Madera County fire tax bills mailed
The state mailed about 130,000 (15%) of the estimated 825,000 "Fire Prevention Fee" bills this week, including those for Madera County.
The tax, which George Runner of the State Board of Equalization, opposes as "unfair and unconstitutional," was approved as a fee by a simple majority vote of the legislature last year and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.
"This money will not pay for firefighters, fire trucks, fire hoses or water," cautioned Runner. "The funds collected -- optimistically projected to be $84 million -- are restricted to funding existing fire prevention efforts and can not be used for firefighters or actual fire suppression."
The new law requires residential rural property owners in the State Responsibility Area (SRA) to pay $150 for each habitable structure located on their land. Property owners who pay for local fire protection receive a $35 reduction.
To help inform California taxpayers, Runner established the website calfirefee.com, providing information about the new fire tax. Californians can visit the site to find out if they will receive a bill and can learn how to file an appeal.The state plans to mail all the fire bills in alphabetical order by county between August and early December.
Vegetation fire contained to five acres
A five-acre vegetation fire that broke out Tuesday at 12:40 p.m. near the corner of Road 415 and Road 416 in Coarsegold, was contained at 1:25 p.m.
According to Karen Guillemin, public information officer with Cal Fire, the initial response to the fire included 8 Cal Fire engines, 4 Madera County engines, an air tanker, helicopter, two hand crews and two bulldozers.
Although nearby homes were initially threatened by the fire, no structures were damaged. There were no injuries from the fire which is still under investigation.
Third Hantavirus fatality linked to Yosemite
The National Park Service received confirmations from public health agencies of a third death from Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome linked to the park. Eight individuals who stayed one or more nights in Yosemite since June have been confirmed with HPS, three resulting in death. The five remaining individuals are either improving or have recovered.
Out of the eight cases, six individuals were from California, one from Pennsylvania and one from West Virginia. In one of the eight cases, the individual did not camp at the Curry Village tent cabins, but instead stayed in multiple High Sierra Camps in Yosemite.
HPS is a rare but serious disease that occurs throughout the U.S. and is caused by a virus contracted through contact with urine, droppings or saliva of infected rodents.
Symptoms of HPS generally begin from one to five weeks after exposure. Early symptoms include fatigue, fever, chills and muscle aches. The disease progresses rapidly (4-10 days after initial symptoms) to include coughing, shortness of breath and severe difficulty breathing. Early medical attention greatly increases the chance of survival.
It is highly recommended that if a recent visitor to Yosemite National Park has any of the symptoms listed above, that they seek medical attention immediately and advise their health care professional of the potential exposure to hantavirus.
Roadside litter cleanup
A community roadside litter cleanup will be held 8 a.m. to noon. Saturday throughout the Mountain Area, sponsored by Keep Our Mountains Beautiful.
Trash bags will be available for pickup at the following locations:
North Fork Post Office: (559) 877-2361.
Coarsegold Teepee (at the corner of Road 415 and Highway 41): (559) 760-1058.
Oakhurst/Ahwahnee: Oakhurst Branch Library off Civic Circle. .
Bass Lake Village - Bass Lake Realty
Volunteers will be entered in a drawing for a party barge outing.
Minarets car show to benefit field trip
Minarets High School World History teacher Daniel Ching is taking a group of students to Europe for Spring Break and to raise funds for the trip, students will host a car show 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6 at the school.
Car and motorcycle entries cost $10. There will also be food and craft venders and raffles. All proceeds will benefit the trip.
Ching hopes to take students to Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. They will visit historic sites such as Check Point Charlie (formerly at the Berlin Wall), Auschwitz Concentration Camp, the Charles Bridge in Prague, and the Budapest Basilica.
Details: Daniel Ching, (559) 760-5042, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vote for Oakhurst organizations to receive grants
Two Oakhurst organizations have applied for Chase Community Giving grants -- Sierra Historic Sites Association, also known as Fresno Flats Historic Village & Park, and Wild Wonderful Women & Friends, Inc.
Both need votes to win, and voting ends Wednesday, Sept. 19.
Chase will be granting $5 million to local charities. There are 2,500 charities who have been nominated, but only 196 will receive grants in amounts of $10,000 to $250,000 for the charity that receives the most votes.
To vote, visit fb.chasegiving.com and enter either, or both, Sierra Historic Sites or Wild Wonderful Women and enter your vote.
Forest thinning field trip Sept. 19
Residents are encouraged to go on a field trip from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19 to look at thinning work in the U.S. Forest Service in the Sugar Pine area.
The trip is put on as part of the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project. The local district ranger and a forest health scientist from University of California, Berkeley will be available to answer questions.
The trip will start at 10 a.m. at Batterson Station, north of Oakhurst. Participants should expect a full day in the woods with some hiking, and will visit a variety of forest sites.
University of California research teams have been collecting data on forest, fire behavior, water and wildlife at the Sugar Pine site ) since 2007.
Details: Those planning to attend should RSVP to email@example.com.
Nemeth new member of Diamond Ring Club
David G. Nemeth, a financial adviser with Ameriprise Financial, has earned membership in the company's Diamond Ring Club.
The club comprises less than 7% of the Ameriprise adviser force. Advisors earn this prestigious distinction by delivering consistent high performance along with exceptional commitment to financial planning and superior client service.
Being a part of the club is considered a career milestone achievement. Nemeth was one of only 60 advisors across the nation to achieve this status in 2011.
Fall Festival Craft and Yard Sale Oct. 6
A Fall Festival Craft and Yard Sale will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 6 in the North Fork Town Hall parking lot.
The $25 fee to rent a space at the sale goes to support the North Fork Women's Club with yearly scholarships.
Details: (559) 877-4806.