News Obituaries

Richard A. Hebard, 91, of Copperopolis, passed away on Dec. 22, 2020, at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto. Arrangements entrusted to Sierra Cremation & Burial Service.

Lynda S. Mihlinich-McMath, 59, of Murphys, passed away on Dec. 26, 2020, at her residence. Arrangements entrusted to Sierra Cremation & Burial Service.

Melinda A. Carter Cox, 46, of Angels Camp, passed away on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, at her home. Arrangements entrusted to Sierra Cremation & Burial Service.

Johnnie D. Deskins, 81 of Copperopolis, passed away on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 at his residence. Arrangements entrusted to Sierra Cremation and Burial Service.

Joseph Frederick Romano, passed away at 66 on Aug. 29, 2020. He is survived by his kids, Whitney and Tara Romano. A memorial service will be held on Dec. 21, 2020 in The Fruit Yard in Modesto.

Faith Lorraine Roberts passed away at 94 years old on June 9, 2020. She was a resident of Murphys. She is survived by her son Joe Roberts and her daughter, Marguerite Wobschall.

Gary Odell Parks from Valley Springs passed away at 60 on June 8. He was born on April 12, 1960. He is survived by his wife, Shirley Parks, sons, Gary and Brandon Parks, and siblings, Angie Clevenger, Bill Parks, and Joann Parks.

Marlynn Mae Blake, “Bill” or “Bo,” passed away at 87. She was a resident of Hathaway Pines for 67 years. She is survived by her husband, William; and four sons, William Randal, John DeWitt, Don Aaron and Thomas Andrew. An Eastern Star Memorial will be planned at a later date in Murphys.

Service will be held Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, at 1 p.m., at Ebbetts Pass Fire District Station 1, 1037 Blagen Road in Arnold. Please RSVP to

Graveside services for Elmer “Sandy” Sandmeier, who passed away on June 17, 2017, will be held on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017, at 10 a.m. at Sacramento Valley National Cemetery, 5810 Midway Road, Dixon, Calif., with a reception to follow the service.

Davis (Dave) C. Winters, born July 4, 1939, died on Nov. 29, 2016, at the age of 77. There will be a celebration of life on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 11 a.m. at Union Congregational Church, 1141 S. Main St., Angels Camp.

Richard Earl Hansen, a career Air Force pilot who wrote several novels with the military as a central subject, died in San Andreas on Aug. 22 of complications following a stroke.

Harlan Michael Kuntz Sr., a longtime resident of Valley Springs, died suddenly at his home on Aug. 10. He was 53.

Gustav “Frank” Wharregard died at his home in San Andreas on July 31 after a short battle with cancer. He was 90.

Jordan Joseph Rapetti, a 53-year resident of Calaveras County, died at his home in San Andreas on Aug. 6 after a 13-year-long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 84.

William Tex Hinkle died July 27 at his home in Valley Springs after a long battle with cancer. He was 74 and had lived in Valley Springs for 16 years.

Betty Ann Callaway, a longtime resident of Mountain Ranch, died July 11 on her way to the hospital after a long illness. She was 78.

Leigh Robinson, a longtime resident of Murphys and author of a well-known book about real estate investing, died June 26 at his home in Forest Meadows after a long illness. He was 76.

Lynn Eloise Smith died July 12 of natural causes at her home in Valley Springs. She was 86. Smith was a longtime resident of Calaveras County. She moved from Paradise to Valley Springs with her husband, Roy Smith, more than 20 years ago.

COVID-19 relief funds will have varied impact on county schools

A second round COVID-19 relief funds will leave some Calaveras County schools high and dry.

The $57 billion in federal K-12 funding from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act, signed into law on Dec. 27, is more than four times the amount earmarked for schools by the initial COVID-19 relief CARES Act in March. Calaveras Unified School District (CUSD), the largest school district in the county, is estimated to receive nearly $3 million this time around, compared to the $2 million in federal aid it received last year.

However, other districts are expected to receive substantially less. Mark Twain Union Elementary School District’s federal aid will likely remain at the roughly the half-a-million dollars it was allotted in March, while non-classroom-based charter schools will receive no additional funding.

For Mountain Oaks School, a non-classroom-based charter school that represents roughly 10% of the county’s total K-12 student population between its enrollment and an ample waitlist, the lack of growth funding could not have come at a worse time.

The homeschooling sector has been growing for years, according to Mountain Oaks School Administrator Bill Redford, but the uncertainty of pandemic-time education has sent droves of students looking for a more reliable alternative.

In a typical year, the waitlist at Mountain Oaks hosts about 100 prospective students. In 2020, that number nearly tripled, and the school of approximately 380 students and 29 teachers took on 70 new students from its waitlist. It was only after this increase in enrollment that the state announced its COVID-19 relief budget would not be funding growth in non-classroom-based charter schools, Redford said, though federal relief funds did provide $25,000 to Mountain Oaks in 2020.

“Once we enrolled the students that we enrolled, we had made a commitment to educate those kids, whether we got funding or not,” Redford said.

One factor that has been particularly detrimental to non-classroom-based charter schools is the state’s “hold harmless” COVID-19 provision, which essentially freezes attendance-based funding at what it was prior to the pandemic.

This policy has been essential to most public schools in Calaveras County, which have experienced a sharp decline in attendance, according to county Superintendent of Schools Scott Nanik. Last year, county schools lost about 280 students. As of early December, between 45 and 100 of those students were unaccounted for, Nanik stated last month. A large portion of his time is now spent tracking down these “missing” students to ensure they are receiving an education.

“It’s a big hole in the support model in this environment,” Nanik said. “We would have been able to support them better if there had been funding for Mountain Oaks.”

Many non-classroom-based charter schools throughout California have filed lawsuits against the state due to this perceived oversight, though Mountain Oaks is not one of them.

“From the beginning, I empathized with site-based schools and felt ‘hold harmless’ should be in place,” Redford said, though he was surprised when additional funding was denied to a rapidly growing sector of education.

Nonetheless, Redford said Mountain Oaks will “weather this storm” with its reserve funds.

“It’s certainly not what you really want to spend your reserve on, but we’re going to be OK,” he said.

Both Redford and Nanik hope that 2021 sees some students return to their classroom-based schools, lessening the burden on Mountain Oaks and other charter schools, while boosting enrollment at county schools that may not be held harmless forever.

“(The state is) holding harmless for this year, but it could affect funding levels this next year or the year after,” Nanik said.

Beyond federal relief funds, additional funding remains uncertain. Nanik said the county could miss out on about $450 per student in state relief dollars due to “stringent” COVID-19 testing requirements needed to access those funds.

Nanik said the state’s proposal to test weekly every school staff member and student countywide would require 6,000 tests performed each week, a task which might not be feasible.

“We don’t know if we’re going to accept that money or not,” Nanik said. “The money and the governor’s proposal are more geared towards schools that are not open at all.”

Nanik said the greatest need for funding in county schools right now is the provision of an efficient hybrid learning environment to all students, regardless of their home address.

“Connectivity remains the biggest challenge in the county,” he said.

Death Notices/Life Tributes policy

Death notices

Death notices are published in the Enterprise for current and recent residents of Calaveras County at no charge to the families. For more information, email

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For families who wish to print expanded tributes to loved ones using their own words, The Enterprise offers Life Tributes. These are paid articles and photos. Email or call (209) 754-3861.