Serving the communities of Valley Springs, Burson and Wallace
Dick Brown is all smiles after receiving the award as Jenny Lind Fire Protection District’s Firefighter of the Year. Brown has been with the district for 20 years, is a captain in the department and a former chief.
Jenny Lind Fire recognizes efforts of firefighters, citizens
A 20-year member of the Jenny Lind Fire Protection District has
been recognized for his contributions to the department.
Capt. Dick Brown was selected as Jenny Lind’s Firefighter of
the Year. Fire Chief Brian Chavez-Ochoa announced the selection at the
district’s annual awards dinner on Jan. 24.
The district’s firefighters make the selection and it was the
fourth time Brown has received the honor. He is one of the district’s
four captains and during his 20-year span with the organization he has
served time as the fire chief.
Barbara Boston, the wife of board member John Boston, received
the Fire Chief’s Award. Chavez-Ochoa said the award recognizes
non-firefighters for their contributions to the district.
Barbara has been a member of the fire district’s auxiliary
since its inception, the chief said, and participates in all of its
events. In addition, she was instrumental in putting together and
overseeing the auxiliary’s scholarship program. The auxiliary awards
two $1,000 scholarships annually.
A moment of silence was observed at Saturday’s dinner for the
114 firefighters nationwide and eight in California who died in the line
of duty last year.
Chavez-Ochoa said it is a reminder that all firefighters, whether
they serve in a large department or a smaller one such as the Jenny Lind
district, can never become complacent.
Firefighters were also recognized for their years of service to
the district. First-year pins were awarded to David Azevedo, Hunter
Halsted, Thomas Land, Mathew McKelroy, Jessica Mullin, Zach Roy and Drew
Utterback, while Mickayla Cochran and Krystle Gleason received two-year
Three-year pins were presented to Tony Daniello and Joel Smith,
with Joe Butler and Jason Robitaille receiving five-year pins.
Six-year pins were presented to Mike Cammisa, Naser Estakhri and
Kris Hinds, while Al Engel received an eight-year pin.
Recognized for serving a dozen years for the district were
Virginia Greenough, Scott Mullin and Kirk Tanner, while Brad Palmer has
served 14 years, Steve Buettner 15 and Brown and Ron Cleland received
The Jenny Lind district consists of volunteer, part-time and
full-time personnel who serve an area consisting of Rancho Calaveras,
Jenny Lind and rural west Calaveras County generally along Highway 26 to
the San Joaquin County line.
The auxiliary, board, several members of the public, and the
firefighters’ spouses and significant others were also acknowledged
for their contributions to the district.
File photo of Jeff Palm when he was serving as Foothill's fire chief.
Foothill Fire board member in program to drop felony plea
A “Deferred Entry of Judgment” was granted during a
sentencing hearing Tuesday for Foothill Fire Protection District board
member Jeffrey Brian Palm, 37.
If Palm successfully completes a drug diversion program, a felony
drug charge he pleaded guilty to last month will be dropped.
Palm was arrested Oct. 25 in Tuolumne County on suspicion of
transporting controlled substances, and misdemeanor counts of having a
concealed firearm in a vehicle, and possession of a controlled substance
without a prescription.
At a Dec. 17 court date, Palm entered pleas of guilty to
possession of a controlled substance, a felony, and having a concealed
firearm in a vehicle, a misdemeanor.
The potential sentence for the felony was three years in state
Palm will be in the deferred entry of judgment program for up to
three years. Within 30 days he has to show proof he has enrolled in the
substance abuse program through Tuolumne County or another authorized
provider. He has nine months to complete the substance abuse program.
In addition, he cannot use or possess any unauthorized drugs,
narcotics or controlled substances and submit to drug or narcotics
testing as directed by probation or peace officers.
The deferred entry of judgment may be ordered terminated and
sentence imposed at any time if he fails to comply with the conditions.
Superior Court Judge Eric L. DuTemple granted the deferred entry
The Oct. 25 arrest was made shortly after Palm left his job near
Sonora and stopped to check the sticker price of a car on display at the
local Subaru dealership on Mono Way. Palm said he was carrying his
prescription medication in a zip-lock bag and he had a permit for the
weapon, which in court documents was described as a pistol.
Palm was elected to the fire protection district board in 2007.
He also served as chief of the district before being demoted to
assistant chief and eventually dismissed from the district’s volunteer
Dave Tanner discusses what’s taking place at La Contenta Golf Club, including plans at his left for a new hotel.
Plans for 44-room hotel at La Contenta revealed
The first phase of a major facelift at La Contenta Golf Course has been completed and plans for a 44-room Best Western hotel at the site were revealed Thursday morning at a meeting of the Rotary Club of West Calaveras.
Dave Tanner of Tanner Consulting was the speaker at the club’s
weekly meeting and he outlined what has transpired and what is in the
works since builder Ryan Voorhees purchased a major portion of the
partnership running the golf course a year ago.
A 1,600-square-foot pro shop at the north end of the La Contenta
parking lot has been completed and work is under way to remodel and
expand the existing clubhouse, Tanner said.
“Wonderful things are happening a La Contenta,” he said.
“We are going in a new direction and Ryan has made a tremendous
The investment comes at a time when the economy and the golf
industry are experiencing hard times, he added, but improvements will
make La Contenta a community asset for many years to come.
The banquet facility in the clubhouse is being doubled in size to
accommodate 300 people and the facelift includes an outdoor wedding and
event area, patio dining, and a redesigned and expanded cocktail lounge,
But the piece de resistance to the renaissance at La Contenta
will be the addition of the on-site hotel.
La Contenta has been working with Best Western, which is excited
about eventually having a facility in this area, Tanner said.
Best Western does well in the foothill communities of Angels
Camp, Jackson and Sonora and believes a hotel in Valley Springs will
also be successful since it will be located just off Highway 26 and
there is limited competition in the area, Tanner added.
The 44-room hotel will include two banquet rooms and situated on
a “limited foot print” to the south of the parking lot.
The new pro shop, remodeled clubhouse and hotel will match
architecturally with a modern mission theme. Some exterior ornamental
work still needs to be completed at the pro shop, where a grand opening
ceremony is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday Jan. 30.
Dave Rider, La Contenta’s director of golf, welcomes the new
pro shop, which includes a number of other improvements at the golf
course, such as the introduction of a golf GPS system. GPS has been
installed to La Contenta’s entire fleet of golf carts to help speed up
play and the pro shop has monitors to see what is happening at the
If play is slowing down, the pro shop can quickly send a marshal
to the bottleneck and maintain the pace of play, Rider said. The GPS
system is great for tournament play, featuring a live leader scoreboard
and scorecards can be printed out in the pro shop.
Golfers can also order meals off the system and there are
advertising opportunities available for local businesses, Rider added.
He’s also pleased with the ability of the larger pro shop to
offer a wider variety of soft goods such as clothing and sporting goods.
The 2009 Valley Springs Jazz Festival logo.
Valley Springs to host jazz festival in April
Plans have been announced for Valley Springs to follow in the
footsteps of communities such as Monterey and Newport, R.I., by hosting
a jazz festival.
The 2009 Valley Springs Jazz Festival has been scheduled for
April 25 at The Terrace Plaza at the corner of Highway 26 and Vista Del
The Valley Springs Boosters will present the one-day festival,
with proceeds going to the music programs at Calaveras and Bret Harte
high schools, the Calaveras Arts Council and the Boosters, said Dave
Tanner, who is helping organize the event.
Plans call for the main parking lot at The Terrace to serve as
the stage with a huge tent covering the venue. Tanner said the tent and
stage would accommodate seating for about 500 people.
The jazz fest will run from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. with a number of
bands already committed to the event, he added.
World-renowned brass, trumpet and trombone player Mic Gillette of
Tower of Power fame will serve at the festival’s master of ceremonies,
“This event is scheduled to be an annual event that is destined
to grow both in size and over the next few years, grow in days,”
Tanner said. The Terrace Plaza will serve as the venue for the next two
years, but plans call for the festival to switch to La Contenta Golf
Course following renovation of the course and clubhouse and the addition
of a Best Western hotel.
Artists for the event include the Mario Flores Latin Jazz Band,
the University of the Pacific’s Dave Brubeck Institute Big Band and
the Blue Note Combo, the Columbia College Big Band and big bands from
Delta and California State University, Stanislaus, and more are being
added, Tanner said.
The Mario Flores Latin Jazz Band is the event’s special guest
star. The group delivers rhythmically vibrant soundscapes in the
tradition of Tito Puente, Cal Tjader, Chano Pozo, Mongo Santamaria and
Willie Bobo, Tanner said.
Gillette recently moved to Calaveras County, Tanner said, and his
Mic Gillette Band is recording its second album and will perform at the
In addition to TOP, Gillette is famous for being a member of Cold
Blood and The Sons
of Champlin. He has toured and recorded with The
Doobie Brothers and Santana, and has released a solo CD
entitled "Ear Candy" on the BKA Records label.
The site will include 46 vendor booths featuring local art, music
CD’s, food and beverages. The festival is working with local
restaurants to provide the food services.
Admission will be in the neighborhood of $25, Tanner added.
Operation Military Support volunteers, from left, Maxine Vidas, Flo Butera, Jann Hart and June Downum receive a $500 donation from Bill Brinlee Post 102 American Legion presented by Post Commander Don Powlesland, Past Judge Advocate Ben Kirby and 60-year member Lee Phifer.
Legion post challenges community to donate to Operation Military Support
Bill Brinlee American Legion Post 102 in Valley Springs has
donated $500 to Operation Military Support and has issued a challenge to
other organizations and individuals to do likewise.
Operation Military Support is a grassroots, volunteer, non-profit
organization based in Calaveras County with a goal to make sure every
man and woman in our country’s military service is reminded that his
or her sacrifice and work is appreciated "back home.”
The organization receives names of military men and women
overseas who do not receive regular mail from home and connects them
with volunteers who want to boost the spirits of our military personnel.
Operation Military Support sends letters and packages to service people overseas on a weekly basis and the Legion’s donation will go toward helping defray those postage costs, said Post Commander Don Powlesland.
“Without cash contributions they would have to shut down,” he
In all, Operation Military Support averages about 100 packages
overseas a month and the cost ranges between $7 and $10 a package, so
expenses are nearly $1,000 a month.
The VFW post in San Andreas recently stepped up with a $500
donation and its auxiliary contributed $100.
CHP Lt. Tim Port
Area CHP office has new commander
The California Highway Patrol office in San Andreas has a new
CHP Lt. Tim Port has been selected as the new area commander.
Port is no stranger to Calaveras and Alpine counties. He was
assigned to the San Andreas area office between May 1997 and November
He graduated from the CHP Academy in March 1982 and was promoted to sergeant in 2003. His promotion to lieutenant came in 2006.
In addition, Port’s previous CHP assignments have included
State Capitol Protection Section, State Terrorism Threat Assessment
Center and the Counterterrorism and Threat Awareness Section dealing
with state homeland security operations.
His most recent assignment was as executive officer for the
Lt. J.R. Pelfanio, the former CHP area commander out of San
Andreas, has been transferred to the Office of the Assistant
Commissioner in the Sacramento area.
Gary Tofanelli, left, Tom Tryon and Steve Wilensky take the oath of office at the beginning of Tuesday’s Calaveras County Board of Supervisor meeting. Tofanelli and Tryon were elected in November, while Wilensky won in last June’s primary race.
Thomas wins power play for board chairman
District 5 Supervisor Russ Thomas was elected chairman of the
Calaveras County Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning after several
turns and twists that resembled a plot out of a Shakespearean play.
Thomas, who served as vice chairman of the board last year,
assumed he would be selected as board chairman in 2009. However, on
Monday Thomas said he received a New Year’s Eve phone call from newly
elected District 1 Supervisor Gary Tofanelli.
According to Thomas, Tofanelli said he was going to make a motion to appoint District 3 Supervisor Merita Callaway as the 2009 chair at the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting “for the good of the county.”
“He and others sense that - if I become chairman - Steve
Wilensky’s ‘running of the county’ will simply continue,” Thomas
When it came time for the board meeting, and the appointment of a
new chairman, Tofanelli at first was silent.
The board on a 3-2 vote, with Callaway and Tofanelli voting in
opposition, opened the matter up to public discussion.
Several members from the audience urged the board to follow the
practice of selecting the vice chair to chair the board, while one
member said District 4 Supervisor Tom Tryon should have been the vice
chairman last year, but Thomas nominated himself for the position.
District 5 resident Les Martin said he didn’t come to the board
meeting to see Tammany Hall in progress, referring to the corrupt
politics of New York City in the 19th Century. Martin said the board
should follow normal procedure and select Thomas as its chairman.
“It’s childish what is going on here,” Martin said.
Catherine Jackson of Wallace urged the board to avoid conflict by
following the established protocol of selecting the past vice chairman
as the new chairman, while Darryl Rusk of Burson also called for
selecting Thomas as the new chairman.
Rusk said it was the logical pattern to follow.
Tryon argued that there is no established precedent that the vice
chairman automatically becomes the chairman. Callaway agreed and said
the selection is based on merit and is totally up to the board’s
Tryon, not Tofanelli, made a motion to select Callaway as the new
Before Tryon could get a second to his motion, Callaway announced
she did not want the position at this time and “out of respect for the
recent practice” nominated Thomas for the position. Tofanelli seconded
Tryon said he would not vote for Thomas because it would be a
“repudiation of my election.” He added it also was a repudiation of
Tofanelli’s election and the 2007-08 Calaveras grand jury report.
Tryon went to the grand jury last year and among a number of
issues accused Thomas, Wilensky and former District 1 Supervisors Bill
Claudino of violating the state’s open meeting law and protecting
former Community Development Agency Director Stephanie Moreno from
scrutiny from allegedly mismanaging her department.
Tryon characterized his past two years on the board with 2008
Chairman Wilensky and Thomas as “a living hell” and “less than
Wilensky thanked Callaway for setting aside personal
considerations and nominating Thomas. He praised her for adding a level
of civility and congeniality to the board and it was a good start to the
The vote was 4-1 in favor of selecting Thomas as chairman with
Tryon as the lone vote of dissent.
Thomas said it was not his style to have controversy on the front
page of the newspaper, but each supervisorial district should be
represented in a proportional manner as board chairman.
If Tryon last year had been selected as vice chairman, and made
the chairman this year, that would have been three times he has been
chairman in the past 10 years, while District 5 supervisors have had the
honor only once in the past 10, Thomas added.
“That’s not fair to the citizens of District 5,” Thomas
Thomas provided the final twist in the series of events when he
made a motion for Tryon to serve as the vice chair in 2009. Tryon
declined the seat and nominated Callaway. Tofanelli seconded the motion
and Callaway was approved on a unanimous vote.
Jenny Lind Veterans Memorial District President Andy Ballantyne, left, presents a donation from the district of an All Pro Selfpriming Pump to Foothill Fire Chief Michael Siligo and Jenny Lind Fire Chief Brian Chavez-Ochoa.
Fire departments receive help from memorial board
The Jenny Lind Veterans Memorial District has donated a piece of spare equipment that should find good use with the area’s two fire protection districts.
Memorial District President Andy Ballantyne on Wednesday presented an All Pro Selfpriming Pump to Foothill Fire Chief Michael Siligo and Jenny Lind Fire Chief Brian Chavez-Ochoa.
The pump, according to Ballantyne, was one of a number of items
the district purchased in bulk at a substantial discount from a tool
vendor. The district was able to put most of the equipment – which
included two generators - to use or sell it. However, the pump was a
different story and the board decided the fire departments could make
better use of it.
The pumps value is estimated at $500.
Neither department has a portable pump, and the fire chiefs agree
the new piece of equipment will come in handy.
Chief Siligo said the pump would be carried on Foothill’s
ladder truck and available to Jenny Lind when requested.
Designed to remove water, the chiefs said such a pump would have
come into use during the Cosgrove Creek flood of 2006.
Chief Siligo added that the donation is timely since his
department next month will conduct flood operations training.
“It’s a nice tool to have and we’re thankful,” said Chief