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April 25, 2012     Feather River Bulletin
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April 25, 2012
 

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6B Wednesday, April 25, 2012 EDITORIAL A.NI) OPINION Bulletin, Progressive, Record, Reporter EDITORIAL School board must rebuild public trust It's topsy-turvy time in Plumas County. In the last couple of weeks, we have fired the county administrative officer, recalled a city councilman and pressured the school superin- tendent to resign. Our public health director resigned -- and then rescinded her resigna- tion. The news that Mimi Hall, director of the Plumas County Public Health Agency, would be staying at her post ls unequivocally good news. She is universally highly regarded by her peers, and is a key player in re-establish- ing alcohol and drug programs in Plumas County. The departures of CAO Jack Ingstad and Su- perintendent Glenn Harris, although neces- sary, leave a lot of uncertainty behind them. Supervisors began last week to divvy up In- gstad's duties. The timing of Ingstad's exit is significant as the county heads into what will, once again, be a bruising budget season. Be: fore leaving, Ingstad estimated the county would have another million-dollar deficit for the 2012-13 fiscal year. Although the supervisors face a daunting task, it pales in comparison to what the school board must contend with. Plumas Unified School District has an even larger deficit prob- lem than the county and it is in the midst of a thoroughly buggered school closure process. Perhaps most difficult of all, it must contend with a demoralized workforce and a wary citi- zenry. As soon as it finishes negotiating its termi- nation agreement with Harris, it needs to im- mediately begin working to regain the trust of teachers, staff, students and the general public. It needs to clearly articulate a vision for the school district and chart a roadmap for navi- gating its financial straits. Next week, it will hear reports from the four school closure, or 7-11, committees. We think the board members will honor the hard work of these volunteers. Indeed, they must, if they are to regain public trust. They will soon ap- point someone to replace former trustee Brad Baker, who quit the board in the middle of a meeting in March. Who they select is crucial as they head into making a decision about school closures, currently scheduled for their May 9 board meeting. Many have criticized the board for not acting sooner to remove Harris. Now that they have made the unanimous decision to accept his res- ignation, they need to move swiftly to conclude negotiations and begin crafting a post-Harris vision. Their legitimacy depends on it. Editorials are written by members of the editorial board, which consists of the publisher, the managing editor and the appropriate staff writer or writers, and should be considered the opinion of the newspaper. Fea00ing /00ewspaper Breaking News .... go to plumasnews.com Michael C. Taborski ............. Publisher Keri B. Taborski ...Legal Advertising Dept. Delaine Fragnoli ........ Managing Editor Alicia Knadler ........ Indian Valley Editor Shannon Morrow .......... Sports Editor Ingrid Burke ................ Copy Editor Staff writers: Jordan Clary Michael Condon Ruth Ellis Will Farris Mona Hill Susan Cort Johnson Dan McDonald Debra Moore Brian Taylor Kayleen Taylor M. Kate West Sam Williams . Feather River Bulletin (530) 283-0800 Lassen County Times (530) 257-53211 Portola Reporter (530) 832-4646 Westwood PinePress (530) 256-2277 Chester Progressive (530) 258-3115 Indian Valley Record (530) 284-7800 ,!;chool upheaval creates unity MY TURN DEBRA MOORE Staff Writer dmoore@plumasnews.com At 10:26 p.m. I breathed a sigh of relief. The school board members, who had been in closed session for more than two hours, were filing into the room. Finally, they would make an announcement, probably that "no action was taken," and we would move on to the second meeting planned for the night. But I was wrong. Instead, the board ap- proved a motion to extend the meeting past its mandated 10:30 end time, and exited the room to return to closed session. I looked around the Portola High School library, where only a few people remained last Tuesday night -- former school board member Jonathan Kusel, a couple from In- dian Valley, Portola High School principal Kristy Warren and a handful of school dis- trict employees. Five hours prior the library had been packed, but as the hours wore on, the num- bers dwindled. Nothing clears a room like a closed session. I don't always wait around myself, preferring to call the next day to determine if any action was taken, but this night was different. There was a different flow of personnel in and out of closed session. Even the district employees seemed a little confused by it. People who typically went in right away were told to wait. The closed session agenda items includ- ed the topics: expulsion case; negotiations; public employment; and employee perfor- mance evaluation: superintendent. Fairly standard stuff typically, but these weren't typical times. Sometime during the closed session Glenn Harris wandered out and we visited -- nothing school related -- second mar- riages, children, houses, life philosophies -- then it was time for him to return to closed session and I returned to reviewing my notes and deciding what stories to write. Nothing in his demeanor suggested the inner turmoil he must have been expe- riencing, knowing that soon it would be announced that his resignation would be negotiated. I covered the school board for more than a dozen years during my last stint at Feather Publishing and worked with many superintendents including Paul Hewitt, Frank Brunetti, Mike Chelotti and Joe Hagwood. In every tenure there was some sort of crisis -- there was even a period when the state stepped in; a time when Greenville High School was slated for clo- sure; and a time when everybody was so unhappy they wanted to go their separate ways and form four independent school districts. Those issues were eventually re- solved. But this time seems different perhaps, because it's not happening in isolation. Most government institutions and municipalities are struggling, as well as individuals, families and private busi- ness. There is a sense that this might not be as cyclical as past crises, that this time we won't overcome it. I don't know Glenn Harris. I returned to Plumas County just two months ago after a five-year hiatus, and last Tuesday was on- ly the second time I met the man. The first being the night he received his recan no- tice. But I had certainly heard about him. Very few people had nice things to say. While I always prefer to make up my own mind, it was hard to ignore the almost uni- versal criticism. Two brief exchanges are not enough to form an opinion, but I have to admire his grace under pressure. By all accounts -- from the superintendent himself to the school board members I interviewed the next day -- what happened behind closed doors may not have been pleasant, but it was cordial. School board member Bob Tuerck said he was "thoroughly impressed by how he (Harris) has handled himself." As board member Sonja Anderson noted, the superintendent may be going away, but the district's problems are not. Lean times and tough decisions remain. Despite the upheaval, some good has emerged. The 7-11 committees have brought individuals together in each community, and, in turn, the communities have begun working together, realizing that they all want what's best for the children of this county, their schools and their towns. Even people who aren't on a committee are show- ing up and sharing their opinions, Gone are the days of empty boardrooms-- well, at least before 10:30 p.m. Where in the World? Tom and Maggie Rahn, of Indian Valley, visit Halong Bay, Vietnam, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of limestone karsts and isles, floating fishing villages and caves. Next time you travel, share where you went by taking your local newspaper along and including it in a photo. Then email the photo to smorrow@plumasnews.com. Include your name, contact information and brief details about your photo. We may publish it as space permits. R.EMEMBER WHEN KERI TABORSKI Historian 75 YEARS AGO ............ 1937 A photograph of Owen C. Morris, sales manager of the Quincy Lumber Company has been published in several publications throughout the Pacific Coast showing him catching a six and a half pound cutthroat trout at Big Bear Lake in the Lakes Basin Recreation Area of the Plumas National Forest on a one and a half leader. The fish was estimated as being 12 years old. 50 YEARS AGO ......... 1962 Plans for a new housing and commercial development 6n 98.6 acres of land acquired from Meadow Valley Lumber Company and situated on the opposite side of the highway from Quincy High School was an- nounced this week. The project proposes some 10 new houses, a chain food store, a chain drug store and other commercial storefronts in the development known as Claremont Village. The tract for many years was owned by the Quincy Lumber Company where the sawmill and yards op- erated. It has been vacant since the Quincy Lumber Company was merged with Mead- ow Valley Lumber Company. The houses will be offered in the $15,000 to $20,000 price range. 25 YEARS AGO ........ 1987 The high country snow pack is down by 50 per cent this year and it is predicted the fire danger will be very high and the lakes and streams will b e very low. James Robbins was sworn in as Twain (zip code 95984) Postmaster and will be working out of a new post office. 10 YEARS AGO .......... 2002 Following the terrorist attacks last Sep- tember and in an attempt to make the Plumas County courthouse more secure, all Plumas County employees will wear I.D. badges. Mike Clements, former Plumas County Fair manager has been named to head the Nevada State Fair. Note: items included in the weekly Remember When column are taken from our bound newspa- per archives and represent writing styles of that particular period. The spelling and grammar are not edited, so the copy is presented as it actually appeared in the original newspaper. ,gvIemorable election cycle ahead MY TURN SAM WILLIAMS Lassen News Editor swilliams@lassennews.com Back when I was a young and stupid 20- something, I hiked to the top of Mount Whitney with a couple of friends. For this trip to the highest point in the contiguous 48 states I determined in my wisdom I had to bring along two impor- tant items -- a large can of pineapple in sweet syrup to give me a little energy for the hike back down and the biggest, nasti- est, ugliest green cigar I'd ever seen to smoke in celebration of the conquest. Yep, there I was in the early afternoon alpenglow, perched on a sliver of grey, de- composing granite at the very edge of the Western Divide, 14,497 feet above sea lev- el, ravenously munching pineapple from the tip of a double-edged dagger, slurping juice from the can and puffing away on my big cigar like there was no few min- utes from now in my future. Now I've got to tell you that cigar tasted fabulous at first. Why, at that rarified ele- vationwhere you breathe like you're jog- ging when you're standing still, the effect of a single puff on a cigar is better than how I imagine sniffing nitrous at a Grate- ful Dead show in Golden Gate Park might be. My eyes watered. My head spun. But who was that playing drums softly in the distance at the top of the world? That was good. Now take another puff, would you? Suddenly the spinning turned into a bouncy, lopsided throb, and I noticed this bright yellow and dark green upset that turned almost instantly into a full-scale upchuck. I knew there was only one thing to do -- get to a lower elevation. I lurched and barfed my way a couple of miles down to Trail Crest at 13,600 feet where a hiker could easily fall one way toward the Owens Valley or the other way toward Crabtree Meadow. I sat on the edge of the Whitney Pass Trail and its infamous 99 switchbacks, dangling my feet into a steep couloir that dropped some 2,000 feet toward Trail Camp. A friend asked me how I was feeling, and I told him I'd be better as soon as I got lower. Suddenly I felt a foot in the middle of my back and whoosh, I was headed down the couloir at breakneck speed. I pulled up both of my feet at the knees be- cause if my heels dug in I'd be catapulted off into space. The downward pace was so fast I could actuany watch the mountains to my left and my right rising from my perspective. In what seemed like no time I had glissaded to where the mountain flattened out, and I came to a stop. My friend was a few seconds behind me. He said after he kicked me down the pass, it was only fair he should share whatever fate I might enjoy. My second friend was close behind himl He said he jumped off the mountain because we all might as well die together. Obviously his mother never asked him that famous question about jumping off cliffs. So that's how I feel about this election right now-- slightly nauseated and llke somebody just pushed me over the edge without an ice axe. Hang on tight folks, it's about to get pret- ty interesting. / I