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Museum mysteries: Odd objects’ origins found; more puzzles abound

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Tuolumne County Museum volunteer Janet Hart holds an object made of metal that looks like it might be a kitchen item or candle holder. Lacey Peterson / Union Democrat, Copyright 2014.
Thanks to some history-minded locals, the Tuolumne County Museum has discovered the use for some weird-looking items found while doing an extensive inventory.

In the July 16 edition of The Union Democrat, there were photos of three unknown items found in the cache of thousands of artifacts in the museum’s history center.


Injured teen due to return home

A Sonora High School student continues to recover from a broken neck and his family is bustling to prepare for his homecoming after more than six weeks at a Sacramento hospital.  

Nicholas “Nick” Harris, 17, of Sonora, is scheduled to return to the Sonora area on Friday from Shriners Hospital. 

 


Higgins selected as Skalski successor

A Northern California native who grew up exploring the Sierra Nevada has been chosen to replace retiring Stanislaus National Forest Supervisor Susan Skalski in September.

Jeanne Higgins, 55, originally from the Auburn area, is a longtime Forest Service employee and currently serves as a deputy regional forester in Albuquerque, N.M. 

 


Fire claim shocks area residents

The indictment of a Tuolumne County man accused of starting the biggest wildfire in Sierra Nevada history has shocked people who know him. 

Keith Matthew Emerald, 32, of Columbia, was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury in Fresno. He is accused of starting last year’s massive Rim Fire, which burned more than 257,000 acres, destroyed 11 homes and cost more than $125 million to fight.


TUD may slap customers with surcharge

Public meeting: Tuolumne Utilities District, 2 p.m., Tuesday, 18885 Nugget Blvd., Sonora. 

 

Tuolumne Utilities District customers are conserving so much water this year that the district may need to offset the loss in revenue by selling some of its supply back to Pacific Gas and Electric Co. for use in hydroelectric power generation.

The district is expected to lose roughly $1 million in revenue through January 2015 due to the drop in water sales from TUD customers who have been complying with the district’s calls for conservation during the current drought. 


Remembering Vietnam: Gulf of Tonkin cemented US war that scarred many veterans

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Russell Carpenter, of Soulsbyville, served three tours of duty in Vietnam, totalling nearly two years.
 Fifty years ago, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution — which cemented the United States’ commitment to the Vietnam War, subsequently affecting the lives of many Mother Lode residents — was signed into law. 

Congress passed the resolution Aug. 7, 1964, following a report a few days earlier that North Vietnamese forces had attacked two American ships conducting surveillance offshore. Though the veracity of the report was later debated, the resolution was signed by President Lyndon Johnson on Aug. 10 and allowed him to commit regular military troops to aid South Vietnam in its war against the communist north.

The war eventually would touch millions of Americans’ lives, including the lives of untold thousands of Tuolumne and Calaveras counties residents.


Walmart grocery foes lose challenge

The Sonora City Council acted within the law in October 2010 when it waived any requirement for Walmart or the city to conduct an environmental impact report on the mega-retailer’s expansion plans, California’s highest court said.

The state Supreme Court decision released Thursday overturns a November 2012 ruling by the Fifth District Court of Appeal, which sided with the plaintiff, the Tuolumne Jobs and Small Business Alliance. The alliance argued an environmental impact report — a costly and time-consuming study of a project’s environmental, cultural or economic impacts — was required. 

 


Emerald indicted for Rim Fire

A Columbia man was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday for allegedly starting last year’s Rim Fire, which scorched 400 square-miles and went down as the Sierra’s largest wildfire in recorded history.

Keith Matthew Emerald, 32, faces felony charges of setting timber afire and lying to federal investigators, and misdemeanor charges of leaving a fire unattended and violating a fire restriction put in place because of high-fire dangers.

 


Emerald indicted for Rim Fire

A Columbia man was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday for allegedly starting last year’s Rim Fire, which scorched 400 square-miles and went down as the Sierra’s largest wildfire in recorded history.

Keith Matthew Emerald, 32, faces felony charges of setting timber afire and lying to federal investigators, and misdemeanor charges of leaving a fire unattended and violating a fire restriction put in place because of high-fire dangers.

 


Election filing deadline Friday

With the deadline for filing as a candidate a day away, there are more seats up for election on Nov. 4 than potential candidates in Tuolumne County.

As of Wednesday, four of the county’s special district boards with open seats remained without a single potential candidate. And even the highest-profile special district, Tuolumne Utilities District, only has seen three potential candidates initiate paperwork for the three seats up for election in November.

 


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