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Spring blooms in downtown Greenville. Photo by Meg Upton

Dixe Fire Collaborative May meeting well attended; important info shared

By Meg Upton

     It’s hard to get people to stay in side on a warm spring day—especially with the annual community wide yard sale and Little League going on, but at least 75 people managed to make time for the Dixie Fire Collaborative monthly meeting on Saturday, May 21.

     Jane Braxton Little made a presentation on communications with the public. The Dixie Fire Collaborative website www.dixiefirecollaborative.org gets nearly daily updates these days, and meeting goers were encouraged to refer to the site more for updated information regarding everything from rebuilding to Caltrans traffic stop updates.

     Supervisor Kevin Goss shared that Building and Planning is now closed to the public on Fridays so they can catch up with permitting to have that move quicker for fire survivors who are rebuilding. He also shared that cleanup of historic buildings is now taking place in downtown Greenville with the Masonic Lodge and the Way Station having some semblance of secured brick walls.

     The biggest news he shared however, came second in his speech: the existence of Zone X and its higher levels of arsenic, lead and mercury. These substances were not a result of the fire but existed on those lots prior to the fire. According to Goss this will affect up to 107 of the lots that burned in Greenville, however the number is under that he is certain because some of those properties have already been returned to property owners. It might however cause delays in some people’s downtown properties.

     This does however include a property that was to be designated for the pop-up business district.

     Of the situation, Goss said, “It’s not perfect. We need to have patience. We do it correctly; we do it right. It’s a good thing [to make sure the properties are safe], just bad timing.”

     Goss also spoke for Sheriff Todd Johns, who did not make the meeting about public safety. According to Goss, Sheriff Johns saw to making sure there are new lights for security in Greenville and security cameras to monitor theft. In recent weeks—months really, property owners have indicated thefts in the debris as well as tools on work sites.

     Cheri Whipple, on-hand from PUSD, stated that there is to be an in-person board meeting this week to discuss CIF status and for the Indian Valley schools to go back to having an agreement to field sports teams together since GHS and IVA enrollment is too low to field teams individually in most cases (IVA did have PCS wide teams this year).

     Natasha Beehner represented PG&E and talked about reinstating services, hazardous tree removal and the free dirt program that cannot be used for building homes (would need grading for that) but could be used for other purposes.

     Michael Hall spoke from the Feather River Resource Conservation District about their reforestation efforts underway for the Dixie Fire and Caldor Fire regions. He stressed for property owners seeking reforestation on acreage to get together with neighboring property owners so that the agency can replant in one area collectively at a time. Also that there would not be replanting within 100 feet of a structure.

     Paula Johnston spoke on behalf of Plumas Rural Services North Valley and Catholic Social Services about the recruiting effort of many open positions in Plumas County. Kevin Goss acknowledged that there are currently 58 positions open with the county at all skill and experience levels.

     Kest Porter briefly spoke about the pop-up business district. Electricity will be turned on in the area of the pop-up district today, Monday, May 23. He also encouraged meeting goers to start small businesses, exclaiming help would be there to get people started. The Indian Valley Thrift Store will be in the spot the Tanner Office space once was. Porter also asked, “What businesses do you want to start?” reiterating the DFC mantra of needing Greenville to build back in a more economically vibrant fashion. He also stressed that businesses building back should be fire hardened and safe rather than cheaper easily burned buildings. Safety is on everyone’s mind.

     Ranger Joe Hoffman stated that the Mt. Hough Ranger District priority is emphasis in their planning process is community protection areas—the areas with structures that did not burn. He spoke of more investment in community fire safe hardening.

     Via Zoom call, Tanya Komas updated the meeting on historic building preservation, echoing Goss’ earlier remarks. The Sheriff substation seems to be the next building to undergo saving what can be saved.

     Matt Piccone also spoke via zoom of the Phase 0 summary the consultant team prepared after meeting with community members earlier in the spring.  Some highlights of what Indian Valley residents would like to see and the ongoing theme seemed to be cooperative models for both food and utilities, integrating Maidu history and community better, local governance, rebuilding economy and not just buildings. Indian Valley residents want clearer timelines of reconstruction too.

     He commented that community members had voiced a strong aversion to chain stores—which got a chuckle from the audience. Residents in the summary also want gathering areas. The team recognized it needs to reach the harder to reach residents including ranchers, students, renters, youth, and parents who did not interview with the team in spring.

     Indian Valley Recreation and Park District’s volunteer Judi Leland spoke of the need for volunteers for the pool in Taylorsville this summer. There’s a shortage of volunteers and lifeguards, to keep the summer program afloat. Water aerobics is scheduled to start June 27 while swim school is scheduled to start on June 28. Lauri Rawlins-Betta spoke of planned gardens in the area where the community center once stood—also potentially a gathering spot in downtown Greenville.

     Randy Pew received applause for the opening of the sawmill in Crescent Mills. There’s no grading available yet for using the wood for housing structures, however lumber is available for outbuildings, pumphouses etc. Currently the mill has 2’x4’ and 2’x12’ boards. They are open for retail on Fridays. Pew gave out the number to make an appointment (530) 927-9224.

     During the Question and Answer session at the end of the meeting, an audience member asked Ranger Hoffman about the possibility of upgrading the Greenville Campground (which has no showering facilities or upgraded restrooms or outdoor kitchen—though it used to). The campground is located north of town on Willow Way. Hoffman said it was already being discussed and audience members stressed that it would provide temporary housing for those coming to visit Greenville or work here.

     Other items discussed were Frontier’s communication services, or lack thereof, were also in discussion. The transmitter outside of town is currently not working properly much to the annoyance of every customer. The generators in place by PGE have all the clocks in existing houses telling the wrong ‘time’ as the power is not consistent in output.

     Surveyors’ marks are in place for an upgrade of sidewalks in downtown Greenville too.

     A strong discussion for the need to find out about traffic time waits on a consistent basis from CalTrans and PGE working crews was discussed. DFC representatives will work with those agencies to update their website with traffic stop information on a daily basis if possible.

     Kristi Gorbet from the IVCSD was on hand to explain the water shortage last week was caused by the water plant’s manual operations at the moment (the automatic operations have not been operable since the burning of the plant). It has since been fixed.

     Region Burger was on hand with a spaghetti and meat sauce luncheon after the meeting.

    UPDATE: The original version of this story ended with a mention of the passing of Tana Stoy that was mentioned during the meeting. Her family called to say that she has not died, but she is under hospice care.

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