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All that remains is a sign reminding people that a community center once stood there. Behold: a hillside denuded. Photo by Meg Upton

Greenville Rising: July 13 – the day it all began

By Meg Upton

  Happy Anniversary. This time last year a tree met a PG&E powerline and the rest, as they say, is history. There’s no way not to be triggered by this 100-degree weather we are having. Fire trucks brushed passed me on their way to Janesville yesterday as I was leaving the prison beyond Susanville. At least there’s a little bit of moisture in the air. A hint. A trace. Never enough.

  Two days later on the July 15, 2021, I saw Greenville for the last time—I was taking the one kid to southern California to get settled for college and putting another on a plane for a summer program at LAX. I brought no important documents with me other than the families passports. I brought nothing from my office of eleven years because I wasn’t evacuating, I was leaving on a trip.

  Yesterday I had a playlist someone else made on Spotify playing early 90s alt-country songs in my car as I was headed home with my husband from Quincy to Greenville. Iris DeMent’s “Our Town” came on surprisingly as we sped through Crescent Mills.

  “Let’s ride this song to downtown,” I told my husband and he humored me though he looked at me concerned like I’m depressing myself on purpose. Do yourself a favor and check out the song if you’ve never heard it. It is, alas, the perfect song if you are leaving Greenville. Don’t play it without a box of Kleenex next to you.

  Not surprisingly, many entities that I tried to get a hold of for comments in the last week’s column finally got back to me. Suffice to say there was a good deal of bipartisan blaming going around but no suggestions, no support beyond lip service.

  District Attorney, Dave Hollister however, got back to me with an important point regarding the IVCSD.

  “I think referring to the resolution of the criminal case as the “PG&E Settlement” can be a little misleading. In the criminal case we were able to secure a result providing an expedited payment option, safety improvements, penalties, a Monitor and good faith contributions to local organizations (approximately $10,000,000 is being distributed this week). Relative to past prosecutions against PG&E, this was a monumental result. For example, the Camp Fire (84 deaths and over 14,000 homes lost) resulted in a total fine of $3,486,950 in the criminal case – 30% of which went to Butte County’s general fund with none going for expedited payments, safety improvements, penalties, a Monitor or any good faith contributions,” said Hollister.

  He went on to point out that “The criminal case did not, and could not, provide a settlement (or lawsuit) for individual persons or entities damaged by the fire.” The IVCSD does have a lawsuit against PG&E, but like all residents of Indian Valley with pending lawsuits against PG&E, our suits have been in a limbo hold while PG&E settles with the small percentage of people taking the settlement and dropping their suits. We do not have dates yet for these things. It could feasibly be next year sometime. The IVCSD could be insolvent before they see anything at all.

   It took less than ten minutes after the posting of an article about the financial situation at the IVCSD for people to offer suggestions as if the board directors and manager hadn’t thought of them. “What about going after grants?” “What about doing other assessments?” As someone who regularly attends as many IVCSD meetings as possible I’ll tell you that’s been happening, but no grant has been large enough for the enormity of the task.

  In some ways the IVCSD is facing the same issues every entity in Indian Valley has faced/is facing: not enough volunteers to go around but plenty of people around to criticize.

  I often think about how the burden of fees for the IVCSD is placed on downtown and lower economic areas of Greenville. The middle class of Indian Valley are mostly on wells and septic and not paying into the IVCSD in the first place. Those of us (self-included) who want the town to come back but who do not pay into the IVCSD system are not in many ways affected by the fees or infrastructure issues. Is it time we re-assess how the IVCSD is paid for? Do we need as an entire valley community to pay some sort of annual fee so that are downtown infrastructure is available to all? Should that be on the ballot in the next election? Other communities in California do try to share the burden of community costs. In southern California where our house is, we pay $26 a year for the maintenance of a lake I’ve never been to and I pay it gladly for the upkeep. Food for thought.

  I’ve done a good deal of calling around this week and last about fire insurance and the IVCSD issues. What I’ve learned is that we are being ignored equally by all political parties. We are not a force to be reckoned with—yet.

  There are many people for us to alert to our plight from our local supervisor and board chair, Kevin Goss to governor Gavin Newsom. From the Dahles to LaMalfa for the next few months, and the insurance commissioner. These people need to hear from us. They need to know their actions—or inactions have very real consequences for a town trying to comeback. They need to know they were elected to both represent us and to come up with innovative ways to combat climate change and build economically sustainable communities. We need to make them work for it.

  In the almost year since the Dixie Fire, our resilience and hope have carried us through, but it will be the red-tape and closed doors that do us in more than any flame.

  Keep up the fight if you can.

  The following is a list of events and meetings coming up in the valley that you might be interested in attending or volunteering for or both. If you have an announcement or event you’d like to inform the community about, please send it to [email protected].

Gold Diggers Day 

  This Saturday the traditional Greenville celebration is back in action. Events will be happening all day from 10 a.m. to midnight along Pine Street in downtown Greenville. Volunteers are still needed. Contact Christi Hazelton at Region Burger—she can give you a job to do. See our write up on Gold Diggers for more details: https://www.plumasnews.com/gold-diggers-day-returns-to-greenville-on-july-16/.

Dixie Fire Collaborative Meeting

  This Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the GES cafeteria. Come ask questions. Come listen to information regarding the rebuilding of Greenville. Instead of the regular lunch provided, food vouchers for the downtown food trucks will be given out.

Indian Valley Community Services District 

  IVCSD regular meeting of the board happens tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the small room in the Taylorsville Historic Hall. Public comment is always open. Come support your district. Come ask the hard questions. Come with your ideas.

Pool

  The Indian Valley Community Pool is now open for four open swim sessions on Saturdays from 1 pm. to 4 p.m. on July 23, 30. and August 6 and 20.  The pool still needs volunteers to watch and take in fees. Water aerobics happens at 5:15 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays (although this week it will also meet on Friday). If anyone is interested in volunteering call Judy Leland at (650) 942-4948.

Community Supper 

  The next community supper is a “Country Food Dinner Party” on July 18 at the Taylorsville Historic Hall on Main Street from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. On the menu are hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, corn, watermelon, rootbeer floats and apple pie. The dinner is sponsored by Pheasants Forever.

Library

  The Library is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  The July Summer Reading Program events (which is in addition to the reading log) are on Thursdays July 14, July 21, and July 28 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

  All branches of the Plumas County Library are now carrying copies of my book Burn Scars in case you want to check that out. There will be a reading and Q&A for the book at the Quincy library sometime in August. Stay tuned for details.

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