Published every Tuesday          Phone/Fax (530) 336-6262           P. O.  Box 224, Fall River Mills, CA 96028


I attended two meetings last week, the Community Services District meeting in Fall River Mills and the Del Oro rate meeting in Burney. I have to admit that Iíve become accustomed to the small group of people in the Fall River Valley who show their upbringing and maturity by coming to meetings with the sole purpose of wasting everyoneís time, screaming, interrupting, going off on tangents and making it hard for the board to do business in a civil, businesslike manner.

However, Del Oro  Water Company had its own set of people who were basically just as loud, shouting over other people, interested only in displaying their anger, disrupting the meeting and otherwise acting like undisciplined 2-year-olds. It made it difficult for others in the audience to listen to the presentations, voice their displeasure with the potential increase, present their complaints and make their points or let everyone else have an uninterrupted chance to do the same.

In the case of the Fall River CSD, they apparently feel that it is a town square where they can stand on a soap box and vent on any topic they chose whether or not it pertains to the district or business at hand. There are times and places for everything and to waste a board and audienceís time ranting may be a comical sideshow but fails to accomplish anything but waste everyoneís time.

In the case of the Del Oro water rate meeting, everyone in the audience was mad, everyone wanted to let the company and the representative from the Public Utility know they were mad. But it could have been done civilly. At least at that meeting, everyone stuck to the issue and Iím sure the company representatives and PUC representative got the message that the people were irate.

How much faster would meetings go, how much more business would be done, how much better would they be understood if everyone spoke quietly, gave each other the courtesy of listening to what they said, stuck to the business at hand, didnít interrupt or talk to hear themselves talk and were polite enough to allow the meetings reach a timely conclusion so everyone can go home?

There were some good points made in Burney, beyond the fact that it was difficult if not impossible to hear more than the two or three loud mouths in the back of the room. There were some good suggestions, but again, they were hard to sift out.

Unnecessary public displays of tempers and rantings may make the individuals feel important (probably wouldnít if they could see their performance in a mirror), but it generally makes those who have to listen to it a lot less receptive and a whole lot less cooperative.

It is one thing for kindergartners to have tantrums, it is quite another thing for 40-70 year-olds to act like kindergartners with distemper. What happened to civility?


The State Board of Equalization notified property owners in Shasta County SRA areas they will soon receive billings for the SRA fee that the Governor signed into law earlier this year. The notice came in pre-printed, full-color on heavy ďslick stock paper with another full sheet with the property ownerís name and address on it. Of course it was in an envelope with bulk mail postage.

I was in the printing business for a short time several years ago. Printers charge for the thickness of the paper stock. They charge more for ďslickĒ paper than plain paper. This was undoubtedly printed three to a regular sheet or on rolled stock. Either way they do charge for cutting the paper. They charge for full color work. Then there is the cost of the paper and generation of the address sheet and the envelope. Not counting the collating of the two pages, the folding, the insertion into the envelopes, the bulk postage and other associated costs involved.

Then we wonder where our tax dollars go.

Anyway, it is official, they finally got to Shasta County and we will be receiving the bill ďsoon.Ē

The notice says ďAs the owner of property within this area, you will soon receive a bill requiring you to pay up to $150 per habitable structure. After you receive you bill, you will have 30 days from the date on the bill to send a payment or appeal the amount of the bill in writing.Ē

Both Senator La- Malfa and Assemblyman Nielsenís office, along with fire chiefs who have followed this issue strongly recommend that anyone who receives the notice ignore the ďor appealĒ portion of the statement and pay the amount billed and write paid under protest.Ē

They also say to follow the instructions on filling out the appeal, sending it back in with the payment. They say to do otherwise is to invite fines, penalties and or interest if the appeals are denied.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has filed a lawsuit pointing out that it is not a fee, but an illegal tax, but the court has not yet issued an injunction against the collection.

LaMalfa and Nielsen are also amongst the legislators who have authored a bill to stop the fee.

An Open Letter to the Community Services Board and Ratepayers

Editor: The board is contemplating a 6% raise on the water and sewer rates for three consecutive years with the possibility of additional increases in the years that follow that.

I urge all those who pay for these services to protest this action.

As a retiree on Social Security the raise that I get (if I get one at all) amounts to a little more than two percent. The rate raise the district is considering is completely out of line with the cost-of-living increase that those of us on social security are receiving.

After these rate increases, my CSD bill would be over $90. If mine is that high just imagine how much the local businesses would be paying. Then they would have to pass these increases on to the consumer in the form of higher prices just to stay in business. We will be losing in more than one way. Harold Bassett


A special districtís budget needs to be understood before someone forms an opinion on it. That is especially true of a complex district such as the Fall River Valley Community Services District Folks need to know how it is arrived at, why it is what it is, and all of the impacts pro and con.

In my estimation the CSD board was thoughtful, receptive to the audienceís concerns and worked to a solution that attempts to meet both sidesí needs as best they can. It wonít probably (at least at this time) satisfy anyone. In hard economic times it is the boardís job.

Folks have to isolate the budget issue in their minds. It has nothing to do with the other ideas, projects, hopes or dreams of the general manager, board, citizens beyond the money necessary to run the districtís normal operations. If the board pays attention, the peripheral issues will be grant funded or not funded at all.

The population of the CSD, which basically is limited to the towns of Fall River Mills and McArthur, consists of a lot of senior citizens, a lot of retired citizens, citizens on welfare or disability. The balance is made up of working class folks subject to high seasonal unemployment in the best of times.

The economy of the towns leaves a lot to be desired. Thirty years ago the business community included two grocery stores, three or four gas stations, two convenience stores, two well stocked hardware stores, a shoe store, three clothing stores, a furniture and appliance store, a printer, and two bars. Now one grocery, all but two of the gas stations, one convenience store, one hardware store, printer, furniture and appliance stores have gone by the wayside. McArthur Farmís clothing and shoe section has taken the place of the three clothing stores and shoe store. School enrollment is dramatically down, the real estate market is still in the doldrums, the cost of gas has soared, and the national economic picture stinks.

To put it simply, money is tight.

On the other side of the picture is a district that went through several years, three managers, and two boards which, for whatever reasons, failed to keep an eye on the bottom line and on the performance of their managers during the period. In general, they failed to try to do more than repair the aging system and simply did what they had to do to stay in business.

The last ďold boardĒ left and the new board started to form. The directors were bottom line oriented and over the past few years have made tremendous strides to turn the district around and make it financially viable.

Folks ought to be aware of the fact that the reason they have not gone for an increase in rates since 2007 is that the board members knew that the people in the district were hard pressed and couldnít afford it. Unfortunately the economy, the cost of doing business, and the infrastructure hasnít cooperated.

As an example the CSD board didnít put money aside for replacing old infrastructure over the years because they havenít had it to put aside. They had to work out a deal with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for half a million dollars to replace sections of the main water line. A large hunk of which is a low interest loan. The nearest similar district, the Burney Water District had managed to squirrel away some money for replacements over the years. They paid for their work out of reserves and thus didnít have to go for loans and grants.

The bottom line is that if you are a CSD customer and you want water when you turn on the faucet and you want your waste to leave your house when you flush your toilet, the CSD has to have a working system.

The budget and rate increase procedure is complex and intertwined. A lot of things have to be done and it is going to take awhile.

The board met the customer needs half-way.  They authorized a budget that is 5% more than their projected income. The manager says he needs 10%. The board has spoken. The budget now goes back to the budget committee who must find a way to cut 5% out of the proposed budget. Then it goes back to the board. If the board approves it, it goes to the rate committee which recommends the amount of a rate increase. It goes back to the board and through a series of maneuvers which are in place to assure that the increase is legitimately needed, that the public is well informed, that they have had opportunities to hear about it and voice their opinions one way or the other Ė If you are interested go to the meetings, make constructive input when the opportunity arises, stand up and be counted. But also remember that ďWe donít want no damned increaseĒ is not constructive nor is it realistic.

Open letter

Dear Tea Party: What United Nation rules are you talking about? What does improving fish habitat and having clean water have to do with water rights?

I donít know anyone on the Klamath, Scott, and Yuba Rivers! What are the hidden problems for their enviable projects. What has measuring in- low and out-flow of the Fall River Lake have to do with sending water to San Diego or anywhere else?

What does the illegal fire tax have to do with water?

If I am to tell county representatives to reject the IRWMI I have to have facts not vague innuendoes by someone with too much time on their hands...

Besides, California voters voted for clean water! They also voted to raise taxes on themselves, but that is a subject for a later day.

God bless everyone this Christmas season! May we all clean up our acts and try to be kind to one another Ė even Democrats and Tea Party People.
Love ya all
Dale Mollenhauer

Watch the Water

Editor: The future of the Fall River Valley depends on its most important resource and property right: water. That is why we are concerned that Gary Bardini, the Deputy Director of the Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) under the California Department of Water Resources, is leading the effort to implement a federal plan to comply with the United Nationsí attempt to assume control of all of our water.

Their plan is simple: find local ďdupesĒ who are willing to promote what seem to be appealing projects and grants to improve our rivers and streams. But, these projects and grants actually come with requirements that will erode local control and mandate compliance with United Nations rules.

It is remarkably easy to fall prey to the allure of promises of ďmilk and honey.Ē Two of our local leaders of the NCWA have proven themselves to be easily swayed by these grandiose enticements. Leading the charge to give away local control of water in exchange for government dollars is Pam Giacomini, newly elected Shasta County supervisor. You may already thank her for the Fire Tax bill that is your Christmas gift this season from the state of California. She did not support your right not to have to pay it. She only quibbled about how much you should have to pay. Now she wants to give away your water rights. Todd Sloat, a biological consultant, has been enlisted by the Pit River Resource Conservation District to formulate plans to spend your tax dollars on grants and projects. As a consultant, his income is based on these grants and plans that limit your rights and spend your tax money. Question the agenda of Giacomini and Sloat when it comes to your water rights.

The goals of people such as Giacomini and Sloat seem absolutely inspiring and desirable: clean water, more fish, higher levels in the aquifer; but at what cost? What does the fine print say? What are you giving up? Ask the people on the Klamath, Scott, and Yuba Rivers what the hidden problems have been for their seemingly enviable projects.

Begin a closer investigation. Dig below the surface and disturbing questions arise. It may be appealing to the public to talk about improving fish habitat, but what about Cal Trout and their effort to measure the in-flow and out-flow of the Fall River Lake? Is the desired goal of Bandini and the IRWM to have our undamed water flow freely into an enlarged Shasta Dam and ultimately end up in Sacramento? The Central Valley? San Diego?

The water grab has long tentacles. It involves Modoc and Lassen Counties and every river, stream, and creek in the Intermountain watershed: the Pit River, Fall River, Hat Creek, Burney Creek. They are all a part of the overall plan. All of the water and every person will be affected. The stated intent of a grant to improve habitat becomes the reality of surrendering private property rights. It is foolish of anyone to believe that there are no strings or long-lasting consequence attached to these grants.

Wake up! Time is running out and the time to protect your property and water rights is now. Tel your county representatives to reject the IRWMI. The Intermountain Tea Party Ross Jones


Caltrans has contracted to have the Burney Creek Bridge on Main Street replaced. Iím assuming that it has to be done, even though that can be reasonably suspect after the Fountain Curve debacle a few years ago.

They did the proper paperwork, notices, bids etc.

They have paid special attention to safety and to the environmental concerns of working over a creek. However, the work space blocked off is for the entire business section between Butte and Shasta Streets, and it is blocked off 24-hours a day, so even Mt. Burney Theatre customers have no convenient parking after the construction hours.

To top it off there are signs to keep off the sidewalk in front of the north side businesses.

This project is supposed to last all summer.

The town of Burney isnít exactly thriving and hasnít been for years.

How many of these businesses can take the kind of hit they are being dealt?

If the experts can figure out how to save the fish under the bridge and the people working on it, youíd think they could figure out how to save the businesses that otherwise may not be there by the time they are done.

To the Community of the
Inter Mountain Area

We, being the family of Dylan Matwijiw, want to personally thank each and every person that Dylan has touched the life of.

I pray that even though our son has been called to leave so soon and our hearts mourn for our loss, through signs and miracles in our life, we know that he is in a better place.

This community has come together in a special way which is such an honor. It is a comfort to know how much Dylan was loved by his special friends and their families. We love you and thank you all.

We know that our son has had such love from his friends, especially Betsy Taylor, who has been the love of his life.

It has been just as Dylan started his young life that he worked for S.P., admiring all those who work there and we would like to thank everyone there as well.

To the Burney Fire Department, as we learned of our sonís bad news, we recognize how difficult a task it must have been to report such news. As our oldest son is a firefighter paramedic we have some understanding and we honor you.

As for the Veterans Hall and Burney High School, we thank you so very much for all your hard work  and efforts. Having everyone pull together so quickly on such a large scale, and knowing that our community can come together in such a time of need and sorrow, is awe-inspiring.

We would like to thank everyone so very much not just for your support but for teaching us the true meaning of community. -Dylan Matwijiw family


Congratulations Seniors! Youíre through the first phase of your lives. Now it is up to you to join the ranks of area graduates that have made successes of their lives with the help of your parents and a whole lot of teachers. This area has had more than its fair share of outstanding citizens, join them.

Congratulations also to the winners of the primary elections and a thank you to all who became involved and entered the race and those in the background who supported individual candidates and/or who put on events which allowed the voters to make their choices. That is what it is all about.

A word of caution - The results you have been reading about for the past week, including those that are in the Mountain Echo are not at this time official. The County Clerks of each county have to verify the count and finish counting some ballots.

They have something like three weeks, but at least locally hope to have them out by the end of this week.

To those of you who didnít ďwin,Ē you won more than you know. You influenced each and every person who voted for you. You took part in a process that took you places and gave you insights you didnít have before. Cherish them.

Meeting Way out of Line

Editor: While is not unusual for me to  disagree with the Fall River Valley Community Services Districtí board and general manager, usually on Brown Act issues Ė and I pride myself on being able to agree to disagree, I feel last Tuesdayís meeting was way out of line.

While stating my opinion that the closed session violated the Brown Act and that the General Managerís new contract, to replace the one that had expired in November of 2011 (over a year ago), should be tabled so the new board members would be included, a re-elected board member and the manager felt a need to yell at me while defending their position on the Brown Act.

Anyone who questions the validity of my complaint about their yelling can listen to the tapes at the CSD office. The acting chair did nothing to stop this.

If this is how the re- lected board member and the general manager plan to conduct themselves It will be a long two years.

I have always been outspoken, perhaps too much so at times, and it is often over Brown Act violations. I have no intention of stopping. It is my right as a rate payer and district resident to question items and issues and to air my opinion without being disrespected.

I do not yell at others and I would expect the same courtesy. If this is how the re-elected board member and general manager feel professionals should act, then shame on them. Diana Rogers Fall River Mills


Politics is one of those things where folks are going to love someone, hate someone or throw their hands in the air and say the heck with it.

Regardless of whether you love them or hate them there are two whose actions have affected our lives dramatically for a number of years, who are retiring and who deserve a big thank you - Congressman Wally Herger and Shasta County Supervisor Glenn Hawes. They did an awful lot of work to get their jobs. They did an awful lot of work to keep their jobs. That means that they did their best to represent us. They must have done what we wanted because they held their jobs for years. Thank you guys. We may not have always agreed. We may not have seen eye-to-eye, but you had the guts to do the job, put up with the guff and I appreciate you. Have a wonderful time during your retirement, get reacquainted with your families and do all the things you werenít able to do because of your work schedules.

Iím going to endorse some folks and give you my reasons for endorsing them. Iím not going to cut their opponents down. Anyone who runs for an office should be thanked for having enough interest in what is going on around them to want to make a difference and to put up with the heat that goes with the territory.

Iím endorsing Pam Giacomini for Shasta County Supervisor for District 3.

One of the most important things about Pam is that she is a lifelong resident of the area. She grew up on a ranch and owns and operates a ranch. She is also a business woman. She has donated considerable time to her communities through the Burney Chamber of Commerce and the Burney/Fall River Soroptimists. We can find her if we need her help, vent our unhappiness or lobby for something. She has serious connections in government where she was a lobbyist and later on the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection and was chairman of the subcommittee that dealt with the SRA Fee. She was one of those who opposed passing that fee. She knows how government works and she is well aware of the issues.

I am endorsing Aaron Albaugh, He is a Big Valley Rancher, lifelong resident of that Valley and from everything I have observed will do his best to represent Big Valley and Lassen County.

Iím endorsing Tony Mallory for judge because he has a good record as a lawyer in Lassen County and has spent considerable time in the Big Valley area finding out what the people of the area need and want out of a judge. I believe he is intelligent, honest, and will operate his court in the best interests of those who appear in front of him.

Iím endorsing Republican Brian Dahle for Assembly. He is a lifelong resident of the area. He is a rancher and businessman out of Big Valley. He is a four-term Lassen County Supervisor who has years of experience dealing with the state government and representing rural northeastern California and is part of a team that has managed to keep Lassen County out of the red financially. We will be able to talk to him, reach him when we need him and let him know if we are happy or unhappy.

Iím going to break my rule about ďshopping localĒ and endorse Republican Doug LaMalfa for Congress. He has spent a lot of time up here during his tenure in the state assembly and Senate.

He is a rancher who has gone the extra mile to fight for northeastern California. He has always returned my phone calls. He has always listened. He is more than willing to talk with us. He is an experienced legislator who knows the players and has experience at getting things done. When elected he can hit the ground running

I started this out by saying I was going to talk about the positive, so Iím ending my endorsements with this. Those who think their vote doesnít count need to remember that the ocean is made up of trillions upon trillions of ďoneĒ drops of water.  Iíve told you how, since Iím a resident of Shasta County, Iím going to vote and how I would vote if I was in Lassen County. If you donít agree with me, vote for others, - either way Ė vote.


A couple of things: First, Donna and my home was built in the 50ís and has almost as many creaks and hitches as I do.

One of those hitches was a sliding glass door to the back yard.

Because of arthritis of the rollers 75% of the time it had to be lifted and pulled to close.

Step in Scott Brulc of Scottís Glass. Scott not only performed a back door transplant, he surgically removed the sliding glass door and replaced it with beautiful French doors.

They not only look beautiful, they open beautifully.

Thanks Scott.

Second, I have no desire or intention of getting embroiled or entwined in the potential lawsuit of Amy Mickelson against Bill Brunner, John Van den Bergh and the Community Services District (CSD).

As a party who uses and pays for water and sewer service from the CSD it concerns me that the District even has a web site with a blog that the public is tacitly encouraged to use to attack and belittle people. It concerns me even more that having been basically told by one of those who have been so attacked that theyíd best clean up their act or they were going to be sued, and that they havenít had the common sense to correct the problem to show good faith.

In my book the least they should do is delete any mention in any article or response to the offended party (Amy Mickelson), or eliminate the potential of being embroiled in that suit or possibly other suits, by eliminating the blog portion of their web page and stick to articles about the district and not attack those they donít like for whatever reason.

The CSD board is in the process of considering a budget that requires a 10% rate increase and expect to take up the matter of that increase soon.

As a rate payer, I understand there may be an increase and Iíll reserve judgment on the need for 10% until they state their case. However, if the district becomes embroiled in a lawsuit, 10% isnít going to touch their deficit.

It would be nice to see the board use their heads and immediately attempt to take steps to head the suit off.

Foot Traffic?

Editor: I read and I read that the schools are losing money because of lower numbers of students. I read and I read advice to shop locally to help the local economy. Does anyone understand the term foot traffic?

We donít have enough jobs to support a healthy economy, schools or infrastructure. You are, in my uneducated, humble opinion, in a decline. And yet the hospital is spending millions to rebuild, the CSD has some very creative ideas on solar and hydro plus a couple of parks, and what else?

You need some clean industries to increase the tax base. Who is here among you with enough business smarts to start an industrial park? If not an industrial park, how about a college? Okay, how about a prison?

We had a drought from where I spent many a year at. A local wit put a sign up saying ďWill the last person out please turn off the lights! It put a smile on everyoneís face. The drought caused many inns and lodges to be returned to former owners or the bank. Only the smartest and toughest survived. It was a long drought.

One odd thing was that during the bad time we had a big building boom that kept the townís economy from complete collapse.

The point is there are many facets to a healthy economy. Ours depends on growth.

You donít want people on local boards that are anti-=growth. They may mean well, but tend to slow things up and that is costly.

You may save 6% by not spending now, but the cost of doing something is going up 15% per year. At some point youíll have to do that something you should have done years before at a cost you canít afford.

I would like to add that if the SCD board canít stop violating the Brown Act there should be some costly correction for their behavior. Dale Mollenhauer

How Far Weíve Come

Editor: I have been a watcher of the Community Services District (CSD) for over 50 years. I watched it grow from an off-again, on-again pressure system to the building to an updated system under the auspices of Cecil Ray. The addition of the sewer system was a huge boon to our community.

Trying to get board members was always a real struggle. The people who served were never appreciated and received little or no positive recognition.

Several years back the district was having problems with their managers. They were close to insolvency. New board members came on the board. They had a huge job to put us in the black. They updated and expanded our policy and procedure manual. They managed the selection and transition to a new accounting system, billing system, bill-pay system, credit card acceptance, ACH payment system.

They organized the Municipal Advisory Committee (MAC) to give the people of the valley a strong voice in dealing with the county.

They obtained low interest loans to replace old water lines.

They successfully applied for the Fall River Falls property from the PG&E Stewardship program; they applied for and received funding from the California State Parks for development of the land. They obtained a preliminary permit from the Federal Energy Regulation Commission for a hydro-electric plant and a low interest loan to build it. The power will be used for running pumps and other necessities of the CSD. They also obtained additional revenue by leasing land for a solar power plant.

Today we are in the black and are able to put money away for unexpected emergencies the board has put in long hours in their job. They are people who truly care about making our area more efficient as well as beautiful place: they deserve accolades for what they have accomplished. The many things they have implemented will be to our benefit for years to come.

Before we criticize, letís stop and think about how far we have come and how lucky we are to have people who are willing to put in the time for our benefit. They do not do these things for their own enrichment, but only because they love this area as much as we do.
Barbara Gallion

Protesting Your Decision

Dear John and CSD Board of Directors,

I am Officially Protesting your decision to hold the vacancy open until after the election. The meeting was opened with a decision that was made prior to the opening of this meeting, which was a definite Brown Act violation. Not to mention I was the only person to put in for the vacancy in writing before the deadline of Aug 17, 2012. Therefore you had one qualified person to consider. There may only be 3 regular meetings until the newly elected board members will be seated, so the vacancy would be temporary, so why not fill it now.

Before I go any further with this I would like the Board to reconsider itís decision.

Thank you for your time in this matter. After sending the above letter to John and CSD Board, they decided to add all of the candidates running on the ballot even though none of them applied for the vacancy.

The statute John cited doesnít pertain to what he is trying to do.

One of these days someone is going to pay attention to what is going on and that is why we need to have changes now! Kathy Ontano

Iím Tired

Editor: I am 90 years old and Iím tired! Iíve lived through many wars, many of which were wars of deceit under the guise of democracy. Many lives have been lost for our ďfreedom.Ē I have supported our troops and worked alongside ďRosie the Riveter.Ē Iím tired of the power and the greed that solicits these wars.

I have always been an avid reader. I have read drama, romance, mystery and history. I have read the United States Constitution and I have read the Communist Doctrine. I have read the Bible and I have read the Koran. I am proud to be a Christian and if I were Muslim, I would be proud of my choice of religion. I am tired of religious discrimination and condemnation.

I have always exercised my citizenís right to vote. One who denies his Muslim faith and denies his heritage is now eroding that right. My mother would turn over in her grave if she knew all her efforts to be an American Citizen were in vain. The United States was to be the melting pot Ė not the chamber pot. I had hopes that this man would bring our country together. Instead we have racial unrest, economic disaster and a divided country. I am tired of the empty promises and the political and social unrest.

I have lived through ďThe Great Depression;Ē what is forthcoming is greater still. I fear for my children, my grandchildren and great-grandchildren for they will not know the freedoms I have had. Ah, you, pay attention to what is happening to your country. I tired of being dictated to., regulated and taxed to death.

This nation was founded on the basis of freedom from British rule. Our elected officials not live like royalty at the taxpayerís expense. They dictate to the public taxpayers, while excluding themselves. Our constitution is being shredded and the Communist doctrineís dictate that they will overcome us from within is coming true. Now we are subject to a oneworld order, majorly financed by George Soros (Soroswatch. com), a Socialist. So then, who rules are we to abide by? I am tired of the intrusion on American ideals.

I do not wish to live through such a change. I pray that my American heart stops  before it breaks. I am tired.
Gabriela Holt

Letter To the Editor

Editor: I would like to comment in regards to the protest efforts against Pit River Health (PRH) Administrator Dr. Bruce Staggs.

As a patient of PRH, I feel the board of directors acted in the best interest of the clinic management when they hired Dr. Staggs.

I do believe that if my mother, Lomita, was alive today she would have received adequate health care. Perhaps itís true (about) Native American employees being terminated for no reason. Is it maybe because of authoritative issues.

The depiction of the Native American culture is offensive because of the way we were portrayed. Weíre not a ďhuggy societyĒ making us look simple, timid, uneducated, not knowing how to live in the 21st century.

To denounce someone publicly without proof is wrong. If my child was touched inappropriately what would stop me from contacting law enforcement?

When the Obama administrationís Health Care Reform Act goes into effect you have to get health insurance or have penalties imposed.

For the administrator to admonish employees for not doing their job, heís holding accountability for their department.

There is recourse of patient responsibility for making appointments, referrals and prescriptions.

If this administrator is guilty of anything he would probably be guilty of being important in the way a clinic should be run.

I do get irritated with my fellow Native Americans who try to speak with sincere interest for our health care and put down the ďWhite RaceĒ when they adopt the same demagogue ways in leadership.

Donít judge all of us for what a few have to say. I am capable of speaking for myself. A true Native American Culture, is respect for purpose.
Victoria Gensaw Yurok.

Six Percent Times Three

Editor: The CSD board is not just asking for a 6% increase for one year. It is a 6% increase in each of the next three years for a total increase of 18%. By the time the second and third years are added to the first year, this comes out to over 20% for three years. The last chairman of the board had asked for a 5% budget cut, now they asking for more than an 18% increase in the next three years and more to come in the following years. The board should do like other local districts and live within their budget funds. Here is a novel idea: how about going back to a working manager? Think of all the funds that would save. Stop thinking of ways to spend money and eliminate all those other proposed projects that do not come under the authority of the CSD anyway. Harold Bassett


Editor: This letter is regarding the special events held in the Valley. Young people with families or older people on a set income cannot afford most of your prices.

Five dollars for a small cup of draft beer or three dollars for a hot dog with mustard and onions is ridiculous. This is a bad recession and prices should be going down, not up. Bill Walsh


If the two public meetings, one in McArthur and one in Burney are any indication, the folks of this area, myself included havenít been very interested in the Churn Creek Bottom issue - primarily because it is in the Churn Creek Bottom. That is below Redding, off I-5.

Unfortunately it is one of those issues each of us should have become familiar with.

What it boils down to is that the folks in the Redding area and those in the bottom, with axes to grind in either direction, are going to make a decision for us that may well lock down or at least make much more expensive any kind of development (even ag related) on land the county has labeled as Ag land. That, or they may step on a number of folks property rights who donít want commercial development next door to them, and opening the door for even more.

I donít know which side is right and I donít have a vested interest one way or the other.

I do know that we all ought to be more careful before we summarily dismiss an issue because we donít think it really pertains to us.

If the county is involved in something there is a good chance it will affect us.

Elder Abuse

Editor: An elder from the Pit River Tribe Ė a member of the Ajumawi band Ė had her home taken from her. Her name is Martha Harding. Where is she to live, eat and sleep? This is not only a violation of her tribal rights, but elder abuse. Additionally, recently, an elder was abused and robbed. What action was taken by the council? What about the Roaring Creek issue? Are these people going to continue without paying their way? What has the Council done to them? Allowed them to live free with no Council action.

If this were your mother, would you accept this kind of treatment? Martha Hardin suffered financial, physical and emotional abuse.

Also, are not our elders an important element of being ďIndian?Ē Our elders are the reason we are here. Let us not forget the fact of Indianness. Stand with me and defend this elder. We will all age and become elders. Protect Martha and all other elders.

Tell the Council you do not agree with their actions in putting this elder out of her home. She must be given due process. I do not believe this person should have been removed from her home. Her suffering is elder abuse. Elders and the disabled should be given special consideration. This is not treatment we should expect in our golden years. Kathy Martinez

Started to Walk

Editor: Thursday I had a problem with my car. I left it near the vista point on Pit 1 and started to walk. I had no water with me but figured it wouldnít take long for someone to stop and check on a lone woman walking down the road on a blistering, hot day. All I needed was for someone to make a phone call for me or give me a lift into town.

Countless cars went by and no one so much as slowed down. Two Sheriff ís SUVís shot past me too. That was a blow.

I finally reached the HiMont Motel, roughly 2.5 miles of walking, where I was allowed to use their phone and was given a half-frozen bottle of water and a wash cloth while I waited sun burned and in tears for my husband to pick me up.

 Kudos to the Hi Mont ladies as for the Shasta County Sheriff ís office. I have no words for you. Joy Tjaden


The Fall River Municipal Advisory Committee held a lightly attended public meeting last Thursday to make input into what the citizens of the Valley would like to see in a community center and park tentatively planned for the old Fall River Feed Storeís property and PG&E owned Stewardship land that the Community Services District hopes will be deeded to them.

A lot of people have put a lot of effort into acquiring the stewardship land award, getting additional monies, and brainstorming possible uses for that money. Once the CSD applies for and gets their parks and recreation powers back so they can legally operate parks, things will be a lot easier.

The concept of a swimming pool has been one of the key dreams of Valley folk ever since PG&E bulldozed its pool at the Pit One Power House under and for good reason.

A pool is an ideal spot for kids and adults to gather, cool off, swim, wade, picnic and while away the ďlazy, crazy days of summer.Ē Itís nice, its fun, if properly run it is clean and safe. The entire community or in this case, communities benefit.

That said, Iím going to be a spoil-sport and remind folks that it is going to cost money to build. It is going to cost money to insure and it will cost money to staff, and maintain.

The money has to come from someplace. Sure, money may grow on grant trees, but the grants have to be found and in general matching funds come into play.

Burney bent over backwards to do the homework. They visited and checked pools all over the north state (several of which are no longer in operation). They had as good a feel for what was likely to happen as could be obtained. They knew what they could afford. They knew what to do and what not to do. They knew how to fund it. They got a measure put on the ballot and got it passed, charging every water user a monthly fee whether they used the pool or didnít. They charged what they felt was a workable admission fee to those who didnít qualify for a pool pass. It was built and has been in annual summer use ever since. They had to go back to the people to get an increase a few years ago. They have raised the use fee at the gate several times.

Good help was a major problem for several years. The winters played havoc and cost them a lot of money. Equipment wore out. Vandalism has been a problem and on and on.

It is not just a matter of gunniting a hole in the ground, pumping water in it and opening the gates to everyone who wants to use it. There is electricity, heaters, repair or replacement of urinals that have been severely damaged. Who qualifies for a pool pass and who doesnít will be a major issue, especially if you get the CSD water and sewer district users to partially pay for upkeep.

The concept of an enclosed, year-round pool was mentioned. Burney rejected that concept when they built it because the cost was prohibitive. They revisited the decision a little while ago and rejected it again for the same reason.

Iím not trying to be a jerk or a spoil-sport, but I witnessed what happened in Burney. As president of the Rotary Club one year I went around and emptied containers where people donated their aluminum cans and occasionally a few rotting fish. Donna and I donated to it. When we lived in the Burney Water District we paid the fee on both our business and our residence without complaining. Iíve followed the poolís progress through five water district managers and I have no idea how many pool managers and I havenít had the time or inclination to use the facility myself.

What I am telling you is not to rely on the internet alone, if you truly want the pool, find out what you need in a pool, what the community wants and is willing to pay to have a pool. Look at every public pool in existence, talk to board members, managers, employees and users of those pools. Delve into the various poolís histories.

Get community support, get organizations like the Lions, 4-H, and Chamber to raise funds and solicit local funds. If they wonít or try and canít that will tell you something right there.

Talk to several pool contractors and engineering firms who specialize in pools. Get tentative plans that can be used to determine costs, then look for the grants and loans necessary to construct it.

While you are at it, be sure to do a realistic cost analysis and 20 year look at what it will cost to run a pool and remember to increase that amount by whatever the experts suggest, because Iíll guarantee you - if something can go wrong it will and no matter how detailed your plan, you will miss something.

There is nothing that makes any worse of an eye sore, or looks worse for the community than an empty deteriorating pool facility, indoor or outdoor.

I argued against a pool when I was chamber president in the 80ís because I felt those who wanted it, wanted it so bad, they were working with blinders on. They didnít want to find anything that might slow or stop the project from going forward. If you are going to do it - do it right.


The sun was out and it was actually warm last week and I could think of a whole passel of excuses not to work. However, we were working on the Tourist Companion and I was rummy, or is that more rummy than usual?

Didnít have a lot of time to take advantage of the good weather, but Iíll have the whole rest of the sunny seasons.

On other issues I noticed that The Mayfly Pub group and the Community Service District cleaned the long abandoned, dilapidated, eyesore of broken down sheds, fencing and satellite dishes on the corner of their sewer property.

It looks nice. Thank You.

Spring is here, or at least it was over the weekend. I have a cherry tree that is blossoming and an apple tree that is taking its time but is getting ready to do its thing. The lawnís green and sometime this week Iíll plant the barrels in front of the office.

With trout season opening this weekend a lot of folks will be here to relax, ply their skills in the creeks, and have a good time. At the same time they will be helping our economy and boy could that use a boost.

Hopefully this will be  a good year.


Ya know, whenever I think that maybe the Fall River Mills Community Services District is going to straighten out, they disappoint me.

The districtís general manager John Van den Bergh, and for that matter members of its board of directors, refuse to put their efforts into pumping water, moving sewage and maybe submitting a polite letter to LAFCO asking to have parks and recreation put back under its authority so it can legally take care of its park and any future park and recreation duties it may try to acquire.

Instead of checking with LAFCO to see what they needed before they bulldozed their way ahead, they got a hold of a consultant who produced studies LAFCO doesnít need, because, by law, they produce their own or use a consultant mutually agreed upon by LAFCO and the district. They spend several thousand of dollars on these studies, refuse to or canít produce records showing how much they spent because they didnít take care of business and keep proper records to start with.

Almost smells like they are trying to hide something doesnít it?

Now, having thrown away the several thousand of dollars that could have been used to repair or at least maintain the system, they continue to fight a losing battle to see how bad they can irritate the very people who have to eventually rule on the things they want.

Itís okay for people to make fools of themselves and spend their own money doing it. Itís not okay when they hire a manager that refuses to spend his time solving the problems in providing services to its customers with an antiquated system and instead creates a personal and district vendetta against other districts and against state mandated and regulated commissions and their staff.

If the board and its manager were acting legitimately and with any degree of maturity, they would give LAFCO what that commission needs to do their thing and get the district what it needs. If they thought they had a Chimamanís Chance in Hell of being right, theyíd get what they need from LAFCO and then sue them.

They donít appear to have a legitimate claim that would hold up in court so they continue to posture, act like little kids in a sand box, whimper, cry and stomp their feet and drag everything out.

Iíd love to find something else to write editorials about but until the CSD grows up, its board starts to act with some degree of maturity and they either straighten out their general manager or fire  him, the ongoing saga of Johnís personal vendetta against Amy will continue to be editorial material.

Unfortunately it isnít helping the district or its customers customers.


From the Web . . .  Those of us who have worked in teaching, news writing, other writing, and English usage positions have to get a charge out of how badly formulated some headlines are. These were really printed and are absolutely priceless.

Worker suffers leg pain after crane drops 800-Pound ball on his head

Bridges help people cross rivers

City unsure why the sewer smells

Study shows frequent sex enhances pregnancy chances

Meeting on open meetings is closed

Man accused of killing lawyer receives a new attorney

Puerto Rican teen named mistress of the universe

County to pay 250,000 to advertise lack of funds

Army vehicle disappears.  An Australian Army Vehicle worth $74,000 has gone missing after being painted with camouflage.

Caskets found as workers demolish mausoleum

Federal Agents raid gun shop, find weapons

Statistics show that teen pregnancy drops off significantly after age 25

Meat head resigns

Barbershop singers bring joy to school for deaf

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Hospitals resort to hiring doctors

Man with 8 DUIs blames drinking problem

New Sick Policy requires 2-day notice

Parents keep kids home to protest school closure

Police arrest everyone on February 22nd

Rally against apathy draws small crowd

Starvation can lead to health hazards

The bra celebrates a pair of historic milestones this year

Total lunar eclipse will be broadcast live on Northwoods Public Radio

Rangers get whiff of colon

Miracle cure kills fifth patient.


I have a friend, a kind friend, who gave the following to a mutual friend who was suffering the loss of his best friend. My friend gave us a copy also and I would like to share it with you

A Dogís Plea by Beth Norman Harris
Treat me kindly, my beloved friend, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me.

Do not break my spirit with a stick, for through I might lick your hand between the blows, your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me the things you would have me learn.

 Speak to me often, for you voice is the worldís sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when the sound of your footstep falls upon my waiting ear.

Please take me inside when it is cold and wet, for I am a domesticated animal, no longer accustomed to bitter elements. I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet beside the hearth.

Keep my pan filled with fresh water, for I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst. Feed me clean food that I might stay well, to romp and play and do your bidding, to walk by your side and stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life, should your life be in danger.

And, my friend, when I am very old, and I no longer enjoy good health, hearing and sight, do not make heroic efforts to keep me going. I am not having any fun.

Please see that my trusting life is taken gently. I shall leave this Earth knowing with the last breath I draw that my fate was always safest in your hands.




Merry Christmas and happy New Year! from all of us at Mountain Echo!  I would also like to thank all of the private firms and their personnel who stepped in when Shasta County failed to perform (not - by the way_ the operators fault. It is upper managementís.  You might all call Pam Giacomini and let her know what a dismal job the county did and then listen to all of the managementís excuses about being out of money and would we rather have our roads plowed or law enforcement. Doesnít compute.

Iím paying a lot more property tax than in 1992 when we had the last major storm and they handled it well. Give me a break, stop crying and do your job.


Merry Christmas!

Due to Postal schedules, press schedules and not wanting to insert or deliver newspapers on Christmas or New  Years we have adjusted our schedule accordingly.

We will go in the mail and on the web and street on Wednesdays the 26th and 2nd. Our deadline for ads, including classified will be Thursdays the 20th and 27th. We apologize for the inconvenience and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

On another matter, unfortunately one that doesnít fit well with the holidays, but needs to be aired at this time so folks know what is going on. I was surprised and tickled that the CSDís general manager is including a presentation in the board package saying the districtís inability to get their grandiose sphere of influence scheme passed through LAFCO was the Mountain Echoís fault because I had a relationship with LAFCO and influenced its outcome. Actually in one way he is right. I informed the public about what they were trying to do and the public took it from there.

I was flattered that he thought that the numerous people who took the time to either write or speak in front of LAFCO regarding the CSDís proposal did it because I talked them into it. In reality I doubt any of them let me do their thinking for them.

The fact of the matter is that they had a poor plan to centralize all government in the hands of a district that historically hasnít been able to continuously handle its own business and tried to orchestrate it behind peopleís back, sneaking it in with such innocuous little moves as changing their name from the Fall River Mills Community Services District to the Fall River Valley CSD with the comment that they had sewers in McArthur and didnít want those folks to think they were favoring Fall River Mills.

As for influencing LAFCO, Iíll be the first to admit that the CSDís blatant, and obnoxiously rude way they treated the lady who took her time to come up and explain why including the entire Valley including hunks of three counties in their sphere of influence wouldnít work did not sit well with me. Beyond that I saw her at the Cassel/Burney meeting, talked to her a half-dozen times on the phone and submitted a few public record requests for documents and information from her agency, not quite what Iíd call a ďrelationship.Ē

As far as Iím concerned some of the members of both LAFCO, which is made up of representatives who sit on the county board of supervisors, the cities of Anderson, Redding and Shasta Lake City, and the special districts in the county and also the County of Shasta itself, have their individual limitations and faults. There is one person on LAFCO who has batted heads with me for over 30 years. Two others were running for higher office during the last election cycle and I ended up endorsing their opponents who I felt were better qualified to represent the people of our area. Yes, I speak to all of those people. Unlike my dealings with the CSD, I can trust what they say. They also speak to me. We have our differences and donít take it personal. I understand they have a job to do and they will do it to the best of their ability. They understand that I have a job to do and that I will do it to the best of my ability. If they accept my point of view on something it is because they recognized its merit. If they donít, they donít.


Iíve had reason to write some pretty nice things about the Mayers Memorial Hospital District over the past few months, culminating this week with a story about their open house and the great things they have accomplished.

It hasnít been that long ago that Mayers was really struggling and the board and management was on my short list for inclusion in this column.

Well, they are again - but this time for their accomplishments.

They hired a topnotch CEO, Matt Rees, who in turn made it a point to keep the people he had and hire local folk to fill the top vacancies as they opened. In the relatively short time he has been here, he, his board and his staff, from top to bottom, have taken a facility that was falling apart with finances teetering on bankruptcy, turned it upside down, spun it around a few times and set it back down. Now, if you were able to go to the open house, you saw a much nicer facility, with major renovations and repairs completed, financing nearly in place to expand and cure the seismic problems, new equipment, an electronic system and a million dollar profit for the year.

Folks, I gave you hell when I felt you deserved it. Now is the time to say you are doing a fine job!

On a couple of other issues, Iíve had the privilege of being able to watch every one of the Fall River Valley Light Parades.

Each has been unique and beautiful, but this yearís has to have been the best yet.

Short, yes, but long on imagination and  beauty.

It is hard to capture that beauty on ďfilm.Ē It is kinda like trying to watch a movie designed for the big screen in a theatre on a 21Ē television set. You get the beauty and an idea of the imagination and effort, but it misses the wow factor that is present if you are there.

Those who spent so much time, energy and imagination to please the rest of us, believe me, you succeeded and we do appreciate you.

Last Saturday was also the date for the Burney American Legionís annual Ham Dinner and it was another major success.

There werenít very many empty seats or empty stomachs. It reminded me of how it used to be in the 1970ís and 80ís.

To make it even better, the money goes to support the Legionís youth programs and scholarships.


Boy there is a lot going on. Saturday night is the night in the Fall River Valley with the light parade.

Parade entries need to be at the Corporation Yard on Glenburn Road between 5 p.m. and 5:30.  The Parade is set to start at 6 p.m. If you are planning to enter a float or a vehicle you should call Shelly at 945-7519 or Donna at 336-6869.

The parade will start in Fall River Mills and end at the Fairgrounds  with a bonfire and visit from Santa Clause.

In Burney its the night of the Burney American Legion Ham Dinner.

The dinner starts at 6 p.m. at the Veteranís Hall and features the show stopping ham dinner with all the trimmings. Everyone is welcome. Dinner tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for kids 12 and under. You can buy them from Jim at 335-4971, Bill at 335-4938, Bob at 335-6023 or at the door Saturday night.

Proceeds go to support Boys State, scholarships and other Legion programs.

The SRA ďFeeĒ notices have arrived and with it a lot of confusion over how to protest, who to protest to and so forth (typical government). As a public service, Donna at Mountain Echo has set aside Wednesday afternoons between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to help anyone who needs forms or help filling them out. The Mountain Echo office is located across from the Fall River Fire Department on Highway 299E in Fall River Mills.

Iíd also like to say that I really admire Jim Hamlin. He did one heck of a job on the Mayers Memorial Hospital Districtís board and a lot of what we have and are getting at Mayers is because of him and his fellow board members.

Thank you Jim!


We had a great Thanksgiving, Spent much of the day laying around, talking on the phone, texting, telling the kids and grandkids that we love them.

Dropped by a good friends house in the afternoon for a Champagne toast and a  chance to see a couple we hadnít had a chance to see in years.

After that it was off to the Veterans Hall to enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner with a lot of good friends, excellent Turkey Dinner with all the trimmings, toast and a couple of drinks, good conversation and depending which team you were rooting for, a ďgoodĒ ball game - Donna lost $5.

I couldnít help but think about those who were away from their families, doing what they do so we could be in a safe environment, comfortably enjoying ourselves.

There are an awful lot of men and women in Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea, patrolling our coastline, and dozens of other places we probably donít even know exist.

But, donít forget the others, the men and women patrolling our streets and highways, keeping us safe in spite of ourselves, operating our ambulances and fire engines, staffing our hospitals, our clergy and so many more.

It doesnít matter whether we live in the city, in the country, or wherever. We not only survive and thrive because of others, we depend on them without really thinking about it.

It wouldnít be a pretty world without them and we owe them a lot.

If you want to have fun and at the same time really shock someone, corner one of these folks and simply say ďThank You!Ē and mean it.

Iím going to get on my annual high horse and preach a little.

Shop Locally this Christmas season.  Thirty-eight years ago, when Donna and I first came back to the area, we could get almost everything we needed someplace between Adin and Burney.

It has been a long time and my memory may be a little faulty, but as I remember it there were two clothing stores and a shoe store in the Valley. There were three clothing stores in Burney. There was a combination rental, gas station store in McArthur, not to mention McArthur Merchantile, Sierra Market, Ready Eddyís, Dubeyís Pizza, Western Auto, Valley Hardware, two farm equipment stores, Hiway Garage, the Theater, Sears and Wards catelog stores, A Hughís Printing satelite, NAPA, and Burney and Johnson Park were thriving but the handwriting was on the wall. The roads were too good. The environmentalists along with the Clinton Administration were making mincemeat of the timber industry and television service was becoming better and better and fewer and fewer folks spent their money at home.

Now we have a fraction of the services and goods we had 30-35 years ago. We also have a fraction of the jobs.

The world is changing and it will continue to change, but, we donít have to disappear because it is changing.

While we need to try new things and do new things, it wouldnít hurt to revisit some of the old things ó like spending some of our money at home. It may well mean the difference of being able to in the future or not.

Open Letter to CSD

As directors of the CSD, your job is to serve the community of people that put you in position as directors. After the emotion that has been poured into the ďSphere of InfluenceĒ issue, itís time to put that one to sleep and move on with the welfare of the community in mind.

You are in control of the CSD and not your manager, but perhaps he could work with you as your employee and help direct you all to matters of the water district and the sewer, as is the job of the CSD.

You are all responsible citizens of the Valley and should have the desire to attend to matters of the CSD. Letís look forward to getting back to the relations that once existed with LAFCO and other County agencies, and get the community behind you in your efforts to do the job at hand.

Walt Caldwell should be thanked by the entire community for his effort to report the news of the CSD to all the citizens of the Valley, keeping us informed of both the CSD activities and that of LAFCO. Without his reporting, many of us would have not known of the severity of this ďSphere of InfluenceĒ issue and how seriously it could affect our rural districts, fire, cemetery, etc., so, Thanks Walt for all your work. You report, people of the community have the right to agree or disagree, but we are all members of the same community and should work to ďget alongĒ whether we agree with each other or not.

It would also be wonderful if the CSD could bring themselves to write a letter to LAFCO expressing a desire to work with them in the future issues of the CSD and get past the current relationship that exists, due to the ďSphereĒissues. They seem like a  very professional group of people, and I was impressed with their performance in the last public hearing, November 15th in regard to Mr. Van den Bergh and the CSD.

A new year is about to be born and it would be a great move on your part to think to the future relations with the Community and the County.

Congratulations to the new board members, you have your work cut out for you!  Jerry Duerre


This area lost one of the finest, bravest men Iíve ever had the privilege to know a couple of weeks ago, Doyle Canada.

On the surface he and his widow, Sandy, were just really nice folks. They always had a smile and friendly conversation. Neither dwelled on the fact that they were both in wheelchairs.

They never dwelled on the bad, instead seemed to look at everything through rose colored glasses and that their cup was well over half full.

Doyle didnít bow to disaster, he simply and quietly overcame the problems or found a way around them.

Like the rest of us, he went to work one night, fully expecting to do his job to the best of his ability and come home. Instead he was hit from behind, never saw it coming and was paralyzed from the waist down.

One moment he was a robust, father, husband, provider who enjoyed life to the fullest. The next, he was a paraplegic, confined to a wheel chair for life.

Did he let it get him down?


I didnít hear much about him for about a year. Then someone showed me a picture Doyle had sent him.

It was of Doyle in his wheel chair, in the great outdoors he loved. It has been too long ago to remember for sure but heíd either been hunting or fishing and had bagged his trophy and if I remember right it had been taken in Alaska.

Every once in awhile over the next few years Iíd see a picture or hear of his exploits. Weíd run into each other at Rays Market or other local stores and chat. He was always doing just fine. He was always cheerful, proud of his family and full of life.

The last time I saw him was a couple of years ago at Burney Basin Days, he and Sandy and his son and daughter-in-law were selling beautiful metal garden sculptures. He was having the time of his life sitting in his wheelchair, under the canvas shade visiting.

Yes, he finally got called home, but not without having put up one heck of a fight.

 Personally, it was a real privilege to have known Doyle, and if something bad happens to me and I survive, I hope I can muster half the strength and courage he had and be able to follow his example.

On another topic, I have to admit that as long as I ignore the presidential and senatorial race I was pleased with the way the election went last week.

The hospital came out a real winner, keeping the two incumbents and picking up another board member with lots of experience.

The Shasta College race was a win, win situation with all three candidates in the position of doing a good job for our area. My guy didnít win that one, but Judi did and will do a  good job as she has for years.

I would have liked to have seen Diana Rogers win along with Ontano and Monath, but the district may be better off without having a clear majority from either side. Everyone will have to pay more attention to the needs of their constituents rather than personal preferences. That is a good thing.

Finally this is Thanksgiving week. We all have a lot to be thankful for. I suggest we follow Doyle Canadaís philosophy, figure out a way around whatever problems we have and enjoy the life that we have been dealt. While weíre at it, lets say a little prayer for Doyle.

Thanks for the Information

Editor: Thanks so much for the info in your editorial about the ludicrous tax for unneeded fire protection. I didnít know the best way to handle it since itís being hotly contested by LaMalfa and others.

Iíll follow your advice and pay it; then when itís overturned, the state can spend another ton of money sending mailers advising us of same then issuing refunds at a further cost.

Gotta love the geniuses in Sacramento. Thanks again, Bev Stafford

Letter to the Editor

We have been hearing all the bad stuff about the District for the past three years, how about some good news once in awhile.

Letís talk about the manager. Since Cecil Ray was manager, we havenít had a money-making district. From Buzz (Sordahl) on down the district lost money. Buzz put the district into Cal Pers and we canít get out of it and its costing us money every month. No one was watching the store. Under this new management and since then the board cut costs and is barely in the black.

The manager now, was offered a $5,000 raise but said he wanted the money to be used for helping the district. He took extra vacation instead. In comparison, John is the lowest paid manager in the Intermountain Area.

You canít get all muddy and then come in and do four hours of paperwork. He has paperwork that was never completed in the past. He also needs to order parts and oversee the employee operations. John gets grants to fix the water and sewer that we canít afford without raising rates. He got the district about $700,000 to fix the water mains.

This district cannot earn enough money saved up that, if there was a big blow- ut, we could fix it. Where would we get the money? We have a company (now leasing some district property) who will install solar panels that will make us $3,000 a month. We are looking down the road a couple of years but if we rent out a hydro plant we will get income from a private company running the business, not the district. The hydro at the falls is 6-to-10 years down the road. Iím not for it. Iím not against it. I donít know enough about it.

Parks can be a good thing. Why canít the district take over the Lions Park. All the Lions members are getting old. Why canít we pay an independent person to take care of the park without being an employee or hire a part time guy to do mainly parks and pitch in when needed for water and sewer. Iíll donate my donkey to keep the weeds down. The Falls Park is six years down the road and it probably will make us some money. The Lions Park can make money now. Iím not in favor of the Lake. I think it is too much risk and responsibility.

We have eight big users in the district. That is not enough to keep the district going. The district should expand two miles out on Glenburn Road, out to the other side of McArthur to the County line and to Big Eddy.

We have two excellent ground employees. They are responsible, reliable, they are on top of their work and are doing a good job for the district.

The books for the water and sewer are separate. The sewer is being looked at to re-evaluate the cost. It has to be fair. You canít charge more for the sewer for water that goes into the ground. When we get ahead a bit, we need to work out some sort of system to help the elderly with water and sewer rates.

Iím not getting into LAFCO or attorney because I donít know that much about that stuff.

Walt I would appreciate it if you wouldnít get into peopleís personal lives because it is not a paying job and the board puts in a lot of time and effort. Bud Hendrickson

Editorís note: I will not and cannot in good conscience ignore the fact that the board and/or its manager are committing a crime each time they break the Ralph M. Brown Act, which they have done on several occasions. You can support that if you want - I wonít.

Sphere of Influence Open Letter to LAFCO

I have been a resident and businessman in the Fall River Valley for 38 years. I owned and operated the hardware store for 28 years and the John  Deere Dealership for another nine. I also sub-managed the Fall River Airport from the John Deere Dealership under Dan Kovicich and Thomas Hays. I am currently the General Manager of the Floyd A. Boyd Co., (John Deere Dealership) in Fall River Mills and director on the Pine Grove Cemetery District, McArthur, CA.

The current manager of the Fall River Mills Community Service District, John Van den Bergh, approached me at my office approximately two weeks after he assumed his responsibilities as manager of the Community Services District. He wanted to know about the Fall River Mills Airport, as he was going to absorb it into the water district and take over the management. He was also interested in the Pine Grove Cemetery District finances and asked for financials. I referred him to the president of the board.

It appears that John Van denBerg is not so much interested in offering services to other rural districts, but rather to enlarge the Fall River Community Services district by taking over existing fire departments, cemeteries, and other public service agencies.

For all the years that I have been a businessman in the community, the water district has always had a hard time making ends meet and keeping good employees.

The Pine Grove Cemetery District does not need any services that the FRCSD has to now offer or anything he  is proposing, like snow removal, where is he going to get the money for equipment, and think of the distance to some of the locations on the new sphere area he is proposing. He needs to focus on just taking care of business that the CSD is currently responsible for and not looking for tasks that will cause more expenses for the district and that are simply not feasible due to distance and cost to the consumer or district.

He stated some time ago that PG&E was going to give the CSD the Fall River Lake area as a park and that the CSD was going to maintain that area. I do not believe that has happened. They state that they are maintaining recreational areas, but I canít see where that would be at this time.

As far as expanding the Sphere of Influence for the CSD to perform services to other agencies, could they not do that through a simple contract for services to be rendered?

Personally I believe that the hiring of Mr. Van den Bergh is one of the worst decisions that this community has made. He has seen numerous board members leave the CSD due to his poor management practices and ability to slander and not get along with agencies that the water district has worked with for decades.

Please do not see fit to approve this expanded sphere of influence that Mr. Van den Bergh is proposing. If he truly wants to do the community justice, resign, move on and let someone in the CSD management positions that wants to serve the community and not build an empire for themselves.

I strongly urge any district or agency within the new proposed Sphere of Influence to immediately write a letter to LAFCO stating their position in not needing the services from FRCSD that might come from this new sphere.

I also encourage all citizens of the communities outlined in this new Sphere to attend the hearing set for Nov. 15, in Redding at the Redding City Council Chamber, 777 Cypress Avenue, to protest this plan and get our CSD back to the business it was originally set to do, attending to the water and sewer needs of the community. Jerry Duerre

Support Dr. Staggs

Editor: I would like to make a few comments regarding the Pit River Health Clinic.

First let me apologize for the negative comments from disgruntled tribal members, mostly all from one family.

I was on the medical board in 2011-12 which chose Dr. Bruce Staggs as our administrator for our medical clinic.

He was chosen for his ability to lead and his desire to make the necessary changes to improve our staff and help get our clinic accredited. He has the knowledge needed to help our clinic get bigger and better.. He has made improvements that we needed. He has been working to get more doctors to come to our clinic so our patients can receive care here locally and not have to leave Alturas or Burney for medical care.

There are 11 bands that make up the Pit River Tribe. Dr. Staggs went over the policy and procedures and started enforcing the policy. No one likes change but there are reasons for the rules in the first place.

The present medical board has served on the board before , but did nothing to improve care for our tribe unless it was to help their own family for themselves. Dr. Staggs is making the tribe go by the chain of command which they donít like. They are also being held accountable for actions for the first time.

The present health board 2012-13 has been disrespectful to the administration on more than one occasion. Yes, some tribal members were fired with just cause. The tribal council has been just as bad. In my ďideal worldĒ I would have liked to have seen the tribal council come up to Dr. Staggs and introduce themselves and let him know which bands they represent; but instead, he was met by anger and racist remarks, which is unnecessary.

It would have been better if they all came together for the best interest of the tribe, instead of for their own hidden agendas.

I donít think any of the council members have the ability to lead anything. They arenít capable of voting yes or no on anything without holding 3-4 more meetings to  discuss it. Why? Is it money and greed? There are one or two council who speak and the rest agree. The council is the same year after year, hence no improvements or new ideas are discussed.

I for one would like new people on the council who want improvement and better care. Alturas seems to be left without any say in medical care, supplies or jobs. Dr. Staggs came up to Alturas and found many things that the clinic needed - supplies, equipment and furniture. After a few suggestions which were acted on immediately, our clinic looks better Ė thanks to the receptionist, transport driver and band member.

The health clinic in Alturas needs many things. Thanks to Dr. Staggs, Administrative Assistant/ Secretary Laura Kirk for their input for improvement. Without their help, Alturas would have nothing.

I feel it is time to stand  up for the people who are trying to make things better and get rid of the foul-mouthed ones who are incapable of doing their jobs, but are paid for doing nothing.

Dr. Staggs and Laura Kirk, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping our tribe who donít want any leaders. There are too many chiefs and so few Indians to stand up and be counted, due to fear and the lack of anyone to speak for them. Sincerely Roberta Baggerstaff


It is interesting that the Fall River Valley Community Services District (CSD) faces a number of major issues and they spend as much, if not more time at a candidates night talking about the type of coverage the Mountain Echo gives them instead of the issues.

To clear the air - I have spent the last 32 years as editor of Mountain Echo. I doubt seriously that I would have lasted that long if I wasnít doing something right.

Over the past couple of years I have spent under 5% of my time and newspaper space to cover the CSD.

During the 32 years Iíve been at the helm of the Mountain Echo I have, at one time or another, taken almost every special district as well as the county Sheriff ís Department, Coronerís Department, Stateís Caltrans, local CHP office and others to task.

I call them as I see them. That is my job. A newspaper is supposed to be the public watchdog. If someone or some entity is breaking the law, operating outside of the law, ripping someone off, setting up their own little kingdom or otherwise failing to properly serve the public and I find out about it Iím going to tell my readers about it.

Most agencies, in fact, so far, all agencies with the exception of the Fall River Valley Community Services  District have noted the problem, been far less than happy with me, but corrected the problem, made sure that it wasnít going to happen again and moved on.

While I try to give positive coverage, let people know the positive things that go on or are happening, it is not my job to be a public relations firm. Agencies and businesses donít go out and hire newspapers, reporters or editors to put a positive spin on what they are doing, whether it is right or wrong. There are plenty of private firms that will do that for them - it isnít newspapers.

In the case at point, I have tried numerous times to give them positive coverage and I have. If they donít violate common sense, the law, and are doing things right, I make sure it is noted.

They continuously and wantonly violate the law, scream about how they are being picked on and cost their constituents money for these actions.

1. A public agency is just that - public. They serve the public and are answerable to the public.

 2. When a board gives direction, the management is expected to follow that direction, not find ways to get around it.

3. When the board tells a member of the  public, in public, that they will do something, it is expected that they will do it.

4. When an agency has to use another agencyís services, It uses those services, it isnít extremely rude to that agencyís representatives, nor does it spend its taxpayer or constituents money on attorneys to get its way and circumvent the  procedures.

If the Fall River Valley Community Services District, staff, management and board want to be treated like grown ups, theyíve gotta start acting like them.

Personally Iím sick and tired of giving them negative publicity. It is now up to their constituents, if you folks are tired of reading about their antics, vote the folks in that will change it. If not, and if they arenít willing to follow the laws, procedures and common sense as it applies to public entities, oh well. Either way Iíll give them the coverage they deserve.

Regarding my accuracy, I am more than happy to let folks listen to my tape recordings of the meetings. I donít waste the readers time or my space trying to quote everything from the tape verbatim, That is a stenographerís job. I do what any other reporter does, I put quotes around what I do use verbatim and paraphrase the rest.

Do I make mistakes. Iíll guarantee you I do. If they are brought to my attention and if, after researching the matter, I find that I did make a mistake, I own up to it and I correct it.  Comment


Last week I endorsed Jerry Monath, Diana Rogers and Kathy Ontano for seats on the Fall River CSD Board. The following are my endorsements for other offices:

Mayers Memorial Hospital District board.  There are three openings on that board, I am endorsing both incumbents, Allen Albaugh and Jerry Hathaway in their bids to retain their seats.

Albaugh is a McArthur rancher, a farmer, a former business owner, and involved in a variety of trade and community organizations.

Hathaway, a retired teacher and current Battalion Chief and EMT for the Burney Fire Protection District, a Burney rancher, is also a trustee on the Burney Basin Mosquito Abatement District and former Shasta County Supervisor, and a former member of the Burney Water Board, along with being involved with youth, civic, and church organizations over the years.

Both have shown the desire, expertise and abilities necessary to be good board members and have been a part of a team that is taking the hospital district in the right direction.

I am endorsing Art  Whitney of Glenburn  for the third seat. As a pharmacist he has been in health care since 1973. He has been on the board of directors for the California Pharmacist Association, has chaired the Long Term Care Management Council, been a director of the Roseville Community Hospital and past CEO of Horizon West, a 37-facility chain of skilled nursing home among other things.

Shasta College Board of Trustees

All three candidates have an Intermountain Area background and I have absolutely nothing against any of them. All three have good experience.

Personally Iím going to vote for Dan Marcum of Glenburn. Dan, who holds a PhD, has spent a whole career and still is the Shasta-Lassen County Farm Advisor. He and his wife Debbie raised two children in area schools. His wife is a retired teacher and a former member of the local school board. He is a rancher himself. A long-time member of the Pine Grove Mosquito Abatement Districtís board. A member of the community involved in the American Legion, Rotary Club, and others. He is used to helping ranchers and farmers find and compete in new markets like mint and wild rice and old crops such as hay and alfalfa, figure pesticide and fertilizer usage and costs, power costs and irrigation, and work with other experts to figure animal marketing and other areas which change season to season.

State Assembly

I am endorsing Brian Dahle for the position. Brian is a Big Valley rancher, small business owner, and long-time supervisor for the district that includes Big Valley. He is a part of the board that made sure Lassen County has a good financial record. He is ďone of us.Ē He has been here through thick and thin. He is a savvy politician. Those are all things we need and additionally we know where we can find him.

Iím endorsing Jim Nielsen for State Senate. He has done a good job representing us as our assemblyman. Heís experienced and conservative. He knows where we are and who we are. The other candidates donít.

Iím endorsing Doug LaMalfa for the US House of Representatives.

There are two reasons. Number one, he may not live here but he has come up here because he was our assemblyman and then state senator and because his boy played basketball against Fall River. Secondly, he is experienced. The House of Representatives needs a savvy politician.

I am also endorsing Tony Mallery for Superior Court Judge in Lassen County. He has fresh ideas and is a strong supporter of the law.


The world is changing and Iím going to do something I havenít done before Ė do my endorsements now because the mail-in ballots are starting to come out this week. The election of directors to the Community Services District is extremely important this year and it needs and deserves the vote of every registered voter living within the districtís boundaries. The outcome of the election will determine the direction the district takes in the future. There are those of us who feel the district should concentrate on water and sewer service and get problems in those area and the districtís financing completely done and stabilized before trying to take on more. There are also people on the other side who feel the district needs to move into a variety of other areas which it, as a community services can, to provide such things as more parks, a hydro facility, trails, a community building and more.

The districtís board is a mixed bag. On the one hand, in the past 2-2.5 years, they have started to get a good, solid handle on their financial situation. They have seen that audits were completed and corrected deficiencies. They have explored numerous avenues for revenues and services, they got rid of the cable television squatter that had trashed up one end of the sewer pond property,  and are in the process of negotiating a lease with an outfit that wants to put in a solar farm on the part of the sewer facility property the district isnít using. The lease will provide badly needed income to the district.

On the other hand, they have demonstrated that the end justifies the means. They donít appear to care how they get what they want as long as they get it. They have feigned ignorance numerous times as they violated the Public Records Act. Each time it has been for expediency or because they admittedly wanted to hide something. For whatever reason they let the manager do what he wants without consulting them and ignore complaints and questions from citizens in the district even when he violates the law. The board has condoned and become a party of extremely abrasive behavior against individuals who, for whatever reason oppose or disagree with them.

The result has been that, because of board turnover, all five seats on the board are up for election and an unheard of nine candidates are seeking those seats when, In the past, it was impossible to find people who wanted to be on the board.

The current board and manager have worked very hard, and have been very creative in attempting to expand the powers of the district. That is something that, if done properly, could be of great benefit. In my opinion they have been overreaching, too zealous, too abrasive, too demanding and rather than do their homework first, try to set things up without long-range plans to insure success. Grants, as an example are wonderful if no strings are attached and future income is  guaranteed. Parks, etc. donít do a lot for the community if they damage existing facilities such  as the fairgrounds, or 15-years down the road are let fall into disrepair because there is no longer a dedicated stream of income that can insure the projectís continuance.

Incumbent Sandy Jensen and past board member Barbara Briggs have put a lot of heart and soul into that district. The two of them were the mainstays that straightened out the finances and got the district back on the audit track.

Unfortunately I can not endorse either one. Both are ďthe end justifies the meansĒ oriented, and while they give violation of the open meeting law and transparency lip service, their actions have shown the reverse.

The board lets the manager do as he pleases, which might be okay in a private corporation, but isnít in a public, tax supported district. As an example they okayed the managers request to go ahead and hire an attorney he had found to take on LAFCO, but not to spend any district money. They approved a payment out of the existing treasury for the attorney the following month without comment and okayed an $8,000 loan for the attorney the month after that to cover all of his expenses. They also talked with a hydro consultant in closed session, a direct violation of the Brown Act, and okayed her going ahead on the project, also a violation and then didnít report that they had okayed the project when they came out of closed session, also a violation of the act.

Jensen has spent the past several years building a home outside of the district. It isnít complete yet, but logically could be well before another four-year term would be up  and then she would have to step down, setting the seat up for appointment by the board rather than election by the people.

Briggs brings a lot of energy and financial recording and analysis expertise to the position. However, she does not tolerate opposition or criticism, two things that a person must be able to do if they are to be on any public board. Additionally, she quit the board putting a letter in the paper attacking the paper for its coverage along with the citizens for criticizing her.

I cannot and will not endorse Sally Voorheis- Brunner for the position because she is the wife of Bill Brunner who caused himself, the Community Services District and its manager to be notified by the LAFCO Executive officer that she had obtained an attorney and was seriously contemplating a law suit for libel or slander against them because of Brunnerís actions. Interestingly, the Jensens and Briggs, were part of a group that won a similar suit against Brunner several years ago. It isnít a good match any way you look at it.

That leaves six candidates. I am going to endorse three - Jerry Monath, Diana Rogers, and Kathy Ontano. All three have attended and shown an interest in the districtís operations and finances for several meetings. All three have been in the district for some time. All three are oriented towards getting the districtís core services and finances in line before expending energy on other areas.

Monath is on the Municipal Advisory Committee. He has a background in labor relations, finances and management. He is from McArthur.

Diana Rogers has been on the Municipal Advisory Committee since its inception. She has a wide range of skills including organization and analysis. She is from McArthur.

Kathy Ontano is a long-time board member of both the Fall River Cemetery District and the Fall River Fire District. She is a past chairperson for both. She is from Fall River Mills.

I have nothing against the other four candidates, two are basically too new on the board to rate, a third hasnít made any real input until the last couple of meetings, and the fourth has attended only one meeting.

Paulette Gooch, is a Fall River Mills resident who retired as the head of the Burney Branch of the Shasta County Superior Court Clerkís office. She headed that courtís office and Fall Riverís as it grew from Justice into Superior. She has shown primarily interest in the parks and recreation planning process and plans. She is a newly appointed incumbent who hasnít made much input at the meetings.

Dave Hall, a retired power plant manager, has been on the board several months, and just recently started coming out of his shell. He has indicated he is interested in the hydro and the parks. He is a Fall River Mills Resident.

Sky Snyder, a brand new board member, says he is representing the younger generation and has demonstrated an enthusiasm for the parks and hydro. He is a Fall River Mills representative.

Jan Bentz, a Fall River Mills business woman is a complete unknown quantity. She attended her first and only board meeting for the district last month. Other endorsements next week.

Open Letter to LAFCO

Actions at the last Shasta  Local Agency Formation Commissioner (LAFCO) Commissionersí board meeting have me concerned. The commissioners overruled staff recommendations, waived fees and ignored policy to give the Fall River Community Services District representation what they wanted. First, if you can waive fees for the Fall River CSD, you can waive fees for the rest of the special districts in the county and second, 13 plus years ago Julie Howard resigned as executive director because she followed the law and the commission bowed to political pressure and overruled her. Are you folks going to step in the proverbial doo-doo and repeat history?

I am a 30+ year trustee, and past president of the Burney Basin Mosquito Abatement District and a past Commissioner and Past Chairman of the Burney Fire Protection District. I was also the first alternate commissioner representing Special Districts elected by the districts to your LAFCO board. I served while Julie Howard was the executive officer. I have also been an active reporter covering special districts for 35 years, which includes their occasional dealings with your LAFCO.

Having watched the attempted, and apparently successful, manipulation of your board by a small group of people representing a small number of people with grandiose schemes and bad tempers in the Fall River Valley, raises concerns.

In the past few months that small contingency has gone to your meetings, publicly attacked your employee, harassed her during breaks, tried to teach you law as they perceive it, attempted to harass individual commissioners on the phone and campaign trails. All things that raise red flags to most thinking individuals.

I donít know a special district in this county that is happy with your annual (state authorized) fee.

Property taxes have been going down. Costs have been going up. Add to that State and Federal manipulation and district financing has become a paramount concern. Many are living or improving by writing grants which may also dry up at any time. I donít know too many public entities, as well as the county itself, that arenít strapped for income.

You folks opened Pandoraís box by waiving fees. Iím personally glad you did because the day will come when my district will need something done that requires your approval. It is nice to know that fees are discretionary and that if we are obnoxious or hire an attorney, we can get the fees waived. I wonít have any trouble showing my district is financially stressed, especially since you guys onít do your homework, voting on emotion, not common sense.

You folks employ two people part-time and demand that they do their work, which includes completed complex and accurate documentations required to assure that districts donít step on one another, follow the laws governing their ability to increase, decrease the size of their boundaries, extent of their services etc. You also expect your employees to follow the laws of the state as it governs LAFCO, keep abreast and keep you abreast of statewide LAFCO happenings, changes in the laws etc. The least you could do is back them for doing their jobs.

For those of you that havenít the history, Julie Howard was the executive director of LAFCO for years. She resigned when her board failed to support her even though she was right.

Amy Mickelson has spent over 13 years with you folks. That is a pretty long time to keep someone if you didnít feel she knew her job.

The Fall River Mills Community Services District isnít strapped for money because you folks abused them. That district has well over a 20-year history of poor management of its infrastructure, money, personnel and operations. There were several years when they had to cancel some of their monthly board meetings because they couldnít get a quorum of directors to show up.

During that period their infrastructure deteriorated, they put in a well that wasnít properly thought out, their policies and procedures, along with their bank account declined. As the decline progressed, they also failed to properly complete the form keeping their parks and recreation status intact, didnít complete their Municipal Services Review, skipped their annual independent audits because they ďcouldnít affordĒ them.

The board made some strong moves in the right direction two years ago. They changed management, they started paying attention to their finances, and had their independent audits done.

It became obvious when they changed their name from Fall River Mills to Fall River Valley that they had bigger plans. Unfortunately they wanted the world and moved too fast. In the 18 or so months since the ďold boardĒ left and that manager was fired, there have been a total of seven changes in directors, two of whom, served twice, and they are on their second manager. All five board positions are up for election this November. One of candidates was on the board but quit in a huff because she didnít like being criticized. One, an incumbent, is running in spite of having her new residence completed outside the district, one candidate is the wife of a person who has already been put on notice that he, along with the district, may be sued for libel by a LAFCO staffer.

They pass a rate increase for water and sewer, then go out and borrow $8,000 to get an attorney to intimidate you folks. They attempt to expand into Shingletown to pick up a hydro facility when they donít have money, experience or charter to have one. They want to expand their sphere of influence to Little Valley in Lassen County to pick off another community services district while using extremely questionable, often illegal, techniques of violating the Ralph M. Brown Act, attempting to intimidate anyone who opposes them, including you folks, failing to follow up on promises made at board meetings, and failing to properly supervise or rein in their manager.

I really donít think that LAFCO or any other governing body should condone that type of behavior, bow to that type of abuse or send that type of message to employees.


Beware of those who want to be on the Fall River Valley Community Services District board to expand services and territory to improve recreation and provide  services instead of providing water and sewer and stabilizing its finances.

Thereís nothing wrong with a special district that has a long-time track record of financial responsibility, solvency, good infrastructure and that is putting money away for a rainy day to look at these things, develop a viable plan, including budgets that accurately reflect the costs of such endeavors, going for them.

However, it appears to me that the Fall River CSD isnít in that position. It has a terrible track record in management, finances, boardsmanship, planning and operation.

As examples, instead of spending its time trying to completely stabilize, its manager spends most of his time chasing dreams.

The district has just had a rate increase and is already spending money it doesnít have budgeted and had promised it wouldnít, on attorneys to carry forward on what appears to be a personal vendetta.

Instead of trying to get its own services completely under control and demonstrating that it can keep them under control they are trying  to take their services into areas like hydro that they have little if any expertise, way outside of their boundaries, and then lie about their intent.

You canít have illegal secret brown Act meetings, take illegal actions because you donít want to give your intentions away, file to get preference in positioning with a regulatory agency and then tell the public a couple of meetings later that you are just lending your name to the project to help others.

It appears that you have current board members Jensen, Hall, Snyder and Gooch and former board member Briggs, all candidates, that have condoned this type of behavior and see nothing wrong with it. Their priority is parks, not seeing that people have water and sewer service and see nothing wrong in getting it any way they can.

There are other candidates - come to the upcoming Chamber of Commerce candidates night. Listen to the candidates make your choices, but make sure you will be able to get water out of your water tap and flush your toilet and have enough money you can pay the bill.


Regarding the Fall River Valley Community Services District Ė Mountain Echo raised serious questions regarding the fairness  of the districtís proposal (now resolution) to charge its customers for sewer based on monthly readings of their water usage and charged accordingly, regardless of whether it was winter or summer. Individuals also protested that at the last meeting before the new increases were passed. The board passed the resolution as written with the caveat that they will set up a committee to take another look at the sewer rate at next monthís meeting.

Will there be a committee formed as promised, or any adjustments made to the sewer rates?

It will be interesting, the board has a history of saying they want things revisited and the manager has a history of ignoring them or finding ways to circumvent the order or request. The board then follows up by not following up. One example was the research and discussion of whether it was legal to have people living outside the district sitting on a district committee to determine rates for customers of the district which was ignored. So was an effort to reverse the managerís involvement in having the townís boundary sign moved which has also been ignored.

Not only that but the manager and board, in spite of major embarrassments over it, have violated the Ralph M. Brown Act several times in the last two years, including having an illegal meeting, holding illegal closed sessions, making decisions outside of open board meetings, altering agendas after they were published and posted.

I canít help but wonder if the manager will really agendize and the board follow through with any committee to revisit and adjust the way the sewer rate is figured so their customers donít get screwed six months out of the year, and/or if they will have private discussions to decide their customerís fate.

Their history does not lead me to trust the current board, manager or those with an association with the district.

It is time that they realize that regardless of what they want, what is practical, what is expedient, or what the final outcome of their decision might be, they are governing and operating a public district and the end does not justify the means.


The Fall River Valley Community services Districtís manager does as he damned well pleases and the board goes along with it.

A few meetings ago the board authorized Manager John Van den Bergh to hire an attorney as long as it wouldnít cost the districtís customers any money.

As with so many of Van den Berghís promises he obviously didnít have any intentions of honoring it. Last month the board authorized the payment of the districtís bills which included a $1,886 payment to the attorney. Then, last week, they held a special meeting and approved accepting a $2,000 grant and taking out a low interest loan for $6,000 to cover the attorney fees. Either they have dementia or they donít care.

Two of those running for the board were the ones responsible for hiring a consultant that has cost the district in the neighborhood of $20,000 for studies that LAFCO neither needed or wanted, and their anger and hatred for LAFCO has led to an unnecessary continuous and nasty battle when if they had done as most other districts do and listened to LAFCO, followed their advice, done their due diligence, which didnít require hiring a consultant, they would have been well on their way to having a reasonable resolution to their sphere of influence problems at a fraction of the cost.

Instead they want to take in most of the Fall River Valley area, little Valley, and were looking at Cassel. Never mind the fact that they donít have the money and are busy committing their customers to additional debt to fight battles they had no reason to become involved with in the first place.

Van den Bergh, who is perfectly capable of writing grants could have written the grants that their consultant wrote at a fraction of the cost.

Instead he spends his time trying to grab at magic rings on the merry-go-round, wanting to involve the district in a hydro plant clear on the other side of the county, and fighting with LAFCO.

I heard Van den Bergh say that he runs the district, not the board and from what Iíve seen I believe it. Iím surprised they even have meetings.

The CSD is not a private corporation. The voters elect representatives to oversee the operation of the district, to account for its money and to supervise its manager. The manager is supposed to serve  at the pleasure of the board. The boardís job is not let him do as he damned well pleases.

Yes, this district needs good management and Van den Bergh has some of the qualities needed. But his way of doing business leaves a lot to be desired and is not what the district needs.

There are two things that customers can do. First they can vote against the rate increase.

I firmly believe that an increase is needed, but when the board gives the manager an extra weekís vacation, drools at the idea of taking over a power plant that is 70 plus miles away and will require some management time and travel, incumbers the district for a loan to hire an attorney that is only needed because of the Districtís egos and unwillingness to play by the rules, It is highly questionable as to whether the money is really needed to take care of the water and sewer end of the business. I canít recommend voting for it.

I would also vote out anyone who has been on the board for longer than three months or anyone who has been on the board in the past.


Did a story of the local Schoolís poor ratings on the STAR Test this week and I would like to caution the readers that I only covered the areas of poor performance. In fairness I will do a story on the balance of the test scores next week.

Before trying to kill the messenger, I want to point out that, in the case of this yearís tests, the poor results in many areas stand out as a warning that something needs to be done.

It is hard to blame the tests on over zealous politicians demanding too much of the students, even though that may well play a part.

State and Federal testing has had schools  running scared for years, teaching to the tests, and saying that the students wouldnít be able to keep up with the expectations.

However, the number of failures in almost all categories should raise the alarm - something needs to be done, adjustments need to be made, and whether it is low expectations, lack of parental or teacher help, focusing on the wrong areas, or what, the message is there.

Local detractors often complain that the kids  arenít getting a proper education yet the Big Valley and Fall River School districts have historically, routinely graduated students who have gone on to be tremendous successes.

Large numbers of those who arenít reaching even the minimum standards worry even the non-detractors like me.

The kids deserve better than this. Look into the problem, figure out where it is and fix it.


Brown Act violations continue to tarnish and bring into question not only a purported desire of ďtransparencyĒ by the board of directors of the Fall River Valley Community Services District but the motives of the board as well.

In July the District Manager took a questionable step and adjusted the posted agenda, taking consideration of giving him an extra week of vacation in lieu of a raise out of open session into closed in an obvious attempt to thwart transparency. Putting that type of a personnel matter into closed session is a direct violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act.

Additionally, he put a discussion with a hydro consultant, Kelly Sackheim, into the same closed session and listed his authority to do so as real estate, again in direct violation of the Brown Act. The law specifically states that Real Estate matters may be discussed between the board and their real estate negotiator only. The board chose to listen to a presentation regarding a hydro project, not directly a real estate project with a consultant.

A third apparent violation occurred at last weekís board meeting when Board Chair Sandi Jensen said ďTheyĒ (the board) had decided not to appoint anyone to fill the vacancy left with the resignation of board member Sharon Hanson. The other two board members present, Sky Snyder and Paulette Gooch, didnít indicate that they had not been consulted. That action left the impression that the board had a serial meeting and made a decision which should have been made in a regularly agendized meeting.

Those actions lead to the question Ė Are any of those violations important. The answer is a resounding yes and it has had ramifications.

1. Van den Berghís vacation in lieu of a raise comes at a time when the district is in the process of trying to increase its rates. The lack of transparency made the motivation, ramifications, and potential benefit or cost to the district impossible for the public to evaluate. The law states ďClosed sessions of a legislative body of a local agency, as permitted in this section, shall be for the purpose of reviewing its position and instruction to the local agencyís designated representatives. In other words ďThe body may not negotiate directly with an affected employee in closed session.Ē

2. The boardís lack of transparency, discussing a ďreal estateĒ matter with a consultant who wasnít supposed to be in a ďreal estate meetingĒ ended up leaving the district wide open to criticism when two candidates for the board talked with the consultant at another affair, and then confronted the manager and board with their interpretation of what the consultant was saying about a proposed project. The law states ďa legislative body of a local agency may hold a closed session with its NEGOTIATOR prior to the purchase, sale, exchange, or lease of real property by or for the local agency to grant authority to is negotiator regarding the price terms of payment for purchase, sale, exchange, or lease.Ē One of the conditions is that negotiations must be underway. Also, regarding their allowing the consultant into the closed session, according to 46 Ops. Cal. Atty. Gen 34 (1965:) ďClosed sessions cannot be qualified by the selective invitation of certain persons into the discussion while excluding the general public.Ē

3. The lack of transparency in handling the boardís options in filling the vacancy, and the board chairís explanation that the board didnít want to give one candidate a perceived advantage when they had so many candidates was also controversial, leaving the board open to charges that they didnít want to appoint the one and only candidate that took the time to apply for the vacancy because they didnít like her. The Brown Act specifically prohibits serial meetings. ďany use of direct communication, personal intermediaries or technological devices that is employed by a majority of the members of the legislative body to develop a collective concurrence as to action to be taken on an item by the members of the legislative body is prohibited.

4. Either they had a serial meeting or Jensen took it upon herself to speak for the entire board as ďweĒ and the other two board members present didnít have any interest in the proceedings. Not nice either way.

The Ralph M. Brown Act is law. It is there for a purpose. It is there because individual managers and boards took advantage of situations and did things in private that were not in the best interests of the people they were sworn to help. The law may hamper expediency, but it also hampers individuals in public positions who want to do what they want to do without anyone knowing about it. That type of behavior is criminal.

Members of boards who donít want to do the publicís business in public have no business being on the board.

Everyone makes mistakes and nearly every board in the Intermountain Area has screwed up at one time or another, but the only board that consistently violates the Brown Act cannot claim that they have any intention of being open and transparent or that they are concerned enough to take the law seriously. In that case, those board members need to be replaced with ones who will be concerned, will take the law seriously, and will take the time to learn the law and look an item up when it doesnít sound transparent. They need to remember that the Brown Act was written to assure the publicís right to know and the authors werenít particularly concerned about its convenience to the governmental agencies covered by it.

Guest Opinion
SRA Tax Bills coming - not fair - not constitutional

By George Runner
State Board of Equalization

fire tax bill is coming soon to a mailbox near you. Itís not fair; itís not constitutional, but thanks to Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature, the bills are coming all the same.

On Aug. 13, the state of California began mailing the first of more than 825,000 ďFire  Prevention FeeĒ bills to Californians who own property with a habitable structure in a State Responsibility Area (SRA)- those 31 million acres where CalFire has primary responsibility for fire prevention and suppression.

It doesnít matter whether youíve invested time, sweat and money to meet the stateís ever evolving fire standards. It doesnít matter whether you experience any benefit from CalFireís prevention activities. It doesnít even matter whether you already pay for local fire service - though if you do, youíll get a $35 discount.

Like it or not, if you live in an SRA, the state is going to start billing you $150 each year. And if you donít pay within 30 days, youíll face steep penalties and interest.

The bills are going out in alphabetical order by county between August and early December. That means residents of Alameda, Alpine, Amador and Butte counties will receive their bills in August. Residents of Tuolumne, Ventura, Yolo and Yuba counties most likely wonít see theirs for several months.

The first round of bills is expected to raise $84 million to help pay for the stateís operations last fiscal year. The next round of bills is just around the corner - theyíll be mailed beginning March 2013.

Forget the photos of firefighters fighting fires. This new tax wonít pay for firefighters or put out a single fire. Nor will it do anything to expand the stateís fire prevention efforts. The dollars collected will simply fund existing Cal- Fire programs.

Supporters of the fire tax argue that folks who live in fire-prone areas should pay for increased state fire prevention costs.

Imagine if we funded other state programs similarly. The Legislature would then require property owners in high crime neighborhoods to pay a ďcrime prevention taxĒ to fund the stateís prisons and public safety programs.

After all, these high crime neighborhoods produce more criminals. Somehow I doubt urban politicians will extend the same logic to other state programs -especially not if it means higher taxes for the urban areas they represent.

When it comes to the fire tax, thereís no relationship between a taxpayerís burden and the benefits he or she will receive.

Even so, the Governor and Legislature are still trying to pretend this new tax is a fee. Thatís because the Legislature doesnít have constitutional authority to raise taxes without a two thirds vote. By pretending the fire tax is a fee, the Democrat majority approved it on a simple majority vote.

I intend to join the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association in suing to halt this illegal money grab. But before a lawsuit can move forward, at least one property owner must 1) receive a bill, 2) file a written appeal and 3) have his or her appeal denied.

To help inform California taxpayers, Iíve established a website ( providing detailed information about the new fire tax. Visit this site to find out if you live in an SRA and might soon receive a fire tax bill. You can also find further details regarding the process, time line and grounds for filing an appeal.

California needs a balanced budget, but we should not balance it on the backs of already overtaxed Californians. As an elected taxpayer advocate, it is my duty and privilege to work each and every day to protect taxpayers from unfair and excessive taxation - including this new illegal fire tax.

George Runner is a member of the state Board of Equalization. His district, which stretches from San Bernardino County to the Oregon border, is home to more than nine million Californians.


The Fall River Valley Community Services District held rate meetings for public input, the last of which was Wednesday evening.

Personally, I have no problem with the rate increase for water. Yes, some people will have problems paying the increase, but people have to realize that the Community Services Districtís bills and costs have gone up just like it has for people they serve. If people want water and sewage service the district has got to be able to provide it.

Many of the customers will see lower bills for the first year. Then it will go up over the next two years in an overall amount that will cost them 20% more than they are currently paying.

I do find it rather hard to swallow a rate increase when the district does things like pay a bill to an attorney in the amount of $1,886.50 so they can argue with LAFCO. Especially when they said they werenít going to take money out of the districtís funds for his expense.

Be that as it may, I do have major objections to the way they plan to compute the sewer charge.

If my understanding is correct, and I believe it is, the sewage charge that customers are going to be charged will be based on the amount of water used, computed monthly.

That means that customers will find themselves paying a lot more for sewer in the summer months when they traditionally water their lawns, flowers and gardens (not their sewers). They wonít be using the sewer any more, theyíll just pay a lot more for the privilege.

Districts like Burney which also compute sewer charges based on water usage have taken the time to figure out a way to do it which wonít screw their customers.

Districts like Burney looked at it, discussed it at length and determined which month of the year was the one which reflected the least outdoor water usage, thus eliminating charging their customers for a service they werenít providing.

Burneyís is computed on either January or February, when they can be fairly certain that their customers arenít watering yards and washing cars, but being charged strictly for cooking, bathing, washing dishes etc. That figure is the best estimate they can generate that will reflect what goes into the sewer. They measure it once each year and adjust it accordingly.

To charge them monthly for watering their yard and plants is double jeopardy. The customer gets charged for the water on the front end and then gets hammered on the back end when it doesnít impact the sewers.

I donít care if the process has to go back to committee or through the hearing process 10 times. Simp[y because it wasnít right the first time doesnít mean the customers should be stuck with it. That was the general idea of having public hearings in the first place.


Iíve got a question for Lassen Park Superintendent Darlene Koontz. How can you get up and look yourself in the mirror as you get ready to go to work, or get up in front of over 100 people who have just been told they may be evacuated from their homes and with a straight face say you are following National Parks Policy and wilderness law?

How can you post figures on your web site that show the cost of your mistake, at that time of that meeting, was $500,000, now well over $2 million? How can you shrug off the fact that the fire you allowed to burn had already taken out 3,700 acres of the parkís resources?

How can you and the other radical environmentalists try to justify letting fires burn, no matter how small or for how long, right in the middle of fire season, right at the time when weather forecasts are predicting extremely hot weather. Almost any of your seasonal firefighters could tell you just how stupid and dangerous such a decision is. You and the fire management officer you have on staff should be committed to the nearest nut house. It doesnít matter, nor do I really care if youíve had a 99.9 percent success rate of letting your fires burn. You were still playing with matches in a dry forest, in the middle of summer, something that would cost a private citizen several hundred if not thousands of dollars in fines and millions in fire suppression costs if they had done it.

As of the morning of August 12 you had cost the taxpayers of the United States at least $3,800,000 not to mention the fact that your carelessness had, by August 12, resulted in the serious damage if not total destruction of 14,057 acres of park land and 3,473 acres of Forest Service land. By the way, those lands are the lands and resource you are sworn to protect and take care of. However while we would go to jail, youíll probably get promoted.

Shame on you.


I donít generally repeat myself, but a scumbag or some scumbags vandalized the community beautification committeeís displays on Christmas Tree Lane in Burney last week.

That vandalism comes on top of an alleged drunk driver hitting the wagon display on the other corner of Hudson and Main (At least that one was taken care of).

Anyone with any information is urged to call the Sheriff ís Department at 245-6070, the Burney Chamber of Commerce at 335-2111 or Mountain Echo at 336- 6262 and weíll make sure the Sheriff ís Department gets it.

Here we are in a poor economy with a declining business community. On the one side we have a dedicated group of citizens who I have personally seen working in the rain, in the heat, on weekends as well as week days, begging help from corporations like Frontier and PG&E, writing grants, soliciting others from materials all to build up the towns in the area.

What happens?

The Fall River Community Park is repeatedly vandalized and things broken or damaged.

A drunk runs into a beautiful wagon display. Jerks break into a merchantís car and steal a table saw. An alleged drunk runs into one of the displays,

Someone breaks up the fountain that volunteers built and plumbed from scratch.

We have vandals and we have jerks who think it is cute to do gang graffiti on businesses.

Why? Just so little kids wonít have a park to play in? So we canít put our best foot forward and have towns that will attract tourists and leave the impression that the Intermountain Area is a nice place to live?

On another issue, I am sorry to see Sharon Hanson resign from the Fall River Valley Community Service District Board. Like most members of most boards I didnít always agree with her and Iím sure the feeling was mutual, but she, like Bill Estes and Bill Johnson was level headed, and acted with facts and not emotion.

Good luck Sharon.


I donít usually comment on tragic auto accidents, but I do have an observation.

My guess is that 50% of the asphalt on 89, 299, and 139 is two lane, one going each direction, with less than a 36 inch shoulder outside of the fog line. You add small hills and large hills which conceal oncoming traffic, curves that conceal oncoming traffic and any slow moving, often hard to see, vehicle such as a bicycle and you already have a recipe for disaster.

Put oncoming traffic in the equation which blocks the driverís ability to safely pass and they are an accident waiting to happen.

Bicyclists in the area are lucky that there havenít been more accidents.

That doesnít mean that the driver of the autos or trucks arenít running the risk of being at fault, especially if they are following too close, speeding, making unsafe turns or passes. They are.

Iím not suggesting that bike riders get off the road, but both bike and vehicle drivers need to make the best of a bad situation and be alert. They are already depending on luck to save them from very bad situations.


The various veteranĎs organizations in the Intermountain Area from Round Mountain to Adin, do a lot that goes unnoticed. They present school programs, flags, do ceremonies at veteran funerals, do scholarships, put on boy and girl state programs, are available to talk to students, help families of veterans in times of crisis, hold a variety of patriotic contests as well as help their national headquarters by asking for donations for buddy poppies and other things.

Last year one of those veterans died after a long illness.  JJ Joiner was a past commander of the VFW, a decorated Vietnam veteran who came home and risked his life to pull a drowning fisherman out of the Fall River. ďJJĒ had a lot of friends throughout  the local communities and veteranís organization. Now, a year after his death, he is once again helping his post, post 5689 by lending his name to a golf tournament which will raise funds desperately needed to maintain the Burney Veterans Hall and grounds behind it.

Herb and Colleen Schmidt are spearheading the event. Anyone who wants to sponsor a hole, donate raffle prizes or put a 4-some together can either get a hold of the Fall River Golf Course at 336-5555 or the Schmidtís at 335-7178.

Donít forget the Willis Hollenbeck Post of the American Legionís Intermountain Fair Pancake Breakfast, their flag fund for the giant flag that flies over the fairground, and other veteranís organization and their events and fundraisers. Helping them helps not only the veterans, but many in their respective communities.


I donít know of any newspaper folks that are pleased anytime the State takes a step backwards in assuring that the public has knowledge and access to governmental meetings. But in the case of suspending the meeting notice requirements until they have the money to pay the district to do it, doesnít bother me a whole lot.

In the first place I donít know of any special district that would purposely fail to let the citizens they affect know when their meetings are or what will be discussed. It would be public relations suicide. Additionally the minute someone found out what the board in question passed or failed to pass, spent money on or failed to spend money on, the board and district would be tarred and feathered for trying to sneak it through.

While some boards have been better about following all requirements of the Ralph M. Brown Act than others, those that failed did it either for expediency or out of ignorance and generally try hard not to violate the law.

Iíve been on a board for over 30 years. I can remember when the state actually paid us for posting meetings. Then it went to promises that were only kept when the state felt they had the money. Now they arenít even making the pretext of meeting their obligation.

Iím not complaining. Our district, like any other district could always use any money we can get. But the reality of the situation is that the manager typed up an agenda, posted one copy At a location where the public could see it on the premises, hung another in the post office when he went for the mail and actually made one extra stop downtown to post it in a third public place. It wasnít and isnít as if it was any real trouble.

I do have trouble with the stateís suspending the requirement that the board come out of closed session and report any decisions that were made.

The public has a right to know what goes on in every political district. Closed sessions exist for a few sensitive matters such as instructing their negotiator on what they want him or her to do in real estate transactions or labor negotiations, firing or disciplining someone, expelling students, or to discuss pending or ongoing litigation with their attorney. Those items should be dealt with in closed session, but once they have been done, settled, adjudicated, sold or purchased, the public has a right to know the decision.

I donít believe our district boards or manager will have any problem in keeping the public informed in these areas, but I plan to track those sessions and ride the manager and board chairs until I get an answer. I will publish it if I get the answer and make it a public issue if I do not. The folks who pay taxes, fees or charges for service deserve to know what is going on.

On another matter I finally took the ďSocial MediaĒ plunge and, while still little more than a novice, I am having a ball.

Iím getting back in contact with girls Donna and I sponsored for Burney Basin Dayís Queen back in the Ď80ís at Caldwellís Corner, kids that worked for us back then, friends who we lost track of when we moved away and a wide variety of nice folks here in the area.

Anyone with facebook can ďlikeĒ me at Walt@mountainecho. com. Iím doing my best to report any news that I get as it happens and am monitoring for news I wasnít aware of.

It will really help me if you have pictures, video, or information on any news that you can share, be it social, such as new babies, engagements, marriages, anniversaries, and graduations, unexpected road closures, fires, accidents, crimes, or whatnot. Iíll be happy to give you credit if you want or withhold your name if you donít. Of course I will do what I need to do so that I assure neither of us gets in a libel or slander situation.

To me social media appears to be an ideal partner to my web page and my printed edition. It is another way to inform everyone about what is going on or in some cases not going on.

Now is also a great time to check out mountainecho. com on the web if you havenít already. Thereís a lot of information on the site and a chance to comment on the stories.


Wow!  Thousands of man hours have gone into Burney Basin Days Celebrations over the years. Dozens of community organizations have donated countless  time and energy, as have literally hundreds of individuals and businesses.

Each celebration has been unique. Each celebration has been wonderful.

In the days when the J.Cís put it on, later when the committee put it on, and now when a group of organizations put it on, there are people who spend countless hours planning, coordinating, getting permits, ordering fireworks, and working out schedules.

The day before the celebration many of those wake up and literally either donít get any sleep or only two or three hours at a time until it is over. Many lose their voices.

Even though each has been wonderful, of the sixty celebrations, three made town history. They were the three which came about when people with dreams grabbed their idea and working with the Burney Basin Days crew. They added that extra genius sparking that extra something special. The granddaddy was the Golden Spike Celebration.Ē

In the mid-1980ís Donna Caldwell and her crew of patriots decided that if San Francisco didnít want the U.S.S. Missouri, Burney did and the town adopted the Mighty Mo. The Captain and Crew came to Burney and helped us celebrate.

This year Steve Luck and his whole crew of visionaries deserve the townís heartfelt thank you!

They recognized that once you have lived in the Intermountain Area,in this case Burney, it has become a part of you. Their idea was to bring folks back to visit, reminisce, see friends and relatives, renew acquaintances and remember. It worked as hundreds poured in.

They did great and so did the organizations who now plan and put on the entire celebration.

It was wonderful. Those involved did the town proud! Its citizens, past and present, did the town proud by being here to remember and enjoy. The town did itself proud by meaning so much to so many!

It is an Intermountain Area thing!

On another issue... The pooch who has become a landmark outside of Ingot on the way to Burney, Snoopy, is once again Beautiful!

It has been in bad need of a paint job for several years. Recently its paint has been peeling and a couple of weeks ago it looked as if someone had scraped the paint off. In fact, maybe it had been as whoever the mystery folks are prepared to give our landmark its facelift.

I e-mailed Cal Trans at that time to see if they had done anything and Denise Yergensen assured me that they had not. I donít know who is responsible for doing it. I havenít seen Paul Welty, who with his late brother Dean, painted it originally, but it was done and done in time for Burney Basin Days and the Burney Reunite.

Thank you!!


If you were the boss would you keep an employee, whether in a leadership roll or laborer, who ignored your openly stated wishes and orders? 

If you were the boss would you keep an employee who repeatedly picked fights in your companyís name?

If you were the boss would you keep an employee whose lack of knowledge left you open to ridicule? If you were the boss, would you keep an employee who made you look like a fool?

If you were the boss would you keep an employee who purposely kept you from being able to act? If you were the boss would you keep someone who openly demonstrates that anyone who criticizes his actions or ideas is an automatic enemy and must be dealt with harshly?

If you were the boss and were threatened with a lawsuit would you keep an employee who intentionally kept you from taking action which would lessen your possible liability?

If you were the boss would you keep an employee who made you look inept or weak, gave your business a bad name through his lack of ability to deal with people and refuses to do anything that would defuse the various situations he got you into, instead moving forward, making you look even worse?

I donít know of anyone who would keep a rank and file employee who did any of those things.

 I donít know of anyone who would keep a supervisor who did any of those things.

I really donít know of anyone who would keep someone who has thus far done all of those things and shows no intention of changing.

I know it looks as if Iím picking on ďpoorĒ John Van den Bergh, manager of the Fall River Mills Community Services District and I wouldnít be if he wasnít making a laughing stock out of the CSD board and if the board didnít condone it.

Yes, John has accomplished some good things, but so could any number of other managers and without the drama, hatreds and liabilities he fostered and continues to foster.

Just a few examples:

He ignored the boardís request to look into the legality of having people who donít live in the district be a part of a rate restructuring committee and bring it back to the board.

He ignored a board request (twice) to agendize his role in having the Fall River Mills sign moved on Highway 299.

He picked a fight with with LAFCO.

He got the board in trouble because of his lack of knowledge of the open meeting laws.

Two meetings ago he was stopped cold by a board vote to eliminate the CSD blog because of its potential to leave the district open for suit because the board had acted on an item he listed for discussion (in violation of the Brown Act), but reagendized it as a discussion item which again, kept the board from acting on it and delayed any action an additional month.

He has put his own statements and those of three or four others on the blog attacking those he doesnít like, i.e. the Executive Director of LAFCO.

He managed to alienate the leadership of Pine Grove Cemetery, Fall River Cemetery, Little Valley CSD, Fall River Fire Board, and Lassen 407 Fire Department.

The CSD board has just lost two of their members. They are now down to three and the likelihood of picking up two more when they are facing a very real threat of being drawn into a libel suit is fairly slim.

They are facing a fight and more discontent because they need a rate increase and have lost peopleís support. The board wonít get it back if people think you are weak and your manager is not working in their best interests.

The board hasnít demonstrated that they have the guts, but if it were me, I would cut my losses, take care of the situation and move on  before Van den Bergh takes you and the district down.

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