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FEMA OKs $$ for Rim Fire recovery

Tuolumne County will receive federal assistance for Rim Fire recovery efforts from the U.S. Homeland Security Department’s Federal Emergency Management Agency.

On Friday, President Barack Obama declared a major disaster for the area burned by the Rim Fire from Aug. 17 to Oct. 24. It will allow the federal government to supplement state and local costs associated with recovery projects.

County pans Bay Delta plan

The Tuolumne County Water Agency released a statement Friday raising concerns about the effects the state’s newly completed Bay Delta Conservation Plan will have on Central Sierra Nevada communities.

 The agency joined a concert of critics who say the plan is a waste of tax dollars and a potential threat to area watersheds and long-term water supplies.

Prisoner found dead

State prison officials are investigating the slaying of an inmate at Sierra Conservation Center near Jamestown.

The prisoner, Andrew P. Tisnado, 31, formerly of Los Angeles, was pronounced dead at a hospital Thursday night.

Tisnado was found by prison staff with “severe head injuries” in his dorm bunk Wednesday evening, according to prison officials. He was flown by helicopter to the hospital, where he was placed on life support.

Tisnado, convicted of being a felon in possession of ammunition, had served nearly 11 months of a four-year sentence. 

Santa’s Express on a roll

Santa’s Express, an annual charitable program that relies entirely on donations and volunteers, plans to help about 1,100 Calaveras County families this Christmas by providing food along with new toys and coats. 

Food and gifts will be distributed to most families next Friday, Dec. 20. The food, which will include a turkey or ham, will allow families to prepare a holiday meal. Those with children will also receive new toys or coats, depending on the child’s age. 

TUD’s new GM to outline plans

PUBLIC MEETING: Tuolumne Utilities District, 2 p.m., Monday, TUD administration office, 18885 Nugget Blvd., Sonora.

The Tuolumne Utilities District Board of Directors is scheduled to meet Monday to discuss new TUD General Manager Tom Scesa’s goals and plans for the county’s largest public utility.


Yosemite National Park is a winter wonderland

Yosemite National Park’s iconic Half Dome is dusted with snow. Jesse Jones / Union Democrat, Copyright 2013.
Imagine driving into the iconic Yosemite Valley on a weekend afternoon with lodging available and less than one-fifth of the people and cars that are usually there on a busy day.

Sound impossible? Not if you’re willing to bring a coat and some tire chains.

Santa hours in downtown Sonora

Santa Claus is coming to town — downtown Sonora, that is.


CCWD to host water summit in January

The Calaveras County Water District announced Wednesday it will host a Federal Water Summit next month in San Andreas.

The summit, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-San Francisco, will focus on “water-centric forest management policies,” said CCWD General Manager Mitch Dion.

Critics hammer Principal Moffitt

Tensions ran high at Wednesday night’s Big Oak Flat-Groveland Unified School District board meeting, where critics slammed the continued employment of Tenaya Elementary School Principal Susan Moffitt. 

Moffitt was put on paid administrative leave last week at a special board meeting, as previously demanded by a group of parents in uproar about Moffitt’s apparent failure to report to police claims of sexual abuse by a teacher at a Tracy school where she previously worked as a principal. 

Water agencies leery of possible drought year

Mother Lode representatives in the state legislature have joined dozens of other lawmakers calling on Gov. Jerry Brown and President Barack Obama to declare a drought emergency in California.

State Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Twain Harte, and Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, R-O’Neals, were among the lawmakers who co-signed a letter sent Wednesday requesting state and federal agencies to “use their discretion” and find ways to ensure enough water is allocated through the State Water Project and Central Valley Water Project.

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