Christmas in the Valley was a hit despite the cold and windy weather dropping snow. Here is one of the trees from the contest down at The Spot. Photo by Kimberly Pierce

Communities Rising, Dec. 14: Organizing Zones and Restructuring Chamber

   As I write this column, it’s Monday morning and the skies have cleared from whichever number storm this weekend was (I lost count). I had the great privilege yesterday of testing the Prius on a road trip that made it beyond some questionable near off-roading on Highway 70 as I made my escape down the 5 and into southern California for the week to take care of some business down here. I say privilege because I’m always awestruck when I look up at the sky while driving down the 5 and how green and lush the hills are this time of year, and the crisp white snow on mountain tops, down to the palm trees having just been cleaned by a heavy rain. Goddess country. Magic.

   Out of nowhere yesterday, the seasonal creek aside the meadow was full and moving rapidly and I was immediately thankful at the reconstruction of its banks after the 2017 storm. It gave me pause and smile to hear it rushing once again. It has been so long since we’ve heard that sound out the kitchen window. It was a pleasant sound to hear as we made it out the snowy driveway.

   We Californians have all of this amazing beauty. And even as we complain about the state, a drive such as this over 10 hours makes it clear: there’s a reason people moved here in the first place. There’s a reason after a military childhood of frequent moves that I returned to the homeland and never left. We are the land of reinvention—we reinvent ourselves and our communities. No one needs to ask you to join, you just do. You become, and then its as if you’ve always been here. Such is the legacy of California. All our communities: urban, suburban, and rural sport this reinvention. I’m nerding out on the memory of William Mulholland, the ditch digger from Ireland who reinvented himself as the civil engineer responsible for the Los Angeles Aqueduct, and the birth of the California water wars, (and yes, the deaths of thousands in San Francisquito canyon). But his memory speaks to creating who you are and who your community will be—defying odds and naysayers with the belief that we can will ourselves into being who we want to be.

   In that spirit of reinvention there are a couple of items at the forefront this morning.

   At the last Dixie Fire Collaborative meeting, Marsha Roby spoke about the Firewise Council and the need for zone captains in Indian Valley for both the purposes of being able to communicate who lives in each zone, to keep on top of the need for fire safe property management, and to make sure those needing assistance in cleaning their properties for fire safety have volunteers to help them if they cannot do it themselves.

   The presentation she gave is billed as a rebuilding effort with the goal of community cohesion and resilience with better planning for a natural disaster response, more methodical evacuation process and support. The benefits of such a process she described would be that neighbors felt comfortable relying on each other, could keep each other better informed, and not need reliance on government or outside agencies that often do not understand or are not willing to alter their cookie cutter response to the needs of specific rural communities.

   Zone mapping volunteers have split the community into 16 geographically cohesive zones with 25 to 50 houses or properties within each zone. Roby and volunteers have been looking for zone captains within each zone to organize their neighborhoods. Some areas already have zone captains but some are still needed in the following zones: Zone 2 (Hot Springs Rd), Zone 3 (South section of Hideaway Rd to Hwy 89 including Cedar, Hideaway Lane and Snowy Lane), Zone 4 (Between Wolf Creek Rd and Hwy 89 to Main St to Hot Springs Rd, including Ayoob Circle, Zone 5 (Lower Kinder St from Landon to Greenville/Wolf Creek Rd), Zone 7 (Hwy 89 to Franklin Alley, including Mill St, West side of 89 by the Fire Station), Zone 8 (NE side of Hwy 89 including Hillside Dr, Green Lane and Acre Dr), Zone 10 (South Main St from Greenville/Wolf Creek Rd to Hideaway Rd including Claias, Forest Lodge Rd), Zone 11 (Bottom of Main Street from Bush St to Greenville/Wolf Creek Rd), Zone 12 (Main St to Bush with both sides of Bush, Hamblin, and Church Streets, one side of Jesse St to Bidwell Alley).

   If you are interested in this or would like more information please call Marsha Roby at (530) 394-7095.

   Part of the function of the zones and zone captains reporting “is to get an updated idea of who is here, who wants to come back and rebuild and who has gaps in funding,” said Roby.  Zone captains will pass information between the Dixie Fire Collaborative and the community, gather info to share with neighbors, and to be a point person in the event of future natural disasters. They will also act as a voice for the neighborhood and advocate about unmet needs of their neighbors.

   There is great possibility that such an organizational structure will help get neighborhoods in Indian Valley (and elsewhere) Firewise recognition which will help with insurance discounts, the ability to get insurance in the first place, and priority grant funding. It behooves all of us to get on board with the zones. If you have any questions or want to volunteer for your area, contact Marsha Roby at [email protected].

   And continuing with this reinvention and reorganizing as part of communities rebuilding themselves, last night the Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce held its first new meeting to elect a new board and to recruit new membership (membership is free until the end of the year). Long-time members of the chamber Bink Huddleston and Jeff Titcomb resigned from the chamber board on Dec. 9.

   A meeting of the new membership took place Monday night with over 40 people in attendance. New officers are Kira Wattenburg King, president; Cassie Barr, vice president; Suzette Reed, treasurer; Christi Hazleton, secretary; and Travis Goings, Sergeant at Arms. Mary Shero and Alicia Hammerich are also on the board. Next meeting is January 9 at 6 p.m. at the Taylorsville Tavern backroom. It’s the first time in many years there’s been a full board.

   Finally, as much as time allows, I am committed to finding out specifically how PGE good faith funding of organizations is going to date. Rest assured, each entity will have a story on this website dedicated to reporting out how funding was spent or is intended to be spent. It’s a slow going process. I met with the oversight committee last week and we shared notes regarding various recipients report outs of spending. More to come on that.

   It is my hope in all our reinvention that we both retain who we are and push to become more than ourselves to re-envision our community as we rebuild our community.

   Lastly, Mount Hough Estates community group is wondering about mail delivery service. They report that they’ve heard from the woman who delivers mail that she will refuse to deliver if there is any ice or snow around the mailboxes. Many in this community are retirees and some have disabilities that make it difficult to always clear snow and ice after a storm. One hopes that the postal service and the community come to an understanding soon.

   Here’s a list of what’s happening this week in Dixie Fire affected communities this week. If you have a tip or an event or announcement, please send to [email protected] or text to (714) 746-4093 and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Meanwhile, enjoy this winter’s beauty, and think of how we reinvent in the year to come.

Book Giveaway at the Library 

  The Plumas County Library is running a book giveaway from December 5 to 30 from babies to teenagers during open hours. Kids can pick up an activity sheet, complete it, and return to pick out a free book which are also available on the website www.plumascounty.us/593. The Greenville Temporary Branch site is at Greenville High School Room 402. Call (530) 283-6310.

Dixie Fire Resource Center 

   Dixie Fire Resource Center has two big announcements.

   The Dixie Fire Resource Center (DFRC) is updating its hours of operation. Effective as of January 1, 2023, it will be open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The DFRC will also be open the third Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. We encourage the community to visit during these hours to use wireless internet and computer access, connect with the Disaster Case Management Program, and access the wide variety of community and fire recovery resources available (food, clothing, heating assistance, referrals for employment support, and more).

   Plumas Rural Services (PRS) is pleased to announce that Dan Litchfield, the Disaster Case Management Program’s Construction Cost Analyst, will be holding office hours at the DFRC Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. effective immediately. During office hours, those working to rebuild may receive support in understanding the permitting process, reviewing the checklist outlining the permit process, finding a contractor, reviewing contractor bids, etc. Litchfield will also conduct site visits to better answer project specific questions. He will also meet with those needing his assistance by appointment. Survivors can make an appointment with Litchfield by calling (530) 283-2735, ext. 834 or emailing [email protected]

   Up-to-date information about the DFRC can be found online at www.plumasruralservices.org/DFRC or by calling (530) 283-2735, ext. 22