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It was described as a "tsunami of fire" that bore down on the town of Greenville on Aug. 4, 2021. Photo by Mike Grant

Dixie Fire criminal case settlement update – 1 year later

By David Hollister

Plumas County District Attorney

A little over one year ago — on April 11, 2022 — the District Attorneys of Plumas, Lassen, Tehama, Shasta and Butte counties announced they had reached a settlement with PG&E over responsibility for the 2021 Dixie Fire.

The civil prosecution settlement obligated PG&E to make rapid payments to those who lost their homes in the Dixie Fire; to continue to make extensive improvements in the safety and reliability of PG&E infrastructure in the North State and the affected counties; to be subject to oversight by the District Attorneys though an independent safety monitor; and to pay nearly $30 million to recompense local charities and organizations involved in mitigating the effects of the fire as well as help safeguard against future fires. The Plumas portion for these organizations is $17 million.

The five District Attorneys, labeled the “North State DAs” in the settlement, filed a civil rather than criminal complaint in Plumas County Superior Court accusing PG&E of unlawful business practices. After negotiations with PG&E, a stipulated Final Judgment was filed on April 11, 2022 resolving the case. The DAs noted the civil judgment allowed more flexibility in demanding changes in PG&E’s safety practices, and to obtain rapid restitution to those who lost homes and property in the Dixie Fire, while putting the company on essentially a five-year probation.

The DAs pursued the Dixie Fire as a civil prosecution rather than a criminal prosecution to maximize the return to the fire victims rather than to seek criminal penalties. The DAs noted the maximum criminal fines possible in the Dixie Fire was only $329,417. The civil contributions, penalties and payouts established for PG&E in the settlement judgment will instead be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

This is separate from the settlement reached by the county of Plumas through its county counsel’s office, for $7.8 million. (More details on that settlement below.)

The DAs also expressed appreciation for PG&E’s good-faith cooperation in the settlement process noting the company’s behavior and safety practices seem to be greatly improving under its new leadership. Additionally, the DAs felt the required five-year independent safety monitor will assure the public that PG&E will live up to its promises.

 

Transparency

Upon reaching this agreement, the Plumas County DA’s office is striving to be as transparent as possible by:

This one-year follow-up is my effort to continue to provide updated information to the public about the settlement of the criminal case with PG&E.

 Difference between Criminal and Civil Settlement

The settlement of the criminal case by way of a civil prosecution settlement discussed in this article is entirely separate and different than Plumas County’s civil suit against PG&E.

The civil prosecution settlement was the result of a criminal investigation brought by the District Attorneys of the five impacted counties. Objectives of the criminal case include protecting society, restorative justice, punishing the defendant, deterring others, etc. The District Attorneys from the impacted counties cannot represent the civil interests of any person or entity damaged by the fire but, rather, represent the People of the State of California in their respective county.

In contrast, a civil settlement is the result of a (potential) civil lawsuit where each county’s local government sought damages from PG&E to make their county whole. Damages suffered by Plumas County (the governmental entity) were identified in a handout provided by the Plumas County CAO at an April 25, 2023 Board of Supervisors meeting in Greenville. The handout listed damages such as reduced property taxes, damaged roads, destroyed or damaged county buildings, employment losses, etc. In Plumas County’s case, the County Counsel represented Plumas County with the assistance of outside counsel. Plumas County’s settlement of its lawsuit with PG&E occurred on January 17, 2023 as reported by Plumas News (https://www.plumasnews.com/ten-public-entities-including-plumas-settle-dixie-fire-claims-with-pge/) with PG&E paying Plumas County $7.8 million dollars.

Comparison between Camp and Dixie Fires

Before the Dixie Fire had been contained, and after reaching certain determinations about PG&E’s potential criminal liability, I joined the other impacted DAs and analyzed all possible approaches to try and figure out what would best serve justice and Plumas County from the perspective of a criminal prosecution.

I paid close attention to the 2018 Camp Fire which leveled the town of Paradise. From that fire, the Butte County DA’s office did an outstanding job and obtained convictions of 85 felony counts including 84 counts of manslaughter for those who died. PG&E was sentenced to the maximum fine allowed by law – $3,486,950 of which 30% stayed in Butte County.

In looking at our charges, if PG&E was convicted of the four felonies potentially available from the Dixie Fire, the maximum fine would be only $329,417, of which only $98,825 would stay in Plumas County. This approach certainly did not seem like justice to me. It would not punish PG&E; it would not deter PG&E; it would not direct PG&E to make necessary safety changes and, most importantly, it would not help Plumas County.

From this comparison, it became readily apparent we needed a non-traditional approach in realizing a settlement of any criminal allegations which would create a binding partnership with PG&E to help Plumas County. Without admitting guilt, PG&E agreed to substantial obligations designed to help Plumas County now and, in the future, and provide relief far greater than the $98,825 which could be realized from a traditional criminal prosecution.

As an update, here is where we stand with the main areas with PG&E one year after the settlement of the criminal case through a civil prosecution.

Wildfire Mitigation Plan

PG&E’s 2022 Wildfire Mitigation Plan (WMP) formed an important part of the civil prosecution settlement. The WMP sets out the actions PG&E is taking across its territory, including portions of the North State counties, and, especially, in the High Fire Threat Districts (HFTDs), to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires across its entire service territory. The system-wide initiatives will be overseen by Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety (OEIS) and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), with the assistance of an independent safety monitor (ISM), and subject to enforcement by the CPUC. These system-wide initiatives include enhanced powerline safety settings, line de-energizing, grounding and removal, undergrounding of 10,000 miles, real time weather assessments, real time fire behavior detection, enhanced equipment inspections and an enhanced vegetation management plan.

We continue to work with the Monitor to track these changes and expect to have the opportunity to review an annual report in the near future.

 Training Program

PG&E provided $2 million to Feather River College (FRC) to develop a certificate or degree program in topics covering ecosystem restoration and applied fire management so students can be trained to respond to, and help prevent, catastrophic wildfires. FRC is currently pending the accreditation approval for a bachelor’s degree in Ecosystem Restoration and Applied Fire Management.  This program will allow Plumas County to grow and retain expertise critical to fire management in our county.

Hiring

PG&E is committed to posting a minimum of 100 new positions headquartered in the North State Counties. This hiring process is ongoing.

Expedited Claims (Direct Payments for Community Recovery)

In formulating a resolution meeting Plumas County’s needs, I paid very close attention to what has happened to displaced residents in Butte County following the Camp Fire. By all accounts, the settlement process after Camp Fire was delayed and frustrating, at best, with the majority of claimants unable to settle their claims in a timely fashion. Given our remote location and lack of surrounding infrastructure, such delays could severely wound our recovery efforts. With PG&E’s agreement, an approach was created and included in the settlement of the criminal case providing displaced residents with an option to receive an expedited payment.

The DPCR (Direct Payments for Community Recovery) Program is available to homeowners —those who own homes they did not occupy and folks who occupied but did not own the home. This program is spelled out in detail here: https://www.plumascounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/41067/Dixie-Fire—Direct-Payments-for-Community-Recovery-Framework?bidId=

As of April 28, 2023 the DPCR has shown the following results:

# of ClaimsAve days from Claim to PaymentTotal Paid in DPCR ProgramRange of DPCR Payments
15360$46,600,000$55,000 to $1,960,000

While not for everyone, the DPCR has been an extremely useful tool for many, allowing those to realize an expedited settlement payout to meet personal needs, including having the liquidity to be able to choose to stay in Plumas County and rebuild.

Commercial Timber Mediation

PG&E has/is satisfying this term mediating with Plumas County’s commercial timber companies.

Monitor – (5 years paid for by PG&E)

A crucial component of the settlement of the criminal investigation was a Monitor to make sure PG&E complied with its obligations – not the least of which was a myriad of safety improvements. The Monitor, while paid for by PG&E, answers directly to the five North State DAs directly impacted by the Dixie Fire. The provision for a Monitor lasts five years. The Monitor has been active during this first year issuing deficiency notices and working with the North State DAs and PG&E to cure outstanding issues. This is a detailed and ongoing process with an annual compliance report forthcoming.

$17 million to local organizations (30 percent on 4/11/22; 70 percent on 7/12/22)

In reaching a resolution of the criminal case, it was important to have PG&E demonstrate their support for the recovery of our county after the Dixie Fire. It was equally important this injection of resources be as timely and as broad in coverage as possible. This demonstration of support was accomplished by an agreement where PG&E would make $17,000,000 in good-faith contributions to Plumas County organizations as directed by the Plumas County District Attorney. This is a benefit to Plumas County which could not have been achieved from a normal prosecution or civil suit.

With regard to the identification of recipients for these good faith contributions, there are a number of critical points:

  • These organizations were ones who could provide for the public good, helped during the fire, are helping recover from the fire and/or are helping prevent the next fire.
  • It was equally important to identify organizations who might not otherwise receive any reimbursement for their efforts from PG&E.
  • While the lion’s share of these contributions would be directed to organizations in areas directly impacted by the Fire, it was not lost these contributions also needed to help our county as a whole.
  • These contributions could not be used to offset actual damages suffered nor could they be directed to a public governmental entity for a variety of legal and ethical reasons. For example, I have received calls and emails from a rancher who lost fencing in the Fire asking these contributions be used to fix his fence, a home association asking they receive contributions to rebuild personal property damaged by the Fire and Indian Valley residents requesting the $2 million directed to the PCOE Foundation be used to rebuild a school destroyed by the Fire. In each case these contributions were not intended, and should not be used, to repair damages caused by the Fire. In each situation the victim should be suing PG&E to recover damages and be made whole.

Without divulging the negotiations, the $17 million in good faith contributions with all being paid by July 12, 2022 were results I did not think we could attain until very late in the negotiations.

In following up on how the good faith contributions were spent, we reached out to each recipient using the same contact information used to distribute the check(s). Multiple calls and emails were made in an effort to secure this information and afford everyone an opportunity to respond. Each organization was asked four questions: (1) how much of your contribution has been spent; (2) what was the contribution spent on; (3) is there any money left; and (4) what will you do with the remaining money? Responses are provided exactly as received whenever possible.

ORGANIZATIONAMOUNT AWAREDEDRESPONSE
Dixie Fire Collaborative$3,000,000There are two attachments. One is the actual accountability with the DFC dollars. We continue to leverage our money with those at the Funders Round Table. The second attachment is projects we leveraged our money with.

The DFC will continue to look at ways to keep leveraging our dollars, however, our first priority working directly with Disaster Case Management will be to help supplement the gaps for individual survivors.

Attachments-

Expenditures:

NVCF Fees $60,000

Website $11,458

Security Cameras $5,426

Hope Crisis Rebuild $59,825

Copper Creek Workforce Housing $75,000

Dixie Fire Simple Unmet Needs Roundtable $50,000

Planning and Visioning Phase 1A $20,000

Plumas Rural Services August 4th Fire Anniversary Transportation $1745

Harvest Fair Event Insurance $100

Meals/Food for Two CCA Student Workshops $1,008

Canyon Dam Tree Removal $87,450

NVCF Fee for Donation $30

Audio Equipment for Meetings $861

Total Expenditures $372,904

Commitments:

Clean Up Historical Buildings $150,000

Indian Falls Water System Phases 1& 2 $48,500

Zoom Account $149

Communications Technician – 6 months $4,000

ToolBANK Insurance $2,430

PRS Outdoor Youth Program $2,430

Total Commitments $244,679

Plumas County Fire Safe Council$5,000,000The Plumas County Fire Safe Council has spent:

  • $19,014 on delivery of the spring 2022 chipping program. These funds allowed us to continue uninterrupted services during a gap that we encountered in grant funding. In 2022 the program chipped at a total of 300 locations.
  • $67,266 on a feasibility study for a firewood processing and wood heat utilization facility at our office location in East Quincy. The facility would utilize hazardous fuels from our projects and community green waste to generate kiln-dried firewood and electricity. The feasibility study led to a successful grant application from the USDA Forest Service Wood Products Innovation Grant for $1 million to start Phase I of the project. If approved by the Fire Safe Council Board, up to $1.1 million of the PG&E funds will be used as the required match for the grant.
  • $9,673 on publication of an updated Living with Fire magazine. 15,000 copies are currently being distributed across Plumas County. Copies can be picked up from the Fire Safe Council office or from Feather River Publishing.

Future plans for the funds include:

  • Establishing a $500,000 reserve fund that allows the Fire Safe Council to pay local contractors in a timely manner. This would be a revolving account that is continually reimbursed by grant funds, but that allows invoices to be paid when received rather than waiting for reimbursement from the grant. I know that this doesn’t sound particularly exciting, but it is a huge benefit for supporting local contractors who cannot carry operating expenses for the 60-90 days it usually takes for reimbursement from grantors.
  • Earmarking up to $2 million for grant matching for Phase II of the firewood processing facility. These funds allow the Fire Safe Council to have the required match necessary to make large grant proposals, which effectively leverages the money for a greater benefit.
  • The remaining funds will be housed, temporarily, in low-risk investment accounts to generate interest for reinvestment into the Fire Safe Council programs until such time that the Fire Safe Council Board identifies an appropriate use for the funding.
Sierra Institute for Community and Environmental Development$1,000,000The Sierra Institute for Community and Environment is extraordinarily grateful to the District Attorney for securing resources that have helped Sierra Institute dedicate time and staff to a variety of Dixie Fire recovery projects.

The one million dollars has been dedicated to the following activities:

Developing architectural plans for Roundhouse Council Indian Education Center rebuild in Greenville. A novel roundhouse design is being used. $125,000 (Completed draft design below.)

Upgrading the sawmill at the Indian Valley Wood Utilization Campus in Crescent Mills.  $125,000

Cross laminated timber (CLT)—a much improved fire safe building panel—designs for structures and panel production operation $225,000

Workforce Housing $150,000

Support for field crews to conduct landscape cleanup and restoration $150,000

Conducting an assessment of Dixie Fire: what worked, what didn’t, and what can be improved $100,000

Building organizational capacity for local business and housing development and meeting other local needs $125,000

Plumas County Office of Education Foundation$2,000,000 

The PCOE Foundation has not yet spent the $2 million received.  The foundation has now been officially set up and we have an advisory board set up to make a spending plan.  Our information can be found here:  https://www.pcoe.k12.ca.us/apps/pages/PCOEFoundation

 

Plumas County Search and Rescue$500,0001.     How much of your contribution has been spent?     $0.00

2.     What was the contribution spent on?     Nothing yet

3.     Is there any money left?             $500,000

4.     What will you do with the remaining money?  The goal for the PG&E settlement funds was/is to purchase a piece of land and then build a team headquarter structure that includes a place for all of our equipment.  The real estate market being what it is, we have been having difficulty in finding the right piece of property.  We have submitted offers and they have either been turned down or awaiting a counter offer response.  I expect it will be at least another year before we find a place and build what we need.

Plumas County Sierra Fair Foundation$200,0001)    How much of your contribution has been spent? I would say 25%

2)    What was the contribution spent on? Mostly the Indian Valley Innovation Hub efforts. We committed $50,000 to that program and have spent about $30,000. The other $20,000 is ready to go. By the way, we have leveraged that money with another $50,000 for the IVIH. The other money has been used to purchase equipment and supplies to enhance the fairgrounds as a resiliency and evacuation center; barricades, electrical improvements, scissor lift, more refrigeration.

3)    Is there any money left? Yes! But we’re trying!

4)    What will you do with the remaining money? Since the mission of the PSCF Foundation is to benefit the Fair, it can only be spent on Fair related projects. It’s a safe bet we will continue to explore investments in equipment and appropriate improvements to the facility. Additionally, as the Innovation Hub continues to expand it’s services to the residents of Plumas County, the Foundation is ready to support those services as needed. The direction of the Innovation Hub has evolved as the needs, primarily economic, have emerged. There are some exciting programs in the works that will help small businesses recover, not only in Indian Valley, but all of Plumas County. Happy to give updates as they arise.

 

Plumas Rural Services$250,000We have not spent any of the money yet.  We are working on a strategic plan in June or July to determine how we would use the money.  Some of the possibilities are using some of the money for Disaster Case Management after the FEMA money has been spent, development of 211 for Plumas County or establishing a charitable fund to use the annual income on any of our social service programs serving Plumas County residents.
Plumas Crisis Intervention and Recourse Center$250,000 How much of your contribution has been spent?

$149,000

What was the contribution spent on?

Housing assistance, utility assistance, motel sheltering, other

assistance such as food support via food pantry and food bank.

Is there any money left?

Yes

What will you do with the remaining money?

We are developing a plan for the balance and it will go before the

PCIRC Board in June.

 

Feather River College$2,000,000We have not spent any of the money pending the approval of the Bachelor’s Degree in Ecosystem Restoration and Applied Fire Management.  Now that we have state Chancellor’s Office approval, our next step is the accreditation approval.  Once we have that approved, we will have the bachelor’s degree and spend the money on running and sustainability of the new degree.

Please let me know if there are any questions.  I know the money has been here for over a year, but it has taken that long for the bachelor’s degree approval to get to this point.

 

Plumas County Fish and Game Commission$200,000To date, the Fish & Game Commission has spent a total of $30,118 from the awarded $200,000. This amounts to approximately 15 percent of the total award. Two projects were funded. The Commission distributed $30,000 to the Almanor Fishing Association to replace two fish-rearing cages. These cages are expected to raise 10,000 trout per year for the next 35 years. The trout are released annually into Lake Almanor to supplement the existing fishery. Approximately 50 signs making deer hunters aware of possible elk in specific hunt zones were destroyed by the Dixie Fire. The Commission spent $118 to have these signs replaced. The signs advise hunters that it is illegal to kill elk and helps them recognize the difference between the two species. We currently have 85 percent of the original funds left ($169,882). The Plumas County Fish & Game Commission has advised various agencies (US Forest Service, California Department of Fish & Wildlife) and non-government organizations; such as, Trout Unlimited, that we have money available to fund a variety of habitat improvement projects. We have also made them aware of our willingness to fund surveys and studies that could occur within the Dixie Fire footprint or on wildlife that were affected by the Dixie Fire. The Commission welcomes any proposals that meet this general criteria and we continue to solicit for, and review, submitted projects for funding at future Commission meetings.
Maidu Summit Consortium$200,000The Maidu Summit would like to thank you for your help in acquiring funds to support our business during the Dixie Fire devastation.

We have utilized our funds as follows:

$44 Thousand allocated to the Tasmam Koyom Fencing Project to help with the safety efforts of Tasmam Koyom in order to open the campgrounds for community use.

$30 Thousand allocated to the Tribal Monitoring Project to assist work crews on all parcels affected by the Dixie Fire to protect and care for artifacts and culturally significant sights.

Both of these projects will assist the Maidu Summit to insure all properties are safe for community use.

The Maidu Summit still has 126 thousand dollars to spend, we have plans to utilize these funds to continue the cleanup efforts on our properties insuring they are safe for public use.

 

PCFCA MEMBERS

*Split $1,000,000 evenly ($50,000 / each agency)

ORGANIZATIONRESPONSE
Beckwourth FPD and Portola FDHow much of your contribution has been spent?

We have spent most of the founds awarded, approximately $28000 as of today.

What was the contribution spent on?

Beckwourth fire district spend the founds on upgrading our communications, specific to radios. Beckwourth fire applied for a cal-fire matching grant, and we used the PG&E founds to help offset the grant money we owed.

Is there any money left?

We have approximately 7 thousand dollars left.

What will you do with the remaining money?

We plan to spend the rest of the money on wildfire PPE (personal protective equipment) as we approach this coming fire season.

 

Bucks Lake FDContributions have not yet been spent.
Chester FDAll of the money has been spent on operational needs.

The fire department is currently operating with a $730,000 budget deficit so it’s hard to specify exactly what the funds paid for – they helped fill in the gap with operational expenses

 

Crescent Mills FPDHas not spent any money yet.  Trying to decide what to do with it.
Eastern Plumas Rural PD
  1.  All of the funds have been spent
  2. All of the funds were spent on the District’s insurance coverage.  Our premiums went from approximately $24,000 per year to $49,500 due to wildfires
  3. There is no money left

 

Graeagle FPDThe Graeagle Fire Protection District received $50,000 ($15,000 5/2022 & $35,000 7/2022) from the PG&G Settlement.   Per your request, this lists how the Graeagle Fire Protection District spent the settlement funds.

 

5/11/22     Sierra Electronics     $2,046.21   Pagers

2/17/23     KR Nida                        9,213.64   Radios/Chargers

4/5/23        LN Curtis                     3,886.26   Structure Boots

4/24/23      LN Curtis                   38,474.87  Jaws of Life Equipment

 

TOTAL    $53,620.98

Greenhorn Creek FD1. $45k

2. Structure firefighting turnouts

3. Yes, approximately $5k

4. To be determined, but will likely be an infrared imaging camera for spotting hot spots

 

Hamilton Branch and Peninsula FPDFor Peninsula Fire: Used toward some energy efficiency upgrades and crew quarters upgrade and repair.

Hamilton Branch: Used for energy efficiency upgrades.

Indian Valley FPDThe Indian Valley Fire Department has spent all of the contribution allotted to us.

 

Regarding purchases- we have bought wildland fire personal protective clothing for all 17 volunteers, emergency responder knives with seat belt cutters & windshield breakers, structure helmets & boots, repaired/repainted the interiors of North Arm & Genesee Fire Stations, purchased & installed new BK radios into IVFD Fire Engines, purchased new fire pagers and also partially paid for engineering blueprints/plans for the new IVFD Fire Station to replace the station that was burned down during the Dixie Fire in Greenville.

 

We have no money left over from the $50k payment and are now using our insurance money to move forward in rebuilding the IVFD.

 

La Porte FPDLaPorte fire spent about $50,000 on paving our parking lot and building a pad for water tank. We are also in the process of purchasing a back up generator for the fire house and putting in propane line which will cost us about $20,000
Long Valley FPD1.  Our liability insurance more than doubled this past year to $17,000, so a portion of the contribution was put toward covering that cost.

 

2.  The good faith contribution has given us hope for the future by allowing us to plan for improvement projects to our infrastructure that we would have otherwise had to ignore or put off for years into the future. Those include a new roof for our fire hall, a carport for our emergency response vehicle and to replace outdated fire fighting equipment.

 

We are a very small community and the settlement that Mr. Hollister and other county officials helped facilitate has brought us from the brink of financial hardship to being able to provide the medical first response and firefighting assistance that our community needs and expects.

 

We are very grateful for this financial assistance and send sincere thanks to everyone involved.

 

Meadow Valley FDNo response.
Plumas Eureka FD1. We have spent 100% of the PG&E funds, plus $6k from department reserves on tools and training.

2. The funds were spent on Extrication tools, Wildland training (S-290 intermediate Wildland training, Engine, and Crew Boss classes), Radios, Wildland pants, boots, and shirts.

3. No money is left. The total we spent is $56K.

 

Prattville and Lake Almanor WestThis response is for both Prattville-Almanor Fire Dept. and West Almanor Fire Dept. The funds that we received from P G & E have been totally spent on several different things. First was additional maintenance and/or repairs to all 6 of our firefighting vehicles that occurred while fighting the fire. Some funds were used to purchase additional firefighting equipment on the new small brush truck that we had to purchased after our old one became unserviceable after the fire.
Quincy FDHow much of your contribution has been spent? $41,355.37

What was the contribution spent on? Station 1 generator project: $16,484.54 was used to pay a portion of a $58,423.58, 48kw Generator to supply power to the 505 Lawrence Street fire station, truck bay, and the training facility where we operate our fire academy. Truck 8161 restoration project: $24,870.79 has been used to offset the cost associated with the restoration and certification of a 2001 American LaFrance fire truck.

Is there any money left? Yes

 

What will you do with the remaining money? The remaining $8,644.63 will be used for vehicle maintenance and replacement.

 

Sierra Valley FPDThus far Sierra Valley Fire has only spent a little over eight thousand dollars of the fifty thousand we received from the PG&E good faith contribution. With this money we have updated our firefighters’ wildland personal protective equipment, helmets, gloves, fire shelters. Medical equipment and supplies have been replenished on our engines with a portion of the funds. The majority of the money spent so far has been spent on sending our volunteers to training required by USFS and Calfire like S-131 NWCG firefighter 1 and S-211 portable pumps and pumping for wildfire suppression, Driver Operator 1-A and 1-B. We will be asking our board to approve the purchase of new handheld radios that are compatible with those used by the fed and state agencies. Improved communications is vital to our firefighters safety and the overall effectiveness of any fire suppression plan.  The communication improvements will eat up around $20,000.00 of the PG&E money.  We are cautiously evaluating where to best spend the remainder of the funds as it goes quick when the items purchased are NFPA rated the cost is enormously inflated.

 

Gold Mountain CSD$5,000 has been spent on mobile and handheld radios.

                                

 

CHAMBERS & ROTARY

*Chambers Split $1,200,000

*Rotarians Split $200,000

ORGANIZATIONResponse
Indian Valley Chamber1.     How much of your contribution has been spent? – None

2.     What was the contribution spent on? N/A

3.     Is there any money left? All – 300,000

4.     What will you do with the remaining money? Proposed expenses include new website development; build tourism center or kiosk; insurance for community events, etc.

Quincy Chamber of CommerceOf the $300,000 that Quincy Chamber received we have spent $7,984.41 and have $292,015.59 remaining.

As I mentioned we are very careful with these funds and are sensitive to them being one time monies.

We have used some for the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities efforts, a small amount for our Administrative Director to attend a Rural Chamber of Commerce conference and we used some toward the Plumas Sierra County Fair Parade.

At this point we are not sure what else we will do with the funds but I can tell you they will be consistent with the economic interests of our community.

 

Lake Almanor Chamber of CommerceThe Lake Almanor Area Chamber sends our appreciation to you for negotiating the funds that came our way from PG&E.

In May we gathered our membership to discuss their desires for the use of the money. There was consensus that it created an opportunity to build on economic initiatives we had already been working on.  Following is a brief description of what we are doing with the funds this year.

Staffing. We have been relying on part time staff and volunteers to create many wins for our community these past 5 years. These funds allow us to go from a $30,000 part-time employee to a full-time position at $60,000. The funds will guarantee 3 years of the increased salary. However, a condition of employment for the position is to replace this funding with increased members and sponsorships, for sustainability.

Winter Activities.  The Chamber is part of a private/public partnership being worked on with Plumas County and The Almanor Foundation to develop a Town Plaza at Chester Park.

The Town Plaza is an initiative for the advancement of community health, education, and cultural and recreational opportunities.  It will be a community destination that will feature educational events, music, festivals, craft fairs, children’s activities, cultural performances, and public art.

As an economic development driver, it will contain a public market space that will create opportunities for various food and retail entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses.  As an event and year-round activities location it will become a regional destination that will bring local residents as well as travelers into the Town of Chester, stimulating the economy of the town.

Ice Rink. $80,000 will be used to front the cost of an ice-skating rink at Chester Park this winter. The rink is synthetic with an expected life span of 15-20 years. We estimate that with a 10-year life span the rink would cost about $8000/year. $8000/year will be re-couped through sponsorships and admissions costs.

Community Tree. $36,000 was spent to purchase a commercial Christmas tree for the Plaza. This tree will has a long life span and creates additional market activities throughout the holiday season for our businesses and entrepreneurs, as well as contributes to the sense of place our community has so desperately needed, especially since the fire.

Investments. Funds not utilized this year are being invested in laddered CDs at Edward Jones.

Lost Sierra Chamber of CommerceThank you for inquiring regarding the use of the PG&E good faith contributions by the Eastern Plumas ‘Lost Sierra’ Chamber of Commerce. As you may be aware, much of our Board of Directors has changed since these funds were originally earmarked for the regional Plumas County Chambers. We are pleased to report that our Chamber has made a lot of progress thanks in part to this funding since the new Board formed in July 2022.

 

To answer your questions:

 

How much of your contribution has been spent? Answer: To date, we have spent $44,000 of the original $300,000 allocated to our Chamber.

 

What was the contribution spent on? Answer: As our new Board became involved in Chamber activities, we discovered many financial and operations systems needed updating to support the Chamber and the Lost Sierra Visitors Center located at the corner of Highways 70 and 89 – the only brick and mortar Visitor Center in Plumas County.

 

·      We spent a portion of funds upgrading our Point of Service payment and bookkeeping processes.

·      We hired a new Chamber of Commerce Administrative Assistant team member in October 2022 to support Chamber operations, communications, membership and financial tracking including improved accounts payables and receivables, aiding in lease negotiations, and serving as back-up support for our sole, pre-existing staff member who was trying to run both the Visitors Center and Chamber operations previously. We have also expanded both the Administrative Assistant and Visitor Center staff roles into 20 hour per week jobs to support the volume of inquiries and interest we are receiving. The Board is also discussing salary increases for our staff to acknowledge their hard work and adjust for rising living costs.

·      We have invested in developing two new websites: one for the Chamber of Commerce (lostsierrachamber.org) that debuted at our Chamber Launch Event in October 2022 and went live in February 2023; and the other is a Lost Sierra Recreation website (discoverthelostsierra.com forthcoming) set to launch in May 2023.

o   One of our Board Members is a marketing professional who created both sites at a discount of only $4,250 per website.

o   Since the Chamber website launched, we have had 3,000 visitors per month and an average read rate of over 5 minutes.

·      To complement the website launches, we have also invested in social media outreach creating Lost Sierra Chamber of Commerce accounts for Facebook and Instagram and began promoting local businesses. We will also create similar social media presence for the Lost Sierra Recreation website when it launches.

o   Investing in social campaign and email blasts totaling $1,500 per month.

o   Over 57,000 impressions since active management has taken place on the Discover the Lost Sierra Instagram account, and the Lost Sierra Chamber Facebook and Instagram account.

o   Engagement rate is over 60% on all platforms.

In addition, we have had some successes that did not require use of this funding:

·      We replaced our antiquated phone system with phones that were donated to us and created a savings over our prior phone system.

·      We have held two Chamber ‘mixer’ events that engaged local business owners/members educating them about the launch of the new Chamber of Commerce activities and soliciting their input and support to assist their businesses. We have also increased our Chamber memberships.

·      We held our Christmas in Portola event in December 2022 that was a community success as we gave away over 150 gifts to Portola community children.

·      Created, applied, and launched a Wikipedia page defining the Lost Sierra to answer the many visitor inquiries received about the name, where the name came from, and this region that contains Plumas and Sierra Counties. This was a Board of Directors initiative that took place in the last seven months that took a large effort to compile research and facts.

·      We also have new county-wide, interactive adventure promotion encouraging people to visit the area and our businesses set to start this spring/summer.

Is there any money left? Answer: Yes, approximately 85% ($256,000) of the original funding remains in our bank account. We plan to hold much of these funds in an interest earning CD, spend on activities as needed, and to support our ongoing digital marketing campaigns. Additionally, the Chamber has posted a position for a Program and Event Coordinator to be hired to support medium and large-scale Chamber and tourism revenue generating events. We intend to use a portion of the PG&E funding to pay for this position during the first year, with the expectation that the position will be funded through the event and fundraising revenue generated thereafter.

 

What do you plan to do with the money? Answer: One of the initiatives that our Chamber helped initiate is the formation of a Chamber Coalition that includes all four Plumas County Chambers and the two Sierra County Chambers. The Coalition began meeting in January 2023 and continue to meet on the first Wednesday of each month. Within the Coalition, we have worked on creating draft Bylaws of how the Chambers can work together on common interests such as pursuit of grant funding and hiring shared resources (e.g., grant writing and reporting resources) as well as opportunities to identify and promote regional events to draw more tourism dollars to our area. We are also discussing events in the shoulder seasons that funding would also support.

 

Quincy RotaryHere is where we stand with our PG&E settlement:

 

Beginning PG&E Balance               $50,000

Rotary Closet                                  ($3,500)

RYLA                                                 ($3,000)

Academic Scholarships                 ($1,500)

Ending Balance June 2023           $42,000

·      The Rotary Closet provides both Quincy Elementary School students access to warm jackets, snow boots, tee shirts, sweat pants/shirts, socks and hygiene products.

·      RYLA is a week long leadership development camp for students prior to their senior year of high school. Typically 4-5 students attend.

·      Academic scholarships are given to students slated to attend either 2 or 4 year schools after graduating high school.

 

Greenville Rotary1) How much has been spent? $13,607.06 of which $10,000 is earmarked (not yet spent) and 3,607.06 has been expended)

2) What was the contribution spent on? $10,000.00 (earmarked; not yet expended) – Indian Falls Water System-Phase 2 $ 289.57 – Picnic Tables (materials for 30 tables; wood donated & Rotary constructed) $ 500.00 – Dixie Fire Collaborative Intern Support $ 2,626.62 – Holiday Tree Lights Replacement (2 large trees by schools) $ 190.87 – Greenhouse Tarp (Rotary constructed Greenhouse purchased by partners)

3) Is there any money left? $36,392.94

4) What will you do with the remaining money? We are waiting for the Dixie Fire Collaborative-Long Term Rebuilding Project Strategy to be completed and will apply funding where it will make the most sense with other partners. Our focus is on projects with some permanence.

Other comments: We also received small donations from private parties and have been using those for things like community suppers & picnics, insurance, etc. Our Rotary Community provided us with $30,000 immediately following the fire for $500.00 gift certificates to support immediate needs of 60 families

Chester RotaryNo response
Portola RotaryWe have done some wonderful work with our PG&E funds to date.  Last summer we provided a very successful Community Picnic in the Greenville Park.  We are currently in the process of establishing a “closet” at Portola’s C. Roy Carmichael Elementary School (CRC).  We will be stocking the closet with backpacks and school supplies, as well as winter coats, gloves, hats and boots and any other items needed by our students, as identified by the CRC teachers.

 

We are reserving the remaining funds – approximately $42,000, I believe. We hope to combine these funds with other Rotary Clubs in order to receive a grant from Rotary International to fund a large joint project, “once the dust settles”.

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “Dixie Fire criminal case settlement update – 1 year later

  • Wow. As always I am impressed by District Attorney Hollister’s hard work and transparency. We are so lucky to have him.

  • Thank you, you are so lucky to have such an active and committed DA. As someone who lost a home in the Camp Fire I can’t express to those of you who lost homes how lucky you are the your DA created the civil case, rather than relying on bloodsucking Disaster Attorneys to do it! It’s has been four and a half years since we lost our home and I was permanently injured due to the CAmp Fire. I we didn’t receive any money from the PGE settlement until Jan. 2023and that was only 60%. Of that 1/3 went to attorneys, 1/4 was taken by Medicare and ALL of it is considered taxable income, even the money that went to attorney fees. If you lost your home and have already been paid count your blessings!

    • I have settled claims in the DP4CR program for claimants and obtained five figure sums for my clients. I only took the 10 percent attorney fee so my work was essentially free and maximized the funds for the fire victims. PG&E worked with me to maximize these settlements quickly and in good faith. I highly recommend the program. I am originally from Greenville and this work has been very meaningful to me helping people from the place I once called home.

  • It’s good to see PG&E held to some degree of accountability. However, given everyone has been impacted by PG&E’s poor corporate governance either directly and/or indirectly, perhaps PG&E could be held responsible by paying for the increased homeowner fire insurance that everyone is or has already encountered as a result of their negligence. Another penalty option could be for PG&E pay for solar on everybody’s house in Plumas County.

  • Wish the settlement offered help with fire insurance. It is insane how much our residents and businesses are being charged for coverage.

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