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Portola 2019 year in Review

Jan. 16

Cannabis store? Topic dominates city meeting at Portola City Council, following a request from a local business and two members of the city council.

Jan. 30

What’s new at EPHC? Facilities Director Stan Peiler discusses nearing completion of a $200,000 remodel, Human Resources Director Jayne O’Flanagan announces that she is performing an analysis of full-time employees in each department after two positions eliminated the week prior at Eastern Plumas Health Care.

Feb. 6

Search on for armed robbery suspect. Plumas County Sheriff’s Office responds to an armed robbery that occurred just before 10 a.m. at the Subway sandwich shop located along the main route through Portola on Sunday, Feb. 3.

Feb. 20

Winter’s beauty! The Feather River gleams as it winds its way past the Mohawk Bridge by Cuccia’s Restaurant in Graeagle as dawn breaks over this winter wonderland Feb. 7 at a crisp 0 degrees.

City considers burn ban during council meeting held Feb. 13, amidst much support from local entities including Eastern Plumas Rural Fire Protection District.

Feb. 27

Olympian tries out Longboards. Celebrity skier and Olympian Jonny Mosely attends the second of three Historic Longboard Revival Series competitions on Feb. 17. Moseley’s camera crew was also in attendance, with Moseley the host of a series for California tourism called “Jonny Moseley’s Wildest Dreams.”

March 13

Snow damage. Postal patrons and workers got an unexpected surprise Feb. 26 when the heavy storm left behind quite a load of snow and ice, damaging the gutter and a large portion of the roof at the Portola Post Office. “The snow and ice just ripped a whole section of gutter off,” said postal worker Lance Benbow.

March 20

A man has been charged with homicide and arson following a Blairsden house fire that claimed the life of one resident and displaced a second Thursday, March 14. Dispatch was informed of the fire that morning before 7 a.m., with fire crews from numerous agencies responding with mutual aid.

April 3

Fire chief honored for saving man’s life. Bob Frank, Fire Chief with Eastern Plumas Rural Fire Protection District, saved the life of an elderly man trapped in a burning structure on Mohawk Vista Drive in Blairsden, receiving an award from the Plumas County Fire Chief Association on March 23. From left, PCFCA Treasurer Steve Peters, Secretary Bret Russell, Chief Bob Frank, President Ed Ward, and Vice President Joe Waterman.

April 17

On the evening of Wednesday, April 10, a 120-year old home at 465 Beckwith St. in Portola caught fire, with Eastern Plumas Rural Fire Protection District first on scene to establish incident command. Thankfully, there were no injuries or fatalities, and the blaze was ultimately contained. “The structure itself is a total loss,” Chief Frank of EPRFPD stated.   

April 24

And they’re off! Kids scramble to spy out brightly colored eggs in the Technicolor green grass of Graeagle Park on April 20, with parents cheering them on.

Cause of house fire still under investigation. The April 10 blaze of a home at 465 Beckwith St. triggers an investigation, with the cause yet unknown, leaving a family of seven devastated by the blaze.

May 1

Active shooter exercise at Portola Junior/Senior High School. Captain Elaine Frank of Eastern Plumas Rural Fire Protection District performs triage on a “victim” of the active shooting full scale exercise at Portola Junior/Senior High School on Wednesday, April 24. Portola  High School became the first school in Plumas Unified School District to hold a full scale “active shooter” drill, with a goal to test the response of area agencies in an effort to increase school safety.

Green waste program offered by Intermountain Disposal in second year of pickup program, giving residents an alternative to burning waste in the city of Portola, after the city renews attention on the topic of banning open burning within city limits.

May 15

City talks water and sewer increases at special workshop held May 8, with the budget proposing a 5 percent rate increase on water. Both Mayor Tom Cooley and Council Member Phil Oels were opposed to the idea, with Cooley stating, “I would prefer not to go past the usual 2.5 percent COLA.” Chrysler noted that for the last several years, the city had been raising rates in line with a Cost of Living Adjustment, or COLA.

May 22

Caltrans begins major 70 project. Work has begun on the Caltrans Chilcoot Rehab Project, which will run on SR-70 from the schoolhouse in Sierra Valley to Hallelujah Junction at 395. The work will be taking place concurrently at all sites during the project, which is projected to run from Monday, May 13 through Thanksgiving of this year. “The Chilcoot Rehab project is a $17.4 million project,” said Ron Collins, Resident Engineer at Caltrans. “It’s a big project.”

May 29

Evening on the range. Students enjoy an evening on the range at the Portola Junior/Senior High School Prom, on Saturday, May 18 at the Two-Hearts Barn in Beckwourth. All come together to strike a pose, with laughter ringing through the air.

June 5

Sixteen hundred bicyclists roll through Portola city streets to the sound of cheers as the 2019 Lost and Found Gravel Grinder kicks off Saturday, June 1. One rider said, “I was very skeptical of the venue change, but you guys knocked it out of the ballpark with the logistics and the course. This was my fifth race, and so far, my favorite.”

Participants and spectators alike came from places as far as Canada and beyond to get lost and found in the Lost Sierra, and after a week of wet weather, the day seemed to herald the return of the sun as it shone down in a nearly cloudless bright, blue sky.

June 19

Ceremony held to dedicate CRC trail. A special ceremony was held Tuesday, June 4, at C. Roy Carmichael  Elementary School for a trail dedication at Kids Creek Forest, located on United States Forest Land, which is an adjacent piece of forested land of 145 that has been shaped into as an official Children’s Forest.

July 3

Fire district shares life-saving devices. Eastern Plumas Rural Fire Protection District has spearheaded a new community initiative, with Chief Bob Frank at the helm of the project, which aims to get portable Automated External Defibrillators, or AEDs, installed in area businesses.

“What is a life worth?” Frank remarked. “This is all worth it if it saves one life, and with these units, the public could possibly save a life. We are just continuing to do our best to serve our community and the people in it.”

July 10

Supervisor resigns. Effective July 1, District 1 Supervisor Michael Sanchez resigns due to personal reasons, leaving a position that will be filled by an appointment by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

July 31

Gold Discovery Days shine at Plumas-Eureka State Park. Hundreds attend the ever-popular annual Gold Discovery Days event in Johnsville on July 20 and 21. Children of all ages enjoyed the many hands-on activities, including the art of woodworking, gold panning, and candle making.

Aug. 7

EPHC looking good financially. Eastern Plumas Health Care posted gross revenue in the amount of $3,796,725. “This is the highest gross revenue we have ever posted, and this is a direct result of improved patient care,” said Katherine Pairish, CFO at Eastern Plumas at a board meeting held July 25.

Aug. 21

Fire, immigration top issues during LaMalfa visit: Western Pacific Railroad Museum hosted Congressman Doug LaMalfa at a Plumas and Sierra County meet and greet on Friday, Aug. 9. LaMalfa engaged residents in discussion on hot topics, from the aftermath of the Paradise fire to his thoughts on border control, saying, “We have a right and an obligation to control our border in this country. Every other country does. Everybody controls their own property- you lock your car, your house, because it’s up to you who comes in your home.”

Aug. 28

The Portola business community wants young couple, Lindsay Compton-Crabtree and Dustin Crabtree, to purchase the local pharmacy. The public endorsement followed reports that Eastern Plumas had begun to use “aggressive tactics” in pursuing the purchase of the Portola Village Pharmacy. CEO Todd Plimpton ultimately stated that after research, it was discovered that the option was not viable, mainly due to the fact that Eastern Plumas Health Care, while experiencing growth, was not large enough to justify going into a private pharmacy.

Sept. 4

City approves climate resolution. After much discussion and input from Robbin Anderson of the Citizens Climate Lobby, the city of Portola approved a resolution regarding climate change at a meeting held Aug. 14.

Sept. 11

Portola medical clinic holds grand opening. Eastern Plumas Health Care held the Portola Medical Clinic Grand Opening on Aug. 29, with many coming to check out the culmination of many months of planning and hard work.

The clinic, located on the main Eastern Plumas Health Care campus, has been completely remodeled and rejuvenated, with a seamless flow between the medical and dental wings of the clinic. “We are thrilled to share this beautiful facility with the public,” said Eastern Plumas Health Care Board Chair Gail McGrath. “It’s been long awaited, but it is finally here in all of its glory.”

Sept. 18

The city of Portola has a new City Manager, Lauren Knox, who has returned to the community she grew up loving. Moving forward, Knox’s top priority is to help City Council in implementing their goals and priorities. The health and safety of the community is also a top priority, as it is the fundamental component of government.

Sept. 25

The Old Town Portola Event Center held its grand opening Sunday, Sept. 15, with Tony Savage’s Reno Bad Boys featuring Chris David and Jackie Landrum the first to play the stage. The space has gone through many evolutions, and where the community once gathered to bowl, they now gathered to enjoy dinner and a show with friends and neighbors.

Oct. 9

Eastern Plumas Health Care’s Board of Directors held a closed session meeting Oct. 1, with several hours of discussion resulting in a 30-day leave for the health district’s chief executive officer, Todd Plimpton, who had stepped down as CEO on Jan. 3. HR Director Jayne O’Flanagan assumed the role of acting CEO after the decision was made, stating that there were no shared reasons for the action.

Oct. 30

Home, vehicles lost in Portola blaze. On Wednesday, Oct. 23, multiple calls went out to 911 regarding a house fire at 437 Samantha Drive in Portola. The home contained many rounds of live ammunition, which made a wide safety barrier a necessity and created a challenge for firefighters attempting to contain the blaze.

Nov. 13

Juanita Hansen, a Graeagle resident lovingly known as “Gigi,” turned 100 on Nov. 2. She believes that the key to living to 100 is chocolate and brandy every day!

Dec. 4

The Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District  held a Fall BurnWise Workshop at the Portola Veteran’s Hall on the afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 23. The workshop gave away four free hand-made woodsheds, crafted by Portola High School students, and informed the community about moisture levels and best practices for keeping stored fuel dry through the winter to prevent PM2.5 in the city air.

Dec. 11

A discussion about a conditional use permit for Verizon was heated during a Portola City Hall special hearing held Dec. 4. The hearing focused on the specifics of the request, mainly the request for a height variance above and beyond the current city height regulations of 60 feet.

The permit would allow for increased height and construction of a proposed 133-foot-tall monopine cellular antenna on the northeast corner of S. Second Street and Grove Avenue, adjacent to the cemetery. “I really feel like this is going to open up a can of worms that Portola doesn’t want,” local Gail McGrath said.

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