Douglas County budget balanced; hours to be cut at Zephyr Cove Library and Kahle | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Douglas County budget balanced; hours to be cut at Zephyr Cove Library and Kahle

Douglas County has balanced its $121 million budget without the use of reserves, but residents will see some reductions in services, including Tuesday closures at the Zephyr Cove Library and shorter hours at Kahle Community Center. The library, which now is closed Sundays and Mondays, will be closed on Tuesdays as well beginning July 1. As was the case last summer, Kahle will be closed on Sundays over the summer and also is likely to reduce its weekday hours. Scott Morgan, the county’s community services director, said details of hour reductions and possible program eliminations still are being worked out. But Morgan said he expects Kahle’s “high-profile” programs to be preserved. “The father-daughter dance, the (Easter) egg hunt, are going to continue,” he said. Many popular programs are funded through donations, Morgan said. But someone on county staff is needed to organize the activities. That is less of a problem now that the department has been given the go-ahead to fill one of the four recreation coordinator positions that were being held open because of budget uncertainties, Morgan said. And even though some positions will remain vacant, Morgan said: “Everyone on our staff wants to do more with less.” In addition to reduced hours at Kahle, the Douglas County Parks & Recreation Commission was scheduled to meet Tuesday night to discuss possible fee increases at the center for drop-ins and monthly, quarterly and annual passes. At the Zephyr Cove Library, the revised schedule will probably have the biggest impact on those who use the library’s conference rooms on Tuesdays, said Library Director Linda Deacy. Library staff will start contacting regular users of the conference rooms so they can start thinking about meeting at a different time or location, she said. Most library programs will continue, Deacy said, although they might be scheduled less frequently. For example, visits to preschools that occur every three weeks might take place every four weeks instead. “It’s going to slow things down, but it’s not going to stop things,” Deacy said of the budget reductions. County commissioners tentatively adopted the budget May 1. Although the budget is called “tentative,” Morgan said that “for all practical purposes, the budget they approved will be our final budget.” “The board directed the Douglas County budgets ” general fund, room tax and senior services ” be balanced without reserves. We’ve done that, but there will be some significant cuts,” T. Michael Brown, interim county manager. The county’s deficit grew from $137,000 in March to $482,000 by the end of April, but Brown said last Thursday that the budget was balanced through a half-dozen changes. The savings include: — $124,000 reduction in travel expenditures. — $113,000 by discontinuing vacation and sick-leave buyback program. — $40,000 by removing transfer to China Spring youth camp. — $50,000 reduction in sheriff’s capital outlay (cost covered by reimbursement). — $77,000 reduction in professional services (budget moved to appropriate fund). — $78,000 charging 100 percent of project manager’s time to capital construction funds. Brown credited department heads, elected officials and their employees with absorbing the cutbacks to balance the budget. “We do this as a team,” Brown said. “There is participation by everybody.” Commissioner Kelly Kite took exception to public comments that poor planning and rapid growth were responsible for the shortfall. “I keep hearing jabs at ‘mismanagement,’ ” Kite said. “Nobody complained about mismanagement when we were the second-lowest county in the state in property tax. We didn’t misspend the money. We just didn’t collect it from you in the first place. When revenues go down, you run a lean operation, and programs get cut.” Commissioner Jim Baushke said compared with the rest of Nevada, Douglas County was in good shape. “We’ve got to get some companies to move in who pay a decent wage for people to live here. That takes a long, long time to do it,” he said. The board voted 4-0 to accept the budget. Commissioner David Brady was absent. The final budget is set for adoption May 19.

Crist, Aldridge up averages, top 200 mark

Welcome. The top men’s bowlers of the week at Tahoe Bowl is Steve Dunn. Dunn bowls for Suds in the His and Hers League and carries at 150 average. He gave that average a beating, shooting a season-high game of 206. Dunn will receive his 200 game patch award from the United States Bowling Congress. This awesome performance earned him Shott’s men’s bowler of the week honors. The top two women’s bowlers of the week are Adrienne Crist and senior bowler Meg Aldridge. Crist bowls on the Kids Matter team in the Basin Bowlers League and maintains a 143 average. She also assembled her high game of the season, rolling a 206. Like Dunn, Crist will receive her 200 game patch award from the USBC. Aldridge rolls for the Misfits in the Seniors League and carries a 135 average. Aldridge produced her high game of the season ” a 200 ” and will also receive her USBC 200 game patch. Both Crist’s and Aldridge’s 200 games earned them Shott’s women’s bowlers of the week. High scores of the week Seniors (Jan. 20): Larry Coffman 212, Dave Lawrence 201, Meg Aldridge 200, Steve Aldridge 190. His and Hers (Jan. 20); Mike Stewart 206, Arlene Hailey 201-233-215/649, Jessica Kelleher 200, George Alm 265/643, Kevin Root 205, Kevin Close 204, Bob Bolinger 211, Jeremy Agnew 240/622, Jim Hoehn 201, Richard Brown 206, Scott Spivack 204-245/668, Steve Dunn 212, Ron Waller 204, Samantha Taylor 204-242/600, John Shott 212, Randy Von Steinmann 259, Mike Shott 236-217/635, Richard Bodine 215, Bobby Silvius 202-200, Jim Brothers 255-203/657. Ho Hum Trio (Jan. 21): Christor Korves 202-212-213/627, Kevin Ritter 257/605, Kevin Close 213. Goofers (Jan. 22): Sandy Jackson 217, Randy Von Steinmann 216. Basin Bowlers (Jan. 23): Jason Allsenderrie 206, Daniel Kaufman 210, Charles Tanner 215, Anthony Gregorich 211/225, George Alm 222, Mike Stewart 211, Richard Brown 246-204-242/692, Toby Sharp 200, Joel Morris 236/246/668, Bobby Silvius 254-210-221/685, Jim Brothers 246-231-212/689, Scott Spivack 203-257-203/663, Adrienne Crist 206, Sandra Hibler 211, Carol Christian 208, Kevin Close 208-205. Junior Majors (Jan. 23): Jared Morris 169, Danielle McDaniel 156, Michael Nanzig 155. Peewees (Jan. 24): Francisco Ubias 113, Colby Glaze 96, Kade 81, Amariah Arterburn 82, Acacia Kaufman 81. Bantams and Preps (Jan. 24): Nehemiah Kaufman 87, Jacob Hailey 90, Jacob Feliciano 92, Joe Kaufman 119-89, Angela Reheault 93, Gabi Rosalez 84, Noah Sorensen 108-97-144/349, Arnold Higareda 97-93-86″276, Cameron Milam 101-119-92/312.

California home foreclosures climb as risky loans sour

SAN DIEGO – Foreclosure proceedings against California homeowners jumped by more than 140 percent in the first quarter, the result of risky loans during boom times, a real estate research firm said Tuesday. At the same time, the number of homes lost to foreclosure also reached levels not seen since at least the 1980s, according to DataQuick Information Systems. Lenders sent homeowners 113,676 default notices from January through March, up 143.1 percent from 46,760 during the same period of 2007 and up 39.4 percent from 81,550 during the last three months of 2007. The first quarter numbers marked the highest foreclosure level since DataQuick began keeping track in 1992. Default notices mark the first step in the foreclosure process. Trustee deeds – which represent loss of a home to foreclosure – totaled 47,171 during the first quarter, up 327.6 percent from 11,032 during the same period of 2007 and up 48.9 percent from 31,676 during the previous three months. It marked the highest level of trustee deeds since DataQuick began keeping track in 1988 and was more than triple the number during the nadir of the previous cycle in 1996. The foreclosure activity also reflects a drop in home values, as owners in a financial pinch were unable to sell properties to cover payments, said DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage. Most loans that went into default originated between August 2005 and October 2006, according to DataQuick, which said the market was shaking off its ” ‘loans-gone-wild’ activity” during that time. The median age of a defaulted loan was 23 months. Homeowners in default now are more likely to lose their homes, according to DataQuick. Only 32 percent receiving default notices prevented foreclosure by catching up on payments. A year earlier, 52 percent of those in default were able to avoid foreclosure. Many homes were financed with multiple loans, which makes it more difficult for homeowners to escape foreclosure. As a result, the 113,676 default notices sent in the first quarter were recorded on 110,392 residences. The numbers are the latest indication of how badly California has been hit by foreclosures, a result of many homeowners taking loans that their incomes could not afford. The state ranks only behind Nevada – and just ahead of Florida, Arizona and Colorado – in the percentage of households in foreclosure in March, according to RealtyTrac, a research firm. The foreclosure glut has depressed housing prices overall. Some analysts expect it will worsen as low, introductory interest rates expire on other loans that originated in 2005 and 2006. One of every three resale homes sold in California from January through March had been foreclosed at some point during the previous year, up from 3.2 percent a year earlier, DataQuick said. In San Joaquin County, foreclosures accounted for two of every three homes that were resold. In San Francisco County, they made up only 5.1 percent. Mortgages were most likely to go into default in the central California counties of San Joaquin, Merced and Stanislaus, DataQuick said. They were least likely to go into default in the San Francisco Bay area counties of San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo.

Foes can be friends

STATELINE – Even though Bethany Wurster represents Douglas High School and Alexis Holmes plays for South Tahoe High, they are more like golf teammates. As good “teammates” do, Wurster and Holmes root for one another and inspire each other. For two of the top golfers in the Sierra Division, and the state for that matter, a friendship has formed out of competition. “It will fuel you to strive for something better. You just want to beat them. You love them, but you want to beat them at the same time,” Wurster said Tuesday afternoon following a 3-over-par round of 75 that topped the Sierra Division event at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. “It’s kind of like, ‘Oh, I hope you do well, but I hope I do better.’” Wurster, who birdied six holes, finished seven strokes ahead of Holmes, who came in third with an 82. The last of Wurster’s birdies on No. 18 cost Holmes a dinner. “Once I get my scoring figured out, it’s going to be fun,” said Holmes, who believes mismanagement of her game at times prevents her from scoring in the 70s. “I’m driving the ball really well, but I’m just hitting bad irons. I overcompensate sometimes when I shouldn’t, so I’m 20 yards long, and it’s very difficult to two-putt from there. “Hopefully by zone I’ll get it figured out.” The two friends played Edgewood Tahoe on Sunday in preparation for Tuesday’s round, and Wurster beat Holmes 74-76 by eagling the final hole. Bishop Manogue’s Mackenzie Souers broke up the 1-2 Wurster-Holmes finish by shooting an 80. Alex Phillips, the defending state champion and also playing in the group with Wurster and Holmes, came in fifth with an 85. “It’s the first time all three have played together,” said STHS coach Marsha Butler. “Bethany and Alexis have developed a really good friendship, but they are always real competitive with each other.” Manogue, the defending state champions, were far superior than their division foes on Tuesday, as four Miners scored 90 or better en route to a 339 team total. Damonte Ranch was second with 419 strokes and Galena and Carson tied for third at 422. South Tahoe, which placed third in the previous tournament, finished sixth at 458. The Vikings’ Morgan Murphy shot 109 and Brittany Rumble fired a 118. Team scores 1. Manogue 439, 2. Damonte Ranch 419, 3. Galena 422, 3. Carson 422, 5. Fallon 453, 6. South Tahoe 458, 7. Douglas 467, 8. Wooster 526. Individual scores Manogue: Alex Phillips 85, Maggie Jones 84, Mackenzie Souers 80, Elise Levy 90, Megan Anderson 136, Lexi Robertson 114. Damonte Ranch: Shayla Miller 104, Ashleigh Westover 96, Rachael Schryer 101, Morgan Pisane 118. Galena: Hayley Jensen 100, Skylar Antencio 105, Sydney Atencio 113, Gabi Lucas 109, Rachael Zunino 107, Amanda Parmer 110. Carson: Megan Justice 113, Whitney Nash 102, Elayna Shine 105, Katie Cowperthwaite 110, Lindsay Burroughs 105, Katie Livermore 110. Fallon: Megan Hill 109, Brittyn Tidwell 103, Sarah Frandsen 123, Sara Parsons 118, Ashley Bowers 128, Katie Moore 131. South Tahoe: Alexis Holmes 82, Morgan Murphy 92, Brittany Rumble 118. Douglas: Bethany Wurster 75, Kelsey Endter 118, Megan Welch 151, Bri Burnside 138, Emily Downer 136, Kristen Greenhut 153. Wooster: Alana Crosby 123, Zoie Oberg 116, Karlee Day 130, Samantha Burrows 157.

Endorsement: Terbolizard for GOP; Brown the choice for Democrats

Tuesday’s primary election will end the campaign brawl between 4th Congressional District candidates Doug Ose and Tom McClintock. The two have been slugging it out since Rep. John Doolittle, R-Roseville, announced in January that he wouldn’t seek a 10th term. Neither former congressman Ose not current state Sen. McClintock lives in the 4th District, which has led to accusations from both sides as to which one is the real carpetbagger in the race. Legal analyst Suzanne Jones and media producer/consultant Theodore Terbolizard also are running on the Republican ticket. Tuesday’s election hopefully will end the bickering when voters choose one of the Republicans to face presumptive Democratic challenger Charlie Brown in the November general election. Brown, a former Air Force officer, nearly upset Doolittle in 2006. He’s running against constitutional advocate/writer John “Wolf” Wolfgram in the Democratic race. Despite our lukewarm enthusiasm for any of the Republicans, we’re endorsing Terbolizard. Out of the Republican candidates, he seems to be the least jingoistic and the most reasonable. While his opponents side with President Bush’s Iraq policy, using tired, inflammatory wording such as “cut and run” or “retreat is defeat,” Terbolizard favors “bringing our troops home.” He says that permanent occupation of Iraq burdens the U.S. economy, which it most certainly does. To his credit, though, McClintock believes that future presidents must seek a declaration of war before committing American troops to ensure the nation is behind the action. On the environmental front, all four Republican candidates favor incentives and subsidizing research of technology that will reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and reduce carbon emissions. None of them, though, favors increased taxes, regulation or government interference to force environmental change. From our viewpoint, it’s a long shot at best to believe corporations and other major “players” in the fight to improve our environment will voluntarily spend the money needed to ensure progress. On the Democratic side, we’re rooting for Brown, who has gained our respect for his straight-talking, sensible ideas on most issues. His experience in his race against Doolittle gives him a leg up on his opponent Wolfgram, who also presents some reasonable solutions to our most pressing problems.

Retired officer allegedly killed by boyfriend

CARSON CITY – A murder warrant was issued Wednesday for a Virginia City Highlands man suspected of killing his live-in girlfriend, who was a retired San Francisco police officer. The criminal complaint charging Gary Duane Brown, 52, with first-degree murder was signed at 4:30 p.m. by a Storey County judge. Investigators believe Brown shot and killed Linda Ziegler, 51, then fled the area. Deputies were called to the couple’s Silverado Drive home on Tuesday about 1 p.m. after receiving a phone call from someone telling them to check on the woman, said Lt. Mike Allen of the Nevada Department of Public Safety Investigation Division. She was discovered dead with a gunshot wound to the head, according to court documents. Allen declined to reveal why police believe Brown is the shooter, but said, “We’ve developed enough information for the issuance of an arrest warrant.” Brown is described as 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 200 pounds. He has brown hair and blue eyes. He is believed to be driving a silver/gray 1989 Toyota four-wheel drive pickup with Nevada license plates 682 NVN. Reports indicate Brown was in the Reno area Tuesday. Storey County deputies patrolled the mountain neighborhood Wednesday, frequently passing by the gray two-story home sealed with evidence tape on its windows and doors. A horse and donkey were in a pen in the rear yard, and guinea pigs, turtles and other pets were inside the well-kept home. Storey County Chief Deputy Roger Hartley said Ziegler’s sister was coming from the Bay Area to tend to her things. According to court documents, the relationship between Ziegler and Brown had been tumultuous. Two years ago, Ziegler was allegedly held at gunpoint by Brown, her live-in boyfriend, at the same home where her body was found Tuesday. On Dec. 6, 2002, Storey County deputies were called to a neighbor’s home on Silverado Road in the Virginia City Highlands at 8:21 p.m. for a report of a domestic dispute. There they met with Ziegler, who said Brown was at the couple’s home at 1965 Silverado Road. She said that Brown began to argue with her, yanked her from bed and ripped a necklace from her neck. When she was on the ground, Ziegler said, Brown banged her head against the floor. As Ziegler tried to leave, Brown allegedly pulled a rifle from the closet, checked to see if it was loaded, then pointed it at her head and chest. Ziegler’s clothing was torn, she had scrapes on her elbows, a bruise to her forehead and a bump on the back of her head. “Ziegler stated that Brown would not let her leave and then Brown told Ziegler that he was going to shoot her, then himself,” according to the arrest report. Ziegler told police she was able to escape when Brown went into the garage to get bullets for the rifle, the report states. About 9:30 p.m., Brown contacted Storey County dispatchers to ask if police were aware of the situation. He remained in his home until 10:21 p.m., when he surrendered at the urging of a dispatcher, according to the report. Brown was booked into the Storey County Jail on one count of felony assault with a deadly weapon, domestic violence and resisting and obstructing peace officer. On Dec. 7, with help of a relative in California, Brown posted a $50,000 bail. On Dec. 18, 2002, Deputy District Attorney Sharon Claasen filed a criminal complaint against Brown, charging him with assault with a deadly weapon, domestic battery and resisting. In the complaint, Claasen alleged Brown committed the offenses “by repeatedly grabbing the victim and throwing her to the floor, slamming her head against the floor, dragging her across the floor when she attempted to flee and then repeatedly thrusting a rifle against her chest area while she lay on the floor.” On Feb. 27, 2003, per plea negotiations, District Attorney Harold Swafford moved to dismiss the felony charge, stating “there is not sufficient evidence to prove this case.” The same day, Brown pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor domestic battery. He was sentenced to one year probation, $315 in fines, 48 hours in jail, 48 hours community service and domestic violence counseling. On March 27, 2003, Brown paid his fines in full. On April 1, 2003, he had completed his jail hours. On Oct. 21, 2003, the case against Brown was closed. “Completion of domestic violence counseling received,” the court docket states. Calls placed to Swafford’s Virginia City office were not immediately returned Wednesday. Information sought: Anyone with information on Ziegler’s death or the whereabouts of Brown is asked to contact Lt. Mike Allen at the Nevada Department of Public Safety’s Investigation Division at (775) 684-7430.

Unsafe child seats crushed

MINDEN – There were only 30 child seats in need of crushing on Monday at the Douglas County Transfer Station. But, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Mike Biaggini thinks that’s a good sign. “Maybe we’re starting to get all the unsafe seats off the road,” he said. “The program is working.” The crushed seats were exchanged for new seats during the course of the year because they were damaged, too old or had been recalled. Sheriff’s deputies drove the county’s M113A armored personnel carrier, affectionately known as the tank, over the car seats to make sure they never injure a child. State law mandates that children be in safety seats through age 6 or until they weigh 60 pounds. The program is financed through a Nevada Office of Traffic Safety grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Biaggini buys $8,000 worth of car seats each year which are stored by Dick Hanson of Gardnerville. The Kiwanis Club of Carson Valley also assists with the inspections. Participants can expect to spend about 30 minutes for the process, depending on the number of technicians available. Subway Sandwiches provides food for the checkpoints. Deputies will be checking seats 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Mothers Of Preschoolers Child Seat Safety Day. The mothers are starting their event at 9 a.m. at Carson Valley Christian Center. Anyone who cannot come out for today’s child seat check is encouraged to contact the sheriff’s office at 782-9905 for an appointment. Seat checks are conducted Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9-11 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. Biaggini said deputies will inspect or install seats.

Douglas County superintendent resigns Tuesday

DOUGLAS COUNTY – Douglas County Superintendent Carol Lark resigned Tuesday after school board trustees agreed to pay her $135,000, plus $17,500 in accrued vacation. The board voted 7-0 to accept an agreement in which she would promise not to sue. The district will issue the check in January. School board trustees are to discuss hiring an interim superintendent at a meeting next week. Lark, who was an assistant superintendent in Clark County, was named superintendent in February 2006. Her time in the position has been a stormy one, with challenges posed by parents over closing Kingsbury Middle School and budget cuts as a result of the state’s economic crisis. But a conflict between Lark and her district office staff erupted at Lark’s evaluation in June. While the school board eventually extended her contract by a narrow vote, it was amended to include an improvement plan aimed at mending Lark’s relationship with her staff.

El Dorado County election Tuesday

El Dorado County’s 84,115 registered voters will have the opportunity Tuesday to elect two supervisors and decide on six ballot issues including the controversial Measure A, a retroactive rollback of General Plan development densities. Measure A may have more influence over the future of the county than any of the local candidates. If adopted, it will roll back all developments approved since the 1996 adoption of the county general plan, and impose limits upon the density of all future projects. Measure A has been hotly contested across the western slope, but has generated less concern in the Tahoe Basin where the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency plays a prominent role in curtailing new construction. Tahoe will have a new supervisor-elect after Tuesday’s balloting. Voters will choose between Tahoe Police Chief Dave Solaro, Tahoe City Councilwoman Margo Osti, or bail bondsman Dan Browne. Voters will have no choice when it comes to electing Assessor John A. Winner, Auditor-Controller Joe Harn, District Attorney Gary L. Lacy, Recorder-Clerk William E. Schultz, Sheriff Hal Barker, Surveyor Dan Russell or Treasurer-Tax Collector C. L. Raffety. No one filed against the county’s elected staff. Five proposed amendments to the El Dorado County charter have generated little public comment so far. Measure B brings the charter into conformity with the consolidation of the executive officer positions of the Superior and Municipal Courts. It also reaffirms the concept that appointed members of boards and commissions serve at the pleasure of the supervisors. Measure C adopts state language in defining county government responses to the Grand Jury, an issue highlighted by the stonewalling of the 1994-95 Grand Jury effort to investigate alleged Brown Act public meeting requirements by a majority of the Board of supervisors. Measure D simply directs the supervisors to adopt a method of Grand Jury report distribution that exceeds the current procedure. Measure E also conforms the local county charter to state regulations on assessment district taxes. The county traditionally has required an election and majority approval by property owners was required before a benefit assessment district is created and taxes levied. In the 1996 elections, California voters created a different process. Under provisions of the “Taxpayers Right to Vote Act” the election, approval of determined by a majority of those voting, not a majority of property owners involved, and the votes are weighted according to the amount of the proposed tax. If left unchanged, benefit assessment districts in El Dorado County would be put to both the state and charter tests. Measure F focuses on the special circumstances under which the county has the authority to contract work to private firms rather than have the task performed by staff. The specific circumstances include emergencies, situations that might present a conflict of interest, work done by other governmental agencies on behalf of El Dorado County, if the work to be done is not sufficient to justify hiring full-time county employees, or if the work demands skills not possessed by existing county staff. In the case of Measures E and F, there were no ballot arguments made against either proposal. Overall, there are 824 precincts to accommodate voters Tuesday, and the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. While county races are non-partisan, El Dorado County remains in the Republican column with 39,775 registered GOP voters compared to 30,538 Democrats. Another 9,557 voters fall into the non-partisan column, followed by 1,903 members of the American Independent Party, 592 Green Party members, 564 Libertarians, and 303 Peace and Freedom devotees. Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com Visitors Guide | News | Diversions | Marketplace | Weather | Community Copyright, tahoe.com. Materials contained within this site may not be used without permission. About tahoe.com…

Weed is pretty, evil

Want to make an agricultural biologist cringe? Show them a garden of spotted knapweed. An El Dorado County survey team last week found two groups, 700 to 800 plants each, of the weed at the edge of Kiowa Drive in Meyers. Kirk Taylor, a senior agricultural biologist, stood over it Tuesday and eyed the weeds like a sheriff would eye a gunslinger at high noon. “Our biggest hurdle is getting people to understand the plants are a problem,” Taylor said. “Even though it’s beautiful, it will cause problems down the road if we don’t eradicate it.” The plant, native to eastern Europe, has spread to more than 4 million acres in Montana. While the plant produces beautiful purple flowers, it’s bad because it squeezes native plants from an ecosystem. Its seeds remain viable up to 10 years, so even if it’s treated with herbicide, or cut, bagged and burned, the weed may pop up years later, Taylor said. A spotted knapweed dominates areas where it takes root, partly because it excretes a substance that kills the plants it competes with. Its root system isn’t an ecological attribute either. The weed sucks nutrients from the soil with a taproot, which can speed erosion because it doesn’t hold soil as effectively as do the fibrous roots of native plants. On Tuesday, Taylor asked Joyce Gibson, a longtime South Shore resident, for permission to spray spotted knapweed in front of her house with a herbicide to kill it. “I would love to have you do it,” Gibson said. Gibson said she didn’t know the plant was a problem weed until the county stuck a flier in her mailbox last week. Gibson said she is responsible for its presence because she intentionally brought some of plant with her from Virginia City. She wanted the purple flowers to grow next to her house. “I think I encouraged them because they’re pretty,” she said. El Dorado County is one of the most proactive counties in the state in battling invasive weeds. Its Department of Agriculture began tracking the tall whitetop, another problem weed at Lake Tahoe Basin, more than two years ago. This summer, funded by $150,000 of state grant money, TASK, the Tahoe Area South Knapweed team will comb the roads of South Shore in an attempt to spot invasive weeds. “We’re getting off the side roads and primary roads and just looking for those weeds,” Taylor said. A problem weed at Placerville is yellow starthistle, said Bill Snodgrass, El Dorado County agriculture commissioner. Like knapweed, it dominates an ecosystem, plus, it grows inch-long spikes. Snodgrass said seeds from invasive weeds are traveling from Nevada down Highway 50 to South Shore and Placerville. Starthistle has been spotted at Alpine County and knapweed has been spotted along Highway 50 past Echo Summit. Snodgrass said early detection of the weeds is the answer. “The more eyes we have out looking the more effective we’ll be,” Snodgrass said. Anyone who thinks they’ve found an infestation of spotted knapweed, or another invasive weed such as tall whitetop, should call the El Dorado County Department of Agriculture at (530) 621-5520 or the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension at (775) 784-4848.