Serving the communities of Valley Springs, Burson and Wallace
The remains of a July 29 structure fire near Burson.
Burson area residents barely escape early a.m. inferno
By Nick Baptista
Several cats perished and the occupants of a doublewide mobile home sustained minor injuries in a structure fire early July 29 off Arapaho Way near Burson.
Firefighters were dispatched to 11423 Arapaho Way at approximately 2:30 a.m. The residence was located off a gravel road approximately a mile off Camanche Parkway South.
When the first firefighters arrived at scene at approximately 2:43 a.m., the residence was fully engulfed in flames, according to Foothill Fire Protection District Chief Michael Siligo.
Numerous cats were lost in the blaze and the occupants, a man and a woman, escaped with minor burns, but refused medical treatment, the chief said. The woman’s hair was singed in the fire and the man had a minor burn to the back of his leg.
The mobile home is a total loss, along with all contents including two vehicles. Damages are estimated at $550,000. Smoking is believed to have been the cause.
The residents awoke to a slight smell of smoke, but assumed the source was drifting smoke from the Knight Fire in Stanislaus County, Siligo said. Later they were awakened by heavy smoke and by the time they got out of bed, flames were coming in the front windows and front door from the porch area outside.
"We are saddened that
this couple lost their property, but elated that no one was seriously
injured,” Siligo added. “The outcome of this fire could have been
much worse had they not gotten out when they did.”
The couple declined housing
assistance from the Red Cross and had another building on the property
where they could stay.
The property is located in
such a remote area there were no hydrants and water sources nearby, so
water tenders from the Jenny Lind and San Andreas fire protection
districts shuttled water to Foothill's tender, which in turn relayed
water to Foothill's engine in front of the structure, the chief said.
“All this was only possible
because of the dedication and excellent training of the volunteer
firefighters of all three agencies,” he said. “I'm very proud of all
of them for a job well done."
CalFire was also at the scene
extinguishing a one-acre wildland fire caused by the original structure
fire and at about 9 the same morning, CalFire and Foothill were
dispatched to a vegetation fire nearby at 13110 Steadman Ranch Road. The
second fire was attributed to the original structure and grass fire.
The original fire had buried
itself in the duff and went unnoticed until the sun came up, the chief
said. CalFire and Foothill's water tender worked on the Steadman Ranch
Road fire for several hours to make sure it was fully extinguished.
In all, 29 firefighters, six
engines and three water tenders responded to the call.
of the two young Bald Eagles that died last week near Pardee Reservoir
is photographed a few days before next to its father. Photo by Stacey
Fledgling bald eagles near Pardee mysteriously die
Area bird watchers are saddened by the unexpected deaths last
week of two fledgling bald eagles being raised near the shores of Pardee
Stacey Hebrard is one of several people who have been following
the pair of baby eagles and their parents since March of this year.
Her photo of the father bald eagle in an aerial wrestling match
near the nest with an osprey appeared on the front page of the July 15,
2009, edition of The Valley Springs News.
Early Thursday morning she sensed something was wrong when she visited the nesting area and observed no motion inside for a two-hour period. She eventually went to breakfast and fellow eagle watcher Laura Belcher called to say she also noticed something wrong at the nest.
“I went back out and with the help of an EBMUD employee we took
a closer look,” Hebrard said. “It appeared that both eaglets
They were fine when she visited the nest on Wednesday.
A Department of Fish and Game warden with assistance from a local
tree climber removed the dead birds from the nest on Friday, according
to Kyle Orr, DFG information officer.
“The warden examined the birds on site and there were no
obvious signs they were either shot or emaciated,” Orr said.
The birds, which were nearly old enough to fly, did not have any
ruffled feathers to indicate gunshot wounds and there were plenty of
fish bones in the nest and nearby to show they were well fed, he said.
In the meantime, the fledgling eagles have been taken to a
University of California, Davis lab for closer examination.
It likely will take at least a week or more before the tests are
completed and the results are known, Orr added.
The bald eagle, recognized as the national bird, once was on the
brink of extinction in the continental United States. The bald eagle
population has stabilized and the bird has been officially removed from
the federal government’s list of endangered species.
However, federal and state laws continue to protect the bald
eagle, Orr said.
Food Pantry Coordinator Heidi Miller
Good Samaritan food pantry filling a void
The smallest of donations can go a long way toward feeding the
area’s needy was the message presented at last week's Valley Springs
Area Business Association luncheon.
Heidi Miller, food pantry coordinator for Good Samaritan Church,
outlined their efforts to help families during the economic downturn.
Good Sam’s Neighbor to Neighbor Food Pantry is open from 9 to
11 a.m. every Saturday. The church is located at 4684 Baldwin St.
In addition to the “no questions asked” food pantry, the
church has a clothing closet.
The face of hunger is changing, Miller said. Pantry volunteers
have experienced a 110 percent increase in demand and they’re seeing
more working families and elderly on fixed incomes using the service,
along with graduate students who can’t find jobs and veterans.
“We’re here to fill the gap,” she said.
Neighbor to Neighbor Food Pantry spends between $100 and $150 a
week to purchase food and that manages to feed 200 people, she said.
The pantry buys most of its food for 19 cents a pound from Second
Harvest Food Bank in Manteca. Second Harvest receives its food from the
many food industry businesses located in the Central Valley and the
money helps off set transportation costs, she added.
The public can also donate money and produce at the church, she
said, or call her at 786-2526 and someone can pick up the items.
The pantry raised $11,000 last summer through its Foodstock event
and that money, along with a $5,000 grant from CalWorks, goes toward
sustaining the food pantry, she said.
In addition to donations of money and food, the pantry can always
use volunteers, she added. They have a core of 25 to 30 volunteers who
rotate on Saturdays throughout the month.
Hoyt, right, and his heeler David Iverson display the Reserve Champion
Team Roping buckles they won last month at the State Finals.
Valley Springs lad prepares for National High School Rodeo Finals
Valley Springs will have a participant in the upcoming National
High School Finals Rodeo.
Walt Hoyt, 17, who just completed his junior year at Calaveras High School, has earned a spot on the California high school rodeo team and will travel to Farmington, N.M., to compete from July 19 to 25 in team roping at the 61st annual national finals.
Hoyt is the son of Cindy Witt and Forth Hoyt. He has been
competing in rodeo for the past five years.
He and his teammate David Iverson from Oakdale finished second at
the California High School Rodeo State Finals last month in Bishop. The
first roper on the team is referred to as the "header," the
person who ropes the front of the steer, usually around the horns, while
the second is the "heeler," who ropes the steer by its hind
feet. Hoyt is the header and Iverson is the heeler.
The two were at a high school rodeo and needed partners and they
just “clicked” once they got together, his mother said.
The national finals will feature more than 1,500 contestants from
41 states, five Canadian provinces and Australia.
Hoyt, who has a 3.5 grade point average in high school, plans to
attend college, major in agriculture business and compete in collegiate
rodeo. He eventually would like to turn pro.
Competing at the nationals will help him reach his goals. Scouts
from collegiate rodeo programs will be in the audience and there will be
scholarship opportunities. It is estimated that the contestants will be
vying for $325,000 in scholarships. They will also be competing for more
than $200,000 in prizes.
To earn the title of national champion, contestants must finish
in the top 20 after two go-arounds of intense competition before
advancing to the final championship performance on July 25.
Hoyt moved from Galt to Valley Springs a year ago and his family
is in the process of buying a place in Burson with enough space so he
can have his own arena for the first time to practice in.
He is also looking for sponsors to help defray expenses for the trip to New Mexico. Potential sponsors can reach Hoyt at 916-833-2410.
Pliler's Market shortly after its closure last winter.
Food items at foreclosed market go to feed needy
Excel National Bank has donated more than 600 pounds of
non-perishable food items left behind from the closure of the historic
Pliler and Lillie Market to local food banks.
Pliler’s, with roots going back to 1885, closed
its doors in December and Excel National Bank now owns the building.
The Resource Connection Food Bank, which services local
low-income families out of its location at 206 George Reed Drive in San
Andreas, received 498 pounds of miscellaneous canned food items and 99
pounds of pet food, according to Amber Hawthorne, food bank assistant.
In addition, the Community United Methodist Church received a
sizable donation of food and pantry items. The Community United
Methodist Church pantry is open from 9 a.m. to noon on Fridays and is
located at 135 Laurel St. in Valley Springs.
Pliler and Lillie Market was an active grocery store at the
corner of Highway 12 and Cedar Street in downtown Valley Springs for
more than a century. The nostalgic building is now for sale as a
foreclosure and listed for $475,000.
"I can remember shopping with my mom at Pliler's when I
first moved to town,” said Christina Acierto, an 18-year resident of
Valley Springs and agent for R3 Real Estate Center, which has the
listing for the building. “Mar-Val
was under construction at the time. I remember getting big dill pickles
from the large glass jar on the deli counter. It's the end of an era,
but a great opportunity for something new to emerge from this
The building has approximately 4,500 square feet of retail floor
space in the front with another 3,000 square feet in the back, plus
additional office and basement space.
For more information on sale of the building, contact R3 Real
Estate Center at 772-8700, or email@example.com.
Funeral services Friday for Suzanne Eckblom
A memorial service will begin at noon Friday, July 10, at the
Community Covenant Church in San Andreas for Suzanne Middlebrooks
Eckblom, who along with her husband Frank, started what has become The
Valley Springs News.
Mrs. Eckblom passed away Thursday, June 18, just two months
after the death of Frank, her husband of 54 years. She was 78.
Mrs. Eckblom was born March 24, 1931, in Portland, Ore., to
Col. Richard R. and Emma Fox Middlebrooks. She was the
great-granddaughter of Texas composer Oscar J. Fox.
She had fought a valiant battle with cancer for many years, and
she died peacefully with her daughter and her grandson by her side.
Mrs. Eckblom was an active member of the Valley Springs/San
Andreas community for more than 30 years and was involved in many
organizations, in addition to establishing the Valley Springs Daily
News with her husband Frank.
She served as past president of the local chapter of the American Association of University Women, the tournament chairman of the La Contenta Ladies Nine Hole group, and as Niner Director/Recruiter for the Pacific Women's Golf Association throughout the state of California. She had taken up golf at the age of 50, and in spite of her unorthodox swing, she went on to capture several tournament wins and a nice collection of trophies. She also belonged to several bridge groups, where she remained "in charge" of the card basket for many years.
Mrs. Eckblom graduated from George Washington University where
she majored in art history. She and her husband were among the
original cheerleaders for the Valley Springs area and together they
established several groups and organizations dedicated to the
betterment of the community. She was notoriously organized, and was
tapped by numerous organizations throughout her life to serve as an
In earlier years, she delved into raising livestock with more
than 200 head of sheep and a 60-acre ranch. She was an invaluable 4-H
leader while her daughter was growing up, and then switched her
energies to publishing with her husband, hosting foreign exchange
students and playing golf in later years.
Mrs. Eckblom was famous for her positive energy and
upbeat "can do" attitude. She was an inspiration to everyone
who knew of her medical condition, and watched her charge on through,
never wavering or giving in until the very end.
Mrs. Eckblom is survived by her only child Diane Skouti, her
grandchildren Malik and Gary Skouti of Fresno, Amanda Haj Ibrahim of
Lattakia, Syria, Majid Skouti of Fresno, and her great-grandchildren
Mohammed and Julia Haj Ibrahim.
The causes of a small vegetation fire at approximately 5 a.m. Tuesday on the 500 block of Quail Oaks Road and another at about the same time nearby on Heney Lane are under investigation.
Fireworks blamed for some pre-Fourth vegetation blazes
Fireworks have been blamed for at least a pair of area grass
fires prior to Independence Day, but overall the Fourth of July was
relatively quiet in both local fire districts.
The Jenny Lind Fire Protection District had two fireworks-related
calls on July 2 – one at 3:10 p.m. that blackened a quarter acre at
2888 Berkesey Lane, and the second call was at 6:37 p.m. on the 9000
block of Highway 26.
The Highway 26 blaze was attributed to teenagers playing with
sparklers, Jenny Lind Fire Chief Brian Chavez-Ochoa reported.
There was another small grass fire a few days before where
fireworks were suspected as the cause, he said.
In the Foothill Fire Protection District, the Fourth was “super
with not too many calls,” said Fire Chief Michael Siligo.
Foothill had three calls on July 4 – two of which were
investigations into the use of illegal aerial fireworks and the third
was a medical aid, he said.
“We’re pleased with the lack of calls that took place and
hope next year is the same,” Chief Siligo said.
He does plan to re-introduce a measure to ban the use of
fireworks between now and the next Fourth of July celebration. The
proposal will go to the fire district board for its consideration.
“This is the first year we’ve had a problem with
fireworks,” Chavez-Ochoa said. “It speaks to the necessity of
parental supervision. They might say ‘Safe & Sane’ – but
parents still have to exercise supervision over their children when they
Three structures were threatened for a time during the Thursday
evening call off Highway 26, the chief added.
While no fires took place July 4 in the Jenny Lind District, the
chief and his battalion chief confiscated illegal fireworks including
M-80s and bottle rockets.
“(The Fourth) was busier than last year, but not significantly
so,” he said.
Leading up to the Fourth of July, there had been only three
vegetation fires this summer in the Jenny Lind district, Chavez-Ochoa
Early Tuesday morning, CalFire and both local fire districts
responded to a pair of calls shortly after 5 a.m. that were of a
suspicious nature. The cause of vegetation fires on the 500 block of
Quail Oaks Road and the 2000 block of Heney Lane are under
investigation, Chief Siligo reported.
Saturday’s Fireworks Over Hogan concluded with a colorful finale that reflected on the lake. The early Independence Day celebration hosted by the Valley Springs Boosters marked its 14th year. Donations to continue the tradition next year can be made at the Umpqua Bank branch at the Valley Oaks Center. Photo by Nick Baptista.
Some offices closing on Friday, countywide activities planned
is a mixed bag of openings and closings on Friday with Independence Day
falling on Saturday.
Calaveras County offices including the courts are closed on
Friday, while local state offices, such as the Department of Motor
Vehicles, are open.
Local post office schedules will vary. The Valley Springs post office will remain open until 5 p.m. on Friday, said Postmaster Dann Myers. However, the post offices in Burson and Wallace will close at noon.
There will be no mail delivery on Saturday.
The Valley Springs News office will close at noon Friday.
Although Valley Springs celebrated Independence Day early with
the fireworks show Saturday night over New Hogan Lake, the Wallace/Burson
Association will observe the occasion this weekend with its “Field of
Flags For Love and Gratitude” display off Highway 12 near the
Calaveras-San Joaquin county line.
More than 100 flags will grace the landscape near
Wallace. Each flag is dedicated to active, retired or deceased military,
police, firefighters or others who have helped preserve Americans'
freedom and safety.
The flags will be installed at sunrise July 4 during a special ceremony - illuminated all night – and continue on display until sunset July 5.
The Rancho Calaveras Property Owners Association is encouraging families
to bring their “Safe and Sane” fireworks to the clubhouse area at 9
p.m. Saturday for a community Fourth of July celebration.
Elsewhere Saturday in Calaveras County, Arnold’s Independence
Day Parade begins at 10 a.m. and the Moke Hill parade is at 11 a.m.
Ironstone Vineyards is hosting an Independence Day celebration starting
at 4:30 p.m.
Valley Springs Weight Watchers group has a new leader
Cathy Sloan is the new leader of the Weight Watchers group in
Weight Watchers has offered weekly meetings in Valley Springs for
a few years now. The group meets at 5:30 p.m. Thursdays in Veterans
Memorial Hall at 189 Pine street.
“Anyone interested in finding out what happens at the meetings
is welcome to come to a meeting and check it out for free,” Sloan
said. The doors open at 5 p.m.
Sloan joined Weight Watchers in Stockton in 2003 and lost more
than 70 pounds with Weight Watchers. She has kept the weight off and
attributes her success to continuing to attend Weight Watchers meetings.
“I discovered this is not a diet, but is actually a learning
opportunity each week: portion control, how much to eat each day, how to
choose foods, how to deal with tempting situations, and more,” she
The Valley Springs group has nearly 20 participants and Sloan
would like to see the meetings double in size.