Picture putting a paper bag over your head and trying to land a C-124, four-engine cargo plane in Iceland, in the middle of winter, with two engines down.
“It’s called ‘zero-zero visibility,’ said retired Air Force Lt. Col. Robert J. McMurry, 96, who actually pulled off that landing and many other nail-biting missions during his 24-year career as an enlisted aviator.
McMurry and his daughter, Gail Spelis have co-authored his memoir, Proud Pilot: A True Story of Family, Wartime and Survival Against the Odds, which traverses his childhood in Omaha, Nebraska, the middle and teenage years in the Bay Area, the events that led to in his enlistment and all things in between. Several chapters are devoted to the many white-knuckle experiences McMurry endured while serving in the air force, including that 1956 mission to an Icelandic refueling station, which he calls “the most harrowing of all.”
Seven years in the making, Spelis says the decision to help co-author her father’s memoir was divinely inspired, but as is the case with many of the close-call stories in the book, its fruition also had a lot to do with timing.
“I had heard my dad tell stories all my life about being a service pilot and I’d always wanted to write this book,” Spelis said. When the economy soured in 2008, her family real estate company took a heavy blow, which put her at a personal crossroads. “The recession came along and I did not know which direction to turn. I was at my desk, praying for guidance and I asked God to show me what he wanted me to do next.”
The creative spirit, says Spelis, came to her almost immediately, however, she began writing a very different book. “It was flowing out of me faster than I could keep up with,” she said. A short time later, as her father was recounting stories during a family reunion, it hit her: “dad’s memoir” was the book she needed to be working on.
“I knew that was it,” said Spelis. “I had my direction and I wanted to honor dad by writing this book to help give his life meaning and purpose,” Spelis said.
More than 50 years had lapsed between the military and the memoir, published in 2015. McMurry was 87 when they began the writing. Between the air force and civilian pilot employment, he clocked some 33,000 hours in the air. He’d survived cancer and other illnesses, and experienced the death of his wife, Jeanne in 2012 after 69 years of marriage.
But memory had a will, and through it all McMurry’s memory had a mission of its own. He is, after all, a member Mensa and, to keep his mind sharp, he works the crossword puzzle every morning. In ink.
“There’s nothing wrong with his memory,” said Spelis, who says she wrote as her father dictated. “I’d ask dad to start in and remember the next thing, and he’d just sit back, close his eyes, put his fingers on his forehead and he’d go right there.”
As a young man, McMurry wanted to be a professional trumpet player. In high school he had his own band, which even backed up a fledgling entertainer and former Burlingame High School alum, singer, TV personality and media mogul, Merv Griffin. “I was never really great at it,” recalls McMurry. “It was frustrating. All artists want to be great at what they do.”
Then, World War II broke out and, as an enlisted member of the National Guard, McMurry was called to active duty on March 3, 1941. Two months in, he found the hours of pulling army caissons and cannons over unforgiving terrain on horseback and sleeping on the ground nothing short of miserable. When a notice was posted announcing pilot training exams, McMurry jumped at the opportunity. He was the only member of his company to pass.
“World War II changed everything for me,” McMurry said.
Spelis said the core of the book was “on paper” in about six months, however, the collection of photos, editing and other finishing touches took seven years. Her passion for her father’s work and their unshakable bond, they both agree, made this “labor of love” a reality.”
“I could not be more proud of Gail, and I enjoyed the whole process,” said McMurry. “We worked for hours every day. We would get tired, and sometimes we’d even forget to eat.”
Proud Pilot, a True Store of Family, Wartime and survival against the Odds, is available online at: www.gailspelisauthor.com/product-page/book
The Sacramento County Planning Commission, Board of Supervisors, city officials and the region’s top law enforcement representative are beginning to plant the seeds for both complying with and addressing potential impacts from the legalization of marijuana under the passage of Proposition 64 in November.
On Monday, March 27, the County Planning Commission will be finalizing recommendations for zoning changes that, if adopted by the full board of supervisors at its April 11 meeting, will officially ban all commercial sales of marijuana in the county, effectively criminalizing the establishment of so-called pot dispensaries, as well as pot sales through delivery services, commercial growing, and other means. It’s a bolstering of laws already in place, but necessary for the county as other changes under the law take effect.
In addition, the full board of supervisors will be discussing cleanup language for existing zoning laws now governing medicinal marijuana use and cultivation in private residences in order to bring county codes into compliance with laws now permitting the recreational use and cultivation of marijuana under the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA).
With its passage, the law makes it legal for all adults 21 and over to now grow up to nine pot plans inside a private residence or accessory unit, such as a small green house. The county previously amended zoning laws to allow for the personal use and cultivation of medicinal marijuana, however existing “permissive zoning” code on recreational pot use and cultivation still prohibits it.
“We’ll be taking up the zone amendment and talking about clean up language in order to come into compliance with the new law and take measures to deal with commercial marijuana use and growing,” said County Supervisor Sue Frost.
The AUMA puts the state of California in charge of governing the licensing process for commercial cultivation and sale of marijuana and it has until January 1, 2018 to accept applications for that process. The state, however, is leaving it up to the local municipalities to adopt and enforce local ordinances aimed at either regulating or, if they chose to, as Sacramento has, prohibit all commercial marijuana sales “activities.”
Once zoning code amendments are in place, the county supervisors will also likely have to contend with the thorny issue of compliance with the new law and enforcement of violations and related crime as they may or may not come into conflict with laws set by the federal government, which still classifies marijuana as an illegal Class 1 controlled substance.
“I can only speak for myself, but we may be having conversations at some point about crime and other issues, and I want to proceed very carefully because we do not jeopardize the funding we get for several programs from the federal government,” Frost said. “Marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance and is still illegal as far as the federal government is concerned.”
That said, Frost added she has also begun talking with local law enforcement about the likely future impact on local crime and other issues by the legalization of commercial marijuana sales in other counties.
“It’s bound to spill over,” said Frost. “But, I’m from Citrus Heights, and here we weigh out all of our options very carefully before we make any decisions. That same principal will apply here as far as I’m concerned. I can’t speak for the entire board, but that’s my approach.”
Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said she has already made it clear she sees a through line between the passage of Prop. 64 and Prop. 57, which allowed for the early release of some convicted felons on incarcerated for what are considered “lesser crimes,” many drug- and alcohol-related, and the potential myriad problems to come with the new laws on pot use in the state.
“I’m planning to be there at the meeting on the 11th to make sure the board of supervisors understands all of our concerns about what this passage means with respect to crime,” said Schubert. “What this law effectively does is not only makes it a misdemeanor for having just a little over the limit, but it’s still just a flat misdemeanor even if you are caught growing mass quantities over the limit.”
In addition, said Schubert, there are the potential side-effects impacting community services and its residents, including a likely uptick in the number of DUIs on marijuana, underage use of marijuana, emergency room visits, car accidents, and spikes in crime.
“I am concerned about crime going up, I’m concerned about hospital visits going up due to accidents, the number of DUI offences under the influence of marijuana going up, and all the things that relate to that,” Schubert said. “Now, we are going to comply with the laws are they are written, but we also want to figure out how we are going to effectively plan for these other issues going forward.”
A mid-day deluge and lightning storm couldn’t stop the FLC women’s softball team from playing their scheduled game at Sacramento City College on Tuesday afternoon, although the Panthers came out on top 7-3. Falcon shortstop McKenna Rickles continued her hot hitting as she became the first Falcon softball player to hit two home runs in one game, accounting for all three FLC runs. The Falcons took a 2-1 lead on the first of Rickles’ homers in the third inning, but the Panthers quickly responded with four runs in their half of the inning. Rickles’ solo homer in the seventh - her third hit of the day – raised her team-leading batting average to .392. Two Big 8 teams desperate for a win - each with just one conference victory thus far in 2017 - squared off in Santa Rosa on last Saturday as the Falcons visited the Bear Cubs for an afternoon doubleheader. It couldn’t have started out worse for the Falcons as they gave up seven runs in each of the first two innings, ultimately losing the opener 15-6. The Falcon bats finally came to life in the fourth and fifth innings as they scored six runs, but the early 14 run deficit was too much to overcome. McKenna Rickles had two hits, collected two RBI, and stole a base as the Falcons’ offensive star of the game.
Rickles took the mound for the Falcons in the late game, and after the Falcons took a 1-0 lead in the first, things were looking positive for the visitors. But as has been the case, one error led to more mistakes and the Bear Cubs took full advantage, scoring five runs in the second inning. Rickles settled down and shut them out the rest of the way, but despite her second multi-hit offensive game of the day, the Falcons only tallied one more run as they lost 5-2. The Falcons hope to right the ship on Tuesday, when they’re scheduled to visit Sacramento City at 3:00 pm.
The Saturday afternoon finale of the three-game series with Santa Rosa started out well for the Falcons as they took a first-inning 2-0 lead. But things quickly turned ugly as the Bear Cubs capitalized on five doubles, three singles, three hit batters, and a passed ball to score 10 runs – all in the second inning. To their credit, the Falcons didn’t fold as they rallied to score six more runs over the next five innings. Carson McCusker smashed his eighth home run of the season in the sixth inning, a two-run shot that landed on the middle of the track, having completely cleared the protective screen in left field. The 15-8 final score was reflective of the type of season it has been thus far for the Falcons: lots of hitting and decent run support, but the pitching has been far from reliable. The team ERA in nine conference games is 7.96, meaning they’re allowing nearly 8 earned runs per game. With three games against Modesto (7-11 overall, 3-3 in Big 8) this week, the Falcons hope to turn things around.
Upcoming Sports Schedule
Fri March 24 M/W Tennis – Big 8 Playoffs TBD
Sat March 25 Softball vs Sierra at FLC, 12:00 and 2:00 pm
Baseball at Modesto, 1:00 pm
The Institute of Museum and Library Services has announced that Sacramento Public Library is among the 30 finalists for the 2017 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community. For 23 years, the award has celebrated institutions that demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service and are making a difference for individuals, families and communities.
“The 2017 National Medal Finalists represent the leading museums and libraries that serve as catalysts for change in their communities,” said Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “It is our honor to recognize 30 notable institutions for their commitment to providing programs and services that improve the lives of individuals, families and communities. We salute them and their valuable work in providing educational opportunities to their community and celebrate the power libraries and museums can have across the country.”
Finalists are chosen because of their significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. IMLS is encouraging community members who visited Sacramento Public Library to share their story on the IMLS Facebook page. To Share Your Story and learn more about how these institutions make an impact, please visit www.facebook.com/USIMLS.
The National Medal winners will be announced later this spring. The representatives from winning institutions will travel to Washington, D.C. to be honored at the National Medal award ceremony.
To see the full list of finalists and learn more about the National Medal, visit www.imls.gov/2017-medals.
Source: Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Sacramento, CA (MPG) - Along partisan lines, Senate Democrats passed two legislative proposals that would make California a safe haven for convicted felons who are in the country illegally and provide free legal service for them.
Former chairman of California’s state parole board, Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama), and sheriffs across the state denounced the Democrat-controlled legislature’s actions.
“How many more lives have to be harmed before Sacramento politicians wake up and realize these policies are dangerous for our communities?” said Senator Nielsen. Nielsen represents the families of two sheriff’s deputies killed in the line of duty by a convicted criminal who was deported twice for committing several crimes, for membership in a drug cartel, and for entering the country illegally. “This is not about immigration; this is about enabling criminal behavior and activity that endangers our citizens.”
The California State Sheriffs’ Association stated in their letter to the author, “This bill creates a severe public safety problem.”
Specifically, Senate Bill 54 (De León), is a legislative proposal that would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies, school police and security departments from sharing information about criminals with federal officials.
The second measure Senate Bill 6 (Hueso) would provide free legal services to arrested individuals. SB 6 takes general fund monies from programs like scholarships for college students to give to organizations to defend criminals.
“California leaders must protect the safety of our citizens from convicted felons who are here illegally – not hire lawyers for them,” said Senator Nielsen.
To contact Senator Nielsen, please call him at 916.651.4004, or via email at email@example.com.
Women’s History Month celebrates the vital role of women in American history. The vibrancy and legacy of women past and present unifies and nourishes our collective whole as we march onward towards fundamental human equality.
Lieutenant Lynn Balmer, born September 12, 1907, on the family homestead in Plumas, California, has seen history unfold before her eyes and is creating a bit of history herself. At 109 years old, Lt. Balmer is the oldest living female veteran in the United States. She is the second oldest veteran in the United States (Corporal Richard Overton of Austin, Texas is the oldest veteran at 110 years old).
After WWII started, Lynn Balmer joined the military, “to free a man for active duty.” She served in the U.S. Coast Guard and achieved the rank of Lieutenant (junior grade) LTJG. Lt. Balmer secured a top-secret clearance and worked in Military Intelligence. Using her keen mathematical abilities, she read and interpreted weather maps and charts and used morse code to help ships navigate through dangerous waters and adverse weather conditions between the United States and England.
Prior to her military service, Lt. Balmer was an elementary school teacher, teaching her first class in 1927. She later taught mathematics to high school students. In 1943, her passion for teaching and love for her students, (having no children, she treated each and every child as her own) gave way to her patriotism and love of country when she enlisted in the U. S. Coast Guard.
Yes, Lt. Balmer entered two noble professions and gave of her immense talents whole heartedly.
Between the years of 1946 and 1967 she attended the University of Washington part time, taught mathematics to junior high school students, volunteered at a children’s orthopedic hospital, and was a professional skater to boot! She retired and moved to Chico, California, in the late 1990s with her husband, Charles (now deceased). At 109 years old, she presently lives comfortably in an assisted living facility in Chico, adored by her loving family.
Lynn Balmer’s passion for life lives on. She tells stories about living through World War 1, living through the nationwide flu epidemic in 1918 by wearing bags of asafetida around her neck to school, living through the Great Depression, and when there were shortages of grain and sugar, feeling very lucky that her father had bees so their family of nine children had honey.
The Women’s Suffrage movement was going strong in her childhood and when Lynn was 18 years old, she remembers that her mother got to vote for the first time in her life during the 1920 election. When Lynn became of legal age, she, too, proudly exercised her right to vote and encourages all women, young and old, to exercise their hard-earned right to vote.
Lt. Balmer’s deep love of country and patriotism still flourishes. As a veteran, she is a member of our nation’s largest veterans service organization, the American Legion. She is a lifetime member of American Legion Post 709, Rancho Cordova, where her nephew, Sgt. Ken Hicks, U.S. Air force veteran, is Historian. On her 108th birthday, she was recognized by American Legion Post 709 as the oldest living female member of the American Legion. (See photograph.)
She is also a lifetime member of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 637, Citrus Heights, California, where her Great-niece, Brenda Hicks Sheriff is President, and Virginia Hicks (Sgt. Hick’s wife and Brenda’s mother) is Treasurer.
On September 12, 2017, Lt. Lynn Balmer will celebrate her 110th birthday. She did not, and does not, let life pass her by. She still has richness of character, strength, gentleness, and her pioneer spirit.
During Women’s History Month, it is only fitting we pay special tribute to Lt. Balmer during her golden years and reflect upon and celebrate the lives of famous women pioneers and leaders in our history, as well as celebrate the unsung woman heroes of our daily lives.
Source: Sheila LaPolla Historian, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 383, Fair Oaks, CA
The Sacramento River Cats are excited to announce a cross-level scrimmage against the San Jose Giants, the class-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. The two teams will go head-to-head in a scrimmage at Raley Field on Wednesday, April 5, just one day before Sacramento’s Opening Day. Tickets for the game start at just $5 and are available now at www.rivercats.com.
This pre-season scrimmage is an extension of Spring Training and is likely to feature many of San Francisco’s top prospects. Christian Arroyo and Tyler Beede – the system’s top two prospects – are expected to take the field for the River Cats while 2016 first-round pick Bryan Reynolds (No. 4 prospect) may start for the San Jose squad. Other prospects likely to be involved in the game include Joan Gregorio (No. 7), Jalen Miller (No. 15), Heath Quinn (No. 17), and Sacramento fan-favorite Austin Slater (No. 22).
First pitch on Wednesday, April 5 at Raley Field is set for 6:05 pm. Gates for the game will open at 5:00 pm with parking lots to open at 4:30 pm. Parking will be $5.
General admission tickets start at just $5. There will be a $10 ticket option which includes a general admission ticket, a hot dog, chips, and a soda. Tickets can be purchased online at www.rivercats.com.
All River Cats season ticket members will have tickets to the exhibition game included with their plan. For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (916) 376-HITS (4487).
East Sacramento CHP and Rancho Cordova PD are requesting public assistance with identifying a possible hit and run vehicle involved in a fatal collision on February 23, 2017, at approximately 8:13 pm. The collision occurred on northbound Sunrise Boulevard north of Coloma Road. The make and model of the vehicle has been identified as a 2002-2009 Dodge RAM 1500, equipped with a light colored or metallic toolbox, mounted directly behind the cab.
The driver of the pickup may be a white or Hispanic male, approximately 5'08" to 6'00" tall, between 190 and 225 pounds. At the time, the driver was wearing blue jeans and a bright colored hoody style sweater, according to CHP Public Information Officer Tommy Riggin.
For CHP-provided video of the suspect, click here: https://cfs.chp.ca.gov/cfs/public.php?service=files&t=d6f342dd9ad5772d146ac9fcb06a5374&download
If anyone has any information regarding the identity of the driver and/or vehicle, please contact the East Sacramento CHP Area Office at (916) 464-1450, or the public information officer at (916) 802-5372.
"Any assistance that you can provide is greatly appreciated," said Riggin.
A delegation of 18 members of the Sacramento Presbytery, ages 14 to over 70, spent spring break volunteering in Nicaragua. The team is a part of an ongoing partnership with CEPAD, an Ecumenical, Not for Profit serving the people of Nicaragua by building schools and supporting sustainability in its villages.
The volunteer team began their service at a CEPAD School in the colonial city of León. The team painted three classrooms but the highlight was presenting the school with 18 laptop computers generously donated by members of Davis Community Church.
“When the computers were first presented, there was a lot of confused chatter,” stated Rev. Jeanie Shaw, pastor of Eventide Community − a sister church to Grace Presbyterian in Sacramento − and mission trip leader, “the students had never seen a laptop before. After a student yelled out, 'Computadora,' [computers!] the whole assembly erupted in gleeful pandemonium.”
“Nicaragua is the second poorest country in our hemisphere,” said Dr. Grace Chou of Tahoe Donner and a mission volunteer, “and to empower these students with technology was the gift of a lifetime.” Dr. Chou also took the task of installing the computers for the school.
The team then visited the District of San Fransico Libre, a high desert region that ranks the poorest in the Nicaraguan. They visited the small village of Las Huertas where the entire village gathered at the home of their community leader and welcomed us.
“The village is comprised of only 29 families,” Pastor Shaw describes. “Their one and two room houses are handmade of adobe or cement blocks. Cooking is done over firewood in outdoor clay ovens. Floors are just packed earth.”
The village has no refrigeration or running water. Electricity was only introduced last year. And domestic animals roam freely everywhere; cows, chickens, turkeys, pigs, and dogs. Cattle are driven down the road twice a day led by men on horseback. Oxcarts take loads of firewood to sell into other nearby villages. But everything is clean in Las Huertas, dirt yards swept every day at dawn.
The leaders of the village had chosen water collection as the primary project this year and the Truckee team provided 8 families with large cisterns, tubing for gutters on the houses and plastic sheeting for a large catch pond for collecting water during the rainy season. The team also provided tools for the village and together with the villagers, dug out the collecting ponds.
As a pilot project, the team also brought five solar ovens and demonstrated how they worked to the villagers.
“There was real excitement when they learned that their rice would never burn again,” Shaw said.
“Nicaragua is a culture with beautiful formality,” Dr. Chou observed. “We were presented with beautiful, yet formal, welcome speeches and prayers.”
Spencer Edmundson and Jack and Tiege Wright of Truckee gave the Nicaraguan youth enough baseball equipment for the whole village and a game immediately got underway. Baseball is their national past time and the boys were quickly led to a sugar cane field where the villagers, wielding machetes, cut down the cane to make a baseball diamond. Ash from fire pits were spread to mark the lines and they yelled, “¡Jugar a la pelota!” [Play Ball!] Teams were chosen, and our youth pitched and their youth batted the balls skyward (almost lost in the sugarcane). Afterward, the laughter and high fives between teams needed no translation.
“We come from two different countries,” Shaw said in a formal thank you, “but we are all Americans − North Americans and South Americans. And most importantly, we are all one in Christ.”
The Mission Team shared their reflections of their experience on Sunday, March 12th at Eventide Community within the Fellowship Hall of the Arden Christian Church in Sacramento.
Each year members of local communities gather together to participate in the Relay for Life, sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Each event has a local coordinator. The American River Relay for Life is coordinated by Tamika Stove. Stove first became involved with Relay for Life as a volunteer, but found it so rewarding that she stayed with it and now works year-round to promote the event.
Describing herself as “easy going and caffeinated,” Stove puts in long days working for the American Cancer Society, but finds time to be part of Rotary Club and the Citrus Heights Chamber of Commerce, where she has served both as a Chamber ambassador and as a board member. Her passion for community service is simply part of who she is. Being involved is the way she lives her life. “I feel like I’m part of the world around me,” she said of her work. “It makes me feel good. That’s a powerful thing.”
Relay for Life began in 1985 when Tacoma, Washington doctor Gordon Klatt walked and ran over 80 miles around a track in a single 24-hour period. Today’s relays last between six and 24 hours. Dr. Klatt’s desire was to raise money to aid the American Cancer Society (ACS) in their quest for a cure.
Following Dr. Klatt’s example, the ACS continues to utilize monies raised by the event to fund cancer research, services for the public and cancer patients, speakers and more, all as part of their mission to find a cure and increase awareness about this disease that touches so many around the world.
Stove puts a year into planning each Relay for Life event. She does constant community outreach, happily taking time to answer questions, provide support and recruit volunteers. There are ample opportunities for involvement, she says, and no matter the size of the contribution, whether in the form of time or money, she is enthusiastic, grateful and gracious to have all the help she can get.
Relay for Life relies on all forms of help from the community. There are corporate sponsors of all sizes, from small businesses to large firms. Volunteers can form teams to walk during the event to show support or individuals can show up the day of the event and help with something simple, such as handing out bottled water or setting up the event’s famous luminarias.
Each Relay for Life is a public event and open to all, per Stove. Her ongoing challenges of recruiting volunteers, plus the planning and execution of each Relay, do not deter her in the least. She began her work with the Relay for Life as an ordinary volunteer, donating about an hour a week to making phone calls and distributing flyers.
Her deep commitment to community involvement was fostered early in life. Growing up as the daughter of a dad serving in the United States Air Force, Stove learned about dedication and working for the public good. As a “military brat,” she also became accustomed to moving and finding her place in her new communities. “It helped me value relationships,” she said. Stove works hard to foster those relationships each day in dealing with the public and spreading the word about Relay for Life and the mission of the ACS.
This year’s American River Relay for Life will be held April 22- 23, beginning at 9 a.m. and lasting 24 hours. The event will be hosted at San Juan High School at 7551 Greenback Lane in Citrus Heights and begin with Opening Ceremonies, followed by a Survivor Lap for anyone having been diagnosed, a Caregiver Lap and then by teams on the track. Each time keeps a member on the track always because, as the ACS says, “Cancer never sleeps.” When participants are not on the track there are games, entertainment and activities provided to promote awareness and education about the fight against cancer. Nightfall signals the lighting of the luminaria45s to commemorate the lives that have been lost and celebrate those who have survived cancer, as well as to provide a literal light in the darkness and remind people they are not alone when it comes to this disease. The Relay wraps up with recognizing the work of the volunteers themselves.
For more information on this year’s American Rive Relay for Life, contact Tamika Stove at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the American Cancer Society’s website at www.acsevents.org.