Truckee: A year in review
Truckee rang in the New Year with an Olympic torch, lighting the way for the year’s events – both good and bad – that would follow.
Residents saw what Truckee will look like 10 years down the road as development continued and significant new land-use plans were approved.
Here are the events that shaped 2002 (Part one of a two-part series):
— Employee housing takes a hit: Northstar homeowners filed a suit against the development of a 380-bed employee housing project approved by the Placer County Board of Supervisors a month earlier.
— Olympic torch returns: Truckee residents and dignitaries geared up to watch the Olympic torch return to the area after approximately 40 years.
— Lawsuit draws attention to environmental practices: On Jan. 24 the California Attorney General’s office and the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board sued Squaw Valley USA because of alleged water quality violations that resulted from years of unauthorized construction-related activities. Squaw Valley then sued Lahontan, alleging discrimination and a violation of constitutional rights. In December, a judge dropped Squaw’s suit, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to prove Squaw’s allegations of sexual discrimination.
— Post office examined: An investigation was opened by U.S. Postal Service officials regarding service at the Soda Springs post office. Several customers complained of its service, saying items mailed to box holders were often missing or late. Other residents defended the post office.
— Nevada County Supervisor Barbara Green was appointed chairwoman of the board on Jan. 8.
— Party causes rift in community: The Tahoe Truckee Wolverine girls’ soccer coach, an assistant coach and parents were charged on Feb. 5 with allegedly contributing to the delinquency of minors and furnishing alcohol to approximately 40 minors at a party. A slew of letters to the editor followed, either supporting the adults’ actions because teenage drinking is a reality and they were only providing a safe environment. Others wrote to express their dismay that adults would endorse such behavior.
— Crime wave: Eighteen vehicles and homes in Glenshire and Sierra Meadows were broken into on the night of Feb. 18. Most of the cars were unlocked, but some windows were smashed to gain access to item in the vehicles. A dozen car stereos, hundreds of CDs, a dozen cell phones, briefcases, a laptop computer, snowboard and ski equipment were taken.
— Tahoe Donner access will expand: On Feb. 21 the Truckee Town Council approved a third connector for Tahoe Donner despite questions regarding the necessity of the road. The Pioneer Trail/Bridge Street connector will run from Highway 89 east through Ewer Valley and will include a connector to Bridge Street.
— Grandma’s compete in television adventure: Clair Jinks, 65, and Peggy Kuhn, 63 – also known as “The Gutsy Grandmas” – prepared to appear on CBS’s “The Amazing Race 2.” Jinks is a second homeowner in Truckee and Kuhn lives in Tahoe Donner. They were among the oldest women to appear on a reality TV show.
— Teens charged in fire plead ‘no contest’: Two local teenagers pleaded no contest to the charge that they started a campfire on public land without a permit, but a second charge, that they allowed the fire to spread into the Martis Fire by leaving it unattended, was dismissed. The 18-year-olds were sentenced to three years summary probation, participation in a 15-day work-release program, 150 hours of community service and a fine of $370 each.
— Meadow will be protected: The Nature Conservancy announced March 19 its acquisition of a conservation easement that prevents any chance of development on a 450-acre meadow property about eight miles north of Truckee. The property, owned by the Ranz family, is located in Eastern Sierra County on the Little Truckee River where Highway 89 meets Kyburz Flat Road. The property was sold to The Nature Conservancy at half its market value.
— Trails and bikeways: The Truckee Town Council unanimously approved the Truckee Trails and Bikeways Master Plan on April 4, which seeks to establish a network of more than 130 miles of street bikeways and recreational trail corridors that would provide access to all parts of town. The plan aims to reduce vehicle traffic in the area by getting people out of their cars. Although the plan was approved, individual trail and bikeway projects will face review and public hearings before being implemented.
— Public viewing of Old Greenwood project: At a public workshop, members of the public had the opportunity to view East West Partners’ proposed development, Old Greenwood. The proposed development included 154 fractional-ownership units, 104 single-family lots, 20 townhouse lots, a 28-unit employee housing complex, a private 18-hole golf course, a 50,000-square-foot lodge and a 17,000-square-foot fitness center on 871 acres. The project was eventually approved in May by the planning commission and in mid June by the town council.
— Nuclear waste may travel through Truckee: Several Truckee officials decided to stay involved in future plans by the state of Nevada and the federal government that would transport nuclear waste through 39 states to the proposed Yucca Mountain site. Because of its proximity to Interstate 80 and Union Pacific Railroad lines, some officials feel the issue is cause for concern to Truckee residents.
— Bottled water: A Coldstream Canyon landowner submitted a second application for a permit to operate a commercial water facility in the canyon. The initial application was withdrawn after the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation challenged the landowner with a lawsuit, saying an environmental impact report should have been required for the project.
— Teacher contract still undecided: Contract negotiations between the school district and its teaching staff were expected to enter arbitration in mid-May. Nearly nine months after negotiations began, the district and its teachers finally came to an agreement for a retroactive contract for the 2001-02 school year in mid June. Members of the union’s negotiating team and the district broke a month-long impasse, averted fact-finding and came to a tentative agreement that was ratified by union members.
— Contention continues over Martis plan: Despite numerous complaints about the proposed Martis Valley Community Plan, several developments on the Placer County side of the Martis Valley continued to move through the planning process. The plan is an update of the 1975 Martis Valley General Plan, and will determine future development in the valley. After 30 meetings, the plan was presented to the Placer County Planning Commission, which eventually directed county staff to redraft a portion of the plan’s hotly contested environmental impact report.
— New middle school breaks ground: The school district began site work this summer for a new $34 million middle school that will replace Sierra Mountain Middle School. Money for the school came from Measure C money that was passed by voters in 1997.
— Priest charged with sex crimes: The investigation of former Catholic priest Stephen Kiesle, 55, by the Fremont, Calif. and Pinole, Calif. police departments said they uncovered information that Kiesle may have molested as many as three victims while at his vacation home on Sun Valley Road in Tahoe Donner between 1994 and 1995. Early in June investigators used shovels and backhoes to dig up areas near Kiesle’s. Two weeks later investigators performed sonar work on the ground beneath a recently added garage. Investigators were looking for any evidence related to the disappearance of 8-year-old Amber Schwartz Garcia, who disappeared from her Pinole home in 1988. No evidence was found.
— Broadband services may be here soon: The Truckee Donner Public Utility District gave district staff the green light to forge ahead with plans to offer broadband services at a meeting early in June. The $14 million project had already been two years in the making, and initial timelines by the PUD estimated that broadband could be supplied to Truckee homes by the summer of 2003.
— Mysterious plant at Martis Reservoir: Local fisherman reported that an increase of an unidentified red plan has made fishing in the reservoir virtually impossible. Although unidentified, some officials believe it may be a non-native plant called the Eurasian watermilfoil, which has become increasingly common in and around Lake Tahoe. The watermilfoil’s rapid growth and decay can decay water quality, crowd out native plant species and deplete oxygen needed by fish populations.
July through January of the Sierra Sun’s year in review will appear in the next issue.
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A flash flood watch is in effect for the Truckee-Tahoe area, as slow-moving thunderstorms could produce short periods of heavy rainfall and lightning.