Wednesday October 30, 2013

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

Last week's photo

Last week’s photo

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.

Carol’s Books 10/30/13

Carol Says:
A Nurses Story
by Tilda Shalof    Non-Fiction
Tilda writes about her life as an ICU nurse.  The book starts with a little background of her childhood and just a little on her studies to become a nurse.  She writes about how scary it was to begin this career as there is so much to learn and the ICU unit is so busy.  (I have worked at a hospital, not as a nurse, and the ICU nurses are truly amazing.  I hold them in high esteem).
Tilda was, understandably, very nervous starting out in ICU.  She explains some of the basics (not easy stuff!) and what they do in that unit.  She tells of her concerns and fears as there is so much to know.  The ICU nurses really do run the place and it all falls on them (yes, Doctors are involved but not always there).  We hear stories about the patients – why they were admitted, what care they needed, the emergencies going on, and then we learn how this all affects the staff.   Also stories on dealing with the families of the patient – some of the families want the staff to do everything possible when there really is no hope.  The ICU nurse sees things that we never even think about; they are dealing with severe illness and death.  She talks about the humor they need to get through it all, and how emotionally draining it is for them.
We also learn about the people she works with Through her writing of conversations she has with her  friends, we learn about her friends – how they cope, the differ.  How it is sometimes a love/hate with the job, but we see their compassion and drive to do the best job possible.
Amazon Says:
A Nurses Story
by Tilda Shalof    Non-Fiction
The team of nurses that Tilda Shalof found herself working with in the intensive care unit (ICU) of a big-city hospital was known as “Laura’s Line.” They were a bit wild: smart, funny, disrespectful of authority, but also caring and incredibly committed to their jobs. Laura set the tone with her quick remarks. Frances, from Newfoundland, was famous for her improvised recipes. Justine, the union rep, wore t-shirts emblazoned with defiant slogans, like “Nurses Care But It’s Not in the Budget.” Shalof was the one who had been to university. The others accused her of being “sooo sensitive.”They depended upon one another. Working in the ICU was both emotionally grueling and physically exhausting. Many patients, quite simply, were dying, and the staff strove mightily to prolong their lives. With their skill, dedication, and the resources of modern science, they sometimes were almost too successful. Doctors and nurses alike wondered if what they did for terminally-ill patients was not, in some cases, too extreme. A number of patients were admitted when it was too late even for heroic measures. A boy struck down by a cerebral aneurysm in the middle of a little-league hockey game. A woman rescued – too late – from a burning house. It all took its toll on the staff.And yet, on good days, they thrived on what they did. Shalof describes a colleague who is managing a “crashing” patient: “I looked at her. Nicky was flushed with excitement. She was doing five different things at the same time, planning ahead for another five. She was totally focused, in her element, in control, completely at home with the chaos. There was a huge smile on her face. Nurses like to fix things. If they can.”Shalof, a veteran ICU nurse, reveals what it is really like to work behind the closed hospital curtains. The drama, the sardonic humour, the grinding workload, the cheerful camaraderie, the big issues and the small, all are brought vividly to life in this remarkable book.

Carol’s Movies 10/30/13

Carol Says:
My friend just loves, loves, loves this movie.  I just didn’t feel the same.  While it had some nice messages, it just seemed too long and syrupy for me.  But I can see where others would love it.
This is about 4 policemen and a construction worker that becomes their friend.  One of the policemen decides to make a resolution to make God their number one priority, plus their family and to be better fathers.  One of the wives suggest framing the resolution and hanging it on the wall, but first to have a ceremony presenting the resolution.
After the ceremony, two of the people have major decisions to make, and make their decision based on their resolution.
Netflix Says:
Courageous 2011PG-13  Despite showing bravery on the job, a group of law enforcement officers find themselves undone when tragedy strikes at home in this social drama. With the aid of their beliefs, however, the men find a deeper well of courage in their hearts.

Mountain Messenger 10/30/13


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.

Editor Don Russell thinks he hears something in Milly's office or he is wondering why the light on the Printer is blinking. It is never quite clear what Don is thinking or why he stares off into space. He rarely has anything on his mind other than thinking about buying flowers for Irene or maybe what kind of candy to give to Trick or Treaters anyhow it is an interesting pose, a little different.

10/30/13 Editor Don Russell thinks he hears something in Milly’s office or he is wondering why the light on the Printer is blinking. It is never quite clear what Don is thinking or why he stares off into space. He rarely has anything on his mind other than thinking about buying flowers for Irene or maybe what kind of candy to give to Trick or Treaters, anyhow it is an interesting pose, a little different.

Send anything you need published to Milly at  Of course you may call directly to 530 289-3262 and talk to Don, (and suggest he give a raise to Minion Milly) or the machine. Keep jobs in Sierra County read the Mess. For a subscription: send in as below or call 530 289-3262 with credit card in hand.. Tell Don, you subscribed because you read about it on Sierra County Prospect…..

Be Safe on Early Snow 10/30/13

New post on

Alpine Meadows Starts Pre-Season Slope Closures

by Mark

image003Alpine Meadows posted signs today closing the slopes to hiking skiing and riding. It’s always a contentious point, with some people insisting that Alpine Meadows cannot control access to public lands. While it is true that much of Alpine’s property is Forest Service land, there are portions of it that are private. Although I could publish a map that might fuel that argument, it’s more important to educate the public on the reason for the closure.

• Skiing and riding in the early season is inherently hazardous. There are numerous obstacles under the fresh snow that may cause great injury or death. Normally these obstacles get covered by a solid firm snowpack or ice before a resort opens for the season. Last year, an Alpine Meadows employee lost her life in an early November skiing accident. There were many people that thought 3 feet of new snow was adequate coverage that day. Unfortunately it was not. There can be issues even after the resort opens. I broke my shoulder by hitting a submerged log near the top of Summit a few years ago. Missing the first months of the season was painful, but i was certainly lucky. It could have been so much worse.


• Alpine Meadows has started snowmaking operations for the season, and yes, we want them to have full access to the mountain. During this time, hoses may be placed quite haphazardly across slopes to infill slopes as quickly as possible. These hoses may get buried by the newly made snow or natural snowfall. It would take a bit of force, but it’s not impossible to think that a ski or board edge could cut a hose, which is under very high pressure. It could be disastrous for you or anyone nearby. There is also a lot of snowmobile and snowcat traffic on the hill, who is not wanting to fight uphill or downhill traffic on skis and snowboards. Remember, we want the snowmaking crew to be able to do their job! There are no patrollers available to manage the safety issues. At this time of year, patrollers are normally training, or this year, working as trail crew members.

For those that just want to get out and ride, their is plenty of backcountry terrain outside of resorts, and those areas also received snow. As my post early in the week indicated, finding areas that have softer base materials is a wise idea. The area around Alpine Meadows is largely metamorphic rock with sharp edges and unpredictable shapes. Conversely, the summit area near Mount Rose is mostly rounded aged granite and decomposed granite (i.e. sand). It is much more forgiving on skis and bodies! There are similar areas around Donner Summit that are more forgiving.

Be safe out there!

Plumas-Sierra Food System 10/30/13

Hello Everyone,

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 . if you want to review it.

Meeting Agenda 

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

(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. 

Veterans Day in Downieville Monday November 11, 2013

Veterans at the Downieville  Bell Tower 2012

Veterans at the Downieville Bell Tower 2012                                         photo by Darcy White

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.

Fringe DeVita Prays 10/30/13

If you love Sierra County

Head’s up and a prayer from DeVitafringe logo

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.


Good Luck!

Treats at The Gallery in Sierra City 10/31/13

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.

Gabby Fringette 10/30/13

Blocked passage

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) 

PNF Christmas Tree Permits 10/30/13

Christmas tree permits on sale

Quincy, CA – Plumas National Forest (PNF) Christmas tree cutting permits (personal use) will be available at PNF offices and at participating local businesses starting November 1. The $10 permit allows you to cut a tree through December 24th , weather permitting.  Permits may also be purchased through the mail.

To receive a permit by mail, please send your name, mailing address and telephone number plus a check or money order (payable to USDA Forest Service) to:  Plumas National Forest, Christmas Tree Permit, P.O. Box 11500, Quincy, CA 95971.  Neither cash nor credit cards may be used and a self addressed stamped envelope is no longer needed. You must be 18 years or older to purchase the non-refundable permit and no more than two permits will be mailed to one address or household. Mail requests received after December 1 will be returnedas the Forest Service will not guarantee permits will reach their destination prior to December 24.

Because of the unpredictable weather conditions in the mountains, plan to cut a tree as soon as possible, dress appropriately in warm clothing, and be prepared for possible ice and snow on the roads (carry tire chains).  Make it a fun weekend – call local chambers and/or visiter information centers for information about lodging, dining and holiday events in areas near the forest.

Check the Plumas National Forest website for other information including participating local businesses (available November 1) and local Forest Service offices at:

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