Serving the communities of Valley Springs, Burson and Wallace
with the new
Contenta residents, from left, Larry Emehiser, Peter Slorp, Skip Landry
and Ron Braidman gather around the new mailbox selected for installation
inside La Contenta subdivision. The individual mailboxes will replace
the two-decade-old cluster boxes off Vista Del Lago at Greenbriar Road.
Emehiser, Slorp and Braidman are board members of the homeowners
association and were at the cluster-box site Wednesday demonstrating the
new mailbox and encouraging residents to place their orders by Aug. 10.
They would like to complete the installation by Oct. 1.
Tense times on Ospital
The Gassner residence, the white structure in this photo, was threatened when flames raced through grasslands Saturday afternoon in the vicinity of Ospital Road. According to CalFire, the blaze blackened approximately 235 acres of vegetation, but no structures were damaged. CalFire’s Air Attack units based in Columbia, 21 fire engines and three dozers responded to fire, along with units from Jenny Lind, Foothill, Linden-Peters, Clements, San Andreas, Copperopolis, Mokelumne Hill and Altaville-Melones fire districts. The call went out at 5 p.m. and the blaze was contained at 9 p.m. Some units stayed at the scene until 8 p.m. Sunday. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Photo by Kathy Mayhew.
The vast majority of candidates in races for seats on the Calaveras Water District, Foothill Fire Protection District and Valley Springs Public Utility District participated in last Wednesday's "Meet the Candidates NIght."
Candidates outline views, differences at forum
By Nick Baptista
Fourteen office-seekers vying for seats in one of three special
district board races to be decided next month participated in
Wednesday’s “Meet the Candidates Night” hosted by The Valley
The forum attracted all four candidates running for a pair of
seats on the Calaveras County Water District’s Board of Directors, six
of seven running for four seats on the Valley Springs Public Utility
District board and four of nine candidates seeking four seats on the
Foothill Fire Protection District board.
A breakdown of the evening by each special district appears
Foothill Fire Protection District
Foothill has made tremendous strides lately, appointed incumbents
Robert Fry and Ron Spradlin told the audience of about 75, and the
recent Calaveras County Grand Jury report critical of the district’s
volunteer levels and delays in construction of the Burson fire station
and structural problems at the Valley Springs facility are outdated and
no longer valid.
Spradlin is seeking a two-year term on the Foothill board and
Steve Gleason, who did not attend the forum, opposes him. Fry is one of
three appointed incumbents seeking four-year terms. The other two are Ed
Anderson and Ken Glissman. They were not at the forum.
Sharon Floyd, Jeff Palm, Jon Rolland and Jerry Smith are
challenging the three incumbents. Roland and Palm were at the forum.
Rolland said the department has had volunteer problems since it
terminated Assistant Chief Drew Utterback nearly two years ago and
demoted then-Chief Jeff Palm. Rolland defended the Grand Jury’s
findings and advised the audience to read the report.
Palm said volunteer staffing is a major concern, especially
having enough firefighters with Class B licenses to operate the larger
Spradlin said the department has 22 volunteers 10 with Class B.
“That issue is dead,” he said.
Fry, who brings a construction background to the board, said the
Burson station “is coming along fine” and the district may be able
to store vehicles in the facility as soon as this weekend.
The Burson fire station has been in the works for six years,
Rolland said, and the board has taken an “outrageous” amount of time
to bring the station to completion.
Palm expressed frustration that it took so long to build the
station, but he was glad to see the facility reaching completion because
it will improve the public’s safety.
In closing statements, Spradlin outlined the district’s recent
accomplishments and encouraged voters to cast their ballots for the
incumbents if they wanted to see progress continue.
Rolland said he was glad to see the existing board recently began
paying attention to the Grand Jury’s findings, but the board never
should have been in a position where the Grand Jury needed to come in
and make recommendations.
In addition, Rolland said a number of findings made by the Grand
Jury still apply.
“It’s nice to hear stuff is being done,” Palm said. “When
I was there, nothing was happening.” Palm said he wanted to see the
district progress and he wanted to be a part of that progression and
improve public safety in the community.
Fry blamed many of the district’s woes on Palm during his
tenure as chief. Last year’s OSHA investigation “opened our eye,”
The district now has an excellent chief in Mike Siligo, Fry said,
and will continue to improve if voters keep the incumbents in office.
Calaveras County Water District
Incumbents Jeff Davidson and Charlie Hebrard campaigned on their
efforts to improve the district’s infrastructure, while challenger
Carol Barzee said the district needs a new vision in regards to repair,
upgrading and expansion of the infrastructure, along with keeping and
rewarding its experienced and professional employees. Barzee is running
against Davidson in District 5, while Hebrard is challenged by Phil
McCartney in District 1.
“I’m proud of the work we’ve done,” Davidson said, and
he’d like to stay on the board to work toward completion of the
Cosgrove Creek flood control project.
Excessive turnover is a thing of the past, Hebrard said.
CCWD employees are among the best paid employees in the county,
McCartney said CCWD wages are generally lower than wages for
similar jobs elsewhere in the state. He said CCWD has become a training
ground for other districts and it is expensive to train employees and
In addition to paying employees some of the highest wages in the
county, the district also gives them the best equipment so they can do
the job right, Davidson said.
Barzee said the district not only has to give its employees a
fair wage, but show its appreciation toward them.
“They want respect from the people who run the utility
district,” she said.
Davidson and Hebrard said the water problems in Rancho Calaveras
were inherited by CCWD and they have been working to finance and repair
the area’s infrastructure.
Barzee said the incumbents knew of the problems eight years ago
and something should have been done then.
McCartney said CCWD was aware of the situation and “got bit.”
Hebrard said the district first needed the money to finance the
Valley Springs PUD
Incumbents Lucille Allee, Andy Whitaker, Connie Gleason and Rob
Robertson expressed pride with having a hand in moving the district from
a negative to a positive cash flow, while challenger Tony Glenn stated
his displeasure with recent rate increases for water and wastewater
“Rates had to be raise, there was no way around it,” said
Allee, who is chairwoman of the utility district’s board.
Glenn is running for one of the two two-year seats on the board.
Gleason and Robertson are in that race along with another challenger,
Allee and Whitaker are running for the two four-year terms, and
are challenged by Mal Pointe, who was not at the forum.
“I have a lot more planned and I’d like to stay on the board
to see them through,” Gleason said.
Glenn questioned the PUD’s reliance on only one well. The
district needs to drill more wells or consider folding into CCWD.
Robertson said the district has an agreement with CCWD to provide
water in an emergency. In addition, the district is in the process of
working with local landowners to drill another well and eventually may
buy water on a wholesale basis from CCWD.
The incumbents were also in agreement that any need to expand
water and sewer facilities to accommodate new growth should be paid for
by the developers and not existing ratepayers.
Insurance agent lends helping hand during vacation
A vacation at Lake Tahoe turned into a hectic, but rewarding
experience for Valley Springs Farmers agent Terry Clark.
Clark was planning to spend a restful week the end of June in
Incline Village on the eastern shores of Lake Tahoe. A day into her
break she saw the plume of smoke coming from the Angora Fire near South
When she learned the scope of the blaze, she left a message in
the South Lake Tahoe office of Farmers agent Jon Hetherton.
“I knew him and having gone through fires here, I knew it was
crazy,” Clark said. The following day, Clark was helping out in
Hetherton’s office and a day later she was working out of Farmers’
Catastrophic Claim Bus, the Cat Bus for short.
In one instance she spoke with a fire victim on the phone and
advised him to come to the Cat Bus for help on his claim. Within three
hours of the initial call he had an emergency check.
“That makes you feel good,” Clark said. “These people were
devastated. I was happy I could be there when people needed an agent and
Clark was also impressed with the “extraordinary
coordination” between the emergency and public services, such as the
Office of Emergency Services, the Red Cross and South Lake Tahoe city
“Any entity you needed help from was set up at the local
community college,” she said.
Dave Evans has been sworn in as the new commander of Bill Brinlee Post No. 102 of the American Legion in Valley Springs.
Legion post inducts new officers
Members of Bill Brinlee Post No. 102 of the American Legion in
Valley Springs gathered the day before the nation’s birthday last week
to swear in officers for 2007-08.
Dave Evans took his oath July 3 to serve as the post’s new commander. Michael Faatz will serve as the 1st vice commander, Allen Nordstrom will be the 2nd vice commander, while James Ruhs will be 3rd vice commander and Don Powlesland will be the 4th vice commander.
Andy Ballantyne is the post’s adjutant and Fred Kuster is the chaplain, while Don Patterson will serve as the service officer. Gene Pate will be the judge advocate and Ray Burhop will serve as the sergeant-at-arms and Henry Sanchez will be the assistant sergeant-at-arms.
Ben Kirby is the legislative officer and Carl Nicholson is the junior past commander.
and crews from Mozingo Construction are busy along Highway 26 at Jenny
Lind Road installing a new pipeline to improve water service to
Calaveras County Water District customers in and around Rancho
CCWD: Water use alert for Rancho Calaveras
The first heat wave of the summer has forced the Calaveras County
Water District to issue a water conservation request to customers in and
around Rancho Calaveras.
The water conservation request was issued Thursday as the
thermometer hit a season high of 109 degrees.
“Due to extreme heat conditions, the rate
of water use by customers is
The piping project was identified as CCWD staff as a key to
solving the area’s water problems. The project was put in place after
many customers in Rancho were with little or no water for a day or two
last July during an extended heat wave.
Last July’s heat wave, heavy outdoor water usage and power
surges that knocked out pumps filling a CCWD water tank off Schmidt
Place caused the water shortage to more than 1,000 homes in the area.
CCWD is asking customers in the Rancho area to control their
outdoor water use and follow district’s odd- and even-day watering
schedule. The district wants its customer to water only between the
hours of 6 p.m. and 10 a.m.
Residents with addresses ending in odd numbers are asked to water
on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays, while residents with even number
addresses should water on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
“Irrigating on this schedule will help to keep usage within
this system’s design limit of 1,500 gallons (approximately 200 cubic
feet) per day per household,” according to CCWD.
In addition, CCWD staff began going door-to-door on July 6 in the
Rancho area with tags requesting assistance and outlining simple
Customers with questions or concerns can contact CCWD Customer
Service at (209) 754-3543.
The condition of Pettinger Road has come under scrutiny from the Grand Jury.
Grand Jury outlines Pettinger Road safety concerns
By Nick Baptista
The 2006-07 Calaveras County Grand Jury examined the safety of
school bus routes and stops and paid close attention to Pettinger Road
in the west portion of the county.
The Grand Jury’s finding and recommendation concerning school
bus route and stop safety issues were released earlier this week in the
jury’s 2006-07 final report.
“The Grand Jury became aware of bus route and bus safety
problems within the county,” the jury stated in its finding. “The
Grand Jury selected the Pettinger Road bus route for detailed
observation and found excessive patching causing a rough, uneven road
with unsafe shoulders. Heavy traffic between Jenny Lind and Highway 12
during morning bus travel intensifies the danger.
“Transportation director of the Calaveras Unified School
District and bus drivers report the road to be unsafe. The Calaveras
County Public Works deputy director of Operations and Maintenance
reported that road safety is their main concern and that no complaint
had been received from the Calaveras Unified School District.
“Therefore only routine attention was being paid to this road.
The deputy director reports equipment to monitor peak usage of this road
will be set up and attention will be given as to whether the condition
of the road and usage deserve priority for possible resurfacing or
The Grand Jury requested responses from the Board of Supervisors,
CUSD, the public works department and the Calaveras Council of
Governments, which is the regional transportation planning agency for
“The Grand Jury recommends that Calaveras County Public Works
Department increase the safety for school transportation by allocating
funds for resurfacing, widening the road, and repairing the shoulders on
Pettinger Road. Transportation personnel should report unsafe bus route
road conditions to the County Public Works Department.”
The jury’s entire 2006-07 Final Report is available on-line at
Foothill Fire comes under Grand Jury examination
The Foothill Fire Protection District continues to come under
Calaveras County Grand Jury scrutiny.
The 2006-07 Grand Jury in its final report released Monday issued
six new findings and recommendations concerning operations of the
volunteer fire district that covers Burson and Valley Springs.
The first two of the Grand Jury’s latest findings center upon
construction of the new fire station in Burson, a third finding deals
with “administrative deficiencies,” while the fourth finding
questions the structural integrity of the Valley Springs fire station,
the fifth points to a shortage of volunteer firefighters and the final
finding questions the district’s financial outlook.
The report also includes earlier findings and recommendations
concerning the district’s board meetings and an annexation tussle with
Jenny Lind Fire Protection District regarding the Valley Springs Estates
“The new fire station at Burson has yet to be completed,” the
Grand Jury stated in Finding 1. The planning and procurement process
raised several questions.
“The Grand Jury recommends FFPD write a complete, updated cost
and scheduling plan, which would allow the district board, staff,
general contractor, sub-contractors, building department, and the public
to be fully informed when discussing each remaining phase of building
Station No. 1.”
“While planning, bidding, and building Station No. 1 in Burson,
the district failed to follow the Public Contract Code regarding proper
procedure for soliciting and posting of construction contract bids,”
the Grand Jury said in Finding 2. “In addition, provisions requiring
analysis of the project impact on the environment as required in the
California Environmental Quality Act were not followed. Noncollusion
Certificates were not submitted nor executed as required under Section
7106 of the PCC. … FFPD did not include indemnification requirements
in any of the contracts executed and did not secure any performance or
“The Grand Jury recommends that FFPD comply with the Public
Contract Code while finishing construction of Station No. 1 and with any
future construction projects.”
In Finding 3, “The Grand Jury found the following
administrative deficiencies: 1. An incomplete policies and procedures
manual. 2. No comprehensive training program. 3. No existing
comprehensive long-range plan. 4. No Fire Chief.”
The board hired Mike Siligo as its chief beginning May 1.
“Station No. 2 is not only inadequate to house equipment and
administration, but it does not appear to meet county building code
standards,” the Grand Jury said in Finding 4. “In a site visit it
was noted that a major portion of a cinder block wall was removed for a
vehicle pass-through with no header and post bracing.”
“The Grand Jury recommends Station No. 2 be inspected by a
licensed engineer. A signoff by the County Building Department must be
Finding 5 says, “FFPD is shorthanded of volunteer firefighters.
Currently there is an insufficient number of drivers with a Class B
driver’s license required to operate four of the large fire
“The Grand Jury recommends the district develop a recruitment
and retention program with specific skills and certifications.”
The final sentence of Finding 6 says, “Although planned
development and assessed valuation increases within the district can
answer some of the district financial shortcomings, there may not be
sufficient increases in funding for the district to catch up with
projected growth and infrastructure requirements.”
“The Grand Jury recommends Foothill Fire Protection District
immediately draft a financial strategic plan to meet its current and
future needs, possibly by means of tax provisions afforded to special
fire protection districts. An innovative approach to resolving the
continuing funding issues needs to be studied, adopted, and presented to
The Grand Jury requested responses from the district’s Board of
Directors. Four of the directors are up for election in August.
The incumbents up for election are Ed Anderson, Robert Fry, Ken
Glissman and Ron Spradlin. Sharon Floyd, Jeff Palm, Jon Rolland, Jerry
Smith and Steve Gleason are challenging them.
Highway 49 history book released
The Golden Highway, Volume II, Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne,
Mariposa, and Madera counties has been released, just two weeks after
Volume I, covering the northern portion of Highway 49, won a bronze
medal from the Independent Publishers Association, competing against 70
other books in its category.
This is the third award for Publishers Ric and Jody Hornor of
Electric Canvas on their “Golden History” series. The Golden
Corridor also won an Independent Publishers award, and The Sacramento
Historical Society awarded the publishers for “Excellence” in all of
their historical works.
This series of “Golden History” books take a unique approach
to the area’s history. They are compiled from dozens of 19th century
original source documents, preserving the unique language and style of
each contributor. Compilation, versus rewriting history, which is done
in most history books, also eliminates errors in interpretation or facts
that may be inadvertently introduced by authors.
“The language of the 19th century pioneers and miners is much
more colorful than today’s language,” said Jody Hornor. “Whether
it’s Sir Henry conveying his disgust at spittoons . . . the very sight
of which invites discharge from an American mouth, or John Bidwell
having a coyote’s “lights” for breakfast, these books reflect real
events by the people who actually experienced them.”
Once the content is compiled, hundreds of carefully selected 19th
century photographs are restored and added, one on each page, to
complete the reader’s experience. The Hornors go to great lengths to
find photos at smaller archives and libraries that haven’t been in the
“Photo restoration is a lot like being an archeologist,” said
Ric Hornor. “When you clean off the dirt and grime, fix the cracks and
tears, and correct fading and discoloration, the discoveries are
interesting and rewarding, as well as looking great.”
The Golden Highway, Volume II, is a 296-page book that chronicles
the 19th century life along the southern portion of Highway 49 (Amador,
Calaveras, Tuolumne, Mariposa and Madera counties) and the cities, towns
and areas that are served by Highway 49.
The “Golden History” books are available in most Raley’s,
book stores, gift shops, and museum stores, online at: www.19thCentury.us/Gold, or by calling