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Save the Pine Grove Fire Camp

Dear community leaders,

We certainly cannot let the Pine Grove Fire Camp be closed in the state budget cuts. We need to do everything in our power to keep the Pine Grove Camp operating as a teaching institution for youth and fire camp. Please help our community to save the camp! 

We do not want a CDC fire camp to replace the DJJ Fire Camp in Pine Grove, we need to retain the Pine Grove Fire Camp in its current form. We need everyone on board to help this community effort please.

This community stepped up in 1990 to stop the closure of the camp. With so much support from our community back then, we were left with the only Fire Camp under then the CYA, (now the DJJ), while the others were closed. Pine Grove Camp continues to serve the wards placed there, as well as serving our community. It is a very important part of our community. 

Please get the information about the education value within those walls. Please get the information about the community value within those walls. Pine Grove believes they are very good neighbors. 

To the Amador County Board of Supervisors, please place this on the next agenda for a board meeting discussion.

Ginger Rolf

Pine Grove

Water Board needs accountability for Mule Creek pollution

Mule Creek State Prison has been served with Notices of Violation (NOV) by the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) since its inception in 1985. The latest NOV was served to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) in February of 2018. One of the requirements of this NOV was that the prison test local wells that may have been contaminated by the raw sewage the prison was/is discharging into Mule Creek. CDCR’s response to this latest NOV was to state that ... “CDCR was unwilling to perform domestic well sampling.” What they really said was we are CDCR and we don’t have to do anything we don’t want to and you can’t make us. So we will continue to violate the NOV with impunity.

My question to the RWQCB is … how many NOVs have been issued by this board where the violator told them that they won’t comply? Did the RWQCB say that’s OK? You don’t have to comply with our order … you can just ignore us. Did the RWQCB just walk away? No Harassment ... no legal action ... no fines ... nothing ... just allowed the violator to continue polluting ... “business as usual.”

It seems to me that information about how the RWQCB is enforcing their NOVs is subject to a “Public Records Act Request” ... any violator that was forced to comply by the RWQCB ... that was harassed ... fined ... shut down ... and threatened with criminal actions ... should be able to sue the RWQCB on any number of fronts, including monetary damages and win.

The RWQCB needs to be held accountable for the damage they have aided and abetted by allowing Mule Creek State Prison to dump sewage into Mule Creek leading to the contamination of the aquifer that is the water supply for a large portion of Amador County.

Sally Barron

Sloughhouse

Agricultural Education support is vital for our community

Dr. Slavensky and the Amador County Public Schools Board of Trustees,

I am writing this letter regarding the delay in the hiring for the Agriculture Mechanics teacher position at Argonaut High School.

Agricultural Education is vital to our community and county, and to the Argonaut campus. Currently, Argonaut High School is a single-teacher agricultural education program, while Amador High School is a two-teacher agricultural education program. Angela Mayfield at Argonaut has revitalized the Argonaut agricultural education program and the student participation in agricultural education (Future Farmers of America (FFA)) has grown exponentially through her efforts. The dedication of Mrs. Mayfield has elevated the Jackson-Argonaut FFA program with representation on regional and state level FFA officers, multiple sectional, regional and state level awards, and the number of students earning and receiving their state and national (American) degrees has tripled over the last two years.

Jackson-Argonaut FFA has also been recognized by the state for student and program success. Currently, Argonaut has waiting lists for all entry level agricultural education courses, three Career Technical Education (CTE) pathways and only one educator teaching seven unique courses, not counting any agriculture mechanics courses.

Reviewing the demand through course registration for the 2020-21 school year, without the hiring of a dedicated agriculture mechanics educator, we will be forced to eliminate the Floral and the Agriculture Mechanics pathways.

In the past two years, Argonaut has more than doubled the number of students engaged in the Sustainable Agriculture Pathway, and there simply aren’t enough sections in one teacher’s day to meet this need.

As the efforts continue at the Argonaut High School campus to provide all the agricultural education students with a positive learning environment and the development of critically needed employable skills, the Agriculture Mechanics position is essential to continue to meet the growing needs of our students and our community, and further increase the quality and growth of the Argonaut Ag (FFA) program.

I am the parent of three Jackson-Argonaut FFA alumni and an alumni of Sutter Creek FFA Chapter and the inaugural Jackson-Argonaut Chapter. All my children held multiple Chapter Degrees, various officer positions, and participated and/or organized new competition teams. Two of my Argonaut students are state degree recipients and one earned her American (National) Degree, the second Argonaut student to achieve such an honor. I am also heavily involved with the agricultural industry in Amador County, agricultural education and youth organizations in community, county, statewide as well as in Colorado I am currently the 2nd Vice President of the Amador County Farm Bureau, Past President of the Amador County FFA Ag Boosters, Past Community and Youth Leader for Gold Country Grange, parent volunteer and chaperone for Argonaut and Amador FFA Chapters, active member of the Amador County Fair Jr. Livestock Advisory Committee, member of the Amador-El Dorado-Sacramento Cattlewomen, and livestock judge and volunteer for the Boulder County Colorado Fair. Additionally, I have been an advocate for Amador County schools and participated on many Amador County School District (ACUSD) school site-specific committees, and district level committees (SITE, PFC, Science Camp Coordinator, DAG, Bond Committee, School Site Review Committee, etc.).

As a member of the Argonaut Agriculture Advisory Committee, I am requesting an update on the progress in regards to filling this needed position. Our committee has identified specific local workforce needs for students with skill sets in the agriculture mechanics field including welding and fabrication, computer aided design, wood working, construction, (heavy) equipment operation mechanical repair skills (small and large engines). The viticulture industry needs a workforce skilled in repairing and operating all types of equipment, welding and construction. The landscape maintenance industry specifically needs a workforce skilled in small-engine repair and general agriculture awareness. The ranching/farming industry requires a workforce with skills in welding and fabrication, equipment operation and mechanics, in addition to a general traditional agricultural education. The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), and related forestry industries critically need a readily available workforce with heavy equipment maintenance and operating experience and basic mechanical skills.

Additionally, all these industries, and other traditional “vocational” trades and “blue-collar” jobs require a workforce with good critical thinking skills. Agricultural Education and FFA provides these invaluable knowledge, skill(s) and abilities.

Our local workforce needs extend regionally and statewide as well. In the Central-Motherlode CTE region, agriculture is one of the three largest industries. Our district and high schools should focus CTE instruction for this labor-starved employment/industry sector. A large amount of grant monies are directly attached to the agriculture-related industries, specifically the California Ag Incentive Grant, Perkins Grant, CTE Incentive Grant and the K12 Strong Workforce grants. Additionally, many industries privately sponsor grants and endowments for school districts that offer career technical educational pathways.

The ACUSD has established specific goals regarding CTE. The first goal in the ACUSD Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) states: “By 2020, all students will advance along multiple academic measures toward meeting/exceeding standards in order to close achievement gaps and accelerate progress, including increasing the number of students successfully completing college preparatory and career technical education (vocational) courses by 100 percent.” Filling the agriculture mechanics vacancy specifically meets the board-approved LCAP Goal One by doubling the capacity to engage students in CTE and provide a pathway via the Agricultural Education program at Argonaut High School. Eliminating this specific career-readiness CTE pathway is a misstep and denies CTE opportunities for the Argonaut High School students. Without filing this vacancy, the agriculture mechanics pathway will be eliminated from Argonaut next year. This also continues to daylight the inequities of educational opportunities between the two ACUSD high schools.

This position is important to our community and our students. We have a responsibility to shepherd our youth and provide them with the knowledge, skills and abilities that will carry them forward as they move towards adulthood.

Thank you for your time and support of our students.

Respectfully,

Noele A. Richmond

Argonaut High School Ag Advisory Committee Member and Agricultural Advocate