Community News for 2/7/13 edition

February 7, 2013 

Judge does not block Mono casino

A Washington-based federal judge, Beryl Howell, declined Jan. 29 to issue a temporary injunction against the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians proposed $350 million casino/hotel project on Highway 99, north of Madera. Stand Up for California, a California non-profit organization with a focus on gambling issues, challenged the decision of then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's decision to allow the land to be placed in trust due to a number of detrimental impacts.

Howell said that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act does not require that a gaming development by completely devoid of negative impacts, but that the development would not be detrimental to the surrounding community.

The Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, who own and operate Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino in Coarsegold, also is challenging the North Fork proposed project.

New court date for DA Michael Keitz

The civil case brought by Madera County District Attorney Michael Keitz to prevent the public release of a report critical of his department, has been continued to March 8 before Judge James Oakley.

The Madera County Board of Supervisors have asked for the two-year-old report, known as the "Rowley Report," but Keitz's attorney, Martin Mayer, said the report falls under the sanctity of the attorney-client privilege law and therefore, should not be released.

Eric Fleming, county administrative officer, feels the investigative report should be released since the county paid $30,000 to have it prepared.

No Walmart

An official with Walmart has said there are no plans to build a Walmart in Oakhurst.

There has been much speculation in the Mountain Area that Walmart would be one of the tenants on the property on Highway 49 across from the Highway Patrol office.

"While we are always looking for opportunities to serve our customers better, we do not have plans to build in Oakhurst," said Delia Garcia, director of communications for Walmart's public affairs & government relations office.

Free tax assistance from AARP

Free income tax return preparation and electronic filing for both state and federal returns will be available again this year for Mountain Area residents of all ages, offered by the AARP Tax-Aide program.

Tax preparation services will be performed at the Sierra Senior Center in Oakhurst on Tuesdays between Feb. 12 and April 9. The returns are prepared on site, and then electronically filed.

Appointments can be made by calling the senior center at (559) 683-3811.

In an effort to reach out to families and working people, volunteers are also offering tax return preparation services on three Saturdays at the Oakhurst Library. Services will be offered between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Feb. 23, March 16 and April 13. These services are also offered on an appointment basis by calling Darlene Kelly, Madera County Tax-Aide coordinator, (559) 760-0404.

Taxpayers will also be provided service on a drop-in basis, without an appointment, as time is available.

Transportation plan workshop

A "visioning workshop" will be held on the 2014 Madera County Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy, 5:30 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 12, at the Oakhurst Community Center Pavilion Room, 39800 Road 425B. The meeting will include a light dinner and raffle prizes. Details: (559) 675-0721 ext. 14 or

21st Century learning skills Feb. 13

Featuring the internationally renowned expert on creativity and critical thinking, best-selling author of The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, Sir Ken Robinson, will speak in Madera on Wednesday, Feb. 13.

Recently called "among the world's elite thinkers on creativity and innovation" by Fast Company magazine, Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D., will be the featured speaker for a morning symposium on creativity, innovation and critical thinking in education, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Feb. 13. at the new Madera County Office of Education Conference Center, 1105 Madera Avenue.

The office of education is inviting educators, business people and the public to attend. Cost is $200.

Details: Cherie Burns, (559) 662-3800,

Guitarist Adrian Legg to perform Feb. 23

Guitarist Adrian Legg will perform, who was voted "Guitarist of the Decade" by Guitarist Magazine, will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23 at Coolwater Ranch in Nipinnawasee.

Tickets cost $25 and are now available at Mountain Feed and Nursery in Coarsegold.

Details: Robin Ralston, (559) 760-1134.

28th Annual Elegant Auction March 23

The 28th Annual Elegant Auction will be held Saturday, March 23 at Tenaya Lodge in Fish Camp. The evening will begin at 5 p.m. with a silent auction. The live auction will begin at 8 p.m. Music to follow until 1 p.m.

Admission costs $45 in advance or $50 at the door. Admission includes a gourmet buffet, dessert bar and complimentary champagne. Proceeds from the event benefit the Oakhurst Community Park.

Details: (559) 683-4494.

Doctor O'Meara joins Oakhurst Kaiser

Daniel O'Meara, MD, is now a physician with Kaiser Permanente's Oakhurst medical Office.

O'Meara, who is board-certified in family practice, started with Kaiser Permanente on Jan. 7. O'Meara has been practicing in Oakhurst for the past eight years.

He remains active in the Oakhurst community participating in Boy Scouts and the Madera County Search and Rescue team.

Sweetheart Ball

The Annual Sweetheart Ball, hosted by the Oakhurst Elks Lodge, will be held Friday, Feb. 15 at the lodge, 42484 Highway 41.

The evening will begin at 4:30 p.m. with no host cocktails, followed by dinner at 6 p.m. Dinner includes New York steak, baked potatoes, vegetables, spinach salad and dessert. Music will be performed by Kit 'n Kaboodle.

Tickets cost $26. Reservations: (559) 683-2717.

Weekly parenting class in Spanish

The Mountain Wellness Center is offering Los Nino's Bien Educados, a parenting class for Spanish speaking parents, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Thursdays. The class is free.

Details: Jenny Becker, Oakhurst Counseling Center, (559) 683-4809.

AARP homeowners insurance

AARP has announced the Kraft and Lee Insurance Agency of Oakhurst, authorized agents for AARP auto insurance, have now been authorized to bundle the auto insurance with The Hartford's AARP homeowners insurance program.

According to AARP, the office was chosen for demonstrating a commitment to community service, meeting a high level of business and ethical standards and completing a training program designed to address the needs of the 50 + population.

Kraft and Lee Insurance is an independent agency establish in 1980 and is located in the Bank of America building.

Children's Museum community meeting

The Children's Museum of the Sierra will hold a community meeting at 10 a.m., Monday, Feb. 18 at the Oakhurst Elementary School multipurpose room.

The meeting will detail the current financial state of the museum and serve as a brainstorming session on ways to increase involvement in and financial support of the museum. The museum is currently seeking volunteers to help serve on committees that will help promote the museum, create new programs and help raise funds to ensure that the museum will continue to provide educational opportunities for the children of the Mountain Area.

Details: Steve Montalto, (559) 658-5656, Jarrod Lyman, (559) 683-4636.

Free patriotic concert Feb. 10 at YLP church

A free patriotic concert with Linda Lanier, national and international Nashville recording artist and public speaker, will be held at 6 p.m., Sunday, Feb 10 at the Yosemite Lakes Community Church, 43840 Patrick Avenue in Coarsegold.

Lanier's mission is to inspire Americans to stand for truth and justice and, like the theme of her latest album, she believes "We need God in America again."

Details: (559) 658-7447.

Snowpack below average to date

Snow surveyors reported Jan. 29 that water content in California's mountain snowpack is below average for the date.

Manual and electronic readings record the snowpack's statewide water content at 93% of average for this time of year. That is 55% of the average April 1 measurement, when the snowpack is normally at its peak before the spring melt.

The snowpack normally provides about a third of the water for California's homes, farms and industries as it slowly melts into streams, reservoirs and aquifers in the spring and early summer.


American Legion auxiliary scholarships

The Coarsegold American Legion Auxiliary is offering a $500 scholarship to seniors at Yosemite and Minarets high schools.

Qualifications for the scholarships include a minimum 3.5 GPA, having a parent, grandparent or sibling who has or is currently serving in the military and a 700-1,000 word essay answering, "How does having a member of your family (past or present) in the military influence the way you see yourself as an American?"

Students must also be planning on attending college in the fall and must submit a completed award application packet with three letters of recommendation.

Those interested in participating should contact their school counselor for details.

OHV grant request public review

Beginning March 5, the Madera County Sheriff's annual Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) grant request will be ready for public review and comment.

Those who wish to participate in the Grant Request Public Review and Comment may do so by either contacting Susan Noel at">snoel@mader or logging onto the division website at

Review will be open through April 1.

Votes needed for YHS graduate Amber Stone

Amber (Daniels) Stone, a 1997 Yosemite High School graduate, is campaigning to become the San Luis Obispo social ambassador and needs social media votes to be in running for the position. Stone attended Humboldt State where she played soccer on a scholarship. She graduated from Northwestern University in Boston and currently works in corrections and teaches criminal justice at Hancock College.

To vote for Stone, sign into your Facebook account and type in the link For additional information, visit and 'like' Stone for SLO Ambassador.

Former Yosemite employee pleads guilty

Mary Alice Walk, 61, of Midpines, has plead guilty to theft of government property.

According to documents filed in the case, Walk was employed by the National Park Service in Yosemite National Park between October 2008 and June 2009. During that time, she charged $32,820 of personal expenses to government credit cards that had been issued to her for making official government purchases.

Walk is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii on April 15. She faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

North Fork Valentine's Dinner & Dance

A Valentine's Dinner & Dance will be held Friday, Feb. 15 at the North Fork Town Hall -- 33060 Mono Drive (Road 228) -- as a fundraiser for Squirrel Cage Theatre, The North Fork Studio and the North Fork Boosters.

Dinner will be served at 6 p.m. followed by music at 7 p.m. by the Sierra Jazz Band, featuring vocalist Amy Duke.

The three-course dinner includes a green salad, tri-tip, baked potato, seasoned vegetable, rolls and cheesecake. Additional desserts will be available for purchase, and the North Fork Boosters will provide a no-host bar.

Local photographer Roger Robinette will be taking 5x7 "formal photos" for $10 each and $5 for additional prints.

A "Snow Time for Romance" sweetheart get-away at the Tenaya Lodge will also be raffled off during the evening.

Tickets are $20 and are available at Solstice Salon & Gallery in Oakhurst, North Fork Hardware, and Slim's Koffee Shak in North Fork, or by calling Sue Novell at (559) 877-2129.

Dance-only tickets are $10 and will be sold at the door at 7 p.m.

The Squirrel Cage Theatre, The North Fork Studio, and the North Fork Boosters help the mountain communities through scholarships, entertainment, meeting spaces and classes, tutoring, and maintaining the historic Town Hall and Recreation Center -- home of the annual Loggers Jamboree.

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