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Russia embraces Copper man’s biker blues

Copperopolis resident Charlie Brechtel is known in some circles as the “motorcycle ambassador.”

The 57-year-old father of five has spent more than a decade as the frontman for the Charlie Brechtel Band, playing blues songs inspired by the history of American biker culture at motorcycle rallies and events throughout the United States. 


Local pools closing

Summer pool hours are coming to an end this week — while the Calaveras High School pool is already closed and the Sonora High School pool is reopened after a vandalism case. 

Sonora High School’s pool was closed Sunday and Monday after a “substantial” amount of fecal matter was discovered in the pool early Sunday morning by pool staff, according to Eric Aitken, Tuolumne County recreation supervisor. 

Sanctuaries see uptick in animal reports

Baby fawns gather around Rose Wolf Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center facilities director Nina Resnik as she tells stories about the fawns Thursday at the Rose Wolf facility. Jesse Jones / Union Democrat, Copyright 2014.
Local wildlife rescue organizations say they are receiving more calls from citizens concerned about potentially injured or orphaned animals than in previous years.

Some volunteers believe that the drought is causing a decline in food and water sources at higher elevations and forcing many wild critters into developed areas this summer.

Twain Harte Dam fix planning continues

Work continues to devise a plan to fix leaks at Twain Harte Dam, which forced the closure and draining of Twain Harte Lake early this month.

Employees of the Twain Harte Lake Association, which owns the dam, are placing survey equipment in the area to track movements in a granite dome, known as The Rock, which secures one side of the dam, according to California’s dam safety agency.


Changes in store for Union Democrat

Copperopolis fire's cause identified

A 5-acre fire burning near Copperopolis was caused by a man accidentally falling a tree into power lines, according to Cal Fire.


The blaze on the 3000 block of Paint Road was 40 percent contained Thursday afternoon. 


As of 2:45 p.m., Paint Road was closed to non-residents due to the downed power lines.


No structures were threatened, Cal Fire said.

Emerald bail deal on table

The grandmother of Keith Emerald, the Columbia man accused of starting last summer’s Rim Fire, will put up a check for $60,000 to meet Emerald’s bail, rather than Emerald and his mother risking their property for his release from custody. 

Emerald surrendered to U.S. Marshall custody in Fresno on Tuesday before his first appearance in court. He pleaded not guilty to two felonies and two misdemeanors for starting an illegal campfire, letting it escape and then lying about it, as alleged by a federal grand jury one week ago.


TUD water line project begins Sunday

A three-month project to replace a water pipeline in downtown Sonora begins at 8 p.m. Sunday.

Tuolumne Utilities District is funding the $800,000 project to replace 3,000 feet of a nearly century-old, 6-inch cast iron pipe with a new, 10-inch PVC pipe, on South Washington Street between Church Street and Hospital Road.

Estimated completion date is Nov. 14.

Sierra Views: Forest job a labor of love

Dusty Vaughn, the recreation specialist for the Stanislaus National Forest’s Groveland Ranger District, stands at the start of the Andresen Mine Trail. Mike Morris / Union Democrat, Copyright 2014.
Dusty Vaughn was so close to last year’s massive Rim Fire the day it began spreading uncontrollably that he could see its flames and feel its heat. 

As the recreation specialist for the Stanislaus National Forest’s Groveland Ranger District, Vaughn captured dramatic photographs of the inferno, some of which were published by various media outlets. 

Election filings spike in last days

The race for three Tuolumne Utilities District Board of Directors seats will involve a crowded field in what otherwise looks to be a relatively slow November election in Tuolumne County.

A surge of candidates submitted paperwork in the days before Wednesday’s deadline, putting the total candidates for the county’s largest water and sewer provider’s board at 11.


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