Serving the communities of Valley Springs, Burson and Wallace
The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Department displays a cache of weapons recovered in a recent investigation that has resulted in three arrests.
Automatic weapons, explosives found in Valley Springs
Two fully automatic weapons – a Colt M-16 assault rifle and an
“Uzi” with a silencer – blasting caps and illegal ammunition were
recovered earlier this month in a Valley Springs residence during a
The Valley Springs search warrant was one of three obtained and
executed in a case involving Ronald LeRoy Applegate, 60, of San Andreas.
Applegate and two other San Andreas residents – Jim Bertrand, 26, and
his wife Tina Marie Bertrand, 19 - have been arrested in connection with
the investigation by Calaveras County sheriff’s narcotics
investigators, sheriff’s detectives and agents from the U.S. Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
The Sept. 12 search was conducted at Thornicroft Drive and
Davidson Court. An item believed to have been an improvised explosive
was located during the search and Calaveras County bomb technicians
responded to the scene and rendered the device safe. The device
contained a form of cyanide powder and was built in a manner to have
been dispersed by another form of explosive, according to the
A third fully automatic weapon – a Mack 10 with a silencer –
was found in Stockton.
Applegate was suspected of being involved in a burglary that took
place in early August. Approximately $30,000 in tools, jewelry, firearms
and other items was stolen. The victim was listed as a CalFire employee.
Most of the property reportedly was recovered when a search
warrant was executed at an Angels Camp storage container leased by
Applegate. Seven more firearms stolen during the burglary were recovered
in Antioch. The sheriff’s department believes all of the property
stolen in the burglary has been recovered.
A search warrant was also obtained for Applegate’s San Andreas
home and additional stolen property, methamphetamines and paraphernalia
associated with the use of methamphetamines were located.
Applegate was arrested on suspicion of possessing a controlled
substance, possession of a controlled substance for sale, possession of
a dangerous weapon and possession of a destructive device. He is in
custody in the Calaveras County Jail and bail has been set at $270,000.
Tina and Jim Bertrand were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of
burglary, and possessing methamphetamines and paraphernalia associated
with the use of methamphetamines.
ATF is in the process of filing federal charges against Applegate
on illegal firearms and explosives allegations.
The investigation continues and the sheriff’s department
encourages anyone with information on this case to call them at
The engine of the Circus Train is being repaired under the guidance of Bob Bucy.
Efforts under way to restore Circus Train
With the help of many, the once-popular Valley Springs Optimist
Club Circus Train will proudly roll through town on special occasions
such as the annual Christmas Parade.
The train rehabilitation project began in mid-July. The train and
accompanying two cars had fallen into disrepair while in storage. Sam
Berry Towing got the ball rolling by hauling the engine and both cars
several times. Don Clark also helped in the towing.
The engine is being rehabilitated at Bob Bucy’s home, while
Bill and Marti Crane are renovating the two cars at their place.
The Valley Springs Home Center is providing supplies at a
discount and Meeks Lumber in Martell has provided Trek Deck needed for
all new floors and seats.
Valley Springs Tire repaired one of the hitches on the train and
donated a set of four new tires, while Ziffel Manufacturing in Toyon
provided rust removal and powder coating. Another four tires were
obtained through a $150 donation from the Valley Springs Area Business
Association and Zamora Body Shop has supplied needed automotive parts at
cost. Ms. Vicky’s Costume Shop provided storage, paint and artistic
A number of individuals have also been helping Marti Crane, who
is the project coordinator. Will Sattler prepared the initial materials
list and helped in the hauling and dismantling process. Brant Norried
supplied painting materials and Sal Manna has been instrumental in
support and guidance.
Crane is seeking any history on the train, such as where it was
originally built? She can be reached at 772-2555.
Ellie Watkins sits on the "devil's postpile" in front of her home on Gee Lane. The home, built around 1883 and one of the area's most historic residential properties, is on the market.
hopes history will help sell landmark home
By Sal Manna
One of the most historic residential properties in West
Calaveras, a landmark location in the Valley Springs area since the Gold
Rush, is for sale. Co-owner Ellie Watkins hopes publicity about its
historic importance will preserve it for the future.
“I really want this wonderful house to be bought by someone who
will appreciate its history,” said Watkins. “It would be great to
find a buyer who has the resources to continue the restoration instead
of someone who might bulldoze it. This could be one of the great homes
of the Mother Lode.”
Located at 2625 Gee Lane, near Silver Rapids Road
and Highway 26, the two-story home was built around 1883. But the lot
upon which it stands claims an even greater heritage, being among the
longest continuously occupied locales in West Calaveras. Originally
called the Calaveras Lunch Ranch, situated on Lunch Hill, entrepreneur
John Doak erected a large canvas house/hotel there no later than 1854,
according to the Society for the Preservation of West Calaveras History.
One of a dozen-plus roadhouses on the Stockton-Mokelumne Hill Road,
including North American House one mile south, Lunch Hill could
accommodate up to 100 weary and hungry prospectors, teamsters and
The building, including doors and windows, was canvas because
lumber was not available. Both the structure and its furniture were
bought by Doak in Chicago and shipped around the Horn. He then invited
his sister Ella’s family - her husband, Allen Willits, and their five
children - to move to Lunch Hill from Illinois in 1854. He gave them the
house as a gift.
Doak, who operated a sawmill in Murphys, replaced the canvas with
wood circa 1859. Eventually, the house was no longer used as a stage
stop. A far more elaborate home, the one that exists today, was
constructed largely with redwood around 1883. Neither Ella Jane nor
Allen saw the new house. She died in 1878; he in 1881.
Their children sold the property, then with 480 acres, in 1890
In 1968, stones from a “devil’s postpile,” greenstone
naturally shaped into pillars several feet long, were placed at four
West Calaveras spots as historic markers. Last December, as noted in a
“Something From Nothing” feature in The Valley Springs News, three
were rediscovered but not Lunch Hill’s. Soon after, two stones were
located in front of the Gee Lane house, marking the site of the
Calaveras Lunch Ranch.
Those interested in purchasing the home may contact Watkins after
5 p.m. at (209) 772-9626.
Gail Belmont receives a $600 donation from Fred Galassi, finance officer for Bill Brinlee Post No. 102 of the American Legion in Valley Springs, for the Quilts of Valor Program.
Valley Springs-made quilt to grace the Pentagon
By Nick Baptista
Earlier this year, President George W. Bush received a Quilt of
Valor produced in Valley Springs, and now the Pentagon, one of the sites
of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, has a similar quilt.
Valley Springs area women have been creating the quilts for
wounded U.S. service men and women since hostilities began in
Afghanistan and Iraq. Quilts of Valor is a nationwide foundation with
similar groups across the county working to provide quilts to comfort
all combat-wounded service members.
Gail Belmont of Belmont Family Quilts in Rancho Calaveras said
the Pentagon quilt with a lone eagle pattern, the word “Freedom”
across the top and a starburst outline, was unveiled at a conference
involving the Quilts of Valor at the Pentagon and made an instant
One wounded Marine, she said, was so touched when he saw the
quilt, that he carried a U.S. flag in the room next to the quilt,
saluted them and began to cry.
The Pentagon quilt will briefly leave its new home when it will
be on display Oct. 31 to Nov. 4 at a quilt show in Houston. Belmont said
the show is the second largest in the county and the quilt will be on
display to raise donations for the Quilts of Valor program.
Locally, Bill Brinlee Post No. 102 of the American Legion in
Valley Springs recently donated $600 to the program. The money will be
used to buy material, batting, backing and for shipping.
The average cost to produce and ship a quilt is $300, Belmont
Sharon Floyd, left, Edith Rowley and Steve Watson discuss recent repair work to Mrs. Rowley's well.
Bank employees, well service come to aid of woman without water
By Nick Baptista
Thanks to the generosity of employees at Umpqua Bank and Abbey
Wells, Edith Rowley of Raindance Road near Burson for the first time in
nearly a year has water running from her well.
Mrs. Rowley, who has lived on Raindance Road since 1973, was
unable to pay for repairs when her well pump went out last Christmas and
was relying on a neighbor’s faucet for water.
She said she tried to save what she could on her fixed income,
but when that wasn’t enough, she went to the bank. The bank was unable
to give her a loan, but Mrs. Rowley’s dilemma caught the attention of
Sharon Floyd at Umpqua’s Valley Springs branch.
Mrs. Rowley and her late husband Hal had been long-time customers
and Edith’s situation “tugged on my heart,” Floyd said.
Floyd said employees at the bank’s area branches started an
in-house fund to help Mrs. Rowley. In addition, Floyd contacted Steve
Watson of Abbey Wells, who when he heard Rowley had been without water
for almost year offered to do the work at cost.
Watson’s sons Sean and Chris, recent high school graduates, did
most of the work, which included installation of a new pump, new meter,
new pipe, wire, safety line and a control box under their dad’s
They got rid of the well’s old galvanized tank system and
installed a bladder tank system.
“The boys did a great job,” Mrs. Rowley said.
“I’m very proud of them,” Watson said. “I’m amazed.
They kept right at it.”
Mrs. Rowley was looking forward to once again watering her front
lawn, which she said once had the reputation of being one of the finest
lawns on Raindance Road.
“I appreciate this so much,” she told Floyd and Watson.
“I’m happy here. This is home.”
Artist Janice Carpenter took the ideas of Sheng Chi's Phil and Liz Weaver and captured them on one of the center's walls.
Sheng Chi unveils huge, symbolic wall painting
Work has been completed on what might be the largest interior
wall painting in Valley Springs.
Phil and Liz Weaver of Sheng Chi Kung Fitness Center commissioned
Glencoe artist Janice Carpenter and daughter Stacey Flora to paint a
mural to grace the martial arts center’s 60-foot wide by 25-foot tall
Many members of the community got a sneak preview of the mural as
the work was in progress when the Weavers hosted a Valley Springs Area
Business Association mixer Aug. 17.
“It tells a story in itself,” Carpenter said.
Similar to the frescos inside the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican
City, Sheng Chi’s mural is spiritual in nature. The mural pays homage
to the Weavers’ da’shifu, or martial arts teacher, the late Al Moore
Sr. and is filled with symbolism to bless the center with good energy,
The mural also has a village, courtyard, gate, mountains, creek,
almond tree, bamboo, fire pot, Phoenix and seven animals, all with their
own meaning. The animals depicted on the wall – the bear, tiger,
mongoose, crane, mantis, cobra and dragon – display Shou Shu or the
fighting ways of the animal, while the Phoenix represents the Weavers’
rebirth and when a Phoenix is present, it is a sign that all is good and
honest in the kingdom.
The mural is full of subtle nuisances. Phil explained that the
water representation is a meandering creek, not rushing or stagnant
water, both of which would be negative energy. The meandering creek
represents Sheng Chi or positive energy, because that is the type of
water most suitable for a settlement.
The dragon in the center of the mural is a power dragon. It
represents strength and power. The red lettering below the dragon
represents battle art, while the gold lettering is a sign of royalty, he
The gate has three levels and they represent the changes of life
– learning, doing and teaching.
“That’s what we’re all about,” said Phil.
The courtyard is a representation of the studio. The courtyard is
where the villagers studies kung fu.
Carpenter and Flora spent 122 hours on the project. Carpenter
said she receives her satisfaction in the knowledge that the Weavers are
pleased with the mural.
“I’m so pleased it tied so well together,” Carpenter said.
Dr. Jim Green, far right, directs traffic at the grape crusher.
It's grape harvest, crush time in western Calaveras
By Nick Baptista
Grape harvests and crushes are under way in Western Calaveras
Drs. Jim Green and Barbara Fox of Valley Springs Dentistry hosted
family and friends at their Bear Flag Vineyard in Jenny Lind for their
annual harvest and crush, which culminates in a friendly luncheon after
the hard work is completed.
Green described this year’s crop of grapes as “reasonably
As a home winemaker, Green said he is more concerned with quality
over the quantity of grapes and this year’s crop should produce some
good wine for his family and friends. He likes to get about two tons of
grapes per acre from the two-acre vineyard near the heart of Jenny Lind.
When the crushing operation is completed, the grapes ferment for
about a week before being barreled.
The harvest at Bear Flag Vineyards is expected to continue this
weekend with Barbera grapes being picked and crushed.
Dave and Melissa Lohsen, the owners of Lohsen Martial Arts Academy, work out in their new studio at 10-C Nove Way in Valley Springs.
Martial arts academy to celebrate re-opening at Valley Springs studio
By Nick Baptista
Martial Arts Academy will celebrate its move to Nove Plaza with a Grand
Re-opening from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday.
martial arts studio is located at 10-C Nove Way in Valley Springs. The
event will include demos, food and prizes.
Melissa Lohsen are the owners of the martial arts academy and the
instructors. They have several assistants including their son Christian
who helps in the classes for children and juniors.
had his own school for five years and has been teaching martial arts for
12. The school formerly was at the Old Burson Firehouse.
decided we wanted to do it more full time and this way we have more toys
for the workouts,” said Melissa.
academy has added an elaborate bag stand.
specialized and allows us to work more on technique,” Dave said.
The academy is
open from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and Friday and Sunday
by appointment only. The academy offers instruction in Brazilian Jiu
Jitsu and Okinawan Goju Ryu.
junior classes those days are from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., while the adult
Jiu Jitsu class is from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Jiu Jitsu instruction sets us apart from anyone in the area,” Dave
Jiu Jitsu is about control, leverage and pain compliance maneuvers, he
Jiu Jitsu participants can practice at 100 percent full power since it
is a submission art and either party can tell the other to stop, Dave
academy has 20 to 25 active children and junior pupils and 10 adult
academy does not have its students on contracts, Melissa added.
addition, Lohsen Martial Arts Academy hosts its own tournament, with the
next one being Jan. 19, 2008, at Valley Springs Elementary School, and
also participates in other tournaments.
actively compete,” Dave said. “That is another fundamental
difference between us and other academies. We want to give the kids the
feel of a big tournament.”
competitors from the academy recently collect two golds, a silver and
bronze at the Gracie Open in Walnut Creek.
addition to the martial arts, Laura Baxter teaches yoga at the studio.
Classes are from 8 to 9 a.m. and 10 to 11 a.m. on Tuesdays, and 10 to 11
a.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. She can be reached at (209) 772-8924, or
information about Lohsen Martial Arts Academy, call 603-0152.