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2001 sees terrorist attacks, Star fire, new skate park

By: Paul Cambra Journal Staff Writer
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A look back at the aughts Editor’s note: The Journal shares some notable events that occurred in the last decade of Auburn’s history. The year 2001 will forever be remembered for the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C. This event, which “sapped the nation’s sense of security,” as the Journal described it back then, came on the heels of a summer filled with raging wildfires and rolling blackouts. But it was not all bad news that year. January: The first of the year sees excellence in prep athletics as the Placer High School girls basketball team wins the league co-championship, the girls cross country team wins a section title and Stu Eastman wins the section 3,200-meter. Placer County Association of Realtors reports more than $1 billion spent on resale homes in the county during 2000, with the median home price at $234,500 and Home Depot makes plans to build in Auburn. February: Snow levels drop to 1,500 feet as sporadic flurries hit Auburn, and Foresthill gets 18 inches of the white stuff. Auburn native and Olympian Stacy Dragila pole vaults 15 feet, 5 inches during a meet in Idaho to break her world record twice in one day. Ceronix announces plans to expand its Auburn operations. March: A power outage hits Downtown Auburn, with five 90-minute rolling blackouts affecting about 438,000 utility customers in the area. The new 14,000-square-foot, $300,000 Auburn Skate Park opens to celebrations and complaints. Placer County property taxes climb 13.4 percent and auto dealerships join the Auburn Chamber of Commerce’s fifth annual Business Showcase for the first time. April: The month of April welcomes the Wild West Stampede into Auburn for a weekend of pro rodeo, followed by the Maloofs and Olympian Ruthie Bolton-Holyfield, drumming up enthusiasm to help fill seats at ARCO Arena. The census reports 248,399 Placer County residents, up 43 percent from the previous decade. May: Placer County celebrates its 150th birthday and deems museums free all year long. In the meantime, the Historic Auburn Business Alliance disbands and the county jobless rate drops as the state’s rises. June: Auburn fire crews join forces battling fast-spreading wildfires east of Truckee. Stacy Dragila clears the world height record of 15 feet, 9 ¼ inches at the U.S. Track and Field meet in Palo Alto. Placer County Supervisors ask for raise, and Coherent lays off 55 employees in Auburn. July: The Koffee Kup restaurant closes after 90 years on the same day that Pioneer Mill and Cabinet Shop goes down in flames. Christian music rocks McCann Stadium for the Straight Up Summer Jam concert and 88-year-old “Pinetop” Perkins performs at the BBQ & Blues fundraiser for Placer SPCA. Work begins on Auburn Municipal Airport runway expansion. August: The Emigrant Gap, Ponderosa and Star fires rage in and around Placer County. The Auburn City Council spends $40,000 to develop a Web site for the city. Grumpy’s on Highway 49 serves its last hamburgers after 31 years grilling, and Wal-Mart withdraws its application for a retail outlet on Highway 49. September: Residents wake up to news of the terrorist attacks. Assemblyman Tim Leslie calls it “an outrageous act of cowardice.” State Senator Rico Oller blames it on spending cuts and a decrease in intelligence operations since the 1970s, saying “We’re under assault because we’re the most powerful nation, and too many of us pretend that others view our world in the same way as we do.” The Star fire, nearing containment, takes a back burner to the attacks. The Black & White Ball raises $16,000 for local charities. Auburn Airport reopens for business following 9/11, but the Auburn Air Race is cancelled. Coherent lays off 60 more workers. October: An Osama bin Laden effigy hanging from Highway 49 pumpkin patch stirs debate, and is soon stolen. Meadow Vista firefighter Jerry Pena returns from 10 days at ground zero doing search and rescue. The Board of Supervisors approves a new ballot system, punch cards out — optical scanner in. More than 1,000 people attend the Auburn job fair. November: Supervisors approve $300,000 in funding to improve animal shelter, abandon plan to seek a raise, noting voters would probably not support one. Stargazers gather at Auburn Overlook to view Leonids meteor shower. Mountain Mandarin Festival moves to Gold Country Fairgrounds. Nick Willick is chosen to succeed Auburn Police Chief Mike Morello upon his year-end retirement. December: An icy storm closes Interstate-80 ,stalling holiday travelers’ progress. Local charities see fewer donations as money flows east. Faith and Fantasy Ball raises $60,000 for Sutter Auburn Faith. Auburn’s Host Lions Club delivers one ton of potatoes to the Auburn Armory and 40 new toys to the Salvation Army, which manages to feed 202 families at Christmas time. Auburn’s Bethlehem Lutheran Church serves 300 at the 12th annual Christmas dinner.