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slide21According to the Farms of Amador the olive production of the Amador Olive Oil Company in 2006 was way down compared to the previous year, 2005. Owner Susan Bragstad reported that in 2005 the harvest yielded three and a half tons from the farm but this year she was lucky to get a little more than a ton. According to the Farms of Amador newsletter production in the Central Valley was almost non-existant this year as well.
Tuesday, 16 January 2007 12:27

Gas Prices Should Continue Fall

Gasoline prices in California are due to fall -- significantly -- as long as yesterday’s refinery fire in the East Bay doesn't interfere. Gas prices, after bottoming out in early November, rose about 20 cents before stabilizing last week, a trend that baffled motorists and experts alike. Any sign of a drop would be welcome news for Californians, who paid an average of $2.62 a gallon Monday for self-serve regular, up 6 cents from a month ago, according to AAA. Sacramento's average was $2.59, up a dime from last month. Locally, the gas prices continue to flacuate. Last week the Kwik Serve in Jackson dropped their price on regular unleaded to 2.49 a gallon- and then ran out of gas. Don’t expect the prices to remain the same for long though. By late February, refiners in California will start their annual change-over to summer-blend gasoline formulas. Summer gas is harder to make, causing an almost inevitable increase in prices.



The Sacramento Bee Contributed to this story. 

Monday, 31 March 2008 01:16

Hands-Free Driving Law To Take Effect

slide20.jpgOn July 1, California joins five other states and the District of Columbia in requiring adult drivers to go hands-free while talking on the phone. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Joe Simitian of Palo Alto, said he’s sure the new law will save lives. “You don’t have to stop talking on your cell phone, but use a headset or use a speaker system, and you will be fine,” Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said when he signed the bill into law in September 2006. “We have so many folks driving on curvy roads around Amador County, and at night. On Highway 88 and in the snow. If you’re distracted talking it just makes things worse,” says one concerned Amador resident.

 One survey found up to 73 percent of Americans at least occasionally use cell phones while driving. A 2003 study by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis estimated that there were nearly 2,600 deaths and 12,000 serious-to-critical injuries a year in crashes involving drivers using cell phones. Violators of the new law will be fined $20 for the first offense and $50 for subsequent offenses. But there is also a growing body of evidence suggesting that requiring adult drivers to use hands-free devices with their cell phones will do little to reduce crashes. Supporting research shows that being a distracted driver is not necessarily about having both hands on the wheel, it’s more about focusing attention on the road. “There’s a common misperception that hands-free phones are safer when the research clearly suggests that they they’re both equally risky,” said Arthur Goodwin, a researcher at the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center.

Friday, 28 March 2008 00:55

Is There Enough Snowpack?

slide18.pngThe Sierra snowpack has shrunk to normal levels after a series of big winter storms in January and early February were followed by a relative dry spell. While storms have tapered off in recent weeks, the state Department of Water Resources says the amount of snow remaining should be enough to fill the reservoirs that feed the state's water system. The snowpack was less than half its normal depth at the same time last year. That sparse winter snowfall left Northern California reservoirs depleted to between 40 percent and 60 percent of their capacity.

slide19.pngThe additional snow this winter will not be enough to significantly increase water shipments to farmers and cities. The snowpack measurements taken Wednesday showed a decline from just a month ago. It's not likely to increase through the rest of spring, said Rudy Cruz, a National Weather Service specialist in Reno, Nevada. He said no significant storms are on the horizon. While the region may see light rain or snow in the next few weeks, most of the heavy weather is passing to the north. The state will provide about 35 percent of the water requested, the result of a federal court ruling last year. The judge in that case said more water must remain in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to save fish. Pumping through the delta, the heart of California's water-delivery system, has been cut by more than half to protect the tiny delta smelt fish.

slide11.pngAmador County prosecutors are taking the reigns in a rare criminal case that involves both a Stockton City Council Candidate and a Stockton employee. The Stockton Record reports that the people vs. Leonardi, an Amador County case, involves a death, a seriously injured council candidate, and Dino Leonardi, the community and cultural services superintendent with Stockton Parks and Recreation. Leonardi is charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter for his alleged role in a fatal 2007 accident on Highway 88 near Jackson, killing a man named Alston. He publicly disputes the charges against him. Leonardi allegedly caused a fatal two-vehicle accident by passing and in turn cutting off another vehicle, resulting in that vehicle’s driver losing control.

slide13.pngLeonardi disputes the charge. Besides a city supervisor's involvement, what gives the case a public profile are the other occupants of the car in which Alston died: Mark and Jennet Stebbins. Mark Stebbins, a Stockton councilman in the 1980s, recently declared candidacy for the District 6 council seat. Jennet Stebbins is challenging Davis Assemblywoman Lois Wolk for the Democratic nomination for the 5th Senate District seat. After the accident, Leonardi reportedly drove on. Leonardi said he was unaware of the accident. He dialed 911, remaining until interviewed and allowed to go. Leonardi, whose license is suspended, has continued at his job, overseeing special events, the Children's Museum and Pixie Woods. He carpools to work. "My attorney has advised me not to comment on anything as regards to the accident," said Leonardi. He added, correctly: "You're innocent until proven guilty."

Tuesday, 18 March 2008 07:58

Local Student Honored by Governor

slide24.jpgTravis was one of 13 Amador County students named to the All-County Academic team in February. The combination of points given for college test scores, grades, student activities and community service determined the county winner. The other 12 students participants included 2 students from Argonaut High and 10 from Amador high, including TSPN’s own Morgan Lederman. Travis was cited for his 4.26 grade point average, science and engineering scores, and several other school activities that included a number of block letters in academics. Travis was presented an award by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. A perpetual plaque will be placed in the Amador County Office of Education, commemorating this year’s honoree and future winners.
slide18Amador County Unified School District is not only the district currently embroiled in labor negotiations with their teachers union over salaries and benefits. Many of the districts’ so called “comparable districts” are facing the same issues; negotiating in tough financial times. Amador County teachers were offered salary increases of 3.5 percent. The local teachers unions, Amador County Teacher’s Association (ACTA) and the Special Educator’s Association (SEAC) both rejected the offer. In Calaveras County the picture is similar in some districts with teachers in the Vallecito Union School District rejecting a 6.5 percent increase.  In Tuolumne County the Twain Harte-Longbarn district, a district plagued with declining enrollment the teachers asked for 4.5 percent but according to district officials maybe only looking at 2 percent and in the event the district receives more state funding the agreement would funnel some of that to the teachers.
Monday, 12 February 2007 00:34

Federal Judge and Prop83 Terms

slide39A federal judge ruled Friday that a voter-approved California Prop83 can't be applied retroactively to where sex offenders live, potentially freeing thousands of parolees from a ban on living within 2,000 feet of a school, park or place where children gather. U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton said there was nothing in Proposition 83, commonly known as Jessica's Law, that specified its provisions were intended to be applied retroactively. "The court finds that the law does not apply to individuals who were convicted and who were paroled, given probation or released from incarceration prior to its effective date," he wrote.
Wednesday, 17 January 2007 00:51

Federal Judge Delays New California Air Rules

slide25Yesterday a federal court judge postponed the trial over a lawsuit seeking to block a California law that if cleared for implementation will enforce the world's toughest vehicle-emission standards. U.S. District Judge Anthony Ishii has also ordered the California Air Resources Board to delay enforcing tailpipe-emission standards for greenhouse gases. The case will now to go to trial Jan. 30. In his order, Ishii said it was best to wait until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a related global warming case. According to David Doniger an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council which supports the new standards "It's a logical thing to do. The Supreme Court has the very same issue in front of it. We should wait to see what the highest court in the land is going to say." California passed the law regulating tailpipe standards for automobiles in 2002 as part of its effort to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The new standards were adopted in 2004.
Last week in the governor’s budget a policy shift was unveiled. A shift that according to a summary provided by Schwarzenegger's office shows that the governor wants to reserve state youth prisons, which now house 2,800 inmates, for violent male offenders only. By mid-2008, the governor would relocate about 1,340 youths — nonviolent parole violators, all female offenders and virtually all those convicted of drug and property crimes — making them the counties' responsibility. The policy must yet be approved by the Legislature. The plan is already raising concerns among corrections experts, county officials and others who have worked for years to improve the state's floundering system, which has become the receptacle for California's most violent and troubled youths. For some, the idea signals a welcome shift — an acknowledgment, proved through research in other states, that youths typically fare better when they are incarcerated close to theslide2ir families, instead of in prisons hundreds of miles from home.