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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. 

Forest density on rise, report finds

The graphic above illustrates increased forest density from 1929 (left) to 2008 (right). U.S. Forest Service / Courtesy graphic.
A recently completed U.S. Forest Service study found “dramatic differences” in the density of forests today, compared to historic conditions prior to logging and fire suppression.

Eric Knapp, an ecologist from the Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station, led a team of scientists who looked at changes in tree and vegetation density on several historical stands in the Stanislaus-Tuolumne Experimental Forest, which encompasses about 1,700 acres near Pinecrest.

Angels delays vote on rezoning

The Angels Camp City Council wants more information from city staff before voting on whether to rezone 86 downtown parcels and create a “historical commercial district.”

Council members discussed the rezone at length Tuesday night, and voted to continue the discussion to the council’s Feb. 4 meeting. 

Calaveras Sheriff’s Office, Jail advance

A new Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office is anticipated to open later this winter, followed by a state-of-the-art jail in the spring. 

As long as the sheriff’s building passes ongoing State Fire Marshal inspections, there is a “temporary certificate of occupancy”tentatively set for Jan. 23. That means the Sheriff’s Office can start the process of moving into its new 43,000-square-foot building near the county’s Government Center in San Andreas.

Comment sought on county pot rules

The public next week will get one of multiple chances to sound off on a new medical marijuana law in unincorporated Tuolumne County.

The county’s Planning Commission will hold a public hearing Wednesday, Jan. 15, on the proposal, which would ban outdoor cultivation of medical marijuana, as well as dispensaries and collectives. The proposed law also calls for strict regulation of indoor growing operations.

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