Some blunt public comment directed to the Board of Supervisors

By Debra Moore

[email protected]

The public spoke during the public comment period Jan. 4, and a few speakers had some pointed words for the Plumas County Board of Supervisors. One asked “Do you supervisors supervise?” while another asked, “Do you want people killed? I hope someone sues the hell out of you because of the negligence.”

The first speaker, Chester resident Terry Durham, talked about the flooding issue along Stover Creek. He described a frustrating series of phone calls and non-answers after he stepped into a foot of water in his garage one morning.

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He wanted to know who was responsible and contacted the fire department, the county road department, the water district, Fish and Wildlife, Collins Pine and his county supervisor.

While some entities responded, none seemed to know who was responsible for the issue. He said public works responded with a sump pump, but no hose. And the fire department responded with a hose, but it didn’t fit. But those are addressing the issue after it’s occurred; he wanted the flooding to stop.

Durham said he had been told it’s an ongoing problem, but he wanted to know if that was the case, then why hadn’t it been solved. He chastised the supervisors in general for having a nonactive phone number on the county website for flood control, and his supervisor in particular, Sherrie Thrall — saying she didn’t return his phone calls.

He said he learned that Stover Creek “is kind of controlled by Collins” so he called the company and could only reach someone in Accounts Receivable. Ultimately Collins Pine did address one of the issues that caused the flooding.

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“I have an emergency – who is responsible?” he asked. He discovered that his insurance company isn’t and said that since his damages are due to a “rising water” event, he won’t be covered. In addition to the damage to his garage and shop, there is a “lake” in the crawlspace beneath his house.

He concluded his presentation by saying “So here’s my guarantee. I’m not going to shut up. I’m not going to accept it.”

The supervisors also heard from the public regarding snow removal and garbage pickup issues.

One woman, who addressed the supervisors via phone, and who did not identify herself, had three concerns: pine needle disposal; the dangerous situation on Gold Lake Road, and trash pickup. She used some colorful language in describing her concerns, particularly when it came to Gold Lake Road.

She said that “everyone was making a lot of fun of the people” who tried to use that road, but she didn’t blame them because they were from out of the area and wouldn’t know that it is closed. “That road is so poorly marked; you need to take full responsibility for that.” She added, “Plow guys are doing a fabulous job on that road; what the hell for? Fix the damn signage.”

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She said that Gold Lake Road is better plowed than “90 percent of the roads in the county,” while “Blairsden is like an ice rink.” She offered to give each of the supervisors a tour and although she has four-wheel drive with snow tires, she said that they would be in for a slippery ride.

As for trash pickup, she said, “Somebody needs to get on these people. Both companies are doing a piss-poor job.”

And when the public comments ceased, the supervisors didn’t hear any good news from their department heads either. Auditor-Controller Roberta Allen announced her resignation, saying she accepted a position in Sierra County, which comes with a pay increase, even though it is a position with less responsibility. She said she needs to devote more time to rebuilding two of the three homes that her family lost in the Dixie Fire.

“I am honored to have served,” Allen told the supervisors. “I want to thank the constituents in the county.” She assured the board she would be available to help with the transition.

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New leadership

While Board Chairman Jeff Engel chaired the meeting through the public comment portion of the agenda, he would change seats for the remainder.

That’s because during the first meeting in January, the supervisors elect a new chair and vice chair, with typically the vice chair (in this case District 1 Supervisor Dwight Ceresola) becoming the next chair. But that’s not how it went.

Sherrie Thrall nominated Kevin Goss to be chairman.

Supervisor Greg Hagwood seconded the nomination. He noted that Goss had lost much of his district to the Dixie Fire and said, “I know your constituents are looking for that leadership.” He also noted that since Goss’ own business had been destroyed, he would have time to take on the chairmanship.

Hagwood added that the nomination of Goss, didn’t reflect on Ceresola’s ability to do the job. Ceresola agreed that this was a good year for Goss to be chairman. The board unanimously elected Goss as chair and voted to retain Ceresola as vice chair.

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Thrall acknowledge Jeff Engel for his leadership as chairman.  “I really want to thank you Jeff for being the chair. In the 25 years I have been here, this has to have been the most difficult year,” she said.

Other business

The supervisors authorized the County Clerk to conduct a special election for Peninsula Fire Protection District and authorized the Public Works Director to fill two vacant positions in his department.

The board also authorized Sheriff Todd Johns to pursue several grants as requested, and told the human resources director to begin the recruitment process to fill the unexpired term of the auditor/controller.