Friday, March 27, 2015

Courthouse debate results in letter from city

Placerville City Council voted unanimously at the March 24 meeting to send a letter to the California Judicial Council in support of relocating the courthouse within Placerville city limits and requesting assistance with mitigating the anticipated economic impact to the downtown area. Recent concern expressed by downtown business owners prompted both the letter and a special community meeting […]

All aboard: And breakfast is served

Ron Mikulaco noted a history-making event at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. He claimed the “unanimous vote on a Rails to Trails issue” was the first ever. Often contentious events, Rails to Trails has pitted the so-called “train guys” against the “trail people” in numerous board meetings over the past five years. In general, the […]

Supervisors take on Rails to Trails: Board memebers unite on second item

County supervisors denied a proposal by the Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad to extend its excursion train trips to 30 for this year. In the second train-related item of its March 24 agenda, the board compromised by allowing two of the 30 requested excursions as special events. A charter trip for the local California Native […]

Gold and boots found on Main

Shades of “Paint Your Wagon” revived Gold Rush dreams in some when gold flakes were unearthed during the water line replacement work being done on Main Street. “We’ve known all along that we might find some flakes of gold during construction,” said Placerville City Manager Cleve Morris, “but it’s nothing anyone is going to get rich […]

Water board issues new regulations in face of drought

With the state in the fourth year of a drought, the State Water Board voted to re-impose new prohibitions on water use and added new ones at its March 17 meeting. Prohibitions approved in 2014 that were reauthorized for this year include: not using potable water to wash sidewalks and driveways; not allowing runoff when irrigating with potable water; […]

EDWPA continues debate on water rights application

Members of the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors and El Dorado Irrigation District got a refresher on a water rights application at their March 11 session. Presented at the board meeting of the El Dorado Water & Power Authority, of which the county and EID are a part, the presentation appeared to be for two […]

Harris unemotional in interview until affair discussed

Colleen Harris showed little emotion in an interview with detectives hours after the death of her husband — until the interview focused on her husband’s infidelity. But, after the interview, during a “fit for incarceration” examination, she was quiet and unemotional.

Registered Nurse Tom Kulesa and Dr. Roger Gallant testified the afternoon of March 24 during the murder trial that Harris — who gave her last name as Batten, her previous married name — showed a “flat affect.” Kulesa said she reported no pain and was calm and cooperative. She did not mention memory loss or mental problems to Gallant, something that would be “absolutely” important to the examination.

Threat locks down schools

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office received a call at approximately 1:05 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25, about a man at the El Dorado Center of the Folsom Lake College campus who claimed to have a gun and threatened to blow up the college. “We take threats like this very seriously,” said Lt. Tom Murdoch […]

Harris in ‘gray fog’ when husband shot

A woman accused of killing her husband was in a “gray fog” the day the alleged murder occurred. “What happened today?” Detective Mike Lensing asked Colleen Harris on Jan. 6, 2013. Harris’ answer was simple: “I don’t know.” She remembered taking down Christmas decorations and watching a movie — and then she remembers seeing a […]

Cal Fire awards EDC $1 million in grants

Cal Fire awarded more than $1 million in grants to El Dorado County organizations for projects aimed at reducing wildfire threats. Of the 83 grants awarded throughout the state accounting for $9.5 million, organizations in El Dorado County accounted for six grants and about $1.05 million of grants funded by the State Responsibility Area fee. About […]

King Fire area gets a Band-Aid

Look up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s a helicopter dropping straw!

Helimulching was once again being carried out in the King Fire burn area as two helicopters dropped ton after ton of rice straw on the blackened hills, turning them yellow as clouds of thatched material spiraled into the air and then settled.

A joint effort of the U.S. Forest Service and the Sacramento Metropolitan Utility District, 695 acres were treated …

Big Cut miners settle: Legal action in Sac County pending

Charges were dropped against two miners allegedly illegally operating the Big Cut Mine after a settlement was made — but legal action is still pending in Sacramento County. Joseph Hardesty, one of the defendants, said that charges were dropped against him and co-defendant Richard Churches in December and November 2014, respectively. “I can’t go into […]

Tribe addresses gun range complaints

In a press release issued on Monday, the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians (Tribe) said it is addressing the concerns of the nearby community regarding a proposed gun range. “We are investigating and vetting all concerns. We will not move forward with the project until all concerns are addressed,” said Tribal Chairman Nicholas Fonseca. Earlier this […]

Chief reports on crime

In his annual reporting of Placerville Crime Statistics, Placerville Police Chief Scott Heller had mostly good news to report. There was an overall 11 percent decrease in Part One type crimes in the city between 2013 and 2014. These include violent crimes against persons, which were down 30 percent overall, with no increase in homicide, […]

Victim’s daughter first witness

Bob Harris was worried. He just arrived back from Mongolia, where he was working on projects for the Tahoe Baikal Institute. He also had an affair with a Mongolian woman, and his wife, Colleen,  found out. Much to his daughter’s chagrin, that did not stop him from staying with Colleen for three months after a […]

Colleagues, law enforcement testify in Harris trial

In the days leading up to his death, Bob Harris was chipper. He was in the beginning phases of planning ways to raise funds for the Tahoe Baikal Institute. That’s what three colleagues testified on Wednesday in the Colleen Harris murder trial before it switched gears to law enforcement witnesses.

Bruce Ledesma, John Gussman and Robert Sheble, all former board members of TBI, were in contact with Bob Harris before his death.

“He seemed normal,” Sheble told the jury on March 18. Sheble was to stay with Harris at Bob’s South Lake Tahoe …

Deputy arrested for domestic violence

An El Dorado County Sheriff’s deputy was arrested in Placerville on a charge of domestic violence on March 19. Deputies responded to the 4000 block of Oak Leaf Circle for a report of domestic violence, a press release from the Sheriff’s Office stated. Following an investigation, Shane Humbird, 36, an EDSO deputy, was arrested on […]

Auditor files, dismisses libel suit

The El Dorado County Auditor-Controller filed and later dismissed a libel lawsuit against a former county employee. “I filed a lawsuit against Chris McCaffree on March 12,” Auditor-Controller Joe Harn stated in an e-mail to the Mountain Democrat. “Leading up to my reelection campaign in 2014, Mr. McCaffree made a number of utterly false, malicious […]

Phone scam: Caller poses as deputy

A new twist on an old scam surfaced recently: A caller claims to be from the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office informing a resident of a warrant for their arrest for missing a jury summons. Bail payment will be accepted in lieu of jail time. Hatch Graham, of Placerville, was told this by “Lt. Josh […]

Efforts initiated for local UC campus

How does your community nail down a billion-dollar windfall? Get a University of California satellite campus. That’s what El Dorado County Treasurer Tax-Collector C.L. Raffety told the Board of Supervisors at its March 10 meeting. Raffety has been deeply involved in trying to find ways to attract a UC program to the county, preferably a […]

Supervisors move forward on Economic Development

Citing both the General Plan and a “work-in-progress” Strategic Plan, the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors launched a project to spur economic development at its March 17 meeting. Tuesday’s morning session at the El Dorado Hills Fire Department’s Station 85 drew an audience of about 100, including county staff. “There is no magic bullet […]

Prosecution: Harris killed out of love

Prosecutor Joe Alexander opened the Colleen Harris murder trial with a simple statement: Harris killed her husband, Bob, because she loved him.

On Jan. 6, 2013, she shot and killed Bob with a 12-gauge shotgun “as he lay sleeping in bed,” Alexander told a jury. “The defendant loved her husband. They had loved each other since they were children.” But, they had taken different paths in life, married different people and started families.

Both came together later in life and married on Sept. 2, 1990. But by the fall of 2012, the relationship “was not healthy…”

CAO quizzed on budget deficit

Getting the county budget back on track was the main topic as interim El Dorado County Chief Administrative Officer Pamela Knorr spoke before the El Dorado Taxpayers Association on Monday. With the county needing to cut almost 5.9 percent in spending in order to close a structural gap in its budget, Knorr said she, along […]

Lend-A-Heart lands locally

Dogs and cats and rabbits, oh my! When the founders of Lend-A-Heart Animal Assisted Therapy started the organization in 1987, they knew it was a good idea to have therapy animals visit people who needed their affection and silent encouragement, but they probably didn’t expect they would visit 60 facilities in the Sacramento region and need […]

‘Heaven’ used as meet-up spot

As El Dorado County sheriff’s deputy Aaron Cuddeback rolled to a stop near the intersection of Powers Drive and Beatty Drive, he spotted six parked cars. Assuming two per car, about a dozen people were probably there. It was early — a bit after 5 p.m. — and more teenagers would surely appear later. A sort of lovers’ […]

Blue Ribbon Committee application extended

The deadline for submitting an application to join the Blue Ribbon Committee to create a strategic plan for the potential development and reuse of the historic Placerville Courthouse and historic City Hall has been extended to Friday, March 20 at 3 p.m. Under the direction of the city of Placerville and El Dorado County, a Blue Ribbon […]

EDH man causes fatal SLT collision

An El Dorado Hills man allegedly caused a DUI collision on March 13 in South Lake Tahoe, claiming the life of a 28-year-old man. Ginger D. Baker, 43, of South Lake Tahoe, drove a Chevrolet pickup truck eastbound on Highway 50 west of Chiapa Drive at about 10:30 p.m. with the victim — whose name has […]

Shootout leads to house fire

A man shot at deputies responding to a domestic argument call in Cameron Park early Monday morning, spurring a shootout that ended with a house fire, but caused no injuries.

Deputies responded to the call on the 3100 block of Oakwood Road at about 2:30 a.m., El Dorado County Sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Felton said. As they were speaking to a female outside the residence, a man inside — later identified by an EDSO press release as Michael Hoffer, 44 — opened fire with a rifle. One deputy was able to return fire. The shootout lasted between …

Bridge project to proceed

The El Dorado Irrigation District held a special board meeting on Friday to discuss two closed session items. Reported out of closed sessions was approval of a settlement with U.S. Specialty Insurance Company regarding the Camp 2 Bridge Replacement Project. U.S. Specialty insures Excavating Engineers Inc., the company originally hired to complete the project. The new company […]

BOS gives back EDH fire fees

Contentious discussion notwithstanding, during its March 10 meeting, the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors agreed unanimously to give back nearly $95,500 to the El Dorado Hills County Water District/Fire Department. The amount represents development impact fire fees collected relative to the district’s Capital Improvement Plan. The issue had been put off since the board’s […]

GDPUD losing money on its meters

The water district is losing money on its aging meters, according to a study presented to the board of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District at its March 10 meeting. Conducted by MC Engineering, the purpose of the study was to determine the overall efficiency of the district’s system. Paid for through a grant from PG&E and the […]

Drought and ALT plant discussed

Although there are still hoops to jump through, progress is being made to retrofit the Auburn Lake Trails Water Treatment Plant, according to a staff report made at the March 10 board meeting of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District. George Sanders, who previously acted as interim general manager for the district, reported that although they have yet to receive final […]

Coloma Post Office still delivering mail after 165 years

The tiny post office in Coloma may be 165 years old and counting, but old age and rumors that it’s haunted haven’t dampened its spirits.

Indeed, while over 100 post offices are said to have existed in El Dorado County at one time or another, it’s the Coloma Post Office that is still here while most of the rest have closed or been combined with others.

It’s also a meet up spot for the community as there’s no other mail delivery in the area. Instead residents stop by regularly to collect mail from their boxes while catching up on the local gossip.

Coloma is more than just a …

EDCWA interim GM selected

The El Dorado County Water Agency (EDCWA) tentatively selected an interim general manager. However, a contract must still be hammered out. That decision was reached at the agency’s board meeting on Wednesday. Ken Payne, who is a partner in the Municipal Consulting Group, was selected to fill the spot until a permanent general manager is hired. […]

Hinds pleads not guilty

A man accused of shooting his father-in-law pleaded not guilty in a Tuesday arraignment. Joseph Hinds, 33, was appointed a public defender and entered a not guilty plea to a charge of assault with a deadly weapon, a firearm, and denied a special allegation of causing great bodily injury — which makes the felony a serious […]

Embezzlement: EDH man indicted

A federal grand jury indicted an El Dorado Hills man Wednesday for allegedly embezzling more than $400,000 from his former employer. Jeffrey Lamson, 51, was charged with three counts of wire fraud, a press release from U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. From at least 2009 to 2011, Lamson embezzled more than $400,000 from the […]

Interest lags on future of courthouse

What to do with the historic county courthouse on Main Street in Placerville has been a hot and cold topic among locals for years. The Superior Court, a division of the state’s judicial system, has used the building since it was built in 1913. Now, however, due to the facility’s many antiquated features and amenities, […]