Serving the communities of Valley Springs, Burson and Wallace
Dove Larsen, left, is the new postmaster relief for Burson Postmaster Wendi Sherman.
postmaster receives a helping hand in the office
By Nick Baptista
Burson Postmaster Wendi Sherman is about to relearn what it is
like to take an entire Saturday off.
Sherman is in the process of training a new “PMR” or
Postmaster Relief for the Burson Post Office. Dove Larsen of Burson has
been hired as the new PMR and she expects to go solo this Saturday.
In addition to working Saturdays, Larsen will serve as
Sherman’s relief when she is on vacation, sick leave, or in training.
“She is me when I’m not here,” Sherman said.
For Sherman, the addition to the post office could not have come
soon enough. She has been on a six-day schedule at the rural post office
for the past two years.
Larsen has been a Burson resident since 1992. The part-time
position works well for the busy mother and aunt who has a household of
children in sports. Her 16-year-old daughter plays for the Sliders
softball team and her 16-year-old niece plays volleyball for Calaveras
High School and a traveling team.
Larsen began working for the post office the beginning of April
and it has been very challenging to learn the new job, she said. She
will also be eligible to provide relief help at other post offices in
Preparing to celebrate the opening of a new office are Country Oaks Realty staff, from left, Christine Reimer, Tammy Wilhelm, Cathy Nitchey, George Cavagnaro, Carl Wiese, Yvonne Wiese, Tina Patteson, Linda Frater, Michael Conrad, Jessica Neelans, Rebecca Sattler and Kelly Kannell. Not pictured are Judit Hart, Roberta Novo, Richard McCormick and Lola Zmak.
celebrates 30 years in the business
By Nick Baptista
Country Oaks Realty, the longest established real estate office
in Valley Springs and possibly all of western Calaveras County, will
showcase its new office at 106-B Highway 12 on Saturday and celebrate 30
years of continuous operation in the community.
Broker-owner Yvonne Wiese came to the area 30 years ago with the
marketing firm that was selling the balance of the Rancho Calaveras
inventory for Boise-Cascade. When the Pacific-Hawaiian Land Co. sales
crew completed the task and began to move on to other projects, Wiese
decided to stay behind and launched her own real estate business in the
sales office at Highway 26 and Baldwin.
The approximately 500-square-foot building has been her office
for the past 30 years and now she is expanding the operation to the new
downtown Valley Springs location that is more than twice the size of the
The 1,040-square-foot office at the northeast corner of Highway
12 and Pine Street has room for seven desks and Wiese has an office of
her own, another first after 30 years in the business.
With the two locations, she boasts of having the first two real
estate offices on the two major highways leading into Valley Springs.
With the new office, Wiese has increased her staff to 19 members.
“I feel real fortunate all the way around with a close, caring
and devoted staff of people,” she said. “I’m just the facilitator.
The staff is devoted to their clients and they’re all raising families
and involved in the community. We’re a family and we work around
Wiese was working for Nu-Laid Eggs in the Bay Area when she came
up to Valley Springs with a friend who was selling property. Wiese
bought some and decided to get her real estate license. Her boss at Nu-Laid
gave her a six-month leave of absence, but Wiese did so well that she
decided to stay here. Her first clients were Ron and Elaine Alves.
There have been ups and downs in the market, but the future of
Valley Springs looks bright and Wiese said she has no plans to retire.
“Retirement is doing what you enjoy in life,” Wiese said,
“and I’m enjoying what I’m doing right now.”
Although none of her children are in the profession,
granddaughter Jessica Neelans has picked up the torch.
“It makes me proud because I didn’t think anyone in the
family was going to go into the business,” she said of Jessica’s
decision to get her license.
With the community in a growth spurt, Wiese said it is important
for the schools to be able to handle the population increase. In
addition, she said she hopes there are no freeways in Valley Springs’
future because they would ruin the area’s charm.
Country Oaks’ open house celebration will be from 1 to 4 p.m.
Saturday at both locations. Country Oaks Realty II at Highway 12 and
Pine Street will feature tri-tip sandwiches and salads, while Country
Oaks Realty I at Highway 26 and Baldwin will serve desserts.
Participating in Wednesday’s ceremony turning over the Gold Creek Estates Clubhouse to the Homeowner’s Association were, from left, Gordon Perry, association board member; Whitnay Gillick of First American Title Co.; Julie Moore of First American Title Co.; Ryan Voorhees, Gold Creek Homes president; Paul Tarantino, association treasurer and Tami Allen of First American Title Co.
Creek clubhouse presented to homeowners
Gold Creek Homes has turned over ownership of the subdivision’s
recently completed 2,500-square-foot clubhouse to the Gold Creek Estates
The clubhouse for the master-planned community of eventually 400 homes features a meeting room with rock fireplace and windows facing a 100-year old oak at the entrance to the development. There are restrooms, private offices and a workout room complete with exercise equipment and furnishings that have been provided by Gold Creek Homes.
The homeowner’s association will operate the clubhouse
for the benefit of the Gold Creek homeowners and community.
“Ryan Voorhees, president of Gold Creek Homes, is executing
this master planned community in stages, and the clubhouse is a
very important element of creating a very special environment for the
homeowners at Gold Creek,” said Gordon Perry, a member of the
homeowner’s association board and marketing representative for Gold
Creek Estates. “It will provide the homeowners with a facility to
meet, hold social events, exercise...it will be the social hub of Gold
The transition was observed during a brief ceremony Wednesday
afternoon. First American Title Co. in Valley Springs provided
complimentary refreshments at the event.
”This is a case where a home developer is going the extra mile to create not only good homes, but a nice place to live,” Perry said.
Phil Weaver, left, and Sal Manna, Society for the Preservation of West Calaveras History directors, display a branding board presented to the new organization by the family of the late George “Dutch” Schwoerer.
forms to save area's rich history
By Nick Baptista
An organization dedicated to preserving the history of west
Calaveras County has been started.
The Society for the Preservation of West Calaveras History has been formed as a nonprofit educational association, according to Sal Manna, one of the society’s three directors.
“The towns of Burson, Wallace, Valley Springs, Campo Seco,
Paloma and Jenny Lind have a long and colorful history that needs to be
preserved, cherished and made available to its citizens as well as to
the citizens of the rest of Calaveras County, the state of California
and elsewhere,” says the society’s mission statement.
“We hope to work with the county historical society,” Manna
said. He added that the Calaveras County communities of Angels Camp,
Mokelumne Hill and Murphys have their own historical societies.
In addition to Manna, the board is composed of Richard Taylor
from Regis Communications and Phil Weaver of Sheng Chi Kung Fu. Manna is
a free-lance writer and the president of the Wallace/Burson Association.
The long-term goal of the society is to obtain museum space or a
museum itself, Manna said.
“Many of the area’s old-timers are starting to pass away and
we want to make sure important artifacts stay here and get exhibited
here,” he said. “Too many people don’t know we have any history
One such artifact was cited by Manna as an example why the
society was formed.
The relatives of Valley Springs native George “Dutch”
Schwoerer recently gave Manna a large board displaying the brands of
“We believe Dutch went around to all of the ranchers back in
the 1950s and had them put their brand on the board,” Manna said.
The Schwoerer family also donated hundreds of pre-1910 photos and
some as early as 1870.
The society will facilitate similar donations and those items
will be tax deductible. The non-profit status also allows the society to
seek grants from the government and private foundations.
Prior to having museum space or a museum, the society plans to
obtain display cases and prepare exhibits that can be seen at area
businesses wishing to participate, he added.
In addition to exhibits, the society plans to have public events
and the first one will be in September to honor the founder of Wallace,
John Wallace. The event will be at Wallace’s gravesite in Stockton.
Those interested in making donations or contributions to the
society can contact Manna at (209) 772-0336 or write to him at P.O. Box
714 Burson, CA 95225.
The society will also have a blog on ourvalleysprings.com and an
The society can also be an economic asset to the community, Manna
“History is an asset,” Manna said. “They’re selling it
elsewhere and we have enough of it here.”
Toyon Middle School’s Katie
Tanner (front), and from left, Samantha Golston, teacher Teresa Fasola,
Taylor Campbell and Sara Farmer are all smiles after receiving news that
two of their plays were winners in a recent play writing competition.
Toyon foursome shines
for playwriting abilities
Toyon Middle School has four talented young playwrights in its
Seventh-graders Katie Tanner, Taylor Campbell, Samantha Golston,
and Sara Farmer recently were notified that they are winners of the
Children’s Fantasy Theater of Sacramento’s 2006 play writing
Tanner and Campbell’s “Finding Prince Charming” and Golston
and Farmers’ “Little Milk Chocolate Girl” were chosen from entries
from all over the Sacramento and Central Valley areas to be performed by
the theater group now through June 3 at more than 100 schools in
All four students wrote their plays as part of a class project in
Teresa Fasola’s core class at Toyon.
Fasola is known for giving the students creative projects in
which they can express themselves through their writing.
She said she’s been sending in entries for the past seven
years, but up until now, Toyon has only had one other year with a
winner. “This is our best
year ever!” said Fasola. “We are so excited to have two winners.”
Principal Jan Matson was very proud of the four girls.
Though not surprised that Toyon has such exceptional students,
she noted that having two groups of winners was very special for Toyon.
“It’s a record for us and I think also for Fantasy Theater”
said Matson about having a double win for TMS.
All the girls were excited about their win and happy that they
would be able to see a theater production of their works.
“I can’t wait to see how they perform the play and the
costumes they come up with,” said Tanner.
The plays were performed Tuesday at Toyon and will also be
performed May 22 at Valley Springs Elementary.
Tanner, Golston, and Farmer are from the Valley Springs area and
Campbell is from San Andreas.
Supervisor hopefuls, from left, Victoria Erickson, Mike McDaniel and Russ Thomas tackled a number of questions during Monday's forum at Rancho Calaveras.
Photo by Laura Baptista
Supervisor candidates discuss issues
By Nick Baptista
The trio of candidates running to represent District 5 on the
Calaveras County Board of Supervisors answered approximately 25
questioned posed by the media and the public Monday night at an election
forum hosted by The Valley Springs News.
The two-hour forum attracted an audience of approximately 75
people who heard the views of incumbent Victoria Erickson and
challengers Mike McDaniel and Russ Thomas on a variety of topics
including the general plan update, flood control, traffic congestion,
recreation, fire service, the jail and whether they were for or against
a box store in the Valley Springs area.
In opening statements, Thomas said his vision for future growth
in the county and especially District 5 “is firmly based on quality of
life factors, including realistic population densities, solving traffic
problems and the preservation of open space."
McDaniel outlined his 20-plus years of experience working with
developers, communities and citizens in developing communities. He said
District 5 was at a turning point where further “uncontrollable growth
will fracture the community.”
He said the entire community should have a voice in the future of
District 5 and he would focus on representing the public at the board
Erickson said economic development in the county was important,
citing the disparity in unemployment figures between Calaveras and
Amador counties of 6.7 to 5.1 percent.
“It needs to be addressed,” she said.
She cited Delta College’s interest in locating a satellite
campus in the Valley Springs area as one way to increase local jobs and
said she was working with fellow Supervisor Bill Claudino “to make it
Vanessa Turner, KVML and MyMotherLode.com’s Calaveras County
Bureau reporter, posed the first question to the candidates and it dealt
with their thoughts about retail development and increasing sales tax
dollars coming back to the county.
McDaniel stressed the need to avoid strip mall development and go
for high-end retail. Thomas said he had quality of life concerns about
too much retail development such as box stores and wanted to keep the
area’s rural atmosphere. Erickson said the county receives only 6.3
percent of General Fund revenue from sales tax dollars so the need
exists for additional retail development. She said Valley Springs needs
to complete a community plan to outline what type of development
residents desire and then use that information to guide developers.
A week after flooding damaged at least 20 homes in the Valley
Springs area, the issue of flood control came up during questioning at
Monday’s Rancho Calaveras forum for the three candidates running to
represent District 5 on the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors.
Erickson and Thomas backed the work the county, Calaveras County
Water District and the federal government are pursuing in regards to
flood control. McDaniel was critical of the current situation. He said
the areas prone to flooding had been well documented on federal maps,
but the data was not used at the county level.
In questioning from the media, all agreed the county jail was a
liability with limited inmate capacity.
McDaniel said he would seek ways to get funds not only for a new
jail, but new substations, which would also have jail facilities. He
would seek state funds, but if necessary, go to a bond election.
Thomas said he would support a bond issue to build a new jail. He
said it is a quality of life issue and believed voters would support
constructing a new jail to make sure sentences are served and the public
construction of a jail is one of the county government’s highest
priorities and they are at work developing a facilities fee to address
the issue. She added she would support a bond if it took a bond to get a
new jail constructed. She added the early release of inmates is
discouraging to the county’s deputies.
In regards to jobs and facilities for the area’s young people,
the candidates were in favor of creating more parks. Erickson said she
was in favor of a countywide park and recreation system and would like
to see a park fee system in place. She also re-emphasized the need for
more commercial and retail development to create jobs.
McDaniel said the county needs to create a park district and
could lose some funding if it does not do so.
Thomas said he was accustomed to access to park when he grew up
in Modesto it was one of his objectives to create more recreational
opportunities in this county.
The 18-hole golf course being built off Ospital Road drew a
strong response from Thomas. The course was built on agriculturally
zoned land for personal use with little or no government oversight and
environmental review. The landowner now is seeking to add a number of
commercial aspects to the project such as a lodge, overnight
accommodations, a restaurant and banquet facility.
Although the owner has the “theoretical right” to build the
golf course, Thomas indicated if he were supervisor, he would make an
example of the project and not allow any additional uses.
“I’d make sure he gets to use it – exclusively,” Thomas
He added that the golf course is an example of a way of doing
business in the county where some people go ahead and do what they want
and “ask for forgiveness instead of permission.”
McDaniel said the golf course project was “outrageous” and
needs to be stopped.
Erickson said the project has been stopped and the golf course
will be part of the environmental impact review if the proposal
All three agreed an update of the General Plan should be the
county’s top priority. When asked whether they supported some type
slowdown on zoning changes while the General Plan was being rewritten,
McDaniel said yes, Erickson said she would be in favor of a slowdown at
an appropriate time in the process and Thomas was nervous about
discussion of a slowdown or moratorium given his experiences with the
planning matters in Copperopolis that has been going on for five years.
Expanding fire service in the Valley Springs area was also raised
at the forum. McDaniel said the area’s volunteer service is the best
he’s seen, but it is inadequate. The area needs a full-time fire
department especially in light of recent growth. He added the insurance
industry is becoming aware that the local volunteer fire departments
cannot meet the demands and rates will go up.
Erickson said she was in favor of consolidating all of the
departments into one county fire department. The county made a big
mistake when it reorganized the departments, she added.
Erickson said the county should be responsible for fire
protection and she was working with fellow Supervisor Steve Wilensky to
bring the idea to the full board.
Thomas said he was not sure how much influence supervisors have
on fire protection, but the area has a need for full-time firefighters.
Whether they were in favor of a box store in Valley Springs drew
an emphatic “no” from Erickson, while McDaniel was in favor of the
retail development if it fit with the General Plan and did not cause
traffic problems. Thomas said he did not believe the public wanted any
large box stores, but he would follow their wishes if they asked for
When asked about their vision for the area, Thomas said he
didn’t want the area to become another Stockton. He came here to look
at oak trees and economic development has to be done intelligently.
McDaniel said he wanted to see a concentrated retail and
commercial core in Valley Springs that would lend itself to pedestrian
traffic, while Erickson said it was time to shut the gate and fix our
problems first. However, she said it is not how she feels, but what the
Making developers and contractors pay to repair roads damaged
during construction was another question from the public. McDaniel said
it happens because we allow it. Erickson said developers are required to
make the repairs and if they are not, citizens should contact the
county’s public works department. Thomas said aggressive monitoring is
When asked about solutions for providing affordable housing to
the county’s workforce, Erickson said the county should work with
developers to make sure they build affordable homes. Thomas said it
should be a proposed component in future development, while McDaniel
said some counties make it a requirement for developers.
Asked how they would vote on a proposal to eliminate the
Calaveras Council of Governments, McDaniel and Thomas said they would
keep it, while Erickson said she would wait until a study is completed
before making a decision.
The election for District 5 supervisor is June 6. The district
covers the communities of Copperopolis, Jenny Lind and Rancho Calaveras.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger answers questions from the media Monday during his visit to the Flood Operations Center.
Governor's declaration provides state assistance to county
Floodwaters continue to pose problems throughout western Calaveras County and on Monday Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in Calaveras and six other counties.
Following last Tuesday’s 3-inch deluge that damaged at least 20
homes primarily in the La Contenta area and forced an evacuation,
residents in the Jenny Lind area were put on an evacuation notice late
Friday afternoon when a breech occurred in a levee channeling water
releases from New Hogan Dam.
The initial failure was estimated at 80 feet in length and water
flooded approximately 35 acres in several agricultural areas.
On Thursday, the evacuation order for residents on several
streets in the La Contenta area was lifted, but residents were advised
that Tuesday’s floodwaters were contaminated with untreated sewage
when Cosgrove Creek entered the Valley Springs Public Utility District
The governor’s proclamation for Calaveras, Amador, Fresno,
Merced, San Joaquin, San Mateo and Stanislaus counties “direct(s) all
agencies of the state government to utilize and employ state personnel,
equipment and facilities for the performance of any and all necessary
activities to alleviate this emergency as directed by my Office of
Emergency Services and in accordance with the State Emergency Plan.”
Castle Rock Estates trailer park was under flood waters Tuesday afternoon.
Two-inch downpour in 30 minutes causes havoc
At least 15 homes damaged by flood
By Nick Baptista
A downpour of 2 inches within a 30-minute period Tuesday
afternoon swelled already high creeks and streams rushing into Valley
Springs and by the time the rain began to subside at least 15 homes
along the Cosgrove Creek corridor had sustained significant damage.
In addition, residents in approximately 100 homes in La Contenta
later that night were ordered to evacuate while nearby Peachtree Pond
teetered on giving way and sending another wall of water downstream.
After nearly 10 inches of rain in March and another two the first
three days of April, Valley Springs received nearly three inches of rain
on Tuesday. Valley Springs Public Utility District General Manager Mike
Fischer reported the treatment plant received nearly two inches of rain
from approximately 1:30 to 2 p.m.