Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fuel reduction plan on East Shore

NEWS RELEASE U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit 35 College Drive South Lake Tahoe CA 96150 (530) 543-2600 March 17, 2009 Contact: Public Affairs, Cheva Heck 530-543-2608 or Rex Norman 530-543-2627
FOREST SERVICE TO RELEASE EAST SHORE FUELS REDUCTION PLANS South Lake Tahoe, Calif.--The U.S. Forest Service is seeking public comment on a proposal to reduce hazardous fuels and restore forest health near several communities on Lake Tahoe’s East Shore. Forest Service officials expect the proposal to be released later this week and will host two public meetings on Tuesday, March 31, 2009, to explain the proposal and answer questions. The meetings will use an open-house format, with brief presentations at 1:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. The location is the Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District, Station 3, 193 Elks Point Road, Zephyr Cove, Nev. In between the presentations, meeting attendees will have the opportunity to learn about the project in more detail at information stations, ask questions and submit comments. Under this project, the Forest Service would treat excess fuels on National Forest System lands within the wildland-urban interface (WUI). The Spooner project encompasses the communities of Logan Shoals, Cave Rock, Skyland and Glenbrook. The LTBMU coordinated with the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District to identify areas for fuels reduction that coordinate with the Community Wildfire Protection Plans. The proposal includes mechanical treatment on up to 365 acres, with materials removed either as sawlogs, or by chipping or masticating, piling and burning or removal as biomass. Up to 3,025 acres would be treated by hand using chain saws. In much of this area, the steepness of the slopes would necessitate crews going back into the unit multiple times to sufficiently reduce fuels. Because of this, follow-up prescribed fire treatments may take up to ten years to fully complete, although most of the forest thinning would be finished within 3-5 years. The Forest Service proposes partial treatment of one 75-acre unit through cable yarding, in which logs are fully or partially suspended. If monitoring results from this type of treatment are favorable, the Forest Service may use this method in other units. All units would receive at least one follow-up prescribed fire treatment. In addition, the proposal calls for restoring aspen on 60 acres by thinning conifers that are encroaching on aspen stands. Comments on the proposal will be accepted for 30-days after the proposal release date. Check the LTBMU website at to obtain the full proposal when it is released or contact Duncan Leao at (530) 543-2600.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mortgage fraud in Tahoe

Five people have been indicted in a mortgage fraud scheme that includes houses in South Lake Tahoe – one on Herbert Avenue, two on Pioneer Trail and one on Inverness Drive.
One house in Nevada City is caught up in the cash-back-to-buyer mortgage fraud scheme that local FBI agents helped bring to light.
The eight-count indictment contends that various lending institutions lost more than $1 million in the process. Washington Mutual doing business as Long Beach Mortgage, Countrywide Bank, FSB and other lenders were used by the suspects.
The banks relied on false statements supplied by the suspects to fund the transactions, according to the February indictment.
The 22-page indictment signed by Larry Brown, acting U.S. attorney in Sacramento, outlines a complex web of transactions that occurred from June 2005 to April 2007.
The various charges include conspiracy to commit bank fraud and mail fraud, making false statement on a loan applications, money laundering. If convicted, sentences could range from five to 30 years in federal prison.
The five accused are Dennis Aaron Moore, 50, of Hillsborough, Veronika Wright, 33, of San Ramon, Mitchell Wright, 36, of San Ramon, Haiying Fan, 42, of Millbrae, and Gary Lorenzo George, 50, of Olivehurst. They were arraigned in the U.S. Eastern District Court on Feb. 20. Fan was release on bond and the others were trying to do the same as of press time.
The impact on the local homeowners is not known.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Softball update

Below is an email I just received. After it is my response:

A friend just emailed me a copy of your December 30th Blog about Social Rights and Joann's situation with softball. In this you say, "The board ruled Allister will be told to adhere to Ed Code rules – like letting athletes stay properly fueled and hydrated for competition." and "Those in support of gay marriage are hoping the men and women in black robes do for gay marriage what they did for desegregation and equal rights on the ball field. "

It might behoove you to investigate your facts before you say something that is hurtful and totally untrue. And it is rather ironic that you would say something like this in an article about people's rights and the violation of those rights. The fact is that the investigation of Joann and her athletes being "fueled" and "hydrated" totally cleared her of those charges. 14 athletes were interviewed about the alleged incident, and 1 athlete said that food and water was withheld. 13 others refuted the charge. The team parents provided food and water on every single occasion during the softball season. There was food and water in the dugout every single day of the year. And interestingly enough, the disgruntled young lady (and her family) who brought that charge and lied about it all, later is quoted as saying that on the day in question, she was sitting on the water bucket behind the dugout at North Valleys where the water had been moved to be in the shade.

I would expect more from you than this. You have a responsibility to print the truth, and if you are unsure of the truth, you have a journalistic responsibility to check sources. Naturally, if you cannot confirm a story, you also have an ethical and moral responsibility to do what is right and not defame a totally innocent person. The real story here is the "witch hunt" in this community that was right out of The Crucible, and now, I find it sad to say, you are part of it.

I think it will be interesting to see how you handle this. From everything I have heard about you, you are a nice, ethical person. Joann deserves a heartfelt apology, and it will be interesting to see if you are a "good" enough person to do so. I hope you are a person with the character to admit that you made a terrible and hurtful mistake.

Derek Allister

Derek and Joann,

First, I called Joann and never got a response. So I did do my due diligence in trying to get her side of the story.

At the time the original blog was posted the comments I had from the school district in regards to allegations brought forth from parents as well as comments made to me from parents were in part about not feeling like the players had ample time to consume the quanties of water or food they wanted. Without Joann's comments, yes, it's one sided. But I tried to get her side. It was the truth as I knew it.

I am glad you have written to clarify the matter. At no time was I on a witch hunt. I'm guessing you are referring to the non daily daily paper. I was trying to seek the truth. I am sorry if either or both of you feel wronged for what I have written.

The reference in my original blog about the Supreme Court and ball fields had to do with Title IX.

I am happy to be able to publish your email now and hope that it will serve to clarify the matter for everyone.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Heavenly skiers need rescuing


March 5th, 2009
Time: 1:00 pm

In two days, between March 3rd and March 4th, 2009, members of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office Search & Rescue Team (DCSAR) responded to three separate incidents of lost skiers at Heavenly Valley Ski Resort. Through their valiant efforts, DCSAR rescued four persons in the process.

The first incident occurred Tuesday evening, 03-03-09, at approximately 7:00 pm.

Heavenly Valley Ski Resort Ski Patrol contacted the Douglas County Emergency Services Dispatch Center and reported that there was a lost snow-biker, Mike McKinney, lost somewhere on the mountain (snow-biking is a winter activity where a participant rides down a ski run on a bicycle equipped with ski treads rather than wheels).

The Ski Patrol reported that McKinney had called them via cell phone and reported he was lost and needed help. McKinney reported that he was stuck in deep snow out-of-bounds of the regular ski runs, and did not know his exact location.

The Ski Patrol advised dispatch they were unable to respond, and requested the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office deploy its Search and Rescue Team to do so.

Sixteen (16) DCSAR members were dispatched to the call during the severe winter snowstorm that night. Conditions were treacherous, with visibility was down to only a few feet at times due to the continually strong blowing snow. DCSAR team members faced additional danger from high avalanche danger warnings.

McKinney had reported that he went out-of-bounds somewhere near the Olympic chairlift, and based upon the direction McKinney had taken from the top of the mountain, coupled with surrounding topographic and geographic information obtained from McKinney during sporadic cell phone coverage, DCSAR members determined McKinney was likely located somewhere near the Edgewood Creek area, off the southern edge of Kingsbury Grade.

DCSAR members combed the area on foot and vehicles. Through sound and light detection, they located McKinney at approximately 10:00 pm.

DCSAR members escorted McKinney out of the deep snow area, and treated him for symptoms of severe cold distress.

The second incident occurred Wednesday afternoon, 03-04-09 , at approx 2:40 pm.

The Douglas County Emergency Services Dispatch Center received a 911 call via cell phone from a subject identified as 27 year-old Nicholas Gorman. Gorman, a resident of Stateline NV, advised he was stuck in deep snow on the mountainside below Heavenly Valley Ski Resort.

Gorman stated he had been snow boarding at Heavenly when he followed a trail outside the normal ski run area of the Heavenly Olympic run. Gorman advised he had become stuck in the deep snow. Gorman advised that the snow was too deep to walk in, and he could not get out. Gorman advised he was wet and cold.

DCSAR and Tahoe Douglas Fire Department personnel were dispatched to the area to search for Gorman. Gorman was located at approximately 4:27 pm, but due to his remote location and the threat of avalanche from loose, deep snow, SAR personnel were not able to get to him. A rescue helicopter was subsequently requested.

The Fallon Naval Air Station rescue squadron deployed a helicopter, and Gorman was extricated at approximately 5:55 pm. Gorman was then transported to Barton Memorial Hospital in South Lake Tahoe for treatment of suspected cold injuries.

The third incident occurred Wednesday evening, 03-04-09 , at approximately 4:45 pm.

DCSAR personnel were already on-scene at the Heavenly Valley Ski Resort, working on an unrelated search for a lost out-of-bounds skier, when they received a radio call from the Douglas County Emergency Services Dispatch Center advising that there were two additional skiers lost and stuck in the snow on the mountainside below Heavenly Valley Ski Resort.

The two lost skiers, 22 year-old Matthew Chiesa and 20 year-old Bernadette Leary, had contacted the dispatch center via 911, from Chiesa’s cell phone.

Chiesa reported that he and Leary, both of Denver Colorado, were lost and stranded in deep snow on the mountainside below the Heavenly Valley Ski Resort. Chiesa reported he and Leary were unable to extricate themselves and make their way to safety.

During the cell phone conversation with Chiesa, he reported that from the position he and Leary were stuck in, he could see the structure of Horizon Casino.

Based upon this information and other descriptive information regarding surrounding topographic and geographic sights, DCSAR members were able to locate the two lost subjects on the hillside behind the Park Cattle Company homestead.

DCSAR located and rescued Chiesa and Leary at approximately 1955 hrs. DCSAR escorted them out of the deep snow, and treated them for symptoms of severe cold distress.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind all skiers and snowboarders that per Douglas County Code 9.08.030, it is a misdemeanor offense for any person who has used a ski lift or surface lift of a ski area/resort to ski outside of the resort boundaries, or ski under a manmade barrier designed to prohibit a skier from entering a closed portion of the ski area.

In addition to any criminal penalties, offenders may also be held liable for restitution to private or public entities providing service toward their rescue efforts.