Grenfell’s Rise: July 13 – The Day It All Began

Happy Eid. This time last year, a tree met the PG&E power line and the rest, as they say, is history. There is no way for us not to be affected by this 100 degree weather. Fire trucks on their way to Janesville passed me yesterday as I was leaving the prison behind Susanville. At least there is a little moisture in the air. Hint. Effect. not enough.

Two days later on July 15, 2021, I saw Greenville for the last time—I was taking one kid to Southern California to settle in college and putting another kid on a plane for a summer program at LAX. I didn’t bring any important documents with me except the families’ passports. I hadn’t brought anything from my desk in 11 years because I wasn’t leaving, I was leaving on a trip.

Yesterday I had a playlist someone else made on Spotify playing early ’90s alternative country songs in my car while I was heading home with my husband from Quincy to Greenville. Iris DeMent’s “Our Town” came in surprisingly well as we were speeding through Crescent Mills.

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“Let’s ride this song downtown,” I told my husband and he was joking even though he looked at me worried as if I was frustrating myself on purpose. Do yourself a favor and check out the song if you haven’t heard it before. It’s, unfortunately, the perfect song if you’re ever going to leave Greenville. Don’t play it without a Kleenex box next to you.

Not surprisingly, many of the entities I tried to get to comment on for last week’s column finally got back to me. Suffice it to say that there is a good deal of bipartisan blame, but no suggestions, no support beyond rants.

However, the district attorney, Dave Hollister, came back to me with an important point regarding IVCSD.

“I think referring to a criminal case resolution as a ‘PG&E settlement’ can be a bit misleading. In a criminal case, we were able to secure a result with a quick payment option, safety improvements, penalties, monitoring and bona fide contributions to local organizations (what is distributed as Nearly $10,000,000 this week.) For previous lawsuits against PG&E, this was a massive result. For example, the Camp Fire (84 deaths and more than 14,000 homes lost) resulted in a total fine of $3,486,950 In the criminal case – 30% of it went to the Butte County General Fund with no prompt payments, safety improvements, penalties, “monitoring or any bona fide contributions,” Hollister said.

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He continued, noting that “the criminal case was not and could not provide a settlement (or a lawsuit) for individuals or entities affected by the fire.” IVCSD has a lawsuit against PG&E, but like all Indian Valley residents with lawsuits pending against PG&E, lawsuits have been pending while PG&E settles with a small percentage of people taking the settlement and dropping their lawsuits. We don’t have dates for this stuff yet. It could practically be next year sometime. IVCSD can be insolvent before you see anything at all.

It took less than ten minutes after an article on IVCSD’s financial situation was published for people to make suggestions as if the board members and director hadn’t thought of them. “What about the pursuit of grants?” “How about making other assessments?” As someone who regularly attends as many IVCSD meetings as possible, I’ll tell you this does happen, but there was no grant big enough for the enormity of the task.

In some ways, IVCSD faces the same problems that every entity in Indian Valley has faced: not enough volunteers to get around but too many people to criticize.

I often think about how to put the burden of IVCSD fees on the downtown Greenville and Low Economic Zones. The middle class of the Indian Valley is mostly on wells and sewage and does not pay in IVCSD in the first place. Those of us (covered by themselves) who want the city back but don’t pay into the IVCSD are not affected in many ways by fees or infrastructure problems. Is it time to reassess how IVCSD is paid for? Do we as an entire Valley community need to pay some kind of annual fee so that downtown infrastructure is accessible to everyone? Should that be on the ballot in the next election? Other communities in California are trying to share the burden of societal costs. In Southern California where our home is, we pay $26 a year to maintain a lake I’ve never been to and gladly pay for its upkeep. Food for thought.

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I’ve made quite a bit of contact this week and keep talking about fire insurance and IVCSD issues. What I have learned is that we are equally ignored by all political parties. We are not a force to be reckoned with – yet.

There are plenty of people to wake up to our plight from our local superintendent and chairman, Kevin Goss, to Governor Gavin Newsom. From Dahles to LaMalfa for the next few months, the Insurance Commissioner. These people need to hear from us. They need to know what they’re doing – or not doing anything that has very real consequences for a town trying to get back. They need to know that they have been elected to represent us and to come up with innovative ways to combat climate change and build economically sustainable societies. We need to make them work for it.

In the nearly a year since the Dixie Fire, we’ve passed and hoped, but it’s routine and closed doors that are causing us more than any flame.

Keep fighting if you can.

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Below is a list of upcoming events and meetings in the Valley that you might be interested in attending, volunteering at, or both. If you have an announcement or event that you would like to inform the community about, please send it to [email protected].

This Saturday, the traditional Grenfell celebration is back in action. Events will take place all day from 10 a.m. to midnight along Pine Street in downtown Greenville. Volunteers are still needed. Call Christi Hazelton at Region Burger – she can give you a job to do. See our writing on Gold Diggers for more details: https://www.plumasnews.com/gold-diggers-day-returns-to-greenville-on-july-16/.

Dixie Fire Cooperative Meeting

This Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the GES Cafeteria. Come and ask questions. Come listen to the information on rebuilding Greenville. Instead of serving a regular lunch, food vouchers will be distributed to food trucks downtown.

Indian Valley Community Service Area

The IVCSD regular board meeting will be held tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the Small Room of Taylorsville Historic Hall. Public comment is always open. Come and support your area. Come and ask the tough questions. Come with your thoughts.

The Indian Valley Community Pool is now open for four swimming sessions open on Saturdays from 1pm. Until 4pm on July 23 and 30 and August 6 and 20. The complex still needs volunteers to view and receive the fees. Water aerobics takes place at 5:15 p.m. Monday through Thursday (although this week they will also meet on Friday). If anyone is interested in volunteering, call Judy Leland at (650) 942-4948.

community dinner

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The next community dinner is the Country Dinner Party on July 18 at the historic Taylorsville Hall on Main Street from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. On the menu are hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, corn, watermelon, root floats, and apple pie. Dinner sponsored riders forever.

The library is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; From 2 pm to 6 pm and Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm

July Summer Reading Program events (plus reading log) are Thursdays July 14, July 21 and July 28 from 11am to 12pm.

All branches of the Plumas County Library now carry copies of the two Burn Scars books in case you’d like to check it out. There will be a reading and Q&A for the book at the Quincy Library sometime in August. Watch for details.

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