Thanks to the King Fire, Reverend Pattie Weber and her wife, Lisa Maslack, have to change their home insurance. While they have more than the recommended defensible space and were not affected by the fire, Liberty Mutual will not renew their wildfire insurance — a matter that is strictly business.
“A lot of people are experiencing this,” Weber said. After speaking with neighbors, many are suffering the same fate — their insurance companies, mostly big-name, national companies — will not renew wildfire insurance due to the King Fire and previous wildfires in the county. “We’re not special in this whole thing.”
Weber, a minister at the Cameron Park Spiritual Center for Positive Living, describes herself and her wife as “mindful stewards of the land…”
While still in the draft stage, a plan to restore the area burned by the King Fire is drawing both support and criticism, with the U.S. Forest Service stuck in the middle.
Last year’s conflagration burned almost 98,000 acres, 63,000 of it in the Eldorado National Forest.
According to a restoration plan being circulated for comment, only 14,100 of the 63,000 acres will receive some kind of treatment, including salvage logging and the replanting of trees.
Laurence Crabtree, who is supervisor of the Eldorado National Forest, said so far the public feedback is mixed with some advocating for more timber harvesting while …
Jackie Neau said she didn’t mind the noise so much. She’s more concerned with getting shot. Neau, a representative of the Friends of El Dorado Trail, shared her concerns with El Dorado County Supervisors Tuesday regarding a proposed outdoor shooting range on tribal land just off Shingle Springs Drive in Shingle Springs. She was one of more than 200 in attendance when the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians presented its proposal to the board and the community.
At issue is the tribe’s decision to move forward with a 29-lane shooting range on its land …
“I am absolutely, completely innocent,” Andrew Sanford said at a hearing Monday before being sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. “I was nowhere around when the crime took place.”
Protesting his innocence on a conviction of the 1980 first-degree murder of Richard Swanson, Sanford said he was “appalled” at the District Attorney’s case, refuting supposed conversations he had and claiming he did not encounter witnesses at the time. Witnesses then lied on the stand, he said, at the prosecution’s behest. He claimed he would be …
The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office arrested three suspects in connection with the alleged Feb. 3 murder of Pete C. Thomas.
Nalana Omega, 31, of Placerville, and Raul Gonzalez, 22, of El Dorado — a validated Sureno gang member — were arrested on murder warrants at a Green Wing Lane residence, an area known for Sureno activity, in Placerville on Feb. 18, Lt. Tom Murdoch said. Roberto Barrera, 18, of Diamond Springs, also a validated Sureno, was arrested at Grocery Outlet, where he is an employee, the same day on a murder charge.
All three were arraigned on Feb. 20, each pleading not guilty. The three remain in custody with no bail due to the murder charges. They are being held in separate facilities — only Barrera is in Placerville — to prevent communication between them, Lt. Jeff Dreher said.
Visiting Judge Gary Hahn set the next hearing date as Feb. 24 at 1 p.m. in Department 7.
After almost 37 years at the Mountain Democrat — virtually all of it as an editor — Mike Raffety is retiring as of Feb. 23.
A fixture at the paper for more than a generation, Raffety has served in multiple capacities — reporter, editor, photographer, columnist and opinion shaper. He’s also been a steadfast champion of the community, celebrating its accomplishments while unsparing when criticizing those who fall short when it comes to looking out for its welfare.
Something of a renaissance man, Raffety was born in Berlin, Germany, and later adopted by an American military couple who moved back to the United States, eventually settling in California.
A January 2015 Best Choices Review of the 50 Best Small Downtowns in America ranked Placerville as No. 28. Extolled in Placerville’s virtues are the monthly stagecoach rides, the 160-year-old Belltower and the Placerville Hardware Store, as well as Placerville’s Gold Rush history and being the late artist Thomas Kinkade’s home town.
Randy Peshon, during his career with the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, has been consistently thrown into jobs that he had no idea how to do. Yet, every time he moved to another department, the one he left was better than when he came in. On Feb. 17, Peshon, 59, currently a captain, will be promoted again, to the role of undersheriff.
As a division commander running both El Dorado County jails, in Placerville and South Lake Tahoe, he also ran court security and transportation of inmates. “It’s like running two small cities,” he said. “We have to provide services in a safe and secure manner,” but to inmates — who can be hostile …
Being homeless is not the end of the story; for Becky Nylander and Ken Green it was just the beginning. The two met at a low point in their lives but things were already starting to change when they came to live in Hangtown Haven, a legal encampment for the homeless operated in Placerville as a pilot program. Now, both are employed and living in their own home, members of a church and part of a support system for those who are currently homeless.
“We have been best friends for four years,” said Nylander, 42. “I had strong feelings for …”
Rene Gonzalez-Mejia, 53, is no stranger to accolades, for good reasons. From swimming awards to being recognized by the king of Spain for his work bridging the cultural gap between Nicaragua and Spain, Gonzalez-Mejia has consistently gone above and beyond. Now, his alma mater, UC Davis, is awarding him the Emil M. Mrak International Award for 2015 in recognition of his career and service outside the U.S.
On Feb. 6, Gonzalez-Mejia was due to receive the award at the UC Davis 42nd annual Alumni Awards at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. According to the UC Davis …
The American Association of Retired Persons, or AARP, does taxes for free — and you don’t need to have silver hair to take advantage of the generous program.
Most of the volunteers, who are certified and trained in order to qualify to handle tax returns, seem to be older — but that’s only because retired folks naturally have more time to offer their services.
Take John Haller, local coordinator for the Placerville site located at the El Dorado …
A sound in the early morning hours of Jan. 28 caused Rick Hudock to get up and open the window on the second story of his house on Smith Flat Road in Placerville.
“It sounded like a ton of water and gravel flying,” he recalled. “It was more sound than anything. Then it was over.”
“It was pitch black,” his wife, Nancy, added. They couldn’t see anything.
Rick, a retired graphic artist for the Stockton Record, opened the front door of the house. He saw two things: “Mud and trees.” A mudslide had occurred, blocking off the entire driveway…
Former Robinson’s Pharmacy owner, Jerry Bennett, died on Sunday, Jan. 25 in Salt Lake City, Utah at the age of 79. Bennett began work at Robinson’s as a new pharmacist and he worked there for more than 40 years, purchasing it from Don Robinson and becoming a well-known and vital member of the community.
At the Jan. 27 Placerville City Council meeting, the current owner of Robinson’s Pharmacy, Dennis Thomas, spoke of his longtime mentor and friend.
“He started the pharmacy at Marshall Hospital and he helped Tom Raley start the pharmacy at Raley’s; he loaned money quietly to families in need … and he made many trips to the pharmacy after hours to help people,” said Thomas.
Bennett served on both the Placerville Planning Commission (1978-1984) and the City Council (1984-1994). Thomas described one of …
California may be looking at a fourth year of drought based on the latest snow survey conducted Jan. 29 at Phillips Station.
With sunny weather and not much snow on the ground to measure, Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Survey for the California Department of Water Resources, stuck a pole into the ground and came up largely empty.
The survey found a snow depth of 7.1 inches and a water equivalent of 2.3 inches, which is just 12 percent of the long-term average for this time of year at that particular snow course.
These results are down from measurements done Dec. 30 when there was 21.5 inches of snow on the ground with a water content of 4 percent.
“In a normal year we’d have about five feet of snow depth at this location this time of year,” said Gehrke.
Statewide, the snow water equivalent as measured by more than 100 sensors was 4 inches, or 25 percent of the historical average. That’s down from …
The Main Street-Cedar Ravine Realignment and Clay Street Bridge Replacement Project is back in action after Placerville City Council’s approval of a design concept for a four-way stop at the intersection at the Jan. 27 meeting.
The project, approved in 2011, replaces the functionally obsolete Clay Street bridge and realigns Clay Street to face Cedar Ravine. The contentious roundabout that was proposed as an alternative for the intersection of Main, Cedar Ravine and Clay streets in 2006 was removed as an …
Looking to add to their credentials, Marshall Medical Center hopes to add the designation of being a Baby-Friendly Hospital next month.
Part of a global Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative sponsored by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund, the designation recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding.
In particular, the initiative focuses on providing new mothers with the information, confidence and skills needed to successfully breastfeed their babies and gives special recognition to hospitals that have done so.
In charge of the program at Marshall is Christine Miguelgorry, who is a …
A new ruling issued on Jan. 12 of this year is giving hope to suction dredgers that they will once again be able to ply their trade on California’s waterways.
Issued by San Bernardino County Judge Gilbert Ochoa, the decision builds on a previous ruling by a state appellate court in the case of People v. Rinehart.
In that case, Brandon Rinehart successfully appealed his conviction for suction dredging without a permit when the Third Court of Appeals for California ruled the trial …
She was the first pipe organ in El Dorado County; she might be one of the only two Bergstrom Pipe Organs left in California; she might be the largest surviving Bergstrom and now, this vintage lady of El Dorado County history needs a home as the county fair is asking the Historical Society to move it.
Built by John Eric Bergstrom, a Swedish immigrant who learned the science of organ building in Sweden before coming to the United States in 1850, the Bergstrom pipe organ is the only occupant of the Organ Room at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds. Usually the background for exhibits during the county fair, the organ hasn’t been played for many years.
According to “History of El Dorado County Federated Church,” by Malcom E. Wright, the organ was purchased by the Placerville …
Even 70 years later, the death of Gen. George S. Patton remains controversial.
A person connected to the Mountain Democrat offers a different, insider’s perspective on the traffic accident that led to Patton’s death, disputing the controversy.
A brilliant and audacious warrior who was often called “old blood and guts,” Patton’s untimely death at the end of World War II resulted in speculation that he died at an assassin’s hand rather than because of an automobile accident.
It was the subject of several books. One published in 2008 was called “Target Patton,” by journalist Robert Wilcox.
Two of the three men arrested last week in connection with a cold case murder from 2006 were arraigned the afternoon of Jan. 20.
Eric Mehlmauer, accused of murder, was assigned no bail after pleading not guilty; Ronald Garcia was accused of aiding Mehlmauer after the alleged murder was committed and was assigned $50,000 bail.
Garcia, 53, of Sacramento, was arraigned first and entered a not guilty plea to a charge of accessory after the fact, or willfully concealing, harboring or aiding the suspect after a felony — in this case, the alleged murder of Tobias Kaiser on or about Nov. 11, 2006.
Despite the devastating effects of the King Fire, clean up and recovery efforts continue in White Meadows.
That area suffered the most in terms of property damage with 12 homes and at least 57 buildings destroyed.
One of those families whose home burned was Michele and Doug Mudgett, whose ranch, Pacific House Farms, was in the path of the fire.
Their home, barn and much of the timber on their property was lost. They are now living in a small travel trailer on their property along with their …
A man armed with a pistol robbed a check-cashing store in Cameron Park Tuesday afternoon, fleeing on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash and the assistant manager’s wallet, according to El Dorado County Sheriff’s investigators.
The man, who reportedly was unmasked when he went into the Check Into Cash store at 3440 Palmer Drive, fled northbound following the 3:50 p.m. robbery. He had masked himself later, as he brandished a gun and demanded money, according to sheriff’s detective Jon Densmore, who was …
A vigil was held on Jan. 11 for a woman killed during an alleged carjacking.
The vigil was held at 6 p.m. at 36 Handles in El Dorado Hills, the bar Khrista Ibarolle was leaving when she was allegedly murdered by Anderson Swift, 41, of Oakland, while trying to carjack Ibarolle and her friend Kesha Patrice.
The well-attended candlelight vigil was organized by nearby Rolling Hills Church. Member Crystal Wilson read a message from Ibarolle’s family off of her phone. Lori, Khrista’s mother, wrote, “No one will miss her more than her family, who now have a Khrista-shaped hole in our hearts.”
Khrista Ibarolle was a people person.
“She was the kindest person, she would do anything for others,” said Marina Texeira, owner of the Torch Club in Sacramento, where Ibarolle frequented. “That’s the irony.”
Ibarolle was allegedly killed during a carjacking just after midnight on Jan. 7 in the parking lot of the 36 Handles Pub in El Dorado Hills by Anderson Swift, 41, of Oakland. Texeira said the act was “disgusting, quite honestly.”
The 31-year-old El Dorado …
A woman died after an apparent robbery gone wrong outside an El Dorado Hills restaurant shortly after midnight on Jan. 7.
El Dorado County sheriff’s officials said shooting suspect Anderson Swift, 41, of Oakland, is in custody. Swift allegedly tried to rob two women who were leaving 36 Handles Irish Pub in the Montano de El Dorado shopping center off White Rock Road.
The pub had just closed, said Lt. Tom Murdoch, and two women were walking to their cars. “The suspect demanded cash and keys from the two females. The female patrons ran from the suspect,” a sheriff’s press release stated. They made it “close to the front door,” Murdoch said. One of the females, identified by Murdoch as Khrista Ibarolle, 31, of El Dorado Hills, was then shot and killed by the suspect. The suspect took Ibarolle’s keys, stole her vehicle and headed northbound on Silva Valley Parkway.
The Clara Scheiber building, on the corner of Pleasant Valley and Missouri Flat roads, has been around since 1948, but the freezing temperatures of December 2013 took their toll on its 66-year-old trusses.
Mother Lode Lions Club has owned the building since 1959 and this February, right after the their crab feed, the Lions noticed something amiss. “The roofline was bulging out right over the entrance,” said Jerry Didlot, club president.
A roofing company called out to inspect the problem discovered cracks two to six inches wide in the trusses supporting the roof in the main hall. “We figured …”
A standoff over a warrant service ended Thursday night after a fire broke out at 2237 Cold Springs Road.
The standoff began at about 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 1, a press release from the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office stated. A male living at the residence, whom EDSO had not identified as of press time, had a warrant related to felony domestic violence.
The male refused to exit the residence when deputies contacted him. However, he …
A small blizzard and sub freezing temperatures greeted Frank Gehrke as he conducted the first snow survey on Dec. 30 at Phillips Station.
Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Survey for the California Department of Water Resources, measured the depth of the snow at 21.3 inches. But with a water content of just 4 inches, Gehrke noted it was only 33 percent of average.
“While there is more snow than last year,” he said, “the amount of water in the snow is far below average for this time of year and location. But we’re doing slightly better than last year at this location when it was only 2.3 inches of water content.
With this year being the 40th anniversary of the El Dorado County Historical Museum, what better way to celebrate than by highlighting 40 objects that best tell the story of the county and the museum.
The brainchild of museum Director Mary Cory, she said the inspiration came from a book she read about the history of the Civil War that was told through 50 objects.
“Quite a few books tell a story through objects,” she said.
Arranged chronologically or by theme, the first of 40 objects …
Abby McGloughlin, 9, is a little bummed that she won’t be seeing the family elf, Lillypippa, again until next year, but Abby has been mostly good. This year, she took to heart a sentence her mother put on the family home-school chalkboard: “Instead of asking what you’re getting for Christmas, ask what you can give.”
Abby is the girl with the hair, golden brown hair that ends just above her knees. She loves her hair; her parents love her hair. But on Dec. 22, Abby and her mother, Bre, went to the Gold Country Hair Salon and Rose Laird cut 14 inches of it off to be donated to Children With Hair Loss.
“We researched different Websites because Abby wanted her hair to go to children,” said Bre. “Children With Hair Loss makes wigs for children without any cost to their parents.”
This is not the first time Abby has donated her hair. At age 3 and again at age 5, she …
On Dec. 22, as a culmination of a fundraising effort, Cal Fire presented the kids of New Morning Shelter with toys and gifts cards.
Engineer John Reis, who took the reins of the fundraiser this year, presented Mary Tyler, the shelter manager, with 58 gifts and a dozen gift cards. “It’s our way of giving back,” he told the assembled kids and shelter staff.
Tyler expressed thanks, noting that there was not much that could be done for the holidays without the donations. “Kids come with no shoes, no underwear.” When that …
As one of eight survivors of a platoon of 48; a Silver Star awardee from an encounter in the Hurtgen Forest where Allies were surrounded for 21 hard winter days; being wounded three times; a participant in the battle of the bridge at Remagen; successful in the career he loved and the husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather of large and loving family; Tom Vano considers himself to be a lucky man.
Vano, 88, of Cameron Park, gave his Silver Star to a family member, but he really didn’t want it to begin with. It was a symbol of things he wanted to forget and reminder of brave men who died.
He grew up in Astoria, Long Island, and was friends, classmates and bandmates with the singer Tony Bennett, whose family had come from the same part of Italy, Calabria, as Vano’s parents.
On Dec. 9, 2014, Placerville Mayor Carl Hagen turned over his gavel to Vice Mayor Patty Borelli and walked into a life a little different from the one he has led for the past 10 years as a member of the Placerville City Council.
Hagen, 69, who has been mayor twice, was appointed from a pool of nine candidates to replace Councilman Robert Salazar, who died during his term in 2004. In 2006, Hagen was elected to his first full term on City Council and to his second in 2010.
“There was a public …”
The holiday season is usually a retail bonanza for merchants. This November, national retail sales were up by 4-5 percent, with the National Retail Federation predicting a whopping $616.9 billion in sales for this holiday season.
Downtown Placerville merchants have seen steady sales and some of them are hoping for the late season surge they experienced last year.
“Last year, there was a big surge about four days before Christmas,” said Danielle Thorne, owner of Ecological, 320 Main Street, which specializes in fair-trade items.
With last Thursday’s storm threatening more damage, U.S. Forest Service and Sacramento Municipal Utility District staff were out in force doing what they could to protect a watershed left scarred by the King Fire.
On Wednesday, crews were hurriedly putting in berms, placing risers over culverts, laying rocks and log barriers and taking other measures to protect the hillsides, roads, powerhouses and other structures before the storm hit.
Up and down Forebay Road, dump trucks rumbled by with tons of crushed rock. At the bottom of one gully, a front-end loader graded the area while rock was placed above to control the water flow and to keep the gully from turning into a small canyon. Meanwhile, what looked like a hydro excavator truck waited on …
The storm that hit California late last week dumped rain and snow in El Dorado County, causing power outages, floods and downed trees.
For the previous 48 hours at 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 12, the storm rained between 1 and 4 inches of water, with Placerville having the highest at 4.22 inches, according to the National Weather Service’s …
“I was working at the Kaiser Shipyard in Richmond and I got drafted by the Army,” said Ray Haagen. Since shipfitters making Liberty ships (military cargo ships) had a deferred occupation, Haagen had thought he might not be drafted, but he was.
The 94-year-old Pleasant Valley resident hadn’t really talked about his experiences during WWII in the “Thunderbolt Division” — the 83rd Infantry Division, until he received a bottle of 1939 Chateau Lauretan wine in the mail from the son of a former Army buddy.
The unopened bottle had been signed by Haagen and a dozen others in Normandy in 1945 and labeled “Do not open until 1955.” Haagen didn’t remember signing the bottle, but he remembered working with supply sergeant Ben Young, who had held on to the bottle until his death in 2002.
“I was attached to Regimental Headquarters because I had taken typing in high school,” said Haagen. “I rode all over…”
George W. Peabody, one of the foremost historians of El Dorado County, died on Saturday, Dec. 6 at a neighbor’s home that he helped build on the top of Lent’s Hill. He had recently celebrated his 96th birthday, but the holy tamales which Peabody attributed to having extended his health by seven months could only do so much against colon cancer.
Born Oct. 23, 1918, Peabody grew up in Southern California and attended South Pasadena College. He married Patricia Cecilia Davies on June 13, 1942, went to work for the Lockheed Corp. as an aircraft …
A man found guilty of murdering his wife was sentenced to 26-years-to-life in state prison on Monday.
“I’m ready for a big dose of karma,” Katelynn White, a member of the audience, said as Todd Winkler, now dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit instead of a suit, was led into the courtroom. “That outfit fits him better.” White would have been the stepdaughter of Rachel Winkler had she not been murdered by Todd on Feb. 27, 2012. He was convicted on Oct. 22.
Before the sentence was decided, Judge Kenneth J. Melikian allowed members of the audience to give victim impact statements. The first was by Don Hatfield, Rachel’s father.
CAMERON PARK — Food 4 Less shoppers have seen their local grocery store transform before their eyes over the last several months and earlier this week Nugget Markets unveiled the store’s new name — Fork Lift — and kicked off a week-long celebration.
“It’s really a hybrid of Food 4 Less and Nugget,” said assistant store director Jazzmen Sinns. “It’s the best of both worlds.”
In addition to offering products shoppers have added to their carts since Food 4 Less opened in July 2002, Fork Lift has more than 20,000 new items, Sinns said, pointing out the …
With the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor coming up this Sunday, the event still manages to evoke strong memories in those who lived through that event, even after 73 years.
One of those is Shingle Springs resident Bob Clarke, whose family lived in Hawaii at the time and who was an eyewitness to history.
Living in a home at the top of a hill overlooking Pearl Harbor, the Clarke family watched as the ships and nearby military bases were bombarded by the Japanese.
Clarke, who was 15 at the time, said he, his parents and two younger brothers were living in an area called Aiea, which was once an old plantation town.
In what was largely a reprise of the last meeting of the El Dorado County Water Agency, members of the Taxpayers Association of El Dorado County debated the pros and cons of pursuing additional water rights at their Dec. 1 meeting.
With Dave Eggerton, the outgoing general manager of the El Dorado County Water Agency providing an overview, the audience peppered him and each other with questions about the project.
At present the Water Agency, in conjunction with El Dorado County and the El Dorado Irrigation District, make up a joint powers authority called the El Dorado Water & Power Authority or EDWPA.
Together the three agencies are splitting the cost of an application to the State Water Board for an additional 40,000 acre-feet of water rights. The expected cost of the application is between $8.1 million to $11.7 million, with the big-ticket items being an environmental impact report, consultants and legal help.
Geri Hyder, armed with a walking stick, radioed down to her son-in-law, Rich Rumbaugh, to tell him that more cars were coming in to Indian Rock Tree Farm. Helpers in red shirts and hats scurry around, providing a full service of cutting, hauling, netting and putting trees on top of cars.
The Hyder family is everywhere — Larry, the patriarch, greeting customers and chatting. Granddaughter Aubrie Wallin and her cousins wrapped trees in nets a few feet away.
Meanwhile, the Hitchcock family of Sacramento was there to get their Christmas tree.
With Thanksgiving fast approaching, it’s natural to think of turkey.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 45 million turkeys will be cooked and eaten this Thanksgiving. That’s one-sixth of all turkeys sold in the U.S. each year, with turkey also popular at Christmas and Easter.
A type of pheasant, turkeys are the only poultry native to the Western Hemisphere.
Available in many varieties, heritage domestic turkeys are the result of cross-breeding between domesticated European varieties and the wild turkeys of North America…
Dr. Doug Pleatman, 59, was killed Friday morning in the crash of his 1961 PA-24 Piper Comanche airplane near Garberville. The local weather at the time of the crash was fog and rain. Witnesses said they did not hear an engine and that a wing clipped a tree and the aircraft cartwheeled to the ground […]