe neighborhoods and schools, Jones said. “I believe Prop 47 was the worst piece of public safety legislation in my lifetime. We’re going to be feeling the effects of that for a long, long time.”

Jane Taff, club growth director for Toastmasters International, agreed with much of Jones’s talk.  “We are not being told the whole truth about propositions that are placed on the ballot or the effects of (the Governor’s) executive orders,” Taff said.

Jones thought of running for Congress only after the 2014 murder of Sacramento Deputy Danny Oliver. The alleged perpetrator was in the country illegally, had been convicted in Arizona of selling drugs, and had been deported multiple times. Jones’s video plea for immigration reform to President Obama went viral on YouTube. “I realized that I could throw rocks from afar as much as I want,” Jones said, “but unless I get in the ring and actually get my knuckles bloody, then there’s nothing I could do for Sacramento for the things that I wanted to change.”

Rancho Cordova’s Chief of Police, Michael Goold, said that Jones would bring a unique viewpoint to Congress, “able to provide firsthand knowledge of the challenges we face on the local level and what we need to succeed in providing community based policing.”

...

Officer Involved Shooting in Carmichael

Source: Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department  |  2016-06-24

At 11:00 p.m. on June 18, 2016, a Sheriff’s deputy observed a vehicle driving erratically in the area of El Camino Avenue and Walnut Avenue in Carmichael. The deputy attempted to pull over the suspect vehicle when a pursuit ensued. The pursuit continued for approximately four to five minutes, with the suspect vehicle reaching speeds of up to 60 miles per hour in residential areas.

The suspect turned south on Horton Lane south of Sutter Avenue. The roadway turned into a dead end, where deputies exited their car and gave commands for the suspect to exit the vehicle. The suspect then put his car in reverse and began to accelerate. A deputy fearing for the safety of the officers behind the suspect’s vehicle discharged his firearm at the suspect. The suspect sustained gunshot wounds and was taken out of his vehicle. Deputies immediately began life saving measures. Sacramento Metro Fire responded and pronounced the suspect deceased at the scene.

The identity of the suspect in this case will be made available by the Sacramento County Coroner’s office, after notification has been made to his next of kin.

The investigation into the incident will be conducted by the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau and Professional Standards Division, which is standard practice for any officer-involved shooting that occurs in the Sheriff’s Department’s jurisdiction. The deputy involved in the shooting is a 12 year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department. In accordance with the Sheriff’s Department policies and procedures, the deputy involved in the shooting will be placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation. The deputy is currently assigned to the field services division.

...

New Raley’s Supermarket Under Construction

Story and Photos by Steve Liddick  |  2016-06-22

Workers are currently installing drainage tiles at the new Raley’s complex on the southwest corner of Sunrise Boulevard and Douglas Boulevard in Rancho Cordova. The projected date for the grand opening of the complex is sometime in mid 2017.

What had been a steep, sloping, weedy, 13.5-acre plot on the southwest corner of Sunrise Boulevard and Douglas Boulevard in Rancho Cordova is slowly transforming into a complex that will include a Raley’s supermarket and assorted stores-to-be-named-later.

As far as what those other future stores will be, “It’s premature,” said Audrey Rhoads, Vice President of Marketing for Donahue Schriber, the Costa Mesa, California company developing the project. “We have a team working on it.”

In the past month, monster earth moving machines have leveled the land in preparation for construction of a 40,000-square-foot supermarket under the West Sacramento-based corporation’s Raley’s banner.

“Who’s in charge of the project,” one yellow hard-hatted worker at the site was asked.

“Not me,” he said. “I’m the sewer guy. Try that guy over there in the white pickup truck.”

“Not me,” the pickup truck man said. “I’m the water guy. Try that guy up on the dirt pile. The one with the white hat . . . and the clean clothes.”

Dirty clothes, it seems, is a badge of honor, and cleanliness is next to idleness.

The man with clean clothes was not the boss either. He was the storm drain guy.

The frustrating search for an overall supervisor to talk to about the project from among the 25-to-30 subcontractors employing hundreds of workers illustrates the enormous number of elements involved in developing something this large.

Rancho Cordova Public Works City Inspector Mike Robinson is at the site every day, making sure everything is up to code.

“Right now they’re doing all the ‘wet’ projects: sewer, water and storm drains,” Robinson said. “Next they will do the ‘dry’ work: gas, electrical, phone, etc.”

Only when the infrastructure is completed will building begin.

Before the projected mid-2017 target date the project will have involved dozens of subcontracting companies and hundreds of workers. Not to mention the permanent employees after the stores are completed and staffed.

“Raley will provide about 50 new jobs,” Audrey Rhoads said. “And that is an extremely conservative number.”

The Walgreens drugstore that abuts the Raley’s property stocks some groceries, although not on a scale . . . or at prices . . . that a full-blown supermarket will be able to offer. Currently, the nearest store for area food shoppers is many miles away, so Raley’s will be perfectly positioned to dominate the market. It will be a convenience for residents of the adjacent Anatolia housing complex and for commuters passing by on their way to and from Elk Grove, Sloughhouse, and Rancho Murieta. It will also bring a significant amount of real estate and sales tax money into the Rancho Cordova treasury.

The proposed grand opening next year depends, of course, on cooperative weather and if all the sub-contractors are able to complete their individual parts in the process on schedule.

...

Cordova High Grad Receives Special Award

By Zak Ford, Folsom Cordova School Board Vice President  |  2016-06-22

Karen Buenrostro Contreras, a recent graduate of Cordova High, receives the Daniel Campbell Award from Zak Ford. 
--Photo courtesy of Zak Ford

Once again, I received many great applications this year!  I wish I had the resources to provide all applicants with a scholarship.  This year’s honoree of the Daniel Campbell Award is Karen Buenrostro Contreras, a recent graduate of Cordova High.

Karen is a very impressive young woman.  She impressed me with a great essay about one of her family members who has made many sacrifices to provide her with educational opportunities.  Karen is a great student with a 3.84 GPA.  She was involved in student government and received a “Seal of Biliteracy” in Spanish.  However, her resume goes well beyond just academic success. 

In addition to her academic success, she has been very active in the Rancho Cordova community.  She was president of Cordova High’s Interact Club, a community service club affiliated with Rotary.  She was also involved in Cordova High’s Link Crew (guidance provider for incoming students), the Spanish Youth Group at St. John Vianney, and Youth at City Council.

Karen is considering a career in medicine and is currently a summer intern at Kaiser Permanente.  She will be attending UC Santa Barbara in the fall.

In 2011, I established the Daniel Campbell Ford Scholarship in honor of my great-grandfather, Daniel Campbell Ford.  My great-grandfather made tremendous sacrifices to provide opportunities for his family and through the scholarship, I aim to grow student appreciation for those who made sacrifices for them.

The Daniel Campbell Ford Scholarship is awarded annually to two Folsom Cordova USD graduating seniors planning to continue their education at a two-year or four-year college or university. One student is awarded the scholarship from the Rancho Cordova community and one student is awarded the scholarship from the Folsom community. The award amount per student is $1,000.

More background information on the scholarship can be found at

...

Charity Begins at Home

Story and Photo by Shelly Lembke  |  2016-06-22

Cordova Community Food Locker Manager Gregg B. Huestis (left) receives a donation check from event planner Randall Wilhite (right).

Rancho Cordovan Randall Wilhite knows a thing or two about his hometown and what makes it tick. One of those things is the Cordova Community Food Locker.  Operating from St. John Vianney Catholic Church, the Food Locker works hard year round to distribute its goods to those who otherwise would go hungry. Wilhite recently put together a charity event to benefit the Food Locker, resulting in donations of nearly $600.

The first annual “BBQ & Brews” free event featured products from local businesses, grocers, breweries and more. Wilhite and his brother Gerald even participated in a friendly competitive barbeque cook-off. A diplomatic tie resulted, with Gerald receiving honors for best cooking and Randall snagging kudos for his homemade family recipe barbeque sauce.

The Wilhite family has been a local institution for decades, well known for producing stellar athletes who played in local sports such as baseball, football and track before going on to play for colleges and even professional teams, but they have remained true to their Rancho Cordova roots.

Wilhite credits his mother, Gene, a long-time Rancho resident for his upbringing and nurturing his strong family ties and desire to do good works. Now a veteran professional events planner, Wilhite makes sure he incorporates charitable actions into his events in order to give back to the community. He already is at work on upcoming events such as the Rancho Cordova Taste Festival.

“This is about culinary diversity,” said Wilhite. “It’s about showcasing what’s in the City.” Area chefs from food trucks to restaurants will be offering samples of their best products. The event will feature appearances by local personalities, live music and more. Admission to the public is free and taste tickets will be available for purchase.

As for the funds raised for the Cordova Community Food Locker, they will likely go toward meeting the group’s holiday giveaway, a period of great local demand. To make or receive donations, contact them directly at (916) 364-8973. For information on attending or participating in the June 3 Rancho Cordova Taste Festival, contact Randall Wilhite at (916) 765-5299 or

...

Two Dogs and One Bird Perish in Arden-Area House Fire

Source: Michelle Eidam, Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District  |  2016-06-22

Four fire engines, two trucks, two medics, and two battalion chiefs worked quickly to search for victims, extinguish the fire, and protect nearby homes.

Wednesday, June 15th, around 9:30 this morning, Metro Fire crews were dispatched for a kitchen fire on the 2100 block of Red Robin Lane in the Arden area. Strong winds blowing through windows quickly spread the kitchen fire to the rest of this small house, and fire crews arrived to find a home well-involved with fire.

Four fire engines, two trucks, two medics, and two battalion chiefs worked quickly to search for victims, extinguish the fire, and protect nearby homes. Their strategic fire attack successfully contained the fire to the house of origin, with minimal charring to the exterior of an adjacent home. Firefighters pulled two dogs and one bird out of the fire and attempted to resuscitate them, but they did not survive. The cause of the fire was determined to be unattended cooking, with total damage estimated at $50,000.

Our thoughts go out to the resident who lost her pets and much of her home today.

Cooking remains the number one cause of home fires, causing more injuries than any other type of fire. Knowing what to do can make all the difference. Never leave unattended food cooking on the stove, even for a short time. If you encounter a small grease fire, leave the pan where it is, turn off the heat, and put a lid on it. If you can’t get a lid on the pan, use a fire extinguisher or call 911. For more information, check out

...

Women’s Empowerment Gala Raises $200,000 to Help Homeless

Source: Kristin Thébaud Communications  |  2016-06-22

Women’s Empowerment graduates celebrate at the organization’s 15th Anniversary Gala in May. The event raised $200,000 to help Sacramento homeless women find homes and jobs. 
--Photo by Dylan Tyagi

More than 500 local residents joined with 100 formerly homeless women to raise a recordbreaking $200,000 at Women’s Empowerment’s 15th Anniversary Gala in May. Funds raised will benefit the local nonprofit job training and empowerment program for women who are homeless and their children. The event, which also honored the group’s 1,322 graduates, included opportunities for community members to mingle with graduates who wore evening gowns donated by the community. Guests enjoyed a formal dinner, live and silent auctions, live music and stories from women who are no longer homeless.

“When we started this organization 15 years ago, we never could have dreamed that we would raise $200,000 at this beautiful event that doubles as a way to celebrate all of the amazing women in Sacramento who have broken the cycle of homelessness for their children,” said Lisa Culp, founding executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “The Sacramento community outdid themselves this year in showing their support for local women who are working so hard.”

Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, Women’s Empowerment was recently featured on NBC’s TODAY Show and CNN’s Impact Your World for offering the most comprehensive job-readiness program in the Sacramento area designed specifically for women who are homeless and their children. The 2014 Organization of the Year has graduated 1,322 homeless women and their 2,750 children. Last year, 93 percent of graduates found homes and 83 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 solely through private donations from the community. To donate online:

...

Man Wanted for Four Sacramento Area Bank Robberies

Source: FBI Special Release  |  2016-06-22

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seeks assistance from the public to identify an armed and dangerous individual who has robbed several Sacramento area banks. Thus far, the subject has been linked to four robberies in the Sacramento area:

  • April 25 2016:
    West America Bank
    located at 1610 Arden Way in Sacramento
  • May 29, 2016:
    US Bank
    located at 3320 Arden Way in Sacramento
  • June 11, 2016:
    US Bank
    located at 4040 Manzanita Avenue in Carmichael
  • June 15, 2016:
    Bank of the West
    located at 2581 Fair Oaks Boulevard in Sacramento

The robbery subject is described as an adult male who may be in his 20’s or 30’s. He stands approximately six feet tall with a very slender build. The man has worn a variety of clothing and has concealed his hair or lack thereof by wearing a shoulder-length, red-brown wig or white straw fedora hat that had a band with three alternating stripes. He has also worn glasses with tinted lenses. Photos of this suspect are available on the FBI’s Wanted Bank Robber website:

During the four robberies, the man either brandished a black handgun or threatened a gun before and demanding money from tellers. After receiving money, the subject stowed the funds in a bag. During the April 25, 2016 and May 29, 2016, robberies, the individual used a tan fabric tote with a stiff, round handle. During the June robberies, the man used a royal blue fabric bag.

In addition to the FBI, the bank robberies are being investigated by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department and Sacramento Police Department.

Individuals with information about this man may call their local FBI office or 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-885-5984). Tips may also be submitted online at If the subject is spotted in the community, the public is urged to call 911 and not approach the individual. Wanted fugitives, bank robberies, and other cases in need additional information from the public are posted for viewing on the FBI Sacramento Division’s Most Wanted page.

...

Comfort Kit Drive Needs You

By Sheryl Longsworth  |  2016-06-17

All donations must be new and in unopened packaging. Full-sized items are preferred, but Soroptimist International of Rancho Cordova & Gold River accept trial sizes. 
--Photo courtesy Soroptimist International

Soroptimist International of Rancho Cordova & Gold River is starting their 7th Annual Comfort Kit item collection drive, for local women fleeing domestic abuse. These kits contain basic essentials since many women leave their violent environment with nothing. We will be collecting donation items for the comfort kits June 13-20 at Rancho Cordova City Hall at 2729 Prospect Park Drive Rancho Cordova, 95670 during normal operating hours.

A “Comfort Kit” is a large zippered canvas tote bag filled with a 30-day supply of toiletries and personal care items that most women do not think about packing when they are fleeing from an abusive environment. Soroptimists are filling a need to support these women when they may be afraid, hurt, depressed or suffer from low self-esteem. The kits are designed to help these survivors feel normal and taken care of and also show them that there is a group of women out there who care and provide encouragement. SIRC has been delivering Comfort Kits to WEAVE (Women Escaping A Violent Environment) for the past three years, for distribution at their Sacramento County safe houses. They have grown from delivering 50 bags that first year to 175 kits in 2014.

In 2014 we expanded our program to also providing a drawstring bag containing a toothbrush & paste, brush & comb, small blanket and small stuffed animal as well as a coloring book and crayons, called a Comfort Kid kit for children entering the shelter with their mothers. Children are frequently traumatized when their mothers suddenly take them from the bed or crib often in the middle of the night, to leave their abuser. These children are often forced to leave their toys and items that comfort them behind. The goal of the Comfort Kid kit is to give these children some items of comfort that they can begin their new life with. Donations of items as described for the Comfort Kid kits will also be gratefully accepted.

The club needs things like: toothbrushes & toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, soap, deodorant, shampoo & conditioner, facial tissue, hairbrushes & combs, emery boards, and hand sanitizer. We will also accept things like: hair clips & accessories, body spray/fragrance, small first aid kits or adhesive bandages, journals with pen, pain relievers, skin cleansers/other toiletries, makeup removers/cleansing cloths, cosmetic bags, body & hand lotion, and makeup. All donations must be new and in unopened packaging. Full-sized items are preferred, but will accept trial sizes. Please contact Sheryl Longsworth at with any questions.

The name Soroptimist, means “best for women,” and that’s what the organization strives to achieve. Soroptimists are women at their best, working to help other women to be their best. If you would like more information about Soroptimist International of Rancho Cordova & Gold River, how to become a member or just want to be informed of volunteer opportunities, please visit the club’s website or send email to If you aren’t ready to become a member, but believe in what we are doing, please sign up at

...Read More!