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Study: Frog plan to cost $$

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a study last week that looked into the potential economic impacts of designating nearly 2 million acres in the Sierra Nevada as “critical habitat” for yellow-legged mountain frogs and Yosemite toads.

The draft economic analysis released Friday estimated the impact at between $630,000 and $1.5 million over a period of 17 years. The service said a large portion of that amount would be borne by federal agencies because 97 percent of the land proposed for designation is federally owned.

DMV detour announced

The Sonora Department of Motor Vehicles will be shut down temporarily for renovations. Maggie Beck / Union Democrat, Copyright 2014.
The Sonora DMV office at 885 Morning Star Drive will close at 5 p.m. Feb. 4 and remain closed until April 12 for renovations.

Department of Motor Vehicles representatives said last week that customers are being, and will continue to be, redirected to nearby offices.

Staff, volunteers, citizens honored for community service in annual ceremony

The Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office honored its staff, volunteers and local citizens Thursday at its annual awards ceremony in the Board of Supervisor’s chambers. 

The chamber was filled with Sheriff’s Office staff and family members and spirits were high. 

Free speech policy gets reworking

The Yosemite Community College District Board of Trustees on Wednesday introduced its newly-phrased policy on free speech, after drawing criticism in September that led to a lawsuit. 

It was the first meeting run by Lynn Martin, of Sonora, former Columbia College counselor and instructor, who was recently elected board chairwoman. 

State park funding included in budget

Kim Baker, superintendent of Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, stands inside the roundhouse where Engine No. 28 is being restored. Maggie Beck / Union Democrat, Copyright 2014.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2014-15 budget calls for all state parks to stay open through at least June 2015. 

That’s good news for tourism-dependent Tuolumne and Calaveras counties, home to Columbia State Historic Park, Railtown 1897 State Historic Park and Calaveras Big Trees State Park. 

Calaveras judge election draws 3

Candidates continue to pull paperwork in Calaveras County for the June 3 primary election, with three people now vying for judge of the county’s Superior Court. 

Tim Healy, a Stockton-based prosecutor who lives in Wallace, held a press conference Wednesday afternoon in San Andreas to formally announce his candidacy.

County to apply for hotel loan

Tuolumne County and the developer of the privately-operated Evergreen Lodge continue to work together to secure a substantial loan for a new hotel and lodge near Yosemite National Park.

The county Board of Supervisors this week authorized planning staff to apply for $3.01 million through the federal Community Development Block Grant on the project’s behalf. 

Work begins on Sonora’s new fast-food restaurant

Construction on a new McDonald’s restaurant at Sanguinetti Road and Mono Way in Sonora is underway.

According to project contractor Gary Sons, who owns Fresno-based Brandon Garrett Construction, crews this week have been pouring the foundation, moving rocks for a retaining wall and preparing the site.  

Suicide suspected at jail

A Sonora man died late Tuesday night while in custody at the Tuolumne County Jail on $1 million bail for various domestic violence charges.

Robert Haire IV, 56, was found "slumped over" in his cell shortly before midnight. He was not breathing and a bed sheet was wrapped around his neck, according to the Sheriff's Office. The death is being investigated as a suicide.

County backs mine request

Blue Mountain Minerals can expand the area where it disposes of quarried rock and soil at its Columbia-area mine, the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday.

The board upheld a previous decision to add 27 acres to the fill zone on the mining company’s almost 350-acre quarry near the New Melones Reservoir. 

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