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Looking back at top stories in 2010

Restaurant fire, school finance, cemetery in headlines
By: Gloria Beverage, Colfax Record Editor
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The top stories in 2010 range from the fire that destroyed Placer County’s oldest restaurant to the budget crisis at Colfax Elementary School, from the unfortunate decision by three Colfax teens to toss rocks off Interstate 80 to the desperate actions of an unemployed contractor.
It was a year of good and bad news, of triumph and pain. Here, then, are the stories that captured the attention of Colfax Record readers.
Giovanni’s destroyed
The fire that destroyed Giovanni’s Restaurant at Shady Glen on Nov. 18, leaving 27 people unemployed, tugged at the heartstrings of residents throughout Placer County.
Within hours of the disaster, several former employees and longtime friends of the restaurant, founded in 1941, began organizing a fundraiser as well as set up an emergency relief fund to help the 27 employees of the family-owned restaurant on Highway 174.
By the close of the sold-out dinner and fundraiser on Dec. 12, more than $27,000 had been raised for the employee relief fund.
The fundraising effort continues into the New Year with a wine and beer tasting event scheduled from 7 p.m. to midnight at Basement Wines on Main Street.
Rock toss incident
Three Colfax High School teens charged with throwing a freeway barrier and rocks off a freeway overpass were sentenced in October to jail, probation and community service.
Hunter Perez, 16, who is also known as Hunter Owens, Samuel Edward Quinlan, 16, and Sean Edwin Steele, 17, were ordered to serve 10 months in the Placer County Juvenile Detention Center as part of a plea deal reached with the
Placer County District Attorney’s office.
On July 26, the trio threw a barricade from the Canyon Way overpass hitting a tractor-trailer. They then threw a rock, which struck a semi-truck.
A third rock smashed into the windshield of a vehicle driven by Sacramento resident Jose Palomera, crushing his jaw and breaking several bones in his cheek.
Wastewater treatment lawsuit
At the beginning of the year, Nancy and Alan Edwards and the Oakland-based Environmental Law Foundation filed a motion with the Federal Court charging the city had violated a 2008 settlement agreement.
The Edwards family, who live downstream from the city’s wastewater treatment plant, claim the violations range from sewage spills to lack of documentation on the operation of the plant. .
The Federal court denied the city’s appeal of the contempt charges, ordering the city to pay $186,603 in attorney and expert fees as well as costs.
In an effort to fund mandated construction at the plant, the city contracted in September with former Congressman John Doolittle to lobby for grant funds.
By November, both sides had agreed to a schedule of activities to ensure compliance with the original settlement agreement.
However, the court battle has put a strain on the city’s finances.
Swimming pool woes
In May, the city voted to demolish the aging municipal swimming pool in preparation for work on a new pool.
Though the city had considered renovating the existing pool, a study by design contactor Two Rivers Architects found that rebuilding the facility from the ground up would be far more cost-effective, most notably because the pool was sinking on one side due to washout beneath the structure.
In November, however, the city council was forced to reject bids for the pool renovation after numbers came in significantly higher than expected.
In order to retain $220,000 in Proposition 40 funds, the city must now spend the money on a project that would be completed by the March 31, 2011 deadline set by the grantor.
Council members agreed to identify a phase of the pool project, such as installing infrastructure surrounding the new pool or building a children’s water park.
Colfax Indian Cemetery
Colfax Cemetery District board members continued to negotiate the sale of the Colfax Indian Cemetery to the Colfax-Todds Valley Consolidated Tribe. While the board had offered to sell the land for $30,000, the two sides could not come to terms.
The decision was delayed when all three seats on the cemetery board were temporarily vacated in June. The terms of two of the board members expired and the third resigned due to health concerns.
By November, the newly-appointed members of the cemetery board and tribe representatives were again talking. The two sides are attempting to hash out plans for management of the historic cemetery. Efforts are also underway to have the property designated a historic landmark.
Weimar Hills becomes charter school
Weimar Hills School announced in April that it would be converting to a charter school for sixth- through eighth-grade in the fall.
Declining enrollment at the California Distinguished School, coupled with state budget problems, helped launch the effort to apply for charter school status.
The following month, Sierra Hills School principal Ella Dobrec announced plans to apply for charter status for the kindergarten through third grade school.
Colfax Elementary faces budget crisis
In January, the Colfax Elementary School board members were told the district was in financial straits due to declining enrollment and state cutbacks.
The first district in Placer County to find itself in the red, the board established a 20-member committee to consider budget cuts.
By March, the district had made $275,000 in cuts for the 2010-11 school year and their status was changed from negative to qualified.
Colfax Library gets facelift
Renovation work on the 3,600-square-foot building housing Colfax’s library at the corner of Main and Church streets was completed.
Work on the 93-year-old building included improved parking, exterior and interior paint, a new entry with improved access for handicapped, electrical, mechanical and structural upgrades, new fire-sprinkler and alarm systems, windows, doors and roof.
More than 300 people attended the Colfax Friends of the Library’s grand opening celebration in July.
Desperate times
Unemployed contractor Gregory Rau Deford, suspected of robbing an Auburn bank on Sept. 15, was shot and killed by Placer County Sheriff’s deputies in Colfax one week later.
When deputies arrived at Deford’s rented Weimar residence, they were directed to an overlook at the North Fork of the American River Canyon.
From there, the 46-year-old man led deputies on a 10-mile chase that ended on a Colfax freeway frontage road.
In attempting to take him into custody, DeFord’s actions caused an officer to fire his weapon, killing Deford.
One week before Christmas, a lone gunman walked into the Weimar Country Store and robbed the store. He got away with under $200.
The suspect apologized to the clerks saying he had been robbed and needed money for Christmas.