News Archive

News Archive (6192)


Amador County – The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Amador-El Dorado Unit announced it will designate the opening of “fire season” for 2012 to start at 8 a.m. Monday May 28.

The final California Water Department snow survey on May 1 showed statewide snowpack water content was 40 percent of normal. From January to April, Cal-Fire crews responded state-wide to more than 800 wildfires, nearly two and half times the number in 2011 when there were approximately 300. This year’s number of wildfires is also above the five-year average of 600 wildfires.

Unit Chief Kelly Keenan reminded residents of the Amador-El Dorado Unit that “we are moving into a period of increased risk for wildfires as temperatures are quickly increasing and humidity is dropping causing lighter vegetation, such as grass, to burn more easily.” 

Keenan said Cal-Fire is prepared all year long for emergencies but is now preparing for increased threat and workload driven by wildfires during the summer. Cal-Fire is actively training additional firefighters and preparing to staff additional fire equipment to meet the increasing fire threat.

Keenan encourages people to continue to work on their “defensible space” which should be a minimum of 100 feet around each structure on their property or to the property line, whichever is closer. Don’t forget to remove all pine needles and leaves from the roof and rain gutters, which are often overlooked.

Keenan said: “Together we can make the communities we live in fire safe.” For more info on preparing for fire season, please visit Cal-Fire’s web site or call (530)644-2345 for free brochures.

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Amador County – Adam Dalton gave the weekly report on the Amador County Park Restoration Project Wednesday, saying the “first few weeks in Volcano have been nothing short of amazing as renovations are taking shape all across this little town from the park to the post office.”

He said “work comes easy in such a friendly community and the smiles on the faces of volunteers prove that we’re enjoying every minute of it.”

New stain has been applied to the town’s centerpiece, the Volcano Amphitheater, he said, and “the beautiful new landscaping is beginning to take form. The historic post office established back in 1851 is also receiving it’s new makeover and just outside sits a beautiful new custom picnic table engraved with “Volcano” where local residents rest in the shade with pride.

He invited people to “come join us and share in the unique experience of working side by side with the gracious people of Volcano.” They will be there 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and always welcome the assistance of a new volunteer or monetary contribution.

He said more volunteers and donations will “help keep this project moving forward into your town and continue supporting the Amador County Park Restoration project.” No donation is too small and all are 100 percent tax deductible.

Dalton also recognized his brother Dennis and his crew Jay and Dave for their dedication to the project, and to their friends at Strings for their support.

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Amador County – Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort hosted the Top Cop Challenge Awards Banquet last weekend and raised more than $17,000 for the Wounded Warriors Project.

The event was held Saturday, May 19 at the Jackson Rancheria Hotel, hosted by Gold Country Firearms and sponsored by Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort and American Legion Post 108. 

Winners of the Top Cop challenge included individual competition winners. First place winner was Jose Arevalos of the Jackson Police Department. Second place was Brian Bila of El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department.

Team competition winners included first place winners Scott Goebel and Steve Kent of the El Dorado Sheriff’s Department. Second place went to Jon Kent and Bob Palk of Jackson Rancheria Tribal Security.

Proceeds from the event, almost $18,000, will benefit the Wounded Warriors Project, which raises awareness and aid for the needs of injured servicemen and servicewomen.

The event was coordinated by Joe Dirickx of Gold Country Firearms. Committee members included Joe Dirickx, Dean Bennett, Curt Campbell, Brad Crisp and Dan Quinn. The committee gave special thanks to Bo Marks, Robert Dalton Junior, Alan Lennox, Ron Olivero, Emily Tirapelle, Julie Sterner and Alissa Hartwig.

Awards were provided by JB’s Awards and Custom Apparel. Music was performed by 10 Gallon Heart. Master of Ceremonies was Jeff Seaton

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12 Amador County Fair Aid Pix3.jpg

Amador County – A three-day benefit in June celebrates Amador County’s living history at the Amador County Fair Grounds in Plymouth.

Promoters are holding the event because: “We need you to save our fair.” The events are free, family fun and donations will be accepted.

Amador Home & Lifestyle Show will be held on Friday, June 8, Saturday, June 9, and Sunday, June 10. The Home & Lifestyle Show will have products and services for home, garden and leisure time. It includes home energy saving products, seminars, pest control, crafts, wine, beer and food.

Amador County Fair Aid is Saturday, June 9 and Sunday, June 10. Fair Aid features all day music, a dutch oven cook-off, a rib cook-off, beer, food pairing, a horse show, a horse shoe tournament and kids’ activities. The event will help save the Amador County Fair.

The Amador Sawmill & Mining Association will be “operating under a full head of steam” to run its First Annual Steam Power Exposition, Saturday and Sunday, June 9 & 10. The Steam exhibition, in support of Amador County Fair Aid, includes a 1904 Corliss steam engine, a 1920 Sullivan air compressor, a 1900 steam sawmill, a 1945 Triple Drum steam logging donkey, a 1918 Navy “K” Steam Cutter Engine, and an 1890s Smith & Sayer steam engine.

There will also be unique models and full size steam engines. All three events have free admission and free parking.

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Thursday, 24 May 2012 01:18

UC Extension reports on first mult-county year

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Amador County – University of California Cooperative Extension Officer Scott Oneto reported to the Amador County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, saying the state’s first multi-county Cooperative Extension office ended the year with a total budget of $3.025 million, of which $1.1 million came from volunteers.

Oneto said the U.C. Extension program created the first multi-county partnership in the state last fiscal year, with $134,000 contributed by Amador County, $148,000 from Calaveras, $144,000 from Tuolumne and $270,000 from El Dorado County. He said the office has worked on researching controls for apple disease and a winegrape virus, evaluating new Christmas tree species, and also did a master food preserving class in El Dorado, that it wants to take to other counties.

Supervisor Vice Chairman Richard Forster asked if the partnership has investigated the Glassy Winged Sharpshooter, a grasshopper that is detrimental to grapes, and has caused million of dollars in damage. He said in a tour of Napa, officials there told him they had released sterile males in the wild, and found that they were helping decrease breeding.

Scott Oneto said the partnership counties have not been infected, but are looking at pest detection. He said his U.C. Extension colleagues are working in areas where the Glassy Winged Sharpshooter are already present, and they are looking at biological controls of the species with pathogens and insecticides.

Supervisor Brian Oneto asked about studies the Extension partnership is doing to look at the effects of cattle on the water source. He asked if, besides cattle grazing, they would also look at the effects of hiking and other human activities.

Scott Oneto said the study will look at hiking, forest service operations, beneficial use of grazing, and all other impacts to water quality in the Sierra, along with sediment runoff and construction impacts.

Brian Oneto said that some people had told him that Mace Meadows looks like a “toilet paper garden,” and that is “not from cattle.” Forster said that deer outnumber the cattle up there. Scott Oneto said the studies would also look at the impacts of deer and human waste on the water quality.

Scott Oneto said U.C. Extension’s “new organizational structure has saved both participating counties and University funds while putting additional savings back into local programs.” The 2011-2012 budget included $590,000 in grants, $450,000 in federal and state funding and $110,000 in fundraising and indirect county funding.

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Amador County – Sutter Amador Hospital on Wednesday gave local media a sneak preview of the Emergency Department which, pending a state inspection on Friday will be opening to serve Emergency Room patients next Tuesday.

Sutter Amador Hospital CEO Anne Platt and Karen Woods, Emergency Department Director led members of the media on a tour of the new wing, part of an Emergency Department expansion that will eventually increase the ER at Sutter Amador Hospital to 14 critical care treatment rooms, and three full triage rooms.

Department personnel were working to prepare for the inspection, which Platt said should be passed and allow the wing to open. It will give the current six-room emergency department 11 total critical care treatment rooms, which are large enough to allow five specialists in the room with one patient.

The new area also has a central help area, a waiting room with a vending area for more customer comfort, and a triage area.

The new area will be linked to the existing area with a door. The project was not yet fully complete but Sutter Amador Hospital officials wanted to invite the media for a preview because they anticipate opening a large portion of the new Emergency Department to see patients starting next week on Tuesday, May 29 pending our inspection by the California Department of Public Health on Friday.

Emergency Department Director, Karen Woods showed the new department, which includes a large locker room and break room for personnel, something the existing ER Department does not have. 

Platt said Woods will be retiring at the end of June. Platt said this is the second expansion made since she has been here, and the current ER was sufficient compared to the old department, but the new facilities will be that much more better, and are that much more needed.

The Sutter Amador Hospital Emergency Department has treated more than 18,000 patients since 2011, which is an increase of more than 12 percent since 2007.

Platt said the hospital, even with the six-bed ER, is consistently high in patient satisfaction scores, and the Emergency Department physicians’ currently score a 90 percent.

The full expansion of the Emergency Department is expected to be complete late this year or early next year. The square footage will increase from 5,600 to more than 9,000 square feet.

May 29’s anticipated opening will be completion of Phase 3 of the project will include 12 operational patient rooms, including eight new rooms to open, combined with four existing rooms.

It will have a new central monitoring system, and an “eMAP,” that is an “electronic Medication Administration Program.”

Expanded waiting room beside vending machines will have a public restroom, a private consultation room, and easy access from the Emergency Department waiting room to hospital and outpatient buildings.

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Amador County – The Amador County Board of Supervisors directed staff to look at whether a “Tourist Tax” on hotels and motels could be levied on campgrounds on state, federal and utility special district lands that are run by concessionaires.

Supervisor John Plasse said if the county is not able to charge a Transient Occupancy Tax on state, federal and utility camp sites, then Supervisors would be “giving private camp sites another disadvantage.” Supervisors considered a request by several business groups to place a ballot measure to increase the TOT tax on hotels and motels, from 6 percent to 10 percent. The groups asked to apply the tax to campgrounds, which are now not taxed by the county TOT.

Jennifer McGee of the County Counsel’s office said the “transient” definition by state law means visitors staying for less than 30 days are subject to the TOT tax. People staying in cabins for the summer would not be subject to TOT tax if they stay longer than 30 days.

Plasse asked County Counsel Gregg Gillott if the county could apply TOT tax to state, federal and water district campsites if they are run by a concessionaire. Gillot said he was not sure if any are run by concessionaires.

Supervisor Vice Chairman Richard Forster said the concessionaire of East Bay Municipal Utility District told him it is a very competitive market and people shop around and go to the lake with a little bit lower camping rate.

Supervisor Ted Novelli said he heard from Roaring Camp operators concerned about their cabins. Plasse said visitors staying 30 days or more are considered not transient. Gillott said Roaring Camp already collects TOT.

Gillott said he would inventory the state, federal and utility campgrounds in the county to see about operators there. The issue will be brought back for the June 12 meeting. Novelli said they “might have other business people come down to the next meeting to give input.” Language for a ballot measure would be considered on June 26.

In public comment, Terry Nielsen said taxing camping is an expansion of who pays taxes, and why tax people who bring their own shelter? He said why follow Tuolumne’s lead in trying to close the loophole? Amador “can advertise that camping is freer here.”

Novelli said some of that is correct, but with five cities in Amador “all over the map,” with different TOT rates, it gives some an advantage over others. He would like to have them all on the same chart.

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Amador County – Amador Superior Court Judge Susan Harlan will hold a Driving Under the Influence sentencing with an audience of approximately 300 students and faculty 1:45 p.m. Tuesday, May 22 at Argonaut High School.

Amador-Tuolumne Community Action Agency’s Friday Night Live coordinator Megan Taylor announced the sentencing of an Amador County resident who “was recently arrested for DUI and chose to participate in this assembly in order to demonstrate to the students at Argonaut High School the consequences of drinking and driving.”

Taylor said following the sentencing, A-TCAA’s Friday Night Live program and members of the Amador Juveninle Justice youth Advisory Board will facilitate an interactive panel discussion.” The panel includes Harlan, Sheriff Martin Ryan, District Attorney Todd Riebe, CHP officer Craig Harmon, Chief Probation Officer Mark Bonini, Public Defender Randy Shrout and a recent victim of DUI crime.

Harmon reported that 159 DUI arrests and 46 DUI-related collisions occurred in Amador County in 2011. It is estimated 40 percent of all traffic accidents with a fatality are alcohol related. Taylor said motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people age 15-19, with the primary collision factor being alcohol.

In order to further decrease the number of alcohol-related deaths involving drivers under age 21 who have been drinking, Taylor said it is necessary to continue to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving among this population through multiple traffic safety prevention programs such as the DUI Court in Schools program.

She said counties across the state are implementing similar programs. The Amador program was funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“The intent of the panel is to allow for significant dialogue among the panel and students in attendance,” Taylor said. “Following the panel discussion, Toni Fancher will speak about the consequence and impact of a DUI in a person’s life.”

Taylor said they hope the “sentencing will teach students about the very real and severe consequences of driving under the influence.” She said “too many lives continue to be altered or lost due to drinking and driving. I hope this experience will convince students to avoid making a terrible mistake.”

Conducting a DUI sentencing at a high school is an innovative strategy to help reduce community alcohol problems, including motor vehicle crashes, Taylor said. Students will witness the legal implication and learn about the consequences.

Drinking and driving continues to be a leading cause of collisions resulting in injury or death, and statistics show 30 percent of Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related motor vehicle crash at some point in their lives.

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Amador County – Amador County Supervisors at their early May meeting voted 4-0 to direct staff to look at costs involved with owning Pioneer Park, on which the county already operates one of its two community centers.

General Services Director John Hopkins said Pioneer Veterans Hall on Buckhorn Ridge Road is one of two community halls the county runs. He said “we lose money and you have to subsidize it to run it,” including maintenance, repairs, utilities and insurance. He said if Supervisors are aware of the total cost for owning Pioneer Park, they can make a better decision. Supervisors approved Hopkins working on the total costs with Amador County Recreation Agency director Tracey Towner to consider a purchase of the 27-acre park through the Bureau of Land Management’s Recreation and Public Purpose Lease program.

The county has a lease on the park through 2020 with BLM and Towner said it would be better to own the land, so they do not have to “go through BLM to move a tree or put in a septic system.” She said “in fact, we already own the park,” and do not pay rent. “This is just formalizing it.”

Towner said parks are places where people go in economic times like these, and they have seen increased use at Mollie Joyce Park and Pioneer Park. Towner said people take ownership of public places.

Supervisor John Plasse said in times like these, we’ve got to make decisions from a fiscally prudent position, and we can’t make decisions based on emotion. Hopkins said before you embark on the due diligence, you should take a look at the total cost.

Supervisors Brian Oneto noted the proximity of Mollie Joyce Park and Pioneer Park, and wondered if the county needs “two parks that close together.” Towner said they are two vastly different parks, and Mollie Joyce ball fields are too small for adults.

Supervisor Ted Novelli said “we own about $2 million in assets up there,” and the cost to build another ballpark would be half a million dollars. County Counsel Greg Gillott said recreation “impact fees should be used in the relative vicinity of where the impact occurs.”

Novelli asked to look at costs in both good and bad years. He said the county has done a great job on Pioneer Park and if they want to buy property that may be the one they want to buy. He said the “wrong elements” have been out there, but ACRA and the County should get together, do their homework and bring some of these financial figures, to see if they both can afford it.

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Amador County – The Amador County Fair Exhibitor Handbook is now available for this year’s fair, “Barn in the USA,” set for July 26-29 in Plymouth.

Those entering the Blue Ribbon Competition at the Amador County Fair can see the 2012 Exhibitor Handbook on-line and can pick up a hard copy. Fair publicist Karen Spencer announced the availability earlier this month, saying that “looking through it for ideas is like looking at the new seed catalogs.”

She said whether people hand-stitch quilts, grow plump produce or use digital photography to capture the world, there will be a category of competition to showcase their talents in the Amador County Fair. There are hundreds of categories to enter for cooks, gardeners, artists, photographers, rock collectors, sewers, weavers and more, in the annual Amador County Fair.

Amador County Fair CEO Troy Bowers said: “Fair exhibits and competition for a blue ribbon are a showcase of the community’s talents. Many of the art, photography and jewelry on display is for sale, so it is an opportunity to support local artists as well.”

Most entry forms are due by 6 p.m., Saturday, July 7, with actual exhibits not due until just before the Fair. The entry office will be open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on July 7 to accept entries and assist. Forms will also be accepted at the Jackson Library on Friday and Saturday, July 6 & 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Exhibitor Handbook is available on-line at and limited printed copies are available at the Fair office, libraries and feed stores. Residents of Amador, El Dorado, Calaveras and Tuolumne Counties are eligible to enter most divisions.

This year’s featured flower is the Daisy, and special contests will be held for Peach Pies, Filled Bundt Cakes, Oatmeal Cookies, and Macaroni Salad. Watch for categories relating to the 2012 theme “Barn in the USA.” Livestock exhibitors are encouraged to decorate their stalls and campsites with the theme, and all stalls and sites will be judged during the Fair.

For more information about the Amador County Fair or assistance in entering the Fair competition, visit or call (209)245-6921.

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