New info on Hotel Thomas; new staff writers

Michael Raffety


Almost a year ago I did a column on the Hotel Thomas after Ken Deibert’s historical review of the Mountain Democrat files reran a 1915 ad for it as it appeared in our paper back then. I went looking for the hotel the next time I was in San Francisco and found it to be a parking lot.

Then two weeks ago I received more precise information on its demise from Sacramento resident Barbara Pompei:

“I was searching for info on the Hotel Thomas in SF and Google brought up your article about looking for it.

“I can’t recall where but I found an article about how it burned in about 1920s. .. and many died and had to be labeled ‘John Doe.’

“My interest was because in the 1920 census I find a John T. Price, a distant genealogy connection, and I’m sure that’s him. I can’t find a burial for him so he may have been a fire victim.

“His daughter, Stella V. Price, married William A. Langley, in Sacramento -– who was my husband’s grandfather. Stella died young (childbirth?) and Wm. went on to remarry and had children.

“That’s it – just thought I’d pass that little anecdote along since we’re both following the Hotel Thomas.”

— Barbara Pompei


That’s certainly more dramatic and tragic than my assumption that it was simply torn down for a parking lot.

Speaking of new information, we have two new reporters on staff. Replacing Jim Ratajczak, who left for a government job, is Cole Mayer. Cole is an El Dorado Hills resident. In fact, he is an Oak Ridge grad. He recently got his BA from CSU Sacramento where he was editor of the Hornet and also online editor.

Cole has what in this business is quaintly known as the “cop shop.” It’s an all-encompassing term that means he covers the city Police Department, the county Sheriff’s Department, the CHP here and in Rancho Cordova, whose office covers El Dorado Hills, and the fire departments. He also covers courts. In between he also covers features. He is an excellent writer and we’re pleased to have him on staff.

Like every newspaper we have been operating with a greatly reduced staff. Jim Ratajczak actually was my only full-time news reporter. Two other reporters are part-time — Wendy Schultz and Chris Daley. Two other full-timers in what is commonly referred to as the Editorial Department are Features Editor Mimi Escabar and Sports Editor Jerry Heinzer. Notice they don’t write editorials. Editorial Department is just a term of art for anyone doing writing who is not in the ad sales, circulation or bookkeeping departments. There is one full-time writer shared between Mimi and Jerry — Mike Bush, who comes to us from Yuba City.

Recently, though, we expanded our news staff. That person is Dawn Hodson, who has been doing a fabulous job helping keep the pages filled with interesting features and news of general interest.

Dawn has a BA in Sociology from UC Berkeley and an MA in City and Regional Planning from CSU Fresno. She has held a number of nonprofit executive positions, taught at community college and owned her own organizational consulting company. In the early 1980s she was a reporter and then city editor for the Moorpark News. That experience stuck with her. News writing is like riding a bicycle — you never forget how to do it once you get really good at it. And she is really good at it.

Besides general interest news, Dawn covers the county Planning Commission, Cameron Park Community Services District, Georgetown Public Utility District and will back up Chris Daley at the Board of Supervisors when he is out of town. She will do likewise for me at EID when I am out of town.

Since just before Christmas I have been without an assistant editor. Doing everything by myself keeps me pretty busy. And fortunately I haven’t caught any of the flu bugs others have had.

For all you folks who type your letters and mail them in, they will get in the paper a lot sooner if you use a computer to send in your letters. At the bottom of our Web page in tiny letters are several categories, including one that says letters. Click on that and you will find a form to submit your letter online, where it appears in my screen automatically when I look for letters to print in the paper.

If you don’t want to use the form, e-mail your letters. This paper no longer has typesetters. Hand-in and mailed letters sit on my desk a while before I can find time to type them in with my dyslexic fingers.

Next month look on the front page about an announcement about a new assistant editor. Then there will be two of us typing in hand-in letters. We’ll also get all letters submitted online published online in a more timely manner.


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