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CCWD urged to postpone GM hire

Five people, including two candidates competing against each other in this fall’s election, asked the Calaveras County Water District Board of Directors at its Tuesday meeting to delay hiring a new general manager until after the Nov. 4 general election.

Four of the district’s five director seats are up for election.

TUD water sale plans blasted

Community members are upset that Tuolumne Utilities District may sell some of the water that customers have conserved this year back to Pacific Gas and Electric Co. in the midst of an historic drought.

Sonora musician Sean Brennan summed up the frustration and confusion through song during the public comment period at the beginning of Tuesday’s TUD Board of Directors meeting, when he performed a new tune he wrote called “The Talking Water Rights Blues.”

Rim Fire suspect pleads not guilty

Keith Emerald’s parents, Barry and Deborah Emerald, are led out of the U.S. District Court in Fresno by Federal Defender Janet Bateman, who is representing Emerald. Austen Thibault / Union Democrat, Copyright 2014.
Tuolumne County resident Keith Emerald pleaded not guilty in federal court in Fresno on Tuesday to accidentally starting the Rim Fire, the largest wildfire in the Sierra Nevada’s recorded history which burned 402 square miles of national forest and park lands last year.

Emerald was indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday for violating a forest order banning campfires, then letting that campfire escape and lying to investigators about it.

County Office of Ed. eyes Black Oak School

The Tuolumne County Office of Education is considering purchasing Twain Harte School District’s Black Oak Elementary school site, closed in 2008, to have the county’s first full school campus for special-needs students.

The purchase was formally discussed Monday at the Office of Education Board of Trustees meeting.

Not too late to file for Angels council

Angels Camp Vice Mayor Jack Lynch, who has served eight years on the City Council, will not seek re-election this fall. 

Meanwhile, Councilman Scott Kelly — who was appointed to the council in April — filed his election paperwork Friday.

Several boards lack candidates in November

More than a dozen government boards — overseeing agencies ranging from fire districts to school districts — are still seeking candidates for November’s election in Tuolumne County.

According to the county Elections Office, races for 13 boards have at least one incumbent not seeking re-election, giving potential candidates through Wednesday to finish the necessary paperwork to run. The filing deadline for candidates passed on Friday for the Nov. 4 election, though races without incumbents are granted a three-day extension.

Museum mysteries: Odd objects’ origins found; more puzzles abound

Tuolumne County Museum volunteer Janet Hart holds an object made of metal that looks like it might be a kitchen item or candle holder. Lacey Peterson / Union Democrat, Copyright 2014.
Thanks to some history-minded locals, the Tuolumne County Museum has discovered the use for some weird-looking items found while doing an extensive inventory.

In the July 16 edition of The Union Democrat, there were photos of three unknown items found in the cache of thousands of artifacts in the museum’s history center.

Injured teen due to return home

A Sonora High School student continues to recover from a broken neck and his family is bustling to prepare for his homecoming after more than six weeks at a Sacramento hospital.  

Nicholas “Nick” Harris, 17, of Sonora, is scheduled to return to the Sonora area on Friday from Shriners Hospital. 


Higgins selected as Skalski successor

A Northern California native who grew up exploring the Sierra Nevada has been chosen to replace retiring Stanislaus National Forest Supervisor Susan Skalski in September.

Jeanne Higgins, 55, originally from the Auburn area, is a longtime Forest Service employee and currently serves as a deputy regional forester in Albuquerque, N.M. 


Fire claim shocks area residents

The indictment of a Tuolumne County man accused of starting the biggest wildfire in Sierra Nevada history has shocked people who know him. 

Keith Matthew Emerald, 32, of Columbia, was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury in Fresno. He is accused of starting last year’s massive Rim Fire, which burned more than 257,000 acres, destroyed 11 homes and cost more than $125 million to fight.

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