Serving the communities of Valley Springs, Burson and Wallace
Foothill firefighters for the time being are prohibited from entering burning buildings.
OSHA limits rescue work by Foothill firefighters
By Nick Baptista
Individuals trapped inside a burning building or automobile
within the Foothill Fire Protection District will have to wait at least
an additional four minutes for certified firefighters to come to their
The state’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration
earlier this month imposed restrictions on Foothill prohibiting fire
district volunteers from entering any burning buildings or automobiles
until they had completed certification to use their self-contained
In the meantime, certified firefighters from Jenny Lind, San
Andreas and the California Department of Forestry will perform those
duties inside the Foothill district. Foothill firefighters are allowed
to roll on those calls and provide whatever assistance possible.
Foothill can also respond to call such as medical emergencies
that do not require them to wear air tanks.
Jenny Lind Fire Chief Brian Chavez-Ochoa said his department more
than likely would be the first on the scene able to use their air tanks
to enter burning buildings and automobiles.
Although it has been procedure in the past to immediately
dispatch Jenny Lind for structure fires in Foothill, the chief said, his
department would now be dispatched immediately for any automobile fire
in the Foothill district.
Even with the immediate dispatch in both instances, Chavez-Ochoa
said there would be a four- to five-minute delay from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
for his crews to travel from Jenny Lind Station No. 1 at Highway 26 and
Jenny Lind Road to the Foothill border and an additional three to four
minutes in the evening.
“It’s not optimal, but we’ll do our best,” he said.
Chavez-Ochoa added that Jenny Lind has offered Foothill any
assistance it might need to become compliant with Cal OSHA regulations.
“It’s unfortunate and I hope they can come into compliance
quickly so they can respond to their calls,” Chavez-Ochoa said.
The restrictions were imposed Aug. 19 and Foothill is working to
comply with the regulations, which require physical examinations to
determine whether the volunteers are healthy to wear the protective
masks and a “fit test” to determine whether each firefighter’s
face mask fits properly.
Jenny Lind has not received a time frame as to when Foothill will
be ready to respond to calls within its district requiring the use of
air tanks, Chavez-Ochoa said.
Developers Dave Swarbrick and Greg Thompson say high sewer connection fee are deterring two restaurants from coming to the new commercial center at Highway 26 and Vista Del Lago.
Developers take high fee concerns to CCWD board
By Nick Baptista
The owners of Valley Springs’ newest commercial development
want some relief when it comes to paying for sewer connection fees.
Dave Swarbrick and Greg Thompson of Thompson Swarbrick
Development Co. presented their case Wednesday before the Calaveras
County Water District’s Board of Directors.
The two men are building the commercial center on the southeast
corner of Vista Del Lago and Highway 26 and have two “upscale”
restaurants interested in locating at the site.
However, the restaurants have balked at signing leases after
learning it will cost $141,000 each in sewer connection fees.
In all, CCWD sewer connection fees for the complex at build-out
could hit $373,791.
The utility district is looking at updating its connection fees
for water and sewer and a rate hearing has been set for Sept. 27.
Swarbrick presented the board with a paper comparing CCWD’s
connection fees with fees for the Tuolumne Utility District, Amador
Water Agency, Murphys Sanitary District, Valley Springs Public Utility
District and the city of Jackson.
CCWD “is way beyond any of them,” Swarbrick told the board.
For a similar 100-seat restaurant, Amador had the next highest
connection fee at $56,490, while the city of Jackson had a fee of $9,500
that compared to CCWD’s fee of $313,866 for one building at the
The equity of CCWD’s calculations also came into question.
While it costs $14,100 for a dwelling unit in CCWD’s La Contenta sewer
system to hook up, it costs $5,500 for sewer hook-ups in the rest of the
district. However, the district is proposing substantial increases in
water and sewer fees in several areas.
Swarbrick also questioned the reasoning for saying a 100-seat
restaurant is equal in connection fees to 10 dwelling units.
Commercial development in the area has been slow at least in part
due to excessive connection fees, he said.
District 5 Director Jeff Davidson said he agreed that the high
fees retard commercial development, especially when the county’s Road
Impact Mitigation fees are added to development costs.
However, Davidson went through Swarbrick’s comparison list and
pointed out that the districts charging lower connection fees may not be
the most solvent and CCWD’s rates have not changed and should not be a
shock to the developers at this time.
Davidson urged the district to consider allowing the connection
fees to be paid in installments. Board Chairwoman Bertha Underhill
echoed Davidson’s thoughts.
“I’m hearing the same thing,” she said. “By the time they
pay this fee what do they have left?
District 2 Director Bob Dean supported the installment idea and
suggested at 20 percent deposit to go along with monthly payments.
The district could also consider looking at the number of
fixtures in the buildings and charging per fixture.
CCWD General Manager David Andres said that method could arrive
at some different cost numbers.
Davidson said CCWD’s connection costs would go down if the
district were able to receive a discharge permit from the state. The
permit could reduce sewer costs in half, he added.
Andres also suggested reconsideration of the seating numbers in
an effort to reduce the hook-up costs.
Thompson said the two restaurants they are looking at would not
consider signing leases with the connection fees at $141,000.
He urged the board to act quickly on the matter.
“We can’t hold them for months,” he said. “They’ll go
Thompson he and his partner had told the prospective tenants that
they would split the costs of the connection fees and the restaurants
felt the charge was still too high.
Tillie Soyland, past president of the Valley Springs Area
Business Association, lives nearby the new commercial development and
said she thought the fees were excessive.
“It seems unfair that La Contenta sewer fees are higher than
everywhere else in the county,” she said.
Soyland said she was looking forward to a greater choice of
restaurants in the area and urged CCWD to work quickly on the matter.
The center is nearing completion and Curves is the lone tenant at
this time, Thompson reported. He said a bank is looking to move into the
center and if the hook-up fees can be reduced an Asian Bistro is very
interested in moving in, which will complete one wing at the complex.
Recently sworn in a Calaveras County Sheriff’s Department volunteers or sergeants were, from left, Shirley Sattler, Mike Gamerl, Helena Bitter, Georgia Hemrich, Carla Pedrini, Jim Aguilera, Donna Franz and Bill Cook.
joins Sheriff's Department volunteers
County Sheriff Dennis Downum swore in six new members of the Sheriff’s
Volunteer Unit during the August Volunteer meeting.
The new volunteers are Bill Cook of Burson, Georgia Hemrich and
Carla Pedrini of Valley Springs, Jim Aguilera of Arnold, Helena Bitter
of West Point and Donna Franz, Copperopolis.
The swearing in of volunteers is more than just ceremonial as it
confirms their responsibility to work closely with the Sheriff’s
Department in its mission of upholding the law in Calaveras County.
Volunteers offer a wide range of assistance to the Sheriff’s
Department by staffing the five substations, patrolling residential
areas, businesses, schools and parks, providing crowd control at major
county and community events and performing clerical and other assistance
to various departments within the Sheriff’s office. Volunteers are not
involved in actual law enforcement activities.
In addition, Shirley Sattler of Valley Springs and Mike Gamerl of
Copperopolis were recently promoted to volunteer sergeant. These
positions include the supervision of the volunteers in their respective
areas and the responsibility for all volunteer activities in the area.
Although the addition of six new members has helped the volunteers come closer to meeting their commitment of performing crime-prevention activities, more help is needed, according to the department. Anyone interested in joining the volunteer group is asked to visit any of the five Sheriff’s substations located throughout the county.
Phase One of the fire station in Burson should be enclosed by the end of the week.
Foothill's Burson fire station taking shape
By Nick Baptista
Work is progressing rapidly on the Foothill Fire Protection
District’s Burson firehouse.
Located off Highway 12 at Helisma and Fitzgerald roads,
installation of the steel skeleton for the garage is under way and the
structure could be enclosed and insulated by the end of the week,
according to Foothill Board Member Wayne Fry.
The 3,200-square-foot garage has three bays. The second phase
encompasses pouring a foundation for two modulars currently sitting at
the corner of Highway 12 and Burson Road. The modulars, approximately
1,400 square feet in size, will be moved closer to the garage and serve
“We’re getting some pride back into our community,” Fry
said. “Things are coming along and we’re progressing.”
Earlier this month, the fire district’s board of directors
accepted a $16,900 bid from Allan Askew for installation of the steel
garage. Fry said a vote on the type of doors to install at the firehouse
is expected soon. He sees the garage structure ready for occupancy in
The modulars have been at the site for several years. Despite
some vandalism, they don’t look that bad, Fry said.
Earthwork is also under way for the installation of a
30,000-gallon water storage tank the district is receiving as a donation
from the Clements Fire Department.
The fire board earlier this year received criticism from the
Calaveras County Grand Jury for its slowness in completing the Burson
Ambulance and fire crews assist those injured in a two-vehicle accident Monday evening on Highway 12 in front of the Valley Oaks Shopping Center.
5 injured in rush-hour accident
Five people were injured in a two-vehicle accident at 5:30 p.m.
Aug. 14 on Highway 12 near the south entrance into the Valley Oaks
According to the California Highway Patrol, a 2006 Ford driven by
Albert M. Araujo, 24, of Burson was exiting the parking lot and pulled
out on to Highway 12. The CHP said Araujo apparently did not see an
eastbound 2002 Mitsubishi driven by Veronica Campbell, 33, of Wallace.
Campbell’s vehicle struck Araujo’s auto broadside and then
Araujo sustained moderate injuries and was transported to
Doctor’s Medical Center in Modesto for treatment. Ben Silva, 23, of
Fall River, Mass., a passenger in Araujo’s vehicle, sustained minor
injuries and was transported to Memorial Hospital in Modesto.
Campbell and two of three children in her vehicle sustained minor
injuries. She was going to seek treatment on her own, while Hayden
Campbell, 8, and Ryan Campbell, 6, were transported to U.C. Davis
Medical Center in Sacramento.
The accident snarled downtown traffic for more than an hour while
the injured were removed from the vehicles and two medical helicopters
were landed to transport several of the victims to hospitals.
Bill Watts, owner of Valley Springs Tire and Auto Repair, in one of six cars he had competing in the Amador County Fair's Destruction Derby.
Valley Springs Tire enters six cars in Amador derby
Bill and Tammy Watts, owners of Valley Springs Tire and Auto Repair,
entered six vehicles in the Amador County Fair Destruction Derby held Sunday,
July 30, in Plymouth.
Best finish for the group was in the top four of the Hard Luck
competition. Bill was doing fine,
but the ignition switch went out.
Mindy Cox made it to the finals in one of the six vehicles.
The Amador Fair does not have a “Powder Puff” event for women only,
so Cox was in a tough fight with all of the other contestants until her starter
went out about half way through the event.
Other drivers for Valley Springs Tire were Sean Cox, Andrew Trudeau,
Steve Bryant and Jennifer Beardsley.
Bill received sponsorships from local area businesses: Valley Springs
Napa, Paradise Pool, DJs Hair, Bronze Lounge, Monster Electronics, Top Quality
Insulation, Elite Nails, Bank of Rio Vista, C&J Music, Mail Depot, Etc. and
Beardsley Services. Out of town sponsors Blackjack Enterprises, CPD Wireless and
North & South Shore Camanche Lake.
Bill and the crew plan on entering their next destruction derby Sept. 3
and 4 at Cal Expo in Sacramento.
Paul James Coca and his mother Noreen at the family's new Firefall Jewelers store in the Valley Springs Plaza.
Firefall Jewelers opens new store at Valley Springs Plaza
By Nick Baptista
Jewelers is the latest addition to the Valley Springs Plaza at 10 Nove
Way in Valley Springs.
Valley Springs jewelry store is the Coca family's second retail
operation. The family opened its first store nearly three years ago in
Noreen Coca are the owners and their son Paul James manages the Valley
Springs store. He is a graduate of the Gemologist Institute of America
and he encouraged the family into going retail. His father is a master
goldsmith with more than 20 years of experience and he was servicing
several stores in the Bay Area. Prior to getting into the field of
making jewelry as a hobby, he was a mechanical engineer in Silicon
wanted a change and we sold our house and made a move to the
foothills," said Noreen. "It was the best move we ever
the move, Paul James was a manager for several jewelry stores in the Bay
addition to retail sales, Firefall Jewelers offers custom jewelry and
repairs. The business has two pieces of equipment seldom seen in an
operation of its size - a laser welder and a CAD/CAM graphics and
milling machine. The laser welder can fix almost any jewelry, while the
father and son jewelers can use the CAD/CAM machine to produce custom
family goes to Antwerp, Belgium, once a year to buy diamonds for its
jewelry and belongs to the Independent Jewelers Organization, the
largest diamond-buying group in the world.
Jewelers offers a collection of colored stones from Phillip Zahm and the
Bart Leddell International Collection. The Zahm collection has won the
Spectrum Award two years in a row for colored stones. Both are
colleagues and personal friends of the Cocas and Leddell will make a
rare visit to the store.
Jewelers offers free cleaning and jewelry inspection in its stores.
Repairs make up 30 percent of Firefall's business and all repairs are
done within the store, except for watches.
get tons of repairs because of our reputation for excellent work,"
said Paul James.
for the new store at Suite L in the plaza are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday
through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. The store will be open
seven days a week during the holidays. The phone number is (209)
772-7388. Firefall Jewelers also offers in-house financing on its sales.
The growth of vegetation along the banks of Cosgrove Creek has raised an alarm of concern.
Supervisors back plans to clear Cosgrove Creek
By Nick Baptista
Calaveras County’s Public Works Department received
authorization from the Board of Supervisors on Monday to begin channel
maintenance efforts on Cosgrove Creek prior to the beginning of the
Public Works Director Rob Houghton outlined three phases
regarding flood control issues in the county during Monday’s study
session and the board voiced support for Houghton to begin work on the
first phase, which concentrates on channel maintenance along Cosgrove
Creek to avoid a repeat of April’s flooding.
Phases two and three, which call for the county to take a greater
role in flood protection and the possibility of establishing a flood
control district, will continue to be discussed, said Board Chairwoman
Phase one calls for the county to secure rights of entry along
the creek, obtain the proper permits from state and federal agencies and
schedule and coordinate channel maintenance between now and early
Property along the creek is in private hands, Houghton reported,
and the county though its 1992 Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance has
generally viewed it is the property owner’s responsibility to maintain
Supervisors voiced displeasure with the county’s policy of
notifying property owners that they are in a flood plain, but allowing
them to build anyway. The county has issued approximately 100 building
permits within the Cosgrove Creek 100-year flood plain.
“It’s unconscionable that the county issued building
permits,” said District 4 Supervisor Tom Tryon. “It has to stop in
Tryon backed efforts to clean the channel this year, but he did
not want the county to assume the role as “the main ditch tender.”
He said residents within the flood plains should form benefit district
and self-assess themselves for on-going maintenance costs.
Cosgrove Creek couldn’t be in any worse shape than it is now,
District 1 Supervisor Bill Claudino said. He predicted there would be
problems even in a normal winter if no action were taken.
Area residents Joseph Bechelli and Dave Wilcox voiced concern at
the status of the creek.
“I see it happening again,” Wilcox said of the flooding.
“The creek is a forest.”
Wilcox’ condominium on St. Andrews Drive was flooded in April.
In addition to the removal of vegetation, Bechelli suggested the
removal of sediment that has been allowed to build up in the channel.
Becky Hannah, owner of the Thomas Center at Highway 26 and St.
Andrews Road, the site of heavy flooding in April, said she is powerless
to try to solve the flooding situation in her immediate area because her
property does not include the creek and she doesn’t have the right or
responsibility to maintain that portion of the channel. The flood cost
her $35,000 in repairs and she has seen her property go from being in a
200-year flood plain when she bought it to a 100-year designation.
She was told the change was made due to all of the development in
If she had known the property was in jeopardy of constant
flooding, she said she would never had bought it.
District 5 Supervisor Victoria Erickson said it was important for
the county to begin work on phase one. She added she looked forward to
further discussions concerning the county’s eventual role in flood
District 2 Supervisor Steve Wilensky said it was important to
determine how the county got into the present situation and it would
weigh on his decision as to how much responsibility to county should
shoulder. One of the county crews is doing brushwork in his district and
he said he would be “happy” to lend them in the efforts along the
Wilensky added that if Cosgrove Creek has flooded five times in
the past 10 years, it is actually in a two- not a 100-year flood plain.
Houghton estimated it would cost $25,000 to perform the channel
maintenance, while Claudino and County Administrator Tom Mitchell
identified $50,000 in expenses. Mitchell said the county has funds for
Valley Springs resident and planner Dave Tanner said the
detention basis he is working on with the Calaveras County Water
District will be helpful in decreasing the area’s flooding problems.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers likes the plan and could pay a majority
of the costs, he added.
Clearing the creek takes care of some of the smaller problems,
but you can only go so far, he said.
The county should look at establishing larger retention basins in
the area, funded through future development, he added.
The likelihood of residents taxing themselves for flood control
maintenance is doubtful, Tanner said, so doing it right in the first
place will decrease the need for ongoing maintenance fees.
Gail Belmont, left, is seated with about half of the patriotic quilts prepared with the help of Valley Springs Elementary School students for the October Quilt Show.
guild, pupils team up for show
The Oct. 7 and 8 Quilt Show put on by the Loose Threads Quilt
Guild of Valley Springs will benefit Valley Springs Elementary School.
Working with members of the guild, students in the school’s 21
classrooms last school year drew patriotic quilt blocks and those blocks
were placed on 21 quilts the guild completed and will showcase at the
event. Plans call for the quilts to be auctioned off to the public and
the proceeds returned to each class.
The quilts are in a variety of themes including Red, White and
Blue, Frog and Flags, The Cat in the Hat, the Twin Towers and Patriotic
“The kids were really excited about the whole thing,” said
Virginia Belmont of the Loose Threads Quilt Guild. Twenty-nine members
of the guild assisted the children with the project.
The guild members also told the students about the history of
quilts and their Quilts of Valor program to provide a handmade quilt to
each service man and woman wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The average quilt has 20 blocks prepared by the students and
range from throw-sized to twin-sized.
The students also wanted a contest. The public will have an
opportunity to vote for the best student quilt at the show and the
winning quilt will receive a “People’s Choice Award.”
The show will be
at the Valley Springs Elementary School multipurpose room and the hours
are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 7 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 8.
State Sen. Dave Cox discussed the importance of upcoming bond issues when he addressed the Rotary Club of West Calaveras.
Area legislator outlines his views on ballot issues
Three bond issues on the November ballot were under the spotlight
when State Sen. Dave Cox paid a visit July 27 to the Rotary Club of West
Sen. Cox, who district includes Calaveras as well as Alpine, Amador, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Mono, Plumas and Sierra counties, and portions of Nevada, Placer and Sacramento counties, voiced his support for Proposition 1B, the Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality, and Port Security Bond Act of 2006.
At the same time he was not enthusiastic about Proposition 1C,
the Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund Act of 2006, nor 1D, the
Education facilities: Kindergarten-University Public Education
Facilities Bond Act of 2006.
1B if adopted would authorize the state to sell $19.925 billion
in state general obligation bonds for specified purposes, including
high-priority transportation corridor improvements, State Route 99
corridor enhancements, trade infrastructure and port security projects,
school bus retrofit and replacement purposes, state transportation
improvement program augmentation, transit and passenger rail
improvements, state-local partnership transportation projects, transit
security projects, local bridge seismic retrofit projects,
highway-railroad grade separation and crossing improvement projects,
state highway safety and rehabilitation projects, and local street and
road improvement, congestion relief, and traffic safety.
Sen. Cox said the 1st District would receive hundreds
of millions of dollar in improvements. It is estimated Calaveras County
would receive $4.5 million if the bond were passed.
1C if adopted would allow the state to sell $2.85 billion in
general obligation bonds. Proceeds would be used to finance various
existing housing programs, capital outlay related to infill development,
brownfield cleanup that promotes infill development and housing-related
1D would authorize $10.4 billion in bonds to construct and modernize public education facilities. Cox said he supported the bond in theory, but he was against provisions that gave Los Angeles an uneven portion of the funding.
“I don’t think LA kids are worth 10 percent more than
ours,” Cox said.
He urged voters to take a look at the propositions and develop
their own criteria to determine whether or not to support the measures
on the Nov. 7 ballot.
Although the state budget was passed on time, Cox voiced his
reservations about the spending plan.
The budget is “theoretically balanced,” Cox said, but it has
He said the difference between what the state brings in for the
new fiscal year and what it spends could be $7 billion.
He was pleased the state is setting aside $2.9 billion for debt
relief and $2 billion for a reserve. In addition, he reported education
funding is up $8 billion and lawmakers are continuing a grant program to
local law enforcement, which in Calaveras County’s case means the
Sheriff’s Department will continue to receive $500,000.
Cox said he would continue to be supportive and help the county
with its jail problem. He added that the governor is calling a special
session of the Legislature to address the problem of overcrowding in the
state system and maybe there could be a joint funding measure with some
of the additional beds going to county facilities.
Sheriff Dennis Downum was in attendance and he thanked Sen. Cox
for working to add Calaveras County to funding that combats
methamphetamine manufacturing and distribution.
On the question of illegal immigration, Cox said he was opposed
to amnesty, but rounding up all illegal immigrants won’t work. The
government should consider a legitimate guest worker program, he added.
In addition, the nation needs to secure its borders, develop a
tamper-proof ID system and database and then begin to hold employers
accountable for hiring illegal immigrants.
“We can’t sustain continued erosion of our immigration
laws,” he said.