Supervisors discuss drought, airports, sheriff funds and more

Debra Moore
Staff Writer

Domestic water supplies, dry wells, agriculture, livestock, lake levels and fire danger are among the areas that the drought will impact in Plumas County.

Jerry Sipe, director of the county’s office of emergency services, addressed the drought briefly during the Board of Supervisors’ Jan. 21 meeting and asked that the topic be placed on the board’s Feb. 4 agenda for discussion.

Sipe suggested that the board might want to form a task force to coordinate efforts to deal with the drought.

“There’s a lot of concern about the lakes and the recreational aspect,” Supervisor Lori Simpson said.

Later in the meeting Supervisor Terry Swofford, who represents the Sierra Valley, said that many of his constituents are worried about wells and creeks drying up.

Supervisor Kevin Goss, who represents Indian Valley, reported hearing similar concerns.

Sipe is working with the farm advisor, the agriculture commissioner and water districts.

“This is going to be a moving target for quite some time,” Sipe said.

The supervisors preferred the news that Sheriff Greg Hagwood shared during the department head comment period.

He said that after completing a midyear budget review, his department would need $50,000 from the county’s contingency fund, not the $82,000 originally requested, to help hire three additional deputies. That’s because the third deputy has taken longer to hire than expected and the additional wages won’t be needed.


Supervisor launches website

Supervisor Sherrie Thrall announced that she launched a new website,

Thrall envisioned the website as a means to post in-depth information on issues that impact the Almanor Basin. As an example, she cited a paper about water rights written by Brian Morris (the county’s former advisor on water issues).

On the home page of her website, Thrall also mentions the county’s 2013-14 budget, forest management plans for the Plumas and Lassen national forests, and the relicensing of Lake Almanor as just a few of the topics to be discussed.

At the meeting Thrall described the website as a “one-stop shop” that would provide a “lot of links” and “factual background information.”


Airport manager sought

Chester Airport needs a new manager after Dan English announced that he is leaving the position he has held since 1992.

The supervisors authorized Dony Sawchuk, the county’s director of facility services and airports, to begin recruiting for the position.

“It’s going to be a unique position,” Sawchuk said. Not only did English manage the airport for the county, he was also a fixed-base operator, meaning that he provided other services such as jet fuel, flight instruction and charters.

Supervisor Sherrie Thrall, whose district encompasses the airport, said that English would be hard to replace.

“Because he’s been there 22 years, he knows that place,” Thrall said. She added that she hoped there could be some overlap so that English could share that knowledge with his successor.



The board appointed Valerie Ellen Sheldon to the Plumas County Mental Health Commission. Her term will begin March 8 and conclude in April 2016.


Sheriff funds

Sheriff Greg Hagwood received authorization to transfer funds that were budgeted for helicopter use to purchase investigative equipment instead.

Hagwood will use $10,000 to purchase “technology-driven equipment.” The sheriff declined to share the details, but simply said that while people use technology for good, it can also be used for illegal purposes. The equipment will help thwart the latter.

The board also authorized Hagwood to return $13,486 in unspent grant funds that had been awarded by the Drug Enforcement Administration for cannabis eradication and suppression.

“This is a frustrating item,” Hagwood told the supervisors. “I never like giving money back.”

Hagwood said his investigations staff was reduced by 50 percent due to injuries and a shortage of patrol staff, which led to an inability to spend the money as originally planned.


Do I hear $83,000?

That’s the amount the county netted after its surplus vehicle auction concluded Dec. 18, 2013.

The online auction, which began Oct. 15, 2013, grossed $89,630, and, after paying a commission of $6,367, the county netted $83,263.

Several county departments, including public works, public health and senior transportation, as well as the Community Development Commission, Transportation Commission and an estate handled by the district attorney’s office, contributed to the sales.

Public works brought in the most sale dollars with $40,792.

Joe Blackwell, who organized the auction, said that the event was “very successful.” Checks will be sent to the public works department for distribution to the contributing agencies.


Paging Dr. Satterfield

The supervisors appointed Dr. Mark Satterfield to be the county’s new health officer/medical director. Satterfield is an emergency room doctor at Plumas District Hospital and serves on its board of directors.

The contract runs through June 30.

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