Apple Hill association denounces planned grad event

The Apple Hill Growers Association has denounced a planned graduation celebration set for next weekend at High Hill Ranch.

The private ceremony, hosted by parents from Vista del Lago High School, is set for Saturday, May 30, at High Hill Ranch in Apple Hill. More than 200 Vista seniors and their families are expected.

“The Apple Hill Growers (AHG) endorses and fully supports both the state and El Dorado County guidelines for safely reopening our farms and wineries,” a written statement from the group reads. “The health and safety of our employees and guests are paramount.

“… AHG does not support any member activities that do not comply with the state and county reopening guidelines, including the recent plan involving High Hill Ranch’s event organized with Vista del Lago High School.”

After getting wind of the upcoming event through Facebook, county leaders sent High Hill Ranch owner Jerry Visman a letter Thursday insisting he scrap the planned festivities.

As planned, the event is in direct conflict with statewide stay-at-home orders and the county’s Stage 2 reopening guidelines.

“The county does NOT authorize this event and is hereby directing you to stop this activity that would unnecessarily put the attendees, your employees and the citizens of El Dorado County at increased risk of contracting the highly communicable COVID-19 disease,” the letter reads.

“… Unless you have written authorization from the state, we will consider this event, and any other events occurring at High Hill Ranch while the county is in Stage 2, to violate your county permits that require you to obey all state and federal health and safety laws,” the letter continues. “Persisting in these unlawful activities may result in civil and criminal penalties.”

Lori Wolfrey, one of the event organizers, told the Mountain Democrat Friday that the event will be “no different from what’s going on at Folsom Lake.”

Some similar congregations, she added, are already permitted under Stage 2 guidelines.

“Why can restaurants, retail stores and grocery stores open up while we can’t hold a socially distanced picnic for our students? They’ve been waiting their entire lives for this day and its being taken away from them,” she said.

Wolfrey said they’re planning to distance people at least 10 feet apart.

High Hill Ranch is a member of the Apple Hills Growers Association. Visman could not be reached for comment on Friday.

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