Markleeville shows the Christmas spirit |

Markleeville shows the Christmas spirit

Record Courier Staff Reports

The Christmas season, at its best, is all about giving. Here in Markleeville, the art of giving takes many forms, and the gift of time is one of the most precious arts.

Santa’s helpers come in many guises. On Dec. 1, the Alpine Early Learning Center was graced by the pro bono appearance of Nevada orthodontist Dr. Vincent D’Ascoli, who administered dental screenings for 27 of the county’s children.

“It is very important for these young ones to see the dentist at an early age,” D’ Ascoli said. “Not just for preventative reasons but to establish a good relationship and a positive first contact, so they will not be afraid of the dentist when they get older.”

D’Ascoli has lived in Northern Nevada for 25 years and is board certified specializing in orthodontics and practices in Gardnerville, Carson City and Incline Village.

The organization known as the First Five Alpine is working to ensure that all children begin school ready to learn and stay healthy. School Readiness Coordinator Bernie Combs expressed her gratitude as she watched the children get the dental checkup.

“It is crucial that all kids get an early, healthy start and be ready to learn,” she said. “This is another piece of the puzzle completed for these kids.”

The Alpine Learning Center is located on Foothill Road, north-east of Woodfords Station. The infant and pre-school programs are currently accepting applications on site. Contact Combs at (530) 694-1159 for more information.

As in past Decembers, swags of greens tied with red bows magically appeared this past Saturday on almost every post and tree in downtown Markleeville. Who were these elves and why do they do this? They are Gary and Barbara Howard and Ron and Beth Andrews, and they do it to brighten up the town at holiday time. They buy the red bows in post season sales and stash the ribbons in boxes the rest of the year. Gary Howard goes to Christmas tree lots, Home Depot and Lowe’s to secure their sawed-off tree trimmings, and when he tells them that the greens are for Markleeville decorations, the businesses donate the cuttings. The crew of four then spends a day assembling the swags, plus another day to fasten them to sign posts, fences and trees.

Along with her helpers, chamber of commerce Director Teresa Burkhauser hangs lights on most of the businesses around town, except those whose owners decorate.

At the visitor center, permits for Christmas tree cutting are issued by the U.S. Forest Service, $10 for each tree, with a limit of two trees per household. Accompanying the permit are maps of the designated tree-cutting areas and regulations that should be read and followed. The folks at the visitor center serve free hot coffee, chocolate and cider to would-be tree-cutters and browsers of the displayed local-lore books, cards, maps and art objects; in essence, a veritable gift store.

Additional people who give time during this holiday season are leaders of the Fifty Plus Club, who are planning a Christmas potluck lunch at the Early Learning Center on Thursday from noon to 2 p.m. Ernestine Fogarty, 694-2288, or Dolores Clark, 694-2473, will be happy to answer any questions about the lunch. Alpine County Public Health Officer Dr. Richard Harvey will present a slide show, “My 2006 Trip Around the World (Almost).”

The people who volunteer their time for committees, boards and emergency services year after year also deserve our gratitude. For example, just to keep the Alpine Children’s Center Preschool open twice a week, teacher Jo (Jo-Jo) Daugherty works without pay.

The gift of time is really special.

n Gina Gigli is a resident of Markleeville. Reach her at