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Never give up on a dream

Patience pays off for local businesswoman It’s not easy being an entrepreneur, especially when the business you want to create relies on technology not yet created. Such is the story of Camino resident Anita Thomas, who has been chasing a business dream for more than 18 years. — a dream that has changed as the technology behind it has advanced and finally caught up […]

Camino district proposes bond

Camino Union School District has all the charm of a rural school district but at more than 60 years old it’s showing its age.

Hence the push by its school board and staff to get approval from residents this June for a bond issue to fund needed improvements.

Superintendent/Principal Matthew Smith, who oversees Camino School and Camino Science and Natural Resources Charter School on the Snows Road campus, took the Mountain Democrat on a tour, pointing out the site’s many deficiencies.

El Niño delivers but state says keep conserving

El Niño continues to deliver more snow and rain but that won’t change the statewide conservation mandate set by Gov. Jerry Brown last year.

At Tuesday’s State Water Resources Control Board meeting, board members voted to extend the mandate through October of this year, although the amount of water to be conserved will be somewhat more flexible.

George Kostyrko, director of the SWRCB office of Public Affairs, said there is no specific conservation target.

Sheriff makes pitch for new facility

El Dorado County residents learned more about the sheriff’s facility needs at community meetings last week as El Dorado County Sheriff’ John D’Agostini took his pitch for a new, multi-million-dollar building on the road.

Last Tuesday night’s event at the American Legion Hall in Placerville was attended by interested residents, politicians, including District 3 Supervisor Brian Veerkamp and Assemblymen Frank Bigelow and law enforcement officers.

Poor Red’s reopens this spring

The highly anticipated reopening of one of El Dorado County’s landmark watering holes is just a couple months away. Poor Red’s regulars and guests could be at the bar ordering famous Gold Cadillacs in early April. New owners Jeff Genovese, Mike Genovese and Mike Hountalas, along with contractor Bruce Wirtanen, continue to work on the building […]

Clubhouse taking shape

We may have had a lot of rain lately, but nothing has dampened the spirits of those building the new Boys and Girls Club in Placerville.

Located on Green Valley Road near Mallard Lane, the concrete foundation for the 15,000-square-foot building has been laid and the steel frame is up, showing just how big and impressive the building will be when finished.

Sean McCartney, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado County Western Slope, said 95 percent of the rough framing is complete and next week they will start the interior framing.

Chase turns into rescue

Two men who fled down a snowy canyon and spent the night outdoors in frigid temperatures “gratefully gave up” when confronted by El Dorado County SWAT members Saturday morning.

Sheriff’s employees, California Highway Patrol officers and U.S. Forest Service officers began searching for Derrick Dionno, 32, and Triston Crossland, 31, Friday morning after the pair reportedly fled on foot when stopped in their vehicle by a California Fish and Wildlife officer near Wrights Lake Road and Highway 50, according to information provided by the Sheriff’s Department.

Staying safe on the slopes

The apparent loss of skier Carson May, who was last seen skiing in an out-of-bounds area at the Sugar Bowl Resort on Jan. 14, has prompted the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department to share skiing and snow sports safety tips.

El Dorado County deputies and Search and Rescue volunteers from Tahoe and Placerville, in conjunction with the Search Management at the Incident Command Post, diligently looked for 23-year-old May for several days before calling off the search.

Prepared … should terrorists strike: County has resources to keep people safe

Terrorism — a looming dark shadow over the United States. A terrorist can strike anywhere — an office Christmas party, a college campus, a community event … even El Dorado County. Though the county has been spared a tragedy thus far, the Mountain Democrat asked local law enforcement, fire agencies and school officials “what if?” […]

Development approved: Dixon Ranch gets the go-ahead

After a four-hour hearing the El Dorado County Planning Commission approved the Dixon Ranch residential development at its Jan. 14 meeting.

Located in El Dorado Hills, the development proposes 604 new single-family homes on 280 acres on the south side of Green Valley Road near Malcolm Dixon Road. A 5-acre lot is carved out to accommodate an existing residence in the area.

As part of approving the project, the commissioners changed the property’s zoning with some of it zoned high-density residential and other parts medium-density residential. The commission also expanded the amount of zoned open space from 1.28 acres to approximately 68 acres.

Police substation soon to open near Grocery Outlet

It’s not a crime to be homeless in Placerville, but where the homeless congregate the crime rate is soaring.

That’s the word from police Chief Scott Heller who Tuesday night persuaded the City Council to approve the idea of locating a police substation in the troubled shopping center where Grocery Outlet and the Dollar Tree store anchor the complex on upper Broadway.

New Station 84 now in service

EL DORADO HILLS — Station 84 has been redesigned and rebuilt.

The building looks great and, more importantly, it is safer and more efficient.

“Seconds count when you’re called out,” said Capt. Mark Ali, who heads the B shift at the station.

The station is staffed 24 hours a day by a captain, engineer and firefighter/paramedic in shifts A, B and C. Crews are at the station for 48 hours, then 48 hours off.

Priest urges compassion for refugees

Pleading for “illogical mercy,” Father Christoforos Schuff, an Eastern Orthodox Christian priest, described the ongoing European refugee crisis when he spoke at the Cozmic Café on Dec. 30.

Talking to a sympathetic crowd, Schuff detailed his experiences working with refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos as he asked for compassion toward those who have been displaced by wars in the Middle East.

Man dies in rainy day wreck

An El Dorado Hills man was killed Wednesday after his vehicle collided with a traffic light pole, according to California Highway Patrol officials.

At about 11:18 a.m. on Jan. 6 James Riley, 68, was driving his maroon 1969 El Camino westbound on White Rock Road when the vehicle, for unknown reasons, drifted to the northwest side of the road and smashed into a traffic light pole head-on at the intersection of White Rock Road and Stonebriar Drive.

Manansala selected as new superintendent

The El Dorado County Board of Education played 20 questions Monday and answered the biggest question — who will be the new superintendent of schools? — with Ed Manansala, Ed.D, the county’s current deputy superintendent for Educational Services.

One of four candidates interviewed for the job of superintendent, after a day of interviewing Manansala ended up ranked No. 1 by all trustees.

New year, new baby

Happy parents Michael Kerr, left, and Brooke Kerr from Cameron Park hold their son Acrisius Kerr. The newborn was Marshall Hospital’s first baby of 2016. Acrisius was born at 7:47 a.m. on Jan. 2, weighing 8 pounds, 9 ounces.

Snowpack promising in first survey

The new water year was off to a good start as measurements at Phillips Station on Wednesday showed an average snow depth of 54.7 inches.

Of more importance, though, was its water content, which at 16.3 inches was 136 percent of the long-term average.

Last year at this time the snow depth was less than half that amount and the water content was only 4 inches.

Another bone found in ‘skull mystery’ at Folsom Lake

El Dorado County Search and Rescue personnel scoured the shores of Folsom Lake Dec. 20 in the vicinity of where a human skull was found in mid-November, looking for any possible clues as to the origin of the remains.

A bone with the ball joint attached was found as a result of the effort by some 35 SAR members, remains that could be either human or animal, according to sheriff’s Lt. Tom Murdoch.

“It was a rather thick piece, maybe 3 to 4 inches down from the ball joint at the top,” said Murdoch. “Because of the possibility that it could be human it was turned over to detectives.”

Court denies EDH apartment project

“The El Dorado Hills Town Center Apartments project approval has been overturned by the courts, one year after its approval by the Board of Supervisors.”

So begins a prepared statement from the group known as Citizens for Sensible Growth in El Dorado Hills.

Placerville’s longtime city clerk reflects on career

If the city of Placerville had placed a “personals” ad in the newspaper to find a new city clerk, it would have looked like this: “Desperately seeking someone like Susan.”

Actually, the city has a new city clerk, hired just this month, a clerk who has had the priceless benefit of training under Susan Zito herself for the past few days.

Kelly Witt probably doesn’t fully understand just how valuable Zito’s words will be as she eases into the post Zito filled for the past 26 years. But that’s because few truly have a grasp on how important Zito has been to the city of Placerville.

Second chance likely for Oak Ridge principal

Oak Ridge High School students, parents and staff packed the El Dorado Union High School District boardroom in Placerville last Thursday afternoon to continue a campaign to save Principal Paul Burke’s job.

During the public comment period parents and head football coach Eric Cavaliere spoke about the positive things Burke adds to the El Dorado Hills high school. After the speakers the El Dorado Union High School District Superintendent Stephen Wehr and the Board of Trustees went into a three-hour closed session.

When they came back president David Del Rio said, “The board gives direction to the superintendent to make use of outside resources to identify issues and solutions at Oak Ridge High School.”

Inmates build Christmas wishes

As you drive up to the intimidating 1,200-acre Folsom Prison facility, you can’t help think of the late Johnny Cash and the famous live album The Man in Black recorded there on Jan. 13, 1968. Fast-forward to Tuesday, when Folsom Prison transformed from a legendary concert venue to a place where Christmas wishes came true.

My focus shifted to the shiny kids’ bikes — 160 in total— all rebuilt and refurbished by inmates for local children who would otherwise go without this childhood staple.

Folsom State Prison Community Resources Manager Timothy Polasik said this year-round operation really makes a difference — for the kids and the inmates.

Flames destroy Sierra Nevada House

COLOMA — The Sierra Nevada House caught fire Monday afternoon with flames destroying much of the historical landmark.

This is the third time the building, which served as a way station for miners and tradesmen during the Gold Rush, has burned, according to owners Keith Merson and Kristi Warren. Fire destroyed the original building in 1902 and the Sierra Nevada House burned again in 1925, the popular restaurant and bar’s website states.

Democrat publisher handed the gavel

Reflecting on the astonishing changes in the world over the past couple of centuries, including the changing face of the communication industry from word-of-mouth to newspapers to today’s social media that delivers information in a flash, Mountain Democrat Publisher Richard Esposito was sworn in last week as president of the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce.

Rasmussen’s gift keeps giving

Darol Rasmussen died five years ago but the gift he left behind continues to change El Dorado County residents’ lives.

The retired dentist, rancher, humanitarian and Rotarian from Cameron Park was a generous donor of time and money his entire life. For years Rasmussen, along with others, provided funding for the Rotary Club of Cameron Parks’ many college scholarship programs and in 2008 he started a new fund just for those pursuing a vocational career.

Hangtown Christmas Parade shares two miles of smiles

The 37th Hangtown Christmas Parade had something for everyone. Music, horses, marching units, performing groups, vehicles of all shapes and sizes, fire engines, floats, law enforcement, military and Santa made their way down Broadway and Main Street in Placerville to an appreciative crowd Sunday afternoon.

A few sprinkles of rain might dampened the day’s early hours but didn’t put a damper on the McIntire Family tradition presented by the Mountain Democrat. More than hundred entries strutted their stuff under a winter sky, which provided a cozy blanket for spectators and parade participants.

Nick Brown recovering back in Roseville

The Union Mine High School football player who suffered a major head injury and underwent emergency brain surgery has returned to the area and continues to make progress.

Nick Brown is now recovering at Sutter Rehabilitation Institute in Roseville. He was previously receiving treatment at HealthBridge Children’s Hospital in Orange.

Oak Ridge principal placed on paid leave

Oak Ridge High School Principal Paul Burke has been on paid administrative leave since Nov. 2, pending an investigation by the El Dorado Union High School District for undisclosed reasons.

District Superintendent Steve Wehr called it “a confidential personnel matter.” Burke is not facing any criminal allegations and no students are involved in the investigation.

CHP rescues six from snow

California Highway Patrol crews rescued five children and an adult man near Junction/Ice House Reservoir, north of Highway 50, Sunday afternoon after they became stranded in the snow and their vehicle was sliding near a cliff, according to CHP officials.

CHP’s Helicopter 20 (H-20) responded to the call for help at about 2:30 p.m.

Tree farm, shops hustle and bustle on Black Friday

Cold temperatures didn’t keep people away from their holiday traditions the day after Thanksgiving,

Families happily trekked to the Camino/Apple Hill area to get their Christmas trees Friday morning. Several tree farms were open early, ready with a big smile to take part in that tradition.

Shining a spotlight on diabetes

A7-year-old would normally fidget with boredom having to listening to adults talk about disease.

After all, that’s something adults worry about, not children.

But Gracie Clingan is not like most 7-year-olds because she has Type 1 diabetes — the very disease the adults are talking about.

Teen finds strength in scuba

Oak Ridge sophomore Michelle Koopman has achieved something only a few youth around the world can claim and she carries this license more proudly than a new driver.

Days before her 15th birthday in June, Michelle earned the Professional Association of Diving Instructors’ Junior Master Scuba Diver rating. PADI is the No. 1 certifying scuba agency in the world and issues less than 20 Junior Master licenses annually in the United States, Latin America and Caribbean combined.

Emergency crews prepare for the worst

Screaming patients, contaminated victims and chaos took over Marshall Medical Center last Thursday as emergency crews participated in a drill simulating a mass-casualty incident.

Coordinated with multiple agencies, more than 100 personnel from the medical center, Cal Fire, El Dorado County Fire, El Dorado Hills Fire, Diamond Springs Fire, El Dorado County Sheriff, El Dorado Office of Emergency Services, the Placerville Police Department, El Dorado County Public Health, El Dorado County EMS and Union Mine High School participated in the four-hour event.

Tip a hat to Harry Dunlop, ‘the water guy’

Harry Dunlop died at his home in Diamond Springs on Nov. 5 at the age of 95.

Dunlop was a giant in the water world, a giant when it came to community service and a giant when it came to moral stature.

No newcomer to El Dorado County, Dunlop’s family history went back to the 1880s when his grandfather bought 160 acres on the site where Walmart stands today. Growing pears when the fruit was in its heyday, his father John Dunlop was the county’s assistant agriculture commissioner. the senior Dunlop also assisted in the acquisition of Sly Park. Harry’s mother Antonia was a member of the Forni family, another long-time ranching family.

Bank robbery suspect sought

El Dorado County sheriff’s detectives need the public’s help to identify a man who robbed an El Dorado Savings Bank Friday evening

Sheriff’s deputies responded to a bank robbery on Pleasant Valley Road in Diamond Springs. According to sheriff’s officials, the suspect reportedly fled the scene on foot. He was last seen running east on Pleasant Valley Road.

Remains found in Folsom Lake

A mother and son found a human skull in the Browns Ravine/Hobie Cove area of Folsom Lake Thursday evening.

El Dorado County sheriff’s investigators responded to the scene.

“(Investigators) are thinking that the body could be 10 to 15 years old (in the water, not the person’s age). The victim could have drowned from a boat accident … suicide, a missing person. It could be a number of things,” El Dorado County sheriff’s Lt. Tom Murdoch told the Mountain Democrat.

Vet helps keep PT boats afloat, during and after war

“Give me a fast ship, for I intend to go in harm’s way.” — John Paul Jones

At 93 and still full of spunk, Rolf Bruckner sipped his whiskey seven and recalled a life that has included serving in both World War II and Korea, helping Navy servicemen earn college degrees and participating in the restoration of a PT boat to mint condition — an accomplishment he still relishes to this day.

One of those selected to be honored at local Veterans Day events this past Wednesday, Bruckner was born in Hamburg, Germany. Still a toddler, he and his family immigrated to the United States in 1924 where they settled in New Jersey.

Veteran of the Year: Joe Whiten gives back to vets on the green

El Dorado Hills resident and U.S. Army Reserve veteran Joe Whiten combined his passions for golf and helping veterans to create the Serrano Salute to Valor Golf Tournament that in the past two years has raised nearly $52,000 for military veterans.

For what he has done to help veterans, Whiten will be named El Dorado County Veteran of the Year today at Veterans Day ceremonies held at 11 a.m. at the El Dorado County Veterans Monument, 360 Fair Lane in Placerville.

Meyers arrested again

El Dorado County Superintendent of Schools Jeremy Meyers was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol Thursday afternoon, his second DUI arrest in five months.

California Highway Patrol officials report that at approximately 2:50 p.m. on Nov. 5 Meyers was driving a white 2013 Dodge Ram westbound on Green Valley Road at Mortara Circle when the vehicle drifted off the roadway and crashed into a large utility box. No injuries were reported.

Lopsided Measure E vote favors open space

EL DORADO HILLS — More than 90 percent of Measure E voters sent a loud message to the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors Tuesday — deny Parker Development Company’s pending application asking to rezone the former Executive Golf Course from its current open space-recreation designation to residential housing and commercial.

Thirty-six percent — 8,024 of the 22,240 registered voters within the El Dorado Hills Community Services District boundaries — cast their vote with nearly 91 percent saying no to the rezone and 9 percent voting yes, according to El Dorado County Elections’ semi-official report.

Two killed in early morning, three-car collision

Two teenagers were killed in a multiple-vehicle collision on Highway 49, two miles South of China Hill, Tuesday morning. At about 6:05 a.m. the driver of a blue Ford Focus, 18-year-old Gabriella Briceno of El Dorado, apparently lost control on northbound Highway 49, crossed into the southbound lane and side-swiped a Toyota Camry, according to […]

Exec. honored for helping those who serve

“In short — integrity. It takes great integrity to accommodate a maintenance manager who has to leave often and usually on short notice,” said U.S. Army Sgt. David Streetman on why he nominated his boss Greg Kasner for the Patriot Award.

Streetman said he’s already missed six weeks of work this year. On Oct. 26 he, along with two other military members, showed appreciation for all the support he’s received by presenting Ponte Palmero Executive Director Kasner with the prestigious Patriot Award …

Teal pumpkins equal safe candy

For trick-or-treaters who might do a double-take Halloween night to see painted teal pumpkins, the pumpkins aren’t a trick but a reassuring sign safe treats are ahead. The organization Food Allergy Research & Education launched the Teal Pumpkin Project campaign last year to raise awareness of food allergies during the Halloween season. To date 100,000 […]

Christmas parade applications due soon

The time is now to get your entries in for the hottest cool-weather event of the season, the Hangtown Christmas Parade that celebrates the diverse and enchanting community with a theme this year of Cartoons and Christmas.

That leaves the imagination free to run wild as floats, animals and other entries wind from Broadway down Main Street, Placerville, in the much anticipated annual parade. Deadline for entries into the 37th Hangtown Christmas Parade is Nov. 16 — no late entries are accepted.

Apple juice recalled

Editor’s note: The juice voluntary recalled is only High Hill Ranch apple juice. Barsotti’s juice is not involved in the recall or linked to any illness, and is being offered at High Hill Ranch as a substitute while ranch owners confirm the safety of their own product.

High Hill Ranch in Camino has voluntarily recalled its apple juice after receiving information that several ranch visitors became ill due to E. coli bacteria.

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