Serving the communities of Valley Springs, Burson and Wallace
Pow Wow and Snyder Ranch matriarch Betty Snyder, chauffeured by Frankie Gigliotti, will be at Friday’s opening of the 38th edition of the Pow Wow.
Pow Wow ushers in Labor Day weekend
What do you get when you mix rock hounds with Native American
dancers and an eclectic assortment of vendors on a Labor Day weekend?
Answer: The 38th annual Valley Springs Pow Wow, which
begins at 9 a.m. Friday at the Snyder Ranch off Paloma Road. The event
continues Saturday, Sunday and through 5 p.m. Monday.
Festivities at the ranch actually begin Thursday evening with the
Pow Wow Chili Cook Off at the meadow by the cook shack. The public is
invited and the cost is $5 for chili, salad, bread and cookies.
Friday traditionally is Kids’ Day at the Pow Wow with fourth-
and fifth-graders visiting the Native American and Mountain Men
demonstrations while gazing at the rock display and wide variety of
Pow Wow coordinator Diana Gigliotti said the number of students
attending the Pow Wow is expected to grow this year as second-grade
students will also be joining their classmates.
They will have an opportunity to visit some exotic booths such as
the one by Veanie Harguess of Fresno who has what she calls
“second-time around jewelry.”
This is her third year at the Pow Wow and she specializes in
vintage jewelry from the 1950s or older.
“I have a little bit of everything,” she said, including
Native American jewelry, turquoise necklaces, bracelets, beads and
Dan Brooks has been coming to the Pow Wow for nearly two decades.
“My mother and Betty (Snyder) were friends,” he said.
Brooks’ booth features a wide variety of crystals along with
used rock equipment and old bottles.
Chris Whittier’s booth will feature fluorescent rocks such as
calcite and fluorite. This will be Whittier’s 16th year at
the Pow Wow.
Saturday’s dinner at the meadow will be prepared by the
American Legion post and Sunday’s dinner by the Calaveras High School
boys’ soccer team. Both dinners are open to the public and the cost is
Other civic organizations and non-profits will have food and
drink booths at the Pow Wow.
The Native American entertainment will not only include their
traditional dances, Gigliotti said, but kids’ games, an obstacle
course, story and joke telling.
Some of the volunteers resurrecting a metal building in Burson into a house of worship are, from left, Jeff McMahan, Gene Baccus, Larry Meyer, Dennis Baskin, Chuck Johnson and Stan Logan.
Church" coming to Burson
What three decades ago started out as an auto shop in Burson and
has seen life as a dance studio, firehouse, glass shop, martial arts
school, nursery and thrift store is now being transformed into a house
of God by a small group calling themselves “the Geritol Bunch.”
About a dozen retirees and a few pre-retirees are donating their labor to turn the metal building into a barn-like house of worship affectionately called “the cowboy church.”
Glory Bound Fellowship acquired the property in April and the
congregation is about halfway through the remodeling process, said
Pastor Dennis Baskin.
“We used to do this for a living, now we do it for sport,”
Baskin said about the construction volunteers, most of whom made their
livings working in the trades.
The new church turned a corner last Sunday with the additional of
insulation in the sanctuary. It was just in time for the current heat
wave as temperatures hit 105 that day.
“It was nice and comfortable during the service,” Baskin
said. “Things are coming together and we’ve truly been blessed.”
In addition, the church-in-progress is featuring a new coat of
red paint, white trim and entrance with a cupola and cross.
Vernon Green is the contractor for the project and “the county
has been great to work with,” Baskin added.
Glory Bound Fellowship spent the past five years worshipping in
Valley Springs at the Jenny Lind Veterans Memorial Hall.
“We have nothing but thanks to the vets hall,” Baskin said,
“but when this piece of property came up, everything went right though
and we feel we’ve been blessed by the Lord.”
The congregation met at 4 p.m. at the Vets Hall, but the
beginning of worship has been shifted to 10:30 a.m.
The change has been good as Glory Bound Fellowship is beginning
to see more young families with children attend services, Baskin added,
and having their own facility has been a dream in the making for the
past five years.
Attendance at Sunday services has nearly double with an averaging
of about 120 worshipers.
The existing structure is 6,000 square feet and has a capacity
for more than 200 people. When completed, it will include the sanctuary
and stage, kitchen, dining area, Sunday school rooms and offices. It is
situated on a 7 ½-acre parcel with room for a ball diamond, volleyball
courts and other recreational activities.
“We have room to grow if that’s what the Lord has for us,”
The kitchen facility will also be put to plenty of use.
“We have a lot of potlucks and we always have something to eat
after church,” Baskin added.
Members of the Valley Springs group preparing to Skate the Lake to fight breast cancer are, from left, Arnie DePietro, Scott Mitchell, Devin Scheidt, Randy Scheidt and Nick Gordon.
longboarders raising funds to fight breast cancer
What began as a fun day to ride your long board around Lake Tahoe
has become more serious for a group from Valley Springs.
Scott Mitchell and Randy Scheidt have been participating in the
annual Skate the Lake benefit to fight breast cancer the past several
years, but this year, instead of seeing their small registration fee go
to the cause, they decided it was time to step it up financially.
Their group has grown to a half-dozen riders and they have a goal
of raising $2,500 to donate to B4BC – Boarding For Breast Cancer. All
proceeds benefit the fight against breast cancer and are tax deductible.
Joining Mitchell and Scheidt for this year’s 32-mile skate on
Aug. 18 are Arnie DePietro, Nick Gordon, Scheidt’s 13-year-old son
Devin and his 14-year-old friend Mark Welsh.
The Valley Springs skateboard contingent is getting close to the
goal and has two more fundraisers before the event.
A bake sale is scheduled from 3 to 6 p.m. Friday in front of
Umpqua Bank at 85 Highway 26 and the Pizza Factory is donating 20
percent of all sales, all day to the cause on Saturday. An earlier bake
sale sold out in 90 minutes. Donated baked good will also be accepted.
Two Tahoe locals, whose moms were battling breast cancer, started
Skate the Lake, Mitchell said.
The Valley Springs group’s purpose is two-fold, Scheidt said,
raise money to fight breast cancer and “take the longboarding
lifestyle to another level. Longboarding is a healthy lifestyle and
it’s a way to remain active at our age.”
DePietro is getting back on the board after a 30-year hiatus.
These longboarders can be found most of the year cruising and
relaxing along the shores of New Hogan Reservoir. They’ve stepped it
up the past few weeks to prepare for the 32-mile skate and put in the
miles two to three days a week and can also be found putting in some
miles along Berkesey Lane.
The skate will be pretty much like running a marathon, Scheidt
said. It is mostly along a bike trail in the Tahoe City to Squaw Valley
The event – which last year attracted 100 participants - is not
limited to boarders, bicyclists, runners and roller skaters also
participate. There may be as many as 200 participants this year.
When the body begins to ache near the end of the course, Mitchell
said he gets a second wind when “I think about the victims, what those
ladies who are battling with cancer are going through.”
The Valley Springs longboarders are committed to continue
returning to Skate the Lake in future years and would also like to grow
their ranks of participants.
“I have 20 boards at home of others want to learn,” Scheidt
first day of school last week brought the usual traffic congestion
problem at the downtown Valley Springs intersection of State Routes 12
and 26. Vehicles were bumper-to-bumper all the way to Gold Creek Drive,
below, but the problem could be alleviated by late next year as work
progresses on an improvement project.
Relief on the way at crossroad
The start of school can be an exciting time, but for motorists
driving through Valley Springs, it means adding a few more minutes to
the morning and afternoon commutes.
However, the bottleneck at the downtown intersection of State
Routes 12, 26 and Laurel Street could be a thing of the past by the fall
The first phase of the improvement project is expected to go out
to bid shortly and construction on the north side of the intersection
could begin at the end of summer or beginning of fall, according to
Jonathan Mitchell, senior engineer for the county’s public works
This first phase of work will include pedestrian access and accessibility improvements, he said.
The bulk of the intersection improvement project would be in
phase two. It will include right-of-way acquisition, final design and
Funding for the second phase begins near the end of the year and
working with landowners to obtain the necessary right-of-way could start
in early 2013 and typically is about a six-month process, Mitchell said.
Although there is no set timeline, if the right-of-way
acquisition process runs smoothly, final phase construction could begin
at about this time next year, Mitchell added.
The proposed project consists of a free right turn lane from northbound SR 26 onto eastbound SR 12/26 and a left turn lane from westbound SR12 to SR26.
The improvement plan was one of three alternatives presented to the public in meetings over the past few years.
Preliminary budget costs for the improvements have been pegged at
$1.2 million, much less than estimates of $4.1 million for a traffic
signal and $2.5 million for a roundabout at the intersection.
The public expressed concern about the cost and impact on
buildings and parking spaces in the downtown if plans for a traffic
signal or a roundabout were pursued.
The Valley Springs intersection improvement proposal calls for a
90 percent reimbursement from the federal government with a 10 percent
match coming from the county’s Road Improvement Mitigation account.
District 1 Supervisor Gary Tofanelli has been a proponent for the
extended right-turn lane plan. Cliff Edson, his opponent in the Nov. 6
election, voiced opposition to the project at last week’s Board of
Edson said he believes the envisioned project would do very
little to improve traffic flow and suggested a bypass connecting Hogan
Dam Road to Lime Creek Road. Former District 5 Supervisor Russ Thomas
once advocated a similar route linking State Route 12 and 26.
District 1 covers Valley Springs along with Burson, Camanche,
Campo Seco, La Contenta, San Andreas and Wallace.
Eagle Scout candidate Jacob Harris in front of the stair project he, Troop 302 members and friends completed between Valley Springs Elementary School and the playground at Jenny Lind Veterans Memorial Park.
302 scout completes Eagle project
Boy Scout Jacob Harris from Troop 302 in Valley Springs is poised
to obtain the rank of Eagle Scout on the 100th anniversary of the honor
being introduced to scouting.
Harris recently completed his Eagle Scout project at Valley
Springs Elementary School and Jenny Lind Veterans Memorial Park. The
scope of the Eagle Project was competing a stairway between the school
parking lot and the children’s playground area at the park and a
gravel path up a hill between the school and the park’s softball
Harris began the preliminary work, seeking the necessary
approvals and a $1,500 grant from the Calaveras Community Foundation,
back in May 2011. The physical work began last fall. In all, troop
members and friends devoted 350 hours of labor to the park improvement
“I just wanted to thank you for all the help you have provided
for the completion with my Eagle Scout Project,” Harris wrote to
friends and sponsors. “You were instrumental in completing a rather
daunting task. One that I can not only be proud of, but hopefully one
that you can be proud to have helped with. We worked through scorching
hot days with 30-plus (accidental) fires! You guys kept on even when we
went over our scheduled time. Who knew welding was so hard? Or was that
just me? Thank you all for putting in your hard work and tools, again
Harris is the son of Troop 302 Scoutmaster Jason and Jackie
Harris. He has been in Boy Scouts for nearly eight years starting in
Cubs as a Bear.
His plans are to open a small business and maybe get into
politics at the local or broader level.
Harris wants to get into a business that would offer something
reliable people always need and demand for never goes out of style, he
His project likely will go before a board of review on Aug. 21,
coinciding with when the first Eagle rank was awarded 100 years ago. In
the meantime more than 2 million Boy Scouts have earned the rank and the
title is held for life.
Requirements include earning at least 21 merit
badges and demonstrating Scout
Spirit through the Boy Scout Oath and Law, service, and
leadership. This includes an extensive service project, such as
Harris’s park improvement project, where the Scout plans, organizes,
leads, and manages the endeavor.
Burson Postmaster Wendi Sherman sorting the day's mail.
Burson postmaster retires end of July
A 36-year career with the United State Postal Service – 19 of
those years at the Burson Post Office – will come to an end July 31
for Postmaster Wendi Sherman.
She began working for the Postal Service in Salt Lake City, Utah,
in 1975 as a “casual appointment.”
“I took the postal test to get on the register, and became a
career employee in 1976,” she added.
That was when she was hired as a letter sorting machine operator.
“I was fortunate to work at a station for a year until I became
a ‘regular,’ reporting back to the main office. I worked all tours
and in all areas.”
She transferred to Stockton in 1979 and became a training
supervisor. During the next 14 years she was promoted several times and
tackled new positions including tour superintendent and automation
“I was chosen to go to Washington, D.C., to help write one of
the training manuals,” she added.
When her position was eliminated in early 1993, she became
officer in charge at the Burson Post Office and a few months later in
May of that year she was appointed the postmaster.
The Burson Post Office at the time was the 400-square-foot
building next to the Burson Market. Sherman had barely enough room to
walk when the load of morning mail arrived for distribution into the
That changed May 19, 1997, when she moved into the new digs about
a hundred yards east on State Route 12.
Although she wasn’t too warm at the idea of transferring to
Burson at first, Sherman said the people of Burson made the move an
“I have appreciated the kindness shown from customers when they
would share their fruits, vegetables, advice, good news, bad news,
etc.,” Sherman said, “and I have been blessed with the best
postmaster relief in Dove Larsen. She has been a tremendous help, and
more importantly my right arm. I have enjoyed helping the customers of
Burson and outlying areas. Providing service has been my goal. I hope
that will continue when I leave. My motto, taken from a postal leader
was, ‘Postal Service, our last name, our first aim.’”
Sherman used two promotions to link the Postal Service with her
customers. The first was “Send a Letter to a Love One” encouraging
patrons to send letters to love ones during the Valentine’s holiday,
and the second was breast cancer awareness.
“As a breast cancer survivor, and because of my experiences, we
have made a special awareness during October at the post office,”
Sherman said. Patrons who bought the Breast Cancer Research Stamp would
be entered into a special drawing for prizes.
The stamp sells for 11 cents more than the standard first-class letter rate and the funds are allocated to the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense for breast cancer research.
The Breast Cancer Research Stamp was the idea of Dr. Ernie Bodai,
a breast surgeon, and Sherman has received a certificate of recognition
from him for her efforts to increase sales of the stamp and increase
funding for breast cancer research.
One of her memorable experiences as postmaster and her efforts to
promote breast cancer awareness was when a customer she had talked to
about mammograms came in one day and said, "I hate you! But I love
you! You saved my life.”
The customer, Sherman said, did not want to complete her exam
since she thought it would hurt.
“But I convinced her, she went, and she had cancer. She was
able to get treatment and did not have chemo.”
Another memorable experience was when she was at a postmaster’s
meeting years ago and heard a woman coughing, but it was more like a
“I got up from my table, went to her, asked if she was OK? She
nodded no, so I tried to dislodge the food by doing what I had only seen
on TV for the Heimlich. She left the room and I did not see her the rest
of the day. She called me a few years later to thank me. She had just
witnessed her child's wedding, and had been to another's graduation. She
said that she would not have been able to if I had not helped her that
day. I had saved her life. She was indeed choking.”
Sherman was planning to retire early next year, but a recent
incentive offered to 150,000 postal employees convinced her now was the
“I have seen many changes in the Postal Service,” Sherman
said as she looked back on her tenure, “some good, some not so good.
It is definitely not the same organization that I started with.”
Retirement plans include continuing her education. She attended
Pasadena City College and Ricks College – now Brigham Young
University-Idaho – during her younger days and is 12 units short of
obtaining an associate’s degree. She hopes her many hours of training
in the Postal Service can be applied toward credits and if she’s still
short, she’ll sign up for classes.
She will also devote more time to her part-time business of creating hand-painted T-shirts and possibly look for a part-time job.
She has four sons who were very active in sports and supported
them in all their activities. Three of them went into the Air Force and
two are still in active reserves. One just graduated from Sacramento
State University, one is at Delta College, and one is attending school
Norma Stewart has been named the officer in charge of the post office beginning Aug. 1 and the position will remain open for postmasters to apply.
The Calaveras display at the 2012 State Fair emphasizes recreational opportunities at the county's many lakes, reservoirs and waterways.
Takes Gold at State Fair
Calaveras County for a fourth consecutive year has taken home a
gold ribbon for its exhibit at the California State Fair.
Titled “Whatever Floats Your Boat,” the display promotes
tourism to the area.
It plays off the State Fair’s 2012 theme - “The Fun That
Moves You.” The exhibit features a large boat aptly named,
“Calaveras Dreamin,’” where potential visitors can hop aboard and
try their hand at fishing in one of the area’s lakes — complete with
real water (but faux fish).
Also appearing in the booth is a video highlighting the actual
lakes of Calaveras and a fishing lure display created by Calaveras
Visitor’s Bureau member Glory Hole Sports.
The display isn’t limited to waters sports though and shows off
giant trees for Big Trees State Park, Calaveras’ award-winning wines,
and other agricultural products found in the county.
Conceptualization for this year’s booth started as they took
down last year’s display, which was a mini-golf course where each hole
depicted a different aspect of Calaveras, said Lisa Mayo, Calaveras
Visitors Bureau executive director.
“We knew the mini-golf course exhibit showing off Calaveras was
going to be hard to out-shine, so we literally started brainstorming for
the following year while we were taking down last year’s booth,”
Mayo said. “With so many great lakes and waterways in Calaveras,
‘Whatever Floats Your Boat’ seemed like a winning idea that we could
really have some fun with.”
Visitors who have experienced the exhibit seem to agree.
“The kids are having a blast fishing, and even the adults are all
smiles, especially when the boat sways back and forth like they’re on
a real lake,” said Diane Kriletich, CVB State Fair volunteer
coordinator, who was at the fair opening night. “The booth is so
interactive, people are just ecstatic.”
The Calaveras Visitors Bureau’s annual appearance at the
California State Fair takes months of preparation and more than 80
volunteers who cover several shifts daily during the two-week-long
Rancho Calaveras Property Owners Association clubhouse and pool are two of the amenities open to those who join the organization.
Rancho association working to expand membership base
The dog days of summer have arrived and thoughts turn to taking a
cool dip in the pool.
While some are fortunate to have their own pool, many don’t,
but the option to join a community association that has a pool and other
amenities is open to all.
The Rancho Calaveras Property Owners Association has been serving the subdivision since 1974, and while the name could imply exclusivity to some, membership is open to residents and non-residents.
Membership for Rancho property owners and residents is $150 a
year, while non-Rancho residents can join for $200 a year.
The association is on the rebound after membership numbers had
been dormant for a few years. An active board with a vision to add more
activities and improve the facilities is the reason for the recent
growth spurt from 212 to 378 members.
Bill Boos is the association’s president and explained the
reason for the increase in interest toward the association.
“There’s an atmosphere of organization and hard work on the
part of the board and a small, but solid core of volunteers.”
Word of mouth has gone a long way toward increasing membership,
said Bill’s wife Sharon.
“Many are coming back saying, ‘We heard all good things about
the clubhouse and the association,’” she said.
Membership is voluntary, and association members are in the
minority when you consider Rancho has approximately 2,500 property
“(Rancho developer) Boise-Cascade had the opportunity to make
membership mandatory, but made it voluntary because they felt they
couldn’t sell as many lots,” said board member and past association
president Michael Clark.
That decision, he said, has always made it difficult for the
association to have enough funding to properly maintain operations.
Those operations have depended upon a small group of volunteers
to “step up to the plate” and keep things running, he said, who
essentially are unpaid workers.
He would like to see more people volunteer and help shoulder the
load to maintain the facilities and operate the programs.
“We all have an obligation to our community,” Clark said.
He can usually be found at the association’s tennis courts,
running programs for the young and old.
While attention at this time is directed toward the pool, the
association has a clubhouse that features a variety of games such as
pool, air hockey, foosball and shuffleboard. The pool, clubhouse and
tennis courts are located at 3995 S. Highway 26, near the intersection
The clubhouse can be rented for activities such as weddings and
birthday parties and association members receive a discount.
“Many can’t believe the clubhouse is here,” said Sharon.
Other discounts available to association members cover pest and
weed control, tree services, heating and air, septic and computer
The discount alone for propane through Van Unen more than covers
the cost of membership, Sharon added.
The list of activities include free tennis lessons, a chili
cook-off, horseshoe tournament, Thanksgiving potluck, winter potluck,
monthly breakfasts, flea market, January polar bear plunge, Easter egg
hunt and the recent Fourth of July picnic where families could bring
their fireworks and have firefighters safely fire them off to the
enjoyment of all.
The board is also looking at the possibility of resuming the
popular Rancho haunted house for Halloween.
Working with Calaveras Consolidated Fire Protection and CalFire,
the association has plans to clear the vegetation at Dennis Lake and
access routes to other ponds and the Calaveras River, Bill Boos said.
That work is scheduled for late August or September and will be
carried out by CalFire’s Vallecito Conservation Camp crew. Routine
maintenance of those areas will also be put in place.
Board elections are under way and the association’s annual meeting is scheduled for Sunday, July 22. For more information, or to get involved in the organization, call (209) 772-1355.
Bill Brinlee American Legion Post 102 leaders Lou Domondon, left, and Andy Ballantyne flank recently elected Boys State governor Zachary Johnson of Valley Springs.
Valley Springs lad
elected governor at Boys State convention
Bill Brinlee American Legion Post 102 out of Valley Springs is
proud of the recent accomplishments of Zachary Johnson.
The 17-year-old from Valley Springs and soon-to-be Calaveras High School senior is the first student sent by the post to the annual Boys State program to be elected governor.
American Legion’s Boys State is a summertime educational
program for high school juniors focusing on participation and personal
experience in a model state, complete with governmental bodies and
elected public officials.
Zack, the son of Daniel and Wendy Johnson, is the first Calaveras
County student to be elected governor in the 17 years the post has sent
students of Boys State, said Andy Ballantyne, post chairman of the Boys
Forty-nine students ran for the prestigious position and Johnson
said he made up his mind from the beginning to run for the office.
“You have to compete from day 1 if you’re serious,” he
Campaigning goes on for several days and you need to forge plenty
of relationships and build a team to run for the office, he added. He
had a team of a key people from the first day of Boys State that made
his run for office successful.
“You really learn the importance of teamwork,” he said.
Running for office is not a new challenge for Johnson. He enters
the 2012-13 school year as Calaveras High’s student body president.
His extracurricular activities including playing football as the
team’s quarterback, basketball, track and field and member of the
He has a 4.2 (A-plus) grade point average and is applying for
acceptance into the Naval Academy. He someday hopes to serve his country
as a Navy SEAL.
“I learned a lot about government, the entire process and
national issues” at Boys State, Johnson said.
Johnson’s appearance to speak June 23 at the American Legion
convention in Redding was a high point for Bill Brinlee Post Commander
“I cried because I was so proud of him,” Domondon said. “He
received a standing ovation.”
Johnson told the Legionaries a little bit about himself and that
he was thankful for their sponsorship of Boys State.
Johnson was one of five Calaveras County students to attend the
Boys State program June 16 to 23 in Sacramento. He was joined by Jake
Chambers, the son of Greg and Kievon Chambers of Valley Springs, Joseph
S. Hollet, the son of Steve Hollet of Murphys, Devon M. Burson, the son
of Kelly Van Lieshout of Valley Springs, and Pablo F. Zamudio, the son
of Pablo Zamudio of Murphys.
In addition to setting up mock county, city and state offices by
an elective process and running their governments for a week, they met
with legislators and participated in other activities.
Girls State delegates were Elyse Schoonour and Miranda Carlin.
Mark and Sue Rueger enjoy a glass of Renegade Wine as they prepare to open their new winery last week.
Rancho couple opens winery in Moke Hill
What began as a dream a little more than a year ago for Rancho
Calaveras residents Mark and Sue Rueger has become reality.
A year after bringing home several ribbons from the Calaveras
County Fair’s amateur wine competition, the couple is making the
transition to the commercial wine industry by opening a winery in
Renegade Winery opened Friday. It is located at the site of the
old French Hill Winery at 8032 S. Main St.
Initial operating hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays through
Sundays with the possibility of expanding the same hours into Thursdays.
Along with the switch from amateur to commercial winemaking comes
a new name for their label. Their original RAW wine name has been
changed to Renegade.
What was the motivation for changing the name?
“Because my husband is a renegade,” Sue said.
“It’s a name I really liked,” replied Mark.
They plan to use the imagery associated with the word renegade in
naming some of their upcoming blends. Be on the lookout for Rebel Red or
Rogue Red, Sue said.
Red wines are Mark’s specialty, but some white wines might
appear in the tasting room in future years.
The old French Hill Winery, which went into bankruptcy, is under
a total remodel. The 600-square-foot tasting room features an old-world,
Tuscany look with bright yellow and burgundy painted walls, and a wooden
ceiling. Visitors do not have to stand in the tasting room. It has seats
made by a local furniture maker out of old wine barrels.
“We don’t want to move people through here like cattle,”
Mark said. “Winetasting is an experience. We want this to be a fun and
inviting atmosphere where people can sit down, take their time, enjoy
the wine and enjoy the good company of those next to them.”
Pricing ranges from $14 for a bottle of Sangiovese to $20 for
Cabernet Sauvignon and Sweet Petite (Sirah). There is a 10 percent
discount for the purchase of one to two cases and 25 percent off when
buying three or more cases.
Future plans call for adding a back yard setting area at Renegade
Winery where the public can buy a glass or bottle and enjoy the wine
outside, starting a wine club in a year or so, and re-doing the exterior
of the steel building housing the winery.
The tasting room will be available for private parties and
private tastings, Sue added.
They plan to have an art and wine festival on the grounds
featuring local artists and the tasting room will display local artwork
on a rotating basis.
The official grand opening with a ribbon cutting is being planned
for some time next month and an upcoming Calaveras County Chamber of
Commerce mixer at the site is in the works.
Mark said he does not have plans to become a big winery, but
concentrate on producing the best wine possible.
The couple brought home a silver award at this year’s Calaveras
County Fair with their Zinfandel Syrah Blend 2008 and plan to enter
their wines at the upcoming Amador County Fair.
A year ago they finished third in the Calaveras Fair’s amateur wine sweepstakes. Their Cabernet Franc was at the top in its class, while their Petite Sirah took a second-place ribbon.
Mark has spent much of his spare time the past four years learning the trade from a winemaker in Amador County’s Shenandoah Valley. He was taught the Portuguese style of winemaking. Sediment in the wine is removed by changing barrels every four to six months instead of using filters, which can change the flavor, he said. In addition, he keeps his wines in barrels for 18 months to two years.
He plans to use only local grapes from Amador and Calaveras counties in his future crushes.
In addition to wine, the winery will sell wine novelty items, and take orders for the wine-barrel furniture featured in the tasting room.
Author Sal Manna with a copy of the book “Dyn-O-Mite!” he co-wrote with comedian Jimmie Walker.
experience for county author
Sal Manna, known locally for his attention to west Calaveras
history, is being introduced to national audiences for his work on
comedian Jimmie Walker’s just-published memoir “Dyn-O-Mite: Good
Times, Bad Times, Our Times.”
Manna, president of the Society for the Preservation of West
Calaveras History and author of “Something From Nothing: The Early
History of West Calaveras County,” published monthly in The Valley
Springs News, was the co-author of Walker’s book, which hit the
Walker, a stand-up comedian, gained his fame for portraying J.
J. Evans on the television series Good Times, which ran from 1974 to 1979. Walker's character was known for the catchphrase,
Walker made a book tour appearance Monday night on “The Late
Show” hosted by David Letterman and followed it up Tuesday morning
with a segment on “The Today Show.”
He’s also scheduled to appear today on "FOX
& Friends" and July 2 on "The O'Reilly Factor."
This is Manna’s second venture into
writing a nationally distributed book. He co-authored “The King of
Sting: The Amazing True Story of a Modern American Outlaw” with Craig
Glazer back in 2008. You can also find his writings in the Images of
America series on “Northern Calaveras County” and “Angels Camp and
“It’s much easier to be dealing with history and dead
people,’ Manna said about his recent writing experience.
Manna met Walker in 2008 through a mutual friend.
“He had been trying to sell his autobiography and I looked at
what he had,” Manna said. “I said ‘I’ll give it a shot to turn
it into a book.’ I wrote a proposal and we found a really good agent
who found us a really good publisher.”
Da Capo Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group, publishes the
book. It is available at bookstores such as Barnes and Noble and on-line
retailers such as Amazon.com (including in audio book form read by
“Most people remember (Walker) only in ‘Good Times,’ but
there is a lot more to the story and that’s what made it
interesting,” Manna said.
Walker perfected his craft in the late 60s and early 70s during
what many consider is the golden era of comedy. Richard Pryor, Robert
Kline and David Brenner, who writes the book’s foreword, were doing
likewise and Walker was instrumental in launching Letterman’s career
by hiring him as a writer.
Copies of those writing sessions were made available to Manna and
jokes written by Letterman are in print for the first time in “Dyn-O-Mite!”
“You get some amazing stories people have never heard before
about celebrities, growing up in New York and comedy,” Manna added.
“The book is funny and at the same time serious aspects of
(Walker’s) life are told as well, but in the end he’ll always be
known for one word, ‘Dyn-O-Mite!’”
Calaveras County Sheriff Gary Kuntz
Sheriff: Need more funding for deputies
Recent victim of home burglary
Election day June 5 was a bad day for Calaveras County Sheriff
Kuntz, who is in the middle of a four-year term as the county’s
top lawman, wasn’t in any election, but when he returned to his rural
West Calaveras home that afternoon, he discovered he had been the latest
victim in a spree of burglaries plaguing the county since last fall.
“It goes to show that even the sheriff is not immune to being a
victim,” Kuntz said.
The house was locked and all of the windows latched, except for a
small window, which the burglar used to gain entry, the sheriff added.
Personal property worth several thousand dollars was stolen.
It didn’t take the burglary of his house to make it personal.
Kuntz and his department have been trying to solve the rash of
burglaries in West Calaveras and the entire county that erupted in the
early fall of last year about the same time the state began instituting
an early release of convicts to decrease the overall prison population.
Although the number of burglaries have spiked since the
implementation of the early release program, Kuntz said there has been
no direct correlation, but he has his suspicions and the state is
releasing more convicts than earlier projected.
At the same time, local law enforcement resources are being cut.
His department has lost 17 deputies and support staff to budget
cuts the past six years.
He is going before the county Board of Supervisors today and
asking for the addition of four deputies and a detective.
“We have an all-out war on burglary and meth users and we
can’t continue to fight it without people,” the sheriff said. “I
need those people to get a handle on this and we need to get a handle on
it quick or it could get much worse.”
Kuntz said it is imperative for the public to get involved in the budget process,.
“I urge the people to contact their supervisor and the CAO and
let them know how they want their tax dollars to be spent,” he said.
“People need to stand up. If they say nothing, the county will keep
trimming away and nothing will be left for me and the sheriff’s office
to carry out our responsibilities.”
Owner Sinthy Kiep and baker Perry Prok in front of the display case at Sinthy’s Donuts, located in the Nove Plaza off State Route 26.
completes move to Valley Springs
Sinthy’s Donuts has moved from Burson to Valley Springs.
Sinthy’s owner Sinthy Kiep said she believes the change will be
better for her business.
“There is a lot of traffic in the area, especially in the
morning with school and it’s a short swing in from the highway,”
Kiep said of her new location off State Route 26 at 10-K Nove Way. “I
feel it’s a good location for my type of business.”
Kiep took over the business nearly three and a half years ago from a relative and two years later opened a second donut shop in Angels Camp. She formerly worked in the technology industry in the Bay Area.
The Valley Springs shop is open from 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday
through Saturday and 6 a.m. to noon Sundays.
Perry Prok is her baker and the donut shop’s specialties are
apple fritters and a wide assortment of blueberry goods Kiep created
such as fritters, old-fashioned donuts and turnovers. The donut shop
also offers ham and cheese croissants.
Donuts start at 90 cents each and a regular dozen runs $9.95,
while a mixed dozen is $10.95.
She recently had to raise her prices, but it was not due to the
move, it was because the cost of supplies increased, she added.
Her move was delayed because of contractor issues. She eventually
got some help from her family, especially a brother who is in the
construction industry, and got the job finished, re-opening on May 22.
“People have been very patient and I got a lot of local
support,” she said. “They like my products.”
Techniques of gold prospecting will be demonstrated during Saturday's "Gold Rush Day" at the Angels Camp Museum.
Day at AC Museum to spotlight Gold Rush era
The Angels Camp
Museum is hosting “Gold Rush Day” from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday,
This is the one day a year the museum is open with free admission
to the public and hosts numerous special programs on the Gold Rush era
of the 1840s and 1850s.
The Angels Camp Museum is located at 753 S. Main St. on Highway
Special programs by period dressed living historians include:
Techniques of Gold Prospecting during the Gold Rush Era
1850s Women’s Fashion Show
What the Miners Ate: Recipes and open fire cooking of the Gold Rush era
Music of the Gold Rush period with period musicians
Stevenson’s Regiment: A Mexican War Era Soldier’s Story, the Gold
Rush, and Musket Firing
Period Children’s Games
Additional activities include gold panning, a frog jump
competition, a stamp mill demonstration and much more. Food and
refreshments will be available for purchase. Access to the entire
museum’s 35,000 square feet of exhibits is included. It is an
opportunity to learn about various aspects of Gold Rush era culture and
how they lived.
For questions or enquiries, contact the museum during regular
museum hours - Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. - at (209)
736-2963. Information can also be found at www.angelscampmuseumfoundation.org.
June 5 Primary Election Results
District 1 Supervisor
Gary Tofanelli 1,008 votes 48.25 percent
Cliff Edson 831 votes 39.78 percent
Joe Kelly 248 votes 11.87 percent
Run-off in November between Edson and Tofanelli
Barbara Yook 7,290 votes 65.33 percent
David Singer 3,846 votes 34.47 percent
Boy Scouts from Troop 302 post the colors at the May28 Memorial Day observance.
Very busy holiday weekend in Valley Springs
The unofficial start to summer in Valley Springs this Memorial
Day weekend began with below normal temperatures and some isolated
showers, but that did not deter the two major events scheduled for
“It was a very, very good show,” said Lee Hieber, president
of the Foothill Classics Car Club about their ninth annual car show.
The show attracted approximately 180 vehicles, down somewhat from
the 300 or so anticipated to participate in the show.
The Valley Springs Music Festival had to deal with a little rain
and a power outage as the main band took the stage, but the show took it
“We had a larger turnout than last year,” said Dave Tanner of
the music festival committee. Final figures had not been tabulated as of
Monday morning, but he estimated the festival drew about 400 people.
The electrical failure happened as the headline band, Skynnyn
Lynnyrd, a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band, began playing, but power was
restored in about 10 minutes.
“The community showed it was pleased with the choice of
music,” Tanner said.
In addition to Skynnyn Lynnyrd, the festival had the Erin
McKinney Band, Reunion – a Tower of Power tribute band, and The
California Malibu’s – a Motown show group, on stage.
“Skynnyn Lynnyrd did a fantastic job,” Tanner said. “They
did such a great job respecting the Lynyrd Skynyrd history.”
Audience participation was also strong with many festival patrons
took the opportunity to dance to the sounds being provided by the wide
assortment of musicians, Tanner added.
The mood turned somber at Monday’s traditional Memorial Day
ceremony at the Jenny Lind Cemetery.
Bill Brinlee American Legion Post 102 Commander Lou Domondon
served as master or ceremonies for the morning event that attracted
about 150 people and Post Chaplin Fred Kuster offered a prayer for those
who died in service to their country.
Boy Scout Troop 302 of Valley Springs posted the colors and the
names of all veterans and first responders buried at the cemetery were
read. Gail Belmont, who returned home after a visit to Washington, D.C.,
and the White House, played “Taps.”
At the end of the ceremony, Domondon encouraged all veterans in
the audience to come to the microphone and introduce themselves. Forty
or so vets ranging from service in World War II to Afghanistan and Iraq
took the opportunity and were greeted with applause from an appreciative
Steve Martell, left, accepts a box of .22-caliber shells from Jack Hayre, who 83 years ago shoplifted bullets from the old Pliler and Lillie general store.
Aiming to clear his conscience
Springs resident makes amends after 8 decades
It took 83 years, but former Valley Springs resident Jack Hayre
has made amends for a crime he once committed.
Hayre, 96, returned to town last week to replace a box of
.22-caliber shells he stole back in 1929 off the shelf at the old Pliler
and Lillie general store.
The store is history now, having closed its door in late 2008,
but Hayre’s daughter Linda Miller of San Francisco, through the
internet, contacted Sal Manna of the Society for the Preservation of
West Calaveras History and arrangements were made for a May 17 meeting
where Hayre returned a box of shells to Steve Martell, a Pliler
“It didn’t bother me a bit at the time – I needed the
shells,” Hayre told Martell. Hayre used the shells he shoplifted to
hunts for rabbits and squirrels.
However, his conscience eventually got the best of him.
"I told my kids ‘if you steal once, you're a thief,’”
said Hayre, the father of four. “This is the only thing I stole in my
life and I didn’t want it hanging over my head.”
Hayre handed the box of shells to Martell, who said he plans to
use them for target practice.
“It's honorable and something our society is lacking these
days,” Martell said of Hayre’s gesture to make restitution. “I’m
glad to help him get this off his conscience.”
“I’ve got witnesses – I’m off the hook,” Hayre said in
front of a small gathering of family members and friends outside the old
general store, which is now the Valley Springs Dollar-Plus store owned
by Sal Sanad.
Martell, 39, grew up in Valley Springs and his first job was
working in the store. His parents, Roland and Nancy Stowell, were the
last Pliler descendant to own the store and they sold it about 10 years
ago. Martell’s father has passed away, but his mother and grandmother,
Bonnie Pliler, still live in Valley Springs.
Hayre graduated from the eighth grade at Valley Springs
Elementary School in 1930 and then went to Stockton High School. He now
lives in Molalla, Ore., and spent his adult life operating a Christmas
tree farm and a poultry/egg farm.
Calaveras 2012 Brittany Cox, left, with her court of Allyson Guthrie,
center, and Amanda French.
CHS gals take top spots in Miss Calaveras Pageant
Two Calaveras High School seniors captured the top two spots in
last Thursday's Miss Calaveras 2012 Pageant.
Brittany Cox of Mountain Ranch won the coveted title the opening
night of the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee and Allyson
Guthrie of Valley Springs was the first runner-up. The second runner-up
title went to Amanda French of Copperopolis.
Cox, 18, is the daughter of Tim and Tisha Cox. She is a senior at
CHS and plans to attend the University of Nevada, Reno in the fall and
major in civil engineering. She received a $1,000 scholarship.
Guthrie, 17, is the daughter of Kevin and Robin Guthrie. She
plans to attend California Baptist University in the fall and major in
music education with a goal of becoming a teacher. She received a $600
French, 17, is a senior at Bret Harte High School. She plans to
attend American River College in the fall, study photography and become
a flight attendant. She received a $400 scholarship.
French won the talent portion of the pageant with her vocal
performance of Shania Twain’s hit song “Love Gets Me Every Time.”
She also received the Director’s Award from pageant coordinator Lacey
Cox entertained the audience with a fire hop dance to the music
of “Fire Burning” by Sean Kingston, while Guthrie sang “Don’t
Say Goodbye” from “Peter Pan, The British Musical.”
Guthrie also was voted Miss Congeniality by her fellow
contestants, while Alexis Anderson of Murphys was selected Most
Photogenic and Taylor Mossa of Valley Springs received the Miss
Community Service Award from the Angels-Murphys Rotary Club.
Christina Bernal of Valley Springs and McKenzie Garcia of
Copperopolis were also contestants in the pageant. The seven girls
competed in the categories of interview, health and fitness, talent and
Valley Springs lass Natalie Harp, an 18-year-old senior at
Calaveras High, was selected the 2012 Calaveras Saddle Queen earlier in
Her court included Rachelle Snitchler, 18, a CHS senior, first
runner-up; Cassidy Davis, 17, a Bret Harte junior, second runner-up, and
Krista Maisch, 16, of Bret Harte, third runner-up.
A 19-year-old Valley Springs resident won the Calaveras Idol
competition on Friday.
Noelle Norton, a student at Columbia College in Sonora, was
selected first among 14 contestants in the Idol contest.
She sang “The House That Built Me” by Miranda Lambert and “My Give A Damn's Busted” by Jo Dee Messina to capture the $100 prize, a huge trophy and the opportunity to do the opening song Saturday night for fair headliner Canaan Smith.
The fair concluded Sunday with Laura Kitchell of Angels Camp
jockeying “Hill Billy Hopper” to victory in the frog jump with a
leap of 19 feet, 5 ½ inches.
Seana Hogan after her record-breaking performance.
Hogan returns to the top in cycling world
Hall of Fame cyclist Seana Hogan of Valley Springs has
re-established herself as the ultimate velodrome long-distance female
cyclist by breaking four records earlier this month.
She broke the women’s overall 24-hour velodrome record by
riding 445.78 miles, 12-hour record at 244.12 miles, 200-mile velodrome
mark in 9 hours, 45 minutes and 17 seconds, and 100-mile velodrome mark
in 4:42:54 on May 4 at Hellyer Park Velodrome in San Jose.
“Back in 1993, after I broke the 24-hour velodrome record, I hoped that I would never have to do it again,” Hogan said on her website. “It was difficult; more difficult than 24 hours on a road. The mind-numbing monotony of going around and around on a 335.75-meter track, trying to stay in an aerodynamic position. I recall going up and down the banks in 1993 just to break up the tedium.
“My hopes were realized for eighteen and a half years. Then on
a warm Italian autumn day in 2011, Anna Mei broke my record. Actually,
she broke two of my records: the 12-hour velodrome and the 24-hour
velodrome. Excited for her in her accomplishment, I sent her a message
on FaceBook; that began a new friendship. I watched the videos and I
read the reports of her record ride. I started to feel an itch.”
Hogan, who dominated the female division of the Race Across
America in the 1990s, winning six out of the seven times she entered,
has been recovering from a knee fracture sustained in February 2011.
“I certainly was not in top form and not sure if I could ever
be again,” she said.
However, she prevailed and accomplished the feat at 52 years of
David Singer Barbara Yook
Challenger puts DA on the defensive
An alleged sub-par conviction rate on felony cases was a heated
topic when the two candidates for Calaveras County District Attorney
debated at last week’s forum in Valley Springs hosted by the Calaveras
County Taxpayers Association.
Challenger David Singer said nearly one in three felony
filings in Calaveras County never reach prosecution and there is a
feeling among the public the D.A.’s office is soft on prosecuting
“Where is that coming from?” was appointed incumbent Barbara
Yook’s response. “I’m endorsed by the Deputy Sheriff’s
Association and the Angels Camp Police Officer’s Association and that
matters more than some unknown person’s perception.”
Singer at the May 3 candidates’ night pointed to neighboring
counties that he said had higher prosecution rates, such as Amador were
84.6 percent of felonies filed end in convictions.
“This is not acceptable to me and that’s why I’m
running,” said Singer, who has been endorsed by the Calaveras County
Republican Party and retired Sheriff Dennis Downum.
“I make decisions based on the facts, what’s right, what the
victim wants,” Yook said, “and I’m not afraid to dismiss if
that’s the right thing to do. It’s about justice and doing what’s
Singer also questioned Yook’s judgment on when and when not to
take a case to trial, such as the James Allison Livezey trial where a
jury convicted him of involuntary manslaughter, instead of the D.A.’s
charge of second-degree murder.
He estimated the D.A.’s office spent $150,000 to prosecute the
“The witnesses were horrible,” Singer said. “That’s when
you save money by knowing what the case is worth.”
Yook said the evidence showed Livezey killed Marvin Brown and had
threatened to harm others if he had been released from custody.
“I’m not about to let a murderer out,” she added.
Both candidates said they support the death penalty. Yook warned
there is an initiative that would end the death penalty and it would be
retroactive to the approximately 700 convicts on death row.
Towler is making final preparations as she plans to open her new
business, Dominic’s Pasta & More, at 11 a.m. Tuesday in The
Terrace. The restaurant will feature Italian cuisine.
New eatery to focus on appetite for Italian food
Valley Springs’ appetite for Italian cuisine is about to be
addressed with next week’s opening of Dominic’s Pasta & More in
With a line-up of Asian, Mexican and American restaurants already well established in the area, Dominic’s owner Debra Towler decided it was time to fill the void for those who desired Italian-styled dishes. She is opening the restaurant located in the center off State Route 26 and Vista Del Lago Drive at 11 a.m. Tuesday.
The meals will be ready quickly in a kind of buffet style.
Customers don’t wait at their table to be served – they just go up
to the buffet table and select their meal from a variety of choices.
The buffet table will contain at least three different kinds of
pasta and four sauces for the customer to choose from, along with a
salad bar and freshly baked Focaccia bread. Those sauces will be meat,
marinara, pesto and alfredo.
For lunch there will be a selection of four sandwiches and the
dinner menu includes nine-layer lasagna – meat or veggie, Dominic’s
signature chicken milano, and rotisserie chicken.
Different flavored ravioli and tortellini dishes will rotate on a
nightly basis and daily specials will be listed on the menu board.
All are home recipes Towler has developed over the years.
Boitano Family Wines out of Lockeford will be served along with
domestic and imported beers, soda and iced tea.
Desserts such as tiramisu, coco-magoo, triple chocolate fudge
cake and cheesecake will be made from scratch and there is a
A meal for two with drinks will be priced at less than $20, while
lunch with drinks is priced at less than $8.
“I’ve always wanted to open a restaurant and God started
opening some doors here,” said Towler, who has been in the catering
business the past 12 years along with working in banking and
At home, she specializes in Mexican and Italian cooking, and with
no Italian restaurants within a 25-mile radius of Valley Springs, she
decided it was time to go in that direction.
She also wanted her business to be family oriented, casual,
reasonably priced and with quick, ready to eat food.
She has hired a staff of 15 part-time workers, all from the
Burson-Valley Springs area.
Dominic’s has seating for 32 people inside and 16 outside.
Opening hours are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 11
a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday. The restaurant is closed on
Monday. There is take-out and party platters are available with 48-hour
advanced notice. The phone number is (209) 772-3116.
Soon-to-be Deputy Fire Chief Jason Robitaille in front of the new Calaveras Consolidated Fire Authority logo.
A young boy’s dream to work at the same firehouse he grew up around has become reality for Jason Robitaille.
The 1997 graduate of Calaveras High School has been a captain for
the Jenny Lind Fire Protection District and beginning May 1 will be
promoted to deputy chief of the new Calaveras Consolidated Fire
Authority, which will provide administrative services to Jenny Lind and
the Foothill Fire Protection District.
“Jason is a tremendous asset to us with his wealth of knowledge
and experience,” said Jenny Lind/Calaveras Consolidated Fire Authority
Chief Kim Olson. “We’re fortunate to have someone of his caliber to
step up for us.”
Robitaille, who moved to the area in 1986 with his parents
Darrell and Paula, has 12 years of fire service experience. He has his
paramedic and fire technician degrees, along with a bachelor’s degree
in business administration. In addition, he’s a state certified fire
instructor, state certified fire officer and is halfway through his
state certification for chief officer.
“There’s always something new to learn,” Robitaille said
about his endless pursuit of knowledge in the firefighting and paramedic
fields. “I like the challenges.”
He’s been associated with the fire district since 2004 and his
ties go back even further to when his father was a volunteer for a
couple of years and Jason hung around with him at the fire station.
“That sparked my interest in becoming a firefighter,” he
Following a leave of absence, Robitaille returned to the
department last year as a captain.
He’s eager to share his knowledge and provide leadership as
Jenny Lind and Foothill fire protection districts work toward
“It’s exciting to see what we’ve been able to accomplish in
just a short time,” he said. “I’m excited with the integration
we’ve already accomplished. Everybody in the departments are on a
first-name basis, we’ve doubled our workforce and we’re able to get
more in-depth training. We’re becoming one team and I enjoy seeing the
level of service and care we deliver to the citizens improve. That’s
important because my family lives here.”
Robitaille is married to Leah, who he met while in college at
Harding University in Arkansas, where he played football. They have two
children, Carson, 3, and Luke, 1.
He’s also excited with the teamwork he’s seen from the top
down, from the chief, to the board of directors, to the firefighters
working together to improve the district.
“I hope to preserve that as we move forward,” he added.
Job creation a hot topic in District 1 board race
Voters within Calaveras County’s District 1 have three choices
for supervisor when they go to the polls for the June 5 Presidential
Cliff Edson of San Andreas Joe Kelly of Angels Camp are running
against one-term incumbent Gary Tofanelli of Burson. The district
includes the communities Circle XX off Pool Station Road near Angels
Camp, San Andreas, Valley Springs, Campo Seco, La Contenta, Camanche,
Burson and Wallace.
Edson, 55, owns Country Cliff’s Café in San Andreas. His parents have lived in the county the past 28 years and the former Tracy resident would come up and visit them before deciding 81/2 years ago to make Calaveras his home.
Before opening the café, he had experience in auto service,
including several years as a manager of PacBell’s 1,800-auto fleet for
much of the San Joaquin Valley and foothills.
Improving the local economy is on the top of Edson’s list.
“I see our county taking a nose dive,” he said. “Business
for the past four years has dropped dramatically.”
While most of the people Edson talks to want to maintain the
area’s “small-town flavor,” they would also like to see some light
industry and jobs to maintain a viable economy, he added.
Kelly spent the past 34 years managing his family’s businesses
in San Luis Obispo County before moving to Calaveras in 2005. Those
businesses included agriculture and property development and management.
Community service in Calaveras County includes being a member of the
Road Ordinance Ad Hoc Committee and the Legal Access Committee.
“We’re at a crossroads and it’s a time for change,” Kelly
said. “If we don’t do something now – bring in new ideas, new
opinions, transparency in government, we’re doomed.”
He too stressed the need for new jobs in the county and said he
was supportive of Tom Coe’s plan to create an industrial arts training
center, related light industries and gun range outside of Valley Springs
with the proper mitigation measures put in place.
Transparency in government is one of Kelly’s chief goals.
“People have to have a better idea of what goes on in the
county instead of all of this hush-hush,” Kelly said.
Tofanelli has been a county resident for 21 years and owns Port
Steel City, Inc., a steel fabrication business in Stockton. He was
elected to office in 2008.
Among his accomplishment the past three years, Tofanelli listed:
Worked with Army Corp of Engineers, Fish and Game and the
Department of Fish and Wildlife to obtain the necessary permits to clear
Cosgrove Creek on an annual basis for flood relief.
Able to get Watertown, Evergreen, Pettinger, Olive Orchard roads
paved - more miles paved than in the previous 15 years.
Worked with Caltrans to make improvements on a very dangerous
section of Highway 26 at and near Burson Road.
Redesigned scheduled improvements to the intersection of highways
12 & 26 in Valley Springs. Went from a signal light that destroyed
the entire intersection to a more scaled down turn lane design that
preserves the historical downtown.
Organized a committee to update the Valley Springs Community Plan
Worked with and was able to convince FEMA to redo their flood
plain maps, which has (never before done on this scale.
is also campaigning on creating more jobs.
“Recently I was able to negotiate with a developer to spend $8
million to make improvements on a dilapidated apartment complex in San
Andreas,” Tofanelli said. “The work will be done using Calaveras
County contractors and local material suppliers. That’s $8 million
into the Calaveras County economy starting in the later part of this
year. The deal also includes having two members of the governing board
to be from Calaveras County, one member from the public and one from a
community action agency.”
Tofanelli also pointed to his record on public safety issues,
such as supporting the sheriff in the purchase of three new patrol cars.
“We’re working our way into a low-income situation and the
only way to get out of it is to work our way out of it with more
jobs,” Edson said.
He advocates the county forming a commission with the sole
purpose of looking at ways to make it easier for the private sector to
open shop here and create more jobs.
If the county can attract light industry and manufacturing, he
said, other small businesses and retail operation will follow.
Kelly has issues with Tofanelli’s ideas for how to proceed with
the apartment complex project in San Andreas. He said it points to his
concerns about the lack of transparency at the county level.
There has been no comprehensive analysis of the proposal, Kelly
said, and the county could lose thousands of dollars in property taxes
if it sides with the government-subsidized proposal.
Another transparency issue with Kelly was determining
compensation for supervisors and department heads.
Their raises should not be a part of the overall package for
county employees, he said.
The issue should be determined after a hearing before the board
where the public has the opportunity to ask supervisors what have they
done to make the county better, he said.
Members of Bill Brinlee American Legion Post 102 unload a shipment of steel frames earmarked for the interior of the new veterans memorial hall.
volunteers sought to finish hall
Efforts to complete the new veterans hall and community center in
Valley Springs have resumed.
The Jenny Lind Veterans Memorial District received two truckloads
of steel framing materials April 5 with hopes of beginning interior work
in the near future. It has been a little more than a year since HTH
Design and Construction Inc. of Placerville completed the exterior
Andy Ballantyne, president and general manager of the Jenny Lind
Veterans Memorial District Board, credited local dentist Jim Green and
District 1 Supervisor Gary Tofanelli for pushing the project forward.
Both men are donating materials to complete the hall’s new
stage and Tofanelli is organizing a work party of volunteers to complete
the interior framing.
The district has set a course to complete the hall’s
interior through monetary donations and volunteer labor, Ballantyne
Without donations and volunteers, the district was looking at an
expenditure of an additional $500,000 to complete the building.
Contracts totaling $359,687 were awarded in 2010 for the exterior work.
Tofanelli used his clout as owner of Port City Steel Inc. to get
the steel frames at wholesale. He is donating the structural steel
components for the stage and installing it for the memorial district,
while Dr. Green is donating the plywood for the stage. Tofanelli is also
donating some of the sheetrock for the interior work.
“Gary and I jumpstarted it, but it’s going to take
fundraisers and community participation to get things done,” Dr. Green
said. He envisions a fundraiser called “own a piece of the plank” to
ignite fundraising efforts. Similar to owning a piece of a plank on a
ship, community members would have an opportunity to sign their names on
the metal studs being installed in the building and contribute toward
The new structure located at Pine and Daphne streets behind the
old hall will be more than three times as large as the existing
building, which is 49 years old, and the new hall is projected to
include a commercial-grade kitchen, multiple meeting rooms, larger stage
area for theatrical events and a better, large design for community and
private events if the additional public funding comes through.
The new building will also solve handicap-access, heating and
air-conditioning issues associated with the old hall.
To volunteer for the work party, Tofanelli can be reached at
772-0547. Donations toward completion of the interior can be made by
calling the district office at 772-9650.
Foothill Fire Protection District Chief Mike Siligo retires April 30 after leading his firefighters for the past five years.
Siligo's retirement marks first step in fire district changes
One era ends and another begins at the end of this month for the
Foothill Fire Protection District.
Mike Siligo will retire April 30 after a five-year tenure as
chief of the district and Jenny Lind Fire will begin providing
administrative services to both districts.
It is the first move in what both district boards hope eventually
is a formal consolidation of the two firefighting organizations serving
Jenny Lind Chief Kim Olson will be the chief of the new entity
called Calaveras Consolidated Fire Authority and Jason Robitaille will
serve as deputy chief.
Each district will retain its current board of directors at the
moment, but a 10-member board consisting of all the directors from
Foothill and Jenny Lind will be formed to oversee the joint power
aspects of the new relationship.
The formal merger could be months or years down the road, Siligo
Siligo looked back with pride at what he, his firefighters and
board accomplished the past five years.
The volunteer ranks have been at or near capacity during those
years, the district has responded to 100 percent of its calls and
firefighter safety has been enhanced, he said.
Foothill is the third busiest district in the county, he added,
with 749 calls last year and an average of 700 over the past three
Jenny Lind handles about 500 calls a year and if the two
eventually merge, they will be the busiest district in the county –
topping Ebbetts Pass, which has about 1,000 calls a year.
“I’m most proud of the family we have put together,” Siligo
said. “We’ve managed to keep key personnel and have a close-knit
family that works together. It is a team effort by all of those
Siligo would like to see the volunteer district move toward
providing 24-hour coverage. The district has daytime coverage from 10
a.m. to 6 p.m., but after those hours, it’s all volunteers.
A shower is being installed and other improvements and amenities
such as the addition of a television are being made at the district’s
Burson station to entice volunteers to stay overnight at the facility,
Siligo said, but it will take additional funding to truly become a 24/7
Eventual consolidation could be a positive step in providing that
round-the-clock coverage, he added.
While the district’s response time is about seven minutes now,
it should drop to approximately four minutes with full-time coverage,
which is optimal in terms of saving lives and keeping small fires from
flaring into larger and more dangerous ones, he said.
He and the board have operated the district on a budget that has
steadily decreased the past few years due to the decrease in property
values and taxes collected on the basis of those values.
The 2011-12 budget is for $183,000 the district has been told
funding might decrease by as much as 5 percent in 2012-13, he added.
Looking forward, Wallace will eventually need a station and a new
Valley Springs station should be under consideration, the chief said.
The Valley Springs station was built in the 1950s and is leased from the
Valley Springs Public Utility District. It cannot accommodate some of
the district’s equipment, such as the ladder truck and has no
The district also has to be prepared to deal with growth once the
economy improves, he added.
Golfing and finishing a few projects at home are on Siligo’s
agenda after he retires. He has been in firefighting for 41 years,
starting in 1971 with the Oakland Fire Department. He worked in both the
Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989 and the Oakland Hills Fire of 1991.
He’s also a veteran of the Old Gulch Fire in Calaveras County
in 1992, serving on a strike team.
A Valley Springs resident since 1996, Siligo also served as Jenny
Lind’s fire chief from 1997 to early 2001.
He said his biggest challenge in retirement would be resisting
the urge to get involved with something full time.
“I don’t have a good record of staying retired.”
Discord and turmoil at Mark Twain St. Joseph’s Hospital in San Andreas were cited as reasons for a March 30 release of a grand jury report.
Grand jury probe looks at hospital
The grand jury of Calaveras County released an interim report
March 30 concerning an investigation of the Mark Twain Healthcare
The grand jury cited publicity of turmoil and discord within the
healthcare system of Calaveras County as the reason for its
The interim report – with seven findings and seven recommendations - was made public by grand jury Foreman Dan McPherson.
The grand jury generally releases its report at the end of its term in June, but has the discretion to issue interim reports if immediate action is suggested.
“Mark Twain St. Joseph’s Hospital is dedicated to serving the
community’s healthcare needs and partnering with our physician
providers, four of whom serve on the hospital’s Board of Trustees,”
interim Hospital President Patti Monczewski said after release of the
report. “The Grand Jury report affirms that the community wants to
ensure that Mark Twain St. Joseph’s Hospital provides excellent
quality healthcare. As a member of Dignity Health, we remain steadfast
in our commitment to partner with the Mark Twain Health Care District to
nurture the good health of the community.”
Dissatisfaction among the medical staff was a major focus of the
grand jury report.
“During the years 2009 and 2010 a number of physicians, who had
privileges to care for their patients in the hospital, left Mark Twain
St. Joseph’s Hospital,” the report said. “The physicians who were
interviewed by the Grand Jury left due to conflicts with management over
concerns about the quality of patient care. They indicated recent
changes by hospital management involving patient care and operational
procedures were their reasons for leaving. The physicians felt they no
longer had any substantive input in the daily running of the hospital.
They stated that they left after trying every avenue within the system
to solve the problems they faced.”
The report also looked at the relationship between the Mark Twain
Healthcare District and the Mark Twain St. Joseph’s Healthcare
“By 1990 small independent hospitals found it almost impossible
to function on their own,” the report said. “To provide quality
medical care they needed to join with other health care systems. The
Mark Twain Hospital District, now called the Mark Twain Healthcare
District, formed a partnership with St. Joseph’s Regional Healthcare
System in Stockton. This partnership with a private non-profit
corporation became the Mark Twain St. Joseph’s Healthcare Corporation
we know today.”
The grand jury found: “Mark Twain St.
Joseph’s Healthcare Corporation is a private non-profit
corporation whose board meetings are not open to the public. They do not
answer to the District Board and are not subject to the Healthcare
The grand jury’s findings and recommendations were:
The Mark Twain Healthcare District Board has had a limited
turnover in its elected members. Since
there are no term limits it is possible for a District Board member to
serve for decades if re-elected.
The Grand Jury recommends that the District Board incorporate
term limits within their bylaws to bring new and fresh perspectives to
the board at regular intervals.
The Mark Twain Healthcare District's office (CEO, CFO,
secretarial help, financial committee), website and telephone number are
identical to that of the Mark Twain Healthcare Corporation. Even the
District Board’s files are archived within the Corporate offices. This
has allowed the Corporation to control access to the elected District
Board and its records.
The Grand Jury recommends separating the District Board’s
office, staff, telephone number, document storage facilities, and
website from that of the Mark Twain St. Joseph’s Healthcare
Corporation and Senior Management (CHW) of the hospital.
Information from the private Corporate Board was either
incomplete or not communicated to the full District Board until it was
too late for the District Board to have any influence even though two
elected District Board members sit on the Corporate Board.
Since elected District Board members are the legal liaison
between the District Board and the Corporate Board, they are responsible
for all communication pertaining to public issues on healthcare within
The Grand Jury recommends information move freely and readily in
both directions between the District Board and the Corporate Board.
Some mechanism should be devised by the boards to assure that
this happens such as, but not limited to, Corporate Board meeting
minutes being shared with the full District Board.
The Mark Twain Healthcare District has three seats on the
Corporate Board only as long as the Corporate Board’s bylaws read the
way they currently do. If
the bylaws were rewritten to exclude the District Board’s
representation on the Corporate Board, the electorate would lose its
voice concerning healthcare in this county.
The Grand Jury urges both Boards to create a structure that
guarantees the District Board a place on the Corporate Board regardless
of changes in power or personalities.
The District Board's Financial Committee or their CFO submitted
incomplete information to the independent auditors for the annual audit.
The Management’s Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) as required
by law was never prepared.
All pertinent and legal financial requirements should be followed
by agencies handling public funds.
The public has lost confidence in the healthcare provided in the
The Grand Jury recommends that the Calaveras County Board of
Supervisors receive an annual report from the District Board on the
state of healthcare in the county and the hospital.
The Management’s Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) portion of
the annual independent audit is an overview of the Healthcare
District’s financial health and should be included in this annual
report. This report should
be made public.
The Grand Jury finds that the required public notices of District
Board meetings and agendas were only posted on the bulletin board in the
administrative area of the hospital.
Although this minimally meets the requirements of the Brown Act,
it limits public access to those notices.
The Grand Jury recommends that the Mark Twain Healthcare District
post the date, time and agenda of the District Board meetings in the
newspaper and in public places such as the Post Office or Library.
The Mark Twain Healthcare District Board and others cited in the
report are instructed to submit their responses to the grand jury.
The Century 21 Tri-Dam Realty building on the southeast side of the downtown State Route 12/26 intersection will be demolished if proposed improvement plans are approved.
improvement project up for board action
Proposed improvements to alleviate morning and afternoon traffic
jams at the downtown Valley Springs intersection of State Route 12/26
will come under scrutiny Tuesday, April 10, before the Calaveras County
Board of Supervisors.
A public hearing has been scheduled for 9:30 a.m. that day to
consider adopting a Mitigated Negative Declaration for the proposed
intersection improvement project. Approval will give the green light to
move forward with the proposal.
The proposed project consists of minor improvements to the
existing four-way stop controlled intersection without changing the stop
sign control, according to the public notice for the April 10 hearing.
The project will re-stripe the intersection with 12-foot travel lanes,
and bike lanes, providing for a free right movement from the northbound
SR 26 leg onto the eastbound SR 12/26 combined lane.
The existing right-turn lane from eastbound SR 12 onto southbound
SR 26 will be widened to incorporate a free right movement. The project
also includes a left-turn pocket along westbound SR 12/26 onto
southbound SR 26 with a storage and deceleration length of 540 feet.
American With Disabilities Act ramps will be included at all four
corners of the intersection. A short retaining wall may be built in the
southeast quadrant of the intersection.
The notice says the improvements are necessary to reduce traffic
congestion and to improve overall traffic operations at the SR 12/26
intersection for both existing and future conditions.
The Mitigated Negative Declaration, prepared pursuant to the
California Environmental Quality Act, identifies the following areas as
being less than significant with mitigation - air quality, biological
resources, hazards and hazardous materials, noise, and
traffic/transportations. All remaining areas are less than significant
or have no impact.
The proposed project will have no impact or less than significant
impact on the cultural and historical resources in downtown Valley
Springs, the study concludes.
The study identifies the Valley Springs train depot and Pete’s
Café – now the Good Friends building - as two potentially historic
properties. Those buildings will remain intact.
However, construction will include demolition of the Tri-Dam
Realty building on the southeast quadrant of the intersection to make
way for the right-turn lane. The building is present in photographs as
early as 1920 and may have been built in the 1890’s under the name of
Hub Saloon. While the historic form and location of the building are
intact, the study says all of the exterior materials have been replaced
and the windows have been enlarged.
“Due to these changes, the Tri-Dam Realty build(ing) is not
considered historic,” the study says.
The public hearing will be in the Board of Supervisors Chambers
at 891 Mountain Ranch Road in San Andreas.
Total construction cost of the project is estimated at $1
million, while planning/design and right-of-way costs tabulated at
$300,000. Nearly 90 percent of the cost will be paid from federal funds
with the 10 percent match coming from county funds already collected
through Road Impact Mitigation fees paid for by previous development.
The timeline calls for completion of the turn-lane project in
The Mitigated Negative Declaration is available for public review
at Calaveras County Public Works at 891 Mountain Ranch Road in San
Andreas. In addition, the documents can be viewed at the county's
website at http://co.calaveras.ca.us/cc/Departments/PublicWorks.aspx.
Calaveras County Sheriff Gary Kuntz spoke on a variety of topics including re-opening of the Valley Springs substation at the March 21 Area Business Association luncheon.
Sheriff close to re-opening Valley Springs substation
Re-opening a Valley Springs Sheriff’s Department Substation may
be only a month or two away from becoming reality, according to
Calaveras County Sheriff Gary Kuntz.
Kuntz, speaking at the March 21 Valley Springs Area Business
Association luncheon, revealed he is in negotiations with the Valley
Oaks Center to lease space for a new substation.
The sheriff would like the substation to be located on the
Highway 12 side of the shopping center in the wing between Mar-Val and
A Valley Springs substation had been located on the Highway 26
side of the center until July of 2008.
Then-Sheriff Dennis Downum closed the office at the time due to
Re-activation of the Valley Springs substation will allow Kuntz
to appoint a resident deputy to cover Valley Springs.
The sheriff said Cpl. Rudi Leon is his choice for the resident
“The substation and a resident deputy will help us
dramatically,” Kuntz told the audience.
The substation worked well in the past and should prove
beneficial in the future, he added.
Having a base of operations in Valley Springs will reduce the
instances of deputies being forced to leave their beat and travel up to
San Andreas to do paperwork, the sheriff said.
In addition, the public will not have to travel to San Andreas if
they have a matter to discuss with the sheriff’s department, he said.
The sheriff said the department lost a half-dozen volunteers when
the Valley Springs substation closed and he expects many of them to
re-join and man the new office, thus providing the public greater access
to department services.
Leon and the volunteers will also be instrumental in resurrecting
community-policing programs such as Neighborhood Watch, the sheriff
The resident deputy will be a vital link between the department
and area businesses and the public, Kuntz said.
Funding for the department remains and issue, and Kuntz said the
public should pay attention to upcoming budget hearings before the
county Board of Supervisors.
The number of deputies has been reduced during the past few years
to dangerous levels, he added. He pointed to last week’s
officer-involved shooting in Arnold and said the closest back-up deputy
was 50 miles away.
He encouraged the public to let their supervisors know what they
believe the county’s funding priorities should be.
The sheriff also discussed the rash of burglaries in the county
– especially in Valley Springs, Mokelumne Hill and Arnold.
“If you see anything suspicious in your neighborhood, get a
license number and give us a call,” he said. “A little piece of
information can be helpful to us and I’m confident we’ll catch
The sheriff suspects the crime-ring’s base of operation is
outside of Calaveras County.
“They come up and steal and then go back,” the sheriff said.
“If they were here, they’d probably get rid of the stuff here and
make it much easier to track them down.”
Another aspect making life more difficult for law enforcement, Kuntz said, is passage of AB 109, which released many state prisoners back to the counties.
There have been several instances in the county of recently released convicts committing crimes, he said.
The counties receive additional state funding for the added responsibilities, but the sheriff had issues with the allotment going to his department. Most of the money was earmarked for probation.
“It is my job to protect all of you and the plan was not people friendly,” he said.
The plan was re-worked and a deputy added to help probation and keep the recently released inmates in compliance.
In addition, $80,000 was set aside in a contingency fund if the sheriff’s department needs additional resources due to the implementation of AB 109, the sheriff said.
“I’m still nervous, but for now this is the best we can do.”
David Ray Stephenson
Guilty plea in death of Valley Springs woman
A Discovery Bay man faces up to six years in Nevada State Prison
after pleading guilty Tuesday to reckless driving that caused the death
of a Valley Springs woman last summer at Lake Tahoe.
Sentencing for David Ray Stephenson, 35, has been set for May 15.
He has admitted to striking Joan Marie Hamrick, 60, early July 30
as she was walking across U.S. Highway 50. She, daughter-in-law April,
granddaughter Preslie and Preslie’s friend Ericka had just finished
watching a Lady Antebellum concert in the Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at
Harvey’s and were crossing the highway to get to their car.
Mrs. Hamrick was straggling behind the rest of her party in the
crosswalk shortly after 1 a.m. when Stephenson, who was driving an
unregistered silver Ford truck, struck her. She was transported to
Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno via Care Flight helicopter where
she later died from her injuries.
Stephenson fled from the scene, but a witness followed the truck
down a street. The vehicle was located by law enforcement, but
unoccupied. Stephenson eventually came out of a nearby building and
identified himself as the driver.
He told the court he left the scene because he panicked.
As part of a plea agreement, Stephenson will not seek probation.
The prosecution agreed to recommend 12 to 30 months in Nevada State
However, District Judge Dave Gamble pointed out to the defendant
that it is up to each judge to set the sentence despite a plea
Hamrick and her family stretch back five generations in the
county and she was a Calaveras High School graduate.
The fourth annual Walk Run For Cancer attracted a record number of entries.
Race collects nearly $6,000 to fight cancer
Stolen signs cause chaos
The fourth annual Walk Run For Cancer could not have asked for
better weather March 3 and a record number of participants registered
for the event, but the near-perfect day was spoiled when someone stole
some key markers along the route.
Confusion developed about 20 minutes into the five-mile run when
racers began making their way to the finish line.
Race director dustyn then learned crucial signs along the bike
trail at the edge of Gold Creek Estates had been removed.
“It sure ruined the spirit of the event,” she said. “We
spent three hours putting up signs and staking the route yesterday. You
can’t do that the day of the race or you’d be up at 4 a.m. You have
a sense of trust something like this won’t happen.”
The event attracted 365 participants and raised $5,835 for the
American Cancer Society. It is the main fundraising activity for Toyon
Middle School’s Relay For Life team.
This year’s Relay For Life will be from 9 a.m. Saturday, April
28, to 9 a.m. Sunday, April 29, at the Calaveras High School track.
In the spirit of the event nobody asked for their money back and
a few hardy souls later ran another five-mile race, this time with the
course adequately marked.
“Everybody’s been extremely gracious,” she said about the
participants’ reaction to the signs being stolen.
There were no officials results and all children 16 and under
received medals for their participation.
Eric Gunderson, left, and Stephen Barker Liles, known as Love and Theft, will perform May 19 at the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee.
Rising Country music duo to perform at county fair
Love and Theft, an up and coming American country music duo that
has performed at the Grand Ole Opry, will be the featured entertainment
act at the 2012 Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee.
The duo is composed of Eric Gunderson and Stephen Barker Liles.
They will hit the main stage of the fairgrounds at 8 p.m. Saturday, May
19. The duo has been climbing the charts with hits such as
“Angels Eyes,” the lead-off single to their second studio
Love and Theft is a bit different from the group that scored a
Top 10 hit two years ago with “Runaway.” But the changes that have
affected the group — most notably, signing with RCA Records and
downsizing to a duo — have brought Love and Theft closer to what it
originally set out to be: a band that writes, records and performs
honest, soulful country music.
Love and Theft originally formed in 2006 in Nashville, Tenn., as
a trio with Brian Bandas as the third member. He left the band last
year. They were the opening act for Taylor Swift on her 2008 tour.
“We love performin,” says Liles. “The way we are recording
now is the way our influences made records: live with a band. It's a lot
Gunderson’s earthy voice complements Liles' high-altitude
tenor. The two share lead vocals, harmonize like a church choir, and
bolster their band with their own guitar work.
and I have always been on the same page as far as the vision for Love
and Theft and what we want it to be,” says Gunderson. “We feel like
we have made the record we’ve always wanted to make.”
The result is a nod to the duo’s varied influences. “She’s
Amazing” evokes the harmonies of the Eagles. The seductive “Amen”
channels all the yearning of Roy Orbison. And the rollicking first
single “Angel Eyes” brings to mind Elvis Presley’s “(You’re
the) Devil in Disguise.”
Johnny Cash and Orbison are both enormous influences, it might surprise
fans to learn who the duo’s favorite artist is. “Hands-down,
Elvis,” says Liles. “My dad was really into him, so I got into him.
I was all over Elvis growing up.”
Gunderson and Liles were raised as pastors’ kids, and their
fathers fed them a steady diet of gospel, oldies and country.
parents didn’t want us listening to secular music that much,” says
Gunderson. “But they’d let us listen to Elvis, Roy, the Nitty Gritty
Dirt Band. It was cool to grow up that way, and that’s still my
favorite kind of music.”
Perhaps it was some divine intervention that led the friends to
this point in their career. They will be the first to tell you that
their shared spirituality is a cornerstone of Love and Theft. In fact,
both used to lead worship at their churches.
how we got our start playing music,” says Gunderson. “Our faith is a
huge part of our lives. I feel like it was meant to be this way from the
beginning. Our journey over the past four years was preparing us for
where we’re at now.”
Liles is the subject of the song "Hey Stephen" which
appears on Swift's 2008 album Fearless. He also co-wrote the track
"Wrong Baby Wrong Baby Wrong" on Martina McBride's 2009 album
Shine. "Kissin' in Cars", which was featured on the soundtrack
for the film Country Strong, was also co-written by Liles.
Love and Theft made its first Grand Ole Opry performance on March
28, 2009, shortly before the release of its debut single
"Runaway". The song is included on the band's debut album,
World Wide Open.
Love and Theft will be joining the ranks of country greats such
as Buck Owens, the Bellamy Brothers, Pam Tillis, Dirks Bently and Rascal
Flats who have performed at the Calaveras County Fair at Frogtown
outside of Angels Camp. The
Saturday night concert is included in the price of admission to the
James Allison Livezey
Jury finds Livezey guilty of involuntary manslaughter
James Allison Livezey has been convicted by a Calaveras County
jury of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Marvin Brown after an
altercation last summer at a Valley Springs trailer park.
The verdict was reached Monday following a trial lasting nine
Livezey, 41, who originally was charged with second-degree murder
and facing a sentence of 15 years to life in state prison, could now be
imprisoned anywhere from one to four years and serve his time in the
county jail on the manslaughter conviction. Sentencing has been set for
11 a.m. March 19 in Calaveras County Superior Court.
Eyewitness testimony was sketchy as to what actually happened the night of June 29, 2011, inside Brown's small trailer at the Sequoia Rose Mobile Home Park. Reanna Silveira, the one witnesses to testify seeing Livezey and Brown together right before Brown fell to the ground nearly unconscious, had been drinking heavily and taking drugs that day and night. Her version of events changed during several interviews with deputies, detectives and the district attorney's office. She initially said she had seen Livezey attack Brown from behind and flip him to the floor.
“I appreciate the jury's effort,” said the prosecutor, Deputy
District Attorney Seth Matthews. “They had a case full of emotion on
both sides, yet took their job very seriously. They were asked to work
through lunch some days and the trial lasted two days longer than
Defense attorney Ken Foley in his closing statement argued
Silveira's testimony was unreliable and medical evidence indicated it
could have been drugs Brown was taking that made him collapse that night
in his trailer.
Brown, 52, died five days last at Mark Twain St. Joseph's
Hospital. He had sustained a broken neck, which led to cardiac arrest.
The prosecution said it was Livezey’s initial attack on Brown that
caused the broken neck, while Foley argued there was no evidence it was
his client who broke Brown’s neck and the fatal injury could have
occurred during a drug-induced fall or when Brown was carried from his
trailer and loaded into a private car for transportation to the
“Who knows what happened in the trailer?” Foley said in his
closing statement. “Please tell me because I haven’t figured it
out” and neither has the prosecution, which has the burden of proof.
Livezey reportedly went to the trailer looking for Angela
Sullivan, the mother of one of his children. She had been spending the
nights at Brown’s trailer and he was giving her drugs, according to
the prosecution’s case.
While Foley argued Livezey was upset with Sullivan, not Brown,
that night, the prosecution said statements to deputies and others
indicated the defendant intended to harm Brown.
Those statements included, “I got an old lady that wants to do
crack all the time” and “I’m getting the people who are giving my
Livezey did not testify during the trial.
Matthews also told the jury Livezey’s battle with brain cancer
is not a legitimate excuse for his actions that night.
“Anger – not cancer – made the defendant choose Marvin
Brown,” Matthews said. “Cancer did not make the defendant choose
How you feel about cancer is not at issue, he told the jury.
Matthews admitted Silveira was not an ideal witness, and did not
want to look like a “snitch,” but her earlier statements made
shortly after the incident were plausible.
Matthews also said self-defense should be ruled out as an excuse.
Livezey was never in imminent danger of death or great bodily
harm to the much smaller Brown, Matthews said, and there is no evidence
Brown ever said anything to provoke Livezey.
“Marvin was doing the dishes in his own home,” Matthews said.
“The defendant was angry and the defendant was the attacker.”
California Penal Code 192(b) defines “involuntary
manslaughter” as an unlawful killing that takes place
during the commission of
an unlawful act (not amounting to a felony), or during the commission of
a lawful act which involves a high risk of death or great bodily harm that is
committed without due caution or circumspection.
Prior to last year’s passage of Assembly Bill 109, which shifts the responsibility for incarcerating many low-risk inmates from the state to counties, Livezey could have been sentenced to state prison.
“This was a tough case and Seth did a great job getting the evidence before the jury for their consideration,” said District Attorney Barbara Yook. “We are grateful for the jury’s time and attention.”
Vietnam veterans Glen Murrey, left, of Modesto and Carl Courtney of Concord show off the hand-made quilts they received Feb. 22 from Quilts of Honor.
Busy time for patriotic quiltmakers
Quilts of Honor has been busy fulfilling its mission of
comforting those touched by war by way of giving them patriotic
The local branch of the non-profit organization meets once a
month at All Together Family Quilts in Rancho Calaveras and on Wednesday
presented the one-of-a-kind heirlooms to a pair of Vietnam veterans.
Glen Murrey of Modesto and Carl Courtney of Concord were the
recipients. Murrey, an Army vet, served with the 1st Cavalry,
while Courtney is a retired master sergeant, with 20 years of service in
Courtney is also a member of Quilts of Honor and the group took
pleasure in preparing and presenting the quilt without raising his
Gail Belmont, Quilts of Honor director, said the organization has
been extremely busy the first two months of the year making 30 quilts
for distribution. Fourteen were present last Saturday at an event in
In addition, another dozen are in the work for a presentation
soon to the nation’s top medics.
In less than two years of existence, Quilts of Honor has made
more than 500 quilts for distribution to men and women who have served
their county, she added. She foresees a similar pace in 2012.
The local Quilts of Honor meeting is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the
fourth Wednesday of each month at 6516 Stabulis Road. All levels of
sewing knowledge are welcomed and lunch is provided. For more
information, contact Belmont at (209) 772-2686.
The meeting attracts volunteers from the region, including
Concord, Fair Oaks, Hughson, Lodi, Placerville, Stockton and Turlock.
Volunteering Monday morning to improve a bike trail along New Hogan Lake were, from left, Park Ranger Gary Basile, Nate Spray of Stockton, Fred Randle of Ceres, Nixon Thayer of Modesto, Frank, Alisha and Paul Loduca, all of Stockton.
improve New Hogan bike trail
While many were pursuing leisurely activities during Presidents
Day, a hardy group of volunteers devoted the morning to clearing a bike
trail at New Hogan Lake.
Spearheaded by REI Stockton staff member Nate Spray, the
volunteers spent the early Monday holiday hours clearing bush that had
encroached into the trail.
Spray, a mountain biker rider, said the pruning would reduce the
chance of him and his fellow bike riders being cut by the overgrowth.
He comes to New Hogan regularly to mountain bike since it is the
closest place from Stockton for him to pursue his hobby.
The group of seven started at 8 a.m. and finished up at 1 p.m.
with a lunch provided by REI. In addition, the volunteers receive a free
night’s stay at the New Hogan campgrounds.
They plan to return in March or April to continue their work.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates New Hogan, is
big on partnerships, said Park Ranger Gary Basile, and is always looking
to expand its volunteer base.
“There’s a lot of work to do out there and the more the
better,” he added.
Spray said they plan to get the word out sooner about the next
workday to attract more people from the Valley Springs area.
The entrance to Jenny Lind Elementary School.
of viral disease at area school
Calaveras County public health officials say an outbreak of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease has been identified in students at a Jenny Lind Elementary School.
Eight cases of the disease have been reported at the school. Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is a viral disease that causes fever, skin rash, and red spots or sores in the mouth. Infants and children under 10 years old are usually affected, but older children and adults can also become sick. Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is not related to foot and mouth disease, which occurs in livestock.
Persons with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease
usually develop a fever, sore throat and malaise (feeling sick).
Red spots develop one to two days later on the inside of the
cheek, gums and tongue. The spots may turn into blisters or ulcers. A
rash may appear on hands, feet and buttock. The rash may be raised or
flat spots or blisters. A person may not have all of the symptoms. Most
children and adults recover on their own in seven to 10 days.
“People should rest and drink liquids to avoid
dehydration,” said Dr. Dean Kelaita, the county health officer.
A doctor or clinic should be contacted if an ill person,
especially a young child, cannot take fluids. Sores in the mouth can
make swallowing painful.
“Complications from HFMD are rare, but persons
who develop a headache, neck stiffness and fever should seek medical
attention,” Dr. Kelaita recommended.
The virus that causes the disease is easily spread, usually by
contact with an infected person’s saliva, nose or throat discharge,
fluid from blisters or stool. Symptoms
start three to seven days after exposure to the virus. Hand, Foot
and Mouth Disease
can also be spread from surfaces contaminated with the virus. Thorough
cleaning is recommended.
To prevent the spread of the disease, the Calaveras County Public
Health Department recommends:
Wash hands often and thoroughly
Wash hands with soap and water after contact with ill persons
especially after changing diapers or helping with toileting.
Toys and surfaces used by a sick person should be washed with
soap and water and then cleaned with a diluted bleach solution (1/4 cup
of bleach in one gallon of water). Be careful when using bleach to avoid
Keep sick children home from school or daycare until fever is
gone and all mouth sores have healed.
Stay home from work until all symptoms have resolved.
For more information, contact the Calaveras County Public Health
Department at (209) 754-6460, or visit the department’s website at www.calaveraspublichealth.com.
The license board website is at www.cslb.ca.gov.
Brian Gross being placed under arrest by the state license board’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team.
Valley Springs man arrested in consumer fraud sting operation
Brian Gross, 48, of Valley Springs, is back in the Amador County jail, this time with no bail. Gross was one of 10 people allegedly caught in Contractors State License Board undercover sting operation Jan. 19 at a Pine Grove home.
The sting was also conducted with investigators from the Amador County District Attorney’s office.
Gross is no stranger to the state license board’s Statewide
Investigative Fraud Team, known as SWIFT. SWIFT investigators and the
Amador County District Attorney’s office arrested Gross on Oct. 1,
2010. He pleaded guilty to one felony count of fraudulent use of a
contractor license number and one misdemeanor count of failing to
purchase workers’ compensation insurance for employees on March 2,
2011. He was sentenced May 5, 2011, to four years felony probation.
In addition, the license board revoked his general contractor
license on June 1, 2010, for failure to pay administrative citations
issued for asking for excessive down payments, failing to secure
building permits, and other violations of contracting law. State law
prohibits asking for or receiving a down payment larger than 10 percent
of the contract price or $1,000, whichever is less.
Investigators, posing as homeowners, sought bids for general
construction and painting projects at a Pine Grove multi-level house on
seven acres. The 10 who reportedly bid more than the legal threshold of
$500 for labor and materials will appear in court for contracting
without a license. They will face an additional misdemeanor charge for
illegal advertising. State law requires contractors to place their
license number in all advertisements. Those who do home improvement jobs
valued at less than $500 may advertise, but their ads must state that
they are not a licensed contractor.
The nine other suspects who received notices to appear March 19
in Amador County Superior Court are Ruben Cervantes Ayala, 44,
Placerville; Matthew Martin Pederson, 28, Rancho Cordova; Kenneth Jerell
McCloud, 65, Pioneer; Richard Paul Reinoehl, 60, Pine Grove; Luis
Fernando Leyva-Martinez, 36, Placerville; Benjamin Joseph Smith, 22,
Pine Grove; Steven David Garrett, 53, Sutter Creek, and Kenneth Lawrence
Griffin, 53, Pine Grove.
“Hopefully Mr. Gross and the others caught at the Pine Grove
sting get the message that CSLB and the Amador County DA’s office take
the state’s consumer protection laws very seriously,” said CSLB
Registrar Steve Sands. “California homeowners considering hiring a
contractor should review Ten Tips to Make Sure Your Contractor Measures
Up to familiarize themselves with contracting laws and their rights as
consumers. Before signing a contract, they should consult CSLB’s
online instant license check to ensure the contractor has a valid
license and workers’ compensation insurance if they have employees.”
Annual melodrama takes a Prohibition, gangster theme
The annual melodrama presented by The Valley Springs Friends of
the Library is entitled “Big Boy In A Little Mess” or “Sister Mary
Get Your Gun.”
This year’s production is
set during prohibition when gangsters from Chicago invade peaceful
little Valley Springs, according to melodrama publicity chairman
“Eliot Mess, the hero, follows the gangsters and confronts them
with the help of Sister Mary,” Urbanus said about the plot. “Will
they be able to rescue poor Chastity Bell from the
clutches of Big Boy
Bambino and his gang?”
This year’s melodrama is written by Marty Tedder, a veteran of
The 2012 version of the melodrama will premiere Friday, Feb. 24,
in the Jenny Lind Veterans Memorial Hall, 189 Pine St. Doors will open
at 6 p.m. and the melodrama will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for the
opening night-no dinner show.
The production continues Saturday, Feb. 25, with a no-dinner
matinee. Doors open at 1 p.m. and the play will start at 2. Tickets are
“We are trying to be family friendly by giving a free ticket
after purchasing two
tickets on the first weekend only,” Urbanus added.
The dinner shows are scheduled for the following two weeks and
will feature chicken with mushroom gravy and the fixings. The cost is
$20 per person for the March 2 and 3, or 9 and 10 dinners and shows.
Doors will open at 6 p.m. and there will be a no-host bar. Dinner will
be served at 6:45, while the melodrama will begin at 7:45.
Tables for eight can be reserved on the dinner nights. Ticket and table reservations can be made by calling Willene at 772-1000, or Jackie at 772-0591. Tickets are also available at Health Habit in The Terrace Plaza.
Proceeds from the event go toward the library.
Brian Stephenson of Dokken Engineering outlines some of the features of the proposed downtown Valley Springs intersection improvement project.
Supervisor believes intersection proposal OK despite criticism
Nearly five dozen area residents took the opportunity Jan. 11 to
get a glimpse of proposed improvements to alleviate morning and
afternoon traffic jams at the downtown Valley Springs intersection of
State Route 12/26.
Staff from the Calaveras County Department of Public Works and
Dokken Engineering were on hand in the Valley Springs Elementary School
multipurpose room to explain the proposed project and receive feedback
from the public.
The proposal to add a right-turn lane from northbound State Route
26 to eastbound State Route 12 heading toward San Andreas did not
receive unanimous public support.
During a brief question and answer session, Gary Caldwell of
Valley Springs voiced concern the proposed solution was “just a
He said the right turn lane proposal was a short-term solution to
a long-term problem and the real solutions were either a traffic signal
or roundabout at the congested intersection.
Those ideas were considered earlier, but determined to be more
costly than the turn-lane addition and would have needed substantial
more right-of-way acquisition eliminating downtown parking spaces and
possibly several buildings.
District 1 Supervisor Gary Tofanelli said he is finding most
people are in favor of the turn-lane proposal, which he brought forward
after there was public dissention last year concerning the signal and
“They see it as a good improvement and they like the aesthetics
of the town staying intact,” Tofanelli said after Wednesday’s
He said he understands some people will see things differently,
which is “healthy and important.”
The county and Dokken Engineering were particularly interested in
community feedback on proposed aesthetic improvements in the project
One of the displays at Wednesday’s meeting outlined potential
expenditures of nearly $125,000 to add a planter for low-maintenance
native plants, benches, decorative streetlights and the use of colored
and stamped concrete at the intersection to improve the area’s
The proposed aesthetic improvements would be intended to “keep
the flavor of Valley Springs at the intersection,” said Brian
Stephenson of Dokken Engineering.
The goal is to begin construction on the approximately $1.3
million project in April. Nearly 90 percent of the cost would be paid
from federal funds with the 10 percent match coming from county funds
already collected through Road Impact Mitigation fees paid for by
Total construction cost is estimated at $1 million, while
planning/design and right-of-way costs tabulated at $300,000.
After Caltrans finishes the environmental review, the proposed
project will go to the Board of Supervisors for final consideration.
“I believe we should have the votes, possibly a 5-0 vote for
this design,” Tofanelli said.
The timeline calls for completion of the turn-lane project in
in a $1,500 donation presentation from Umpqua Bank to the Calaveras
Community Foundation were, from left, Diana Scaparro-Cammisa, San
Andreas manager; Chyrl Hillis, foundation publicity chair; Christy
Maynard, Umpqua Bank commercial relationship manager; Michelle Campbell,
Angels Camp manager, and Danielle Scaparro-Palm, Valley Springs manager.
gives back to community
Umpqua Bank recently donated $1,500 to the Calaveras Community
“Community is at the center of all we do at Umpqua Bank,
therefore we are proud to make a contribution of $1,500 to CCF,” said
Christy Maynard, Umpqua Bank commercial relationship manager. “We know
this will promote wellness and stability in our Calaveras County
communities, specifically in regards to youth development, education and
Umpqua has branches in Valley Springs, Copperopolis, Angels Camp
and San Andreas.
The foundation plans to dispense the funds donated by Umpqua Bank during its annual grant-giving period. In 2011, more than $48,000 was distributed to groups focusing on teens, women’s health, seniors, music, scouts, food pantries and others. Incorporated in 2001, the foundation has provided more than $550,000 in competitive grants, scholarships and assistance during that period.
As a 501© 3 non-profit organization exclusively serving
Calaveras County charitable causes, the foundation offers to donors the
potential benefit of a tax deduction and the knowledge that they have
helped a variety of worthy local causes. Most donations are allocated to
foundation’s general grant program, but options are available for
donors to direct their donation to specific causes or areas of donor
For more information about the foundation, contact Board
President Paul Stein at (209) 736-1845, or visit
winner Dorothy Ransford of Valley Springs.
Valley Springs woman wins big at Jackson Rancheria Casino
Dorothy Ransford of Valley Springs received a nice Christmas Day
present, but it didn’t come from Santa Claus. It came from Jackson
Rancheria in a payout of $100,001 from the casino’s $1 Dragon Wheel
Ransford, a six-year resident of Valley Springs, is a regular at
the casino and five years ago won a $47,000 jackpot. She’s been
playing the progressive $1 Dragon Wheel game for the past couple of
When asked how often she visits Jackson Rancheria, Ransford said, “Let’s put it this way – it’s my second home. I don’t spend a lot of money there, but they treat me nice. I do spend some money, but I won’t lose the home or car. I go to the casino to have a good time.”
Ransford seems to pick exciting occasions to win her jackpots.
While it wasn’t Christmas Day, her $47,000 bonanza came the day she
retired from Owens-Illinois, a glass company in Tracy.
She and her husband Bud live on a 1 ½-acre lot where they did
all of the work by themselves.
“I’ve been blessed and very lucky,” she said. The money is
going into the bank, but she wants to spend some of it on a cruise –
probably to Italy - with her husband.
She also feels fortunate to live in Valley Springs. Ransford grew
up in the San Francisco Bay Area and moved to Valley Springs from
“It’s the best thing I ever did,” she said. “It is so
peaceful here and everyone is so nice.”
Some of her winnings will also go toward charities. She said she
likes to donate toward programs that help senior citizens and veterans
and she also donates to the Shriners Hospital.
Jeff and Tami Allen say a few words after receiving the Valley Springs Area Business Association’s Citizens of the Year award Saturday night.
Allens, Chantri, The News honored by VSABA
The Valley Springs Area Business Association’s annual Citizen
of the Year Award had a holiday theme as the honors Saturday evening
went to Jeff and Tami Allen who have charmed young and old alike as
Santa and Mrs. Claus for nearly two decades.
In addition to naming the citizen of the year, the VSABA
presented its lifetime achievement award to Shirley Chantri and business
of the year honors to The Valley Springs News.
Jeff has been portraying Santa the past 19 years in the ABA’s
annual Christmas Parade and other holiday activities such as the Jenny
Lind Fire Protection District’s Santa’s Express, The Terrace
Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and visiting Head Start.
The other 11 months of the year are boring compared to the
Christmas holiday, Jeff told those attending the ABA dinner-dance at the
La Contenta Event Center. “I love the kids.”
“Dick Thomas was the town Santa before me and I told him if he
ever wanted to retire as Santa I’d love to do it,” Jeff said. “One
day he called me, and him being our accountant, I thought we were being
audited. When I got to the office, he and Skip had a box with a
brand-new Santa’s outfit inside. I’ve been wearing it ever since
He and Tami are charter members of the VSABA, which was founded
“I feel very honored and blessed to live in Valley Springs,”
Tami said. “We have a lot of wonderful people who go out of their way
and are deserving of this award.”
She remembers being on the first citizen of the year committee
that selected Ruth Halverson to receive the award in 1985. She also was
in charge of the scholarship committee and reflected on a time the ABA
had a Valley Springs pageant to award scholarships.
The Allens moved to Calaveras County in 1979 and Valley Springs
in 1981. Tami opened the first escrow office in the community and worked
weekends selling lots at La Contenta subdivision.
“We raised our kids here and it was great place to raise
them,” she added.
Chantri was acknowledged for her years of involvement with the
ABA, serving on the board, as president and chairing committees such as
the Miss Valley Springs Scholarship Pageant and the Christmas Crafts
The Valley Springs News was recognized for its community
involvement and support for the local business community.
The Power Up! Fitness Studio Hip Hop group performs a lively routine at Saturday's Valley Springs Area Business Association Christmas Parade.
Top Hat dancers tops at Christmas Parade
A father-daughter dance routine from top Hat School of Dance
impressed the crowd and judges to win the “Best of Parade” trophy
Saturday for the 29th annual Valley Springs Area Business
Association’s Christmas Parade.
The parade, Valley Springs’ most popular civic event of the
year, attracted 46 entries, a record.
The association’s Citizens of the Year, Vicky Henkle, served as
the parade’s grand marshal, and the VSABA Christmas Parade would not
be complete without Santa Claus and Rudolph, who waited until the end of
the hour-long procession to make their appearance.
Other parade winners were, by category:
Wallace-Burson Association Field of Flags, commercial float; Cub
Scout Pack 352, kids’ float; Power Up! Fitness Studio Zumba, walking
group, commercial or adult; Top Hat School of Dance, kids’ walking
group; Jenny Lind 4-H Dog Club, walking animals; San Andreas Fire
Protection District, fire/farm equipment; Calaveras Explorer Post 333,
honor guard; Calaveras High School, band; Brass Poles Embroidery,
mounted; Foothill Classic Car Club, auto.
This year’s judges for the event - which traditionally begins
the holiday season the first Saturday in December in west Calaveras
County - were Calaveras County District 1Supervisor Gary Tofanelli, 2008
Citizen of the Year Buddy Keesey and Sheriff Gary Kuntz. Bill Crane
served as the parade’s master of ceremonies.
Additional photo of the parade appear on Pages 8 and 9 of
today’s edition. In addition, color photos from the parade will be
posted on the valleyspringsnews.com website Friday morning.
Alan Mangini, left, Kenny and Ken Evoniuk of Rocca Bella Olive Orchard at the end of the line as olive oil begins to flow from their recently installed crusher.
Bella expands into pressing olives
Calaveras County’s re-emerging olive industry took a bold step
forward earlier this month when Rocca Bella Olive Orchard began its own
County olive producers are accustomed to shipping their crop to
Central Valley pressing plants to produce their oil.
However, those trips out of the county could become a thing of
the past in the near future. Ken Evoniuk of Rocca Bella said their plans
for this harvest are to crush only their own olives, but the
Wallace-based orchard and crushing facility is taking steps to get
permits to crush other growers olives next year.
The Rocca Bella facility at 5476 Highway 12 was once the
epicenter of the county’s olive industry and the Evoniuk and Mangini
families are working to once again restore the property to its former
They have purchased a new, state-of-the-art olive press from the
Italian firm of Pieralisi, a leader in manufacturing olive oil process
equipment. The unit was ordered in February and arrived in September.
“There is no better equipment out there,” Ken Evoniuk said.
There was a trial run last week and the first batch of commercial
olive oil came out of the press Tuesday.
The once-neglected Rocca Bella Olive Orchard has 2,300 trees and
the press will be in operation from now until next month.
This year’s harvest began with the orchard’s manzanillo
olives and will conclude with the later ripening mission olives.
The orchard and processing plant will employ 15 people during the
harvest, Evoniuk said.
He praised the county for its cooperation as the processing unit
was being installed.
Evoniuk said Rocca Bella looks forward to obtaining all of the
necessary health certificates and agency approvals to offer its services
to other local growers. He estimated there are approximately 15,000
olive trees in the area that could use the press.
However, Rocca Bella will be into boutique, not mass production,
bottling, he said.
“We don’t want to do bulk qualities - we just want to do the
best oil. We’re into making only high quality stuff.”
Pressing its own oil has opened another income stream for Rocca
Bella. The waste is being mixed with hay and composted into fertilizer,
which at first will be spread on their orchard, but they are looking
into the possibility of eventually selling it.
Evoniuks purchased the property several years ago and have
remodeled the main Rocca Bella building to serve as a showroom for their
other business, Better Floor Systems, and an olive oil store.
The store’s hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through
They’ve also remodeled the upstairs portion of the building
into an event center.
In the early 1900s, the property was where local olive growers
brought their product to be canned. In the mid 1950s the plant was
producing 5 million cans of olives a year and employing approximately 50
people. Rocca Bella was one of the best-known product brand names to
come out of Calaveras County.
However, a decade later the local olive growing coop had
dissolved and the property fell into disrepair, mainly serving as a
Hodgson ready to run if Spellman recall goes on the ballot
The field of candidates looking to replace Darren Spellman on the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors expanded Oct. 25 with Nick Hodgson announcing his intention to run for the District 5 seat if the recall effort under way against the incumbent is successful.
Hodgson joins a field of three others who have said they will run
on the recall ballot. The other three are Marti Crane, Michael McDaniel
and David Tunno.
“If the recall committee gets the necessary number of
signatures, I will run,” Hodgson told The Valley Springs News on
Tuesday. “I hope my credentials are better than what Spellman has to
The recall petition drive against
Spellman began Aug. 28 and ends Nov. 28. Recall proponents have to
gather at least 1,702 valid signatures from District 5 voters by the
November date to force a special election to oust the supervisor. Recall
proponents cite Spellman’s announcement to run for Congress, personal
attacks on citizens, fellow supervisors and elected officials, his poor
meeting attendance, and rude and abusive behavior toward others as
reason for his ouster from office.
Spellman was elected last November and has been in office since
January. He says the recall effort is spearheaded by supporters of his
election opponent, former Supervisor Russ Thomas, and is simply a
“personal political vendetta” against him.
Hodgson is a longtime west Calaveras resident and a graduate of
Calaveras High School. He is a former banker and recently returned to
the insurance industry.
“I understand the concerns the recall committee has put forward
and if the recall movement is successful in gathering enough signatures
to put it on the ballot, I’d be happy to run and be an alternative to
Mr. Spellman,” Hodgson said. “The rumor has been out for a while
that I would be a potential candidate and I believe now is the time to
make a statement.”
McDaniel, one of the key organizers of the recall effort, said he
was to see Hodgson enter the race.
Hodgson said his main priority if elected would be to get the
county back to work. Helping the rest of the board and staff to get the
General Plan update back on track and finished would be a key ingredient
toward generating to potential for more work within the county, he
Recall proponents have gathered 938 signatures out of Rancho
Calaveras, McDaniel said, and 250 from Copperopolis.
An obstacle in gathering signatures from Copper is the fact the
area has been moved out of District 5 and into District 4 during the
recent redistricting process, McDaniel said.
“Many in Copper don’t seem to care because they don’t have
him (Spellman) as a supervisor anymore,” McDaniel said. “We’re
getting a lot less support than we had hoped for out of Copper, but were
slowly getting there and there’s still a great possibility that
we’ll get enough signatures to force the election.”
With a month left in the signature-gathering process, recall
proponents have begun going door-to-door, but that effort requires more
“We’d love to have more people to walk door-to-door,”
McDaniel added. He can be reached at 981-7200.
Plans to improve the State Route 12/26 intersection commute-time traffic flow are moving forward and construction could begin by next spring.
SR12/26 intersection improvement project moving ahead slowly
Rush hour traffic woes have returned at the State Route 12/26
intersection in downtown Valley Springs with the resumption of Calaveras
Unified School District classes, but a solution is on the horizon.
The Calaveras County Board of Supervisors in October extended a
professional services agreement with Dokken Engineering to continue
working on the engineering portion of the State Route 12/26 Intersection
District 1 Supervisor Gary Tofanelli says the project is
“creeping along.” However, if things move forward as anticipated,
construction could begin next spring.
The county is waiting for Caltrans, Tofanelli said, and he’s
“still optimistic” much of the preliminary work can be done by the
end of this year to keep the project on a timeline for construction to
begin by at least the middle of next year with completion in early 2013.
The county is pursuing an intersection improvement plan brought
forward last year by Tofanelli.
Instead of earlier suggested solutions such as a traffic signal,
or roundabout at the busy intersection, the Tofanelli proposal calls for
improvements on the south side including a right turn lane from
northbound State Route 26 to eastbound State Route 12 heading toward San
Andreas, and a longer right turn lane from eastbound State Route 12 to
southbound SR26 heading toward Rancho Calaveras.
Businesses, buildings and parking spaces on the north side of the
intersection would remain the same, although a left turn lane from
westbound State Route 12 will be added at the intersection.
The one business seriously impacted by the proposal would be the
Century 21 Tri-Dam Realty office at the southeast corner of the
intersection. It would either be removed or moved further back from the
Preliminary budget costs of the intersection improvement project
have been pegged at $1.2 million, much less than estimates of $4.1
million for a traffic signal and $2.5 million for a roundabout.
In addition, the extended right-turn proposal being pursued by
the county would maintain many of the buildings and parking spaces that
would have been eliminated in the signal or roundabout alternatives.
“I think this will work for a number of years,” Tofanelli
said about the project proposal being pursued.
Lind Firefighter Teagan Dornbush, left, works on his laptop in the newly
remodeled staff quarters at Jenny Lind Fire Station No. 1, while fellow
Firefighter Clint Gleason relaxes watching television.
Facelift at Jenny Lind Fire station
Adhering to the old saying, “When life give you lemons, make lemonade,” members of the Jenny Lind Fire Protection District are completing a remodel of Fire Station No. 1.
An overnight toilet leak in the women’s restroom destroyed
linoleum and carpeting in the firehouse, but with insurance money,
additional funding approved by the district’s Board of Directors and
donated labor, much of it coming from the firefighters themselves, the
interior of the station has been improved.
The district had $20,000 to work with and improvements include a
fresh, new public meeting room with new carpeting and audio-visual
equipment for classes and public presentations, expanded staff quarters
and a remodeled lobby that will feature the firefighter emblem install
in the floor tile.
Porcelain tile has been installed throughout the station and the
formerly stark white walls are now a friendly earth tone brown. Those
walls soon will feature Jenny Lind Fire photos and memorabilia.
Tearing down the wall between the existing staff quarters and the
chief’s office expanded the staff quarters. Fire Chief Kim Olson now
has an open office in the public area of the building overlooking the
Olson was impressed with those who donated labor to complete the
project. One day of laying the flooring attracted 15 people,
firefighters, board members and the department’s chaplain, he said.
Better Floor Systems provided the flooring at cost.
“The whole project was a good team-building exercise,” Olson
Dennis Petersen, president of the Jenny Lind board, was also
pleased with the volunteers’ efforts.
“It save a lot of money and the firefighters have ownership in
the building,” he said.
One of the goals of the remodel was to improve the habitability
of the staff quarters.
“We want the volunteers to feel comfortable being here,” the
Renee Olson retired Sept. 30 from the U.S. Postal Service after 27 years, 16 of them in Valley Springs.
One door closes for retiring postal worker; another one opens
A 27-year career with the U.S. Postal Service came to an end
Sept. 30 when Renee Olson of the Valley Springs Post Office sold her
Olson, a window and distribution clerk, has been at the Valley
Springs office for 16 of those years. She began her USPS career in the
mail processing and distribution plant on West Lane in Stockton.
“It was like working in the inside of a beehive,” Olson said
of her initial experience with the postal service.
Olson carried mail in Stockton for four years and also worked a
collection route driving a 2 ½-ton diesel van before transferring in
1989 to the Linden Post Office where she was a clerk.
The move brought her closer to home, which is located between
Linden and Valley Springs off State Route 26.
Olson transferred to Valley Springs as several of the postal
routes then emanating from the Linden office were shifted to the
fast-growing Valley Springs area.
“I’m a clerk who truly enjoys her job, her co-workers and her
community,” Olson said on her final day at work. “I’m a service
person and it’s a good service job. It was a good career.”
Despite deep cutbacks within the postal service, staffing at the
Valley Springs office will remain the same, said Postmaster Tim Brown.
“We’ll lose her knowledge and experience,” Brown said of
Olson. “You can’t replace what she knows about the community.”
He expects her position will be filled by “an impacted
employee,” a postal worker who will be re-assigned to Valley Springs
because of cutbacks elsewhere.
Valley Springs is maintaining its staffing level, he added,
because of the existing workload in the office.
Olson does not plan to sit idly in her retirement years. She and
her sister Cathy Steyer are opening a crafts store called “Creative
Needles” Oct. 10 at the “Yellow House” on State Route 49 in
downtown San Andreas.
As the name implies, the shop will cater to crafts such as
quilting, sewing, knitting and crocheting.
“I’m looking forward to having classes and
semi-retirement,” she said about her new venture.
After the store’s “soft opening” next Monday and Tuesday,
regular hours will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays.
A scheduled of classes will be announced later.
Olson also plans to become more involved in community activities.
She has been involved with the Valley Springs Teen Center and Optimist
Club and currently is involved with the Stone Corral Church Grief Share,
a Christian support group for those who have experienced the death of a
loved one. She joined the group 18 months ago when her husband Skip
She also plans to spend more time in her garden and is considering whether to take the courses to become a Master Gardener. Master Gardeners are community members who have been trained under the direction of the University of California Cooperative Extension and then share their expertise back to the community.
She also plans to learn how to fish or at least come up with some good fish stories.
“I’ll miss the people,” Olson said about departing her
postal job, “but I’m going into another service job, so I’ll still
be connected to the community.”
A $15.8 million project to widen a three-mile portion of State Route 26 from Wimer Road to Savage Way has begun.
Work begins on dangerous stretch of State Route 26
By Nick Baptista
A much-anticipated State Route 26 construction project that will improve vehicular safety at the intersection with Burson Road is under way.
The $15.8 million project calls for widening, realigning and repaving a 3.1-mile stretch of the highway from Savage Way to Wimer Road. RGW Construction Inc. of Livermore was awarded a $6.2 million contract from Caltrans back in June for the construction phase of the project.
Of particular importance to Calaveras County officials is work to improve safety at the intersection of State Route 26 and Burson Road. County Public Works Director Tom Garcia submitted a letter to Caltrans in July asking the agency to take a close look at the intersection.
The site has been the scene of two fatalities this year – June 27 when Alan David Rudd, 46, of Lockeford and March 16 when Linda Louise Krigbaum, 48, of Burson lost their lives negotiating the curve.
Plans call for an 11-foot left turn lane on eastbound portion of State Route 26 at the intersection and 8-foot shoulders, said Zelie Nogueira from Caltrans.
District 1 Supervisor Gary Tofanelli said he is pleased with Caltrans’ efforts to improve safety at the intersection, which is within his district. Krigbaum was a neighbor of his, but he first became concerned about the intersection in August of last year when a big-rig went out of control at the curve and lost its load of riprap. The accident tied up morning commuter traffic for nearly an hour.
Kerry Morgan is the Caltrans project
engineer and work is scheduled to be completed by the fall of next year.
Assemblymember Kristin Olsen
Olsen talks about first few months in State Assembly
There is no greater threat to local government than state
government. That was the word from first-year Assemblymember Kristin
Olsen, R-Modesto, during a Valley Springs Area Business Association
luncheon on Sept. 21.
Olsen, who represents the 25th Assembly District, talked about
her first year in the state legislature.
district includes the communities of Valley Springs, Angels Camp,
Chowchilla, Hughson, Mammoth Lakes, Mariposa, Modesto, Oakdale,
Oakhurst, Riverbank, Sonora, and Waterford.
To cover a shortfall in revenue to state coffers, Sacramento is
raiding funds intended for local government, such as the counties,
cities and school districts, she said, “and that is frustrating to
me” since she is an advocate for local control.
“Government exists to serve the people and not the other way
around,” she added.
Olsen said her three priorities are job creation, local control
and governmental reform. She said 20 percent unemployment is
“intolerable” and the focus should be on helping small business
create those necessary jobs.
“Nobody is better creating jobs than small business,” she
said, and regulatory relief and updating “antiquated” labor laws
would be helpful.
Creating a one-stop shop for new business on the web is another
one of her ideas to help grow the economy and create more jobs. She had
a bill in the legislature to create such a website, but it stalled in
the Senate when a price tag of $1 million was placed on her legislation.
Based on her background in business and communications, she said
the estimate was way too high, but the suggestion of spending a million
dollars was enough to kill the bill.
In regards to regulatory relief, Olsen said she is working on
“Sunset Review” legislation that would regularly exam all state
boards and commissions. She is working along bipartisan lines to push
the legislation forward and it is modeled after a Texas program.
In all, there are 550 state boards and commissions, and the
program would make them more accountable, she said.
She is also working to repeal Gov. Jerry Brown’s State
Responsibility Area Fee passed in June. The new tax has grown from $50
on residential structures primarily in rural and unincorporated parts of
the state to $175 for any structure, she said.
Olsen and Assemblymember Kevin Jeffries, R-Lake Elsinore, have
introduced a bill to repeal the tax and she believes it cannot stand a
legal challenge since was approved by only a simple majority of the
Legislature, instead of voter-mandated two-thirds approval.
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is talking about bringing
a legal challenge to the questionable tax, she added.
Buckets of wine grapes are ready to be crushed at Bear Flag Vineyard in Jenny Lind.
Wine grape harvest under way in county
Calaveras County’s grape harvest is under way and winemakers
are preparing their next batch of fermented libations.
Award-winning amateur winemaker Bing Stanley of Rancho Calaveras
characterized this year’s harvest as one with a fairly good yield, but
the sugar content is down.
Efforts to postpone the harvest for a while to let the sugar
content increase proved to be a boon for the area’s bird population as
they had more time to feast on the grapes and some of the crop turned
into raisins, Stanley said.
Earlier in the year there was some white fungus or mold on the
vines, likely caused by late springtime rains at the bud break, Stanley
added, but the problem was alleviated with spraying and it doesn’t
harm the wine.
According to the latest county agriculture report, wine grapes
dropped from No. 2 to No. 3 as the county’s leading farm commodity in
2010. The drop was attributed to weather. Growers experienced a long
damp spring in 2010 that affected the bloom of some varieties. In
addition, a hot spell later in the summer resulted in some varieties
Wine grape production was valued at $3,120,000 in 2010 compared
to $3,360,000 in 2009. Early reports indicate it might go up in 2011.
Foothill Fire Battalion Chief Ken Dallinger “strikes the four fives” in paying respects to the firefighters who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
Springs pauses to pay respects
Valley Springs paid tribute to its veterans, first responders and
those who lost their lives on 9-11-2001 or afterward fighting terrorism
with a memorial observance Sunday evening at the Jenny Lind Veterans
Memorial District Park.
Nearly 150 people attended the solemn 10th anniversary
ceremony that begin with a parade of first-responder vehicles - sirens
blaring - as they moved up Daphne Street to the park gazebo and to the
applause of those in attendance.
American Legion Post 102 Commander Lou Domondon introduced first
responders from the Foothill Fire Protection District, Jenny Lind Fire
Protection District, American Legion Ambulance, the Calaveras County
Sheriff’s Department, CHP and the National Guard to the appreciative
One Valley Springs family that suffered the loss of a family
member due to the terrorist attacks on 9-11 received a quilt from the
Quilts of Honor organization.
Quilts of Honor Director Gail Belmont acknowledged that if not
for the events of 9-11, the organization, which provides patriotic
quilts to comfort U.S. service men and women wounded in combat and
veterans with multiple tours or combat-related stress or injuries,
probably would not be in existence today.
She presented one of the volunteer-made quilts to Gina Eades in
honor of her brother, Lt. Col. Michael James Gregory, who was one of 125
people in the Pentagon killed Sept. 11, 2001, when American Airlines
Flight 77 crashed into the west side of the building.
“We’re sorry for your sacrifice,” Belmont said to Eades
during the quilt presentation.
Foothill Fire Battalion Chief Ken Dallinger paid respects to
fellow firefighters who lost their lives at the World Trade Center
attack with a customary “five bells” or “Striking the Four
Fives” bell-ringing ceremony.
Boy Scout Troop 302 of Valley Springs along with local Cub Scouts
performed the posting of colors.
Calaveras County Sheriff Gary Kuntz, and County Supervisors Gary
Tofanelli, District One; Darren Spellman, District 5, and Merita
Callaway, District 3, were in attendance and Callaway was acknowledged
for going to New York after the tragedy to help in relief efforts.
“We the People,” a song written by Noreen Coca of Firefall
Jewelers that focuses on 9-11 and the aftermath, was sung by her husband
Paul, while Maria Behm sang the National Anthem. Pastor Brian Mark of
Community United Methodist Church of Valley Springs provided the
invocation and closing prayer.
The 10th anniversary ceremony concluded with a 21-gun
salute by the American Legion Post 102 Honor Guard and Taps played by
Belmont before the colors were retired.
Baechler, left, and Wendy Jones at the Rancho Calaveras Clubhouse pool
before they begin a training session in preparation for the Sept. 18
Athleta Iron Girl Triathlon at Lake Tahoe.
Rancho women preparing for triathlon challenge
Two Rancho Calaveras women are in final preparations for
participation in the Sept. 18 Athleta Iron Girl Triathlon at Lake
Tahoe’s South Shore.
Bambi Baechler and Wendy Jones are frequent visitors to the
Rancho Clubhouse swimming pool preparing for the 400-meter swim portion
of the triathlon, which also includes at 24-kilometer bicycling
component and a 5-kilometer run.
They have been in training since April with it becoming more
intense since June. It will be Baechler’s first triathlon while it is
Baechler’s background in sports has been softball and swimming,
while Jones ran track in high school and played soccer in junior high.
Friends for the past six years, it was through pre-school and
youth soccer where they met and grew their friendship. Baechler was
Jones’s son’s pre-school teacher, while Jones was Baechler’s
son’s soccer coach.
Baechler has three children – ages 13, 9 and 2, while Jones is
the mother of a pair – ages 9 and 6.
Baechler said it was a suggestion by her daughter who was
encouraging her to pursue a healthier lifestyle that prompted her to try
the triathlon, while Jones said, “I just like to run and get out
Assisting the women in their preparations at the Rancho pool,
especially in the area of aerobics, is Bill Boos.
“He’s been helping with our technique and pushing us,”
The Long Wolf family entertained Pow Wow attendees this year with their Native American dances.
Pow Wow to stay with date, but work on field
Reaction has been positive to the date change for the Snyder’s
Valley Springs Pow Wow and the 38th edition of the event will be next
Labor Day weekend.
Pow Wow organizer Diana Gigliotti confirmed the date for next year’s event and said it will remain at its new location, but grading of the field will be addressed.
“We’ll only improve on the new site,” she said.
The 37th annual Valley Springs Pow Wow at the Snyder Ranch
attracted approximately 150 vendors and many of them reported good
sales, Gigliotti said.
The variety of vendors was also impressive, she added.
Native American dancers Michael and Victoria Long Wolf, who also
do the Indian fry bread, have said they will return next year, she
added, along with Boy Scout Troop 353, which served breakfast and lunch.
In addition, Pow Wow founder “Betty Snyder was there everyday
telling us the history of the Pow Wow,” Gigliotti said, which was a
“Jeannene (White) and I are proud to keep this historical event
going and all the wonderful memories people have made from it,”
Gigliotti said Tuesday, the morning after conclusion of one of Valley
Springs’ largest annual events.
Millie Fry of Rancho Calaveras displays some of the handmade items she will sell at this weekend’s Valley Springs Pow Wow at the Snyder Ranch.
Pow Wow a benefit to many locals, civic groups
By Nick Baptista
It’s happening at a different time of the year, but the 37th annual Snyder’s Valley Springs Pow Wow will have its standard fare of items such as gemstones, minerals, jewelry, a wide assortment of handmade goods, Native American dancing and other demonstrations for the public beginning on Friday.
The Pow Wow shifted from its traditional time of the first weekend in May to Labor Day this year to avoid the possibility of late spring rains and accommodate vendors’ schedules.
"Most of the dealers are happy - it works out best for them (having the Pow Wow on the Labor Day weekend)," said Betty Snyder, who started the event.
Many locals also participate in the Pow Wow, which opens at 9 a.m. Friday. Admission and parking are free. It is an opportunity for civic clubs and youth organizations, such as the Boy Scouts, to raise funds.
Scouts from Troop 353 in Angels Camp, and their parents, will serve breakfast and lunch during the Pow Wow. Money from the booth will go toward the scouts’ summer camp next year, said Liz Mullally, one of the parents.
Breakfast will include pancakes, eggs, ham and orange juice for $8. Hamburgers and hot dogs will be served for lunch and the price will range from $4 to $6.
Another youngster taking advantage of the Pow Wow is Mountain Oaks Charter School student Joshua Hurtado. The 16-year-old is selling tie-dyed T-shirts and other items to raise money to participate in a youth exchange trip next year to Australia.
The T-shirts will run from $15 to $20 for larger sizes.
Hurtado, a junior in high school, wants to apply to attend Stanford University, become a psychologist and "hopefully travel around the world," said his mother Kathy Radusinovich.
The Pow Wow is one of the biggest shows of the year for Rancho Calaveras crafter Millie Fry. She has been going to the Pow Wow the past two years and her booth contains a wide variety of sewn items such as aprons, pillows, grocery bags, fleece bags, placemats and crochet scarves.
"The Pow Wow is a lot of fun," Fry said. "There are a lot of different people, crafts, rock collectors and it’s all so interesting."
She has been sewing her bags and aprons for the past five years after the company she was working for, Analog Devices, decided to move its Bay Area plant to Massachusetts.
"It’s pretty much a full-time job," she said about her sewing. "It’s such a great thing to do. I’m busy all the time and I love it."
Being local has its advantage, she said. Someone may see a bag or item they like, but want it in a different fabric. She can go home that night and match the customer’s desire.
Most of her bags run $7 to $10, with those featuring the local teams being very popular. The shopping bags are $3 each or two for $5.
The Pow Wow this year will have more than 150 vendors, said Diana Gigliotti, who is organizing the event.
"We’re glad the Pow Wow is able to help a lot of organizations in town raise money for their causes," she said.
Early gas engines, radio-controlled airplanes, an 8 a.m. Sunday worship service are just some of the other demonstrations and activities planned for this year’s Pow Wow, which will run through Labor Day Monday.
Janice Bassett is the new youth coordinator at the recently re-opened Valley Springs Youth Center.
Youth Center re-opens under new leadership
The Valley Springs Youth Center has re-opened and is under the
direction of a new youth coordinator.
Janice Bassett has been hired as the coordinator and the center
resumed its weekly after-school hours.
The center, located on Pine Street between Valley Springs
Elementary School and the Jenny Lind Veterans Hall, is open from 2 to 6
p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and noon to 5 on Fridays.
Elementary, middle and high school students between the ages of
11 to 17 can use the center to do their homework, or to play a variety
of games and participate in activities.
“There are so many ideas of what I want to do with the kids
including some fun games and activities,” Bassett said.
In addition, she is looking forward to proposed improvements at
the center including the installation of more windows and a new air
conditioning unit to cool down the back portion of the building.
Bassett retired in 2008 after 19 years as a courtroom clerk for
the Santa Cruz Superior Court.
“This is a way to serve my community’s youth and give them a
healthy place to come after school,” she said about her reasons for
joining the youth center.
Cupcake decorating, mummy and frozen T-shirt contests are some of
the activities she’d like to introduce to the children, along with
adding a putting course inside the center to go along with other games
such as pool, air hockey and footsball.
Plans announced for 9-11 ceremony in Valley Springs
American Legion Post 102, its auxiliary and Quilts of Honor are
organizing a commemoration ceremony to honor the innocent victims of
Sept. 11, 2001.
The local observance will be on the 10-year anniversary of the
attack and begin at 6:30 p.m. in the gazebo area at Jenny Lind Veterans
Memorial District Park.
The ceremony will honor the victims of the attacks on the World
Trade Center, Pentagon, airline flight takeovers and the American
military service personnel who have died in the war against terrorism
while other members of the service continue to fight, said Gail Belmont,
one of the event’s organizers.
One of those innocent victims, Army Lt. Col. Michael James
Gregory, has ties to a Valley Springs family, Belmont related.
Lt. Col. Gregory is the brother of Gina Eades, a 12-year resident
of Valley Springs.
He was working in the Pentagon when it was severely damaged by
the impact of American Airlines Flight 77 at 9:37 a.m. Sept. 11, 2001.
Gregory and Eades come from a military family. Their father
retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force and another brother is
a lieutenant commander in the Navy. Eades’ husband Paul is retired
from the Air Force and served in Iraq.
Lt. Col. Gregory served 22 years in the Army, was a Vietnam
veteran and also worked for the CIA, his sister said. After serving his
initial stint in the service, he went to college and graduated from
California State University, Hayward, before rejoining the Army.
Gregory was one of 125 people in the Pentagon killed when Flight
77 crashed into the west side of the building. All 53 passengers and six
crewmembers aboard the plane also died. In all, 9-11 claimed nearly
3,000 innocent victims. He is buried in the Arlington National Cemetery
along with his father.
“It’s important that we do something like this,” Belmont
said. “We must not forget all of those who gave their lives for this
She is asking the entire community to display their U.S. flags on
9-11 as a sign of support and they are also invited to attend.
Boy Scout Troop 302 will be involved in the ceremony with a flag
display. The memorial service to the 9-11 victims will include an
invocation, a ceremony raising the U.S. flag to half-staff and the
playing of Taps, Belmont said.
Don Clark with his recently restored 1924 Seagrave fire engine that began its service career with the Los Angeles City Fire Department.
old fire engines is one man's passion
The Valley Springs area has more than its fair share of classic
and vintage auto collectors and restorers, but one local man takes it a
step further and fixes up old-time fire engines.
Don Clark of Double Springs Ranch, located between Valley Springs
and Toyon, several years ago bought a 1958 Van Pelt pumper truck to
handle small fires on the property. Neighbors talked him into entering
the truck in the Valley Springs Area Business Association’s annual
Christmas Parade and that started him on the path of being a collector.
Clark’s latest project was a 1924 Seagrave. It was on display
at Outwest Auto’s annual car show earlier this summer along with his
1958 Van Pelt.
The Seagrave has an interesting history, Clark said. It was one
of four built in Cincinnati, Ohio, and delivered to the Los Angeles City
Fire Department that year. Dubbed Engine No. 26, it served Los Angeles
for 35 years before being sold to the Paso Robles Fire Department where
it spent another 10 to 15 years in operation.
“From there it passed through a half-dozen collectors before it
got to me,” Clark said. “It was a total disaster, a rust bucket.”
Clark has gone through about 95 percent of the ’24 Seagrave and
the Outwest show was the first time he had the fire engine on public
display. He plans to show it again at the 37th annual
Snyder’s Valley Springs Pow Wow from Sept. 2 to 5. He also hopes to
have it in the 2011 VSABA Christmas Parade.
Engine No. 26 was purchased by the City of Los Angeles for
$16,230, give or take a few dollars, he said, and today it would be a
$300,000 piece of equipment.
It was sturdily built, with no amenities, he added.
It has a rather small 60-gallon tank, but even back then there
were fire hydrants in the city, so the tank was used for only the
initial attack, Clark theorized, and almost everything on it is brass,
which was the material of choice for casting.
Restoring fire engines is enjoyable, Clark said. “It’s fun
and there’s a lot of pride involved in it.”
He uses his experience as a recreational vehicle service
technician and 52 years of involvement with local fire departments in
restoring the vintage engines.
He retired six years ago from Geweke RV Center in Lodi and last
month stepped down as a volunteer with the Foothill Fire Protection
District where he was the apparatus supervisor. He’s still called on
by Foothill from time-to-time as an adviser.
While serving Foothill as the apparatus supervisor, it was his
job to check the vehicles and designate repairs, along with finding the
right vendors to do the repairs. He is credited with saving the district
thousands of dollars in his role.
“I went to Foothill when Mike (Siligo) took over and the
department was headed in the right direction,” Clark said.
He recently retired from those duties when he turned 70.
“Enough is enough,” he said about his decision to step down
after four years with the district.
Clark got into firefighting back in 1958 in his native state of
New York. He also served on departments in Arizona and Nevada.
He moved here from Carson City, Nev., in 1995 when his wife
Sharon inherited a portion of the Double Springs Ranch. The ranch has
been in his wife’s family since 1850.
Alexander Reid Wheat established the ranch and nine generations
have lived on it, Clark said. The county’s first courthouse was
located on the ranch and the family donated the pre-fabricated building
originally shipped from China to the Calaveras County Historical
Society. A portion of it is on display at the Calaveras County Museum in
The ranch once totaled 9,000 acres, Clark said, but much of it is
now under New Hogan Lake. The ranch today is about 1,000 acres.
He plans to have a float in this year’s Christmas Parade
focusing on the history of the ranch and the old courthouse.
Although the Seagrave has been Clark’s latest restoration, he
says his favorite is a 1971 American
LaFrance. He keeps it in reserve on the ranch.
Since Clark lives at the edge of the Foothill and San Andreas
fire districts, having the trucks on hand have proven helpful in the
past. Several years ago a vehicle was traveling down State Route 12 and
leaving some sparks in its path. Some of the sparks started a fire near
a neighbor’s house and Clark arrived at the scene with one of his
trucks just as the blaze was approaching a propane tank.
He doused the flames before a unit from CalFire arrived at the
scene and when one of the officers got there, he told Clark, “Just
keep doing what you’re doing.”
Help N Hand Thrift Store owner Marilyn Rolland, standing, with her crew of, from left, Dorothy Gonsalves Regusci, Pat Dault and Becky Steiner, opened for business on Monday.
thrift store plans to give back to the community
The former Mark Twain St. Joseph’s Hospital thrift shop
re-opened its doors Monday as Help N Hand Thrift Store under the
ownership of Marilyn Rolland.
The hospital closed the thrift store, located
Rolland hopes to reverse the trend and like the hospital did in
the past, she plans to give back to the community.
“Help N Hand Thrift Store is a neighborhood community thrift
store giving back to the many needs within Calaveras County,” she
said. “Its goal is to contribute and assist organizations known to the
community and the real life needs of its people. We’re strictly run by
donations given from our community with the intent to stay in our
The store will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week,
but it will close an hour earlier beginning in October.
“Although we are not a non-profit – I need to make enough
money to clear the rent and make a car payment – the community will
see where a portion of the money goes monthly,” Rolland said.
“Starting Oct. 1, we will post the store’s donations on the front
window and the community can take pride in seeing where their
contributions have gone to those in need. My heart’s desire is to make
a difference in someone’s life and give God the glory for instilling
in my heart the willingness to give a helping hand” – hence the
store’s name Help N Hand.
“The help is only one hand,” she said. “You must take the
other to help yourself.”
Rolland gives special thanks to Mark Twain Hospital for allowing
her to continue what the hospital started and her first contribution is
going to the hospital’s auxiliary for the attention and care they give
She is also looking for feedback from the community as to where
future donations should go. She will have a suggestion box in the store.
In addition, she plans to talk to all of the area’s ministers as a way
to reach some of the community’s less fortunate families.
“We’ve been blessed and its time to give back,” she said.
The store has a variety of clothing items, shoes, furniture,
appliances and books and always seeking new donations. The phone number
is (209) 304-6843 to arrange a drop off.
“Many of the people I’ve talked to are very happy to see the
thrift store re-open,” she said. “They’ve missed it immensely.”
Helping her with the store are Pat Dault, who formerly worked at
the shop, Dorothy Gonsalves Regusci and Becky Steiner.
“I couldn’t have done this without them,” Rolland said.
5 Supervisor Darren Spellman says “Thank you very much” after being
served a recall notice Tuesday morning by Michael McDaniel.
Supervisor Spellman recall attempt begins
The movement to recall freshman Calaveras County Supervisor
Darren Spellman took its first official step Tuesday morning when the
representative to District 5 was served a recall notice as he entered
the Board Chambers.
Spellman was absent when the Board of Supervisors convened for
its regular meeting shortly after 9 a.m., but as four of the board
members were departing for a closed session, Spellman arrived and was
greeted near the chamber entry by recall advocate Michael McDaniel.
cordial to one another as McDaniel told Spellman he was being served and
upon being handed the paperwork, the supervisor said, “Thank you very
The “Notice of Intention to Circulate (a) Recall Petition”
given to Spellman contained the signatures of 27 recall proponents.
McDaniel needed 20 valid signatures of registered voters within
District 5 and later in the morning he received notification from the
county elections office that all of the signatures were valid.
The grounds for recall say:
“After being elected to the office of Supervisor he informed his district to his bid for Congress and of applying his efforts towards that run. He has falsely accused constituents of corruption which was refuted by County Counsel. He is accused of rude and abusive manner against a teacher and of utilizing his position to intimidate a teacher. He has voted against Federal and State funding for an application for a grant for a Veteran's representative thus not supporting the Veterans in his district. He leaves early from or does not attend Board meetings to attend political rallies that could improve his bid for higher office, thus missing voting on important issues affecting his constituents. He has released news articles of false information, accusations and outright lies about fellow board members and citizens of this county. He has been negligent in his duties to attend joint county board meetings and then criticized and vilified his alternate for attending. Over all Mr. Spellman has shown a complete disrespect for his fellow citizens, has not performed his position as elected, and indicates a lack of dedication and commitment to the community.”
Shortly after being served, Spellman told a gathering of the media the recall is “vindictive and personally motivated.”
Spellman, who ousted incumbent Russ Thomas last November and assumed office in January, said he doubts he’ll write a response to the accusations contained in the recall notice.
McDaniel was a District 5 candidate in 2006 and lost and was a big Thomas backer in 2010 and lost, Spellman said.
It now appears he wants to reverse those events and is a candidate if the recall moves forward, Spellman added, so his motivation is totally personal and will cost the county $13,000 if the recall goes to an election.
McDaniel’s part in the recall is “highly self-serving,” Spellman said. “It’s a cheap end around to win election.”
“I’ve done nothing illegal or highly immoral,” Spellman told the media, and feels comfortable he has a wide range of support.
“I did exactly what I said I’d do and not cater to special interests.”
Spellman also questioned the backing McDaniel’s recall drive has received. He cited information in an Aug. 5 edition of The Valley Springs News where McDaniel said he’s received calls from people in other parts of the county such as Arnold and West Point and although they cannot sign the petition, they would be willing to provide financial support toward the recall.
“I’ve been a strong advocate for the people who voted me in office,” Spellman said, … “and the people I represent have not received equitable distribution of the county’s resources.”
He said the lack of a public library in Rancho Calaveras and bus stops are two “glaring examples” where the county is not distributing resources adequately and those “up country” know he’s a threat to them to continue receiving disproportionate shares of the county’s funding.
“It’s not at all about me,” McDaniel said. “Mr. Spellman needs to wake up and see the community no longer supports him.”
He added that it would be “extremely improper” if Spellman lashes out at those who signed the recall notice petition.
“He needs to focus on the reasons for recall, and if not, he should resign,” McDaniel said.
The gathering of signatures calling for a recall election could begin within a few days. There are 6,695 registered voters within District 5 and recall proponents will need to collect 1,656 valid signatures within 90 days to place the issue on the ballot.
In addition to McDaniel, Marti Crane has announced her intention to run. Burson businessman Don Urbanus was mentioned as a possible candidate, but he says he does not see how he can run his nursery business and served on the board at the same time.
David Singer, a 2010 primary candidate, was outside the chambers after Spellman was served and said he was not interested in running again.
Urbanus said Nick Hodgson has also been mentioned as a potential candidate.
Joan Marie Hamrick
Valley Springs woman dies in Lake Tahoe hit-and-run
What had been an enjoyable night at Lake Tahoe ended in tragedy
Saturday for a Valley Springs family.
Joan Marie Hamrick, 60, of Valley Springs died after being struck
by a vehicle driven by a man suspected of being under the influence.
Hamrick’s husband Marvin said his wife, daughter-in-law April,
granddaughter Preslie and Preslie’s friend Ericka had just finished
watching a Lady Antebellum concert in the Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at
Harvey’s and were crossing U.S. 50 to get to their car.
“They had a wonderful evening together,” he said.
Mrs. Hamrick was straggling behind the rest of her party in the
crosswalk shortly after 1 a.m. when she was struck by what was
identified as an unregistered silver Ford truck.
“We’re blessed it didn’t get all four of them,” Marvin
Mrs. Hamrick was transported to Renown Regional Medical Center in
Reno via Care Flight helicopter where she later died from her injuries.
The driver allegedly fled from the scene, but a witness followed
the truck down a street. It eventually was located by law enforcement,
but was unoccupied. While officers were at the truck, a man headed
toward it and was apprehended. The suspect has been identified as David
Ray Stephenson, 35, of Discovery Bay. He was arrested on suspicion of
felony driving under the influence and failure to use due care.
Mrs. Hamrick was born June 4, 1951, in Stockton to John and Dorothy Huston and was a life-long resident of Calaveras County – living in the communities of Burson, Wallace and Valley Springs.
She retired after working for the Calaveras County Water District.
Her family stretches back five generations in the county and she
was a Calaveras High School graduate, her husband said.
Mrs. Hamrick is survived by her husband, Marvin; two sons and
daughters-in-law, Greg (April) Kirk, and Scott (Vanessa) Kirk; three
grandchildren, Preslie, Jarred, and Scotty Kirk; and Marv's children and
grandchildren who loved her dearly.
She was preceded in death by her mother Dorothy Huston and
husband Stan Perry.
A memorial service will begin at 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 5, at 1st
Baptist Church of Lodi, 267 N. Mills Ave., Lodi.
“Joanie loved life, spending time with children and grandchildren, being a friend to someone in need, and was loved by anyone who had the blessing of knowing her,” said the obituary from her family. “Many hearts are broken by her passing.”
Wildlife photographer Stacey Hebrard of My Shadow Productions captured a rare glimpse of young bald eagles stretching their wings and beginning to fly during a weekend boat trip at Pardee Reservoir. These fledgling eagles are offspring from a couple that two years ago lost two of their offspring.
Baby bald eagles soaring in the skies over Lake Pardee
Mother Nature has demonstrated her resiliency as three fledgling
bald eagles have emerged from a nest near Pardee Reservoir and are
spreading their wings.
These three eagles are the offspring from a pair who at this time
two years ago lost their two fledglings, according to local wildlife
photographer Stacey Hebrard.
A state Department of Fish and Game study at the time confirmed
at least one of the 2009 fledgling bald eagles likely died from the West
The tests determined one of the bald eagles contracted the virus and it was assumed the second eagle also died from the virus, but the carcass was too far along in the decomposition process to accurately determine the cause of death.
Hebrard and several Valley Springs area residents may have caught the three fledglings in their maiden flights last Saturday at Pardee. She and the group were on a boat in the lake celebrating a belated birthday for Debbie Anderson.
“We were so jazzed,” said Hebrard, about witnessing the young birds as they began to take flight. Hebrard took 800 wildlife photos during the day, many capturing the young eagles as they were perfecting their flight maneuvers.
“Their overall flight was going well,” Hebrard said, “but they were having difficulties with their landings.”
Hebrard has been following the adult eagle couple for several
years and closely watched and photographed the 2009 fledglings. She was
one of the first observers to notice something was wrong with the
eaglets back in August of 2009.
The former Pliler’s Market has re-opened under the ownership of Salah “Sal” Sanad as Valley Springs Dollar-Plus.
storefront re-opens doors as "Baby Wal-Mart"
A downtown Valley Springs landmark dormant for the past 2½ years
has a new life.
Springs Dollar Plus opened Monday in the former site of Pliler's Market
at the corner of State Route 12 and Cedar Street.
Owner Salah “Sal” Sanad describes the new store as a “Baby Wal-Mart.” Valley Springs Dollar Plus is a variety store with a wide selection of retail items. The inventory includes back-to-school supplies, crafts, party goods, toys, greeting cards, pet supplies, beauty and make-up accessories, electronics, fans, small air conditioning units, house wares, small furniture, household appliances, bedding, clothing and shoes.
Sanad also has grocery items at the store such as milk, soda,
juices, ice cream, chips and snacks. He plans to expand the food line in
the coming days. Fishing equipment and bait are also in his plans.
Valley Springs Dollar Plus is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday
through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The phone
number is 772-1157.
Sanad was the former owner of Mood & Food Mart in Ripon. He
sold that store and has moved to Valley Springs. He's made extensive
repairs and upgrades to the store, including exterior paint to match the
historic train depot across the street and a new air conditioning
Pliler's closed in December 2008. A general store had been in
continuous operation at the site since early 1885, Sal Manna, president
of the Society for the Preservation of West Calaveras History, said at
The original store was the second store built in Valley Springs.
The old wooden building was torn down in 1939 and a new one-story
building erected, essentially what exists today, he added.
First District State Se. Ted Gaines, R-Roseville
Senator sets in motion repeal of $150 fire fee
State Sen. Ted Gaines was 45 minutes late to his speaking
engagement July 20 at the Valley Springs Area Business Association’s
monthly luncheon meeting, but when he explained the reason for his
tardiness, the audience applauded with approval.
Gaines, freshman Republican senator for the First District, which
takes in all or parts of Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Lassen,
Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento and Sierra counties,
told the near-capacity audience at the La Contenta Events Center that he
had been working on starting a referendum to repeal the new $150 fire
fee imposed on rural homeowners.
All residents in west Calaveras are subject to the annual fee,
which was signed into law July 8 by Gov. Jerry Brown as part of the
state budget package.
Gaines, who was elected to the Senate seat in a special election
in January to replace the late State Sen. Dave Cox, said there have been
some bright spots at the state level. He was glad to see the 1 percent
sales tax increase lapse and the state is seeing an increase in revenue.
The average family of four will see a $1,000 a year savings with
the sales tax increase, he said, and there is a $7 billion increase in
However, instead of spending the new windfall, the state should
use the additional money to bring down its debt, he added.
He also believes the revenue increase might be short-lived since
the economy is not growing rapidly and there might be another dip.
The economy will not be truly turned around until we see a
recovery in the housing industry, he said.
In the meantime, the federal debt needs to be addressed along
with the state’s huge pension obligation, the senator said in his
opening remarks to the gathering of approximately 60 business people.
If the state does not tackle the pension issue, Gaines warned
Californians would see a serious decline in services as more and more
tax revenue is diverted from essential services to pay those pensions.
California lost 800,000 manufacturing jobs the past decade,
Gaines said, and one of his priorities is to create more jobs in the
state. California is losing many of those jobs because state taxes put
businesses here at a disadvantage and he’d like to see those taxes,
along with government regulations, re-evaluated.
Gaines said he’s tried twice to have state regulations
re-examined, but his legislation has died in committee with opposition
coming from the public-employees sector.
The senator was receptive to questions from the audience and on
several occasions said he would have staff look at the concerns raised
at the luncheon.
One of those questions dealt with the logic of closing state
parks due to the budget crunch and Gaines agreed park closures harm
local economies and said he was frustrated by the move, calling it
Calaveras County Water District board member Jeff Davidson voiced
concern about banks not taking title over on foreclosed properties and
the district’s only recourse to recover back fees is to go after those
who were evicted and in most instances those charges are unrecoverable.
Gaines said he would look into the matter.
The state paying for illegal aliens’ higher education was
another hot topic at the luncheon. Gaines said he had spoken with
someone who legally immigrated into the country and expressed outrage at
the double standard that he came into the country legal and was paying
his fair share, while others who did not follow the law after getting
wide variety of golfing opportunities in Calaveras County at courses
such as La Contenta is highlighted in the interactive county exhibit at
the California State Fair. The booth features a clubhouse along with a
five-hole miniature golf course that children and adults can play.
Calaveras exhibit strikes gold at state fair
The Calaveras County booth has once again brought home a gold
award from the California State Fair.
In addition, the interactive Calaveras exhibit, prepared under
the supervision of the Calaveras Visitors Bureau, received a special
award for the best use of the fair theme. This year’s theme is “The
Fun Just Got Bigger!”
The Calaveras exhibit features a clubhouse along with a five-hole
miniature golf course that children and adults alike can play. On hole
No. 1, the golfer putts the ball through a frog’s mouth, on hole No. 2
through a Big Tree, on No. 3 through a wine bottle, on No. 4 around a
mountain and on No. 5 through caverns. The exhibit also highlights
locally grown and produced items.
Volunteers staff the booth at various intervals throughout the
duration of the fair and this year and are expected to be busy with the
interactive aspect to the booth.
“This is the most interactive display we have ever done,”
said Lisa Mayo, Calaveras Visitors Bureau executive director. “On
opening day there was a line of kids and adults waiting to play a round.
This is a great opportunity to capture their attention and let them know
about all the great reasons to plan a visit to Calaveras. Our builder
did a fantastic job of taking our concept and putting it into action.”
Nearly 750,000 people visited the California State Fair last
year. This year’s edition of the state fair runs from July 14 to 31.
Caltrans is planning to repave a portion of State Route 26 west of Jenny Lind before the end of 2012 and county officials would like to see some safety enhancements at the dangerous intersection at Burson Road.
Supervisor pushing for safety work on dangerous curve
By Nick Baptista
Numerous traffic accidents – some fatal, some causing major congestion – have prompted a look at improving vehicular safety along a stretch of State Route 26 at Burson Road.
The site has been the scene of two fatalities this year – June 27 when Alan David Rudd, 46, of Lockeford and March 16 when Linda Louise Krigbaum, 48, of Burson lost their lives negotiating the curve on State Route 26 at Burson Road.
Eleven months ago a big rig went out of control at the intersection losing its load of riprap and tying up morning commuter traffic for nearly an hour.
District 1 Supervisor Gary Tofanelli said the Aug. 11, 2010, big-rig accident prompted him to ask Calaveras County’s Public Works Department to look into opportunities to improve safety at the intersection, but the loss of Krigbaum, his neighbor, put the matter on a faster track.
“There are numerous accidents weekly – injury and non-injury – there,” Tofanelli said.
Public Works found out Caltrans was scoping a project to repave a portion of State Route 26 in the area, said Jonathan Mitchell, Public Works senior engineer.
The project calls for repaving a portion of State Route 26 from Savage Way to the San Joaquin County line.
Tofanelli wants Caltrans to look at placing “temporary enhancements” at the State Route 26 and Burson intersection as construction gets under way.
“The major concern is to try to get construction at the turn completed as soon as possible to make it safer for people to travel,” Tofanelli said.
The Calaveras Council of Governments and the county Board of Supervisors are preparing letters to send to Caltrans encouraging the safety enhancements be completed soon as part of the project, said Tofanelli, who also represents the county on the COG board.
Those safety enhancements include more of a sweeping curve along State Route 26 at the intersection, a left turn lane off State Route 26 from the easterly direction, and a larger right turn area off westbound State Route 26 to Burson Road, and guardrails, the county supervisor said.
The State Route 26 improvement work went out to bid June 7 and awaiting a construction award, according to John Gedney, the office of rural planning and administration chief for Caltrans District 10.
The project is scheduled to be completed by December of next year.
Burson resident Ed Anderson, left, receives support for his petition drive to keep newspaper stands in front of the post office from fellow Burson resident Richard Coldani.
for veterans prepares to take on the Postal Service
A Burson man who has been recognized by the state Legislature for
his efforts to help his fellow veterans has his sights set on changing
the attitude and rules of the United States Postal Service.
Edward “Ed” Anderson, 71, a 33-year resident of Burson,
received the 2009 Veteran of the Year Award for the 25th Assembly
District. He was selected from among veterans in the Assembly district
that covers Calaveras, Mariposa, Mono, Stanislaus and Tuolumne counties.
Anderson this week said he is upset with an impending action by
the Postal Service to remove newspaper stands from in front of the
Burson Post Office and believes the proposed action will be to the
detriment of the citizens in the Burson area.
He is taking matters into his own hands and has filed a complaint
with the Postal Service. In addition, he has started a petition drive to
oppose the change and began gathering signatures Wednesday in front of
the post office.
Anderson said he expects to be at the post office the next few
days between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. gathering signatures for
his petition. He intends to send the petition to the Postal Service and
U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren.
Anderson said he learned about the impending action from Burson
Postmaster Wendi Sherman and believes removal of the newspaper stands
will be a serious inconvenience to the residents of the Burson area,
especially the elderly and those who are disabled.
“I’ve talked to plenty of people already and they feel the
same,” he added.
Additional newspaper racks are located several hundred feet away
at the Burson Market, but the store is on a busy corner and parking it
very limited, he said.
“I feel my constitutional rights apply to access to
governmental affairs through the press and this action will make it
difficult to get that information,” he added. “A lot of senior
citizens in the area find it difficult to go long distances for items
and the newspaper is one of those things in particular.”
The Burson Post Office is the hub of activity in the area and
many people who receive home delivery still come to the post office on a
regular basis to pick up a newspaper, he said. He believes the Postal
Service will see a decline in revenue at the Burson office if the
newspaper stands are removed.
Anderson said he has not heard of any public complaints about the
newspaper stands and if so, he believes the name or names of those who
have filed such complaints should be made public along with their
reasons for the complaints, otherwise it is a violation of his and
others constitutional rights.
The Postal Service says the placement of newspaper vending
machines at post offices is a violation of U.S. Postal Service
regulations – specifically Title 39, section 232.1(h)(5).
Public's help sought to locate Valley Springs murder suspect
The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Department is seeking the
public’s help in locating a murder suspect.
The sheriff’s department is asking for anyone with information
on the whereabouts of Valley Springs resident James Livezey, 41, to call
the department’s tip line at (209) 754-6030.
Livezey is being sought after the death earlier this week of Marvin Brown, 52, also of Valley Springs.
Brown died July 4 of injuries sustained in a June 29 altercation at Sequoia Rose Mobile Home Park.
Livezey was arrested June 30 on suspicion of battery with serious
bodily injury. He was released on $25,000 bail before Brown died.
Livezey, who was due to be arraigned July 5 on the initial
battery charge, but has alluded the sheriff’s department since the
case was changed to a possible murder.
The sheriff’s department received the initial call of a
physical altercation in the mobile home park at 11:45 a.m. June 29. The
victim and suspect had left the scene prior to deputies’ arrival.
Deputies received notification Brown was admitted into Mark Twain St.
Joseph’s Hospital. They later made contact with Livezey at his
residence where he was placed under the initial arrest.
Allen and Marilee Bellomy of Calaveras Coachmen took second place in the 1935-39 modified division with their 1938 Chevy coupe.
Calaveras car aficionados do well at Carson show
Members of the Calaveras Coachmen car club were big winners again
this year at the 27th annual Run What-Cha-Brung car show
hosted by the Karson Kruzers - Carson City, Nevada, car club.
Held the past weekend, the event features a street dance,
breakfast, dinner, games for adults and kids and of course judging and
Twenty-four Calaveras County vehicles were entered in this
year’s show. Twenty-one Calaveras Coachmen attended, and once again
was the largest group there, and won the “prime real estate” for
parking in the shade at next year’s show. The Valley Springs Cruzers
entered three vehicles.
Trophy winners were:
Allen and Marilee Bellomy, second, ’38 Chevy Coupe (35-39
modified); Dave Bianucci, first, ’65 Pontiac LeMans (’50 & newer
under construction); Judy Whitney, second, ’70 El Camino (’50 &
newer under construction); Tom and Lyn Sutton, first, ’57 Chevy 210
Wagon (55-57 Chevy Custom); Nolan and Loren Carter, first, 1956 Ford
Custom (‘50s Modified) Paul and Pat Bianucci, first, 1971 Chevy Monte
Carlo (70’s Modified); Rick Murray, first,
’34 Ford pickup (’49 & older under construction);
Mindy Whitney-Burgun, first, 2004 Envoy and Jerry Whitney,
second, Chevy ½-ton pickup, (Modified).
Valley Springs Cruzers:
Danny Niederbrach, second, ’66 Dodge Monaco (lows rider) and
Bill Souza, second,
(special interest category) with his T-Bucket.
It gets pretty hectic and loud during the awards with everyone
rooting for their favorites, so I may have missed someone, please
Don’t forget the Valley Springs Cruzers car show, the third
Friday of every month, at The Terrace Plaza, 1900 Vista Del Lago, from 6
to 9 p.m.
Skinny Dip Lake neighbors would like to see La Contenta Golf Course ownership and the Calaveras County Water District resolve their differences before the situation becomes an environmental disaster.
La Contenta gets temporary relief from CCWD in water dispute
Raw water once again is flowing into “Skinny Dip Lake” in the
La Contenta subdivision after a Calaveras County Superior Court judge
granted a temporary relief action Monday morning.
La Contenta Golf Course ownership sought the order late last week
after Calaveras County Water District officials cut off the raw water
supply from New Hogan Lake to Skinny Dip Lake, which is used to irrigate
Judge John E. Martin granted the order and set a court hearing
for July 19.
La Contenta Golf Course management and CCWD have been at odds the
past several years over how much treated water instead of raw water
should be used to irrigate the golf course.
CCWD says the golf course is contractually obligated to use all
of its wastewater, while the golf course says they need the raw water
from the lake because CCWD is unable to transmit enough of the treated
water to meet their watering needs.
In the meantime, area residents became concerned as Skinny Dip
Lake’s waterline began to recede.
“La Contenta Investors is very pleased and thankful that the
judge granted a restraining order forcing CCWD to re attach the fresh
water pipeline owned by the golf course,” according to a statement
from golf course management. “This order has prevented CCWD from
destroying the championship course that is the centerpiece of the Valley
Springs community. This also assures the wildlife and wetlands
throughout the area will not be harmed any further.”
CCWD officials say La Contenta Investors’ failure to fulfill
their contract and not use all of the wastewater from the La Contenta
Wastewater Treatment and Reclamation Plant will become a public health
issue if there is a spill, which could happen next winter.
The California Regional Water Quality Control Board has been
monitoring the situation and on April 15, 2011, wrote a letter to Ryan
Voorhees, La Contenta Investors Ltd. president, outlining La
Contenta’s obligations to accept treated water from the local
To compel La Contenta to use the treated water, CCWD General
Manager Joone Lopez said the district cut off the supply of raw water
from New Hogan.
Use of the New Hogan water is at the sole discretion of CCWD, she
“We had no desire to turn off the Hogan water, but we were
forced to do so to reduce the likelihood of a spill,” she said.
Such a spill would be costly in fines to the district and its
ratepayers, as well as La Contenta Investors, she added.
The treated water meets all standards for use on the golf course
and does not cost La Contenta any money, Lopez said, while the golf
course pays a relatively small fee of $9.70 an acre-foot for use of the
New Hogan water.
La Contenta’s hesitancy to use the treated water seems to stem
from the district balking at giving Voorhees $1.8 million in hook-up
credits the developer would have received if he had used more of the
district’s wastewater on the golf course the past three years.
Negotiations on a final wastewater use agreement between CCWD and
La Contenta Investors broke down at the beginning of this year when the
district told Voorhees he would not get the entire $1.8 million credit,
Instead, he earned in the neighborhood of $600,000, she added.
“Management of La Contenta has worked diligently in a
professional businesslike manner to try to resolve the conflicts between
CCWD and the course,” La Contenta’s statement said. “These efforts
have been fruitless to this point and unfortunately La Contenta has been
forced to use the legal system to continue to stay in business.”
“I want it (the credit) before I comply,” Jeff Davidson, CCWD
District 5 director, said of Voorhees’ attitude in the negotiations.
“If he had complied in the first place, we would not have been in this
sewer spill situation. He wanted to get paid for something he hadn’t
“It was $1.8 million or nothing else,” Lopez said of
Voorhees. “After he took that position, we couldn’t work with
The district is a public agency and cannot deviate from its
previous agreements and do behind-the-scenes deals, she said. Every
action needs to be approved by the board and has to be justified and
transparent to the ratepayers.
“La Contenta looks forward (in court) to refuting CCWD’s
general manager’s inaccurate and slanderous misstatements made in The
Valley Springs News,” the La Contenta Investors statement says.
Without raw water from the lake, the golf course had been
stepping up its use of the wastewater, according to Bill
Perley, CCWD’s director of utility services and
“We know they can take it and we can supply them with more than
enough recycled water,” Lopez said.
CCWD is taking additional steps to avoid a spill. The district is
using turbo misters at the plant, but that is much more costly – in
terms of buying more misters, electricity and manpower - than a land
application of the water. The misters allow the treated water to
evaporate into the atmosphere.
In addition, the district is seeking a permit from the Regional
Water Quality Control Board to release treated water directly into
“That will solve all of our problems,” Davidson said.
However, it is a lengthy process and there is no guarantee the
district will receive the permit.
The technical information has been completed, Perley said.
Calaveras County Sheriff Gary Kuntz at a Wallace/Burson Association meeting earlier this year. Photo by Plez Hill.
Sheriff says layoff decisions undermining his authority
Calaveras County Sheriff Gary Kuntz has voiced his displeasure
with county officials other than himself deciding which of his employees
will be laid off.
Sheriff Kuntz made his views known during the public comment
portion of the June 21 Board of Supervisors meeting and said he believes
the board and staff are undermining his constitutional authority.
“Once I get a final budget, it’s up to me to keep what I need
to keep to protect the citizens of Calaveras County and that’s what I
intend to do,” Kuntz said.
“I think that’s a bit of an oversimplification,” said
County Counsel Jim Jones. He said the sheriff has control over the
operational aspects of the department, but “the board has authority to
make decisions regarding the budget.”
At issue is the recent lay off of personnel in four positions in
the department, which the human resources department based on seniority,
according to County Administrative Officer Jeanne Boyce.
“They were not the one’s I would have chosen to be laid
off,” Kuntz told the board.
“Frankly, your department has come out, in my opinion, very,
very well,” Board Chairman Tom Tryon said in regards to the latest
Out of 15 positions originally earmarked for elimination in the
sheriff’s department, 10 were reinstated, Tryon added.
He said the board has the responsibility to make sure the county
is financially solvent and the sheriff’s department and all county
departments will suffer immeasurably more if the county is not solvent.
Tryon said the sheriff, Jones and Boyce should get together and
discuss the matter and then return to the board.
District 5 Supervisor Darren Spellman sided with the sheriff.
“I believe you have the legal authority to do with it (the
department budget) whatever you want,” Spellman said.
Spellman said safety is the No. 1 concern of the public.
Kuntz is in favor of keeping patrol deputies over jail and
dispatch staff. Boyce said there was a concern cuts to jail staff would
endanger public safety and put the county out of compliance with state
regulations concerning jail operations.
Kuntz, citing his 27 years of experience in the department and
the more than 100 years of his top staff, said he had a plan to address
those concerns and keep the county in compliance.
“Let me have the money I have and redistribute it out so I
offer the best possible service the sheriff’s department can,” Kuntz
1949 Mercury Monterey belonging to Bob and Flora McLeod of Valley
Springs was one of the award winners at Saturday’s open house, car
show and barbecue hosted by Outwest Auto.
Car show attracts large number of participants, guests
What began three years ago as a customer appreciation day has
exploded into one of the largest events of the year in Valley Springs.
Outwest Auto’s annual open house, car show and barbecue on
Saturday attracted 238 registered vehicles, probably more than 250 total
with the latecomers, and enough automotive eye-candy to mesmerize
hundreds of spectators throughout the day on Nove Way.
Outwest Auto owner Don Holsworth started the annual event shortly after he opened his Valley Springs shop back in 2009. He was pleased with Saturday’s showing, which he called “terrific.”
The event is free and Holsworth plans to keep it that way to
continue to show his appreciation for his customers.
He was also pleased with results of the Tri-Dam Lions Club
drawing held in conjunction with the car show. It raised $1,450 all of
the money returns to the community through Lions Club projects.
Thirty-nine trophies in a wide spectrum of categories were
awarded during the show with Larry and Kelly McDonald of Tracy receiving
the honor of Best Hot Rod, a 1932 Ford Roadster, and Dave Perez of
Stockton taking Best of Show with his 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner.
Local winners were: Carl Von Euw, Valley Springs, best paint,
1951 Cadillac two-door hard top; Bob and Pat Rush, Valley springs, best
work in progress, 1965 Pontiac GTO; Carl Morrison, Clements, best late
model, 2007 Ford Shelby, GT; Chad Swan, Valley Springs, best foreign
car, 1971 Triumph, TR-6; Chris Ervine, Valley Springs, best kustom, 1947
Plymouth coupe; Chuck Rockel, Valley Springs; best custom bike, 2004
Harley-Davidson; Gary Henricus, Lake Camanche, best graphics, 2001 BMW
325I; Joe Barnhart, Valley Springs, best bike, 1947 Indian Chief;
Richard Fautt, Valley Springs, most unique, 1931 Chevrolet tow truck;
Ron Andreassen, Valley Springs, best race car, 1967 Chevrolet Camaro;
Ken O’Neal, Valley Springs, best stock, 1967 Chevrolet Corvette; Bob
and Flora McLeod, Valley Springs, Dennis’ (Shop Groupie) Choice, 1949
Mercury Monterey; Bob Eggers, Burson, Donny’s (Boss No. 2) Choice,
1957 Volkswagen Bug; Rusty Freeman, Valley Springs, Frank’s Choice,
1931 Buick sedan; Craig Luther, Lockeford, John’s (Body Man) Choice,
1973 Camaro custom; Ron and Elaine Alves, Gary’s (Tri-Dam Lions Club)
Choice, 1953 Cadillac coupe hard top; Luther, People’s Choice, 1973
Camaro custom’ Joe Sangimino, Valley Springs, Rev Off winner; Gary and
Pat Gellerman, Valley Springs, Outwest Crew Pick, 1954 Chevrolet
Roggli, Diana Craig and Ron Cowden of Biscuits ‘n’ Honey perform
Wednesday in Valley Springs.
grad returns for Music in the Park concert
Calaveras High School graduate Dianna Conklin Craig returns to
the county to sing with band members Ron Cowden on bass and Kurt Roggli
on lead guitar Wednesday in Valley Springs.
The three musicians are Biscuits ‘n’ Honey and they will
perform at 6:30 p.m. in Jenny Lind Veterans Memorial Park on Daphne
Street as the second in the Calaveras Arts Council’s Music in Park
series this summer.
Biscuits ‘n Honey is a trio of Davis based musicians with a
love of acoustic music and tight vocal harmonies. They are experienced
musicians with a diverse musical background.
Roggli has performed in world-beat, reggae, and blues bands. He plays both electric and acoustic guitars. He is inspired by Tony Rice, Doc Watson, Chet Atkins, the Beatles, Fela Kuti, John Scofield and Albert Lee. He has performed Bluegrass, Blues, Doo Wop, Reggae, Improvisational, and Worldbeat music.
Craig has been performing since early high school.
She sings with Frankie and the Fabletones, a doo wop group, and
is one of the female singers with Akimbo, another Davis-based
band. While at CHS, she sang in a band, “Four More” with
popular music teacher Neil Hjelmervik and two other students.
Cowden on upright bass has played everything from jazz to
Caribbean to Elvis. He started playing piano at age 5 and later
added guitar and bass. He has been playing music for the 30 years,
performing in bands playing jazz, rock, funk, and blues. Cowden
added singing to his musical repertoire and adds the third harmony
to Biscuits ‘n’ Honey.
To find the park, from the four-way stop at State Route 12 and 26, turn north on Laurel Street and then left on Daphne Street. Drive up the hill to the ball field. The next Music in the Parks concert is June 29 at Mountain Ranch Community Park. Brad Wilson will perform Rockin’ Country Blues. For more details, visit www.calaverasarts.org or call (209) 754-1774.
County Sheriff Gary Kuntz, far right, recognized the efforts of, from
left, Senior Deputy Tyler Houston, Senior Deputy Kevin Stevens, Deputy
Robert Huffman, Deputy Scott Kirkman, Sgt. Anthony Eberhardt, Deputy
Josh Shemenski, Sgt. Dave Seawell and Sgt. Chris Hewitt during an awards
ceremony Monday in Valley Springs.
Ceremony acknowledges deputies for exceptional service
Ten of Calaveras County’s sheriff’s deputies were honored for
exemplary service the past year at an awards ceremony Monday at La
Most of the awards were connected to an officer-involved shooting
Jan. 17 in the Railroad Flat area.
Senior Deputy Kevin Stevens and Deputy Josh Shemenski received
the department’s Purple Heart and Silver Star awards. The deputies
attempted a vehicle stop for traffic enforcement near the intersection
of State Route 26 and Railroad Flat Road. A chase began when the other
vehicle failed to yield.
After losing sight of the suspect vehicle, the deputies checked
behind an abandoned barn located approximately 500 yards south of State
Route 26 and Railroad Flat Road. As they rounded the corner of the barn
in their patrol car the alleged suspect ambushed them firing at least
one round into the windshield of the patrol vehicle with what was
believed to be a shotgun. The deputies sustained slight wounds in the
Senior Deputy Tyler Houston was the first back-up deputy to
arrive at the scene. He received the Medal of Merit for his quick
response and assisting Stevens and Shemenski as they were securing the
The SWAT team composed of Houston, Deputy Robert Huffman, Deputy
Scott Kirkman, Senior Deputy Josh Crabtree, Sgt. Anthony Eberhardt and
Sgt. Chris Hewitt received Unit Citation Ribbons for their efforts in
apprehending the shooting suspect, Richard Kenneth Cooper, 54. Sgt. Dave
Seawell was the patrol sergeant at the time of the incident and he
received the Medal of Merit for his outstanding supervision at the
Crabtree also received the department’s Life Saving and Silver
Star awards for a May 15, 2010, incident in Murphys. He was the first
deputy on the scene of a fight and stabbing in the Nugget Bar. He was
credited for breaking up the fight involving members of the Hell’s
Angels, keeping the hostile crowd at bay and administering first aid to
the stabbing victim.
Shemenski and Deputy Michael Dittman received the Life Saving
award for their work Jan. 2, 2011, assisting the CHP at the end of a
vehicle pursuit at Parrotts Ferry and Moaning Cave roads near Vallecito.
They provided first aid to the suspect, Jon Ryan Young, 31, who
sustained several gunshot wounds and were credited with saving his life.
“These were very tough situations and we have some fine
officers,” Sheriff Gary Kuntz told the audience primarily composed of
family members of the deputies being honored.
Shemenski also received the department’s Medal of Merit for his
outstanding work the past couple of years in apprehending drivers under
The first-ever Summer Health Fair in Valley Springs went off according to plan last Saturday despite the wet weather.
Events cope with unseasonably rainy weather
What was suppose to be one of Valley Springs’ most festive
weekends turned into a wet weekend as nearly an inch rain fell between
Thursday and Monday.
Kids’ Day, the Summer Health Fair at The Terrace and the eighth
annual Savour the Flavour had to deal with the elements Saturday, but in
all three cases, the events went forward despite .59 inches of rainfall
“In our 16 years of Kids’ Day we’ve had sprinkles, but
it’s never rained until today,” said Marti Crane of the Valley
Springs Optimist Club, which in partnership with Sheng Chi Kung Fu and
the Valley Springs Youth Center sponsored the event.
Mark Twain Hospital’s first-ever Valley Springs Summer Health Fair went off according to plan with health professionals performing a wide variety of medical tests at no or very little cost.
“This shows our commitment to the community,” said Nicki
Stevens, the hospital’s manager of marketing and business development.
Thanks to a helping hand from the Valley Springs Area Business
Association, the Rotary Club of West Calaveras borrowed the ABA’s
large tent and was able to host its annual charity event featuring a
wide variety of wine and food. Savour the Flavour attracted nearly 90
guests and proceeds benefit area youth programs and organizations.
In all, the west portion of Calaveras County received .94 inches
of precipitation between Thursday and Monday. The rainfall total from
October to now is 25.07 inches.
The storage level at New Hogan remains high at 243,300 acre-feet.
At this time last year, the storage level was nearly 100,000 acre-feet
less at 146,942 acre-feet.
Longtime veteran at Jenny Lind Fire bids farewell
A 17 ½-year veteran of the Jenny Lind Fire Protection District
has taken off his pager.
Steve Buettner, who served 13 of those years as the district's
assistant chief and was the interim chief on four occasions, stepped
down March 18.
The move came after the department was reorganized following the
hiring earlier this year of Fire Chief Kim Olson. Buettner was
re-assigned to a captain's position and decided it was time to leave the
district and concentrate on his upcoming retirement from the San Joaquin
Buettner began his firefighting experience with the Ripon Fire
Department prior to moving to Calaveras County 20 years ago. Shortly
after moving here, he wanted to get involved in the community and
joining the Jenny Lind Fire Protection District proved to be his
The district was struggling financially at the time, Buettner
said. It had old equipment and hand-me-downs, but in about a year, the
community passed a tax assessment to increase the district’s funding
and things began to change.
The district started to purchase new equipment and replace old
“It was a very important step to have brand new equipment,”
Buettner said. “We knew what condition it was in and we maintained it
to keep it that way.”
Buettner said watching the district grow in a positive way and
being a part of it was the highlight of his nearly two-decade
association with JLFPD.
The board's decision to build a new firehouse was another
highlight. He credited the late John Boston, a former board member and
the district's chief financial officer, as being instrumental in keeping
the district on firm fiscal ground as it moved ahead with those
purchases and financing of the firehouse.
Another positive step was when the district found the money to
hire two paid firefighters during the weekday working hours when most of
the volunteers are busy making a living, Buettner added, but efforts to
have two firefighters at the station 24/7/365 came up short when
residents were asked to go for another assessment.
He would like to see that staffing level implemented someday and
is convinced residents would see an overall savings in their homeowner's
insurance costs compared to a district assessment if they backed the
“They'd actually be putting money in their pockets as their
insurance would go down and we'd have much better fire protection
service,” he said.
One of these young women, from left, Kirsten Puccinelli of Mountain Ranch, Rosie Giannini of San Andreas, Rachel Caynak of Valley Springs, Rachel Geiszler of Valley Springs, Emalie McGee of Mountain Ranch, Sarah Kraemer of Copperopolis, or Katie Tanner of Valley Springs will be crowned Miss Calaveras when the fair begins next Thursday. Photo by Sharlea Nisbet.
Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee begins Thursday
The 2011 Calaveras County Fair gates open Thursday, May 19, introducing
four days full of fun under the creative theme of “Pirates
of the Carrots and Beans.”
Following the theme, food entries for competitions are asked to
use carrots or beans in the recipe.
This year the fair has been dedicated to the Rolleri Family who
were instrumental in the original land donation and more than 70 years
of volunteer service.
The Saddle Queen competition starts at 2 p.m., and the Miss
Calaveras Pageant begins at 8 p.m. Thursday with the young ladies
representing the towns across Calaveras County. The competitors have
spent endless hours preparing for their event and because the
competitions can be expensive many local businesses have donated to
Besides the usual frog jump contest, destruction derby and horse
show the fair will feature, for the first time, MotoX and bull riding in
the same arena at the same time on Friday night. Both Thursday and
Friday are Kids Days with free admission and reduced admission for
adults. The 100 children to the fair on Thursday will receive a pirate
hat and on Friday the first 100 will get a cowboy hat.
On the main stage Saturday night Bucky Covington, American Idol
finalist and country music singer, will perform.
The wildly popular destruction derby will start at 5:30 p.m.
Sunday night following the frog-jumping contest, which starts at noon.
If you plan on entering your frog in the contest be sure to get to the
entry booth by 9 a.m. If you don’t have a frog then amazingly one
might be given to you for the contest.
A Junior Fairboard member always spends several nights collecting
frogs in nearby ponds so no child will be left out.
As always the fair has multiple food booths, a kid zone, the
livestock auction and baked goods competitions.
State and local officials are working on a nearly $1 million project to improve student-pedestrian safety at the busy intersection of State Route 26 and Baldwin Street.
Green light for student safety project
A primarily state-funded project to improve students’ safety to
and from Jenny Lind Elementary School moved a step forward Tuesday at
the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors meeting.
The board voted 4-0, with Supervisor Steve Wilensky absent, to
approve an agreement between the county and MRO Engineers, Inc., out of
Rocklin for engineering design services for the Jenny Lind Safe Routes
to School Project.
The project – estimated to cost nearly $1 million - calls for
improved pedestrian access across State Route 26 along Driver Road to
the school. The anticipated design will include the use of in-pavement
warning lights providing an illuminated crosswalk for crossing State
Route 26 at or near the Baldwin Street intersection.
The contract to MRO Engineers, Inc., is for engineering services
not to exceed $177,995. The state’s Safe Routes to School grant is
expected to finance $731,493 of the project, while matching funds from
the county and Calaveras Unified School District are expected to be
slightly more than $50,000 total.
“Anytime that we can protect the safety of the students, I
think it is money well spent,” said CUSD Superintendent Mark Campbell
in his presentation to the board.
The project has been in the works for several years and was
initiated by retired CUSD Superintendent Jim Frost and CUSD Board Member
Sherri Reusche, Campbell said.
District 5 Supervisor Darren Spellman voiced support for the
project within his district and made the motion to approve the contract.
District 1 Supervisor Gary Tofanelli seconded it. Board Chairman Tom
Tryon and District 3 Supervisor Merita Callaway voted in favor.
Toyon Middle School students presented $862.72 to the American Red Cross for disaster relief in Japan.
Toyon students provide aid to Japan
Toyon Middle School students raised $862.72 to help victims of
the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Students who helped collect the money presented the funds on
April 22 to Carole Mutzner, the Mother Lode regional manager for the
American Red Cross. A similar effort last year at the school raised
$764.36 to help victims of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
“I’m very proud of what you have done,” Mutzner told students. “You saw something that needed to be done and you went out and did it. You proved it’s not true that all you think about are video games.”
Mutzner presented a certificate to the leadership students
acknowledging the school’s effort to provide humanitarian aid to the
disaster victims in Japan.
The fundraising drive was an offshoot of discussions that began
in Gary Johnson’s science class.
One of the students who took the discussions to heart and
canvassed his fellow students for donations was eighth-grader Jeremy
Pallaviccini said his grandmother lives in Guatemala and people
have been very helpful to her so he wanted to help others.
Johnson described Pallaviccini as a “tough boy” and it was
emotional to see him in tears as he described the horrific events in
Japan to his schoolmates as he was collecting funds for the Red Cross
disaster relief effort.
“It was amazing to see how all of the students stepped up,”
The Japanese National Police Agency has confirmed more the 14,400
deaths to the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami and nearly 12,000
people are missing.
U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, Fourth District, speaks about the need to have a sound federal budget during the “Tax Day Rally” held at the Veterans Memorial Softball Field on Sunday in Valley Springs. Photo by Plez Hill.
"Tax Day Rally" a big draw in Valley Springs
Sunday’s “Tax Day Rally” at the Veterans Memorial Softball
Field in Valley Springs drew some 400 people from Calaveras and
adjoining counties to hear Ginny Rapini of the NorCal Tea Party
Patriots, 25th District Assemblymember Kristin Olsen and
Fourth District U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock speak about governments’ need
to be more responsive to the voices of their people.
The Campaign For Liberty, the Calaveras County Tax Payers
Association and members of the Tea Party sponsored the event.
Booths representing several organizations, including sponsors of
classes on learning about the U.S. Constitution, lined the field and
provided information to attendees.
A few protest signs could be spotted in the audience, which read,
“No More Lip Service. Law Makers Need To Serve The Country Not
Themselves”, “Drill Now American Oil Equals Jobs Lower Fuel Cost
& Less Debt” and “Law Makers Beware Lower Fuel Or Be Fired!!!”
Prior to the start of the rally Maria Behm entertained the
gathering by singing songs from the 40s, 50s and 60s and several dozen
veterans were asked to come forward and be recognized for their service
to the country prior to the pledge of allegiance.
Rapini said her Tea Party organization does not take outside
money to operate and is not affiliated with any political party. She
mentioned how everyone attending the rally could be their own lobbyist
by contacting elected officials and speaking out about issues that
She pointed to the detrimental affects that can occur from the
passage of California’s AB 32, an anti-global warming law, which she
said is a “cap-and-trade bill” that will hurt small business and
create unemployment. The bill’s passage is being challenged in the
Recently elected Assemblymember Olsen stressed the need for
people to get involved so government will work for the people again.
This was Olsen’s fourth appearance in Calaveras County since taking
Congressman McClintock focused his speech on the current budgeting crisis in Washington and the need for federal fiscal responsibility to alleviate the debt this country is accruing.
McClintock told The Valley Springs News that he came to
this rally because “These are the people that make the difference to
turn our country back to a Constitutional government. Their voice is
being heard and is making a difference.”
Firefighters work to extricate Darrin Mills, 36, of Altaville from his truck following a four-vehicle accident March 31 on State Route 12. Photo by Michael Siligo.
accident on State Route 12
One person died and two were injured in a multi-vehicle accident
March 31 on State Route 12 between San Andreas and Toyon.
Jaime Patrice Pacheco, 53, of San Andreas died of her injuries Friday morning at Modesto Memorial Hospital. According to the CHP, she was observed driving a 2000 Jeep Cherokee erratically at varying speeds and drifting on and off the shoulder of the highway and crossing solid double-yellow lines prior to the accidents, which occurred at approximately 3 p.m.
She was traveling westbound on SR12 and swerved into the eastbound lane east of Central Hill Road and forced Clifford Edson, 55, of San Andreas, off the highway. Edson was driving a 1979 Dodge Wagon. He lost control of his vehicle and it rolled over and down a dirt embankment. Edson sustained moderate injuries and was transported to Mark Twain St. Joseph’s Hospital in San Andreas.
Pacheco continued her erratic driving and crossed into oncoming
traffic again, this time colliding with a 2003 Chevrolet driven by Jack
Tucker, 65, of Valley Springs. The impact forced Tucker’s vehicle off
the road, but Pacheco continued. Tucker escaped injury.
Pacheco was going up the “Briski Hill” portion of SR12 when
she drifted off the north shoulder. She attempted to regain control of
the Cherokee and swerved sharply back onto the roadway. This action
caused her vehicle to skid across the double yellow lines and into the
eastbound lane and into the path of a 2004 Chevrolet truck and trailer
driven by Darrin Mills, 36, of Altaville.
Firefighters had to extricate Pacheco and Mills from their
vehicles. State Route 12 had to be closed while the emergency efforts
were under way and traffic was diverted.
Mills sustained moderate injuries and was transported to Doctors
Medical Center of Modesto.
A billow of black smoke visible March 29 in west Calaveras County came from a structure fire off Chenin Blanc Avenue. Damage from the blaze was estimated at $250,000. Photo by Steven Judson.
Jenny Lind fire destroys $250,000 in property
A metal barn, bass boat, travel trailer, tractor and other
equipment were consumed in flames March 29 near Jenny Lind off Chenin
The Jenny Lind Fire Protection District received the call at 2:19
p.m. and arrived at the scene 10 minutes later.
“Everything was involved when we got there,” said Jenny Lind
Fire Chief Kim Olson.
Firefighters upon arrival set up a hose line to protect a nearby
house. North to northwest winds between 6 to 8 mph were pushing the
flames from the barn structure and threatening the house, Olson said.
After protecting the house, firefighters began suppressing the
flames. It took about an hour to bring the blaze under control.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. Olson said
investigators have determined the blaze was accidental, but they are
still working on deciding how it ignited.
It was Olson’s first structure fire with the district since
being hired as the chief at the beginning of March. He was pleased with
the efforts of his firefighters and those of Foothill Protection Fire
Ten firefighters from Jenny Lind and six from Foothill responded,
along with an engine and chief officer from San Andreas, and air
support. An engine remained at the scene until the evening.
“They worked very well together in my opinion,” Olson said.
Damage to the structure and the equipment was estimated at
$250,000. Dallas and Danelle Baer reportedly own the property.
No injuries were report.
District 1 Supervisor Gary Tofanelli fields a question during the March Valley Springs Area Business Association luncheon.
Supervisor: Downtown intersection project proceeding nicely
Efforts to solve Valley Springs’ downtown rush-hour traffic
jams “are proceeding along very nicely,” Calaveras County District 1
Supervisor Gary Tofanelli informed the Valley Springs Area Business
Association during its monthly luncheon last week.
Tofanelli was the guest speaker during the March 16 luncheon at
Community United Methodist Church. He briefed association members and
the public on a number of issues dealing with his district and the
Tofanelli said the Highway 12/26 intersection project is in “a
fast-track process” and could be completed by the end of next year.
The proposal under consideration calls for improvements on the
south side of the intersection including a right turn lane from
northbound State Route 26 to eastbound State Route 12 heading toward San
Andreas, and a longer right turn lane from eastbound State Route 12 to
southbound SR 26 heading toward Rancho Calaveras.
Businesses, buildings and parking spaces on the north side of the
intersection would remain the same, although a left turn lane from
westbound State Route 12 will be added at the intersection.
The one business seriously impacted by the proposal would be the
Century 21 Tri-Dam Realty office at the southeast corner of the
intersection. It would either be removed or moved further back from the
Another project is also in the works less than a mile from the
12/26 intersection. Tofanelli said the county public works department is
looking at securing $40 million from the federal government for bridge
upgrades and the bridge on Hogan Dam Road is on the list.
The supervisor, who represents the communities of Burson, Campo
Seco, La Contenta, San Andreas, Valley Springs and Wallace, also had an
update on his efforts to have the Federal Emergency Management Agency
re-evaluate its recently released flood maps for Calaveras County.
Tofanelli said he soon would be meeting with representatives from
FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren’s
office to go over the maps and address concerns.
Tofanelli said similarly modeled flood maps for a 500-year event
prepared by FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are significantly
different in their findings.
FEMA earlier agreed to do a flyover to re-evaluate their maps,
but Tofanelli is asking them to go out and physically survey the area.
The flyover observes the top of vegetation, so it is not totally
accurate, Tofanelli added.
In the meantime, many residents are being put on notice by their
lenders that they have to obtain flood insurance when it may not be
necessary, Tofanelli said.
The General Plan update is behind schedule, but Tofanelli expects
a draft of the document could be released within the next 30 to 90 days.
Although the update is two years behind schedule, Tofanelli said the
county does not expect to pay the consultant more than the original bid.
Speaking about money, Tofanelli painted a bleak picture on the
county budget. The state is facing a $26 billion deficit and if Gov.
Jerry Brown’s plan to trim the deficit fails, counties will be hit
hard, he said.
The county has reduced its budget 17, 17 and 10 percent the past
three years and is looking at another 10 percent trim, he added.
“In my mind, the sheriff’s office and fire departments are
the No. 1 priorities” to maintain funding, he said.
Part of the governor’s deficit-reduction plan is a major
cutback to CalFire, Tofanelli added, and that will have major
repercussions in area’s such as Calaveras County where CalFire is the
primary fire suppression service.
Such a cutback will also spur a major increase in homeowner’s
insurance premiums, Tofanelli added.
The District 1 supervisor also provided an update on a satellite
college campus for the Valley Springs area.
There is an effort under way to detach the Calaveras portion of
the San Joaquin Delta Community College District and form a separate
college district, possibly including Amador County, he said.
County counsel is looking into the matter, along with
Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, he added. There is a meeting with Olsen
scheduled for Thursday.
The Mark Twain St. Joseph's Hospital Thrift Store in Valley Springs is projected to close by the end of April.
Hospital plans to close thrift shops
Mark Twain St. Joseph’s Hospital is closing its two thrift
stores located in Angels Camp and Valley Springs.
The stores, which have a mission to support youth programs in
Calaveras County, are no longer making a profit and meeting that goal,
said Larry Cornish, the hospital’s vice president of facilities and
The Angels Camp thrift store began in 1992 and the Valley Springs
shop opened in 1996. Through those years, the stores raised an estimated
$360,000 that went to not-for-profit Calaveras County projects that
provided services to children ages 0-18, Cornish said.
There were few thrift stores in the community at the time and the
stores were able to turn healthy profits that were returned back to
youth projects, he said, but for the past two years, the hospital’s
thrift stores have been unable to fully fund the Endowment for Youth
A shaky economy the past few years, an increase in competition,
and higher overhead costs were attributed by Cornish as reasons for an
erosion in profits lately and the decision to close the stores.
Thrift stores were recently opened in Arnold by the Calaveras
Humane Society and in Angels Camp by Hospice of Amador and Calaveras.
Volunteer help is used to operate some of the competitive thrift
stores, while the hospital thrift stores were run by paid, union staff
with benefits, Cornish added.
“Everybody is saddened by the decision,” said thrift store
manager Diana Rodrigues. “We still do a lot of good for people who
can’t afford new items like clothing.”
She is planning specials and clearance sales before the stores
The Angels Camp store is projected to close April 9, while the
Valley Springs store will remain open longer, possibly up to April 30.
The thrift stores’ five employees will be laid off.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said thrift store customer Norma
Ornellas. She said she would miss the simple things the stores carry and
gave as an example her recent purchase of an extension cord.
“There are a lot of families I know of with kids and you
can’t go wrong when you can buy a bag of cloths for $5.”
More than 300 people participated in Saturday's walk and run to raise funds to battle cancer.
Toyon School's fun run raises nearly $5,000 to fight cancer
The fight against cancer will receive more than $4,700 for
additional research through the efforts of the third annual Walk/Run for
Cancer held March 5 in Valley Springs.
The event, hosted by Toyon Middle School and The Terrace
merchants, attracted more than 300 participants who took advantage of a
break in the recent storm pattern to run or walk along the two- and
five-mile courses through the community.
Toyon physical education teacher and Team Toyon organizer Dustyn
was thankful for support from Valley Springs Elementary School, Rite of
Passage, Explorer Scouts, sheriff’s volunteers, the Calaveras High
track team, Interact and foreign exchange students, Foothill Fire and
other community families and volunteers who participated and help make
the event possible.
Team Toyon earned the $4,700 for the American Cancer Society
through entry fees, T-shirt sales and the raffle, she said, and the
figure did not include sponsorships, which still have to be calculated.
Dustyn spurred on the runners by reminding them “If you start
to feel tired after 4.5 miles, just remember that the battle for cancer
is harder. Now let’s run cancer out of our lives!”
Jericho Krigbaum finished the two-mile course in 11 minutes, 55
seconds to take top honors among the males, while Laura Stickels was the
fastest female in a time of 17:32.
Rene Poismans finished the five-mile course in 34:28 to lead the
males and Katie Clary was the top female five-miler in a time of 41:41.
Team Toyon will present its donation to the American Cancer
Society during the 2011 Relay For Life scheduled from 9 a.m. Saturday,
April 30, to 9 a.m. Sunday, May 1, at a new location this year,
Calaveras High School.
Additional donations to Team Toyon and the American Cancer
Society can be made by contacting Dustyn at Toyon Middle School,
754-4256 ext. 4222, or 772-3399.
Darren Spellman during more pleasant times, the night of his election as District 5 supervisor.
Judge has harsh words for new supervisor
District 5 Supervisor Darren Spellman avoided a restraining order
being placed on him, but he could not dodge criticism from the judge
hearing the case Monday.
Spellman was in Calaveras County Superior Court contesting
allegations he harassed his daughter’s former teacher, Tamara Farmer
of Calaveras High School.
After hearing testimony from Farmer, Spellman, CHS Assistant
Principal Rene Malamed and Spellman’s wife Jennifer, visiting Judge
Thomas A. Smith said Spellman’s actions at a Jan. 31 parent-teacher
conference and after did not demonstrate a "course of conduct"
that could be considered harassment.
However, Judge Smith said, “It is quite disturbing in this case
that we have an elected official engaged in conduct that shows a lack of
patience and dignity.”
Smith said Spellman was “rude” and “abusive and overzealous
in his concern for his daughter."
The judge added he found “Mr. Spellman’s actions troubling.
Elected officials are held to a much higher standard than ordinary
citizens” and he used troubled actor Charlie Sheen as an example.
“In the future, don't use the perceived power and prestige of
your office for personal gain,” the judge concluded as he announced
his judgment in favor of Spellman.
The judge said he didn’t doubt Farmer was disturbed by
Spellman’s actions at the parent-teacher conference, but he found her
fear was unreasonable. He also said teachers “should have something of
a thick skin” in these instances.
Upon leaving the courtroom, Spellman, who was elected last
November to the seat on the County Board of Supervisors representing the
communities of Copperopolis, Jenny Lind, Milton, Rancho Calaveras and
Salt Spring Valley, said, “I’m just relieved to be vindicated. I’m
happy with the judgment.”
Farmer’s attorney, Ernest F. Tuttle, while leaving the
courtroom said he did not know at this time whether his client would
pursue other legal action against Spellman.
Malamed was the first to testify. When asked by Tuttle whether
anything occurred at the Jan. 31 conference that would give rise to
Farmer’s request for a restraining order to be issued, she said
Spellman raised his voice and seemed angry. He also implied he could
have all of the school employees at the meeting fired.
“He more than implied,” she said, “He was quite clear”
through his innuendos.
Upon cross-examination by Spellman, Malamed agreed with him that
he never used the word “fired.”
Malamed also said Spellman was adamant about Farmer promising
never to share her personal opinions with students and he was pointing
his finger at her during this confrontation.
When asked by Tuttle how she felt at the meeting, Malamed said
“I felt intimidated as well when he made threats and
implications he could have us fired,” she added.
Malamed said she had never experienced a parent this angry, but
upon cross-examination by Spellman said it was her first year as an
Farmer said Spellman was “very aggressive toward me” at the
meeting. She said he was yelling, pointing his finger in her face and
saying he could have her fired.
She added that he wanted her to promise not to share her opinions
with the class. When asked by Judge Smith what kind of opinions Spellman
found objectionable, Farmer said Spellman did not specify.
Upon cross-examined of Farmer by Spellman, he said, "You
don't remember me asking you not to speak about things relating to
Farmer then said the issue stemmed from an abstinence rally in
September and Spellman accused her telling his daughter MaKenna to
disregard the abstinence message.
Farmer denied she ever made such a statement and questioned why
Spellman waited nearly four months to raise the issue.
“I promote it (abstinence for teens),” she added, and
appreciated the school’s message.
Farmer added that she was in contact with the Spellmans via email
or phone calls a number of times between the rally and the
parent-teacher conference and the issue was never brought to her
She admitted to “falling apart” after the conference living
“in constant fear of what might happen next.”
Farmer related a story that the UPS came to her door recently and
she was fearful because at first she did not know who it was.
In addition, Farmer said Spellman was engaged in a campaign to
harass her, citing a Feb. 10 visit to campus to announce to her
supervisors that she was being served his reply to her request for a
restraining order, pre-trial publicity by him speaking “ill” of her
in the media and an attempt to rally students and parents against her,
which included her receipt of anonymous letters.
“I feel he’s not going to leave me alone,” she said. “He
will come after me anyway he can,” which included going to the website
“thepinetree.net” and calling her a “bully.”
Spellman wife Jennifer refuted the claim by school officials that
he was overly aggressive at the conference. She denied he yelled and was
pointing his finger at Farmer. Jennifer Spellman added that her husband
was sitting back, not forward in his seat, and was taking notes, and
sometimes would raise his writing hand when he was making a particular
point at the conference.
Jennifer Spellman characterized the meeting as tense, with raised
voices, but her husband was not yelling or screaming.
She added Farmer never showed any concern or care for their
daughter and Farmer’s actions continue to victimize their daughter.
“I have no thoughts or intentions, before or after, to cause
physical harm,” Spellman said on the witness stand.
He characterized his comments to Farmer at the conference as
sharp and very critical. He also denied he implied he had the power to
have the school board fire any school employee and acknowledged that he
did not leave the district as a teacher under favorable terms.
"I am not harassing,” Spellman said on the stand. “I am
not threatening. I believe this is completely retaliatory.”
In his closing statements, Spellman reiterated he had no pull
over the school board and was acting in his capacity as a father, not a
supervisor, at the Jan. 31 parent-teacher conference. He also added that
he had no wish to harm Farmer before, during or after the conference and
his frustrations were resolved when his daughter was moved to another
class and teacher.
Jenny Lind Fire Chief Kim Olson.
Jenny Lind Fire Protection District has a new chief
The Jenny Lind Fire Protection District has a new fire chief.
The district’s board of directors reached an agreement Tuesday
with retired Stockton firefighter Kim Olson. He was with the Stockton
Fire Department for nearly 30 years and prior to that he worked for
CalFire, then CDF, for six years in Calaveras County.
Olson retired July 1, 2009, from the Stockton department, but has
remained busy in the firefighting profession as a member of a National
Incident Management Team and as a battalion chief for the Murphys Fire
He replaces Brian Chavez-Ochoa, who resigned last year from the
Olson has lived in Valley Hills Estates off Hillvale Drive since
completing his home there in 1994.
The turmoil within the department last year caught Olson’s
attention and he began attending Jenny Lind board meetings.
“I was listening to the firefighters and watching what was
happening with the board,” he said. “It was evident there were some
serious problems and maybe there was something I could do to help
correct these issues.”
Olson said he is looking forward to offering his expertise and
help improve the department, which he characterized as a very strong
“The issues are due to the strengths of the firefighters and
their love for this department,” he added. “They could have packed
their bags as volunteers, but they were willing to stay and fight for
the department. We can capitalize on those strengths.”
Olson said his short-term goals are to re-organize the
department; re-establish trust and the line of communications between
the firefighters, himself and the board; address those issues recently
raised by the Calaveras County grand jury, and assess the department
concerning training and equipment, making sure training and equipment
maintenance are OSHA compliant.
Mid-term goals include looking at 24-hour, seven-day-a-week
coverage with at least one paid firefighter at the station and establish
a hand-in-hand working relationship with neighboring Foothill Fire
Around-the-clock coverage will improve response times, Olson
said, and it’s only natural to improve the working relationship with
Foothill since the two departments have to work together on calls such
as structure fires.
Olson would like to see the two departments train together and
have common standard operation procedures so they work seamlessly on
fire calls. Olson said he and Foothill Chief Michael Siligo are starting
the process and meeting on an almost daily basis.
In the long run, Olson believes the two departments might
possibly merge or consolidate. Funding for the departments has been
tight and a merger could be more cost efficient and fiscally
responsible, he added.
Valley Springs Melodrama cast members Kathy Whitney and Chris Swann rehearse a scene.
Annual Valley Springs Melodrama packs a blast
The annual Valley Springs Melodrama is under way.
The event, presented by the Valley Springs Friends of the Library, is entitled “The Undertaker Wore Black” or “Stay Still, I’m Hungry.”
It began last Friday and resumes this Friday and Saturday and the
following Friday and Saturday.
Don Urbanus once again is the writer-director of the popular
annual event. This year’s show has a bit of a Cinderella theme, he
The production features an evil undertaker named Victor
Villianoff, his wife Violencia and their two daughters Annoya and
Poor Fay Deway is the damsel in distress. She and her grandmother
might be kicked out in the street or get poisoned unless a hero by the
name of Mort Tality comes to their rescue.
“Throw in a saloon and crew, a couple of vampires and a
werewolf, and it makes for an interesting time in Valley Springs in
the late 1800s,” Urbanus said.
Tickets for the four dinner shows are $20 per person. Doors
will open at 6 p.m. and there will be a no-host bar. Dinner will be
served at 6:45, while the melodrama will begin at 7:45.
Tables for eight can be reserved on the dinner nights. Ticket and table reservations can be made by calling Willene at 772-1000, or Jackie at 772-0591. Tickets are also available at Health Habit in The Terrace Plaza.Proceeds from the event go toward the library.
Jenny Lind Fire Protection District's Interim Chief Steve Buettner, left, presents the Firefighter of the Year Award to David Azevedo.
Jenny Lind Fire honors those who serve
Jenny Lind Fire Protection District Firefighter David Azevedo received recognition as “Firefighter of the Year” when the district’s Board of Directors hosted an appreciation dinner last Friday.
The annual event honors firefighters for the many hours they volunteer each year attending trainings and responding to calls at all hours of the day and night. It is also the time to recognize the spouses and significant others for their support.
Azevedo has been with the district for three years. He is a “team player” and is always there when you need him, said Interim Fire Chief Steve Buettner.
This year’s Fire Chief’s Community Service Award went to Jeff
and Tammy Allen, who for many years have brought joy and smiles to local
children as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. Both Jeff and Tammy have been avid
supporters of the community and the Jenny Lind Fire District, Buettner
In addition, firefighter Tony Daniello received his five-year
service pin and Capt. Al Engel received his 10-year service pin at last
week’s appreciation dinner.
The Jenny Lind Fire Auxiliary was recognized for all the time
auxiliary members spend organizing fundraisers, providing food to the
firefighters at calls and trainings and participating in various fire
department functions throughout the year.
The auxiliary has a crab feed scheduled for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 26, at Jenny Lind Fire Station No. 1, 6501 Jenny Lind
Road. The cost is $30 per person and proceeds benefit the Maxine
Brubaker Scholarship Fund and the auxiliary. Tickets can be obtained by
calling 786-2227 or (209) 559-3603.
Former Calaveras County Chief Building Official Ray Waller, left, and his attorney John A. Shepardson on a break outside of the courtroom. Photo by Plez Hill.
Jury awards nearly $525,000 in Waller case
Calaveras County’s former chief building official was awarded
nearly $525,000 in damages Tuesday stemming from a privacy rights
lawsuit against his former employer.
“I am speechless right now,” Ray Waller said immediately
after hearing the jury’s verdict. “I appreciate the help of the
jury. I feel vindicated.”
The county fired Waller in 2007 and his lawsuit stemmed from the
release of documents in his personnel file to the media.
The jury returned to the courtroom at approximately 4 p.m.
Tuesday with the verdict. On the legal question of whether Waller by the
preponderance of the evidence suffered damage, the jury said “yes”
and awarded him $41,468 for future lost wages. On the question of
whether he suffered emotional distress, the jury again said “yes”
and awarded him $483,000.
Waller had sought more than $4.8 million in damages – $308,000
for lost wages and $4.5 million for emotional distress. A psychologist
had testified he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a
result of the firing.
Nancy Sheehan, the county’s attorney in this case, told the
jury reasonable damages should be in the neighborhood of $37,500, which
was the figure Waller settled for after he initially sued the county for
$2.5 million alleging wrongful termination.
John A. Shepardson of Los Gatos represented Waller in the
courtroom and Chris Williams of San Andreas was his attorney of record.
More than 1,200 pages of documents were released by the county
counsel’s office to the Stockton Record and Calaveras Enterprise. The
county viewed Waller waived his right to privacy and non-disclosure of
his personnel records when he began to criticize the county in the press
and on the internet.
Shepardson characterized the release of the documents as “a
high-tech hit to damage Ray Waller.” He added that Waller was
“disabled for life” due to the release of the documents.
Plez Hill contributed to this report.
Calaveras Council of Governments Executive Director Tim McSorley talks to members of the public as his board is in closed session deciding his fate. Photo by Plez Hill.
County transportation board fires its executive director
Tim McSorley, the executive director of the regional
transportation planning agency for Calaveras County, was fired Monday.
The decision by the Calaveras Council of Governments board was
announced after a closed-door session. The board voted 5-2 to
immediately terminate McSorley, who has been COG’s executive director
Board members Diane Gray, Paul Stein, Gary Tofanelli, Tom Tryon
and board Chairwoman Elaine Morris voted in favor of termination, while
Jack Boeding and David Wood voted against.
The COG board is composed of two members from the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors – Tofanelli and Tryon; two members from the Angels Camp City Council – Boeding and Morris; and three members from the public – Gray, Stein and Wood.
COG has come under pressure lately as the county’s regional
transportation planning agency. Calaveras COG is the designated planning
and administrative agency for transportation projects and programs in
However, tension has been growing between county officials and
COG over the council’s handling of some of those projects. In
addition, COG was in charge of overseeing an approximately $250,000
grant to develop a new community plan for Valley Springs and that effort
backfired when the boundaries for the plan included the Rancho Calaveras
Rancho residents came out in force to vote against the proposal
and the COG-backed plan lost momentum as the Board of Supervisors
eventually voted in favor of an alternative put together by a committee
spearheaded by District 1 Supervisor Tofanelli.
Prior to going into Monday’s closed session, members of the
public spoke in favor of retaining McSorley as COG’s executive
Zerrall McDaniel, a member of the Calaveras Unified School
District governing board and an opponent of Tofanelli in the 2008
supervisor’s election, submitted a letter in support of McSorley.
“There are underlying political reasons for why we are where we
are and I would ask you to not be drawn into this nonsense and do what
is right for the people and our county,” McDaniel wrote to the COG
board. “We do not need personal ambitions and personal agendas to make
a mockery of county government.”
“The board decided to go another direction,” Tofanelli said
after Monday’s meeting. “I wish Tim well.”
The COG board is scheduled to meet again in special session at 6:30 p.m. Thursday to determine that direction. The meeting location had not been determined by press time Tuesday.
Rick Ponti is opening RPMs, a "park and sell" auto lot at 103 E. Highway 12.
RPMs looks at providing inexpensive, convenient way to sell, buy vehicles
The auto lot at 103 E. Highway 12 has re-opened under the
ownership of Rick Ponti.
The new lot, called RPMs, is starting out as a park and sell, but
Ponti – who describes himself as “a car lover” and has a
background in racing - has higher ambitions for his new enterprise.
While it initially will begin as a park and sell lot, Ponti
envisions providing a variety of services for car enthusiasts, sellers
One of those services is bringing in American Auto Detailing as
an onsite provider of full-service vehicle detailing and appearance
enhancement. A seller can use the service to improve the purchase price
of their vehicle.
He also has retail space available for rent at the site and
he’d like to see a motor sports-related use for it.
He’d eventually like to see the lot become a one-stop center
for those who want to recondition their cars. He has room in the back to
expand into those services.
Ponti charges a monthly fee for someone to park and sell their
vehicle on the lot. There are no added fees or a percentage of the sales
It is an inexpensive and convenient way to sell an automobile, he
said. It takes out a lot of the uncertainty for a person trying to sell
a car on their own. You don’t have to place a “for sale” ad,
accept calls at all hours and wait for someone to show up or not to look
at your vehicle.
At the lot, a potential buyer can see multiple vehicles at once,
If there is a sincere buyer, Ponti will call the seller so they
can begin negotiations.
In addition to the monthly option, sellers can also place their
vehicles on consignment.
With the downturn in the economy, people need the option of an
inexpensive way to sell and or buy a car, he added.
RPMs is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and
Ponti might be open for half a day on Sundays. RPMs’ telephone number
is (209) 772-9700.
RPMs is starting its own website to market vehicles on the lot at
www.rpms1.com and will also list
vehicles on two or three other websites, Ponti added.
Along with cars and trucks, he accepts almost anything on wheels
including boats, trailers, motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. He also
sells carports, garages and offers vehicle warranties for those sold on
Andy Ballantyne, president of the Jenny Lind Veterans Memorial District Board, stands inside the new community and veterans hall being built at Pine and Daphne streets next to Valley Springs Elementary School. At more than 10,000 square feet, the structure is three times as large as the existing hall.
one of new hall nearing completion
Work on the first phase of the new veterans hall and community
center in Valley Springs is nearly completion as the exterior walls and
roof are in place.
Crews now are concentrating on curbing, some grading, steps and
handicap access, parking around the building and an enclosure for
garbage bins, said Andy Ballantyne, president of the Jenny Lind Veterans
Memorial District Board.
Contracts totaling $359,687 to begin construction of the hall
were awarded in late July and grading at the site got under way in
Ballantyne, who is also general manager of the memorial district,
said there is no firm date for completion of phase one because that
depends on the weather. In addition, the contract has been modified for
some additional grading that was supposed to be part of phase two.
It was cost efficient to complete some of the phase two work in
conjunction with phase one, he said.
HTH Design and Construction Inc. of Placerville received the
contract for site work and “they have done a great job for us,”
Ballantyne said. “They’re very easy to work with.”
The district is using its reserves for completion of the first
phase – the exterior work – and is looking for community support to
complete the project.
Ballantyne said details of the phase two costs are still being
worked on, but it could be an additional $500,000 or more.
The new structure located at Pine and Daphne streets behind the
old hall will be more than three times as large as the existing
building, which is 48 years old, and the new hall is projected to
include a commercial-grade kitchen, multiple meeting rooms, larger stage
area for theatrical events and a better, large design for community and
private events if additional public funding comes through.
The new building will also solve handicap-access, heating and
air-conditioning issues associated with the old hall.
Ballantyne praised the work being done by his fellow memorial
district board members to move the project forward.
“We’ve been very careful with the funds,” Ballantyne said.
“We completed what we said we would complete with the money on hand.
We’ve been very close to the project estimate and that is commendable
since it is very easy to overspend on a project of this size.”
Donations toward completion of the interior can be made by
calling the district office at 772-9650.
“The board members are unpaid servants and they did an
outstanding job saving money for this building,” Ballantyne said.
“You don’t find that very much in government any longer. We’ve
been watching the dollars and putting away as much as we could.”
A new Valley Springs Family Medical Center is in the works to be located off State Route 26 near the Valley Springs Sports and Fitness Center.
Mark Twain Hospital outlines plans for new VS clinic
Mark Twain St. Joseph’s Hospital plans to have a new, expanded
Family Medical Center open in Valley Springs by late 2012.
Larry Cornish, the hospital’s vice president of facilities and
project development, presented a hospital update at Tuesday’s meeting
of the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors. Cornish said design work
is under way on a $4.7 million Family Medical Center in Angels Camp to
be occupied in the summer of 2012 and a new center in Valley Springs
based on a similar design would not be far behind.
The new Valley Springs Family Medical Center will be located off
State Route 26 near the Valley
The hospital’s current Valley Springs Family Medical Center is
located in La Contenta Plaza at 1919 Vista Del Lago Drive.
Mark Twain St. Joseph’s Hospital has had an eye on a new center
in Valley Springs for several years, but the recession intervened.
“It’s not on the backburner any longer,” Cornish said.
“It’s up to the front of the stove.”
The new Angels Camp Family Medical Center will serve as a
template for design of the Valley Springs center, he added, as the
hospital wants all of its centers to have the same look, or brand. In
addition, the two facilities will utilize the same plans as much as
Along with the “branding” consideration, using the same plans
will be helpful to patients who will be familiar with the layout if they
go from one to the other center, Cornish said, and it will provide an
economy of scale, saving time and dollars in construction costs.
The same carpenters, roofers, masons and other trades people will
be working on the centers almost simultaneously, which should save money
in the construction process, he said, and those savings can be used for
other health services.
The Angels Camp and Valley Springs centers will be dedicated
Women’s Health Resource Centers. In addition, radiology might return
to the Valley Springs center, he added.
Tristan Vickerman, center, shows off his Letter of Recognition from the California State Fire Association while flanked by grandma and grandpa Debbie and Dick Brown.
recognized for heroics possibly saving grandpa's life
By Nick Baptista
Three-year-old Tristan Vickerman of Valley Springs received a Letter of Recognition from the California State Fire Association for his heroic effort last summer to assist his grandfather injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident.
Foothill Fire Chief Michael Siligo made the presentation at last Wednesday’s meeting of the district Board of Directors.
On hand were Vickerman’s mother Sondra Vickerman, grandmother Debbie Brown and grandfather Dick Brown.
Details of the July 3 accident and Tristan’s actions were described in a letter by his grandfather, who is a volunteer with the Jenny Lind Fire Protection District.
Brown and his grandson were on the ATV riding down the driveway to Cassidy Road to get the mail. They were about to start up the driveway when Tristan accidentally grabbed the throttle causing the ATV to go out of control and through a fence.
Tristan was uninjured, but the same could not be said for grandpa. Brown sustained a severely broken right thumb, some deep lacerations to his hand and temporarily lost consciousness. Upon regaining consciousness, he found he was unable to move, but was able to tell Tristan to go to the house and get grandma.
“This was a lot to ask of a 3-year-old, as it was about 500 feet up to the house up a steep driveway.” Brown said in his letter. “Along the way he passed the chicken coop, his swing set, and his tricycle, again a good many things to cause him to lose focus for the task at hand.”
It was a hot day and Brown was losing a lot of blood and going into shock, but because of Tristan’s quick action, 9-1-1 was called and help soon arrived.
“It is believed by many that his actions changed the ultimate outcome to a favorable situation for all,” Brown added.
Valley Springs Boosters member Danielle Scaparro-Palm and Mar-Val Manager John Webb showcase a pair of crustaceans as a reminder that a crab feed to help fund the annual fireworks show is approaching.
Crab feed raising funds for fireworks show
The Valley Springs Boosters – the organization that sponsors
the community’s annual fireworks show – has scheduled a crab feed
for Saturday, Jan. 29.
Proceeds from the crab feed will go toward funding the 16th
annual Fireworks Over New Hogan Lake scheduled for June 25. In addition,
additional funds from the event will be donated as a pair of $500 grants
to Jenny Lind and Valley Springs Elementary schools.
The all-you-can-eat crab feed begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Jenny
Lind Fire Station, 6401 Jenny Lind Road. Tickets are $35 each and
available by calling Danielle Scaparro-Palm at 772-8162, or at The
Valley Springs News office in The Terrace, 1906 Vista Del Lago Drive,
In addition to the meal, there will be a dessert auction – with
items such as carrot cake, devil’s chocolate cake, homemade pies, hot
fudge brownies and many more detectible. The evening will include a
drawing for prizes donated by local merchants.
Prime seats to the fireworks show at the New Hogan Lake
Observation Point will also be sold the night of the crab feed. The cost
is $50 per person and a table of eight for $400. The money goes toward
funding the show.
The 2011 Valley Springs Area Business Association board consists of - front, from left - Marianne Morgan, Barbara Stanley, Tillie Soyland, Candace Keesey, Debi Heier - back, from left - Vip Hale, Diana Gigliotti, Melinda Evett, Danielle Scaparro-Palm and Shell Brodnax.
VSABA board prepares for a new year
The selection of new officers was the first order of business
when the Valley Springs Area Business Association board members held
their first meeting of the year on Friday.
The new officers for 2011 are Vip Hale, chair; Candace Keesey,
vice-chair; Marianne Morgan, secretary, and Melinda Evett, treasurer.
Other board members are Tillie Soyland, Shell Brodnax, Barbara
Stanley, Debi Heier, Diana Gigliotti and Danielle Scaparro-Palm.
To date the advisory board includes Susan
Marrone, Bev Pastorino, Norma Snyder, Jan Evans and Angeles Olsen.
Board members who volunteered to chair events: Luncheons/Speakers
- Diana Gigliotti and Barbara Stanley; Kids Day (June) - past vice-chair
Vicky Henkle; Scholarship Committee (May) - Barbara Stanley, Diana
Gigliotti and Danielle Scaparro-Palm; PowWow (September) - Danielle
& Umpqua Bank crew; Christmas Parade - Candace Keesey and Diana
Gigliotti; Craft Faire - Vip Hale and Debi Heier; Christmas
Dinner/Dance, - Shell Brodnax; Citizen of the Year, Candace Keesey and
Other events are planned including a Business Faire (May),
chaired by Melinda Evett, and will be discussed at the membership
luncheon, plus the VSABA wants to hear from its membership at the
The membership luncheon begins at noon Wednesday, Jan. 19 at La
Contenta Events Center, Wed., Jan. 19.
“It’s the perfect time to meet your new board and talk about
upcoming plans and events, and pay your yearly dues,” Hale said.
“Bring your ideas and suggestions!”
Reservations are requested. Call Hale at 772-2234, or reserve
online at www.valleyspringsaba.com.
Russ Thomas is off to a job in Somalia.
East Africa is next chapter in Thomas's life
Former District 5 Supervisor Russ Thomas has accepted a position
as project manager for the firm of Gossamer Crossing and left Tuesday to
work on a construction project in East Africa.
Thomas discussed his new plans at Thursday’s meeting of the
Rotary Club of West Calaveras. He anticipates being in Somalia for the
next six months.
Thomas, who has 40 years of masonry and contracting expertise,
will manage a construction project in the war-torn country. The project
is funded by the United Nations and the work will be constructing
security fencing and gates around a U.N. facility.
“There is risk involved here, but I’m thankful to have a
supportive wife,” said Thomas.
The mission of Gossamer Crossing is to provide a safe and secure support environment for humanitarian and disaster relief organizations. They are partnering with organizations that are currently working to provide, food, shelter and medical relief to populations in East Africa.
Somalia is one of those impoverished counties. It has been embroiled in civil war since 1991. The war has disrupted agriculture and food distribution in the county and has led to a mass exodus of refugees. The United Nations with U.S. support has tried to restore order in the county over the years.
“I’m off to a new chapter in my life,” said Thomas, who was
elected in 2006 to the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors, but lost
to Darren Spellman in a 2010 re-election bid.
Thomas said he would be living within a guarded, compound area,
but there is some element of risk involved outside the gates going to
and from the jobsite.
“We’ll be vigilant, careful, and prepared,” he said.
Carol Ann McDaniel has been appointed as an alternate on the Calaveras Council of Governments Board and as a member of the Assessment Appeals Board.
Rancho resident looking forward to serving on a pair of county's boards
December has been a busy month for Rancho Calaveras resident Carol Ann McDaniel, who has been appointed to a pair of public boards.
McDaniel, a Calaveras County resident since 2003, was appointed
Dec. 8 as the alternate to the Calaveras Council of Governments Board
and the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors on a 5-0 vote Dec. 14
appointed her to the Assessment Appeals Board.
“It will be fun and I’m looking forward to it,” McDaniel
said about the appointments. “It should be interesting and
CCOG’s board is composed of two members from the Board of
Supervisors and Angels Camp City Council and three members from the
public, plus the alternate from the public.
In addition to McDaniel, Calaveras County Chamber of Commerce
Executive Director Diane Gray and former Supervisor Paul Stein were
appointed as public members to the CCOG board at the December meeting.
CCOG develops planning documents to guide Caltrans, the county
and the city in providing transportation system improvements. These
coordination efforts strive to improve funding opportunities for state
highway and local road projects. The CCOG holds public hearings as
needed and continues to employ an active citizen participation process.
The agency has been an object of controversy lately – including
its involvement in the Valley Springs Community Plan Update – and
McDaniel hopes her appointment will help improve CCOG’s reputation in
west Calaveras County.
“They will have someone representing our interests,” she
It’s important that the interests of west Calaveras are taken
into consideration at CCOG since State Routes 12 and 26 are major
gateways into the county, she added.
She is also interested in serving with the members of the CCOG
board, such as Stein and Supervisors Merita Callaway and Tom Tryon.
“There are a lot of people on the board who I can learn
from,” she said. “They have amazing backgrounds and know how to get
Her CCOG term is for three years and her first meeting is Feb. 2.
McDaniel brings 25 years of experience as a real estate appraiser
to CCOG and the Assessment Appeals Board.
The Assessment Appeals Board acts in a
quasi-judicial capacity in determining the full value of property or on
other matters of property tax assessment over which the appeals board
As an appraiser, she has represented property owners who have
objected to their property tax appraisals.
She will no longer perform the service to avoid a conflict of
serve the county at this time,” she said. “I will bring an impartial
view to the process.”
The Assessment Appeals Board appointment is for three years.
Ken Cooley, left, and Ted Gaines are vying to win the late Sen. Dave Cox's seat in the State Senate.
Special election to fill out term of the late Sen. Cox
Calaveras County voters go to the polls Tuesday, Jan. 4, for a special election to select a new state senator to fill the remaining two years of the late Dave Cox’s term.
Sen. Cox died July 13 and the two candidates emerging from the party
primary election on Nov. 2 were Democrat Ken Cooley and Republican Ted Gaines.
The First District State Senate seat encompasses all or portions of
Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer,
Plumas, Sacramento and Sierra counties.
Cooley is the mayor of Rancho Cordova and has served on its City Council
Gaines serves in the State Assembly, representing the Fourth District,
which takes in all or parts of Alpine, Placer, El Dorado and Sacramento
counties. He is a fifth generation resident of Roseville and a small business
Cooley was admitted to the California State Bar in 1984. From 1991 to
2008, he served as legal counsel for State Farm Insurance Companies. Since 2009,
he has been employed by the State Senate as principal consultant to the Banking,
Finance and Insurance Committee.
Both candidates are emphasizing their stand on taxes.
“High taxes hurt families and small businesses and harm our economy,”
Gaines said. “I strongly oppose any plan that raises taxes in California. I
oppose any scheme to lower the vote requirement for tax increases or to
dismantle Proposition 13, which has protected generations of Californians from
unfair property tax increases. I have an ‘A’ rating from the Howard
Jarvis Taxpayers Association.”
“No new taxes without voter approval,” is Cooley’s top priority.
“Today’s challenges require Democracy to return to its roots as a
partnership with the public.”
The candidates also have ideas on how to deal with the state’s budget
Cooley wants to promote accountable government by reviving the
legislature's exercise of its constitutional oversight powers to revisit past
legislative decisions and eliminate spending or redirect resources to today’s
“California’s deficit and yearly budget crisis is the direct result
of years of reckless spending decisions by the Legislature,” Gaines said.
“We need to tear up the legislature’s credit card and put a cap on spending,
to stop the rapid growth of government.”
If elected, Cooley plans to be the “chief advocate” for each First
Gaines believes the solution to government’s budget woes will come from
economic recovery in the private sector.
“We need to end the anti-business attitude in Sacramento and invite
good, job-creating businesses back to California with lower taxes and less
onerous regulations,” Gaines said.
The polls for Tuesday election will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Vicky Henkle shows her emotions upon realizing she is the Citizen of the Year.
Business group honors Henkle, Duncan, bank
The Valley Springs Area Business Association broke tradition and
bestowed honors on more than a citizen of the year at its annual holiday
dinner Dec. 18.
In addition to naming the citizen of the year, the VSABA used the
occasion to present lifetime achievement and business of the year
Vicky Henkle, the VSABA’s vice chairperson and owner of Miss Vicky’s Costume Shop, was selected citizen of the year, while Realtor Al Duncan received the lifetime achievement award and Umpqua Bank was chosen the business of the year.
Henkle has been an ABA advisory board or board member for the
past 10 years. She was also recognized for her volunteer efforts with
the Valley Springs Melodrama, Kid’s Day in the Park, her beautiful
smile and “best hugs.”
Duncan received the VSABA’s first-ever lifetime achievement
award. Since moving to the area in the early 1970s, he has been active
in the community in a variety of ways such as painting the Jenny Lind
firehouse, being involved with the Rancho Calaveras Clubhouse during its
heyday, directing traffic at Snyder’s PowWow for more than 20 years,
helping stage the line-up at the ABA Christmas Parade for the past
quarter century, helping form the Valley Springs Fireworks Boosters,
being an actor in the Valley Springs Melodrama, along with being a
longtime member of the ABA and a frequent contributor to Letters to the
Umpqua Bank was recognized for its community involvement and
support for local businesses.
The bank’s community involvement ranges from financial support
for the annual Valley Springs Firework Show to handing out bags of food
at the Resource Connection Food Bank, or making snow cones at the PowWow.
The staff also dons the T-shirts of a local business and helps
promote them for a day, along with handing out free ice cream cones to
The event at La Contenta attracted nearly a full house. After the
awards ceremony and dinner, the audience was treated to a heart-touching
version of “The Christmas Song” sung by soon-to-be-departing
District 5 Supervisor Russ Thomas. He received a standing ovation.
Sheriff-elect Gary Kuntz and District 1 Supervisor Gary Tofanelli
were also in attendance.
The evening finished to the sounds of Reunion playing for the
audience’s dancing pleasures.
Retired Calaveras County Judge Richard Tuttle congratulates District Attorney Barbara Yook during Monday’s swearing in ceremony of county officials. More photos of the ceremony below.
Controversy surrounds swearing in ceremony
The ghost of a district attorney past was present when eight
Calaveras County officials took the oath of office Monday before a
standing-room-only crowd in the Sequoia meeting room at the CalWorks
building in San Andreas.
Retired Calaveras County Judge Richard Tuttle, 89, the father of
the late Jeffrey Tuttle, who served as the county’s DA from 2001 until
his death from a heart attack on April, 18, 2010, administered the oaths
of office to Sheriff-elect Gary Kuntz and appointed District Attorney
The elder Tuttle used the occasion to criticize retiring Sheriff
Dennis Downum and the county’s two Superior Court judges, John Martin
and Douglas Mewhinney.
“It’s going to be a relief to have a sheriff who is more
interested in local law enforcement than in empire building,” Tuttle
said after Kuntz recited his oath.
After administering the oath to Yook, the elder Tuttle said his
son had hoped she someday would succeed him, not because she was a loyal
assistant DA, but because she was a “first-rate” person, hard
working, dependable and would not buckle under pressure.
He then relayed a conversation he had with his son who told him
the county’s two judges took him aside and asked for the district
attorney’s office to prosecute more cases as felonies instead of
“Jeff stuck by his guns,” the elder Tuttle said. “He
didn’t buckle under.”
The elder Tuttle said he believes the judges were asking for the
higher felony conviction level – and more people being sent to state
prison - to justify the appointment of a third Superior Court judge in
“We need that like another hole in the head,” he added.
A Valley Springs News call to the two judges was referred to
Court Executive Officer Mary Beth Todd.
She read a statement from presiding Judge Mewhinney.
“Judge Martin and I were not present at the referenced swearing
in of Barbara Yook and Gary Kuntz. Judge Martin and I both have the
utmost respect for Judge Tuttle and our late District Attorney Jeff
Tuttle. As to the comments represented, we have no knowledge of their
Sheriff Downum said he had an excellent working relationship with
Jeff Tuttle, who expressed such in an email when the sheriff announced
As far as empire building, the sheriff said if that means
providing the best service possible to the community and aggressively
seeking alternative funding to provide those services, then the elder
Tuttle is absolutely correct.
Under Downum, the Office of Emergency Services was added to the
sheriff’s department at the direction of state code and Animal
Services came under its control at the direction and insistence of the
Board of Supervisors.
Downum said Animal Services was making great strides under the
sheriff’s department until severe budget cuts.
In addition to Kuntz and Yook, Auditor-Controller Rebecca Callen, Assessor Leslie Davis, Treasurer-Tax Collector Barbara Sullivan and Clerk-Recorder Madaline Krska were sworn into office for the first time. Also taking the oath of office were Coroner Kevin Raggio, who has served in the post since 2002, and District 3 Supervisor Merita Callaway, who was elected to a fifth full term in June.
New county officers, from left, Leslie Davis, Barbara Sullivan and Rebecca Cullen.
Gary Kuntz takes the oath of office before Johanna Vermeltfoort pins his new sheriff's badge.
officials, from left, re-elected District 3 Supervisor Merita Callaway,
Coroner Kevin Raggio, and newly-elected Clerk-Recorder Madaline Krska.
Spellman repeats the oath of office for District 5 supervisor Tuesday
afternoon from County Clerk-Recorder Karen Varni with his hand on the
Bible being held by his wife Jennifer.
Spellman takes oath, looks to fill planning commission post
Darren Spellman took the oath of office Dec. 14 as District 5
supervisor and is in the process of interviewing potential planning
Spellman said he is down to a short list of four people under
consideration for the seat to represent District 5 on the county
Planning Commission, but he did not want to release their names.
Spellman, who will officially assume the post of District 5
supervisor at the Jan. 4, 2011, Board of Supervisors meeting, said
everyone on his short list would make a good planning commissioner, but
he is keeping the names private to spare any possible embarrassment to
those who are not selected.
The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to consider Planning
Commission appointments on Jan. 11. Members of the public have until
Jan. 4 to apply.
Although a public notice calls for applicants and the entire
board is scheduled to consider the appointments, each supervisor
generally makes the call as to who will represent their district on the
If someone not on Spellman’s list were to apply, he encouraged
them to contact him within the next few days to outline their
qualifications and he will give every applicant fair consideration
before making a decision.
“Above all, I want someone with knowledge of the issues, a professional person in their business dealings, moral, ethical and someone I can trust,” Spellman said. “All of the people on my short list possess these qualities.”
While the rest of the county’s newly elected officials are
scheduled to take the oath of office at 9:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 20, in
the CalWorks office, a separate ceremony was held Tuesday for Spellman
in the Board of Supervisors Chambers.
The room was nearly full with family members, supporters and
other county officials as Spellman raised his right hand and had his
left hand on a Bible held by his wife Jennifer while taking the oath of
office administered by Clerk-Recorder Karen Varni.
Following the ceremony he addressed the audience and acknowledged
the importance of incorporating the Bible into the ceremony and
finishing with the words, “So help me God.”
Spellman said the nation, the Constitution and many of our laws
were founded upon Judeo-Christian principles emanating from the Bible
and he would adhere to those principles in his decisions.
Pearl Harbor survivor Delton Walling throws flowers overboard the USS Arizona Memorial during the 69th anniversary commemoration Dec. 7.
Rancho man returns from sentimental journey to Pearl
Rancho Calaveras resident Delton Walling is one of maybe only
1,200 remaining survivors from the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor.
Walling returned home last week after spending several weeks in
Hawaii attending the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association's national
convention in Honolulu, helping dedicate a new memorial to those lost in
the attack that prompted the United States entry into World War II and
placing a wreath Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010, at the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial
dedicated to those who lost their lives aboard the U.S.S. Pennsylvania.
In addition, he was interviewed by Fox Network following the
memorial service and also appeared on Tom Sullivan's national radio show.
Walling had a bird’s eye view of the events that transpired the
morning of Dec. 7, 1941, at the naval base, which was one of the several
military installations targeted in the surprise strike conducted by
planes of the Imperial Japanese Navy.
He was with the Visual Communications Force in the Navy at the
time and on the morning of the attack he was on top of the
communications tower, 180 feet above ground.
“I saw the (battleships) California and Oklahoma get hit,” he
said. “The Japanese planes came through right under me and I could see
into their cockpits as they made their run. They were very dedicated
fliers who knew precisely what they were doing.”
Walling could not stop them. There were no guns in the tower to
This was the pre-war Navy, Walling reminds this reporter. The
ships were down to two-thirds of a crew, the guns were hardly ever
fired, let alone ready for action, and there were only 90 combat planes
in the whole area.
The Japanese came in with a force of 183 planes.
“They looked like a swarm of bees,” Walling said.
The swarm then turned into synchronized dancers, meticulously
making intricate bombing and torpedo runs at their targets sitting in
the harbor, he added.
Walling’s return to Hawaii and Pearl Harbor has been a mixture
of pride and melancholy.
The survivors were treated to a parade.
“I never saw a city (Honolulu) so patriotic in my life,”
Walling said. “They showed us all the respect anyone could ever get”
along the 2.5-mile route.
The convention is “one of the last great meetings the Pearl
Harbor Survivors will ever have,” he added. Approximately 200 of the
estimated 1,200 survivors attended the event.
Walling, who is 89, said they are dying at a rate of 72 a month
so this could be their last big get-together. He is the last surviving
member of those who were in the communications tower the day of the
As a member of the communications force, Walling served under three admirals, including Adm. Chester Nimitz, commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet, before going to Brooklyn, N.Y., briefly to help prepare APA 43, the U.S.S. Fayette, an attack transport, for duty in the Pacific. Walling was a member of the invasion fleet that participated in the amphibious invasions at Kwajalein, Guam, Peleliu, Leyte, Lingayen Gulf and Iwo Jima.
When he returned stateside, he married a woman from Stockton and settled in the area working for Fiberboard for 29 years and also did well with his own company, Wally’s Tree Service.
He enjoys his free time now and last May celebrated his 89th birthday with a 15,000-foot sky jump above Lodi.
The youngsters from Power Up! Fitness Studio’s beginning ballet class used their cuteness and charm to impress the judges at Saturday’s Valley Springs Area Business Association Christmas Parade to take home the “Best of Parade” trophy.
reign supreme during holiday parade
Beginning ballerinas from Power Up! Fitness Studio captured the
affection of the judges and crowd to win the “Best of Parade” trophy
Saturday for the 28th annual Valley Springs Area Business
Association’s Christmas Parade.
The parade, which traditionally begins the holiday season the
first Saturday in December in west Calaveras County, dodged the
predicted weekend storm. Valley Springs’ most popular civic event of
the year attracted 35 entries and a large crowd along Daphne Street.
The association’s Citizens of the Year, Phil and Liz
Weaver, served as the parade’s grand marshals, and the VSABA Christmas
Parade would not be complete without Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, who
waited until the end of the hour-long procession to make their
The remaining parade winners were, by category:
Umpqua Bank, commercial float; Tri-Dam 4-H, kids’ float;
Community United Methodist Church, walking group, commercial or adult;
Power Up! Hip Hop, first, kids’ walking group; Group Folklorico Valley
Springs, second, kids’ walking group; Dare to Dream miniature ponies,
animals; Foothill Fire Protection District, fire/farm equipment;
Calaveras Explorer Post 333, honor guard; Calaveras High School, band;
Foothill Classic Car Club, auto.
This year’s judges were Calaveras County Supervisor Gary
Tofanelli and past Citizens of the Year Diana Gigliotti and Buddy Keesey.
Bill Crane served as the parade’s master of ceremonies.
Additional photo of the parade appear on Page 4 of today’s
edition, In addition, color photos from the parade will be posted on the
valleyspringsnews.com website Wednesday morning.
Toyon Middle School students, from left, Kyra Judd, Josh Moore and Chris Duarte finish digging a hole for a tree near the new wing of classrooms.
Collaborative effort behind landscaping at new Toyon classrooms
Another phase in Toyon Middle School’s beautification and
garden program is under way.
Students, teachers and parents have begun work to landscape
around the 12 new classrooms at the campus.
Teacher Kevin Hesser said parent Teresa Peters designed the
landscaping plan and at least 150 students participated in the project
“It has been a collaboration of the district, school, students
and parents coming together to purchase, plan and implement,” he
Students working on the project were from Hesser’s
landscaping class and Doug Clark’s outdoor projects class. In
addition, some students were able to get excused from their physical
education classes to lend a hand digging holes to plant trees and
shrubs, or moving river rock for installation along an embankment next
to the new classrooms.
The school has received grants from Lowe’s Toolbox for
Education and the California Fertilizer Foundation, along with local
donations of assistance, materials and plants from businesses such as
Simmons Landscaping, Calaveras Nursery and Rising Sun Nursery for the
ongoing project, which included construction of a greenhouse.
Winter Creek Olive Orchard neighbor Richard Holubek picks some of the bumper crop off one of 250 at the orchard.
crop of olives coming out of west Calaveras
Favorable summertime weather is translating into a bountiful
olive harvest this fall in Calaveras County and throughout the region.
Jim Melson of Winter Creek Olive Orchard near Burson says his
olive crop has more than doubled this year in comparison to last year
and he’s not alone.
“It’s a bumper crop all over,” Melson said. “We were
talking with the people at the presses and everybody is having a huge
crop this year.”
Melson and his wife Mary Anne have two acres of trees, 250 in
all, planted at their Toreno Way home. Family and friends in
mid-November were out in force hand-picking the olives in preparation
for their trip to the presses where the small oval fruit was turned into
Winter Creek’s award-winning extra virgin olive oil.
The relatively mild summer with not too many days over 100
degrees contributed to the larger yield, Melson said, because the
blossoms stayed on the trees longer and increased the germination.
Melson harvested 3,200 pounds of olives last year from his
orchard and is looking at pressing 8,000 pounds this year. His orchard
contains 90 percent Frantoio olives and 10 percent Leccino.
Olives rank No. 10 on the list of Calaveras County’s leading
farm commodities. According to the county’s 2009 Report of
Agriculture, Calaveras had 140 acres producing olives and a total of 210
tons were harvested.
The olive industry is making a comeback in Calaveras County after
nearly a half-century of dormancy.
As recently at the mid-1950s, the Rocca Bella Olive Association
plant, now the site of Better Floor Systems off State Route 12 between
Burson and Wallace, was producing almost 5 million cans of olives –
nearly 2,000 tons, which were sold on store shelves across the country,
according to local historian Sal Manna, president of the Society for the
Preservation of West Calaveras History.
Rocca Bella’s history is one of the chapters in Manna’s
recently published “Something From Nothing – The Early History of
West Calaveras County, Volume II.”
The standards on labeling extra virgin olive oil were recently
tightened by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and that should help
domestic producers, Melson said.
The new standards were five years in the making and many of the
imports that at one time were advertised as extra virgin are now labeled
as pure olive oil.
Much of the imported oil was heavily subsidized, Melson said, and
the new standards will help justify the price of domestically produced
Fancy Things owner Renee Donofrio,
left, and sister-in-law Anne Borchard prepare the shop for its grand
opening on Saturday. Fancy Things is located across Laurel Street from
Good Friends Chinese Restaurant.
New women's store opens on Laurel Street
West Calaveras women have a new option when in the market for
clothing and accessories.
Fancy Things, featuring jeans, jackets, belts, purses, tops,
scarves, hats and a wide variety of jewelry, is scheduled to open at 10
a.m. Saturday at 8D Laurel Street, which is across the street from Good
Friends Chinese Restaurant.
Renee and Dominic Donofrio are the shop’s owners. Renee has
been in the business for 30 years, with shops in Las Vegas and most
recently in Fairfield for the past 10 years. After living in Calaveras
for the past decade, they got tired of the drive and decided to open a
Fancy Things’ line of jewelry runs from sterling silver and
gemstones to costume jewelry.
“We try to have something for everybody,” Renee said of her
shop’s jewelry selection.
She also has a wide selection of jeans beginning with a wide
selection of designer jeans to less expensive brands.
Fancy Things will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through
Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, but the hours might be
adjusted, Renee added.
The shop’s phone number is 772-7110.
The olive harvest in full swing
at Trinitas, Calaveras County's oldest producing olive orchard -
125years old. Trinitas has been in the news lately concerning its golf
Talk of settlement in Trinitas case
There have been new developments in the federal bankruptcy court
case concerning The Ridge at Trinitas golf course development at the
west edge of Calaveras County.
The parties involved, Trinitas owners Mike and Michelle Nemee and Calaveras County reportedly are exploring a settlement and the court is opening up the claim process to an additional class of investors.
The county and the Nemees have been at odds since May 2009 when
the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 against a proposal to change zoning
at the property to recreational, which would have legalized the existing
golf course. The Nemees say that vote was based on deliberately flawed
In addition to the golf course off Ospital Road, the proposal by
the Nemees called for a clubhouse, lodge, restaurant and 13-home gated
community on their property. Supervisors Merita Callaway, Tom Tryon and
Steve Wilensky voted to deny the project, while Russ Thomas and Gary
Tofanelli voted in favor.
Shortly thereafter, county officials cautioned the Nemees about
opening up the premises for golfing. The Nemees filed several civil
cases against the county and also sought financial relief under Chapter
11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code.
“Court documents about a possible settlement are accurate,”
Mike Nemee said Tuesday, “and it’s the first time (Nemee attorney)
Ken Foley and (assistant county counsel) Janis Elliott have actually
agreed on something.”
Nemee’s golf course development has been opposed by some of his
neighbors who formed a group called “Keep it Rural, Calaveras.”
Lew Mayhew, a spokesman for the organization, addressed the
latest developments in the case.
“KIRC is aware additional time has been given by the bankruptcy
court to explore a settlement,” he said. “In court, the county has
made it clear it cannot waive or violate its zoning laws and any
settlement would require public notice, public hearings and legislative
action. What form a settlement might take is unknown. KIRC will
closely monitor and fully engage any public actions that might be part
of a process to legalize the golf course. It is also possible that
settlement talks will be unproductive for a variety of reasons.”
The county should not back down from its earlier decisions,
according to Mayhew.
“The county has made a strong case, supported by substantial
evidence refuting the Nemees’ allegations,” Mayhew said. “KIRC
believes the county would best serve the interests of its citizens by
forcefully trying the adversary proceeding and upholding its zoning
The court has sent out notices and established a deadline of Dec.
15 for a new class of creditors, those who bought memberships in the
“KIRC is aware that a deadline was established for members to
file a claim,” Mayhew said. “This arose out of concern, by the
attorney for the bank (Community Bank of San Joaquin) that holds a
secured loan, over whether members were a special class of creditors.
As a result all members were to be notified of a deadline by which they
might assert a claim.”
Remembering our Veterans
Valley Springs resident and World War II veteran Blaine Tripp opens the case containing his Purple Heart.
World War II vet recalls experience
Tripp was wounded in the Philippines
Blaine Tripp, a Valley Springs resident since December of last
year, is one of the 16.5 million Americans who served in the U.S. armed
forces during World War II.
Although the dates and the names of the places he was sent to
during the war have faded somewhat, the memories remain.
Tripp and his wife Zelta moved from Utah to Gold Creek Estates
last year to be closer to their family.
“I’ve had a good life,” said Tripp, 87. “I generally put
this (his experience in World War II) in the background” when asked
about his thoughts at the approach of Veterans Day, the nation’s
annual holiday honoring our military veterans.
Tripp was in his senior year in high school in Lehi, Utah, when
the Japanese bombed the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor on Sunday, Dec.
7, 1941. He remembers one of his teachers taking the students out of
class the following day to go across the street to the National Guard
Armory and watch those citizen soldiers assemble as the United States
A half year later, Tripp began his service with the U.S. Army.
Basic training was at Ft. Hood, Texas, which last year was where an Army
psychiatrist who opened fire killing 12 people and wounding 31 others.
Tripp came home briefly for the holidays at the end of 1942.
Little did he know then that it would be the last time he’d see his
home in four years. From Utah, Tripp made a zigzag journey through the
west including Los Angeles, Fort Ord, Pittsburg and eventually San
Francisco from where he sailed to parts unknown in the Pacific.
When Tripp eventually made land, he found himself in a place
called Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. Tripp arrived near the tail
end of the vicious fighting that had occurred. He was a member of the
25th Infantry Division, nicknamed the “Tropical Lightning Division.”
Tripp’s unit hit several more islands in the Solomon chain
combating the Japanese before getting on board ship and heading toward
In October 1944 the next destination was the Philippines.
Tripp’s platoon was on the island of Leyte and one of his scariest
experiences was a six-day reconnaissance patrol circling a peak. They
found signs of the enemy, but didn’t confront anyone.
After Luzon was secured, they loaded up again in the ships and
headed for the island of Luzon. Tripp was in the third wave of those
landing at Lingayen
Gulf. From there, U.S. troops began pushing south toward the
capital of Manila. While en route, his unit came across a Japanese
concentration camp used to house mostly American civilians, men, women
and children, who were on the island and captured in the initial stages
of the war. Most of them were starving and a special unit from the
Marines was sent in to take care of them, he said.
Years later, Tripp crossed paths with someone who had been at the
camp as a young boy and had greeted the soldiers when they arrived.
“It was quite emotional,” he said.
The war in the Philippines continued grinding on and Tripp’s
unit was part of a force fighting to open a pass called Balete Pass.
“We knew there were bunkers nearby and that’s what we had to
knock out,” he said. He remembers going up a ridge were there was a
pillbox. He crawled into a wash and fired some grenades, before a shell
“I went up into the air and spun around like a top.”
Tripp had sustained shrapnel wounds to his leg, knee, shoulder,
elbow and neck.
He had to crawl away most of the way down the hill to reach a
Jeep with stretchers.
Tripp spent the next two months in the 36th Evacuation
The war came to an end while Tripp was in the Philippines and he
became part of the force occupying Japan. He spent another year scouring
the country looking for war materials. He befriended a Japanese police
sergeant who spoke perfect English, helped him in his assignments and
was a great host.
“I don’t think much about it (his war experiences),” said
Tripp, who will turn 88, in February. “I try to forget it, but once in
a while I have dreams. When I think about it, it’s in a fog. I forget
a lot of the these places.”
Spellman likely to win District 5 supervisor race
Challenger Darren Spellman had a commanding lead in the race for Calaveras County District 5 supervisor after the initial vote count Tuesday evening.
Spellman garnered 55.37 percent of the vote for District 5 supervisor compared to incumbent Russ Thomas' 44.03 percent.
At of the end of tabulation at 10:16 p.m. Tuesday, the county had 2,276 ballots that had not been processed and the figure did not include vote-by-mail and provisional ballots that had been turned in earlier in the day at local polls, said County Clerk-Recorder Karen Varni.
She estimated the uncounted ballots were close to 3,000, but "I'm just guessing," she added.
Tabulation of the remaining ballots will begin Wednesday morning and she expects the chore to be completed with a couple of days.
After the initial count, Spellman had 1,842 votes compared to Thomas' 1,465.
If the estimated 3,000 votes left to be counted were divided evenly among all five districts in the county, that would mean approximately 500 of those votes are from District 5. It is unlikely Thomas will overtake Spellman as the remaining votes are counted.
Spellman was at the clerk's office when the night's final unofficial results were released.
He said he was "optimistic" about the outcome, but he would not declare victory.
In the election to replace Varni, who is retiring, Madaline R. Krska took more than two-thirds of the votes to defeat Mike Miller.
Additional details will appear in Friday's edition of The Valley Springs News.