Serving the communities of Valley Springs, Burson and Wallace
Rich Pastorino caught a blanket of snow on film last week near Lake Pardee.
Rainfall figures inch up in February
February is turning out to be a wet month, less than an inch shy
of the rainfall total posted the past four months.
With one more day left to compile rainfall figures for the month
of February, and today is expected to be a wet one, the Valley Springs
area has received 5.09 inches of rain this month. Valley Springs entered
the month with only 6.06 inches of rainfall since Oct. 1, 2006.
February’s precipitation is a complete reversal of the prior
month, when the area received only .61 inches of rainfall in January.
According to information from the California Department of Water
Resources for New Hogan Lake, the Valley Springs area has received 11.15
inches of rainfall from Oct. 1 to Monday. The figure compares to 13.27
inches for the same period a year ago.
This February has been a catch-up period compared to last year.
The nearly five inches of rainfall for the month compares to less than
an inch at the same time last year. However, February of 2006 ended with
.92 inches of rain the final two days of the month.
Storage capacity at the lake continues to be down in comparison to last year. As of Monday, the reservoir had 180,594 acre-feet of water compared to 186,398 acre-feet on Feb. 26, 2006. In addition, the shoreline is nearly three feet lower at 675.8 feet compared to 677.66 the same time in 2006.
Yvonne Wiese of Valley Springs, right, accepts a $100,000 check from Jackson Rancheria Vice President of Marketing & Player Development Lorraine Cebollero.
Realtor wins 100K in Jackson Rancheria contest
After Yvonne Wiese from Valley Springs arrived at Jackson
Rancheria Casino for the casino’s Super Sunday promotion, she
discovered that the top prize was $100,000.
However, Wiese, the owner-broker of Country Oaks Realty, said she
never thought she’d win it. In fact, she figured no one would win it.
Happily, she was very wrong.
When the Chicago Bears’ Devin Hester returned the opening
kickoff for a 92-yard touchdown, the crowd went crazy, knowing someone
would win the big prize.
Wiese’s name was called as the winner, but she said it really
didn’t register until a friend told her that she had just won
$100,000. She was stunned.
Wiese admits to being a Colts fan, but after her big win she
wrote to Hester and said she will follow his career from now on.
Asked what she plans to do with the money, Wiese said she wants
to get her house painted and help her granddaughter with a car.
Wiese, who has been playing at Jackson Rancheria Casino for many
years, was one of numerous winners in the Super Sunday promotion.
Sal Manna, head of the Society for the Preservation of West Calaver History, unveiled the "Something From Nothing" photo exhibit of early West Calaveras history earlier this month at Ironstone.
"Something" display at Ironstone
“Something From Nothing” photo exhibition of early West Calaveras
history is at Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys through Sunday, March 18
(the day following the Murphys Irish Day and Ironstone’s Daffodils Day
marks a breakthrough event for West Calaveras,” says Sal Manna, head
of the Society for the Preservation of West Calaveras History that
created the exhibit. “For the first time, a presentation of our
history will be seen in Murphys, a major Calaveras tourist destination.
We are very grateful to Ironstone for this opportunity to bring our
history to many thousands of visitors.”
adds that, along with photographs, never-before-exhibited historic
artifacts will also be on display.
and directions, call Ironstone at 728-1251.
Preparing for the upcoming Calaveras Follies are, front row from left, Marti Crane, Carol Pecoraro, Vicky Henkle; back row from left, Donna Scribner, Victoria Erickson and Sherry Moritz.
coming out for Calaveras Follies this Saturday
The third annual Calaveras Follies - starring “community
celebrities” lip-synching to a popular tune dressed in costume with
the purpose of being as outrageously funny as possible - is approaching.
Some of the celebrities who will be seen on state include June
Jones, Jill Sutherland, Bonnie Thygesen, Debbie Wiggins, Hedy Rogers,
Amy Range, Greg Jones and Robyn Hogan, all of Re/MAX in the Country,
getting high reminiscent of the 60’s.
Will Marti Crane, Sherry Moritz, Carol Pecoraro, Victoria
Erickson, Vicky Henkle and Donna Scribner go from being street urchins
to a group of pretty sexy singers? Well, you’ll just have to wait and
see. Nick Baptista of The Valley Springs News and Steve Hayward of State
Farm play an off-the-wall duo that made it big on Friday Night Live and
Steve and Debbie Weyrauch act out a nightclub scene with a twist.
The event is set for Feb. 24 at Mark Twain Hall in Frogtown to
benefit the Calaveras Youth Mentoring Program. Tickets are $50 per
person for reserved seating (credit cards accepted) and are available by
New, professional sound and lighting along with artistic
direction by Terri Wilson of Murphys Creek Theatre will enhance the
already popular production.
Included are personally created appetizers by Jane Bottomley, a
no-host bar and new this year, an extravagant raffle with prizes worth
more than $500. Festive attire is requested. Guests may also take
advantage of valet parking.
The Calaveras Youth Mentoring Program volunteers, Frogtown and Murphys Creek Theatre are presenting the Calaveras Follies. Major sponsors of this year’s Follies include: Jillian Day Spa & Boutique, Calaveras County Behavioral Health, Signal Service, Weber, Ghio & Associates, Inc. and The Calaveras Enterprise. Significant sponsors include: Calaveras County Office of Education, Calaveras Lumber, Calaveras Telephone, Century 21 Sierra Properties, Wayne and Sandy Fuller, Laraine Wines/Gerber Vineyards, Mark Twain St. Joseph’s Hospital, Oak Canyon Ranch, Foothill Printing, Gold Country Times, HStar, Inc., Ironstone Vineyards, O.A.R.S., The Valley Springs News and the Union Democrat.
Jousting knights and noble steeds will clash on the tourney field at the upcoming Calaveras Celtic Faire & Highland Games.
St. Patty's celebration in store at upcoming Celtic Faire & Games
Kris Hinds receives a memento after being selected Jenny Lind's Firefighter of the Year.
Jenny Lind recognizes volunteers' contributions
By Nick Baptista
Hinds was recognized as Jenny Lind Fire Protection District’s
Firefighter of the Year during an appreciation and awards dinner Friday
evening at the district’s headquarters.
acknowledged, “for going the extra mile” in his efforts. He praised
his fellow firefighters.
makes this happen,” he said. “We’re all one team.”
Stanley, a member of Jenny Lind’s auxiliary for the past six years,
received the Fire Chief’s Award for her service to the community, the
auxiliary and the fire district.
75 people attended the annual event. In addition to the firefighters,
members of the public, the auxiliary and board were in attendance.
President Dennis McCord congratulated the volunteers “for another
outstanding year. Every year it is more and more difficult to provide
services in this fast-growing community, but everyone has put out more
than 100 percent in those efforts.”
Chief Steve Buettner, filling in for Chief Brian Chavez-Ochoa, who was
ill, praised the firefighters for their efforts the past year and said
the district accomplished a lot the past year with a highlight being the
popular Santa ride-along last December greeting children throughout the
that the board provided the means for the district to receive several
new firefighting vehicles.
member John Boston, the district’s financial officer, received “The
Strongman Award” for his work.
awards were presented to Sam Harris, 24 years; Dick Brown and Ron
Cleland, 18; Steve Buettner, 13; Ginny Greenough and Scott Mullin, 10;
Rod Greenough, 9; Al Engel, 6; Mike Cammisa, Roy Estakhri, Ross
Estabrooks and Hinds, 4; Joe Butler, 3; Tony Daniello, 2, and Joel
to Engel, captain; Cammisa, Estakhri and Hinds to senior firefighters
were also acknowledged.
Mrs. Jeff Allen were acknowledged for their efforts as Mr. and Mrs.
Claus, while former board President John Janowski was recognized for his
contributions to the district.
New owner Dave Valladao will maintain and enhance the railroad theme at the Ice Cream Depot.
Preparing the former Country Charm for re-opening as the Kawk-Eyed Cafe are, from left, Kevin Oliver, Ryan Oliver, Carla Graves and Lorey Oliver.
Downtown eateries under new ownership
By Nick Baptista
Two downtown Valley Springs food establishments have changed
Kevin and Lorey Oliver have purchased the Country Charm and
re-opened the establishment Saturday as the Kawk-Eyed Café, while Dave
Valladao has bought the Ice Cream Depot.
The Olivers obtained the café at 55 California St. from Marie
and Marty Roeben, while Valladao purchased the ice cream shop at 25
California St. from John Miller and Mark McGinness.
Miller and McGinness plan to continue
Monster Electronics and Computers, which shared the California Street
site with the Ice Cream Depot, at a new, soon-to-be-announced location.
Lorey Oliver has been in the restaurant business since she was 19
when her stepfather bought a Butter Cup Pantry in Stockton. She and
Kevin, who is a pipe manufacturer, have resided in Valley Springs nine
years and their two children Samantha, 19, and Ryan, 13, will also be
involved with the café. Besides family, the Kawk-Eyed Café will open
with six employees.
Valladao is new to the food service business. He has been in the
electronics/computer industry for 35 years and has been in computer
services for school districts the past 25 years.
The Kawk-Eyed Café will keep all of the Country Charm’s
popular items and add Mexican-type dishes and emphasize salads on its
new menu, Lorey said.
The café, which derived its name from the café’s sloping
floor, will be open from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every day of the week,
except Friday, when the hours will be expanded from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. to
include a dinner menu.
The new dinner menu will include prime rib, pork ribs, lasagna, a
different fish each week and the Oliver family’s favorite dish,
Mom’s chicken enchiladas.
The breakfast menu will remain relatively the same with more of
an emphasis placed on offering a larger variety of coffee.
“My husband came up with the name as a joke and we’re having
fun with it,” Lorey said. “We’re also incorporating it into the
menu. It reflects our personality as fun loving. We like to laugh and
express that through the business.”
Two of the funny names in the new menu are “Fat Chance” for a
12-ounce roast beef, ham and turkey sandwich and “Whoopee Cushion”
for the chili bread bowl.
The sloping floor is less noticeable after recent remodeling. The
facelift includes removal of the apple-themed wallpaper and
newly-painted walls, new carpeting and flooring, new lighting, furniture
and decorations, most of which are out of Lorey’s house.
“It’s an amazing transformation,” she added.
She and her husband had been looking for years to build a
restaurant in the Valley Springs area, but the monetary issues
concerning water and sewer hook-up costs were a “huge” issue, she
said. When they saw the County Charm was on the market they decided it
offered the best opportunity.
She sees the recent additions of Starbucks, Subway and Quiznos to
Valley Springs and the soon-to-come openings of separate Thai and
Mongolian restaurants as a boon to the community and business in
“People are hungry for more options,” she said, “and I
think there is enough business for all of us.”
Valladao, who is recently retired from work with Martinez and San
Joaquin County schools, plans to expand the business back into the area
now housing Monster Electronics and Computers and emphasize the dining
area is open for parties, special occasions and group gatherings. The
deck will also be available for dining.
In addition, he plans for the depot to be an Internet café with
He plans to offer Casper-style, long hot dogs. Casper’s was a
popular Bay Area eatery for decades. The dog will come including chips
and a soda. He is also working on providing a kid’s meal.
“I’m going to work hard to make the prices affordable for the
average family,” Valladao said. “It is important for this to be a
happy place, where people will not worry about what’s going on. It
want them to bring the kids, enjoy and have fun.”
Part of the fun will be retaining and enhancing the railroad
theme at the depot, which began life as a real-life train depot for the
San Joaquin & Sierra Nevada Railroad.
Valladao, who got his initial training in electronics while in
the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War era, has been a Valley Springs
resident for four years. He is a member of Good Samaritan Community
Covenant Church and has a daughter, Nicole, 25, and 5-year-old grandson,
Alex. He is engaged to Rita Rush.
John Caracciolo displays his two lines of wine - Hello and Yes!
Winemaker moves operation to Toyon
By Nick Baptista
Valley Springs can say “hello” to a new winery.
John Caracciolo, the founder and winemaker of Hello Wines, has
moved his operation from Vino Piazza in Lockeford to Toyon. The winery
is located in a new commercial structure at 3474 Toyon Circle on the
water tank side of Highway 12.
Caracciolo plans to officially open his winery to the public on
Saturday, Feb. 17. The winery will be open from noon to 5 on weekends.
Weekday hours will be limited to when Caracciolo is at the winery. He
said he would place a signboard on the highway for those weekdays that
he is open.
Caracciolo, who grew up working in the family restaurant business
in New York, was supposed to continue the family heritage and become a
chef. However, it was summer trips to family in France and then West
Germany that got him interested in winemaking.
“Chefs and winemakers are very similar occupations with the
same goals,” Caracciolo said. “They provide something good to people
and want them to come back for more.”
He came to California in 2001 with one goal in mind.
“I wanted to own my own winery,” he said.
To learn the business firsthand he went to Sonoma and offered to
work for free at a winery. The winery at first dismissed his offer, but
he was persistent and got his foot in the door. In a two-year period he
worked at a number of wineries and a variety of jobs to learn each facet
of the businesses.
“I swept floors, was a sales assistant, helped in the vineyard,
tasting room, wholesale and crushing,” he said.
It was during this self-apprenticeship that he discovered
although the Napa and Sonoma wineries publicly frown upon grapes from
the Lodi region, they use those grapes in many of their products.
Caracciolo checked out the Lodi area and used those grapes to
launch his winery. Caracciolo started his business in Alameda and
Lockeford served as his incubator the past 18 months. It was while in
Lockeford that Caracciolo discovered nearby Calaveras County, especially
Although Murphys is the center for Calaveras County wine,
Caracciolo said the Valley Springs area has “tremendous potential for
Caracciolo has two lines of wines – Yes! and Hello. Yes! is
what Caracciolo calls his weekday and Saturday night wine. Prices start
at $6 for a bottle of white table wine and $8 for his red table wine.
They are discounted by the case.
“I’m most proud of the Yes! table wines,” he said. “They
are a good everyday wine and excellent for barbecues and informal
His Hello line is his single varietals – Tempranillo, Cabernet
Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Syrah and Zinfandel. He makes only 100 to 200
cases of each wine and they sell in the $12 to $20 price range.
“They’re more Sunday and special occasion wines,” he said.
The name Hello “says ‘hello’ to all the good things in
American wine,” Caracciolo said when asked why he selected for the
name of his wines.
Caracciolo distributes his wine in the East Bay and Boston. His
wine will be available locally through the winery.
While Caracciolo said he has realized his dream of owning a
winery, it is no longer his dream alone. He said others gave him support
along the way and it will be their support and the support of others who
will help determine what Hello wines and American wine in general
“I want to make wine people like. I want them to drink my wine, not collect it. Life is too hard and short to collect wine.”
Hello Wines' phone number is 754-4708 and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bobby McDowell on the cover of his album.
Jenny Lind man pursues recording career in Nashville
By Nick Baptista
Bobby McDowell of Jenny Lind is one the verge of becoming a
country western recording artist thanks to the help of friends and
McDowell, who celebrates his 40th birthday on Saturday
and has worked in a Stockton body shop since he was 15, this past month
went to Nashville to record an album, which his producer is presenting
to all the major recording labels.
The album is titled “The Climb” and McDowell’s climb to
becoming a county western artist goes back to a night in a Lodi karaoke
bar. He was encouraged to take the microphone and after a few beers he
accepted the challenge.
“It was so exciting being in front of people,” he said.
“And he hasn’t stopped since,” said Charlene, his wife.
“I needed more and wanted to do live music,” Bobby said, so
he and some friends put a band together. The band, Double Shot,
performed in Lodi, Oakdale, Riverbank and was the opening band for the
Galt Fair and Strawberry Festival. Some of the members eventually moved
out of state and it was it was never the same again so Bobby took a
break from the local music scene and it was about the time his daughter
Courtney was born.
Their daughter Courtney is now a first-grade student at Jenny
He resumed entertaining a year and a half ago as a one-man act at
the Barking Dog in the Lodi area. The establishment was having problems
attracting entertainment and a friend talked Bobby into giving it a try.
Without the benefit of a band, he had some music pre-recorded and sings
The gig has been a success. He performs once a month at the
Barking Dog and they would like to book him more often, but he saves the
rest of the weekends for his family.
But it was American Idol and popular rocker Chris Daughtry, who
was the fourth-place finalist on last year’s show that got Bobby to
take his career to another level.
“We were sitting on the couch watching American Idol and I was
blown away when I saw Chris Daughtry perform. He was such a natural
talent and Charlene said ‘What do you think you are?’”
That started the conversation toward exploring just how far Bobby
could go in the music world and Charlene began calling producers in
One of them, Richard Donahue, made a strong impression on the
couple. Donahue sent Bobby some demo songs to review and he picked two
of them, which he eventually recorded in July. Sony was interested, but
wanted to hear more.
“It was time to step up to the plate and record a complete
album,” Bobby said.
To raise the funds for the trip back to Nashville and the
recording, Bobby and Charlene held a tri-tip barbecue last summer at the
Rancho Community Clubhouse. Friends and friends of friends attended the
fundraiser. In all, the event attracted 150 guests.
“We’ve had an unbelievable amount of support from our
friends,” Charlene said.
In the meantime, Donahue sent Bobby another 38 songs to review.
“There were some fantastic songs, really well written,” he
He picked eight of them to record and pursued the idea of
re-recording “Kentucky Rain,” written by Eddie Rabbit and recorded
by Elvis Pressley in the 1970s.
“My dad is a big Elvis fan and if I ever got the chance I
always wanted to do a remake of that song,” Bobby said.
When he got to Nashville he learned he could re-record the song
if he paid the publishing fee and Kentucky Rain became the No. 10 track
on Bobby’s album.
Bobby, who along with being an Elvis fan, likes the music of
Ronnie Dunn, Garth Brooks and The Eagles, has been told he has that
“Garth Brooks’ twang.
Bobby’s return to record the album in Nashville in mid-January
was almost jeopardized by a bad cold he contracted just before his
departure. The musicians and studio were already booked.
With the help of strong medicine, nasal decongestant and a trip
to the sauna, he was able to get through the grueling four-day recording
He received his first copy of the album last week and is
expecting another 1,000 copies to arrive this week. They cost $15 and
can be obtained by emailing Charlene at email@example.com.
Bobby spent his early childhood in the Valley Springs area,
attending Valley Springs Elementary and Calaveras High School, before
the family moved to Lodi.
He and Charlene had a home in Galt, but “I decided I didn’t
want to live in the suburbs anymore” and the family a few years ago
moved to a house on hill with an acre near Jenny Lind.
As for the future, Bobby said, “From here we cross our fingers
and hope to get some good news.”
“I give all the credit to my wife” Bobby said. “She spoke
with the producers, listened to the songs and pushed me hard. It has
been a wonderful experience none the less no matter what happens.”