New foundation for greater Lake Almanor Basin is being formed

A new foundation for the purpose of serving the community needs of the Greater Lake Almanor Basin is being formed to oversee a variety of projects that will impact the economy and offer opportunities for growth.

“The area is undergoing a renewed energy, growth and spirit, even with all the community endured in 2020,” said Sue Bryner, chair of a volunteer steering committee of six members. “Even more impressive is that all the groundwork for these projects that we foresee being ‘housed’ by the Foundation have been orchestrated by volunteers with no funding.” Recognizing this growth and the great need to have a structure for these projects, it was determined that a Foundation would be the best avenue to meet the needs as well as be a tool for funding, which is essential.

The Foundation, which is anticipated to be operational by mid-March, will connect members and organizations of the community to funding and resources in order to better serve the area’s needs and impact economic growth. Organizations through the Foundation will be supported with administrative assistance, have access to volunteer pools and will be able to use the 501c3 status for fundraising, as well as receive help with grants and philanthropic projects. “We have a very generous community, and philanthropists who want to support financially will now have an organized vehicle for charitable donations; and community members desiring to share their time, support or expertise will have a focused plan for their generosity and will be able to see results from their efforts through these projects,” Bryner said.

The Foundation will be run by a seven-member board under the direction of a Board Chair who will guide and ensure that the goals and mission of the foundation are implemented. To support the goals, monies for the foundation will come from fundraising events, community and giving campaigns, corporate/family foundations and grants.

“It is our collective talents, experience, resources and passion that will hold, care for and sustain our community’s well-being. Now with a foundation in the driver’s seat, we anticipate great things to happen so we are not a community that could . . . but a community that did,” Bryner added.

A brief overview of projects that will be “housed” by the Foundation:

The Town Plaza

A plan, design and fund has been started to build a Town Plaza as a focal point for the community. The Plaza features a farmer’s market, venue for events (music, festivals, craft shows), children’s activities, an ice rink, cultural performances and general information that will begin to establish the area as viable year-round.

World-class sled hill at Stover Mountain

A plan to work with the Forest Service to gain permission to build a sled hill and facilities at Stover Mountain with the goal of drawing families and visitors during the winter months.

Seneca Healthcare District Hospital build fund

Seneca Healthcare District (SHD) Hospital is a California Critical Access Hospital and Rural Health Clinic that hosts a 10-bed acute inpatient floor, 2-bed emergency room, outpatient surgery, respiratory care, laboratory, medical imaging, physical therapy, and a 16-bed distinct part skilled nursing facility. Due to the on-going threat of earthquakes, the California legislature enacted Senate Bill 1953 that requires all California hospitals to assess their seismic risk and make certain improvements by 2030. If hospitals do not meet these requirements, they will lose their acute care licenses. Built between 1951-1954, Seneca Health Care District Hospital requires considerable modifications at considerable cost to meet the seismic standards. Rather than trying to retrofit the aged facility, SHD is currently in the master planning phase of building a new hospital on land purchased from Collins Pine adjacent (North) to the existing clinic building. Funding options for this work are underway but the cost will most likely exceed the lending options of the District. SHD will be working with the community and the foundation to offset the debt service through philanthropic giving and charitable donation.

Protecting resources and assets

There are continuing threats to the water quality coming from a decrease in snow packs and the degradation of streams to the encroachment of other interests on the cold waters of the lake. Protecting the quality of lake waters, streams and fisheries will mean raising and granting funds to organizations such as Lake Almanor Watershed Group and the Almanor Fishing Association’s fish hatchery program, among others.

Beautification of Chester’s Main Street

In 2009, a Main Street Design plan was created improve and beautify Chester to include sidewalks, bike lanes and other street improvements.  The plan was to await funding and the next round of improvements that would come with Caltrans highway improvements through town. Modifications to the plan are needed, as well as funding to meet town’s part of the improvement process.

The Almanor Basin Community Consortium

The Almanor Basin Community Consortium was formed in 2019 as a platform for sharing ideas, visions and projects of the different organizations, businesses and peoples of the Lake Almanor Basin to produce a vision for the future, enhance quality of life and work toward creative solutions to current and future challenges

The Mountain Volunteer Project (MVP)

The first Consortium meeting revealed that there are many ways in which community nonprofit and service groups can work together, specifically a “central hub” or one-stop shop for volunteers and volunteer services to assist the service sector, fill the need for people to connect and foster a positive culture of volunteerism and service. MVP was kicked off in the spring of 2020 in answer to community needs at the onset of COVID-19.