Friday, April 18, 2014

Woman, dog back from Oso

He may not look heroic — in fact, with the tug toy hanging from his mouth and his tongue hanging out, this German shepherd looks downright goofy. When his owner, Noreen McClintok, gives him the “search” command, however, the goofy animal is gone, replaced by a focused, intent dog who does not give up.

On April 8, Cai and McClintok, 63, returned from helping search for victims of the mudslide in Oso, Wash., as part of a California Rescue Dog Association (CARDA) team.

“Washington FEMA put out a call for cadaver dogs, “said McClintok, who lives in El Dorado Hills, “and CARDA responded right away.” McClintok said the search in Oso had changed from rescue to recovery within a day or two of the slide. “I can’t imagine what those first responders were confronted with. In 50 feet of mud, how do you start to look?”

“Our CARDA team had seven dogs and we drove up to Washington as a caravan. Two members of the team came all the way from San Bernardino,” said McClintok. “We got there on Thursday, April 2, and …”

Greenwood School being restored

The Georgetown Divide Recreation District, Native Sons of the Golden West and Greenwood Civic Organization are teaming up to make urgently needed improvements to the Greenwood Schoolhouse on Greenwood Road, but they also are calling on the help of community members. The historical building is badly in need of repairs, and although the Native Sons of the Golden West, Georgetown Parlor No. 91 has taken the task to its Grand Parlor and the Historical Preservation Fund for help, grant money provided will only cover the first phase of a two-phase restoration project.

“The Native Sons are dedicated to the preservation of California’s history,” said …

70th anniversary: Jeep ready for D-Day

June 6 of this year marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landing and the Battle of Normandy. It’s an event that will bring hundreds of thousands of people to France for commemorations and festivities including parades, parachute drops, the setting up of military camps, and concerts.

And joining them on the beach will be an old World War II Jeep that was recently restored by Diamond Springs resident Jimmy Strauss and a team of local craftsmen who’ve remade the vehicle in time for the upcoming event.

Taking nine months to complete at a cost of over $70,000 …

Mercy Way Rescue protests homeless ordinances

They lined both sides of Main Street near Town Hall. Some held signs with “Jesus was homeless” on them; others flourished photographs of trash-filled campsites near Smith Flat and Broadway. For two hours before the April 8 Placerville City Council meeting, Mercy Way Rescue Church organized a peaceful demonstration to ask for a 90-day moratorium against one of two new city ordinances that affect the homeless.

Also demonstrating were neighbors who support the ordinance and applaud city police for enforcing it.

The ordinance in question went into effect on Feb. 13 and authorizes police and the city to enforce regulations against illegal camping in the city.

“With Hangtown Haven closed, the nomadic shelters closed …”

Gold Bug volunteers: Characters need apply

Have a hankering to relive the history of the gold rush with thousands of visitors from all over the world?

Then become a volunteer at the Gold Bug Park and join such notables as Black Bart, John Studebaker and Duffy the crazy Irishman.

Part of a crew of 25 volunteers, they are more than just history buffs. Some must have show biz in their blood as they have adopted a character of their own from the past — real or imagined — that they play when conducting tours complete with clothing, props and …

DNA evidence ‘could not exclude’ defendant

Days eight and nine of the Andrew Sanford murder trial focused on DNA evidence — of which Sanford could not be excluded as a contributor.

Jenna Weller continued her testimony from the previous day by describing Sanford as “curious, calm” while they had a conversation on whether God forgives murderers — possibly alluding to the 1980 murder of 16-year-old Richard Swanson at the South Y Shell gas station …

No foolin’: Drought still on

With the latest snow survey falling on April Fool’s Day, it was no joke that despite the recent storms, the state continues to face a water shortage.

“This is almost a mispicture,” said Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Survey for the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), as he stood knee-deep in soft snow.

“This snow course was basically bare two days ago,” he said. “All the snow we measured just now came mostly last night and illustrates the difference between a good water year and a bad water year.”

At Phillips Station, Gehrke and his staff measured a snow …

McCavitt gets 17-to-life: Victim’s family speaks before sentencing

A man found guilty of murder due to driving under the influence was sentenced to 17-years-to-life in state prison March 21.

After 10 minutes at the bench, defense attorney Arturo Reyes and prosecutor Michael Pizzuti went to their respective tables as Judge Daniel B. Proud announced he had received a Marsden motion filed by defendant Joshua McCavitt — a motion to dismiss his attorney. It was denied, Proud said.

He then announced that 14 letters from victim Denise Caldwell’s family and friends had been received. The county Probation Department was recommending 15-years-to-life in state prison for the charge of murder and 10 years for vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, the second sentence to be stayed, and he was …

Gold Bug Park a successful destination

One of the most visited sites in Placerville is doing well, but they could use a little help. At the Placerville City Council meeting on March 25, the Gold Bug Park Development Committee presented a report on the park’s status and a check for $21,500 to City Council.

“We have an entirely new board,” said Beverly Disalvo, president of the GBP Development Committee.”We reorganized and we’re working on a lot of new things to bring the park to the public’s attention.”

Disalvo reviewed some of the …

Spilling and loving it

With other water districts trying to hold on to every drop of water they have, the Grizzly Flat Community Services District is in the enviable position of having a reservoir that is actually spilling.

According to General Manager Jodi Lauther, the small 31-acre-foot reservoir has been spilling since a new liner was put in back in 2012.

At present, it is somewhat under capacity at 27 acre-feet, which Lauther said is for safety in case there is a sudden influx of water or a freeze that could cause water to top the reservoir.

The extra water is actually fed into a pipe embedded in the side of the reservoir that empties into Eagle Ditch Creek. The same creek that feeds the reservoir.

Serrano cuts water use 30%

Serrano Home Owners Association is reducing its use of recycled water for landscaping by 30 percent and may even reach the 50 percent mark, HOA manager David Sanders told the El Dorado Irrigation District board Monday.

That water use reduction is being achieved by using a …

‘No Hands Bridge’ becomes landmark

The historic Mountain Quarries Railroad Bridge, known locally as “No Hands Bridge,” has been saved from destruction by many hands, including the hand of fate. On March 23, its 102nd birthday, the bridge became an official California historical landmark.

The bridge, located at the confluence of the North and Middle forks of the American River, with footings in both El Dorado and Placer County, was completed in 1912 at a cost of $300,000. Part of a 7-mile standard gauge railroad built by Pacific Portland Cement …

Sanford murder trial: Victim’s father testifies 1st day

“He is a thief, he is a taker…and on Aug. 14, 1980, he stole money from a Shell station and, more importantly, stole Richard Swanson’s life.”

Thus ended prosecutor Trish Kelliher’s opening statement Monday morning in the trial of Andrew Sanford.

A 33-year-old homicide case from South Lake Tahoe, Kelliher said the case is about “one of the oldest evils in the world: money. Andrew Sanford wanted money and he took money that didn’t belong to him.” In doing so at the South Y Shell station, he took the life of 16-year-old gas station attendant Swanson.

This would be proved over the course of trial, she said, focusing on DNA evidence …

Observatory an eye on the sky

Want the sun, the moon and the stars for free?

Not to worry. All are well within your reach at the Cameron Park Rotary Club Community Observatory at Folsom Lake College in Placerville.

And if even if you’ve been there before, there’s always more of the universe to explore.

Completed in 2006 in celebration of Rotary International’s 100th anniversary, the popular observatory annually attracts 6,500 visitors and features one 17-inch telescope and one 14-inch telescope with a color video camera along with an assortment of other star-gazing equipment.

Staffed totally by volunteer docents, the observatory is …

Garden woes: Nurseries offer tips during drought

The neighborhood nursery industry has become a vanishing species due to the economy of the past few years. “It’s been brutal,” said Chris Aycock, manager for El Dorado Nursery. “I’ve never worked so hard for so little. There was a time when you couldn’t even give a tree away.”

With many losing their homes to foreclosure, few chose to continue to maintain their yards. So, local nurseries adapted.

“We cut back our landscaping crews and really expanded the nursery,” said Lexi High of Green Valley Nursery.

Mosquito Bridge: Dog rescued from canyon

The Mosquito Fire Protection District rescued a dog on the American River at the Mosquito Bridge Wednesday afternoon.

Chief Tom Stuart said that the original call was for an injured dog, but once on scene it became apparent that the dog was simply having trouble getting back up the steep 40-foot embankment back to the road.

Judy Raymond said her Austrian Bernese mountain dog, Kona, had used the backseat of her car as a bathroom and needed to be cleaned. Having played in the area when she was a teenager, she decided to park and take her dog to the river beneath the Mosquito Bridge. Once there, they swam and played for about two hours. When she tried to get Kona up the steep trail back to the road, Kona instead jumped back into the river. She called the fire department for help.

Two firefighters managed to get the dog up the trail, under the dog’s own power. Stuart …

Kelly family faces long road to help youngest son

Mason Kelly is 2 years old; he has five older brothers and sisters and a new little sister and he has stage 4 neuroblastoma cancer. For the past four months, Mason has been living in hospitals, after his Oct.11 diagnosis, six days after his second birthday.

On Feb. 11, Mason came home as a trial, something that both delighted and terrified his parents, Brian and Thi Kelly.

“He needs to be home with his family, ” said Thi, “but his immune system is so fragile.”

They worried about what would happen if Mason’s temperature went up; what if someone …

Two dead in house fire

A house fire near Placerville claimed the lives of two women Friday morning.

Camino dispatch received a report of a house fire at 1680 Rose Lane, near Mosquito Road, at 5:46 a.m., El Dorado County Fire Chief Mike Hardy said. The report noted there could be two victims.

An engine from Placerville arrived five minutes later to find the house about 80 percent involved. A caretaker, who lived on the property — the 54-acre Ass-Pen donkey ranch — noted that the two people who lived …

Officers of the Year: CHP awardee continues family tradition

The 51st annual Peace Officers of the Year were awarded in a ceremony at the American Legion Hall in Placerville Wednesday evening.

The American Legion presented its Peace Officers of the Year award to a member each of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, the Placerville Police Department and the California Highway Patrol, and were nominated and voted on by their peers in their respective agencies.

In a packed hall, the officers were presented their awards by former Sheriff Hal Barker, Legion Cmdr. Dusty Deryck …

Fire razes empty house

A house near Highways 193 and 49 was a total loss in a fire Monday morning.

The fire was reported at 10:27 a.m. and the first responding engine noted heavy fire in a boarded-up house, said El Dorado County Fire Division Chief Tim Cordero. The house was vacant, with no occupants or victims.

Cordero noted that due to the fire’s vertical movement, it became unsafe for firefighters to be in the structure and they were pulled out, going on the defensive.

Highway 49 was closed due to a needed fire hydrant being across the street from the house.

Storms put small dent in drought

With every little bit counting, the results of the Feb. 27 snow survey were better than last month’s, but still way below normal.

According to a press release from the Department of Water Resources, “On Tuesday, before the current storm system reached the area, water content in the statewide snowpack was 22 percent of normal for the date and only 19 percent of the average reading in early April when snow begins to melt into streams and reservoirs. These readings were just above the 1991 record lows of 18 percent for the date and 15 percent of the April 1 average.

“Manual and electronic …”

Main Street slated for new utilities, pavement

The cracks and potholes on Main Street between Pacific Street and Bedford may become a thing of the past. The Placerville City Council voted a unanimous approval of plans to begin a street overlay of Main Street at the Feb. 25 meeting, and, best of all, there is money to pay for it.

The city has a Pavement Management System with an inventory of city streets and prioritized repairs, but Main Street with its high visibility and usage was the first choice.

“The need is definitely there,”said City Manager Cleve Morris. “There are plenty of streets in Placerville that could use this, but Main Street has high traffic.”

Discount cards for vets due

Military veterans have earned the benefits they are offered by the nation, and Bill Schultz, El Dorado county recorder and director of veterans affairs, wants to make sure they know they have community support.

Schultz developed a Veteran Identification Card that he is rolling out on March 9 at the Sunday breakfast scheduled at the Veterans Memorial Building in Placerville. The card, when presented to participating businesses in El Dorado County, offers veterans discounts on goods and services. Currently, there are businesses nationwide that offer discounts to veterans, but the veteran must present a copy of his/her DD 214 to receive it. A small, laminated card is a better fit in a wallet and more durable than a piece of paper.

The process is simple and quick. There is a very brief application that the veteran completes …

Downtown museum closing: Fountain Tallman to be restored

After 162 years, it might be time for a little repair. The Fountain Tallman Soda Works building at 524 Main Street, houses a tiny two-floor museum now, after a past filled with a variety of owners and uses, but the stone, brick and mortar that comprises the building is original and it could use some help.

From Feb. 28 to March 19, the Fountain Tallman Museum will be closed while Leland Peterson, restoration engineer and mason, and his crew repair, replace and restore masonry and brick around the windows and door of the first floor of the building.

Built in 1852 with 2-foot-thick brick and masonry walls and iron shutters, the soda works was the only building to have survived all of the early fires that devastated Placerville.

Bowa a ‘good stick’

Valentine’s Day means flowers and chocolates for most, but for Austin Bowa, it was a much sweeter treat as he earned his license as a commercial helicopter pilot while also celebrating his 18th birthday.

A very self-possessed and modest young man, Bowa has been single-mindedly pursuing his dream of piloting a helicopter since he was 7 years old.

Still in his early teens, he took his first training flight with John Crawford, who is an instructor with Sierra Air …

1943-2014: Former Councilman Sullivan dies

Cameron Park resident Tom Sullivan was a mental health advocate, a Placerville City Councilman and a past director of Mental Health for both Sacramento and El Dorado counties and a Boston Red Sox fan. He died of natural causes, surrounded by his family, on Feb. 7.

He was on the City Council in 1980, when ground was broken for the parking garage, serving with the late Carl Borelli, Karen Tustin, Roger Prengel, Al Tuttle and Jim McIntire. Elected in 1978, he served six years on the council, and helped lay the groundwork for growth and expansion.

Sullivan was born in Boston on Feb. 2, 1943, to Stephen Michael Sullivan II and Rita McMahon Sullivan. He graduated from high school in Alabama and from college at Michigan State University, and earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Connecticut in 1967.

He married Valerie …

Hangman’s Tree Bar: Historical bottles found in mud

Scaffolding and workers have been all around the Herrick and Hangman’s Tree building, 301 and 305 Main Street, for months, but the owners, Tim and Sue Taylor, are taking their time and paying as they go. The restoration of the historic buildings is the goal of the couple that purchased them in April of 2012.

The first focus has been to restore the structural integrity of the buildings. “We have been doing a lot of work, but it doesn’t really show,” said Sue Taylor. “We did the footings on the Herrick building and now we’re working on the …”

City discusses fixing roads

City residents, if you receive a call asking you how you feel about an increase in sales tax to repair Placerville’s roads, don’t hang up. Repairing the nasty alligator cracks and potholes in Placerville’s roads emerged as the top priority of a Capitol Improvement Workshop held on Jan. 23. At the Feb. 11 Placerville City Council meeting, a review of the results of that meeting and a direction for how to address the city’s top needs was on the agenda.

With 57 percent of Placerville roads considered mediocre or substandard — 39 percent being substandard, according to standards used by a national transportation research firm — roadways in the city need repair. How to fund $19 million in deferred road maintenance was the subject of discussion …

Meet Cupid’s helpers

Now that Cupid’s arrow has pierced your heart on Valentine’s Day, let love fly you straight to a wedding show that’s bound to keep the path true to a blissful future together.

Grab your groom-to-be and invite your mom and girlfriends to join the bevy of brides-in-the-making at “It’s a Wedding Affair,” Sunday, Feb. 16, at the Cameron Park Community Center, 2502 Country Club Drive in Cameron Park.

Taste wedding cake samples and other temptations as you gaze upon gorgeous wedding dresses and accessories, all designed to pique fresh ideas and add creativity to that special day.

Some 40 vendors will be on hand to help plan your wedding, offering services and sparking enthusiasm.

El Dorado, Diamond plans percolating

With traffic flow being the driving force, a plan to enhance the communities of El Dorado and Diamond Springs is in the process of being drafted by the El Dorado County Transportation Commission.

Called the Diamond Springs and El Dorado Area Mobility and Livable Community Plan, the document not only addresses options for improving traffic circulation in the area, but also population growth, jobs and cityscape issues such as sidewalks, landscaping, bike paths and crosswalks with an eye for how those communities may look 10 to 20 years from now.

McCavitt found guilty

A guilty verdict was handed Friday to a man accused the 2012 vehicular murder of a Camino woman.

A deliberating jury returned two guilty verdicts Friday morning after three hours of deliberation over two days — vehicular murder and gross vehicular manslaughter while …

EID declares Stage 2 drought emergency

The El Dorado Irrigation District Board of Directors Tuesday skipped right over Stage 1 and unanimously went to a Stage 2 Water Supply Warning and asked customers to voluntarily reduce water consumption 30 percent.

The water savings also applies to recycled water customers because recycled water is often supplemented with potable water.

The resolution declaring “the existence of an emergency” will enable the district to reduce fish flows from its Kyburz Diversion Dam and from its four alpine …

100-year lifetime: Flume 41 totally rebuilt

One of El Dorado Irrigation District’s biggest and most complicated flume projects is complete with the exception of some mechanical, electrical instrumentation and control work still under way, though the canal has been watered back up.

Project engineer Daryl Noel gave a report to the Board of Directors Jan. 27, including dramatic video footage of two contract workers, secured by safety lines, jack hammering a huge boulder on the hillside, which then rolled downhill and crashed into a section of wooden flume that was to be demolished anyway.

The wood from the flume timbers proved to be so rotten that it could not be recycled as originally planned.

Removing hazardous …

Man dies in tractor rollover

A man died after the tractor he was on rolled over Monday morning.

At 10:24 a.m., California Highway Patrol officers responded to 5376 Marybelle Lane in Shingle Springs. Javad Tayebi, 66, was ploughing his front yard in a tractor and had not been seen for about a half-hour, so his wife went to check on him, Officer Quinn Cuthbertson said. She found …

Snow survey confirms drought

While a picturesque flurry of snow hit the Sierras this past week, it won’t have much impact on water supplies according to the most recent snow survey that was conducted last Thursday.

Part of a statewide assessment, the measurements at Phillips Station, near Echo Summit, revealed snow that was more air than water according to Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Survey for the California Department of Water Resources.

After taking seven measurements, he came up with an average depth of 12.4 inches of snow with a water content of 1.4 percent, which is only 7 …

Solar and parking converge: Marshall to convert to LED lights

With everyone looking to save money, especially on energy, the installation of solar systems continues to gain in popularity, especially in California, which is the No. 1 state for solar energy.

According to the California Solar Energy Industries Association, California installed more megawatts of solar energy in 2013 than it did in the last 30 years combined.

Typically these solar systems …

Apartment fire displaces families

A fire in Placerville displaced multiple families Tuesday morning.

El Dorado County Fire received a report at 4:59 a.m. that an apartment on Woodridge Road was on fire, El Dorado County Fire Division Chief Paul Lohan said.

They arrived to find the fire “blowing out of the roof” of the middle upstairs apartment at 2661 Woodridge Road, Lohan said. It was fully involved.

Two patients were burned, he said, with one transported to Placerville Airport to be taken to UC Davis Medical Center, and the other taken by ground to the same facility. All other occupants had safely gotten out of the five apartments in the building. In total, nine …

No sale yet of Poor Red’s

A wave of disappointment and groans swept the courtroom as the owners of Poor Red’s Bar had their judgment and sentencing hearing pushed to March in a Monday afternoon hearing.

After a conference at the bench, Judge Douglas C. Phimister told the courtroom that an agreement had been reached to continue the hearing …

Boy’s leukemia fight continues

Since his cancer diagnosis in the summer of 2012, third-grader Shane Rogers, of El Dorado Hills, and his family have kept their eyes on the prize — stay the course and knockout leukemia one strong punch at a time.

Back pain during a family reunion led to the shocking news the otherwise vibrant boy had Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia — a cancer of the white blood cells where excess lymphoblasts overcrowd the bone marrow. Mom Kristen Rogers explained though Shane has crossed a grueling, physical fight of one battle, they’re barely midway through the war.

“Leukemia is different than other cancers,” said Rogers. “You can get it to go away …”

Tahoe docs head to Sochi

Two of Lake Tahoe’s finest are heading to the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, but not to compete. Terrence Orr, M.D., and Jonathan Finnoff, D.O., both physicians with Tahoe Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, will volunteer as team physicians at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Orr is a seasoned veteran of Olympic athlete medical care. His role at the 2014 Olympics will be head team physician for the men’s U.S. Alpine Ski Team — a position he has held with the team since 1999.

“The Olympics has always been my favorite sporting event, and it has been great to be able to be a part of the Games,” said Orr.

During the men’s U.S. Alpine Ski Team events, which include slalom, giant slalom, super giant slalom and downhill, Olympians may reach speeds as high as 95 mph, depending on conditions, equipment and body composition. Orr will be at the race course in Sochi whenever the U.S. Ski Team is training or competing. If someone is injured, he travels down with the athlete to evaluate and …

Day commemorates amazing occasions

History has it that when James Marshall reached into the glittering water of the tailrace of Sutter’s Mill and held gleaming yellow flakes in his palm Jan. 24, 1848, he turned to a fellow millworker and said, “I have found it.”

His colleague asked, “What is it?” to which Marshall replied, “Gold.”

That remarkable day will be the focus of a celebration Friday, Jan. 24, at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park on Highway 49 in Coloma as volunteers in period costume re-enact that momentous discovery, some 166 years later.

The annual Gold Discovery Day will be filled with activities and re-enactments along the South Fork of the American River in Coloma, the site of Marshall’s …

Caples Dam gates nearly done

Friday, Jan. 17, Ballard Diving and Syblon Reid Construction had installed one of two new dam gates and were set to install the second by the end of that day.

The $329,000 construction project is on-schedule, according to El Dorado Irrigation District senior engineer Jake Eymann, with the sunny weather smoothing the way. Normally a cold wind blows at Caples Lake, Eymann said, but Friday was windless.

The deadline had been to …

Water conservation is the watchword

The El Dorado Irrigation District Board of Directors has not been asked to declare a Stage 1 Drought, but unofficially the district is urging customers to “reduce water consumption and conserve in every way possible,” according to a Water Supply Update presented by Director of Engineering Brian Mueller Jan. 13.

EID runs its fiscal year on a calendar basis and its water year begins in October. But Mueller noted that calendar year 2013 was the “driest on record.” He added that this is the second dry year in a row.

The seasonal rainfall total, beginning July 1, 2012 …

Snowmaking keeps thrill of Tahoe skiing

Ski season is in full swing in South Lake Tahoe with near perfect weather for hitting the slopes regardless if one wants to ski, snowboard, sled or just take in the otherworldly beauty of the Lake Tahoe area.

With most county residents being within an hour’s drive of the closest resort, Sierra-at-Tahoe is 2,000 acres of runs and forest plus another 300 acres of back country skiing for expert skiers.

Located at the top of Echo Summit, the resort receives the most snow in the Tahoe Basin, according to Steven Hemphill, communications manager at the resort.

“We average 480 inches at Sierra-at-Tahoe,” he said. “This year we have 63 inches to …”

Recalled solar panels still being replaced in EDH

July 9, 2013 had been a relatively quiet day for Alicia Barranco. She had recently been released from the hospital and was recovering at home. She smelled smoke and thought it might be toast or a coffee pot burning. She went back to bed after being unable to find the source of the smell.

But then a neighbor called. Aaron Barranco, who was working at the Mercedes dealership in El Dorado Hills, said it was “one of the scariest calls” he and his wife ever received. The neighbor informed Alicia that the roof …