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Volunteers Keep the Railtown Magic Rolling

Volunteers Keep the Railtown Magic Rolling

Historically accurate and often-complicated restoration work, engineering, public relations, helping film crews, coordinating school programs, computer data entry, meal preparation, fundraising and, yes, sometimes cleaning bathrooms. Those services and more are provided by an impressively dedicated group of volunteers –

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Love After 50: Stories of the Heart

Love After 50: Stories of the Heart

For Judd and Jan Mangin, it started with the gift of carrot salad. For old friends Pat Dean and Paul Girard, a shared lunch opened the door to something deeper. Mary and Lee Heinen found each other online, and Frank

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Great Neighbors: Jim and Dorothy Brown

Great Neighbors: Jim and Dorothy Brown

In 1983, 26 storefronts stood empty on Washington Street, Sonora’s main thoroughfare. Dorothy Brown pondered the situation. She and her husband, Jim, owned Gold Rush Printing on nearby Stewart Street, and realized the downtown needed help. Then Dorothy remembered a

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Geezers on a Mission

Geezers on a Mission

In May 2009, Lori Brandon Rainwater was hit with news that sent her reeling. That back pain she’d been having was the result of a baseball-sized tumor – advanced colorectal cancer. She was 53, a musician with an $8-an-hour day

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Newcomers Offer Tips on Making a New Life in the Foothills

Newcomers Offer Tips on Making a New Life in the Foothills

It can be challenging for new residents of any age to become an integral part of a new community – and even more so for retirees. Here, some relative newcomers share their tips for making meaningful connections.

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Turning Points: Seniors Share Defining Moments

Turning Points: Seniors Share Defining Moments

You probably knew it when it came – that moment, that choice, that chance encounter which defined, enriched or irrevocably changed your life. Marjie Davis’s “came like a thunderbolt” as she was washing dishes decades ago. Jim Gullion’s was a

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Ron Stearn: Dean of California City Council Members

Ron Stearn: Dean of California City Council Members

Ron Stearn is an anomaly: a popular politician who’s frugal to the core. Sonora’s four-time mayor lives in a 90-year-old house, still drives a ’62 GMC he bought for $300, and considers extra parking his greatest accomplishment. At 45 years of service and counting, this former hardware store manager is the longest-tenured city council member in the state.

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Full-Throttle Therapy: Hooked on the Open Road, Older Riders Leave Stereotypes in the Dust

Full-Throttle Therapy: Hooked on the Open Road, Older Riders Leave Stereotypes in the Dust

Today, that tattooed motorcyclist you see leaning into a curve on our mountain roads isn’t necessarily on drugs. He or she could be on Social Security.

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Great Neighbors: Al and Eleanor Uvelli

One wall in Albert and Eleanor Uvelli’s home is dedicated to his World War II service, during which he received five Bronze Star medals while overseas with the Coast Guard. She has large scrapbooks dedicated to her own fascinating legacy:

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Peace and Love Roll On: The Harrismobile

Chris Harris is a child of the sixties. The same goes for the 40-year-old VW van in her driveway, a beloved beater that has logged more than 300,000 miles and displays an ever-evolving mix of art and opinion on every

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‘Angels’ Send Messages of Caring, Hope

Geneva Keever, 72, and her granddaughter, Brie, 14, share an unusual hobby: They’re Angels. It started nine years ago when Keever stumbled on a website set up by Utah resident Susan Farr Fahncke, whose sister, Angel, was dying of a

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Chowchilla: Retired Detective Reflects on the Case of a Lifetime

The crime’s seeds were planted when the trio played a what-if game about kidnapping a bunch of kids. Then, for a year, they expanded and planned out the unlikely scheme until there was nothing left but to carry it out.

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Taking the Distance Out of Long-Distance Grandparenting

When I found out that my 2-year-old grandson, Eric, was going to move 8,000 miles away from me, with his parents, all the way to Guam, my reaction most closely matched that of a friend who told me, “If my

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The Second Time Around: Grandparents Raise a New Generation

A handful of Tuolumne County grandparents agreed to share their stories with Friends and Neighbors about “the second time around” – raising their grandchildren. Often there are complex legal, emotional and financial issues involved. Heartbreak is nearly always at the core of these situations, social workers say, but love finds a way.

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The Guitar Man

He lost most of his hearing years ago, can’t read music, and was a senior citizen before he fell in love with guitars. Doyle Covey’s motto: “I bet I can do that.”

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Veteran Health-Care Providers Join Forces to Revitalize Adult Day Health Care Program

The first thing you notice about Sharon Fernandes, 63, is her jaunty purple cap and the glitter on her cheeks. At Adult Day Health Care, the Columbia resident admits, “I’m kind of the class clown.” But there’s a back story

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Seniors Keep Red Cross Going Strong

Volunteers are the backbone of the Red Cross, a national nonprofit devoted to disaster relief. What’s not as widely known: how close to home those disasters often hit.

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Miller Sardella

Sitting behind a desk wasn’t Miller Sardella’s style. The longtime Tuolumne County sheriff was far more comfortable on horseback or on his regular walking rounds of downtown Sonora. He was easy to spot, hunkered down on his heels in true

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The Sardellas: An American Story

For the Sardellas and many other Italian families, Tuolumne County was more than just a place to live. It was their best hope for a new life.

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Commission Maps Senior Needs

What are the three most important issues facing Tuolumne County seniors? Access to affordable medical care, good public transportation and affordable housing, including assisted-living facilities. That’s according to a “grassroots survey” conducted by the recently revamped Tuolumne County Commission on

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Great Neighbors

By Cynthia Stratton What makes a great neighborhood?  Great neighbors, of course.  Chuck and Camilla Peterson of Sonora Hills know they have both.  The active couple, both in their early 80s and married for 58 years, has lived in this

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The Story Behind the Story

Two recent issues of CHISPA tell the story of a pioneering Tuolumne family that left its mark through hard work and devotion to community. What follows is the story behind that story – who wrote it and why, and how the passion to create can overtake you at any age.

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Archive Provides Safe Haven for History

Not many people have a building named for them while they’re still alive. Tuolumne County Historian Carlo De Ferrari was given just such an honor in 1999, with the dedication of the Carlo M. De Ferrari Archive. The two-story building,

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Carlo De Ferrari: Mr. History’s Lifetime Legacy

As part of a Gold Rush family, it’s only natural that Tuolumne County native Carlo De Ferrari grew up with a keen interest in prospecting. But he’s spent a lifetime digging for nuggets of a different sort – the retired

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Tsunami Warning: Growing Senior Population

Senior advocates want you to know what’s ahead: A vast increase in the number of elderly residents, and increased demand for a wide range of services. Will the community be ready?

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In Search of a Ride

A Sonora-based nonprofit group is working to pair volunteer drivers with seniors who need transportation. Neighbor helping neighbor. Not for the sake of errands alone, but to help seniors remain a vital part of our community.

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Saving Lives, One Pint at a Time

Dominic DiFabio was a 22-year-old Navy sailor stationed in Oakland when he first started donating blood in 1956. “They said, if you donate blood, you get a weekend pass.” He rolled up his sleeves in a hurry. “Then, when I

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