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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
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August 26, 2015     Feather River Bulletin
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August 26, 2015
 

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Feather River Bulletin Wednesday, Aug. 26,2015 3A Debra Moore Staff Writer dmoore@plumasnews.com Men and women dressed in black greeted the Plumas County Board of Supervisors on Aug. 18. They all rose as their coworker, Greg Cameron, spoke during public comment on their behalf. "We, the employees of the Plumas County Probation Department, collectively request the Plumas County Board of Supervisors appoint Clint Armitage as chief of the Plumas County Probation Department," he read. The board was scheduled to discuss the appointment during closed session later in the day, and Cameron said the department understood that there was some opposition. He stressed that "an entire department" supports Armitage and listed several reasons why his interim appointment should be made permanent. Cameron described a department that was "essentially disorganized, under-equipped and archaic," compared to other probation departments, before Armitage's interim leadership. As a result, probation duties were O BOARD OF SUPERVISORS ROUNDUP being assumed by others. "Clint Armitage understands the important role probation departments have within communities, and has sought to bring back that role to Plumas County in the interest of public safety through his knowledge and leadership," he read. Following Cameron's comments, the probation department employees left the boardroom and didn't hear what a former probation employee, Chris Knox, told the supervisors. She also read from a statement, but was unable to complete her remarks due to the three-minute time limit imposed during public comment. Knox requested that the board "not appoint" Armitage as chief probation officer. She said when she was hired six-and-a-half years ago she became "a social worker with a badge," as the focus was "less punitive" and "more community outreach." "The treatment team concept is highly regarded in most probation departments for specialized caseloads and more," she read. She described how counselors and clinicians from the Division of Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs worked together with the probationer.. She said that Armitage's past experience on a gang task force in the San Diegoprobation department did not prepare him to be a chief. Though she didn't complete her remarks in public, her statement is part of the public record. She went on to write, "As to the letter acknowledging the 'entire probation department's support of Mr. Armitage,' this is a lie." She said she knew of many, mostly women, who feared losing their jobs if they came forward. The supervisors reported taking no action following their closed session discussion of the matter. Employees make it personal Three county employees who work for child protective services in the social services li Debra Moore Staff Writer dmoore@plumasnews.corn The first victim of the 2015-16 budget process is the vacant county administrative officer position. With an estimated price tag of $272,000 for the official and his or her office, the Plumas County Board of Supervisors crossed it off the list of potential expenditures for the new budget year. The supervisors have been operating without a county administrator since Jack lngstad left three years ago and did not replace him due to budget concerns. "We are at least another year away from a CAO," said Supervisor Sherrie Thrall during the board's Aug. 18 meeting. Supervisors Lori Simpson and Kevin Goss quickly agreed. As did Supervisor Terry Swofford who said, "I just don't see how we can do it." The decision came following a presentation by the county's budget consultant, Susan Scarlett. Initial figures indicate that a status quo budget based on last year's numbers leaves the county facing a $2.7 million deficit. Scarlett provided the board with figures for other items that have been discussed throughout the year: including the CAO, $272,000; code enforcement program, $96,000; estimated 3 percent payroll increase, $432,000 and various other requests totaling $40,930 that would increase the shortfall to approximately $3.5 million. While the supervisors quickly disposed of the CAO, they decided to keep the code enforcement option -- at least for now -- and declined to discuss the payroll increase because they are in negotiations with employees. Even though the deficit appears daunting, not all of the numbers are in and won't be until the end of the month. Historically, the supervisors begin budget talks with more expenditures than revenue, but the situation improves by the time the budget is adopted. Search for Chia children's mu Debra Moore Staff Writer dmoore@plumasnews.com Twenty-five years ago today, a Caltrans worker walking down an embankment just east of Blairsden on Highway 70 made a shocking discovery -- a little human skull. He flagged down Plumas County Sheriffs Sgt. Terry Bergstrand and the ensuing search revealed more human bones and small pieces of clothing. The remains of Charles Chia, 8, and his little sister, Jennifer, 6, had been discovered in a shallow grave. The date was Aug. 26, 1990, 10 months after the young siblings had disappeared while walking the 100 yards from the school bus to their Reno apartment on Oct. 18, 1989. While the case was featured prominently in the news for months and involved the efforts of several law enforcement agencies for years, the case has never been solved. Plumas County Sheriff Gregg Hagwood, who was a new deputy at the time, said that he never- hears anything about the case now. Bergstrand, the fn'st to arrive on the scene, would later become sheriff, as did then Lt. Don Stoy, who was also involved in the initial investigation, but the jurisdiction remained with department appeared during public comment to reiterate an ongoing request for a pay hike. They followed union representative Greg Ramirez who has made several appearances before the board. The employees have pledged to show up each week that the board meets until their request is granted. Debbie Wingate told the board that she and her coworkers are "often the front line to protect the children" of this county. She said some of the employees are eligible for Cal Fresh (the former food stamp program) and while, traditionally, the department adopts a family in the community at Christmas, this past year they adopted one of their own. She said though the employees are devoted to their work, they "have to be paid a decent wage to stay here." "I'm not sure you understand how hard it is to work full time and not be able to support a family," said Haydn Shelters, another social worker. The supervisors did not respond to any of the speakers, as is the policy during public comment. Scarlett discussed various scenarios that Could improve revenue, while Auditor Roberta Allen warned of upcoming large expenditures such as lump sum payments exceeding $1 million to the public employees retirement system. "I'd like for us to remain conservative," Allen said. "We have a lot of big bills coming up." Scarlett also talked about fund balance and warned the supervisors not to commit to ongoing expenditures with one-time dollars. The supervisors are scheduled to discuss the budget during their afternoon session Sept. 1 and 8, and hold a public hearing Sept. 15. r continues Nevada authorities. Convicted felon James W. Grooms went to prison for trying to extort $100,000 from the children's mother following their disappearance and remains a suspect in the case, though he denies any involvement in their kidnapping. The children's mother, Ann Chang, ran a Chinese restaurant and Grooms was linked to a man with the nickname of"Ma" who worked at the restaurant. Report to the board Social Services Director Elliott Smart presented a report to the board that summarized services rendered by his department during the past year, as well as a comparison to years past. The report included services that were trending down, but also those that were increasing, such as the Cal Fresh program. "There has been a sizeable increase in the number of Cal Fresh participating households," Smart told the board. In 2007-08, 235 households participated and it has steadily increased each year to 879 in 2013-14. He said he has seen a large increase in the 45 to 60 age group who previously said, "I might be eligible, but I can make do." Now they are seeking assistance. He also noted that many in the program have jobs, but do not earn enough to support themselves and their families. The number of Medi-Cal recipients has also risen during the same time period, from 826 to 1,290, which partially can be attributed to expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act. In 2013, Medi-Cal payments to health services providers in Plumas County totaled $14,632,766 with 51 percent or $7.5 million going to long-term care. Local clinics received $2.9 million; pharmacies, $2.6 million; hospitals, $1.35 million; and other miscellaneous services claiming the remainder. Smart said that the closure of the long-term care facility in Quincy would impact the amount of money coming into the county. Payments on the decrease include those for foster care. Smart said the agency is relying less on group home placements, which are costly, and more on friends and relatives, where payments are much lower. The cost for foster care peaked in 2007 at $2.47 million and dipped to $1.09 million in 2014. Copies of the full report are available at the Social Service Department at the Health and Human Services Building in Quincy or on the county's web page at countyofplumas.com. 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