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Piecemakers run into problems again

September 23, 2000

Jennifer Kho

COSTA MESA -- A superior court judge decided Friday that the

Piecemakers Country Store must correct additional health code violations

county officials found there this week.

But despite an escalation of tension between the group and the Orange

County health department, the judge did not extend the Piecemakers'

probation period, which is scheduled to end in December.

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The Mesa Verde business, run by a fiery religious group that tangles

often with local government, had previously been cited for a number of

other health code violations and ordered to shut down its tea room

restaurant and candy counter. It is on probation with both the city and

the county, with regular, unannounced inspections as one of the

conditions.

According to the inspection report, the most recent violations

included giving out bread samples and selling bulk foods without a

permit, having incomplete labeling and having plants in the kitchen.

Inspectors also allegedly found three dead cockroaches under an unused

dishwasher.

The judge ruled the store's packaged foods must have either "display

only" labels or manufacturers' labels, bread samples must be discontinued

and, if packaged foods are stored in the kitchen, the refrigerator must

have a thermometer and potted plants must be removed.

The violations are minor, the judge said. Health department

spokeswoman Pat Markley agreed, saying the agency is much more concerned

about the Piecemakers' refusal to let the health inspectors conduct

unimpeded facility inspections.

"When inspectors are there it is often a rather tense atmosphere with

some hostile comments including, on occasion, some foul language,"

Markley said. "The issue is our right to inspect the food facility to

comply with state law, which we do with every other food facility in

Orange County. We're not singling them out, but there has been a long

history of interaction between government entities and the Piecemakers."

Marie Kolasinski, 76, and Anne Sorenson, 68, on probation from

criminal charges for the previous code violations, said the health

department is responsible for the hostile atmosphere.

"I used to shake in my boots and feel sick when they came, but now I'm

just (angry)," Kolasinski said. "They're not satisfied that we've shut

down; they're looking for more things to bother us about. This is the

worst harassment you can get, and it's disgusting. By the time we satisfy

all the codes and pay for all the permits, our money will be gone."

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