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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
January 13, 2010     Feather River Bulletin
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January 13, 2010

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FEATHER R VER d Surrounding Areas Since [866 Vol. 143, No. 23 Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010 ! 50 CENTS Hospital petition has enough signatures PDH says initiative constitules an illegal breach of contract Linda Satchwell Staff Writer Isatchwell@plumasnews.corn Plumas District Hospital's administration came to the Jan. 5 board meeting pre- par.ed to answer Skip Alexander, Robert Zernich and other proponents of a petition to cap the hospital bond at $50 per $100,000 of as- sessed home value. Alexander and company garnered well more than 1,000 signatures for the peti- tion; 870 of which have al- ready been validated. They needed 600 valid signatures to call for a special mail bal- lot election. The next step is for the hospital district to designate its elections official. The election process would cost the district approximately $16,000, based on the cost of its Measure A election. PDH consulted both its own attorney, Steve Gross, and special counsel Michael Colantuono, of Colantuono and Levin, which has offices in Nevada City and Los Angeles. A statement furnished to the board by the hospital ad- ministration for considera- tion and passage said, "The District Board is not pre- pared to appoint an election official and move forward with the proposed tax limit initiative ... the measure is illegal because it violates the District's contradt with the bondholders who lent the District money for the new hospital. Our general coun. sel and our special counsel tell us that neither the Dis- trict nor its voters can im- pair a contract." When one of the 35 com- munity members in atten- dahce asked what was illegal about the initiative , Chief Executive Officer Dick Hath- away deferred to Gross, who was in tale-attendance. Ac- cording to Gross, the United States Constitution and Cali- fornia law both disallow "an initiative that would impair existing contractual obliga- tions." Gross explained the dis- trict couldn't accept an ini- tiative that could impair its ability to pay back the bond- holders of the $3.2 million in bonds that have already been sold. Audience member Dennis Clemens responded that the $50 cap would certainly be enough to cover those bonds. Both Gross and Satterfield said the bonds weren't guar- anteed if the rate were capped at $50. "If assessed valuations changed in the wrong way, it may not be safe," said Satterfield. The statement that $50 per $100,000 might not cover the already sold $3.2 million in bonds supports the petitioners' contention that rates could skyrocket if the second set of bonds are sold. Robert Zernich, attorney for the petitioners, gave PDH representatives a copy of the elections code, saying, "I don't think you have the discretion to deny our right to file this petition, speaking as a taxpayer. So, hopefully, you're not inviting a lawsuit you don't really want to have." Board member John Kim- mel tried to shift the dia- logue to focus on the central intent of the proposed board statement. Rather than pur- sue a costly and divisive election, the hospital board and administration and the public should "step back, take a deep breath, examine our options and decide what this community wants in a community hospital and what it can afford." Further, the document in- structs PDH administration and staff that "until we have that dialogue with the com- munity" they should take the necessary steps to bring the bond tax back down to the "smallest amount consis- tent with the District's oblig- ations to its bondholders" for the 2010-11 fiscal year. Essentially, this would be only enough to cover the al- ready sold $3.2 million. See Petition, page 6A Honor and balance Phil Gallagher's paintings juxtapose elements viewers aren't used to seeing together, al- lowing them to see the elements in ways they wouldn't otherwise. The elements honor and balance each other said Gallagher. In this painting a Hawaiian sea turtle, taken from the petroglyph images that appear in much of Gallagher's work, appears over textured rock-like surfaces. The bright, tropical colors of Hawaii also contrast with the dark petro- glyph image---that is only the beginning. The painting offers surprises over repeated viewings. Gallagher's work will show Jan. 21-31 at Main Street Artists Gallery, 436 Main St. For the full story, see page lB. Photo by Rockel Eriksen Hagwood appointed sheriff Joshua Sebold Staff Writer jsebold@plu masnews.corn The Plumas County Board of Supervisors selected Greg Hagwood to fill the position of sheriff for the remaining year of Terry Bergstrand's term at a Tuesday, Jan. 5, meeting. County Counsel James Re- ichle told the board both Sheriff Bergstrand and Un- dersheriff Michael Beatley had retired. He clarified that the person the supervisors appointed would have the full title of sheriff and Would not be considered to be in an interim position, even though there was only a year left in the term. He added that the person the board appointed would serve until Jan. 7, 2011, when the newly elected sheriff would take over. Hagwood and retired deputy Bob Shipp have announced their candidacies for sheriff in the June 2010 election. After hearing his 'explana- tion, Chairwoman Sherrie Thrall turned to a packed house, with at least haft the seats filled by sheriff's office staff, and announced, "I will oPen this to public com- ment. I see quite a few peo- ple who are here from the sheriff's department. ,'Do we have any people who would like to make comment as to the potential selection for a sheriff to complete the term of Sheriff Bergstrand who retired at the end of the year?" After being greeted with silence, Thrall laughed and exclaimed, "You're just here to watch what we do? Oh, that's even more nerve- wracking." Supervisor Lori Simpson asked if the board had to ap- point somebody. Reichle said the board was required by law to appoint somebody "wfthin a reasonable See Hagwood, page 6A Courthouses get new staffing Delaine Fragnoli Managing Editor County supervisors ap- proved additional staffing for the county courthouse in Quincy and initial staffing for the new hi-county court- house in Portola last month. The agreement adds a deputy and two court securi- ty officers. The county courthouse will now have one sworn sheriff's deputy, one correc- tional officer bailiff and one civilian court security offi- cer; and the Portola court- house will have one civilian court security officer. Bailiff services at the new building will be provided on an as- needed basis, estimated at between four and eight days a month. Funding for the positions comes from the Superior Court. "These agreements represent a significant improvement in the overall staffing and security of the Quincy and Portola courthouses at little or no cost to the county as these positions are funded through the state via the Superior Court," wrote Act- ing Undersheriff Greg Hag- wood in backup material for the supervisors. Hagwood told the board Deputy Shawn Webb, who was returning to work after a bout with brain cancer, would fill the deputy posi- tion in Quincy. He said the higher staffing level would benefit the Quincy courthouse "tremen- dously," noting that "securi- ty was in need of some atten- tion," given the defendant who, while in custody, flung himself over the third-floor railing. Hagwood clarified the deputy would be a sheriff's See Staff, page 6A Road department's fleet needs replacing Delaine Fragnoli decrepit the road depart- and the department has to Managing Editor ment's fleet is--some snow "We should have replaced much shuffle around other vehi- blowers date to 1950. of this equipment years ago, when ales and drivers, labor costs Chairwoman Sherrie Thrall, who represents the we had the monies available to us. " go up with overtime. Lake Almanor area, which In his report, Pettit esti- ! has the oldest fleet, joked the Bob Pettit, Equipment maintenance supervisor, mates the total equipment vehicles were "kinda cute ... Plumas County Road Department replacement cost at $30.96 million and proposes equip- almost antique-y looking." ment replacements from Joe Blackwell, deputy di- rector in charge of mainte, We now have an aging fleet violation, budget year 2009-10 to year nance for the road depart- that we have nursed along On top of that, the depart- 2031-32. ment, replied, "They're not far toolong. Our good main- ment faces revenue losses As an example, the part of the museum yet." tenance policies have truly from the phase-down in Se- youngest vehicle budgeted "I voted for those (vehi- extended the life of our fleet, cure Rural Schools funding for in 2009-10 is a 19-year-old ales) originally," interjected We should have replaced and from state "borrowing" Ford dump truck with A bit:of longtime supervisor Ole much of this equipment of transportation dollars. 423,189 miles on it. The old- yst Olsen. years ago, when we had the The cost of parts and labor est pieces slated for replace- m cry All kidding aside, Lori monies available to use," to keep the old fleet running ment this budget year are 43 Artist blends Simpson said she was wrote Bob Pettit, equipment is quickly becoming,,'ars old. "shocked when I saw the age maintenance supervisor, in tire. Fir4in .... ,'  M,,  more hopeful note, pre-history ....... Dio  48 pt,,, Sprin'-id the replacement and nature. of the vehicles. (Public a report to the board, part6,,,y F.=o ,=, Pet ,, 2 rain SanJose 58 41 rain ship, .^ be substantially works) has. .dne a good,, job In addition to the sheer, "r 3  " 83 44 ,*, 7626, u e,,he _ . . See page 1B of Band-Aldmgthem. age of the vehicle ",'  ....  u  s  39 =, aepartmem ' Red(ling 65 39 pt sunny Sumnvllle 38 22 mixed That is the problem now: partment faces ";in Riverside 67 39 ptsunny Truckee 38  ,.o* c'antage of the 46 cloudy Sacramento 57 39 rain Vlsalla 55 38 rain St. John's . .... 'qmpment cur- Pre-season the department may have air-quality r  0890,1/ Lawn _ . . done too good a job of keep- the Cal; ,aal Cities narKet, barge- ....... "'"" ' ,, ...... High school ing things running. BoarJn 47 26 sunny Houston 58  $,  - 44 p,,y Starlight Misi zed fleets are ] Boston 30 20 ptsunny LosAngeles 67 46 cloudy SanFrlmOs 55 42 rain RedbrY of their ve- "We have followed th( c,,co 30 25 mstsunny Miami 65 ,, S= SO 43 ,.,n 1505, 171 wrestling, basket- ] Dallas 58 44 mstsunny Minneapolis 32 15 mstsunny St.Loui 39 26 s..y ' air quality more with less' Denver 56 31 ptsunny New York 35 27 ptsunny Washington, OC 40 29 sunny hese long that we have p Truth Tabernac larger ball in action. selves in a toue 009ArnericanProfileHornetownContentSewice 8006, 2205 East E See page lC .... leet, page 6A The aged nature of the .county road department's fleet was the subject of dis- cussion when county super- visors approved the pur- chase of several new vehi- cles at their last meeting of 2009. The road department will buy three graders, two plow trucks and one pull broom. The department had budget- ed $1.185 million for the graders, but by using the Na- tional Joint Powers Alliance pricing procedure, the de- partment expects to save $60,000, which it hopes to use toward compliance with diesel rules. The department budgeted $320,000 for the plow trucks and $28,050 for the pull broom. Those purchases went out to public bid. The most interesting part of the board discussion was the revelation of just how