The year's top stories - Placer Herald

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Welcome to "Chronology," our annual roundup of the year's top stories.


Bad news for redevelopment properties

The city of Rocklin was faced with figuring out what impact the California Supreme Court’s Dec. 29 ruling would have on allowing the state to kill redevelopment agencies in an effort to close the budget deficit.

“We are all disappointed regarding the Supreme Court decision,” Mayor Brett Storey said. “We still have many issues that will need to be resolved.”

Those issues included the status of properties purchased around town with RDA funds, including the site of the Rocklin History Museum on Rocklin Road, the library and the Big Gun Quarry.

City officials were disappointed with the ruling, since it did not give cities the option of keeping a redevelopment agency in some form.

“The properties that the city purchased with redevelopment intentions are still critical to the city,” Storey said. “We hope that would be taken into consideration and not just simply sold off to the highest bidder.”

In November,  Rocklin lost its first round in the effort to save the Rocklin History Museum and St. Mary’s Chapel from a state-mandated sale. At issue is the state’s loophole clause allowing cities to retain properties that fit the definition of “government use.” Rocklin’s attempt to prove the museum on Rocklin Road and the chapel on Front Street were government buildings was denied by the state Nov 28. Rocklin City Manager Rick Horst is not worried and hopes to appeal the decision.

The city is required to hire an outside certified public accountant to audit the former Rocklin RDA’s accounts, and present that report and a property management plan to the state. Then it’s up to state officials to deny, approve or suggest changes to the plan. A final answer is expected from the state in April 2013.


Home burglaries riddle Rocklin

Residents were reeling from a spike in braze home burglaries sweeping the region.

“In the last quarter, we’ve seen a 20 percent increase in residential burglaries,” said Rocklin Police Chief Ron Lawrence. “It’s not just in Rocklin, but in Granite Bay, Loomis, Folsom and Citrus Heights.”

Rocklin citizens reported 60 residential burglaries from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31, 2011. Clover Valley residents saw nine burglaries in the previous two years, including a Christmas Day burglary on Oakdale Lane in which neighbors reported the suspects fired guns in the house in an effort to get at valuables.

Lawrence said police believed residents were watching neighborhoods, looking for residents on vacation.

In response to the spree, Lawrence put more traffic officers on patrol in neighborhoods and is working with Roseville and the Placer County Sheriff’s Office to compare lists of stolen property.


Rocklin family mourns 2-year-old boy

A Rocklin family lost their 2-year-old son, Evan Boungnasiri, Jan. 11 after he suffered from cardiac arrest and fell 8 feet from playground equipment at a Rocklin park.

He was the son of Amanda and Obee Boungnasiri and the grandson of Loomis residents Kathy and Ed Roser.

The community rallied for a fundraiser at the Flower Farm in Loomis that included live music and auctions, to help the family with medical and funeral expenses. A celebration of Evan’s life was held at Bayside Church in Granite Bay, followed by a balloon release at Olympus Park in Roseville.

Amanda Boungnasiri said her son was 1 when he had surgery to repair congenital heart defects, including two holes in his heart and partial anomalous pulmonary venous return. She said he had fully recovered, but his heart apparently stopped working Jan. 3 just before he fell from a playground structure at Breen Park.

She said Evan received CPR immediately and defibrillation once paramedics arrived, but had no pulse for 14 minutes. He died eight days later.


Cinemark takes over Blue Oaks Cinema 16

Just over a year after the Rocklin opening of Blue Oaks Cinema 16, the business changed hands and its name.

Cinemark took over operation of the all-digital 3,000-seat multiplex, renaming it the Blue Oaks Century Theatres.

Blue Oaks Cinema opened in November 2010 under the ownership of family-owned Santa Rosa Entertainment. In an email newsletter to patrons, SR Entertainment stated, “We have enjoyed serving the Rocklin area and appreciate your patronage over the last year.”

Details of the sale were not released. Movie-goers noticed the first change when the got to the box office – ticket prices had increased by 50 cents while admission for children ages 3-11 dropped 50 cents.



Rocklin gets out of affordable housing

Rocklin City Council members voted unanimously to approve a resolution transferring the affordable housing function of the former Rocklin Redevelopment Agency to the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

“There is really no upside to staying in this business and having this function,” City Manager Rick Horst told the council.

Even though there were no new housing projects in the works, the city did maintain a First Time Home Buyers Program and assisted housing complexes for low-income residents with upgrades associated with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other needs.

“The state wanted it. They can have it,” said Council Member Peter Hill. “It bothers me a lot – that the ability of our community to provide housing opportunities to a broad segment of the population is being damaged by this.”

In many cases, people who took out loans through the city’s housing programs will now have their loans serviced by the state.

Even with the affordable housing transfer to the state, the city remained on the hook for millions of dollars in debt associated with past affordable housing upgrades and work. To make matters worse, the city was also in default on a line of credit with Bank of America associated with nearly $3.5 million in affordable housing upgrades. The redevelopment agency legislation prohibits the city from refinancing the debt into municipal bonds.


Council member’s email hacked

Rocklin Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were looking into the hacking of Rocklin City Council Member Diana Ruslin’s email account.

“It is an invasion of privacy and it is terribly frustrating,” Ruslin said.

The perpetrator reportedly blanketed Ruslin’s contact list of friends, family and associates with an email describing a mugging in England. The email, which was also sent to the Placer Herald, described how Ruslin was in need of money to settle her hotel bill in order to catch a return flight to the U.S.

Ruslin was not in England, but instead at home in Rocklin when concerned friends began contacting her.

She was able to get her email provider to let her into the account so she could change her password, and then received professional help to check her computer and update spam and other filters.

Rocklin Police Lt. Lon Milka said the organized crime unit, possible in Europe, Africa or China, preys “on everyone, hoping that the naïve person will respond.”


City payouts top $420K

As the city of Rocklin drew nearly half a million from its reserves to balance the budget in fiscal year 2011, it also paid out $420,880 in banked vacation and sick time to its employees.

A Placer Herald review showed 142 of the city’s 242 workers cashed in anywhere from 15 minutes to 419 hours in unused and banked leave time. City Manager Rick Horst explained that the city is required to pay it.

“When employees have years, if not decades, of service, the number will be higher,” he said. “As employees opt to retire or as they are separated from employment, regardless of the reason, we are required to provide the appropriate payout.”

The city had agreed to allow AFSCME, management, public safety management and confidential employee union members 12 sick days banked per year with no maximum.


Son arrested for murder of his father

Roseville police arrested Jon Michael Northam, 25, formerly of Lincoln, after a nine-month investigation. Northam’s father, Christopher D. Northam, was founded murdered May 30, 2011, inside a Roseville sports complex where he had hoped to open the world’s first “extreme skimboarding” park.

Northam Sr., a resident of Rocklin, had founded Skim X and the concept of Extreme Skim, an action sport that uses what looks like skateboard ramps with water flowing out the top, and specially designed boards that athletes use to hydroplane and perform tricks.

Neighbors of the business reported hearing a loud argument followed by gunshots shortly after 3 p.m. May 30. Lt. Mark Toupin of the Roseville Police Department said police believe Northam’s son had been “lying in wait” and used a .223 rifle to shoot his father multiple times. The murder weapon had not been found.

Jon Northam’s ex-wife, Averill Elizabeth Easley of Roseville, was charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact.



No ban on outdoor smoking

Media outlets from around the world and on the Internet were ablaze with stories about an outdoor anti-smoking ordinance in Rocklin.

After the Herald broke the story that a Rocklin resident had asked the City Council for an outdoor anti-smoking ordinance, Sacramento television news, the New York Daily News, CNN, the BBC and the daily Mail circulated the story.

City officials issued a press release decrying news reports about the ban as “misinformation.”

“A citizen did step forward at our last City Council meeting and did ask us for an ordinance to ban outdoor smoking,” the release said. “The city of Rocklin did listen and ultimately directed the citizen to the state of California Air Resources Board. There is no consideration of the issue and no study planned beyond the initial review of the citizen’s request.”

James Baker had approached the council in January, frustrated by his family’s asthma and his smoking neighbors, who he said refused to stamp out their backyard cigarette smoking – just 30 feet away. Baker said his original request was to create a nuisance ordinance to protect citizens who are continually exposed to secondhand smoke against their will, asking the council for a $100 fine to be issued to violators.

City Manager Rick Horst said there were many questions to answer, including cost of administration and the likelihood of it being challenged by lawsuits.


Electronic billboards go up in Rocklin

Despite more than a dozen citizens voicing concerns, the City Council voted 4-1 to approve new LED billboards along Highway 65 and Interstate 80. Three old-style billboard on I-80 were to be removed as part of they city’s agreement with Clear Channel.

Each new LED billboard was expected to be nearly 45 feet high with a 14-by-48-foot electronic advertising space that would change every eight seconds.

Council Member George Magnuson cast the lone dissenting vote, citing safety concerns for LED signs at Mercedes-Benz of Rocklin, which he said would be a distraction to I-80 drivers.

Concerns raised by citizens included light pollution, loss of open space and possible decrease of property values.

The city expected to see an estimated $100,000 a ear in new revenue from the deal.


Oak mitigation plan stirs debate

A week after the city made it known it was going to create an Oak Tree Planning and Management Plan, arborists were upbeat, but activists on both sides of the Rocklin/Loomis border were worried.

Ted Swiecki from Vacaville-based Phytosphere Research prepared the city’s 2006 Urban Forest Report and identified a number of 80- to 150-year-old trees in Rocklin. The city could partner with Swiecki to review locations for preservation and where new trees could be planted. The plan was to develop a priority list, planting schedule and formulate a monitoring program.

Citizens for Tree Preservation member Elaine O’Deegan said the city’s $1.4 million Oak Tree Mitigation Fund should be used to preserve, not replace, 100-year-old oaks.



‘Miracle baby’ born amid tragedy survives and thrives

Born three weeks premature and weighing 6 pounds, Elizabeth Rose Navyoks spent the first 10 days of her life hooked up to tubes and ventilators at Sutter Memorial Hospital.

Her mother, Kim Burgess, went into cardiac arrest during labor and could not be saved. Baby Elizabeth was born via an emergency caesarian section. She wasn’t breathing when she was removed from her mother’s womb.

After nearly four minutes, doctors got the newborn breathing with the help of a ventilator. She was later transferred to the pediatric ICU in Sacramento.

The family watched for 20 days until March 6, when Elizabeth was released on the birthday of her father, Robert Navyoks. The “miracle baby,” he said, continued to thrive, gaining weight and health. Navyoks also continued his efforts to put his life back on track following the death of Burgess and the loss of his job.

The Rocklin community rallied true to form, collecting donations and setting up a saving account for the family.

“one of the wonderful things about this story is that this is a baby who will be deeply loved,” said hospital Chaplain Lynn Gilbertson.


Denny Rush named Administrator of the Year

Parker Whitney School Principal Denny Rush was named Administrator of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators.

Under Rush’ leadership, according to Rocklin Unified School District Superintendent Kevin Brown, the school saw continuous gains in every measurement set by district, state and federal regulations, and earned the 2012 Distinguished Schools designation by the California Department of Education.

“Getting this award doesn’t happen in isolation,” Rush said, acknowledging the “incredible team” at Parker Whitney. “This could be a real different story if it wasn’t for all the things they do.”


Profane calls interrupt Rocklin police channel

Rocklin police were trying to figure out who was responsible for a series of illegal and disruptive broadcasts over the police emergency dispatch channel.

Lt. Lon Milka reported dispatchers and officers in the field began hearing something out of the ordinary around April 18. A person, or people, he said, “have been getting onto our frequency using profane language and making vulgar noises.”

Milka estimated there were about 10 instances varying in duration of up to 30 minutes, mostly taking place during the evening and night time hours.

Interfering with a police radio transmission is illegal under state and federal law.



Windy weather prevents hot air balloon drop at Rubber Ducky Festival

Inspired by the annual Great Sacramento Duck Race, local festival chair Jim Crosthwaite organized the Foothill Rubber Ducky Festival as a benefit for Rocklin Residents Unite for Fido and Rocklin’s first off-leash dog park.

Supporters raised $2,000 by “adopting” rubbery duckys that were originally scheduled to be dropped from a hot air balloon floating 50 feet above Johnson-Springview Park. Winner were to be determined by how close their ducky landed to several targets.

But when windy conditions prevented the hot air balloon from taking flight, volunteers stepped in, turning their backs on the targets and tossing the entries.

“Plan B worked out just as well, just as fair for everybody,” Crosthwaite said. “I think everyone had a good time with it.”


Proposed budget shows city on the mend

The city announced the new fiscal year budget was projected to be balanced without the use of cash reserves.

Rocklin had been dipping into its own savings to the tune of $6.3 million since the recession started in 2007, according to the city.

The budget outlook indicated property taxes would remain flat, an overall sale tax increase of 6 percent and city revenue from the controversial electronic billboards could be as high as $75,000 once installed.

Horst indicated staff tamed the proposed budget deficit by not only cuts and reorganization, but also by focusing and reprioritizing existing expenditures, using technology advances and making maintenance budgets sacrosanct.

Since 2007, the city had reduced its workforce by 77 full-time employees. With attrition, early retirements and layoffs, city now employed about 224 full-time employees. Employees had taken pay cuts and unions were negotiating pension reform that would reduce benefits for new hires.

Horst expected the budget would see a reduction in overall personnel costs of $650,000 this year. He commended staff for making sacrifices and finding improvements, but warned the city might still face challenges as the economy recovers.

“Although the downturn appears to be at an end, the rate of economic growth has been slow and sporadic at best,” he said. “On the whole, the city of Rocklin will need to fend for ourselves. The only help we can expect is the help we generate ourselves.”


New pound in town

The city of Rocklin agreed to pay Rocklin Veterinarian Dr. Bikram Basra $131,556 a year to house Rocklin Animal Control’s stray animals in town.

The previous control with Placer County cost the city $129,291 annually, with additional costs of $25,318 for staff time, vehicle maintenance and fuel costs to drive strays to the Auburn facility every day. The county had increased Rocklin’s shelter fees by 290 percent since 2005.

“(It’s) a big change and a tremendous opportunity in the way we shelter animals,” said Rocklin Police Chief Ron Lawrence. “As a city with Animal Control, we pick up (stray) animals, but we have to have a place to put them.”

In November, Lawrence said the existing 1,600-square-foot facility at Park and Sunset operated by Basra could not adequately house the increase or manage the required disease control necessary to maintain healthy animals and prevent the spread of disease.

To accommodate the animal increase, a new shelter with a larger capacity and more efficient design is needed, the city contends. Lawrence said the increased revenues from fees associated with the impounding, storage and release of animals went from an estimated $3,750 per year to an estimated $33,000.

Under the new contract unanimously approved by the City Council Nov. 13, the city will continue to pay Basra $131,556 a year to provide the shelter for Rocklin, but also give him the fees collected to construct the new 4,800 square-foot-facility design.

The new facility at 4357 Pacific St. is expected to open in January. Basra hopes a nonprofit status for what he calls the “Rocklin Animal Facility” will allow him to collect donations and volunteers to help the shelter.



Work planned for Rocklin Event Center

City officials prepared to spend $270,000 on a new retrofit of the Rocklin Event Center, formerly known as the Rocklin Sunset Center, on Sunset Boulevard. The name was changed in an effort to attract more event rentals.

Plans included remodeling of floors and walks, roof repairs and HVAC system changes.

Rocklin City Manager Rick Horst relocated Parks and Recreation Department offices, staff and activities to the old library building in Johnson-Springview Park in 2011 in an effort to clear the event center for gathering.

The proposed remodel came just a year after the city spent $271,847 on an outdoor patio area complete with a barbecue, gazebo, bandstand and fountain. Another $108,127 was spent to update the second-largest room at the center, which include a wall-sized accordion door for access to the patio and an updated video projector and sound system for the main hall. They also spent $30,083 updating the parking lot to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

The city hopes weddings and other events will offer the city another revenue source.

“Weddings are just one of the programs for which the event center may be utilized,” Horst said. “Any festive event, family reunions, graduation parties, special events, etc. All of the above.”


Balanced budget approved

City Council members unanimously approved a $41 million balanced operating budget. They also adopted a new contract giving city employees a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase.

The budget does not pull on cash reserves, but rather sets aside about $10,000 into reserves while maintaining a 25 percent general fund operating reserve.

Mayor Brett Storey proclaimed it a “wonderful budget.”

In addition to millions in cost-savings measures, the city eliminated 77 full-time positions since 2007, cut salaries by 5 percent and instituted 13 staff furlough days per year.

“People all around the area, Elk Grove and Stockton, need to know that there are governments that can budget things and we have employees that work with us to help,” said Councilmember George Magnuson.

The council also approved a three-year contract with the city’s American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union that included a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase, three fewer furlough days a year and no layoffs.



Rocklin interim chief fired up

Rocklin Fire Chief Bill Mikesell didn’t officially retire until July 13, but before that he did everything he could to make the leadership transition as painless as possible for not only the public safety of Rocklin citizens, but also to alleviate stress on the 40 Rocklin Fire personnel.

Twenty-nine year veteran and Rocklin Fire Chief James Summers was named interim chief until the position can be filled permanently. Summers spent 26 years with Rocklin and was named battalion chief by Mikesell in 2006.

“This community has been a safe community, and (Chief Summers) will do everything he can to keep it that way,” Mikesell said.

Summers was promoted to fire chief in August.

“Chief Mikesell has done a really good job of taking this department to the next level,” Summers said. “I don’t think there is going to be a lot of changes that have to be made.”

Mikesell became Rocklin’s fire chief after 28 years with the Vancouver Fire Department in Washington. He presided over the opening of Fire Station No. 3, the 2002 wildfire that burned 19 structures from Sierra College Boulevard and Interstate 80 to Granite Bay, the 2010 Galleria fire and last year’s Lincoln train tanker fire, which forced the evacuation of parts of that city.

He is also an active volunteer, organizing the Christmas Basket Program, which provides coats and gift baskets for needy Rocklin family. He is a founding member of South Placer Rotary.


Big Gun Quarry earns its place in history

The California Granite Company, also known as the Big Gun Quarry, was added July 3 to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Pacific Street landmark was nominated by the Rocklin Heritage Committee. The listing include the quarry and surrounding lot, work sheds and even the Ruhkula saw once used at the site.

“Everyone in our group is absolutely elated and ecstatic that we’ve been able to save the quarry and get it listed on the national register,” said Heritage Committee spokesperson Carol Ellis. “It’s the reason Rocklin is called Rocklin.”

It is the first Rocklin site to be listed on the National Register of Historic Person.


Firefighters return from Robbers Fire

Hiking with 50 pounds of fire hose in 100-degree temperatures over rough and steep terrain doesn’t sound like a walk in the park, but it’s what Rocklin firefighters fighting the Robbers Fire in the American River Canyon between Foresthill and Colfax were trained to do.

“It’s long days,” said Fire Capt. Robert Molinaro. “We start at 7 in the morning until 7 the next moring.”

A brush crew of three from the Rocklin Road station spent nearly a week with 2,000 other firefighters from Cal Fire, Placer County and as far away as Los Angeles County. They spent their first night protecting threatened structures.

“It is important that we can help our neighbors because if we ever had a big incident like this in Rocklin, we would definitely need assistance,” said interim Fire Chief James Summers.



City fights to save buildings from state-mandated sale

For the first time since the state abolished Rocklin’s Redevelopment Agency, Old St. Mar’s Chapel on historic Front Street was threatened.

The 1883 building was purchased, in part, with funds from the former RDA and the state announced it wants the city to sell the building. The historic building was moved from its original location in 2005 and remodeled to be used for public events.

Since RDA funds were involved in the remodel, the state doesn’t want the building – it wants the cash.

A provision in the new state law governing the RDA transition allows the city to hold onto properties designated for public use, but in November the city learned the church did not meet the criteria. Along with the chapel, the Rocklin History Museum also did not meet the criteria, while the Rocklin Library did.

The city had hoped to get all three properties initially approved to test the process to try to save the Big Gun Quarry.

“We thought we had a good chance at the quarry,” said Mayor Brett Storey. “It certainly wouldn’t have (been saved) this way. We know that know.”

The city is now required to hire a certified public accountant to audit the former RDA’s accounts and present that report and a property management plan to the state. Then it’s up to state officials to deny, approve or suggest changes to the plan.


Police seek suspect in random shootings

Several apparently random shootings shocked residents in Rocklin and Loomis.

Rocklin resident Al Aceves, whose Key Court home was shot up, called the shooters cowards.

“This is a heinous act and it shouldn’t be happening,” he said. ‘They are cowards. They have not value for life.”

The shootings took place in the area of Sunset Boulevard and Fairway Drive, Aceves’ home, and at the Shell station on Taylor Road in Loomis.

Aceves’ wife and adult daughter were in the family room when a bullet came through the kitchen wall.



Whitney teacher arrested

A physics teacher at Whitney High School was arrested Sept. 17 after Rocklin police officers received information regarding an unlawful intimate relationship between the teacher and a juvenile student. He was arrested for child molestation and for arranging a meeting with a minor for purposes of committing a lewd act.

Matthew Yamamoto, 33, now faces 11 counts, seven of which are felonies, for alleged crimes against two minor girls, including unlawful sexual intercourse. Yamamoto, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, was remanded back into custody in November after his bail was increased to $500,000. In requesting the increase, Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Macumber explained to Judge Mark Curry that despite a restraining order obtained by the parents of one of Matthew Yamamoto’s alleged victims, the former Whitney High School physics teacher and the girl, referred to as Jane Doe 2, reportedly exchanged almost daily emails.

According to court records, Yamamoto had allegedly been spending “an inordinate amount of time” with Jane Doe 1, his teacher’s assistant, including nighttime stargazing dates. But when her parents found out, they were no longer allowed to be together alone. Meanwhile, Jane Doe 2 had entered Whitney High as a freshman and Yamamoto eventually became her math tutor.

According to the report, the two eventually started communicating online, via text message and in person during and after school. In May 2011, when Jane Doe 2 was a junior, the relationship reportedly consisted of secret meetings outside of school. It allegedly became physical, and during one sleepover Yamamoto allegedly painted the student’s toenails.

“However, during the course of Jane Doe #2 and defendant’s relationship,” the report reads, “Jane Doe #2 did make a disclosure to a good friend that the relationship was, in fact, sexual.”

Yamamoto will next appear in court at 8:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 14, in Department 32 for his preliminary hearing. 


A new deal for Whitney Ranch?

Rocklin city planners want a new freeway on and off ramp on Highway 65 at Whitney Ranch Parkway and they’re willing to give developers a break to get it done sooner rather than later.

An amended development agreement is in the works between the city of Rocklin and Whitney Ranch developers that could affect funding for a new fire station, eliminate a proposed community center and turn part of a community park into a housing development.

According to a report presented to the City Council, the city’s ultimate goal is the “restructure of priorities supporting the Whitney Ranch Interchange project.”

City planners point to the depressed housing market, a global recession and unprecedented local economic pressures as a reason to “concentrate resources on elements that prove to be mutually beneficial to the city and Whitney Ranch.”

For the city, the agreement is about more than stimulating a depressed housing market. An estimated 4,000 new jobs could be created from potential commercial developers eyeing 200 acres in Whitney Ranch who are put off by the lack of freeway access, according to the city.

On the bargaining table from the existing agreement is the developers’ obligation to pay an $800,000 fire station fee, $500,000 for design of a Whitney Ranch Parkway Interchange and $2.5 million for completion of the interchange after construction, as well as $3 million toward an estimated $15 million community center at Whitney Ranch Community Park.

Now the city is willing to defer or eliminate those obligations to get $4 million in 2014 and 2015 toward construction of the interchange, enhanced bike trails and extending West Oaks Boulevard to Whitney Ranch, among other priorities.



Parks and Recreation Department reorganized

With more than $1 million cut from its budget since the recession began, Rocklin’s Parks and Recreation Department was once again the target of cuts and reorganization. The department director position was eliminated and the department is now under the umbrella of another city department, according to the city.

In August, City Manager Rick Horst announced to city staff the Parks and Recreation Department would be dissolved into the Public Services Department. The director of Parks and Recreation, Gordon Holt, was on administrative leave pending his retirement, according to Horst, who declined to elaborate.

"The Parks and Recreation program remains intact," Horst said. "There has been no change in program or service levels. The only change is that the department is now considered a division – a division of the Department of Public Services under the broad oversight of Rick Forstall, director of Public Services.”

Last year, the city laid off three Parks and Recreation employees, eliminated summer swim lessons and Station Extreme, the after-school teen program. Recreation staff was moved from the Rocklin Event Center to a newly remodeled community center at Johnson-Springview Park.



City to split Big Gun Quarry property

Historical community members were not satisfied with the latest plan to partially save the Big Gun Quarry on Pacific Street from a state-mandated sale.

The new Property Management Plan presented to the City Council for consensus would split the 7.2 acre site, recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places, into three parcels. The city hopes to save parcel one, the quarry pit, which is designated for public use, and parcel two, a landlocked parcel behind Memorial Park.

 The third parcel along Pacific Street, including the century-old work sheds, is designated for sale to a potential buyer.

Rocklin Heritage Committee member Gene Johnson wanted the city to submit all three parcels to ask the state to save everything.

'I thought we were going to save the part with the buildings on it,” Johnson told the council. “I think a good case could be made that the entire property should be transferred to the city. If it were transferred to the city, at that point, we would have everlasting control on what happens to the property.”

Mayor Brett Storey said the current proposal is the best option.

“I understand what you’re saying, and I think the council does, but I don’t personally think that is the case,” Storey said. “That is not what the state is interested in. The state is interested in cash. We’re trying to save the site as best we can.”

By consensus the council directed city staff to move forward with the plan as recommended. According to city officials, a final vote can not be done until the State Department of Finance finishes a scheduled audit on Rocklin’s former Redevelopment Agency, abolished earlier this year by the state Legislature.


Janda, Magnuson, Butler win election

The next three members of the Rocklin City Council are Greg Janda, Dave Butler and George Magnuson.

Janda led the field of eight candidates with 21.79 percent of the vote. After Janda came in third for two seats in the 2010 election for council, he said he made a long-term commitment to run again. This time around, the contenders for the three seats on the council were Janda, Butler, Magnuson, Wijaya Perera, Julie Millard-Stadel, Ken Broadway, Dan DeFoe and Jack Lento-Edrich.

“I am humbled by the overwhelming support I received all across Rocklin,” he said. “I can’t thank my volunteers and supporters enough for the time and dedication they provided.”

“I am grateful for and humbled by the support my campaign received,” Butler said in a statement to the Placer Herald. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to serve Rocklin residents and advance our community’s objectives, particularly in the area of economic development.”


Road rage suspect arrested

A Rocklin man was arrested for allegedly beating an 84-year-old man in a road rage incident.

Rocklin Police reported that 33-year-old Zubin Bogdanoff allegedly followed 84-year-old Eugene Royer to his Roseville home Nov. 10, where an assault occurred in the victim’s garage.

“The defendant followed him home because he felt the victim was driving too slow,” Bill Marchi of the District Attorney’s Office said at Bogdanoff’s arraignment. Royer was driving 20 mph, Marchi added.

At the time of the incident, Royer was driving on the 6000 block of Bridal Veil Drive, a residential area, according to the Rocklin Police Department report.

Royer suffered significant injuries and was taken to the hospital, according to the Rocklin police report. A neighbor who tried to intervene was also injured, police said. And as Bogdanoff drove off, he is alleged to have tried to run over a witness who was calling the police, the report said.

Bogdanoff faces 10 counts against him in two cases, including inflicting injury on an elderly adult, assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury, residential burglary for entering Royer’s home, assault with personal use of a deadly weapon (his vehicle), another assault charge, vandalism, disturbing the peace by fighting and two battery misdemeanor charges.

Bogdanoff was also cited earlier on a petty theft charge and released on a promise to appear after a disturbance Nov. 7 inside a Roseville supermarket.

He’ll next appear in court Jan. 8.


Scouts, media descend on City Council

The city of Rocklin is trying to work out a deal with nonprofit groups concerned over a policy change that would charge scouting groups and other nonprofits for use of city buildings for meetings. Groups are concerned they could be charged $90 per hour for building use.

Boy Scout Troop 29 has been meeting in the Community Center at Johnson-Springview Park since it was constructed in 1976.

“It has always been this troop or pack has gone to the city and asked them if we can use the building for free and they always said yes,” said Troop 29 Scoutmaster Jeff Sherer.

The city formed an ad hoc committee after a crowd of upset scouts and their parents packed a November City Council meeting. The controversy got a lot of media attention, as the Placer Herald was joined by three Sacramento television stations in covering the story.

According to City Manager Rick Horst, the city has granted what he describes as a “stay” from the proposed April 1, 2013, start of the fees to work something out.

Sherer said Horst offered the scouts a modular building currently used for senior recreation programs. Sherer would still have to pay about $25 an hour. That’s better than the $5,000 to $15,000 originally estimated to cost the organization for a year of meetings at the current rental rate. Even so, Sherer said, it’s still too much.


“He wants to charge everyone the same, so that’s where the rate is,” he said. “The one thought is could the scouts do a service project to work off that $25? Could we plant some trees or something?”

The groups are to meet with city officials again next month. The recommendations of the committee are expected to be presented to the Rocklin City Council early next year.



City on track to silence trains

The Rocklin City Council took a step closer to establishing a railroad “quiet zone” in the city when it added improvements at five railway intersections to its list of projects to be completed during this fiscal year.

The city will install center medians at the crossings at Farron Street, Rocklin Road, Midas Avenue, Americana Way and Dominguez Road that, at 8 inches high, are meant to prevent drivers from ducking under the lowering arms to turn around as a train approaches. Other safety improvements include installing a warning sign at the Americana Way crossing and Americans with Disabilities Act-standard tactile warning strips at sidewalk crossings at Americana, with future strip installation planned at Del Mar and Farron.

The project will be paid for with Public Transportation Modernization, Improvement, and Service Enhancement Account funds from the California Department of Transportation. The project will be put out to bid and come back to the council for approval. A portion of the funds must be spent by July 2013; the next by 2014.

Trains will still blow their horns when the conductor feels there is a safety risk such as pedestrians or railway workers at the intersection. But for the majority of the time, horns will be prohibited in the quiet zone.

The quiet zone was met with some opposition.

Kenneth Rogers, a former Southern Pacific and Union Pacific employee for 45 years, was involved in a collision in Loomis that killed two people. The horns, he said, are part of the whole package of warning people about a coming train – including flashing lights and lowering gates.

“We’ve had a great run” Rogers said. “We’re at almost 30 years with no reportable accidents. That’s not luck. That’s compliance with the law. That’s the crossing gates and the sounding of the horn. It’s a loud horn – believe me – and it gets people’s attention.”