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Cold temps are the pits for olive growers

    While citizens across Calaveras and Tuolumne counties last week contended with power losses and freezing temperatures, local farmers watched as their crops, plants and future yields suffered damage from ice and snow.
    According to Tuolumne County Agricultural Commissioner Vicki Helmar, farmers in the Cedar Ridge area and higher elevations are still struggling to get to their orchards to assess the damage after four feet of snow dropped on those areas last week.

Barrister says he’s putting cork on wine-making career

    Family and friends gathered at the Sonora Winery and Port Works south of Sonora Nov. 21 for the bottling of winemaker Richard Matranga’s 2010 Barrister’s Port.
    The fiery young port — rich in flavor with bright overtones of stone fruit — is Matranga’s first wine in almost four years, and was envisioned less as a return to winemaking than as a declaration of, “Yes, I’m still here.”

Building activity picking up in Tuolumne County

    Building activity in Tuolumne County, although far from what it was during the housing boom just a few years ago, has improved over last year,
    From Jan. 1 to Nov. 16, the county issued 1,131 building permits for $34 million worth of construction, said Community Development Director Bev Shane. Of those, 45 were for single-family homes valued at $8.4 million.
    Permits for single-family homes generally produce a picture of the overall health of the local building industry, Shane said.
    The permits tallied include everything from big commercial projects — such as the renovation of the new Kohl’s store — to simple water-heater installations and other home improvements.

Merchants compete for holiday contest

    The Sonora Chamber of Commerce, City of Sonora, Mother Lode Bank and the Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau will have a Historic Downtown Sonora Best Dressed Window or Holiday Display Contest this season.
    All merchants and businesses throughout downtown Sonora can compete.
    Judging will take place between Dec. 7 and 14. Displays will be judged according to theme, spirit of the season, execution, creativity and lighting. Any ties in scoring will be determined by originality.

Front Porch funds teachers, classrooms

    Tuolumne County students are getting much needed supplemental classroom materials and funding thanks to mini-grants offered by Front Porch, Inc. Internet company.
    “Being in the high tech industry we decided we’d focus our efforts on math and science,” explained Holly Britton, Front Porch director of community giving.

Yosemite Chamber of Commerce officers installed

    The Yosemite Chamber of Commerce installed a new slate of directors and officers Oct. 28 at its annual dinner and meeting.
    The 2011 officers, installed by Tuolumne County District 4 Supervisor John Gray, are: James Nagle, president; Rick Whybra, vice president; Lynn Upthagrove, secretary; and Cathy Leetham, treasurer. Directors-at-Large are: Pam Oler, Jerry Baker, Paul Pieretti, Colton Kline and Christina Wilkinson.

Long Barn Lodge Ice Rink opens for 40th year

    Some of Jessica Capito’s favorite childhood memories were made at the Long Barn Lodge Ice Rink.
    She skated there as a child while vacationing with her family, and now that she is an adult and living nearby, she plans to spend a lot more time there this winter.
    “When we were kids, we would start skating at 10 in the morning, take a break to play games in the old lodge, then skate some more until the rink closed,” she said. “We were exhausted, but it was so much fun.”

Habitat ReStore to open in Sonora

    A new store operated by Habitat for Humanity that will sell everything from used washing machines to surplus gypsum panels is set to open Friday.
    Known as a ReStore, the new facility will cater to those looking for small purchases as well as those needing supplies for major home-improvement projects.

Tips for employers to recognize the warning signs of suicide, depression

    Local business leaders attended a seminar last week to learn what employers can do to address the warning signs of suicide witnessed in the workplace.
    Ellen Dunn and Mark Bergstrom led the seminar for the Tuolumne County Suicide Prevention Task Force, a group formed to respond to suicide in the county.

Lowe’s to open before Christmas

    The new Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Sonora is set for a soft opening on Christmas Eve, with a grand opening celebration planned for Dec. 30.
    The contractor, Jackson-Dean, is set to turn the keys over to Lowe’s next Tuesday, according to Sonora Community Development Director Ed Wyllie.

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