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Board navigates through Public Works problems

The Plumas County Public Works Department had some big issues to navigate at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting Nov. 14. From road closures, to turning off the streetlights, the board sat in an afternoon session that went well into the day.

Lights Out

Bob Perreault, the Public Works director and manager of the Quincy and Crescent Mills lighting districts, delivered the news that the streetlight tax bill that the residents of the two lighting districts voted on at the beginning of the month did not pass. In fact, the vote needed at least two-thirds approval, but it didn’t even receive the majority.

Perreault said the Public Works Department would come back at the beginning of the year and offer some additional options, “none of which are good.”

The lighting district is a special district which means the county general fund should not and cannot fund the deficiency in the lighting district’s budget. The tax bill was slated to raise the tax on property owners to be able to cover the cost of operating the district. The lights on Highway 70 in Quincy are also included in the district.

“A lot of people are wondering what is going to happen now. Are the lights going off right away?” asked District 4 Supervisor Lori Simpson.

“So the plan will be whatever the board decides in mid-January. In the meantime, there is not going to be a turn off of any lights,” said Perreault.

The board decided the matter will be discussed in January and the subject might be the topic of a public meeting in the area.

No to road abandonment

Two ranching families in Sierra Valley demonstrated that water is not the only thing to feud over in the county. Closing a county road can also create animosity.

In 2015, Dave Roberti of Sierra Valley, petitioned the board to abandon and close Sierra Valley-McNella Lane, located between Sierra Valley Road and Harriet Lane. Roberti cited instances where cattle were getting shot or stolen and people were going out to the road and loitering.

However, the Silva family’s property backs up to the road and they have an easement. If the road closed, they would be cut off from accessing their property from that side.

Perreault said the county does not have an ordinance in place to close county roads and so they have been navigating the issue according to California regulations.

Virginia Silva, owner of the ranch that neighbors McNella Lane expressed her objection to the closure.

“This road is the only access to our home,” said Silva. “As property owners and residences of this road, the continued and uninterrupted use of the Sierra Valley-McNella Lane is a necessity.”

Community representatives that supported Silva’s objection cited a lack of communication and information from the county in terms of the negotiations of the abandonment.

Roberti spoke during the public comment period and said there is another ranch that borders the road that also supports the abandonment. He said that four cattle have been shot in the last two years.

“To make this clear, this road is … almost down to a rabbit trail,” said Roberti. “I don’t believe there has been any maintenance done on it in the last three years … We are not talking a road that gets travelled a lot.”

“I think we are skirting around an issue where we are hearing no (from the Silvas), and that is enough for me,” said District 1 Supervisor Michael Sanchez.

The effort to abandon the road was dropped after a motion by the board.

Improved sidewalks in East Quincy

The sidewalk system in East Quincy is getting improved one brick of concrete at a time. The public works department will be enhancing the sidewalk system from Mill Creek Road to the Caltrans office, filling in a 900-foot gap of sidewalk. This update will include a pedestrian bridge that crosses Mill Creek on the north side.

The project should be completed by next year.

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