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Sacramento's Francis House director dies of heart attack

SACRAMENTO, CA -- Long known as a fearless and determined advocate for the homeless and dispossessed, Greg Bunker passed away Tuesday night after suffering a heart attack while on vacation with his wife in Santa Barbara.

A Viet Nam veteran, Bunker came to Sacramento from Cincinnati and found himself drawn to social work. For the past 20 years he was the executive director of Francis House, helping people find jobs, transportation and housing.

"I would have to say that Greg was a champion of trying to end poverty in Sacramento," said Francis House program director Forrest Reed. "He was a hero and a spiritual inspiration. He was a very humble man, but joyous, funny and caring."

Bunker helped initiate the "safeground campaign" after Sacramento's tent city for the homeless was closed, Reed said.

FedEx flight lands safely in Sac after fuel emergency

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- A FedEx cargo jet has landed safely at Sacramento International Airport after running low on fuel.

Airport spokeswoman Gina Swankie says the plane landed without incident just before 8 a.m. Thursday.

The pilot declared an in-flight emergency aboard FedEx flight 1490 because of the low fuel level.

The Airbus A310 jet had been en route from Memphis, Tenn., to Reno, Nev. Swankie says Reno was fogged in, so the plane and its four crew members diverted to Sacramento.

Air quality districts urge no fireplace use during holidays

SACRAMENTO, CA -- For many people, a crackling wood fire in the hearth is just part and parcel of the holiday season.

"I like it," said Greg Thompson who estimated he uses his fireplace at least two or three times a month. "I like the smell, the different aromas...we put a little flavor in our fireplace and jazz it up. We really enjoy it!"

But air quality management districts from Sacramento to Bakersfield are asking that this year, people refrain from that particular holiday tradition.

"What people don't understand," said Jamie Arno of the Sacramento Air Quality Management District, "is that the smoke from fireplaces is very unhealthy. Not only the smoke coming out of the chimney, but also the smoke seeping into the home."

Luminaries bring joy to Sacramento community

SACRAMENTO, CA - A joyous glow was cast over a Sacramento community illuminated with holiday cheer just in time for Christmas Eve.

Tom Yambasky and his family have been setting up these simple paper bags lit with candles throughout their neighborhood for the last eight years. The hands-on effort from the community includes the placement of hundreds of bags lighting up Ainger Circle.

Yambasky is delighted to see the eyes of neighborhood children light up when Christmas comes around, and they know it's time to light the candles.

He says bringing neighbors out of their homes to catch an eyeful of lights, and in turn, sharing the moment together is what the holidays are all about.

By Damien Espinoza, jdespinoza@news10.net

Beaten, strangled Natomas girl dies after 6 years in coma

SACRAMENTO, CA -- A 6-year-old girl who was in a coma for six years after she was beaten and strangled has died and her stepmother could face homicide charges.

Truly Lo of Natomas died last Tuesday.

Prosecutors say the girl suffered brain injuries in 2004 from an attack by stepmother, Weili Kao.

Her father, Thomas Lo, tells the Sacramento Bee that doctors at first thought his daughter would only live a day or two, but he
refused to remove her from life support. He says the girl, now 12, died at a children's care facility after warnings that her oxygen levels were dropping.

The stepmother was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison for child abuse. Prosecutors will now decide whether to file homicide charges.

Natomas school parents are warned of state takeover

SACRAMENTO, CA -- Officials say the Natomas district could be bankrupt by summer.

Sacramento County School leaders are preparing for the worst as the Natomas Unified School District comes closer to being taken over by the state.

Two Community Forums were held Tuesday eveing to explain the process and timeline related to the possible state take over.

Currently, the teachers union and district employees are negotiating contracts.  Sacramento County officials are asking them to take concessions of nearly 8 percent.  The negotiating deadline past a few weeks ago. 

Officials say every day they go without an agreement creates more of a budget issue - digging the district even deeper in debt. 


How to study for a test - Natomas Charter School

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Mayor Johnson: Too early to consider Kings' departure

SACRAMENTO, CA -- Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson once said the Sacramento Kings would not leave town under his watch, but the team's owners now say they're no longer ruling out moving the struggling NBA franchise from its longtime home. 

At his annual State of Downtown address on Tuesday, Johnson says it's too early to consider that possibility.

In a statement issued late Monday, representatives of Sacramento Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof said the brothers "are looking at all options to ensure the long term viability of this franchise."

The one-sentence statement came in response to an article in the Orange County Register that suggested the Kings could move to Anaheim.

AAA offers free 'Tipsy Tow' service on New Year's Eve


NORTHERN CALIFORNIA - AAA says there no excuse for drinking and driving this holiday weekend. The company will offer free "Tipsy Tow" service for revelers on New Year's Eve.

From 6 p.m. Friday until 6 a.m. on New Year's Day, in Northern California, anyone who has been drinking, can call (800) 222-4357 and a tow service will take you and your car home for free, up to ten miles. Just tell the AAA operator you need a Tipsy Tow and a truck will be dispatched to your location, whether your a AAA member or not.

The service will provide a one-way ride for the driver and vehicle to the driver's home. If there are additional passengers who need a ride, they will be taken to the driver's home as long as there is sufficient room for them to be transported safely in the tow truck.

Tips to recycling holiday waste

SACRAMENTO - The Regional Recycling Group says more residential waste is created during the holiday season than at any other time of the year, so residents in the Sacramento County area are urged to to recycle as much as possible.

Most residents can shed a few pounds by recycling all of their holiday waste paper such as greeting cards, gift boxes and wrapping paper, in their curbside mixed recycling program. Phone books and calendars are also accepted in the mixed recycling container.

"The amount of garbage sent to the landfill increases dramatically during the holiday season," said Doug Ebanks of Sacramento County's Department of Waste Management and Recycling. "We can change the traditional holiday habit of tearing open presents and throwing away wrapping paper and cardboard.