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Mayor Pat Morton awards a Proclamation of Appreciation to Greg Ramelli for his many years of service with the Portola Volunteer Fire Department at the City Council meeting Feb. 28. Photo by Lauren Westmoreland

City looks at OHV grant, future with trails stewardship

The Portola City Council met Feb. 28 with a variety of items, from ordinances to the city’s relationship and future goals with Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, on the agenda.

City council communications

Council member Phil Oels spoke about his attendance at a recent Plumas County Transportation Commission meeting, as well as a meeting with Mike Hallagan regarding the ongoing Fire Safe Community efforts being undertaken in preparation for an assessment. Oels noted, “We’re ready to go, we’re just waiting for the snow.”Council member Bill Powers covered his attendance at the Transportation Committee meeting as well. He said that the commission was looking at three new buses, one of which would be on the Portola route. “The third of the three buses was rear-ended as it was being transported over here,” Powers noted. “It was returned, fixed and is now on its way to be outfitted to our specifications.” Powers also attended a LAFCO meeting with Mayor Pat Morton.

Morton described her presence and engagement at many of the ongoing meetings of the Portola Volunteer Fire Department Ad-Hoc Committee, her attendance at LAFCo and at the presentation given at the Eastern Plumas Health Care Education Center by Dr. Paul Swanson on opiates. “It was very interesting to see the history of opiates and the way the crisis has come about,” Morton added.

City Manager Robert Meacher stated that there was an updated staff report regarding the property lease with purchase option for the off-highway vehicle grant.

Meacher turned the floor over to Public Works Director Todd Roberts, who updated the room on the preparations in advance of the predicted large winter storm. “We’ve been doing our ‘snowmaggedon’ prep,” Roberts said, as the room erupted in laughter. “All equipment is currently up and running, and the contract plows are ready to roll.”

Meacher said he would be in contact with EPHC to prepare a warming center if needed, such as the one set up in the last heavy winter storms when power outages were an issue.

Meacher then introduced a staff report requested by the city cuncil detailing a list of short-term, long-term and some completed city projects.

“This is a living document,” Meacher said. “We would like the council to take a look at it, and add or subtract what you would like to see on that list. The list is all things that staff is currently working on.”

The list includes such short-term items as FEMA repairs, a personnel policy and volunteer policy update, and the Golden Springs issues with Redding Division of Drinking Water.

Long-term projects include the Frisbee disk golf course at the Riverwalk in Portola, with the grant application process underway, and the Portola 192 sewer connection to the city.

Meacher then announced the city’s appreciation of local Richard Arnold, who donated $2,000 to the city. Arnold said, “My goal is really to inspire others to go beyond what is required for the betterment of the city.”

Morton read a Proclamation of Appreciation to Greg Ramelli for his many years of service with the PVFD.

SBTS review

Greg Williams of the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship gave a presentation to the council, beginning with a brief review of 2017.

“This is really a two-part presentation,” Williams said. “First, we’ll go over the impact that SBTS has had over the past year in Plumas County, and then a look at the Lost and Found race and plans for the upcoming event.”

Williams explained that SBTS had had a “super busy year,” with 40 fulltime employees in the summer, 86 percent of which were Plumas and Sierra county residents. He noted that SBTS had 550-plus members, and more than 16,000 supporters, with a $665,781 total payroll.

SBTS has spent $1.7 million thus far on the trail programs, Williams said, adding, “It is really important to us to keep the trails open and safe and to not only attract tourism, but also keep residents satisfied locally as well.” SBTS had heavy youth involvement last summer, with 13 students employed and 35 volunteers engaged in youth programs and projects.

Williams gave a look ahead at the next Triple Crown bike racing series, which includes the highly popular Lost and Found Gravel Grinder bike race at Lake Davis.

“We already have 910 people registered for this year’s event,” Williams said enthusiastically. “We’ve got a permit for 2,000 people this year and we’re looking to cap around 1,250 as we really don’t want to diminish the quality of the event. We have lots of international attendance at this event, and all of the races sold out last year.”

Williams stated, “No work could get done without strong partnerships, such as those that SBTS has with the USFS, Plumas County, the city of Portola, California State Parks, and the many land management and nonprofit partners as well.”

Williams also thanked SBTS’ corporate partners such as Patagonia and Nakoma. “Our efforts are helping to support the local community through tourism and we anticipate growth financially and in the community.”

Williams showed slides detailing SBTS’ work on trails in Quincy, the SBTS master plan detailing the goal of connecting Plumas and Sierra counties, and the future 2020 Trail Summit in Reno, where SBTS hopes to share its success with others.

“This all leads us to how we would like to really showcase Portola at the next Lost and Found race,” Williams said. “We want to bring people out of Lake Davis and into Portola for a post-ride gathering. We’ve got Jellybread, a well-known band with a strong following out of Reno on the lineup, and donated light and sound from SBTS members in the works. We also hope to really work with local breweries such as The Brewing Lair, as well as wineries and as many local food vendors as possible.”

Williams invited the local public to engage with the riders at the planned park gathering, creating a festive atmosphere with a potential kids’ bike race to be held at the Portola Park pump track. “It’s really important to us to engage the community,” Williams emphasized.

Williams said that SBTS was willing to enter into a funding partnership for the planned event June 2 at the city park, with SBTS offering to provide 50 percent matching funds.

Meacher said locals should expect 500 people minimum in Portola, and that the event would be bringing more than the registered 1,200 riders into the area, with a potential for campers to stay in city limits again this year.

“Family and friends will be in the area as well,” Meacher said. “The city is working on financial logistics, as we have already budgeted for the 2018 summer concerts in the park. We want to take a look at the return of investments from the concerts in the park and perhaps change things up,” he added.

Williams said, “There is an excitement to this race, as the race course changes each year, and it has a real reputation on being an adventure race and event. This is an up-and-coming format with the gravel racers, but we’ve gotta kind of take a chance.”

Oels said it was a good investment, and then moved to have staff continue to pursue the funding partnership on outdoor events in the city park. A roll call vote approved the item, and council member Powers remarked in closing that the SBTS had done excellent work on the Mills Peak Trail, “It is absolutely spectacular!”

Housing Element update

The City Council then considered the fifth cycle housing element update, which takes into account public opinion on local housing needs.

Local Realtors have already submitted their thoughts and input on the housing element, and input from Plumas Crisis Intervention & Resource Center was received, according to city clerk Melissa Klundby. With no other public input given, the council moved to approve the housing element update.

CDBG Grant 12-8409

The council then received public comment and considered Resolution 2342, which would close out the CDBG Grant 12-8409. This grant was used to update the resource center to ADA standards. After a roll call vote, the resolution was approved.

OHV Grant

The City Council heard a staff report about the property lease with purchase option for the OHV grant. The parcel in question for the OHV staging area is adjacent to the ball fields near EPHC.

“Staff spent a lot of time, right up to the last minute, making the needed changes to the document, with the extensive help from Susan Jacobson of Sport Success, and we’re still answering questions from the health care district as well.”

Jacobson explained that there are two phases to the project, with phase one involving a CEQA study, paid for through the OHV grant fund.

Phase two would be the parcel acquisition via lease option, paid for by OHV funds. The lease option would have an eight-year term, and would go into effect when CEQA requirements are met. There is a 25 percent required match for the grant, but the match could come from soft costs, such as the contract with Sport Success, staff time, project management fees and volunteer services.

Jacobson noted that the City Council would be expected to make a resolution once the award was received, and that with the lease option in place, it would alleviate some of the “what ifs” noted by representatives of EPHC.

Meacher also noted that the state requires the lease option to be in the grant submission.“With the lease option, at the end of the lease term, the city would own the parcel to be purchased for $1 upon the final loan payment,” Jacobson noted. “There are a lot of moving parts to this,” she added.

After a roll call vote, council moved to approve the motion to enter into a ground lease with purchase option with EPHC.

Solid waste and recycling

Council considered the adoption of the amended Chapter 8.04 of the Portola Municipal code providing regulations for solid waste collection and recycling.

“The purpose of the amendment is to bring the city code into compliance with the contract with Intermountain Disposal,” city clerk Klundby stated. It was noted that when IMD transports recyclables to Sacramento, the local area garbage is declared to be “the cleanest” received by the Sacramento center. Council approved the ordinance by roll call vote.

New road department equipment

“We’ve received a $25,000 promissory note from FEMA thus far, in regards to the work that the city has done to repair roads from the winter storms,” Public Works Director Roberts said.

Roberts directed the council’s attention to a list of equipment needed to begin work on the city roads, with some skepticism that FEMA would reimburse the City if the work were done with rented equipment.

Roberts pointed out that the main piece of equipment needed was a Bagela 7-ton BA7000 asphalt recycler, which Roberts found through a broker, used, with an estimated 80 hours of use on it. “The life of the tub is going to be about 500 hours, and that is if we use more poor quality grindings,” Roberts noted.

“It’s really hard to find a used piece like this and I would like to acquire it as soon as possible — this is time sensitive.”

Roberts explained that the machine would be easy to use, with grindings to be inserted through the top of the machine and dumping from underneath. The used asphalt recycler has a price tag of $59,000.

Susan Scarlett, city finance officer, noted that the acquisition would be a budget amendment, likely split between streets and snow. “We need to get the roads back into decent condition, and this seems like a good start,” Scarlett stated via telephone.

With little further discussion, council moved to authorize the expenditure of $59,000 on the machinery, which will be shipped from New York.

The City Council regularly meets on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m., and invites public participation and attendance. For more information, contact City Hall at 832-6803 or visit

One thought on “City looks at OHV grant, future with trails stewardship

  • March 12, 2018 at 5:03 am

    How about fixing the HORRIBLE roads in Portola? wouldn’t that be a GREAT idea?????


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