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Winter much wetter so far

The Mother Lode is experiencing a much wetter winter than last year, with more than 5 inches of rain since Dec. 1, but Tuolumne and Calaveras counties are still in a state of exceptional drought, according to scientists.

A “U.S. Drought Monitor” map updated this week shows most of Northern California, from north of Interstate 80 to the coast, “improved” one increment to a stage of extreme drought. The change is due to rainfall received during the storm of Dec. 11-12, said National Weather Service meteorologist Michelle Mead.


Trial set for Walmart expansion lawsuit

A lawsuit holding up the expansion of the Sonora Walmart is expected to head back to Tuolumne County Superior Court for a trial scheduled to begin in February.

Walmart wants to start selling more produce and grocery items at the Sanguinetti Road location by adding 30,000 square-feet to the store, but a lawsuit filed by a mostly anonymous opposition group has kept expansion plans in limbo for more than four years.

Sierra Views: Moore feels at home in Stanislaus Forest

Mary C. Moore, hydrologist with the Stanislaus National Forest, stands in front of a map showing part of the Rim Fire burn scar at Forest Service headquarters in Sonora. Guy McCarthy / Union Democrat, Copyright 2014.
The full-time Forest Service hydrologist who studies water and its impacts in the fire-damaged, drought-challenged Stanislaus National Forest recently said she had reservations when she drove across the U.S. and encountered the arid Great Basin for the first time.

Mary C. Moore, a University of Virginia graduate, was heading west from her first internship at Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head, North Carolina.

Council passes oak tree ordinance

After years of research and revisions, Angels Camp now has rules in place to protect trees within the city limits. 

An ordinance passed unanimously Tuesday night by the Angels Camp City Council requires people obtain a permit before any oak tree or “heritage” tree can be removed from an undeveloped property. 

Lake McClure still struggling

A photo taken Dec. 11 shows low water levels near Barret Cove at Lake McClure in northern Mariposa County. Randy Gilgo / Courtesy photo.
At least one water district in the area is still struggling to keep the taps flowing despite recent rains that have bolstered reservoir storage elsewhere in the state.

The Lake Don Pedro Community Services District on Dec. 3 enacted mandatory conservation measures requiring customers to slash their usage by 30 percent each month over last year, District General Manager Pete Kampa told the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors at Tuesday’s meeting.

Angels Camp girl reported missing

Crystal Houle was reported missing Wednesday night in Angels Camp.
Police are looking for a 16-year-old Angels Camp girl.

Portion of South Stewart Street to close Thursday

A portion of South Stewart Street will be closed for hazard tree removal Thursday, according to Sonora city officials.

The trunk of a large redwood tree in the 400 block of Stewart Street will be removed. The upper portion of the tree was blown down in a Dec. 12 windstorm and damaged a business and neighboring garage. South Stewart Street will be closed from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. to traffic in both directions.

Former area teacher accused of sex with minor

A former Don Pedro High School teacher was arrested on suspicion of having sex with a minor during the time he taught at the school in 2013. 

Jeremy Monn, 31, of Paso Robles, was arrested by the Merced Police Department Friday at his home on a warrant for 20 counts of sexual acts with a minor. 

Fire insurance rates examined by supervisors

Tuolumne County officials are hoping to gather more information from area residents about any trouble they’ve had in obtaining affordable fire insurance for their homes.

The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday heard a presentation from County Administrator Craig Pedro and local fire chiefs regarding the growing issue of county residents being unable to find affordable fire coverage, if any at all.

Lucero murder trial date scheduled

Cheryl Lucero is led into the Tuolumne County Courthouse in shackles Tuesday. Maggie Beck / Union Democrat, Copyright 2014.
A trial date was set Tuesday afternoon for a woman accused of killing 49-year-old Sonora resident Rick Roberts earlier this year. 

Cheryl Lynn Lucero, 45, appeared in court about 3 p.m. with her attorney, Clay Bedford, in Tuolumne County Superior Court Department 2. Deputy District Attorney Eric Hovatter appeared for the prosecution.

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Fri, 27 Feb 2015 21:29:19 -0800