Serving the communities of Valley Springs, Burson and Wallace
Evans, far right, commander of American Legion Post 102 in Valley
Springs and chairman of the “Barn Building Committee,” offers some
last-minute instructions to, from left, District 1 Supervisor Gary
Tofanelli, Veterans of Foreign Wars District 13 Senior Vice Commander
Russell Friday, Jenny Lind Memorial District Board President Andy
Ballantyne and District 5 Supervisor Russ Thomas at Friday’s
groundbreaking ceremony for the new Valley Springs vets hall and
Vets hall moves forward with groundbreaking
Efforts to construct a new veterans hall and community center in
Valley Springs took a ceremonial step forward Friday as backers of the
proposed project held a groundbreaking ceremony.
Nearly 100 people attended the event organized by Dave Evans,
commander of American Legion Post 102 in Valley Springs and chairman of
the “Barn Building Committee,” which has raised $55,000 toward
construction of the facility.
The hour-long ceremony was held behind the existing hall at 189 Pine St. in the gravel parking lot adjacent to Valley Springs Elementary School. The Jenny Lind Veterans Memorial District, which oversees the current hall and the recreation area located behind the elementary school, has plans to build an 11,000-square-foot hall at the site.
“Together, we can get this building built and make it a showcase for the community,” Andy Ballantyne, president of the memorial district, told the audience.
Fundraising needs to continue and the district will continue to set aside funds for the project until it is completed, Ballantyne said.
“Fundraising cannot stop,” he said. “It needs to reach its goal of $500,000.
The district placed three measures on the ballot the past decade to fund a new hall through property assessments. The last measure on the ballot was in 2007 and although a majority of voters backed the idea, the question failed to gain two-thirds voter approval for passage.
“It was disappointing,” Ballantyne said of the setbacks, “but there are others ways and sometimes you have to take another road to accomplish what you want to do.”
The proposed structure will be more than three times as large as
the current hall, which is more than 47 years old, and include a
commercial-grade kitchen, multiple meeting rooms, larger stage area for
theatrical events and a better, large design for community and private
The new building will also solve handicap-access, heating and air-conditioning issues associated with the old hall.
Local Navy veteran Ed Anderson said the existing hall has served its purpose, and using Navy parlance, added, “Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead” with the new hall.
Supervisors Gary Tofanelli and Russ Thomas spoke about the hall’s
benefits to the community. Thomas described the amenities as “fantastic”
and Tofanelli said he and Thomas “will do everything possible to make
this become a reality as soon as possible. It’s very much needed.”
Along with community donations, the district has $423,000 set
aside for construction. The total cost is expected to be more than $1
The district earlier this year received bids to construct the
building, but the board did not select a contractor. Ballantyne said
some things need to be changed in the bidding and county counsel has
suggested the project go out to bid again, but the board still has to
make that determination.
Evans also acknowledged the dozen or so people on his Barn
Building Committee who have spent the past two years raising funds for
the new hall.
Many media are represented in the 13th annual high school art show organized by the Calaveras Art Council.
High school art exhibit opens in San Andreas
ArtSpirit, the 13th annual High School Juried Exhibition, opened Saturday in Gallery Calaveras with 143 students from three high schools entering 197 works in 12 categories.
A public reception for the participating artists was held and the
results were announced. The students received a $10 cash award for a
first-place entry, $5 for second and ribbons for third.
Black and white photography – Manual Crosby, Calaveras High
School, Kitchen Floor, first; Shane Cartwright, CHS, Self Portrait,
second; Cameron Hill, CHS, Old Bug, Kyle Dillon, CHS, Splash, Dillion
Dix, CHS, Sarah, tied for third.
Color photography – Joshua Hurtado, Mountain Oaks Home Schools,
The Hole, first; Sarah Hecocks, Bret Harte, Brightened Complexion,
Viviana Burrera, BH, Beach, tied for second; Claire Hollet, BH, Mirror
Reflection, Steph Hawks, BH, Bear Valley, tied for third.
Digital computer art – Steph Hawks, BH, Avila
Sunset, Shayla Layman, CHS, Through Melted Glass, tied for first; Jasime
Thomas, CHS, A Mad Spotlight, Ashley Pinnell, BH, Church, tied for
second; Chris Letterman, CHS, Devon Wadkins, third.
Painting – acrylic, oil – Taryn Sirus, BH, Studio, first;
Mallory Wards, BH, White Dress, second; Cloe Kinsella and Korinne Allan,
CHS, Three Views of Venice, third.
Painting – watercolor – Taryn Sirus, BH, Ashley, first;
Shigno Brann, BH, Angie, second; Alex Kunesh, BH, Rainy Day, third.
Pastels – Kayla Fitzsimmons, CHS, As By Reflections, first;
Haley Pitzer, CHS, The Sound, second; Christina Guidici, CHS, Lady in
Drawing –illustration – Kayla Fitzsimmons, CHS, Little Girl,
first; Kyle Chalk, BH, Strange Water, second; Rachel Pitser, CHS, Talk
on Indolence, Kaitlyn Smith, BH, Boredom at Work, tied for third.
Ceramics – functional – Noah Shartle, BH, Tile Cup, first;
Tatiana Beilstein, CHS, Plate with Mixed Clay, Tessa Gonzalez, CHS, Tea
Pot, tied for second; Ryan Lopez, CHS, Ancient Tree, third.
Ceramics – sculptural – Devon Wadkins, CHS, Echo Gecko,
first; Catherine Wood, CHS, The Doll, second; Robert Harter, CHS,
Other – mixed media – Sharlee Hoffman, CHS, Chaos, Cheating
and Organizaed Separation, Shiingo
Brann, CHS, Paguiao, tied for first; Sean Calavan, CHS, The Elements,
second; Marissa Couch, CHS, Rainbow Veins, third.
Crafts – Leia Pastizzo, CHS, Yarn Mask, first; Hilary
Kendhammer, CHS, Colors of Childhood, second; Tiffany Freitas, CHS,
Jungle Fever, third.
Printmaking – Taylor Harris, CHS, Zebra, first; Molly Brower,
CHS, Love in the Amazon, second; Breanna Dickerson, CHS, Strips on the
Judges included Brenda Nasser, Ed Cline, Maren Sampson, Sumiko
Mancinelli, Mary Jane Genochio, Anne Dasch, Sharon Daniels, Kevin Brady,
Connie Strawbridge, and Ken Winebrenner. Teachers who helped facilitate
the gathering of art were Mark Waelty from Bret Harte; Donna Guadagni,
Suzanne Smith and Roger Salter from Calaveras High.
The $20 Popular Choice Awards will be presented after the April
24 closing of the exhibit. Gallery Calaveras is located at 22 Main St.
in San Andreas. It is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 3
p.m. Saturdays. For more information, call the Calaveras County Arts
Council at 754-1774, or visit www.calaverasarts.org.
Matt Boyer from Dokken Engineering listens to a public comment during Monday’s meeting on the State Route 12/26 Intersection Improvement Project.
Discussion beings on 12/26 intersection improvements
Two alternatives to improve traffic
flow at the State Route 12/26 intersection in downtown Valley Springs
were unveiled Monday evening, but both had their drawbacks.
Matt Boyer of Dokken Engineering, the
firm hired by the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors to do the
preliminary work for the intersection improvement project, made the
presentation outlining the conceptual alternatives of either a traffic
signal or roundabout at the intersection. The option of no project at
all is a possibility.
The no project at all alternative means
the public would live with the congestion until an ultimate solution –
such as a bypass – is completed.
A traffic signal or roundabout would
have a profound impact on the downtown intersection, with at least one
building – the Century 21 office - removed and the possibility of
numerous parking spaces along Highway 12 and Laurel Street eliminated.
Billie Briski of Busy Bee Realty,
located on the northwest corner of the intersection, said she was upset
that she and the other property owners near the intersection had not
been contacted prior to the meeting and informed of the proposed
“That’s not good public relations
or goodwill,” she said. “This involves our livelihood.”
She was concerned with the possible
removal of parking in the downtown district and said steps should be
taken to mitigate the problem, such as buying property nearby for
off-site parking, including the recently closed Valley Inn.
Kevin Squires of the Valley Springs
Home Center wanted to know how much property along State Route 26 would
be needed to accommodate the additional lanes for a roundabout or a
traffic signal. Boyer said his firm would come back with an
approximation of those figures.
Jeff Davidson presented an alternative
that would alleviate some of the existing problem. Davidson has
submitted plans to the county for Mission Ranch Subdivision, a 103-acre
residential and commercial development on property bordered by Highways
12 and 26. Proposed plans include a road or “parkway” connecting the
If approved by the county and market
conditions improve, the parkway would be in well before the 25 to 30
years before a bypass is constructed, Davidson said.
Putting the bypass on the fast track
was also discussed.
From his experience, Boyer said it
would be almost impossible to have such a project ready in five to eight
Tom Garcia, the county’s public works
director, said no funding for a bypass project has been identified and
it would be reasonable to expect such a project is 20 to 25 years away.
Others suggested extending Hogan Dam
Road to either State Route 12 or Lime Creek Road east of Valley Springs
to alleviate congestion in the downtown intersection.
There was also concern the intersection
improvement proposals would hamper traffic trying to get in and out of
the Valley Oaks Center.
The workshop at Jenny Lind Elementary
School attracted nearly 70 people and many spent the first hour looking
at the maps for the traffic signal and roundabout. Dokken Engineering
staff members receive public comments on the alternatives and comment
cards were distributed to the audience.
The comments generated around the maps
seemed to favor the traffic signal over the roundabout.
A similar public workshop is
scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 17, in the Toyon Middle
School multipurpose room, 3412 Double Springs Road.
The morning flag-raising ceremony at the CHP Academy in West Sacramento.
Day at the CHP Academy an eye-opener
The opportunity to take an entire weekday off from the office and
attend an upcoming California Highway Patrol Media Boot Camp was
irresistibly inviting when I received word about the event earlier this
year from Rebecca Myers, the public information officer at our local CHP
officer in San Andreas.
This year’s boot camp was open on a first-come, first-served
basis to the first 24 media types to respond to an open invitation from
the CHP Academy and it was my good fortune to see the email soon after
the call went out.
My Plimptonesque experience came Wednesday. For those unfamiliar with my reference, George Plimpton was a noted American author who penned a non-fiction book, Paper Lion, in 1966 describing his experience as a non-athlete working out at quarterback in the Detroit Lions training camp.
My dose with reality at the West Sacramento campus came very
early as we spent an eternity, more like 15 minutes, in physical
training workout. It’s been nearly 40 years since I had high school
P.E. and I must admit I’m about 50 pounds heavier since those days.
Even if I had my high school physique, I doubt I could have kept up with
the repetition of jumping jacks, push-ups and sit-ups. Needless to say,
I took the last half of the exercises off to spare the state of
California the expense of calling for an ambulance to take me to the
nearest emergency room.
After a brief jog around the track, I stayed toward the rear of
the pack to catch my breath before trying my hands and feet on the
obstacle course. From this vantage point I could hear the finishing
times of my fellow media colleagues. Some were completing the course in
30 seconds and others were taking over a minute. Although I had to take
two stabs at getting over the obstacle wall, I managed to clear most of
the jumps and made a mad dash to the finish line to come in at what I
thought was a respectable 52 seconds, but I was pretty light-headed for
the next few minutes.
One of our PT instructors cautioned us that we experienced only a
small dose of the training the CHP cadets go through on a daily basis
and one of the key elements in the physical training is to instill the
drive never to give up, always fight, no matter what adversity you face.
Now the fun part began. The next few stations we experienced
dealt with the shooting simulator, a DUI demonstration and the skid pan.
I emptied my clip before I hit my first pumpkin at the beginning
of the shooting simulator. The first scenario had a driver attempting to
escape apprehension and running his car straight at me. I managed to hit
the vehicle twice, but that was not enough to stop it as it rushed past
me. The second and final scenario had me chasing a stolen pickup truck
that ended up going into a brushy area and three guys jumped out running
into the woods. As I approached the vehicle, another fellow leaned out
of the driver’s side of the cab and began shooting. He surrendered and
one of the men who initially ran into the woods comes out with guns
blazing. I was about 50 yards away and none of my shots found the mark.
Hopefully none of theirs found me.
At the DUI demonstration we donned “Fatal Vision” goggles and
attempted to do the “walk and turn heel-to-toe” field sobriety test.
The goggles represent someone at a .10 blood-alcohol level. I couldn’t
get my left foot on the line to begin the test - the line was constantly
moving. I can safely say I’ve never had that feeling before getting
behind the wheel. My reaction was to turn my back to the officer with my
hands behind me and say, “Cuff me.”
At the skid pan, we got to drive out-of-service CHP cars around a
wet, curvy track on purposely-manufactured bald tires. We’re told it
only takes 1/16th of an inch of water to hydroplane and we
had plenty of that in this exercise. Although the purpose of this course
is to teach cadets how to safely maneuver their vehicles around curves
in inclement weather, many of us relished the opportunity to fishtail
and spin the cars around in circles.
We also took part in a mock accident investigation and received a
greater understanding about all of the factors that go into a collision
report before we see it come through our fax machine. For some of our
readers who call 30 minutes after an accident and want all of the
details, it takes more than several hours for the CHP to dot all of the
“i’s” and cross all of the “t’s” before that information is
available to the public.
The most poignant part of our day came after lunch when the
cadets held their weekly Fountain Ceremony. Once a week, the cadets pay
tribute to the 215 CHP officers who have died in the line of duty. Each
name is inscribed in small plaque surrounding a fountain inside the
academy and the cadets polish the plaques.
About a third of those officers died at crash scenes, according
to CHP officer Dave Fawson, who was our instructor at the crash scene
Cadet training is 27 weeks long. The dropout rate ranges from 20
to 40 percent and the CHP hopes to have enough new officers from this
class to cover the 25 to 28 a month it loses to retirement, disability,
My brief time at the academy gave me a greater understanding and
appreciation of the skills these men and women must learn to become CHP
Highway signage is one of the
methods being used to inform the public about next week’s meetings on
the State Route 12/26 Intersection Improvement Project.
Public input sought on intersection work
By Nick Baptista
Two public workshops on the State Route 12/26 Intersection
Improvement Project have been scheduled for next week.
The project aims to alleviate peak-period congestion at the
intersection in downtown Valley Springs and work could begin in the 2011
The first workshop is set for Monday, March 15, in the Jenny Lind
Elementary School multipurpose room, while the second one is on
Wednesday, March 17, in the Toyon Middle School multipurpose room. Both
begin with an open house at 6 p.m. and a presentation from 7 to 8.
Alternative design solutions are expected to be presented at the
workshops and public feedback will be sought.
The Calaveras County Board of Supervisors last November
authorized a professional services agreement with Dokken Engineering out
of Folsom on the project. Dokken will provide improvement alternatives
including signalization and non-signalization options to solve the
traffic conditions at the intersection, along with the environmental
studies and right-of-way acquisition paperwork needed to move forward
The agreement is not expected to exceed $422,784 and $350,000 of
the money comes from the state through so-called Congestion Mitigation
and Air Quality Improvement Program funds. Countywide Road Impact
Mitigation fees are being used as the local match to fund the difference
between the contract price and state funding.
The funding so far does not cover actual construction costs.
Additional state funding and the use of County RIM fees could cover
Jenny Lind Elementary is located off State Route 26 at 5100
Driver Road, while Toyon is off State Route 12 at 3412 Double Springs