Cathie Anderson

Cathie Anderson: Tommy T hopes to reopen comedy club by February

Nightclub owner Tommy Thomas hopes to return to Rancho Cordova as soon as February with Tommy T’s Comedy and Cadillac Ranch, a venue that will spotlight comedy and country music.

The Cadillac Ranch is going to be a country nightclub, Thomas told me, so comedy will start the night at about 7 p.m., and music and dancing will follow. “Our slogan is going to be, ‘Come for the comedy. Stay for the dance,’ ” he said.

Last summer, Thomas sold the comedy club he ran at Nimbus Winery Village to Cornell and Boomie Cotton. The couple told me they hoped to establish a combination comedy/jazz venue. After operating for about five months, they abruptly closed in December. Customers were left holding tickets. One comedian told me he received a hot check. Another said she had her performance canceled the day of the show.

Thomas said he'll have to replace tables, chairs, speakers, a broiler and other equipment he said is missing from the club. He and the property manager have filed police reports concerning missing property, according to a Rancho Cordova Police Department public information officer.

Thomas, who has owned nightclubs for 33 years, said he told Boomie Cotton: “Don’t cancel these people. I’ll step in and run the place for you. I’ll put up the money. I’ll put up the guarantee. Let’s not shut it down.”

A life cycle

Mai Yang Vang, only 28 years old, has already come full circle in her life. She’s now a board member at the nonprofit that inspired her passion for environmental justice as a teenage student at Sacramento High School.

In fact, she and other board members of Winters’ Center for Land-Based Learning recently learned that the very program that introduced Vang to habitat restoration and conservation will receive an award today from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. Mary Kimball, the agency’s executive director, will pick up the Partners in Conservation Award in Washington, D.C.

Vang was among the first students to participate in the Student and Landowner Education and Watershed Stewardship program when it began in 2003. Everybody involved with the program refers to it as SLEWS. Kimball’s brainchild, the program begins with teachers educating students on everything from the water cycle to the role that native fish play in improving water quality.

Then Kimball, the staff at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, farmers, ranchers and other partners lead students in real-world projects: They have planted hundreds of trees. They have set up drip irrigation systems. They have performed wildlife surveys and more.

SLEWS is just the beginning. Vang and many students return for more intense leadership training in farming, resource management and sustainability. They get summer work experience in the center’s GreenCorps. Kimball has mentored countless students who have launched careers in agriculture or environmental sciences.

The eldest of 16 children, Vang became a Buck Scholar. She has bachelor’s degrees in biology and sociology and master’s degrees in public health and Asian American studies. She now works as a policy associate at the bipartisan public interest group California Forward.

“As someone who was so young at the time,” Vang said, “it really helped me develop a passion for environmental justice and sustainable communities and conservation in California. I don’t think I would have ended up where I’m at, if it wasn’t for that first encounter with SLEWS.”

Sold on art

Longtime local event planner Sharon Gerber said farewell to her career in that field in May, and she invested in an adviser to help put her résumé together and began exploring new possibilities.

Then she had her first solo art show, where she sold 13 paintings in the first three hours. A local artist told her husband, Rob Scherer, that it would have been a success if she’d sold only four for the night. Gerber was bitten by the bug.

For the next two years, she told me, she is going to try to build a successful career as an artist. She began taking lessons less than two years ago.

“I sold 61 paintings from May until December,” Gerber told me. “Think about it. Van Gogh sold one painting his entire life. Now mind you, I have a lot more friends than Van Gogh had.”

Indeed, Gerber has been able to use her hefty Rolodex for marketing. Yet she never expected the reception she’s gotten.

Sandy Smoley, she’s bought four of my paintings,” she said. “ Rob Stewart from ‘Rob on the Road’ has bought two. I’ve had several people who are buying multiple paintings, not just one.”

Her paintings of flowers, birds, landscapes and pastry start at around $150. Gerber is starting the year with eight commissions. After painting a collection of artwork for restaurateur Ettore Ravazzolo, she began offering to paint wedding cakes. That way, she said, couples can preserve the memory but not the one-year freezer burn.

Editor's note: This column was changed Feb. 25 to clarify Tommy Thomas' allegations.