West Sac tykes to get free preschool

West Sacramento soon will be offering free preschool to local 4-year-olds. The First 5 Yolo Commission (which was created by Proposition 10 tobacco-tax money) appointed Donna Elmore as director of the city’s universal pre-kindergarten initiative last week. Elmore will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of the program to provide no-cost pre-kindergarten classes to any family who needs them in West Sacramento.

First 5 Yolo anticipates that 500 pre-kindergarten slots will be available by July 2006 (there are about 700 eligible 4-year-olds in the city). West Sacramento is joining a growing movement of local governments trying to improve the quality and availability of preschool—in order to improve kids’ academic prospects later on.

Across the river, Sacramento also is making a push for free preschool. Mayor Heather Fargo called for universal pre-kindergarten in her State of the City address last spring, and the Sacramento First 5 Commission is seeking funding sources for universal pre-kindergarten programs in Sacramento County, also.

We’re honored

Three SN&R editorial staff members will be honored for their writing this week.

Chrisanne Beckner and Jeffrey M. Barker are among those being honored by the Sacramento Valley Psychological Association (SVPA) at its annual holiday celebration on Friday, December 9.

According to Debra Moore, past president and current community liaison for the SVPA, the organization has presented awards for the last five years to students, nonprofit organizations and media members for their contributions to “increasing public awareness and knowledge of psychological or mental health issues.”

Beckner will share an award with Dan Frosch of the Sante Fe (N.M.) Reporter for their reporting on psychological issues facing returning Iraq vets (see “On the home front” and “Coming home"; SN&R Cover; December 16, 2004).

Barker’s award is for “Failing Paul Muskeni” (SN&R News, April 7), a story about a schizophrenic who was held in the Sacramento County jail for 13 days without medication and then released to the streets at 3 a.m.

Cosmo Garvin will receive the Journalistic Integrity Award on Saturday, December 10, from the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ). The citation states that CACJ “is proud to honor him for his writing standards and convictions, as evidenced in his articles on local gang-related issues.” Specifically, Garvin is being honored for “Round up the hood!” (SN&R Cover, June 23) and “Fighting a clampdown” (SN&R News, August 4). Both stories covered the West Sacramento injunction against alleged gang members.

McKnight Clatchy Ridder Co.?

The nation’s second-largest newspaper company—boasting 32 daily newspapers and a daily readership of some 8.5 million people—may be putting itself up for sale at the urging of one of its major investors.

And who out there would be able to swing the purchase of Knight Ridder? Perhaps our homegrown McClatchy Co., which, according to the industry rumor mill, is said to be looking into making a bid.

Last week, several Knight Ridder-owned papers, including the San Jose Mercury News, reported that McClatchy—the parent of The Sacramento Bee—was mulling whether to make a purchase offer. The Mercury News pointed out that the investor pushing Knight Ridder to sell already owns a 38-percent stake in the mostly family-held McClatchy.

Such a deal could mean McClatchy domination in Central California.

The two newspaper companies already share a lot of the same turf. In Minnesota’s Twin Cities, McClatchy owns the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and Knight Ridder the St. Paul Pioneer Press. McClatchy has The (Tacoma) News Tribune and the Tri-City Herald in Washington state, and Knight Ridder recently acquired The Bellingham Herald and The Olympian, in that state’s capital.

In California, a chain including existing Bees in Sacramento, Modesto and Fresno as well as the Merced Sun-Star would join market-dominant papers in San Jose, Contra Costa County, Monterey and San Luis Obispo.

Elaine Lintecum, a spokeswoman for The McClatchy Co., declined to comment.