Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain Prepares for Fall Opening

Story by Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-07-11

A rendering of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain. Image provided by Zimmerman Agency

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Opening this fall as Hard Rock’s first Vegas-style casino in California, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain recently announced its top-tier executives. “I’m very impressed with the caliber of experience of our executive team. They have over 200 years of combined gaming experience,” said Mark Birtha, president of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain. “We attracted very capable individuals from around the country.”

“This is the best team I’ve ever been a part of in my entire career. They are all experts in their fields,” said Birtha. “We’re a beacon for the area. Wheatland might not have been on their radar, but now they are excited to build long-term interaction with the community.” The executives will all be relocating to the Greater Sacramento Region and will be working on site in Wheatland every day.

Christopher Balaban, vice president of finance, has an MBA and over 20 years of gaming experience in Las Vegas, Florida, and the Bahamas. In addition to prior VP of finance roles, he led hotel and food and beverage operations, giving him a diverse operational background.

Ryan Flieger, vice president of human resources, has worked with Hard Rock since 2012. He held leadership roles at hotels in San Diego and Las Vegas, and he worked on several Hard Rock expansions. Flieger has experience in talent acquisition and retention, training, and culture setting.

Anika Gaskins, vice president of marketing, has an MBA and was recently the VP of national marketing for MGM Resorts as they opened a new $1 billion casino property. Gaskins has worked in various marketing roles in casinos from Canada to Las Vegas, developing marketing initiatives and increasing revenue.

Paul Mollo, vice president of table games, has almost 40 years of gaming experience and has been working with Hard Rock for more than a decade. Mollo used his expertise to help HBO Productions create authentic scenes of casino gaming on “The Sopranos”.

Matthew Morgan, vice president of information technology, has more than 20 years of experience in gaming technology. He has an MBA, and he has worked in Las Vegas and in local casinos Red Hawk and Thunder Valley. Morgan focuses on bringing mobile products to the casino market.

Will Provance, vice president of slot operations, has more than 20 years of leadership experience in restaurants, entertainment, hotel operations, and casino gaming. He has an executive certificate in customer-driven marketing, an MBA in international hotel and tourism management, and a Master of Science in hotel administration with a concentration on gaming.

Kaywan Samadani, vice president of hospitality, has worked at casinos in Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, Missouri, and Ohio. Samadani has extensive restaurant and casino hospitality experience — working as a chef, director of food and beverages, director of hospitality, and VP of casino services.

Birtha said they will be taking occupancy of the administrative offices, kitchens, security offices, and surveillance and storage areas in early July. Then they’ll start moving in the furniture, equipment, and gaming tables. “Everything is on schedule and on budget,” said Birtha. “Our company has had that vision to stay focused.”

Hard Rock also just launched a social gaming app: Hard Rock Social Casino. “It’s a way to engage loyal Hard Rock followers and allow them to interface with the casino before it opens,” said Birtha. The free “social casino” will give people a taste of the gaming experience on their smart phones, tablets, or computers. Payment is not required to play, and winners earn virtual credits. Players can select Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain as their casino for the chance to win real-world prizes and promotions to use when the casino opens this fall.

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain advertising campaign is also launching soon, with large outdoor billboards, social and digital marketing, and TV and radio ads. Birtha said, “This will be our formal introduction to the region, from Tahoe to San Francisco.” Birtha was also proud to announce some of Hard Rock’s local partners: Toyota Amphitheatre, Sacramento River Cats, Sac Republic FC, and Golden 1 Center.

Birtha said that Hard Rock has a “philanthropy of social engagement” and is committed to hiring local people and building partnerships with local vendors to bring in produce, wine, and art. For information about upcoming hiring and vendor fairs, visit www.hardrockhotelsacramento.com.


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SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CA (MPG) - The County Board of Supervisors will provide $1 million through the 2019 TOT Grant Program to support nonprofit organizations located in Sacramento County that carry out community-based programs and/or services in the areas of economic and workforce development, arts and culture, community development, or health and human services. The County began setting aside funding for this purpose in 2017.

Grants will be allocated through a competitive process and applicants must meet eligibility and funding requirements. Applications will be accepted online beginning July 26 through the County’s Office of Economic Development with a deadline of August 26, 2019.

Funding for the TOT Grant Program will come from County Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) revenues. Transient Occupancy Taxes are levied on guests who occupy rooms in hotels, motels and other temporary lodging accommodations in the unincorporated area of the County.

2019 TOT Grant Program Application Dates & Details

Grant DEADLINE: August 26, 2019, 5 p.m.

Grant Application Period

July 26 – August 26, 2019

All applications and documentation requested in announcement must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on August 26, 2019; Online Applications Only: all applications are only accepted electronically: Apply online beginning July 26; Duplicate and incomplete applications will be disqualified; Applicants will receive electronic receipt notification upon submission.

Grant Program and Application Workshops – 827 7th Street, Community Room

July 24, 2019 at 5:30 – 7 pm

July 26, 2019 at 11:30 am – 1 pm

General Overview of the Grant Program and Process; Application Writing - What the Evaluation Panel Looks For; Review of Timeline and Submission Information; Frequently Asked Questions.

Grant Application Review Period

August 27 – September 3, 2019      

Budget & Debt Management staff will review applications for completeness and compliance with minimum eligibility requirements. Applicants will be notified electronically if proposals meet the minimum qualifications and moved to the evaluation process. Qualifying organizations will receive the Board of Supervisors Hearing schedule where final recommendations and approval will be made in October 2019.

September/October 2019

Subject Area Expert Panel Application Review: Subject area experts will review, evaluate, and rank qualifying applications and may contact organizations with follow-up questions.

Grant Program Hearing Notification: Applicants will receive a second electronic notification of schedule for the Board of Supervisors Hearing where recommended award selections will be made.

Grantee Award Approval

November 2019

The Board of Supervisors will make the final determination and approval for all TOT Grant Program recipients.

Budget & Debt Management will notify applicants of funding selections within five business days of Board Hearing approval. All notifications will be made electronically.

Budget & Debt Management will draft and administer agreements between the County and grantees.

For more information about the grant program, visit the TOT Grant Program website.


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SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - This press release is a summary of the facts known at this time, as this incident is actively being investigated. The information contained in the press release is subject to change. Additional details will be released as they become available.

On Friday, June 28, 2019, agents from the FBI Office in Atlanta, Georgia and detectives from the Sacramento Police Department arrested 59-year-old Mark Manteuffel on multiple charges related to three separate incidents that occurred between 1992 and 1994 in the City of Davis, the County of Sacramento and the City of Sacramento.

The arrest came after a collaborative and extensive investigation with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, the Davis Police Department, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, Yolo County District Attorney’s Office, FBI – Sacramento Field Office, and the Sacramento Police Department.

The Sacramento Police Department encourages any witnesses with information regarding this investigation to contact the Sacramento Police Investigations unit at (916) 808-0650 or Sacramento Valley Crime Stoppers at (916) 443-HELP (4357) or submit an anonymous tip using the free “P3 Tips” smartphone app. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward up to $1,000.

The Mission of the Sacramento Police Department is to work in partnership with the Community to protect life and property, solve neighborhood problems, and enhance the quality of life in our City.


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The Child Abuse Prevention Center and Bikers Against Child Abuse Put Safety First

Story and photos by Trina L. Drotar  |  2019-07-11

Arwa Al-Rakabi – Presley Vasquez – Yesenia Mendoza present Safe Sleep Baby tips.

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - Children’s safety was the focus at this month’s Folsom Cordova Community Partnership’s Connections Café with presentations by Tim Libey of Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A.) and Arwa Al-Rakabi, AmeriCorps Health Educator from The Child Abuse Prevention Center (The Cap Center).

Libey commanded the floor with his smile and stories. Retired from the Air Force, Libey works, he says, to pay the bills so he can do what he loves, what he is passionate about – being involved with B.A.C.A. and empowering children who have been abused.

Child abuse may be physical, sexual, or emotional. It is also neglect. According to statistics listed on The Child Abuse Prevention Center’s website, “half a million children are reported abused in California each year.”

B.A.C.A. “exists with the intent to create a safer environment for abused children.” The group makes itself available to children in several ways and works “in conjunction with local and state officials who are already in place to protect children.”

The 5000 members of the international organization are volunteers and include men and women from all professions, including CEOs and moms. They are motorcycle enthusiasts who care deeply about children. Founded 25 years ago in Provo, Utah by a licensed child therapist, the organization has chapters throughout the United States, in Australia, Sweden, Italy, Iceland, Canada, Greece, and other countries.

Libey shared the founder’s story of bringing friends from his local motorcycle club to meet with a child after obtaining permission from the guardian and the child. They simply hung out with the child, gave rides on the bikes, and let the child know they were there. Prior to the meeting, the child feared going out. After the meeting, the child was able to venture into the world and hang out with friends.

The organization was born when the founder saw that abused children could be empowered by knowing they had people there for them. There is never a cost to the family, and each child receives a backpack with some tangible items to connect to the group. These items include a teddy bear, special nightlight, vest, and fleece blanket and are presented by the group.

Before a local chapter can respond, Libey explained that the abuse must have been reported to a mandated reporter.

Mandated reporters, established under the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA) passed in 1980, are required to report suspected abuse or neglect and normally have regular contact with children. These include child care workers, teachers, firefighters, clergy, public health employees, and a long list of others mandated in California. The list also includes psychological assistants; unlicensed marriage, family, and child therapist interns; and commercial film and photo processors.

If the legal guardian of the child has reported the abuse to a mandated reporter, B.A.C.A. will arrange, with the permission of both guardian and child, to meet the child. If no report was made, the guardian is advised to file one.

Children between three and eighteen are eligible, but they are part of B.A.C.A. for life. Libey shared that a young woman contacted them after she had finished college and met the man she would marry. She did not have anyone to walk her down the aisle. B.A.C.A. responded. They walked her down the aisle and filled her side of the church. She was part of their family.

B.A.C.A. will also, if necessary, escort the child to school or court and will, with the judge’s permission, sit in the court gallery in an effort to empower the child who must face the abuser.

Abuse, said Libey, steals two things from a child – power and choice. Both are given to the child by B.A.C.A., which is on call for the child around the clock, including Christmas mornings.

“These children have the strength in them,” said Libey. “We help them find it.”

He shared an informational video and passed out a copy of a study that had evaluated B.A.C.A.’s services. He also handed out a brochure and explained the symbols. White represents children’s innocence, and the fist represents B.A.C.A.’s commitment to stop child abuse.

Al-Rakabi’s organization also works to protect children. She presented information about a pilot program promoting dental hygiene which includes dental products packets and assistance to Medical recipients to access their Denti-Cal benefits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommendations for hygiene for infants, children, and pregnant women and suggests visiting a dentist by the child’s first birthday.

She also discussed The Cap Center’s Safe Sleep Baby program. From birth to one year, babies should sleep alone, in a crib, and on their backs. Toys and other items should be removed, smoking should never take place around the baby, and the baby should not be overdressed.

Home visits, workshops, and partnering with other agencies like Birth & Beyond are some of the myriad ways they reach families. According to the organization’s website, a baby dies while sleeping every other week in Sacramento County. Half of those babies are African American.

“We try to fight infant sleep related disorders,” said Al-Rakabi.

For additional information, visit www.TheFCCP.org. For additional information about Child Abuse Prevention Council, visit http://www.thecapcenter.org/who/agencies/child-abuse-prevention-council-of-sacramento. For additional information about Bikers Against Child Abuse, visit https://bacaworld.org/ or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuF3WqJUMKc.

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Central Valley Community Bank Expands Into Gold River and Roseville

Megan Washington, Cohen Communications  |  2019-07-11

Jeff Garcia, Vice President and Community Relationship Officer in Gold River of Central Valley Community Bank. Courtesy of Cohen Communications

FRESNO, CA (MPG) - James M. Ford, President and Chief Executive Officer of Central Valley Community Bank (Bank), the sole subsidiary of Central Valley Community Bancorp (Company) (NASDAQ: CVCY), is pleased to announce expanded branch leadership in Greater Sacramento and the opening of a new full-service business banking office in Gold River located at 11230 Gold Express Drive, Suite 311. The Gold River Grand Opening celebrates local business with Sweet Fridays through July 19.

Nathan Ruiz, Vice President, Deposit Relationship Manager joins the Bank with over 24 years of financial experience and a strong background in business banking and branch operations. He is responsible for expanding the Bank’s business banking presence in Roseville and the surrounding communities. Ruiz is located at the Roseville office at 2999 Douglas Blvd., Suite 160, and can be reached directly at (916) 859- 2550.

Jeff Garcia, Vice President, Community Relationship Officer joins the Bank’s new Gold River office with over 11 years of branch management experience and a proven passion for identifying and developing new business opportunities. Garcia is responsible for expanding new business relationships in the Gold River, Rancho Cordova and Fair Oaks communities. Garcia can be reached directly at (916) 235- 4588.

The new Gold River business banking office offers numerous customer conveniences, including a newly constructed office in the Village Marketing shopping center, a 24-hour ATM and a depository night drop. Banking hours are Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. The Gold River direct phone number is (916) 235-4588.

The Gold River Grand Opening includes a month long celebration of local businesses with Sweet Fridays, where clients and the community can enjoy complimentary bakery confections by Pastry Heaven European Bakery, BJ Cinnamon, Julian’s Patisserie & Café, and Howard’s Donuts in the branch on Fridays. Garcia invites the local community to meet his professional team, enjoy a sweet treat and enter-to-win a chance for a $100 gift card to local eatery, IL Forno Classico.

“We are thankful for the many business referrals that have fueled our recent growth in Greater Sacramento, stated James M. Ford, President and CEO of Central Valley Community Bancorp and Central Valley Community Bank. “The addition of our new Gold River branch and experienced leadership in this market as well as Roseville, will help us further meet the needs of existing clients and will allow us to expand our unique brand of business and community banking service to others in the area. Both Nathan and Jeff are dedicated bankers whose passion for service to clients and the community mirrors that of our nearly forty-year-old community business bank.”

More information about Central Valley Community Bancorp and Central Valley Community Bank can be found at www.cvcb.com. Also, visit Central Valley Community Bank on Twitter and Facebook.

Central Valley Community Bancorp trades on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the symbol CVCY. Central Valley Community Bank, headquartered in Fresno, California, was founded in 1979 and is the sole subsidiary of Central Valley Community Bancorp. Central Valley Community Bank operates full-service offices throughout California’s San Joaquin Valley and Greater Sacramento regions. Additionally, the Bank operates Commercial Real Estate Lending, SBA Lending and Agribusiness Lending Departments. Central Valley Investment Services are provided by Raymond James Financial, Inc.

Members of Central Valley Community Bancorp’s and the Bank’s Board of Directors are: Daniel J. Doyle (Independent Director), Daniel N. Cunningham (Vice Chairman), Edwin S. Darden, Jr., F. T. “Tommy” Elliott, IV, Robert J. Flautt, James M. Ford, Gary D. Gall, Steven D. McDonald, Louis C. McMurray, Karen Musson, and William S. Smittcamp. Sidney B. Cox is Director Emeritus.

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SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - On July 1, 2019 at approximately 0450 hours, CHP received a call of a 4 to 5 vehicle traffic collision involving a motorcycle on I-80 westbound west of the I-80/SR-51 split. Numerous North Sacramento Units responded to the scene. CHP was first on scene and located a male unconscious in the #5 lane of I-80 westbound. All lanes of traffic were blocked due to vehicles and debris from the collision. Officers initiated CPR until they were relieved by Sacramento Metro Fire. Upon the arrival of Sacramento Metro Fire Department, they pronounced the male motorcycle rider deceased at 0501 hours.

The motorcyclist was riding his motorcycle on I-80 westbound at a high rate of speed, weaving in and out of traffic. The motorcycle collided with the right front of a Ford-F250. This collision caused the motorcyclist to be ejected from his motorcycle onto the roadway and the motorcycle continued without a rider on I-80 westbound. 2-3 other vehicles were involved in this collision after the initial impact between the motorcycle and Ford-F250.

All lanes except for the #1 lane remained closed until the coroner arrived on scene. Cal-Trans responded with a cone truck for a hard closure and a sweeper to clean debris from the traffic lanes. At 0804 hours, all lanes were open.

Any persons who may have witnessed this collision or who can provide any additional information regarding this collision should call Officer Amy Walker at the North Sacramento Area CHP office at (916) 348-2300 or cell phone at (916) 798-0975. Follow us on Twitter @chpnsac or like us on Facebook.com/chpnorthsac


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Citrus Heights Police Officer Involved In Shooting

By David Gutierrez, Citrus Heights Police Department  |  2019-07-10

Axel, the K9 hero. Photo courtesy of Citrus Heights Police Department

Citrus Heights Police Department Press Release

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - This updated information is based on our ongoing investigation related to the events surrounding the officer involved shooting. The investigation continues to evolve as investigators interview witnesses, and review physical and electronic evidence. Our understanding of the facts and circumstances may change as additional evidence is collected and analyzed.

As reported, our officers responded to the report of a male subject who was believed to have fired a handgun in the vicinity of Sunrise Boulevard and Arcadia Drive.

We now know that the suspect fired a bullet through a storefront window of the Macy’s store located on the north side of the building. The store was occupied with customers at the time of the shooting. Thankfully, no one was injured as a result of the suspect’s actions.

As officers were responding to the scene with lights and sirens, they observed the described subject running east along Greenback Lane in front of the Brake Masters, towards the Burger King. The officers attempted to make contact with the subject, but he was uncooperative and continued to run. One of the first officers on scene was a police K9 unit. The canine handler released his police K9 in an attempt to safely apprehend the reportedly armed subject. As the K9 was running towards the suspect, the suspect turned towards the K9 and the officers while still running, and fired a shot in their direction. The K9 continued to pursue the suspect and eventually engaged him.

Officers observed the suspect fire at least two rounds towards the K9’s head at point blank range and then fire towards them. Officers returned gunfire at the suspect, striking him. When the police K9 came back to his handler, his face had a significant amount of blood on it. Based on what was witnessed, the officers believed the K9 had been shot. The K9 handler rushed the K9 to a vet hospital. Upon the vet cleaning the K9’s face and head, it was learned the K9 had amazingly not sustained a gunshot injury. The blood on the K9’s head was determined to be from the suspect.

Officers on scene are attributing the K9’s actions with saving their lives. (See picture of Hero K9 Axel below)

This incident occurred in a heavily populated area. We believe an active shooter type event was avoided due to the K9’s actions and the heroic actions of our officers.

At this time, we will not be releasing the identity of the suspect or any evidentiary video footage.

Previous Media Release:

By Chad Morris, Citrus Heights Police Department Press Release

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) – On July 9, 2019, at approximately 7:25 PM, Citrus Heights Police dispatchers received a citizen call regarding a male who was believed to have fired a handgun in the vicinity of Sunrise Blvd and Arcadia Drive. Officers arrived on scene at approximately 7:32 PM and quickly located the male subject who began firing a handgun at the responding officers.

The suspect fired his handgun at the responding officers and nearly struck one of the officers in the area of his upper-body. Fortunately, the bullet passed through the officer’s uniform shirt, and miraculously the officer was uninjured. The officer’s K9 partner appeared to have sustained a gunshot wound to his face. Officers immediately returned fire with at least one officer striking the suspect. Fire personnel were summoned, responded quickly, and pronounced the suspect deceased at the scene.

During the shooting, a passerby's windshield was struck by a bullet. The occupant of the vehicle is believed to have sustained minor abrasions as a result of broken glass and was transported to an area hospital for a precautionary medical examination. The officer and his K9 partner were transported to area hospitals, and we feel extremely fortunate to report that they are both expected to make a full recovery.

Currently, CHPD is in the beginning stages of this officer-involved shooting investigation. The areas around the location will remain closed throughout the duration of the investigation. The officers involved with the shooting will be placed on paid administrative leave which is standard policy during these incidents.


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