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Michael Raffety

Belltower: Icebreakers

When I was stationed at McMurdo Station with the Navy there were few things to do after the workday at the avionics workshop ended. Dart games and dart tournaments were the big thing. After first disembarking on the ice runway from the C-121 Super Constellation, the first thing I noticed was sunrise – all day […]

Belltower: Cab driving past and present

The last cab ride I took was in Paris. I had figured out the subway system and my wife and I were able to get to every art museum on our list. The only exception was the Musee Marmottan Monet. No subway stop and I couldn’t find its exact location on a map. This was […]

Belltower: Some news items

In the Dec. 30, 2015, Mountain Democrat Publisher Richard Esposito wrote a long dissertation about technological change as part of his first message as newly installed county Chamber of Commerce president. What caught my eye was an item about the first computer housed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1965. I worked my way through college in the […]

Belltower: Newspapers of the West and the Oregon Trail

I was shocked to learn that Hawaii’s first newspaper predates California’s first newspaper — by a lot. It was actually a student newspaper written in Hawaiian with somewhat of a slant provided by the missionaries. It was printed at the first high school west of the Rockies. The high school was called Lahainaluna and the newspaper […]

Belltower: The USS Missouri

As a sailor who spent eight months on an aircraft carrier, I have always been fascinated with battleships and their big guns. During the week my daughter got married in Hawaii I visited the Arizona Memorial, of course, but I also got to tour the battleship USS Missouri. The only other battleship I had seen […]

Belltower: Two famous stagecoaches

I read with interest Pat Lakey’s story in the Mountain Democrat about the Wells Fargo stagecoach joining the Christmas Parade. Credit, of course, belongs to Trisha Campbell, manager of the Broadway Wells Fargo branch, for getting the Wells Fargo stagecoach to come to Placerville. Credit also Richard Esposito, publisher of the Mountain Democrat, for taking […]

Belltower: The wildlife around us

Mondays I buy a San Francisco Chronicle so I can see what the paper’s outdoor columnist, Tom Stienstra, has to say. Particularly, I’m waiting for him to announce that someone has caught a bonita in San Francisco Bay, which is what confirmed El Nino in 1997. That was the year El Dorado County experienced a […]

Belltower: ‘Jewel City’ is a gem of an art show

The last romantic remnant of the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition is the Rotunda of the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco’s Marina District. Encircling the dome is the frieze, “The Struggle for the Beautiful.” By Bruno Louis Zimm. Separating the three repeated friezes in the attic of the rotunda are copies of the “Guardian […]

Belltower: A famous flying boat and remote-control lawn rebates

I always enjoy reading Larry Weitzman’s writeup of the Capital Airshow. He always takes great photos as well. This year his mention of the C-5 Super Galaxy, with its wingspan of 223 feet and length of 247 feet, caught my attention. Before visiting my aunt and cousins in Portland, Ore., we stayed overnight in McMinnville […]

Belltower: The Southeast Alaska way of life

Ships and my wife don’t get along. She says she can get seasick standing on a dock. When we visited my cousin Kathy, who is two days older than I, we learned about Bonine, which is an anti-seasick pill that won’t make you sleepy like Dramamine. Her husband Rob praised it as a cure for […]

Belltower: A few updates

After my column about the Chinese stock market blunders came out the American stock market went berserk, exceeding my cautious connection between the two markets. One of the biggest effects on the American stock market was the inability of Exchange Traded Funds to keep their prices current. Part of the problem was that some of […]

Belltower: The atomic bomb saved my uncle

I saw my late Uncle Tom Raffety in 1981 when our daughter was born and again a couple of years later in San Francisco. In 1987 my uncle wrote a 16-page account of his war years to my mother. A couple of weeks ago I stopped to read it after finding it in a footlocker. […]

Belltower: The China Syndrome

The 1979 Michael Douglas movie of the same name about a nuclear plant meltdown featured the fanciful notion that it could melt all the way through the earth to China. Now we are left to ponder if a Chinese stock market meltdown could go all the way to the United States. By Aug. 29, 1929, […]

23-year project takes flight

Aerospace engineer John McPherson recently got his hand-built airplane certified by the FAA. July 29 was the first time he landed it at the Placerville Airport to back it into the hangar that had previously housed his and Donna McPherson’s Cessna 182 since 1996.

The bright yellow-and-green wood-and-fabric airplane is based on a 1928 design by Bernard H. Pietenpol that was first published in Mechanics Illustrated in about 1930.

Belltower: Into the mystic

Every time I make the drive from Folsom’s East Bidwell Street up the hill toward El Dorado Hills all one can see ahead is blue sky until making the crest of the hill. When there are big cumulus clouds stacked up against the Sierra as I drive up that hill I have the sensation that […]

Belltower: Didn’t know that

It took an Associated Press story about drought in the desert to give me the tidbit that Joshua trees were named by the Mormon Battalion after heading back to Utah via the Cajun Pass in 1857. “They saw the trees as shaggy prophets stretching their limbs to point the way to their promised land,” AP […]

Belltower: Some news that will give you fits

All the people running for president are being put on the spot when they come to Iowa. The big question is where they stand on ethanol. It is not ethyl and it is not high octane. And gas stations don’t give away glasses anymore. Ethanol is a worthless additive made from corn. It might as […]

England’s splashiest Victorian-era painter comes to de Young

J.M.W. Turner, as he is widely known, has been hailed as an artist with a special view of the world around him. Often he is cast as a precursor to the Impressionist painters of the late 19th century. Because he bequeathed 100 paintings to the state they have remained for later generations to study and […]

New contractor gives form to Camp 2 Bridge

Syblon Reid Construction is two-thirds complete with the concrete structure for the Camp 2 Bridge project. After pouring 50 yards of concrete June 4, SRC will have one section of retaining wall to complete.

The replacement contractor has even completed some of the forms for the cantilevered part of the bridge.

Project manager from the El Dorado Irrigation District is Jake Eymann, who said …

Belltower: Birds gone wild

Monday morning on my way to the weekly breakfast meeting of the Taxpayers Association of El Dorado County I saw a crow pecking at French fries. Rather than interfere with the crow’s breakfast I parked in a non-French-fried space next to it. What resulted was a bird confrontation. Two starlings eyed the French fries and […]

Belltower: Rain records provide some optimism about next year

Season rainfall has gone over the 22-inch mark, according to the Mountain Democrat’s rainfall stats. That moves the current 2014-15 rain year into seventh place in the past 141 years of Mountain Democrat rainfall stats. Last year was the fourth lowest. The rain-year ends June 30. At this point it is a low-water year, but […]

Belltower: Rhubarb is more than an argument with the umpire

Here’s a bizarro item. A New York judge ordered a Long Island public university to explain why two chimpanzees it allegedly has been using for motion studies shouldn’t be transferred to an animal sanctuary — in Florida. The animal rights people are trying to confer human rights on primates. The lawsuit was brought by the […]

Belltower: Acrylics and the 4th Appeal

Facebook is not my thing. In spite of that, my son set up a Facebook account for me. I have trouble thinking of things to post, other than a photo of a boutique clothing store in Santa Barbara that has the same first name as my daughter. The second item posted was a 5×7 acrylic […]

Belltower: Rebate programs

Everyone in the El Dorado Irrigation District saved water during the 2013-14 drought — 24 percent. Now the governor has called for 25 percent conservation. Doable? Yes, but… The State Water Resources Control Board came up with some weirdo schedule claiming EID should save 35 percent on water consumption based on September 2014 consumption, even […]

Belltower: Art and water for a retired guy

“Michael Raffety is an arts writer for the Mountain Democrat, covering San Francisco events.” That’s what I’d like for a tag line when I write about major exhibitions at the San Francisco Fine Arts Museums — the de Young and the Legion of Honor. I decided that after reading the review in the Wall Street […]

Exhibit is a walk through art 101

“Botticelli to Braque,” now showing at the de Young Museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, is a selection of works by famous names. The pieces chosen by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco come from Scotland’s three national galleries. Leading off the show of old masters is a bright and colorful painting by […]

Belltower: A new adventure

This is my last column. Today is also my last day as editor of the Mountain Democrat. I am retiring. By the time you read this column I will have already left the building, so any calls will not be returned. I started my newspaper career late in life. I served four years in the […]

Lake levels 2-19-15

Folsom Lake (USBR) 12 a.m. Feb. 19, 2015 Elevation (feet) 422.73 maximum 466 Storage (acre-feet) 550,600 56% of maximum 976,965 Inflow (cubic ft/sec) 1,986 Outflow 878 at Nimbus Dam Sly Park’s Jenkinson Lake (EID) 8 a.m. Feb 19, 2015 Elevation (ft) 3,453.33 maximum 3,471 Storage (af) 29,893 73% of maximum 41033 Inflow (cfs) 32.83 Outflow […]

Weather stats 2-17-15

Placerville weather statistics reported by the Mountain Democrat at 8:30 a.m. on last date listed. Date High Low Rain Feb. 1 76 41 0.00 Feb. 2 73 41 0.00 Feb. 3 75 45 0.00 Feb. 4 76 40 0.00 Feb. 5 75 42 0.00 Feb. 6 71 51 0.00 Feb. 7 68 50 2.50 Feb. […]


A story Feb. 11 about removing two sewer lift stations in the Mormon Island area contained an incomplete figure for the length of new sewer line that will be added. The 40-foot figure cited only accounted for the amount of line needed to bypass the Lakeridge Oaks sewer lift station. The total linear feet of […]


A story on page 14 Friday about EID’s Water Resources and Service Reliability report said El Dorado Hills residents use 0.5 acre-feet of water. The correct figure for El Dorado Hills should be 0.74, while the figure for the rest of the county is 0.5 acre-feet annually.

Lake levels 2-13-15

Folsom Lake (USBR) 12 a.m. Feb. 13, 2015 Elevation (feet) 420.47 maximum 466 Storage (acre-feet) 531,900 54% of maximum 976,965 Inflow (cubic ft/sec) 4,050 Outflow 928 at Nimbus Dam Sly Park’s Jenkinson Lake (EID) 8 a.m. Feb 12, 2015 Elevation (ft) 3,452.30 maximum 3,471 Storage (af) 29,893 73% of maximum 41033 Inflow (cfs) 106.43 Outflow […]

EID reports water reliability

Customers of the El Dorado Irrigation District can expect water supplies to meet demand 95 percent of the time. The remaining 5 percent is when drought occurs, such as last year, during which customers will be asked to conserve. In a report issued by the district last month, EID reported its firm yield at 63,500 […]

Building permits 2/2-6/2015

Permits issued: 2/02 to 02/06/2015 Qty PType Val SUPERVISORIAL DISTRICT: 1 2 BUILDG – NEW – 1-FMLY $1,700,395 1 BUILDG – NEW – ACCSTR $53,739 2 BUILDG – NEW – DECK $28,462 2 BUILDG – NEW – M1FMLY $1,248,000 1 BUILDG – NEW – STORAG $4,681 1 BUILDG – REPAIR – 1-FMLY $46,000 17 ELCTRC […]

EID switches to even-year elections

After three hours of testimony and three alternative motions, the El Dorado Irrigation District Board of Directors voted 3-2 Monday to switch to an even-year election cycle. To accomplish that, three directors whose terms would have ended this year instead will have their terms end in 2016. Two whose terms would have ended in 2017 […]

EID to bypass 2 sewer lift stations

Th El Dorado Irrigation District will save about $2 million by eliminating two sewer lift stations in El Dorado Hills. Replacing sewer lift stations has generally cost $1 million each. After doing an engineering study, EID staff concluded it could bypass the Lakeridge Oaks Lift Station at the corner of Lakeridge Oaks Drive and Green […]

Weather stats 2-10-15

Placerville weather statistics reported by the Mountain Democrat at 8:30 a.m. on last date listed. Date High Low Rain Feb. 1 76 41 0.00 Feb. 2 73 41 0.00 Feb. 3 75 45 0.00 Feb. 4 76 40 0.00 Feb. 5 75 42 0.00 Feb. 6 71 51 0.00 Feb. 7 68 50 2.50 Feb. […]

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