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Columnists

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Brent Parsons
5 days ago
ackson Valley was home to mining operations and small family dairy farms in the late 19th and early 20th century. There was copper in the ground and gold in the dirt. According to Hank Willy, the Penn Mine to the south. in Lancha Plana, employed 800 to meet the copper demand during the Civil War. Huge flat boats churned up the Mokelumne to supply the mines and carry the ore. Hank described the landscape under the Penn smelter’s dark cloud as starkly lunar. The EPA funded a cleanup a century later with the deep pockets of EBMUD, which... [Read more]
Copyright © 2016 Amador Ledger Dispatch
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Brent Parsons
2 weeks ago
JVID’s Hank Willy. Photo by Brent Parsons
Dams or the lack of them have long been a controversial topic, especially in this time of prolonged drought. What would California’s prognosis be after four dry years without the water storage provided by the dams at Shasta, Oroville, Folsom and Hetch Hetchy? Even little dams, like Lake Amador’s, play critical roles in the regions they serve. Efforts to build additional dams have met fierce resistance in the decades I’ve been a water consumer. Environmentalists challenge the benefits and the associated costs accrued in the long... [Read more]
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Brent Parsons
2 weeks ago

Linden can boast and toast a hometown boy. Aaron Judge made history on baseball’s biggest stage, Yankee Stadium, last Saturday. He hit a home run in his first major league at bat. Tyler Austin, the previous batter, also just called up from the minors, had just blasted a home run in his first at bat in the majors. They’re the first pair to ever do that. Cooperstown wants the bats, to put them in the Hall of Fame, but the boys either can’t or aren’t ready to give them up just yet.

Aaron hit another home run the next day and a...

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Lisa Lucke
2 weeks ago
Very soon, I’ll be heading to Reno, to drop off my son at his new home on the 7th floor of a dormitory building, to live in a room that’s likely smaller than our family room, which he’ll share with two other young men for the next ten months. The longest we’ve ever been apart is three weeks. That might seem like an eternity to some moms and, in fact, it was a long time for me. It was too long. I felt physically anxious that last week. The first week I partied. The middle week, I got a few things done. But he was nine or ten years... [Read more]
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Lisa Lucke
3 weeks ago

really don’t know why my fingers typed “rainbows and butterflies.” What I actually intended to type was “bull----,” but somehow that other stuff flew off my fingertips. After I typed those words, I realized that things really have changed through the years when it comes to back-to-school chores. For one thing, I really don’t have many anymore. I have money. They have cars. It’s that simple.

See, my kids are old; in fact, they’re ancient by teenager standards. My son is closer to 19 than 18 and heading off to college in a few...

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Brent Parsons
4 weeks ago
The Badger Street Bridge is expected to be back in place soon. Photo by Brent Parsons
Before beginning Part 4 of what looks to be a five-part series that has evolved into a story more on the Pinotti family than the Badger Street Bridge, I have to make an important correction. Dorothy’s maiden name was Tippett, not Tibbett. She was the daughter of Naomi Cavagnaro, of Amador City and Jim Tippett, of Plymouth. The Tippetts, like most of the immigrants from Cornwall, were skilled hard-rock miners. Jean said they were among the first to arrive when the quest for gold went below the surface. Dorothy left an impression on... [Read more]
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Brent Parsons
07/28/2016 3:41 PM
The Pinotti family lived in the Downs Mansion, on Spanish Street, in Sutter Creek, for many years. Photo by Brent Parsons

Borrowing Jean Pinotti’s book, “Two Families from The Lunigiana, the Pinotti’s and the Piagneri’s,” a 750-page book written by her uncle Joe, complicated the story I planned to write. I couldn’t stay focused on the bridge, no matter how hard I tried, which wasn’t very hard. The detours are the best thing about writing these columns. I can treat distractions as critical story threads and the reader, if he chooses to persevere, must, too. Sorry.

Every family should be as fortunate as the Pinottis, to have such a capable and...

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Lisa Lucke
07/28/2016 2:44 PM

By the surreal housewife of Amador County

If someone were to give me a publishing contract for “Working from Home for Dummies,” I’d call Chapter 1, “It’s not for everyone.” Quite honestly, I don’t even know if it’s for me. But it’s worked out pretty well with regard to flexibility as a parent. If there’s a school function, a sick kid, or after-school sporting event that I need to be at in a neighboring county, I am rarely forced to miss anything because of work. Yep, working for a virtual company from home has its perks, not the...

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Lisa Lucke
07/21/2016 1:22 PM

For many people, the county fair brings to mind fond childhood memories of thrilling rides, crazy loops around the fun house and the smell of goat manure in the morning. There really is nothing quite like it — except for the smell coming from the food stalls. Stalls? Yes, because that’s where throngs of hungry animals – the two-legged variety – go to graze on stick food. The Stick Diet is the only one I’ve ever stuck to.

I like to open my four-day diet plan with a deep-fried artichoke heart on a stick. It is a strange concept, as...

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Brent Parsons
07/07/2016 12:41 PM
Back in the early 2000’s, the Amador Water Agency succeeded in taking most of Amador’s water out of what had to be one of the last semi-functioning Gold Rush-era earthen aqueducts and putting it into a pipe. The initial phase installed nine miles of a 30-inch pipe from Tabeau Reservoir, south of Pine Grove, above the Mokelume Canyon, to Tanner Reservoir at the agency’s headquarters above Sutter Creek. Some of that project was adjacent to Ridge Road. Drivers like me had witnessed cattle wading and doing other things in the open... [Read more]
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Terry Sanders
07/07/2016 12:37 PM
The question continues to regularly arise as to whether a Reservist or National Guard member who was ordered to active duty and who then returned to his or her Reserve or National Guard unit afterwards would qualify as a “veteran” for this or that benefit (especially for health care from the Veterans Administration clinics or VETERAN status on a California Department of Motor Vehicles driver’s license). My impression is that there continues to be much confusion about how various benefits based upon active service apply to Reservists... [Read more]
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Brent Parsons
07/07/2016 1:50 PM
I know something is wrong when Anthony Bourdain is missing from his scheduled time slot. He’s been absent more than not lately, pre-empted by another crisis or catastrophe. Massacres, bombings and hostage standoffs make tornadoes and hurricanes easier to take. The ISIS bloody campaign of terror is trying to do to social life what 9/11 did to air travel – give it a discomforting edge of vulnerability. Victims are people who happen to be in the place at the time chosen. Hundreds have been slaughtered and thousands maimed, suffering... [Read more]
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Lisa Lucke
06/23/2016 12:17 PM
Argonaut Softball players and coaches express their hopes. Photo courtesy to the Amador Ledger Dispatch

his summer is going to be hu-u-u-u-ge. First, our eldest son, my firstborn, graduated from high school. In August, he’ll be leaving the shoe and moving about three hours away, where he’ll be learning the fine art of working without a net. I have complete confidence in him, not that it will be a perfect transition with no missteps, but that he’ll recover nicely after each “splat” and learn as he goes. So that’s the first big thing happening this summer.

The other big thing is actually the absence of something: softball. Read my...

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Brent Parsons
06/23/2016 12:02 PM
Marlene and Kirk Wallace, along with Darryl Readshaw, are the buyers of Mace Meadow. Ledger Dispatch photo by Brent Parsons
I’ve submitted a rambling of disconnected thoughts a few times in the almost three years I’ve been a regular contributor to the Ledger Dispatch. Some readers would say I’ve done that many more times than I think. The bulk of my pieces have been interviews and there is still a rich crop to harvest. Those take scheduling and a significant block of time. Rejection is also part of that genre, which sometimes pushes me another way. Ginger Budrick has joined in the interview process and I’m certain, despite age-limiting her subjects, she... [Read more]
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Jack Mitchell
06/20/2016 4:49 PM
The Camanche Fire started on Friday, June 17, 2016 - burned 200 acres. Here's the aftermath. Amador Ledger Dispatch photo by Bill Lavallie
On Monday, June 20, 2016 we took the opportunity to fly over the Camanche Fire area. The Camanche Fire started on June 17, 2016 at 2:54 p.m. and burned approximately 200 acres. No home were lost, but three outbuidlings were destroyed, another was damaged. No injuries were reported.This is an aerial view of the site taken on Monday, June 20, 2016, at 11:54 p.m. https://youtu.be/Bsge87-LSsc [Read more]
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Brent Parsons
06/16/2016 1:05 PM
Parker and Bella lounge in the desert. Amador Ledger Dispatch photo by Brent Parsons

We left Parker’s bones behind after a second windy night and drove the 125 miles to Cedar City. It’s a neat, tree-thick town at the base of the mountains where Interstate 15 is a final southern route option. Zion, which we drive through but avoid the crowded campgrounds, is 65 miles south on the way to Navajo and Grand Canyon country. Instead, if we’re heading that way, we camp at a quiet little BLM campground just past Kanab, on a 40-mile dirt road connecting Utah with Arizona. The crowd there might reach six.

We had several...

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Brent Parsons
06/16/2016 1:00 PM

Amador County’s Upcountry golf course, Mace Meadow, on Highway 88, in Buckhorn, has been sold. I’ve previously written a few pieces on this subject. If you haven’t seen me play, you might think I’m a golfer. No, I’m not, but I am interested in a facility that once attracted many to the Upcountry, including my parents, who, in turn, enticed me to Amador.

After a couple of disappointing buyer back-outs and a looming bankruptcy, it looks like a deal has been sealed. These last-chance buyers hoped all would be final by Monday, the...

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Brent Parsons
06/09/2016 12:31 PM
From left, Rick Smith, his granddaughter Hannah Campbell, grandson Ceyvion Wilkins, daughter Gracie Campbell and wife, Donna Smith. Photo courtesy to the Amador Ledger Dispatch
I’ve moved a half dozen times since college, and everywhere I lived, I found the basketball pickup games before I found or looked for anything else. It’s been an addiction. I moved to Amador in 1989 and after making some calls and chasing down leads, Manny Cranford led me to a group that played Wednesday nights at Jackson Junior High. I showed up, watched and waited. This wasn’t the open gym or park games from Santa Cruz where everyone got their turn — sometimes only one, because winners stayed on. The Jackson group was fairly... [Read more]
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Carey Erichson
06/02/2016 12:03 PM

How many of you have had a hole in one? I can readily guess, very few. There is no talent in getting a hole in one, it is strictly luck. I hit the ball as straight as anyone so when I line up with the hole, God only knows where it is going. I have had two holes in one and my older sister has had three. She held that over my head her whole life.

We used to play a lot of golf together when we were kids at our cabin at Lake Tahoe. Our parents and their friends were always having extended cocktail hours and burning the B-B-Q Chicken,...

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Brent Parsons
06/02/2016 12:43 PM
“Over the next few hours, Parker returned with every type of bone a desert could produce — and then some.” Amador Ledger Dispatch photo by Brent Parsons
If things go right, and they have the last few years, we take camping trips to the Red Rock Canyon country in the late spring and early fall. Getting away is never easy. There is the packing, the scheduling, and the covering of the bases. And now two dogs –one a 10-month-old bundle of spunk and the other a happy but physically failing, stumbling 14-year-old. Bella might be making her last trip, but I thought that six months ago, too. Packing wasn’t as strategically demanding this time, because our new little camper eliminated much of... [Read more]
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