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Wednesday, 16 May 2012 01:52

Sweeney to ride in 2012 PUSH to benefit ARC programs

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Amador County – The PUSH America Journey of Hope picnic at Saint Sava will be Mike Sweeney’s last event as Executive Director of the Arc of Amador and Calaveras.

Sweeney plans to be fully involved, and will make the 130-mile ride with the 2012 Journey of Hope, in its first leg of the cross-country road tour. Sweeney will ride with the north route team from San Francisco to Jackson as a fundraiser for ARC. He is asking people to pledge $1 or $2 per mile for the trip.

Sweeney said Arc has two programs for supported employment and supported living, to help people with developmental disabilities get jobs and a safe place to live. He said: “Everything that we raise in this bike ride goes directly into those two programs.”

Sweeney will be retiring at the end of June after 23-and-a-half years as executive director of Arc. And Arc has been the welcoming committee and provided a barbecue meal for the PUSH America riders at Saint Sava Mission in Jackson for 23 years.

He said the men, members of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity from colleges and universities all over the country are “unfailingly polite.” He said: “Every year you wonder if they are going to be as wonderful as they were the year before, and every year they are.” PUSH stands for People Understanding the Severely Handicapped, and it rides from San Francisco to Washington D.C. to raise awareness and money.

Sweeney said he will cheat a little and take a ferry across the San Francisco Bay to get a head start over the younger college kids. The PUSH America riders will arrive at Saint Sava Mission on Tuesday, June 5. The Arc welcoming committee and barbecue will share the Mission with voters, as it is the California primary election day, but Sweeney said there will be ample room for the voters. Sweeney said: “This will be kind of my going away bash too.”

The two-month ride’s northern route goes through Jackson, and on to Lake Tahoe, then Carson City, Nevada. It starts June 2 with a ride to Napa. The north route itinerary includes 54 cities through 13 states, with rides through or stops in Carson City, Salt Lake City, Denver, Omaha, Des Moines, Milwaukee, Chicago, Ann Arbor, Cleveland, and Pittsburg and ending in the District of Columbia.

To attend the June 5 welcoming picnic at Saint Sava, and for info call (209)267-5978 ext. 21.

Story by Jim Reece This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

jackson_rancheria_buffet_six_live_action_cooking_stations.jpgThe Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort announced Thursday the grand opening of its new Rancheria Buffet, offering a world of flavors, “Rancheria Style.” The new Rancheria Buffet is open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The buffet seats 300 and features six live action cooking stations where guests can watch their meal being prepared. Cooking stations include a fresh salad station, a wok station, Mexican station, live fire Churrascaria grill station, American station and Italian station. Each station and vegetables into each station. Finish off Rancheria Buffet with the dessert station’s wide variety of pies, cakes, cookies and pastries. The buffet is the second of five new dining venues opening at the all new Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort planned this year. JoBo’s Junction coffee and pastry bar opened earlier this year with specialty coffee drinks, fresh pastries, salads, sandwiches and more. The Lone Wolf Restaurant & Lounge, a casual steakhouse upstairs in the Casino, is scheduled to open later this month. Still to come in 2012 are the Pacific Grill, featuring Asian and American cuisine, and Margaret’s Café & Bakery. Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort is at 12222 New York Ranch Road in Jackson. For information, call 800-822-9466. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

amador_county_animal_control_open_house_adopts_14_pets.jpgMore than 100 people attended the open house at Amador County Animal Control last Saturday, May 5, in Martell, and helped the cause by adopting 11 dogs and three cats from the shelter during a half-price adoption special. Animal Control Director John Vail said the shelter started the day of the annual open house and pet fair with 15 adoptable dogs, and 11 of those were adopted on that day. They also started with probably seven adoptable cats and three of those cats were adopted Saturday. Volunteers and local pet businesses and suppliers of food and other items had booths around the parking lot of the office, and other animals that got exposure were adopted on Monday and later in the week. Vail said a rooster, which was crowing throughout the open house, was adopted on Monday, and “that may have been as a result of being seen during the open house.” A donkey that was also at the shelter had been adopted Thursday, he said, “so we have had a good week.” He estimated that more than 100 people attended and there were probably 50 people there during the Amador County Sheriff’s Department’s K9 demonstration.
jackson_rancheria_wraps_joyce_park.jpgAdam Dalton in his Park Restoration weekly update said Mollie Joyce Park in is 99 percent complete and work has started in Volcano. The entire Mollie Joyce parking lot has been resurfaced and gravel has been spread. Score boards have arrived and one is on display. Mollie Joyce is now one of Amador’s premier parks to enjoy for many years to come. Dalton said it was “truly an astonishing transformation and “we are proud of all the work,” which is a “great example of how committed we are as a family in realizing our goals.” He reiterated “just how much our Tribe would love to continue rebuilding all the parks and fields within Amador County,” but “the community must understand that we need your help if we are to see this entire project through.” The “park restoration plan is not a must-do project. It is not a county, state or government assignment. This project was simply a dream motivated by a family of Native American people,” he said, “business owners who recognize a need and are willing to help. Just think of what we could accomplish together, if we joined hands as a community for the sake of our families and our recreation.” He saw “no reason why we cannot continue this project for years to come so long as we receive the support and funds we so desperately need.” The Jackson Band of Miwuk Indians will refuse to leave any project unfinished. Dalton said: “You have my word that once committed, there’s no turning back. We will finish what we’ve started to the best of our abilities. With that said, beginning a new project will depend on the level of support we are receiving.” So far the good folks who have volunteered and supported the renovation in Pioneer have given the Tribe enough incentive to start another project in Volcano. Dalton said the tribe was greeted with open arms and overwhelmed by how kind and welcoming the Volcano community has been. “This was an awesome choice for our second project,” he said. He said they will be in Volcano Monday-Friday from 6:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., “there’s still a lot to do so if you’re in the area and have the extra time, stop by and give us a hand.” They are improving more than just the park here. He said “in my eyes the entire town is one amazing park.” Dalton said: “We are making improvements wherever they need them most and should be here for the next few months.”
jackson_elementary_jog_raises_10000.jpgThe Second Annual Jackson Elementary School Jog-a-thon held last Friday, May 4 on the school’s lower field raised more than $10,000 and counting for music, art and science programs at the school. Children in all seven grades sought sponsors and ran in the Jog-a-thon, which raised money for arts classes for fourth, fifth and sixth graders. It also funds a classroom music teacher for the kindergarten through third graders. Part of Jog-a-thon funds help fourth graders raise money for their fifth grade science camp. Jackson Elementary School Principal Barbara Magpusao said the Jog-a-thon was the brainchild of Stephanie Bramer, who modeled it after the annual golf tourney funding physical education classes for Pioneer Elementary. Jackson Elementary uses their funds to hire art and music consultants as private contractors. Bramer has organized the Jog-a-thon the last two years. Magpusao said she was not sure how much money the Jog-a-thon raised but “so far we know it’s over $10,000 this year.” Bramer has also been going to local businesses, and if they can’t donate funds, they donate items for the silent auction, to be held at the Jackson Elementary Open House next Tuesday, May 15. Silent auction earnings also go into the Jog-a-thon funds, and brought in an extra $200-plus last year. The Open House starts at 6 p.m. Also part of the fundraising, Roundtable Pizza and Jamba Juice will have a sales booth at the bell starting at 5:30 p.m. Magpusao said 20 percent of the pizza and juice sales goes to the fourth graders’ science camp fund. And a book fair from 5-7:30 p.m. will benefit the parents’ group and the school library. The silent auction is in the front hallway of the office. A chunk of Jog-a-thon funds go to next year’s science camp, for which fourth graders are now raising funds. They pay for their individual camps in the trip at the end of February to the YMCA Point Bonita Outdoor Education Science Camp. Magpusao said last year it was new, so fourth graders didn’t take advantage of the Jog-a-thon. The fifth grade science camp costs $350 per student. Fourth graders also sell See’s Candy toward science camp, she said, and some actually sold enough to pay their $100 deposits due in October. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Amador County – Board members and officials of Sutter Gold Mining have waited patiently for Friday, which with placing a cornerstone ceremoniously marked the restart of underground gold mining operations in the Mother Lode after 50 years.

Rick Winters, president of RMB Resources, and member of Sutter Gold Mining’s board of directors, said when permitting is in place, Sutter Gold Mining will have $20 million invested in the Lincoln Mine project in Amador County. He said there was never a very large mine here in the Mother Lode. There were many, many small mines. He said there were 100 mines between Sutter Creek and Jackson.

Winters said Sutter Gold Mining built a solid core team, including chief financial officer Robert Hutmacher. He said “David Cochrane is as good a permitting specialist as I know.” They are merchant bankers and miners, and “by the time we start producing gold we will have $30 million in the project.” He quoted Winston Churchill, saying: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Permitting began in the 1980s, and the business was patient, Winters said, with the property managed by Stacey Rhoads, and mine tours managed by Chris Boitano. Winters said the company purchased half of the mine in 2008 when the gold market fell, and they were suddenly the “major shareholder in an industry that no one had faith in. We did.” They saw success with their Mesquite Gold Mine in Southern California, which is now the state’s biggest gold mine.

They hope to get 400,000 ounces from Lincoln Mine, and if it is profitable, they may expand operations to neighboring lands. Matt Collins, chief operating officer said “today we celebrate the beginning of a new gold mine.” A mining engineer, Collins said “opening a new mine is an exciting time and we are mere months from the first metal production.”

They will focus on the shallow portion of the Lincoln. Collins said they will develop 5 miles of tunnels, move 200,000 tons of rock, and replace most of it. They will produce as much gold as the rock will yield.

President and CEO, Doctor Leanne Baker said the company would try to prove to all of the people in this industry and in this state that they can operate on a sustainable basis for a long, long time.

Story by Jim Reece This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Amador County – Jackson City Council on Monday directed staff to work on an ordinance to amend city sign code to conditionally exempt sign manufacturers.

Councilwoman Marilyn Lewis requested the Council “review the sign ordinance as it pertains to Merzlak Signs,” and the council focused on a section which limits the size of “noncommercial temporary” signs, “which is how political signs are classified in the city’s sign ordinance.”

City Manager Mike Daly said it has been a topic since October 2010. At that time, Thornton Consolo challenged the displaying of signs at Merzlak Signs. After the city revised its sign ordinance in March, he again brought up the issue.

Consolo was absent Monday, and Vice Mayor Connie Gonsalves said she was sorry this was not handled during the redrafting of the sign ordinance. She said: “This has been a pain in the neck every time there is an election, and I’m sorry the person that caused this is not here because I know we will have to hear about it again in public matters not on the agenda.”

Councilman Keith Sweet said the Planning Commission or the person complaining shouldn’t be “thrown under the bus.” He said the council may be as remiss as the individual who made the complaint.”

Paul Molinelli Senior said: “I think it was my sign that caused the problem two years ago.” He said it is a local shop, with their own gimmick to keep it local, and “if you could help them, I think you should.”

Daly in a report said the size of political signs “is a policy decision of the City Council and can be changed if that is the preference of the majority of the City Council.” He noted that an exemption to allow larger noncommercial signs failed to get a required 4/5ths Council vote in October 2010, and the issue was referred to the Planning Commission.

Councilman Wayne Garibaldi said he could support an exemption for sign shops, but would not support a larger sign allowance. Merzlak asked the council for clarification because city political signs are limited to 16 square feet, while county code allows 32 square foot signs. He wanted to know if when he went to work at 9 a.m. Tuesday that he was not in violation of the code.

The council agreed to hold off enforcement for a week, and set a special meeting for 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 22 to consider a draft ordinance that would make exemptions for sign shops. Garibaldi said they should still hear from the other side, and he also wanted to put a 30-day time limit on signs, so they do not create another problem. He asked Merzlak to meet with Daly and the city attorney on the issue.

Story by Jim Reece This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Amador County – Mike Sweeney will retire after 23-and-a-half years as executive director for ARC of Amador and Calaveras Counties at the end of June.

His replacement, Shawnna Molina starts June 12. He said: “We’re going to work together through June and she takes over as the executive director on July 1. Molina comes from a long career of nonprofit work, most recently with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Sacramento.

Sweeney said: “It’s been a wonderful journey. I’ve learned so much from the people we serve, about perseverance, resiliency and sticking to something.”

Arc is a support company for people with developmental disabilities. Sweeney said this fiscal year they have 160 participants in the two counties. Services include supported employment, supported living and transportation for work and play.

Sweeney has been in this field since the early 1970s. In Monterey County he ran Gateway Industries, which served about 80 people with developmental disabilities to find work in landscaping, packaging, and collating. In the early ’70s, he worked in Gilroy, setting up a physical development program at a school. After that he went to Cresent City in Del Norte County and set up the North Coast Regional Center evaluation unit.

Sweeney is a native of Morgan Hill, in the South Bay. He graduated from Live Oak High School with the class of 1970, and recently got his old soul band back together, Sweeney on the trumpet, to play for their 40th class reunion. They played James Brown, Wilson Picket and a lot of soul music. The band played into the early 1970s then he had to get serious with work.

All his old buddies still play music as professional musicians. The lead singer plays with the Chicano All Stars in Santa Fe. Jim Murphy, saxophone player played with Wayne Newton, Sinatra and Lawrence Welk and now plays in Branson, Missouri. His Solid Gold Motown Review is going on a tour of Europe.

For retirement, Sweeney said he may get back into his photography and do more writing. His dad lives in the Midwest and is in his mid-eighties, he said “it will be nice to visit and not have to be in hurry to get back.”

He also thought about “dusting off the trumpet and playing a little bit around here.” He definitely wants to stay busy. He will do some non-profit consulting with the Nonprofit Resource Center in Sacramento. He said there ought to be some benefit for having done this for 35-40 years.

Story by Jim Reece This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Amador County – A group of mining investment bankers with a major partner from South Africa, via Colorado, the board of directors of Sutter Gold Mining Incorporated held a dedication ceremony Friday for a cornerstone of the Lincoln Gold Mine project, which they hope produces gold by the end of the year.

Stephen Zahoney, vice president of exploration and geology said he hoped the publicly traded company has “as many stakeholders as we have ounces of gold in the ground.” An assessment said between 200,000 and 700,000 ounces could be in the rock of the 3.6 miles of the Mother Lode vein that Sutter Gold controls.

About 120 people attended the cornerstone pouring and dedication on the old entry road to the former Sutter Gold Mine. Board members shoveled concrete into a frame that will be a slab to hold a monument to the mine, and its history.

Supervisor Brian Oneto, in whose District 5 the mine sits, said the project will change a common emphasis on service based economics to a bigger one in the county of raw materials. He said without raw materials, you don’t have computers, which he said contain gold. And “if you want to stay happily married, there’s gold and diamonds out there.”

Oneto said something lacking in Amador is good jobs. His family worked to serve the mines, but not at the mines. He has a picture of his grandfather driving logs to either Argonaut or the Kennedy mine. He said the guys that set this up and get dirty make it work.

Robert Ehlert, senior field representative for Congressman Dan Lungren (R-Gold River), said he saw a lot of pictures being taken, and it was an historic day. He said a lasting image would show the 110 chairs there, because this mine creates 110 jobs. That was important with 12-15 percent unemployment rates across the country.

Sutter Gold Mining President and CEO, Doctor Leanne Baker said she’s only been with the project 6 months but saw the historic significance of the area. Sutter Creek is named after John Sutter, and historic monuments abound on Highway 49. She also pointed out a 150-year-old olive tree across the road, and remnants of a nearby old town and an old winery.

Baker said a monument will be built on the cornerstone they would pour Friday, and “we’ll be doing a lot of celebrating, we hope, in the months to come.”

Story by Jim Reece This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Amador County – The Amador County Sheriff’s Department announced the arrest of a Plymouth man on charges stemming from a March 28 stabbing and shooting.

Rickie Ray Tigue, 56, of Plymouth was arrested Thursday, May 3 for assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm, assault with a deadly weapon likely to cause great bodily injury, criminal threats, and a special allegation of causing great bodily injury during the commission of a felony.

Undersheriff Jim Wegner released details Monday saying that at about 7:30 p.m. on March 28, the Sheriff’s Department responded to a residence on West Mitchell Mine Road to the report of a 59-year-old male that had been stabbed in the head by a 56-year-old friend. The victim responded to being stabbed by acquiring a shotgun and shooting at the suspect as he accessed his vehicle to leave.

The suspect was struck by the shot and fled the scene however he was later located on New York Ranch Road and subsequently flown to Mercy San Juan Hospital for treatment.

Amador County Sheriff’s Detectives conducted an investigation into the incident and forwarded their findings to the Amador County District Attorney’s Office. Based on the Sheriff’s Office investigation the District Attorney’s Office authored an arrest warrant which was authorized by Amador Superior Court Judge David Richmond.

The warrant ordered the arrest of Tigue. On May 3, after receiving the arrest warrant, Amador County Sheriff’s Deputies searched for and located Tigue.

Tigue was detained that morning as he drove on Highway 49 North of Sutter Creek and arrested without incident. Bail was set by Judge Richmond at $130,000.

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