Thursday, April 17, 2008

Clash with Caltrans

submitted to Tahoe Mt. News in Sept. 07 .. never ran ...

By Kathryn Reed

A banged-up 1997 green Nissan pickup sits in the driveway of one of the few houses on Mount Rainer Circle that still exists. But its condition has nothing to do with the Angora Fire.
Brent Kuemmerle was waiting the outcome of the Aug. 22 Small Claims Court case he had against Caltrans before deciding for certain what to do about his vehicle.
El Dorado County Judge Stephen Valentine ruled Kuemmerle was 60 percent at fault, Caltrans 40 percent for the March 2 accident on Highway 50 between the Caltrans avalanche gun tower and passing lane on Echo Summit. He was awarded $2,160, having asked for $6,000.
Kuemmerle’s truck was headed west when it collided with a Caltrans Dodge pickup driven by James Matlock.
Kuemmerle went to court because he disagreed with California Highway Patrol Officer D.R. Nichols’ conclusion that he was completely responsible. Despite the endless hours it took in research and letters back and forth with the state, Kuemmerle would do it again. He said fighting for what he knew was right took patience he wasn’t sure he originally had.
Taking on the system isn’t something most people do. Caltrans spokesman Mark Dinger said his agency only faces about three Smalls Claims cases a year.
The CHP report claims Kuemmerle “failed to observe the flashing over head amber warning light … crossing over painted double yellow lines, and into the opposing lane on a blind curve, in a an attempt to pass (the Caltrans vehicle).”
Kuemmerle contends the amber light was never on, nor did the Caltrans driver signal. He had hoped the amber light issue would have been discussed more in court.
Dinger deferred questions about how drivers of passenger vehicles are supposed to treat amber lights on state vehicles to the California Highway Patrol.
“If they pull off and the amber lights are on still you can pass, but motorists need to be aware a Caltrans vehicle may be beginning to turn around or make a U-turn,” CHP Officer Jeff Gartner said. “Caltrans has an obligation to drive safely and watch for traffic behind them. The warning light should tell people to back-off, slow down and watch out for what’s going on ahead of them.”
Kuemmerle said he was paying attention.
“He all of a sudden hits his brakes and pulls off to the right. He is doing avalanche control. It is right after one of the few storms,” Kuemmerle said. “We go to pass what I thought was a stationary vehicle. Instead of stopping, he goes into a U-turn and we are right in his way. He is coming in through the passenger side door. To me that is an illegal U-turn. The judge said if the amber light is on he is OK to do this type of thing.”

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tim Smith's family speaks

This is on the RGJ's website .. it made me cry .. it is such a waste. Of course, all I can think of is my nephew Chris who is 25, married and has a 1-year-old and got back earlier this year from Iraq.
Family statement for Sgt. Timothy Smith
Timmy was my first born. There is a special bond with your first born. I would get up every hour just to see if he was breathing. He was so tiny. He only weighed 5 lbs., 7 oz.

So many memories go through my head like the time we had the whole neighborhood looking for him when he was only 2. He walks out and says, "Mom," rubbing his eyes. He had been asleep under the pool table the whole time. I picked him up and hugged him and said, "Don't you ever scare me like that again."

Timmy and I were so much alike and butted heads so many times. But we both knew how much we loved each other. Both stubborn. Yesterday, sitting on the deck with all his friends, brought tears to my eyes. "Timmy this and Timmy that....." He gave so much love and laughter to everybody's heart.

My son finally met the two loves of his life, Shayna and Riley. I know they were meant to be. Shayna is just as stubborn as he but there is so much love between the three of them. It warms my heart that he finally found his true love. He was to come home in June for two weeks for Riley's second birthday and they were planning to try to get pregnant.

The last time I saw my son was Thanksgiving and, as usual, I made a dinner big enough for the entire Army. The day I left him, he said, "Mom, I'm going to be fine. I'll be in the safest vehicle the Army has ever made, the Husky." And I told him, as usual, "Be careful and watch your butt," as I always told him in my emails.

We said our goodbyes...."I love you, Mom"....and I hugged him. "I love you, Mom, and I'll be alright." Little did I know that was going to be my last hug and my last kiss.

I did talk to him Monday before he was killed. I asked, "What are you doing?" He said, "Nothing, Mom, I'm just going to work." I asked "What do you need?" He said, "Nothing. Well, maybe some chew," and I said, "As long as you quit chewing when you get out." He said, "I know, Mom, I will." We talked for awhile and then I let him talk to one of his good friends, Steph, that works for me. She said, "You need to get home so we can drink some brewskis." He said, "I'm trying."

Timmy and Brandon Lord, his best buddy in Iraq, made a pact if one of them died the survivor would bring the other one home. The Army has granted that. The Patriot Guard Riders motorcyclists will escort Tim when he gets home, along with the police and fire departments.

All I know is I am very proud of my Timmy, my soldier. He is my hero and I miss him so much. It will always be Timmy, Tommy and Jackie."


Growing up with Timmy was amazing. He taught me so much about life. There were ups and downs, of course, but Timmy could overcome anything that got in his way.

He was a genuine hero long before he served his country and always will be. He loved everybody and everybody loved him.

I am so proud of Timmy and so proud to be his brother. He will be missed by all but never forgotten. I love him more than anything in the world. What I would give for one more hour. I love you, brother.

My brother Timmy made me who I am today. He will always live inside me. He was courageous and never gave up on himself or others. Before he left for Iraq, he told me he's doing what he needs to do and he wanted me to be proud of him, saying, "I love you, sister."

Even though I lost my best friend, I can only imagine how many lives he saved and how many heartaches he saved for other families.

I know he's looking down on us wanting us to smile. He always had that effect on other people. He touched many lives. He has always been my hero. He has never let me down.

Timmy will always be with the ones he loved. I love my brother. Always.


Timothy Michael Smith was born September 20, 1982. It seems like yesterday but it was 25 years ago. None of his family could ever have dreamed that he would only be with us for 25 years. But, as U.S. Army Sergeant Tim Smith, serving so proudly with the 10th Mountain Division out of Ft. Polk, Louisiana, he was killed in Iraq on Monday, April 7, where he was sent on Thanksgiving weekend of 2007 after having completed a tour of Afghanistan months before. Joining more than 4,000 comrades who went before him, the worst fears of his family were confirmed with that dreaded phone call. But a lot more than his birth in 1982 and his untimely tragic death in 2008 made up the short life of Timmy Smith. And we all need to remember that.

Tim was stubborn, always stubborn. When he was one year old, he wandered around his family home in South Lake Tahoe in a child's walker, endlessly trilling like a little bird. When his grandparents came to spend his first birthday with him, bringing with them a child's rocker hand made by his great-great-great-grandfather for his great-grandfather, his grandmother joined him in his trilling. He looked up at her, surprised, with a devilish little smile that was his for his lifetime, and kept right on trilling. They answered each other with their trilling for all of her stay there, to the distraction of all, and he stubbornly demanded an answer every time. (He couldn't talk yet; it was their communication.) On that same birthday, he put his face in his cake and didn't raise it until he was completely covered with the thick frosting, sounding his irresistible giggle that also became a lifetime trademark. When the family took a cruise around Lake Tahoe he cried until Nana took him in her arms, walking the deck with him, both of them quietly "trilling." He was stubborn in all things and that stubbornness served him well through childhood challenges and his growing up years, determined to overcome all obstacles, and carried him through to his success in the Army.

Tim loved Lake Tahoe. He loved the mountains and the snow. He was a competitive and amazing acrobatic freestyle snowboarder who might have become an Olympic Team contender. He struggled with learning disabilities through elementary school and attended South Lake Tahoe High School. Now flags are lowered in California in his honor and the medals he won are known to all. "Tito," as his brother Tom and friends called him, would be laughing with amazement and maybe a little smug! But oh, so proud and happy.

Tim was a tease who loved to tease those he loved the most but always with a laugh. He loved to climb trees and when you couldn't find him all you had to do was look up. He fell into rivers, coming up muddied, fell off limbs, bruising knees. Most of all he loved to sit up there and watch you look for him. He loved his Legos almost to obsession, quietly creating with them for hours at a time, his GI Joes and helicopters. He loved to visit his family in Westborough, Massachusetts, for many summers where he had "his room," catching frogs, climbing out windows onto roof tops, going camping, making friends, loving his cousins and his uncle, eating his favorite foods, being a little spoiled and hugged a lot. Once when he was very young, on the way to the airport, he said he hoped the flight would be cancelled because - "aw jeez" - he wasn't ready to go home. A four-wheeler gifted in Westborough thrilled him as he rode it round and round a circle for hours. One hot summer afternoon later, he stood in the blazing sun for hours - stubbornly, refusing to give up - to earn a few dollars for spending money being a "flagger" at his cousin's motocross races in New Hampshire. Sunburned and exhausted, he was un-phased and came back in waving his money earned, with that smile on his face, always that smile.

He could raise particular Hell and he could be gentle and vulnerable. He never missed calling his grandparents to wish them a happy birthday, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Thanksgiving or Merry Christmas. When he married his beloved Shayna last July 4th, his grandfather's birthday, he called after the ceremony and said, "I did it, Nana," with that giggle and such joy in his voice that one could never imagine it could be stilled.

Tim was happy being married and a father to Riley. He looked forward to teaching the boy and all the other children he wanted to have all that he had learned, and guiding them to a good life. But for now he was committed to soldiering and "getting it done," all the while planning for their future.

He was so straight and proud when he marched to the stage at graduation at Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri when he'd completed training. He brought happy tears to his family's eyes. He went to Afghanistan and was a good soldier. Last year, he tried to pretend it was "no big deal" when he was made Sergeant. But it was. And he knew it. He had come a long way. We were so proud when he was written up in an online newsletter, with pictures, talking about his humvee and comrades. Impatient at times with military ways, Tim nonetheless made a success of himself, his life and of the service to his country. Nothing came easy to him and he had to fight to get into the Army but he was determined and he fulfilled his lifetime dream. When he called to say he was doing it, never was it dreamt then it would cost him his life on a dusty road far away in Baghdad. We'll never know what his last thoughts were but his work was not done; he was taken too soon and his family is distraught.

He had plans and many more dreams and he loved his wife and baby and his family. They cannot help but feel this should not have happened and to grieve his loss, as they will forever, but which is almost unbearable right now. But Tim leaves us all with so many happy, dear, treasured memories of the skinny little kid with the devil in his eye that he was and the strong, fit, steady man he became. We will try to honor him in all that we do and how we live. When he called to say goodbye in November, he promised he would be careful, stay safe, and come back. When he emailed at Christmas he was more concerned about us than himself. When he was leaving in November, the day after he should have been discharged, he told his frightened father, "I have to go, Dad. If I don't, someone else who's been there a long time and probably missed some Christmases won't be able to come home for their kids." He told his wife, Shayna, "I have to go to Iraq so Riley won't have to." That was the man that Tim became.

He'll be forever young in our minds and hearts and we'll never know now what greatness his stubbornness and smile might have helped him achieve. He was not an angel and as proud as he would be of the accolades coming his way, knowing his family would be comforted learning of the high esteem in which he was held, the things he did they never knew about, he would be embarrassed to be martyred in death. We will honor his memory and sacrifice and miss him forever. Wherever he is, he is telling us to get on with it and be happy for him. I can hear him saying, "Cry a little so I'll know you miss me - but not forever. That's a waste of time." And I can also hear him saying, "Love you too, Nana........."

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

April 30 stormwater meeting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Patricia Gaylord
April 9, 2008 (916) 358-3545


(Placerville, CA)—El Dorado County and the City of Placerville are teaming up to convene a free workshop on Storm Water Management Plan responsibilities.

“Controlling storm water run-off is in many cases required by law and an important part of keeping our water supply safe for drinking, swimming, fishing and other important uses,” said Patricia Gaylord, El Dorado County Storm Water Coordinator.

The workshop will cover the current responsibilities associated with projects in El Dorado County and the City of Placerville, as well as upcoming changes in the renewal of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit, and the Phase II Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System General Permit. Authorized by the federal Clean Water Act, the NPDES was established in 1972 to regulate water pollution from point sources such as pipes, parking lots or man-made ditches.

This event is highly recommended for all engineers, contractors, architects, developers, government staff, builders and owners working and building in El Dorado County. Guest speakers from both the public and private sector will discuss NPDES permit requirements and enforcement regulations. There will also be free presentations and demonstrations from guest vendors on best management practices for erosion and sediment controls including post construction products.

“We hope to educate people about storm water permit requirements and responsibilities now, rather than have them face penalties for non-compliance later,” said Gaylord.

The workshop and vendor demonstration is on April 30, 2008 from 12:30 to 4:30 PM at the El Dorado County Government Center, Building A lower level, 330 Fair Lane in Placerville. Seating is limited for this free workshop so registration is encouraged prior to April 25. RSVP by contacting Patricia Gaylord at, (916) 358-3545, or send a fax to (916) 941-8910.

South Tahoe boy dies in Iraq

Timmy Smith, a sergeant in the US Army, died in Iraq on April 7. I didn't know him. The 25-year-old graduated from South Tahoe High. His mom works at Barton Memorial Hospital. He has a brother and sister. His dad is in Reno. The street his mom lives on in South Lake was full of cars last night as word spread. Talk at the gym this morning was about this.

I don't understand this war. I don't understand why we are there. I don't understand how we got there. I don't understand a president who thought he had finish what daddy didn't do. I don't understand people (like George and his buddies) who make money (through oil and contracts) off other people's suffering.

I have a keychain called Bush Countdown Clock ... only 285 days, 7 hours and 15 minutes until he is gone.

But what will we be left with? Already we have lost more than 4,000 servicemen. That doesn't count the Iraqi soldiers or those from any other country who have died. It doesn't count the civilians -- American or others.

What are these people dying for? It's all so sickening.

I am so lucky to have my nephew back on US soil. He returned with the 82nd Airborne earlier this year after about 15 months in Iraq. This was the 25-year-old's second stint in the desert. His first child was born in October 2006, he left the next month. What is our government doing to families?

We have got to stop allowing such recklessness in Washington. We have got to find the answers and not follow like lemmings. We must think for ourselves. We must be the change ...

It's all so sad ...

Side note: An account has been set up for Timmy’s family (wife and small child) at Bank of the West. Any donation can be made to account number 002-500-223. If you need information regarding this account, please contact Maria Crist at 541-7310 (Kindertown preschool) or 559-4274 9 (Cell).

Fundraiser for STHS baseball

Tasting Night
Who: South Tahoe Dugout Club
“The Best Tasting Value at the Lake”
What: Appetizer and Beverage Tasting
Silent Auction
When: Wednesday, April 23rd 7pm-9pm y, p p p
Where: Saint Theresa Church
1041 Lyons Avenue
on corner of Hwy 50
Must be 21 or over to
purchase ticket
How Much: $30.00 donation
Come out to
support the
local high
school baseball
For More Information or Tickets:
See or Call Adrian at x234

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Gangs in South Lake Tahoe

March Tahoe Mt. News

Editor’s note: In the coming months the Tahoe Mountain News will be looking at a variety of social issues affecting the South Shore – primarily its young people -- from gangs to the judicial system to social agencies and everything in between.

By Kathryn Reed

“There are more than 420,000 gang members statewide. Gangs are responsible for crimes including money laundering, extortion, narcotic production and sales, prostitution, human trafficking, assassinations for hire, theft and counterfeiting. In spite of an overall decrease in crime in most California cities since the 1990s, rates of gang-related violent crime remain steady.”
This information was released by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office March 3. Some individuals on the South Shore are included in the 420,000 figure.
While South Lake Tahoe does not have the gang problem that urban areas do, it is an issue. Southside 13, Nortenos, Trust No Bitches (which has female members), Eastside Familia – they all operate here. The Lima Street gang originally out of Compton has a large presence in Carson City and has shown its colors here – lime green.
Blue, red, 13, 14, TNB, ESF – see those colors, numbers or letters to know it’s gang related. Thirteen comes from M being the 13th letter in the alphabet. M is for Mexico and the Southerners. The letter N is the 14th letter and represents the Northerners.
Before the winter holidays Eloise and James streets were hit hard with graffiti. The evidence remains. It costs money to repair what taggers do -- more than $50 to replace one 16 inch by 24 inch sign. Property owners must paint over the vandalism. If city property is tagged, community service officers do the job at taxpayers’ expense. Cold weather and snow can prevent cleanup from occurring right away.
“(We had) over 200 reported cases of tagging in 2007. It was up about 100 percent from 2006,” South Lake Tahoe Police Chief Terry Daniels said.
The side of Pine Wood Inn is splashed with just about every gang marking known to this area. It’s hard to see from Highway 50, but accessing the property off Osgood Street is easy. A path over the snow bank is well traveled.
“It’s nearly impossible to catch them unless you put someone in the woods with binoculars,” said Officer Brandon Auxier as he surveyed the wall.
Writing across another gang’s symbol is tantamount to a challenge. When 187 is written it means someone is going to be killed. That number is the penal code for murder. That threat isn’t on this wall.
Gangs have a code that cops know. This allows them to be on heightened alert for possible threats or escalated violence.
Auxier travels these streets during his 12-hour day shift. On Pioneer Trail he spots three boys. The two on the outside have red T-shirts hanging below their jackets.
“Not a lot of people buy plain read T-shirts,” Auxier notes.
Simply wearing gang colors is not a reason to be detained. It is, however, a reason to be concerned. Even the color of one’s shoelaces is being watched.
Gangs are an issue everywhere – to the point that police chiefs throughout the world convened this month for a gang summit. El Salvador and Los Angeles agreed officers will trade places to study how each locale deals with street gangs.
Schwarzenegger awarded $16.5 million in grants this month to combat gang violence. The California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention initiative was formed in May 2007 to eradicate gangs in urban, suburban and rural areas.

Types of crimes

Officer Auxier believes the 24-hour community, parents working multiple jobs and kids being left alone for hours are components of the problem. The biggest problem he sees on the streets is drugs – meth in particular.
He said at one time South Lake was ranked second in the state for the number of DUI and domestic violence arrests based on population. Although those are not traditional gang activities, it shows a side of Tahoe often swept under the carpet.
Primarily locals are being locked up – not tourists. Kids are in these dysfunctional homes. Drugs, alcohol and smoking are part of everyday life.
Gangs can offer solace, camaraderie, a different type of family.
Pellets from a shotgun nailed an 18-year-old South Lake boy in the face and neck on Feb. 22 when he was in the parking garage at Harveys. The victim graduated from Mt. Tallac last year. At the time he was classified as homeless. The victim told officers he believes the shooter was from a Carson City gang.
A year ago there was a drive-by shooting in the city limits.
“If we continue on this pace of type of gang activities we’re seeing in the community, we could see moderate to serious gang activities in the summer,” Hewlett predicts.
Gang violence increases as the weather warms. Like everyone, these people are outdoors more when it’s nice out and the days are longer.

Who’s involved in Tahoe?

City cops keep a gang book. Pictures – some obtained during searches, others provided by family members – show guys flipping gang signs, wearing colors, a gun in a waistband. Profiles on known gang members are tracked.
The book is off-limits to the media.
“Locally, we are seeing girls more involved in gang activities,” Capt. Martin Hewlett said. Mostly it’s fights.
Six girls were suspended for a week from South Tahoe High School because of a fight last month at the school.
In cities, gang turf is usually geographical. Here, territories exist, but gang members might live on the same street, in the same trailer park, the same neighborhood. Friendships and families make the local bond.
Younger kids follow in older siblings’ footsteps. Hispanic gangs dominate here. Filipino and black gangs used to have more of a presence. Members of Nazi Low Riders live here, but aren’t organized.
With people doing hard time in Carson City, this brings an influx of dangerous criminals to the region. Their families move to the area. Some have family at the Lake.
But stereotyping who a gang member can back fire.
“There are a lot of doctors and PhDs out there with kids involved in gangs,” Chief Daniels said. “A lot of these young people will tell you they join a gang for respect. There is a certain sense of elitism. It is a core value, a core family issue that needs to be resolved. The government isn’t going to fix 16-year-olds getting involved with gangs.”
Even though gang members come from all walks of life, Daniels said, “There is an economic side to these things as well.”

What can be done?

Officers are making a concerted effort to reach out to parents. Some can’t believe their child would be involved in gangs, some don’t know what to look for and others are ready to whoop their child or have an officer do it.
“You would be amazed about how many parents are naïve about their children’s behavior,” Daniels said.
Tahoe Youth & Family Services, Family Resource Center and Latino Affairs Commission are involved. Meetings have been conducted in English and Spanish.
Most crimes are committed by 14- to 23-year-olds, according to Capt. Hewlett. Gang affiliation has nothing to do with this stat.
He said it’s important to reach out to kids at the elementary level before peer pressure takes hold. Retired police Officer Paul Huard works with elementary kids from January-June trying to infuse them with skills to make good choices.
The department through its Lunch Buddies program encourages officers to mix with kids, chat and even play basketball.
“At the middle school we can intervene,” Hewlett said. “At high school you are running defense. You are responding to them instead of being proactive.”
Even though the local police force doesn’t have a bilingual officer, Hewlett said this is not a problem because most of the kids speak English.
Daniels said his goal is to have a school resource officer at the middle school like STHS has.
Once a week officers form South Lake, Douglas and El Dorado counties sheriff’s departments and the El Dorado County DA’s Office meet to discuss gang issues.
Business owners have been told about laws governing the sale of spray paint to minors. But cans are often found in people’s garages and don’t need to be purchased.

SLTPD staffing situation

The lack of officers within the South Lake Tahoe Police Department is a problem. Fully staffed means 43 sworn officers. The department has 36. One is on medical leave.
“Normally we would take someone out of a specialty position or off patrol and assign people to that task,” Daniels said. “If physically you don’t have anyone to do that, you are left to deal with it as it comes up case-by-case with people on patrol. When it’s a secondary job, it doesn’t have the impact and it doesn’t get done.”
Eight officers work the streets in two 12-hour shifts. The detectives are working patrol. The narcotics officer is on patrol. The officer assigned to the FBI is on patrol.
“It’s a challenge. It’s very difficult because people are tired,” Daniels said. Overtime is the norm. No longer is South Lake able to attract veteran officers.
One officer recently went to San Bernardino, another to Escondido and one will soon join the district attorney’s office.
The chief is trying to hire people, but many opt to go where the pay is higher. It takes about a year to get an officer capable of being solo on the streets. This includes time at the academy and on the job training. A handful of officers are scheduled to start training soon. Once on the streets the department is still down two cops.
South Lake Tahoe is not alone. Daniels said statewide a 10 to 15 percent officer shortage exists, which equates to nearly 15,000 vacant positions.
“In Lake Tahoe the issue has been pay. We pay substantially less than other areas and our housing market … it’s very expensive to live here and not everyone loves the snow. It takes a special person to live in the mountains,” Daniels said.
For the past 15 months the city has been in contract negotiations with police officers. Daniels expects the issues to be resolved soon. Higher salaries, he said, would help him with recruiting and retention.

Mt. Tallac continuation school

March Tahoe Mt. News

By Kathryn Reed

Continuation high schools have always been a misunderstood entity. Mt. Tallac is no different.
“There are kids who fit a profile of a continuation school, but 90 percent (at Tallac) don’t fit the profile,” said Amy Jackson, counselor at the 100-student school in South Lake. “We have a lot of different types of kids. There’s definitely the misconception that it’s just a lot of kids who made bad choices and screwed up.”
Before they start classes each student goes through an interview process. Do you want to be at Tallac? Do you want to graduate? A “yes” to both is essential.
Some students are at Tallac because they’ve had run-ins with the law. Rival gang members are classmates – just like at South Tahoe and Whittell high schools. Some are part of the Young Parents Program or are a significant other of a girl who got pregnant.
Other Tallac students have family issues, attendance problems at STHS, need time to work to support their family – not their kids, but their parents and siblings -- some don’t fit into a traditional high school, some lack the credits STHS mandates.
Many at Tallac have rough home lives. About 80 percent must work. Approximately one-third don’t live in a traditional home setting – they couch surf, live in a hotel or a car.
Food is an issue – that’s why breakfast and lunch are served at the school.
Counseling is available – sometimes that includes getting help for their parents.
It doesn’t mean everyone likes each other. But the campus near the football field at South Tahoe High is clean and has no graffiti. No security personnel are on staff.
Ivone Larson is the principal, but her office is at STHS where she is also the principal. Tallac is run by Director Susan Baker, Jackson, three teachers and a registrar-secretary.

Making the grade

A diploma is achieved after taking the same number of credits all STHS students must take, passing the state exit exam and doing a senior project.
Differences between the two schools on Gardner Mountain include class hours – Tallac goes from 8 a.m. to noon; students must be 16 or older and some are older than 18; students in the same class have a mix of abilities so it takes discipline to work at the appropriate pace; no bells dictate start and stop times; no honors classes are available.
“By the time they reach us they have decided they want a diploma,” Jackson said. “They get so much support here. We rarely have fights, we rarely have cliques. Everyone has respect for everyone.”
The three A’s are stressed – attendance, academics and attitude. Jackson uses the scenario if kids don’t attend school, then they start falling behind and this directly affects their attitude and obviously their academic success.
Awards are given out weekly to students who embrace the three A’s. For some, it’s the first positive recognition they’ve received in a school environment – or at all.
“A lot of us talk … that we want to graduate. That’s our main focus. We want to achieve our goals,” said Francisco Noboa, who plans to graduate in June.
Sometimes the issue is just not being able to get to class. Staff makes arrangements so the kids can get to school.
“A lot of these kids had patterns set-up for not being successful in school,” Jackson said in reference to life at home.
Tallac students give back through community service – because they want to. A couple help out at Bijou Community School.

Life beyond Tahoe

Many at Tallac don’t know the opportunities that exist beyond the South Shore. A field trip to the Universal Technical Institute in Sacramento and one to the cosmetology school in Carson City have several dreaming about life outside of here.
For some, they will be the first in their family to earn a high school diploma. Once they turn 18, they can take the GED. Several are taking online classes through Lake Tahoe Community College.
Robert Aguilar describes graduation as “the gateway” to his future. He wants to enroll in Lake Tahoe Community College’s Fire Academy and then probably move off the hill.
Jackson praises LTCC counselors who help make sure these young adults don’t fall through the cracks.
Noboa believes the prospect of college should have been emphasized in middle school. By the time high school is under way, it seems like a far off reality and the proper classes have not been taken.
Eric Salazar said the high school doesn’t offer enough options for students. That may change for future generations if the planned career tech talk comes to fruition.
“College is a very viable option for them,” Jackson said. Their coursework is suited for going to a community college and then transferring to a university.

LTCC accreditation

March Mt.News

Accreditation team dings LTCC

By Kathryn Reed

Getting the accreditation team off their backs seems to be a lingering process for Lake Tahoe Community College administrators.
The college found out last month that the progress report it sent last fall to the Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, which is a branch of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, was accepted. However, the team wants the college to prepare another report by April 1.
“They did laud us on our efforts, particularly in the area of implementing quantifiable learning outcomes for our students,” said Lori Gaskin, vice president of academic affairs. “However, there is one area they want us to pay particular attention to. It has to do with linking those learning outcomes to our planning, budgets and resource allocation processes.
“What they are saying is don’t do any of these processes in a vacuum; so what happens in the classroom is the basis for strategic planning, departmental planning, budget planning, and resource allocation.”
Gaskin believes the college is doing this, but needs to prove it in a more detailed manner for the commission to be satisfied. She said procedures were implemented to show how all of processes are linked. Flow charts will be used on campus and sent to the commission detailing how everything is linked.
Because the commission only meets twice a year, LTCC will not know if it has cleared the latest hurdle until summer.
LTCC was accredited for six years in the 2005-06 academic year. A midterm report, which all colleges must do, will be sent in the upcoming school year for review by the commission.

Fired SL Tahoe cop wants job back

March Tahoe Mt. News

By Kathryn Reed

Fired one summer, reinstated the next. That’s what Johnny Poland is hoping for.
He is waiting for the El Dorado County Grand Jury to come out with its report before going forward with arbitration with the city. He was terminated from the South Lake Tahoe Police Department in June 2007.
The 39-year-old who has a wife and two kids is one of the few officers who live at the Lake. For now, the 10-year veteran of the department is dealing cards at Harveys.
“I testified before the grand jury. I will use their findings against the PD,” Poland told the Tahoe Mountain News in February.
Poland said he was fired because he chose to go before City Manager Dave Jinkens instead of having a hearing in front of Police Chief Terry Daniels. While the case is ongoing, he won’t elaborate on why he went that route.
“The lawyers are working on (a) hearing date, time and process for the next hearing phase,” Jinkens said last month.
“John Poland’s appeal process has not been completed, as such, we can’t comment on personnel matters,” Daniels said. The chief said the department has six to 10 internal affairs investigations a year. Some are prompted by citizens, others internally.
“Considering we handle 36,000 calls a year that is quite good. We don’t have too many complaints,” Daniels said.
Events leading to Poland’s dismissal started in November 2006 when he was one of the officers called to South Tahoe High School regarding gang violence that led to the campus being on lockdown for several hours. The previous three years Poland had been the resource officer at the school.
Poland said he interviewed about 30 students regarding the fights and rumors of weapons on campus on Nov. 20, 2006. A senior, who graduated last year but wasn’t allowed to participate in ceremonies, had a couple in his vehicle.
“Sure enough, he pulled out a BB gun and tire iron,” Poland said of the teen.
Despite the ban on all weapons on campus, Poland admitted to letting the student keep the items secured in the vehicle.
Poland contends the lockdown wasn’t necessary. At the time of his firing he did not believe the gang problem is as bad as had been reported. He went on to say officials want to escalate the problem so the district and department will qualify for grant money.
The events leading up to the lockdown that Monday included two previous gang incidents, reports of a Carson City gang coming to the Lake, students being involved in a fatal car accident during the weekend, an adult driving drunk and hitting a tree on campus that morning, numerous kids wearing red shirts and posturing in the preceding weeks, and an escalation of tagging at school and in town that continues to this day.
Fifteen cameras have since been installed outside common areas at the school. Officials are contemplating putting them inside buildings.
“We’ve identified window breakings and vandalism. We see who is instigating fights,” STHS Principal Ivone Larson said of the cameras.
She would like to have two resource officers on campus like Washoe County schools have. Then athletic events could be covered. Larson believes alcohol use and abuse are the biggest concerns for her students, which can lead to an increase in violence.
“Intensive intervention makes a difference,” Larson said. “Some of them don’t feel any hope.” She even said the student with the weapons was “a great kid … but he made a big mistake.”
Lisa Huard, the safe schools coordinator for the district, said, “This is not just a school issue. It’s a community issue.”
She said students of all ages need to feel safe physically as well as be able to trust adults enough to share information.
Poland believes he had that trust.
“Do you really think I’d make a judgment call that would put anyone in harms way?” Poland asked shortly after being dismissed. He professes to have a rapport with students that the police department doesn’t recognize as being critical to getting kids to talk.
But Larson said adults have a responsibility to the kids as well.
“Everyone needs to be completely honest at all times,” the principal said when talking about the gun the ex-officer allowed to stay on campus. “We have zero tolerance with weapons on campus.”

Challenge Day in Tahoe

March Tahoe Mt. News

By Kathryn Reed

“Be the change.” It sounds simple, but it’s not easy.
Lessons learned in an unconventional way can be the most powerful. Just ask anyone who has gone through Challenge Day.
Tears and tissue were the norm.
Hugs. Apologies. Promises. Tolerance. Understanding.
It was an emotional couple days. For South Tahoe Middle School students it was Feb. 25, for South Tahoe and Mt. Tallac high schools it was Feb. 26.
On that Tuesday, 81 students and 25 adult volunteers met at Al Tahoe Elementary. It was hard to find a dry eye – and that was a good thing.
At the end of the day the adults gathered to decompress a bit. The students will be contacted by a school counselor for debriefing.
One adult mentioned how paying just the smallest amount of attention to any kid makes a difference. And that as adults we need to listen more.
And listen is what they did for the better part of the day. They weren’t there to offer advice. In fact, the two facilitators – Berenice and Sean – repeatedly said, “No one needs fixing because no one is broken.”
Challenge Day has been around for 20 years. The Bay Area nonprofit puts on sessions throughout the world – with more than 150 each month just in the States.
“At the high school we did an open invitation to the entire student body including Mt. Tallac. I know that some teachers will encourage students to go as well,” said STHS teacher Julia Russell, who organized the 9-12 event. Friday Nigh Live students assisted.
Middle school students are picked by teachers. This was ninth Challenge Day for the middle school since 2002. Teachers Holly Greenough, now at STHS, and Larry Lambdin got the ball rolling. Lambdin is the still the coordinator. The high school has had a Challenge Day each year since 2003.
A mix of kids attends – not just at-risk students. In fact, in the suggestion box of how to improve Challenge Day, one adult wrote it should be for the entire student body.
Walking in at 8:30 a.m. students posture a bit, make some jokes, stick by their friends. By 2:20 p.m. a group of Hispanic kids apologize in front of the room to a white girl for things they had said to her. They hugged. They promised things would change.
A girl cried as she made amends to her mom. Siblings were brought closer together.
Respect and understanding were found between people who before had only looked upon the other with contempt.
Silence fell upon the group as an adult talked about life growing up with an alcoholic father who beat his wife and all of his children.
Crossing the blue line showed how similar people are, it broke down stereotypes, preconceived ideas and showed people they are not alone in their experiences or feelings. Berenice would ask a question like – Do you know someone who has been affected by cigarette smoking? If so, you walked across the line. After nearly every scenario she made a few comments. To this one she mentioned how the tobacco companies don’t want people to realize how devastating cigarettes are and the damage they do to families.
A lot of questions had to do about discrimination. Some about violence. Some about various abuses.
The look of surprise was evident in students’ eyes as the adults crossed the line. Surprise when friends did. Surprise when classmates did.
The lesson was about oppression and how most days we wake up straddling both sides – we are oppressed and we are the oppressor.
The message was “be the change.” Don’t do it. Don’t allow it to happen.
The international sign for “I love you” (thumb, pinky and index fingers held up) were the only “words” that could be used to show support.
Students broke into groups with adults. Everyone had to finish the sentence: If you really knew me, you would know (fill in the blank). Sexual abuse, a sibling in jail, abandonment from a parent – those are just some of the issues these young people are dealing with.
So many feel isolated – that what they are going through is unique to them. The presenters shared their stories. It resonated.
Talk of emotional balloons – where we store our angst was visual and impacting. Eventually that balloon will pop if we don’t let things out. Talking is good. Listening is good. Breaking out of comfort zones is necessary.
It showed everyone that individually each person has the power to change – to change how they treat others and how they are treated.
For more information, go to

LTCC green class

March Tahoe Mt. News

By Kathryn Reed

“Introduction to Green Building and Green Living” is Lake Tahoe Community College’s first foray into offering “green” classes.
Where this will lead is likely to be determined by the end of this academic year. Rosie Hackett, director of the college’s Wilderness Education, is researching whether the college should do more than offer a class here and there on green issues.
The possibility of vocational classes or a program that would transfer to a four-year university is being considered. Early research shows many schools with either environmental studies based in hard science or environmental policy with a social bent.
“People have been saying (green) is a trend. But it can’t be a trend,” Hackett said. “If people are not moving in that direction, we won’t have the resources to create business and sustain a culture.”
Although development of any type of green program is in its infancy at LTCC, Hackett envisions an interdisciplinary program what would include business classes, real state, environmental science, culinary – to get what she calls “a real cross section.”
Lori Gaskin, vice president of academic affairs, said of the class that starts in April, “We are testing the waters. No. 1, we want to see if there is an interest. And No. 2, we are implementing a research project to understand the nature of green sustainable education and what the roll LTCC would have in that.”
A fairly lengthy process is involved when it comes to adding new programs to a college. An official program is not likely to be implemented until 2009-10, if one were to be. However, green related classes could be offered without the program.
Scott Terrell, who will teach next quarter’s green class, wrote a blurb for LTCC stating, “In the New Green Era we have the opportunity to take control over many aspects of our lives that will allow us to help our personal and business economies while at the same time improve the quality of the environment, social and natural. Do you have a desire to discover and implement strategies in your life that make you feel you are in control and can make a difference solving problems like global climate change? What you will learn in the course could easily pay for the cost of the course in a matter of months.”
Terrell works for the Truckee Donner Public Utility District and is involved in the Sierra Green Building Association.

Leadership Lake Tahoe

March Mountain News

By Kathryn Reed

Dictionaries are not always descriptive. They define a leader as someone who leads or guides. Pretty simple by most accounts.
But being a leader is more complex. And the components of a leader are limitless.
Since 2003, Leadership Lake Tahoe has been training 20 or so people a year to become leaders or improve their skills. The two defunct chambers which collaborated to form LLT handed the program to the merged South Shore Chamber.
It seems with every class that the project has been a hurdle – though never insurmountable. To ease the angst many class members felt, new this year is the chamber dictating they put on this month’s Business Expo or the chamber golf tournament.
The third option of picking their own project seemed to be whispered and not everyone in the class knew that was available to them.
“The problem with the project is that the first year you guys came in fresh and with a clean slate and no preconceived ideas regarding the project. You went through the normal group dynamic issues,” said Virginia Boyar, who was instrumental to in forming the program, but is no longer on the chamber’s LLT task force. “Then word got around and people came in with solid ideas. Even employers were coming with ideas, complete with business plans. That’s another reason we went with this format.”
(This reporter is a graduate of the inaugural Leadership Lake Tahoe class.)
The first LLT class picked three projects – put on an event for locals, improve Linear Park and fund at least one LLT scholarship. The event, Tahoe Winter Expo, funded the other two projects.
One class split between helping Sierra Recovery Center and doing the successful ceramic bear project in conjunction with LTVA. Patrick Kaler, who heads the visitors’ authority, was in that class.
Another class tried to raise money for the local Boys & Girls Club via a sparsely attended event at a casino.
Although most leadership programs like this are put on by a chamber of commerce, not all mandate participants do a project.
Nancy Harrison, who was in the first LLT group and is now on the chamber’s committee that runs the class, believes the revised format for the project is good.
“The goal was to streamline the project so they had a good experience, went through the learning experience of putting on an event, but avoided the troublesome issues that brought up roadblocks for classes two through four,” Harrison said.
Despite inheriting an event once known as Kaleidoscope, LLT08 members who were contacted are mostly content, though none seemed overly enthusiastic.
“I was hoping we could put our creative stamp on it, that we could go above and beyond and make it our own, whichever event we took on,” said Nicole Cox, who is LTVA’s special events coordinator.
New this year is the green theme. Last year’s was technology, so a theme is not new.
“I think our approach to the project is holding a community event, not just business-to-business,” said Nick Haven, TRPA’s transportation planner.
The group is setting up what’s called a Green University, will have workshops related to green issues and is encouraging businesses to be green at their booths. (Participants must be chamber members, but anyone may attend the expo.)
Amber Tanaka, who works for Barton University, believes the project is part of the overall experience of Leadership. As chairwoman of the promotions committee for the Business Expo, Tanaka said the group is trying to be green by emailing and phoning people, and getting booth registrations and donations via email.
Overall, what she likes about LLT is the exposure to various aspects of the South Shore – the economy, government and environment.
“All of that is really informative. It’s great to put faces to names of local leaders,” Tanaka said.
Haven admits that through his job at TRPA he is familiar with many of the topics discussed at the monthly LLT sessions.
“I value more of the relationships I am building with people,” Haven said.
Julie Threewit, who owns The Appointment Biz, also puts value on the time spent with classmates, but it was not enough for her to stick with the program. She quit earlier this year and therefore will not graduate with the class June 13.
“When it came down to it, the time spent away (from work) was costing me more in lost production than I was gaining in new knowledge or experience,” Threewit said. “I might not have been the right candidate (for Leadership Lake Tahoe).”
For her, not enough emphasis was put on leadership building and too much put on getting to know the area.
Threewit believes LLT is worthwhile, that the chamber is helping the community and would recommend it to others. But the project made Threewit feel like she was working for the chamber – after all, the first $18,000 the group raises goes into the chamber’s coffers. Any amount raised after that, the group can spend as it pleases.
“The piece that offended me was the project,” Threewit said. “The chamber feels strongly that by helping the chamber raise money we are helping the community. I disagreed.”
Chamber CEO B Gorman defends the new policy of having the group do a chamber project with money going to the chamber. She said several classes got caught up in “what are we going to do instead of learning the mechanics of how a group functions.”
“Leadership programs are run as a service to the community; to build future leaders. Period,” Gorman said. “That’s the goal. The chamber is here to serve the community. We are not here to serve only one person or one organization.”
Though it’s not necessary to work for or be a member of the chamber to be in LLT, the 24 chosen for the program all work for companies which belong to the chamber. (The group is down to 22, with another person quitting because of a job transfer.)
Gorman believes money raised by LLT classes goes back into the community via the programs the chamber puts on that are open to everyone.
She said LLT is not a money-maker for the chamber even though participants pay $500 to be in the 10-month program. The group meets once a month, had a two-day orientation and will graduate in three months.
She said the chamber spends about $400 in food each month for LLT. Some of the speakers are paid. Transportation is another cost. Class materials are another expense.
“We will be lucky if we don’t lose money,” Gorman said of LLT.


What: Business Expo
When: March 21, 4-9 p.m.
Where: MontBleu
Cost: $10, includes workshops

Horizon management changes

March Mt. News

By Kathryn Reed

On the job for only a matter weeks and already the general manager at Horizon sees the need to cultivate the locals’ market.
“I think all of the casinos at Tahoe need to be very considerate of the local market,” said Steve Loyd, 60. “We need to make sure we are providing a product and environment that locals like to have.”
Loyd spent a year at the Stateline property when it was known as the Sahara. Most recently he was GM at a Palm Springs casino.
“If you really want to work in this industry, I think Nevada is the best place,” Loyd said, explaining his return.
He recognizes the destination traveler and local market are his primary clients. He talks about providing the four “P’s” – product, presentation, process and people.
“I hope to bring a number of changes to this facility. Having only been here for a month I still have to learn what this market wants,” Loyd said in late February. “We have a lot of thoughts about the future, but I’m not in a position to give you anything definitive. But it’s definitely going to be evolving.”
One thing he did was promote Tom Davis to director of marketing and VIP Services effective Feb. 1.
Davis is key to bringing locals into the casino. He is hoping by converting the slot tournament area into a sports bar it will be a draw for locals and out-of-towners. Starting this month, from 4-8 p.m. $2 Coronas and $1.50 tacos are on the menu.
Davis isn’t sure if past managers ignored locals on purpose, but he likes the direction Loyd wants to go.
“I’ve always wanted locals. I am a local. Locals keep you busy year-round and they are very, very loyal,” Davis said.
Three dollar blackjack tables are back, new poker machines are dishing out cash and those with player’s card will have a chance to win a Toyota Prius from Cardinale Way. Another local twist is tying in promotions with other local businesses.

SLT wants firefighting helicopter

March Mt. News

By Kathryn Reed

South Lake Tahoe officials are taking their cause to Washington. They want a firefighting helicopter stationed at Lake Tahoe Airport.
Mayor Mike Weber sent a letter to Rep. John Doolittle, R-Rocklin, last month requesting his help in getting the U.S. Forest Service to keep a rig at the South Lake Tahoe airport during fire season.
When Kathay Lovell was mayor during last summer’s Angora Fire, she sent a letter directly to the Forest Service. They said “no” to her request for a helicopter.
Ron Rogers, chief of staff for Doolittle, said the congressman has not decided if he will ask Congress to fund this item. Appropriations matters are often discussed throughout the summer, so a decision is not likely to be known for several months.
The local Forest Service office is not outright opposed to the idea, but said many questions first need to be answered.
“Which entity will own, manage, staff and maintain the aircraft? In order to be effective and available during fire season, the aircraft will require a fully equipped facility as well as an immediate on-site, on-duty shift of pilots in order to be available at a moment's notice,” said Rex Norman, Forest Service spokesman.
The city is not jumping on the bandwagon just because of the June 07 inferno that consumed about 3,100 acres and more than 250 homes. In 1960, the Forest Service and California Department of Forestry talked about putting a firefighting aircraft here. More recently, airport Director Rick Jenkins asked the Forest Service in 2000 for a helicopter. In 2004, he talked to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., about the issue.
The city wants the Forest Service to fund the helicopter because 85 percent of the basin is owned by this agency.
“We could provide a base operation at no cost if the people who manage the forest could see a way to place a helicopter there as a way to do their job,” City Manager Dave Jinkens said.
Jinkens wants Congress to show how much the forest and environment in Lake Tahoe are worth by funding a firefighting helicopter to be used by the Forest Service.
Weber’s letter in part says, “Had a water dropping helicopter been immediately available when the fire was first reported, it may have prevented the fire from ever becoming the terrible disaster it rapidly became. … Although helicopter assets based outside the Basin may be able to reach the Basin within 15-20 minutes of flying time, they cannot reach the Basin with 15-20 minutes of notification.”
As with all Forest Service aircraft, they are used outside the jurisdiction they are headquartered in. So, even if a helicopter is stationed here, it’s not going to be here 100 percent of the time.
“It would be necessary to examine whether a helicopter stationed on the South Shore could or would be able to respond to a North Shore incident faster than those stationed outside the basin,” Norman said. “If winds are too severe to allow safe and effective use of a helicopter, such as was the case in the first hours of the Angora Fire, it's stationing in the basin as any kind of advantage, would be a moot point.”

SLT Denny's set to reopen

March Mt. News

By Kathryn Reed

Grand Slam breakfasts won’t be here for the opening of baseball season, but they will return this spring.
So says Paul Schmidt, who owns the South Lake Tahoe Denny’s.
Schmidt bought the franchise Dec. 20 and two weeks later a natural gas explosion shuttered the restaurant. A couple people sustained minor injuries.
“As we speak, I am paying (the employees) even though we are closed. I hope to get reopened while I still can pay them,” Schmidt said. “It’s one of those things that’s the right thing to do.”
About 40 people worked at the eatery – some full time, some part time.
The insurance company is still working out the cost to repair the diner. Schmidt wouldn’t put a dollar figure on what it is costing him to be closed during the winter season – a time when so often on busy weekends a line would be out the door waiting to be seated.
“The restaurant was remodeled less than two years ago so our intent is to put it back into that condition,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt also owns the Carson City Denny’s. About 75 percent of Denny’s are franchises, while the South Carolina-based company owns the others.

April 8 SLT city manager observations

Electronic Version
April 8, 2008


“When we’re convinced we’re right, we don’t really want other people’s opinions. We want submission. We want obedience to our opinions. We want to clone our people in our image. ‘If I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you.’ “ Stephen Covey, First Things First

“Three-fourths of the miseries and misunderstandings in the world will disappear if we step into the shoes of our adversaries and understand their standpoint.”
Mohandas Gandhi

In this Edition:

State Budget Discussions and Update
56 Acre Project
Transportation in High Gear
State Budget Crisis Impacts Women’s Center
Update on Teamwork Needed to Fight Graffiti Etc.
Invitation Extended to Scottsdale Mayor

(Reprinted from the League of California Cities)

Senate Budget Committee Holds Second Hearing on State-Local Fiscal Relationship
“On Thursday, April 3, the Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review held its second hearing on the history of the state-local fiscal relationship. In the previous hearing, the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) reviewed its perspective on the past 35 years of this relationship. Local government representatives were invited to provide their perspective at the second hearing.
Ontario City Manager Greg Devereaux and League Deputy Executive Director Dwight Stenbakken represented cities. They provided suggestions for improving the fiscal relationship between the state and city government in California. These include:
Infrastructure Funding: This is a critical area of concern for cities when focusing on the urban development of local communities. Without proper financial tools to support infrastructure for urban development, cities will not be able to properly meet density and transit-oriented development goals under green house gas reduction legislation. The following was recommended:
• The two-thirds voting threshold for local government general obligation bonds should be lowered to a majority vote, the same threshold for state general obligation bonds, or, if unachievable, a 55 percent voter approval threshold, the same threshold now in law for school capital bonds; and
• Lower the two-thirds voting threshold for countywide transportation votes. A number of such county votes have considerable voter support, but fail with voter support in the low 60th percentiles.
Re-examine the Sales Tax Base: The state and local government tax base for sales taxes should be broadened. The sales tax base has been considerably narrowed over the years with legislatively enacted sales tax exemptions or erosion through decisions made by the Board of Equalization (BOE). As a result, the narrow base makes the sales tax more vulnerable than it has to be and it is a tax that is growing in disparity from the economic realities of a 21st century economy. Expanding the base of the sales tax would begin to meet these problems.
Stability is Key in Any Proposal: Whatever direction that the Committee and ultimately the legislature and Governor take to reform/rebuild/remake the state and local fiscal relationship, stability is a key principle for local government. The stability afforded local governments in Proposition 1A (2004) gives local government the ability to plan public services in a more rational and effective manner. Without this stability, local governments will again be forced to look over their shoulder every time the state budget is in a deficit situation.
Redevelopment is an Important Financial Tool: The Committee was reminded that redevelopment is one of the more important tools for financing infrastructure, necessary to meet state goals relating to low and moderate income housing as well as transit-oriented development. Without redevelopment, there would have to be a substitute revenue source to address these priority infrastructure issues…
Counties Testify
The counties were represented by two county Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs), one current and one retired. They focused on the many state programs run/administered by counties. Behind this discussion is the motivation for the state to explore opportunities for program "realignments" that shift state programs to counties presumably along with the revenue to adequately cover the cost.
While there have been some successes in program realignment in the past, counties are always cautious that realignment proposals don't assign considerable new responsibilities to counties and fall short on proper funding. They also shared a perspective of some county officials that redevelopment agencies in cities negatively impact state and county finance.
Next Step
Sen. Denise Ducheny (D-San Diego), Budget Committee chair, announced that the Committee would like proposals to be submitted before the next full Committee hearing. This hearing is scheduled for Thursday, April 24. The timing will allow Committee members time to vet any proposals and work on any Committee projects before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's May Budget Revise.”
The State and local agencies are struggling with ways to cut cost of State government and sustain State and local government operations. Adequate investment in infrastructure (roads, drainage, transportation, sidewalks etc) and the maintenance of this infrastructure are critical long-term issues facing South Lake Tahoe and other California cities. Mechanisms to finance the capital and maintenance and operations costs for this infrastructure needed (and sometimes required improvements e.g. storm water management plan), must be found. State and local governments must set priorities of how they use existing funding and determine what projects are needed and provide the most benefit for the most people. Where programs like storm water management at the city level are required by the Federal government to be implemented, new sources of revenue to pay for these mandates must be found. Growing and diversifying the local economy is the single-most important avenue to meet City short and long-term needs and this includes capturing escaping retail sales out of the City limits.


The 56-Acre Project Manager Deb Vreeland provides the following update on this comprehensive planning project.

“At its March 2008 Board of Directors' meeting, the California Tahoe Conservancy approved a Planning Grant to proceed to final design and permitting for site improvements at the El Dorado Beach portion of the 56-Acre Recreation Improvement Project.

Conceptual planning for the 56-Acre project area has progressed to the point where improvements can now be contemplated. Additional conceptual planning may be necessary in the future to refine programmatic elements and better position certain elements for grant funding. At this time, the City has requested, and Conservancy staff is recommending, that funding be awarded to design and permit improvements to the lakefront portion of 56-Acres, El Dorado Beach, as phase two planning of this long term improvement project.

The $800,000 planning grant to the City is to proceed to final design and permitting for the El Dorado Beach lakefront improvements portion of the 56-Acre project. The project will enhance and optimize public access to Lake Tahoe, including accessibility for those with limited mobility. The design is anticipated to include stabilizing the bluff and creating pocket seating areas, improved day-use facilities, redesigned pedestrian and bicycle pathways, a new food and beverage concessions building with restrooms, and space for non-motorized watercraft storage and rentals.”


The Assistant City Manager Rick Angelocci provides the following update on transportation-related matters. With the City’s focus on transportation issues inside and outside of the City limits, we are making progress to improve and upgrade the system to provide the highest quality service for the dollars available.

“As you know, we have managed to leverage State Prop 1B, FTA, 5311 and other funds to purchase 3 new busses for our transit system (Total cost ~ $900,000). I believe the last large bus purchased for the “Stage” system was in 2000. John Andoh has been working with several manufacturers to bring demonstration busses to the City for trial. The first busses that will be here are the Passport and the EZ Rider II from El Dorado National. John will be coordinating a run of the busses on the various City and Heavenly routes throughout the next two weeks. Additionally, it is planned that we will park the busses at both the South Y Transit Center and Stateline Transit Center sometime during this period so interested parties may “kick the tires” and check them out. I will forward to you an update on the schedule as we get closer. Further, I hope to have a date on the Gillig Low Floor, Orion VII, Bluebird ULF, NABI 40-LFW and Axcess next week. These buses are likely to only be here for one to two days.


According to the South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center Executive Director Leanne Wagoner in her letter of April 1 to supporters of the organization, the “recently approved State budget cuts for the upcoming fiscal year could cause domestic violence (prevention) agencies to close their doors. While South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center will remain open, the funding cuts will have profound effect on the many programs and services we provide for more than 2,000 survivors of violence every year. The Women’s Center is facing budget cuts starting on July 1, 2008 which could be anywhere from $30,000 to $65,000.”

Efforts need to be made by the community and organizations in the community to stress to State officials the importance of domestic violence prevention programs in our communities and the particular value and benefit of programs and services offered by the South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center. The Governor and our fine State legislators should be contacted. A fund raising activity is underway at the present time to help support community programs and contributions are tax deductible. The Lake Tahoe Women’s Center is located at 2941 Lake Tahoe Boulevard, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150


Police Chief Terry Daniels and his staff are working on a report on anti-graffiti and anti-gang efforts, and this report will be ready for presentation to the City Council on May 6, 2008 rather than at the April 18, 2008 meeting as previously reported.


At a recent City Council meeting, the City Council took the suggestion of Mayor Pro Tempore Jerry Birdwell to extend and invitation to Scottsdale’s Mayor Mary Manross to talk about her City’s commitment to sustainability including “green” city initiatives. Efforts are being made to have her visit in June 2008.

Mayor Manross recently addressed her community in her annual presentation, and she made a number of important points that are transferable to other communities. I have summarized them as follows:

1. Focus on the downtown and the success sustained focus has had on the reinvigoration of your downtown.
2. Strength of the diversity of opinion on the City Council.
3. Planning for the next generation of Scottsdale residents not just the next election.
4. Creating a sustainable community with focus on economic, environmental and community initiatives.
5. Having an important vision for the City’s future and the commitment of City government and the community to achieve this vision.
6. Creating a visioning process for tourism that involves the entire community and results in benefits to all of the community.
7. The importance of undertaking and sustaining quality community planning efforts and the time needed to complete the planning and implement the vision if “we just stay focused.”

The City of South Lake Tahoe City Council is fostering and supporting a comprehensive planning effort to create a sustainable community that truly focuses on economic growth that benefits and serves all segments of the community, environmental protection and creating a “green” city, and supporting programs and activities that serves the interests of the 24,000 people living in South Lake Tahoe. The City’s development of a new and locally-grown General Plan, the Tahoe Valley Community Plan, the 56-Acre Project, a new redevelopment plan that brings financial resources to implement the preferred community vision, and numerous water quality improvement efforts are all examples that illustrate the City’s commitment to our shared present and future.

Lessons learned in other communities can help us to “plan our work, and work our plan” for our future and the future of those who come after us.

City Manager

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Wildland firefighting courses

Date: April 2, 2008

Contact: David Soldavini, (530) 543-2881 or Aaron Grove, (530)


South Lake Tahoe, Calif. The US Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin
Unit (LTBMU) will hold two training courses for
those seeking to become wildland firefighters.The first class begins
21 and runs through April 25, with a field day on May 3.

Registration for this class is through Lake Tahoe Community College.
course number is FIR 167, Wildland Fire Safety and Hand Crew
The second class is a night class that begins May 5 and runs through
10, with a field day on May 10. The night class does not require
registration and is available without charge on a first-come,

This is a comprehensive course in the safety aspects of fighting
fires and the methods and procedures for hand crews, including
in specialized equipment, physical fitness, and fire behavior and
suppression. Backfire, burnout procedures and line construction will
be covered. Successful completion results in a certificate from the
National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG).

Both classes will be held at the Meyers Fire Station, 2215 Keetak Lane
Meyers, Calif. The Forest Service will offer one-day wildland fire
refresher courses at this location on May 19 and May 20.The Forest
is also seeking experienced firefighters for its emergency on-call
Pay varies according to experience and qualifications, ranging from
to $15.08.

For more information on any of these opportunities, contact David
Soldavini, (530) 543-2881 or Aaron Grove, (530) 543-2883.

Barton's Bereavement Group starting

Memory Dish Bereavement Group helps with grief healing

Are you dealing with a major loss such as the death of a loved one? Perhaps you’re grieving over a divorce after many years of marriage? Or even the loss of a job?

It’s normal to feel that your life is shattered and that you are alone, but the Barton HealthCare System can help.
Barton’s Hospice of the Lake and Valley offers the “Memory Dish Bereavement Group” at Barton Memorial Hospital April 24 and May 22 from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Trained grief councilors will be in attendance.

There is no cost to attend the group but pre-registration is required. To register, call (775) 782-1510.

Each attendee is asked to bring a special dish to share that reminds them of their lost loved one. Maybe it was mom’s favorite pie or dad’s special potatoes that always made his eyes sparkle when he sat down at the dinner table.

Barton’s Bereavement Groups can help people pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives. A bereavement group is a safe place for individuals to feel empowered to express grief and sorrow and receive help in re-creating a rewarding life filled with authentic happiness.

Taking good care of yourself helps your body heal from the physical affects of grief. Stick with daily exercise, regular sleep and healthy eating routines. Having family around can help you feel loved. You might need a walk or see a movie with friends to take your mind off things for a little while. These tips may help:

· Joining the world again is part of healing.

· Stay in touch with family and friends even if it's hard to talk.

· Tell people how they can help. It can be as simple as running an errand for you.

· Attend a support group for people who have been through the same type of loss.

You may find yourself asking: "Why?" It's normal to seek meaning by asking questions but there's not always an answer for loss. With time, your loss will still be part of your life, but not the only thing in it. You’re not alone and grief healing is a process.

denise sloan smart

Communications Coordinator

Barton HealthCare System

2092 Lake Tahoe Blvd. Suite 400

South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Ph: (530) 543-5617

FX: (530) 542-4367