Mountain Messenger (Brain Food) 2/14/18

The Mountain Messenger is now a fountain of information, apparently Don has secret sources in all facets of government and has taken to meeting in the small town of Sierra City where only a few unfortunate individuals admit to knowing him although none of them are allowed to address him directly or look into his eyes during a conversation. Billy Epps was recently on a fire in Sierra City and was seen looking directly at Don, a day later Billy was taken to the hospital with a mystery illness, we’re not saying there’s a connection, we’re just saying…. Anyhow the best way to access the information available from Don’s brain is to subscribe to the Mountain Messenger, he tends not to filter what comes out of his fingers as he taps the computer keys…

Don Russell practices his stink eye in case someone looks at him…

Send anything you need published to Milly, the CEO and most important person in the office, at or you may call directly to 530 289-3262 and talk to Don, (and suggest he give a raise to Jill, Milly’s secretary). For a subscription: send money to Mountain Messenger at P.O. Drawer A, Downieville 95936 or call 530 289-3262 with credit card in hand.. Write to Don Russell at and tell him you subscribed because you read about it on Sierra County Prospect….. Subscriptions cost –In Sierra County $30 1yr- $50 2yrs / Out of county $35 1 yr -$60 2yrs

Wednesday February 14, 2018


Cabin Fever Spaghetti Feed is this Saturday February 17th  5 – 7 pm offered by the DVFD Association at the Downieville Community Hall –  ENJOY AN ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT SPAGHETTI DINNER & DESSERT!  Dinner tickets on sale at the door  (No charge for delivery. Call 289-3333 for delivery)            Adults – $10.00 Seniors – $8.00 Children under 12 – $5.00

And don’t forget Home Grown Talent at the Yuba Theatre after the Cabin Fever Spaghetti Feed. It starts at 7:30pm. $5 admission and performers are free! We are expecting quite a turn out with the String Alongs, The Martinelli Trio, and Oso Blue and more. Hope to see you for a fun night featuring local talent.

The 10th Annual Snowball! This year’s ball will be held Saturday, February 24th from 7 p.m. to midnight, at the Community Hall in Downieville.  10th year we’re going big with a Hollywood theme! Come join us as your favorite Hollywood celebrity or glam up anyway you want to. Be sure to invite all of your friends, we’d love to see a huge turnout for our 10th year! This is a fundraiser for the Downieville School Sports program and there are great raffle prizes ranging from overnight stays at popular casinos in Reno, with dinner and show tickets, to numerous gift certificates from local vendors and artists, and to entice those of you who are unsure of going hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine will be available. Tickets are $15.00 each or 2 for $25.00. For additional information, please contact Heather Foster at 530-913-4418 or Jenny Varn at 530-913-7902

Mark your calendar for April 6,7,8 for Banff Festival at the Yuba Theatre and order your tickets from Kathy at the Downieville Day Spa on sale beginning this Friday see poster this issue.

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone except it isn’t that happy- Listening to the news in Broward County, Florida about another school shooting. “Another” and yet NRA continues to profess more guns are the answer and tRump has his meaningless “thoughts and prayers” statement. I remember when President Gerald Ford said, “our long national nightmare is over”, and I just wonder when our nightmare will be over.

Meanwhile this week we have Carrie’s Corner, Carol’s Movies are on sabbatical, lots of local news and things to do this weekend. Melissa Work columns was written in 2017 but rings today, and Winslow Myers reminds us of what happens when we stay silent.

The photo this week is by David Marshall remembering when it was winter one month ago up in Lakes Basin.

Valley VFD News 2/14/18


Calpine Volunteer Fire Department volunteers and Sierraville and Sattley volunteers have been busy with medical training this week. EMR’s and EMT’s have been taking classes two to three times a week and will continue for another couple of months.

Today, the volunteers rounded out their week with an intensive training on two car extrications. Training focused in on safety and proper utilization of the hurst, jaws of life equipment, spreaders, car stabilization, and airbag deployment. See pictures by Angela Haick below.

Diversity Strength 2/14/18

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) announced that applications for the California Dream Act are down and urged all eligible students to apply for the program, which allows undocumented students to receive state financial aid for college. The application deadline is March 2, 2018.
“Eligible students should not hesitate to apply. Time is critical and their dreams of college and 21st century careers await,” Torlakson said. “Fear or confusion should not keep students from applying for the financial aid they earned and deserve.”
Applying for financial aid is often the first step toward attending college. As of February 13, CSAC has received about half of the applications received last year by March 2. The California Dream Act is unrelated to the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“We are strongly urging Dreamers to complete the California Dream Act Application,” said Lupita Cortez Alcalá, Executive Director for the CSAC, which administers the California Dream Act. “California’s strength lies in its diversity and we will continue to support and advance our efforts to prepare all California students for academic and economic prosperity.”
CSAC will take all available legal precautions to protect California Dream Act information, which is used solely to determine eligibility for state financial aid and is not shared with any other government agency.
Regardless of what happens at the federal level, state financial aid for Dreamers remains legal in California. A Dreamer student does not need to be DACA-certified to be eligible for a public education or state financial aid. Losing DACA status will not affect state financial aid eligibility.
For questions, contact CSAC at 916-464-8271 or the California Department of Education, College Preparation and Postsecondary Programs Office, Career and College Transition Division at 916-323-6398.
More information, including Frequently Asked Questions for High School Counselors, please see the California Dream Act Web page.

Essential Services 2/14/18

Dear Members,

I am delighted to announce that our U.S. Congress has passed legislation that includes most of the provisions of H.R. 3729 — the Comprehensive Operations, Sustainability, and Transport Act of 2017 to extend the Medicare add-ons of 2% urban, 3% rural, and the 22.6% super rural bonus payments for five additional years, retroactive to January 1, 2018.

This legislation will enable our industry to continue to deliver the essential, life-saving services that we provide 24/7 to our patients and communities. It also requires our industry to begin the process of cost reporting in 2019. Reporting the actual costs that we incur in serving our patients and communities, including day-to-day patient care, as well as the cost of preparedness in the event of a disaster, will provide the data that is needed for future modifications to the ambulance fee schedule. NAEMT will partner with other stakeholders to work with HHS to help create an appropriate methodology and system for collecting this cost data.

We deeply appreciate the commitment, leadership, and perseverance of the House Ways and Means Committee and House sponsors, Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL), for shepherding this bill through the legislative process, and to the Senate leadership for working out a compromise to get this legislation passed.

The success of our efforts was highly dependent on the tremendous collaboration we received from the International Association of Fire Chiefs, The International Association of Firefighters, and the National Volunteer Fire Council. Together, with one voice, we advocated for this bill for many months. We are very grateful to these partners for their tireless efforts to get this legislation passed. We also thank the American Ambulance Association for their work over many years to ensure that the Medicare add-on payments continued.

We are all grateful for the outstanding efforts of those members who provided the grassroots voice for our cause. Each of you contributed to this success. Please join me in expressing a big THANK YOU to our NAEMT Advocacy Committee, NAEMT Advocacy Coordinators and all members who actively supported passage of this bill through emails, letters, phone calls and personal meetings with their congressional leaders and staff. All of us working together was truly the key to this victory.

Sincerely, Dennis Rowe, EMT-P, President, NAEMT

County Appreciates EMTs


MICN Frank Lang presents a Dave Keyes photo of Sardine Lake to Paramedic Rachel Defigbaugh at her Farewell party given by DFPD & SFMR, Inc

Advanced EMTs receive County Resolutions of Appreciation from the Board of Supervisors at the February 6.2018 meeting.L-R Mike Galan, David Keyes, Leslie Baker, Shaun Felton, Brandi Dudek, Patrick Shannon, Bette Jo Lang, Steve Folsom and Frank Lang.

More Resolutions will be presented by the Board in Loyalton on 2/20/18.

Below- More photos from Sierra City 2/8/18 fire by Mike Galan



Burglary Info 2/14/18

Lassen National Forest offers reward for burglary information

SUSANVILLE, Calif. — The Lassen National Forest is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for a burglary that occurred in the early morning hours of Feb. 7. The USFS Radio Shop, located off of Fifth Street in Susanville, was burglarized for over $60,000 worth of radios, computers and other equipment used by firefighters for fire suppression and public safety on the Lassen National Forest. Anybody with information about this incident is asked to call Patrol Captain Adam Hill or Special Agent Tony Magarrell at 530-252-6400. All information will be held confidential.

Citing the high dollar value of the lost equipment and slow replacement process, Acting Lassen National Forest Supervisor, Ted McArthur weighed in. “This unfortunate incident has the potential to compromise the safety of fire crews this year,” said McArthur. “Some firefighters may not be issued radios, which significantly increases their risk of not getting immediate and critical information while on the fire lines. We’re asking our community to help us find the party or parties responsible for this crime so that our equipment will be returned and ready for use when fire season arrives.”

Question for Jerusha 2/14/18

Dear SCP:

I remember a few years ago there was a lady, Jerusha I think, who wrote a column answering questions that people wrote in and asked.  I enjoyed her column and wish she was still writing for the Prospect. Do you know if she is writing for another publication and if so, can you let me know where so I can write to her? I have a question that’s important to me and really want her advice.

Sincerely, Irma Limbeck, Redding, CA

Hi Irma, I don’t know what Jerusha is doing right now, she’s kind of been out of touch, but I will try to find her. Meanwhile what don’t you just ask the Prospect your question and we will try to help you or at least give an answer.

The Editor .

Calpine Community Info 2/14/18


Dear Calpine Community,
Calpine Volunteer Fire Department volunteers and Sierraville and Satley volunteers have been busy with medical training last week. EMR’s and EMT’s have been taking classes two to three times a week and will continue for another couple of months.
Last week’s emergency calls have kept the volunteers busy. There were two car accidents. One on the Little Truckee Summit and one on the Yuba Pass with a low angles over the cliff rescue. Please slow down, be mindful and remember both sand and black ice make slippery surfaces. Volunteers also responded to a mutual aide call from Sierra City for a house fire.
Last Thursday, the volunteers rounded out their week with an intensive training on two car extrications. Training focused in on safety and proper utilization of the hurst, jaws of life equipment, spreaders, car stabilization, and airbag deployment. See pictures below.
Save the date April 7th for our next Calpine Bingo date. These events are becoming quite popular. Thank you. We are in need of more volunteers to help the day of the event and the day before. We could use a hand moving items to and from the firehouse, recycling or doing a dump run, last minute shopping in Reno, serving food, etc. Please let me know if you can help.
We are actively recruiting first responders with the fire department as well. On medical calls we could use people to direct traffic or be medical scribes. These are very important jobs and provide you an opportunity to try something out to see if it is a fit for you.
Please let me know how you would like to help.
Our Calpine Volunteer Fire Department consists of:
Angela Haick- Chief, Fire and Medical
Mich Connolly – Assistant Chief, Fire and Medical
Keiren Connolly-Fire/Medical
Denise Connolly-Fire/Medical
Chris Lindberg-Fire/Medical
Karen Mahr- Frie Fighter/Medical
Adriana Petro-Fire/Medical
David Petro-Fire/Medical
Stacy Estrada-Publicity
Cheri Asher- Radio Communication

Don Russell Salt 2/14/18

A mountain of salt with their weekly newspaper – The Sacramento Bee by Blair Anthony Robertson — Bee Staff Writer 

DOWNIEVILLE — There are a number of reasons why you probably haven’t heard of Don Russell, who may well be the greatest, grumpiest, funniest, most provocative and profane small-town editor in the English-speaking world.

For one, he lives and works in this mountain town of 300 people two hours or more from Sacramento, depending on when and where you get stuck behind a logging truck trudging along the twists and turns and rolling hills of Highway 49.

He runs the Mountain Messenger, the state’s oldest weekly newspaper with a circulation of about 2,400. On occasions like April Fool’s Day, he will rename it the Mountain Massacre or the Weekly Mountain Mess and run things like a nude photo of Marilyn Monroe on the front page.

He once used the B-word in an obituary about a female friend who died of cancer, the F-word when he told a local minister to his face why the paper wasn’t going to print his sermon, and SOB seems to apply to almost everyone, sooner or later.

Nine years ago, when the Sheriff’s Department arrested the town drunk, Russell fashioned a one-word headline, “Chickensh-t,” then set off on an overnight motorcycle trip with his good pal — the sheriff.

A registered Republican, he refers to President Bush as a fascist and recently wrote that the Pledge of Allegiance is “peculiar, offensive and un-American.”

He doesn’t like being told what to do, how to think or what should or shouldn’t be in his blankety-blank newspaper. That outlook seems to play well in Sierra County, where folks embrace Russell’s independent spirit.

“Gold Country has always been full of wonderful eccentrics,” Russell said. “Everybody who came here either got rich or lost everything and left, leaving only the nut jobs.”

If more than a handful of people outside this wooded and rugged and largely forgotten former gold-mining town had ever heard of the 57-year-old, shaggy-haired Russell, his antics and exploits would be legendary by now. There would be books about him. Visitors would come to town simply to pay homage.

Instead, he continues to work largely in obscurity, admired and/or detested by the same hundred or so people he sees practically every day. Since taking control of the newspaper in 1991, this former commercial fisherman has written and edited articles, sold ads and delivered the newspaper with a staff of one or two helpers, and has never made more than $18,000 a year.

It’s a predicament that frustrates his friends and fans.

“I would like him to be more successful financially,” said Michael Miller, president of the nearby Sixteen to One gold mine. “His talents far exceed where he is, but I believe with a little bit of nudging, we can get him into a broader readership.”

Russell doesn’t make a particularly good first impression. During a recent visit, he was spotted at a meeting of the Sierra County Board of Supervisors, hunched over the tiny media table. He occasionally hammered out notes on a 20-year-old word processor.

He was dressed in khakis and a plaid short-sleeve shirt, the breast pocket of which was stuffed with a pack of cigarettes, his checkbook, eyeglasses and at least two pens. He has a goatee that is mostly gray and in need of a trim, and his shaggy, dark head of hair suggests he is unconcerned about style.

Appearances aside, Russell has carved out a reputation by raising hell and telling the truth and having a blast. His cult following is growing at a trickle. There are 1,100 subscribers, including readers in 35 states, all eager to see what this poet and provocateur will write next.

“The guy is just honest beyond belief. I would trust him in any context,” said Sheriff Lee Adams III, who will soon retire. “He really does care about the human condition. … He’s sort of today’s version of a Mark Twain.”

When the meeting adjourned, Russell stepped outside the county building and lit an unfiltered cigarette 10 feet from a sign that forbids smoking within 20 feet of the building. Then he drove a block by motorcycle to his office, the cigarette hanging from his mouth.

Friends say he has a fatalist’s attitude about his health, stemming from the death of his father from Lou Gehrig’s disease when Russell was a child.

He has a large belly and says it’s gotten to the point where even he is appalled. Still, he ordered sloppy Joes and french fries for lunch and washed it down with two cups of coffee. By midafternoon, back at his house — about 500 yards from his office — he had downed a couple of glasses of Bass Ale out of a keg.

Asked about his health, he shrugged and said, “I’m going to get sick and die.”

Russell wound up running a tiny newspaper for the same reason a lot of small-town editors do — he couldn’t or wouldn’t fit in anywhere else. Downieville is where he found his calling and where his prose grew wings.

Born and raised in Detroit, Russell graduated from high school in the late 1960s just as Detroit was embroiled in a race war that would send middle-class whites fleeing to the suburbs. One of his first political acts was to refuse to be inducted into the military. Prepared to go to prison, he instead agreed to take the physical and flunked. “There was always blood and sugar in my urine,” he said. “It was abnormal.”

He did a stint in the Volunteers In Service to America (VISTA), then set off with friends for Alaska in 1970. He made it as far as Puget Sound, where he landed a job on a fishing boat. He eventually got his own commercial fishing boat and “realized I was a lousy fisherman.”

Life as a fisherman lasted 17 years. In that time, he continued writing, publishing freelance articles in the Detroit News and various magazines. With $15,000 in the bank, he got out of the fishing business and moved to Nevada County in 1986 and took up with Irene Frazier, an English teacher at Nevada Union High School. His efforts to sell TV scripts were “spectacularly unsuccessful.”

“There was lots of work around. I would pound nails and twist branches and I worked on cars,” he said.

In 1990, he moved to Downieville and the following year became co-owner of the unheralded Mountain Messenger.

“I never dreamed of being a great writer. I just figure that making a living at a typewriter is better than working,” he said.

Some of his readers believe he approaches greatness in his writing. His voice is his own and he is consistent in his dislikes — overarching government, bullying, bad manners, stupidity, laziness, waste. It’s the same kind of thing he would say to your face over a beer in his backyard.

His coverage of the 2002 elections, for instance, was like no other newspaper’s: “The really boring thief with no platform beyond swapping the state’s largess for his own fattened wallet was elected governor. … Close on his heels was another really boring guy with no aptitude for leadership.”

Both of those men are now out of politics.

Russell suggested this subtitle for the 2006 grand jury report: “How we’d run the county government if it was us instead of the idiots actually elected to do it.”

Though Sheriff Adams admires Russell and usually agrees with him, he says the editor can be consistent to a fault. “His weakness to me — and he drives me crazy — government is always wrong and the individual always gets the break,” Adams said.

Frazier, his longtime girlfriend, said: “When he slams you in the paper, it’s a nudge that maybe you ought to think about something. He won’t put anything in the paper that he won’t say to your face.”

Over the years, Frazier has tried to nudge Russell about his health (dragging him out for walks) and the clunkers he works on in the driveway (“he’s just not very neat”), and they’ve squared off a time or two about whether the place in which Russell stores his keg is his beer room or her garden room. The relationship, they agree, benefits by living apart during the week and seeing each other mostly on weekends.

“After 20 years, I’ve come to terms with it,” Frazier said. Russell has been practicing his journalism that way since he came to town, spouting off and engaging his readers with each weekly edition. He doesn’t plan on stopping, going anywhere, altering his diet or toning down the language, in print or face to face.

After all these years he still reacts the same way when he publishes a particularly fine example of weekly journalism.

“I’ll go get drunk,” he said, reaching into his shirt pocket for a cigarette.

FireFighters Train 2/14/18


Saturday, February 10, 2018 the Downieville Fire Department conducted a training class for new members of the department as well as a refresher for regulars. Chief Mike Lozano selected the rescue scenario and served as the Safety Officer. All members received training on the operation of the Jaws of Life and all related equipment. More training will be scheduled to continue the ongoing education program for the Firefighters.

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