Motorists may not realize they are traversing a bridge when they wind down the east side of Echo Summit toward South Lake Tahoe. Caltrans, the state transportation department, alternately refers to it as a viaduct on its Website. A viaduct is a type of bridge that typically has several spans, usually of equal length. The Echo Summit Sidehill Viaduct was constructed with three spans in 1939, and while it’s not falling apart, there is significant wear and tear after nearly 80 years of service.
Clark Peri, Caltrans project manager, gave a slide presentation to the Board of Supervisors April 7 outlining the agency’s plan to rehabilitate or replace the old bridge. Following public outreach and extensive environmental …
Denny’s waitress. Substitute teacher. Lifesaver.
Chandra Sousa, 26, of Camino, added that last identifier on March 31 at about 6:30 p.m. when she saved Jim LaBerge’s life after he suffered a heart attack.
The 72-year-old Pollock Pines man went out to his car to get the agenda for the Hangtown Kennel Club board meeting. He returned inside and had just put the agenda on the table in the back banquet room of the Placerville Denny’s, he said.
“That’s the last thing I remember.”
Sousa, who was typing in an order at the register, remembers about 10 people being in the banquet room and one woman came out and yelled for someone to call 911. She also asked if anyone knew CPR, Sousa recalled. Despite a fair …
Faster than a speeding bullet; more silent than a snail creeping through your garden — it’s the 2013 Zero DS ZF11.4 electric motorcycle acquired by the Placerville Police Department.
Placerville Police Sgt. Dan Maciel showed off the new bike to Placerville City Council on March 10.
“It’s more nimble than the Harley; easier to turn on our narrow streets,” said Maciel. “It’s very powerful at freeway speeds and half the weight of the Harley. “The PD also has a conventional Harley-Davidson police motorcycle.”
In the passenger seat of a Cessna Turbo Skylane RG, piloted by a skilled pilot like Dick Wampach, the world unfolds beneath me, revealing its secrets and expanding my perspective of the area I know so well from the ground. Just about any kid — and many adults — is going to want to put down the video game and pick up a log book after seeing hidden ponds sparkling under the canopy of pines, the breadth of the foothills and rapid-filled rivers twisting beneath them. That’s the idea behind the Placerville Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagle Flight Plan Program.
After 40 minutes of deliberation, a jury found Colleen Harris guilty of the first-degree murder of Robert “Bob” Harris on April 15.
The five-man, seven-woman jury found Harris, 73, guilty of the 2013 murder of her then-72-year-old husband, with four firearms-related enhancements found true.
As the court clerk read the verdict at about 3:50 p.m., Harris, a 2008 El Dorado County Rose candidate, lowered her head into her hands, shielding her face from photographers while crying softly.
Defense attorney David Weiner requested the jury be polled to ensure the decision was unanimous. Each juror in turn confirmed the guilty verdict.
Amelia was only 18 years old when she decided that life was not worth living without the man she loved. Her story could have happened at any time in history, including current times, but it was in 1896 that she took her life in the Central House Hotel in Placerville.
“When I read her story, I cried, it was so sad,” said Bill Mackay. Amelia is the Cameron Park resident’s great aunt, the youngest daughter of his great grandfather, Henry Bernard …
The paperwork is on its way to Guinness World Records, the record-making flight was documented and photographed on March 30, and now all Peter Weber, Jr. has to do is wait to see if he qualified.
The Cameron Park resident was 95 years, 4 months and 23 days old when he made his attempt to qualify as the oldest qualified pilot still licensed and flying solo in the world for the Guinness World Records. He’s been flying for 72 years and still flies several times a month out of the Placerville Airport in a rented plane.
“I was at the Placerville Airport one day and the manager said he thought I might be the oldest active pilot in California,” said Weber. That got him thinking that he might be the oldest active pilot anywhere. After doing research online at the …
Colleen Harris contemplated suicide in the wake of her husband’s death. After calling her attorney, David Weiner, she stripped to her underwear and got in bed with Bob, who, earlier that day, received a fatal shotgun blast to his head.
She straightened the house up after returning from San Francisco, she testified Wednesday afternoon, then held Bob. She talked to him, making the bed, trying to clean the ceiling of viscera. She didn’t want her or Bob’s kids, or anyone else, to see the ceiling dirty. She moved his arm to his chest.
When prosecutor Joe Alexander asked if she changed clothes before law enforcement arrived, she replied, “I was going to end my life.” Then, she called …
Colleen Harris, on trial for the murder of her husband, Bob, went in to detail in the moments presumably leading to Bob’s death during cross-examination by the prosecution on April 7.
After discovering that Colleen was texting Bob’s daughter, Pam Stirling, Bob became angrier than she had ever seen him. She tried to hug him …
The Colleen Harris murder trial continued on Thursday, April 2 as she took the stand herself and recalled her prior marriages and the death of her husband Bob Harris.
Dressed demurely in a high-necked blouse and slacks, Harris spoke in a quiet voice that was often at odds with the turbulent marital life she has led.
At a special press conference held April 1 at Echo Summit, Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Jr. announced the first-ever mandatory statewide water reductions.
“Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow. This historic drought demands unprecedented action,” he said. “Therefore, I’m issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our state. As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible.”
The governor’s executive order calls for a 25 percent reduction in water consumption in comparison to what was used in 2013. The savings amount to approximately 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months, or nearly as much as is currently in Lake Oroville.
Outdoors, brushes of white paint fly over the surface of rain catchment barrels imperiling the hair of fellow artists painting vines along the bottom of the barrels. Inside Catherine Moné’s house, four 9-year-old crafters pull out the gardening stakes, bird baths, bird feeders and wind chimes from a huge collection they’ve already made while, in the kitchen, other 9- to 13-year-olds are alternately stuffing a peanut butter/seed mixture into bird feeders and bagels into their mouths. This meeting of Funding for Farmlands is a little busier than usual, but it’s always a bustling scene.
The group is part of 4-H Gold Hill Toppers, and in November of 2014, they were looking for a 4-H Learning Service project that would serve a community need, allow them to research …
The 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 on March 22 with City Council members and members of the community to talk about the courthouse, both the Main Street courthouse and …
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.
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 …
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 …
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…”
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 …
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 …
It was a perfect storm: four and a half hours of sleep after a Bob Seger concert, with a full eight-hour workday ahead followed by a three-hour City Council meeting with a mid-year budget review at the end of it. Coffee was ingested to stimulate my brain and prop my eyelids open, but it wasn’t going to get me past the budget review. Would putting on a SeaTREK helmet and sucking up copious amounts of concentrated oxygen, shooting a bubble gun and mugging for the camera while being 9 feet underwater keep me awake and coherent through the budget report? It was worth a try.
SubSea Systems in Diamond Springs is known internationally for its amazing inventions that enable people to interact with water in ways they could only dream of. Specialized helmets allow those who would not otherwise be able to …
The first of the first: 25 Union Mine High School students are taking the first of four courses in Project Lead the Way (PLTW), a four-year career technical engineering pathway at UMHS. Project Lead the Way is a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)-based national program designed to equip students with skills in engineering, open-ended problem solving, application of engineering design processes and the use of industry-leading technology and software that the world’s top companies use.
PLTW Engineering students explore mechatronics, forces, structures, aerodynamics, digital electronics and circuit design, manufacturing and the environment to prepare them for post-secondary education …
A man found guilty of a spree of burglaries was sentenced to 94 years and 4 months in prison.
Craig Ivan Adams, 35, received an additional 5 years per felony sentence — 11 of the 17 convictions — due to the appellate court decision in People v. Tittle, currently in the state Supreme Court. This was added to his approximately 55 years for the charges, prosecutor Anthony Garilli said.
A law enforcement official, who wished to remain unnamed, was a victim of Adams.
“I’m sworn to protect,” he said. “When I learned we were burglarized, I was devastated.” Both because his home had been burglarized and because he could not protect his family, who were not home at the time, he said. Now, every time they come home, they wonder whether they are victims again.
The results of Tuesday’s snow survey at Phillips Station were disappointing, with an average of 6.7 inches of snow on the ground and slightly less than one inch of water content.
At only 5 percent of the historical average for the site, the results were actually down from last month’s average of 12 percent.
“It’s pretty grim,” said Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Survey for the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), as he checked the numbers.
“And pretty reflective of measurements we’ve been taking up and down the Sierra over the past week or so as well as reflected in the telemetry measurements that come in each hour.
“We’re nudging up against the lowest snowpack on record,” he said, citing the snowpacks recorded in 1991 and 1977.
“Clearly there’s no good news in terms of any runoff,” he continued. “We were fortunate to have a fairly wet…”
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 …