News Archive

News Archive (6192)


Amador County – The Amador County Chamber of Commerce plans its main benefit event of the year, the annual Chamber Benefit Golf Tournament for Friday, May 18 at Castle Oaks Golf Course in Ione.

Chamber office manager Diane Sherbourne also sent out a membership info “blast” that the tournament needs its members’ help. The event is the main fundraising event for Chamber, and it is a tax deductible donation because the Chamber is a non-profit organization.

Chamber members can do several things to help, including volunteering to help run the tournament. Members can also donate raffle prizes, and items for golfer packages, in amounts of 128 each, such as candy bars, golf balls, pens, hand towels, gift certificates or discounts for businesses. 

Members can also enter to play golf. The $85 per player includes 18 holes of golf with dinner, a golf cart, range-balls and prizes. People can also become a hole sponsor for $100 to advertise their businesses. And for $400, members can buy a Company Package which includes a foursome for golf, and a Hole Sponsor package.

Other sponsorship opportunities include the Gold, Silver and Bronze packages, and members can get more information by contacting the Chamber office for details. Volunteers will make a call to follow up in the near future.

Visit the Amador County Chamber of Commerce at 115 Main Street in Jackson for information, or call (209) 223-0350.

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Amador County – Amador County Business Council members on Tuesday voiced support for a Transient Occupancy Tax increase on hotel and motel visits.

Amador County Board of Supervisors directed staff to start a draft of a proposed ballot measure, and Supervisor Richard Forster appointed an ad hoc committee to hold public workshops on the issue.

The Business Council’s Jim Conklin recommended a 4 percent increase to add to the current 6 percent TOT tax, which he said could be called a “Tourist” tax. He recommended the 4 percent go to Amador Council of Tourism. Several group representatives spoke in favor, including Chamber President Mark Borchin. Conklin recommended the funds go to promote tourism.

Supervisor John Plasse said all groups should be included in the workshop and give input, including the Mother Lode Tea Party, the Democratic and Republican committees, the Chamber and the Business Council. Plasse said the funds might also “dedicate the money to economic development as a whole.”

Al Bozzo of the Business Council and Amador Realtors Association said wine-related agriculture is the most important industry in Amador, and the more money we have in the pot, the more money we have to pay for infrastructure.

Bozzo compared wine regions, saying Lodi is a sleeping giant, and Napa has a multi-million dollar marketing budget that “we can’t match, but we can get our fair share.” 

Maurine Funk, executive director of the Amador Council of Tourism said she had spoken informally with all of the local groups and all of the discussions have been positive. She said Calaveras County has been unwilling to go to the ballot to try to raise their 6 percent TOT tax, because they feel they do not have the support for tourism. She said: “I think it’s an easy sell for us.”

Supervisor Ted Novelli said it would not be easy if people get the wrong idea about the tax, because of the large number of elders in the population. He said Amador County is among the top three counties in per capita retirees. He said when they hear “tax,” the hair stands up on the back of their necks. He said don’t use it, it is a bad word.

Forster said they should emphasize that people who live here do not pay the Transient Occupancy Tax. Only visitors pay it, as part of their hotel and motel fees. Bozzo said “no resident from Amador County is going to be touched.” He said visitors pay the TOT in hotels, and the promotional money will help all businesses.

Conklin urged following the same timeline as Tuolumne County, which seeks a measure to close tax loopholes on camping and RV visitors. He said they would need to decide on the language by around June 21 to make the November ballot.

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Thursday, 10 May 2012 02:29

Supervisors split on airport overrule

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Amador County – The Amador County Supervisors on Tuesday split 2-2 in denying a request for an overrule of the Airport Land Use Commission’s decision to not allow a small delicatessen in the Safety Area fly zone of Westover Field in Martell.

Supervisors said they heard from pilots opposed to the overrule to allow a 750-square foot deli in Martell Plaza, and another pilot appeared and also requested protection for the Airport. Rich Campbell, a pilot since 1964, and an aircraft owner who flies out of Jackson urged denial to protect the fly areas. He said he has watched airports in the state close due to encroachment of development or flight restrictions.

Campbell said Jackson Airport was established in 1931, with land provided by the American Legion. He urged that they wait until the new airport fight zone guidelines were adopted by the Airport Commission.

Campbell said by the time planes taking off from Westover are over the Martell Plaza they would be 500 feet up, and likely have a slim chance of crashing there, but he said “nobody ever thought an F86 would go into Farrel’s Ice Cream Parlor,” as happened in Sacramento in 1972.

Airport Director Dave Sheppard said our plan is to implement new guidelines using Caltrans’ new policy book, but where that Zone 2 line actually gets drawn remains to be seen.

Ron Regan, of Martell Plaza Incorporated, appealing the Commission’s denial, said Caltrans has new flight zoning policy, approved in 2011, and he expected the Airport Commission to follow suit, with a smaller “Zone 2.”

Supervisor John Plasse, an Airport Land Use Commissioner, voted in favor of the overrule to get people to work. He said “the space is open for rent to a whole host of businesses, but not this one.”

Supervisor Vice Chairman Richard Forster agreed “wholeheartedly.” He said the Airport Commission has no discretion to overrule the Land Use policy of not having restaurants in Zone 2 safety area. Forster said “we have the discretion.”

Plasse said he detected no objection from the pilots on the Commission, and if it had the discretion for making the overrule, he thought it would have occurred.

Supervisor Ted Novelli, also an Airport Land Use Commissioner, said he would like to see this business open and wished he could give the proponent the business. He also wished the “Commission had adopted our new guidelines by now.” Novelli said he needs to stand by the airport.

Plasse said it was common sense to allow the use, for the proposed carryout deli, which would likely have fewer occupants than an insurance company with six cubicles, which would be allowed in the same mall.

Supervisor Brian Oneto dissented with Novelli. Oneto said he was contacted by pilots opposing the overrule and he thought it would be better to wait for the new guidelines.

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Amador County – Second Generation, a local organization that raises money to support youth livestock programs at the Amador County Fair this year will offer the chance to win the driver’s seat of a championship-caliber Destruction Derby car.

The Second Generation Dinner and Raffle’s grand prize will give the winner the driver’s seat of a 1977 Chrysler Cordova built by local champion Chris Gascon, and a chance to drive in the 2012 Amador County Destruction Derby.

Second Generation was started in 2008 by auctioneer Seth Seever and several others, including his girlfriend, Erin Lawrie. They both raised livestock as children, and helped start Second Generation to save the Amador County Fair.

Coming off a record fundraising year, they found something epic: Chris Gascon, of Gascon Racing, an eight-time winner of the Calaveras County Derby, donated construction of the car, complete with his winning designs. Seever said it has the Mopar engine that Gascon won four derbies with, and utilizes the front-crash qualities of the Cordova favored by his father.

Gascon said he could win with this car. The raffle winner drives the in the 2012 Amador Derby, but the car goes back to Gascon Racing. Gascon also will invite the driver to his property for some driving tips.

Seever saw the newly designed vehicle for the first time Wednesday at Merzlak Signs. Kam Merzlak donated the labor to design the car to give back to youth livestock. Second Generation helps supplement auction earnings for youths in their sales at the Fair. It has helped more than 600 kids in local 4-H, FFA and Grange clubs.

Merzlak said for a couple of years he bought livestock. With lean times last year he donated 4 signs for the Dinner and Raffle, which raised $23,000. This year, he designed the Gascon car, something he has always wanted to do.

Merzlak said “the Derby is the biggest event at the Fair, and this is one of the most unique raffle ticket prizes I’ve seen in Amador County, ever.” He said the vehicle construction has a good $5,000 value.

Seever said “this never happens. Gascon never builds cars for anybody, period.” He said if it does well in the raffle, Gascon may do it again next year.

It was discussed to auction the race opportunity, but Seever’s girlfriend, Erin Lawrie pushed for the raffle. She said it gives everyone a chance to drive a champion’s car and would help raise more money.

The Second Generation Dinner and Raffle is June 23, the fourth Saturday in June. Auction tickets are $20 each, and the raffle is during the dinner. Donations are tax deductible, in partnership with the Amador Community Foundation.

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Amador County – The Amador-El Dorado Unit Chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection last week released tips to help create Defensible Space for protection of homes against wildfire.

Amador-El Dorado Unit Chief Kelly Keenan said creating a buffer zone between the home and wild land greatly reduces the risk of a home catching on fire from radiant heat or flying embers. Keenan said “these embers can destroy homes and even entire neighborhoods that are located far from the actual flame front of a wildfire.”

He said “with one of the driest winters on record, it is crucial to have your defensible space established before the heat of the summer is upon us. Don’t delay and start today if you haven’t already begun to create defensible space around your home.”

Some practices help achieve a defendable home and property and defensible space. “Zone One” extends up to 30 feet from every structure on your property, or to your property line whichever is closer. In Zone One, remove all dead and dying vegetation. Remove leaf litter from roof and rain gutters. Relocate woodpiles well away from homes. Trim trees so they are a minimum 10 feet from chimneys and roof lines. Also, remove “ladder fuels” of low-level vegetation that could allow fire to spread from the ground to shrubs, bushes and tree canopies.

Zone Two extends from 30 feet to 100 feet, or to your property line, whichever is closer. The key is to keep plant material separated from each both horizontally and vertically, Keenan said. This prevents vegetation from acting like a ladder and allowing the fire to move from the ground to tree canopies. Cut annual grasses down to a maximum of four inches in height.

Areas of your home should be checked annually and maintained as needed. Check that chimneys have approved spark arrestor screens in good condition covering the opening, with openings no smaller than 3/8 inch and no larger than ½ inch.

Keep the area under decks or balconies free of combustible material. Never store firewood under a deck. Consider having multiple garden hoses that are long enough to reach any area of the home and any structure on the property.

For information on local green waste programs contact the Amador Fire Safe Council for more detailed information, visit Cal-Fire’s website or call (530)644-2345 to receive a free brochure.

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Amador County – Amador Water Agency last week sent out an informational letter to Lake Camanche Village water and wastewater customers about funding, costs and practices of the Agency in the systems.

The Public Outreach Committee finalized the letter which in part “tried to share some facts and information directly from the Water Agency.” AWA General Manager Gene Mancebo signed the letter, on approval by the board president. 

Mancebo in the letter said AWA has “completed a major personnel reduction, from 66 employees to 39” and “salaries and benefits have been cut by approximately 50 percent in the Camanche system and likewise for other operations, maintenance and administrative costs.”

He said “AWA directors voted to eliminate their health insurance benefit and reduce their monthly compensation. Employees have foregone salary increases and taken furlough days for the past two years. Our financial records are available to anyone who would like to examine them.” 

In the rate proposal under consideration, Mancebo said Lake Camanche customers who use less water will receive a rate reduction. Customers who use 4 units (3,000 gallons) per month would receive an 11.4 percent rate reduction. Those using 7 units (5,250 gallons a month) would receive a 3 percent reduction.

Mancebo in the said AWA has been awarded “more than $550,000 toward replacing water service lines and improving Camanche’s aging wood water storage tanks,” with work scheduled to begin this summer.

He noted customers’ voting rights, saying “you have the right to protest water rate increases, just as you have had previously. AWA did pass a resolution to use a ballot (which will be mailed to you when AWA considers a rate increase) to record protests against a proposed rate increase, instead of a casual signup sheet.”

Mancebo said “Groups or individuals will still have the ability to go door-to-door and discuss their opinion in public gatherings, but AWA will require that you use the official protest form, similar to any election where you fill out a ballot.”

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Amador County – Amador County Local Agency Formation Commission last week announced plans for a free training session for public officials and the public on May 29.

LAFCO is sponsoring the training for board members and others on May 29 at 2:45 PM in the Board of Supervisors Chambers at the county administration center, 810 Court Street in Jackson.

Public officials and each member of every special district’s board of directions are required by state law to complete ethics training. The training for Amador County districts will be provided at no cost to the participants. Speakers will also cover information about the Brown Act and open meetings laws and Fair Political Practices Commission regulations regarding disclosure and disqualification. The training lasts 2 hours.

In addition, attendees will have an opportunity to meet and network with other officials, share best practices, and request topics for future training sessions.

Members of community groups and the public are welcome to attend. Seating is limited, so an RSVP will allow LAFCO to hold seats and to prepare certificates for attending the training. For questions, or to RSVP, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (209)418-9377.

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Amador County – After 25 years, the Rancho Murieta Airshow is back, and set for Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 19.

Rancho Murieta airport owner Bradley Beer wants to bring back the “magical mix of top notch talent and military might that makes this airshow memorable and recognizes our troops on Armed Forces Day.” He plans it to be an annual event every May on Armed Forces Day.

Rancho Murieta Airshows are considered legendary. Beer said his idea is first and foremost to have fun. Beer is passionate about connecting with his community and with others who love flying as much as he does and he wants to bring back the magic that Fred Anderson achieved 25 years ago with the original Rancho Murieta Airshow, first staged with John Sullivan in 1984.

Sullivan said it started “as an airshow for our friends.” They came out, enjoyed a catered lunch, took their seats, and were treated to non-stop airshow action for more than four hours. The aerial demonstrations were unprecedented. ¶ The mastermind of the airshow was Art Negrette who worked with Sullivan to choreograph what Sullivan calls the “aerial ballet.” One 1987 show schedule lists performers and military flights from 12:50, then every 5-15 minutes depending on the performance, right up until the Thunderbirds’ 45-minute show at 4:07. Four hours of non-stop action.

The seemingly ancient rosters include the U-2, B-1, F-117, AV-8 Harrier, SR-71 Blackbird, and appearances by B-52s, B-25s and B-17s; with aircraft flown by Bob Hoover, Team America, Jimmy Franklin, Julie Clark, and Craig Hosking.

The 2012 Rancho Murieta Airshow will honor veterans and troops with the top talent in the industry, and is hosted by Rancho Murieta’s EAA Chapter1476. A portion of the proceeds will directly benefit the U.S.O., supporting our soldiers and their families, giving the show direction, and a worthy goal.

Airshow announcer great, Sandy Sanders of Sutter Creek will be the Master of Ceremonies. Airshow veteran Wayne Handley will be on hand to give play-by-play commentary on the aerobatics.

The talent is Julie Clark (in her T-34 Mentor), Bill Stein (in a Zivko, Edge 540), Eddie Andreini ( in a Stearman, PR13D with a 540hp Pratt Whitney), Vicky Benzing (in an Extra 300/S), Dan Buchanan (in the Buchanan Airwave Pulse), Dan Vance (in a P-51 Mustang), and the Sanders’ (in a Hawker Sea Fury).

Gates open at 8:30, Saturday, May 19. Fly-ins are welcome, but check NOTAM’s. Call (916)354-9889 for ticket information.

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Amador County – The Amador County Unified School District Board of Trustees on Wednesday will consider creating a Department Secretary position and also creating a position of a Principal in an “Educational Options Program” at the high school level for the school district’s independent school programs.

The School Board will consider a recommendation of Personnel Executive Director Nancy Gamache to create a position and job description of a Department Secretary. Gamache in a report to the board for Wednesday’s meeting said the District has a secretary job description that identifies duties associated with school site responsibilities.”

She said “District negotiating team met with the California School Employees Association Local 239 to negotiate a job description that addresses responsibilities associated with District departments.”

Gamache said the “Department Secretary job description more concisely identifies the secretarial duties associated with a District department. This will allow the District to recruit for future Secretarial Department vacancies.”

The School Board will consider eliminating 8 hours a day of one full time secretary, a classified employee, and also creating a new secretary position. It will also consider the job description for the Department Secretary, which is defined as an employee “under the supervision of the Department Director to perform a variety of complex secretarial work of high difficulty.”

The School Board will also consider a Principal position in an “Educational Options Program.” On March, the Board approved a resolution of intention to dismiss certificated employees, which included eliminating the Principal of Continuation and Alternative Education.

Gamache in a report said the “District is proposing to create a position of Principal of the Education Options Program. This employee will be directly responsible for the administration, management and operation of the Community Court School, North Star, Independence High, and the Adult Education program.

The job description, to be considered by the School Board, in brief was that the Principal “is directly responsible for the instructional program, and for the administration, management, and operation of all Educational Options Programs.”

An administrative salary schedule to be considered, showed the new principal position would work 217 days a year with a salary of $82,000.

The School Board meets in open session at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 9 in the Supervisors Chamber in Jackson.

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Amador County – Amador County Sheriff’s deputies discovered an indoor marijuana growing operation last week after a stolen truck was crashed through a cemetery.

Amador County Undersheriff Jim Wegner released details about the incident Friday. He said on April 30 at 4:01 p.m., the Amador County Sheriff’s Department received a call from the Amador Memorial Cemetery regarding a pickup truck that had had driven through the cemetery, damaging headstones and striking a pole. 

As a Deputy responded to the scene, the Department received a call regarding a vehicle driving recklessly through Buckhorn. The vehicle description was consistent with the pickup truck involved in the vandalism at the cemetery. Updated information was received that the vehicle was last seen on Meadow Drive.

The deputy sheriff responding to the calls checked the area and found the Ford pickup truck parked at a residence on Creekside Drive in Pioneer. The vehicle displayed a license plate reportedly stolen in San Francisco.

Upon the arrival of another Deputy and a CHP officer, the vehicle was approached and Robert Jason Figone, 41, of Redwood City was found hiding inside. Figone was detained. It was ultimately determined the vehicle was reported stolen. A search of the vehicle revealed equipment utilized in the indoor cultivation of marijuana.

Upon approaching the residence, the deputies smelled the odor of marijuana, and through a window they could see marijuana plants being cultivated. The Amador County Combined Narcotics Enforcement Team responded and secured the residence pending the issuance of a search warrant. Figone was released to the CHP who arrested him for vehicle theft and possession of stolen property. 

The investigation against Figone for felony vandalism of a cemetery is being forwarded by the Sheriff’s Department to the Amador County District Attorney for prosecution.

Wegner said upon execution of the search warrant, ACCNET Agents found a residence that was utilized solely for the indoor cultivation and processing of marijuana. The home had two grow-rooms, one drying-room, and one processing-room.

The suspect or suspects had bypassed the electrical meter, stealing utilities. Although it was evident a large number of mature marijuana plants had already been harvested and moved from the residence, approximately 5 pounds of processed marijuana and 120 marijuana plants were still located at the premise.

There was no evidence found at the scene to indicate the marijuana was being cultivated for medicinal purposes. Posted material connecting Figone to the residence was located at the scene.

The investigation into the commercial marijuana cultivation operation is on-going.

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