Dragoon Gulch is getting a lot of love these days, as well it should. An urban walking trail is one of the greatest gifts a city can have. Beginning last Monday and continuing until March 15, employees and prisoners from Sierra Conservation Center’s Baseline Camp are cleaning up the trail, which is a terrific community outreach program. The Baseline group also joined the Stanislaus National Forest Ranger District Trail crew and community volunteers about a year ago to add a 1.5-mile extension to the original 2.5 mile trail. Next up is another trail to be built by Volunteers for Outdoor California (V-O-Cal), a nonprofit organization that constructs trails. They will be here in October. Their involvement was sought by Karie Lew, an ardent supporter of the trail since she moved here three years ago.

The Lewis family is once again a model for optimism. The owners of the historic Dardanelle resort, which burned down last August, will set up some prefab buildings for guests this summer as they begin rebuilding the lodge. All this amid the threat this week to their home in Monte Rio in Sonoma County, where 10 inches of rain caused the Russian River to overflow. The flood waters came within inches of the house. Here’s what Jim Lewis had to say, “With my house or with the resort, don’t count us out because we’re not done yet. We’re very much one hundred percent in. We are rebuilding this and we will go on.” Can-do spirit.

We’ve got some bravos to send out to two Tuolumne County teams, who got as far as the first round of the NorCal championships: Sonora High’s boys basketball team and Summerville High’s girls soccer team. Great work, good fun. Also a special shout out to all the players named to the all-academic team. It’s not easy to be a standout student and player.

And to all those who pitched in to clean up the homeless camps, what a selfless act. Rats and smells and horrors abounded out there as people picked up years and years of garbage, some of which was thrown there by irresponsible residents who were too lazy or too cheap to dispose of the stuff properly. The areas are mostly clean now, there’s some movement on getting garbage bins set up, and possibly portable toilets. And best of all, the people who live in the camps were shown respect, dignity and kindness.


Calaveras County is on the hook for at least a million dollars because it did not properly account for funds from FEMA awarded to help with the recovery from the Butte Fire. One million dollars. But county officials say no problem, we’ve got $25 million from a settlement from PG&E for its role in causing the Butte Fire. Two items to consider: the settlement money was to reimburse the county for what it spent fighting and managing the fire, and it’s a million dollars wasted because people were not trained properly to document what they were doing. The county had a warning with other federal funds three years ago when the same thing happened. They did not properly document how the money was spent, yet did nothing to make sure they knew how to account for what they were spending. Also, remember federal funds are tax dollars, and money from PG&E essentially comes out of your pockets as well.

The closing of Cost-U-Less is yet another setback in the overall economy of Tuolumne County, the second in that same shopping center where Orchard Supply closed last August. This is yet another sign that the county should be focusing its economic development efforts in places other than retail.

And finally the mystery of the stolen, almost historic, mining cart from a Phoenix Lake-area yard is another installment of weird crimes. The Avery family woke up to discover the heavy thing stolen overnight, tracked it to an antique store in San Andreas and then to the home of someone who had bought it. Recovered in five days. Two lessons, one good, one bad: the power of the newspaper remains strong — the cart was found because a highway patrol officer saw the story about the theft and called the family — and the other, people really will steal anything not tied down. Craig Avery, who bought and rebuilt the cart as a present for his wife two decades ago, said you can be sure he’s going that lock that jewel down.