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Biz Bits

It has been almost a year since a bizarre crime just about put Fast Taxi of Nevada City out of business, but the firm has since rebounded and increased business by more than 50 percent.

Curtiss Williams, a man with a history of drug and mental-health problems, carjacked one of Fast Taxi’s two vehicles last July and led police on a chase up Interstate 80 before jumping or falling to his death. The taxi sustained severe damage.

The business was less than six months old, and owner Jon Roberts had just put his second cab in service, so the incident couldn’t have come at a worst time. That’s when the community rallied around him, Roberts said last week.



“A lot of people offered to do benefits,” he said, and McGee’s in Nevada City staged one featuring guitarist George Sousa and other musicians. “A lot of people offered to help, and we have a lot of loyal customers.”

Fast Taxi now operates three cabs (with one in reserve) and employs seven drivers. “Business has been great,” he said. “There’s a definite need, and we’re helping fill it.”




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The Penn Valley Chamber of Commerce will hold a mixer and “community-business extravaganza” at 5:30 p.m. on June 29 at Plaza Tire and Auto Service, 17317 Penn Valley Dr., Penn Valley.

The event will feature food, a raffle and entertainment, along with the obligatory elbow rubbing. Additional information is available by phoning 432-1802.

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Directors of the Nevada Irrigation District recently recognized 14 employees for long service to the water utility. Those honored were:

• 25 years: Theresa Borlik, operations assistant; Jeff Brady, assistant maintenance supervisor; Jim Ford, hydroelectric electrical machinist; Jeff Huey, equipment operator; Mike Petroni, assistant maintenance superintendent; and Lynn Winget, senior utility worker;

• 20 years: Warren Hart, water superintendent;

• 15 years: Yvette Dunn, senior customer account assistant; Ted Gilbert, carpenter; and Larry Taylor, engineering associate;

• 10 years: Armon W. “Chip” Close III, chief water plant operator; Art Huber, storekeeper; Lawrence Lockwood Sr., meter reader; and Todd Newman, welder.

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Virginia Hilsman of Double Oak Vineyards and Winery felt left out when she read a recent The Union listing of wine-tasting rooms in Grass Valley and Nevada City.

Of course, Double Oak is on the San Juan Ridge, but it does open its tasting room from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays at the vineyard, 14510 Blind Shady Road. (The tasting room is open other days by appointment.)

Virginia and Robert Hilsman bottled their first wines in 1997 and now produce 1,000 cases a year of zinfandel, cabernet and chardonnay. Their wines can be found at Raley’s, SPD, Albertsons, and other local retailers.

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Filtering out the noise you don’t want to hear has always been a problem for people who use hearing aids, but the manufacturers of a new breed of hearing aids that utilize artificial intelligence claim they can do just that.

Stephen Blakemore, audiologist at Gold Country Hearing Center in Grass Valley, reports that the new Oticon Syncro hearing aid can make as many as 17,000 intelligent calculations and minute adjustments per second to mimic the way the brain processes sound.

“People with hearing loss can hear more of what they want to hear and less of what they don’t, wherever they are and whatever they’re doing,” Blakemore said. More information is available by phoning 477-8114.

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To reach George Boardman, business reporter for The Union, e-mail georgeb@theunion.com or call 477-4236.


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