Wednesday, June 11, 2008

ZCES lockdown folo

unedited from may tahoe mt. news

By Kathryn Reed

Johnelle Prado does not question what she saw March 27 behind Zephyr Cove Elementary School.
“It is really frustrating to me to have people say maybe it was a stick. I would not have called 911 for a stick,” Prado said. “It was a like a shotgun. He was carrying it with both hands. It did not look like the guns that the police brought which had scopes.”
The sighting led to all three Douglas County schools at the Lake to be on lockdown for much of that day.
Now potentially slanderous emails are circulating among Douglas County parents and school employees about the school aide. One writer questions whether Prado should have a job for calling deputies. Others praise her bravery and would want her to make the same decision in the future.
Part of the controversy arose from last month’s Tahoe Mountain News that said officers thought the item Prado said she saw may have been something other than a gun. She is emphatic a man dressed all in black was carrying a gun behind the school.
“He was holding it so he could turn and shoot at anytime, with the barrel up toward the sky. He was not aiming it toward me,” Prado said of the man she saw. She describes him as between 5-feet-10 and 6-feet-tall, no facial hair. She isn’t sure of his race, but said he wasn’t black.
After seeing him she raced inside, told office staff what she saw and then made the 911 call. The intercom message that the school was on lockdown and that it was not a drill could be heard outside as well. That may have scared off the person.
In an email to the paper last month, Douglas County sheriff’s Sgt. Jim Halsey wrote, “The reporting party said she saw a man carrying what she believed to be a rifle or shotgun. That’s how we handled the call, but we found no evidence to substantiate the information. I know people routinely hike in that area of the woods, and they often carry walking sticks. Beyond that, I cannot comment other than to say, ‘I’m glad she called’. Better to check and find nothing, than to ignore it and have a tragic death.”
The sheriff’s department has closed the case.
“With exception of those prints made by deputies, no footprints or shoe sole impressions were found in the area where she said she saw the person. If there had been shoe sole impressions, we would have tracked them with our K9,” Halsey said.
One change that has resulted from the March incident is how outside doors are locked at the school.
“To this day I still can picture him in my head,” Prado said.

STMS students off to DC

unedited from may tahoe mt. news

By Kathryn Reed

Getting a ticket to the presidential inauguration usually takes knowing someone or having big bucks. For three South Tahoe Middle School students it just took being high academic achievers and leaders.
Jason Reum, Jack Coolbaugh and Samuel Bray have been invited to the Jan. 20 big show. They all hope to make it to the festivities in Washington even if Barack Obama isn’t elected. (If they were 18, each said that’s who would get their vote.)
The five-day Junior Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference is for a select group from across the country who is alumnus of the Junior National Young Leaders Conference.
“All three of those students are absolutely top notch students who are strong academically and have very good people skills,” Principal Jackie Nelson said. “They will represent South Tahoe Middle school and the community in an excellent manner.”
Coolbaugh, who as an eighth-grader is student body president, said the chance to meet new people is one thing he liked about the previous conference and is what he would look forward to eight months from now.
All of their moms agreed that getting outside of this small town and meeting people from big cities with different backgrounds adds to the experience. Plus, as Barbara Coolbaugh pointed out, Bill Clinton was able to capitalize on the photograph of himself with President John F. Kennedy. A similar photo-op may present itself for this threesome.
None of the boys foresees a future in politics, but all can see benefits of going.
“I don’t think I really want to go into politics. But (the conferences) help me with leadership skills so I could get a good job. You learn more about what’s going on in the country,” Bray said. The seventh-grader is student body treasurer.
Reum, an eighth-grader, said conferences “open you up.” It’s not just about Tahoe anymore.
In addition to the inauguration, as part of the conference the boys will see the parade, attend one of the balls and listen to keynote speaker Lance Armstrong.
All of this does cost money, so the boys are likely to be hitting the trail soon to raise funds for trip.

Old ranch to be bike trail

unedited from may mt. news

By Kathryn Reed

Bill Mosher looks like he may have left his horse hitched out front. But the amount of acreage he has to ride on has diminished.
Some of the land his family settled years ago is about to belong to the California Tahoe Conservancy. The board voted in March to acquire the 125-acre Lyons Ranch East for $6.2 million.
The Lyons owned it in the 1800s. The Barton-Ledbetter-Mosher clan has had it for more than 100 years. Escrow is expected to close in August after four years of negotiations. The state Public Works Board must approve the acquisition as well.
“The property is a jewel and pristine,” Mosher told the board while his cousin Kirk Ledbetter sat next to their real estate agent Deb Howard.
He touched on how he grazed half of the property. Nostalgia filled his voice as he spoke about the views from the highest point and the low points having incredible meadows.
The Conservancy plans to use the property for pubic access and recreation, and to restore the stream environment zone. It’s possible the South Tahoe Greenway bike trail that will link Meyers and Stateline will go through here.
Other Conservancy lots and U.S. Forest Service land surround much of these parcels east of Lake Tahoe Airport.

Walking the property

Private property signs and barbed wire are not deterrents for people who want to access this property. An employee of a well known South Lake Tahoe marketing company jogs by with her dog. A mountain biker is spotted on another link.
This property is already public in the sense that the public is using it. Trails are clearly designated and they aren’t for cattle. No cow paddies are visible. This hasn’t been ranch land for years.
Bruce Eisner, program manager with the CTC, used to live nearby. He is well aware the people living around Sundown Trail in Montgomery Estates consider this acreage their backyard. It is prime land for hiking, jogging and mountain biking.
Quickly it is evident where South Tahoe Public Utility District has moved its export line from the meadow to a trail wide enough for a vehicle.
Mosher was not exaggerating about the views. Mt. Tallac, vistas looking toward Freel Peak, green meadows, a trickling spring – they are there to behold. Various conifers fill the landscape. The Truckee River rumbles alongside Lake Tahoe Airport.
It’s a Kodak moment every several feet.
Old fencing dots the landscape. Some of the wood looks like artifacts. The rusted metal looks like it could cause a nasty infection. For now it is keeping people out of some extremely sensitive land.

Greenway bike trail

Part of this land may one day be a paved bike pathway. It’s part of Alternative 2 in the proposed 9.6-mile South Tahoe Greenway Shared Use Trail Project. Much of this parallels the old Caltrans right-of-way. However, for some reason Caltrans never actually acquired any of this property that is in escrow.
In April two well attended forums were conducted to gauge public sentiment about different routes for the proposed bike path. People had until April 30 to comment.
On the books seemingly forever, the trail would connect Meyers to Stateline near the Van Sickle Bi-State Park – another entity long in the planning stages.
The Conservancy must prepare an environmental impact report, while the U.S. Forest Service and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency need to do environmental impact statements.
Sue Rae Irelan, who heads the project for CTC, did not return phone calls as of press time.
Three alternatives are proposed, with one being to do nothing. Another follows the old Caltrans right-of-way of what could have been Highway 50 but is really the east side of the Lake Tahoe Airport. The other proposal essentially follows Pioneer Trail.
For information about the project, go to
It would be a 10-foot-wide paved path, with 2 feet on either side as shoulders that could be dirt. The maximum grade would be 5 percent. Raised platform bridges would be used to cross stream environmental zones.
“Signage and flashing lights will be used at crossings such as Glenwood Dr., Al Tahoe Blvd., and Pioneer Trail to increase safety,” according to the above mentioned document. “Forest thinning for fuels reduction will occur within a minimum of 150 feet from the trail centerline to allow the trail to serve as a fire break.”
A date for a decision on the project is unknown.

Rerouting forest trails

Eldorado Forest reconfigures routes for vehicles

After 2.5 years of study, a revamped road system has been created for the Eldorado National Forest. A map for 2009 will show the 1,847 miles (1,002 miles of dirt roads, 210 miles of trails, 635 miles of paved roads suitable for passenger cars), plus 334 miles of county roads and state highways, and 311 miles of routes previously designated in the Rock Creek area near Georgetown.
This summer the Forest Service will allow motor vehicles on routes displayed on the free Motor Vehicle Use Restriction map that’s been in existence since 2005.
Per the new rules, the dirt roads will be closed from Jan. 1-March 31 to protect watersheds, meadows and wildlife.
The forest supervisor’s decision, final Environmental Impact Statement and maps are at:

SLT AAA to provide some DMV services

unedited may tahoe mt. news:

By Kathryn Reed

Just in time for the summer travel season, the South Lake Tahoe AAA office is expanding its hours.
Not only will the insurance-travel company be open on Saturdays from 10am to 2pm starting this summer, but California Department of Motor Vehicle services will be provided. Corporate folks don’t have a definitive date for the changes.
Since moving from the Y a few years ago to the center at Al Tahoe Boulevard anchored by Ross and Rite-Aid, AAA has seen a steady increase in people dropping in.
“The foot traffic we are seeing from the shopping center, that is what sort of generated this move,” explained Michael Geeser, AAA spokesman out of the company’s San Francisco headquarters. “Several offices are increasing hours. This just makes it easier to do business with the members.”
Nevada DMV services will not be provided. Reno is the nearest location for that.
A kiosk that resembles an ATM machine will be set up at the South Lake office where people can renew vehicle registrations, and handle title, license plate and driver’s license issues.
“Some services you will have to go into DMV to do like out of state vehicle transactions,” Geeser said.
It is not necessary to be an AAA member to use the DMV kiosk, Geeser said.
Although the local office is not a full service travel bureau, the staff is trained to book car rentals, hotels, Disney trips and create travel itineraries. Cruises and some other travel reservations must go through either the Truckee office (they moved in April from Kings Beach) or Carson City.

EDC animal shelter grand opening June 24

Grand Opening Slated for
Newly Renovated Tahoe Animal Shelter
Tours, Booths, Activities Scheduled June 24 from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

The El Dorado County Animal Control shelter in South Lake Tahoe, which recently had an “extreme make-over”, is hosting its official grand opening celebration on Tuesday, June 24 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Tours of the newly renovated shelter, booths from local and national animal welfare groups, a dog training demonstration, and other activities are planned. The shelter is located at 1120 Shakori Drive in South Lake Tahoe.

The shelter underwent a major remodeling and expansion project last year. “The facility was 40 years old and really needed updating in order for us to adequately serve the residents and animals in our county,” said Supervising Animal Control Officer, Robert Gerat. “We’re inviting the public out for our grand opening to see the great improvements that have been made to the shelter.”
An official ribbon cutting ceremony is slated for approximately 1:00 p.m. on June 24. Members of the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors are scheduled to be in attendance. “This will be a very special, and long awaited day for everyone,” said Supervisor Norma Santiago. “To see the transformation of the shelter in person and know of the good work that will be done there is exciting.”

The renovation of the shelter included: Expansion of the building by 700 feet with improved floor plan to maximize space; a bigger reception and lobby area for serving the public; improved parking lot with more parking spaces; improved dog kennels that are more sanitary and reduce noise; new housing and adoption rooms for cats; and new quarantine areas for housing animals that are sick animals or that need to be isolated.

For more information about the grand opening event, the renovation project and shelter services, visit Animal Control’s website at