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College tries to boost grad rates

The number of Columbia College students who eventually graduate with degrees, certificates or transfers is slightly below the state average of 48.1 percent, but new state mandates should help boost local and state numbers.  

The California Community College Board of Governors last week announced a goal of increasing completion rates to 62.8 percent by 2024. Columbia’s completion rate was 44.3 percent as of 2013. 

Crush time for vintners

Gianelli Vineyards in Jamestown has started crushing grapes for the season. Jesse Jones / Union Democrat, Copyright 2014.
Despite a lingering drought, many area vintners are toasting the quality of this year’s wine grape harvest.

Veteran winemaker Chuck Hovey said, while this year’s tonnages are below average due to the drought, the quality of the fruit is rivaling the banner year of 2009. 

Jacksonville Road fire burns 70 acres

Firefighters overnight continued to battle the Jackson Fire near Lake Don Pedro, which had grown to more than 70 acres.

The wildfire, which has burned mostly grass and oaks, was 50 percent contained as of 7 a.m. today.

Mariposa County fire closes 49

A fire in Mariposa County has closed Highway 49 South and prompted home evacuations. 

Calaveras students arrested for gun

The Calaveras County Sheriff's Office has arrested two Calaveras High School students on charges of bringing a gun to school.

The youths, 15 and 17, were arrested following an 8:10 a.m. report of a student on a bus who was in possession of a gun.

The bus driver was notified and held the student on the bus until deputies arrived.

The gun was found when deputies searched the 17 year old student's bag.

Upon learning that the gun was earlier brought on the bus by the 15 year old, deputies arrested the youth.

Deputies were unsure why the students brought the gun to school.

"At the time of this press release it is not believed that the students had a conceived plan to hurt any students or school staff. This case is still active and further investigation is being conducted. No additional information is available at this time," the Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

Spate of accidents seen on county roads

Two people were injured in a three-car accident Wednesday afternoon on Tuolumne Road — one of several wrecks between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. on Tuolumne County roads.

The Tuolumne Road wreck occurred about 3:30 p.m., just west of Morris Road.

Nurse, educator Dean dies at age 78

Patricia Dean, a longtime figure in the healthcare and educational fields in Tuolumne County, died of cancer on Sunday. She was 78. 

Dean was a former head of nursing at both Tuolumne General and Sonora Community hospitals before teaching nursing at Sonora High School and Columbia College. 

Prisoners serve soft time: Hardworking firefighters lead campus-like life at SCC

Baseline Conservation Camp is a state lockup located near Sierra Conservation Center outside Jamestown. Maggie Beck / Union Democrat, Cpyright 2014.
Baseline Camp, a part of Sierra Conservation Center, the state lockup outside Jamestown, is to prison life what the Saint Francis Hotel is to a motor lodge.

There, on any given day, inmates, when not working, are free to roam yards complete with a koi-inhabited pond and barbecue pits, are fed three home-style meals a day and have access to a variety of activities like woodshop, badminton and handball. 

Range boosters say foes off target

The fate of a shooting range located off La Grange Road near Don Pedro Road is set to be decided next month by the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors.

About 200 people attended Wednesday night’s Tuolumne County Planning Commission meeting for a public hearing on a request by the range’s owners, who are seeking the necessary permits from the county to continue operating the business. Most who attended were in favor of allowing the range to continue, but a few who live close to it expressed concerns over safety and noise.

Jackson Fire update

A wildfire burning near Highway 120 and Jacksonville Road has grown to more than 60 acres.

The Jackson Fire was reported at 11:50 a.m. and has burned mostly grasslands near Lake Don Pedro’s Moccasin Marina.

An air-attack, several engines and five strike-teams are battling the blaze.

The fire was 15 percent contained as of 3:15 p.m. 

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Sat, 22 Nov 2014 22:02:40 -0800