Community News for 1/10/13 edition

January 10, 2013 

Ahwahnee resident escapes injury

Thomas Hester, 43, of Ahwahnee, escaped injury on Highway 41 when his north bound 2000 Chevy Silverado pick-up truck was struck head-on near Highway 145 by a south bound vehicle driven by Sherry Robertson, 51, of Clovis.

According to the California Highway Patrol, Robertson, for an unknown reason, allowed her vehicle to drift across the center line and collide with Hester head on around 7 p.m. Jan. 2. Both drives were wearing seat belts at the time of the accident and both escaped injury.

The accident is under review.

Public input sought

In response to recent discussions about possibly selling the county's special districts to a private company, or outsourcing staff, Madera County decided to develop a Special Districts Customer Satisfaction Survey, that began being mailed out Monday, Jan. 7 with quarterly billings.

An automated phone survey and online survey have also been set-up and are ready to use 24 hours a day, said Kheng Vang, county engineer.

The satisfaction surveys will be conducted through Feb. 2, and are slated to be mailed to about 6,000 residents.

"Depending on the outreach and response from the public survey, the (county privatization committee) will discuss whether the letter of interest (to solicit private employees) is needed," Vang said last month.Vang added that, "the key thing is that the county is in the initial stages of just evaluating the potential options, and has not made any decisions yet. The county will hold another special committee meeting to discuss the process further."

Vang said the survey is only for county rate payers that reside in a county operated sewer or water district.

To complete the survey online, go to, or by calling (559) 664-3525.


'A Hero's Love'

"A Hero's Love: The Daniel Unger Story," will be presented at 5 p.m. Sunday at the First Baptist Church, 49547 School Road (427). The award winning one hour documentary film, produced by Family First Films of Visalia, chronicles the inspiring story of Army Specialist Daniel Paul Unger, 19, who sacrificed his life to save the lives of two men from a mortar attack during Operation Iraqi Freedom in May 2004.

Unger's father, Marc, is pastor of the First Baptist Church and presided at his son's funeral attended by 2,500 people in Exeter, Daniel's home town. Following the services, Marc's passion led him to join the California State Military Reserves as a Gold Star Chaplain for his son's battalion, the California National Guard 1-185th infantry.

The film features exclusive footage and testimonies from the California National Guard and Daniel's Christian testimony through personal accounts and interviews from people around the country. Refreshments will be served after the movie.

Details: (559) 683-6101.

Relay for Life

Teams in Eastern Madera County are now being formed for this year's American Cancer Society's Relay for Life event that will be held May 18 and 19 at Wasuma elementary School in Ahwahnee.

Organizers, under chairperson Nicole Meeker, meet at 5:30 p.m. the second Monday of the month at Oakhurst Medical Group on Junction Drive in Oakhurst. This month's meeting is Monday, Jan. 14.

Details: Nicole Meeker, (559) 760-4020.

Public input sought for OHV funding

The Sierra National Forest is requesting public input for the 2013 State Off-Highway Motor Vehicle (OHV) funding/proposal submission cycle by hosting an open house from 6:30 to 8 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 17 at 1600 Tollhouse Road in Clovis.

This year the state has funds available for education, operation and maintenance, law enforcement and restoration projects, and the Sierra National Forest will submit an OHV grant application for this funding.

As part of the application process, the Sierra National Forest is requesting public input/project ideas on what individuals and organizations would like to see included in the 2013 submittal.

Written comments may be submitted to: Sierra National Forest, Attn. Susan Burkindine, 1600 Tollhouse Road, Clovis, CA 93611. Comments regarding the 2013 State OHV funding proposal are needed by Feb. 14.

Boys & Girls Club open house

The community is invited to an open house at the Boys & Girls Club of Oakhurst from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15. The public can park at Oakhurst Elementary School, off School Road, and walk over the bridge to the club to attend. There will be free door prizes and tours and a complimentary tri-tip dinner prepared by the Mountain Lions Club.

The open house is being held in celebration of the completion of the club's new permanent restroom facilities made possible by the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians Community Grant Program. Other improvements to the club have also been made.


New Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan

Yosemite National Park has announced the adoption of a new day-use permit program for the Half Dome Trail, which includes continued use of the Half Dome cables. Most visitors ascend Half Dome via the cables, which are typically in place from mid-May through mid-October.

The park will implement day-use limits through a permit system, managing for a target of 300 people on the Half Dome Trail per day.

Applications for permits to hike the trail are available from March 1 through March 31. The park will allocate permits through a preseason lottery, a two-day in advance lottery and as part of the Wilderness Permit process. Details: The lottery will be conducted online at

Fish and Game changes name

The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) became the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Jan. 1.

"The name of the department was changed to better reflect our evolving responsibilities," said Department Director Charlton H. Bonham. "As our role has grown to meet 21st century expectations, we remain committed to our traditional responsibilities and to honoring our deep roots in California's natural resources legacy."

Traditionally known as game wardens, the department's law enforcement staff will now be called wildlife officers.

Charity book drive

Minarets High School seniors Danielle Reimer and Tabitha Sanchez are holding a charity book drive for their senior project and are asking the community to help by donating books. They are seeking books for children to young adults to benefit the Sacramento Children's Home.

"Our project was inspired by both of our loves of reading and wanting to give back to a community that wasn't able to supply books that may interest the kids," Sanchez said.

Books can be turned in now through Jan. 31 at the offices of Minarets High, Spring Valley and Rivergold elementary schools.

Oakhurst pizza contest Jan. 20

Sierra Oakhurst Kiwanis will sponsor the first annual "Best Pizza in Oakhurst" contest from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20 at the Oakhurst Community Center.

Participating restaurants include Di Cicco's Italian Restaurant, Round Table Pizza, Me-N-Eds, Pizza Factory and Sugar Pine Take & Bake Gourmet Pizza.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the event or from Kiwanis members or participating restaurants. Money raised will be used to fund college scholarships for graduating seniors in the Mountain Area, donations for Children's Hospitaland area projects.

Details: Bruce Howard, (559) 683-7650.

Yosemite releases two management plans

Yosemite National Park has released two Wild and Scenic River Comprehensive Management Plan Draft Environmental Impact Statements for the Merced River (MRP) and the Tuolumne River (TRP) for public review and comment. The public comment period for the Merced River Plan is open now through Thursday, April 18. The public comment period for the Tuolumne River Plan is open now through Monday, March 18. Both documents, in their entirety, are available for public review on the park's website.

The MRP presents the environmental analysis of six alternatives, including a No Action Alternative, the National Park Service (NPS) is considering, according to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The park has identified Alternative Five as the preferred alternative.

According to the park service, the preferred alternative will protect and enhance the Merced River's iconic resources in perpetuity and allow visitors the freedom to access Yosemite Valley by private vehicle, with expanded options for public transit; reduce traffic congestion and crowding and provides organized and efficient parking for day use visitors; expand the opportunity for overnight accommodations (camping and lodging) in Yosemite Valley; and maintains Yosemite's positive effect on local and regional economies.

The TRP presents the environmental analysis of four alternatives the National Park Service is considering. The park has identified Alternative Four as the preferred alternative. The preferred alternative seeks to retain a traditional Tuolumne experience while reducing development and making the visitor use more sustainable.

For a copy of the plans and a complete description of all alternatives, please visit the park's website at (MRP) or (TRP). Comments on either plan can be made through the planning environment and public comment website at (MRP) or (trp). Comments can also be sent via email to or via U.S. mail to: Superintendent, Yosemite National Park, Attention: Merced River Plan or attention Tuolumne River Plan, P.O. Box 577, Yosemite, CA 95389/

Public meetings will be held in multiple locations throughout the Yosemite area. Specific dates, locations, and times will be announced soon.

To learn more about how Yosemite inspires generations of visitors, please see our video entitled "The Yosemite Inspiration" at

-- National Park Service

Camarena Health scholarship fundraiser

Camarena Health is hosting their 19th Annual Scholarship Fundraiser Luncheon and Raffle Feb. 8 at the Italo American Club Hall, located at 331 "D" Street, Madera.

The event helps raise money for scholarships for youth in Madera County who are interested in continuing their education in the health care field.

People can help by donating a raffle prize, cash donation, or by purchasing luncheon or raffle tickets. Camarena Health hopes to award at least five scholarships of $2,000 or more throughout the county this year.

Contributions can be sent to Judith Fenton, corporate services manager, Camarena Health, at 344 East Sixth Street, Madera, CA 93638.

Details: (559) 664-4014.

The Sierra Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service