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The Jan. 22 meeting of the Plumas County Board of Supervisors didn’t begin with a prayer, as has been the custom — it began with the flag salute led by Supervisor Sherrie Thrall.
During the board’s prior meeting, the supervisors removed prayer from their agenda after receiving a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation objecting to the practice.
However, when it came time for public comment, Pastor George Tarleton rose quickly and gave a brief prayer.
The board considered a number of items during the meeting including health insurance for county employees and residents. (See related article.)
Tank removal costs
The supervisors will take $12,881 from the county’s general fund if necessary to pay more bills associated with removing the underground storage tank from Dame Shirley Plaza, but are hopeful that its insurance company will ultimately cover the tab.
With this latest payment, the county will have paid Vestra Resources $54,918.50 for all of the work associated with removing the tank, from the paperwork to the removal, monitoring and testing.
As the board continues to tap its contingency fund to pay for unanticipated expenditures, Thrall asked the county auditor to detail the withdrawals from the account on a board in the supervisors’ meeting room.
To date, just the remaining total has been highlighted but Thrall wants to keep track of where the money is going.
DA seeks approval
When District Attorney David Hollister needs assistance with criminal investigations, he hires expert help.
But he asked the county supervisors to formally approve that practice via a resolution during their Jan. 22 meeting.
In his backup material, he presented court rulings that affirmed the district attorney’s right to select and hire such experts.
Supervisor Lori Simpson asked Hollister why he wanted the resolution.
Hollister said he wanted to avoid any confusion about “the authority of the district attorney.”
County Counsel Craig Settlemire said that the resolution “simply states what the law is.”
The board approved his request without further discussion.
Social services update
Social Services Director Elliott Smart presented the supervisors with his 2012 Service Review, his 12th such report for the board.
“This period has been marked by record level case counts for the Department’s safety net programs,” Smart wrote in a cover letter to the board.
Smart shared a few highlights of the 22-page report with the supervisors during the meeting.
The department’s annual 2012-13 budget is just a little more than $7.4 million, with no contribution from the county’s general fund.
The recession continues to impact social services, with nearly 700 households depending on CalFresh (formerly referred to as food stamps) to feed their families.
According to Smart, in 2011 the monthly value of the program was $208,507, and he maintains that the money bolsters the local economy. “Sixty-seven percent of the dollars are spent at local grocers,” Smart said.
Smart reported good news with regard to children: the number of cases referred to child welfare continued to drop from 192 in 2010-11 to 142 in 2011-12. A decade ago the number was at 271.
“It’s good news,” Smart said. “That’s a number I like to see go down.”
Simpson asked if the drop in cases was due to “less children in the county” or “better parent education,” while Supervisor Jon Kennedy asked if the department missed cases.
“I like to think there’s less abuse,” Smart said. “We have good reporting.”
While reports of child abuse are down, elder abuse is up.
In 2010-11 there were 65 reported cases, while in 2011-12 there were 119.
Thrall asked if the increase in abuse was physical or financial.
“Financial,” Smart responded, noting that sometimes it’s family or close friends who take advantage of the elderly.
He said that he had a “good working relationship with the district attorney” to prosecute those cases.
Chips Fire request denied
When it comes to granting economic hardship requests with regard to the Chips Fire, the Small Business Administration isn’t bending the rules.
Plumas County Recovery Committee Chairman Bill Wickman told the board that he worked with Jerry Sipe to make a case for economic hardship based on “the element of smoke.”
While the SBA recognized the adverse impact smoke could have on businesses, it declined to consider the condition for claims because the administration doesn’t “believe it would be appropriate because it wouldn’t apply equally to all types of disasters.”
The committee had also requested that the 4 percent loan interest rates be reduced due to the seasonal nature of the business. The SBA said that Congress sets the interest rate.
The board was scheduled to hold two special meetings this month: Jan. 28 to conduct preliminary interviews for a new facility services director, and Jan. 29 to discuss the mid-year budget.
The next regular meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 5. The board is scheduled to hear a presentation from the Indian Valley Citizens for Private Property Rights regarding the general plan and Agenda 21.
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