Truckee police arrest armed man in incident that led to lockdown of nearby schools | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Truckee police arrest armed man in incident that led to lockdown of nearby schools

TRUCKEE, Calif. – Many of Truckee’s public schools were in a precautionary lockdown early Monday afternoon while police searched for and eventually apprehended a gunman who fired a shot in the area. Truckee Police apprehended the gunman – identified as Robert Miklia of Penn Valley, Calif. – near the corner of Donner Pass Road and Richards Boulevard at about 12:30 p.m. Miklia’s exact age is unclear, although police said he was born in 1946. Police initially received a call about a possible armed man at about 11:30 a.m., said Truckee Police Capt. Harwood Mitchell. Once officers spotted him near the intersection, Miklia fired one shot, in a direction Mitchell said was undetermined, but not toward officers, before laying down his handgun on the pavement. Miklia then approached officers against their objections, Mitchell said. Officers disabled Miklia with a non-lethal bean bag round and arrested him. He is currently in custody in Nevada County Jail in Truckee; charges are pending. Mitchell described Miklia as “distraught.” No one else was hurt in the incident. The intersection is located about .4 miles to the west of Truckee High School, and Truckee Elementary School is approximately .2 miles away. Though the Truckee Police Department only requested those two schools be locked down, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District officials also decided to implement lockdowns at Sierra Continuation High School, Sierra Expeditionary Learning School and TTUSD administrative offices, said Superintendent Robert Leri. “It happened so quickly,” said Leri. “While the message to parents was being written, the lockdown was lifted.” According to the school district, police informed the schools to lock down at about noon; they were notified at about 12:30 p.m. the lockdown could be lifted. A message notifying parents of the lockdown and its lifting was sent to email addresses and phone numbers provided to the district by parents. The announcement was also translated into Spanish, which slightly delayed the notification to Spanish speaking parents. Though each school has a variation of alarm bells and alert systems, the lockdown procedure requires teachers and students lock themselves in a secure classroom, close and lock the windows and draw the shades, Leri said. The schools drill regularly for such incidents. “The teachers have classroom management to keep the students calm,” said Leri. “But this one was so short, they probably didn’t have time to implement these practices.” According to a Monday afternoon statement from the school district, Mitchell informed TTUSD officials that students were not in danger. However, because it was lunch/recess hour, there were students outside on the playground and it was considered a risk. Leri said students in the cafeteria and on the playground at Truckee Elementary were alerted and mobilized into secure rooms within five minutes. Students at the high schools had not been released for their lunch break yet; had the lockdown lasted into the meal period, Leri said the release bell would not have rung. STEP, a child care and teen parenting program at Sierra Continuation, was also secured, Leri said. “Each school responded very appropriately and implemented the procedures they had been trained and practiced,” said Leri. “I’m impressed at how quickly the students were in secure rooms and how professional the staff was.” According to TTUSD, the procedure to release the classrooms required school officials to go from room to room and physically unlock each classroom with a key. A more detailed, district-wide message will be sent out later Monday to follow up and to inform parents of the incident, officials said. – Sun Managing Editor Kevin MacMillan contributed to this report.

Tesla Motors among many on tap for Tahoe-Truckee STEAM Fair

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Enhancing educational opportunities in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) continues to be a big focus at the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. The district is excited to announce its upcoming STEAM Fair, which offers students an excellent opportunity to see real life examples of what professionals in the STEAM fields do on a day-to-day basis and potentially spark interest in a future career. This year's event will be held Thursday, Nov. 3, from 6-8 p.m. at Truckee High School; Smokey's Kitchen will be selling dinner options from 5-7 p.m. All TTUSD students and their families are encouraged to be part of this hands-on, practical experience that the STEAM Fair offers. Students learn from experts in the field as they explore college and career options in STEAM field. This year, in addition to some of the best business partners in this community, Tesla Motors joins as one of over 40 interactive booths that include local and regional experts. This exciting event would not be possible without its dedicated volunteer committee and the generous sponsorships provided by the Rotary Club of Truckee, Parallax, Excellence in Education Foundation and TTUSD. In addition, the district is incredibly grateful for the time and expertise the community experts share to make this event a success for our students and our community. This article was provided by the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. Visit ttusd.org to learn more.

Tahoe/Truckee schools eye update to building master plan

TAHOE/TRUCKEE — For Cris Hennessey, a parent of a Kings Beach Elementary second-grader, school safety is key. "… I'm not a proponent of living in fear; however, our playground is absolutely a freaking nightmare," she said. Hennessey's main concern is the number of access points to the school's playground at 8125 Steelhead Ave. At a recent Tahoe Truckee Unified School District forum, she suggested officials look into a main funnel entrance as a possible solution. Ideas like Hennessey's are among several the district is considering as it works to update its facility master plan, a process that started in August of this year. "We do have clean and safe facilities; we just have needs," said TTUSD Superintendent Rob Leri, in an interview late last week. To help identify those needs across the district, TTUSD has hired California-based LPA, a sustainable design architecture firm. After conducting site tours of the district's 11 schools and gathering feedback from teachers, principals, parents, students and community members, LPA presented its findings and initial solutions at two community forums on Nov. 7 in Kings Beach and Truckee. Safety and security, maintenance needs, alignment with the district's vision of graduating students with 21st century skills and future enrollment projections are among items being considered. Some initial identified site needs/concepts include: • Expanded administration and reconfiguration to control school access, a dedicated student drop-off zone, and adjustments to restrooms to meet current code at Kings Beach Elementary. • Technology and wireless upgrades, creation of a student union, and increased band room size at North Tahoe High School. • Upgraded parking lot, replacement of portable classroom buildings with permanent construction, and creating a problem-based learning science lab with a greenhouse at Glenshire Elementary. As the process continues, those and other site needs will be further refined, said Kate Mraw, an LPA associate. Estimated improvement costs and funding options will also play a role, Leri said. "We don't want the funding to drive the facility master plan at the beginning because we want everything out on the table," Leri said. "Then there will be (the) reality when we have so many dollars and these are the priorities, so this is what we can and can't do." Possible funding options include a general obligation bond, grants, capital facility funds and state funds. "The other thing driving this is that we hope that there may be a statewide facilities program coming up in the future," Leri said. "If we don't have an updated facility plan, we're not even in contention for possible state matching money or state grant money." Up to $224,000 is in TTUSD's facility budget to update the plan, with as much as $163,000 going to LPA, Leri said. The goal is to present a rough draft to the school board in January 2014, Leri said. It's unknown when a final plan would return to the board. TTUSD's facility master plan was first approved in 2003 and was revised in 2007.

Tahoe-Truckee suicide task force appoints outreach facilitator

TAHOE-TRUCKEE, Calif. — The Tahoe Truckee Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force recently announced the appointment of Sarah McClarie as outreach facilitator. McClarie's education and skills include specific training in QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer), crisis counseling, suicide intervention counseling and bilingual outreach. The goal of the task force is to provide education and implement strategies to mobilize the community to support its young people and prevent future suicides. This is a collaborative effort involving a number of community agencies including the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, Placer County and Nevada County Mental Health, the North Tahoe and Truckee Family Resource Centers, the Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee, Tahoe Forest Hospital District, and the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation. The task force reaches into the community with quarterly coalition meetings that bring together parents, educators, community agencies and community members to discuss topics addressing suicide prevention. Next year, a new speaker series will be introduced to further reach adolescents with coping skills, and to parents with increased understanding of adolescent behaviors and how to address various topics with teens. Further information on the Task Force and its work can be made by contacting smcclarie@ttusd.org or by calling 530-582-2560. This article was submitted to the Sun by the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. Visit ttusd.org to learn more.

Food column: Sweet-and-salty pistachio brittle hits the spot

If you're looking for something to satisfy your sweet tooth, consider this Salted Pistachio Brittle. It was the first recipe I tried from the January edition of Bon Appétit. At the time, I had a bag of unsalted, shelled pistachios that I was looking to incorporate into a recipe. When I think of making candy, I think of the mishaps I've had while attempting different recipes — most of which involved some sort of sugar syrup. I've learned from the mistakes, but also mentally prepare for frustration whenever I plan to tackle a new candy recipe. I had never made brittle before, so I didn't know what I was getting myself into, but that mental preparation wasn't needed for this straightforward recipe. Watch the temperature of the mixture closely and you'll be OK. If you don't like pistachios, this recipe would also work well with peanuts or cashews. The best part is that it cools quickly, so it can be made for a same-day treat. Ingredients Nonstick vegetable oil spray 1 cup sugar 1/2 cup light corn syrup 1 cup unsalted, shelled raw natural pistachios, very coarsely chopped 1 tablespoon unsalted butter 1 teaspoon kosher salt 3/4 teaspoon baking soda Coarse gray sea salt (such as fleur de sel or sel gris) Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; spray with nonstick spray and set aside. Whisk sugar, corn syrup, and 3 tablespoons water in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Fit saucepan with candy thermometer, bring mixture to a boil, and cook until thermometer registers 290 degrees, about 3-4 minutes. Using a heatproof spatula, stir in pistachios, butter, and kosher salt (syrup will seize initially, but will melt as it heats back up). Continue to cook syrup, stirring often, until thermometer registers 300 degrees and pistachios are golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Caramel should be pale brown (it will darken slightly as it cools). Sprinkle baking soda over and stir quickly to blend caramel thoroughly (mixture will bubble vigorously). Immediately pour caramel onto prepared baking sheet and, using a heat-proof spatula, quickly spread out as thin as possible. Sprinkle sea salt over and let caramel cool completely. Break brittle into pieces. Note: Brittle can be made 1 week ahead. Store airtight between sheets of parchment paper (to prevent sticking) at room temperature. Trisha Leonard is the editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. Check out her food blog at http://www.redpenrecipes.wordpress.com.

Highway open again

It was a familiar scene of fanfare, gushing accolades and strings of eager motorists Friday, as U.S. Highway 50 was reopened – again. There were no casino showgirls this time, but hoards of television media crews lined up to capture Gov. Pete Wilson arriving in a military-escorted helicopter. “You’ve got every reason to be proud of yourselves – I’m damn proud,” Wilson told the crowd of California Department of Transportation officials and private contractors, who managed to open the highway one month ahead of schedule. “To anybody who wants to use the road this weekend, I have the privilege to say, you can start your engines.” The governor was introduced by Caltrans Director James van Loben Sels, who thanked the administration for giving the department a mission and the authority to accomplish it. “We’re back here again, hopefully for the last time,” Loben Sels said. “Our thanks to the really superb work of the contractors.” South Lake Tahoe Mayor Tom Davis joined in to give his accolades on behalf of the city’s 25,000 residents – all of whom have felt some impact from the consecutive natural disasters that kept the road closed off and on since Christmas. “It’s estimated that there was $40 to $53 million in lost revenue, so we sincerely applaud everyone’s efforts to get Highway 50 open again,” he said. “This is a perfect example of government getting out of the way to get the job done.” Assemblyman Thomas “Rico” Oller echoed that sentiment, presenting two of the three private contractors with certificates. Granite Construction, Veerkamp and R.A. Nemetz were the three companies who cleared the Mill Creek Slide. Oller also presented Loben Sels with a special plaque, complete with a toy plow truck mounted on it, that read: “‘Landslide Busters.’ To James van Loben Sels for his work in opening Highway 50.” In a similar gesture, Davis, council member Judy Brown and other South Shore dignitaries brought a 100-pound, 50-inch wide symbolic mud pie to the occasion, which Gov. Wilson sliced with a shovel. Phil Weidinger of Weidinger Public Relations said the dessert, donated by Caesars Tahoe and garnished with toy construction equipment, contained 12 pounds of butter, 20 pounds of sugar, one gallon of eggs, 50 pounds of semi-sweet chocolate and 12 gallons of heavy whipping cream. One observer said the enormous dessert probably contained as many calories as dollars were lost in South Lake Tahoe as a result of the highway closures. Still, that did not stop construction workers from digging in. Contractors worked 24 hours a day, sometimes more than 12 hours at a time, to remove the 300,000 cubic yards of mud that crashed onto the roadway near White Hall on Jan. 24. While they appreciated all of the praise the received Friday, most were more grateful to be getting on with their lives. “Tonight I’m going to stay in my own bed for the first time in a month,” said Caltrans worker Mike Rosa. “I’m pretty excited about that.” But amid all of this rejoicing was a feeling that this could not continue to be a monthly occurrence. “All I can say is we have to stop meeting this way,” Davis joked. John Upton, El Dorado County supervisor, stressed that everyone who is dependent on the highway needs to start working on some long-term solutions. He suggested constructing a network of retaining walls along unstable slope areas rather than a rerouting of the highway, which he said would likely be too expensive. “I’m going to advocate the voluntary closing of the road when this ski season is over so we can get some work done before the summer,” Upton said. “We can’t risk this happening again on a Sunday afternoon when there is a line of cars, that’s intolerable. We need to come to a solution to this problem.” The most recent mudslide came just one week after the highway surface was repaired from being washed out by the New Year’s Day floods. Before that, a record December snowstorm left South Lake Tahoe marooned for three days.

Grand jury: Charter school lacked oversight

Tribune News Service TRUCKEE – The Nevada County grand jury released a report this week recommending Tahoe Truckee Unified School District take a more proactive role in its oversight of future charter schools. The report, conducted by a panel of 19 volunteer jurors, comes nine months after the school board shut down Prosser Creek Charter School on grounds of financial mismanagement. The five-page report concludes that excessive program growth was partially to blame for Prosser Creek Charter School’s debt, which amounted to approximately $3.4 million. In less than four years, Prosser Creek’s enrollment increased 10-fold, from 125 students to 1,268 students, according to the report. Also, contrary to Prosser Creek’s charter, which mandated there be a school district representative on the Prosser Creek school advisory council, the jurors determined TTUSD did not have a representative on the council beginning fall 2001. “Had the TTUSD continued a presence on the PCCS Advisory Council, one possible means of communication between the TTUSD and PCCS would have been available,” says the report. “While this may have not prevented the revocation of the charter, TTUSD per the charter, had an obligation to participate in Advisory Council meetings.” In the grand jury’s recommendations, it said the school district should assume responsibility for ensuring that former Prosser Creek students residing in Nevada County are meeting education laws. The school board is required to respond to the report by Aug. 19. School district Superintendent Dennis Williams said although the school district is not required to follow the recommendations made by the report, he and the board will give the suggestions due consideration. The jurors suggested Tahoe Truckee Unified develop a board policy that defines its relationship to any future charter school. In the investigation, the grand jury interviewed the superintendent of schools in Placer and Nevada counties, former and current administrators at the school district, a district trustee, a former administrator and a former advisory council member from Prosser Creek. The investigators also looked at various documents and correspondence between school district and charter school administrators.

Tahoe-Truckee schools join national Meatless Monday movement

TRUCKEE, Calif. — On Monday, Alder Creek Middle School students lined up for lunch, selecting from whole grain tortilla chips topped with refried beans and cheese, a baked potato and salad ingredients. As for meat, well, it wasn't on the menu. "I think it's great because I don't like eating meat that much, and I know that other people here don't either," said Whitney Wingard, a sixth-grader at the school. Since Oct. 6, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District schools have been serving plant-based entrees every Monday as part of the nationwide Meatless Monday campaign. Meatless Monday began in 2003, launched in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, according to the movement's website. It's now active in 36 countries. "We have to offer vegetables and grains and plant-based foods, and so (Meatless Monday) was a natural progression because of our dedication to sustainability and healthy students," said Kat Soltanmorad, director of food services for TTUSD. She said feedback from students and parents on the switch has been positive. "Our community is health conscious, and so it's a great sell," Soltanmorad said. "It's an easy sell." Kings Beach resident John Merryfield, who has adhered to a plant-based diet for over 30 years, said he is "thrilled" TTUSD has joined Meatless Mondays. "Good habits are started with small steps in the right direction," said Merryfield, who's also director of the Vegan 1 Day Project. "TTUSD has shown vision and leadership by going meatless on Mondays. It tells me that they care about our kids' health and about educating kids about how our personal food choices matter." The Vegan 1 Day Project is a grassroots effort to encourage the public to adopt a vegan diet for at least one day out of the year, for health, the environment and animals. Soltanmorad said Meatless Monday follows federal nutrition standards for schools, which outlines grain, protein, dairy, fruit and vegetable requirements for school meals. "I think at a young age habits are still forming, and so (Meatless Monday) is a great opportunity to offer choice and variety," Soltanmorad said. "We hope nutritious habits develop. As much as we can expose students and make it easy to make healthy choices, I think they will develop a healthy lifestyle." When asked what she has gotten out of Meatless Monday, Wingard said: "I've learned that I should try new things, and they can taste good." Meals students can expect include burrito bowls, teriyaki tofu, and cheese- or squash-filled whole grain raviolis. Lunches brought by students from home on Mondays can include meat, Soltanmorad said. The goal is to continue Meatless Monday for the rest of the school year, she added "I hope … that we can support the campaign, our mission of sustainability and healthy meals with appetizing entries, and students like it," she said. "They're our No. 1 customer."

Top TTUSD capital needs estimated at $140 million

A draft facilities master plan for Tahoe Truckee Unified School District was revealed this week, identifying several top priorities to address capital needs. "This is not the end of any process," Superintendent Rob Leri said at Wednesday's board of trustees meeting. "This is really the next phase in our process of considering our facility needs." District-wide, the entire scope of work — which includes construction and soft costs such as design and review — is estimated at $236.84 million. Of that, $140.39 million is estimated for top priorities. "(It) is in 2014 dollars, today's dollars, because we don't know when a project would begin, so we don't know what that escalation may be," explained Steve Newsom, associate and project director for LPA, a consulting firm hired by TTUSD for its facilities master plan update. Over the next few weeks, the school board will hone down priorities, while additional community input is taken. In conjunction, funding details and options will be explored. TOP PRIORITIES According the draft plan, the following items are listed as top priorities to address: Replacement of portable classrooms with permanent construction. Moderation and reconfiguration of existing classroom buildings, which could include repairing, upgrading or replacement of roofs, windows, doors, hardware, floors and ceilings; and exterior and/or interior patching/painting. New construction for science and career technical education. Safety and security, including paving; fencing with controlled entrances; and improving student drop-off areas. Technology infrastructure upgrades. Upgrades to existing building systems and toilets. HOW TO PAY FOR IT A 10-year outlook estimates TTUSD will have $16.15 million available for capital facilities from a combination of the building fund, redevelopment revenue, capital facilities fund, deferred maintenance fund and Proposition 39 energy funding. Another funding option the district is considering is a bond measure for the November general election ballot. A survey of 350 district registered voters conducted last fall by TBWB Strategies indicated a school bond measure would garner the 55 percent voter support needed to pass. The district will decide whether to pursue a bond measure in the coming months, along with factors such as amount, term and yearly financial impact to taxpayers. "We wanted to make sure we had the facilities master plan at least at the draft stage, so we could understand what the scope of it is before we started considering asking taxpayers to help fund the facilities update," Leri said in an interview earlier this month. The school board is expected to adopt the final facilities plan on March 19, at which point the district will have "some sense" of a funding plan, Leri said. TTUSD's facility master plan was first approved in 2003 and was revised in 2007.

Highway 50 opens today

For the second time in two months, state and local officials, business leaders and showroom entertainers will gather together in celebration of an early U.S. Highway 50 opening. The event is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday in Riverton, about 20 miles east of Placerville on Highway 50, and will conclude with the opening of the road to traffic. Among the dignitaries scheduled to speak at the brief ceremony are California Department of Transportation Director James van Loben Sels, State Assemblyman Rico Oller and South Lake Tahoe Mayor Tom Davis. The highway was closed after a massive mudslide Jan. 24 buried 900 feet of road surface in mud and debris up to 50 feet deep. This slide happened just one week after the road was repaired from severe damage caused by the New Year’s Day floods. Caltrans officials did not expect to have the road cleared this time until the end of March. However, good weather that allowed work to continue 24 hours a day as well as some extra equipment imported from Utah are among the factors responsible for the job being completed ahead of schedule.