NU High debate students advance to national Tournament of Champions — first time since 2003

Photo: Matt Margulies’ Facebook page

Like us and Celebrator Beer Editor Tom Dalldorf, Nevada Union High students Devin Anderson and Morgan Margulies were in Berkeley this past weekend with some of their classmates and teachers.

The two high schoolers and their families, whom we are proud to know, were at the Cal High School Speech and. Debate Tournament at UC Berkeley.

And Devin and “Mo” received enough bids to advance to the Tournament of Champions, a national debate tournament held at the University of Kentucky on April 28-30.  It is considered the most prestigious and competitive American high school debate tournament.

“Now in its 47th year, the Tournament of Champions serves as the forum of competition for the nation’s very best speech and debate participants,” according to the tournament organizers. “A public service of the University of Kentucky Intercollegiate Debate Program, the TOC strives to offer the national high school debate community the highest quality judging, impartial tournament officials, and a friendly, congenial atmosphere.”

“Epic news!” the NU Debate Facebook page read. It marks the first time since 2002 and 2003 that NU teams went to the Tournament of Champions.

And it was a “twofer” for “Mo’s” dad Matt Margulies, owner of Matteo’s and a “beer geek.” He attended the Celebrator’s 30th anniversary celebration, along with Tom. Devin’s dad is Michael Anderson, owner of Clientworks.

Congratulations to all these families, including debate coach Stephen Goldberg!



An unimaginable local tale for pet lovers

Photo: Jeannie’s Facebook page

This tragic local tale has been reported on Facebook this past weekend:

“Two pit bulls attacked my little Scooter and then me while we were walking today,” local Jeannie Wood posted on Facebook on Saturday. “Very scary experience. I was trying to save him, and my hand was bitten so I have a broken finger, but I’m OK. I’m on antibiotics and pain meds. Scooter is scheduled to go into surgery momentarily.

Jeannie filed a police report, and animal control quarantined the dogs that attacked Scooter. “Dogs were in their yard, not leashed and came charging at Scooter and me when we walked by,” Jeannie said.

Dozens of locals weighed in with their support. “What is the word on Scooter?” one said.

On Monday, Jeannie offered an update: “He died this morning at 6:39 a.m. Poor little boy fought hard. Injuries were just too severe. Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers.”

Dozens of locals have sent their condolences. To dog lovers like us, it is an unimaginable experience — but it seems to happen all too often.

Nevada City police chief resigns

We’re out of town, but Nevada City police chief Tim Foley has resigned, according to YubaNet and KNCO.

I’m OK with that, and wish him a bon voyage. Foley has been the police chief since February 2014.

I would like to know about the city’s pension liability from his tenure, however. I heard he recently got a raise.

A search for a replacement will begin soon. Onward and upward.

A visit to Berkeley: a “snowless” escape

With not much snow in the Sierra, we are enjoying a visit in the opposite direction  — holing up at the historic Claremont Hotel in Berkeley/Oakland, no less.  Set in the Berkeley Hills, the Claremont provides scenic views of San Francisco. The main hotel building is entirely in Oakland. But the spa, the gardens and parking area falls within the city limits of Berkeley. The grand hotel’s roots date back to the turn of the century. My grandmother Clara, who graduated from UC Berkeley herself, told me about the hotel in its early days.

We’re going to hang out the 25-meter pool and read,  walk our dog in the tree-lined Claremont neighborhood, visit UC Berkeley, the International House (where I lived for two years while at Cal), and the Lawrence Hall of Science. No visit is complete without a visit to Zachery’s pizza, which rivals Chicago’s deep-dish pizza;  Great China, which made the James Beard semifinalist list this year; and the upstairs cafe at Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse.

As it turns out, our friend Tom Dalldorf and his wife, Arlene, now of Nevada City, and going to be in Berkeley this weekend, hosting a 30th anniversary celebration for his Celebrator Beer magazine. Tom relocated to the foothills from Hayward. He also has a show on KVMR.

We are enjoying our coffee with a copy of the San Francisco Chronicle and New York Times. An article on the front page of The Chronicle is about a popular Silicon Valley-style, co-work site having its craft beer taps turned off because of a “gray area” under alcoholic beverage laws. But never fear, the beer has been replaced with drinks like kombucha!

Have a great President’s Day weekend!



New York Times: It’s time to vote the gun lobby out of office

“Parents throughout the country live with the dread that the next lockdown at their child’s school won’t be a drill and that screams like those we heard on cellphones from classrooms at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will come from their own child’s classroom,” the New York Times is reporting in an editorial.

“The terror that has gripped their elected officials, however, is fear of the wealthy gun lobby, to which they have let themselves be held hostage for decades.

“But standing up to gun rights extremists and industry lobbyists can no longer be seen as an act of heroism that could lead to political suicide. It is an act of common sense that would bring our government under the control of its citizens.

“Hundreds have been killed in mass shootings at a high school in Littleton, Colo., a church in Charleston, S.C., an office party in San Bernardino, Calif., a nightclub in Orlando, Fla., and elsewhere in the past 20 years. After 20 first graders and a half-dozen adults were slaughtered in Newtown, Conn., in 2012, it seemed that a line would be drawn in the sand. Enough was enough, people said. But nothing was done. People have been injured or killed in eight school shootings in the first seven weeks of 2018 alone.

“Though many Americans, and some elected officials, have taken a stand to stanch the epidemic of gun violence, the National Rifle Association and its congressional servants have been an unyielding obstacle to sensible reform.

“But the gun lobby’s stranglehold on our elected officials does not need to continue, if candidates stand up to the lobby and voters demand that they commit themselves to the sorts of changes that a vast majority of Americans want.

“With midterm elections coming up this fall, America has a chance to get that message across. Candidates must realize that reducing gun violence is a winning and moral issue. Aggressive turnout by voters who believe this can defeat the N.R.A. at the polls. Until then, the bloodshed will continue.”

The rest of the editorial is here.

Teacher in Florida shooting aftermath: “Government has failed us and our kids and didn’t keep us safe.”

“A teacher at the Florida high school where a deadly school shooting occurred Wednesday said she feels the ‘government has failed us and failed our kids’ with its response to previous mass shootings,’ as The Hill and other media are reporting

“’We have trained for this. We’ve trained the kids what to do, and the frustration is that we did everything that we were supposed to do…and still have to have so many casualties…it’s very emotional,’ Mellisa Falkowski said on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.”

“’I feel today like our government, our country has failed us and failed our kids, and didn’t keep us safe,’ she continued.

The shooting occurred Wednesday afternoon at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which is located about 30 miles from Fort Lauderdale.

‘At least 17 people were killed in the shooting, according to local law enforcement officials. The suspected shooter, a former student at the school, was taken into custody.

“The sheriff’s office later identified the shooting suspect as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.

“Aerial footage of the school broadcast by local news stations showed people being treated for injuries and several lying on the ground, while a number of students were seen running away from the school as authorities cleared buildings, letting students go.”

The video, aired on CNN, is here.

Nevada County Arts announces 2018 Poetry Out Loud champions

Following an evening of recitation from high school students from across the county at Nevada Union High School on Tuesday, Nevada County Arts Council announces the winners of its 2018 County Poetry Out Loud Competition.

Mia Mahurin of Nevada Union High School has won first place for her recitation of Zacuanpapalotls by Brenda Cardenas and Diameter by Michelle Y. Burke. Michael Keene from Ghidotti won second place for Or by Thomas Sayers Ellis and The Albatross by Kate Bass, and Layla Ray won third place for Caged Bird by Maya Angelou and Mega Married Herself by Caroline Bird.

Kirsten Casey, speaking for her fellow judges, Iven Lourie, Stephen Banister, Loraine Webb and Beverly Korenwaser, said: “We all concurred – this was the best recitation group of all the years we have judged.”

Penelope Curtis, who helped organize the final competition said: “I have witnessed the growth of the program for ten years now. The students’ poem choices have gone from “run-of-the-mill” to fascinating.  The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert Service had to be retired because it was overused throughout the country.  Each year the students’ poems have become more sophisticated and last night’s were exceptional.  Wow… Megan Married Herself by Caroline Bird, funny and provocative. Then we had Or by Thomas Sayers Ellis, thoughtful and also provocative.  Our winner recited a sublime, somewhat Spanglish poem, Zacuanpapalotls by Brenda Cardenas.  As a person who has studied Mexican history and languages, Mia Mahurin conveyed the essence of the poem beautifully, along with all the proper pronunciations. I was blown away.”

Eliza Tudor, Executive Director at Nevada County Arts Council, says: “All these kids are heroes. They work so hard for this competition – we are so grateful to them for stepping up, and to their parents for encouraging them.”

Tudor adds: “Kudos, too, to those passionate English teachers in schools across Nevada County who continue to encourage and inspire participation. Balancing core curriculum with really important aspirational competitions like Poetry Out Loud offers an unparalleled opportunity and requires teachers with vision and students with courage. We are particularly grateful to Steve Hansen for his determined approach to maximum participation – and his encouragement of our kids.”

What’s next for our winners?  Chris Olander, a California Poets in the Schools Poetry Out Loud Coach, and member of Nevada County Arts Council’s Literary Arts Committee, says: “Mia and Michael will be treated to two days at the California Poetry Out Loud State Finals in Sacramento next month. Our county champions will be honored with a dinner reception and each will receive a certificate of recognition from their legislative representative.”

At the state level, one winner will be selected to represent California in the national competition. The California State winner receives a $200 cash prize and an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., $500 for their school to purchase literary materials and the opportunity to compete at the National Finals for college scholarship funds. The National Finals in Washington D.C. will be at the end of April.

Tudor says: “Here in Nevada County we also like to provide opportunities beyond the classroom and schools finals for Poetry Out Loud Participants. In early April, those students whose poems speak to the sciences, or which contain references and understanding of technology, engineering or math, we offer an opportunity to recite them at the 2018 STEAM Expo. We also like to showcase our young participants at Sierra Poetry Festival which is scheduled to take place at Sierra College on April 28.  And as if we aren’t keeping them busy enough, we will also live broadcast them during a poetry pop-up at BriarPatch at noon on April 21.”

More information about Poetry Out Loud can be found at and

—By Nevada County Arts Council


Back row from left: Nick Ashbaugh (NU), Allina Kendall (Bear River) , Kevin Cayabyab (NU), Ray Holcomb (Ghidotti),  Savannah Proctor (Bear River), Margot Roa-O’Brien (NU), Camden Criesco (Bear River), Karlie McCracken (NU).

Front row from left: Frather Fanucchi (NU), Lucy Lee Jens (NU), 3rd Place winner Layla Ray (Bear River), Nevada County Poetry Out Loud  Runner-up Michael Keene (Ghidotti), Nevada County Poetry Out Loud Winner Mia Mahruin (NU),  Sarai Devi Dasi (Ghidotti).