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State Fair 2011Garamendi


WaterRipper = Summer Fun

Chico Inventor Creates Recreational Fun

WaterRipper is Tim Leefeldt's new waterball innovation that has been in the works since 1988.

This revolutionary new high performance sportswater toy has two patent pending applications with assistance with From Patent to Profit author, Bob DeMatteis.

According to Leefeldt, DeMattels assisted him in bringing this innovation to market in record time. WaterRipper is distinctly different from all waterballs on the market, Leefeldt insists. The differences include: a slow-acting collapsing bean bag design, the balanced density and the water-absorbing materials used to maximize density and performance on water. 

Leefeldt continues to document the physics of the WaterRipper performance on the water surface.  

"I marvel at the phenomena of the 'low profile skip pattern'that skips like a rock, catches like a bag, and stays in the pool."   

Currently, Leefeldt is developing new play patterns, patented apparatus and equipment including an iPhone app.  

You can find WaterRippers at the following locations:


Sagefield Power

Facilitating the Harvest of Northern California's Sunshine!

Sagefield Power is a NEW Clean Energy Sales company that specializes in residential and commercial solar, as well as feed-in-tariff projects, otherwise known as "Solar Farms". The best part - the company was started by Chico resident Dwight Aitkens and his partner Michael Courter of upstate New York. 

Headquartered in Chico, Sagefield Power (so new as a company that its website won't launch until July), bills itself as one of the first solar companies to offer affordable solar financing options for for residential and business customers. 

Just 23 years old, Aitkens was raised in Chico, graduated from Chico High School and Chico State this past December. His youthful passion and enthusiasm is for sustainable, local projects. He even serves on the City of Chico's Sustainability Task Force.

"Specifically," said Aitkens, "we wanted to make sure solar projects were going to go to local engineers and contractors. We want the community to benefit as much as possible when these installations go in." He said he has about a dozen projects in the works and one completed residential solar installation.

Aitken's business partner, Courter, had worked for the parent company of Sagepower, Pristine Sun for eight or nine years before branching out to start his own company. 

"Pristine Sun is located in Laguna Beach and Wyoming," Aitkens explained. "The company has been around for 13 years while Sagefield has been around since November." 

The company offers free assessments to residential and commercial companies and helps to connect consumers with California rebates and federal tax credits. 

"Most homeowners will start making several thousand the first year of installation and see a pretty significant tax credit depending on system size," Aitkens pointed out. "At the very least," he added, "The loan payment is typically the same as a monthly payment to PG&E - not to mention the savings on your monthly energy bill." 

According to Aitkens, Sagefield Power has focused a substantial amount of energy in its mission to facilitate landowners in becoming new pioneers, otherwise known as "Solar Farmers," by installing solar farms completely free to their clients. 

How do they do that? It's simple. The solar company simply leases the land.

This idea has big possibilities in Northern California where sun and land are in big supply.  "We are helping to facilitate a landowner with 15,000 acres - outside of Red Bluff. It will be a pretty large system - 60 acres or so." 

"Land owners pay nothing," Aitkens said. "The company is just leasing land for the solar project and sells that energy back to PG&E." 

Payouts on this type of arrangement depend on the estimated output of the power monthly for 20 years. Aitkens said the Red Bluff landowner will realize about $30,000 annually. At the end of 20 years, Aitken explained, the company has 120 days to put the land back to the original condition or renew the lease.

Aitkens said he hasn't run into any real issues with residential solar - all of California is very receptive to this idea. Even big projects on open land are welcome. "The county just wants to make sure the installations are not impacting agricultural land," Aitkens said. Most of the proposed big-scale projects are slated for five- to 10-acre parcels, he noted. 

So what happens if you sell your home, business or land and you've got a big, fat solar investment?

"Good question," Aitkens said. "A solar installation enhances a home or business value. It can be sold along with the home or the price can be increased to pay outright for the system."

Aitkens said the company is working with Chico Electric, a longtime local business who is specializing in solar installation. Sagepower buys its solar panels from Jiangsu, the largest manufacturer of solar panels in the world.  

Commercial installations can be purchased outright on a loan basis or not, Aitkens said. Typical interest rates on commercial and residential run about 5.9%.

Sagefield also identifies opportunities for wind farming, another option for country real estate, agriculture, and ranching. Wind Farming is cost efficient and an exceptionally affordable solution to energy production and independence, Aitkens said. 

Sagefields' philosophy is simple (according to the company's website):

  • Anybody who is paying over $150 a month for their energy bill should have solar on their home, period.
  • Anybody who owns more than seven acres should have a solar farm installed on their property, period.
  • Any business concerned with rising energy costs should have solar, period.

Eco in Paradise Baby's Boutique

Twenty-five-year-old Amanda Savangsy of Chico has a passion for babies and children. So much so that at the tender age of 19, she became a foster parent and until January of this year, juggled her own 3- and 6-year-old, foster children, a retail store and husband.

"The store started to take off and it was just too much," said the young entrepreneur. 

eco in Chico started a little over a year ago and is located at 1803 Mangrove Ave. The delightfully decorative store specializes in products made by 55 local vendors. Shoppers can find everything from baby toys, full clothing lines, and pacifiers to a brand-new line of soft-sole shoes - the result of a collaboration between Savangsy and another local crafts person.

But ... as if one retail store wasn't challenging enough Savangsy opened a second location in Paradise just a little over a month ago at 5921 Clark Road. The major difference between a Chico location and a Paradise location? 

"People are not as eco and community minded in Paradise," Savangsy said, careful to point out her observation isn't a criticism - just a need for education. "Perhaps they are not understanding local efforts. We carry lcoal product as opposed to Chinese-made merchandise. We are excited to help Paradise residents understand. Up here there is also a call for necessity as there isn't' a Toys R Us, Walmart and Target. We need good background on products, pricing and availability. It's a more demanding market."

Savangsy's husband helps out when he is able but works full-time atChico Nissan. "My biggest right-hand man is my father. It's awesome to watch him understand the difference between buying local and understanding we need people to support us! 

"People can't just talk about," she said. "They need to do it!"

Savangsy's website is coming soon. The eco in Paradise grand opening is July 23.