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Students arrested on drug charges

Nine Toyon Middle School students were arrested late last week on drug charges, after investigators found methadone and Vicodin pills at the school, the Sheriff’s Department reported Monday.

Six of the students — four boys and two girls — were arrested Thursday and charged with selling or giving away the pills and conspiring to do so, said Sgt. Dave Seawell, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department. Both charges are felonies.
  


Community Christmas dinner plans cooking

Area organizers expect an increase in attendance at various community dinners planned for Christmas.

Organizers of the 27th annual Tuolumne County Community Christmas Eve Day Dinner say between 1,200 and 1,500 diners usually attend.
 


Council cuts benefits, but not its own

The Sonora City Council Monday night voted in favor of discontinuing health benefits to future elected officials.

The resolution does not affect incumbents, meaning that should the current City Council members and the clerk hold their seats, they and their dependents will still be offered health care.
 


SAF gives charities $90K-plus in quarter

Various community programs and agencies that serve children, the elderly, aspiring entrepreneurs and others needing support are using funds granted by the Sonora Area Foundation, and its supporting organization, the Irving J. Symons Foundation.

The foundation in July, August and September gave more than $90,000 to the community.
   


Population of county shrinks by 615 people

The populations of Tuolumne and Calaveras counties are shrinking.

According to California Department of Finance figures measuring the period from July 2008 to July 2009 note an overall decline of 1.37 percent in Tuolumne County and 0.28 percent in Calaveras County.
 


Lode unemployment highest since 1990s

Unemployment continues to rise in Calaveras and Tuolumne counties, even as the state’s unemployment rate falls.

According to the latest statistics from the California Employment Development Department, the unemployment rate sits at 15.1 percent in Calaveras County and 13.7 percent in Tuolumne County. Those are the highest rates in the two counties since the early 1990s.
 


Light work

Installation of a traffic light at Highway 49 and Parrotts Ferry Road started Monday. Workers braved rain to set up the poles but will tackle electrical work when the weather clears. The light is being installed because of several traffic accidents at the intersection.

Trading card collectors carry away contest prizes

With Christmas less than a week away, five Calaveras County boys are now the happy owners of brand new Diamondback Razor BMX bikes.

 The five were selected in a drawing as the winners of the Sheriff’s Trading Card Contest.
 


Tensions in winery, sewer row near end

 A dispute simmering since late summer between Murphys Sanitary District and the owner of Ironstone Vineyards over unpaid sewer bills and a new contract is headed for resolution, both parties say.

The district placed a nearly $15,000 lien against owner John Kautz on Aug. 4 and until recently was threatening to file a lawsuit if the bills were not settled.
  


Summerville cave carolers entertain at Moaning Cavern

Read more...
Summerville High Jazz@8 a cappella choir sang Christmas carols to an audience in Moaning Cavern Friday. Maggie Beck/Union Democrat, copyright 2009
Autumn Harrison’s knees, like those of her fellow altos in the Jazz@8 choir, were shaking.

The 16-year-old senior was about to perform. And she’d just come down 235 stairs to get to the stage, such as it was. But most of all, the trembling was because she was now 16 stories below ground, in the depths of an underground cavern.
  


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