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Dawn Hodson

Young inventors shine at Thomas Edison Day

Inspired by Thomas Edison and other inventors, on May 22 third graders at Pinewood Elementary School showed off their own creations on what in their classroom is called Thomas Edison Day.

An annual event inspired by third grade teacher Lorrie Hargon, the students arranged themselves around the perimeter of their classroom and in trade show fashion, showed off what they had invented and how to use it. Other Pinewood students trooped through the classroom, one class at a time, to ogle and ask questions.

EDCFPD board hears Cal Fire pitch

The board of the El Dorado County Fire Protection District (EDCFPD) heard more specifics about a proposal for Cal Fire to run the district at its meeting May 16. Providing the information was Cal Fire Amador-El Dorado Unit Chief Kelly Keenan, who provided the board with an update on the district’s Request for Proposal to Cal […]

Mobile food pantry delivers

Hoping to reach even more people, and especially seniors, the Food Bank of El Dorado County has launched a new mobile food truck program that delivers groceries to those most in need. Started two months ago, so far the mobile food truck has made stops in El Dorado Hills, South Lake Tahoe and Pollock Pines […]

Meteor expert to speak in Coloma

A public presentation on the Sutter’s Mill Meteorite by SETI Institute meteor expert, Dr. Peter Jenniskens, will be held on June 1 in Coloma. On Dec. 21, 2012 a consortium of researchers published in the journal Science the first results from the analysis of the Sutter’s Mill meteorite and the circumstances of the asteroid impact […]

Planning commissions reviews animal shelter zoning

At its Thursday meeting, the El Dorado County Planning Commission took a first step in establishing a new West County animal shelter facility. Up for consideration by the commission was whether or not the location of the animal shelter within an industrial park was compatible with the county’s General Plan. Proposed plans for the shelter […]

Roadwork update

Caltrans continues to work on a $43 million project on U.S. Highway 50 in South Lake Tahoe from Trout Creek Bridge to Ski Run Boulevard. Landscaping, striping and electrical work is scheduled for spring and summer 2013. Completion is expected in summer or early fall. Work is also starting on a $7.3 project from just west […]

Kids learn while having fun at Farm Day

On May 14, over 1,000 third grade students from throughout El Dorado County descended on the El Dorado County Fairgrounds for the 12th annual Farm Day. Sponsored by the El Dorado County Ag in the Classroom, the day-long field trip featured presentations by farmers, ranchers and foresters as well as demonstrations by Master Gardeners, FFA […]

Wakamatsu branches out

Connecting new generations to the land, the third annual Wakamatsu Farm Festival reached out to new audiences on May 18 by celebrating all the diverse groups that have populated the historic site.

Acquired by the American River Conservancy in 2010, the 272 acre Gold Hill Ranch is notable for the many groups who have called it home. In the past, the focus was on its use as the first permanent Japanese settlement in North America. However, according to Michael Dotson, Director of Development and Communications for the American River Conservancy, this year’s festival was designed to be different.

“Our vision is to educate people on the diverse cultures in the area to bring in a wider audience and connect them to the land,” he said.

In line with that goal, spread out over the ranch were four venues reflecting the four main groups that lived on and drew their sustenance from the land. Trooping from staging area to staging area on Saturday were an estimated 700 people who traveled by foot, in buggies and covered wagons, or in golf carts across the grass and oak-studded landscape to sample the culture of each group.

The venue pertaining to the earliest residents went to the Miwok and Nisenan Indians …

No winner in property dispute

Richard Johnson, 79, said he’s living in an America he doesn’t recognize anymore after tussling with the county over what he says is an infringement on his property rights. The owner of 5 acres of land in Shingle Springs that he’s owned since 1965, Johnson said his plan was to eventually build a home here. […]

$10k for PR? GDPUD trio dislikes news

In an apparent effort to improve their public image, the board of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District (GDPUD) discussed spending $10,000 to hire a public relations firm at Tuesday’s meeting. Leading off the discussion was board member Maria Capraun, who criticized the Mountain Democrat for its articles and especially the titles of its articles. […]

GDPUD votes to put water plant out to bid

After a lengthy discussion that covered familiar territory, the board of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District finally voted to put out to bid the plans for the retrofit of the Auburn Lake Trails Water Treatment Plant. Since February when General Manager Hank White first asked for board approval to get bids on the plant, the […]

Former fire chief cuts his own pay, but fiscal damage already done

Despite the warnings that had been issued in prior audit reports for the El Dorado County Fire Protection District (EDCFPD) and complaints raised by former board member Mike Dennis, it apparently wasn’t until late 2011 that Fire Chief Bruce Lacher and the fire board understood that there was a serious problem with the district’s finances.

Lucas Shepard, who was president of the firefighters union at the time, said Chief Lacher informed them that because of a budget shortfall of $500,000, they needed concessions from the union. Shepard said they returned with a package that included a pay cut along with members paying a part of their retirement and health benefits.

He said Lacher later asked for additional concessions because the deficit was worse than first thought. It was then that Shepard and other union members began looking into the budget in more detail and learned the extent of the district’s fiscal deficit. He said what angered them most was finding out that while …

Comet spotted?

Pollock Pines resident Rod Robertson said he believes he saw what looked like a comet around 11 p.m. Thursday night, May 9. He said it streaked across the sky from south to north in Pollock Pines. The resident was driving home on Highway 50 when he saw the object approximately 200 to 300 feet overhead. […]

Former fire board members respond

Editor’s note — This is part 1 of a two-part series looking further into the financial situation and the retirement of Chief Bruce Lacher of the El Dorado County Fire Protection District. Last month’s articles on the personnel and financial woes of the El Dorado County Fire Protection District (EDCFPD) drew kudos as well as complaints […]

Raggedy Ann comes to lunch

It was a Raggedy Ann Luncheon on Saturday as the Ladies Society of St. Patrick Church gathered for their annual event.

Susan Meyer, who coordinated this year’s event, said it helps raise money to support different church projects. Two hundred tickets were sold with the proceeds going towards whatever projects the parish needs most. Past projects included updating the kitchen and repairing the roof.

Every year the Ladies Society picks a different theme for the luncheon. In past years it was hats, antique aprons and Cinco de Mayo. This year it was Raggedy Ann and Andy. On each table was a fun table setting featuring Raggedy dolls along with tea sets and other toys. Festooned around the room were lots and lots more …

OT pay for resource chief in limbo

A request for supplemental pay for the district manager of the El Dorado Resource Conservation District (EDRCD) is being questioned by El Dorado County Auditor-Controller Joe Harn. Previously the EDRCD submitted a claim to the county to pay District Manager Mark Egbert for time he had accrued over the past 10 years, primarily for attending […]

Fundraiser scheduled for EDH youth with rare disorder

Plucky 12-year-old Mikey Keleshian of El Dorado Hills may have been born with a rare genetic disorder, but that’s not holding him, family or friends from doing everything they can to ensure that he gets well. And that includes holding a fundraiser for him so he can receive specialized treatment for his condition. Born with […]

Toast to Wildlife showcases SWR’s success

It was a howler of a good time as Sierra Wildlife Rescue held its Toast to Wildlife Champagne Brunch at the Cameron Park Country Club on Sunday, April 28. Supporters were treated to an opportunity to interact with rescued wildlife as well as hear a galvanizing presentation on wolves, enjoy a sumptuous brunch, and take […]

Fire sparks power outage, burns acre and a half of Fair Lane

An underground junction box on Fair Lane near the Superior Court driveway blew out on Thursday afternoon, causing a temporary power outage and a cloud of black smoke that choked the air. The power surge resulted in a power line falling into a ravine at 193 Fair Lane around 1:30 p.m, sparking a grass fire. […]

Final survey shows little snow

A final snow survey for the season came up empty at Phillips Station, with no snow to measure. According to the Department of Water Resources (DWR), the water content in California’s snowpack is only 17 percent of normal, meaning below average water supply this summer. Results of manual surveys at other sites by DWR off […]

Yet again: GDPUD delays water plant

Resembling the movie Groundhog Day, the topic of the Auburn Lake Trails Water Treatment Plant got the rerun treatment at yet another special board meeting of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District. Held on Tuesday night, the board received an update from board member Maria Capraun on conversations held with the California Department of Public Health, […]


The article on the Master Gardener plant sale said the demonstration garden was being developed on land donated by Folsom Lake College. The land is actually owned by the El Dorado County Office of Education and has been made available to the El Dorado County Master Gardeners for the demonstration garden.  

Have feet — will travel

Seeking to accomplish yet another feat with his feet, Matt “the walker” Livermanne, 36, is trudging his way towards a goal of walking all the way from San Diego to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska: A trip of 2,556 miles.

Stopping long enough in El Dorado County to tell his story, Livermanne said he left San Diego a month ago and has already covered 680 miles. If he can reach his goal of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, in 145 days, he will earn a $100,000 prize from Pepsi.

“But I’m not walking for the prize,” he said, “but to see this route.”

Claiming, with tongue in cheek, that he is, “a professional street-walker,” Livermanne says he has already earned a world record by walking 10,000 miles over 19 months. In 2010 he said he walked from Los Angeles …

Plant a little, grow a lot

What: Master Gardener Spring Plant Sale Who: UCCE Master Gardeners Where: Veterans Memorial building parking lot, 130 Placerville Drive, Placerville. When: Saturday, May 4 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cost: No admission, cash and checks are accepted for purchases Information: UCCE Master Gardener office at 530-621-5512 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Tuesday through Friday Tired of […]

GDPUD: Is there a lawyer in the house?

The special meeting of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District last Tuesday night was tripped up by legal questions, rendering the meeting a non-event that required rescheduling. The evening’s board meeting began with a motion to approve the agenda. But stopping it dead in its tracks was resident Bill Evans who pointed out that GDPUD’s […]

Group tours historical downtown

A tour group from out-of-town got a snapshot history of Placerville last Friday.

Sponsored by the El Dorado County Historical Society, the tour was led by Don Uelmen and Debbie Hunger Lightfoot. Dressed in period costumes, the duo took a group of 28 members from the Daytona Ski and Travel Club on a quick 60-minute tour of the long and colorful history of downtown Placerville.

Starting at the elegant Cary House Hotel, where many of the tour group were staying, Uelmen noted at one time it housed the Wells Fargo Office and was a stage stop.

4-H club members celebrate centennial with Home Arts Day

The El Dorado County 4-H Youth Development Program celebrated its centennial year in California on April 13 with Home Arts Day.

On tap were competitions, demonstrations and plenty of learning activities for the 1,000 people expected to attend.

El Dorado County 4-H offers projects in 38 different areas, but Saturday’s event focused on Home Arts with entries including photography, robotics, fiber arts, cake decorating and art.

To encourage youths to visit all the different activity booths, each child received a passport with his or her photo. Every time they visited a 4-H activity, their passports were stamped.

Fire district settles with former chief

At the board meeting of the El Dorado County Fire Protection District (EDCFPD) on April 18, Acting Fire Chief Mike Hardy reported that former Chief Bruce Lacher was now officially retired and they had reached a final settlement with him including dismissal of his worker’s compensation case. The terms of the agreement described Lacher as […]

Items continued at planning commission meeting

The March 28 meeting of the El Dorado County Planning Commission ended with most items being continued. A proposal by Green Valley Nursery and Landscape was continued off calendar in order to address biological issues associated with the project. Don and Julie Devorss had submitted an application to allow a nursery and landscaping business on […]

Cameron Park inks 5-year Cal Fire deal

The Wednesday night board meeting of the Cameron Park Community Services District (CPCSD) was relatively sedate, with contracts and resolutions occupying most of the agenda. Approved was a five-year, $10.2 million, contract with Cal Fire for fire protection. The base cost for 2013-2014 will be $1.9 million plus a 2.5 percent escalator for years two through five. […]

Cowboy match features vintage guns, costumes

It was shoot ‘em up time Friday as a posse of cowboys and one cowgirl gathered at the El Dorado Rod and Gun Club for a Cowboy Match that featured plenty of fancy shooting and good-natured jibes.

All decked out in their favorite western duds, sporting holsters and guns replicated from the 1800s, and using aliases to protect the innocent, the posse went through six different scenarios testing their time and accuracy using pistols, rifles and shotguns.

Keeping everyone in line were the scorekeepers who carried around a fake stick of dynamite as a badge of honor.

Originating in Southern California in the early 1980s, cowboy matches have become an increasingly popular …

Community Browser Thrift Store a labor of love

When is a thrift store not a thrift store? When it’s a labor of love on behalf of a grandchild. Called the Community Browser Thrift Store, Camino residents Candice and Steve Gibson opened their Placerville-based store in January of this year as a way to support certain charities and give back to the community. Now […]

GDPUD board wants salaries, jobs justified

Renewed charges of micromanaging by the board surfaced during the April 9 meeting of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District. That accusation came up throughout the night as the board discussed putting together a budget for next year and what role the newly formed finance committee would assume in the process. Board member Maria Capraun […]

GDPUD: Water plant delayed further

Hoping for a time extension on a loan to retrofit the Auburn Lake Trails (ALT) Water Treatment Plant, District Counsel John Knowlton reported that he, board member Maria Capraun and Interim General Manager Kelly Shively were scheduled for a teleconference with the USDA on April 11. The board of directors of the Georgetown Divide Public […]

Retiree health insurance studied by CPCSD

The board of directors of the Cameron Park Community Services District reviewed information it may use later in deciding how to pay for future health benefits for district retirees. At its March 20 meeting, the board reviewed a recently completed GASB 45 actuarial valuation of the district’s retiree health insurance program. The actuarial report was prepared […]

Blacksmithing: Hot time at the fairgrounds

There was a lot of hammering, fire and smoke in the air last weekend as the California Blacksmith Association (CBA) held its 35th annual spring conference in Placerville. Almost 400 people from Arizona, Washington state, Nevada, Oregon and California arrived to pound iron and learn more about the art and craft of blacksmithing, according to Dennis […]

The chief takes a walk: Allegations focused on former Chief Lacher

Editor’s note: This is part I of a two-part story about the departure of El Dorado County Fire District Chief Bruce Lacher. It’s been a tough few years for the El Dorado County Fire District as it has struggled with shocking financial disclosures, sexual harassment lawsuits, a fire chief who left after a vote of […]

Community fundraiser set for cancer victim

Michael Hargon, 27, knew something was wrong last November when he started having vision problems, headaches and numbness on one side of his head. As his symptoms became progressively worse, he went in for surgery in February to remove what was originally thought to be a benign tumor the size of a plum. But the […]

Banquet featured O.J. Simpson attorney

The Ponderosa High School Foundation held its eighth annual Spring Banquet on March 22, with its featured speaker being one of the lawyers who helped defend O.J. Simpson during his murder trial. Over 100 people attended the event, including teachers, parents, administrators, students, and community members. Co-presidents of the event were Dave Sargent and Jennifer […]

GDPUD board changes staff chart, again delays waterplant bid

Apparently one board meeting of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District (GDPUD) was not enough. Nor was two or even three. Instead the board met four times in March with it yet again delaying action on the most important issue. Still unable to make a decision about the upgrade to the Auburn Lake Trails (ALT) […]

Norm Sappenfield: Hot rod guy still making souped-up engines at age 84

Is Norm Sappenfield, 84, the highest-caliber machinist, mechanic, engine builder in the area?

Some people seem to think so and who could fault them when Sappenfield has been working at it all his life and has a wall full of memorabilia to prove it, including a testimonial that says: “With the expertise of the finest mechanic and car maker, Norm Sappenfield. 1952 Chevy pickup for Modie Katz who appreciates Norm’s skill, talent, and creativity and thanks him heartedly.”

Katz is a local entrepreneur who has founded eight different companies.

Sappenfield says as a kid he grew up around racing guys, serving as their gofer.

Caltrans updates roadwork schedule

Roadwork continues in El Dorado County to maintain or improve the major highways, according to a roadwork update from Caltrans. One short-term project includes maintenance work on State Route 49 (El Dorado and Placer Counties) from State Route 193 in Cool to the Bear River Bridge. Motorists can expect one-way traffic in different locations from […]

Gloomy forecast for snowpack

There wasn’t much new to report when the California Department of Water Resources conducted its second-to-last snow survey on March 28.

Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Survey for DWR, began the survey by pointing out that the hole he sank last month to measure the snowpack was still visible.

“That tells you what kind of a year we’ve had,” he said, noting that it is unusual for it to be this dry for three months straight.

After taking several samples, Gehrke announced the average snow depth at Phillips Station was 13 inches with a water content of 6.1 inches or 32 percent of normal. Last year this time, the snow depth was 31 inches and the water content was 11 inches.

Recalling the artist who captured souls

If the eyes are the window to the soul, then Placerville artist, E. Richard Colburn was one of those who was able to capture them in his portraits. Colburn, who died March 4 at the age of 82, always strove, in his words, “to reveal his subject’s soul through the eyes” and to “discover and portray […]

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