Serving the communities of Valley Springs, Burson and Wallace
The latest Rogers Media sign advertising an out-of-town business has rekindled controversy surrounding the installation of a billboard between Burson and Valley Springs.
Billboard controversy continues with latest out-of-town signage
The Davis, Calif., billboard company that has had a stormy
relationship with the Valley Springs business community again has drawn
the ire of some local business people.
Rogers Media in February erected a billboard along a stretch of
Highway 12 between Burson and Valley Springs advertising the Black Oak
Casino in neighboring Tuolumne County. A few weeks later the company
made a gesture to help Calaveras County merchants by placing a sign on
the opposite side with the image of a jumping frog and saying “Shop,
Stay & Play in Calaveras County.
“We want to be a positive part of the community,” Matt
Rogers, president and CEO of Rogers Media, said at the time. He added
that the Calaveras sign would remain up for at least a year and was
being provided at no charge by Rogers Media.
However, eight months later, the Calaveras billboard has been
replaced with one advertising the RoShamBo Salon & Boutique across
the county line in Lockeford.
The new sign was the subject of several conversations when
members of the Valley Springs Area Business Association gathered Nov. 18
at El Torero for their monthly luncheon meeting. The VSABA last year
opposed Rogers Media’s original proposal to Calaveras County that
called for three signs on the Foothill Sanitary property located about a
mile west of downtown Valley Springs.
“That’s nice,” was the reaction of Candace Keesey, an ABA
board member and critic of the original proposal. “We knew when this
was proposed, this was going to happen. We need to be supporting our
The county Board of Supervisors on a 3-2 vote allowed Rogers
Media one sign on the location for a five-year period as work on the
General Plan is completed. At the end of five years, Rogers Media will
have to re-apply for a conditional use permit to keep the sign up.
Rogers objected to the vote saying it was not worth the
investment in a new sign for only a five-year period and called the
board’s action a de facto denial of his project. He left the Sept. 23,
2008, board meeting threatening to sue the county.
Significant portions of West Calaveras, depicted in red, have been identified as new flood hazard areas.
Supervisors plan town hall meeting to discuss traffic, flooding issues
Two hot West Calaveras issues – flooding and traffic congested
at the Highway 12/26 intersection – will be the topics of discussion
when District 1 Supervisor Gary Tofanelli and District 5 Supervisor Russ
Thomas hold a town hall meeting sometime in December.
Within the past few weeks there have been new developments concerning both issues and the supervisors want to bring those matters to the public’s attention, Tofanelli told The Valley Springs News earlier this week.
The Calaveras County Board of Supervisors last week voted 5-0
authorizing a professional services agreement that could be the last
step before actual construction begins to improve the Highway 12/26
intersection in downtown Valley Springs. In addition, the Federal
Emergency Management Agency released new flood hazard maps for the
county with some significant changes in the West Calaveras area.
Tofanelli said he and Thomas are working to reach a definite date
for the meeting.
The professional services contract with Dokken Engineering out of
Folsom will provide improvement alternatives including signalization and
non-signalization options to solve traffic conditions at the
intersection, along with the environmental studies and right-of-way
acquisition paperwork needed to move forward toward construction,
The agreement is expected not to exceed $422,784 and $350,000 of
the money comes from the state through so-called Congestion Mitigation
and Air Quality Improvement Program funds, he said. Countywide Road
Impact Mitigation fees will be used as the local match to fund the
difference between the contract price and state funding.
The process includes three public workshops, with the first
anticipated in several weeks, and Tofanelli said he wants to see those
meetings well publicized so the public will have ample opportunity to
voice any concerns or issues.
The Highway 12/26 engineering project is expected to be completed
at the end of next year and actual construction could begin shortly
afterward if funding is available, he added.
“We don’t know the actual construction costs, which this
study will give us,” he said, but some state funding has been
earmarked for construction and improvements at the intersection are at
the top of the list for the use of county RIM fees.
Although Valley Springs was the site of the county’s most
recent flooding back in April of 2006 when approximately 20 area homes
and businesses were damaged by flood waters and more than 100 other
households were evacuated, two public meetings to discuss the recently
released FEMA flood maps and insurance program are scheduled Wednesday,
Dec. 2, in San Andreas.
Those meetings will be at 4:30 and 6 p.m. in the Calaveras High
School Library at School Street in San Andreas. Both meetings will cover
the same material.
For West Calaveras area residents unable to make it to the San
Andreas meetings, many of the same information will be covered in the
later supervisors’ town hall meeting, Tofanelli said.
The previous FEMA flood map dates back to the 1990s and the new
map shows additional parts of the county located within flood hazard
Homeowners within those hazard areas will have a limited time to
obtain federal flood insurance at discounted rates.
The "Something From Nothing, The Early History of West Calaveras County" Volume II cover has an early photo of the San Joaquin & Sierra Nevada Railroad station in Valley Springs that still stands today.
Second volume about area's rich history released
West Calaveras resident Sal Manna’s latest compilation of his
popular “Something From Nothing” series was released last week in
“It’s amazing how much history is here and how it relates to
places elsewhere,” Manna, founder and president of the Society for the
Preservation of West Calaveras History, said at Thursday morning’s
meeting of the Rotary Club of West Calaveras as he discussed his new
Volume II of “Something From Nothing, The Early History Of West
Calaveras County” is the second collection of the monthly columns
Manna has penned for The Valley Springs News since March 1, 2006.
Did you know that a woman rancher in West Calaveras inspired
the 1960s “Big Valley” TV series? Or that both the first and the
most famous olive orchards in the entire region were in Wallace? How
about Capt. Messenger during the Civil War or Catts Camp or the San
Joaquin & Sierra Nevada Railroad or the area’s connections with
Charles Darwin and Old Ironsides?
“Something From Nothing” Volume II tells all of those stories
The 48-page, full color magazine adds numerous photographs to the
original columns and follows Volume I - which was published earlier this
year. The only authoritative color publication ever produced about the
area’s history, most of the magazine’s subjects had never before
been written about.
“You can’t read this anywhere else,” Manna said, a veteran
journalist and writer. “There was a vacuum and I stepped into it. Some
day I hope to achieve sort of critical mass where there will be a rack
of materials and people can get most of the history of this area.”
In addition, the Society for the Preservation of West Calaveras
History now has 2,140 items in it archives, Manna said. Could a West
Calaveras museum be in the offing?
“We’ve explored the idea about a museum,” he said. “We’ll
see about that over time.
Copies of the magazine are available at The Valley Springs News office, 10-G Nove Way, and from the author (for $12.50, including postage and handling, sent to the Society for The Preservation of West Calaveras History, PO Box 714, Burson, CA 95225).
Cpl. Anthony Vranicar, left, and Pvt. John Vranicar, members of the American Civil War Association's Co. H of the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, fire a salute at the Nov. 7 ceremony honoring Calaveras County's Union Civil War vets.
Sgt. John W. Dawson's descendants at the Nov. 7 ceremony - from left - Malachi Manning, Lorraine Dawson, Edwin Lyons, Thomas Lyons and Karen Dawson.
"Forgotten heroes" receive overdue recognition
Calaveras County’s “forgotten heroes” – those who served and died during the Civil War – were honored in a Nov. 7 ceremony at the Jenny Lind Cemetery nearly 150 years after the conflict began.
Sal Manna, president and founder of the nonprofit Society for the
Preservation of West Calaveras History, organized the event.
“There is no monument to our Civil War veterans in Calaveras
County, whether Union or Confederate,” Manna said in his opening
remarks. “Three years ago, despite objections by some of us, the
memorial overlooking the graves of many Union veterans at the San
Andreas Peoples Cemetery was dismantled by the county with the
assistance of our county Sheriff. The memorial now at the Government Center, flanked by two
Civil War cannon, lists the names of those from Calaveras who perished
in various wars - but none from the Civil War.
People have asked, why? There are many reasons but perhaps the
most important is that none of those men have descendants who are still
in the county. The Calaveras men who died, as well as all of those from
here who served, are truly Calaveras County’s forgotten heroes.”
Manna’s research indicates 554 men from Calaveras County served
the Union during the Civil War and 27 of them died in uniform.
“There are no doubt many more we have yet to identify,” Manna
Sgt. John W. Dawson, a longtime Calaveras County resident and
perhaps the only African-American Civil War veteran buried in the Mother
Lode, was spotlighted at the ceremony, which was held at his gravestone.
Two generations of Dawson’s descendants attended.
Dawson was born a slave in Virginia in 1826. In the months after
President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863,
regiments of freed slaves were formed and Dawson enlisted as a private
in Company C, 22nd U.S. Colored Troops, attached to the Union’s
He saw action at the sieges of Petersburg and Richmond. It was
after Petersburg when Dawson was promoted to sergeant, likely in
recognition of his actions to help prevent a hasty Union retreat from
turning into a rout.
“His troops continued to fight through the end of the war,
including the Battle of Fair Oaks,” Manna said.
“They then helped occupy Richmond and set up refugee camps to
house former slaves. The 22nd and other Colored regiments of the
Richmond occupational force were on hand when Lincoln visited the
conquered city and perhaps it was then that Dawson reportedly received a
citation signed by the President for his bravery at Petersburg.”
Dawson and his wife Lucy settled on a 160-acre farm near Jenny
Lind sometime after 1880. He died at age 69 on March 1, 1896.
Great-great-granddaughters Lorraine and Karen Dawson and three
great-great-great-grandsons – Malachi Manning, Edwin and Thomas Lyons
were on hand to hear about Sgt. Dawson’s service to his country.
“I feel very honored and proud,” said Karen Dawson who
resides in Stockton.
“For so many years I heard a few stories, but this was leaps
and bounds more than I had ever known,” said Lorraine.
Many of the family’s documents about Sgt. Dawson were lost when
the family house on Southworth Road burned down in the 1960s, Lorraine
said. She was able to find a few photos at the time sifting through the
She added that it was important for the next generation to know
about the family history.
Sylvia Roberts, executive director of the Mother Lode Black
Heritage Foundation, recited “Memorial Hymn,” written by Job Francis
Thomas, a Civil War veteran and Burson postmaster in the 1890s, in honor
of the service and heroism of Sgt. Dawson.
The ceremony reached its conclusion with Manna reading a list of
the 27 men from the county who died while serving the Union.
“None of them have ever been acknowledged or honored here,”
Manna said. “We will redress that wrong, right here, right now - by
recalling their names in Calaveras County for the first time in nearly
150 years and tolling a bell in their honor.”
Vietnam veteran Michael McDaniel tolled the bell for each one and
former U.S. Army band member Gail Belmont played “Taps.” Members of
the American Civil War Association’s Co. H of the 2nd Wisconsin
Volunteer Infantry fired a salute to the Civil War veterans.
For more information, including the entire roster of 554 Union
veterans identified to date, visit calaverashistory.org, the web site of
the Calaveras Heritage Council.
Members of the public and public servants from law enforcement and firefighting gather along Highway 12 Tuesday morning waving U.S. flags as the hearse containing the body of Army Spc. Kyle Coumas passes through Valley Springs.
West Calaveras pays respects to fallen soldier
West Calaveras residents lined Highway 12 and paid their last
respects as the body of Army Spc. Kyle Andrew Coumas, 22, of Lockeford
entered Valley Springs shortly after 11 a.m. Tuesday in the back of a
black hearse en route to burial in Wilseyville.
Coumas, who was killed as the result of an Oct. 21 bomb attack on
his vehicle in the Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan, was laid
to rest in to a private ceremony at the Sandoz-Fuchs Family Cemetery in
More than an hour before the motorcade procession reached Valley
Springs, people began lining the street and firefighters from the
Foothill Fire Protection District attached a United States flag to the
end of the hose on their ladder truck in honor of the fallen soldier.
Firefighters from Jenny Lind Fire Protection District and CalFire were
present to pay their respects, along with Calaveras County Sheriff’s
Department deputies and an American Legion Honor Guard at the entrance
to Valley Springs.
Approximately 400 people were on hand in the two block area from
Pine Street to the intersection with Highway 26, most carrying the U.S.
flag, and there were many wet eyes as the motorcade passed through town.
Up the highway, Toyon Middle School students also paid their respects
when the motorcade passed.
Guy Meyers was one of those waiting as the motorcade approached
Valley Springs. On his motorcycle nearby a magnetic sign said, “Freedom
is not free.”
“That young man paid the ultimate price for freedom and that’s
why I’m here today,” Meyers said.