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New era dawns for Calaveras supervisors

Most seats on the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors will officially turn over Tuesday following a historic November election.

Prepared to be sworn in are former Angels Camp Mayor Debbie Ponte, who registered a resounding win against seven-term incumbent Tom Tryon; San Andreas restaurateur and former parks commissioner Cliff Edson, who denied Valley Springs businessman Gary Tofanelli a second term; and Rail Road Flat nonprofit executive Chris Wright, who edged West Point shopkeeper Bryce Randall in the costliest and closest contest of the fall.


They will join 19-year veteran Merita Callaway, of Forest Meadows, the vice chairwoman of the board, who is expected to be selected as chairwoman if the newcomers uphold typical custom. She is far and away the dean amongst board members, with Darren Spellman, of Rancho Calaveras, the only other returnee, just midway through his first four-year term.

The new board is scheduled for an immediate closed-door session after the oaths of office and selection of officers to discuss appointment of an interim county administrative officer. 

The county has been without a top staff executive since Jeanne Boyce retired effective Dec. 29. 

Recruitment for a permanent replacement will likely take three to four months, according to Human Resources Director Francine Osborn.

The appointment of Boyce’s interim successor and setting of their pay is set to follow when the board returns to open session. An hourly wage of $78.85, $120 per diem and $350 monthly vehicle allowance are budgeted for the position.

The previous board identified John Blacklock as its top candidate for the role but decided to defer an offer of employment until the new board weighs in. Blacklock is the former CAO for Butte County and during the past decade has filled interim administrator roles with Lassen and Tehama counties as well as the cities of Anderson and Red Bluff.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda will be appointment of supervisors to various committees, agencies and commissions. Perhaps the most-watched decision will be that of the two supervisors selected for the Calaveras Council of Governments, a transportation policy-making body that also includes two Angels Camp City Council members and three appointed citizens. 

Tryon and Tofanelli were the most recent appointees. Ponte ran in part on opposition to Tryon’s handling of the Highway 4 “Wagon Trail” realignment project, which the CCOG has a major role in, while Callaway had a long tenure on the CCOG before the board chose to replace her with Tofanelli almost two years ago. Spellman has been the CCOG alternate since that time.

In other business, the board is expected to adopt a resolution declaring January as National Mentoring Month in Calaveras County. 

The Calaveras Youth Mentoring Program has matched 15 adults with students at Bret Harte and Calaveras high schools. 

Eight more students, primarily boys in the Valley Springs area, are waiting to be matched with mentors living in their area, according to Calaveras County Director of Youth Development and Prevention Programs Kathryn Eustis.

PUBLIC MEETING: Calaveras County Board of Supervisors welcome reception, 8 a.m., oath of office and selection of officers, 9 a.m., regular meeting, 10 a.m., Government Center, 891 Mountain Ranch Road, San Andreas.

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