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Thanks for giving snow!

Boarders and skiers head up chair lift 5 Wednesday at Dodge Ridge Winter Sports Area. Tracy Barbutes / For The Union Democrat, Copyright 2015.
 Hundreds of skiers and snowboarders were standing in line for a chair lift Wednesday morning as Dodge Ridge opened for the season. When the lifts started taking people up the mountain, they let out loud cheers. On the way down the powdery slopes, the cheering got louder. At around 10:30 a.m., dark clouds moved in and more snow began falling and kept falling into the afternoon.

Thanksgiving revelers should eat, drink in moderation

 It’s far safer to eat too much turkey and stuffing today than to drink too much alcohol. 

Santa, parade coming to town

Tuolumne County Fire lieutenant Robert Anvar drives a Chinese Camp water tender in the 31st Annual Historic Downtown Sonora Christmas Parade. File photo / Union Democrat, Copyright 2015.
 Whatever you do the day after Thanksgiving — take a walk, spend time with family, shop, watch college football or clean up after all the turkey — there’s a local Mother Lode tradition to be aware of Friday afternoon.

From the Editor: Thanksgiving paper another milestone

There have been many firsts for The Union Democrat since we shifted our publication schedule to become a morning paper earlier this year.

Mayflower descendants: Women discuss infamous relative, family ties

Sonora residents Anita Martin, 84 (left), and Janet LuQuire, 83, are both descendants of Mayflower settlers. Maggie Beck / Union Democrat, Copyright 2015.
 Nobody in the Plymouth Colony of Mayflower settlers would have ever guessed that descendents of John Billington would be university educated Christian women living in California.

Calendar for Nov. 25, 2015

Holiday openings and closures

Waistline, lifestyle indicators of stroke, heart disease risk

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.


PE tests show improvement for all but Mother Lode freshman

Fit for the Future instructor Paul McIlroy (right) watches as Curtis Creek seventh-graders do curl-ups. About 60 to 70 percent of seventh-grade students across the state and region are in a “healthy fitness zone.” File photo / Union Democrat.
 For the vast majority of Mother Lode students, physical health and fitness is improving based on recent state testing. 

New Heart Rock: Remodel comes with name change, new thrift shop

Christian Heights Church business administrator Daryl Sarina (left) and Christian Heights pastor Craig Andrus, stand in the newly renovated Heart Rock Coffee Company in downtown Sonora. Maggie Beck / Union Democrat, Copyright 2015.
 Following a recent remodel, Sonora’s Heart Rock Cafe has changed its name to the Heart Rock Coffee Company and has opened up a thrift shop next door. 

Wildcats advance: Sonora rolls Sutter in first round

Sonora sophomore Riley Patterson smashes a kill Tuesday past the block attempt of Sutter’s Rebakkah McLaughlin in the first round of the CIF State Girls’ Volleyball Championships at Bud Castle Gym. Robert Winters / Union Democrat, Copyright 2015.
 Even the champs can have an off night. And the Sonora Wildcats most definitely did not play their best volleyball Tuesday night.

Butte Fire victims accept help, rebuild easier

Ross Pebley, a victim of the Butte Fire, works Tuesday in the hardware department at Sender’s Market in Mountain Ranch. Jason Cowan / Union Democrat, Copyright 2015.
 Ross Pebley had it all.

He owned a house on 900 acres on Jesus Maria Road — along with his mother, brother and nephew, who each lived in separate houses on the land. Twenty head of cattle grazed the pastures.

Retired teachers support Mother Lode school libraries

Jamestown School Superintendent Brenda Chapman (left) stands in the school’s library with Lenore Shively, president of the Mother Lode division of the California Retired Teachers Association. Maggie Beck / Union Democrat, Copyright 2015.
 Five years ago, Lenore Shively and members of the Mother Lode Division of the California Retired Teachers Association wanted to start a project for students in Tuolumne County, not just a select few, but every single one. 

Columbia man charged with murder in death of wife

The husband of a Columbia woman whose decomposed body was found in an isolated area not far from Columbia Airport was arrested Tuesday and charged with murder in her death.

Turkey farm: Activists’ allegations are false

The Diestel Family Turkey Ranch operates farms in Jamestown and Sonora. File photo / Union Democrat.
 An animal-rights group has accused the national grocery chain Whole Foods Market of falsely advertising that its turkeys were from a free-range Tuolumne County farm, but the owners of the farm, Diestel Family Turkey Ranch, say the allegations are baseless.

Staff, guests celebrate holiday at local eateries, become part of extended family

Melodie Ferguson, banquet manager and head chef at Black Oak Casino Resort, Wednesday places a centerpiece on a table in preparation for Thanksgiving in the Ballroom. Maggie Beck / Union Democrat, Copyright 2015.
 While many stress over the right time to pop in the turkey today, chef Melodie Ferguson has 300 pounds of turkey, prime rib, and an array of seafood to juggle.

Calendar for Nov. 24, 2015

Relatives of Twain Harte man sought by sheriff

The Stanislaus County Coroner’s Office is looking for relatives of a Twain Harte man who died at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto.

Man convicted of PML murder denied parole

A man convicted of murdering a woman and stuffing her body in a freezer at her Pine Mountain Lake vacation home was denied parole for the third time.

CHP advises Thanksgiving travel can be dangerous

Thanksgiving is always one of the busiest travel times of the year, and in California it can be one of the deadliest.

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