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Drought, budget on council agenda

PUBLIC MEETING: Angels Camp City Council, 6 p.m. Tuesday, Angels Fire House, 1404 Vallecito Road, Angels Camp 


The Angels Camp City Council will vote Tuesday night on new drought restrictions required by the state.

The State Water Resources Control Board is directing city residents to limit outdoor watering to no more than two days per week.

Business ‘lab’ tour planned

Local leaders and members of the public are expected to be on hand Tuesday for the ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house of a new venture spearheaded by the Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority.

The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors’ regular agenda for Tuesday includes attending the grand opening of the TCEDA Innovation Lab. The open house is scheduled for 12:15 p.m.

Twain Harte Dam leak rattles residents

Twain Harte Lake was closed Sunday after a leak was discovered in the dam. Jesse Jones / Union Democrat, Copyright 2014.
Twain Harte Lake is closed for at least the rest of the summer while local and state officials figure out what caused part of the dam’s footing to crumble Sunday.

A leak in the dam was reported about 10:45 a.m. Sunday after the large granite face that anchors the dam’s southern side apparently cracked. Dam operators discovered water leaking through the cracked area, prompting emergency warnings of flash flooding downstream and brief fears of a dam failure.

El Portal Fire forest closures

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Stanislaus National Forest Supervisor Susan Skalski declared a forest closure of the El Portal Fire area.


Twain Harte Lake update

Twain Harte Lake is currently being drained after part of the dam's mooring appeared to have cracked this morning, prompting warnings from the National Weather Service about the potential for flooding downstream.

State engineers were en route this afternoon to inspect the dam to determine the type and extent of the damage. Initial inspections by the dam's operator — the Twain Harte Lake Association — found that part of the rock footing holding one side of the dam had broken, allowing water to leak through.

To prevent further damage and make examination easier, the lake level is being lowered 10 to 15 feet, which would put the lake's surface below the cracked area. It could take two days to drop the lake level that much.

The slow release is intended to prevent flash flooding downstream along Sullivan Creek. Phoenix Lake is being lowered to make room for the water. 

Twain Harte Lake, a popular summer swimming hole, is currently closed to the public.

The dam breakage was discovered this morning by an association employee, who observed water pouring through a crack in the dam, followed by a loud bang.

About 10:45 a.m., the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for areas immediately adjacent to Sullivan Creek downstream from Twain Harte Lake. It was effective through 10:45 p.m.

At this point, there is no danger of the dam breaking, said Twain Harte Lake Board President Betty Jesperson.

Jesperson added that the dam just a few weeks ago had cleared a routine safety inspection by the state Department of Water Resources Division of Dam Safety.

The metal-and-concrete dam was built in 1928 and holds back water from a 1-suqare-mile patch of the Sullivan Creek watershed. From Twain Harte Lake, the water travels to Crystal Falls Lake and then Phoenix Lake.

Twain Harte Lake covers a 12-acre area but has a storage capacity of 143 acre-feet, or enough water to cover 143 acres to a depth of one foot.

Tuolumne Utilities District, Cal Fire, Twain Harte Fire and county Office of Emergency Services are on scene.


Porsche driver nabbed

The driver of a silver convertible Porsche led California Highway Patrol officers on a high-speed chase Thursday afternoon through part of Tuolumne County.

The pursuit — reaching speeds up to 90 mph — started about 8:45 a.m. at Soulsbyville Road and ended at Hunts Road in Soulsbyville.


Fire crews gain ground

Firefighters continued to gain ground today on the El Portal Fire burning in Yosemite National Park, as evacuation orders were set to be lifted in Foresta.

As of this morning, the fire, which has burned 4,198 acres, was 58 percent contained. It grew by 300 acres Thursday.


Historic Curtin home gets modern amenities; facelift

The Curtin mansion in Sonora has been restored. The home’s owner is working to make it a home for senior citizens. Austen Thibault / Union Democrat, Copyright 2014.
A late-1800s mansion in Sonora has gone from falling apart to state of the art. 

The J.B. Curtin mansion has been fully restored from its abandoned, dilapidated state and is in the final stage of becoming a one-of-a-kind home for senior citizens.

A buyer for Bear Valley in wings?

A deal is in the works for the sale of Bear Valley Mountain Resort.

The resort — off upper Highway 4 in western Alpine County — has two potential buyers, spokeswoman Rosie Sundell confirmed. 


S’ville bond project moves forward

SPECIAL MEETING: Summerville Union High School Board of Education, 5:30 p.m., today, school library, 17555 Tuolumne Road.

The re-designed concrete bleacher project for Summerville High School is expected to be approved today at a special board meeting announced late Monday.

The concrete bleachers are part of the district’s $4 million stadium project, the first with its bond money from 2012’s $8 million Measure H. 


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