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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
July 1, 2015     Feather River Bulletin
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July 1, 2015

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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, July 1, 2015 51B Health-care professionals, law enforcement, first responders, employees from Alternative Sentencing and interested members of the public met June 15 for a training organized by Plumas County Public Health Agency, with the cooperation of Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs, to tackle a real, yet not often discussed, problem facing Plumas County -- opiate overdoses. The problem has escalated in recent years, and has hit Plumas County especially hard. According to county death certificates, there were 15 accidental deaths in 2014, with prescription opiates appearing to be involved in at least 10 of these. When compared to the national rate, a county the size of Plumas should have only one prescription opiate related death a year. However, Plumas County has 10 times the number of prescription drug overdose deaths it should have for a county its size. Medical providers in Plumas County have already taken significant steps toward stopping Plumas' epidemic of deaths due to prescription opiates. There has been extensive professional education activity, and those who continue to over-prescribe are being reigned in or disciplined. Public Health plans to partner with health care providers, the criminal justice system, and other stakeholders, to assist with educating patients and their families regarding the dangers of opiate medications and how they must not be combined with other drugs or alcohol. Learning to recognize the signs of dangerous overmedication and calling 911 before it is too late can be lifesaving. Plumas County is seeing increasing use of injected heroin. With this trend comes the risk of a new wave of opiate related overdoses and deaths. With the recent passage of AB 635, the Overdose Treatment Act, local communities now have the ability to train first responders and community members on how to utilize this medication to prevent overdose deaths. Naloxone is a medicine that can quickly reverse the effects of an overdose. Making it readily available to those who are likely to witness such an overdose (first responders, family and friends of injection drug users) is one way to prevent some of these deaths. The June 15 training and round-table discussion, attended by 46 county residents, health care providers and employees, provided valuable information on how some of these lives may be saved. Experts from Harm Reduction Services of Sacramento led the training and recommended realistic strategies to reduce the risk of overdose and death for heroin users. "It's about creating a greater variety of options," said Raven Hoopes, Harm Reduction Services' executive director. "It's hope without limits." Hoopes explained that heavy users might not be willing to stop using altogether. While they continue to use, she said, there are ways to make their drug use less risky, at least. In addition to naloxone availability, another preventative strategy is making available sterile hypodermic needles as a means of reducing the risk of HIV and hepatitis. The spread of those diseases represents a huge burden to the infected individuals, the public health and health care system, and to society as a whole. "One more life saved is one life less lost," said Hoopes. Harm Reduction Services said it has saved 66 Sacramento County lives in the past year alone. Plumas County has an opportunity to interrupt the level of disease burden and loss of life it is experiencing by instituting proven public health practices such as syringe exchange and Naloxone distribution. CEMETERY, from page 4B Plumas County website, with a link to the LAFCo website for more specific information. The County Auditor's office supplied us with financial data for eight of the nine districts. Cemetery districts provide their budgets to the Plumas County Auditor/Controller annually. They also provide a form stating whether or not they have any funds belonging in any account outside the County Treasury. The Districts' finances, including the endowment care funds, are managed and tracked through the County. SERVICES OFFERED All Plumas County cemeteries offer the same basic services, full body and cremains burials. Some have formally dedicated areas for cremains, ashes spreading, and above-ground vaults. Vaults are standard in all but the Taylorsville and Portola cemeteries. We found the grounds of the facilities we visited to be well maintained and the roadways fully .... accessible. Some cemeteries limit burials in the winter months due to weather, snow, and ground conditions (frozen ground or excessive ground water.) Such delays, which result in refrigerated storage of the remains, add another financial cost to funeral expenses, and the added emotional cost to loved ones. These delays are determined on an individual basis, but districts should be more informative for the reasons for restrictions. Families during time of bereavement need extra consideration from everyone involved in the decisions. The requirements for burials for non-residents are described in the California Health and Safety Code Section 9061, and "include former residents, current and former taxpayers, family members of residents and former residents, family members of those already buried in the cemeterY, those without other cemetery alternatives within 15 miles of the residence, and those who died while serving in the military." RECORDS RETENTION With the exception of the Chester Cemetery's website, we were unable to access records of maps to indicate the locations of individual burial sites. This lack can cause distress and difficulty for friends and family members of the deceased seeking to locate the grave site of a loved one. Such mapping could be expensive and time-consuming; it would be worthwhile to investigate possible assistance sources. (Perhaps Feather River College or the University of California would have resources that could be accessed.) Board minutes were taken at each board meeting attended by members of the Grand Jury, and minutes of the previous meeting were approved, but those minutes are not published in a manner that would be easily accessed by the public. POLICY, PROCEDURE, AND OPERATIONS MANUALS We were able to obtain and review the policy, procedures and operations manuals for some of the districts, and found them to be satisfactory. Other districts are updating or creating proper manuals. On our site visits, we found that the cemetery workers and volunteers know and understand their responsibilities. However, it would be appropriate for each district to create and maintain written guidelines accessible to new personnel and to prove an accurate reference for current employees. DISTRICT BOARD COMPLIANCE The Board meetings attended by jurors were conducted in accordance with the Brown Act. Community attendance at these meetings was non-existent with the exception of the Grand Jury members in attendance and, of course, the board members themselves. Members of the boards take their roles seriously, and seem truly concerned about their cemeteries, finances, and futures. Notices of the board meetings were posted appropriately in accordance with the Brown Act. OTHER CONCERNS As previously mentioned, there are concerns about the financial future of the various districts. Fluctuations in population, changing trends favoring cremations, and the cyclic ups and downs of the economy in general, make it hard to insure long-term solvency of the various districts. Addressing these issues will require long range planning and possible realignments of some districts. It has become increasingly difficult to find qualified citizens willing to serve on the required boards. Many of the districts now have only three members on each board where previously there were five. This can sometimes result in a lack of the necessary quorum for voting on agenda items. In addition, having more members result in a wider point of view for examination of important issues. Several years ago, the Prattville and Chester districts combined, to the benefit of each. The two cemeteries share equipment and some employees, and the combined revenues should suffice to cover both facilities, alleviating financial difficulties and insuring a more stable future. Prattville has the benefit of a very active volunteer group to help with maintenance, which has not been affected by the consolidation. There are other is a 9-year old domestic Siamese cross. She is a carmel tortie. Puppy Love is the sweetest little 3-month old girl. We think she is a border collie and small terrier cross. She is SO VERY SWEET and READY TO GO! This young male is about 1.5 years old. He is unaltered with high energy. We guessed that he is a shepherd cross. Our off.lee hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 8am-5pm. Saturday viewing is by appointment only. hours are subject to change due to staffing; calling prior to visiting shelter is recommended. All potential adopters must complete an adoption consultation form and be approved prior to adoption. Adoption fees are $10.00 for dogs and cats, license fee for dogs is $15.00 per year. 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The Grand Jury found that the fin-st step could be a Joint Powers Agreement, which would give all the affected districts time to test the viability of such a venture and work out any problems before a permanent consolidated status is reached. The property for the Greenville Cemetery District includes some forest land. The Board has made an agreement to sell timber from this property, which will create income for the preservation of the cemetery while providing more land for expansion as needed. However, this is not a sustainable source of funding. VOLUNTEERS In addition to the members of the various boards, there are other volunteers in the communities served by the cemetery districts that help with maintenance and clean up activities. Considering the diffmult financial situations faced by many districts, these volunteers provide an invaluable service to their local facilities. FINDINGS F1) The 2014-15 Plumas County Grand Jury fmds a serious lack of user-friendly access to cemetery information for fees, contact numbers, board minutes, location of individual grave sites, etc. F2) The Grand Jury finds it problematic that not all districts have written policy, procedures, and operations manuals readily accessible on-site for employees F3) The Grand Jury f'mds a serious lack of access information about the cemetery districts on the Plumas County website. F4) The Grand Jury finds the lack of information about the locations of remains within most cemetery facilities creates di/i-zculties for the general~ public. F5) The Grand Jury Emds a consistent depletion of income from all sources for the cemetery districts that serious threatens the economic viability and continued stable operations and maintenance of the facilities under the limited governance of the Board of Supervisors. F6) The Grand Jury finds the reasons for any delay of burials due to weather or ground conditions are not clearly communicated to the families of the deceased. RECOMMENDATIONS R1) Each cemetery district should make it a priority to disseminate and publish contact numbers, board minutes and other information in a readily accessible manner, including making sure local phone books have at least one easily located number per facility. R2) Each cemetery should create or update its written policy, procedures, and operations manuals, and keep them on site for easy access by employees. R3) The Board of Supervisors should facilitate the inclusion of basic access information for all the cemetery districts under its jurisdiction on its website, along with a link to the LAFCo website. R4) Each cemetery should create and maintain accurate records of the location of all burials within the facility, and to update these records frequently for accuracy R5) The smaller cemetery districts should investigate possible Joint Powers Agreements with a view to future consolidation as a step toward making better use of the resources while increasing the viability of the county cemetery system overall. R6) There should be written communications by the Chair of the Board of the Cemetery District to the families of the deceased that clearly explain and reasons for delay of burial. Are you a public or non-profit entity in need of help with drought related projects? The Alliance for Workforce Development, Inc. has been awarded federal/state emergency grant funds to help provide temporary workers for drought related projects. 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