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Tuesday, 18 December 2007 12:07

New Truancy Pilot Program

The Amador County Probation Department and the Amador County Unified School District are working together to develop a truancy reduction program. Mark Giannini, the county’s Chief Probation Officer, says the pilot program will run for ninety school days from January 9, 2008 through May 30, 2008. During this period there will be one deputy probation officer assigned to monitor truancy and attendance issues at Jackson Elementary and Ione Elementary Schools. The truancy specialist will work closely with the 2 schools to identify students who are missing school – the deputy will contact parents and in some cases, pick students up and take them to school. Giannini said if at least 5 children can be brought back to attending school regularly during this 90-day period, then the program would be continued. The school district will reimburse the county for the salary of the assigned probation officer, while the county will provide a Probation Department vehicle. At this week’s Board of Supervisors’ Administrative Committee meeting, supervisors Forster and Novelli expressed support for the pilot program and cost sharing proposal.
slide4The Amador County Unified School District and Office of Education is looking for new and exciting ways to not only improve the educational experience of its current students, but also ways to attract home-schooled and privately educated students back to the district. Asst Superintendent of Curriculum Elizabeth Chapin-Pinotti presented several options of the Board for the increasing opportunities. The use of the Drytown School House as a center for Independent Study and home schooled students is what was termed as “an exciting possibility”.
slide28.pngAt Tuesday’s Ione City Council meeting, the Ione Planning Commission presented a recommendation for an architectural review entitlement that would allow for the construction of an arcade roof over the sidewalk at 24 West Main Street in Ione. The project, which was requested by Patrick Hawkins, would encroach on the Caltrans right-of-way, so an encroachment permit is necessary. Because the property is located within the central business zoning district, the Architectural Heritage Zoning District, and the Historic Preservation Zoning District, an approval from both the Planning Commission and the City Council is required. In the original proposal, the roof was set to be comprised of cedar shake shingles, but after a review by the fire chief, it was recommended that a condition of approval be put on the application to use another material, as the cedar shake roofing is a fire hazard. Hawkins told the commission that he thinks “everything sounds good.”
Wednesday, 13 August 2008 01:54

Final Day To File For Candidacy

Today will be the final day for applicants in the November General Election to file for candidacy. The application date was extended past the original deadline last Friday until today at 5pm, in order to allow additional time for the incumbents under new election guidelines. Of the candidates so far, many are familiar faces from past elections. Ione Mayor Andrea Bonham and a number of other incumbents are filling out the City Council races. Many of their challengers are business owners who have run previously. TSPN will have an in-depth story on the election after the official candidate list is released later this week.
Friday, 15 August 2008 02:05

Final Election Results Are In!

slide18.pngThe Amador County November Elections Race is seeing some new, as well as familiar faces. The final deadline for filing was extended to this past Wednesday at 5 PM. According to the Amador Elections Office, the only change since last week is the addition of former councilmember Keith Sweet as a candidate for the Jackson City Council, which has three open spots. Of those, two are currently held by incumbents running for re-election, and the third will be vacated by Mayor Rosalie Pryor Escamilla, who has been on the Council for eight years. “(Being on the council) is a lot of time and effort,” says Escamilla, “but I’ll still be involved in the issues important to me.” Competing for the three open spots is Jackson Planning Commissioner Dave Butow, appointed-incumbent Wayne Garibaldi, incumbent Al Nunes, and local activists Judy Jebian and Marilyn Lewis.

Three candidates are competing for the two open spots on the Ione City Council. Incumbents Andrea Bonham and Jerry Sherman are being challenged by David P. Plank, a retired marketing director. The Ione City Clerk position will still be held by Janice Traverso, as she is running uncontested, and the City Treasurer Sharon Long is being challenged by Nancy Baldi. In Amador City, all open spots have candidates running uncontested. For City Council, Aaron Brusatori is running for a four year term. For the two year term, Michael Vasquez, a local Realtor, holds that spot. And for City Treasurer, the appointed incumbent Janet Spencer is running solo. Plymouth’s City Council race includes six candidates running for a total of three spots. Current members Greg Baldwin, Jon Colburn and Patricia Shackleton are all running for re-election. Gary Colburn, the brother of incumbent Jon Colburn, is also running, along with Maria E. Nunez and Darlene R. Estey, both of Plymouth. City Clerk Gloria Stoddard and City Treasurer M. Suzon Hatley are both running uncontested. In Sutter Creek, the three open spots for city council matches the number of candidates. Two are incumbents, Tim Murphy and Gary Wooten, with newcomer Sandra Anderson.

And in the School District race, four candidates are competing for three open spaces. PJ Karnaze and Mary Walser are up for re-election, and are running against Deputy District Attorney Janelle Redkey and Wally Upper, a retired college president. Amador Water Agency has four district races occurring, with at least two candidates in each district. In District One, appointed incumbent Madonna Wiebold is challenged by local businessman and engineer Bill Condrashoff. District Two’s incumbent John Swift is being challenged by electrician Gary Thomas. In District Three, Joseph Bonini is running against Don Cooper, a retired agricultural engineer. And in District Four, appointed incumbent Paul Scott is challenged by local activist and business owner Debbie Dunn, and business owner Brent Parsons. And finally, for the Volcano Community Services District, we have Nancy Bailey, incumbent, Terry Grillo, and Jane W. Norcross all competing for a four-year term, and Richard Gorremans running uncontested for a two-year term. We’ll have more in-depth profiles on all the candidates as we move toward the November 4th election.

slide20.pngTwo “priceless” maps of Amador County in its infancy were presented before the Board of Supervisors at their Tuesday morning meeting. The separate but equally interesting histories of both the maps and how Amador County had been fortunate enough to obtain them were outlined in a joint presentation by County Clerk Sheldon Johnson and Amador County Museum Curator Georgia Fox. One map dating back to 1904 was discovered in a safe at the County Clerk’s office where it had been sitting untouched for decades. Johnson explained that the map was wrapped in brown butcher paper, and besides some natural discoloration, was in excellent condition. According to Fox, a second map dated 1866 was a gift from Darlene and Bill Duncan, who had been given the map by a friend and were told to “find a good home for it.” Amador County was fortunate to receive the map, as it could just have easily been sent to a larger and more prestigious museum, said Johnson.

During Darlene Duncan’s turn at the podium, she became visibly emotional when she recalled her mother, who was instrumental in insuring the map returned to its proper home. Perhaps as interesting as the story of the journey of these historic documents is there preservation process. Both maps were sent to the Joseph J. Marotti Company, a conservation laboratory in Milton, Vermont. They were then treated and repaired during a painstaking 50-hour restoration process. Each map was ultrasonically humidified and “decidified” in order to “preserve the maps for the next 500 years” said a Marotti Company representative. Supervisor Forster presented the Duncans with a plaque as a token of thanks for their generous contribution. Supervisor Escamilla slyly remarked that he had plenty of space for one of the maps on his office wall, to which Supervisor Forster jokingly replied, “Sir, you’re out of order.” Both maps will soon be available for public viewing at the Amador County Museum.

slide6.pngAs we reported earlier this week, the Upcountry Community Council, or UCC, and the Pine Grove Council are charging that Amador County residents east of Tabeaud Road were not fairly represented in the decision to scrap the Pine Grove Bypass project. The two groups are requesting a “more democratic and equitable representation” when deciding what to do with the “millions of local road dollars” slotted for our county each year. Supervisor Boitano explained that even if the ACTC had an Upcountry member, the outcome may have still been the same. According to Boitano, California Transportation Commission Staff advised the ACTC to come back with a “more realistic approach” than the $20 million dollar bypass, as “there’s not enough money for everything we want to do in Amador County.” Even though he may not completely agree with the UCC’s complaints, Boitano had this issue added to the next ACTC meeting agenda. Both Upcountry groups are asking any and all Upcountry citizens to be at that meeting. UCC member Debbie Dunn says, “There’s always strength in numbers.” That meeting will be held August 20th at 6 PM at 810 Court Street in the Board of Supervisors Chambers.

slide8.pngA request by representatives of the George Reed, Incorporated/ Jackson Valley Quarry to approve emergency status in order to bypass CEQA requirements and expand operations met a mixed response at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday. Speaking on behalf of the Quarry employees, representative Steve Lopez outlined the company’s need for emergency status approval, as urged by Governor Schwarzenegger in order to help provide materials for the continuing construction and repair of the Sacramento Delta. One employee referred to the repairs on the delta as a way to prevent a disaster on the scale of Hurricane Katrina. The permission requested would essentially allow the company to expand its excavation operations onto new acreage and increase its output from the current limitation of 500,000 tons per year to 1,200,000 tons.

In a letter to Planning Director Susan Grijalva, Jackson Quarry representative Jeff Welch stated that “an increased haul-out allowance…(could) compensate for…projects going out to bid that could potentially require more material this year than initially anticipated.” The company also requested to be allowed to operate on Saturdays when needed. slide11.pngLopez said the company is facing tough times, and without expansion, could be forced to cutback on “tax paying employees, many of whom have families and pension plans.” But according to Nate Lishman, who spoke on behalf of the Planning Department, this would be the third consecutive year that such a request has been made. During public comment, a number of concerned citizens questioned the wisdom in granting such a request and asked for a definition as to what actually constitutes a “state of emergency” - for which there was no definitive answer. One resident who lives close to the Quarry complained about “earthquake-like” tremors. The Board requested seismic impact information from Jackson Quarry representatives. Furthermore, Supervisor Richard Forster recommended postponing the item until next week’s agenda in order to allow the public time to review all the documents involved, as is required under the Brown Act.

Like other national forests, the Stanislaus National Forest is developing a plan to designate which of its more than 3,000 miles of roads and trails can continue to be used by motorized vehicles. The forest will hold a public meeting to discuss the proposals in West Point this Thursday night. The meeting will be held at the West Point Community Hall from 5 to 9 pm. The first hour, from 5 to 6, will be an opportunity to view large maps. The actual meeting begins at 6 pm. The comment period for this proposal ends on Jan. 18. Comments may be submitted to: Stanislaus National Forest, Sonora office. Maps and tables showing the proposed plan can be found at the web address on your screen
Wednesday, 13 August 2008 02:09

Smoking Ban in Jackson?

slide6.pngThe City of Jackson is giving serious consideration to a partial smoking ban in the downtown area. Monday night, council members revisited the issue, which originated from complaints from members of the public about dealing with secondhand smoke and cigarette litter while shopping on Jackson’s historic Main Street. Since the last city council meeting, city staff have been researching options for implementing the smoking restriction, including contacting the Tobacco Reduction of Amador County, or TRAC. Through that organization, the city received a report from the American Lung Association, and learned that the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, categorizes secondhand smoke “as a known human carcinogen,” comparing it to dangerous substances such as radon, benzene, and asbestos. City staff researched the smoking ordinances of several other cities, many of which include a ban on smoking within 20 feet of an open doorway, window, or air intake – the same rule that is now in force in all government buildings.

Instead of implementing a total ban on Main Street, the council unanimously agreed that providing smokers with designated areas would be the best course of action. Council member Al Nunes jokingly commented that if the city implemented a total smoking ban, “there would be some people that would be having a nicotine fit.” In addition, council members mentioned the sometimes-large number of patrons smoking outside the three bars that make Main Street their home. Vice Mayor Connie Gonsalves suggested “working with the business owners” to steer their patrons towards designated smoking areas. Many citizens in attendance provided suggestions on where the designated smoking areas could be located, including the small parking areas just off Main Street, and several, but not all, of the benches. Shelly Scott, who is on the Economic Development Committee, suggested a fine for those who violated the ordinance, with half going to the city, and half to the upcoming Revitalization Committee. One Main Street store clerk laughed at the entire idea, saying, “What are they going to do? Give smoking tickets to tourists?” For now, the council wants to make a “well-thought-out” decision and will be bringing the matter to the downtown merchants before formulating an ordinance.