Friday, May 29, 2009

Lakefront development coming to Tahoe

Luxury community planned for Lake Tahoe shore
Kathryn Reed, Special to The Chronicle
Sunday, May 24, 2009

(05-24) 04:00 PDT Stateline, Nev. --
A 19-acre lakefront property that has housed a mobile home park since the 1960s is poised to be developed into the first multifamily residential complex to be built on the shores of Lake Tahoe in more than a quarter-century.
This area on the South Shore, northeast of the Stateline casinos, will be transformed into the high-end, luxury Tahoe Beach Club, whose plans include 143 units, 270 feet of private beach, a private restaurant and a concierge service that will cater to residents' every whim - from picking up dry cleaning to walking a resident's dog to having meals prepared in the home.
"It's about location and lifestyle," said Bob Mecay, president of the group, who plans to move into the development with his wife. "All the work of taking care of a house will be taken care of."
That's a far cry from the land's current use.
When Mecay, Tom Castaneda and partners bought the parcel in 2002 for about $12.6 million, 155 mobile homes dotted the landscape. Most of the units are still on the property, but only 30 are occupied full-time by owners. Another 25 are rentals, some seasonally. The rest have been abandoned or removed since the residents were notified seven years ago that they eventually would be displaced - none owns the land on which the trailers sit.
Tahoe Beach Club residents will have at their disposal a 43,000-square-foot clubhouse that includes a spa, Pilates studio, gym, bar and grill, and party room. Shuttle service will be provided to the nearby Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course - home of the annual American Century Celebrity Golf Tournament - Heavenly Mountain Resort, shopping, casinos, dining and countless trails.
The developers, who have completed a number of commercial, resort and condominium projects in the United States and Canada over the past 30 years, plan to refurbish and extend the existing pier to 160 feet. The property comes with three buoys, so private boat access is limited; a boat valet service is being discussed.
Mecay and Castaneda expect buyers to hail mostly from the Bay Area and Sacramento Valley. Their theory is bearing out, judging by the people inquiring about the development.
The developers are in talks with institutional and private investors to secure $260 million before breaking ground on the three-phase project. This is huge for locals and visitors who drive by the stalled $420 million convention center-hotel project across the state line in California. It's a hole in the ground with a foundation because Lake Tahoe Development Co. ran out of funding.
With Tahoe Regional Planning Agency rules prohibiting the disturbance of dirt between Oct. 15 and May 1, it is likely construction will not begin until next year.
When it's completed, 14 buildings will be dispersed along the nearly milelong parcel of land. There will be seven estate homes, four lodge buildings, one carriage house, a gate house and a beach club. Three to six residential units will fill each floor of the three-story estate and lodge buildings.
Estates will have three- and four-bedroom units, some with a den, that range from 2,500 to 3,700 square feet. Lodge dwellings will be two-, three- and four-bedroom units with square footage from 1,250 to 4,000. The remaining buildings will house smaller units.
Views include the waters of Tahoe, the slopes of Heavenly and Rabe Meadow.
Developers expect the price per unit to span $1.5 million to $4 million.
The goal is to create a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver-rated project.
Indeed, environmental improvements are a main reason the project passed TRPA review. If that agency had been around in the 1950s, it's likely this swath of land, which at one time even contained an airstrip, would still be a meadow. Development has altered half of the meadows in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Plan to reduce sediment
According to environmental documents, 11,000 pounds of sediment flow into Lake Tahoe each year just from this location. That sediment is what contributes to the lake losing its pristine clarity. The plan is to reduce sediment by 94 percent so only 632 pounds per year enter the lake.
About 2 acres will no longer be paved. Walking trails will meander among the new buildings. Riparian ponds will be created to handle runoff as well as provide a year-round sanctuary for birds. And Mecay said the project and its residents will use less water than the mobile home park.
The developers plan to leave as many of the pines and aspens as possible. Landscaping will be with native vegetation. Power lines now strung across the property will be buried.
Stone, wood, concrete, solar, radiant heating, gas fireplaces and granite countertops all are likely to be part of the mix, but Mecay would not commit to specifics.
The development will radically alter the neighborhood. Kahle Drive, leading up to the gated Tahoe Shores Mobile Home Park, is a stretch of modest single-family residences. Immediately to the west is the University of Nevada 4-H camp; to the east are 350 acres of U.S. Forest Service land.
The mobile home park residents were notified that they would be displaced when Mecay and his partners bought the property. Meetings about the developers' plans initially were emotional and contentious. As the plans move forward, the remaining residents will be given six months' notice.
Residents are being paid fair market value for their homes and receiving help with moving costs per Nevada law. Some are getting a $5,000 check.
Some affordable housing
Because so many year-round residents of modest means are being ousted, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency required some concessions: The developers must provide 39 deed-restricted affordable housing units and 15 moderate income deed-restricted units.
"This is a situation where the lake benefits, but some people don't. Some people are having to move," said Dennis Oliver, an agency spokesman.
"The ideal condition would be for nothing to be there, but we are talking about a piece of real estate that is very valuable," Oliver said. "This is a mistake of the past in terms of the environment. We are going back and undoing it part of the way."
Comment to
This article appeared on page M - 4 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Writers needed

May 25, 2009

CONTACT: Kim Wyatt, 530-545-1373,


Literary journal EDGE, published annually by Tahoe Writers Works, is accepting submissions June 1 - October 1 for volume IV, to be published in 2010. Edge features provocative fiction, poetry, essays, and art; we appreciate a variety of styles and our tastes are eclectic. To best understand our philosophy, we offer this quote from the late Hunter S. Thompson: “The edge…there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”

For submission guidelines, please visit

Tahoe Writers Works, formerly the Lake Tahoe Writing Club, is a nonprofit organization based in South Lake Tahoe . Each year, the group organizes events to create a stronger literary and arts community in Lake Tahoe, including Bare Bones Open Mic, Murder Mystery Theater, and the Captain Thunder Old Time Radio Play at Valhalla. For more information, go to
For general information about the group, contact founder and director Andrea Wexelblatt, 530-416-2666,

Tahoe City paddle June 20

Hi everyone,The spring paddle at Sand Harbor was a huge success! I hope you were able to enjoy it.Another great event is happening on June 20th at Commons Beach in Tahoe City - the 2nd Annual PaddleFest featuring kayak and paddleboard demos, instruction, classes, vendors and more! Fun for the whole family. Watch or participate in the 3-mile Kayak & PaddleBoard Race or get a wristband and try out the latest equipment. This event is hosted by Tahoe City Kayak and the Ta-Hoe Nalu Stand Up Paddle Classic. For event information contact Tahoe City Kayak at (530) 581-4336 or look under special events on their website - to man the event registration booth and try out free demos before or after your shift (subject to availability).We need two shifts of volunteers on Saturday, June 20th at Common's Beach 8:45 am to 12:45 pm and 12:30 to 4:30 pm. Volunteers will help register people for the kayak and paddleboard demos. We need 2-3 volunteers per shift for event registration and someone to man the LTWT display booth - giving out information and selling maps.
Please respond to this email if you have an interest in volunteering and enjoying the Tahoe City paddlefest for Free! If you bring a friend, you can coordinate booth time and trade off with time to participate as well as be in the middle of everything going on.Thanks for your consideration.Niobe BurdenLake Tahoe Water Trail CommitteeandTahoe City Downtown Association

Monday, May 25, 2009

South Lake Tahoe city manager's comments

Electronic Version
May 20, 2009


City Vision Statement:

“The City Council exists to represent the public interest, to oversee the City’s operations, and to plan for the City’s future”


With the help of community meetings that have been held and ones that are planned in the future, the City Council is laying foundation for the City’s future by developing its City General Plan. The City General Plan protects the natural environment, reduces our carbon footprint, and makes improvements to the built environment to create a sustainable community that is economically strong for all segments of the community and provides the services, housing and facilities desired and needed by the community. The community belongs to the 24,000 people who live here.

Community Workshop
May 21, 2009, 6 pm to 8 pm
Lake Tahoe Community College, Board and Aspen Room

Three alternative land use scenarios are being evaluated. The first is a Base Case Scenario (Status quo planning); The second is a Transect Zoning Option. The third is a Neighborhood Features Option.

Be there if you can or look at the options on the City website and offer comments (

I am confident that if we do our part as a community and City government to create a well thought out sustainable General Plan that our friends at TRPA and its Governing Board will applaud and support our work and efforts and make our local plan part of the adopted Regional Plan.


There is no doubt that tourism is our primary economic resource. City government contributes funding to operate Explore Tahoe, contributes funding for the maintenance of Heavenly Village through PADMA, operates a parking garage required when Heavenly Village was built, provides a building for a tourism center, actively advertises City recreation programs to residents and visitors, and contributes hundreds of thousands of dollars to operate an improving transit system in cooperation with public and private partners. There is much to do and be done.

However, we must not lose sight of the chance we have in the General Plan and emerging Tahoe Valley Community Plan to develop a strong green business economy for the City to grow local jobs, provide livable wages to people who live here, and allow all to share in the benefits of our community. We must create land use regulations and building rules that first and foremost do no harm to the environment but do allow us to create a sustainable community. We need to focus on projects and activities that improve the economy. We need to encourage new investment in our community. We need to make the strengthening of the economy first if we are going to create a sustainable community. We can have prosperity and environmental protection. They go hand in hand.

The focus of attention needs to be on growing the local economy, helping existing businesses grow and allowing business desired by the community to locate in town. In addition, we cannot discount or ignore the value of using a community-oriented redevelopment financing tool to help build needed new infrastructure in the City without adding new tax burdens to the people.

It is all about the economy, and we need to stay focused on growing it.


I don’t blame the Governor for the loss of most of the State propositions. At least he is trying to fix the State budget mess. He cannot do it alone. The propositions at best were marginal. Now State government will have to start over to balance the budget and it will not be pretty.

We need to let our Governor and legislators know that it is not desirable or acceptable for them to take hard earned locally generated property tax revenues because the State cannot balance its budget. Doing so potentially deprives our City residents and businesses dollars needed to provide services. It is not acceptable to balance the State budget on the backs of this city or other cities that have been responsible in their financial policies and financial practices.

Some people say we cannot have an impact on what the State does with the budget. I’ve heard this said before. Some say the State will do whatever it wants to do and we have nothing to say about it. I don’t believe in pre-determination. We are not victims. We are citizens who have a right to be heard, and we will be heard. It will not be easy, but we all must take responsibility to voice our opinions to our legislators and tell them to allow us to keep locally generated tax dollars to maintain services to the community.

I agree with Robert Kennedy’s statement when approaching this issue, “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.”

Locally, the City Council’s Finance Committee (Mayor Birdwell and Council Member Cole), City Manager and Finance Director will be meeting shortly to discuss our approach to the new 2009-2010 budget in light of the failure of State propositions. We must be prudent and mindful of steps we need to take to protect our community, provide needed services, and still be financially prudent. We will continue our dialogue and discussion with members of employee unions and associations as well.


This is a topic of great interest and passion on both sides of the matter. We can’t act like the issue doesn’t exist and government cannot disobey the Law. We need to understand the dilemma we face in local government.

The distribution of marijuana for medicinal purposes is legal in California under guidelines outlined by the Attorney General. Federal law does not recognize this State exemption. The City of South Lake Tahoe codes requires businesses operating to comply with both Federal and State law. The conflict in law needs to be resolved and City government cannot resolve it. Federal and State officials need to come to agreement on this matter.


Meetings are continuing with the developer to see what progress he has made to secure funding for the project. We know from the city’s own financial advisors that the private capital market is very tight nationally and locally.

In addition, City officials are following up with U.S. Senator Feinstein’s Office to see if there is any chance to get a loan from the Federal government to build the Phase I part of the project. City government officials have already made an $85 million loan request to Senator Feinstein for this “ready-to-go-project.” The project will not only create hundreds of construction jobs but would also create 300 permanent jobs once built. We know the Senator will do what she can to help us. Hopefully, her colleagues in Congress will agree .

Shop Locally

Business must provide the best service, product, and best pricing possible and when they do, locals should shop locally.

City Manager

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Carson City promotions


Online Discounts Provide More Than $500 in Lodging, Dining and Activity Savings

(Carson City, Nev.) – (Carson City, Nev.) – Travelers can eat, sleep and play for less in Carson City ( this summer. Nevada’s capital is rolling out a “New Deal” promotion, offering record breaking discounts that stretch visitors’ budgets the right way.

Starting May 1, visitors can view the discounts online at and print the “Deals” they want to use. “New Deal” discounts are available through Sept. 7, 2009. Here’s a sneak peak:


Big fun at a small price can be found all summer long at the Carson Station Hotel Casino, with two nights for just $59 (plus tax). This package includes $25 of free slot play, one cocktail and one shrimp cocktail per person.

At the Gold Dust West Hotel Casino, the second night’s stay is 50 percent off with a two night reservation, subject to availability. For families, the Gold Dust has a 32-lane bowling alley for a little friendly competition.


Eagle Valley Golf Course has two for one green fees after 12 p.m., Sunday through Friday at their two courses. This offer is valid through July 31, 2009. Eagle Valley’s East recently added forward tees on seven of their holes, making play for families easier. Eagle Valley’s West course has refurbished tees and sand traps, removing sagebrush and underbrush to improve aesthetics and the pace of play.

Empire Ranch Golf Course features three nine-hole courses, each with water and wetlands. “New Deal” golfers can play to their hearts’ delight with $25 green fees including a cart, anytime after 11am, Monday – Friday, valid now through Oct. 31, 2009.

The Nevada State Museum celebrates the natural and cultural heritage of the state. Visitors will celebrate the NSM’s discounts on entrance: one adult for $4, one senior over 65 for $3 or children under age 18 free. Available 8:30am to 4:30pm, Wednesday through Saturday. Exhibits like the ancient mammoth skeleton make this museum a must-see when visiting the area.

Explore the rich railroading heritage of Nevada at the Nevada State Railroad Museum. Vintage steam trains and artifacts shed light on the area’s historic Comstock era and beyond. Admit one adult for $2, one senior over 65 for $1 or children under age 18 free. Available 8:30am to 4:30pm, Friday through Monday.

The Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada features exhibits and activities for all ages. The “Tread Wall”, a circulating climbing wall that operates like a tread mill, keeps visitors on their toes and the museum’s space shuttle flight simulator blasts families into fun. A day of play costs just $6 for one child and one adult.


Two for One Roundup! A variety of restaurants offer buy one get one free items:
Artisan’s Café, across from the Brewery Arts Center – coffee
Firkin & Fox – “Two Fir” special on draft beers, well drinks and house wines
B’Sghetti’s – lunch or dinner entrée with the purchase of two drinks and an entrée
Charley’s Grilled Subs – free regular sub sandwich with the purchase of another
El Charro Avitia, voted best Mexican restaurant in the area by the Nevada Appeal – lunches, dinners and margaritas
Mom & Pop’s Diner – breakfast or lunch entree

Summer perks will be served daily at The Alley Espresso Café, offering one latte with 50 percent off the second.

Finucci’s Grand Central Pizza & Pasta offers 50 percent off a dinner entrée, pizza or next delivery or take-out.

At Red’s Old 395 Grill, patrons receive $10 off any check over $30. Try the rib eye steak with the chef’s top secret rib rub.

Locals BBQ & Grill, current winner of “Taste of Downtown” offers 50 percent off a second menu item with the purchase of the first.

Sweet deals can also be found at Z Bistro, with a free dessert with the purchase of a lunch or dinner entrée.

Stay tuned, more “New Deals” will be added throughout the summer. For a complete list of participating establishments, visit Offers vary, check the web site for details.

Tahoe firewood permits

The U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe BasinManagement Unit (LTBMU) will begin the sale of fuelwood permits for thebasin beginning Monday, June 1, and continue through October 31. Permitswill be available for collection of down-dead wood up to 30-inch maximumdiameter on designated fuelwood areas within the Lake Tahoe Basin.Permits will be on sale for $20.00 per cord, with a 2-cord minimum purchasetotaling $40.00. There is a 10-cord maximum per household. Maps todesignated cutting areas will be provided and must be in your possessionalong with the valid permit, when obtaining wood. “Down-dead” means thewood is down on the ground and dead, rather than dead and standing. Thereis no cutting of dead standing wood.For all permitted collection, permit holders must keep vehicles on NationalForest System (NFS) roads (no off-road travel) and comply with all permitconditions. Please be aware that some designated fuelwood areas are onlyopen during specified dates, and all are subject to closure at any time.The permit will have specific conditions to follow. Permit holders areasked to stay off private property and demonstrate courtesy when it comesto any noise or collection activity on NFS lands near homes. Also, pleasebe aware that several forest areas will be restricted from collection.Full information is provided when a permit is issued.Beginning June 1, fuelwood permits are available at the LTBMU Supervisor’sOffice at 35 College Drive in South Lake Tahoe, Monday through Friday, 8:00a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Permits will also be available, Fridays only, at theForest Service office on the North Shore, located at 3080 N. Lake Blvd.,Tahoe City. North Shore office hours are Fridays, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.,and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information, please call (530)543-2694.

Summer fun at Camp Rich


Lakefront Views, Cultural Events and Outdoor Recreation Combined with History and Tradition
Make For a Memorable Summer Getaway

(South Lake Tahoe, Calif.) – Since the 1920s, families have visited Camp Richardson Historic Resort & Marina ( on the south shore of Lake Tahoe to celebrate life and nature. The resort’s lively summer events, charming lake front lodging and favorable weather make it a popular vacation destination. The 2009 summer schedule has been announced; highlighted by festivals, live music and theater, cultural events and outdoor activities that make for an affordable Lake Tahoe getaway in today’s economy.

The resort goes back in time May 30-31 and June 6-7 with the 17th Annual Valhalla Renaissance Faire and brings to life the authentic pleasures and pageantry of an Elizabethan country fair. Costumed players perform at Camp Richardson’s Resort in the shady lanes and byways, and hawk their wares from market stalls filled with fine handmade crafts. Jousters vie for the pleasure of the Royal Court twice daily.
Jugglers, minstrels and fortunetellers entertain as visitors peruse more than 25 booths, or guild yards, and 100-plus merchants and artisan’s shops in faire’s Market Village. Four stages with live music, storytelling, dancing, comedy and magic acts keep the patrons entertained with variety acts. Mead aplenty flows during the festival, as does a wide selection of beer and wine. The festival is May 30-31 and June 6-7, and has a different theme each weekend with events stating at 10 a.m. Tickets are $18 for adults; $13 for seniors, military and ages 13-17; and $8 for children 3-12. Info:
Camp Richardson will return to the 21st Century and host the 31st Annual Sidecar Rally, June 25-28. The United Sidecar Association provides motorcar enthusiasts from throughout the U.S. with an opportunity to ‘Show and Shine’ motorcycle and sidecars – a small car attached on one side to a motorcycle and supported on the other side by a wheel of its own, from throughout the U.S.; along with sidecar games and activities for spectators. Lodging rates at Camp Richardson Resort during the rally start at $110/night.
California's rich and famous built their elaborate summer estates in the late 1800s and the early 1900s in the secluded woods and along the beaches of the Tallac Historic Site. The Valhalla Boat House Theater and Grand Hall are a part of the Tallac Historic Site and throughout the summer both venues offer film nights, open mic nights, live music and theater as well as the annual Wa She Shu It Deh Native American Festival. For event details, dates and times visit
During summer, the full-service marina operates with boat & jetski rentals, fishing and sailing. Family summer activities include hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, biking, live music and relaxing beachside.
Camp Richardson’s own old-fashion Ice Cream Parlor provides generous helpings to satisfy the sweet tooth craving for kids of all ages. In fact, California’s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, said it’s his favorite ice cream in Lake Tahoe. The General Store is open daily and offers snacks, breakfast and deli sandwiches before hitting the trails or lake.

Camp Richardson’s popular lakefront restaurant, The Beacon Bar & Grill, offers a comfortable dining atmosphere with breathtaking views, with lunch from 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.; brunch on the weekends from 10:20 a.m. – 2 p.m.; limited lunch menu 3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. to close. Wild Wednesdays offer The Beacon’s infamous Rum Runner all day long for $5 each. Live music is featured Wednesday - Sunday throughout summer. For family reunions, celebrations or corporate dinners, The Beacon can accommodate groups. Parking is free when guests dine at the restaurant; otherwise parking is $7. Reservations are accepted after 5 p.m., call 530-541-0630.

To celebrate summer, Camp Richardson is heating up with a variety of lodging deals. To receive alerts on exclusive lodging packages sign-up for Camp Richardson’s e-specials.

For real time updates on Camp Richardson events, promotions and news, follow the resort on Twitter:

For information on summer recreation, lodging and packages call 800-544-1801 or visit:

KTHO Saturday radio show

My radio show will be regularly on Saturdays at 10am ... KTHO AM-590 or This week's subject is the Young Parents Program. It's for teen parents -- a way to keep them in school and have their infants on campus in a day care. A record number of teen births (13 by the end of July) will have occurred here this school year.

Tune in ...

North Shore September 09 Food and Wine Fest

For Immediate ReleaseTAHOE FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES LINEUP OF EVENTSTickets on Sale June 1(NORTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif./Nevada) – North Lake Tahoe will host a parade of first-class chefs this fall when food lovers, culinary aficionados, oenophiles and hungry travelers gather September 11-13 for the 24th Annual Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival at the Village at Northstar in Truckee.Traci Des Jardins, one of the country’s most acclaimed and respected chefs, joins the festival this year, leading the celebrity chef luncheon at Wild Goose in Tahoe Vista. Des Jardins is known for her French-California-style cuisine and owns Jardiniere, one of San Francisco’s top restaurants. She is also creating and opening the signature restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe, which is slated to open in the fall mid-mountain at the Northstar-at-Tahoe ski resort in Truckee.“We’re thrilled and honored to have Traci be a part of this year’s festival,” Judy Laverty, special events manager of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, said. “She’s a true standout among a sea of amazing chefs.”Chef Lars Kronmark of the Culinary Institute of America will be returning to give a lively Japanese grilling demonstration and John Ash, nationally renowned wine and food educator and author, will prepare and discuss sustainable seafood. Local favorite Mark Estee of Moody’s Bistro and Lounge and the new Baxter’s Bistro will demonstrate the roasting of a whole hog (with tasting and wine pairing).Additional events include an artisan cheese paring with Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars led by wine educator Kim Caffrey and renowned cheesemonger, John Raymond, Charbay annual release party (featuring a new line of tequila blanco), grape stomp and alfresco luncheon, Blazing Pans Mountain Chef Cook-Off, sushi rolling, pizza making, kids’ activities and gourmet marketplace. The festival will also highlight the Sierra Nevada’s scenic and artistic side, as it coincides with North Tahoe Plein Air Painting Event. Nearly 40 artists have been selected to paint on location throughout North Lake Tahoe from September 9-11. The judging, public exhibit and sale of the paintings will follow September 12-13 at the Village at Northstar during the festival.The weekend culminates with the Grand Tasting and Culinary Competition, when dozens of regional chefs serve their finest creations paired with premium California and international wines. A live auction of unique wines and libations follows.Tickets will range from $10 to $150 for festival events and will be available June 1. For more information, call 888-229-2193 or go to Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival is a fundraiser for the Community Fund of North Lake Tahoe through the 501c(3) Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation. The 24th annual festival is produced by the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association in partnership with Northstar-at-Tahoe; the Northstar Foundation; The Ritz-Carlton Destination Club; Audi of North America; Standards of Excellence Appliance Showrooms; Sunset magazine; Nothing to It Culinary Center in Reno; Charbay Winery and Distillery; and Tahoe Quarterly.North Lake Tahoe is a 45-minute drive from the Reno Tahoe International Airport, two hours from Sacramento International Airport and just over three hours from San Francisco International Airport. For lodging reservations, recreation and event details, call North Lake Tahoe at 1-877-949-3296 or visit Visitor information centers are located at 380 North Lake Boulevard in Tahoe City and 969 Tahoe Boulevard in Incline Village. The North Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureaus, Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau and the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, work together to promote North Lake Tahoe as a premier, year-round destination.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lake Tahoe Collaborative

By Kathryn Reed

Nineteen powerful and influential people are gathered around a table. Collectively, what they and their staffs do affects thousands of people – mostly South Lake Tahoe residents.
Lake Tahoe Collaborative facilitator Wendy David called February’s meeting “sobering” because of all the talk about staff and program cuts. The mental health department laid off two counselors, the county is looking at furlough days, Head Start is trimming staff.
“What’s especially disturbing is it’s hitting education and our kids. I think we’ll need even more collaboration,” David said Feb. 10 in her remarks as a Lake Tahoe Unified School District board member.
Collaborative members meet monthly to see who is doing what, talk about accomplishments, talk about goals. It’s like a clearinghouse of ideas and a warehouse of information in one spot.
Because most of the funding sources are through California, participating agencies are on this side of the state line.
Lake Tahoe Collaborative is the mother of all social agencies. The Women’s Center, mental health, probation, CASA, LTUSD, Tahoe Youth & Family Services, Family Resource Center, Sierra Recovery Center – those are some of the participants. It’s mostly executive directors – the people who can make decisions.
It all began in 1992. According to historical documents, “The Lake Tahoe Collaborative originally began as the Tahoe Prevention Network, a group that was looking for the means to bring additional funding to the county and to promote collaboration between all the nonprofit service agencies and county agencies.”
After the grant that the Prevention Network had secured ran its course, the members decided to stay intact and create the Collaborative as it is now known.
The Collaborative recognized years ago that a juvenile treatment center needed to be built in South Lake. It helped make the facility a reality. In 2008, discussions drifted toward which agency is doing what to combat the gang problem.
“The Collaborative is one of those fluid groups talking about what is happening in the community for families,” said David, who works for Court Appointed Special Advocates.
David leads the meetings. Each attendee has a chance to talk. Discussion is polite. No posturing or territorial stances are evident.
David said the need for social services in this community has not diminished even as the permanent population has. She said each agency worries about government shortfalls and the unstable economy. She said the health of the community is directly related to the services it can and does supply.
“If you lose funding for day care, then the person can’t work,” David said of potentially real scenarios that demonstrate how the agencies are interrelated. “Then do you have an increase in domestic violence? Then do they start drinking?”
For Lake Tahoe Collaborative information, call Wendy David at (530) 573-3072.

Nevada Beach trail closure

The Rabe Meadow area and portions of the Lam Watah Trail near Nevada Beach Campground will be closed from 7am to 6pm, Monday through Friday, until sometime in July while the U.S. Forest Service things the forest in that area.
The closed area will have signs posted with the forest order and map for the closure. The closure will not be in effect, nor will any work taking place May 23-25 or July 3-5.
Work will begin along the fence line behind Nevada Beach Campground and will continue away from the campground toward Highway 50. Direct questions to Cheva Heck at (530) 543-2608 or Rex Norman at (530) 543-2627.

Meyers to Stateline trail

Once again the Meyers to Stateline bike trail has been delayed.
The California Tahoe Conservancy expects the draft Environmental Impact Report/Statement of the South Tahoe Greenway Shared Use to be ready for public review in November. The holdup is because of the state’s fiscal mess, need for more design development and work on various alternatives.
The 9.2 mile trail, which has been in the works since 2003, is expected to be a separated trail link for bicyclists, walkers and other trail users.
Questions regarding this project or its schedule can be addressed to Sue Rae Irelan at (530) 525-9137 or

USFS land acquisition

The largest land owner in the basin – U.S. Forest Service – last month acquired the deeds to even more land.
The five urban lots totaling 1.71 acres will promote public access and recreation, and preserve open space near Powerline Trail in South Lake, a press release states. The purchase was authorized through the Santini-Burton Act and funded by the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act. “The Forest Service has been interested in these lots since 1991,” Deputy Forest Supervisor Eli Ilano said in a statement. “Now, by completing this purchase, we have consolidated federal ownership in an environmentally sensitive area.”

Free mammograms at Barton

Barton has received a $21,450 grant from Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which should provide free mammograms to local women (and men) for about seven months.
In the 2007-08 grant cycle, Barton diagnosed six women with breast cancer through the Komen funds. In the 2008-20 grant cycle, four women we diagnosed with breast cancer using the Komen funds. All 10 have been treated for breast cancer and are on the road to recovery.
The Komen mammograms are coordinated through Barton’s Community Clinic’s referral coordinator, Pamela Stoddart. Anyone in need of a mammogram who cannot afford one should call Stoddart at (530) 543-5632.

Tahoe Maritime Museum

Living history – it’s the tagline of the Tahoe Maritime Museum in Homewood.
Most of the vessels on display continue to ply the waters of Lake Tahoe. Miss Tessa, a 1930 Dodge, was on display when the 5,800-square-foot facility opened a year ago this month. In 2007, it churned the waters during the annual Concours d’Elegance.
The exterior of the building is reminiscent of an old boat house. The interior of the two-story structure next to Homewood Ski Resort is open and airy.
Watercraft on display is rotated. Boats not in Homewood are stored at the museum’s annex in Truckee.
It’s an ideal outing for families because of the rich history depicted in seeing old vessels, as well as the display cases that change to keep the museum fresh, the simulator that demonstrates commandeering a boat on Tahoe, the motors filling one wall, activities corner for kids, old tools and other exhibits.
A 1922 Chris-Craft called “Godfather” was the sixth boat produced that year. It’s part of the museum collection. History about Gar Wood and Chris Craft are on display.
Two hydroplane boats are on a wall. Racing those boats used to be a big sport at the Lake. A rowing skiff from the 1960s is propped against one wall looks like it would have been one of heck of a workout to power it across the water.
For information, go to or call (530) 525-9253.

Big Meadow restoration project

By Kathryn Reed

For decades, fire has been lacking off Luther Pass. That’s all about to change.
Starting this fall and through 2020 fire will be reintroduced by the U.S. Forest Service. The initial phase will be to thin some of the forest and then begin burning.
“The reason we need to do the pretreatment thinning and burning is we will reduce the amount of conifer encroachment,” said Raul Sanchez, project point man.
Pile burns will take place when weather conditions permit. After that a “broadcast burn” will begin.
“(This) means we put fire to the ground in a controlled manner and allow the fire to burn on its own,” Sanchez said.
Restoration work will also create better habitat for and diversity of wildlife.
Because the four areas that makeup up the 640-acre Big Meadow Creek Watershed run together it makes for an unhealthy habitat. Meadow, aspen stands, adjacent forest and riparian corridors dominate this area of the basin.
Cattle grazing, fire suppression and timber harvest through the decades have made this setting less natural and more forested.
“The big thing is some conifer encroachment is going into these unique areas. Some are no longer meadows because conifers are in their place,” explained Sanchez, U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist.
Because this is such a remote area without roads, hand tools will be used for thinning. It is on the left side of Highway 89 going toward Hope Valley. From the Big Meadow trailhead walk in a ways; the meadow complex is part of the project, as are the two drainages that go farther up the watershed.
The pre-decisional memo and project area map are at For information, contact Raul Sanchez at (530) 543-2679 or

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Carson City ghost walking tour

(Carson City, Nev.) – A candlelight vigil will set the mood for tales of Carson City’s ( rich past of booms and busts and the ghosts who still haunt the area during the 15th annual Ghost Walking Tour, Saturday, May 23, 2008.
The tour begins at the Firkin & Fox Restaurant (formerly the St. Charles Hotel), at 6:30 p.m. Tour guides will tell colorful truths, tales and legends about the buildings and owners of yesteryear.

The guided walking tour along the historic Kit Carson Trail features 1800s Victorian-style homes and costumed docents. Stops along tour include:
Bliss Mansion – home of lumber and railroad magnate Duane L. Bliss. Bliss made his fortune with the Lake Tahoe Narrow Gauge Railroad that carried timber from Lake Tahoe to Virginia City's mines.
Ferris Mansion – home of George Ferris, Jr., inventor of the Ferris Wheel for the Chicago World Columbian Exposition in 1893.
Rinckel Mansion – built by the fortune of Mathias Rinckel, a forward-looking meat magnate who struck it rich supplying Gold Rushers and Lake Tahoe lumbermen.
Krebs-Peterson House – featured in the movie, The Shootist, actor John Wayne’s last film.
Brewery Arts Center – once the home of Tahoe Beer, “Famous at the Lake,” now is an artist’s haven with theatrical productions, concerts, pottery classes and artisan gift shop.

With the popularity of this annual event, advance reservations are recommended by calling 775-687-7410 or 1-800-NEVADA-1. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door. The 1.5-mile route is flat and easy to walk.

The 2.5-mile Kit Carson Trail, follows a sidewalk route marked by a blue line and inlaid bronze medallions signifying historical points of interest. Annual themed walks along the Trail include the Ghost Walk in late October and the Victorian Home Christmas Tour in early December. For self-guided tours with stories of featured houses and points of interest at any time download podcasts at, or individual MP3s at, or by purchasing a refundable $5 CD at the Carson City Convention & Visitors Bureau, next to the Railroad Museum. Complimentary maps of the route are available at the CCCVB.
Nestled 30 minutes between Reno and Lake Tahoe, Carson City boasts an array of fine restaurants, challenging golf courses, historical attractions, museums and gaming opportunities. Visitors will find plenty of open space, fresh mountain air and friendly residents. For more information regarding any of Carson City’s annual events and attractions, or for room package information, call 775-687-7410 or 1-800-Nevada-1, or visit

Bicycle safety

CONTACT: Ty Polastri
415-259-8577 mobile


FEATURE: Bicycle Safety Guidelines Help Promote Fun and Enjoyment

South Lake Tahoe, CA/NV…. Cycling season is here and each year increasing numbers of Lake Tahoe residents and visitors are choosing to ride their bicycles for commuting and recreation. Often the level of fun and enjoyment of riding a bicycle is in direct relationship to the safety and preparation of the bicycle and the ways in which people ride their bikes on the roads. To help foster and promote safer and more enjoyable cycling the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition has prepared ten bicycle safety guidelines to consider and follow. They are:
1. Keep your bike properly maintained. Before the beginning of your ride make certain your brakes and gears work properly and your tires are inflated. Store a tube patch kit and air pump in the event of a flat tire.
2. Wear a helmet. It is the law for persons under 18 years of age in the state of California.
3. Ride in the same direction as traffic flow. Do not ride against the traffic as it is illegal and highly dangerous.
4. Stop at all stop signs and red lights. You and the bicycle are a vehicle with the same rights and responsibilities as an automobile. Obey all vehicle laws.
5. Use proper hand signals when turning, stopping, or changing lanes.
6. Ride in a straight line and single file.
7. Use a light, reflectors, and reflective clothing during darkness. Lights and reflectors are the law for night use.
8. Ride to the right if you are moving slower than other traffic, unless you are turning left, passing another bicycle or vehicle, or avoiding hazards.
9. Do not wear headphones on both ears while riding.
10. Walk you bike when using a crosswalk.

For more information about cycling in Lake Tahoe visit the Bike Coalition’s web site at

South Tahoe's General Plan

General Plan Update Alternatives ReportThe City published an Alternatives Report on May 12, 2009. The purpose of the General Plan Alternatives process is to examine different possible approaches to accommodating future development, economic growth, and environmental preservation. The report evaluates the economic, environmental, and social implications of each alternative future to assist the community and decision makers in weighing the benefits and drawbacks for each alternative. Public discussion of the benefits and drawbacksof each alternative will assist City officials in ultimately choosing a preferred alternative.The report is made up of two main parts:
Part I: Land Use Alternatives is a summary of three land use alternatives.Part II: Policy Options is a summary of existing and emerging policy conceptsthat addresses major issues facing the City.Please click on the link below to download a copy of the Alternatives Report:Alternatives ReportCommunity Workshop #4Please join us for the fourth Community Workshop on the South Lake Tahoe General Plan Update. The City will hold a workshop on May 21st at the Lake Tahoe Community College, Board and Aspen Rooms, from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. The workshop will include a short overview presentation on the status of the General Plan Update and a summary of the Alternatives Report. This presentation will also include a discussion on TRPA's Regional Plan Update and other planning projects currently underway in South Lake Tahoe. Participants at the workshop will be asked to take part in an interactive exercise. The exercise will ask them to weigh in on land use and policy alternatives for future growth and environmental protection in South Lake Tahoe.Light refreshments will be served. May 21, 2009 6:00 - 8:00 pm Lake Tahoe Community College, Board & Aspen Rooms 1 College DriveNewsletter #4Please click on the link below to download a copy of the fourth General Plan Update Newsletter:Newsletter #4Latino Outreach Survey
In March 2009 the City prepared a survey for Latino residents as part of the public outreach effort for the General Plan. The survey, which contained questions about the positive and negative aspects of the city and neighborhoods, was distributed to ESL classes at the Family Resource Center and Al Tahoe. About 70 students responded to the survey. Please click below to download a copy of the survey summary:Latino Outreach Survey Summary

Tahoe ski resort donations

Local Students and Athletes, Environmental and Community Organizations Among Beneficiaries

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE and TRUCKEE, Calif. – May 11, 2009 – Sierra™ and Northstar-at-Tahoe Resorts continued their longstanding commitment to their communities and constituents during the 2008-2009 season with charitable contributions in excess of $250,000 to community and environmental programs.

“Part of our role as members of the Tahoe business community and as global citizens is finding ways to give back throughout the season. We look for ways to make meaningful contributions to the organizations that surround and support our guests and employees during the entire year,” commented John Rice, General Manager of Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort.

Following is a summary of the philanthropic efforts for Sierra Resort.

Barton Memorial Hospital Foundation - Sierra Resort donated $70,000 in lift tickets to Barton Memorial Hospital Foundation during the annual Snowsports Week in February. Barton Foundation then sold the tickets through retail shops in town for a discounted price of $35, raising approximately $35,000 for local organizations benefiting children and wildlife.

Local Sports - On Customer Appreciation Day, April 20, 2009, Sierra Resort raised $8,200 from the day’s lift ticket sales. The money was donated to sponsor local sports teams including South Tahoe High School’s baseball, softball, basketball and football teams, as well as the High Sierra Soccer League, to name a few.

Buckle Up Big Air - To honor the memory of Greg Smith, one of Sierra Resort’s freestyle team members and a beloved friend to many local skiers and riders, and bring awareness to the critical issue of seatbelt safety, Sierra Resort hosted a memorial slopestyle event, Buckle Up Big Air, raising $2,800. Part of the funds raised went to the Greg Smith scholarship fund for the Sierra Foundation, a non-profit organization that assists families whose children want to be a part of Sierra Resort’s competitive teams. The remaining funds will go to create a memorial terrain feature in Sierra Resort’s terrain parks, where Greg spent many happy days with his friends.

World Vision - In partnership with Hannah Teter, who took the golf medal in Women’s Halfpipe in Torino, Italy, Sierra Resort hosted a pancake party featuring Hannah’s Gold maple syrup with proceeds benefiting World Vision, a relief and development organization dedicated to helping children and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty. Sierra Resort and Hannah raised $1,300 for World Vision at the Hannah’s Gold event held in December and through the sale of her signature maple syrup in the retail shop.

Local Students – More than 281 complimentary season passes were made available to local students with a “Straight A” report card. Over 137 students picked up their passes, a donation valued at more than $41,000.

South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center – At the end of the winter season, Sierra Resort donated close to $900 in food to the Women’s Center for distribution to clients in need. Springtime, South Shore ’s shoulder season, is one of the busiest times at the Women’s Center because many seasonal workers are laid-off and have trouble making ends meet. Sierra’s food donation will go directly onto the kitchen table of many local families.

Ryan Shreve Memorial Fire Fighters Race – In memory of Ryan Shreve, a South Tahoe local and fire fighter, Sierra Resort hosts an annual race for South Tahoe Fire Fighters. Proceeds from the annual race are used to produce flyers that educate people about Second Impact Syndrome. The flyers have been placed on all ALS equipment in El Dorado County and the Sierra Resort first aid clinic.

Following is a summary of the philanthropic efforts of Northstar Resort.

Excellence in Education – Northstar Resort hosted “Ski for Education Day” on Sunday, January 4 to benefit Excellence in Education, a local education-based foundation that provides grants, resources and partnerships to benefit local schools. The resort donated approximately $25,000 to the local non-profit organization.

Truckee Community Christmas – In an annual tradition, Northstar Resort initiated a contest between employees on the mountain vs. those in the Village at Northstar™ aimed at which area of the resort could collect the largest contribution on behalf of Truckee Community Christmas. This season, Northstar Resort employees donated barrels of canned food and more than $1,600 in cash to Truckee Community Christmas, a local project that has helped hundreds of families and seniors at Christmas time with food, toys, gifts, warm coats and food gift cards.

Tahoe Women’s Services Ski Day – Nearly 1,000 skiers and snowboarders came out to support Tahoe Women’s Services on Sunday, April 5 at Northstar Resort. Full-day adult lift tickets were sold at a discounted price of $25, resulting in a total of $25,000 raised for the organization. Tahoe Women’s Services provides delivery of emergency food and shelter, counseling, legal assistance and advocacy to women and families in need.

Truckee Humane Society – Northstar Resort also raised $735 to benefit the Truckee Humane Society through the sale of pet “season pass” photos. The Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe is dedicated to saving and improving the lives of pets through adoption, community spay/neuter services and humane education programs.

Sierra Avalanche Center – Northstar Resort donated the proceeds of 300 ticket sales priced at $40 each to the Sierra Avalanche Center , a not-for-profit organization run by volunteers who are dedicated to promoting safe backcountry travel. The donation of $12,000 helped to provide funding for the daily avalanche forecast for the Central Sierra Nevada Mountains between Yuba Pass on the north and Sonora Pass on the south.

Both resorts contribute to the following efforts:

Snowboard Outreach Society – Northstar and Sierra Resort sponsor 20 students per resort through the Snowboard Outreach Society, a non-profit that aims to build character and self-esteem in youth through snowsports. The sponsorship includes five days of lift tickets for each student as well as rental equipment and professional instruction each day.

Mini SKIGreen Tags – Northstar and Sierra Resort support the sale of mini SKIGreen Tags to reduce carbon emissions and help offset guests’ travel to and from the resorts. SKIGreen Tags are sold in denominations of $2. This season, the resorts collectively sold nearly $2,500 in SKIGreen Tags.

Requests for donations – Throughout the winter season, Northstar and Sierra Resort responded to requests for donations from regional schools and non-profit groups with more than $70,000 in lift tickets and other products.

For donation criteria or to submit a donation request from either resort, please visit or

Monday, May 4, 2009

Man without fibula to pedal around Lake Tahoe

Team in Training guides casual athletes to finish line of endurance events
Participants raise money to fund research and patient services for blood cancers
By Pamela LeBlancAMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFFMonday, May 04, 2009
Mike Thompson pedals down a two-lane country road, legs pumping hard as he keeps up with a pack of cyclists training for a 100-mile bike ride around Lake Tahoe.
Thompson, 23, a fitness counselor at Gold's Gym in Austin, has no fibula in his left leg. Doctors removed the calf bone nine years ago and used it to reconstruct his cancerous right jawbone.
That hasn't stopped him from riding with his 30 Team in Training teammates, who will culminate five months of training June 7 by doing America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride in Lake Tahoe, Calif.
It's a program that started 21 years ago, when Bruce Cleland, a middle-age New Yorker, organized a group of friends to run the New York City Marathon in honor of his daughter Georgia, a leukemia survivor. They raised $322,000 for blood cancer research, honed their muscles and strengthened their cardiovascular systems along the way.
"From that seed, the whole Team in Training program was born," says Andrea Greif, director of public relations for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, based in Massachusetts.
About 380,000 people — some 40,000 a year — have gone through Team in Training programs around the country and completed 100-mile bike rides, triathlons, marathons, half marathons or distance hikes. They've raised more than $950 million for blood cancer research and patient services, too.
In the process, the program has changed the face of the typical endurance athlete. In the 1970s, marathons attracted mainly elite, competitive runners. In the 1990s, though, Team In Training helped launch a second boom in marathons, one that drew thousands of women and participants who weren't top athletes into the sport.
"We're definitely the first and the biggest — and the best as well," Greif says of the slew of programs designed to prepare people for sporting events and raise money for charity that have popped up since. "We definitely have inspired a lot of organizations to try to do similar things. We've been doing it so long we've mastered the model."
Some participants sign up to get in shape. Some are survivors or train in honor of loved ones with blood cancer. Others join for the social aspect. "People who come to Team in Training without a connection will undoubtably leave with a connection," says Maggie Caldwell, cycle campaign manager for Team in Training's Central Texas Chapter. "They're motivated by a personal goal and a goal bigger than themselves."
Team in Training provides coached practices and clinics on injury prevention, nutrition and gear. Participants, in turn, raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The amount varies by event, and Team in Training helps by setting up participants with fund-raising Web sites. (Those unable to raise the money pay the difference themselves, but most don't have a problem, Caldwell says.)
Austin participants doing the Tahoe ride, for example, must raise $4,200 each. Part of that money pays travel, lodging and registration expenses, but 75 percent funds research to find a cure and support patient services.
Thompson knows first-hand what that money means to people with blood cancer. He was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 1996, when was 10.
"I didn't really understand what cancer was at that point," he says. "I remember thinking 'Does that mean I'm not going to live very long?' I had to grasp that reality very fast."
Within a week of his diagnosis, he started chemotherapy. The treatment caused complications, and he developed a nasal infection that required more than 20 surgeries.
"It threw me into a whirlwind of pain. I wanted to be alive, but at that cost I didn't know if I wanted to fight through it," he says.
He went into remission the following year, but the cancer returned three months later. In the next few years he had two bone marrow transplants and surgery to remove and reconstruct his right jaw because of a malignant tumor caused by radiation treatments.
Along the way, his father got involved in Team in Training and Thompson served as an "honor" teammate, providing inspiration and motivation for the athletes.
"Faith kept me going, and wanting to be alive and live a good life," he says. "If it wasn't for the research and people that kept me alive, I know I wouldn't be here. That's my life purpose now — to continue (Team in Training) until we can find a cure and prevent this from happening to other people."
Thompson has since met his bone marrow donor, who lives in Illinois, and will see him again in Tahoe, where they'll ride America's Most Beautiful Ride together.
As for the bike training, it's a satisfying, sweat-inducing flipside to all the horrors of cancer.
"It's the best experience I've had in my life," says Thompson, who got a clean bill of health at his last cancer checkup in January.
It's so much fun, in fact, that Thompson has already signed up for the Big Kahuna Half Ironman Triathlon in October and a full Ironman triathlon in 2010 with Team in Training.; 445-3994

Recessiion hits Indian gaming

Thunder Valley Casino lays off 5 percent of workforce

By Dale Kasler

Published: Monday, May. 4, 2009 - 10:04 am

Thunder Valley Casino has laid off about 5 percent of its employees, a spokesman said today.
The layoffs affected fewer than 100 part-time employees, said spokesman Doug Elmets.
"The current situation at Thunder Valley is essentially a reflection of the economy," he said.
A hiring freeze begun in January "allowed us to reduce the number of layoffs," he said.
The recession has hurt the casino industry throughout California and Nevada. In February, gaming revenue at the Reno and Lake Tahoe casinos fell more than 23 percent, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
Nonetheless, Thunder Valley remains committed to building a hotel tower at the Lincoln-area casino, Elmets said. The project resumed construction in mid-April, although about a third smaller than originally conceived, after it was suspended last fall.

Whittell science lab revamped

3/09 Tahoe Mt. News unedited

By Kathryn Reed

Glass is bending. Chemicals are reacting. Across the hall, fermenting creatures stink up the classroom.
Science at Whittell High School is a whole new animal this school year. Although the same classes are offered, last summer’s frenetic construction season resulted in the overhaul of the two science labs.
Today’s rooms allow for students to perform more experiments instead of watching their instructors have all the fun.
“It makes it a lot easier and more convenient for us,” said junior Kelly McKay as she worked on a hydrochloric acid test. “It was more crowded before.”
Students in each room have drawers to store their things so it’s not a mad scramble to search for the necessary apparatus for that day’s lesson. It’s easier on the teachers because their tools are in a room attached to this lab. A window from the storage area to the classroom allows for the easy transfer of supplies.
Acids and flammables are stored back there.
After the lecture, each chemistry student dons safety goggles before mixing components to see if solids or liquids are created.
Four students can work at each of the six lab stations. Electrical outlets and water are at each one. A fume hood stores the volatile chemicals. Inside the cabinets are various burners and other tools of the trade.
“We went from Third World to state-of-the-art,” teacher Brain Rippet said. “It allows you to be more creative as a teacher and have a better experience as a student. Before it was a box with a few lab supplies.”
Phil Sorenson used to teach biology and other sciences in a room with a sink and nothing else that most science rooms contain.
“The last room was basically a carpeted wood or auto shop. It was not setup for labs,” Sorenson said.
Both teachers were instrumental in designing the classrooms and the setup area that is adjacent to Rippet’s room. A dish washer for glassware cuts down on prep time. A high-end refrigerator keeps critters that are ready to be dissected at the proper temperature – including the cats that are used in biology 2. A ventilation system circulates fresh air so formaldehyde doesn’t linger in the air. Cupboards provide much needed storage. Countertops are heat and chemical resistant. Work stations make the setting more conducive to teaching and learning.
Rippet and Sorenson consulted with the architect to create their work environments. District CFO Holly Luna weighed in when necessary. Curriculum Director Lyn Gorrindo, who used to teach chemistry, was an integral player in the design.
Besides the layout, a few high-end components are in the two rooms because of donations from Tahoe-Douglas Rotary. An autoclave, which sterilizes supplies, is in the back room. “Pat” the human form cost $6,000. Twenty-four pieces come off the skeleton so students can learn about muscles and internal workings of the human body.
“This is helpful in anatomy class. We don’t have cadavers,” Sorenson said.
He uses the Rotary supplied DNA electro freeze set in his forensics class.
This particular day Sorenson’s biology students are looking at a frog, grasshopper, crawfish, starfish, earthworm and other pickled specimens to determine what they have in common.
“We are classifying them by which organisms have similar characteristics,” explained freshman Oliver Curial.
All of this is done by drawing a cladogram.
“Their skills are so more advanced because they are able to do more,” Rippet said of the students in all science classes.
With the wireless classroom Rippet was able to have his AP chemistry students do an online computer simulation project about equilibrium. With a high-tech calculator they can make graphs from the data they’ve collected.
All of the upgrades should help Whittell students perform well on the high school proficiency exam. This year’s juniors are the first in Nevada to have to pass that test.

Marijuana dispensary in South Lake Tahoe

unedited 3/09 Tahoe Mt. News

By Kathryn Reed

Mary’s doctor told her if she kept losing weight, she’d have to be admitted to the hospital. Initially the South Lake Tahoe woman couldn’t keep food down because of the nausea from the infusion of chemo drugs for breast cancer and later from the nausea from the treatment for cytomegalovirus.
A co-worker suggested the 52-year-old smoke pot to stimulate her appetite.
It worked.
The problem a year ago was finding a place to buy cannabis. She and her caregiver didn’t like breaking the law. (Their real names are not being used.) They didn’t like not knowing if what they bought off the street was pure or laced with something. They didn’t like not being able to readily get it when Mary needed it.
Now Mary gets her goods from Tahoe Wellness Collective, a pot dispensary that opened this year in the Bijou Center.
“In today’s world with about half of the country on prescription drugs we want to show people there is a natural way,” said Cody Bass, director of the collective. “As a collective, we facilitate the exchange through members.”
This means the suppliers are members as well as the users.
Part of being in the collective means giving back by volunteering. This could be working at the collective, offering a class or providing a service like massage.
The collective has leased the adjacent space to develop it as the Tahoe Wellness Community Center. Membership won’t be required nor will medicine be allowed there.

Legal questions

When Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act, was approved by California voters in 1996 it meant state law conflicted with federal law. Federally does not recognize any legal use of marijuana.
“We don’t enforce federal laws. They don’t enforce state laws, especially when it comes to dope,” said Hans Uthe, who heads the Tahoe branch of the El Dorado County District Attorneys Office. “We have worked very hard to be sensitive to the principle and letter of the law. There are some gray areas.”
Barack Obama as a candidate and now president has said he doesn’t want the Drug Enforcement Administration closing down legitimate marijuana dispensaries. On the campaign trail he said the prescribed morphine his mother took as she died of cancer is no different than seeking pain relief from marijuana.
With Eric Holder as U.S. attorney general, it is likely to mean the DEA will stay away. Federal agents were in town in January to close Patient to Patient, another dispensary.
Bass doesn’t believe his outfit will face the same consequences. Part he said has to do with who is residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and part because his collective, which is affiliated with one in Sacramento, is on the up and up.
Lt. Marty Hale with the South Lake Tahoe Police Department is aware of the collective, but wouldn’t elaborate on whether officers will let it exist or if the South Lake El Dorado Narcotics Enforcement Team will take a look at the business.
He did say, “It’s easier for us to let the DEA take the lead on things like that.”
It’s a little murky about whether the collective is required to have a city business license. Bass says no because it’s a nonprofit collective and not a business. City Attorney Cathy DiCamillo says all nonprofits must have a city business license, but have a different pay scale than for-profit businesses. However, she said she advised city staff not to issue the collective a business license because it is violating federal law.
Bass addressed the City Council last month to explain his cause and invite them to check out the place. He is said he wants the collective to be integral part of the community and plans to give back like any other nonprofit.

Variety of choices

Even though Mary has all the paperwork to allow her to get medical marijuana, she wasn’t always comfortable going to the collective because she feared the cops might raid the place. Bass said the same privacy laws governing hospitals dictate what any law enforcement officer would be able to confiscate.
Dr. Abby Cohen prescribed medical marijuana for Mary’s pain and nausea. Cohen declined an interview with the Tahoe Mountain News.
It’s not just lighting up a joint or taking a hit off a bong. The medicine, as the collective calls it, comes in many forms and types.
“I’ve tried the tea. It’s really quite good,” Mary said.
It’s up to the collective members to self-regulate their use, to experiment with what works for them. It eases her pain, curtails nausea, stimulates her appetite and allows her to sleep.
Mary has cut back on the number of prescription meds she was taking because the medical marijuana is working. “Mostly they want to write a prescription for everything,” Mary said of doctors.
Behind a locked door at the collective only members who must be 18 or older are allowed. No smoking is permitted on site.
On the bottom shelf are edibles like chocolate bars and cheese crackers. Those go for about $4. Topicals are good for pain and arthritis. Tinksters are an elixir – a drop on the tongue does the trick.
The top shelf has the flowers – the stuff that is smoked. They come in one-eighth, one-quarter and half grams. Occasionally medicine is doled out in ounces. All are in jars, though pre-rolled “cones” are also available.
Tahoe Wellness Collective, which has about 250 members, is open seven days a week from 10am to 7pm.

Tahoe Keys Marina's new owners take charge

unedited 3/09 Tahoe Mt. News

By Kathryn Reed

Changes are coming to the Tahoe Keys Marina now that it has new owners. But they hardly resemble what is being relayed in the rumor mill.
Condos are not part of the mix. Nor are they an allowed use in the master plan approved by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
The Fresh Ketch is staying.
Parking is likely to improve as land owners in the area work together. The California Tahoe Conservancy and the marina owner met March 4 about this topic.
Public launching is still available.
Tahoe Keys property owners may continue to put their boat in and take it out once a year for free.
Jean Merkelbach, who bought the South Lake Tahoe marina with an out of town partner for more than $20 million, is ready to invest more money in the seasonal facility. The duo, whose business name is Tahoe Keys Marina and Yacht Club, purchased the marina in December from Lake Tahoe Docks. That entity had bought the marina from longtime owners Ray Carreau and the late Dick Horton.
Merkelbach, 49, would like to attract retailers to the area so it becomes more of a destination – but she isn’t looking to Ski Run Marina as a model because she realizes her marina is more seasonal and is likely to stay that way.
“We are looking to have more services available for the boating customer and Tahoe Keys homeowners,” Merkelbach said. “This summer we hope a boater can pickup a basket lunch or breakfast and take it out on their boat. We will have additional courtesy slips which will be good for the Fresh Ketch. We want to have a shuttle system so they can pick something up easily which they have not been able to do in the past.”

Tenant situation

For now, most of the current tenants are staying. Two which are leaving are the South Lake Tahoe Yacht Club and group fitness classes affiliated with Sierra Athletic Club.
The yacht club wasn’t paying rent, that’s why they were asked to go. Merkelbach said she offered a fee arrangement but the yacht club said no. The yacht club doesn’t see it quite that way.
“We talked to them about the opportunity to lease back the room. What we ended up with was a 30-day notice to vacate the premise,” said Paul Jenkins, past commodore of the club. The club left in February. “They didn’t want to talk money. They wanted the room for themselves.”
The yacht club as of press time was still looking for a home.
Joe Pettit, owner of Sierra Athletic Club, sees the change in location for his classes as a good thing. He will be renting a spot across the parking lot from the club which is in the business park at the corner of Tahoe Keys Boulevard and Venice Drive.
The change means instead of two days of group classes he could offer seven. Even though it’s not necessary to be a member of the club to be in a class, Pettit thinks the closer proximity of the two facilities will be good for the people using both aspects of his business.
Ben Fagen, who has a design firm by the same name at the marina, is one of the longest tenants at more than 20 years. He isn’t going anywhere. In fact, the blueprints for the improvements Merkelbach wants to make will come from his office or be done by David Goldman who runs Evergreen Architectural Design in the same building.
“I’m pretty happy with how they are thinking about doing deferred maintenance and taking care of the buildings we have here,” Fagen said.
Walker Marine has been onsite since 1999 and plans to stay.
Tahoe Heritage Foundation, a nonprofit, is moving downstairs.
KRLT radio station’s parent company Cherry Creek Radio is still negotiating with Merkelbach about its future.
“From my standpoint they have been very professional with us. We are happy tenants there,” said Kirk Warshaw, Cherry Creek’s chief financial officer. “From our standpoint it is a wonderful location.”
The station has had a month to month lease for a long time, but would like a long term lease.
“We hope to get people who don’t have leases to have leases,” Merkelbach said. But she wouldn’t elaborate more about the lengths of any of them or their rates.
Warshaw said it would not be that difficult for the station to move and that FCC regulations would allow it to broadcast from Nevada. But he added that he is hoping to work things out with Merkelbach.
Lake Tahoe Power Boat Co. is planning to stay. The status of Tahoe Keys Boat Rentals is unknown.
Merkelbach is moving her real estate office from the Venice complex to the marina. She works for Distinctive Homes Southebys International Real Estate
Other newbies include a sunglass shop and Chris-Craft dealer coming in the summer. A clothing retailer is being talked to.
Primarily retail geared toward boaters is what Merkelbach wants to attract.
Vacancies exist at the marina, but she didn’t have the square footage. She says she has enough commercial square footage to do what she wants.

Parking conundrum

The decade-old master plan calls for 100 more parking places. CTC owns the nearly 1.3 acres situated between the parking lot and Cove East. It’s covered with fill from the project that restored the wetlands. That property could become parking.
The Conservancy owns another acre across from the Truckee River that could come into play. It’s possible the public agency might sell it to the marina owners.
CTC realizes it needs to provide more parking for people coming to use its 200 plus acres. It’s anticipated more people will recreate there as the Upper Truckee River improvements are made and if a link is created between Cove East and Barton Meadow.
“We need permanent public parking off the street,” said Bruce Eisner, CTC program manager.
Eight spaces can immediately be added by removing a larger planter box – something on Merkelbach’s to-do list.

Immediate upgrades
A cleaner marina and less clutter are the first things the owners went after. Improvements to 48 of the 248 boat slips should begin this spring. New ones are not being added.
“There are some slips in the back that were encroaching on homeowners’ land. It is relocating the slips,” Merkelbach said. The ones in question are behind Walker Marine.
Exterior improvements to the buildings are likely to be more immediate – even if it’s just a coat of paint. More pedestrian access is in the works, too.
“We are hoping to have a water walk with fire pits, with some seating outside,” Merkelbach said. The idea is for people to easily walk around the area, make it appealing, safe and be a destination of sorts.
Meetings have been conducted with Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association officials to see what role homeowners might have in improvements. TKPOA General Manger Ed Morrow said of recent meeting with owners, “I didn’t hear anything that disturbed me.”
Merkelbach said there might be room to install volleyball courts.
TRPA required inspections for invasive mussels will be the norm.
She doesn’t know if launching fees will change.
Marina staff will be identifiable by their uniform.

Future improvements

Even though “yacht” is in the name of the business, the owners have no intention of creating a yacht club. Nor are any condos anticipated.
“I don’t even know if it would be good if it could get approved,” Merkelbach said of condos. It’s a rumor she had heard as well and one she wants to squelch.
Shrink wrapped boats may one day be a thing of the past.
“The master plan allows for inside boat storage,” Merkelbach said. “Where (storage) is now is unsightly. I’d like to make it good for us to look at and the homeowner. We are not going to do anything different than what was approved (in the master plan).”
When this project would start is not known. Fagen said Evergreen will be working on designs for the boat storage.
Merkelbach isn’t sure what will be done with the dance studio area where the fitness classes were conducted. She’d like the entrance to be more appealing and perhaps be a place where boaters would first check in.
She envisions a new façade to make the marina more contemporary and visually appealing, but that’s down the road.
“We aren’t going to do anything to rock the boat that has made the marina a success so far,” Merkelbach said.

STR rescinds rate hike request

unedited 3/09 Tahoe Mt. News

By Kathryn Reed

Throw away those hateful letters about rate increases – South Tahoe Refuse will pick them up for the same rate.
Five days before the scheduled March 3 public hearing about a potential 7.01 percent rate hike was to be heard before the South Lake Tahoe City Council, the garbage company threw in the towel. It has deferred any rate hike within the city limits for the time being.
The council was eager to accept this idea without scheduling a date for a future hearing on a possible rate hike.
Since the rate hike proposal came to light, public sentiment has been negative. Nor was the council thrilled with the prospect of voting on the matter since it approved a 4.33 percent hike in October.
Although the reasons for that hike and the one on recent agendas are different, the bottom line is rate payers would have been writing a check for more money.
STR’s first response was to cut the rate hike to 4.92 percent, which would have equated to $1.07 a month increase for residential customers.
Although no STR official spoke at this month’s council meeting, the sentiment brought forth by city staff was that the refuse company decided now is not the time to ask ratepayers to dole out more cash.
STR provided the city with a slew of documents, some of which show the company has reduced its pension compensation by 70 percent and cut its workforce by 8 percent. The city staff report from the March 3 meeting and STR documents are at

Water companies talking ownership issues

3/09 unedited Tahoe Mt. News

By Kathryn Reed

Talks have turned a little more serious between South Tahoe Public Utility District and Tahoe Keys Water Company officials regarding the latter being acquired by the bigger entity.
STPUD General Manager Richard Solbrig spoke to his board last month about the latest discussions. A couple weeks later the Keys was asked to provide financial information, well logs, water info and other documents. All of those are expected to be handed over to STPUD this month. Then STPUD’s engineering department will review the bulk of the information.
South Tahoe PUD is not actively seeking another water district and the Keys isn’t sure it wants to sell, but both sides are interested in seeing where the dialog leads them.
“For the first time they’ve provided us with a list of things they would like to see in order to evaluate the water company,” said Ed Morrow, Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association general manager. “It makes a lot of sense whether any ownership changes hands or not.”
He said this is especially true for emergency situations like a fire so both districts know what assets and capabilities the other has. The companies have shared information in the past and continue to have the capability to pump water between the two systems.
Unlike STPUD’s wells, the Keys’ wells were never contaminated by the fuel additive MTBE.
However, one of the three Keys wells is turning up perclorethylene. This dry cleaning chemical has contaminated other wells in the basin. It used to be common for companies to dispose of the cleaning solution in dry wells.
The Keys water lines went in in the late 1960s-early 1970s when Dillingham built the lakefront residential area. The Keys water supplies 1,530 households and a handful of commercial properties, including the marina, business plaza where Sierra Athletic Club is and Pope Beach.
“We would not be facing the challenge that we had with some of the systems that went in in the 1950s with 2-inch lines,” STPUD’s Dennis Cocking said of the Keys.
The Keys has 6- and 8-inch water mains.
South Tahoe PUD has grown through the years by acquiring small water companies. What makes the Keys more appealing that Lukins Brothers Water Company is the infrastructure is not as old and the lines are larger.
Danny Lukins said it would cost between $12 million and $18 million to upgrade the family owned water company that has been around since the 1940s. In 2006, STPUD looked at Lukins and said it would take $18.4 million to bring it up to today’s standards.
One thing that may help all water districts in the basin is the lobbying effort by Cocking and STPUD directors Jim Jones and Dale Rise who were in Washington, D.C., the week of Feb. 23.
Cocking had earlier been advised by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that a regional approach to infrastructure water needs would be more welcome on Capitol Hill. He helped form that partnership. Their cause made it through the initial phase and now the water agencies are waiting to see what spending bills make it through Congress to know what funds may trickle to Tahoe.

Ski Run Marina parking debaccle

unedited 3/09 Tahoe Mt. News

By Kathryn Reed

Once upon a time the powers that be thought most people who visited Ski Run Marina would do so by public transit.
They thought people dining at Riva Grill would get there by bus. They thought families would lug their beach gear and gaggle of kids on a bus.
They were wrong.
Now Mansoor Alyeshmermi, owner of the marina, is left scrambling to comply with rules that are economically unsound and environmentally questionable. The city owns the 29 spaces in question that are mostly used by Riva for valet parking.
Those spaces were to be temporary. Now that the five-year agreement is up, Alyeshmermi is supposed to relinquish use of them and the land be restored.
“Parking is the life blood of a commercial center. A solution must be found lest we choke off the viability of this commercial center,” Alyeshmermi told the City Council March 3. “Given the economic times, regulation hurdles and failed ground transportation system, making the current parking permanent is the obvious solution.”
The city agreed to work with the marina owner to come up with a solution.
One reason the 29 spaces in question can’t automatically be made permanent is that they are in a view corridor – meaning they inhibit the view of drivers during the split second they drive by that area. If the town were pedestrian and bike friendly, the argument would be made the parking lot affects those people’s experience as well.
The fact that the lot is lower than the highway was not part of the discussion. The fact that the land is covered in asphalt was not discussed. Nor was it brought up what impacts demolishing the parking lot might have on the nearby Lake.
Alyeshmermi has made great strides to improve the marina, including the view corridor. This was done when he removed the bridge that people used to get to the Tahoe Queen and beach. No one has given him credit for improving the view.
Councilmembers Hal Cole and Bill Crawford admitted they were on the council that saw fit to OK a project with insufficient parking. They apologized for that decision.
For now the spaces stay while the city and marina owner work on a more permanent solution that may mean redefining view corridor.

El Dorado County mental health

unedited 3/09 Tahoe Mt. News

By Kathryn Reed

Mental health services are getting clobbered over the head because of funding issues. What added stress this will create for clients is yet to be determined.
El Dorado County supervisors in February cut 10 positions; four in South Lake.
“It is important to note that these cuts are no way a step toward the closure of the mental health clinic in South Lake Tahoe. I cannot emphasize this enough,” Supervisor Norma Santiago said. “I am wholly committed to EDC providing these services for our community. There are no plans to close this very important clinic.”
Still, taking employees off the payroll and not having to pay their benefits only covers a fraction of the $2.8 million to $3.4 million deficit the department is running.
If the state comes through with the $1.5 million it owes the county, this would do wonders to bridge the financial chasm.
According to Santiago, a slew of factors contributed to the money problem in the Mental Health Department. First, the department estimated expenses to be $12.4 million with revenue about $12.1 million. The theory was the $300,000 gap could be made up with future or other revenue.
However, the reality is that by the end of January the department had $12.1 million in bills and less than $10 million to pay them.
Santiago said the deficit’s number is not locked down because of how reimbursements and realignments are calculated and some are outstanding. She said with the passage of the state budget the county should soon have a better idea of what money will flow to Placerville.
She expects supervisors to be discussing the mental health issue into April to be able to get the department on solid footing.
Another problem has been the software billing system and how the department has been managed. Claims came in but were never filed. Too much time lapsed and the county couldn’t get reimbursed.
“I don’t know if it’s waste or just inefficiency or we don’t have the people where we need to put them,” Santiago said. “There are so many levels in that organization that I have to look at. It’s a fiscal mess.”
The county is working with partner agencies like Tahoe Youth & Family Services and the Family Resource Center to fill in where needed. The state requires the county to provide a minimum level of service as well as certain programs, so not much more can be trimmed in that regard.
The Tahoe office has about 350 clients and the West Slope twice that number.
“We may have to change the format to more group than individual services,” Santiago said. “The ones who are high-risk will get the individual services they need.”
Another cost-cutting move is having the county’s Alcohol and Drug Program share space with Mental Health at 1900 Lake Tahoe Blvd. That program offers education, prevention, treatment and counseling services.

Sierra-at-Tahoe's Huckleberry Canyon

3/09 unedited Tahoe Mt. News

By Kathryn Reed

Average. It’s a label I’m comfortable wearing.
Black diamond. Not so comfortable with experiencing.
My philosophy is average skiers should not be on black diamond runs. Maybe that’s why I end up on them somewhat unintentionally. A couple years ago my sister, Pam, and I schussed our way to a double black diamond run at Vail. We were hip dip in powder on a goggle day before we saw the sign.
It wasn’t until I started to do a little research for this story that I realized I was plowing through pow on a double black diamond at Sierra last month.
Sierra’s website says, “As with all double black diamond terrain, Huckleberry Canyon should only be accessed by expert skiers and riders who are knowledgeable about traveling in extreme and variable snow terrain and conditions.”
Considering I’ve lived to tell about the experience and I’m no expert skier, it makes me wonder if this statement is there to appease the litigious goofs of the world. Or maybe I should fess up and admit that I was traipsing through the trees because the resort had invited some media types up to experience their back country oasis that is now in-bounds terrain.
I had the benefit of skiing with Kevin Mitchell, who heads Sierra’s ski and snowboard school. Effortlessly he traipsed through the freshies, dodged looming conifers, leaped off what I think were boulders and never came near a crevasse, at least that I could tell.
This is the first season for these 320 acres to be patrolled and avalanche prevention measures in place.
The views and the terrain took my breath away. If only I were good enough to experience it all. Maybe I’ll have to hike it in the summer – if that’s allowed.
Entering Gate 1 off Castle had my heart pumping. I don’t enter gates. I tried not to be psyched out. It’s amazing how pride and ego can get you through things.
We all partnered with another skier or boarder. This is something everyone should do. Skiing in the trees should never be a solo event.
A few deep breaths and there I was picking my line, making turns of sorts, smiling and enjoying the quiet. Then suddenly I zigged when I should have zagged. I don’t know if I did a complete somersault. I was covered in snow, trying to figure out if I was stuck in a tree well or just resting against the trunk. It was the latter. I dug out my ski, got back into the binding, and dusted myself off, though not enough to remove the evidence of the gymnastics feat.
Before I knew it I was back on Grandview Express ready to do it again – only this time from Gate 2. Each of the five gates leading into Huckleberry Canyon gets steeper as the number rises. Each is a little more challenging. Harrowing and treacherous might be words a non-black diamond skier would use.
Still, I survived Gate 2. I took my time and followed the advice of a fellow media-skier who helped me guide my skis around the unbendable pines.
It’s not so much that the first two gates are super difficult. Part of my problem was peer pressure. I’ll go back with friends on my own terms. But I won’t go in too deep. I don’t have the back country training and I know my limits.
Mitchell says anyone going in Gates 4 and 5 should carry a shovel and avalanche beacon.
“You want to be well versed in route selection. You want to look for natural fall lines,” Mitchell said.
Sierra offers back country lessons (530-659-7453, ext. 150) where people can learn specifics about riding in Huckleberry Canyon, route selection and other tips for surviving beyond the gates where the grooming crews won’t ever venture.