July 30, 2012

CSD Gives Attorney Okay to Fight Shasta LAFCO

Filed under: Uncategorized — waltblog @ 5:11 pm

Attorney Mark Atlas, who has done work for the CSD before, notably helping them with developing a personnel manual, gave approximately an hour’s presentation at their request, telling them essentially that SHASTA LAFCO had been wrong in a number of areas. He challenged Mickelson’s interpretation of what constituted a quorum was wrong. She had said a quorum of their board meant the majority of members sitting on the board rather than the number of members they are authorized to have on the board and he said it was just the opposite.
Mickelson responded to his charge in a later interview with Mountain Echo: “At the July 10 meeting, it was my opinion that a Brown Act violation could occur given the current make-up of the CSD Board. I will always advise that we should act in a way that meets the intention of the law. The law encourages public agencies to have discussions and make decisions in the public eye, with all stakeholders present. Whether or not my interpretation of the law is 100% exact given the limited number of CSD directors that were seated at the time is really a moot point. I will not ever participate in a meeting that even potentially infringes on the intent of the law. I have not inquired of legal counsel whether or not my interpretation was correct because I have not been, nor would I ask my Commission to authorize the spending of public funds to seek a legal opinion in this particular issue. I asked the District to remove one Director from the meeting, the District complied and we went on to have seemingly fruitful discussions.”

CSD Rate Hike Moves Forward Director Sworn In

Filed under: Uncategorized — waltblog @ 5:10 pm

FALL RIVER MILLS – Sky Snyder (pictured left) was sworn in as the fifth member of the Fall River Mills Community Services District’s board of directors.
Manager John Van den Bergh, explained that even though the average rate increase, if the board approves it, will be approximately 20% over three years, the majority of the customers will actually be under 18%.
The audience reflected a low level of concern, with less than five people who hadn’t been attending the district meetings on a fairly regular basis.
Van den Bergh explained that the district’s plan is to use the same formula for everyone. That formula is setting a base rate figured on what it costs the district to deliver the water. The second part is the amount of water used.
The board gave staff to go ahead with the process which includes notices and public hearings and is expected to take a number of months before they vote to approve, modify or deny the increase.


Filed under: Uncategorized — waltblog @ 5:08 pm

I don’t 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 driver’s ability to safely pass and they are an accident waiting to happen.
Bicyclists in the area are lucky that there haven’t been more accidents.
That doesn’t mean that the driver of the autos or trucks aren’t running the risk of being at fault, especially if they are following too close, speeding, making unsafe turns or passes. They are.
I’m 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.

July 23, 2012

Ag Report Shows Mixed Results

Filed under: Uncategorized — waltblog @ 4:50 pm

REDDING – Agricultural Commissioner Mary Pfeiffer’s 2011 Crop and Livestock Report just released showed County results for agricultural products raised, grown or harvested countywide as having a mixed dollar value results when compared to the 2010 report.
Production Value of timber showed the largest gain of any of the agricultural products, coming in at $40,381,470 a gain of $23,716,377 over the previous year.
Other forest products showed the largest drop recording a value of $12,732,000, $10,190,000 less than the $22,922 shown in 2010. Livestock showed a $1,817,000 gain up from $22,754,000 to $24,571,000.
According to Pfeiffer, Cattle prices received in 2011 were near an all time high as a result of decreasing supplies of cattle nationwide, which drove prices higher throughout the year.

Water District Okays $697,000 Budget

Filed under: Uncategorized — waltblog @ 4:48 pm

Burney- Three of the Burney Water District’s board of directors passed the district’s 2012/13 budget last night, 7/19/12. The budget was built on the expectations of receiving $1,118,900. That amount is 98% of the unaudited total of $1,139,119 received in the last fiscal year. The 16 page budget anticipates $502,200 in labor expenses and $702,705 in general expenses for a potential shortfall of $86,005.
The budget is broken into three departments, Water, Sewer and Pool.
The budget shows that they expect to receive $637,065 in revenue, expend $222,456 in labor to deliver water to its customers they anticipate spending $61,324 for general expenses supporting that service. Depreciation is an additional $95,300 for the water infrastructure which gives them a potential “profit” of $13,776 in that department for the year.

Water District to do $120,000 Study

Filed under: Uncategorized — waltblog @ 4:47 pm

BURNEY – The three directors present at the Burney Water District monthly board meeting July 19, discussed and approved a proposal by Pace Engineering to prepare a water and sewer master plan and do a rate study for the district.
The last master plan was completed in 1979 and written during a time when the economy was good, there was an expanding population and business community. The entire picture changed, along with the economy. There was a dramatic decline in population and the business community has declined significantly since that time.
In offering their services, PACE Engineering pointed out that they have a 30-year relationship with the district and have assisted the district with a number of system improvements, prepared a number of engineering reports as well as assisting with the 2005 Water Capacity Charge.

CSD Rate Proposal to be Explained Wednesday

Filed under: Uncategorized — waltblog @ 4:45 pm

FALL RIVER MILLS – The Fall River Valley Community Services District’s staff will present the proposed budget, review and explain the proposed rates at the special meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. July 25, this Wednesday. Members of the public attending the meeting are asked to bring a current water bill with them. The staff will help members of the public recalculate the bill to show them what it will be under the new rates. Additionally the board will be asked to review and approve the notice that will be sent to the property owners.

CSD Deciding Not to Cooperate?

Filed under: Uncategorized — waltblog @ 4:44 pm

FALL RIVER MILLS – Two weeks ago, at the Fall River Valley Community Services District’s regular meeting, Acting Chair Sandy Jensen reported that she, Board Treasurer Barbara Briggs, Manager John Van den Bergh and consultant Jan Lopez had met with Shasta LAFCO Executive Director Amy Mickelson, alternate commissioner Larry Russell and Mickelson’s assistant Marissa Jackson and came to agreement that they would work together to get the district’s Municipal Services Review and Sphere of Influence completed. Jensen said in a later interview that the district’s representatives now understood why LAFCO staff needed the information they requested in the form they requested it, rather than dig through the quantity of items the district gave them which forced the staff to spend an enormous amount of time trying to find what they needed. She also said the district was sending LAFCO a letter of clarification to show their understanding of exactly what the district needed to do. Jensen said part of the procedure, was to submit the necessary request to reinstate the district’s parks and recreation authority.
Things appear to have changed in the week since Mountain Echo reported on that meeting.
Manager John Van den Bergh has, under “old business” on a special meeting agenda set for 7 p.m. July 25, listed as an action item, “Update on LAFCO’s progress on our MSR and SOI, staff report, short presentation by telephone by Mark Atlas, the Community Services District attorney, and a motion to set up a legal defense fund to protect the Fall River Valley from being taken advantage of by LAFCO and solicit funds from the public.”


Filed under: Uncategorized — waltblog @ 4:43 pm

The various veteran‘s 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. “JJ” had a lot of friends throughout the local communities and veteran’s 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 Schmidt’s at 335-7178.
Don’t forget the Willis Hollenbeck Post of the American Legion’s Intermountain Fair Pancake Breakfast, their flag fund for the giant flag that flies over the fairground, and other veteran’s organization and their events and fundraisers. Helping them helps not only the veterans, but many in their respective communities.

July 16, 2012


Filed under: Uncategorized — waltblog @ 7:00 pm

I don’t 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, doesn’t bother me a whole lot.
In the first place I don’t 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.
I’ve 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 aren’t even making the pretext of meeting their obligation.
I’m 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 wasn’t and isn’t as if it was any real trouble.
I do have trouble with the state’s 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 don’t 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 “Social Media” plunge and, while still little more than a novice, I am having a ball.
I’m getting back in contact with girls Donna and I sponsored for Burney Basin Day’s Queen back in the ‘80’s at Caldwell’s 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 “like” me at Walt@mountainecho. com. I’m doing my best to report any news that I get as it happens and am monitoring for news I wasn’t 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. I’ll be happy to give you credit if you want or withhold your name if you don’t. 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 haven’t already. There’s a lot of information on the site and a chance to comment on the stories.

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