Headline Story

 Sierra County Board of Supervisors



  Year 'round comfort
at the foot of the Sierras
Yuba River Inn
Wild PlumRoad
Highway 49
Sierra City

 Note: in the interest of truth facts are occasionally sacrificed; statements attributed to individuals are paraphrased.

nar·co·lep·sy: A disorder characterized by sudden, often deep sleep, sometimes accompanied by hallucinations, paralysis or somnambulism; a Sierra County Board Meeting

In the early days of the new Republic of France the press, known as the "Fourth Estate", was highly valued. Today, because of various excesses, the press is under appreciated. The Prospect is here to remind its readers of the sacrifices we make to bring you the news.

Particpatory democracy and the Fourth Estate: we're here so you don't have to be.

Of those, none is more grueling that our coverage of the Sierra County Bored Supervisors meetings.

This editor recently made an off hand remark about falling asleep in Board meetings  but this Tuesday’s meeting was a tribute to our supervisors and caffeine, the legal speed, as the five fought off sleep but the press was bored into a kind of stupor.

Here’s what happened, though some of this might have been hallucination or somnambulistic note taking:

The meeting started a little late because of computer failure. Supervisors Goicoechea, Huebner, Whitley, Adams and Chair Nunes were present.

Dr. Carol Roberts warned that a flu season approaches, and encourages getting two kinds of flu shots, the regular flu season vaccination, and the new improved H1N1 flu vaccination.

County Auditor took the microphone to announce that the economy is shite and will stay shite for quite awhile. It wasn’t really news, he was just reminding us.

Some time went by, people were hired by Human Services who are budgeted for.

The "doggie" ordinance was blessed. It will ding pet owners who have their animals captured by the County. There wasn’t too much to say, except that Lee Adams noted that it would hit hardest those who can least afford the pain, and Van Maddox mentioned that it wouldn’t be invoked for a first offense, but the long and short of it is: get your pet chipped, and keep them home.

The matter of whether department heads would, or would not, be given longevity pay for time served with the county was considered. The measure is intended to discourage long time, loyal and experienced county workers from applying for a position as a department head. It must be, there is no other possible reason we can think of for the measure. Considering a bad idea in haste has no pleasure, the board decided to consider it again in Downieville.

The funding of the Alleghany library was mentioned, and worms immediately began leaving the can. Pat Whitley pointed out that the library used to be funded from service area funds, but now would be funded with general fund funds. Lee Adams recognized that there was a lot of irregularity in the use of service area funds and it needed to be visited. Jim Curtis, County Council, perked up: It was a LAFCO matter, L-A-F-C-O, complicated wizardry would be required. Many meetings would be held, some of them over arcane documents. Not to worry, he would set up "magical options" for working with LAFCO over the service area funds.




Rather than having those in Alleghany without the internet be denied the written word, the library will be funded.

Van Maddox approached the board regarding a resolution about using contingency money for merit increases. The Auditor told the board he needed to know how, or if, or when, to pay merit increases. These are raises in pay given to county workers who have, through experience, training, and increased responsibility, become worth more to the county. Not paying them seems like a bad idea, but how would they be paid?

Lee Adams, reacting as many of us would in such a fiscal emergency, jokingly suggested Visa. It was funny until the board began to ponder it for too long.

It is suggested the Auditor bring back some options for paying the merit raises. We wondered what they could be, bake sales? Will the board scour the Yuba with shovel and pan (no suction dredging!)? Will the Board finally plant some pot?

The whole thing was shaky, and Pat and Bill bailed, voting "no" but the measure passed with three votes.

The board, as a timed item, entertained Megan Cotanch from Code Red who told them of the wonders of the reverse 911 system. It slices, it dices, it makes julien fries. Ms. Cotanch explained that the system, which was screen and map driven and easy enough for a country bumpkin to use, would dial people’s land lines, their cell phones, it would text, and it would email. It could be used to send one notice to one side of the street, and another notice to the other side of the street, which would by handy if there were more streets in Sierra County. It could notify people of emergencies, of school closures, of, just all kinds of things. She cautioned, don’t send something out every day or eventually people will tune it out.

At that point this reporter had had enough, and tuned it out.

The second timed item was in appreciation of years of service from withdrawn city council person Sarah Jackson. Ms. Jackson was gracious and Dave Goicoechea read the resolution and made a nice little speech. Everyone was glad.

Dave Goicoechia presents the Board's thanks to Sarah Jackson for her contribution.

The board made the wise decision to renew their contract with East Sierra Valley Chamber of Commerce. Marie Silver spoke on behalf of the group. The Prospect finds the ESVCC to be especially hands-on and community oriented, and we are proud members.

Then the board: saw bids for snow grooming; a monitoring well at the land fill for twelve grand; passed a resolution for Alleghany vapor extraction; spend seventy nine grand with Avalex, Inc for soil vapor extraction in Alleghany; another sixty six grand to Avalex for solid waste monitoring and so on; robbed Peter to pay Paul to repay Peter with title II and III money.

It was at about this point where everyone in the room realized we were going to get to go to lunch early, if we could just keep up the pace. Bill Nunes glanced at the clock and grabbed the gavel. He suddenly sounded like an auctioneer.

The board in very short order: exempted a hiring freeze so Director of Dwindling Resources Tim Beals could hire someone to keep track of the dwindle factor of the resources; did nothing about an employee for solid waste; and discussed having people volunteer to pick up trash on key roads, and what a liability headache it might or might not become.

Then the Board went into closed session to consider a tempest in a teapot, and a tempest in a shitpot, and to swear and laugh at the press and engage in God only knows what all activities, and everyone went to lunch.

This reporter, and some other folk including the wildly crippled Don Russell, well known editor and local bon vivant, retired to the Golden West for some Sierra Valley beef.

After many lies and boasts, the lunch broke up and the Sierra County Board of Supervisors met in Joint Session with the Loyalton City Council. Present were councilmembers Ferguson, Bighaus and Shelton, as well as a number of Loyalton staff and supporters.

The Joint Sierra County Board/Loyalton City Council meeting.  Everybody there was somebody.

 The group discussed three items:

  1. Representatives from the Alliance for Workforce Development, Inc, and the Northern Rural Training and Employment Consortium (NoRTEC)  discussed Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant. Everyone was in favor.
  2. Loyalton’s sphere of influence, see Loyalton’s general plan. Mr. Curtis: LAFCO.
  3. Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Loyalton and the County regarding law enforcement.

    It was then that the zzzzz’s began in earnest. The droning of well-meaning people carefully discussing foregone conclusions teamed with the afternoon warmth and a belly full of beef to introduce a fugue state. My lids became heavy, my breathing deep, I was vaguely aware that Don Russell and Sheriff John Evans were sleeping, and I blinked long, slow blinks, my eyes sometimes sticking shut for several minutes. A woman in a French maid’s uniform came in and began to clean the room with a feather duster. She dusted Peter Huebner’s head and picked some grass straw from Dave G’s collar. She carefully dusted all the laptops and all the City of Loyalton staff, then she went around to the broad table at the back of the room and began tidying it up, moving Tim Beal’s papers around: I could see they were all filled with doodles, nothing else. She took her feather duster and dusted under the table, bending over in her short little skirt in front of Don Russell. She waved her duster around a moment and stood, turning and giving Russell a kiss, but her face was that of State Senator Dave Cox ; Russell shot me an angry look. I struggled to get my camera up, to get the shot of Cox in a little dress, but my arms were paralyzed. I struggled, sinking farther back in the seat, a growing fear that Cox would kiss me, too, but unable to jump to my feet…

    Eventually I became aware that Bill Nunes had rapped the meeting adjourned, and, weary, and keenly aware of the sacrifice we journalists make for you, the reader, I carefully drove home.

    Past Board Notes:

    The Sierra County Board of Supervisors Met Weeks Ago
    And, we're finally writing it up.
    The Plumas County Supervisors are more newsworthy, with more spincter puckering lawsuits and more sturm und drang.

    NOTE: We don’t claim this is news; it’s more like a dreary task finally completed far too long after the fact.  I left the door to the truck open for a minute and the goats ate my notes from the meeting. There isn’t much to remember. I read the article on the Board in the Mountain Messenger, but it didn’t help

    From the best of my recollection (I’m not under oath here):

    1  Dr. Carol Roberts requested one of those positions that are strangely funded, poorly understood but somehow preventative. I’m pretty sure the Board agreed, and remember Lee Adams said something intelligent, but I don’t remember what.

    2.  Barbara Jaquez from the East Sierra Valley Chamber of Commerce (go here) took the podium and injected a sense of optimism and confidence into the room that lasted until the representative of the County Employees took the stand and started sniveling. Barbara talked about how the East Sierra Valley Chamber was not competing with any other organization, but was seeking to augment other efforts in the county. The ESVCC has a rather amazing 60 members, easily located on their website. In the interest of full disclosure, the Prospect is a member of the ESVCC as well as the Sierra County Chamber, and we are very pleased with the hits we get from the ESVCC site, and the energy the East Chamber brings to the economic and social life of the county.

    Bright Spot: Barbara Jaquez for East Sierra Chamber of Commerce

    3.  OK, county workers are afraid at the loss of income having furlough days are going to incur. Those who are fully unemployed are as sympathetic as possible.

    4.  Quentin Youngblood, Sierraville District Ranger, appeared with modest good news and moderate optimism. Youngblood is a local hero to many because of his patient, accommodating nature and his willingness to work with different groups. At the risk of jinxing his luck, we’ll note he’s even been able to sell a little timber and create some jobs locally. In contrast to past USFS representatives, Youngblood gets along well with the Quincy Library Group, and told the Board QLG is an important platform for local environmental groups and timber companies to work with the Forest Service.
    Supervisor Whitley suggested becoming as aggressive as the environmentalists. Bill Nunes said they should put together a letter in support of QLG.
    Director of Exotic Funding Tim Beals said, as I recall, "I love QLG" and may have mumbled something about a baby. He put forth five actions the Board should take:

            a.  Support the Herger-Feinstein QLG as one hope the county has of getting hazard fuel reduction and maybe even a little income from the sale of logs.
            b.  Complete the County Fire Plan in such a way that the QLG and the Healthy Forests Restoration Act can be "expressed within the plan." Editor’s note: this pretty much discredits anyone who says Beals is "an environmentalist". Those who insist he is simply a "mentalist" may continue to speculate.
            c.  The County should conduct an outreach to get more contractors certified as "HUB Zone" contractor. Go 
    Here to find out more.  
            d.  The Board should write a letter of support for Quentin Youngblood and send it to God and everybody
            e.  Encourage watershed and defensible forest zones and agencies.

    5.  The Board decided to exempt key staff from furlough, for the public good.

    6.  Tom Hayes, Interim CEO of Eastern Plumas Health Care, made an appearance and reassured some of those who were fed up with exiting CEO Charles Guenther. Hayes dropped the bombshell that EPHC "can’t be all things to all people" and pledged continued interest in the Loyalton Campus. He outlined plans he had for getting along well with our wealthier medical neighbors, Renown and Tahoe Forest. Good, but not new, ideas.

    Though this seems like a photo from a witness relocation file, we actually
    tried to get a shot of Tom Hayes, who might stick around at EPHC if they
    "like" each other. Behind the bottle,Tim Beals, Director of Enthusiasm.

    7.  Dr. Carol Roberts took the stand to talk about homelessness and near-homelessness in the county. She sited statistics that said that more than 10% of Sierra Plumas school district reported being homeless at some point. Dr. Roberts spoke of local homelessness and said "it doesn’t look like homelessness elsewhere" because here it means people are forced to be guests, couch surfing, "boomerang" children, and families sharing one house. Dr. Roberts exhibited a sound knowledge of the subject in the county, and the reporter resolved to interview her on the subject soon. Look for it in September.

    8.  Director of Skitterish Funding Tim Beals announced that the Board’s letter to 3rd District Assemblyman Dan Logue’s office  was circulated beyond the assemblyman’s office and may have helped convince the assembly to preserve the highway taxes for the county.

    9.  There were several things the Board did, but they’re all in little brown pellets, now, scattered about the yard.We’ll write better articles when the Supervisors make better news.

    Get the packet HERE:

    Found carved into the trunk of a Prius.

    Download the packet HERE

    4 August 2009
    Warning: some material is in poor taste-
    Dissenting Editor

    Sierra County Board of Supervisors 8/04/09

    At the precise instant the atom fell at the cesium fountain atomic clock in Boulder Colorado signifying 9:00 AM PDT Chair Bill Nunes dropped the gavel starting the Board of Supervisor’s meeting.

    Supervisors Adams, Huebner, Goicoechea and Whitley were present.

    The meeting got off to a slow start, but then during Committee Reports and Announcements, Peter Huebner and Pat Whitley had an exchange that went like this: (not their actual words, of course):

    Hueb: Pat, I hear you been talking trash about me down in the hood.

    Downtown Pat: I hear yo mama.

    Hueb: I got word you been saying I want NO meetin’s in Ltown. That’s some lies.

    Downtown Pat: I ain’t said nuttin’, and you better chill, ‘cause you’re on the way to bein’ a organ donor.

    Hueb: I never said never, just regular meetin’s are held in the Ville. If there’s somethin’ up with Ltown we’ll be there.

    Downtown Pat: Did I already say I didn’t say nuttin’? What’s that mean, I didn’t say nuttin’?

    Hueb: Just don’t talk smack about me.

    Downtown Pat: Don’t say nuthin’ stupid and I won’t.

    Chair Nunes: Yo, that’s some shit.

    The smart money in the room was evenly divided between Pete and Pat, with Pete being more spry but Pat having better instincts. It was not to be. This reporter would rather see Lee and Bill square off. Lee has reach, but Bill is quick.

    But, that’s a story for another day.

    Under department head announcements Director of All Things Paved Tim Beals indicated that the HWY 49 bridge in Downieville will be closed for a week or ten days in October. There will be a town meeting about it.

    There was a Plumas Bank meeting in Loyalton; we didn’t send a reporter but it couldn’t have been good news. See story Here.

    Not News: The U.S. Forest Service representative Jean Masquelier Yuba River District Ranger reported that they held a timber sale and no one came. Eight million bf went unsold.

    The supervisors have received a letter with 18 signatures demanding the Board enforce all appropriate codes against the SPI co-gen plant, even though the Board has authority to enforce only a few codes. The complaint is about noise and ash, time honored local complaints like the fact that cow flops smell or roosters crow. There is a little tiny story HERE which proves what a slow news week it’s been.

    The Board discussed the Memorandum of Understanding with the Feather River Regional Watershed Group entering the County into a group that will, perhaps, help protect the waters of the Sierra Valley and beyond, though who knows, since the State is at the heart of it. Read the MOU HERE and the state’s propaganda is HERE.

    County Council Jim Curtis pointed out to the Board that Sierra County wasn’t on the steering committee. He suggested this was not a good thing, and that County participation should depend on SC folks on the steering committee. Everyone agreed, and participation is dependent on that.

    Tex Ritter of Sierra Nevada Regional Department of Child Support Services appeared before the Board and told them how important the work they do is. He tried to make his services seem cheery. He wasn’t able to do that.

    He talked about the child support collected, and the $150,000 a month people (women, too, he assured us) pay in child support. There were $115,000 from "arears" referring perhaps to where those dead beat parents take it from SNRDCS. To get public assistance, you must get child support, which means you have to turn your ex in even if they are broke, and can’t pay, and even if their wages will be taken and their driver’s license revoked, and even if they haven’t been allowed to see the kids for years. No hard feelings, though.

    He mentioned August is "Child Support Awareness Month". We heard it was "Child Support Enforcement Month." Neither is cheery.

    Supervisor Lee Adams, perhaps hoping to stir controversy, said "If you’re going to have children you should have to pay for them, not the state." He didn’t explain his statement, though ultimately the state benefits from all citizens. Strangely, no one disagreed.

    Cal Trans is seeking to abandon the walkway in Sierraville along Hwy 89. They have offered to remove the blacktop and put down DG if the county will maintain it. They will.

    Two residents stepped forward to help out the community: Ms. Anne Eldred was appointed to the Sierra Valley Resource Conservation District, and Mr. Stephen Johnson to the Sierra County Waterworks, Calpine.

    Pearl Street Bridge in Downieville needs repair; Director of Creaky Structures Tim Beals reports that a kid on a bicycle hitting the bridge in just the right place could knock it out like a rotten tooth. Repair of the bridge is complicated by a local unnamed family, which everyone knew who Beals meant. There was a piece, a tiny piece, of land that has traditionally been used as part of the apron to the bridge. To make anything bigger, the county needs to have title to that little plot. The family is not resistant, just distracted, but the county can’t go ahead without it.

    Unless they simply raise the current bridge, which is sound, and replace the footings, which are not.

    Supervisor Lee Adams spoke up, saying what this reporter was thinking: there are so few wonderful single lane bridges left, and the Pearl Street bridge is pure Downieville: let’s keep the bridge.

    We’ll see what happens.

    Treading on increasingly uncertain ground, the Board heard about the growing battle between Sierra Forest Legacy (here and the Quincy Library Group (here).

    For those recently arrived from Mars, the Quincy Library Group was a group of "environmentalists" and "timber professionals" which got together to find common ground and again bring trees out of the public forest.

    That was a looooong time ago. In the meantime there have been changes in the political landscape and the parties on the left are now the parties on the right, and their beards have all grown longer, overnight.*

    The Quincy Library group would benefit from the "Herger Bill" which Sierra Forest Legacy viciously opposes, which Prospect readers remember from THIS article. Director of Increasing Ecological Uncertainty Tim Beals said that Sierra Forest Legacy’s response to the Herger Bill insulted the Quincy Library Group, attorney Michael Jackson, the various Counties, and decent people everywhere.

    Plumas, he said, was offended. Frank Stewart, QLG forester for several counties including Sierra and well known to Fire Safe folks, wrote a letter in response.

    There was a brief, mumbled consideration whether QLG was actually ever going to work.

    The Board then scratched their collective head about writing a response to the SFL missive, but Dave Goicoechea, recently designated Board Wisecrack, declined to send a letter to SFL, claiming it was a waste of postage. "You can try to teach a pig to sing but all you’ll do is waste your time and annoy the pig" he said.

    Having saved some small bit of face by writing off Sierra Forest Legacy as tone deaf oinkers, the Board moved on without writing a letter. It’s almost certainly for the best.

    There is some considerable opinion in the county and out that Sierra Forest Legacy is devil spawn, like all environmentalists, and that they want us all out of work and they want the forest and our little towns to burn down. This reporter contacted the Sierra Forest Legacy and asked if they were, indeed, devil spawn. They haven’t responded yet, so the jury is still out.

    The Board went into closed session, and when they came out, County Council Jim Curtis reported there was nothing to report, and the Board Chambers seemed to smell faintly of pot smoke.




    The Who, "Won't get Fooled Again"






    Sierra County Board of Supervisors Fail Prime Purpose











      July 21, 2009

    Four politicos hold a mutual admiration society meeting, generating no news and creating a happy space

    In a small county like Sierra, we have to depend on each other. We in the news business depend on the Board of Supervisors. We wait for Board Tuesdays like a coal miner waits for payday. It is a social contract, unwritten and even unspoken but nonetheless binding, that the Board of Supervisors, as the highest elected officials in the land, will supply us with angst and drama.

    Instead, this Tuesday’s Board meeting was like eating Valium at Barney the Dinosaur’s birthday party (true story). A glance at the reporter’s notebook tells the tale: scribbled solo tick tack toe games, bawdy cartoons of the various supervisors and department heads, word games using S-i-e-r-r-a B-o-o-s-t-e-r ( I imported a "b" to make the game more lively) but no news to speak of.

    The meeting started badly, with the jovial Dave Goicoechea wielding the gavel, his boyish face beaming through the meeting. This reporter missed Board Chair Bill Nunes, whose steely eyes and flashing gavel brook no distraction. Nunes is AWOL in the east, on the pretext of visiting family.

    Acting Chairperson Goicoechea bumped the meeting into session promptly at 9ish. Everybody felt welcome.

    It would only get worse.

    The press braced for an assault on the consent agenda; a good indicator of how the meeting will go. One item was moved, and everyone rushed to say that it was just a procedural thing, there was general agreement.

    Acting Chair Dave (the meeting had already deteriorated to chummy first names) chuckled as he nudged the meeting down the agenda.

    Director of the Podium, Tim Beals took his podium to say that the Board might consider signing a letter asking the State of California not to steal money from the counties. Seems like a simple idea: "Dear Mr. Ghengis Khan, please don’t sweep through our village looting and pillaging." It sounded worth a try to the Board, though history presents a grim and sometimes comical record for such attempts, (known as the "Chamberlain strategy").

    There was a burst of interest when Marie Silver presented the 2008 Senior Citizen survey to the Board. Yes, you understood that correctly, the senior citizens topped the meeting for most interesting news.

    Next Timothy Evans appeared, an emissary from Quentin Youngblood, Sierraville district ranger, who proceeded to knock some of the news luster from the depression by presenting several projects which will mean money to HUB zone contractors in the area.

    Director of Good News Tim Beals took the podium to describe some of the great things that have been done around the county, including bear proof trash containers, and some available grants. He mentioned the new community park in Calpine, which is no doubt a wonderful addition to Calpine, and the county, and around which even the various characters of Calpine might make peace (not his words).

    This reporter looked to County Council Jim Curtis, who can generally derail the smoothest discussion with just a few words, but no, there was nothing to work with even for him.

    Then Beals said something that an untrained person might not recognize, but which this reporter snatched out of the air and teased and nourished and fluffed into a second story which is HERE.

    Mr. Beals said that a group called "Sierra Forest Legacy" (a past Prospect Link of the week, a link we could give you now, but you’ll have to read the story HERE to get it) has sent out an email condemning the Herger bill, HR 2899, which the Board had recently voted to support. The bill, by some accounts, would enable rural communities to save themselves from imminent forest fire and benefit resource extractors, and by other accounts, give the woods away at bargain prices to resource exploiters. He discussed an email which was being circulated by SFL cursing the bill and all who believe in it. See story HERE.

    There were only four supervisors. Is there no one in the county that can bring an issue that can result in a 2-2 vote? How often does this chance present itself?

    But no, the Supervisors were all pals. I even heard Peter Huebner and Pat Whitley being nice to each other "You go first, Pat." "No, you go, Peter." "No, I insist." It was mortifying.

    Then Director of Planning and Building Tim Beals again lapsed into a news coma and mentioned there was money available from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy for County Clerk Heather Foster to archive some of Sierra County’s priceless historical records, and other good news I didn’t catch.

    Director of Public Works Tim Beals (no relation) then presented the Board with the opportunity of a wide spot in the road (almost another town in this county). The spot is where the Plumas school buses turn around, and where the Plumas Sierra school bus route would end. The Roen family would allow the county an easement for the school bus turn around, so both Sierra and Plumas counties would benefit thanks to the public spirit of these local landowners. Oh, happy day.

    At some point Supervisor Pat suggested they govern by consensus, but Chairguy Dave liked calling for a vote, so they all got to echo "aye" a lot.

    This reporter went out for a time to enjoy the day and chew the fat with a well known local guy.

    When I went back in, everyone was exactly where they were when I left, it was like "Groundhog Day."

    Director of Future Big News Tim Beals reported what is no longer and not yet news: there is a solid waste committee, they are looking at alternatives for solid waste, none of them are cheap but we don’t know just yet what they are or what the costs will be. Think of it as "near-news."

    Mr. Paul Roen (the name sounds familiar?) was appointed to a seat on the Sierra County Water Resources committee. More volunteerism, more people putting the community first, but, sadly, no real news, just business as usual in the world of doing good.

    The meeting adjourned, but people hung out, it was like being at a rec center. The Supes were just good buds, no news at the Board.

    Which draws into focus what a troublemaker the apparently conciliatory and agreeable Bill Nunes must really be. With luck, he’ll be back soon, and the news will flow again.

    The Sierra County Board of Supervisors met Tuesday, 7 July, 2009 in continued regular session in Downieville, the County Seat. Supervisors Adams, Goicoechea, Huebner, Whitley and Chairperson Nunes were present.









    If you and your family are doing well in this depression, if you have a new car and a bunch of new rentals that you got cheap, this report is going to miss you.

    If you and your kin are struggling, worried about how you’ll pay the bills; if tension is high between family members and people are saying things they regret and though everyone wants the same thing they seem to be pulling in different directions, then the Supervisor’s meeting was like dinner around the table.

    There were a fair number of spectators in the gallery.

    The meeting began with an attack on the consent agenda, and items were sent to the agenda for discussion. Picking through the consent agenda is a sign of mistrust, which cheers news editors as the drums of war cheer ravens.

    One of the few people in the room not stressed out: Mountain Messenger Editor Don Russell, basking in the glow of a rich news day

    Trees, no market
    The North Yuba Ranger District representative gave the county a reminder of hard fortune with the good news, "we’re going to sell some timber" and some bad news, nobody is buying timber, and the mill in Lincoln has an entire forest on the ground feeding bugs (not their words).

    Doggone if you do, Doggone if you don’t
    Sheriff John Evans approached the Board with a story about a dog. Someone’s dog got loose and frustrated someone else who tied the dog to the bumper of a Sheriff’s car. Not having any legal recourse, the deputy was forced to leave Sierra County to the muggers and thieves and take the dog to Truckee to the "shelter". A few days later the owner of the dog was identified, but the Truckee shelter can’t help Sierra County residents, that isn’t in their job description, so the deputy had to again leave Sierra County to the forces of evil. By and by, one thing and another, the dog owner had compiled a bill of over $500.00. The Sheriff brought along the Dan Olsen, supervisor of the Truckee animal shelter.
    The Sheriff asked the Board to pass an ordinance to allow him to recover the costs of having to take a dog to Truckee.
    The Board pondered the problem awhile, a problem they thought was gone. Until a "local part time special assignment person" can be hired to staff "dog catcher" the deputy would have to leave the county to terrorists and buggerers every time someone’s dog needed to go to jail. Also, there needed to be a way to charge the errant dog owners. The five hundred bucks figure sounded good. Lee Adams said a small prayer of thanks that the deputy noticed the dog tied to the bumper. The audience pondered what kind of nitwit would do something like that. That kind of person might do it again.
    Something had to be done. Sooner or later some smart criminal will simply tie a dog to the patrol car every time he or she wants to rob the county. The county needs to provide animal control, doesn’t it? Can’t just let people shoot problem dogs, though ranchers and rural dwellers to that occasionally. Got to have animal control.
    It turns out that Sierra County doesn’t, under the law, have to provide animal control services, at least according to Truckee shelter supervisor Dan Olsen. Still, the county can’t do nothing, because next time someone has a problem with a dog, they’ll tie it to a Sheriff’s car.

    The county dog situation in general was discussed. It was noted that lots of people in the county had dogs. Most didn’t live in the city but on more rural land, and the pooches tend to wander here and there. There were feral cats, a big problem for some areas.

    The Board resolved that the Sheriff wouldn’t look for stray dogs, but only respond to a complaint.
    The Prospect asks, what are the outcomes of $500.00 pound bills? Most folks don’t own a dog worth $500.00, and you can’t just tell the shelter to keep your dog, that costs more money yet, and it is a violation of the law to abandon a pet. Owning a dog would open a family up to expense and trouble. Better not to have a dog.

    In the end, the Board decided to do something, but not just then.
    What can be done?

    Visit Sierra City
    The Board approved a resolution for the visitor’s center in Sierra City. As with any such expenditures, the money can only be spent for that project, and it isn’t part of the money which is going to be stolen by the State.

    Support/Oppose bills
    The Board passed a resolution opposing House Resolution 2749, the "food safety enhancement bill" which will make life hard for small farmers and producers of specialty foods. (See story Here). The bill was brought to the county’s attention by a local food group. Chairperson Nunes remarked that the Board needed to "check in" with the bill occasionally, in case it is changed and made less onerous. The bill is out of committee.

    The Board passed a resolution supporting HR 2899, The California Catastrophic Wildire Prevention and Community Protection Act, sponsored by Herger and cosponsored by McClintock. It is thought the law would make it easier for hazard fuel removal projects.

    Opposes Theft
    Director of Slowly Unraveling Services, Tim Beals brought information to the Board about the possibility the State would liberate funds intended for the county, notably highway user taxes. Director Beals outlined the effects if the state nabs the funds: 50% of the county road workers laid off; "no snow removal as we know it", no road maintenance except in emergency situations.

    The Board then passed a resolution authorizing County Counsel to cooperate with California State Association of Counties (CSAC http://www.csac.counties.org/) in suing the State for key funds, including highway tax funds.

    Not Safe
    The Board was poised to approve a resolution for County Health and Human Services to enter the county into a contract with the National Council on Crime and Delinquency for "Safe Measures" when County Council noted that the contract forces the county to provide data about our children and families to the NCCD and specifically to Structured Decision Making at the Children’s Research Center in Madison Wisconsin. Unfortunately, the contract doesn’t require CRC or NCCD to cover the cost to Sierra County if child data goes wrong and the county gets sued. Owing his hesitation, the Board did not act. (Our expert Data Integration Group, or DIG Team, reviews your agency's current data architecture to seamlessly move your data sets into our "SM Research Mart." From the website.)

    "Structured Decision Making" uses a computer program to tell social workers what to do in the case of suspected child abuse. There are other forms which tell the social worker when to take the kid, when to let the kid go home, when to terminate parental rights. If only more troubled families were computer literate the county could have them fill their own data in and leave the social worker out all together. Safe Measures is a way of "mining" the data produced by the social workers in the system. Play with Safe Measures here.




    Eventually, the county will be forced to purchase Safe Measures/SDM. The system makes it easier for the state to hold counties accountable for the "numbers" they need to get Federal Funding. Some system improvement plans require a system like Structured Decision Making.

    It also offers a layer of protection against the County if sued over a child welfare case. While the CRC maintains the system improves social worker functionality and called SDM "your partner in the workplace" it removes social worker discretion, and some feel hastens removed kids toward adoption with strangers. It is Nanny government in your social worker’s computer. Just as owning a dog opens one up to liability, having kids does, too; better off not to have either.

    Special Employee Furlough Melee
    Should certain employees be exempt from furlough? Director of Public Works and Sierra Brooks Water System Tim Beals rather thinks that furloughs for key personnel are not a great idea. He noted that if the person monitoring the water system at Sierra Brooks is furloughed the Brooks might not have water at times.

    County Council Curtis argued that such employees are eligible for furlough.
    The Board seized the opportunity to wrestle with something they agree on: the Sierra Brooks water system and the entity which was long ago cobbled together to oversee it, involving the County.
    Supervisor Adams was clear: Sierra Brooks needs to take care of its own water.
    The other supervisors chimed in, some remarked on the bargain basement rates SB water users pay; others pointed out that the County didn’t subsidize other water systems. Someone from the audience pointed out that there are no meters at the Brooks, and the Board was bubbling with thoughts about metering the water wasters at the Brooks, which is mostly desert after all.

    Eventually, after a time, County Council Jim Curtis raised his finger, like a school teacher from the old days. Chair Bill Nunes said, "Jim’s going to tell us we’re off the agenda," and so he was.

    They returned to the discussion and Supervisor Adams moved to exempt the person from furlough for 90 days. Eventually, it was suggested to move the issue to another meeting. It is possible that’s what they did, by that point this reporter was narcoleptic and the notes are nearly illegible and seem to refer to Edgar Cayce(link).

    Moving Ahead/Not Moving Ahead
    Jan Buck, editor of the venerable Sierra Booster, requested that the Board hear item #23, which was Supervisor Huebner’s list of ways the county could save money. The Board moved that item up.

    Supervisor Huebner made a pitch that it was time the Board made drastic cuts. He argued that California was going to leave the county beaten and broke (not exactly his words) and they’d best start now to make emergency cuts.
    That received a mixed reaction from the Board, and people murmurmured in the gallery. Other supervisors complained that they had lists, too, but weren’t ready to present them.

    Supervisor Huebner sketched the situation: we are in a depression, the County is at risk, they needed to have an emergency level budget.
    First, Supervisor Huebner suggested that the Board would save money by holding the meetings in Downieville, the County Seat, as the law requires, and not in Loyalton at all.

    Supervisor Pat Whitley disagreed, so did Bill Nunes.
    Peter Huebner said he’d talked to many people, and no one said it was a terrible idea. Given that people in the county tend toward politeness, many interpreted that as he’d talked to many people and no one had outright told him to go to hell.
    Pat Whitley said she’d asked around and people said they’d be disenfranchised. Given that people in the county tend toward complaint, many interpreted that to mean they’d whined.

    Supervisor Dave Goicoechea said "people aren’t disenfranchised because they are represented".
    Supervisor Lee Adams, always the soul of pragmatism, suggested they do nothing until after the State drops the load on them, so they’ll know how bad it is. Still, he noted that "Congress doesn’t meet on the West Coast."
    Murmurmur… Someone in the audience said something like "we’ll take the county seat away, then…"

    Marie Silver, county resident and functionary with the older 33% of the population suggested they continue that item to Loyalton. It was too good a suggestion to ignore.
    Peter Huebner was on a roll, he didn’t want the momentum to lag, he suggested they not wait.
    Supervisor Adams said he didn’t want to do anything "while the public’s back was turned."

    Joann Buskonsky (we might have mispeled the name) asked why they should meet in Loyalton when the Seat of the County was Downieville.

    The Board decided not to decide until Loyalton.
    Supervisor Huebner continued, suggesting the Planning Commission meet only every two months, saving a lot of money ($3500) on Director of Planning and Planning to Plan Tim Beal’s very expensive time.
    Anne Eldred, stalwart of the Planning Commission stood to say they’d talked about it and were in favor of meeting less often, since not much was happening.

    Again Lee Adams, speaking so low that some had to lean forward, reminded everyone that they didn’t need to decide right then. They should wait to hear from the State.
    There needed to be a specific fiscal meeting, everyone needed to know about the discussion.
    Chair person Nunes agreed to the need for a dedicated, noticed meeting.

    But the force was strong in Supervisor Huebner, and he again tried to instill a sense of urgency in his fellows: let’s not wait for the worst to happen to plan. He called for a vote.

    Adams, "no." Huebner, "aye." Goicoechea, "aye." Whitley, "no." Nunes, "no."

    Frustrated, Peter says, "this isn’t going anywhere."

    Bill Nunes says, "we’ve already passed a balanced budget". He’s right, they have. Lee Adams is right, they don’t need to do anything until they hear from Sacramento.
    Still, there is a sense that Peter is right, too, that the State is going to screw us, and we’d best have a real plan.

    He moves on to Item 3 on his list: quitting Sierra Economic Development Corporation. There is a discussion. There is the feeling that SEDC isn’t what it used to be, but Pat Whitley protests. She says over 20 people came to the "Business Bootcamp" SEDC held. She said many people found it beneficial. Local businesses, including the Golden West, benefited.

    But, the general feeling is it wouldn’t hurt much to leave SEDC.
    There is a vote:

    Adams, "no." Huebner, "aye." Goicoechea, "aye." Whitley, "no." Nunes, "no."

    Supervisor Huebner throws his hands up in disgust.

    The Board squabbles, the crowd murmurmurs. They need to meet on it again, and swear to do so, but Chair Nunes will be gone on a lark clear across America, in the East, New York even, where there’s no one ever heard of Sierra County.

    Not much more, and some gratitude
    The Board continued with other scarcely news items, went in to closed session for quite some time, and when they came out County Council Jim Curtis, as is his custom, announced that nothing happened.

    This reporter returned to the office, a little rattled, but grateful, as one often is after such family dinners, that the cops weren’t called.

    A letter from Tom Dotta, East Sierra Valley resident, to Board of Supervisors Chair Bill Nunes expresses the concerns that many people have.




























Tuesday June 16, 2009

Get the Board packet at Sierra County’s excellent website 

The Sierra County Board of Supervisors met in continued regular session Tuesday, 16 June, 2009. All members, Adams, Goicoechea, Huebner, Nunes, and Whitley were present.

In Public Comment period, Gary Shelton, of the Loyalton City Council, reported to the Board on the success of the Loyalton Clean up. Though the final tally isn’t finished yet, there were over 50 cars, trailer loads of appliances, and tons of various other kinds of trash hauled out of the county’s only incorporated city.

Brooks Mitchell addressed the Board on the importance of Plumas Bank to Loyalton and the county, but it is a moot point, since the Loyalton Branch is slated for closure.

Quentin Youngblood visited the Supervisors to report on the activities of the U.S. Forest Service on the east side. There were 7-8 small fires from over 80 lightning strikes a day week before last. In terms of stimulating the economy, there are continued plans to munch and crunch brush and even remove some trees on over 500 acres. There are timber harvest sales totaling 20 million board feet. The Calpine Fire Lookout is for rent again this season but it booked up because of an article in the New York Times (article is here; a fire lookout association is here).

Tom McKlintock sent an emissary, Tim Holabird, to say he’d be visiting the Loyalton Senior Center on Monday the 22nd. Call the Loyalton Senior Center for more information, 530-993-4770.

The Board discussed a "very preliminary" preliminary budget. Agita watchers will remember that the reason it is so "preliminary" is that no one yet knows how much the state is going to steal from the counties. Like the world’s biggest deadbeat dad, the state might cough up the dough it owes the counties, or it might get drunk.

In a nutshell, if the state "borrows" ("I’d rather owe it to you than rip you off for it") enough of the Prop 1B Local Streets and Roads money, the county will lose as much as $1.5 million. That means 50% of the department staff will become unemployed. That means a general reduction in services; it means snow won’t be plowed except during normal business hours, and Director of Slickery Stuff Tim Beals will be humping a snowplow over Yuba Pass.

Then Richard Nourse, Assessor, tended his resignation to the Board, who didn’t care for the idea. Rich Nourse has been a steady hand on the tiller of the assessor’s office the last couple of years, and has pushed for upgraded networking as the Information Services Manager, Open Space Subvention person, and as solid waste fee administrator has attended the annual Wayne DeLisle solid waste fee complaint session. (Mr. DeLisle is suing the county, by the way! Big news down the road.) He will leave in September.

Mr. Nourse is quitting to save the county money, it had nothing to do with his personal desire to have a life, he would have happily stayed until he was wrinkled and toothless (a couple more years yet), but, since it will save the county $30,000 to have him go, he’ll make the sacrifice and go. "It’s been fun," he said, making it sound like leaving was more fun.

In addition to quitting, Mr. Nourse put forth his successor, Laura Marshall. There really is no one else who knows the system and the county like Ms. Marshall, so she was an easy choice as a successor, until 2011 (the assessor is an elected position).

Retiring Assessor Rich Nourse and heir apparent Laura Marshall

The Board took care of the resignation and the appointment bing bang boom.

Then, the assessor threw a wad in the clogster and insisted the Board hire an Assessment Technician. That caused some delay. The County doesn’t hire anymore, everyone knows that.

The Board just couldn’t see the point in hiring someone when everyone in the county was about to be sent home. No one knows how bad it will get, but county workers are already furloughed for the 2nd of July.

Lee Adams, always the soul of pragmatism, suggested they didn’t need to do anything until nearly September.

Mr. Nourse informed the Board that the position was important, or he wouldn’t be asking for it. The tech would keep the "secured rolls" (not a type of pastry, but a registry of tax money, highly regulated). Ms. Marshall has been doing that job and several others (assistant assessor) but with Mr. Nourse leaving and the office down about two people, there is simply no way she can do that job this year.

Van Maddox pointed out that not hiring this person would endanger services. He observed that, after some point, the county can’t survive anymore, because the mechanism for the flow of funds is gone. The assessor’s office is, he said, the intake for locally generated funds. Without it, the blood of the county (money) would dry up. With the state struggling to get itself into rehab, locally generated funds are even more important (not his words).

It is clear the Board wants to see someone who is laid off from another position take that job. It remains to be seen if the skills of a truck driver and an Assessment Technician are easily interchangeable.

"I think I'll move to Alleghaney and grow pot"
said someone right behind retiring Assessor, Rich Nourse.

In other action,

Tim Beals presented a cubic yard of bad news about the solid waste fund.

Mr. Beals went through the information in detail, talking about topics familiar to Prospect readers: closing the landfill and the 30 years of monitoring costs; diverting part of the waste stream to recycling; costs to export our solid waste to Portola, to Lockwood, to Truckee, to Fallen.

It comes down to cost. While the alternative hasn’t yet been chosen, whatever is done will cost more than we are currently paying; indeed, Mr. Beals promises, "you’ll be surprised at what it is going to cost." Mr. Beals, after considering alternatives and after looking at solid waste in other counties said the current system is "inexpensive and user friendly" but not likely to last.

Mr. Beals explained there is already a $12,000 shortfall, partly because the local economy is so bad that commercial dumping is down. The current shortfall is somewhat reduced by using Title III money to take care of brush and limbs. Still, the landfill closure trust, which the county should be building, is suffering.  There are two pieces of heavy equipment, one apart at the shop in Reno, that needed to be taken care of; they are not in the budget. 

In the end, it was not new news. The Board listened, but made no plan for the future. Tomorrow, hah! Tomorrow never comes. Who knows, we could all be dead when they close the landfill in 2018. Maybe the flu will get us. (Not their words, just the sentiment.)

The Board approved the solid waste fee as it is ($231 a parcel) instead of raising it to $255 as they needed to. In doing so, they escaped, for the moment, the ire of a public that just can’t stand to spend another penny on government. Eventually, though… oh, tomorrow never comes!

In other news…

The Board re-appointed Anne Eldred and Bill Copren to the Sierra County Water Resources Committee, based on the information that Anne and Bill remember when water first came to Sierra County, and so are the most qualified.

The Board appointed James Loverin to the Long Valley Ground water Management District.

An employee of the county came forward with a grievance saying the county owed him $121.00 for mileage because he couldn’t take his child to the range in a squad car and he had to go so he took his own car. Compared to the other business of the County, this seemed trivial, and Lee Adams offered to pay the gentleman off out of his own pocket, until County Counsel Jim Curtis and Auditor Van Maddox choked and sputtered and cleared their throats, meaning Lee could never, ever do something so simple. Eventually, to move on, the Board voted to give the employee his money, though Chairperson Nunes voted "no!"

Finally, the Board went into closed session since Don Russell, editor of the Mountain Messenger Newspaper, wasn’t there to stop them. As they were in closed session, we have no idea what they did. They might have kicked their shoes off, maybe they gambled or told bawdy jokes, or maybe they made fun of the fine citizens of the county, we’ll never know, because the Press wasn’t there.

When it was all done, closed session was terminated and County Council Jim Curtis made statements regarding the lawsuit from Wayne DeLisle, the 16:1 claim, negotiations with the Union. His statements: not much happened, we just talked.

Yeah, sure.

With that, the Supervisors left the meeting to become ordinary citizens again.


The Sierra County Board of Supervisors met in continued regular session. Supervisor Adams was absent, having been sent by the Board to Sacramento to explain rural policing and other matters of appropriate governance, for whatever good that will do.
























 6/2/2009The Sierra County Board of Supervisors met in continued regular session. Supervisor Adams was absent, having been sent by the Board to Sacramento to explain rural policing and other matters of appropriate governance, for whatever good that will do.  



Also absent was Mr. Curtis, County Council, though the Board periodically looked at his empty chair out of habit, and made reference to him several times, some quite humorously. There was a slight air of "while the cat’s away…" as though with Mr. Curtis gone, law had taken a holiday. Unfortunately the supervisors are all sober, deliberate people, so they weren’t able to really go anywhere with it.

USFS and bicyclists

The U.S. Forest Service, North Yuba District was represented. They assured the Board that they are still trying to put people to work in the woods. It was also explained that the Forest Service does not hate bicyclists. The Downieville Classic bicycle race (link) is taking place earlier than in past years. It will now happen during nesting season for a number of birds, some of them, like the tiny willow flycatcher or the rapture goshawk, are becoming rare. Well meaning and earth conscious bicyclists still make noise, stir dust, use radios, emit bean curd gas and generally change the normally quiet nature of the forest. The North Yuba District biologists simply want to be sure the nestlings aren’t disturbed. The cost to the race: $2500.00. Or, they could hold the race later in the year. Race HERE. http://www.downievilleclassic.com/

Economic irritation money

The Board then attempted to have a very unstimulating discussion of economic stimulus money and "new" and "old" title III money (healthy rural schools and blah blah; money we get instead of the money we used to get from timber revenue).

The essence of the discussion is that the county has money that can only be spent certain ways. It isn’t easy to guess what those ways are, even though the government puts out reams of information. Old title III money can be spent on more things that new title III money, so it has to be hoarded if possible. The stimulus money trickles in, but it, too, can only be spent certain ways, and it will only be here for two years.

The Board now recognizes that the State is broke (Schwarzenegger: we’re broke, our credit is bad, the car won’t run, and if we get sick we’re going to die.) No one is yet certain how badly the state is going to screw the counties, but the general consensus is we’re on our own. That means that all the old Title III money is going to be even more useful. That understanding set the tone for every discussion relating to finances.

Forester funding

Funding for Frank Stewart, Registered Professional Forester was the next issue. The Board was not kind: what is the county getting for their $7,000 a year? Part of a forester, working on Quincy Library Group projects, and providing fire safe know-how; Mr. Stewart is shared with other local QLG counties, Lassen , Plumas , Shasta, Sierra , Tehama. Who does he answer to? Mostly, Plumas County, home of the Quincy Library Group. Supervisor Goicoechea wanted to approve for only one year, instead of the traditional three, pointing out that the future is uncertain and "fourteen thousand dollars has become a significant amount." He also wanted more complete reporting from the forester. Mr. Stewart agreed, but pointed out that the actual contract was with all the counties and changing it would require their boards to approve it, so they needed to pay for three years.  Mr. Stewart supports QLG timber plans and fire safety for the county, and is actively involved with the Forest Service and the Sierra County Fire Safe and Watershed Council (link).

Pay dirt: garbage

Then, the news media (which at one point was more than half the 5 people in the gallery) got a break with this modest agenda item: 10. Resolution establishing solid waste fees for the 2009/2010 Fiscal Year.

The proposed ordinance held the provision for $231 a year solid waste fee for residential parcels and $13.50 per loose yard for others. However the dump near Loyalton is rotten and the State is going to shut it down; it will cost $1.7 million dollars to close the landfill; we’ll have to ship our garbage out of county and maybe out of state; we’re all going to have to pay a lot more for solid waste disposal.

How much more? Solid Waste Fee Administrator Rich Nourse and Director of Stuff Hitting the Fan Tim Beals mumbled a little, and finally said it: fees for this coming year will have to go up to at least $255 and $15.00, respectively.

Supervisor Whitley delivered a brief reply the upshot of which was "are you nuts?". She pointed out that many people in the county simply aren’t making it, and many people are older, and don’t make much trash (see the stories of Joe Arata and Wayne Delisle, in past Board notes).

The Board listened as Mr. Beals and Mr. Nourse explained the County simply has no other choice, the program has a rolling deficit of $62,000 which is only going to get worse. The Loyalton Landfill has very little capacity left, the State wants it shut down and Mr. Beals has stated it might be the last "dump" of its type in the state. There are no dumps any more, and trash isn’t trash, it’s a "waste stream". They needed to raise the fees and pass the ordinance.

The Board broke into a stammering hubbub: we need more time; we can’t just raise fees; people are broke; what will voters say; I need a glass of wine.

County Auditor Van Maddox admonished the Board in his usual clipped and precise language. They have to do something. It makes it very difficult for the County departments when the Board diddles around until the last minute on things like this. The Board has to take action.

Galvanized by his words, the Board prepared to take action: they’ll have a meeting. A meeting is planned, they fired instructions to County Clerk Heather Foster, who made notes: the whole Board will meet on June 8 to discuss trash.

More ideas are tossed out: take the trash to Portola, to Lockwood, Nevada, to China; close the transfer stations one day a week; close the transfer stations for good; charge a dollar extra at the gate; maybe bears could eat more garbage; maybe we could privatize. Privatize! Let someone else deal with it!

Privatization is popular for a moment, primarily because it gets it off the Board’s plate, but then the supes come to their senses. Tim Beals reminds the Board that simply privatizing the future trash won’t do away with on-going costs which the county would still have to bear, including costs to operate the system, closure costs for the Loyalton dump, environmental monitoring and future costs unknowable now.

Everyone realizes privatizing has problems and will cost the same fortune and more.

Eventually, the hysteria dies down, and the Board instructs Heather to undo the special meeting on June 8th, in favor discussing the matter on June 16th.

Still, half heeding Auditor Maddox’s admonition, and half wanting to avoid doing anything, the Board passes the ordinance as presented, with the $231 and $13.50 amounts.

Supervisor Whitley suggests succeeding from California. The Board mulls the idea. Go Here.























































See a Prospect Editorial HERE.

CDBG for Alleghany ambulance barn, though they have no ambulance. To lure an ambulance they need a nice barn for it. Currently, they have no place to meet, no place to stage and no place to store equipment. The proposed location is next to the County yard, and the project will only cost the county $5,000. Passed.

The Board then went into closed session to try to figure out how to break the news to county employees, we guess.

More trash news in 2 weeks!



(Get the Board Packet HERE)

Thank God for Wayne DeLisle

Local man steps forward to make news in an otherwise zzzzfilled Board of Soops meeting.

The Sierra County Board of Supervisors met in continued regular session Tuesday, May 5, 2009. Supervisors Goicoechea, Huebner, Whitley, Adams and Chairperson Nunes were present.

That’s pretty much everybody that was present. At one point the gallery was peopled with two staff persons, three members of the press, and a guy with two cats and a canvas overcoat who was looking to get out of the rain.

Under the gavel of Chair Nunes, the meeting whizzed along:

Judge Pangeman spoke on the importance of judges and courts, and on plans for bringing more of the same to the Sierra Valley. As readers know, The Sierra Valley is part Sierra County and part Plumas County. However, cousins live all around the Valley, and when they have a little too much fun, the Plumas cousins have to go to court with the Sierra Cousins and versvisa. How much easier for everyone if the cousins could go to court together, and then maybe have a beer together afterwards, thereby providing the opportunity for new visits to the judge. It’s a system that works for everybody.

This would be the first "regional judges and stuff" center in the state, and so far can only hear minor infractions. For really big mistakes, cousins will still have to go to Plumas or Sierra only courts.

The U.S.F.S., Downieville sent a representative to say, among other things, they are not opposed to bicycles, nor the bicycle race, but it would be helpful if they not hold it while the local birds are hooking up and raising kids.An aside, not everyone loves the race. It brings in a relatively small amount of money to the local economy, and a little bit of attention to the county, but mostly people bring what they need with them, and mostly the event clogs roads with flatlanders. Still, it brought in almost $30,000 for the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, so some folks think it’s a good idea, whereas other folks think the hills are fine without trails and flatlanders. Downieville Classic is here http://www.downievilleclassic.com/ .Director of Public Works Tim Beals spoke on the Sierra Brooks water system. The plan continues to move forward to improve and increase the water supply for the Brooks.

However, there are hurdles. Last BOS meeting Beals outlined the thread of events which must work out for the new system to come in to being. It includes permission and lease from the Fish and Game for the well, from the Forest Service for the tank, and most of all, the people of Sierra Brooks have to vote to approve the new fees.

Beals was frustrated because some local press has been representing the change as very expensive. Beals said he’d heard from people who say that Brooks residents with wells would lose their wells. Likely the source of this rumor is the reality that when cities provide water they generally either steal existing wells or cap them off; that won’t be the case in the Brooks.

However, Beals was clear on one thing: if the people of Sierra Brooks don’t vote to support the new system, they are on their own, because the project will break down.

Lee Adams remarked that it was time for the Brooks to form their own district and take responsibility for their own water problem; the room agreed.

Four Issues: The Board of Supervisors of Sierra County and the Board of Supervisors of Plumas County will meet. They will discuss:

  1. The judge’s roost in the Valley;
  2. Sierra County providing drug and alcohol treatment to Plumas residents (as Plumas currently has no program);
  3. Sierra County use of Delleker Municipal Recovery facility.
  4. A multi agency water consortium

Clerk of the Board Heather Foster was instructed to find a meeting date right away for fifteen or twenty busy people in two counties, and then the Supervisors proceeded to remove days and even weeks from the calendar. Ms. Foster said she would handle it, so we expect the meeting to take place in June.

The Board finally appointed Sig Ostrom alternate to the Fish and Game committee. Mr. Ostrom is well known and respected locally, and the some supervisors experienced real dismay recently when forced to choose between Mr. Ostrom and Mr. Gail Dupree for one position on the committee. They created an alternate position and grabbed Mr. Ostrom for it before he could change his mind.

Dr. Carol Roberts, Director of Health and Humans Services, was patient with the Board over several issues.

Grant for further alcohol, drug and mental health services. The Board was asked for about $4,000 for a grant writer to complete an application for increased mental health services. The Board was hesitant because the money, though earmarked for grants, would roll over to the general fund. Testimony was heard from Dr. Roberts and Judge Pangeman about the importance of services locally, and of diverting people from jail or hospitalization. Eventually, the Board relented, but moaned that from now on the departments needed to foresee the future and know in advance what grant opportunities might come up for the year.

The Board also, at long last, approved the hiring of a Senior Mental Health Therapist at the Class 41 E step rating. Supervisor Adams observed that she could have hired the position at A, B, or C rate, and complained that at a time when the private sector is checking itself for a pulse the County was paying Cadillac wages to a head-shrinker (not his words). However, in the arcane world of social service delivery, a department has to have certain positions filled to obtain funding for badly needed services, and to provide key services. No one in Sierra County has the necessary skills. Dr. Roberts, after 10 months, was able to find a qualified person with an interest in the area. Eventually, the Board approved with Nunes voting "no".

The Board heard from Mr. Wayne DeLisle. Mr. DeLisle has been battling the County for a decade or so, even spending a day in jail over it. Currently, he is trying to convince the County that they need to find another way to charge him for his garbage.

Wayne DeLisle, making garbage a smelly issue for the Board

Unlike Mr. Arata, from the previous meeting with a similar request, Mr. DeLisle is familiar with the law and makes a compelling case that we should pay for what solid waste we produce. Mr. DeLisle produces none, and wants to pay for none. He correctly maintains that the law prevents the Board from charging him for what other people dump.

The consensus of observers is that DeLisle is right, after a fashion, though the current method of determining share of cost by parcel is legal, Mr. Curtis, County Council, insists.

In the end, as with every previous year, Mr. DeLisle did not get his request from the Board. Before long the way we "municiply recover" our waste will change everything about the way we go to the dump.


Plumas Bank, in Loyalton, might close. The Board heard from Jan Buck, who attended a meeting and said that Plumas admitted they were losing $100,000 to $150,000 a year in Loyalton. The bank wants more loans and more deposits to keep the doors open.

Peter Huebner related how, in Truckee, stores and banks are closed, buildings are vacant. Though he didn’t say it, we should prepare for Plumas to close the Loyalton branch, another blow to our only city.

April 21, 2009

There weren’t many cars in the parking lot, a sure sign of a bad news day. We hope people appreciate the long hours spent at these meetings, and our attempt to provide not just plain news, but insight and entertainment.

The Sierra County Board of Supervisors met Tuesday, April 21, 2009 in continued regular session. Supervisors Whitley, Goicoechea, Huebner, Adams and Chair Nunes were present.

The meeting started right on time and the meeting moved briskly through early business and reports. Prior to the Pledge of Allegiance Supervisor Adams asked for a moment of remembrance for a much respected local resident who recently passed, Cal Kidwell.

Tim Evans from the Forest Service reported that there will be controlled burns near Calpine. He was encouraging about the possibility of other projects trickling some money into the county.

The Board threw another 3 grand at the Downieville retaining wall that washed out between the 49 bridge and the Courthouse Bridge. Downieville is the county seat, we can’t let the whole town slip into the river and clog the farmlands of Marysville again. Verdi would probably be the next county seat and they’d probably cede the county to Washoe in the interest of economy of scale. Three grand is a cheap way out.

Director of the Physical World Tim Beals reported that the county will continue to spend Homeland Security money. The money is spent roughly half between civilian emergency services and half with the cops, who used to be civilians, too, but now seem to be part of the military here in the post-George Bush America. Mr. Beals noted that the paperwork on such grants becomes overwhelming when the County has to keep track of trifles like GPS locators (which one would think are never lost) and radios. He said from now on the County would buy stuff people could keep track of, like trucks. The Sheriff hopes to buy an emergency command post truck and trailer, which will be able to work together or separately. Supervisor Adams wanted to know if the truck would be useful every day or only when something was terribly wrong (not his words). No, it can be driven like any other vehicle. Mr. Beals also touted a civilian gewgaw, a reverse 911 that calls everyone in case of a tsunami or whatever. Lee Adams asked a logical question: if you only have one or two phone lines, how many people can you call? It’s a rare treat when Tim Beals doesn’t know the answer to something, and this was a good question he hadn’t thought of. It took him a minute to get used to the idea that he didn’t know, and everyone else, too. He’ll find out.

The county will also throw 2 years and $70,000 to come up with a new emergency plan. As an aside, that amounts to about $22 bucks per person. This reporter would like to make an offer to the county: give me the $22 bucks now, and if there is a disaster, I promise to run like hell for Nevada.

The council then discussed the Loyalton clean up, May 26-29. Because it is an opportunity to do good, it is going to cost a fortune and make life difficult. Mr. Tim Beals, Director of Doing Good, reminded the Board that he’d mentioned they might waive tipping fees at the landfill for the cleanup, and send a road crew to pick up refuse on the curb. Cost: about $50,000. The Board looked to Mr. Jim Curtis, County Council. He read the law in a way that allowed them to do it.

But, Van Maddox, Auditor interjected, they would need some indemnification to protect the county from loss. Mr. Curtis agreed. Supervisor Dave Goicoechea insisted there be "no county workers on private property at all." Under those conditions, the County will agree to help its only incorporated city. Remember, county workers, private property is POISON!

Director Tim Beals reported on the Sierra Brooks water system, and plans to engage an engineer to upgrade the Sierra Brooks water system. In short: the county board of supervisors is the Board of Directors of Sierra Brooks water system. It was "given" to them by the builder in the late 1960s. The original system is counter intuitive, they need more water. Mr. Beals described the current system and the changes needed.

Supervisor Lee Adams recognized that Director Beals is working on this problem and the County is not fully repaid for his time. In addition, Mr. Beals is spread too thin, takes responsibility for everything, and (again, not Adam’s words) looks every day of his seventy-six years. Mr. Adams insisted Sierra Brooks begin to take responsibility for the administration of its own water. Everyone agreed.

The following emerged: The people of Sierra Brooks use 500 to 600 times the water per month than other people, we aren’t sure whom. They get all this water for about $20 a month, according to a Brooks resident. Water meters would take care of some water shortage problems.

The rest of the plan is to get some money as a gift (a common plan these days) and take out a low interest loan. Then, beg the Fish and Game for permission to put in a well on their property, and beg the Forest Service to allow them to put up a tank on FS property. The residents would have to approve of the fee increase to pay for the work.

An alternative, not suggested, would be for everyone in Sierra Brooks to get 20 gallon hot water tanks instead of 40-60 gallon; use xeriscaping, use subsurface irrigation and only at night for flowers and gardens, collect roof water in 2500 gallon tanks for gardening and fire protection, wash clothes only with a full washer, and so on. Not only will it save thousands in gifts and loans and prevent begging, it will prepare everyone for the future. If you missed this link on the Front Page, go HERE 

Vallea Rose, President of the Sierra Brooks Homeowners Association, spoke with this reporter and stated that, indeed, Sierra Brooks probably does need meters, and they are ready to take more responsibility for their water system.

In the meantime, get a drink before you leave Loyalton.

A much-discussed animal control officer position was approved (extra help!) and Sheriff John Evan’s plan for restoring animal control services moves forward.

Allison Baca is appointed to the Downieville Fire Protection District.

Rod McKinney is greatly appreciated for his service on the Sierra county Fish and Game Commission. He has given 12 years of service and was instrumental in a number of important projects. Included is the Highway 89 Stewardship, which is a joining together of 9 different agencies to work to find ways to reduce the impact of Highway 89 on deer and other critters, and to reduce loss of human life and property by reducing automobile/animal collisions. A cool link is HERE































There was short story telling, expressions of mutual respect and gratitude, and in general, it was a brief festival of how generous people of good will can work together to make things better in our community. Thank you, Mr. McKinney. Thank you to everyone who works for community, often with no thanks at all.

Then, it was back to more usual business.

It is the 21st century, and the Board of Supervisors are in favor of the internet now, and say so in a letter supporting funding to Plumas- Sierra Telecommunications.

A mature gentleman approached the Board to ask that they not charge the $231 a year solid waste fee on his second parcel in Sierra City. He explained that he has hardship in his life, including financial loss and terrific emotional loss. He explained that the building on the second parcel was not used as a house, and did not create any garbage. He just uses it to refinish furniture a couple of weeks a year. It costs the county nothing; indeed, he was hardly able to use the property because of his responsibilities to loved ones with health issues. He had been asking for four years now, please remove the burden of the $231.

He had asked Solid Waste Fee Administrator Richard Nourse to remove that fee, but Mr. Nourse felt there was no justification. He had spoken with Mr. Beals, but they had not arrived at a solution. Please, take away the $231 fee.

This reporter felt a tear forming.

The code says something like this:

In addition to the foregoing, any property, enterprise or activity which does not generate, create or possess any refuse which would reasonably require disposal of through the County solid waste system, at any time during the applicable fiscal year, shall be exempt as "no use". For the purpose of this Chapter, it shall be presumed that all use of real property that is developed or improved in any manner and/or is used for human occupation, recreation or enterprises, generates or creates refuse.

Mr. Curtis quoted 8.05.25, regarding fee adjustments. It didn’t seem to clarify much, though clarity is what the law, in its labyrinthine way, seeks.

Supervisor Pat Whitley observed that there has been no water to the little building in question for at least eight years, and probably more. Clearly, no one is living there, why don’t we just let the poor guy off?

It was one of those moments that cause this reporter to long for a world where Pat Whitley’s logic still worked. The parcel isn’t using any garbage, the poor man hardly uses his place and he has to pay $462 dollars a year? That’s nuts.

The stony faces and steely eyes of Adams, Huebner, Nunes and especially Goicoechea betrayed a different logic. They refrained until Mr. Beals explained the situation further.

The gentleman had a number of courses available to him. He could remove the kitchen and have the building verified as storage, and the fee could be waived. (Though under the ordinance it wouldn’t have to be: "it shall be presumed that all use of real property that is developed or improved in any manner and/or is used for human occupation, recreation or enterprises, generates or creates refuse").

The gentleman could combine the two parcels which would reduce the fee.

However, both those alternatives would reduce the value of the property in some way; the first would make the little cabin unavailable for occupation because it would never pass modern and future codes. (%#$@! nanny government!) The second would make one larger parcel with perhaps less value than two smaller parcels, each with a house.

Explained this way, even the most bleeding heart of us realized the gentleman is asking us to subsidize his wealth. He has two parcels in Sierra City? Why doesn’t he simply rent the one and use the money to build a shop on the other parcel? Indeed, several supervisors made suggestions which would benefit the gentleman.

The fact is, the county is in a bad way itself, suffering a number of diseases imposed by the state, not the least of which being "sold-wasting disease". We in Sierra County are getting a great deal on solid-waste, and it is probably about to go away. Dumping trash is a very expensive habit, one the county can hardly afford once the state closes our Loyalton landfill. The smart money has been listening to Director of Dumpage Tim Beals warn us of this looming problem.

Further, there are many property owners who don’t live on their property, and don’t make money in rent, but still pay for solid waste because some day they might need to dump something, and for the dump to be there, we all have to chip in.

Eventually, the Board declined to waive the $231 a year fee; all except Supervisor Whitley who continued to see the plight of this one person instead of the plight of the county. This reporter’s heart went with the gentleman, and with the hero of the common person, Pat Whitley, but the head and wallet went with the stony-faced, steel-eyed supervisors.

The Board went into closed session about labor negotiations and came out saying the Union had declined an MOU.

The Board also went into closed session regarding the Original 16:1 claim against the county for work done to mediate a hazardous waste spill actually owned by the county. What followed was one of those instances that assures a rational person that our society is dying under the weight of attorneys, insurance companies, and self serving bureaucrats in general.

Speaking on behalf of the press in Sierra County, and so on behalf of the people, the Editor of the Mountain Messenger Newspaper took the podium and the floor and complained that the Board was going in to closed session as though litigation was involved when in fact no litigation is pending.

That would be a logical argument in the street, but not it the halls of government, not even the very modest Loyalton Social Hall.

Mr. Curtis sat straight in his chair and informed the press in the considerable form of Mr. Russell that the Board didn’t have to go in to closed session to discuss this, but a claim had been made and the INSURANCE COMPANY would insist that the Board not give anything away in public session. Mr. Curtis himself, as the Board’s legal wizard, couldn’t speak candidly in front of the press if he might say something that proves what everyone already knows: the County is at fault. There was more confusing and obfuscating legal mumbo, but that was the meat of it.

Tim Beals, Director of Runoff for the County, asked Mr. Russell, if Mr. Miller (an employee of the 16:1 mine) doesn’t intend any legal action, why did he make a claim?

A logical person might look at it this way: The County created some hazardous waste that ran on to private property and threatened a stream. The property owner, noticing no activity on the part of the County, did some considerable work to mediate the problem and now they want to be repaid for doing that work. If the county is at fault, they should pay him back. He has proposed a plan (see previous Board report HERE) to help the county pay it back.

However, the Board looked at it differently, and again the insurance company came up. It doesn’t matter if the County was wrong or not, what matters is culpability. If the insurance company has a great way to skip out on the bill, we have to be ready to run.

Director of County-Press Relations Tim Beals spoke, saying the press was playing this against them, making it seem like the County wasn’t doing anything (probably because they are doing whatever they are doing in closed session). He said this was "crap" and that we could quote him. He did indeed say "crap", but it was done in a stiff, formal way and he clearly didn’t enjoy it as much as this reporter does when I say "crap".

Eventually, Mr. Russell allowed the Board to go into closed session, and when they came out of closed session, they had no comment. This is how we know they were doing something.

Speaking not for the entire press in the county, but only for this paper, it is our position on this that:

  1. The press should do as Mr. Russell did, and insist on knowing why the Board is going in to closed session (the Insurance company) and what standard of ethics they employ (no ethics: insurance company); and,
  2. Any interaction between the Board of Supervisors and Mr. Mike Meister Miller is bound to create news and so a very good thing indeed.














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