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Sierra Views: Cope led interesting life across continents

Hal Cope, 89, of Angels Camp, traded in a hunting rifle for a camera while he was in Africa. Maggie Beck / Union Democrat, Copyright 2015.
Angels Camp resident Harold “Hal” Cope has lived a life that has spanned several continents and looks forward to his retirement in the Gold Country. 

Cope, 89, is a retired pilot and airline manager whose career has taken him to such faraway places as Africa, Belize, Croatia and, closer to home, Canada and Hawaii. He’s survived malaria five times, and his best friend in the world was an elephant named Mphamvou.

Storm to bring rain, wind to foothills

A warm, wet storm system could bring significant rainfall to the Mother Lode beginning tonight.

The system is expected to carry enough airborne moisture to drench at least the north half of the Sierra Nevada, and some forecasters are calling it an “atmospheric river.” Rainfall totals of up to 3 inches are forecast.

Residents saved water in 2014

Master Gardener Al Dahlstrand, of Jamestown, discusses two storage tanks that collect rainwater used to water the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden. Maggie Beck / Union Democrat, Copyright 2015.
A water conservation report for 2014 shows Tuolumne and Calaveras counties used 15 to 25 percent less water than they did in 2013, a comparison that may prove useful as state officials warn the drought appears to be entering its fourth year.

Tuolumne Utilities District customers ranked 17th for usage compared with 26 other districts in the San Joaquin River region, with 75 gallons per person per day in 2014. Calaveras County Water District customers ranked 18th in the same region, with 79 gallons per person per day. Groveland Community Services District ranked 11th in the region, with 66 gallons per person per day.

Update: Search continues for Columbia bank robbery suspect

Tuolumne County Sheriff’s deputies investigate a noon bank robbery in downtown Columbia. Jesse Jones / Union Democrat, Copyright 2015.

Columbia State Historic Park is shut down to visitors as law enforcement officials search for a suspect in a bank robbery.

Tuolumne County Sheriff’s investigators closed the park and set up a perimeter about 1 p.m. and are investigating the robbery of Umpqua Bank on Main Street. 

Opinion:Yosemite National Park still the land of the fee

Yosemite National Park officials announced last week they will hike admission and camping fees for visitors to the country’s third-most visited national park effective March 1.

The new fees are a more-moderate version of the 50 percent across-the-board hike considered by the National Park Service in October. This was because of well-deserved public resistance.

Fowler trial delayed

Defense attorneys are petitioning the Calaveras County Superior Court for the release of a 14-year-old Valley Springs boy who allegedly stabbed his sister to death in 2013.

The boy is charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing of his sister, Leila Fowler, on April 27, 2013. He was 12 years old when the death occurred. He is now 14 and has been held at a Placerville juvenile detention center since his arrest on May 11, 2013. 


Two injured in wreck near hospital

A van was in a wreck this afternoon in front of Sonora Regional Medical Center. Maggie Beck/Union Democrat
Two people were injured Tuesday when the van they were in accelerated unexpectedly and crashed into a hillside off Greenley Road. 

Twain Harte resident Erik Estrada, 44, who is disabled and uses a wheelchair, was driving on Delnero Drive about  3 p.m. 

Hibernating animals cope with warm winter in Sierra Nevada

Warm temperatures this winter have not resulted in increased bear activity in Yosemite National Park. File photo / Union Democrat.
Warm, dry conditions have melted a lot of Sierra Nevada snowpack in recent weeks, and the weather could affect animals that hibernate to get through cold winters.

How this is affecting the animals depends on who you ask. From the Stanislaus National Forest to Yosemite National Park and other parts of the Central Sierra Nevada, animal sightings have been rare.

New Tuolumne County Planning Commission officials picked

The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday filled the remaining vacancies on the Tuolumne County Planning Commission.

District 3 Commissioner John LaTorre was reappointed to another four-year term. He has served on the commission for the past eight years.

Ranchers oppose moves to regulate grazing

Local ranchers and ranching advocates in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties are at odds with California water board officials and their efforts to develop statewide regulations of erosion and waste caused by livestock grazing.

The bad feelings stem in part from perceived lack of transparency that began with a series of invite-only meetings in late 2014, followed by three January “listening sessions” held hundreds of miles from the Mother Lode.


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