Serving the communities of Valley Springs, Burson and Wallace
Teresa Renfro and daughter Kaitlynn participate in the ceremonial groundbreaking marking constructino of their new Habitat for Humanity Calaveras home on Dunn Road in Rancho Calaveras.
Habitat breaks ground on first Valley Springs home
Nearly 50 people were on hand April 27 as Teresa Renfro and her
son and daughter turned over shovels full of dirt to mark the beginning
of construction on their Habitat for Humanity Calaveras home in Rancho
Sunday’s celebration marked construction of the first Habitat
for Humanity home in the Valley Springs area and work is planned to
begin soon on a second home in the Rancho area. The Renfro home is the
eighth house Habitat for Humanity Calaveras has built since its
Participating in the ceremony were District 5 Supervisor Russ
Thomas, and Lucy Thein, president of the Board of Directors of Habitat
for Humanity Calaveras. Pastor Gregory Floyd of the Valley Springs
Community United Methodist Church offered a prayer, while The Rev. Alan
Claassen of First Congregational Church added to the celebration by
provided music for the gathering to sing to the tunes of “If I Had a
Hammer” and “This Land Is Our Land.”
Twenty-five local women are scheduled to pick up hammers, nails
and wood to begin framing the house on May 10. The all-day event is
scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with lunch included.
Jan Schmidiger of Sheep Ranch is construction site manager for
the day. She will offer on-site training to those with limited
construction experience. Schmidiger, who will be assisted by Deana
Murchison of Mountain Ranch, has headed three previous Women’s Build
Days. Renfro, the future owner of the Habitat home, will also
Habitat for Humanity of Calaveras provides home ownership to
responsible local families who cannot afford it on their own. As an
affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International it shares the national
organization’s mission of building affordable homes for and with
families in need of decent housing.
For additional information or to participate in the
Woman’s Build Day, call Kathy Heffernan, volunteer coordinator for
Habitat for Humanity Calaveras, at (209) 795-7742.
In addition, on Saturday, May 3, the new Habitat for Humanity Calaveras Warehouse, a discount building materials reuse outlet store, opens in San Andreas at 172 California St. The warehouse will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and every subsequent first Saturday of the month.
Shoppers will receive huge discounts on building materials, light
fixtures, paint, appliances and furniture. Home improvements are made
more affordable by shopping at the warehouse and at the same time all
shoppers are helping support affordable housing in Calaveras County.
Some of the donated material is used to build Habitat for
Humanity houses. The rest is sold to the public at 25 to 75 percent off
the retail price with proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity Calaveras
to build homes in partnership with local families.
Items at the warehouse are donated items from individuals and
organizations in the community.
“These in-kind donations help divert waste from area landfills,
often qualifying as tax deductible gifts for donors, as well as provide
consumers the opportunity to buy high quality discounted construction
materials,” said Thein.
“We were thrilled to find a building to make our dream of a
Habitat Warehouse a reality,” she said.
Habitat for Humanity Calaveras will accept the following new or
gently used items: appliances in working condition, double pane windows,
cabinets, doors, lumber, flooring, plumbing, hardware, light fixtures,
new unopened containers of paint, tools, carpet in new condition, and
furniture. Tile and flooring must be at least 25 square feet.
Call Thein at 754-1518 to donate items.
Items not accepted are: clothing, mattresses, used mini blinds,
wood windows, single pane windows, TVs older than five years, appliances
older than 10 years, obsolete computers and other electronic items,
soiled or damaged furniture, and used paint or stain.
Historic Valley Springs Train Depot owner Mike Jurek, left, and Noble Grand Humbug Scott “Stickes” Nielsen of Matuca Chapter 1849 of E. Clampus Vitus celebrate after the re-created Valley Springs sign was unveiled to the public at Saturday’s inaugural Train Times event.
Train Times restores landmark, celebrates pioneers
Valley Springs’ railroad heritage took center stage Saturday as
the Society for the Preservation of West Calaveras History in
conjunction with the Historic Valley Springs Train Depot and the Valley
Springs Area Business Association hosted the first-ever Train Times.
The event, centered at the train depot located at the
intersection of Highways 12 and 26, attracted approximately 1,000
people, estimated Sal Manna, society president.
A highlight and lasting monument to the daylong celebration was
the unveiling of a re-created Valley Springs sign on the east wall of
the depot that greeted passengers as they boarded or departed from the
train decades ago.
The left side of the sign said “TO SAN FRANCISCO. 131 MI.”
- while the right side had “ELEVATION 672 FEET.”
The ceremony also re-dedicated the state historic landmark
recognizing the train’s arrival to Valley Springs on April 25, 1885,
and recognized many of the area’s pioneer families.
“I would like to mention just a few of the names of the
pioneers of Valley Springs, names that would fade away if we do not
remember them on occasions such as this,” Manna said.
His list included Thomas Joseph French, Warren and Hattie Lamb,
George and Rebecca Late, Orange and Lucy Lillie, George and Adella
Lillie, John Kellogg and Margaret Pattee and Henry and Elizabeth
Tom Duke, a resident of Valley Springs since 1934, was recognized
by Manna as the “one person who is with us today who has lived in
Valley Springs the longest of anyone.”
The society presented Duke with its first annual Pioneer Award, a
framed certificate and a gold-colored railroad spike.
Those in attendance were also entertained with live music and gun
Valley Springs Postmaster Dann Myers said he issued nearly 60
“Valley Springs Train Times Station” cancellations at his booth. The
special cancellation mark recognizing the event is now available at the
Valley Springs Post Office for a limited time, he added.
While most of the activities were centered at the old train
depot, the Sacramento Valley Division of the Toy Train Operating Society
was entertaining young and old with a model railroad layout at Sheng Chi
Valley Springs Umpqua Bank Manager Danielle Scaparro-Palm and Valley Springs Postmaster Dann Myers display the special Train Times cancellation mark on a postcard featuring the train depot artwork of Kathy Laughlin.
Postal Service recognizes first Train Times with cancellation mark
Valley Springs’ inaugural Train Times celebration has captured
the attention of the U.S. Postal Service.
A special cancellation mark recognizing the event has been crafted and approved by the U.S. Postal Service and Valley Springs Postmaster Dann Myers stamped approximately 60 letters with the cancellation mark at Saturday's celebration.
The distinctive seal features a locomotive and U.S. flag with the
wording “Valley Springs Train Times Station, April 26, 2008, Valley
Springs, CA 95252.”
Myers was selling a 41-cent postage stamp with the Train Times
cancellation mark for $1 at the ABA booth.
Following Train Times, individuals who would like the Train Times
cancellation mark as a souvenir can go to the Valley Springs post office
and make a request for the cancellation. However, Myers said at this
time the cancellation mark can only go on items that will not go
directly through the mail.
Frank Gilbeau, left, begins lifting a Calaveras Chamber of Commerce ore cart to its final resting place off Highway 26 while Chamber President Jack Boeding and Ron Dwelley, far right, assist with the operation.
County Chamber expanding role in Valley Springs
The Calaveras County Chamber of Commerce is increasing its
presence in the west portion of the county.
The county chamber is completing installation of one of its
trademark ore carts at the Highway 26 entrance from San Joaquin County
and has announced plans to open a branch office in Valley Springs.
The ore cart was mounted on its stand Thursday and Chamber
Executive Director Diane Gray said the hope is to complete the project
by the end of this week or the beginning of next week.
In addition, she announced that the chamber plans to open its
Valley Springs branch by the beginning of May. The branch office will be
located in Mail Depot, Etc., at The Terrace, 1906 Vista Del Lago Drive,
Jaylene Goltz, Mail Depot, Etc. owner, will staff the branch
Goltz, who has worked for the local chamber, has additional
experience working with the chamber in Santa Rosa and is “the perfect
person to run forward with this,” Gray said.
The branch office will have a chamber sign and eventually a local
telephone number, Gray added.
Plans call for the new ore cart to be dedicated in early May.
The enlarged ore carts found off many of the entrances and exits
to Calaveras County have become the chamber’s trademark hospitality
symbol. The ore carts welcome those coming into the county and thanks
those who are leaving for their visit.
The Highway 26 ore cart was made possible by a donation from the
Bank of Rio Vista branch in Valley Springs. It is situated at a site
donated by Steve Watson of Abbey Well Service. Frank Gilbeau of Gilbeau
Crane Service out of San Andreas donated his time and equipment to
install the cart. Ford Construction is donating the rock for the top of
the cart and John Hertzig’s company is hauling the rock to the site.
The Bank of Rio Vista will also figure prominently this Friday
when the chamber ushers in its “Painted Frog of Calaveras County”
effort. The bank sponsored one of the 2008 frogs and it will be unveiled
at 11 a.m.
Gray said 10 more decorated frogs will be revealed to the public
at 5:30 p.m. May 9 at The Frogeteria at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds
and all of the frogs will be on display during the county fair from May
14 to 18.
“May is shaping up to be a busy month for the chamber,” Gray
Pat Derby, founder of the ARK 2000 Sanctuary, with a trio of the nine elephants at the compound. Photo by Jennifer Nisbet.
Public gets rare glimpse of sanctuary
There is an old expression that says, “It takes a village to
raise a child.”
So, how many villages does it take to save an elephant?
How about nine elephants, some lions, tigers and bears?
On Saturday, April 12, the ARK 2000 Sanctuary for Elephants said
thank you to many of its supporters and volunteers with a special tour
and a vegetarian lunch.
ARK 2000 is only open to the general public a few times a year
and on May 10 will be one of the opportunities for a first hand look.
Michelle Harvey, elephant keeper, put it simply, “This is their
(animals) home so we respect their privacy.”
Harvey, originally from Australia, has been working with
elephants for eight years. In April 2007 she relocated from Alaska to
the San Andreas sanctuary. While at the Alaskan zoo she was the keeper
for a 26-year-old elephant named Maggie, whom Harvey said seemed “not
quite happy in the cold weather.” Harvey hoped Maggie would find a
warmer home, but never imagined they would be reunited seven months
Maggie, an African elephant, has settled into her new home but
still has some adjustments.
After all, she hasn’t seen another elephant since she was six
months old. She was born in South Africa and her entire herd, including
mother, were killed. This was a way of culling down the elephant
population. Little Maggie, only 6 months old, was a sole survivor and
then sold to the zoo in Alaska.
Recently, Winky, an Asian elephant, passed away. Her constant
companion was Wanda, also an Asian elephant. Because Winky had arthritis
she didn’t move around very much and Wanda didn’t leave the side of
her best friend. Since Winky’s death, Wanda has taken to exploring her
surroundings and is checking out everything.
There are currently nine elephants at the San Andreas facility
and they all have a story. Sometimes they are not happy stories but
because of giving volunteers and generous businesses the ending will be
better. It is now possible for them to experience peace and contentment
in their later years.
So many people truly care about these animals. Dan and Devra
Lewis, owners of Blue Mountain Transit, have gone above and beyond
donating to this special cause. They not only donate their vehicles for
transportation, but also pay the gas and wages for the drivers any time
ARK needs them.
Galen Hazelhofer of Valley Springs, a watercolor and pencil
artist, paints the animals of the sanctuary and then donates the art to
the ARK 2000.
Pat Derby, founder of the sanctuary, has spent her life finding
ways to save these pachyderms and many other animals.
When she shares her adventures, her love of the animals radiates
to all who are listening.
As an animal lover put it, “To help a person is the act of
brotherhood but to help an animal is an act beyond.”
Staff members at Placer Title Company’s new office in Valley Springs are, from left, Bill Curnutt, chief title officer; Tami Allen, branch manager and escrow officer; Joy Littman, escrow and title assistant, and Cary Keener, escrow assistant.
Title Company opens new office in Valley Springs
Placer Title Company has opened a new office in Valley Springs. With the opening, Placer Title Company serves Calaveras and Alpine counties with three locations - Arnold, Copperopolis and Valley Springs.
The new office, which opened March 4, is at 10 Nove Way, Suite M. The phone number is (209) 772-2832.
Tami Allen leads the Valley Springs office as branch manager and
senior escrow officer, bringing 28 years of industry experience and
specializing in all types of real estate transactions ranging from new
home developments to mobile homes and §1031 Exchanges.
The Valley Springs team also consists of Cary Keener as escrow
assistant, Bill Curnutt as chief title officer, Marlene Gideon as chief
title officer and Joy Littman as escrow assistant. Sean Tucker and Matt
Hargon are co-county managers for Calaveras and Alpine counties.
Placer Title Company maintains a local title plant in the new
Valley Springs location, allowing expedited turn-around times and
"Placer Title Company is well known for our exceptional
customer service and the Valley Springs team has a proven track record
that I am certain will exceed expectations,” said Tucker. “This team
complements our Copperopolis and Arnold locations so that we can best
serve our customers - something Placer Title Company's excellent
reputation has been based upon for 35 years. I am looking forward to
this new location, and excited to maintain a team of dedicated,
well-respected professionals who are known for providing exceptional
service to the Calaveras and Alpine real estate community."
Placer Title Company is celebrating 35 years of success in 2008.
With more than 60 offices located throughout Northern and Central
California alone, Placer Title continues to pursue its commitment to
excellence. Placer Title is the only independent title and escrow agency
licensed in every county in California, and is one of the largest
independent title insurance agencies on the West Coast.
With the backing of Mother Lode Holding Company, PTC offers
multiple underwriters and extended resources, including a sister company
for §1031 Exchanges and a National Lender Services Division. As a
result, PTC is well equipped to handle any real estate transaction,
including the most complex residential and commercial transactions.
Except for a few odds and ends, the Taco Bell in the Valley Oaks Shopping Center is nearly completed and could open as soon as Wednesday.
Taco Bell prepares to open doors on Wednesday
If all goes well on the final inspection front in the new few
days, Valley Springs residents and those traveling through the area on
Highways 12 and 26 might be sitting down in the dining area of the new
Taco Bell and munching on burritos, tacos, quesadillas, gorditas,
chalupas, or Crunchwrap Supremes by Wednesday.
Dave Redfern, superintendent for American Building Concepts of
Valley Springs, which is constructing the restaurant, said the final
inspections are planned for the next few days and Taco Bell is shooting
for a Wednesday opening.
Construction and food industry workers were on site Thursday
morning doing final touch-up work – such as installing the soda
machine and putting up signage. Hiring is also under way.
When completed, the Valley Springs Taco Bell will be the latest
of the chain’s nearly 5,600 restaurants in the U.S.
Glen Bell built his first Taco Bell in 1962 in Downey and sold
his first franchise in 1964. In 1978 the business was sold to PepsiCo
Bell now serves more than 36.8 million consumers each week in the U.S.
Michael Chavez-Ochoa and fiancée Shannon Cummings in front of his work station inside Sacred Skin Tattoo.
Dreams of being a tattoo artist, running own shop become reality for Chavez-Ochoa
Michael Chavez-Ochoa has turned his love of art and drawing into
a profession and new business in Valley Springs.
The new business he opened a month ago is Sacred Skin Tattoo and
is located in Suite 5 at 4 Jean Street.
The shop is open six days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays
through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon to
6 p.m. on Sundays. It is closed on Mondays.
Chavez-Ochoa's interest in art and drawing goes back to when he
was 4 or 5 years old and he would look at the pictures in books and
magazines and sketch out what he saw. He took art classes all four years
in high school expanding his artistic talents from there into all kinds
Some of his artwork - with the help of "Sharpie"
markers - would find itself on the bodies of friends and it was in high
school that Chavez-Ochoa first thought about becoming a tattoo artist.
The dream was put off to the side after high school and Chavez-Ochoa
The dream rekindled when he bought a tattoo machine out of a
magazine and began working on friends and his brothers. It was a lot of
trial and error, he admits.
He eventually left a job in construction and started working at a tattoo shop in Stockton learning the profession and techniques from other artists and toying with the idea of opening his own shop.
The dream became reality and Chavez-Ochoa sees a bright future
for his Valley Springs tattoo parlor. He eventually sees the business
including a piercer and other tattoo artists. He also has his own
clothing line - Slave 2 Ink - available at the store and sees it
expanding in the future. Body jewelry is also available at the shop.
With the large influx of bikers and boaters who visit the area,
Chavez-Ochoa has plans of holding special events for them and inviting
tattoo artists from out of the area to visit and offer their services at
Chavez-Ochoa’s said he arrived at the name for his shop about
two years ago and it comes from his Christian beliefs that the skin is
sacred. Before opening the shop it had to pass health department
certification and Chavez-Ochoa is blood borne pathogen certified. He
uses new needles on every appointment.
The price per appointment depends on the piece of artwork, the
size and detail.
“I don’t believe in charging and arm and a leg for a
tattoo,” he said. The minimum rate is $50 for a very small tattoo and
he generally charges $100 each hour of work.
He also believes that every tattoo should be a little different.
The customer can have their own idea of what they want or look at
artwork in his shop, but Chavez-Ochoa will redraw it so it is not
exactly the same as someone else might have.
“People appreciate that,” he added.
Chavez-Ochoa said he likes to look at every tattoo artist’s
style and see how he can incorporate it into his own work. He said his
greatest influence is “Sailor” Jerry Collins, who is considered the
foremost American tattoo artist of his time.
To further his knowledge in the profession he used to work at
tattoo conventions to study techniques and styles.
“I’m always looking for advice,” he said.
And skin care after the tattoo so it heals properly is also
important to him. He provides a free tube of a care product after each
tattoo and explains to the customer how to use it.
Walk-in to the shop are welcomed and appointments can be made by
calling the shop at 772-1412, or his cell phone at 471-1812.
The Diamond Dolls & Company featuring, front row, from left, Marti Crane, Vicky Henkle, Donna Scribner, back row, from left, Debbie Rylance, Linda Mellin, Bill Crane, Beverly Pastorino and Mary Ash, will perform Saturday evening at the Calaveras Follies.
Local stars to shine at Saturday's follies
The fourth annual Calaveras Follies – the popular lip-synch
show featuring local celebrities performing to raises funds for the
Calaveras Youth Mentoring Program – will go on stage Saturday for its
one and only show.
"I think it's going to be our best show yet," says
Terri Wilson, artistic director of the follies. "This year's cast
is reaching for - and achieving - an even higher level of lip-synched
entertainment than in years past. And the dancing... you are going
to want to see this!"
More than 50 local celebrities have volunteered their time,
energy, and egos to create this year's Calaveras Follies, which will feature at
least 18 different acts - each competing for the coveted Frog Oscar
award, determined by secret audience ballot and awarded after the
performance. County Schools Superintendent John Brophy will return
as master of ceremonies.
Frogtown's Mark Twain Hall will be transformed into a
magical, star-studded affair, with abundant gourmet culinary delights
and a no-host bar. Partygoers may arrive as early as 6:30 p.m. so
they have time to relax, mingle and purchase raffle tickets for elegant
prize baskets. This year's raffle is even bigger and better than last
year's and includes an airplane ride, rafting trip, spa packages,
weekend getaways, and fine art and wine. Commemorative wine glasses and
DVDs of the show will be available as well.
Calaveras Youth Mentoring Program volunteers, Frogtown, and
Murphys Creek Theatre present the 2008 Calaveras Follies. Major
sponsors include Jillian Day Spa & Boutique; Mark Twain St. Joseph's
Hospital; Weber, Ghio and Associates, Inc.; Bank of Stockton-Angels
Camp; Calaveras County Behavioral Health Services; Calaveras County
Office of Education; Century 21 Sierra Properties; and Wayne and Sandy
Tickets are $50 per person and are available by calling Frogtown
at (209) 736-2561 (VISA and MasterCard are accepted). Guests are
encouraged to dress up for this occasion. Tickets will also be available
at the door; but sponsors and early ticket buyers sit closer to the
For more information, visit online at www.calaverasfollies.com.
The Calaveras Youth Mentoring Program is a countywide program
based on the Big Brothers Big Sisters model, administered by the
Calaveras County Office of Education. The youth served are students in
first through 12th grades who want a mentor and are referred to the
program, where they are matched with safe, caring adults who offer
support, guidance, and friendship and help them make healthy life
For more information about the Calaveras Youth Mentoring Program,
call 736-6078, or visit online at www.calaverasmentoring.org.
The Relay for Life special cancellation mark from the Burson Post Office.
Special cancellation at county post offices to promote upcoming Relay for Life event
Sixteen post offices in Calaveras County are showing their
support of the American Cancer Society’s upcoming Relay for Life with
a special cancellation.
Between now and April 26, the post offices in Angels Camp,
Arnold, Avery, Burson, Copperopolis, Glencoe, Hathaway Pines, Mokelumne
Hill, Mountain Ranch, Murphys, Railroad Flat, San Andreas, Vallecito,
Valley Springs, Wallace and West Point will cancel mail, by request,
with a special “Hoppin’ For a Cure” design.
This year’s Relay for Life event begins at 10 a.m. Saturday,
April 26, and ends at 10 a.m. Sunday April 27, at Bret Harte High School
in Angels Camp.
This is the sixth year Calaveras County has participated in the
Relay for Life, but the first year a special cancellation has been
included and the first time a countywide special cancellation has been
The artist for the special cancellation is Robert Norman, a
resident of West Point and an experienced special cancellation artist.
“To date, Bob has designed three cancellations and a cache for
Angels Camp,” said Laney Henderson, Angels Camp postmaster. “I can
always count on him to design the perfect cancellation. When the relay
committee decided to adopt a theme for this year’s relay, I thought a
countywide special cancellation would be the perfect way to spread the
idea throughout the county and Bob was my first choice as artist.”
Once a year community members gather at Relay for Life to
celebrate survivors and caregivers, remember loved ones lost and to gain
inspiration for the fight. A tradition that began in Tacoma, Wash., in
1986, each of the more than 4,800 relays nationwide is a fun-filled,
Teams of eight to 15 members gather with tents and sleeping bags,
each with the same goal – keep one team member on the track at all
times. Relay for Life brings together friends, families, businesses,
hospitals, schools, churches…people from all walks of life.
Each Relay for Life opens as cancer survivors take the first lap.
This emotional time sets the stage for the importance of each
participant’s contribution. A festive atmosphere always develops as
participants make new friends and spend time with old ones. Highlighting
the evening is a luminaria Ceremony of Hope held at dusk to honor cancer
survivors and to remember loved ones lost to cancer. The luminaria
candles line the track and are left burning throughout the night to
remind participants of the incredible importance of their contributions.
Bob Belmont, left, and Bob Bucy display this year’s Fireworks Quilt to be raffled off to raise funds for the Valley Springs Boosters’ Fireworks Over New Hogan Fund. The fireworks show is scheduled for June 28.
Boosters to host major event to finance fireworks
By Nick Baptista
Tickets are now available for the cornerstone event to help
finance the annual fireworks show over New Hogan Reservoir.
The Valley Springs Boosters’ annual Wine and Cheese Reception
is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday, April 19, at the Jenny Lind Fire
Station No. 1, 6501 Jenny Lind Road.
Tickets are $15 per person and can be obtained from Booster
members, at Longs, or at the door.
Proceeds from the wine and cheese reception support the annual
fireworks show at Hogan and it is the first, and probably only,
opportunity to reserve a table for the annual community barbecue and sit
ringside at the Hogan Dam Observation Point to observe the lakeside
pyrotechnic display scheduled for June 28.
The limited numbers of tables for the fireworks show generally
are sold out at the wine and cheese reception.
The reception will feature a wide variety of local wines and is
hosted by French Hill Winery out of Mokelumne Hill.
The wine and cheese reception will also feature the unveiling of
the always popular “fireworks quilt.” The quilt will be the sixth
one prepared for the fireworks show. It was designed and sewn by Lynne
Storm and quilted by Altogether Family Quilts. The quilt will be raffled
the night of the fireworks with ticket sales going to the fireworks
The quilt will be on display and raffle tickets sold at various
downtown locations leading up to the fireworks show. In addition,
Booster Club members will also be selling raffle tickets.