News Archive

News Archive (6192)

Friday, 27 April 2012 06:28

AWA passes a resolution honoring Don Cooper

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slide4-awa_passes_a_resolution_honoring_don_cooper.pngAmador County – The Amador Water Agency’s new board of director’s first action Thursday was a resolution honoring the retiring Director Don Cooper.

Board President Gary Thomas read the resolution honoring Cooper for his three years on the board, and a year as president, and making “significant contributions to the Budget and Finance, Engineering, and Policy Committees of the Water Agency, while offering his expertise as it related to projects, policy and fiscal responsibility.” The resolution also said Cooper “made significant contributions toward the Gravity Supply Line project which is of great benefit for Upcountry residents and property owners.”

Director Rich Farrington, who was appointed to take Cooper’s seat in District 3, said the resolution should note that Cooper was president last year, during the time when his wife passed away, and as that occurred, he also carried the load as president.

Agency Counsel Stephen Kronick said Cooper was very conscientious and dedicated and he “truly did work tirelessly for the benefit of the agency.” AWA General Manager Gene Mancebo said Cooper did not just accept things but analyzed them and challenged them when needed.

Vice President Paul Molinelli Senior said he admired Cooper’s demeanor and poise as a gentleman in running the meeting. He said it was not always easy to do and he learned from Cooper’s example. Director Robert Manassero said inevitably the board will likely need to call Cooper for help.

Cooper said he appreciated the remarks and the fact that the Board accepted that he needed to step down. Cooper said he has been working with a cardiologist, and now has a new pacemaker and new defibrillator, and did some dancing Saturday night. He said it was like his father said: “When you get too many peas on you knife, you’ve got to kick a few off.”

He said he enjoyed working with each and every one of the board members. He said 20-plus years with PG&E was not the same eye-opener as was working for a public agency. Cooper said it was important to get the honesty of customers, and public input, but sometimes it became counter-productive and he is a productive type of guy.

He said if he ever interviewed college kids for employment internships, as he has before, he would encourage them to work internships with quality agencies like the AWA.

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

Friday, 27 April 2012 06:32

Ione City Manager job opening draws 90 applications

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slide3-ione_city_manager_job_opening_draws_90_applications.pngAmador County – Ione’s search for a new city manager drew 90 applications and counting as the deadline to apply neared.

At 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 27, the window was to close on further applicants, and Interim City Manager Jeff Butzlaff said Thursday they had 90 applications in hand showing a diverse interest in the position. The Council last week decided to each bring one or two names of locals that they would like to appoint to a City Manager Selection Committee. On Tuesday, May 1, the Council will consider appointing the recommended appointees.

Butzlaff said because of the nature of the selection, and the transparency issue, he wanted the Council to know this was another opportunity for community involvement through the appointments. Council members will bring two names each to recommend to be appointed to the selection committee. He said the committee will be a little larger than what you would normally have, but he wanted a wider public input.

He said this is the initial screening process, an early phase, and a lot of work remains. He said: “The good news is we got 90 applications,” and “the bad news is we got 90 applications.” The Selection committee will consist of the five City Council members and their appointees, totaling up to 15 people.

Applications came from Oregon, Florida, New England, the Midwest and even some locally. He said some of this is driven by advertising, which included listings on the International City Manager’s Association’s online newsletter; in another big source called Jobs Available, an online Nationally and West-Coast Oriented site; and on Linked-In jobs available. They also advertised in the local paper and in Sacramento Bee’s Career Builder.

Some citizens are apprehensive about getting another city manager. He was sorry about that and tried to bring applications from multiple backgrounds and a broad array of experience.

The advertisement geared the qualifications and personal attributes to get a wide variety of managers from the public and private sector. Experience was required for five years of management in public or private sectors. It sought people with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration, though a master’s degree was highly desirable.

He said it was the same dialog you hear about presidential candidates, that they should be the best person for the job.

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slide1-amador_county_disclosed_that_it_has_spent_2_million_on_buena_vista_casino.pngAmador County – Amador County disclosed Thursday that it has spent $2 million on legal costs related to the Buena Vista Band of Me-Wuk Indians’ proposed casino, though $1.2 million was spent to protect the county from possible impacts of a renegotiated state compact.

The Amador County Board of Supervisors released records to the Buena Vista Band of Me-Wuk Indians Thursday in answer to an open-records act request. The County said the Tribe sought “records identifying expenditures of County Funds from Jan. 1, 2005 through August 2011, related to the Tribe’s proposed casino project.” The County “compiled a significant number of pages of redacted billing records depicting those expenditures.”

As of Thursday, April 26, the County made the records available to the Tribe to be picked up and wanted to share the information “directly with the public through local media outlets, and to provide some further context for those expenditures that the redacted bills will not provide.”

In the 6 years and 8 months up to August 2011, the County “paid outside attorneys and consultants” just over $2 million “in relation to the Tribe’s proposed casino project.” The County noted that a county-wide electoral advisory ballot said almost 85 percent of voters opposed another casino in Amador County, and in 2005 the County “initiated affirmative litigation in Washington D.C. against the Secretary of the Interior.”

Since then the County has continued the litigation, but noted the “majority of the costs the County has incurred through August 2011 are not the result” of the D.C. litigation, but are the result of “requirements triggered by the 2004 Amended Compact between the Tribe and the State of California.”

The Amended Compact “provided for additional gaming devices at the proposed casino and increased revenue to the State” and it “also required the Tribe to prepare a Tribal Environmental Impact Report evaluating the offsite impacts of the proposed casino and to negotiate an Intergovernmental Services Agreement with the County that adequately provided for the mitigation of impacts of the proposed casino project.”

The County said that “if a negotiated Intergovernmental Services Agreement could not be reached, either party could trigger binding arbitration. Although the Amended Compact did not require the County to participate, the County had to engage in that process in order to best protect the citizens of Amador County from the impacts of the proposed casino project in the event it was allowed to go forward.” The County spent $1.2 million on it between 2005 and the arbitration award in 2008.

The County said it continues to hold the “position that the negative impacts of additional casinos to the County and its residents will always exceed any and all of the purported benefits and mitigations.” The County also “remains committed to opposing additional casinos in Amador County and will expend the funds necessary to do so.”

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slide5-fire_safe_councils_greater_pine_grove_community_conservation_wildfire_protection_plan_enters_final_stages.pngAmador County – Amador Fire Safe Council’s “Community Conservation Wildfire Protection Plan” is entering final stages of its formulation and invites the public to a workshop Thursday to give details of the individual analysis of the fire risk of all of the areas of greater Pine Grove.

The Council invites “stakeholders,” that is, the members of the public, to attend a Community Conservation wildfire protection planning workshop for the Greater Pine Grove area.

Discussion and information will look to the public to get their input concerning fire safety, defensible space, and wildfire worries of greater Pine Grove area.

That area is a 55,000-acre Greater Pine Grove planning area, it is west of roughly Clinton Road, Jackson Rancheria and Pine Gulch; north to Shake Ridge Road; east to Rams Horn; and southeast to Pioneer-Volcano Road, Highway 26 and the Mokelumne River.

Cathy Koos Breazeal, Executive Director of the Amador Fire Safe Council announced the meeting, saying people should be sure to join the Amador Fire Safe Council for the next community meeting 7 p.m. Thursday, April 26 at the Pine Grove Town Hall on Highway 88. According to a brief issued Wednesday, the coming fire season will be above average.

Breazeal said in collaboration with residents, and state and local agencies, “we are in the final development stages of a Community Conservation Wildfire Protection Plan for the Greater Pine Grove Area.” She said “public input is critical to the success of this plan. Please come and tell us what your concerns are regarding wildfire.”

She said people may have questions or concerns about defensible space, safe exits from neighborhoods, water supplies, signs, whether their home is part of the wildfire fuel source, and whether people’s homes make it through a “fire storm.”

People are invited to see how their neighborhood “stacks up.” Over the past two months, Fire Safe Council has been driving every street, road and lane in the Greater Pine Grove area, conducting neighborhood risk assessments, gauging fuel models and risk. Breazeal said: “Come see how your neighborhood stacks up and learn tips on how to improve your home’s chance of surviving a wildland fire.”

The workshop includes refreshments, free landscaping DVDs, and carbon monoxide detectors for seniors.

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

Thursday, 26 April 2012 06:49

AFPA chair touches off fire setback discussion

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slide1-afpa_chair_touches_off_fire_setback_discussion.pngAmador County – The Amador Fire Protection Authority board of directors last week discussed the recent public workshop on fire defensible space and insurance, and some new laws counties face.

AFPA Board Chairwoman, Jackson Vice Mayor Connie Gonsalves said she attended the setback workshop that was started by a couple of concerned citizens, who are concerned that the insurance companies would not insure people. Gonsalves said “working in the industry, I can say that is a possibility.”

She said some insurance companies require 500 feet of defensible space, and others require 1,000 feet. Some require the equivalent of a clear-cut as defensible space.

Board member, Supervisor Ted Novelli said it was requested at the meeting, hosted by Supervisors, that an ad hoc committee be formed, but he said Supervisor Vice Chair Richard Forster did not want to have another ad hoc committee.

Gonsalves said the setbacks are a very serious issue that we all face, for a number of different reasons. One is the water flow in the Upcountry. Another is the particular clearances, and she wanted the AFPA board to be aware of the issues because it will probably come through us again.” She said “if we are a model county, and make sure all of the properties are clear,” the insurance industry might look at that.

Board member Jake Herfel of Jackson Valley Fire District, said the problem was that one-third of the county can’t meet the requirements.

Amador Fire Protection District Chief Jim McCart said the fire department numbers are another issue, and homes are supposed to be within five road-miles of a fire station. He said with that requirement (which formerly was 10 road miles) we might possibly need more fire stations.

Novelli said Robert Manassero of Manassero Insurance, during the workshop noted that three major carriers have cut people that they insure, and some are not even taking new customers in the county anymore.

Novelli said Wendell Peart sent a letter about the issue to Supervisors, and copies to the governor, the Regional Council of Rural Counties, Senator Ted Gaines, and Assemblywoman Alyson Huber.

The issue will be the topic of discussion at a Thursday, April 26 meeting of the Amador Fire Safe Council, which will discuss with the public its Community Conservation Wildfire Protection Plan for the Greater Pine Grove Area.

Executive Director Cathy Koos Breazeal said over two months, Fire Safe Council has been driving every street, road and lane in the Pine Grove area, conducting neighborhood risk assessments, gauging fuel models and risk. People can come see how their “neighborhood stacks up and learn tips on how to improve your home’s chance of surviving a wildland fire.”

The meeting is 7 p.m. Thursday, April 26 at the Pine Grove Town Hall on Highway 88.

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Thursday, 26 April 2012 06:18

SB1186 aims to stop litigious ADA extortion

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slide5-sb1186_aims_to_stop_litigious_ada_extortion.pngAmador County – A bill to stop litigious “extortion” under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act will be heard by the California Senate’s Judiciary Committee in May.

Senator Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga) wrote Senate Bill 1186, which he discussed in a posting on his Senate website. He said it “would stop unscrupulous attorneys from using the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) from extorting money from businesses.” The bill will be heard before the Senate Judiciary Committee May 9 at 130 p.m. in State Capitol Room 112.

Dutton, who represents Senate District 31, including portions of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, is “urging anyone who has been extorted by one of these attorneys and can be in Sacramento on May 9 to attend the hearing and make your voice heard.”

He said SB 1186 “is a simple, common-sense measure that allows business owners 90 days to fix minor infractions before a lawsuit can be filed. The legislation also protects the rights of the disabled while ensuring that small businesses are protected from frivolous lawsuits.”

Dutton said small businesses around the state have faced litigation by “drive by” attorneys who say they “represent a client claiming that person’s ADA rights have been violated, even though the business owner wasn’t aware of any potential problem. The letter further states that to avoid a costly lawsuit, the business owner must pay the attorney and his client between 4,000 and $6,500.”

Dutton encouraged people who can’t attend the Senate committee hearing to send a letters addressed to him to: State Capitol, Room 5097, Sacramento, CA 95814.

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

slide4-supervisors_amended_sign_code_to_allow_permanent_exempt_banners_for_announcing_public_services.pngAmador County – Amador Count Supervisors voted Tuesday to allow up to three permanent banners for public services offered by businesses in Commercial and Manufacturing zoned areas of unincorporated Amador County, excluding city limits.

All banners are limited in size, and Supervisors agreed on a change from one public service banner of 60 square feet, to allow for up to three public service banners for any one business, as long as the three banners’ total combined square footage does not exceed 60 square feet.

The language of the public service banner exemption was changed after a request by Feed Barn’s Susan Manning, who in an email to Supervisors said she needs a kitten adoption banner for six months a year. She also needs a dog adoption banner for one week each month, and she needs a Tri-County Wildcare banner for wild animal rescue year-round.

Supervisor Richard Forster said it was somewhat tailored to fit Feed Barn, but let’s face it, she adopts more cats than Animal Control, and the county benefits from the adoptions.

Supervisor Ted Novelli said places like the American Legion might also have multiple public services to advertise at the same time, such as blood drives, book sales and benefit dinners.

Novelli asked if businesses would need to get the Board to approve waivers with each banner they used to advertise public services. He said he would hate to see that required every time a business changed a banner.

Planner Cara Augustin said once the banner for permanent public service was approved by the Planning Department, they do not have to be brought back into the department for the next time they are used.

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slide3-fees_were_waived_by_supervisors_for_a_maintenance_shed_and_baseball_lighting_at_mollie_joyce_park.pngAmador County – The Amador County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday waived about $450 in fees for two projects led by the Jackson Rancheria Band of Miwok Indians at Mollie Joyce Park in Pioneer, seeing the project as a good benefit to the community.

Amador County Recreation Agency Executive Director Tracey Towner said she was going to go ahead and find the funding in her budget to pay the fees for electrical lighting permits for stadium lights for the Little League Baseball field, and a building impact fee for a new maintenance shed at the site. Towner said the Jackson Rancheria suggested she should go to the Board of Supervisors to ask for a waiver.

Supervisor Ted Novelli said “considering what the Tribe is doing for us, we should honor their request,” but before they install the lights, they should make sure the lights go downward, so we don’t get a lot of calls about it. He asked that the lights be “aimed the right way because I know how people are with the light in the Upcountry.”

Towner said she knows people in the Upcountry enjoy their night sky, and she will make sure the lights don’t affect it.

Supervisors John Plasse asked if they were sure they could afford the upkeep on all of the improvements, once you get it, because the lights don’t burn for free. Towner imagined the electric bill will be about one-third of what it was, with the lights, and new, energy-efficient machines in the snack shack. She was told the new lights would have to run for 360 hours to match the bill for the lights currently used at Pioneer Park.

Supervisor Vice Chairman Richard Forster said Towner might pay a courtesy visit to Community Development Director Aaron Brusatori to “let him know this income won’t be coming in.” County Administrative Officer Chuck Iley said “that won’t be a problem.”

The proposed shed would be 12 by 20 feet, built of block with a 6-foot roll-up door and a 3-foot man door, no plumbing, and only electricity. ACRA requested fees be waived keeping with the spirit of the Park Restoration Project, a project that is fostering park development at no cost to the county. The drawings, engineering, building materials and labor are all being donated.

Fees waived were estimated to be $300 for the building fee and $150 for electrical permits.

Towner said Volcano Communications has loaned two pieces of equipment for work at the park, and she said donations and volunteer labor continue and are still encouraged on the project.

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Wednesday, 25 April 2012 06:51

Family and friends plan the Len Jagoda Memoria Fundraiser

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slide2-family_and_friends_plan_the_len_jagoda_memoria_fundraiser.pngAmador County – Family members of Len Jagoda are planning the first fundraising event in Amador County for lung cancer research and awareness May 18.

The Len Jagoda Memorial Fundraiser and raffle will be held Friday, May 18 at American Legion Hall in Sutter Creek. Lori Jagoda encouraged people to come live, love and laugh.

All proceeds will go to the LUNGevity Foundation, the largest private funder of lung cancer research in the United States, which granted $2 million to researchers in 2011. The organization works with top experts to identify and fund promising and innovative research into early detection and targeted treatment of lung cancer.

The LUNGevity organization funds research for the purpose of “earlier detection, more effective treatment options, higher quality of life and hundreds of thousands of lives saved.” It funds “scientific research with the express purposes of finding a better way to diagnose and treat lung cancers and prevent their recurrence.”

The barbecue dinner fundraiser is $20 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under. Cocktails are at 5:30 p.m., dinner is 6:30 p.m. and speakers commence at 7 p.m.

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

slide1-supervisors_approve_amendments_to_county_banner_code_for_economic_hard_times.pngAmador County – Amador County Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 Tuesday to amend county sign code to allow two banners to be displayed by any one business during a declared economic downturn.

The banners will be limited to 60 square feet each, 120 square feet total, and displayed only in Commercial or Manufacturing zones in unincorporated Amador County.

Supervisor Vice Chairman Richard Forster voted against the amendment, saying he supported allowing three banners in economic hard times. Supervisor Ted Novelli said he would go along with that but Supervisors John Plasse and Brian Oneto disagreed. The Chairman, Supervisor Louis Boitano was absent due to medical leave.

Oneto said it would be a happy medium for him to allow two banners. Plasse said he would not support the third banner for economic needs because it would mean 180 square feet of signage, which he thought was too much for drivers to read.

In public comment before the vote, Walter Wiseman of Roundtable Pizza in Martell thanked supervisors, saying: “This has been a long road,” and he has been working with the Planning Department for 6 months. He said two banners will help, and three would be great.

Novelli asked Wiseman how he would use three banners. Wiseman said his first banner would promote the lunch buffet. The second would promote a daily pizza special. The third promotion, he said, would have to be done to keep from hurting pizza sales. Once he did a special sandwich sale with a third banner, and sold sandwiches. He increased sandwich sales from a typical 150-200 to 770 in just over two months, and it didn’t hurt pizza sales.

He pays up to $400 for a banner that is 3x20 feet, which he calls a 100 mph banner because theoretically if you were driving 100 mph on Highway 49, you could read it. Plasse said: “But you wouldn’t be able to read three.” Oneto said: “Just so you don’t get an outer space banner.”

Wiseman said the water tower at the Martell shopping center has “mocked” him for some time, and he wished he could advertise the center on it. He said Roundtable has rented a highway billboard, but the cost was $1,200 a month. Novelli said: “I’m in favor of your water tower.”

Forster said he was still an advocate for the third banner, because putting up nice banners is going to help your business during economic hard times.

 Planner Cara Augustin said consideration for a declaration of economic need should be on the next regular agenda, May 8.

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