Clean up Loyalton!
Loyalton Cleanup!
Loyalton City cleanup

Loyalton City cleanup took place this week, with crews moving around town to pick up vegetation, discarded items and even cars.

City and county crews worked on the big stuff; volunteers took smaller things.

There were several cars slated for removal.

There is a lot left to be done. Some parcel owners are from out of town are were not present. Some people didn’t want to get rid of anything.

There was a lot of vegetative material, several cars and trailer loads of old appliances.

Gonna bring a little shine
to the county’s only city

The Sierra County Board of Supervisors, the Sierra Fire Safe Council, Sierra Solid Waste, Sierra Disposal and Loyalton High volunteers are lending a hand to the Loyalton City Council in an effort to spiff up the little mill town on the edge of the Sierra Valley.

Loyalton, the only incorporated city in the county at about 850 souls, has been struggling for decades.  Like a lot of places built around a mill, the fortunes of the town tend to follow the fortunes of the industry, which is bad news for little Smithneck, as the town was first called.  
It isn’t “on the way” to anywhere.  Travelers south on 89 wanting to go to Reno get “mapquested” at Blairsden down hwy 70, instead of the far more scenic route around the valley.  Anyone coming hwy 49 from Downieville to Reno might choose to go through Loyalton instead of turning down West Side to hwy 70, or a few miles farther to take hwy 89.  Unfortunately, there are several ways not to go to Loyalton.
Unlike some mill towns, Loyalton hasn’t the infrastructure or the draw to turn itself into an “old town” with boutiques and shops.  Most of those shops are closing now anyway. Truckee’s old town section is looking pretty lean these days, and even received mention in a recent SC Board meeting as an example of how the bad the economy is plaguing the nation.

But, those shuttered businesses are infrastructure; when the economy “bounces back” there will be places for businesses to bloom to.  Loyalton doesn’t have too much infrastructure to bounce to.

That doesn’t mean the little town is without its charm.  The dominant feature of Loyalton is the cold bleak face of the old hotel; a hard charm to warm to.  The highway makes a “dog leg” at the hotel, and it’s tough not to look up at the darkened, naked windows to see if someone, or something, is looking back.

With a little luck, some vision, and the kind of grit Loyalton is famous for, the majestic old building could become the beating heart of the little town.  The vision is there.  Local editor of the Sierra Booster and bedrock Loyaltonian Jan Buck can, without much provocation, describe a center of local business, including storefront businesses and internet businesses.  Instead of a hulking figure, the hotel would draw visitors in with its prime location on Highway 49.  If the old hotel bloomed, the town would bloom, the community swimming pool could re-open, the industrial park would shake off the cobwebs and become a hub of local small manufacturing.  It isn’t impossible, just real, real hard.

The current effort to clean up the back streets of Loyalton is a good start.  The effort really began in April, when crews from the California Conservation Corps did vegetation clean up.  On the 25th of April the local Rotary Club worked around town, doing spring cleaning, laying sprinkler pipe and removing a hoary old bulletin board near the Post Office.

The next effort will be in early June.  The City will direct the activities and provide a point of contact for the residents.  The County, thanks to the leadership of Director of Public Works Tim Beals, will provide curb side clean up and fee suspension at the Solid Waste site.  The Sierra County Fire Safe and Watershed Council will provide some disposal of woody material.  This assistance is important, because many residents are elderly; others aren’t able to afford to have materials hauled.  The coming together of these different agencies to help out Loyalton is important to the health of the entire County.

The project is not without some pain: many residents have used the alleyways of Loyalton as extended yard, or storage.  Some residents have “collectibles” like old cars or machinery in their yards.  It remains to be seen how well some people adjust to the change.

Even so, if Loyalton is to benefit from any bounce in the economy, this clean up is a start.  It will bring a bit of shine to the town, and maybe a bit of optimism to the residents.  Maybe, someday, somebody who didn’t take one of the many ways to miss Loyalton will drive through and realize the potential of the tough little town, and bring the luck that money brings.  

For more information, call Gary Sheldon (530) 993 4156
Schedule of clean up:
Monday, 8 June, 2009: curbside pickup and woody fuel removal north of Main St.
Tuesday, 9 June, 2009: South of Main.
Wednesday, 10 June, 2009: Loyalton Mobile Estates, and miscellaneous.

Curbside removal of woody debris and bulky items.
Vehicles: must have proof of ownership.  Call Public Works at (530) 289 3201 in advance.

Forbidden items:
Campers, Trailers, or the like
Household garbage
Wet garbage
Hazardous waste such as paint, cleaners, oils, volatile fluids

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