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A look back at Plumas County 2019

The following are snippets from stories that were published in 2019.

Jan. 16

Supervisor Michael Sanchez, representing District 1 (Portola and Eastern Plumas), was elected new chair of the Plumas County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Jan. 8.

Sanchez replaces Supervisor Jeff Engel representing District 5 (Mohawk Valley and East Quincy).

Supervisor Kevin Goss is this year’s new vice chair. Goss represents District 2 (Indian Valley, the Canyon and portions of East Quincy).

Jan. 23

Representatives of the new Biomass Heating System at the Health and Human Services Building, also known as the county annex, presented a report on the progress of the new operation at the Tuesday, Jan. 15, meeting of the Board of Supervisors.

The biomass plant is still in its early operating stages and is the result of a $2.6 million California Energy Commission grant, plus a $100,000 national competition award. When the wood-fired plant is fully up and running it will be turned over to Plumas County for full operation.

It is designed to use wood chips to heat the neighboring county facility.

In a public hearing concerning the future of telecommunications in Plumas County members of the Board of Supervisors voted three to two in favor of an ordinance submitted by the county Planning Commission.

That vote came during the afternoon session of the regular supervisors meeting Jan. 15. A second vote was scheduled for yesterday, Jan. 22.

Supervisors Sherrie Thrall, Jeff Engel and Michael Sanchez voted in favor of the ordinance as it now stands. Supervisors Lori Simpson and Kevin Goss voted against it.

Simpson persistently recommended that they must put teeth into the ordinance to give the county more power to control activities by those planning to install towers.

Goss said he favored wired communications.

Although many issues were discussed in the hearing by the public and supervisors, one major concern kept surfacing. Plumas County does not now have an ordinance against cell towers. A simple building permit is all that’s needed and anyone who wants one is eligible.

Jan. 30

Seventeen individuals were arrested Wednesday, Jan. 23, as a multi-agency parole and probation sweep occurred throughout Plumas County.

Charges ranged from manufacturing a controlled substance (hash oil) and possession of controlled substances, down to parole and probation violation.

Two-dozen officers from throughout Plumas County and other areas were involved in the effort, said Sheriff Greg Hagwood.

Long-time local resident and retired anthropologist Darrah Hopper organized the third annual Women’s March in Plumas County along the highway in Chester — 30 others from across Plumas and Lassen counties, from the communities of Quincy, Genesee, Indian Valley, Chester, Westwood and Susanville joined her.

Marches in the past two years focused on getting more women elected to office. But with a record number of women elected in the November 2018 election, the women’s marches shifted focus with each one left to find its own.

Hopper encouraged marchers to create signs that spoke to issues they individually cared about, that they think need to be addressed under the current administration. For the 30 or so women and some men who attended those varied but all seemed to focus on human decency and respect.

Feb. 13

Plumas Arts Gallery held its first Friday of the month art opening Feb. 1, and did just that by providing space for fine artist Rafael Blanco’s new art installation “Made in USA” — an exhibit sure to illicit emotional and political responses.

“The society in the United States, like most societies around the world, is full of paradoxes and inconsistencies. However, we tend not to question what is accepted as normal because we tend to adapt to our environment by following customs, traditions, and rules,” began Blanco’s artist’s statement regarding the new work.

Blanco invited friends, neighbors, and community members to pause for a moment and consider the American flag and how we use it.

March 6

When two buddies climbed onto their snowmobiles Sunday, Feb. 24, they had no idea they would spend the next three nights in frigid temperatures and be near death before they were rescued.

Doug “Diggy” Weeks, 49, and Nick Luna, 34, friends and neighbors from the Lake Almanor Basin community of Hamilton Branch, were taken to Eastern Plumas Health Care on Wednesday, Feb. 27. Weeks was treated there and released Sunday, while Luna was transferred to Renown in Reno where he is still recovering.

March 20

A man has been charged with homicide and arson following a Blairsden house fire that claimed the life of one resident and displaced a second.

The victim rescued from the garage has been identified as Clarence Rail, 89. His wife has been tentatively identified as Carol Jean Rail, 85 (deceased).

A call of a fully involved structure fire came into the Plumas County Sheriff’s Dispatch Center at 6:48 a.m.

Eastern Plumas Rural Fire Department was the first agency on scene. Firefighters rescued one person from a garage area of the home. It was reported that a second person was inside a bedroom. That individual did not survive.

March 27

The World Championship Longboards race held at the historic Johnsville Ski Bowl on March 17 is a wrap, with 38 men and 12 women racing to take home the championship belt and championship title.

Race day couldn’t have been more inviting, with clear blue skies and spring-like temperatures bringing out attendees in droves. The final race of 2019 also happened to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day, heightening the festivities and bringing a sea of green hats, scarves and jackets to the ski bowl.

The annual Quincy Star Follies, a fundraising event for the Feather River College Foundation, was held March 15-16 at the Plumas-Sierra County Fairgrounds.

Audience members were treated to 26 song and dance routines, followed by Frank Carey’s annual performance of “God Bless the U.S.A.” with the entire cast.

April 3

The excitement of each year’s Fair begins with the arrival of the Exhibit Guide. Fair Manager John Steffanic said it’s time to get excited. The theme for the 2019 Plumas-Sierra County Fair is “Show What You Grow, Share What You Know!”

“It probably should have said “Show What You Grow, Raise and Made,” but that wouldn’t have rhymed,” said Steffanic.

The exhibit guide is filled with divisions and classes that let everyone who lives in the area show what they have made, grown or raised.

April 10

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Neither, it was an ordinance workshop held by Plumas County Planning Commissioners.

Although only three commissioners were present to weigh in on a debate concerning a new backyard chicken ordinance, the discussion went on for nearly an hour-and-a-half Thursday, April 4. No members of the public were present to see what might hatch.

April 24

Mouthwatering aromas emanated from the 13th annual Taste of Plumas on April 13. With 17 area restaurants attending the event, along with two local breweries and several local wine establishments, the event was a huge success.

“I am pleased with how the event turned out this year. We had several new restaurants this year, and had a nearly sold-out event,” commented event organizer Kara Rockett-Arsenault. “We owe it all to the restaurants, the several hundred people that purchased tickets, and to the people who made donations to the auction. We are so very grateful that people step up year after year to support Plumas Arts.”

Independence is something to be cherished and Feather River College recently had good reason to celebrate on that score.

Thirty years ago, FRC established its independence from the Peralta Community College District of northern Alameda County and became its own single community college district.

To mark the occasion, FRC threw a party on a sunny April 12 and invited the whole county to join in the festivities.

May 22

Research engages students with what they are learning and allows them to pay that experience forward when they share with others the things they’ve discovered.

Once in a while, those discoveries change lives.

The second Feather River College Student Research Symposium on May 10 illustrated a number of personal journeys when classmates from 20 different panels and a special plenary session took listeners through a wide range of topics.

June 5

Completing its yearlong 50th anniversary celebration, Feather River College conferred 15 bachelor’s degrees, 227 associate degrees and 92 certificates upon 221 candidates when the college held its commencement ceremony May 24 at the Quincy campus.

Bright balloons, noisemakers, decorated mortarboards and a packed auditorium of proud family and friends filled the evening with a festive atmosphere.

June 12

In a moving ceremony June 7 at the Feather River College stadium, Plumas Charter School’s Class of 2019 marked the important milestone of high school graduation.

“Each year I love to see the personal growth as well as the amazing accomplishment each student has achieved in graduating from high school,” said Keri Reed, lead teacher at PCS’s Chester Learning Center. “Each one of the graduates needs to be proud of making it to the end. Every student has a story and every student deserves a celebration.”

This is PCS’s 20th year serving students across Plumas County; with 47 graduates, the Class of 2019 is the largest yet for the charter school. Graduating seniors attended programs at the Quincy and Chester learning centers and at Indian Valley Academy in Taylorsville.

July 31

When one Portola resident first became aware of climate change she thought the government would do something about it.

That was in the 1990s. By 2019, Robbin Anderson found her way to the Plumas County Board of Supervisors. She had grown tired of waiting. She’d learned that if change was going to happen she needed to get involved.

Anderson was before supervisors July 16, attempting to persuade them to do the right thing and adopt a resolution in supporting efforts to battle climate change. And she didn’t come alone. Supporters also filled the supervisors’ meeting room.

Aug. 7

Television star Debbe Dunning was at Greenhorn Ranch with her stripped down, multi-talented crew last week to film an episode of “Debbe Dunning’s Dude Ranch Roundup,” a popular television series on RFD TV and The Cowboy Station.

Dunning is perhaps best known for her role as Heidi Keppert, the “Tool Girl” on Home Improvement’s show within a show, “Tool Time.”

She visits dude ranches all over the United States to highlight what is special about each one, determined to bring an awareness of the unique joys of this rural experience to a wider audience. And, she hopes that people who might never have thought of visiting a dude ranch will be encouraged to do so.

Aug. 21

More than 60 entries joined this year’s Plumas County Fair Parade as they marched up Main Street in Quincy on Saturday, Aug. 17.

Plenty of new faces were seen this year. And both sides of Main Street were filled with people watching all of those making this year’s parade a memorable one.

The annual 4-H and Future Farmers of America Junior Livestock Auction at the Plumas-Sierra County Fair on Aug. 18 rewarded the participating Plumas and Sierra youngsters with yet another nice payday for all their hard work and effort they put in over the course of the better part of the year raising their animals.

Collectively, buyers this year generously spent $218,972 on 126 animals and that amount doesn’t include any price bumps donated during the sale.

Sept. 11

Plumas County’s fire has moved into Lassen County as it enters its second week, making it the largest wildfire in Northern California and garnering regional and national attention.

The Walker Fire broke out about noon on Wednesday, Sept. 4, in Genesee Valley, 11 miles from Taylorsville, and was reported at 3 to 5 acres. By Tuesday morning, Sept. 10, the fire had grown to 47,340 acres, moved into Lassen County and was 12 percent contained.

Sept. 18

The Walker Fire has been the biggest fire in the state this season and the number one priority in the nation, but Monday’s rain might have doused that notoriety.

The fire, which broke out Sept. 4, was 96 percent contained when this newspaper went to press, and over 54,000 acres.

Sunday’s red flag warning saw more than 2,000 people assigned to the fire, the most since the fire broke out. Firefighters hoped to avoid a major run as occurred back on Sept. 6 when adverse wind conditions pushed the fire to explode by 21,000 acres.

Sept. 25

Some dressed in their finest business attire, some wandered in too cool to talk to adults about career goals and others were on a mission.  Students — mostly seniors from both Plumas and Sierra county high schools — made their way to the Feather River College multipurpose building for the annual FRC College, Career and Transfer Day on Tuesday, Sept. 17.

Nearly 300 students attended the event with over 56 career and college exhibitors. This year’s college exhibitors included more from the University of California and California State University system schools than in previous years as well as private, trade, art and community college schools and programs.

Plumas County nonprofits, military recruiters, the Forest Service and other agencies were on hand, as well as a few businesses in the area, to have conversations with shy students of what their possibilities might be for their futures.

Oct. 5

What do you want? Climate action!

When do we want it? Now!

That refrain was repeated by attendees at the request of speaker Robbin Anderson during the Community Climate Change event held Sept. 22 on the courthouse steps in Quincy.

Anderson, a Portola resident and member of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, was the last of seven presenters to address the crowd that gathered — some holding signs addressing the need to take action on climate change now.

A coalition of local political groups called the Plumas-Sierra Political Coalition sponsored the event.

Oct. 16

Just weeks before the first anniversary of the deadly Nov. 8 Camp Fire, Plumas County residents learned a few answers about what could be done as they face uncertainty and possible financial disaster because insurance policies are canceled and/or rates increased sharply.

During an invitation only meeting Tuesday, Oct. 15, in the Mineral Building at the fairgrounds in Quincy, all eyes were on California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara.

Homeowners, real estate representatives, local insurers, a business owner and various public officials met to discuss what relief might be in sight.

This isn’t just a Northern California situation, Lara told his audience; it’s a California issue.

What attendees at the meeting with Lara and his staff learned is that the Department of Insurance has rules and regulations to follow. The department can’t make changes to its mission without legislative approval. And that approval comes in the form of senate and assembly bills that are passed.

Nov. 20

Plumas County supervisors didn’t run afoul of what planning commissioners laid out for them in a recommendation for backyard chickens Tuesday, Nov. 12.

All four supervisors approved the new countywide ordinance allowing the keeping of backyard chickens in residential areas.

This is just the most recent among a flock of recommendations presented to supervisors from planning commissioners in the past few months.

Nov. 27

The Feather River Land Trust, a locally based nonprofit organization, could not have thrived for the last 20 years without local volunteers and donors.

Three remarkable people who have left a significant legacy of protecting the special places of the Feather River region recently passed away in 2019 — Frank Davis of Quincy, Bill Harnach of Sierra Valley, and Sam Catalano of Genesee Valley.

Paul Hardy, former executive director of FRLT, summed it up this way, “All developed a deep love of place and wanted to share it with others and protect that place for future generations. They were men who loved nature and their families and were always ready to help. I was buoyed by their presence and ability to see beyond their own lives.”

Dec. 11

PAWS, the Plumas Animal Welfare Society, is celebrating 20 years of serving the community and its cats.

Plumas County resident Stephanie Leaf founded PAWS in 1999, and since then the organization has rescued, provided medical care and found homes for more than 4,000 cats and kittens that faced neglect or abandonment.

In its early days, PAWS consisted of a few volunteers fostering cats in their spare bedrooms.

In 2001, PAWS opened “The Cathouse,” its rescue and adoption headquarters located in East Quincy.

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