Serving the communities of Valley Springs, Burson and Wallace
Don Urbanus outlines what his informal group viewed as the good and bad of the community and county at the Valley Springs General Plan update meeting.
Roads get "black eye" at General Plan forum
Roads – or to be more specific, the poor state of roads in West
Calaveras – were an overriding concern at Thursday evening’s General
Plan update meeting in Valley Springs.
Thursday’s meeting in Valley Springs and a similar one Saturday
in Rancho Calaveras were held to familiarize the public with the
upcoming General Plan update process and solicit citizen input on what
they believe is the community and county’s most important assets and
their biggest problems.
Even before the crowd of approximately 100 broke into smaller groups to outline what they believed was good and bad about the area and county, roads were a hot topic during a question and answer session.
Citizens called Highways 12 and 26 “death traps” and
questioned whether the area could continue growing without the roads
Larry Mintier of Mintier & Associates, the consulting firm
hired by the county for the first few phases of the General Plan update,
and the moderator at Thursday’s meeting, said those concerns were “a
perfect issue for the General Plan update.”
The General Plan is “a blueprint or constitution for the
development of the county,” he said.
After each breakout group returned with roads identified as the
hot-button item of concern, Mintier added, “Roads usually come up, but
I’ve never heard it as loudly as I did tonight.”
Also hearing the message loud and clear were county Supervisors
Merita Callaway, Bill Claudino and Russ Thomas. They were at the meeting
along with county Planning Commissioners Ted Allured and Holly Mines and
CCWD Director Jeff Davidson.
Developer Guy Meyers cautioned against placing the burden of road
improvements on new construction. The county would never collect enough
funds solely from new construction and most of the funding would have to
come from Caltrans, he added and that would require strong lobbying
efforts on the part of local officials.
The area’s rural lifestyle, people, small community feeling,
trees, historic features, nearby lakes, golf courses and recreational
opportunities were generally listed by citizens as community assets.
In addition to poor roads, citizens said the area lacked jobs and
a variety of retail development, adequate water supplies and sewage
treatment, uncontrolled growth and lack of proper community development,
lack of affordable housing, under-funded law enforcement that is
contributing to more crime and an increase in gang activity, and poor
West Calaveras’ input will be summarized and combined with
input at recent workshops elsewhere in the county, Mintier said. In all,
about 1,000 people participated in the exercise.
The first two phases of the nine-phase update are nearing
completion and Supervisor Claudino encouraged those in attendance to ask
their neighbors and friends “to get involved and stay interested” in
the update process.
The Boosters' annual fireworks show should get under way at dusk on Saturday.
Boosters ready to present 12th annual fireworks show
Everything for the Valley Springs Boosters’ 12th
annual Fireworks Over Hogan Lake Gala on Saturday is going along as
Boosters President Steve Kearney said there were a few tables
left for the VIP dinner at the Hogan Dam lookout, but those tables were
grabbed up at the beginning of this week.
The Boosters have received enough donations to finance this
year’s fireworks and have “a couple nickels” in the bank to begin
fund-raising for next year’s production, he added.
The fireworks display is made possible through the sale of
tickets to the VIP dinner and for a chance to win the Fireworks Quilt,
generous donations and support from Mar-Val, Umpqua Bank, First American
Title Co., Calaveras Telephone, Townsend Construction, Loose Threads
Quilt Guild, and the tremendous amount of volunteer work from the
Boosters, Kearney said.
Ticket sales for an opportunity to win the 2007 Fireworks Quilt
will continue up until the dinner. Tickets for the quilt are one for $1
or six for $5.
The fireworks display will be put on by Boom Boom Fireworks,
which has done the past few shows.
Kearney said someone told him this might be the last year that
fireworks shows in California will feature some of the larger shells
that light up the whole sky because officials have safety concerns when
it comes to transporting those shells on roadways.
The children’s games at the lookout are expected to begin
shortly after dinner is completed, Kearney said. Those games likely will
include pie and watermelon eating contests.
One thing missing from this year’s Boosters’ dinner will be
squirt guns. The Boosters recently voted to ban squirt guns from the
event for safety reasons, Kearney said.
The staff at Lee's Pig Out BBQ include, from left, Johnah Harper, Shellie Mossa, Cindie Sullivan, Brenda Rigmaiden and Laura Soto. The restaurant's grand re-opening celebration is scheduled for Friday evening.
Restaurant re-opens at driving range
By Nick Baptista
restaurant and bar at the Valley Springs Driving Range at Quail Oaks
Road are back in business with a new name and a new look.
Pig Out BBQ is the new name for the restaurant/bar.
“all-you-can-eat” smokehouse-style barbecue features ribs and
tri-tip with a variety of fixings the chef has selected for that day.
Those fixings could include baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad, corn
bread and corn on the cob.
McNabb is the owner and Cindie Sullivan is the manager. Brenda Rigmaiden
is the head chef and Laura Soto is the prep chef.
“all-you-can eat” lunch costs $9.95 and dinner is $13.95 and
includes soft drinks. If you’re in the mood for only salad, the salad
bar is $5.95 for lunch and $7.95 for dinner. The children’s dinner is
half price. They are also adding desserts to the menu.
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. The restaurant and bar can
accommodate approximately 100 customers inside and out. The phone number
is homemade,” Sullivan said. That includes everything from the sauces
to the beans and coleslaw.
said the establishment has been re-decorated with a sports bar look to
add a fresh start to the resumption of business. The ceiling is black
with red wine-colored walls. The outside eventually will be painted to
resemble a red barn to go with the “pig out” theme, she said.
plans to have special and regular events at Lee’s Pig Out BBQ such as
pool tournaments, drink specials, Thursday Ladies Nights, live music
once a month on the weekends and a Karaoke DJ those weekends without
added the batting cages have been fine-tuned and are in operation.
Kick” has been booked as the band for the restaurants grand opening at
9 p.m. June 29.
Firefighters are silhouetted by flames during training in a "Mobile Live Fire Trainer" trailer.
Firefighters experience "as real as it gets" training
By Nick Baptista
While most of us were pursuing leisurely activities on a recent
Saturday, nearly three dozen firefighters from six Calaveras County
districts were sharpening their skills in a unique training environment.
Jenny Lind Fire Protection District Station No. 1 played host to
the training exercise that centered in a “Mobile Live Fire Trainer.”
The trainer is inside a trailer assembled to resemble a typical living
room and kitchen with an
The enclosure also includes a number of propane lines that force
flames into the trailer while firefighters practice their interior
Jenny Lind Fire Protection District spent $4,400 to bring the
training trailer to the county, said Fire Chief Brian Chavez-Ochoa.
Neighboring districts sending volunteers to the training were asked to
contribute $25 for each of their firefighters to help offset the cost.
In addition, AmeriGas from Jackson donated the propane, estimated to
cost approximately $600 to $700 for the exercise.
The firefighters from Jenny Lind, Central Calaveras,
Copperopolis, Foothill, Mokelumne Hill and San Andreas were trained in
an environment “as real as it gets,” Chief Chavez-Ochoa said.
Safety was also a key concern. A safety officer was situated near
each entry team of four firefighters as they attacked the interior
blaze. The safety officer could stop the flames instantly if anything
went wrong. There were switches in each room that could cut off the
flames and there is a manned and computerized control room to keep tabs
on the firefighters’ every movement.
In addition to the entry team inside “the building,” there
was a rapid intervention crew just outside in case a firefighter went
down and an “on-deck team” ready to lend a hand.
Firefighters were inside the burning trailer for periods of five
to 10 minutes.
Mitch Ward of Northtree Fire International was manning the
controls. In addition to providing ideal conditions for the firefighters
to practice quelling an interior blaze, he said the set-up has proven to
be a reality check for others who once inside decide firefighting is not
what they want to do.
The Valley Springs postmaster says the cluster boxes at La Contenta need to be replaced and are susceptible to theft.
Postmaster advocates change in La Contenta's mail delivery routine
By Nick Baptista
The way mail is delivered to La Contenta residents is heading for
Valley Springs Postmaster Dann Myers has been working with the La
Contenta Homeowners Association to eventually replace the cluster-box
arrangement off Vista Del Lago at Greenbriar Road.
Myers, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Calaveras
County Sheriff’s Department agree the existing set-up should be
scrapped because it is prone to theft, the postmaster said.
Those intent on stealing mail find the mass of approximately 700
cluster boxes ideal for “one-stop shopping,” he added. In addition
to the boxes being packed close together, the area is located behind a
row of oleanders and residents who leave their mail in their boxes
overnight are easily susceptible to someone interested in mail or ID
theft coming into the area late at night and prying the boxes open, he
“The sanctity of the mail is important to us,” Myers said.
“We’re taking steps to do something about it.”
Mail theft is on the rise and the thieves are very creative in
how they use stolen mail for ID theft and fraud, Myers said.
The La Contenta boxes are worn out after about 20 years of use
and in need of replacement anyway, he added. Myers estimated the cost to
replace the boxes would be in the neighborhood of $70,000 to $80,000, or
roughly $100 per residence.
He has suggested to the homeowners association that delivery
should be to single or most likely a pair of boxes located near each
home. That would make it more difficult for thieves to steal mail in
bunches and residents would have the option of deciding the level of
security for their own mailbox.
“The association has standards and we want to be sensitive to
those standards,” Myers said. “We understand they want to see
consistency in their neighborhoods.”
He has provided the association with a lengthy list of mailbox
suppliers with the thought they can narrow mailbox selection down to
three options for the homeowners.
It is likely the association will purchase the boxes in bulk at a
discount and pass the savings to residents, Myers said.
The change comes at no small expense to the Postal Service, he
said, as now carriers will have to weave in and out of the subdivision
to deliver mail.
“It’s no small effort on our part, but it’s to everyone’s
Myers also sees it as an opportunity to expand door-to-door
services in La Contenta.
La Contenta residents should soon receive a postcard from the
Postal Service with details of a public meeting in the near future to
discuss the changes and answer any questions.
Painting of the new Calaveras County Water District’s tank at the end of Ross Drive was recently completed and included “Valley Springs” in large lettering. The identifying lettering is somewhat visible from the Valley Springs approaches on Highways 12 and 26. The 220,000-gallon water tank is expected to be online the beginning of next month and improve water pressure in the area.
CCWD tackles issues of too much, not enough water
Issues regarding too much water in the Valley Springs area and
not enough were addressed at Wednesday’s meeting of the Calaveras
County Water District’s Board of Directors.
In regards to too much water as was the case in early April of
last year with a flood along Cosgrove Creek, CCWD directors approved a
Memo of Understanding with Calaveras County concerning a proposed flood
To avoid a repeat of last summer’s water shortage in the Rancho
Calaveras area, directors learned work is about to begin on a piping
project to connect the system at Jenny Lind Approach Road. In addition,
the new 220,000-gallon water tank at the end of Ross Drive should be in
operation by July 1.
The piping project was identified by staff as a
key component to solving water problems in the area. Staff pushed the
project after many of CCWD’s customers in Rancho were without water
for a day or two last July during a two-week heat wave.
High temperatures last July, heavy outdoor water use and two
separate power surges knocked out pumps used to fill CCWD’s tank off
Schmidt Place and more than 1,000 homes in the area were with little or
no water for a time.
The 2,700-foot long piping project will loop the system and
improve water distribution throughout the area, Bill Perley, director of
Work is expected to take about a month and in the meantime, the
public’s cooperation with the district’s odd- and even-day water
schedule is important, staff said.
CCWD is strongly urging all customers to engage in voluntary
conservation by watering outdoors only between 6 p.m. and 10 a.m.
Odd-number addresses are asked to water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and
Saturdays. Even-numbered addresses are asked to water on Mondays,
Wednesdays and Fridays.
The proposed Cosgrove Creek Flood Control Project would include the federal government’s participation to construct a retention basin on 50 acres of CCWD property off Hogan Dam Road. Cosgrove and Spring creeks flow through the property.
CCWD purchased the property for future spray field use. Spray
fields are used to disperse treated water from sewage treatment plants.
However, with federal assistance, the project could be expanded
to include a retention basin, which would capture and slowly dispose of
CCWD and the county envision the property also being used for
recreation purposes with a number of grass fields at the site for use by
the area’s youth leagues.
The memorandum places the county as the lead local agency for the
project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed the first phase
of an assessment of the proposal and in the upcoming phase, the county
will provide a 50/50 match for the study, while CCWD will provide
technical assistance to reduce overall costs.
It is estimated that the proposed flood control project could total $5 million. Local costs could be reduced by in-kind services and the value of the property. Future development will also be looked at to raise money for the local share of expenses.
Local Catholics and members of the Stockton Diocese, from left, Dave Dillon, property manager and broker for the diocese; Frank Kerlin; Monsignor Richard Ryan, and Joe Barron met earlier this year on a 15-acre Valley Springs parcel Kerlin’s late mother Mary donated to the church nearly 20 years ago. Kerlin and Barron would like to see the church build a worship facility on the parcel located at the end of Chestnut Street.
Catholics look at building church in Valley Springs
By Nick Baptista
One woman’s dream and one man’s perseverance are paying off
for Valley Springs Catholics who would like a church closer to home.
It was back in 1986 that Mary Kerlin deeded 15 acres of land to
the Catholic Diocese of Stockton. She has since passed away, but Joe
Barron has been working diligently since that time to keep Kerlin’s
dream alive of Valley Springs eventually having a Catholic Church,
school and medical facility.
Barron and Kerlin’s son Frank met with The Rev. Monsignor
Richard J. Ryan, the vicar general of the Stockton Diocese, and Dave
Dillon, the property manager and broker for the diocese, back in
February at the donated property located at the end of Chestnut Street.
Barron this week said the diocese has designated the property for
a church and contacted Dave Tanner of Tanner Consulting Group in Valley
Springs to do a preliminary evaluation of the property.
Monsignor Ryan confirmed plans to eventually build a Catholic
Church in Valley Springs are moving forward.
there will be a church in Valley Springs,” Monsignor Ryan said. “How
long from now and how we get to that point still needs to be
With Valley Springs growing at a fast pace, he acknowledged a new
church will become a reality and steps to do so will involve St.
Andrew’s Catholic Church in San Andreas.
“I intend to keep this moving a long, but it probably won’t
go as quick as Joe would like,” he added.
Barron said Kerlin’s donated property would be designated as a
Catholic Parish to be known as Saint Mary’s Parish.
In addition to the preliminary planning, fundraising efforts are
also set to get under way, he said. Julie Parrish will head-up the
fundraising program and an account will be established at a local bank
in a week or two.
“With the growth in Valley Springs it is felt that this
development will not only be an asset to the Stockton diocese, but to
the people in the Valley Springs area,” Barron added.
In addition to a church, Barron would like to see a parochial
school and medical facility on the property.
The Valley Springs Wine Group is composed of, from left, Phil Pope, Luca Parenti, Bing Stanley, Larry Parenti and Les Martin.
Area wine guys seek state kudos
By Nick Baptista
The self-described Valley Springs Wine Group, composed of five
amateur winemakers in Rancho Calaveras and on Olive Branch Lane,
continue to garner ribbons at local fairs and have set their sights on
gaining respect at the state level.
The quintet is
composed of Les Martin, Luca Parenti
and Phil Pope on Olive Branch Lane, and Larry Parenti and Bing Stanley
After a triumphant showing at the recent Calaveras County Fair,
where all five came home with ribbons, two of the Valley Springs
wineguys received news this week that their wines captured silver
ribbons in the Amador County Fair’s Home Wine Competition.
Stanley is bringing home a silver from Amador for his white
dessert wine. He captured the gold in the same category at the Calaveras
Martin entered three wines in Amador that received silver
ribbons. His award-winning wines were Alicante Bouschet, Syrah/Shiraz
The Amador Fair in Plymouth is set for July 26 to 29.
The group has been working together for the past three years and
holds “board meetings” almost every Sunday afternoon at Luca’s
place where they critique one another’s wine over some cheese and
lunch, Stanley said.
“We share labor and we share the bounty,” he said.
The labor part is helping one another pick the grapes in their
vineyards during harvest time. Luca also has olives that the group lends
a hand in harvesting.
The Sunday get-togethers in addition to being a forum to comment
on one another’s wines is also a time to share their education,
experience and trade secrets and in their amateur endeavor.
Paul Mack of Calaveras Furnishings at a recent Valley Springs Area Business Association mixer in his warehouse store.
New store brings furnishings closer to Calaveras customers
Paul Mack has been in the furniture business for six years in the
Stockton and Sacramento area. When he and his principal partner Calvin
Lambert began noticing a lot of their customers were coming from the
Valley Springs area, they decided they might want to eventually expand
their operations here.
“When reality came with more warehouse space in the area, we
seized the moment,” Mack said.
Calaveras Furnishing opened its door several months ago by
appointment only at 3475 Toyon Circle, Unit 500.
The warehouse store, which is on the water tank side of Highway
12, is now open from noon to 6 p.m. seven days a week.
“We provide quality service, with quality furniture at low
prices,” Mack said.
Ashley, Broyhill and Coaster of America are among the name brands
available through Calaveras Furnishing.
“Customers no longer have to drive to the big city for the
furniture needs,” he added.
In addition to the regular store hours, appointments can also be
made at a more convenient time for the customer, he said.
For more information, or to make an appointment, Calaveras
Furnishing warehouse’s phone number is 772-7119.
Calaveras Furnishing celebrated it recent opening by hosting a
Valley Springs Area Business Association mixer last Friday at the store.
Dancing up a storm
Girls from the Top Hat School of Dance entertained young and old alike at Saturday’s Kids’ Day at Valley Springs Elementary School. The event, hosted by the Optimist Club, had a number of booths featuring a variety of activities, games, crafts and entertainment for the children.
Kids' Day packed with excitement
The 12th annual Kids’ Day was packed full of games, crafts,
entertainment and lots of family bonding and Kodak moments, said Marti Crane,
one of the event’s organizers.
The annual event was held June 2 at the Valley Springs Elementary School
“If you were there, Top Hat and the Calaveras Community Concert Band
put on a fabulous show and yes, they’ll be there again next year,” she said.
“Big thanks to the volunteer sheriff’s, “Moose” at work, Sheng Chi
Training Center and the Area Business Association for event logistics. We
couldn’t have done it without you.”
The event is hosted by the Valley Springs Optimist Club and financed and
presented by the Valley Springs community. It was open to all ages, but those
who were 12 and under were treated to a free lunch, snow cone and ice cream.
Kids’ Day traditionally is held the first Saturday in June.
Linda Hasbrook picks up a package of lettuce from the renovated produce area in Mar-Val.
Mar-Val remodel nearing completion
By Nick Baptista
Expansion and renovation of the Valley Springs Mar-Val Food Store
is nearing completion.
Work began last September with the construction of a
6,000-square-foot warehouse behind the store and resumed recently with
the interior makeover.
“We’re getting close to completion,” Mar-Val Manager John
Webb said on Wednesday. “We’re in the touch-up stages now.”
With the new warehouse, the customer area inside the existing
store has been expanded. Cold boxes were moved back to what had been the
existing wall and the store’s previous storage room has been turned
into a prep area.
The makeover includes a new interior décor package and a much
larger produce area.
The final touches in the renovation work include new flooring and
tiling and more lighting.
Webb said Mar-Val plans to mark the re-modeling and re-opening
with a ceremony on a date to be announced later.