Serving the communities of Valley Springs, Burson and Wallace
Ready to plant some of the poppy seeds obtained for the Wallace/Burson Association’s West Calaveras Poppy Trail are, from left, Project Chairperson Fran Rupley, Larry Rupley, Claireed Allen, Cassie Goltz, Lacy Sigman, Peal Regis and Joan Bohl.
Association's poppy effort successful
Demand triple of first expectations
By Nick Baptista
Wallace/Burson Association’s inaugural West Calaveras Poppy Trail
effort is coming to a successful ending.
The civic organization celebrated the end of the campaign with a
ceremony Saturday at the Wallace Post Office. The association honored
its premier sponsors and planted seeds donated back to the effort in a
field across the street.
“This project has captured folks' attention and enthusiasm all
over Calaveras County!
went way beyond expectations,” said Project Chairperson Fran Rupley.
She said the association planned on buying and distributing 25 pounds of
poppy seeds, but in the end the amount tripled.
“I had to go back to the seed supply store three times,”
Rupley said to meet the demand. “This is all new to us and we didn’t
know how much we’d really need.”
The program was designed to enhance the west entrance of
Calaveras County this spring with a mass planting of California Poppy
seeds. The association distributed one-ounces packages of seeds for $2
each to residents and businesses. In addition, residents and businesses
could sponsor or donate seeds back to the Wallace/Burson Association for
association members and volunteers to plant along the roadsides.
Premier sponsors purchased at least 25 packets of seed for a $50
donation. As of Wednesday, the project had attracted 26 premier
sponsors, Rupley said.
In addition, Rupley had mailed or delivered 551 packets of seed
With this year’s success, the association will “absolutely”
do it again next year, she added. “I’m really looking forward to
doing it again. You don’t mess with success.”
However, Rupley said she will be better prepared in 2007 to meet
“I’m going to have a better idea on how much supplies we need
and I’m not going to be driving to Staples and the Stockton seed store
as often,” she added.
Much of the work to prepare the seeds for distribution was done
in Rupley’s kitchen where she measured the seeds and placed them in
packets with home-printed labels.
Marathon runner Kathleen Nelson, right. Photo by Action Sports International.
Valley Springs woman completes her first marathon
Kathleen Nelson of Valley Springs earlier this month completed
her first, but probably not her last, marathon.
Nelson, who works at the Valley Springs Longs as a bookkeeper,
participated in the Jan. 15 P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon
& Half Marathon. She was one of more than 30,000 runners and walkers
who challenged their strength and endurance on the 26.2- and 13.1-mile
courses that went through the Valley of the Sun communities of Phoenix,
Scottsdale and Tempe.
Nelson, who said she is “runaker,” which is the level between
a runner and a walker, participated in the marathon through the Leukemia
& Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training. She said she finished in
the middle of the pack of about 8,000 who were in the full marathon.
She was motivated to run her first marathon due to the loss of
her aunt to leukemia and her father to colon cancer.
“I joined because I love helping people,” Nelson said. She
became affiliated with a Sacramento area Team In Training the past
summer. The team would meet twice a week and gave Nelson a schedule for
individual workouts. She worked her way up to 20- and 23-mile workouts.
Nelson’s husband Ken was there during those workouts to follow
her and pass out water when she needed it.
“I made a promise to finish to all the people who donated,”
Each Team In Training participant had to raise a minimum of
$3,500 in pledges to cover expenses and raise money for The Leukemia
& Lymphoma Society, she said, and in all, the runners at the event
netted $7 million for the society.
As the title of the event indicated, rock ‘n’ roll was also
featured. There was a big concert and a band was playing every mile
along the route.
“It bumped your spirit up a bit,” Nelson said about running
and hearing the bands play along the way.
Nelson’s next running effort will be limited to a 10-miler in
July in the Bay Area.
Staff members of the new H&R Block office in Valley Springs are, from left, Karin Salbu, Jodi Owens, Elmer Owens, Kara Hughes, Amanda Leonard, Alayna Stevens, Jerry Owens and Susan Colwell, not pictured.
H&R Block first to open in center's new addition
By Nick Baptista
H&R Block is the first tenant to open at the new addition to
Valley Oaks Center.
With tax season around the corner, H&R Block opened its doors
Jan. 13 in the 1,250-square-foot office. The addition to the shopping
center has also attracted Starbucks Coffee, Subway and Countrywide Home
Elmer and Jodi Owens are the owners of the H&R Block office.
They also have offices in Angels Camp and Jackson. The three offices
employ 22 people, with six at the Valley Springs office and the Owens’
son Jerry is the regional manager for the operations.
In addition to tax preparation, tax consulting and tax education,
H&R Block provides mortgage and financial services, Jodi said.
“Valley Springs looks like the place to be,” she added. The
family has had the Angels Camp office for 30 years and Jackson for 28.
Elmer has been keeping an eye on the Valley Springs market for a number
“We have loyal clients from Angels Camp who have been with us
since the day,” Jodi said.
Overall, H&R Block has more than 10,000 offices nationwide.
The local office can establish Individual Retirement Accounts and
has the resources of H&R Block financial planners in Modesto or
Stockton. They can meet with clients at the Valley Springs office or at
the convenience of the client’s home, Jodi said. Eventually, she would
like to have a full-time financial planner working out of the Valley
The office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday. The
phone number is (209) 772-1712.
During the tax season, “we’ll extend our hours for anyone who
wants it,” Jodi said.
The Ridge of Trinitas Project, which includes a golf course and clubhouse, will be the topic of a public meeting Feb. 2 at the Burson Firehouse.
Meeting set for proposed golf course development
meeting to identify potential environmental impacts associated with
construction and operation of The Ridge of Trinitas Project is scheduled
for 6 p.m. Feb. 2 at the Burson Firehouse and Community Center.
Nemee, chairman, Trinitas Olive Oil Co., has proposed subdividing 280
acres off Ospital Road between Warren and Southworth roads into 14
parcels, 13 of which will be single-family residential lots, each
approximately two acres in size. The remaining 244-acre parcel would
include an 18-hole golf course with a driving range, clubhouse and lodge
with overnight accommodations.
two-story, 18,000-square-foot clubhouse would include a tasting room for
olive oil products produced on the property, retail space, a restaurant
and banquet facilities.
Burson Firehouse is located off Burson Road at Dickenson Court, a half
mile north of Highway 12 in Burson.
cards will be available at the meeting. In addition, emails and faxes
will also be accepted. The project file is available for review at the
Calaveras County Planning Department, 891 Mountain Ranch Road, San
Phil Weaver started
ourvalleysprings.com to assist the area’s civic organizations and
publicize the positive activities in the community.
Ourvalleysprings.com established to highlight area's positive aspects
By Nick Baptista
A website seeking to bring Valley Springs together has emerged
from the depths of cyberspace.
Phil Weaver launched Ourvalleysprings.com
last month. He and his wife Liz own Sheng Chi Kung Fu of Valley Springs.
Weaver said he envisions the website in part becoming a community
forum by bringing the area’s clubs, civic organizations and
non-profits together under one umbrella. In a relatively easy fashion,
the organizations will be able to post their latest news, events and
activities on the website, he said, and the public can go to
ourvalleysprings.com and find out what each community organization is
The community forum is set up as a blog and does not require any
technical training for a member of the public to post an item, he said.
They establish a user account at the site and write what they want to
It’s a lot easier than each civic organization maintaining its
own website, which all too often in general have out of date
information, and one focal point will attract many more visitors, he
The Girl Scouts, Calaveras Youth Mentoring Program, Valley
Springs Softball League, and Wallace/Burson Association are taking
advantage of the website by posting pertinent information.
By each group posting what they are doing, Weaver said he hopes
it will eliminate any duplication of efforts and community organizations
will be more efficient in their undertakings.
In addition, the site features the histories of Burson, Valley
Springs and Wallace.
Sal Manna, president of the Wallace/Burson Association, is
contributing quite a bit to the website, Weaver said, and Paul Shinn
plans to post a weekly article featuring a local business outlining
their experiences in serving area.
He also wants the site to serve as a community sounding board and
spark positive discussions about visions and ideas for Valley Springs’
“There are so many great visions for our town,” Weaver says
on the website. “Perhaps if we brought them all together even more and
better ideas would form. There’s also something about putting an idea
to print which helps make it happen.”
This pig featured at MyValleySprings.com has caused quite a stink.
New website draws reaction with photo, content
By Nick Baptista
A new website with an anti-development editorial slant has drawn
the ire of several locals.
MyValleySprings.com has been in operation since November and the
site’s use of a pig with lipstick and an aspersion to the man who is
developing a comprehensive plan for commercial development and
recreation in Valley Springs has drawn a backlash.
“It’s disgusting,” Tillie Soyland, past chair of the Valley
Springs Area Business Association, said of the website, which features a
pig on its home page and says “Would You Kiss This Pig.”
She was also upset with the way the website treats the new
Community Shopping Center planned for the southeast corner of Highway 26
and Hogan Dam Road and Dave Tanner, the project leader and land planner
for the complex.
The website has headlines such as “Is This A Bad Joke” and
“It makes you wonder what Mr. Tanner is doing” concerning the
shopping center proposal.
Soyland, who is also president of the Valley Springs Chapter of
Friends of the Library, said she did not believe the website’s content
concerning the shopping center would kill the project, which includes
space for a Valley Springs branch of the Calaveras County Library.
She is also displeased with what she perceived was a
mean-spirited attack on Tanner.
“Dave is taking the brunt of this and he does a lot of good for
the community and is a good family man,” she said.
Lynne Callahan echoed Soyland’s thoughts concerning Tanner.
“He is a wonderful man and I trust what he is doing.”
MyValleySprings.com was founded by a politically diverse
group of citizens concerned with growth issues in the area, said Seana
Hogan, who built the website and is a co-founder of the group.
A letter that has been posted to the website motivated use of the
pig, she said. Some in the group thought the pig was cleaver and others
did not want to post the picture on the site, she added.
The purpose of putting the pig on MyValleySprings.com was to get
people to visit the site and get them talking, she said.
The pig characterizes urban growth proposed in the Spring Valley
project, she said.
“Now is the time to ask yourselves, do we want development of
this size in Valley Springs?” said Hogan, who relocated to Valley
Springs two years ago from Gilroy. “Sure, progress is inevitable, but
on a mega-scale? All at once? A thousand homes on one-tenth-acre city
Hogan said she watched and did not get involved as Gilroy became
an urban sprawl and she would not sit by and be a spectator again.
Although the MyValleySprings.com group’s website says they
believe in planned, “Smart Growth,” Tanner said it is an elaborate
ruse for their “no-growth attitude,” which permeates the website.
The “Smart Growth” page on the MyValleySprings.com website is
an example of what type of growth is being planned for Valley Springs,
“They are a small group of people who do not represent a
majority of the community,” he said.
“They’re into fear tactics, half-truths and insinuation,”
Tanner said. “How is that productive?”
They hope to kill projects in Valley Springs by casting doubt or
fear into the average person’s mind, he said.
“Calling people names and putting out pictures like that is
childish,” Tanner said. He said the characterization of him on the
website bothers his family, friends and members of the community.
“Regardless of how much lipstick (Ryan) Voorhees and Mike
Dell’Orto put on this pig, the vast majority don’t want to kiss
it,” says the letter on the website.
“The demeanor of the site gives you insight to the people
behind the website,” said Dell’Orto, who is working with Voorhees on
the Spring Valley project.
Voorhees said whether or not Spring Valley is developed, Valley
Springs will face significant growth in the near future and his project
helps mitigate many of the impacts caused by growth throughout the area.
Voorhees added he would like to meet with the group and discuss
solutions to the area’s growth issues.
According to a recent press release from the MyValleySprings.com
group, they will use the web site and the press to inform the community
of current and proposed development in and around the Valley Springs
area. They intend to engage local citizens in a community dialogue,
thereby creating a strong community voice. The website was created to
give citizens who might not ordinarily speak out an opportunity to voice
their opinions from the comfort of their homes and computers.
Hogan said she did not think the website’s editorial stance
would discourage comments from those in opposition to their viewpoints.
“We don’t claim to be fair and balanced, but we will post all
comments,” she said.
In addition to Hogan, the MyValleySprings.com group includes
Carol Barzee, Pat Brantley, Colleen Platt, Joyce Techel and Lori
Mike Wietrick displays the
Quilt of Valor he is personally delivering to his son Adam who was
wounded last week serving in Iraq.
Valley Springs man's son wounded in Iraq
By Nick Baptista
Valley Springs area resident Mike Wietrick is bound for Ft.
Riley, Kansas, to visit his son Adam who was wounded last week in Iraq
when his Army vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb.
Adam, an E4 specialist assigned with field artillery out of Ft.
Riley, sustained a broken cheekbone and has a few loose teeth, Wietrick
said. The force of the explosion threw Adam and three other soldiers out
of the vehicle, but all survived the blast.
“It sounds like they were all pretty lucky,” Wietrick said.
Adam’s unit was scheduled to rotate out of Iraq in a few days
and they were on possibly their last patrol when the vehicle was
Wietrick already had plans to visit Adam when he returned
stateside, but Friday’s call from his son to say he was relatively OK
made paying a visit much more important, he said.
Before leaving for Kansas, Wietrick obtained a Quilt of Valor for
Adam from Gail Belmont of All Together Family Quilts and the Loose
Threads Quilt Guild. Bonnie Cantoni of Wallace, a member of the quilt
guild, pieced the quilt, which was machine-quilted by Belmont.
Belmont and the quilt guild have made nearly 100
Quilts of Valor for service men and women wounded while serving their
country in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Wietrick, who was making the 1,700-mile trip to Ft. Riley by
automobile, said he’d eventually like to get Quilts of Valor to the
other soldiers wounded in the bombing. Adam and the three other soldiers
have been awarded Purple Hearts, he added.
Since Wietrick was able to talk to Adam only once, he did not know the real extent of Adam’s injury and he was not sure what doctors were going to do in regards to treatment.
Adam could not get specific, but Wietrick said the attack probably occurred north of Baghdad. It came last week during a barrage of violence that claimed the lives of 11 U.S. troops in one day.
Warren Killam, left, and Travis Haywood at the end of last month were assisting contractor Larry Meyer with interior work at the Valley Springs Youth Center. An update on progress at the new center appears below.
of youth center entering the home stretch
By Joanne Schwinghammer
Valley Springs Youth
At last the Valley Springs Youth Center can see the light at the
end of the tunnel from the Community Development Block Grant process!
What started as a vehicle to repair the roof on the old American
Legion trailer at the edge of Valley Springs Elementary School in 2002,
has become a huge improvement project for the neighborhood and the
Valley Springs Youth organization.
(Huge for us itty, bitty non-profit country folks).
Many hundreds of hours have been spent trying to hook different
interested parties and agencies together to meet the Dec. 31, 2005,
deadline to complete the project or lose the grant money intended on
improving the facility for our community’s after-school teen program.
For the past three years, the staff of Valley Springs Youth knew
they were on the verge of packing up the old center and coordinating a
temporary operating location – which became one of the simpler tasks,
and took place just as the 2005-06 school year began. With the
tremendous support of Calaveras Unified School District, the teen center
has been able to continue providing a safe place for area youth to
attend three days a week while waiting for the new center to be
completed. Things really did not kick into action until mid-September of
last year when the old library, as some remember it, was finally
demolished and hauled away. Within a couple of weeks the retired
classrooms gifted by C.U.S.D. were split in two and moved into place at
the 201 Pine St. location.
The art of making things come together continued to be a
challenge, as many promises from subcontractors did not come through.
Plan B and C and D were discussed and considered as the V.S.Y.
board met with the general contractor, who then suffered a fairly
serious fall just before Thanksgiving. Soon after the rain began and
more delays paralyzed the project!
In the 11th hour several donations of material and support began
to flow. The roof was
finally sealed on Christmas Eve – the first indication that we may
just make it. Some of the center youth even spent their Christmas
vacation helping where they could, learning some valuable trade skills.
And on Dec. 30, the contract tasks were signed off – and we were
finally at ease with no time to spare thanks to Larry Meyer, Marti
Crane, Lucy Thein and countless volunteers who performed amazing acts of
skill and kindness to get things done.
Now the fun begins – the donated flooring needs to be
installed; the computer work area, shelving and cabinets need to be
built; painting and fencing and concreting to be done (if those
donations actually come through). We
need certain things in place before we can operate, others can be a work
in process. We are on the
home stretch and would love your help - come cheer us on, bring your
paintbrush or hammer and be a part of Valley Springs history in the
making. V.S.Y. will finally
have a place to call their own and our children have lived through it
and continue to be a part of the creation of their new center.
one day, they’ll take a drive with their own kids and show them just
where they hammered in that last nail when they learned to hang drywall;
or helped design or install the landscaping around the property….. my
how that tree has grown!
We plan to hold our next board meeting at the new facility on
Wednesday, Jan. 11, at 6 p.m. and welcome interested community members
to take a look at the place and find out the latest on the project
status and our move-in date. Burson, we have electricity!
Please contact the Valley Springs Youth at (209) 772-3922, if you
have an interest in assisting with the final stages of our Big Make Over
or have materials that we may be able to use; we even have a few loads
of debris that needs to get to the landfill. Opportunities are available
for everyone seeking a role in the Valley Springs Youth community
Not another water hazard
La Contenta Golf Club’s ninth tee looking toward the clubhouse gained an ominous water hazard during the New Year’s Eve storm. Rich Pastorino took this photo at approximately 9 a.m. Saturday. Despite Mother Nature’s outpour of nearly 5 inches of precipitation the past week and Cosgrove Creek overflowing its banks, Dave Rider, La Contenta’s head golf professional, reported Tuesday morning the course escaped any serious damage and is open for play with some standing water and soggy areas.
Wet, wild start to '06
By Nick Baptista
Mother Nature end one year and began another with a wicked pair
of storms in Northern California that dumped 4.7 inches of rain the past
six days on Valley Springs.
According to the Valley Springs Public Utility District’s rain
gauge, the recent rains began Dec. 28 with .5 inches. Rainfall over the
next five days was .2 on Thursday, an inch on Friday, .7 on Saturday and
Sunday and 1.6 inches on Monday.
The district’s holding pond is “still in pretty good shape”
despite the heavy rains, PUD General Manager Michael Fischer reported.
Too much water in the pond last year triggered a wastewater
discharge order from the California Regional Water Quality Control
Fischer reported the holding pond is 9.2 feet from the top, while
at the same time last year the pond it was 6.7 feet from the rim.
Fischer said there remains a lot of inflow into the pond and he
is concerned storm gutters are tied into the system.
New Hogan Lake also experienced substantial inflows during the
storms, raising the storage level past 200,000 acre-feet for the first
time since Oct. 30, 2005. The reservoir had an inflow of 7,707 cubic
feet per second on Saturday as the first storm came to an end.
Jenny Lind Fire Chief Stacey Hebrard reported one sad New
Year’s Eve and storm-related emergency call. A dog had to be put to
rest by a sheriff’s deputy at approximately 9 p.m. Saturday after it
jumped a fence and was struck by a vehicle on Highway 26 between
Heinemann and Farris lanes.
Hebrard said the dog jumped the fence after being frightened by
illegal fireworks going off in the area. The fire department was
dispatched to the scene after the dog was struck and dragged itself off
the highway only to fall into the creek. The dog was rescued from
drowning, but it was determined it had sustained too many internal