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Dawn Hodson

Making a home for gnomes

With gnomes and fairies overseeing their work, staff from the local Home Depot showed up last month to help Pam Kaefer, 63, create a one-of-a-kind garden in her backyard over a three-day period.

A resident in a Shingle Springs mobile home park, Kaefer has worked for the last five months to turn her dirt and leaf-strewn backyard into an enchanted garden in the home she and her husband moved to in January.

However, the property was not without its challenges, including a backyard that is mostly all slope. Undaunted, Kaefer …

Web portal outsourced

A contract to bring more business to El Dorado County apparently will likely be outsourced. In July the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors approved spending $100,000 to develop a Web portal that would serve as a launching point or gateway to all the assets and resources available in the county. The goal was to […]

EID to dial back rate hike

Board members of the El Dorado Irrigation District considered lowering next year’s water rate increase from 11 to 5 percent at Tuesday’s meeting. Discussed during a midcycle budget workshop, EID originally planned to increase treated water rates by 11 percent in 2014, this on top of the 11 percent increase this year. Instead, staff proposed […]

EID sets 5-year capital improvement plan; spending not OK’d

A five-year capital improvement plan was approved by the board of the El Dorado Irrigation District at Tuesday’s meeting. The plan calls for spending almost $85 million over the period 2014 through 2018. A total of 118 capital improvements are part of next year’s plan, including 52 that are priority one projects. Many of them […]

Achieving plane perfection at Vultures Row

The process of restoring war birds involves a meticulous attention to detail with absolute authenticity being the guiding factor. That includes the type of wire used, markings, type and color of paint, type of rivets, instrumentation and radios. Wahl’s wife, Carol, who often does the scavenging for parts, said some come from people’s garages while […]

History on the wing

Succeeding in a niche market only works if you’re at the top of your game and that certainly is the case with Chuck Wahl and his crew at Vultures Row Aviation.

Specializing in the restoration of World War II U.S. Navy tailhook war birds, Wahl and his team work on the rarest of rare planes, returning them to better than original condition.

Located in a large hangar at the Cameron Airpark, Wahl started Vultures Row Aviation in 2010 after spending more than 25 years being an air traffic controller. He is also a pilot. What got him hooked into the business, so to speak, was restoring a North American T28 and then a North American SNJ-5C.

The latter, his personal plane, is very rare because of its tailhook, with only three original ones like it in the world. A double prize winner, in 2009 it won the National Aviation Heritage …

Big remodel at Thompson’s Toyota

Thompson’s Toyota may be No. 1 in Northern California in customer satisfaction, but that’s not good enough for Jeff Thompson, executive general manager of the company.

Wanting to further enhance customer service, Thompson’s is in the process of gutting, expanding and refurbishing its sales and service building on Forni Road so people coming in can easily find the services they need in an environment so inviting they may just …

Water rights on GDPUD’s mind

Locking in the district’s water rights came up at the Oct. 8 board meeting of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District (GDPUD). Interim General Manager Gary Hoffmann reported that in November, 2010, the district sent a letter to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) requesting the issuance of Water Rights Licenses for two water rights’ […]

EID celebrates 10 years of Sly Park ownership

On Oct. 7, a celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the El Dorado Irrigation District’s purchase of the Sly Park Unit took place on the shore of Jenkinson Lake.

The crown jewel in EID’s system, the Sly Park Unit, was built in 1955 and managed by EID until 2003, when EID bought it from the United States Bureau of Reclamation for $8.6 million. For that price, EID acquired the Sly Park Dam and Reservoir, Jenkinson Lake recreation facilities …

Mountain Democrat to continue McIntire Family tradition

Disappointed that last year’s Christmas Parade was cancelled due to a downpour, a committee of local residents, with the Mountain Democrat taking the lead, have promised that this year’s parade will take place.

Last year’s parade was cancelled after the city of Placerville decided inclement weather made it too hazardous to proceed.

But that decision was roundly criticized by those who spent hundreds of hours organizing and preparing for the parade and who braved rain, wind, snow and sleet in years prior.

Also upset were the Toys for Tots volunteers who rely on the parade to supply a large portion of the toys they give to …


In the article “Green Valley project forwarded to BOS,” the convenience center development project approved at the El Dorado County Planning Commission meeting would only go to the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors if there was an appeal.

Pattersons undaunted by fire

Not much remains of the old Patterson ranch after fire ravaged the property on that Friday afternoon, Aug. 16.

Started by students smoking behind Union Mine High School, the fire quickly spread in the parched grasses, burning 85 of 90 acres of the ranch, including the house, while also threatening the nearby Lake Oaks Mobile Home Park.

The Patterson home, affectionately known as the “pink house” because of its color, is now just a memory. Built between 1900 and 1905, it was a grand Ranch …

Green Valley project forwarded to BOS

A convenience center on Green Valley Road was approved at the Sept. 26 El Dorado County Planning Commission meeting after a lengthy hearing. An unpopular development with some residents of El Dorado Hills, the 2.12-acre site at the intersection of Green Valley Road and Sophia Parkway is planned to include a gas station, convenience store, […]

CPCSD adopts marketing plan

With an eye to increasing use of the community center and bringing in additional revenue, the board of the Cameron Park Community Services District adopted specific marketing goals at its Sept. 18 meeting as part of an overall marketing plan for the district’s facilities and programs. Goals for the recreation department included increasing revenue by […]

Josephine Moore dies: El Dorado Rose lived to 98

The storybook life of local resident Josephine Carroll Moore ended on Sept. 29 when she died at the age of 98.

An actress, model, mother, socialite and El Dorado Rose, Moore had a wonderfully full life that spanned almost a century.

Born Josephine Carroll French on Oct. 16, 1914 in Senatobia, Miss., Moore had family roots in the area that went back several generations. Her grandfather lived there before the Civil War with 400 slaves. A doctor, he fought with the Confederacy. After the war, he turned his plantation house into the French Hotel.

Cal Fire declines request for proposals from County Fire

Last week the El Dorado County Fire Protection District learned that its Request for Proposal to Cal Fire had been declined. In April EDCFPD sent an RFP to Cal Fire asking what it would cost it to run the district and at what level of service. It was one option the district was exploring in […]

Top-to-bottom review offered in flume tour

Last month, board members and residents got an up close view of one of El Dorado Irrigation District’s most extensive capital improvement projects on a tour that included visits to Flume 41 and Reservoir A.

Coming in with a total price tag of $17.5 million, the project includes replacing the most severely degraded flume sections along the 23-mile El Dorado Canal; replacing or relining 3.4 miles of corroded pipeline between Reservoir A and Reservoir 1; installing piping in the Main Ditch; and completing a chlorine conversion project at Reservoir A Water Treatment Plant.

The four projects make up the bulk of the $19.8 million EID budgeted for capital improvement projects this year.

The tour included a winding bus trip up Rock Crusher Road. Improving the road and reinforcing the rock wall on the side of the road was part of an earlier capital improvement project that cost $1.5 million. The improvements were needed so the replacement flumes could be trucked in. In the past, at times EID has had to …

ALT water treatment plant bids allowed to expire

With the plans for the new water treatment plant at Auburn Lake Trails still up in the air, the board of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District voted not to award a contract to retrofit the plant at a special meeting Tuesday night. Two months ago GDPUD staff put the plant retrofit out to bid. […]

After 111 years, pioneer gets grave marker

For 111 years, the gravesite of Mason W. Brown lay unmarked amid the weeds in the Placerville Union Cemetery. The final resting place of one of El Dorado County’s pioneers, Brown’s grave site probably would have remained anonymous if it weren’t for the intervention of Swansboro resident Jo Thomas. An amateur genealogist and admitted lover […]

Fire board approves final budget

The board of the El Dorado County Fire Protection District  approved a final budget for the new fiscal year at its meeting last Thursday. The new budget comes in at almost $9.4 million, which is down by $1.2 million from the previous year. Eighty-nine percent of the budget goes for salaries and benefits. Chief Mike […]

Freeman pleads no contest

David Robert Freeman, the former Union Mine High School teacher and coach accused of 13 counts of unlawful sexual intercourse or oral copulation with a minor, appeared in court Tuesday morning and pleaded no contest to all 13 charges. The judge in the case, Daniel B. Proud, then referred the case to the probation department for […]

Plant sales grow demo garden

Gardeners can get in a twofer this weekend by shopping at the Master Gardener fall plant sale knowing that their purchases are helping to pay for the Master Gardener demonstration garden going in at Folsom Lake College, El Dorado Center in Placerville.

More than 3,500 items, including a large number of fall starter vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, greens, chard and bok choy, will be available at Saturday’s sale. All of them will make nutritious additions to stews and soups this winter.

Nutting case goes to trial

After a short hearing in South Lake Tahoe, Judge Timothy Buckley ruled that Supervisor Ray Nutting must face trial on the charges brought by the El Dorado County district attorney and California attorney general.

Buckley, who is a retired associate justice, was called in for the Nutting case.

Nutting’s lawyer, David …

Petco opens in Cameron Park

Catering to all the pet lovers in El Dorado County, a Petco store officially opened in Cameron Park on Monday, Sept. 16. With an enormous selection of pet-related items to choose from, store manager Ben Roach-Cogswell said they have everything needed to care for your pet including a wide variety of pet foods, bedding, toys […]

Hospital charges vary: Medicare reimbursement rates released

For the first time, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have released data on medical bills submitted during 2011 by 3,300 hospitals located throughout the country. The charges were for the top 100 most frequently billed discharges for inpatient services. The study revealed a large disparity in what is billed from state […]

ALT bid decision due this month

With multiple deadlines facing the board of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District, a decision on whether or not to award a bid for the retrofit of the Auburn Lake Trails Water Treatment Plant (ALT) will have to be made later this month. In July, the district received four bids to construct the plant with […]

GDPUD: No board clerk — is it legal?

The legality of some of the actions of the board of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District came up for discussion at Tuesday’s meeting. Resident Bill Evans and Director Ray Griffiths both asserted the board is not following the California Public Utilities Code, which governs the district. Reading from a section of the code, Evans […]

Contracting authority considered at GDPUD

Approval of a resolution describing the purchasing authority of the interim general manager was put off until another date at Tuesday’s board meeting of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District. The resolution would have limited Interim General Manager Gary Hoffmann’s contracting authority to $5,000 with no restrictions on what he could spend in emergency situations. […]

EID candidates: Jake Flesher, Division 4

Running in El Dorado Irrigation District Division 4 is Jake Flesher, 39. His campaign Website is A resident of El Dorado Hills, Flesher received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and his law degree from McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific. He previously worked as a deputy district attorney […]

EID candidates: Dr. Dale Coco, Division 4

Running in El Dorado Irrigation District Division 4 is Dr. Dale Coco, 67. Coco’s campaign Website is A retired physician who lives in Cameron Park, Coco has a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Southern Methodist University and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He was chief of staff at Barton Memorial Hospital and served […]

EID candidates: Richard Englefield, Division 2

Running in El Dorado Irrigation District Division 2 is Richard Englefield, 71, of El Dorado. Englefield’s campaign Website is Englefield was employed for 32 years as an administrative analyst specialist in the computing support Department at California State University, Sacramento. He has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Resources from the same university. He served on […]

EID candidates: Greg Prada, Division 2

Running in El Dorado Irrigation District Division 2 is Greg Prada who lives in Cameron Park. His campaign Website is While declining to say his age, the county recorder listed his age as 63. That same bio describes him as having been the president, chief executive officer and a member of the board of […]

INNcredible voyage

Over the years, Fair Play resident Brian Fitzpatrick, 60, has been largely land bound as the owner of an organic vineyard, winery and lodge.

But it would seem the sea has always been his secret love and in the end, has won his heart.

Originally from the Jersey Shore where he swam, surfed and sailed a Sunfish sailboat as a kid, he has now returned to his roots as the owner and captain of a floating bed and breakfast: a $700,000 46-foot catamaran named the INNcredible.

Available for rent as a unique bed and breakfast getaway or as a venue for a company event, the INNcredible is brand new but also well-tested as Fitzpatrick sailed her himself all the way from the French coast to the California coast — a 10,000 mile journey.

GDPUD revisits water plant plans with engineer

Providing his assessment of what to do about the Auburn Lake Trails Water Treatment Plant, consulting engineer Webb Owen presented his findings at a special meeting of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District Wednesday. Present for the meeting were Directors Bonnie McLane, Kathy Otermat and Maria Capraun. Directors Ray Griffiths and Norm Krizl were absent. […]

Pilgrimage to the pope

An estimated three million Catholics celebrated mass with Pope Francis when he visited Brazil for World Youth Day. One of those making the pilgrimage to see the pope was Carolyn Straight, 47, of Rescue, who with her son Charles, 16, went with a group of other people. A stay at home mom of three, Straight […]

Planners forward marijuana ordinances to BOS

After a long hearing last Thursday, the El Dorado County Planning Commission approved two ordinances governing the growing and distribution of medical marijuana in the county. The ordinances now go to the Board of Supervisors for review and approval. Up first at their meeting was reviewing changes made at the commission’s last meeting to an […]

Cameron Park Community Services District GM’s contract extended

It was a light agenda for the Aug. 21 board meeting of the Cameron Park Community Services District. Topping the news was action by the board to extend General Manager Mary Cahill’s contract for another year, effective Oct. 1. In the works with the Local Agency Formation Commission is the annexation of a Cameron Hills 20-acre parcel […]

$82k: County loans to fire dist.

At Tuesday’s El Dorado County Board of Supervisor’s meeting, Auditor-Controller Joe Harn informed the board that the El Dorado County Fire Protection District needed a loan of $82,380. “It’s unusual that this early in the year for a special district to need a loan,” he said at the meeting. In a letter Harn sent to the […]

GDPUD releases legal/GM contracts

Two contracts for services have been finalized and made available by the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District . A contract for general counsel services was signed on Aug. 15 with Churchwell White LLP, a Sacramento-based law firm. Among other things, the law firm will advise GDPUD on special district government matters, draft or review district […]

EID responds to forum candidates’ figures

Following the forum last week for candidates wanting to serve on the El Dorado Irrigation District (EID) board, EID was asked to respond to the information discussed at the forum. Below are its comments. EID added that if something was not responded to, that means it either has no comment or will provide a comment […]

Tea Party hosts EID hopefuls

Rate increases, debt levels and the long-term financial health of the El Dorado Irrigation District dominated a panel discussion last Wednesday by candidates running for two board positions at EID. Sponsored by the Tea Party Patriots of El Dorado Hills, candidates Greg Prada, Dr. Dale Coco and Jake Flesher took turns fielding questions from the moderator […]

Bunny billboards cause stir in county

Two billboards off Highway 50 in El Dorado County have caught the attention and outrage of some residents. Featuring the name of a brothel in Nevada, the billboards, one in Camino and the other in Strawberry, show two shapely blondes and a Web address for the Bunny Ranch Bar. However, it’s all a misunderstanding according […]

Latrobe resident chosen for transportation agency

Latrobe resident Peter Southworth, 48, was recently named deputy secretary and general counsel at the California State Transportation Agency (CSTA) by Gov. Jerry Brown. He assumes his new post on Monday, Aug. 26. Southworth has been a supervising deputy attorney general in the California Attorney’s General’s Office, Government Law Section, since 2011. He served in […]

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