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2014 Review Of Top News Stories

2014 brought several shocking events for Sonora, and Tuolumne County, as Mother Lode residents rebuild from last year. The mainly retirement and tourist foothill community endured it all this year.

On January 4th a murder investigation of a Stockton incident lead to a Groveland location where 38-year-old Bryan Cook was found burning a dismembered body. The body was 48-year-old Michael Shane Jones who lived with his girlfriend Valentina Paz and Cook in Stockton. Paz plead guilty to accessory after the fact and is serving three years under AB109 terms. Cook says the victim wanted to be killed “like a warrior” and is charged with first-degree murder for financial gain according to Stockton news sources.

On February 4th the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to table the issue of a marijuana ordinance until after the November elections. The issue is not on the agenda yet, details on the current rules on marijuana growth in Tuolumne County were summed up at the February 4th meeting. The summary is here.

On February 16 a former Police Department volunteer, Ricky Roberts, was found dead in his Mono Way auto body shop in Sonora. Cheryl Lucero, 45 of Twain Harte was arrested in connection with the homicide in June. Lucero plead not guilty and her court date is April 15, 2015.

In March three Sonora Elementary students were caught smoking pot. The incident received national attention from several news sources reporting the two 3rd grade students involved were only 8, and one was 9. The Sonora Elementary School’s response to the incident is detailed here.

MyMotherLode is always the source for weather news and alerts, the last and only major snow storm that canceled local schools was Monday, March 31st, and Tuesday April 1st.

MyMotherLode covered many fires this drought year with more than 250 news stories. The larger fires in the greater Mother Lode area included El Portal, Foresta and the Hunters Fire. A county wide drought emergency is still in effect with 80 homes needing assistance getting water. Water conservation tips from Tuolumne County Master Gardeners are here.

Governor Jerry Brown surprised Mother Lode Fair goers by making a trip to the Mother Lode Fair. The Round up was a the highlight of the year with thousands attending the Round Up Parade, the antics of Coyote Sam, and crowning of the 2014 Motherlode Round Up Queen Sylvana Talamantes.

Tillamook Buses Recovered From Storage UnitOn July 15 three stolen Tillamook cheese company buses were found, undamaged, in Copperopolis. The buses were were stolen out of Manteca on July 12, and the truck and cargo trailer used to store the three buses was found on fire outside of Jamestown. The vehicles were estimated to be worth about $300,000. Authorities from San Joaquin County received tips and issued a search warrant for a storage unit in Copperopolis.

A leak was discovered in the Twain Harte Dam on August 3. A “boom” was heard coming Damage to Twain Harte Dam Photo courtesy Twain Harte Lake Associationfrom an adjacent granite rock at 10AM. A second “boom” was heard August 4th. Cracks have been discovered in the granite. Twain Harte Lake drainedA sewer line that wraps along the rock and dam caused the county to be concerned, the lake is privately owned by the Twain Harte Lake Association. County Administrator Craig Pedro mentioned it is also an emergency water supply for fighting fires as well. The lake was drained and Twain Harte Creek and Sullivan Creek swelled to higher flow levels for a few days. It will remain closed until further notice and the public is asked to avoid the area.

The Mother Lode residents have been looking for our neighbors, many reports involve locating Patricia Sue Tolhurst. The 46-year-old restaurant owner was reported missing on April 22nd, her vehicle was found abandoned near the Donnell Vista. Several reported sightings shared through social media were deemed unfounded by the Sheriff’s office. Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Johnson noted a possible reason is that her sister looks like her. (see photos) Kathy Fiore was reported missing but later found, no charges were brought, her obituary is here.

On October 10 bones were found in Tuolumne (city) the day before were identified, by a local pathologist, as baby deer bones and not human remains.

Human remains were discovered on October 27th in New Melones. An autopsy identified as 74-year-old Wayne Morris Fry of Tracy reported missing in April of 1995 after he fell from a boat on New Melones and presumably drowned.

William Ray Jaspar of Riverbank was identified after being found in Lake Tulloch late on October 28th. The autopsy found the 58-year-old suffered a massive and probably fatal stroke before he drown.

In September more reports of the wildlife, predators like mountain lions and bears, were reported in the area.

Tuolumne County Sheriff's Vehicle Front RightOn November 22, Bruce Thomas Snyder, 29, on active parole for assault with a deadly weapon, was fatally shot by a not yet named Deputy while firing at police on Washington Street in downtown Sonora. A female bystander visiting the area from North Carolina and an officer were wounded, they were treated at Sonora Regional Medical Center.

On December 6 the Sonora High School Volleyball Team won the Division IV California State Championship.

Curiosity and questions about new local businesses were answered by November blog written by Larry Cope, Director of the Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority (TCEDA). The blog provides details on what several businesses look for before opening new locations. Another popular blog was “Negative Effects of Litigation On TC” by Darrell Slocum.

MyMotherLode will continue to be the news source for traffic information. Several news stories were done on the Mono Way Widening Project and in 2015 look for details on the repair of sections of the Tuolumne River bridge on Highway 120/49.

Here are a few more popular positive news stories about Mother Lode residents:

Rookie Cop Honored

Indie Film Stars Mother Lode Teens

Miss Tuolumne County 2011 joins the US army

Oliverias Music Gains National Attention