Tight contest for Truckee Town Council among top stories of 2018 | SierraSun.com

Tight contest for Truckee Town Council among top stories of 2018

Sierra Sun staff

No fewer than seven people stepped up to serve on the Truckee Town Council as candidates for the November general election, a show of engagement that all candidates considered to be a positive sign for the community.

Among the seven who vied for three seats on the council, Morgan Goodwin was the only incumbent on the ballot, as Mayor Carolyn Wallace Dee and Council Member Patrick Flora did not seek re-election.

That left room filled by six challengers for the seats, including Anna Klovstad, the Truckee Elementary Project manager; David Polivy, owner of Tahoe Mountain Sports; Chelsea Walterscheid, program manager at Sierra Business Council; Suzie Tarnay, substitute teacher and Truckee Elementary School volunteer; Richard Ludke with the U.S. Forest Service; and Carmen Carr, Tahoe Donner real estate agent.

The race remained tight well after election day, though Klovstad and Goodwin remained in the top two positions through each updated results from the Nevada County Elections Office. Finishing third was challenger Polivy, who finished just 30 votes ahead of Walterscheid for the third and final seat.

"Because of all the candidates and who they were and what they brought to the table, it made all of us better candidates," Klovstad said once the final results were released. "That really was to the benefit of the Town of Truckee."

The new council members were sworn into office in December.

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Controversies over grocery store options continue

In November, the Truckee Town Council unanimously approved the construction of a Grocery Outlet on Donner Pass Road, following three public hearings and months of deliberation.

"I know that this decision tonight is not going to make everyone happy," said Council Member Goodwin. "What's important to me is Truckee first."

In April, an appeal was filed against the Planning Commission's approval of the 16,147-square-foot market sparking outcry from residents surrounding the project site in the Gateway neighborhood. While the area is zoned for commercial use residents were concerned about additional traffic in the neighborhood and on Donner Pass Road with potential parking overflow onto surrounding streets.

Meanwhile over at Soaring Ranch, despite pending litigation against the Town of Truckee for approving the development of a Raley's grocery store at Soaring Ranch, the developer behind the project said in June he plans to continue with construction.

That month Chapman presented a settlement offer to plaintiffs on the lawsuit, Stephanie Olivieri and Protect CEQA, which aimed to mitigate Olivieri's concerns with the lack of workforce housing included in the project. The settlement presented an updated project plan in which the developer proposed to include more than 150 housing units in the project. Olivieri said at the time the offer was still not acceptable as the housing included in the project would not be concurrent with the development of the Raley's. She said the project would be "acceptable" if the housing was constructed at the same time or before the Raley's was built.

Lake Tahoe sees decreased clarity, highest ever surface temps

Shorter winters and rising temperatures have led to the highest surface water temperatures ever recorded at Lake Tahoe, while drought and one of the wettest winters on record have contributed to the worst clarity readings since regular measurements of the lake began in 1968.

Tahoe's record-breaking temperatures and lack of clarity were highlighted in the University of California, Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center's annual State of the Lake report, published in August amid growing concern regarding Tahoe's famous clarity.

"We continue to find the 2017 clarity readings to be both alarming and yet not surprising," said Darcie Goodman Collins, Ph.D., chief executive officer for the League to Save Lake Tahoe. "Climate scientists have predicted that the conditions that prompted Tahoe's low clarity could well become the new normal. While we realize it's important to assess any one year in the context of longer-term trends, Lake Tahoe is too valuable to not take these findings seriously."

For the past half century the Tahoe Environmental Research Center has conducted continuous monitoring of Lake Tahoe as part of the center's ongoing, decades-long measurement programs, while also presenting current research on emerging issues — such as the findings of a dramatic decrease in Tahoe's clarity and the record high average surface temperatures.

Wirth out, Cohen in as Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows CEO

Word of Andy Wirth's retirement from atop Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows snapped the ski industry to attention and echoed across Olympic Valley and the Truckee-Tahoe region in April.

"It is after careful consideration and reflection that I have made this decision," Wirth, CEO for eight years, said in a statement. "My retirement will allow me to not only spend more time with my family, but focus on some of my passions, including the active support of wounded warriors and environmental causes — advocacy and action."

Among the highlights of his years at the helm, Wirth noted the acquisition of Alpine Meadows, the deployment of nearly $100 million in capital and advancing the California Express Gondola.

The merger of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows led to plans announced in October to connect two of Lake Tahoe's ski resorts with a 2.46-mile, base-to-base gondola between The Village at Squaw Valley and the base area at Alpine Meadows.

In August, Ron Cohen was announced as Wirth's replacement. Cohen, who served as interim president and chief operating officer, took over the position permanently that month.

For the past 16 years Cohen worked in the outdoor industry, most recently serving as Alterra Mountain Company's deputy general counsel. From 2010 to 2017 he served as chief administrative officer and general counsel at Mammoth Mountain.

"I have learned a tremendous amount from the Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows team over the last four months," said Cohen in a statement. "My top focus will be leading, aligning and empowering our team to realize their highest potential."

Squaw Valley worker emerges from avalanche wrecked, but alive

A big, overnight snowstorm created a lot of work for Marty Boline on March 2 at Squaw Valley.

Boline said he wanted to check examine a lift because it was subject to heavy wind. He then came across three lift operations supervisors, who were skiing together. So Boline decided to see where they were going.

"We continued down and we got underneath Oly Lady, and I was the first one to drop in. You know, this one main chute that goes down into there off the shoulder, and I went right a little bit," he said.

There were tracks from other skiers, so Boline wasn't worried about his line. But then everything changed for the man who has been skiing at Squaw Valley for 20 years.

Boline said he came in to ski his line "and I saw the whole face just bubble and break up. I knew it was a big avalanche at that point."

The weight of the snow on his shoulders forced him to his chest "and that's when I realized how deep it really was. It was so much snow moving down," he said.

"I thought about my kids and my wife," he continued. "'Am I never going to see them again? … I'm not going to die here.'"

Truckee's '2 Out Nightmare' takes state title

Dreams of hoisting a state title turned to reality for Truckee's baseball team in May's Class 3A state championship tournament.

Teams that ran up against the Wolverines this season never woke up from a "2 Out Nightmare."

"That's been us all year. They have so much fight. They never give up," said coach Jeff Murphy.

With a knack for piling on runs with two outs and a propensity for clutch hitting, fans of Truckee began calling the team the "2 Out Nightmare." The team lived up to that moniker time and again during its run to the program's first title since 2012.

"It's amazing, truly amazing," said senior pitcher Colin Just. "If you would've told me two years ago that we're going to be state champions, I wouldn't have believed you, not in a million years."

With four seniors on the team and coming off an 8-20 season, expectations weren't exactly high for a program that hadn't finished with a winning record since 2012. A 27-4 loss to Class 4A Reno to open the year didn't buoy hopes for a winning campaign, but things were beginning to change in Murphy's fourth year at the helm.