QUESTION: I oftentimes wonder if the City of Sonora has any plans to beautify the hill opposite the McDonalds on Mono Way. Also, it can be seen from 108. The hillside is a tangle of starthistle and other unsightly weeds. It is the recipient of political posters during election time.

Meanwhile, thousands of people traverse this road, many are tourists. To me, it declares we don't care what our city looks like, just eat your hamburger and adios. I am hoping there is a plan in place to improve this piece of land.

ANSWER: Caltrans actually owns that property and their answer is simple: No. But their media folks do want to point out that they are clearing the slope on Highway 108 this week and are cleaning culverts and ditches to keep water off. They also plan to mow along various highways in the coming days.

Warren Alford, Caltrans, District 10, Public Information Officer, encouraged people to call them if they see something in or along a state road that needs to be addressed. The number is 209-948-7977.

“Or better yet, submit it via our online portal:,” he said.

QUESTION: Rumor control: Is Harbor Freight looking into getting the vacant Orchard Supply building? What is the timeline on Wendy's and Dairy Queen? Is an Applebee’s type business coming to our area?

ANSWER: Lisa Hartley, who works in the media department at the Calabasas-based Harbor Freight Tools, sent a quick response: “Unfortunately, as of now, we are unable to comment on a potential store.” Not yes, but not no either. The privately owned Harbor Freight, known as a deep-discounter, has 900 stores in 47 states. The closest is Modesto.

Dairy Queen owners Andy Singh and Navneet Bhatia have cleared all the city of Sonora’s requirements thus far to build a 3,212-square foot building, City Administrator Tim Miller said.

Singh has said he hopes the project adjacent to his AMPM on Highway 49 can begin this month, and it will take more than a year to build. The long-vacant Sonora Motors building will be torn down.

The Tuolumne County Planning Commission approved the construction of a Wendy’s on Mono Way at the end of last year. The 2,600-square foot restaurant will be owned by Eastbay Equities based in Pleasant Hill. Joshua Thomassen, district manager of Eastbay, could not be reached for comment to provide an update on the project.

Meanwhile, the Applebee’s type restaurant. Business researchers say comparable restaurants would be TGI Fridays, Chili’s, Buffalo Wild Wings and Ruby Tuesday. Hard to say specifically whether they or anyone are looking here, but one person who possibly would know, Tuolumne County Economic Authority Chief Executive Officer Larry Cope said, “Not to my knowledge.”