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Saturday, 26 July 2014 23:56

Sand Fire Update

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Cal Fire "Sand Fire" Report: 

July 26, 2014 5:00 pm

All available aircraft in NorthOps and SouthOps areas requested by Sand Fire air attack.

Current evacuations affect 450 residences.

Evacuation warning for Outingdale.

July 26, 2014 4:00 pm

1300 Acres, 20% Contained. 

250 Structures threatened. 

5 residences, 7 outbuildings destroyed. 

1 minor injury

Total Fire Personnel: 672

Evacuations: Sand Ridge Road, Fresh Water, Burlwood, Morales Ranch Road, Vintage Trail, Upton Road, Twin Rivers Road

New Evacuations in progress: Vintage Road to Sand Ridge Road, Buzzards Gulch Road, Riverpines Subdivision.

Cause is currently under investigation


Amador County – Amador Water Agency board of directors on Thursday discussed budget adjustments and a small reserve of $46,000, heading into the new fiscal year.

Director Rich Farrington said the budget identifies excess funds going into the reserve account, based on 10 months of actual numbers that support it, while critics said the agency was improperly using internal funds.

Director Paul Molinelli Senior asked what are the balances, and if that is hard to answer. AWA General Manager Gene Mancebo said the Controller can pull up numbers today and there are journal entries to be made, which would show internal loans and a balance.

Controller Marvin Davis said “there is a lot of stuff going places to give you these amounts.” Molinelli asked Davis if after reading a letter criticizing AWA practices that Davis was comfortable that the funds are there. Davis said after finishing analyses, he has a draft internal funding report and they have done a lot of work to separate the accounts. He said they are coming up with a positive balance using transfers back to operating cash.

Molinelli said there may have been a history of lack of communication at the agency, but “I don’t thing there is any subversion here,” they just need to go through 20 years or more of miscommunication.

In discussion, Farrington asked why PG&E rates differed in the budget. Central Amador Water Project pumps ranked highest. Mancebo said it varied between a 2.6 and 3.4% increase, based on usage, making it different in different systems.

Molinelli asked about $20,000 in training conferences, saying “that’s an awful lot to me.” Secretary Cris Thompson said the conference includes employee certifications. Molinelli asked about $188,000 transferred into non-operating expenses. Davis said it showed internal loans out of participation fees that cannot be used without an internal loan. He said: “From a ratepayer standpoint it is new money because you are going to use it to offset their rates.”

Molinelli asked if the participation fees were likely to occur. Mancebo said in September Ione developers have to make another payment. Budget participation fees dropped from $576,000 to $359,000 in the coming year. Consultant forecasts dropped from $602,000 to $233,000 because a lot of projects are done.

Molinelli asked why so much was budgeted on legal fees, which grew from $88,000 to $120,000. Mancebo said current litigation caused it, along with having to have the attorney attend some meetings. He said “if we do not need it we won’t use it.” Kenneth Perano and Ken Berry are currently suing the AWA over use of restricted funds, and the reporting thereof.

Story by Jim Reece This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Amador County – Amador Water Agency board of directors on Thursday (June 28) discussed the upcoming fiscal year budget amid criticism from a group that questioned projected revenues based on participations fees.

The budget showed a $46,000 positive difference between operating revenues forecast at $14.18 million dollars and total operating expenses expected at $14.13 million dollars.

Members of the Ratepayer Protection Alliance presented a letter to the AWA board criticizing the budget use of participation fees, and members appeared to criticize a list of capital improvement projects. Alliance member Bill Condrashoff said it was basing spending on money that AWA does not have.

AWA General Manager Gene Mancebo said participation fees of $379,000 were part of a signed contract with Ione developers. He said agency staff identified contractual amounts for participation fees that were sufficient to cover the project list. Board Clerk Chris Thompson said the Sutter Creek bridge project was postponed a year, removing $78,000 from the project list. The $200,000 in projects included work at Amador City bridge, Bunker Hill bridge, Amador Waster System, and $17,000 for hydrants.

Condrashoff criticized spending budgeted on consultant work to study consolidation of Amador Water System, and creation of a Community Facilities District. He criticized use of funds he said were restricted, and said the agency should look back on 20 years of books to unwind internal loans.

Alliance member David Evitt asked if the agency budget report would note that the agency illegally used money from a restricted account. Mancebo said he believed the agency did not need to go look at what is in the current balance of funds. One man, a former CPA said the budget was not the same as trying to reconcile balance sheet accounts and “you just can’t stop your business because you think your balance sheet is incorrect.” But he doubted why the AWA would go 13 months without an outside audit.

President Gary Thomas asked if a new auditor was determined. Mancebo said AWA’s general manager typically signs that contract, and he had not singed an engagement letter with a new auditor because of the time of the year, and potential to be stuck without an auditor.

Controller Marvin Davis agreed, saying the current “auditor has been intricately involved up to now and it has taken a lot to get the auditor to where we are now.” Davis said: “I recommend against it.”

Director Rich Farrington said the board has already agreed it wants outside auditing to look at its system. He felt obligated to adopt the budget by July 1. He said it sounds like we may have spent more than $576,000, from participation fees, but staff says we have not.

Story by Jim Reece This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Amador County – Mother Lode Harvest plans an open house 9 a.m. to noon Sunday, July 1 at Randall's Corner, 4340 Hollis Lane in Fiddletown. Mother Lode Harvest, is a local foods and farm products association and plans its summer quarter Open House at the farm of one of its member growers.

Mother Lode Harvest member Michelle Grondin said members and local residents who would like to learn about local foods, the association, and local sustainable farming, are invited to tour the farm to see the garden, apple orchard, greenhouse, apiary, and backyard chicken flock. Kathy Randall will discuss organic orchard and gardening techniques, preserving garden harvests, care of chickens and bees, how to get the most out of a small greenhouse, how to start a worm bin, and other topics. Children are welcome.

Other participating growers will also be on hand to meet and talk to attendees. Refreshments made with local ingredients will be served. The open house will be preceded by a work party for association members from 7:30 to 9 am. For more information, call Kathy Randall at (209)217-7373.

Also this weekend, Volcano plans its annual good old fashioned Fourth of July Parade and celebration starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 30. Organizers said people can attend or participate. Parade entrants can check in at 9 a.m. at the Country Store. The famous Cannonball Run Car Show will follow the parade with more than 75 entries, food vendors and more.

Also, the Pine Grove Community Park is the site of a BBQ Blast starting at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, June 30, with hot dogs, hamburgers, salad and beans and classic tunes from local band, Route 88. The BBQ Blast is sponsored by Pine Grove Civic Improvement Club, and profits will be used for insulation in the historic Pine Grove Town Hall.

Tickets are $20. Bring chairs, blankets and shade canopies for a family friendly event. Cotton candy, soda, water, beer, and wine will be for sale. Parking will be available in the Volcano Telephone lot.

Get tickets at Upcountry Hardware in Pine Grove, the Country Store in Volcano, or online at A limited number of tickets will be available at the Cannonball Run classic car show in Volcano on June 30, but there will be no at-door tickets. For more information call Lynda at (209)296-3795.

Story by Jim Reece This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Amador County – Jackson City Council on Monday tabled an agenda item that would have considered a resolution to rescind the Council’s approval of an ACES Waste Services rate Increase of 3.68%, which was approved on May 14.

The agenda also included consideration of directing staff to proceed with a Proposition 218 process, which would have notified citizens of the rate increase. The Council also held a special meeting with the city attorney to discuss existing litigation, Orescan v. the City of Jackson, filed against the city to seek to cause the city to make the Prop 218 notification.

City Manager Mike Daly said the council had no reportable action in closed session.

In a report to the City Council, Daly recommended rescinding the resolution and rate increase and recommended the Council “direct staff to provide the required notification and protest option to the public regarding the proposed increase per the requirements of Proposition 218.”

Daly said in the report that as in the past, during the May 14 discussion, the applicability of Prop 218 procedures was discussed with City Attorney Andy Morris. He said “the conclusion was that since property owners are not required to have garbage service in Jackson that this is not a property-related fee.”

He said on June 11, Jackson resident “William Orescan filed a writ of mandate with the Amador County Superior Court seeking to have the city of Jackson comply with Proposition 218’s mandates with respect to imposition of waste collection fees.”

Daly said the “City Council will be discussing the merits of this filing during a special meeting closed session item and this item is on the agenda should the City Council want to consider this action.”

ACES President Paul Molinelli Senior at the May meeting said the rate increase was due to a 25% increase in fees at Keifer Landfill in Sacramento, which will raise its rates form $20 to $25 per ton. Morris told the Council in May that Prop 218 notifications are related to fees that are mandatory, and in Jackson, “self-hauling is an option,” so prop 218 does not apply.

Story by Jim Reece This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thursday, 28 June 2012 01:49

AFPD board OKs traditional helmets for firefighters

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Amador County – The Amador Fire Protection District board of directors last week approved district policy to allow for the use of traditional-style fire fighting helmets by personnel un under certain circumstances, and only after the personnel sign a waiver.

AFPD Battalion Chief Dave Bellerive said the traditional style helmet was a symbol of tradition for fire fighters, and safety is at issue. The policy would require certification of the helmets by Occupational Safety & Health Administration or the National Fire Protection Association. He urged adoptions of policy changes to allow the traditional helmets.

Supervisor Vice Chairman Richard Forster said the traditional helmet is a lot heavier. Supervisor Brian Oneto said the traditional helmet is not approved for wildland fire fighting, and fire fighters can use their issued helmet in wildland fire fighting.

Bellerive said the district is currently buying two helmets for each member of the district fire department. One helmet is for structural fires, and one is for wildland fires. Supervisor John Plasse said “it comes down to a style issue.”

Bellerive said under proposed policy, to wear the traditional helmet, personnel must sign a waiver, in case it falls off on the way to a fire. The board advised staff to change policy to allow traditional helmets, but noted that employees must purchase their own traditional helmets, subject to policy.

The board passed the policy change on a 4-1 vote with Plasse dissenting.

Story by Jim Reece This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Amador County – A Rancho Cordova man was arrested twice over10 days in Amador County for possession of stolen goods and drugs, and linking him to at least nine vehicle burglaries in the region.

Amador County Undersheriff Jim Wegner released details Wednesday on multiple arrests of Vitali Nikolayevich Kulinich, 27, of Rancho Cordova, stemming first from a June 8 burglary at Anytime Fitness. An unknown suspect reportedly smashed the rear window of a vehicle and stole a wallet and cell phone. An Amador County Sheriff’s Deputy using the digital security system at Anytime Fitness identified a possible suspect vehicle, a brown sedan with a distinctive black bumper.

On June 15, an Amador Deputy saw the vehicle on Highway 49, stopped it, and identified the driver as Kulinich, who was on searchable probation in Sacramento County for theft. The vehicle registration was expired by almost seven years.

A search revealed suspected heroin, suspected meth, prescription narcotics, a glass smoking pipe and a realistic looking BB air pistol. Also found was a hunting license from the wallet reported stolen June 8 from Anytime Fitness, an Ipod Touch reported stolen to Davis Police, keys stolen from Delta Flooring in Sacramento, and burglary tools.

Kulinich was arrested, booked into Amador County Jail and charged with transportation and possession of a controlled substance, and possession of narcotics, stolen property and burglary tools. He posted $20,000 bond for release.

A secondary search of the vehicle revealed a hidden compartment with numerous stolen items including drivers licenses, passports, social security cards, credit cards, and a diamond ring valued at $1,840. Also found was a video camera documenting Kulinich’s involvement in stealing vehicles and using controlled substances.

Detectives recovered stolen property related to an additional nine vehicle burglaries in Sacramento, Rancho Cordova, Sacramento County, El Dorado Hills, El Dorado County, West Sacramento and Novato. Probation searches in Sacramento and Rancho Cordova found several firearms, an assault weapon, a stolen gym bag, and a possible stolen Ipad.

About 7:40 p.m. Monday, June 25, the Sheriff’s Department responded to a report that a man had just stolen merchandise from Kmart and fled in a tan Mercedes Benz sedan. A Deputy found the vehicle in Amador Plaza and detained it with two occupants: Andrew Lee Hunter Moras, 20 of Ranch Cordova and Kulinich.

The investigation revealed that Moras had stolen a pair of shoes from Kmart. The shoes were recovered and Moras was issued a citation for theft. The Deputy also found a checkbook, driver’s license and vehicle title belonging to a couple in Antelope, who positively identified items stolen from their vehicle June 23.

Kulinich was again arrested and booked into Amador Jail charged with possession of stolen property and commission of a felony while on bail for a pending felony. Bail was set at $45,000 and a declaration was filed by Detectives requesting the court examine the source of Kulinich’s bail. Detectives were checking on other property found in Kulinich’s possession to determine if it is also stolen.

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Thursday, 28 June 2012 01:47

Horses, and burros available for adoption in Sacramento

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Amador County – The Bureau of Land Management announced Wednesday that residents of the Sacramento area will have the opportunity to add a horse or burro to their families on July 14 when BLM brings its Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program to the Sacramento Horseman’s Association in Sacramento.

BLM Central California public affairs officer David Christy said 14 horses from yearlings to 4-year-olds will be offered for adoption. They come from the High Rock area’s Fox Hog, High Rock, Nut Mountain, Wall Canyon and Bitner herd management areas. It also features five burros from the Twin Peaks herd management area.

Manager of BLM’s Susanville wild horse and burro corrals, Doug Satica said the “animals are healthy and ready to train. They have been vaccinated against all common equine diseases, including rabies and West Nile virus.” BLM provides full health care records to adopters.

To qualify, adopters must be at least 18 years old and residents of the United States. Adopted animals must be kept in corrals that offer at least 400 square feet per animal, surrounded by six-foot pipe or board fences (five-foot fences are allowed for horses under 2 years old; four-foot fences are allowed for burros).

Two-sided roofed shelters are required. Adopters receive title to their animals after providing a year of good care.

Public affairs officer David Christy said wild horses and burros are protected by a federal law, the Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, which requires the BLM to maintain wild populations in balance with other range users, including wildlife and domestic livestock, so that food and water sources are sustained and rangelands are conserved.

For additional information contact BLM toll free at 1-866-4MUSTANGS (468-7826) or the Litchfield Corrals at (530) 254-6575.

Horses can be previewed 2-5 p.m. Friday, July 13. The event runs 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 14. A silent competitive bid will run from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday. Animals not taken during bidding will be available for a $125 adoption fee.

The auction is at the Sacramento Horseman’s Association, 3200 Longview Drive, in Sacramento, on Saturday, July 14.

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Amador County – Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort announced Wednesday that someone will win $45,000 cash at the Jackson Rancheria today, that is Thursday, June 28.

Rancheria publicist Mark Bommarito announced the promotion, saying the final drawings for Jackson Rancheria’s big Spring Cash Fling will be held starting at 6 p.m., Thursday, June 28, and one winner is guaranteed to go home with $45,000 cash.

Jackson Rancheria’s Dreamcatcher’s Club members earn a drawing entry for every 100 points earned between 12:01 a.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday, June 28. The drawings start at 6 p.m. with 20 people guaranteed to win $500 in “Free Slot Play.”

The final prize, given away at 8 p.m., started at $15,000 and has grown to a guaranteed $45,000 jackpot. The winner has five minutes to claim the big prize or another winner will be drawn until someone claims the cash.

Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort is located at 12222 New York Ranch Road in Jackson.

Story by Jim Reece This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Amador County – Jackson City Council voted 3-2 Monday to approve a $3.36 million with a $125,000 deficit for fiscal year 2012-2013 as the city awaits a return of funding by the Legislature or the state budget.

Councilman Wayne Garibaldi and Mayor Pat Crew dissented. Garibaldi earlier asked what would happen if they did not approve the budget since the budget year ends June 30. City Manager Mike Daly said the city would continue operating with the existing budget in place.

Councilman Keith Sweet said Jackson was one of the few cities in the county that has a budget you can read and count on and he wondered why Garibaldi would ask that question.

Garibaldi said: “I probably can’t vote for a budget with a negative number. We’re $125,000 short” and restoration of Triple-Flip funds “are not a sure thing.” Daly said the closest thing to a sure thing is the governor’s reimbursement in the budget bill, which would give Amador County and its cities $1.5 million dollars, including $100,000 to Jackson, and $1.1 million to the county.

Daly said the status of Alyson Huber’s Assembly Bill 1191 has him “not quite as 95% confident in it” as he was, since it was placed in “suspense” Monday by the Senate Appropriations Committee. A consultant said “suspense” means it needs minor rewording, Daly said.

Crew said a healthy city is one with reserves but he was inclined to vote for it because “rainy days are here.” Daly said a typical city reserve fund is 20 percent, and for Jackson, that would be $690,000, so “we’re above that.” Reserves in the draft budget were $793,000.

With Legislative fixes, Jackson could get $100,000 to $300,000, he said, but “it’s going to be a continuing saga.” The budget lost a $100,000 COPS grant, which means the city must use other funds to pay a Police Officer’s salary and avoid layoff. He said negotiations with employees allowed reduction of insurance costs by allowing employees to choose a different policy. They will still get 100% paid insurance but have a smaller physician pool.

He recommended boosting the city’s share of participation fees with Amador County Recreation Agency, from 50% of a full share payment, to 80%. He also mentioned a return to paid parking on Main Street, now that storefronts were filling.

Daly was optimistic that a three-year increase in sales tax revenue would continue, with the addition of Grocery Outlet, and the early August opening planned for Tractor Supply Company. And National Hotel’s planned July reopening means the “iconic lodging and dining anchor for Main Street should help attract more visitors to Jackson and boost both the Transient Occupancy Tax and sales tax in the upcoming year.”

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