Community Briefs - January 8, 2015 edition

Tea Party meeting Jan. 8

Award winning journalist Charles Johnson will be the guest speaker at the 6:30 p.m., Jan. 8, Tea Party Action meeting at the Best Western Yosemite Gateway Restaurant in Oakhurst.

Johnson will speak on the detrimental aspects of Common Core, and the new Advanced Placement United States History (APUSH) examination offered by the college board as part of the Advanced Placement Program. He’ll also speak briefly about the Truths of the IRS scandal having recently written a book on the subject.

Johnson is an independent investigative journalist, and author, and is the founder of, a website dedicated to independent research and news.

He is the author of Why Coolidge Matters: Leadership Lessons from America’s Most Underrated President (Encounter Books) and The Truth About the IRS Scandals (Encounter Books).

He has written for many newspapers including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, The Los Angeles Times, and the National Review. His work has been featured on Real Clear Politics, the Drudge Report, and on Rush Limbaugh’s Show.


Ban on ‘Redskins’ sought

Chowchilla High School would be one of four high schools in the state who would be affected by a bill introduced to ban the use of ‘Redskins’ as a mascot. The other three schools are Tulare, Gustine, and Calaveras-San Andreas.

Assembly Bill 30 was introduced by Assemblyman Luis Aljeo (D - Watsonville). A bill to abolish ‘Redskins’ as a mascot passed the Legislature in 2004, but was vetoed by then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In a Fresno Bee story, Chowchilla Union High School Superintendent Ron Seals said “We’re not changing,” adding he’s never heard of local opposition to the school’s nickname, and pointed out that the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians recently donated $25,000 to the school’s band.

“It’s a small thing we can do in California that is part of national movement to phase out the use of racial slurs as mascots,” Alejo told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Increase in PG&E bills

Starting today (Jan. 8), the average electricity and natural gas bills (for the average home) from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. will increase 5.9%. The increase for small businesses is 1.8%.

The rate hike, approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, is PG&E’s largest since 2006. .

Town Hall meeting Jan. 22

District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler will host his next Town Hall meeting, 6-8 p.m., on Thursday, Jan. 22, at the Oakhurst Community Center. Additional Town Hall meetings during the year will be held on Feb. 26 (YLP clubhouse), March 19 (Raymond), April 23 (Coarsegold Community Center), June 18 (North Fork Rancheria Community Center), Aug. 27 (Bass Lake), and Nov. 19 (Oakhurst Community Center.

Details: Supervisor Tom Wheeler, (559) 662-6050.

DUI campaign collars 145 drivers

The crackdown on motorists driving under the influence (DUI) ended with a significant number of arrests from sobriety checkpoints, special saturation patrols, and routine patrol in Madera and Fresno counties. From 12:01 a.m., Dec. 12, through Thursday Jan. 1.

Officers representing 21 county law enforcement agencies arrested 145 individuals for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), sobriety checkpoint programs can yield considerable cost savings: $6 for every $1 spent. Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Sconce recognized for screenwriting

Matt Sconce will be included in the book “The Top 50 Indie Writers in the World Part 1” for his screenwriting.

“I am truly honored and humbled by this announcement,” Sconce said. “As someone who started out making little funny short films, I look back and am astounded how far the journey has taken me. I have written (”Stricken,” “Magic”) and co-written six feature screenplays (”Everwhite,” “Emma’s Cookies.” “Pest Control,” “Puppy Power”) and produced or directed five feature films over the last five years. Time has rocketed by and I am so thankful to all of the friends, family, and business associates who have encouraged me along the way.”

Gardeners workshop Jan. 11

True Value Home Center in Oakhurst will hold a free New Mountain Gardeners Workshop at 1 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 11. Both new and veteran gardeners are welcome. Topics include grooming native trees; gardening with deer, heat and snow; winter sowing and winter containers.

Details: Suzanne Jones, (559) 683-7117.

Free concert by Emerald Duo

The Emerald Duo will perform Unknown Jewels, a free concert at 7 p.m., Jan. 30 at the Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church. Violinist Susan Doering and Dieter Wulfhorst, violon-cello, will feature compositions by Bréval, Massonneau, Schröter, Stumpff, and Sowash.

Details: Wulfhorst at (559) 392-1425.

Audubon field trip Jan. 10

Yosemite Area Audubon Society field trip to the Merced National Wildlife Refuge will be held Saturday, Jan. 10. Participants are asked to meet at 7:45 a.m. at the Mariposa rest area adjacent to the Mariposa history center off Highway 140, to carpool. Bring binoculars, field guides, lunch and beverages. Details: (209) 742-5579, (209) 966-2547,

Manna House benefit

A smoked tri-tip dinner (courtesy of Pastor Bill of Rushing Wind Ministries) and worship night will take place from 6-9 p.m., Jan. 9, at the Yosemite New Life Church of the Nazarene. All proceeds will benefit Manna House. There will be a raffle and door prizes, and music will be provided by Surrendered Life Worship, as well as other area worship groups.

Bring a bag of dry rice, beans, or other non-perishables to be entered into a special drawing. Dinner costs $12 for adults; for children 12 years and under, the cost is $12 for two. Tickets can be purchased beforehand at the Yosemite New Life Church of the Nazarene, Rushing Wind Ministries, and at the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce. They can also be purchased at the door the day of the event.

Free plants

Residents of California can ring in the New Year with five free Crape Myrtle trees by joining the Arbor Day Foundation any time during January 2015.

“These small flowering trees will provide any landscape in California with a splash of color for much of the year,” said Matt Harris, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Members will experience pink and red flowers in the spring, green foliage in the summer and a mix of red, orange and yellow during autumn.”

The free trees are part of the nonprofit Foundation’s Trees for America campaign. The trees will be shipped postpaid between Feb. 1 and April 30, with planting instructions. The 6- to 12-inch tall trees are guaranteed to grow, or they will be replaced free of charge.

Members will also receive a subscription to the foundation’s bimonthly publication, Arbor Day, and The Tree Book, which includes information about tree planting and care.

To receive the free trees, send a $10 membership contribution to 5 Crapemyrtles, Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Avenue, Nebraska City, NE, 68410, by Jan. 31. California residents can also join online at

Sheriff PIO will leave position

After nearly 13 years, Erica Stuart, public information officer for the Madera County Sheriff’s Department, is leaving her position, effective Jan. 30.

In a prepared statement, Stuart said serving Madera County has been both an honor and a privilege.