Serving the communities of Valley Springs, Burson and Wallace
Election attention turns to special district races
The race to determine who will occupy the White House is not the
only issue on this November’s General Election ballot.
In addition, West Calaveras residents will decide who will
represent District 1 on the county Board of Supervisors and the filing
period is open for seats on the Calaveras Unified School District Board
of Trustees, the county Board of Education, the San Joaquin Delta
Community College Board of Trustees and the Mark Twain Health Care
District Board of Directors.
Candidates for the District 1Supervisorial race were decided in
June. Zerrall McDaniel and Gary Tofanelli are in a run-off to replace
Bill Claudino on the board.
The filing period for the school boards and the health care
district closes at 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8. If the incumbent for the seat
up for election does not file, the filing period is extended to 5 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 13.
The four-year terms for Sherri Reusche and John Yerman are
expiring on the CUSD board. Both have filed to seek re-election and no
challengers had filed as of 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Reusche is the representative from District Area 1, Valley
Springs, while Yerman is the representative from District 3, Burson.
Although the board seats are configured to represent areas within
the school district and candidates must reside within those areas, the
election is at-large, meaning voters within the entire school district
cast votes in each race, said County Elections Coordinator Christine
Three seats are open on the county Board of Education. The terms
of Kathy Huebert, District 2, Patrick Stephens, District 4, and Lou
Bointano, District 5, are expiring. The Board of Education districts are
identical the county supervisorial districts.
District 2 includes Mokelumne Hill, Mountain Ranch and West
Point, District 4 has the communities of Angels Camp and Murphys, while
District 5 encompasses Copperopolis, Jenny Lind and Rancho Calaveras.
Bointano and Huebert have filed to seek re-election. Stephens had
not filed as of Tuesday morning and so far there are no challengers in
these three races, which are also elected at-large.
Calaveras County resident Steve Castellanos has filed to run for
the Trustee Area 5 seat on the Delta College board. Area 5 covers the
northern portion of the community college district and includes
Trustee Area 1 and 2 seats, covering the Stockton area, are also
up for election. C.Jennet Stebbins is the lone candidate so far for the
Trustee Area 1 seat, while Mary Ann Cox and Montecuzma Patrick Sanchez
have filed to run for the Area 2 seat.
Races for the Delta College board come just several weeks after
the San Joaquin County Civil Grand Jury issued a report accusing the
board of wasting millions of dollars in Measure L funds and college
faculty overwhelmingly supported a vote of No Confidence of the trustees
because of Measure L woes and management of the campus.
The college had to trim or eliminate several specific projects
– including a satellite campus near Valley Springs – because of
escalating costs to place a campus at Mountain House near Tracy.
Incumbents Kenneth McInturf and Colleen Smart have filed to seek
re-election to their seats on the Mark Twain Health Care District’s
board of directors. The race had not attracted any challengers as of
Declaration of Candidacy papers can be obtained in the Election
Department at the county clerk’s office in San Andreas. The special
district races do not require the circulation of nomination papers and a
required number of signatures. In addition, there is no filing fee
unless the candidate wants to submit a candidate’s statement for
printing on the sample ballots. The fee is $250 for a 200-word
Prospective candidates can obtain additional election information
at the county website, www.co.calaveras.ca.us,
at the clerk-recorder page.
Nov. 4 is Election Day.
Tim Garrison is the new principal at Valley Springs Elementary School.
VSE begins school year with a new principal
Valley Springs Elementary School greeted plenty of new students
and a new principal when the 2008-09 school year began on Monday.
Tim Garrison, who has been the principal and a teacher at West
Point Elementary School for the past two years, has transferred to
Valley Springs Elementary where he will serve as the full-time
He succeeds Jan Matson who retired at the end of the past school
A graduate of Washington State University, Garrison has been in
the education field for 10 years. He taught in the Seattle area for a
pair of years before moving to Southern California where he was in the
classroom for six years. The past two years he has been with the
Calaveras Unified School District as principal and intervention teacher
at West Point. As West Point’s intervention teacher, taught students
who needed extra help in language arts.
The move to Valley Springs “is an exciting step in my
career,” Garrison said, since the school is larger than West Point and
he will be a full-time principal. “The school board and Superintendent
Jim Frost must have had confidence I did a good job at West Point in
bringing me to Valley Springs.”
After having a class the past 10 years, Garrison acknowledged the
transition might be a little difficult for him at the beginning of the
school year, but he plans to offset that by interacting heavily with the
entire student body.
He does not plan any immediate changes at the school unless
absolutely necessary. Garrison attributed that to the fine job Matson
did at the campus and his belief that he needs to spend time getting to
know the staff, students and parents before making any adjustments to
the school’s routine.
However, change is inevitable, he said.
The board and administration want constant improvement at their
schools, no matter whether they are at a high level, and he will work to
improve Valley Springs Elementary, he added.
Garrison said a clean and attractive school environment, both
inside and outside of the classroom, are important to him.
Those first impressions of the physical condition of the school
and the classroom last with a student and contribute to their
achievement, he said, so clean and attractive facilities are a priority
on his list.
A major expansion project was recently completed at the school,
although landscaping and a playground improvement project are still in
“There will be some disruption, but the worst is behind us,”
Garrison is also looking forward toward working with the
school’s Parent-Teacher Organization.
“The PTO is amazing in the amount of time and resources
they’ve devoted to the school,” Garrison said. “They’ve really
been helpful and I will take advantage of that as much as I can.”
Enrollment is projected to be up 10 percent this school year at
Valley Springs Elementary from approximately 500 the past school year to
550. He attributed much of the increase to the boundary shift between
Valley Springs and Jenny Lind Elementary.
The school will also have two new teachers, Celeste
Bitler-Garamendi in the fourth grade and Laura Stickles in this sixth
More billboards such as these on the west side of Valley Springs could be in the offing if the Calaveras County Planning Commission approve a new proposal.
Request for more billboards near Valley Springs postponed for a month
County Planning Commission consideration of whether to grant approval
for the placement of three new billboards along Highway 12 has been
The item was on last Thursday’s planning commission agenda, but
was continued to an Aug. 21 meeting.
Rogers Media is seeking a conditional use permit to erect the
billboards at 1201 Highway 12, approximately 1.5 miles west of downtown
The Valley Springs Area Business Association has voiced
opposition to approval of the signs because they will clutter the
entrance to town. The ABA board has asked its membership to email the
county to express their concerns with the proposal.
The proposed sign faces would measure 16 feet wide by 8 feet high
for a total of 128 square feet each. The base of the signs would be 14.5
feet above grade, with an overall height of 25 feet to the top of each.
In other area business at Thursday’s meeting the panel did not
act on New Hogan Community Investors request for a planned development
permit for a nearly 14-acre shopping center on the south side of Highway
26, approximately a half mile from the downtown intersection of Highways
12 and 26.
Caltrans expressed concern about expected road impacts and
realignment of a section of Highway 26.
Frances Schabram, left, talks about the sorry state of Gillam Road during a meeting on Wednesday with area residents and representatives of U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren’s office.
Road disrepair draws ire of residents
Enough is enough, according to residents who live along or use
Nearly 20 of them met Wednesday to talk to a pair of staff
members from U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren’s office about their frustrations
in getting Gillam Road fixed.
The road has been in disrepair for at least two years with a
number of deep potholes, ruts and near washouts.
The road is in such bad shape, Foothill Fire Chief Mike Siligo
has written a letter saying his department’s larger structural
firefighting equipment is unable to negotiate the route.
Although the road is maintained by Calaveras County, county officials say their hands have been tied at the federal level.
Before ordinary repairs can begin, the county needs a permit from
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the process also includes reviews
by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service and
California’s Regional Water Quality Control Board.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ jurisdiction falls under the
Federal Clean Water Act, according to Kathy Norton, senior project
manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers out of Sacramento.
Water flows over part of the road and there are springs under it,
To make matters more complicated, several years ago a California
red-legged frog reportedly was observed under a bridge the road crosses
and the frog is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered
Area residents dispute the sighting, but Norton says a specialist
from Fish and Wildlife verified the presence of the frog near the road.
County officials have applied for the permit, but Norton said the
application is incomplete and needs to be clarified.
County officials at Wednesday’s gathering said they are doing
what they can, but Norton and the other agencies are not receptive to
meeting with them in person at the site to reach solutions.
Congressman Lungren’s staff member for intergovernmental
affairs, Alexandra Snyder, was at Wednesday’s meeting and said she was
“appalled by the conditions” of the roadway and the fact that
emergency vehicles don’t have access to the area.
She was also upset that the permit process now has taken several
years to work its way through the Army Corps of Engineers.
She encouraged the residents to continue to pressure the
Congressman’s office, the county Board of Supervisors and the federal
agencies to get the work done.
Gillam Road resident Frances Schabram said she and her cattle are
the real endangered species. The road is in such disrepair it is nearly
impossible to deliver hay and that is threatening her cattle business
and her livelihood.
She and other residents complained of broken axles and the
everyday fear that emergency personnel will be unable to respond in the
event of a fire or medical condition.
Snyder and Gillam Road residents would like to see repairs under
way before steady rains begin in the fall.
Norton said the permit process could be completed before the
rainy season begins.
Randy Kilgore, 14, of Valley Springs has plans to break the record for handling the world's largest hula-hoop. Photo by Sharlea Nisbet.
Springs lad plans to master largest hula-hoop
While most teens use their summer break to on go vacation or hang
out with peers Randy Kilgore, 14, of Valley Springs is spending some of
his time trying to beat The Guinness Book of World Records in hula
Kilgore was filling his time weeding and general garden work for
extra money, but one day while he was at his grandparents, Randy and
Judy Johnston of Valley Springs, he came up with an idea.
He took some P.V.C. pipe his grandfather uses in his business,
and formed a circle.
That first hula-hoop was about five feet in diameter and Kilgore
mastered it in a matter of minutes. But the idea continued and the
hula-hoops got bigger until Kilgore made one 12 feet in diameter.
According to Guinness, the record was set in 2002 by a man who
could rotate a 16-foot diameter hula-hoop three times. The feat has now
become a challenge for Kilgore and he hopes to set a new record by the
end of summer vacation.
Kilgore will be a freshman when the school year begins and also
loves skateboarding, riding dirt bikes and weightlifting with his dad,
It’s a good thing he lifts weights as the 16-foot hula-hoop may
end up weighing about 20 pounds.
Calaveras County Sheriff’s Volunteer Unit member Sylvia Susoeff Thursday morning begins packing stationary from the Sheriff’s Valley Springs Substation for moving to the Mokelumne Hill Substation.
Valley Springs' Sheriff's substation closed in budget cut
The Valley Springs Sheriff’s Substation is one of the first
casualties of lean budget times for Calaveras County and the sheriff’s
Calaveras County Sheriff Dennis Downum last month announced the
Valley Springs and Copperopolis substations would have to close to help
his department reach mandated cost reductions and word came down
Wednesday to begin closing the Valley Springs office located in the
Valley Oaks Center.
The Valley Springs Substation is scheduled for closure on
Tuesday, July 15, but sheriff’s volunteers were in the office Thursday
morning beginning to move supplies to the Mokelumne Hill substation.
With the closure due to budget constraints, citizens in the
Valley Springs area will be referred to the sheriff’s main station in
San Andreas. There is also a substation in the west county area at South
Capt. Jim Macedo, the operations bureau commander, said the
sheriff’s department pays rental for the Valley Springs and
Copperopolis stations and that was why they were identified for closure.
The Copperopolis substation remains open and negotiations are under way
that could allow that office to remain in operation.
The Valley Springs substation was one of the department’s
busiest and it was a difficult decision to close the facility, Capt.
Macedo said. In addition to the sheriff’s department, Child Protective
Services and the probation department used the office at times. The
sheriff’s volunteer unit provided staffing for the substation.
A substation in the Valley Springs area could re-open if the
department receives additional funding or space is donated for an
office, Capt. Macedo added.
In budget meetings last month, the Board of Supervisors delayed
the elimination of 16 extra-hire deputy sheriffs for at least the first
quarter of the new budget year.
The 16 extra-hire deputies are assigned to court security, inmate
transportation, patrol functions in disaster and special event
incidents, civil process service, background investigations on new
employees and Off Highway Vehicle grant patrols.
Elimination of the extra-hire deputies in court security would
have required three patrol deputies to be pulled from street patrol and
assigned to work as bailiffs in the courts.
CalFire’s Copter 404 out of Columbia drops a load of water on Sunday afternoon’s fire near the Valley Springs Sports and Fitness Center. Photo by Stacey Hebrard.
Arson determined as cause of Sunday's fire
Quick action by firefighters and a shift in the wind Sunday
afternoon is attributed to Valley Springs avoiding a repeat of the 2004
Pattison Fire that destroyed 13 residences.
Sunday’s fire in Valley Springs between Highways 12 and 26 began at approximately 1:30 p.m. and charred 74 acres of vegetation. No dollar damage has been reported and arson is suspected as the cause.
Foothill Fire Protection District Chief Michael Siligo said the
fire started on the roadside along Highway 12 and all agencies are
looking for the person or persons involved.
Chief Siligo asked the public to report anyone or anything that
looks suspicious especially now in a period of high heat and humidity.
Highway 26 served as the main firebreak, although a portion of
the blaze managed to cross the road at the proposed site for a new
shopping center at the highway and Hogan Dam Road.
The Valley Springs Sports and Fitness Center and Jitters were
evacuated and the sheriff’s department was preparing to evacuate Gold
“The firefighters did an awesome job and were quick to
respond,” said Jitters owner Valerie Latt.
She was not at her drive-thru espresso bar at corner of Highway
26 and Mangili Drive when the blaze broke out, but arrived at the scene
after being alerted by employees.
“It’s comforting to see a fire engine parked beside your
building,” she added.
In addition to the Foothill Fire Protection District, units from
CalFire and Jenny Lind Fire responded to the call. CalFire’s response
included aerial units from it air attack base in Columbia.
CalFire crews remained at the scene through Monday mopping up.
One Foothill firefighter was taken from fire-line with heat
exhaustion, Chief Siligo reported. He recovered at scene and was sent
home after an assessment.
“He is fine and is currently working normal shifts,” the
Jenny Lind Fire Chief Brian Chavez-Ochoa said a shift in the wind
helped firefighters get an upper hand on the blaze just as it was
beginning to cross Highway 26.
In addition to the Pattison Fire, the blaze was reminiscent of a
Sept. 22, 2006, incident that started west of Valley Springs on Highway
12 and raced through roughly the same area toward Highway 26 and charred
27 acres of vegetation.
Latt saw a silver lining in the blackened earth surrounding her
“It’s comfortable to know we’re not going to be threatened
here with another fire the rest of the year and we got ride of some
snakes,” she said.
Rita Lunden and Don Hunt have opened A-D & R Sports in the Valley Oaks Center.
New sports shop listening to customers' requests
The loss of a son’s sporting gear has served as the inspiration
for one Valley Springs couple to start a new sports equipment shop in
Don Hunt and Rita Lunden have opened A-D & R Sports in the
Valley Oaks Center next to the post office.
They have been Valley Springs area residents the past 13 years
and it was the loss of their son’s baseball gear, which fell out of a
school bus storage compartment enroute to Linden one day, and the
subsequent trip out of town to replace the equipment that convinced them
Valley Springs needed a sports shop.
“After traveling to Jackson and not finding everything we
needed, we decided Valley Springs needed its own sporting good store,”
Don worked as a registered nurse at Mark Twain St. Joseph’s Hospital and Rita worked at the Jackson Rancheria Casino before embarking on their new venture.
Don had owned businesses in the past, but had never started one
“This is a work in progress,” he said about the new sports
Customer requests are driving the way they stock the store, and
the area’s fishermen are vocal about their needs.
To meet the demand from the fishing community, A-D & R Sports
has expanded its fishing inventory, has made an application to sell
fishing licenses and soon will carry live bait. They plan to make an
announcement when they begin offering live bait, such as crawdads,
crickets and minnows, along with worms and anchovy.
The avalanche of requests from the local fishing community
“surprised the heck out of me,” Don said.
The store generally is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through
Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays. When they begin selling live
bait, they will open earlier upon request.
The store also offers equipment for baseball, basketball,
football, soccer, softball and volleyball. Stock and selection will
expand when the sport is in season. They also have archery equipment and
it is another line of goods that is being expanded by customers’
There is also a corner with recreational and yard-type of games
including badminton and crochet, along with replacement equipment such
as ping-pong balls.
A-D & R Sports also plans to have a wide variety of sports
shoes, sporting and even dance apparel.
Rita added they eventually would like to have a section set aside
with party goods, another item that most people have to go out of town
The phone number for A-D & R Sports is 772-9529.