Board says yes to Eastern Plumas rec, but no to chamber

Debra Moore
Staff Writer

It took three attempts, but the Board of Supervisors ultimately voted Nov. 5 to give $3,000 to the Eastern Plumas Recreation District to spend on the Johnsville Historic Ski Bowl.

The Eastern Plumas Chamber of Commerce didn’t fare as well and walked away with nothing after submitting a request for $10,000.

Johnsville ski bowl

Don Fregulia, board chairman for the Eastern Plumas Recreation District, asked the supervisors for $5,000 — $3,000 for a final survey to erect the ski lift towers, and $2,000 for a generator.

“We’ve made many, many improvements; lots of people have contributed,” Fregulia said, adding that this money would keep the project moving forward.

He received immediate support from Board Chairman Terry Swofford.

“I used to ski there when I was younger. It’s good for the kids,” he said. “It will help the whole county.”

While Supervisor Jon Kennedy said that he, too, had “nostalgic memories,” he worried that the county might be wasting its money given the scope of what still needed to be accomplished at the ski hill.

“My biggest concern is that it’s going to take another $100,000 to get it going,” Kennedy said. “If you were at $95,000, I would have made the motion. But the county doesn’t need another write-off.”

Supervisor Lori Simpson disagreed.

“I see this as economic development,” she said. “I see two specific requests that would move this along,” and she made a motion to approve a $5,000 contribution.

Because the money would be taken from the county’s contingency fund, it required a four-fifths vote. Simpson’s motion failed on a 3-2 vote. Swofford was the only other “yes” vote.

Next, Supervisor Sherrie Thrall made a motion to fund the $2,000 generator.

“Can we have the generator back if something fails?” Kennedy asked.

That motion also failed, with Supervisor Simpson voting no because she wanted to allocate more money, and Kennedy also voting no.

Then Supervisor Kevin Goss made the motion to fund $3,000 for the ski lift terminal site survey, and the board voted unanimously to approve that amount.


Chamber’s turn

Audrey Ellis, the executive director of the Eastern Plumas Chamber of Commerce, immediately followed the recreation district.

She asked for $10,000 to be divided between the tourist information center, a business summit and trade show costs.

Ellis said these endeavors would support all of Plumas County, not just the eastern end.

Supervisor Thrall said that while she supported the idea of a tourist information center, she didn’t think that the county should fund it.

The business summit focuses on “rec and tech,” and Supervisor Kennedy said that allocating $3,000 would be premature since the system isn’t available to residents and most businesses yet.

“We’ve got to start somewhere, Jon,” Ellis told Kennedy.

Board observer Larry Douglas said that based on performance, he couldn’t think of a better place to invest.

Supervisor Simpson made a motion to allocate $3,000 to the chamber, but only Goss joined her in voting yes, so the motion failed.

In an interview Nov. 7, Ellis said that she and her board were disappointed with the outcome.

“Our proposal was to benefit the entire county,” Ellis said. Earlier in the year, the supervisors had allocated $3,400 to the Eastern Plumas Chamber to reproduce brochures to be shared with the county’s other chambers.

Ellis was grateful for that money and complimented the board for funding Plumas Arts, but remained disappointed with the latest decision.

When asked if this meant more fundraising, Ellis said no, that most people and organizations were tapped out.

“It forces us to do what we’ve been doing and that’s ‘thinking out of the box,’” she said. She pointed to such endeavors as developing websites for the city of Portola as well as local businesses as one means of support.

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