County-community landscape project is blossoming

M. Kate West
Chester Editor

The new Almanor Recreation Center (ARC) in Chester has, from its early beginnings, received tremendous community support — support that continues to grow with each passing day.

The first big step in this collaboration began with the efforts of Gini Natali to form an unfunded recreation district in the Lake Almanor Basin. A diamond of the first water when it came to community advocacy, Natali had learned of the potential of funding that would come to every recognized recreational district in the state of California.

The community responded to her campaign with a 75 percent voter approval to form the Almanor Recreation and Park District during the March 2000 election primary.

The Rotary Club of Chester presents Plumas County Facility Services Director Joe Wilson with a $987 check. The funds, along with a matching amount from Chester Rotary, will be used to complete the landscaping at the county owned Almanor Recreation Center in Chester. From left: Rotary District 5190 representative Marlene Cummings, Wilson and Rotarians Cheri McIntire and Lynn Cannady. Photo by M. Kate West

From those long ago days until now, recreation partnerships associated with the ARC have continued to form.

The latest community collaboration began after the construction of the recreation center was completed in the late spring of 2011. The building grounds, which are surrounded by the natural beauty of the Collins Pine forest, remained bare of any landscaping.

Despite the amount of dollars available for the building construction, no county or recreation funds were available to crown the project.

Past Almanor Recreation and Park District president Ruth Broussard began the new effort by expressing the need for material donations to Lassen View Landscape owners Harvey and Gina Burnett.

In what can only be described as an amazing gift to the community, they donated 11 colorful trees, among them red maples, thundercloud plums, cedars, aspen and Canada red chokecherry.

In addition to the trees they also donated 45 shrubs and 65 perennial plants, a total market value of $2,641.

From there, the list of community contributions seemed to explode.

Broussard, who works for Dig It Construction, made other contacts that resulted in Dan Nicholson, owner of Quality Concrete Inc. in Chester, volunteering his time and equipment to deliver soil removed from a job site to the ARC.

Shortly after, Womack Construction Company delivered an additional eight – 10 dump truck loads of dirt, all at the personal expense of part-time resident and Rotarian Lynn Cannady, who was in the process of having a backyard patio built.

Upon learning of the need for fill at both the ARC and the Almanor Recreation and Park District’s Truman Collins Sports Complex multipurpose field, he said his patio project quickly expanded to include a bocce ball court.

The cost for Cannady to excavate and have the dirt hauled to the two Chester locations is estimated at $15,000.

When word about the effort came to the attention of the Rotary Club of Chester, the members decided to take on the task of finding the funding to install the necessary irrigation system.

Rotarian Cheri McIntire coordinated information with Plumas County Facility Services Director Joe Wilson and then prepared a grant request to Rotary District 5190.

The matching District Simplified Grant (DSG) was approved and funded in the amount of $987.50. The Rotary Club of Chester plans to match that sum with dollars or a combination of funds and in-kind services to the project.

During a Jan. 12 meeting between Wilson, McIntire and Cannady at the ARC, Cannady volunteered to support the project even further by pledging to match the future cash made by the Rotary Club of Chester.

In keeping with county policy, Wilson said he plans to submit a request to accept the Rotary grant on the Feb. 1 Plumas County Board of Supervisors agenda.

Upon their acceptance of the club funds, Wilson said he would plan for the project work to be completed by April.


About Cannady

Lynn Cannady and his family have been vacationing in Lake Almanor for the past 25 years and recently bought their favorite rental on the Lake Almanor Peninsula.

It was during his patio renovation that he first learned about the fill dirt needed for two of Chester’s newest facilities. As he asked around he said he learned more about the community and wanted to help.

About his donation he said, “I felt my donation in transporting my yard fill was a way to give to the community. In another way of giving I only hired local contractors — giving back is the right thing to do.”

Originally from Orinda, he takes great pride in being a Rotarian and has, over the past 25 years, held a perfect attendance record.

As a Rotary Club of Orinda member he also chaired community services and giving.

“Orinda was a very wealthy community so we worked to expand our service programs and giving outside the borders of our area. I feel like what I am doing here is just a further extension of giving back to our communities.”


ARC funding sources

The bulk of the funding for the capital improvement (construction) project came from two California state sources, both of which were funded by Proposition 40, which is also known as the “2002 California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks and Coastal Protection Act.”

The act, which was passed by California voters March 5, 2002, totaled $2.6 billion dollars of which $870 million was set aside for competitive per capita grants.

The $2.6 billion dollar pot allowed for every recognized recreation district in California, with an approved recreation project, to receive a share of the Prop. 40 funds. Locally, the Almanor Recreation and Park District was awarded $220,000 to build a recreational facility. Adding further to the ARPD contribution were the funds remaining on account from the original $30,000 the district received from the 2000 Clean Water Bond Act.

The state also awarded bond funds to each of the 58 California county governments for recreational improvement projects. In a five-way split, past Plumas County Supervisor Bill Dennison was allocated $237,000 for District 3.

Approximately three years later, Plumas County grant writer Bob Hiss submitted and received for Plumas County state approval for a Roberti-Z’Berg-Harris Non-urban Needs Basis grant in the amount of $500,000. These grant dollars, combined with the three previous sources, brought the total available project capital up to $987,760.


Project management

The project began to formulate in 2007 when the all-volunteer board of the ARPD determined that trying to coordinate action among three entities, while managing funding streams from two state agencies, presented a complexity beyond their time and expertise to make the construction project successful.

The ARPD board voted, in February 2007, to encourage Plumas County to take the lead and become the owner and operator of the planned Almanor Recreation Center.

Plumas County District 3 Supervisor Sherrie Thrall did, in her first term, work with her peers throughout 2007 to blend the grant dollars and fold the project under county management.

Throughout the next four years, in between long non-building periods of inclement weather, Thrall acted as shepardess to the project and the building was completed and approved for public use during the last days of April 2011.

The recreation center is located at 450 Meadowbrook Loop, in Chester. It is constructed on the 2.42 acres of land deeded to the ARPD for recreational uses only by the Plumas Unified School District.

ARC is owned by Plumas County and operated by the Plumas County Department of Facility Services under the terms of a 20-year memorandum of understanding between the recreation district and the county.


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