I’m not going to rant and rave about the Fall
River Valley Community Services District going for all of the
grants they want for projects that may or may not be needed and or
wanted by the district’s customers.
I’ve raised my share of hell about it, now it
is your turn. There is a special meeting Wednesday at 6 p.m. at
the CSD office on 3rd Street in Fall River Mills.
Unfortunately I have a prior commitment and
won’t be able to make this meeting.
I do have a couple of pertinent questions that
I’d like to see answered.
1. Do the grants in question cover the cost of
each of the projects in total and if not how much money does the
district have to borrow to finish them or meet grant requirements?
Are projects such as the sewer to McArthur and the Parks and
Recreation dependent on LAFCO’s blessing?
2. Who is going to have to pay for any loans
and LAFCO expenses that have to be obtained? I haven’t seen a
formal study on a single thing they want to do which spells out
the costs, benefits, or positives and negatives.
I would like to see the information the board
uses to okay the massive amount of money involved.
Most districts routinely require that
Weatherwise we’ve had a fairly tough January.
We’ve had at least 10 days with lows below zero
and all 20 so far with lows below freezing. Thirteen of those days
saw highs below freezing.
If that wasn’t bad enough huge mounds of snow
are everywhere along the town’s streets that were plowed once and
maybe dressed one other time.
Driving down residential streets in Burney is
like driving down a slippery creek bed.
One elderly gentleman slipped and broke his hip
in a county parking lot in Burney.
A county truck comes around once in awhile and
spreads a few cinders in the city streets.
It is fairly interesting that both the state
and county are having financial problems, yet the state’s highways
are clear, dry and as easily accessible and usable as they are in
the summer,, while the county’s roads are a joke.
Late last year I inquired about the county
filling in potholes rather than fixing the roads that were
literally falling apart. Now it has gotten to the place where they
can’t even do their job when they had a week’s notice that the
weather was going to be unusually bad.
I hate to be a complete jerk but if the
county’s main offices were in Burney, Fall River Mills, or
McArthur you’d better believe they would have been plowed daily
from day one of the storm. The roads would be smooth, dry and
motorists wouldn’t have to position themselves like they were on a
one lane mountain road, pulling into wide spots so they could take
turns getting past each other.
I might buy the 12 hour shifts and rest of the
pap, but there hasn’t been any real attempt by the roads
department in the Intermountain Area since the one time they ran a
grader through the streets to plow.
In most communities, ever-greater needs have overwhelmed
diminishing resources. But thanks to willing volunteers and a
community’s gracious generosity, The Community Food Pantry
continues to effectively serve the Fall River Valley. The number
of recipients per year has risen from just over six hundred
individuals five years ago to nearly eleven hundred in 2012. The
gap between a household’s available resources and their monthly
nutritional needs cannot always be bridged by sheer creativity; a
community’s compassion and commitment is what ultimately makes the
difference. Facing many different circumstances, and from a wide
variety of backgrounds, pantry recipients share one common
testimony: in the Fall River Valley, the hungry are being fed.
In the spirit of recycling generosity throughout the
communities the Pantry will have a booth at the annual ‘Spring
Into Action’ Earth Celebration, April 27th and encourage everyone
to bring nonperishables for donation. Thank you Kelly Shuler
John Van den Bergh is now down to 15 hours in
the office a week, apparently because of a hostile work
environment. Or, at least, that is what was mentioned at the last
Van den Bergh charges that Director Kathy
Ontano, is in violation of HIPPA, the Health Insurance
Privacy Act because, as a board member, she tried to find out what
his doctor’s prescription was.
Sorry John, HIPPA only regulates health
industry folk. Ontano can ask anything she wants. The doctor,
nurse, LVN, or billing clerk simply cannot give it to her without
Van den Bergh’s consent.
Also, here’s the man who schedules, insists on
and participates in events that are in violation of the Ralph M.
Brown Act, has done so for months and makes no apology for doing
so. Now, he is charging that the two board members that aren’t his
fans, are violating the Act by doing things his old board
routinely did? My, my!
The fact that the district’s finances are in
bad shape wouldn’t be so urgent, except that they got there
because of Van den Bergh’s inability to do things in a generally
accepted way, choosing to be adversarial and get an attorney
involved for over $40,000. The attorney lost the case. They had a
consultant who didn’t know enough about the procedure and what was
needed who charged them over $15,000 for her work. The result was
an enormous bill from LAFCO because Van den Bergh’s grandiose plan
took in three counties, tripling many parts of the cost, took
major LAFCO staff time to wade through the information the
district had given them and try to put it in the format they
These expenses were incurred with a lot of
emotion and little thought by Van den Bergh and the previous
Anyone on a special district board cusses LAFCO,
primarily because of the state set annual fee. However, at least
locally, we all work with the agency and get things done without
incident or need to hire attorney’s or consultants. Staff or board
members do the work, they pay the fees, they go before the
commissioners and in general get what they were after (of course
they don’t try to include large chunks of three counties and
irritate various boards and citizens of the area in the process).
Now that Van den Bergh doesn’t have a rubber
stamp board, he’s running scared. He can’t stand opposition or
having his positions questioned. He apparently went to the doctor
to get his ruffled feathers smoothed out and was allowed 15 hours
in the office a week to cool off.
This isn’t the time to have ruffled feathers or
a bruised ego. He has a five member board of good people
with divergent view points. All five are intelligent, and it would
behoove him to work with all five.
To his credit, he has come up with a number of
grants and several low interest loans to do things that can help
the district. However, it appears to me that he shot himself in
the foot in the process by not taking a hard look at each one and
making sure the money is there to pay for them before signing on
the dotted line.
One of the major things facing the district at
this moment is his proposal to put in a low elevation water tank
in McArthur. The district is already running in the red. He and
the board need to take a good hard look at adding additional
expense even if it is “low interest - it still has to be paid
Additionally, they are ignoring the fact that,
as I understand it, the system will require the district to pump
water uphill if the tank is to “stabilize” the pressure.
Before he even gets that far, he needs to
expend his energy figuring out what those loans will do to future
budgets, and what costs associated with the grants or grant
projects not covered by the loans or grants will do to future
budgets. He needs to do those things before he adds another large
loan that has to be paid off.
It is not right to amass major future
expenditures without the board and public being aware of what
those expenses are, and having a say in exactly where the money to
pay them will come from.
Maybe it is just me...
But a group of “scientists, spearheaded by
Meadow Barr of Cal Trout, is hosting an “educational presentation”
on the “Hat Creek Restoration Plan” at the McConnell Foundation
headquarters in Redding at 6 p.m. on this Wednesday. See page A-5.
I’m quite sure they are legitimate and above
board and aren’t trying to put something over on us, even though
the presentation is to people over 60 miles away from us, whose
waterway is the Sacramento River, from an urban area, who have a
well known lack of understanding when it comes to the needs and
desires of folks in the Intermountain Area.
I suspect they have legitimate points and have
had meetings up here even though I missed it, but I seriously
suspect that those points are slanted toward special interest
needs and desires. On the surface it is kinda like they are going
through the motions.
If I were a fly fisherman, camper, landowner,
or recreationist who uses areas along Hat Creek, I’d try to make
I know I’ve harped on
PG&E’s closing of the Pit One Picnic Park and as I said before, I
fully understand their reasoning for not wanting to take care of
vandalism. However, there was a time when PG&E was community
You knew the area
manager, Pete Kazakoff, John Parrinello and Roger Borkey were
heavily involved in the communities they served. They were
Rotarians, Chamber presidents or board members, of special
district boards like the mosquito district or water district as
were other PG&E management level employees. They bent over
backwards to help people. No one had to wait five hours for
someone to come out and take care of a gas or electrical problem.
The Fall River Lions
built the Picnic Park below Pit One with help and blessings from
PG&E. They maintained it all these years as a community park where
they and others could have picnics, do a little fishing or berry
picking. Now gates are going up and the Lions Club will have a key
so they can use it.
Not only that, but the
“Stewardship Council” handling PG&E properties because of the
Utility’s bankruptcy, which has said they were in favor of the
park going to the Lions Club have managed to create so much red
tape that it may never get deeded to anyone.
I’ve heard excuses of
vandals and fishermen will damage the old hatchery site. In case
PG&E hasn’t looked, that facility is fenced off by a tall chain
link fence. Vandalism is always possible, but I drove down there,
the roads are narrow, the parking or turn around area small, the
Lions have long since replaced the old wooden picnic tables with
huge concrete ones. Yes, some of the druggies, or young adults
with drivers licenses, but too much beer and/or too little sense
of community, can and will go down there and destroy things.
They have in the past, and will now, regardless of gates, then
PG&E can go down and go to all the trouble of replacing or
I had the privilege of sitting in on the Fall
River High School Senior Oral Boards again this year and
again, I walked away proud of the students and the staff
that taught them. I’m sure that those who sat in on the Burney
orals were just as impressed.
I keep hearing about how poor of an education
system we have in the Intermountain Area and yet reflecting back
this “poor” education system has turned out students that went on
to excel at the military academies and have distinguished military
careers. Our alumni boast medical doctors, registered nurses,
scientists, teachers, athletes that reached the semi pro and pro
level, professional coaches, business men and women, successful
ranchers and farmers and so much more.
I know an awful lot of the alumni who have been
wonderful parents, spouses and children, who have taken over
leadership roles in their community and done well.
Yes, the world may be going to hell in a
hand basket as the old saying I’ve heard all my life goes, but it
isn’t because our children, the education system, family and
community support system here isn’t better than that in the
I’m starting to become part of the Aleve
generation, you know, take a pill for this and take a pill for
that. Pills generally cure the hurt.
On reflection I can say that the reason I have
to take those pills is because I didn’t do the things I should
have, when I should have.
The problem is that there are a few things I
just can’t take pills for - one of those is being a little too
self centered or busy to always remember and treat those who are
important to me, in many ways responsible for my being here and
having the quality of life that I have, as well as I should.
That’s not to say I don’t love them with all my
heart, I did and I do, but I often didn’t and don’t (and in one
case no longer can) take the time to tell them just how important
they really are to me or how much I love them.
I can’t take a pill to ease the guilt of not
showing my appreciation to three very dear women in my life - Each
very good mothers - my mother, my wife and my daughter.
So Mom, Donna and Arnie, I don’t always
remember to tell you that I love you as often as I should - but I
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 management’s. You might all call Pam Giacomini and let her
know what a dismal job the county did and then listen to all of
the management’s excuses about being out of money and would we
rather have our roads plowed or law enforcement. Doesn’t compute.
I’m 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.
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
doesn’t 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 CSD’s general manager is including a presentation in the
board package saying the district’s inability to get their
grandiose sphere of influence scheme passed through LAFCO was the
Mountain Echo’s 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 CSD’s 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 hasn’t been able to continuously handle its own
business and tried to orchestrate it behind people’s 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 didn’t want those folks to think they were favoring
Fall River Mills.
As for influencing LAFCO, I’ll be the first to
admit that the CSD’s 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 wouldn’t 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 I’d call a “relationship.”
As far as I’m 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 don’t 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
don’t, they don’t.
I’ve 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 hasn’t 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
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, I’ve 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
year’s has to have been the best yet.
Short, yes, but long on imagination and
It is hard to capture that beauty on “film.” It
is kinda like trying to watch a movie designed for the big screen
in a theatre on a 21” 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 Legion’s annual Ham Dinner and it was another major
There weren’t very many empty seats or empty
stomachs. It reminded me of how it used to be in the 1970’s and
To make it even better, the money goes to
support the Legion’s 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
In Burney its the night of the Burney American
Legion Ham Dinner.
The dinner starts at 6 p.m. at the Veteran’s
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
Proceeds go to support Boys State, scholarships
and other Legion programs.
The SRA “Fee” 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.
I’d also like to say that I really admire Jim
Hamlin. He did one heck of a job on the Mayers Memorial Hospital
District’s 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!
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 hadn’t 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 “good” ball game
- Donna lost $5.
I couldn’t 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 don’t even know exist.
But, don’t 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 doesn’t 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 wouldn’t 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 “Thank You!” and mean it.
I’m 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 Eddy’s, Dubey’s
Pizza, Western Auto, Valley Hardware, two farm equipment stores,
Hiway Garage, the Theater, Sears and Wards catelog stores, A
Hugh’s 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
don’t have to disappear because it is changing.
While we need to try new things and do new things, it wouldn’t
hurt to revisit some of the old things — 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 “Sphere of
Influence” issue, it’s 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. Let’s
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 “Sphere of Influence”
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 “get
along” 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 “Sphere”issues. 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
area lost one of the finest, bravest men I’ve 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 didn’t 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 didn’t 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 he’d
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 I’d see a picture or
hear of his exploits. We’d 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
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 didn’t 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 Canada’s philosophy,
figure out a way around whatever problems we have and enjoy the
life that we have been dealt. While we’re at it, lets say a little
prayer for Doyle.
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.
Let’s talk about the manager. Since Cecil Ray
was manager, we haven’t had a money-making district. From Buzz (Sordahl)
on down the district lost money. Buzz put the district into Cal
Pers and we can’t 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 can’t 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
can’t 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. I’m not for it. I’m not against it. I
don’t know enough about it.
Parks can be a good thing. Why can’t the
district take over the Lions Park. All the Lions members are
getting old. Why can’t 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. I’ll
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. I’m 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 can’t 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.
I’m not getting into LAFCO or attorney because
I don’t know that much about that stuff.
Walt I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t get
into people’s personal lives because it is not a paying job and
the board puts in a lot of time and effort. Bud Hendrickson
Editor’s 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 won’t.
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 can’t 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
I was on the medical board in 2011-12 which
chose Dr. Bruce Staggs as our administrator for our medical
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 don’t
like. They are also being held accountable for actions for the
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 “ideal world” 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
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 don’t think any of the council members have
the ability to lead anything. They aren’t 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 – 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 don’t 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
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
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 wasn’t doing
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
I’ve 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 ’s Department, Coroner’s Department, State’s 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 I’m 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 wasn’t 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 don’t 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 isn’t newspapers.
In the case at
point, I have tried numerous times to give them positive coverage
and I have. If they don’t violate common sense, the law, and are
doing things right, I make sure it is noted.
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
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 agency’s services, It uses those services, it
isn’t extremely rude to that agency’s 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, they’ve gotta start acting like
Personally I’m 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
aren’t willing to follow the laws, procedures and common sense as
it applies to public entities, oh well. Either way I’ll give them
the coverage they deserve.
accuracy, I am more than happy to let folks listen to my tape
recordings of the meetings. I don’t waste the readers time or my
space trying to quote everything from the tape verbatim, That is a
stenographer’s 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.
I’ll 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.
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
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
Personally I’m 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 District’s
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.
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 “one of
us.” 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.
I’m endorsing Jim Nielsen for State Senate. He has done a good job
representing us as our assemblyman. He’s experienced and
conservative. He knows where we are and who we are. The other
I’m 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
I am also endorsing Tony Mallery for Superior Court Judge in
Lassen County. He has fresh ideas and is a strong supporter of the
world is changing and I’m going to do something I haven’t done
before – 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 district’s 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
district’s 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 district’s 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 isn’t 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 don’t 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. don’t
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 project’s 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 “the end
justifies the means” 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 isn’t 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 didn’t 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 isn’t 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 Brunner’s actions. Interestingly,
the Jensens and Briggs, were part of a group that won a similar
suit against Brunner several years ago. It isn’t 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 district’s operations and finances
for several meetings. All three have been in the district for some
time. All three are oriented towards getting the district’s core
services and finances in line before expending energy on other
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.
have nothing against the other four candidates, two are basically
too new on the board to rate, a third hasn’t 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
Clerk’s office. She headed that court’s office and Fall River’s 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 hasn’t made much input at
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
at the last Shasta Local Agency Formation Commissioner (LAFCO)
Commissioners’ 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 don’t 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 don’t know too
many public entities, as well as the county itself, that aren’t
strapped for income.
You folks opened Pandora’s box by waiving fees. I’m 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 won’t have any trouble
showing my district is financially stressed, especially since you
guys on’t 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 don’t 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 haven’t 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 didn’t feel she knew her
The Fall River Mills Community Services District isn’t 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 couldn’t get a quorum of directors to show up.
During that period their infrastructure deteriorated, they put in
a well that wasn’t 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, didn’t complete their
Municipal Services Review, skipped their annual independent audits
because they “couldn’t afford” 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 “old board” 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 didn’t
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 don’t 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 don’t 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.
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.
There’s 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
However, it appears to me that the Fall River CSD isn’t 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 doesn’t have budgeted and had promised it wouldn’t, on
attorneys to carry forward on what appears to be a personal
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 can’t have illegal secret brown Act meetings, take illegal
actions because you don’t 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 Fall River Valley Community Services District – Mountain Echo
raised serious questions regarding the fairness of the
district’s 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 month’s 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 manager’s involvement in having the town’s
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
I can’t 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 don’t get
screwed six months out of the year, and/or if they will have
private discussions to decide their customer’s 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.
Fall River Valley Community services District’s 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 wouldn’t cost the district’s
customers any money.
As with so many of Van den Bergh’s promises he obviously didn’t
have any intentions of honoring it. Last month the board
authorized the payment of the district’s 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 don’t 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 didn’t 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
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 don’t 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 I’ve seen I believe it. I’m surprised they even have
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 board’s
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 week’s 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
District’s 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 can’t
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.
a story of the local School’s 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 year’s 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
State and Federal testing has had schools running scared for
years, teaching to the tests, and saying that the students
wouldn’t 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
Local detractors often complain that the kids aren’t 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 aren’t 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.
Act violations continue to tarnish and bring into question not
only a purported desire of “transparency” 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 week’s board meeting
when Board Chair Sandi Jensen said “They” (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, didn’t 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 – Are any of those violations
important. The answer is a resounding yes and it has had
1. Van den Bergh’s 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 “Closed
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 agency’s designated representatives.
In other words “The body may not negotiate directly with an
affected employee in closed session.”
2. The board’s lack of transparency, discussing a “real estate”
matter with a consultant who wasn’t supposed to be in a “real
estate meeting” 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 “a 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.” 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:)
“Closed sessions cannot be qualified by the selective invitation
of certain persons into the discussion while excluding the general
3. The lack of transparency in handling the board’s options in
filling the vacancy, and the board chair’s explanation that the
board didn’t 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 didn’t want to appoint the one and
only candidate that took the time to apply for the vacancy because
they didn’t like her. The Brown Act specifically prohibits serial
meetings. “any 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 “we” and the other two board
members present didn’t 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 don’t want to do the public’s 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 doesn’t sound
transparent. They need to remember that the Brown Act was written
to assure the public’s right to know and the authors weren’t
particularly concerned about its convenience to the governmental
agencies covered by it.
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. It’s not fair;
it’s 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 “Fire Prevention Fee” 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
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve invested time, sweat and money to
meet the state’s ever evolving fire standards. It doesn’t matter
whether you experience any benefit from CalFire’s prevention
activities. It doesn’t even matter whether you already pay for
local fire service - though if you do, you’ll 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 don’t pay within 30 days,
you’ll 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 won’t see theirs for several months.
The first round of bills is expected to raise $84 million to help
pay for the state’s operations last fiscal year. The next round of
bills is just around the corner - they’ll be mailed beginning
Forget the photos of firefighters fighting fires. This new tax
won’t pay for firefighters or put out a single fire. Nor will it
do anything to expand the state’s 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 “crime prevention tax” to fund the state’s
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, there’s no relationship between a
taxpayer’s 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. That’s because the Legislature doesn’t 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.
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, I’ve established a website (calfirefee.com)
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.
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 District’s 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 weren’t going to
take money out of the district’s funds for his expense.
Be that as it may, I
do have major objections to the way they plan to compute the sewer
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,
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 won’t be using the sewer any
more, they’ll just pay a lot more for the privilege.
Burney which also compute sewer charges based on water usage have
taken the time to figure out a way to do it which won’t screw
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 weren’t providing.
Burney’s is computed
on either January or February, when they can be fairly certain
that their customers aren’t 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 doesn’t impact the sewers.
I don’t care if the
process has to go back to committee or through the hearing process
10 times. Simp[y because it wasn’t right the first time doesn’t
mean the customers should be stuck with it. That was the general
idea of having public hearings in the first place.
I’ve 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 park’s 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 doesn’t matter, nor do I really care if
you’ve 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, you’ll probably get
Shame on you.
I don’t generally repeat myself, but a scumbag
or some scumbags vandalized the community beautification
committee’s 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 ’s Department at 245-6070, the Burney Chamber of
Commerce at 335-2111 or Mountain Echo at 336- 6262 and we’ll make
sure the Sheriff ’s 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.
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 merchant’s 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 won’t have a park to
play in? So we can’t 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 didn’t always
agree with her and I’m 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 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.
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
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
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
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.
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
Each celebration has been unique.
Each celebration has been wonderful.
In the days when the J.C’s 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 don’t get any sleep or only
two or three hours at a time until it is over. Many lose their
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.”
In the mid-1980’s Donna Caldwell and
her crew of patriots decided that if San Francisco didn’t 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 town’s 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 don’t know who is responsible for doing it. I
haven’t 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.
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 company’s 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 don’t know of anyone who would keep a rank
and file employee who did any of those things.
I don’t know of anyone who would keep a
supervisor who did any of those things.
I really don’t 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 I’m picking on “poor”
John Van den Bergh, manager of the Fall River Mills Community
Services District and I wouldn’t be if he wasn’t making a laughing
stock out of the CSD board and if the board didn’t 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 board’s request to look into the
legality of having people who don’t 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 doesn’t 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 people’s support.
The board won’t get it back if people think you are weak and your
manager is not working in their best interests.
The board hasn’t 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.
Fall River Mills Cemetery District has its share of problems, the
least of which isn’t an unhappy laid off employee and division
amongst board members.
The cemetery district itself suffers from very tight finances
which doesn’t allow them a lot of options. They don’t have the
money to pay employees what they may be worth and often not give
them the hours that will assure their retention.
They suffer from a struggle between those who don’t feel a need to
stay abreast of current laws and current conditions, opting for
the age old “that’s the way we’ve always done it” and others who
want it done as is currently required.
Tight finances also means that there is little room for frills and
no room for niceties that don’t pay the immediate bills.
The board was able to work their finances out with the County
Auditor’s office, which gives them the option of borrowing money
from their year-end tax revenue, thus allowing them to create
enough cash flow to generally get through the lean months.
They hired a maintenance man, part time. He’s new and without
experienced oversight missed some paperwork because he didn’t know
where to look or the right people to ask. Unfortunate, yes. He
The board made a major mistake in allowing their part-time
secretary to take paperwork out of the district office and now
they are obviously paying for it.
The board has a ways to go. They’ve got to reach a workable
compromise between themselves that assures that things are done in
a practical manner yet meets all the current legal and ethical
aspects of the laws under which they operate.
Beyond that - they are all good people, with good intentions,
willing to put in more hours and take more do-do than they should.
And these folks don’t try to hide their problems from the public
or have grandiose agendas that they can’t afford.
At this point my hat is off to them and I wish them well.
Mayers Works to Create Healing Environment
By Matt Rees
Chief Executive Officer
Mayers Memorial Hospital District
In response to
questions from community members, Mayers Memorial Hospital
District would like to present a study, showing the benefits to
both patients and staff in creating what is called a “healing
“healing environment” is an intentionally designed space that
integrates natural elements and colors to impact clinical
outcomes. Creating that type of atmosphere can be as simple as a
new paint color or flooring, or providing patients with a view
outside of their windows that looks over a landscape. While we
can’t change our surroundings, both facilities in Fall River and
Burney are lucky enough to have beautiful backdrops for patients
to view during their stay. To complete this idea of a healing
environment, Mayers has painted, renovated, provided equipment,
furniture and flooring that will benefit not only patients and
their visiting families, but staff as well.
several areas that directly link the physical environment of a
hospital to patient and staff health outcomes:
1. Improves patient
2. Reduces stress
and fatigue and increases effectiveness in delivering care
Improves patient safety
One crucial reason
to consider creating a better hospital environment is patient
safety. Hospital acquired infections, both airborne and contact
transmission, are decreased with better ventilation, easily
accessible hand sanitation units, and single bed rooms vs.
Because Mayers is a rural facility, patients often have their
room, decreasing any chances of hospital acquired infections.
Mayers’ Infection Control Department reported that there has only
been one healthcare associated infection in each of the 2010 and
2011 years – statistics for 2012 have yet to be completed but are
looking to be very comparable.
over 530 patient admissions in the year 2011, and an average
monthly census of 55 patients, Mayers only has a 0.6% infection
rate. Infection Control has also added new hand hygiene centers
located at every entrance to the hospital and Long Term Care
facilities. Here, visitors of the hospital are encouraged to use
the available hand sanitizer, masks, gloves and tissues to help
prevent the spreading of germs to both patients and staff members.
rooms, are also desirable for patient confidentiality and privacy.
Studies show that patients reported higher satisfaction rates of
their care while in a single room, due to more open communication
regarding the care that is needed. In hopes of increasing that
satisfaction even more, Mayers has renovated patient rooms to
include new flooring, paint, privacy curtains, bedding and
state-of-the art hospital beds.
Reduces stress and fatigue and increases effectiveness in
Nurses, physicians and staff of a hospital, often work in
extremely stressful conditions. It’s a loud, fast pace
environment, with no room for error or exhaustion. Taking this
into account, Mayers has been working to provide a better
workplace, making it safer and more effective for nurses and
physicians. For example, the new hospital beds that have been
distributed throughout the facility, have a better ergonomic
design, avoiding back stress, fatigue and other injuries, while
staff treat patients.
Employee morale and
confidence in the facility they work in also helps in this area.
Mayers has provided equipment that meets today’s technology
standards and created an aesthetically pleasing workplace with
photos and new lighting in working areas.
Improves overall healthcare quality.
Evidence shows that design changes which make a hospital
environment more comfortable and informative, relieve stress and
increase satisfaction with the overall quality of care. Natural
colors, photos, and elements have been used in interior design to
help patients and their families feel at ease, which can greatly
affect the healing process. When a patient is more comfortable in
their surroundings, studies show that the healing process is
faster and overall hospital stay decreases.
A healing environment is not about simply being a nicer or fancier
facility. Its focus is to create hospitals that help patients
recover more quickly, while helping staff to take care of patients
to the best of their ability. Mayers’ goal is for every patient,
visitor, family member and staff who enters our facility to feel
safe and confident in the care offered.
No more water! No more sewer!
No new parks! What is important?
The FRVCSD Rate payers need to answer these
questions. They seem to have said something when they retained
only two incumbents in the general election. They again said
something at the December board meeting when they packed the board
room with rate payers not happy with a number of issues.
Consider this: if theFRVCSD went bankrupt and
you had to find a new way to get water – how would you and at what
Consider this: If the FRVCSD went bankrupt and
you had to put in your own septic system how would you and at what
Consider this: If the FRVCSD went bankrupt and
could not provide you with any new parks; could you survive with
the existing parks?
These are questions that the FRVCSD rate payers
need to answer.
Go to the monthly board meeting and you will be
able to speak. If you can’t make a meeting then write a letter to
the FRVCSD expressing your desires and opinions on your priorities
and especially those items the CSD is involved in that are not
priorities. Send a copy to the local editor if you want some
assurance that everyone knows where you stand.
The FRVCSD has been left in a financial
disaster. Will the FRVCSD be solvent or go under? We, the rate
payers, elected a board to represent us. Now, we need to support
the board by communicating our views. This board really needs all
the public support and input you can give.
Jerry Monath, Rate payer
P.S. See you January 16 (3rd Wednesday of
each month board meeting) at 6 p.m. in the FRVCSD board room on
3rd Street in Fall River Mills.
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 I’ve 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 everyone’s 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 audience’s time
ranting may be a comical sideshow but fails to accomplish anything
but waste everyone’s 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 I’m 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,
didn’t 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
Unnecessary public displays of tempers and
rantings may make the individuals feel important (probably
wouldn’t 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?
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 “slick stock paper with
another full sheet with the property owner’s 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 “slick” 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 “soon.”
The notice says “As 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.”
Both Senator La- Malfa and Assemblyman Nielsen’s office, along
with fire chiefs who have followed this issue strongly recommend
that anyone who receives the notice ignore the “or appeal” portion
of the statement and pay the amount billed and write paid under
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
A special district’s 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
In my estimation the CSD board was thoughtful,
receptive to the audience’s concerns and worked to a solution that
attempts to meet both sides’ needs as best they can. It won’t
probably (at least at this time) satisfy anyone. In hard economic
times it is the board’s 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 district’s 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 Farm’s
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 “old board” 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 couldn’t afford it. Unfortunately the economy,
the cost of doing business, and the infrastructure hasn’t
As an example the CSD board didn’t put money
aside for replacing old infrastructure over the years because they
haven’t 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 didn’t 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 – If you are
interested go to the meetings, make constructive input when the
opportunity arises, stand up and be counted. But also remember
that “We don’t want no damned increase” is not constructive nor is
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 don’t 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
God bless everyone this Christmas season! May we all clean up
our acts and try to be kind to one another – even Democrats and
Tea Party People.
Love ya all
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 Nations’ attempt to assume control
of all of our water.
Their plan is simple: find local “dupes” 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
“milk and honey.” 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
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. I’m 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
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 isn’t exactly thriving and
hasn’t 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, you’d 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
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
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 son’s 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! You’re 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
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 didn’t “win,” 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 didn’t 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 District’ board and general
manager, usually on Brown Act issues – and I pride myself on being
able to agree to disagree, I feel last Tuesday’s meeting was way
out of line.
While stating my opinion that the closed session violated the
Brown Act and that the General Manager’s 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
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 weren’t able to do because of your work schedules.
I’m going to endorse some folks and give you my
reasons for endorsing them. I’m 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
I’m 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
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.
I’m 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.
I’m 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.
I’m going to break my rule about “shopping
local” 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
I started this out by saying I was going to
talk about the positive, so I’m ending my endorsements with this.
Those who think their vote doesn’t count need to remember that the
ocean is made up of trillions upon trillions of “one” drops of
water. I’ve told you how, since I’m a resident of Shasta
County, I’m going to vote and how I would vote if I was in Lassen
County. If you don’t agree with me, vote for others, - either way
A couple of things: First, Donna and my home
was built in the 50’s and has almost as many creaks and hitches as
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 Scott’s 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
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 they’d best clean up their act or they were going to
be sued, and that they haven’t 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 don’t 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 I’ll reserve judgment on the need for 10% until they
state their case. However, if the district becomes embroiled in a
lawsuit, 10% isn’t 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.
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 don’t 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 “Will the last person out
please turn off the lights! It put a smile on everyone’s 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 town’s economy from complete
The point is there are many facets to a healthy
economy. Ours depends on growth.
You don’t 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
you’ll have to do that something you should have done years before
at a cost you can’t afford.
I would like to add that if the SCD board can’t
stop violating the Brown Act there should be some costly
correction for their behavior. Dale Mollenhauer
How Far We’ve 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
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
They organized the Municipal Advisory Committee (MAC) to give
the people of the valley a strong voice in dealing with the
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, let’s 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
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 it’s 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 doesn’t 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!
Editor: I am 90 years old and I’m tired! I’ve lived through many wars, many of which
were wars of deceit under the guise of democracy. Many lives have
been lost for our “freedom.” I have supported our troops and
worked alongside “Rosie the Riveter.” I’m 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 citizen’s 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 – 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
I have lived through “The Great Depression;”
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 taxpayer’s expense. They dictate to the public taxpayers,
while excluding themselves. Our constitution is being shredded and
the Communist doctrine’s 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
Letter To the Editor
Editor: I would like to comment in regards to the protest
efforts against Pit River Health (PRH) Administrator Dr. Bruce
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 it’s 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. We’re not a “huggy society”
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 administration’s Health Care Reform Act goes
into effect you have to get health insurance or have penalties
For the administrator to admonish employees for not doing their
job, he’s 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
“White Race” when they adopt the same demagogue ways in
Don’t 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
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 haven’t 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 don’t
want commercial development next door to them, and opening the
door for even more.
I don’t know which side is right and I don’t
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 don’t think it
really pertains to us.
If the county is involved in something there is
a good chance it will affect us.
Editor: An elder from the Pit River Tribe – a member of the
Ajumawi band – 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 “Indian?”
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 wouldn’t 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 ’s SUV’s 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 ’s 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 Store’s 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 “lazy,
crazy days of summer.” It’s nice, its fun, if properly run it is
clean and safe. The entire community or in this case, communities
That said, I’m 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
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 didn’t. They charged what they felt was a
workable admission fee to those who didn’t 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 doesn’t 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.
I’m 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. I’ve followed the pool’s progress through
five water district managers and I have no idea how many pool
managers and I haven’t had the time or inclination to use the
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 pool’s histories.
Get community support, get organizations like
the Lions, 4-H, and Chamber to raise funds and solicit local
funds. If they won’t or try and can’t that will tell you something
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 I’ll guarantee you - if something can go wrong it
will and no matter how detailed your plan, you will miss
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 80’s because I felt those who wanted it, wanted
it so bad, they were working with blinders on. They didn’t 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?
Didn’t have a lot of time to take advantage of
the good weather, but I’ll have the whole rest of the sunny
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
lawn’s green and sometime this week I’ll 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 district’s 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 doesn’t 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 can’t produce records
showing how much they spent because they didn’t take care of
business and keep proper records to start with.
Almost smells like they are trying to hide
something doesn’t 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.
It’s okay for people to make fools of
themselves and spend their own money doing it. It’s 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 Chimaman’s
Chance in Hell of being right, they’d get what they need from
LAFCO and then sue them.
They don’t 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.
I’d 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
John’s personal vendetta against Amy will continue to be editorial
Unfortunately it isn’t 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
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
Meeting on open meetings is closed
Man accused of killing lawyer receives a new
Puerto Rican teen named mistress of the
County to pay 250,000 to advertise lack of
Army vehicle disappears. An Australian
Army Vehicle worth $74,000 has gone missing after being painted
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
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.
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 Dog’s 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.
to me often, for you voice is the world’s 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
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