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Of The Gold Country

Grass Valley, California




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Guest Speakers

From January 2012 thru July 2012
These folks gave a talk at our lunch meeting

For other dates, click on 2013 or 08 thru 12, 2012 or 07 thru 12 2011 or 01 thru 06 2011

Dr. Melisa Agness


July 26th, 2012

Our guest speaker today was Dr. Melisa Agness. Dr. Agness specializes in radiology and diagnostic radiology.

After working at our local hospital for several years, Dr. Agness saw the need of many women to be able to get a low cost mammogram. Nationally 30 to 40% of women do not get a mammogram. In our area, the rate is much higher. Dr. Agness opened Insight Imaging, a place to get a high quality imaging exam at a lower cost than other imaging providers. These services are available for many women who cannot afford a mammogram. There are grants that may assist women in paying for a mammogram. They also offer General Ultrasound, Bone Densitometry and Diagnostic Mammography. Insight Imaging is located on Litton Way,
near Sierra College.

Dr. Agness does the diagnoses immediately after the test. There are no X–Rays; rather, everything is now done digitally. The patient does not receive a picture or X–Ray, but they have the option of having other health providers’ access to their tests. The test are kept for several years, so a patient that gets a test today, may have access to it in years to come, in order to be able to do a comparison of the most recent tests.

Thank you Dr. Agness for your talk, and for providing a much needed service for our local population

Dr. Savitri Ramiah


July 19th, 2012

Our guest speaker today was Dr. Savitri Ramiah, Physician, Author, and Health Systems International Expert.

Dr. Ramaiah thanked the club members for partnering with the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) to eliminate Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus.

Dr. Ramaiah described how India has eliminated the mother and child killer in half of her nation. India has combined their efforts with needed local citizen's health education as well as with higher skill training for health workers. She also answered criticisms from a few in the West that have said "Why save infants when there are too many poverty stricken children in Asia and Africa? " Dr. Ramaiahe repeated the proven fact that Mothers have fewer children when their first babies survive infancy and childhood. In developing nations the poor must have children to care for them when old, because government safety nets do not exist. Kiwanian Dr. Don Foster, a professional colleague of Dr. Ramaiah in the 1990s, invited her to speak.

Thank you Dr. Ramiah for your talk, and for all you do to to prevent and eliminate maternal and infant deaths.

Cheryl Wicks





July 12th, 2012

Our guest speaker today was Cheryl Wicks, founder and operator of Sammie's Friends, and now also runs the Nevada County Animal Shelter.

The mission of Sammie’s Friends is to provide medical care for animals, making them adoptable, and to support other disadvantaged animals in Nevada County that would otherwise be euthanized to end their suffering.

After moving to Nevada County in 2000, Cheryl volunteered at the local animal shelter. At the time 68% of the animals were being euthanized. With the blessing of Nevada County, she started Sammie's Friends. Sammie was her 9 year old dog, and family member. The euthanized rate is now less than 1%. ( Wow that’s great )

Sammie's Friends now have over 100 volunteers where they care for many of our county’s disadvantaged animals. This includes medical care, spay and neutering, taking in of unwanted pets, and they even have a program where they supply animal food to families / people who can't afford it. Sammie's Friends is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Check out their

Thank you Cheryl for your talk, and especially for all you do and have done for the animals of Nevada County !

Peter Franchina

June 28th, 2012


Our guest speaker today was Peter Franchina, Magician.


Peter and his wife Barbara own and operate Elam Biggs Bed and Breakfast in Grass Valley.


Peter has been a magician for many years. He showed us several magic tricks, and then for a few of them, showed us how they're done. These simple magic tricks may be used with our kids or grand kids. Fun stuff.

Thanks Peter, for a magical lunch meeting today !

Aleta Barrett

June 21st, 2012

Our guest speaker today was Aleta Barrett, a local farmer. After college Aleta found herself in Seattle, working for a property management company. After 11 years she had a senior position, which included a good salary and benefits. After 17 years away from her roots, Aleta returned to her home town of Grass Valley with her husband and 2 young children to start a small family farm, Starbright Acres Family Farm.

For the past three years Aleta and her husband have been selling produce at the Nevada County Certified Growers Market. A short time later, she joined the market board of directors.

Starbright Acres Family Farm sells fresh produce, goat's milk and eggs. They have over 200 chickens; Wow that's a-lot-a chickens !

Farm Stand:          Self-serve. Open 7am-7pm, 7 days a week, year round.
Location:              12575 Polaris Dr, Grass Valley.
Farmers Market:  Saturday AM at North Star House, Tuesday afternoon Nevada City and Thursday evening in Grass Valley.

Thanks Aleta, for telling us about our local Nevada County Certified Growers !

Shera Banbury

May 31st, 2012

Our guest speaker today was Shera Branbury, the facilitator of the UNA ( United Nations Association of the United States ) Focus on Women / United Nations Women's Circle "Think Tank".

This afternoon Shera talked to us about Human Trafficking. Human Trafficking is secretly happening all over the world. It came as a big surprise to many of us when Shera told us that this is happening right here in Nevada County. Sacramento is the 5th largest area in the United States for Human Trafficking.
This happens mostly to young girls, although it happens to young boys as well, especially in economical poor countries. This is slavery. Young men and women are coerced into doing many things against their will, including being part of the sex industry, unwanted marriage, some form of labor, including domestic, factory, restaurant, agriculture, construction and even public begging. In many cases these people are being mistreated.

If you witness something that leads you to suspect that this is currently happening, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, 1-888-3737-888 ( For a related story click on:
Truckee Police Chief Nicholas Sensley. )

Thanks Shera, for educating us on Human Trafficking

Jim Legler

May 24th, 2012

Our guest speaker today was former Lt Governor of Kiwanis Division 44. Division 44 includes 15 Kiwanis club, include Auburn, Sacramento and Grass Valley.

Jim talked about the many things the Kiwanis does to support the children in our local area and in the worldwide community.


Each one of us can make a difference. By spending just a few hours each month you can make a difference.

Thanks Jim for your visit today, and your inspirational talk !

Howard Levine

May 17th, 2012


Our guest speaker today was was Kiwanian Howard Levine.

Howard talked about the upcoming Mask Parade Fundraiser. He also gave us a bit of history of Masks.


Thanks Howard... It looks like the Mask Parade Event was a big hit this past Friday evening !

Jerry Henderson

May 10th, 2012

Our guest speaker today was Jerry Henderson from Live Healthy Nevada County.

Jerry is heading up the plan to build a bike trail from Grass Valley to Nevada City.
Live Healthy Nevada County is a coalition of action committees for Bikeability/Walkability and Food and Nutrition.

The plan is to have the trail go from the 7 Hills Basin to the Glenbrook Basin. The work on the Bike trail plan began in 2009. There have been many hurdles in trying to get the trail built. Working with CalTrans has been a challenge. The committees first choice, a bike path on the east side of Hwy 49/20 was rejected by CalTrans, however they agreed on the west side of Hwy 49/20. A portion of the approved route currently has a 4 foot wide path. The requirement for a bicycle path is a minimum of 5 feet.

The plan now, is to build a path from the lower Grass Valley Road to the Nevada City Highway, near Banner Lava Cap. The plan will include, as required by CalTrans, a fence


Thank You Jerry, for your talk on building a Bike trail in our Community !

Caleb Dardick

May 3rd, 2012

Our guest speaker today was Caleb Dardick, from SYRCL, South Yuba River Citizens League.

Caleb talked about preserving our State parks, specifically to keep both the South Yuba River and Malakoff Diggins State Parks open. In May of 2011 the region's most popular and beautiful recreation areas was on the California State Parks Department closure list. Thanks to SYRCL, focusing on saving the Yuba Rive, and uniting our community, the South Yuba River State Park is now to be kept open. Read the story in
The Union Newspaper.

Caleb also talked about the many undertakings SYRCL is doing to help preserve the Yuba River.


Thanks Caleb, for your great talk on the South Yuba River Citizens League !

Howard Levine

April 26, 2012

Our guest speaker today was our own Kiwanian, Howard Levine. Howard recently resigned after 12 years as The Grass Valley Downtown Association Executive Director.

Howard spoke about some of the things he did to help revitalize downtown Grass Valley: Help bring Center For The Arts to Grass Valley, Grass Valley is now associated with California Main Street Alliance and California Association for Local Development; When the Friday Night Marketplace, ( a farmers market and a summer festival ), caused some difficulties for local merchants, Howard saw to it that it became what it is today, a very successful
Thursday Night Marketplace.

When things need to get done, Howard collaborated with the Grass Valley City Council, to see that things got completed.
Here is an interesting interview with Howard from a few years ago: Click on A Look At the Future Of the Region.

Thank you Howard !

Jeff Ackerman, Editor and Publisher of The Union Newspaper

April 19, 2012

Our guest speaker today was Jeff Ackerman, Editor and Publisher of The Union Newspaper. Jeff talked about our local newspaper, and how it is committed to bringing local news to Nevada County residents. Although the Union covers California & National news, its good have a local newspaper covering local news stories; what's happening in our area.

Some large city newspaper are in financial trouble, however many small local newspapers, like The Union, are not in financial trouble.

The Union cares about our community, one example is helping raise over $100,000 for our local libraries.

The Union reaches about 30,000 readers including about 8,000 on-line readers.

Thanks Jeff, for your talk on The Union Newspaper !

Paul Emery

April 12, 2012


Our guest speaker today was Paul Emery, the News Director for local radio Station KVMR. Paul talked about the history and mission of KVMR, a local community Radio Station. KVMR signed on the air in July of 1978, and operated under the umbrella of the Nevada City-based non-profit, The American Victorian Museum. In 1989, ownership of the station was transferred to the Nevada City Community Broadcast Group. An upgrade of the station's broadcast facility in 1999 dramatically improved KVMR's regional signal quality.


The programming on the station is done with approximately 180 volunteers. Each broadcast is the work of each independent broadcaster. They run the gamut from news to music to gardening, and many other topics of local interest. Their area KVMR covers is our own Nevada County, as well as listeners in Sacramento, Turlock and other communities in California.

Thanks Paul, for your talk on KVMR !

Bob Tutton

March 22nd, 2012

Bob Tutton from the Auburn Kiwanis Club spoke to our club today Our scheduled guest speakers didn't make it today. Filling in was Bob Tutton from the Auburn Kiwanis Club. Bob talked about the experience he had at the Rose Parade.


If you recall, there was a drawing for people who donated to the Kiwanis Family House, with the prize being "A Ride On The Kiwanis Float" in the Rose Parade. Bob and his wife won, and Bob shared the experience of going to Pasadena and seeing first hand, the Kiwanis and other floats. Exciting, fascinating, and emotionally rewarding are some of the ways that Bob described the experience.

Thanks Bob, for sharing your Rose Bowl Float experience.

Dr Stephen Banister

March 15th, 2012

Our guest speaker today was Dr. Stephen Banister, from Highland Springs Wellness Center in Grass Valley. Dr. Banister has been living and practicing medicine in Nevada County for over 30 years. Today's talk was about Medicinal Cannabis. In California, there are approximately 750,000 legal user of Medicinal Cannabis. There are over 100 compounds in the plant. Cannabis used medically has several well-documented beneficial effects. Among these are: the improvement of nausea and vomiting, inflammation, stimulation of hunger in chemotherapy and AIDS patients, as well as general analgesic effects (pain reliever), and aiding the patient that has had problems sleeping.

Dr. Banister talked about the benefits of Medical Cannabis, as well as the political controversy that we are all aware of. Some of the uses include caring for PTSD ( Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), eating disorders, MS (Multiple sclerosis) and glaucoma. Dr. Banister does not prescribe Medical Cannabis as a recreational drug.
More information can be found on the Wellness Center web site.
Click on: More info.

Thank You Dr. Banister, for educating us on the medical benefits of Medical Cannabis.

Jon Blinder

March 8th, 2012

Our guest speaker today was Jon Blinder from the Nevada County Economic Resource Council. Jon has been in our area for over 20 years. He talked about his background and some of his life experiences that have prepared him for his current position. Jon started a successful restaurant and catering business in NYC called the Washington Street Cafe and Caterers. These 10 plus years gave him leadership and business skills that are needed in his new position here Nevada County.

More recently, being in the Real Estate business here in Nevada County, gave him experience working with governmental agencies, including land development, mining impacts issues and, in general, a deep understanding of how things work in our area.

Last month Jon was appointed Executive Director of the Nevada County Economic Resource Council. The NCERC is a non-profit corporation, whose mission is to provide education and training to local businesses and economic data to members of the general public. In other words, to help businesses grow and to promote businesses to move to our area.

Thank You Jon, for sharing your thoughts on improving the economic condition of our Nevada County.

Tim Van Wagner, local farmer

March 1st, 2012

Our guest speaker today was local farmer, Tim Van Wagner.
Tim talked about the future of farming in Nevada County where we have a program to enable young people to get into farming, The Living Lands Agrarian Network. It's an 8 month program that mentors aspiring farmers in the art of small-scale agriculture. This includes the techniques and economics of sustainable agriculture for the small-scale farm, running an independent farm business, sowing and crop care, and organic farming principles. After completion of the internship program, the Network provides assistance in the next steps in becoming an independent farmer. They partner with local land owners to turn land into productive, ecologically sound farms. The network currently includes eight farms ranging in size from a 1/4 acre to 37 acres. Room and board is provided for students on site, in return for their apprenticeship work during the program. They also offer seasonal classes for home-scale gardeners who want to grow food as part of their own landscape.

Thank You Tim, for sharing the future vision of American farmers.

Mike Carville

February 23rd, 2012

Our guest speaker today was Mike Carville owner the South Yuba Gym in Grass Valley and Nevada City.

Mike talked about the obesity problem we have here in this country. A combination of eating more processed / packaged foods means we are not eating as healthy as we should. That and the lack of a regular physical activity have caused the country to have a large increase in obesity and diabetes. It may not always be the calories that give you that extra weight, it may be your hormones.

Thank You Mike for your talk about obesity, diabetes, and the need to be aware of what we eat.

Dr Robert Woodhall

February 16th, 2012

Our guest speaker today was Dr. Robert Woodhall, a chiropractor in Nevada City. Dr. Robert treats patients at his Nevada City office, however today he talked about treating animals at a local veterinarian office. Our dogs and cats have a friend with Dr. Robert.

Animals that may need surgery or other rather expensive veterinary procedures can see Dr. Robert. There are some non-surgical solutions for many animal health problems. Spasms, poor appetite, vitality, hip or joint problems, lameness, urinary and fecal incontinence, and many more.
Dr. Robert demonstrated a procedure on two of his dogs.

Thank You Dr. Robert, for making us aware of what can be done for some of our family members… our pets.

Dogger 1
Dogger 2 Dogger 3 Other Dogger

John Paul

February 9th, 2012

Our guest speaker today was John Paul, the owner / CEO of Spiral in Nevada City.   Spiral is the ISP, Internet Service Provider, that we use for our Kiwanis web site.
John talked about the internet, a little history of where it’s been and possibly where it’s going. He also talked about the speed of uploads and downloads of the content on the internet, to our computers.

John explained the differences between DSL - Digital Subscriber Line, a cable connection, and what looks like the future, Fusion. Fusion is the next generation DSL service with speeds up to 20 Mbps.
Although Fusion is the not yet available in our area, Spiral does provide this service in the Sacramento area.
Check out their web site for Fusion in Sacramento; interesting... click on Spiral Fusion for Sacramento

Thank You John, for sharing your insight on technology and the internet with us today.

Joanne Drummond

January 12th, 2012

Our guest speaker today was Joanne Drummond, Executive Director of the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County.

Some of the things that Joanne talked about:

  1. One of their mission is to mitigate wild fires and to safe guard our wildlife. Defensible space around your home. There are 3rd party verifications to approve defensible space. There is also help for defensible space clean-up and evacution guides. Scotch Broom: A non-native weed. Looks pretty, but it’s highly flammable.
  2. For those over 65 years old or physically disabled the is community assistance available. Most services are free to the public.

Thank You Joanne, for speaking to us today, and informing us of the important role of the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County.

Adrienne Bradley

January 5th, 2012

Our guest speaker today was Adrienne Bradley. Adrienne is a student at the University of California at Davis and a Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador, who is involved in a community service program to help people become more knowledgeable about modern agriculture.

Adrienne talked about feeding the world in the future. Right now the population of the world is about 6.8 billion people. By 2050 the population is expected to be over 9 billion. We humans need to focus on modern technology along with better use of land and water, to meet the needs of the future. Agriculture must produce much more with far less resources to feed the world of the future.

50, 100,70. These three numbers imply: “By the year 2050 , we will need to produce 100% more food coming from a 70% increase in technology.”

Even in today's world, the World Health Organization cites malnutrition as the greatest single threat to the world's public health. Although we are extremely fortunate to live in a country that has a low child malnutrition rate, we should be aware that the rest of the world isn't so blessed.

Thank You Adrienne, for speaking to us today, and making us aware of the agriculture needs of the future.

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