Serving the communities of Valley Springs, Burson and Wallace
Bill and Carolyn Edwards, Patricia Nemee and Lisa Arioto stand in front of a tifaifai from one of the Moorea mamas. The quilt dates back 60 years and was part of the Rima Rau exhibit.
Locals attend unique quilt exhibit in Tahiti
Patricia Nemee, Lisa Arioto, and Bill and Carolyn Edwards of Valley Springs just returned from eight nights visiting Tahiti and Moorea in French Polynesia in the South Pacific.
They were members of the “Insider’s Tour to Tahiti” led by
the internationally renowned quilter Dierdra McElroy of Lathrop. She
specializes in the Tahitian tifaifai, the Tahitian quilt.
The group spent three nights in Tahiti and five nights on Moorea
and while there were shown the “true Tahiti” by Dierdra and her
Tahitian husband, Heinui.
While on Moorea, the women participated in the first cultural
exhibition of 62 Tahitian and American tifaifais, called “Rima Rau,”
which translates to “handwork”, where they exhibited their own
Several of the Moorea mamas exhibited their tifaifais, which had
never been shown before and dated back 60 years. Also while there,
Dierdra showed them how to design their own tifaifais to commemorate
their trip to Tahiti, which they will now hand appliqué.
The group stayed at the InterContinental hotels on both islands,
swam with the dolphins, got a tattoo, shopped in the markets, bought
black pearls, visited with the locals, basked in the tropical sun and
learned much about the islands from Dierdra and Heinui. The tour
is an annual event organized by Christine Meny of Your Travel Source in
Foothill Fire Protection District Firefighter Bill Estakhri, left, and Assistant Chief Steffen Sommer survey the scene of damage left behind by pipe bombs that were detonated Monday at the South Camanche Mobile Home Park.
bombs found at mobile home park
By Nick Baptista
Two pipe bombs discovered during demolition work Monday morning at the Lake Camanche Mobile Home Park forced the evacuation of several nearby residences until the devices were rendered harmless.
According to Sgt. Dave Seawell, spokesman for the Calaveras
County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to the initial call at
approximately 10:45 a.m. A dilapidated trailer in the mobile home park
was being demolished by a backhoe when a construction worker discovered
a suspicious looking object at the scene that appeared to be a pipe
Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the site, confirmed the object
was an explosive, and requested the bomb team. The deputies then
evacuated four or five residences nearby that were threatened.
During the investigation, a second, similar device was found in
the mobile home. Due to the unstable nature of the two explosives, the
bomb technicians deemed it was safer to detonate the devices in a pit
No injuries or damage were reported.
According to Capt. Clay Hawkins of the Calaveras County
Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Division, the devices appeared to
be old and unsophisticated. He said the suspects have not been
identified and the investigation will be turned over to the detective
Linda Hasbrook, left, Bert Gonzales and Gail Belmont display the Fireworks Quilt donated by Belmont Family Quilts to help finance the annual fireworks show over New Hogan Reservoir.
gearing up for yearly event to finance Hogan fireworks show
By Nick Baptista
The cornerstone event to help finance the annual fireworks show
over New Hogan Reservoir is approaching.
The Valley Springs Boosters’ annual Wine and Cheese Reception
is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 31, at the Jenny Lind Fire
Station No. 1, 6501 Jenny Lind Road.
Tickets are $20 per person and can be obtained from Booster
members or by calling Steve Kearney at Longs, 772-9711.
Proceeds from the wine and cheese reception support the annual
fireworks show at Hogan and it is the first, and probably only,
opportunity to reserve a table for the annual community barbecue and sit
ringside at the Hogan Dam Observation Point to observe the lakeside
pyrotechnic display scheduled for June 30.
Kearney said the limited numbers of tables for the fireworks show
generally are sold out at the wine and cheese reception.
The wine and cheese reception will also feature the unveiling of
the popular “fireworks quilt.” The quilt will be the fifth one
prepared for the fireworks show. In the past, the quilt has been raffled
with ticket sales going to help support the fireworks show and the
Boosters’ scholarship and grants programs.
However, there is talk of switching from a raffle this year and
auctioning the quilt off to the highest bidder. The Boosters believe
they can generate enough revenue through an auction and eliminate the
countless volunteer hours spent hawking raffle tickets.
Standing behind more than 800 pounds of food collected to assist those in the county are, from left, HRC Food Bank Assistant K.C. Cooper-Pipes, left, Valley Springs Curves owner Colleen O’Connell and Curves members Vicki Westfall, Sylvia Whitten, Gustine Castle, Irma Gordon, Maria Charboneau, Marilyn Krueger, Diane Duhon and Sharon Martin.
helps HRC feed the area's hungry
By Nick Baptista
Calaveras County’s hungry are receiving assistance this month
from the members of Curves.
Curves is conducting its annual food drive and this year’s
effort is surpassing previous years’ food drives and it couldn’t
come at a better time, according to K.C. Cooper-Pipes, HRC Food Bank
The members of Curves’ fitness center in Valley Springs had
donated more than 860 pounds of food recently and more was on the way.
The drive is under way until the end of March and all five Curves
locations in Calaveras County are in competition to see which one will
out-do the other.
Cooper-Pipes said it appeared Valley Springs had the early lead.
The HRC Food Bank collects and distributes food to county food
pantries and also provides direct service to Calaveras County's
low-income and families in crisis situations.
The HRC Food Bank is a non-profit organization and relies solely
on donations and grants, Cooper-Pipes said. The food bank fed 1,280
families last March and the need is much greater this year, she said,
with the food bank seeing the typical family size increase from three to
A month after the Curves’ food drive ends, local
letter-carriers will conduct a drive of their own to help stock local
food panties, Cooper-Pipes added.
In addition, Cooper-Pipes said HRC is conducting an open house
from 4 to 6 p.m. March 28 at the HRC office on 584 W. St. Charles St. It
will be an opportunity for families in need to learn about a variety of
services, including Reach, which is an energy assistance program. Reach
is extending its hours that day for families unable to contact it during
its regularly scheduled hours for an appointment.
From the White House
President finally receives locally made Valor quilt
President George W. Bush has finally received a Quilt of Valor
produced in Valley Springs.
The quilt originally was commissioned by the Navy Special Warfare
Group No. 1 based in San Diego and scheduled to be presented by the Navy
Seals to the president during his visit to the Naval Air Station North
Island in San Diego back in September 2005 to commemorate the 60th
anniversary of the victory over Japan.
However, the president had to cut his trip short due to Hurricane
Katrina and the quilt eventually was returned to Gail Belmont of Belmont
Family Quilts in Rancho Calaveras.
After numerous attempts to get the quilt hand-delivered to the
president, Belmont finally shipped it to him at the beginning of this
The quilt featured a “Lone Star” pattern and was inscribed
with “God Bless America” and “Land of the Free.”
In addition to Belmont, who was the machine quilter; Patti
Chandler was the piecer; Bert Gonzales and Virginia Belmont bound the
quilt and Jan Boli laid the label.
The label contains a quote from President Bush’s Sept. 20,
2001, address to Congress and the public: “Freedom and fear, justice
and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not
neutral between them.”
In addition, the label has the names and email addresses of those
who worked on the quilt, two Bible verses and a note that the Seals
present the quilt to the president with a note of thanks, “Thank you
for actively promoting freedom and justice for all. Sir, Operation
Enduring Freedom continues on our watch. God Bless America!”
In Belmont’s letter to the president that went along with the
quilt, she discussed the Quilts of Valor program, which has a goal to
provide a quilt to every service men and women wounded while in service
to the nation. To date, the program has sent more than 7,400 quilts to
those wounded in action.
President Bush’s thank you letter is dated Feb. 15.
Thank you for the handmade Quilt of Valor. I appreciate your kind
gesture and thoughtfulness.
America continues to be inspired by the courage, dedication, and
sacrifice of our men and women in the Armed Forces. By answering the
call of duty, our military personnel help secure our Nation, defeat
terrorism, and extend freedom.
Laura and I send our best wishes. May God bless you, and may God
George W. Bush
Belmont said the thank you letter was on 5- by 7-inch stationary,
which one friend who has knowledge of White House protocol, said
generally means it was signed by the president and not a machine.
“That made me feel real good,” Belmont said.
Former Calaveras High School student Spc. Misty LaMar is serving in Bagdad and helps save the lives of fellow soldiers with her work to reduce the number of convoys on Iraqi roads.
woman helps save soldiers' lives with her duties in Bagdad
One Valley Springs area soldier serving in Iraq is on the downhill side of her tour and looking forward to the day she returns home and sees her mom’s “smiling, proud face.”
Misty LaMar is a Specialist E-4 in the United States Army and she
is currently based in Bagdad. She has completed six months of her tour
and has six more to go.
She is a member of the 169th Cargo Transfer Company
out of Ft. Eustis, Virginia.
Spc. LaMar works in a cargo yard, directly off the flight line at
the military portion of the Bagdad International Airport.
“I see all types of airplanes and helicopters everyday,” she
said. “We operate forklifts, the 10k Atlas and the 4k. Also the Kalmar,
a huge piece of equipment that picks up huge metal containers. I operate
both forklifts and the Kalmar. We have 12-hour shifts, and I work the
night shift from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.”
“It was hard in the beginning to get used to working so much,
but I’m used to it now. We build up and break down pallets with cargo
on them. We have to make them fit to dimensions, to go on the Chinooks
helicopters and to build up pallets to get loaded on trucks to move out
the yard. That’s basically what I do every day.”
And it’s “an awesome mission,” she added. “We keep
soldiers off the roads and off of convoys. Instead of driving on the
road with the pallets they are flown. It saves lives from the IEDs (Inexploded
Ordinance Devices) set on or near a road to be blown up
to kill soldiers. So far the first six months we have kept 720 convoys
off the road.”
Spc. LaMar joined the Army Feb. 1, 2005. She has re-enlisted for
four more years and plans to simultaneously pursue a degree during her
remaining years in the service.
“That way when I get out I’ll be able to get a good job,”
she said. “I’m pretty sure that is the plan, but we’ll see how
life takes its turns.”
She said she joined the Army to better herself.
“Who knows where I would be right now if I didn’t leave,”
she said. “Probably already had a baby, no job, running around in
circles just to get high. I’d seen that in the people I was
hanging out with at the time and I knew I didn’t want that for my
“I thank God with all my heart that he saved me from destroying
my life,” she added.
LaMar attended Jenny Lind, San Andreas and Valley Springs
elementary schools before her family moved to Southern California, but
she returned to attend Calaveras High School for her last three years.
She played soccer her senior year at CHS and her fourth-grade
teacher, Joanne Randall at Valley Springs Elementary, “has been taking
care of me even out here. She is having her students make me the cutest
and most sincere cards to encourage me. I love them so much and my heart
goes out to them. I can’t wait to visit their class when I get
Her other favorite teachers include geology and archeology
teacher Michael Chouinard and English teacher Sherry Look at Calaveras
“Mr. Chouinard was so inspirational to me and Mrs. Look was
just so fun and different.”
"Zodiac" hit the big screen on March 2.
"Zodiac" movie spotlights suspect with local ties
By Nick Baptista
The movie “Zodiac,” based on the unsolved Zodiac murders in
the late 1960s in the Bay Area, was the nation’s No. 2 box office hit
the first weekend in March and revisits whether one of the prime
suspects in the case had ties to the Valley Springs area.
The movie, directed by David Fincher and based on author Robert
Graysmith’s best-selling book by the same title, is a drama that
follows the investigation of one of the most intriguing and unsolved
crimes in the nation’s history.
The Zodiac killer is linked to at least five murders in the Bay
Area from Dec. 20, 1968, to Oct. 11, 1969, and once hinted that he
killed 37 people.
The Zodiac Killer captured the attention of the press and public
with his taunting ciphers and letters to police and The San Francisco
Former Valley Springs schoolteacher Arthur Leigh Allen has been
identified by several investigators as one of the Zodiac Killer suspects
and John Carroll Lynch plays him in the movie.
Allen, who died of cancer in 1992 without ever being charged in
any of the Zodiac killings, briefly lived in the Burson area and worked
as a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher at Valley Springs Elementary from
late 1966 to 1968.
He lost his teaching credential and his job at Valley Springs
Elementary in 1968 after he allegedly molested a student.
After leaving West Calaveras, Allen moved to Vallejo, site of
three of the five murders attributed to the Zodiac Killer.
The movie ends with a poll of investigators and most are
convinced Allen was the Zodiac Killer.
Children’s book author and illustrator Daniel San Souci discussed how his childhood experiences have found their way into his books at Friday’s Read Across America assembly at Valley Springs Elementary School.
author relates to VSE students how life experiences influence work
By Nick Baptista
Valley Springs Elementary School observed Read Across America on
Friday with a special guest speaker – children’s book author and
illustrator Daniel San Souci.
San Souci latest efforts, his Clubhouse Books series, is about
the adventures he, his brothers and friends had as children running
around their north Berkeley neighborhood.
The series began with “The Dangerous Snake and Reptile Club.”
The second book the series was “Space Station Mars” followed by
“The Amazing Ghost Detectives.”
He just turned in the artwork for the fourth book in the series,
“The Mighty Pigeon Club,” and expects it to be ready for
distribution in six to eight months.
San Souci talked to the students how he uses his real-life
experiences as a child to write and illustrate his books. San Souci told
the story how his parents added a room onto their small Berkeley home
when they had a daughter. San Souci’s father used the spare wood to
build the boys a clubhouse and it served as the focal point for their
The clubhouse served as the backdrop as the boys role played and
acted out scenes from the books they read, such as “Treasure Island”
and “Last of the Mohicans.”
San Souci talked about the importance of literature and reading
in his family. When be began reading, one of the favorite parts in a
book for him was the illustrations and they created a burning desire in
him at a young age to become a book illustrator. That desire led him to
take every art class he could and major in art in college.
Read Across America is observed on March 2, in honor of Sr.
Seuss’s birthday. The National Education Association and the
California Teachers Association sponsor it.
San Souci’s visit from Oakland was sponsored by the Valley
Springs Elementary School’s Parent-Teachers Organization and arranged
by Learning Center Coordinator Deborah Giorgi.
Writing runs in San Souci’s family. He shared that his older
brother Robert is also a writer, with more than 100 books in print and
was also the writer for the Disney movie “Mulan.”
Principal Jan Matson said San Souci’s visit capped nearly a
two-day observance of Read Across America. The day before several
Calaveras High School students and Superintendent Jim Frost visited
classrooms and read to the elementary school students.
Paul Zykovsky outlines smart growth ideas Wednesday evening to a packed audience in the Valley Springs Elementary School multi-purpose room.
Valley Springs gets lessons in smart growth
By Nick Baptista
Valley Springs area residents received a crash course on “Smart Growth” principles Wednesday evening when more than 200 people attended the MyValleySprings.com and the Foothill Conservancy forum at Valley Springs Elementary School.
Paul Zykovsky, director of Land Use and Transportation Programs for the Local Government Commission, was the featured speaker and he outlined “10 Principles of Smart Growth and Livable Communities.”
Wednesday’s presentation was the first in a series of programs MyValleySprings.com
and the Foothill Conservancy plan to offer to
bring citizens into the process of revising the Valley Springs Community
Plan and the Calaveras County General Plan.
The next presentation is tentatively scheduled for March 29.
The principles, which Zykovsky attributed to the “Ahwahnee
Principles” developed in 1991, begin with the preservation of open
space, farms and the area’s natural beauty.
Zykovsky’s second principle was to strengthen and direct
development toward existing communities. He advocated the preservation
and repair of existing historic buildings and revitalization of town
centers. He added that communities should look toward clustering homes
and development closer together to reduce runoff and the cost of
providing services and infrastructure.
Zykovsky’s third principal was taking advantage of compact
building design. As the overall population increases in age, more
compact development on smaller lots and within walking distance of
services will become desirable, he said.
Along those same lines, a mixture of land uses with retail and
personal services near housing was Zykovsky’s fourth principle.
He displayed examples of housing located over retail shops and
restaurants, including a recent development in Murphys with housing
situated over its Main Street shops.
Zykovsky’s fifth principle was foster distinctive, attractive
communities with a strong sense of place. His sixth principle was to
provide housing opportunities and choices for different income levels
and stages of life. This includes a mixture of housing types from
single-family homes to four-plexes and cottages within the same housing
development and he added, “Affordable housing doesn’t mean poor
The creation of “walk able communities” was Zykovsky’s
seventh principle. He showed how communities could create safe, walk
able streets, improved crosswalks and the benefit of roundabouts for
vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
Similarly, Zykovsky’s eighth principle was that communities
should provide a variety of transportation choices including bicycling,
walking and public transit.
His ninth principle was to make development decisions
predictable, fair and cost-effective. He said communities should target
growth areas in their communities and make it clear to developers where
they want to see development. State-of-the-art development codes and
simplified land-use tables will enhance and expedite the review process,
Zykovsky’s final principle was to encourage community and
stakeholder collaboration in development decisions. He said
Wednesday’s full house was a step in that direction.
Stephanie Moreno, the county’s Community Development Agency
director, encouraged the public to get involved in the General Plan
update process that is under way and predicted the update of the Valley
Springs Community Plan “will be one of the most challenging” based
on the community’s diversity.
She added that the dates of upcoming General Plan hearings for
Valley Springs would be announced soon.