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Reservoirs near record low

Low water levels at New Melones Reservoir confine houseboats to a small area at the Glory Hole Recreation Area. Maggie Beck / Union Democrat, Copyright 2014.
Relics of the past are cropping up and recreation opportunities waning at area reservoirs as lake levels drop to near 20-year lows, the result of drought and water releases to downstream cities and farms.

The water level at New Melones Reservoir is so low now — about 503 feet above sea level —  that parts of Tuttletown and Melones are starting to show, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The two towns were inundated in 1980 after New Melones was built.  

Vet ID cards aid benefit seekers

The Tuolumne County Veterans Service Office is looking to spread the word about its recently launched identification card program.

The program allows the county Veterans Service Office to issue ID cards for military vets who otherwise wouldn’t have one. 

It’s a success: ITSA Film Fest draws global talent

Sonora’s annual ITSA Film Festival wrapped up its fifth run this weekend with its largest number of entries and most international entries ever.

The festival, held at Sonora Opera Hall, included the showing of 77 short films, including 22 submitted from 13 different countries, founder Christina Wilkinson said.


Charter school seeking to grow its boundaries

PUBLIC MEETING: Tuolumne County Board of Education, 4 p.m. today, county schools office, 175 S. Fairview Lane, Room 217. 


The Tuolumne County Board of Education tonight is expected to decide whether the county’s newest charter school, Foothill Leadership Academy, can accept students countywide and build more sites.

The school’s petition followed numerous requests by parents who would like to see a middle school site and a site in the Pinecrest area, according to the school’s founder Emily McVey. 

Chinook salmon on the move

A crowd gathers to watch a demonstration on salmon by Department of Fish and Wildlife employees Brian Sipe (center) and Domenic Giudice at the Stanislaus Salmon River Festival at Knights Ferry Recreation Area on Saturday. Jesse Jones / Union Democrat, Copyright 2014.
Fish biologists this fall are again counting Chinook salmon runs on the Stanislaus River and, so far, they say, the number of fish returning to their native breeding grounds is up.

Nearly 2,000 “fall run” salmon were counted in a recent tabulation by biologists with FishBio, a consulting firm that works with dam operators on the Stanislaus. That’s an improvement over counts during the last drought — between 1990 and 1996 — when salmon numbered in the hundreds, and 2007 to 2009, when salmon populations declined so steeply the state closed ocean and river fisheries.

Mother, child safe after dramatic roadside birth

Cherelle and Christian Sharp hold their son, Oakley Don Ray Sharp, who was born Tuesday in the family car. Maggie Beck / Union Democrat, Copyright 2014.
A Twain Harte man got quite a surprise Tuesday when his wife delivered their baby in the front seat of their car. 

Oakley Don Ray Sharp was born about 5 p.m. to Christian and Cherelle Sharp on their way to the hospital. They were only minutes away from their Twain Harte home when their son arrived in the passenger seat of their Jeep Cherokee, on the corner of Maple Avenue and Sugar Pine Drive.

Callaway concedes to opponent Oliveira

Election results released Thursday show Calaveras County Board of Supervisors District 3 candidate Michael Oliveira defeated five-term incumbent Merita Callaway by 46 votes.

According to the updated election results, Oliveira had 1,837 votes, or 50.6 percent, while Callaway had 1,791 votes, or 49.3 percent.

Whitman claims assessor victory

Updated election results released Thursday afternoon offered few surprises locally, with the breakdown of votes remaining about the same in most Tuolumne County races.

The new results, which included about 2,600 mail-in ballots that were delivered to polling places Tuesday, showed that Kaenan Whitman defeated Mike Dambacher in the Tuolumne County assessor-recorder’s race.

Autumn colors: Mother Lode alive with shades of fall

Chinese pistache trees on Parrotts Ferry Road in Columbia turn orange as autumn progresses. Maggie Beck / Union Democrat, Copyright 2014.
From downtown Sonora to the Sierra Nevada high country, autumn colors of yellow, orange and red are still on vibrant display.

Dogwood, oak or big leaf maple remain in full fall form. Less certainly, golden stands of high country aspens are losing leaves on the west side of the Sierra Nevada crest. Further east, there are still aspens holding onto their colors.

Retired professor leads theater classes at Connections Academy

Connections Academy theater teacher Richard Kuebler (above) is directing the school’s production of “Little Women.” Students Emily Fishburn (below, left) and Julia Jensen rehearse their parts Tuesday afternoon.
A retired director and theater professor is back under the lights at Connections Visual and Performing Arts Academy. 

Richard Kuebler has won accolades for his directing and has now taken on all of the theater classes at Connections this year. 

Kuebler, 67, retired to Twain Harte four years ago from teaching at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colorado. 

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Mon, 24 Nov 2014 01:35:25 -0800