There was a brief Sierra County Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday but I was not there and cannot tell you what happened so you will have to read The Mountain Messenger this week. (Well you should read it every week) I think it had something to do with the contract for the Alleghany Park Improvements and the recent bid that was over the funds budgeted and there was also a closed session for the Board. Read the Messenger to find out what happened.
Rarely do I use a picture of the same spot as last week’s photo, in fact this is a first. But Michael Gate’s photo looking towards the Sierra Buttes from Saddleback
Lookout is so spectacular I had to print it. Same spot a week later. Had a moment of clear to get this photo.
So Carrie’s Corner, Carol’s Books and Movies, Jerusha, Fringe, Gabby, Cooter, The Cats, The Others they are all here along with lots of information about what’s going on where. Our guest columnists are unusually quiet this week and they’re missed.
So have a fun and safe Halloween tomorrow, be nice to each other and next week we will have more to report.
Don Russell, Editor of the Mountain Messenger has recently become overly concerned about mundane things that should not bother him at all, or at least he shouldn’t give it a second thought. Sitting in the prestigious seat of being the state’s oldest weekly newspaper Editor brings him into the limelight a lot. Many people come to Downieville to meet Don who has always had an open door policy to all tourists, unless it is Wednesday or if Milly is not in a good mood. If Milly is not there, most likely there will be a short woman named Jill who rarely is in a good mood. So if in response to your question, “are you Milly?” a short black haired woman looks up and snarls it is best to just leave and hope Milly will be there when you return. At any rate this isn’t about Milly or Jill, it is about Don. Just be kind to him, consider his age and position and be happy if he acknowledges your presence, don’t hold any expectations. Just acceptance of the way things are.
We had a lively meeting last month and are ready for another one. Please come if you can and be part of planning next years activities to improve the food system in Plumas and Sierra Counties! Everyone is welcome!
Here is the Strategic Plan online http://bit.ly/pscfc2013plan . if you want to review it.
November 4, 2013 2:30 to 4:30 PM Public Health Conference Room, Quincy
2:30 to 2:45 Housekeeping & Updates
- Brief re-cap of last meeting
- Chairman position vacancy
2:45 to 3:15 Updates from each Working Group
- Policy & Regulation
- FEED (Farmer Education & Economic Development)
- Team Zero (home scale food production)
- Youth Education
3:15 to 3:30 CFC Strategic Plan Distribution
(the plan is online here http://bit.ly/pscfc2013plan)
(Education of policy makers, partners and public)
- Identify desired outcomes/next steps
- Review and discuss BOS presentation
- Newspaper & press release on Plan
(maybe use executive summary)
3:30 to 4:25 CFC Action Plan
- Discuss and prioritize activities for 2014
- Identify steps for priority activities
- Identify timelines, partners, resources and roles
and next steps.
4:25 to 4:30 Next meeting date/ time
- TBD, 2:30 – 4:30pm
The mission of the Plumas-Sierra Community Food Council is to increase community resiliency by fostering vibrant local agriculture and increasing access to healthy food for everyone in the Plumas-Sierra region. The Council works to improve community food security through advocacy, policy, and grassroots programs that shape the region’s food system and the health of its residents.
On Veterans Day, Monday, November 11, the veterans of Sierra County will again gather to honor themselves, and those we have lost. They will meet at the Bell Tower in Downieville, the county seat, for ceremonies which start at noon. The bell will toll for those county veterans who have died, among them, Samuel Bekoff, Lyman Breed, Gerry Bryant, Jerry Ellsworth, John Johnsen, Peter Koch, Robert Haggard, Lawrence McCaffrey, Clyde Peterman, Kenneth Ramelli, and Thomas Smith.
This year there will be a more extensive ceremony based upon the DD214 service record of Colonel John Johnsen who died here July 3. Johnsen, husband of the Mountain Messenger’s Mary Johnsen, wore the U.S. emblem on his uniform for over 25 years, living those years and the rest of his years by that pledge- Duty, Honor, Country. But the overriding duty he felt was to the serviceman; the soldier, sailor, marine, the men and women willing to put their lives in danger to serve their country.
Johnsen, who did not wish to have a formal funeral, will be the featured serviceman at the ceremony on November 11. The honor for him is to be a symbol for all the veterans of Sierra County. He didn’t care whether people served in war or peace, at home or abroad, for one tour or many, he just cared that they were not only willing to serve but did so. His respect for these individuals was profound.
In the first few years of the Veterans Day ceremony in Downieville, Johnsen showed his support for a well deserved recognition of those who served by attending. In his later years as his health failed he stated his opinion that the troops didn’t need the brass there; that it was their day.
On this November 11, a full honor guard of U. S. Army soldiers will conduct the traditional ceremony honoring a fallen comrade. Sgt. Carl Trujillo outlined their role: “Usually the first two soldiers of two columns of three (symbolic of six soldiers pall bearing a casket) carry the urn and flag and place them on a table in front of the spectators. Two of those soldiers stay near the table to salute and unfold/refold the flag while the other four of those soldiers make their way over to where the bugler has been standing. Once there, they pick up their weapons which have been pre-positioned on the ground and they become the firing party.
“Traditionally the flag, after it is folded, is presented to the next of kin. There is a certain way we must be positioned and perform, i.e., position of bugler and firing party in relation to family/spectators. (The firing party and bugler must be 25-100 feet away, in full view of the spectators, and 45 degrees off of the table used to set the flag on).”
In this case the spectators will include the massed veterans of Sierra County of all the services. Johnsen, during his early career wore the uniform of the California National Guard (Army), the Sea Scouts Navy), the Marine Corps reserve, the Air Force ROTC, finally becoming a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point and 20 years in the uniform of the United States Army. It seems fitting that this day will celebrate the service of the veterans of all those services; Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force, the veterans of Sierra County.
Friends and families along with the public are welcome and encouraged to attend this honor ceremony. Speaker Dr. James Johnsen and special guests will be David Johnsen from Oregon, Erik Johnsen from California , and Jim Johnsen from Alaska. Lt. Col. Richard Bunn (USMA ’65), USA ret will be driving up from Phoenix for the occasion as will retired Colonel Ren Hart USMA ’56) coming from Pebble Beach. Sponsors have come forward to host any veteran who needs such for the luncheon to follow the parade to the the Grubstake Restaurant on Main after the ceremony at the Bell Tower.
If you love Sierra County
Sierra County is a jeweled scarf straddling the Sierra with barely enough souls to pin it in place. It’s position is somewhat precarious; it is easy to see how some chunks of the county could easily be assumed, with Yuba, Plumas Lassen and Nevada all taking a nice chunk. Downieville could easily shrink to the point there would be no one there except a road crew, a cop, a gas station and people too old and stubborn to move anywhere else. Loyalton could flake and peel until it finally disappears except for the decaying hulk of the hotel, a road crew, and people too old and stubborn to move, and without even a cop. Sierraville could find itself in Truckee city limits.
It shouldn’t be difficult to believe that the county could simply cease to be administratively; the county is wealthy with green grass and lonely mountains and lots of water, and we are weak in the kind of muscle it takes to keep it from being “protected” by people from elsewhere. Even if the county isn’t divided up like dead Aunt Ellie’s jewelry box, there isn’t enough money flowing through the county to keep the lights on, literally. Most of our young people have to move to make a living, leaving us an old, retired county.
You may believe in fairy godmothers, in trains and golf courses and wealthy tourists dripping money into the county; I have no evidence to support magic solutions to desperate, real world problems. There might be a huge, profitable sole employer waiting to move to Sierra County, but I doubt it, I doubt Disney will make us rich, or a back road to Reno, or glass fiber internet. The grounded keel of Sierra County will float again only after the economic sea around us flows again, and some of us won’t be alive by then.
If you love to fish and hunt Hennesy Pass and the south county; if your heart is with the outlaws of the ridge; if you love the Lakes Basin or the rivers; if you love to twist a sled or X-track; if you love the peaceful cows and farmer petite bourgeoisie of the Valley or the dusty, muscled working people of the woods; if you love the grand and beautiful and pitiless face of the Sierra; if you love the alpine, luddite village of Downie, you should care about one thing: hazard fuel biofuel.
I love all those things about Sierra County, and some secret things as well, and I long to see the Golden West full all the time, I yearn to see Sierraville and Calpine busy villages again. I’d like to see four thriving restaurants in Downieville. I desperately want to protect my friends and the nearly mystical towns along the Yuba, one of the very few places left in California where a person can feel relatively free. I’ve tried several times in the last twenty plus years to re-invigorate the county; I’ve read consultant’s reports and listened to countless discussions of the roads, the railroad, the “county divide” and I’ve heard dozens of hare-brained schemes and seen almost none pay off. I’ve put forth some hare-brainers myself, desperately clutching as straws to find a way to replace the mills, the gold, the diaries. There is only one thing we have plenty of: hazard biomass.
We have a very shaky infrastructure but it might be the tiny ember which could eventually ignite an industry: the cogen plant in Loyalton and Jim Turner. I’ve watched, along with everyone else, the repeated, faltering attempts to get the generator pumping power into the lines again; I’ve attended meetings and had lunch with people and made phone calls, and I know the critical elements we need to make it work. We need a realistic price for the power; we need a way to reduce the costs of shipping biomass. Candidly, we also need an agreement from the operator of the cogen plant, whoever that might be, that they will give preference to local woody biomass over subsidized trash from Sacramento. The price structuring which makes it more affordable to truck crap from down south than to bring it from the west side of the county is one of the obstacles we have to deal with politically. We also need to deal politically with natural gas an energy source in electric price setting.
There will probably be no magical savior; woody biomass fuels are not without problems, and not without detractors. It is not extremely clean like wind, wave or solar power; it is not as clean as geothermal or even natural gas. It is cheaper to grow biomass or salvage agricultural biomass partly because they occur nearer the source, partly because they produce fuel of constant quality and handling processes, but mostly because they grow on level ground. Most of our biomass grows on the brow of the mountains. We have the technology to harvest, indeed, I think Sierra County has some of the best contractors for handling woody biomass, but it isn’t as easy or cheap as sending the mower out into the field; it requires amazing technology and mad skills to harvest steep slopes without erosion, and talent like that doesn’t come cheap.
We need to reduce the cost of shipping, either with onsite harvest/processing or biofuel power to reduce diesel costs. We could almost afford to ship wood in a 4X4 solid chunk; the same mass of brush fills the truck, meaning the ratio of diesel burned to the amount of energy from biofuel is critical.
Even so, we have to do it because we have very few rational, year round alternatives, and because we want our workers to live in the county, and our residents to work in the county, and our children to have opportunities right in the county. Biomass won’t do that by itself, but it is a step, maybe our most realistic opportunity to survive.
It’s also the only way we can afford to make our hills and canyons safe again. The money for hazard fuel removal is drying up, and it never met demand. The only way we can afford to restore our watersheds and reduce the devastation of wildfire is to properly, thoughtfully, reduce the load of fuel and maintain it at that level. Since no one is going to give us the money to do that, we need to create a market for it so it can pay for itself.
As with other resource extraction processes, there will be an end to biomass profitability. The low hanging fruit will be harvested, then fuels will get smaller and brushier or harder to reach and the costs will go up, and profits down. That’s tomorrow’s problem.
We need to support and be active in the Fire Safe Council. It stands ready to be a major player in biofuel. The local districts of the Forest Service continue to try to sell hazard fuel. We need to find ways to pressure congress and the Forest Service at the national level to implement some of the management changes suggested by HR 1526, which would reduce administrative costs of getting hazard material out of the woods. We need to draw the attention of the state legislature to the problem of allowing natural gas to be considered a green fuel or to allow power costs to be linked to it.
There might be a better hope for an economically sound county, but for now, this is it. While we don’t have direct control over very many of the variables, we can act as a community to be woody biofuel friendly.
We could also each contribute to an effort to encourage investment in the cogen plant, do outreach to residents around the plant, to lobby for subsidies for woody biofuel, and to help smooth the transition to a green energy producing county. Perhaps the county chambers of commerce could manage such a position. It would be an investment in the future of the county we love.
Bargains you can sink your fangs into! If you like goblin up bargains, then come to The Gallery in Sierra City (The Ghost House Gallery) during Sierra City’s Trick or Treat on Main Street from 5-7 pm on October 31st. Dee, Darby and Kathy will offer a discount on their photos to anyone in costume. And if you’re scary enough not to need a costume, you’ll get the discount, too! It’s the Gallery’s last gasp before closing for the season, so let the spirit move you. You’d be batty to pass up such a spooktacular opportunity.
By Gabby Fringette
Getting a sense of Deja vu? Well, it’s not Deja vu, I’ve written on writer’s block before. Writer’s block; ancient Greek: Grapho emphrasso. Writing block up.
Writer’s block is like constipation. Only constipation you can work out with prunes, laxatives. All you have for writer’s block is a pencil.
Perhaps constipation and writer’s block are inter-linked. After all, they are both blocked passages. Maybe if I clear one, I’ll clear the other.
Six prunes, half and hour and four magazines later, nothing.
I blame this on pop music. The loud repetitive background noise has slowly dissolved my brain cells. I also blame the food I eat. Too many fresh vegetables have contaminated my brain with their rot-ability. Between the two major problems of today, it’s a wonder I can write at all.
Artists have it easier. When every they have painter’s block, they just throw paint on the canvas, and call it abstract. The last time I tried abstract writing ( w3xxx36T36g?) I got sent back. How is it any different than abstract painting? It reflects the emotions of me falling asleep on the keyboard.
In the past, the solution to writer’s block is to just knuckle down and bear it until it passes. Well, I’m to belligerent not to go down without a fight.
Exercise always helps me get my brain running, if I sit still to long it turns off, a side effect of hours of TV and reading.
So the faster I run, the more my brain juices flow. They should flow enough to push the writer’s block out of the way. Or they could build up and my head will explode. It’s really a chance I’m willing to take.
When I crashed into a wall, and knocked down half the picture in the room, I decided to take a different tactic. Food. I know I blamed my food earlier, but that was veggies. This is chocolate and other comfort food.
After consuming an amount of candy that would kill a rat, dog, or goat, I began to feel sick. Sick as a rat/dog/ goat. Maybe it was the candy; maybe it was the leftover dizziness from running into the wall, or maybe it was the sickening feeling of not being able to kill the writer’s block.
Either way, I’m calling it quits before I think extreme sports are the answer to writer’s block.
Editor to Gabby : (Jerusha never suffers writer’s block)