Calaveras Enterprise

Calaveras County’s news highlights of 2011; second in a series:

Ruby, one of the oldest African elephants in the United States,died at the Performing Animal Welfare Society's sanctuary in SanAndreas in April.Enterprise file photo

Ruby, one of the oldest African elephants in the United States,died at the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s sanctuary in SanAndreas in April.Enterprise file photo

April 4

Driver killed, two injured on highway

A woman who was reportedly driving erratically was killed on Highway 12 after forcing two vehicles off the roadway and then allowing her vehicle to collide head-on with oncoming traffic near Briski Hill, according to a report from the California Highway Patrol.

The wreckage extended for more than a mile, and when it was over one person was dead, Darrin Mills’ leg was shattered and another had moderate injuries.

Jaime Patrice Pacheco, 53, San Andreas, was observed erratically driving a 2000 Jeep Cherokee westbound at varying speeds, drifting on and off the shoulder and across the solid double-yellow lines into oncoming traffic, the report said.

“We have a feeling she was probably under the influence based on witnesses’ statements and her prior arrests for driving under the influ

ence,” said CHP Officer Rebecca Myers. “She’s been arrested twice before for narcotic DUI.”




April 5

PAWS mourns one of its pachyderms

One of the oldest African elephants in the United States died at the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s sanctuary in San Andreas.

Ruby, 50, came to PAWS in 2007 from the Los Angeles Zoo after spending most of her life in one circus or another.

PAWS co-founder Pat Derby said that while Ruby was one of the top three oldest African elephants in captivity in America, she would have likely lived even longer in the wild.

April 7

Pharmacist held in theft of drugs

Angels Camp police officers arrested a Rite Aid pharmacist in Angels Camp on suspicion of grand theft of thousands of dollars in drugs from the store.

Dean Stanley Westphalen, 61, raised the suspicions of loss-prevention agents working for Rite Aid, who then called in law enforcement, according to a report from the Angels Camp Police Department.

April 12

Preliminary report released on crash

The preliminary report on the cause of a plane crash in the United Arab Emirates that killed two Calaveras County pilots and two other Americans provides more questions than answers.

Tyler Orsow, 25, Angels Camp, and Charles “Chuck” Kimes, 61, a part-time Calaveras resident, both died Feb. 27 when the modified Grumman Goose they were flying crashed shortly after takeoff in Dubai.

According to preliminary reports, shortly after takeoff the 1940s-era seaplane climbed to about 200 feet, veered to the left and then crashed on the taxiway, where it was soon engulfed in flames.

Many friends and family members of Orsow and Kimes said they didn’t believe the crash could have been pilot error, as both men were highly experienced aviators. Thus, questions arose as to the plane’s significant modifications and maintenance record.

April 20

Conservationists claim victory

The Foothill Conservancy and its partners won a lawsuit against the East Bay Municipal Utility District. The suit challenged the water district’s long-term water plan, which included the option of raising Pardee Reservoir by up to 30 feet.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley ruled in favor of the Foothill Conservancy, California Sport-fishing Protection Alliance and Friends of the River in the lawsuit challenging the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s 2040 water plan.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Chris Wright, Foothill Conservancy executive director. “The expansion of Pardee Reservoir was strongly opposed by countless foothill and East Bay residents and local governments, historical and tribal groups, local businesses, riverside property owners, federal agencies, PG&E and a broad range of conservation and recreation groups. We took on this fight for them.”

May 17

Vendor dies in Frogtown accident

A 73-year-old Burson man was killed at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds when he was run over after stumbling and falling in front of a runaway refrigeration truck loaded with more than 10,000 pounds of ice cream.

Sergei “Duke” Kitchuck, owner of Bimm Enterprises, had parked his truck on a slight incline in the parking lot near the fairgrounds’ front office, according to a report written by California Highway Patrol Officer Brad Wheat. Kitchuck then went to park a pickup truck nearby and the refrigeration truck, a 1980 International, began to slowly roll down the incline, the report continued. Witnesses alerted Kitchuck that the truck was rolling and he began to run around the front of it to get into the cab to stop the truck, but he stumbled and fell to the ground directly in the path of the rolling truck. The truck’s front tires ran completely over Kitchuck and the back wheels came to rest against him, which prevented the truck from continuing to roll down the hill, according to CHP Officer Rebecca Myers.

June 3

Spellman’s charges debunked

In an email with the subject line “political corruption leak,” Calaveras County Supervisor Darren Spellman took an issue he said he had been “dropping hints” about since taking office to the media.

In the email, he accused Carol Ann McDaniel, former Supervisor Russ Thomas’ nominee for the Assessment Appeals Board, of having a variety of conflicts of interest: As a working real estate appraiser, she should not be serving on the appeals board, he said; in what he called a “personal conflict of interest,” he cited a delinquent property tax bill and “possible fraud” in her property assessment.

After some investigation, the Enterprise was unable to corroborate Spellman’s claims against his constituent and neighbor, and found that Spellman’s assessment was lower than what McDaniel’s would be without her husband’s disabled veteran discount.

June 13

City budget cuts

The Angels Camp City Council chipped away at its $405,000 budget deficit, this time bringing the gap down to about $308,000. Last year, the city ended up $182,675 in the red, a gap it closed by drawing down its general fund reserves.

In an hour-long workshop, the council worked with Finance Officer Melisa Ralston, poring over the numbers for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. The general fund reserves sit at $1.2 million, about $200,000 more than what was estimated last year, Ralston said. Looking at budget trends, she said that even though the numbers are grim, she thinks the city is doing the best it can, considering the down economy.

“I think we’re handling the economy problems. … I think the city is still doing a really good job in our operations. The staff has been really good in controlling our expenses.”

June 14

Body found in SA

The body of a San Andreas man was found dead in San Andreas lying behind the See’s Candy stand in the Treat’s General Store parking lot.

Sgt. Dave Seawell of the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office said the man has been identified as being in his 40s, but could say nothing further until family had been notified.

Calaveras County Coroner Kevin Raggio said he could not release the man’s name until he was able to contact next of kin.

“No signs of foul play,” Seawell added, “but we’re going to continue to investigate. We believe he had been deceased for a day or two.”

June 17

Armed man arrested in Mtn. Ranch

A Mountain Ranch man skilled in martial arts was arrested July 12, after allegedly threatening to kill his mother while holding a sword, slashing a tire on a Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office patrol car and threating to bomb law enforcement officers.

Aaron Gray, 34, is suspected of vandalism, resisting a peace officer, assault on a peace officer and possessing throwing knives.

Calaveras County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tracy Busby said that with limited staffing, this turned into a dangerous situation for law enforcement.

“I tell you as a supervisor, I did not enjoy this call,” Busby said.

June 21

Financial problems shutter agency

Financial trouble without a clear solution caused Central Sierra Planning Council members to approve an exit strategy Wednesday that will result in the dissolution of the agency at the end of June.

The CSPC, part of a joint powers authority, is directed by Larry Busby and oversees planning and implementation assistance for member counties and cities for Section 8, low-income and subsidized housing. It also administers funds for administration of community development block grants, job training, county housing programs, rental assistance programs and upgrades to area food banks. Its member counties are Amador, Alpine, Calaveras and Tuolumne, with representatives from Angels Camp and six other cities.

“It is closing its doors because there is no money to run the agency,” said Calaveras Supervisor Merita Callaway. “The doors close at the end of June. Larry Busby put together a comprehensive exit strategy.”


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