Looking back at 2003 headlines, part three | SierraSun.com

Looking back at 2003 headlines, part three

[Editor’s note: This is the final installment in a three-part series highlighting the events of 2003 in Truckee.]


— Truckee sweetheart Donald “Slug” Allen Brown passed away Aug. 3 at age 60 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Brown was known for his community involvement and volunteerism. He wrote a bi-weekly column for the Sierra Sun, called “Truckee Tales,” which contained the local gossip, birthday and anniversary announcements, and always a sample of his tongue-in-cheek humor.

— Prosser Creek Charter School threatened legal action against the Tahoe Truckee Unified School one day before the school board decided whether to revoke the school’s charter. On July 1, 2003, the board gave the school notice that they were in violation of the California Education Code and that they would have to comply or the board would revoke the school’s charter. The charter school’s attorney asked for the court to require the two parties to participate in a dispute resolution process before the board voted. The judge granted Prosser Creek 20 days to cure the education code violation.

— A Truckee teen, about to enter his freshman year of high school, rescued a 2-year-old girl from drowning at a Hawaii resort. Kyle Sundale was walking by a pool at the Hilton resort at Waikoloa Village when he noticed Lindsay Stover at the bottom of the pool. The girl had run ahead of her mother to the third level pool and tried to swim across to the slide. The girl’s father, Ken of Reno, said he was thankful for Sundale’s presence, calling him Lindsay’s “guardian angel.”

— Hospital administrators requested artist Erik Holland paint over a political message in his mural at Tahoe Forest Hospital after a patient’s family member discovered the message within the red fir forest mural. Within the trees read: “Stop clear-cutting” and “Sierra Pacific, don’t destroy the Sierra Nevada.” After the hospital told him to paint over his mural, Holland instead “clear cut” the forest, transforming the trees into stumps. Hospital administrators, whose policy is to not display artwork with nudity or religious or political messages, said they would paint over the mural.

— Nevada County Sheriff’s officers searched the homes of former Donner Summit Public Utility District manager and embezzlement suspect Steven Grimm and recovered seven years of bank records. After the search, they reported Grimm had taken more than $500,000 from the Truckee Donner Public Utility District.

— Discussion of the impending Recall Election had both local Republicans and Democrats agreeing that the race was a circus. Candidates from all walks of life had announced their participation in the election. But the serious contenders were ones who sparked controversy between the partisan sides, including Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, Republican Bill Simon, who lost the race to Gov. Davis in November 2002, state Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Northridge and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

— Valerie Cauhape was crowned Miss Truckee Rodeo at the Sponsors’ Team Penning.

— A hiker appeared twice at Boca Reservoir wearing nothing but hiking boots. He attempted to flag down two girls driving on the road near the reservoir, then later approached two girls on a blanket by the water. The Nevada County Sheriff’s Office sought the man for indecent exposure and annoying a child under the age of 18.

— The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District board voted to revoke Prosser Creek Charter School’s charter, with a four-to-one vote. Trustee Karen Van Epps voted against revocation. The board’s decision was based on the school’s failure to address its multi-million-dollar debt by the deadline. Prosser Creek parents at the meeting were outraged with the decision.

— Following successful sales of the Old Greenwood development, East West Partners donated roughly $567,500 and 260 acres of land to the Truckee Donner Land Trust.

— Archaeologists digging near Alder Creek believed artifacts they found may have been from the Donner party camp. They estimated the items found – bone fragments, lead shot, ceramic pieces, a buckle from a belt or harness, a small brass chain link and a few other trinkets – dated from the winter of 1846-47, the time the Donner party camped there. The artifacts were sent to laboratories for further testing.

— A contractor broke a water line in Glenshire, which dumped about 18,000 gallons of water in the street and onto residential property. FW Carson Company, which was replacing main water lines, fire hydrants and water meters, accidentally dug into the line.

— After a Truckee man was impaled in the eye with a drill and survived, he earned the name “Miracle Man” from friends. Ron Hunt’s ladder started to wobble as he was drilling, so he threw the drill down. When the ladder fell, Hunt went down face first. The drill went through his eye and out his skull above his right ear. Fortunately, the drill missed his brain, pushing it aside. He suffered blindness in his right eye and some nerve damage. The story was featured on television shows like NBC’s “Today Show” and ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

— One week after Prosser Creek Charter School was shut down, school district administrators and families convened to create Creekside Magnet School for the former students of Prosser Creek Charter School and any other interested students in the district. It was up and running by the new school year.


— The bypass was dedicated to CHP Officer Glenn Carlson at a ceremony that drew approximately 80 people to the side of state Route 267 at Old Brockway Road. Carlson was shot to death in 1963 when he pulled over two men who had just robbed a Bank of America branch in Sacramento.

— Truckee’s first chief of police, Dan Boon, announced his impending retirement, evoking a search for a replacement. The call for a new chief yielded 20 applications.

— Former Donner Summit PUD manager and then-embezzlement suspect Steven Grimm filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. There was some uncertainty from bankruptcy officials that Grimm would be granted his petition if found guilty of the crime. PUD attorneys later challenged Grimm’s filing.

— The Truckee Town Council decided to begin development of the Corporation Yard in the spot known as the Forest Service Site, located on the east side of Truckee.

— Two of the owners of former Truckee hydroponics store All Hydro were arrested for a suspected marijuana grow in the Sierra foothills. Along with the arrested brothers, Nye and Tyler Petros, their mother, Elisabeth, was also arrested.


— Truckee woman Elizabeth “Lisa” Guarino was named Mrs. Truckee and made plans to continue on to the Mrs. California pageant in May 2004.

— Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger was voted in as the new governor of California, replacing former Gov. Gray Davis. Californians overwhelmingly voted “yes” for the recall.

— Steven Grimm, former Donner Summit PUD chief, pleaded no contest to charges that he embezzled more than $300,000 while he was manager at the district. He faced a four-year prison sentence and restitution of $384,000 paid to the PUD.

— The local Taco Bell moved out of its location in the Gateway Shopping Center and was to be replaced by a juice bar. Gary Lyon, the franchise owner, was hesitant to enter into another long-term lease, after finishing a 10 year stay in the center.

— The Truckee Soroptimist Club honored Kathleen Semrad as the 2003 Woman of Distinction for her dedication to causes in the area.

— A fire moved up the hill side between Interstate 80 and Tahoe Donner, burning 100 acres before firefighters contained the blaze. Aside from a power outage when the fire burned an transmission line, there was no serious damage.

— Truckee woman Gretchen Brugman ran the Tahoe Triple – three marathons in three days, or 78.6 miles – in the Lake Tahoe Marathon.

— A toxic chemical reaction in Safeway’s deli department sent 15 employees to the hospital and forced the evacuation of the store.

— The Placer County Board of Supervisors approved the renovation of the old Northstar-at-Tahoe Village after it was first approved in August but appealed by Sierra Watch, a local environmental group.

— A bar brawl at the Tourist Club erupted between a patron and a transient. The fight, which moved outside, grew serious when the transient grabbed a sawed-off shotgun. After a struggle, others were able to take the gun away, and the suspects fled the scene but were later apprehended.

— Due to an outdated building and mediocre sales, Burger King Corporation closed its Truckee location.

— Although fire danger was high in the Tahoe-Truckee region, more than 100 firefighters and 17 engines went to Southern California to attempt to stop the blazes overwhelming crews in the lower region of the state.

— Icy conditions caused multiple accidents on Interstate 80, involving as many as 30 vehicles, both big rigs and passenger cars. In one crash six rigs jackknifed below Donner Summit. A UPS truck exploded after driving off an embankment, causing a small fire. Even the ambulance had to be pulled back onto the road after it skidded off on its way to the accidents. Eleven people were taken to the hospital, most with minor injuries and one in critical condition.

— The Royal Gorge Lodge, just outside of Serene Lakes off Pahatsi Road, was destroyed in a fire just after employees moved back in for the winter.


— A man was arrested on suspicion of using a camera to steal pin numbers. Valentin Ruducan, 31, was parked across the street from the U.S. Bank branch on Donner Pass Road, with a sophisticated setup used to attain pin numbers from the ATM machine, said investigators. Using credit cards that had been reported lost or stolen, Ruducan had already purchased $1,100 worth of coffee equipment from Starbucks before he was caught. He was linked to a group of criminals operating out of Los Vegas, which was responsible for the theft of more than $1 billion.

— The Town of Truckee Planning Commission approved a development at Gray’s Crossing. The project will sit on 757 acres, making it Truckee’s largest development project since incorporation.

— Local Cmdr. Scott Berry took the position as police chief in place of former Chief Dan Boon.

— The Truckee Tahoe Airport District bought 18.9 acres of land near the airport for $630,000. The land is to be left as open space. Developers were unhappy with the purchase, which ended possible development of a subdivision nearby.


— The Martis Valley Community Plan – which allows for an additional 6,300 new housing units, malls and other developments and the four laning of state Route 267 – received its final approval. Groups opposed to the plan promised to bring it to court.

— The Truckee Donner PUD authorized a 5 percent rate increase for water, electricity, connection charges and electric facility fees. The fee increases were targeted to keep up with rising costs of power and water, said PUD officials.

— The Truckee Town Council approved the Jibboom project – a plan to build three, two-story commercial buildings and a restaurant. The plan also calls for the reconstruction of the old motel on Jibboom Street.

— A winter storms brought feet of snow to Truckee, but unlike 2002, the electrical problems were minimal.

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