Author Archives: Coni Chavez

38th Annual Columbia Wine Tasting to Benefit Columbia College Culinary Arts Program

The Columbia Wine Tasting, an annual fundraising event sponsored by the Columbia College Foundation, has a history of selling out. It’s not surprising – who wouldn’t want to spend a spring afternoon strolling through Columbia State Historic Park, visiting quaint buildings filled with exquisite food and wine?

This year’s wine tasting, the 38th Annual, will be held on Sunday, April 13 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Admittance is just $50 per person for reservations purchased prior to April 7th. Go to to for easy online reservations or call (209) 588-5089.  A limited number of reservations will be offered the day of the event for $60 per person, as available.

Organizers expect more than 60 wineries will be represented at the tasting, as well as regional food vendors like the Calaveras Olive Oil Company and the Fiscalini Cheese Company.  In addition, gourmet hors d’oeuvres are prepared and served by Columbia College Culinary Arts students.

The event attracts award-winning winemakers from throughout the state. This year’s roster so far includes Andis Winery, Black Sheep Winery, Cambria Winery, Cline Cellars, Chatom Vineyards, Columbia Culinary, Chamisal Winery, David Girard Wines, Dancing Coyote Winery, Duckhorn Winery, Frank Family Vineyards, Hahn Winery, Hovey Wines, Gianelli Vineyards, Ironstone Vineyards, Justin Winery, Kendall Jackson Estate, Landmark Cellars, Mason Cellars, Milliaire Winery, Mettler Vineyards, Mt. Brow Winery, Murphy Goode, Mutt Lynch Winery, Pina Napa Wines, Pine Ridge Winery, Quady Winery, Rombauer Vineyards, Rosenblum Winery, Renner Vineyards, Silkwood Wines, Silver Oak Cellars, Smith and Hook, Sobon Estate, Shenandoah Vineyards, Schramsberg Vineyards, St. Amant Winery, Terra d Oro Winery, Twisted Oak Winery, Twomey Cellars, Vina Robles Winery and Vino Noceto Winery.

A silent auction offers unique and exciting goods and services for attendees to peruse, including food and wine-themed gift baskets, private wine tastings, dinner party certificates, and of course, numerous specialty wines. Proceeds from this event benefit Columbia College’s Culinary Arts program by providing student scholarships, instructional equipment and supplies.

Additional press information and photos are available by contacting Gene Womble at 209- 588-5135.

Choral Festival Featuring Five Community Choruses This Friday

The Third Mother Lode Community Chorus Festival featuring five Choruses representing singers from four counties will be held Friday, March 7 at 7:00 p.m. at Calvary Chapel located at 19889 Soulsbyville Road, Soulsbyville, CA.  Admission is free.  For more information contact John Carter at (209) 588-5214.

The Mother Lode Community Chorus Festival is an opportunity for choral singers in the Central Mother Lode to hear and see other singers that participate in group singing.  According to festival organizer and Columbia College Music Professor, John Carter, “chorus members up here in the Mother Lode are fairly isolated from each other.  This event is meant to encourage each other as we sing and provide music to our various communities and to really drive home the point that we, in the Central Sierra Region, have much in common with each other as singers.”

Participating choruses include the following:  The Mountain Melody Singers (Mountain Ranch), Greeley Hill Chorus (Greeley Hill/Mariposa), Pine Cone Singers (Groveland), Sonora Hills Chorus (Sonora) and The Columbia College Community Chorus (Sonora).   “These choruses vary in size and perform different kinds of music from one another,” said Carter.  “But we all love choral singing and enjoy singing for our communities.  The Festival has been so enthusiastically received by the singers and the community that we decided to do it again.”

The public is welcome to attend. The conclusion of the program will be America the Beautiful sung by the massed Choruses.

Columbia College Hosts Occupational Olympics

On Thursday, March 6, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Columbia College, nearly 200 high schools students from Tuolumne and Calaveras Counties will compete in eleven Career Technical Education areas at the annual Occupational Olympics.

This is the fourteenth year that the event has been held at Columbia College.  Participating schools include Sonora High School, Summerville High School, Calaveras High School, and Bret Harte High School.  Summerville Union High School District Superintendent, Robert Griffith, Bret Harte Union High School District Superintendent, Michael Chimente, Calaveras Union High School Superintendent, Mark Campbell, Sonora Union High School District Superintendent, Dr. Michael McCoy, Calaveras County Superintendent of Schools, Kathy Northington, and Deputy Superintendent, Marguerite Bulkin will join Columbia College President, Dr. Angela Fairchilds, in presenting the awards to the winning students in each event.

The event affords high school students the opportunity to demonstrate their skills as well as explore potential majors at Columbia College.  Competition categories include automotive, child development, computer business applications, cosmetology, digital photography, drafting, entrepreneurship, fire technology, food services, health occupations, forestry and natural resources, and welding.

For more information about the event, please contact Tiffany Moore at 209-588-5198 or

Columbia College Free Financial Aid Workshop

The Columbia College Financial Aid Office invites the community to a free financial aid workshop on Saturday, March 1, 2014 between 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. in the Buckeye Building on the Columbia College campus.  No appointment necessary.  Financial Aid professionals will be available to answer questions and provide one-on-one assistance to complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application online.  Undocumented students are welcome and will receive assistance completing the Dream Act Application. Both applications have a deadline of March 2, 2014.

To complete the application online, current and prospective students will need to bring the following:

  • Social Security Card or Alien Registration Card, if you have one
  • Driver’s License, if you have one
  • 2013 federal income tax forms or any 2013 income data collected for student and parent(s)/guardian(s) (i.e. W2 forms or year-end pay stubs, if you have not yet filed a 2013 tax return)
  • Any records of untaxed income such as welfare benefits, social security benefits, or child support payments
  • List of colleges you are interested in attending

Students are considered “independent” for purposes of the FAFSA if they answer yes to all of the following questions.  If the student is not independent, they must have a parent present at the workshop to be able to submit the FAFSA.

  • Were you born before January 1, 1991?
  • As of today, are you married?
  • Are you currently serving on active duty in the US Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
  • Are you a veteran of the US Armed Forces?
  • Do you have children or other dependents who receive more than half of their support from you?
  • At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a dependent of or ward of the court?
  • Are you a documented unaccompanied homeless youth.

For more information on Financial Aid or this workshop please call the Columbia College Financial Aid Office at (209) 588-5105 or (209) 588-5272.

Columbia College Kicks Off Lecture Series with an Overview of Foothill Water

Press Release Contact: (209) 588-5055
Amy Nilson, Columbia College Director of Development
Mel Kirk, Columbia College Foundation Board President

WHO: Columbia College Foundation
WHAT: “Focus on Foothill Water: Beyond the Drought” A free community event featuring the region’s leading water experts from the Tuolumne-Stanislaus Integrated Regional Watershed Management Group
WHERE: Sonora High School Auditorium
WHEN: Thursday evening March 13. Doors open at 6 p.m.; program 6:30-8:30

The public is invited to learn about the long-term issues involved in Tuolumne and Calaveras County water on Thursday, March 13, when the Columbia College Foundation kicks off a new community lecture series.

“Focus on Foothill Water: Beyond the Drought,” a two-hour evening program at the Sonora High School Auditorium, will be moderated by Columbia College Natural Resources Professor Dr. Tom Hofstra, and features leading experts representing a range of interests including local water districts, agriculture, the environment and native California tribes.

The program is free. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and the evening’s program will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The evening’s keynote speaker is John Mills, a leading authority on California water and a Columbia resident. Mills, one of state’s top water advisors was just appointed to the California Emergency Drought Task Force. He will offer an overview of the twists and turns in local watershed management over the last 80 years.

Mr. Mills comments will be followed by a guided discussion among panel members, all of whom are representatives in the Tuolumne-Stanislaus Integrated Regional Watershed Management Group. To date, confirmed speakers include:

Lindsay Rosasco Mattos – Administrator, Tuolumne County Resource Conservation District Don Stump – President, Mountain Counties Water Resource Association and President, Calaveras County Water District
Patrick Koepele – Executive Director, Tuolumne River Trust
Stephanie Suess – Community and Resources Development Director for the Chicken Ranch Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians of California. Suess is also a Columbia College Foundation director
Tom Trott, General Manager, Twain Harte Community Services District

Speakers will focus on the big picture of watershed management – past and future – rather than the specifics of the immediate drought emergency. “No issue is more critical than water right now,” said Mel Kirk, Columbia College Foundation Board President. “This is a chance to learn from the region’s experts on the issues that got us here, the range of interests involved and the efforts underway to work together on long-range solutions. The Foundation is pleased to bring these key players together for an educational evening.”

The majority of the evening will include comments and a guided discussion among the panelists, with a brief opportunity for audience members to submit questions at the end. Refreshments by Columbia College Culinary Arts students will be available at an intermission and after the event.

The Columbia College Foundation is a community nonprofit established in 1972 to promote quality higher education that enriches the academic, economic, and cultural life of our community. Our mission is to promote student success by providing community resources that support and expand educational opportunities for Columbia College’s students. Learn more at or call (209) 588-5055.

38th Annual Columbia Wine Tasting to Benefit Columbia College Culinary Arts Program

38th Annual Columbia Wine Tasting to Benefit
Columbia College culinary Arts program

This spring the Columbia College Foundation will host the 38th Annual Columbia Wine Tasting – a benefit event from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Sunday, April 13 to support the Columbia College Culinary Arts Program.   This popular event, one of California’s premier wine tastings, takes place in the historic gold rush town of Columbia. More than 80 wineries and food vendors will set up shop in the State Park’s historic buildings, making it one of the most unique tastings in the West. Delicious hors d’oeuvres prepared by culinary students and various local food purveyors are a highlight every year.

Accredited by the prestigious American Culinary Federation, Columbia’s culinary arts program prepares students for various hospitality management careers. “Our graduates can be found in successful careers throughout the Mother Lode region, as well as all over the world,” said Gene Womble, the college’s hospitality management program coordinator.  “Proceeds from the wine tasting provide scholarships and equipment for our program. We appreciate the community’s support and are confident that those who attend will have a great time.”

Reservations can be purchased in advance for $50 per person between February 1st and April 7th, 2014; they will also be sold for $60 per person at the door as available. Attendees receive a complimentary souvenir wine glass and samples from participating wineries and food vendors. For more information, check out Columbia Wine Tasting or call (209) 588-5135.

(Additional press information and photos are available by contacting Gene Womble at 209- 588-5135.)

 2013 participants included:

Pine Ridge                                           Prospect 772                           Rutherford Ranch

Pina                                                     Twisted Oak                            Stevenot

Hatcher                                               Seghesio                                  Mettler Family

Michael David                                     Chatom                                   Emmolo

Nickel & Nickel                                   Milliaire                                  Black Sheep

Rombauer                                           PureCru                                   Lange Twins

Vino Noceto                                        Gianelli                                    McManis

Frank Family                                       Hovey                                      Haraszthy

Schramsberg                                       Bogle                                       Cameron Hughes

Zucca Mountain                                  Mineral                                   Silkwood

Brice Station                                       Edna Valley                             Louis Martini

Laguna Canyon                                   Bridlewood                             Mason

Tanner                                                 Three Pears                           Dancing Coyote

Sierra Vista                                         Renner                                    Mutt Lynch

Sonora Port Works                              Frogs Tooth                             Tolosa

Sobon                                                  Shenandoah                            J Lohr

ZD                                                        Perry Creek                             Robert Mondavi

St. Amant                                            Terra d Oro                             Montevina

La Folia                                                Patianna                                  Lavender Ridge

Mt. Brow                                             Picket Fence                            Inner Sanctum

Silver Oak                                            Ironstone                                 Rock Wall

Sterling                                                Rosenblum                              Kendall Jackson

La Crema                                            Naughty Boy                            Clos Du Bois

Quady                                                  Acacia `                                   Amador Foothill

Newsome Harlow                               McMurry Ranch                     Duckhorn

Provenance                                         Twomey                                  Coppermine

Robert Hall                                          Terre Rouge                            Round Pond

Food Purveyors and Exhibitors

Hillmar Cheese                                   Diestel Turkey Ranch

Noahs Waters                                     Marisolio Olive Oil Co.

Columbia College Culinary Arts         Cowboy Toffee Co.

Fiscalini Cheese Company

Dr. Angela Fairchilds Selected President for Columbia College

Press Release        No. 13-08


Modesto Junior College & Columbia College


Date:  December 11, 2013

Contact: Nick Stavrianoudakis, Director of Public Affairs: (209) 575-6959,

Dr. Angela Fairchilds Selected President for Columbia College

Dr. Angela Fairchilds has accepted an offer by the Yosemite Community College District (YCCD) Board of Trustees to become the new president of Columbia College effective February 1, 2014.   Fairchilds will succeed Interim Columbia College President Dr. Leslie Buckalew.  Newly elected YCCD Board Chair Dr. Lynn Martin formally announced Dr. Fairchilds as Columbia College’s next President at the YCCD Board of Trustees meeting.  The decision was unanimous.

“I am thrilled to be selected as the next President of Columbia College.  I appreciate the YCCD Board of Trustees and Chancellor Smith giving me this opportunity,” commented Fairchilds on the announcement.

Dr. Fairchilds has over 30 years of experience in higher education including fourteen years as a leader in community colleges.  Fairchilds is currently President of Woodland Community College in the Yuba Community College District, where she has held that position since 2006.  While at Woodland, Dr. Fairchilds led the college to achieve Initial Accreditation through the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges to become the 110th community college in California.

Prior to being President, she served as the Executive Dean at Woodland from 2004-06.  From 2000-2004 she held positions of Dean of Instruction at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona and Campus Dean of Verde Valley Campus in Clarkdale, Arizona.  During these four years, she performed instructional leadership and built community partnerships, both business and academic.

Dr. Fairchilds is a first-generation college student who took her first college course at Cerro Coso Community College at age 26.  She holds a Bachelor of Science in Management (magna cum laude) and an MBA in Information Systems from Golden Gate University, as well as a PhD in Higher Education with emphasis in Community College Administration from the University of Arizona.

As a college leader, Dr. Fairchilds states that “I strongly believe in the importance of being involved in the community.”  In her current position, she is an active Rotarian and serves on the Executive Board for the

Woodland Chamber of Commerce.  “I have a passionate and enduring commitment to community colleges and to the students and the communities they serve.  During my visit to the college, I felt an immediate connection and I look forward to working with the faculty and staff to serve our students and the local communities.”

According to YCCD Chancellor Joan Smith, “Dr. Fairchilds will be a great fit for Columbia College. Her references were outstanding, and it shows in her strong background in higher education, accreditation, and instruction in addition to over seven years of experience as a community college president.”

Board Chair Lynn Martin affirmed Chancellor Smith’s praise by saying, “I’m looking forward to her expertise, particularly her experience as a college president.  I believe she can take Columbia College to the next level.  She will fit in nicely.  I was impressed by her encouraging demeanor.” 

Fairchilds’ selection comes after a nationwide search conducted by Ralph Andersen and Associates.  The search began on September 1, 2013. Columbia College Presidential forums were held in December 2, prior to Chancellor Smith and the Board interviewing three of the finalists for the position. 

According to Fairchilds, “My husband Dave and I have begun our real estate search and are looking forward to making Tuolumne County our home.” 

Dr. Angela Fairchilds


Dr. Angela R. Fairchilds

– YCCD –

Martin and Viss Elected Board Chair and Vice Chair at YCCD

Press Release         No. 13-07


Modesto Junior College & Columbia College

Date:  December 11, 2013

Contact: Nick Stavrianoudakis, Director of Public Affairs: (209) 575-6959,

MODESTO, CA – The Yosemite Community College District (YCCD) Board of Trustees elected Trustee Dr. Lynn Martin of Sonora as the new YCCD Board Chair through November 2014 at its annual organizational meeting.  Martin has served on the YCCD Board since 2010, representing YCCD Trustee Area 1, which includes Tuolumne County, eastern Stanislaus County and areas in Calaveras County.  Martin will also remain as the Board’s representative on the Columbia College Foundation.  Martin succeeds outgoing Chair Abe Rojas of Turlock. 

The Board also elected Don Viss of Waterford (representing YCCD Trustee Area 2, which includes Oakdale, Riverbank, Waterford and eastern portions of Modesto) to serve as Vice Chair.  In other action, Trustees Abe Rojas and Linda Flores were appointed to serve on the Stanislaus County Committee on School District Organization and the Association of Stanislaus County School Boards as member and alternate, respectively.  In addition, Abe Rojas will represent the Board with the Valley Insurance Program/Joint Powers Agency, Trustee Anne DeMartini with the Great Valley Museum, and Mike Riley with the Modesto Junior College Foundation.

The YCCD covers a 4,500 square mile area and serves a population of over 625,000, encompassing all of two counties (Stanislaus and Tuolumne) and parts of four others (Calaveras, Merced, San Joaquin, Santa Clara).  Board meetings will continue to be held the second Wednesday of each month, with open session generally beginning at 5:30pm. 

Don Viss and Dr. Lynn Martin - YCCD -


Don Viss and Dr. Lynn Martin
– YCCD –


Columbia College Hosts X-Reg on December 4, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

With expanded course offerings available online, at the Sonora main campus, in Calaveras and in Oakdale, Columbia College is making registration easy for incoming students attending in the spring semester to get started early. Extreme Registration, or X-Reg, will be held at the main Sonora campus on Wednesday, December 4 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Students will have everything at their fingertips to begin their education at Columbia College, as well as opportunities to win college merchandise. Students can complete assessment, orientation and advisement, plus register for classes, pay fees, buy books, purchase parking passes, find out about campus child care, clubs, athletics, and more.

College staff will be on-hand to provide information on financial aid and special programs, like EOPS (Extended Opportunities Programs and Services) and DSPS (Disabled Students Programs and Services). Students will also learn how to access connectColumbia to register online, obtain grades, and get instructions on activating their student email accounts.

Those seeking financial aid must bring 2012 income information, or parents’ 2012 income information (if dependents). In addition, any records of untaxed income, such as state disability or child support payments will be helpful.

On another note, open registration for new and returning students will start on Monday, December 9. The spring semester runs from January 13 to May 2. Registration can be done online at or in person at the admissions and records office at the Sonora main campus, 588-5231.

Scholarships Available – Osher Scholarship Submission Deadline Extended

Scholarships are getting a lot of attention at Columbia College this month. The Columbia College Foundation launched a new online scholarship service in October, which allows students to use one online application to apply to all scholarships handled by the college. The streamlined process – funded by Columbia’s Title III grant – gives students quick and easy access to more than 80 different scholarships offered by the Foundation and community donors. The system lets students know which scholarships they qualify for based on their student information, and will also simplify the task of committees reviewing applications and awards. Hundreds of students will be using the new system immediately to apply for the semester’s first scholarship opportunity — Columbia will be awarding 21 $1,000 Osher Scholarships this fall to eligible continuing students, deadline to apply has been extended to Thursday, November 7. Apply at