September 26, 2011


Filed under: Editorial — waltblog @ 5:06 am

Like anything else the government gets involved with there is far too much paperwork, but the Pit River Watershed planning process has the potential to really be of benefit to the area.
With $6-8 million potentially up for grabs it is no surprise that Cal Trout and other conservation groups are interested. It is no wonder that concerns about the “PH” balance of the water is questioned. Since this is a competitive process which is geared to be as broad as possible, and since there appears to be ample funds that will be made available I have no problem with it.
Here’s where things get really interesting. Projects that will actually help the people of the area, infrastructure projects like replacing antiquated pipes and equipment in small water districts are also eligible for funding.
The process includes private and public systems so Del Oro’s Johnson Park Water Works is eligible right along with the Fall River Community Services District and Burney Water District.
There are the usual hurdles. There will have to be significant up front money. To win a spot on the list that will get funded in the first round, projects have to be ready to start digging, not planning.
The folks putting the plan together appear to be helpful and anxious to work with people.
I hope it works and I hope agencies take advantage of it

Johnny Appleseed project comes to the area

Filed under: Front Page — waltblog @ 4:50 am

By Loretta Carrico-Russell
Contributing writer
The students at Montgomery Creek School gathered for a special kind of tree planting on Friday as volunteers from the Common Vision organization brought fruit trees for the campus.
As part of Common Vision’s Fruit Tree Tour, volunteers, originally from as far away as Maryland, helped students plant two varieties of apple, pear, plum, persimmon and apricot trees while they explained to the children the different parts of the tree, sustainability, gardening tips, the importance of healthy soil and how to care for the trees.

Local Hunter hunts for wounded bear while search party hunts for the hunter

Filed under: Front Page — waltblog @ 4:48 am

By Walt Caldwell
Mountain Echo editor
Leroy Bernal and Jerry Chandler went bear hunting in the Bartle Gap area off Highway 89 south of McCloud andBartle, September 18-19.
After a day of hunting, they decided to make one last sweep before dark, split up and agreed to meet back at the pickup which was roughly ¾ of a mile from where they were, Leroy says.
He and his dog Vip were in Devils Canyon when he saw a bear. He took his shot and wounded it. The bear rolled down the hill and Vip followed only to come out of the brush in a hurry, heading right for him. “He didn’t want any more of him (the bear).

Disagreement over scholarship fund causes heated debate

Filed under: Front Page — waltblog @ 4:47 am

Valerie Lakey
Mountain Echo reporter

McArthur – The Fall River Valley Chamber of Commerce is comprised of many local volunteers and business people serving the community. At the recent meeting an apparent division and tension was present.
President Ed Siegel brought forth a motion to rescind and change a previous decision made at the August 17, meeting. The motion in August was to purchase Series E Treasury Bonds for this year’s winners of the Wild Rice Ambassador program, while reserving the right to establish a scholarship account for future ambassador events. The motion was properly moved and seconded and passed unanimously. As of the September 20, meeting the follow through on this action item had not been done.
Siegel presented the new motion to rescind the previous decision and establish a scholarship fund now. “We don’t need to make this money available to the students until they are out of high school.” He commented. It was also the wishes of the Ambassador Committee Chairperson, Sharman Harr that a scholarship be set up. Harr was not present, but her wishes were made known by Treasurer, Susie Staggs.

Locals have chance for part of $6 – $8 mil.

Filed under: Front Page — waltblog @ 4:45 am

Six to ten million dollars is available to organizations, districts, companies and special interest groups concerned or involved with water usage in the Pit River Watershed, the area between Alturas and Burney for the next 30 years.
The voters in the state approved Proposition 3 and Proposition 4 in the early 2000’s, which authorized two billion dollars statewide for watershed management.
The State Water Resources is the agency in charge at the state level.
The California Water Association and Pit River Watershed Alliance are the agencies in charge at the regional level and meetings to be set for October 27 will decide a regional Water Management Committee.

September 21, 2011

Mountain Valley’s breaks ground on new Burney Clinic

Filed under: New News — waltblog @ 1:20 pm

Dave Jones, CEO of Mountain Valley Health Center made it official Wednesday morning.
The $3.3 million project includes the removal of the two buildings built by Doug Barr Attorney over 20 years ago. The clinic will take an estimated 8-10 months with construction guaranteed to be completed by September of 2012.
The building, when complete will have twice the square footage of the two existing office buildings with its main entrance on the side by the parking lot that will also be put in.
Hat Creek Construction won the bid from a field of eight.

September 20, 2011

Firefighters respond to a small wildland fire

Filed under: New News — waltblog @ 2:02 pm

Firefighters from Soldier Mountain, Fall River, Cassel, CDF aircraft a conservation camp crew and the U.S. Forest Service responded shortly before 1 p.m., to a grass fire off 6-mile Hill Road a mile west of the Rocky Jewel Mine. First report was an acre with a moderate rate of spread that was showing signs of becoming agressive.

CSD admits error and promises to correct “clerical error”

Filed under: New News — waltblog @ 11:41 am

CSD general manager John Van den Bergh posted a statement on the Fall River Valley Community Services District’s web site at 11:23 a.m., September 20 a.m. saying:
by John Van den Bergh
CSD General Manager
Today’s headline in the Mountain Echo is “Board Conducts Illegal Meeting”. The CSD checked with attorneys of the California Rural Water Association. Under California Government Code Section 54953, the CSD can have board meetings where a board member attends via telephone.
There are however conditions that must be met. One of the conditions is that the remote location must be noticed in the agenda. The CSD did not do that for the 9/14/11 agenda.
Therefore a special meeting will be called at a later time to rectify the clerical error in the posting of the agenda.
The CSD will continue with its work to provide governmental services to the Fall River Valley in the most professional and ethical ways. We attempt to follow all rules and regulations, including the Brown Act, faithfully and carefully.

Missing Fall River hunter found

Filed under: New News — waltblog @ 11:38 am

Leroy Bernal, 57, of Glenburn has been found safe and in apparent good condition.
Bernal and his hunting partner were hunting in the Bartle Gap area on Sunday. Both men were supposed to return to the truck by dark but Bernel did not show up. His partner called the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office at 4:30 p.m. Monday afternoon.
The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office organized and began a search but realized after a few hours that the area was in Shasta County. They Shasta County Sheriff’s Office was called and began working on the search Monday evening. Bernel is diabetic. There are approximately 25 searchers in the area. The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the California Highway Patrol, Lassen County Sheriff’s Office, Tehama County Sheriff’s Office, and Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office.
According to Shasta County Sheriff’s Captain David Dean, Bernal has been found safe and in apparent good condition.

September 19, 2011


Filed under: Editorial — waltblog @ 10:20 am

I’ve covered over a thousand special district meetings and public hearings as a newsman since I first started covering the news for KAVA Radio in 1976. I’ve also been a board member in reasonably tense meetings in those 30 plus years and I deal with board members and board management on almost a daily basis.
The meetings have covered the gamut from tragedy and crisis to routine. But the meetings that will forever be etched in my mind as the most ridiculous is last week’s Fall River Valley Community Services District meeting.
It was a blatant and purposeful violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act.
A few months ago that board wanted to have a special meeting but couldn’t field a quorum. Smith, who was going to be out of town had volunteered to make himself available by phone. The board and General Manager John Van den Bergh agreed. After checking with Attorney Jim Ewert, I advised Van den Bergh it was illegal to do that.
The CSD has a history of violating the Brown Act and shrugging it off.
Partially because of that, and preferring to have districts know what they are doing so Mountain Echo didn’t have to be the bad guy and make them look bad, we sponsored a seminar by California Newspaper Publisher’s Association’s Legal Counsel Jim Ewert, a premier authority of the Brown Act. That was less than a year ago. We specifically invited all of the board members and the general manager of the CSD – none bothered to show up.
The Chairman, Quincy Hatch, who is also a volunteer battalion chief with the fire department knew about the upcoming meeting and knew about an upcoming “Practice burn” that conflicted with it at least two weeks in advance. He could have done something to change one or the other so he could attend both. Instead he decided that it was more important for him to be at the fire than at the board meeting.
We end up with the August meeting which was conducted in a less than professional manner. Those present used a cell phone, illegally, to connect Smith to the board meeting. The cell phone ended up “L” shaped and propped in an empty drinking glass in front of Jensen with her leaning forward every once in awhile to ask if he heard them.
These folks are on a course of self destruction. On the surface they started out trying to save a nearly bankrupt district that has deteriorating infrastructure so they can continue to follow their charter and provide water and sewer service to
their customers. Instead they are trying to expand, promising services they can’t possibly provide to an area they can’t possibly handle without the money to do what currently needs to be done.
They have an agenda and they don’t care about the laws that dictate what they can and can’t do. That is not good.
Violating the Brown Act is just one sign of their arrogance and people need to bring it to a screeching halt.
It is time to find five people who are interested in preserving the Fall River Valley Community Services District, upgrade its equipment, its infrastructure, build its bank account, comply with all of the laws, provide all of the services that are
currently within the district’s power and put the district back on a solid footing before trying to fulfill someone’s pipe dreams.
Curing and correcting their blatant violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act before they have to go to court would be an intelligent start. There are two ways to do things – the right way and the wrong way. It makes a lot more sense to do things the right way, especially when it doesn’t take any more real effort.

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