Sutter County voices heard by dam owners and operators from across United States

The voices of Frank Coats and several other Sutter County residents who spoke at the March 2017 town hall meeting at Veteran’s Hall were heard this morning by about 250 dam owners and operators, and emergency managers, from across the United States. Sutter County Public Information Officer Chuck Smith included several clips from a video recording of the meeting to an audience of about 250 at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s  National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Sutter County and Oroville Dam were the major topic of the second day of a seminar for owners and operators of dams from across the United States this morning.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency invited Sutter County to send a speaker to the National Emergency Training Center in Maryland to describe the events surrounding the Oroville Dam spillway crisis from its perspective of ordering an evacuation.

During the 45-minute Sutter County presentation, the audience heard several clips from a video recording of the Town Hall meeting hosted by Sutter County at Veterans Hall about one month after the evacuation.

The two-day seminar, which ends today, is titled: “Maintaining Public Trust Through Effective Emergency Management.” Part of Smith’s presentation was about what happens when the public’s trust in a dam operation is broken: angry residents, lawsuits, legislation, and an attempt to intervene in the dam’s licensing.

Oroville Dam is the tallest in the United States. The evacuation of 188,000 from Butte, Yuba and Sutter counties was the largest in the United States for any emergency other than a hurricane. The Oroville Dam spillway crisis has become a case study. Recently, emergency managers from Japan visited Yuba-Sutter to learn lessons from our experiences.

Other presentations were made by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and emergency managers from other states with a number of dams.




Sutter, Yuba, and Butte counties brief Japanese delegation on Oroville Dam spillway emergency

Sutter County Fire Chief John Shalowitz (right) discusses Sutter County’s emergency response to the February, 2017 Oroville Dam spillway crisis, which led to the largest evacuation in United States history for other than a hurricane, with a delegation of emergency management officials from Japan.

In a session arranged by the California Office of Emergency Services, emergency management officials from Sutter, Yuba, and Butte counties responded to questions from six emergency management officials from Japan about last year’s Oroville Dam spillway crisis.

The session was conducted on Tuesday, February 6, one day short of the anniversary of the day a gaping hole developed in the main spillway at Oroville Dam, the country’s tallest dam. Yuba County hosted the event at its Government Center, and provided the delegation with a tour of its Emergency Operations Center.

Last year’s emergency generated attention from various quarters. When a team of researchers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security visited Butte and Sutter counties last year to study how news of the crisis was communicated to the public, its members said there would be continued interest in the Oroville event because the evacuation it sparked was the largest in United States history for other than a hurricane. Later this month, representatives of Sutter County and Butte County will make presentations about the impact of the Oroville Dam spillway crisis on downstream communities at a technical seminar for dam operators from across the United States at FEMA’s National Emergency Management Academy in Maryland.

The Japanese delegation on Tuesday was particularly interested in the Incident Command System practiced in California, and who is responsible for calling evacuations. In Japan, they said, mayors call the evacuations. In California, however, sheriff’s have the authority to call for an evacuation, and most counties adopt an ordinance establishing who else may call an evacuation.

The delegation was also interested in the concept of inundation maps. In Japan, they said, there is a belief dams will not fail, so inundation maps do not exist.

Five members of Sutter County’s Emergency Management team attended the session: Fire Chief John Shalowitz, Emergency Manager Brenna Howell, Health and Human Services Director Nancy O’Hara, Deputy Director of Health and Human Services Amerjit Bhattal, and Public Information Officer Chuck Smith.

In Sutter County, Citizens Committee tonight begins search for homeless shelter site

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Late last year, the Sutter County Board of Supervisors beefed up its no camping ordinance along the Feather River. Tonight, a Citizen’s Committee meets for the first time in search of a location for a shelter to provide a temporary alternative to sleeping outdoors as part of a comprehensive plan to reduce the homeless population in Sutter County.

Tonight is the first meeting of a Citizen’s Committee formed to help Sutter County identify a viable location for a homeless shelter.

The Committee was formed after the Sutter County Board of Supervisors adopted a more thorough and enforceable ordinance banning camping on County property, including property along the Feather River.

The Citizen’s Committee will meet at 6 p.m. tonight (Monday, February 5) at the Public Health Auditorium, 1445 Veterans Memorial Loop (behind the Sutter County Courthouse). The meeting is open to the public.

In Sutter County, CSAC delivers backpacks to ease transition for foster youth

Board of Supervisors Chair Dan Flores (third from left), Health and Human Services Director Nancy O’Hara, Deputy Health and Human Services Director Lisa Soto, and staff from Sutter County’s Social Services Division were on hand Friday when Graham Knaus (fifth from left), Deputy Executive Director of the California State Association of Counties, delivered 25 backpacks for foster youth.

The primary purpose of the California State Association of Counties is to represent county government before the California Legislature, administrative agencies and the federal government. CSAC places a strong emphasis on educating the public about the value and need for county programs and services.

But CSAC, which traces its roots to 1895, often steps beyond its primary role to provide continuing education for elected and non-elected county staff, and other creative ways to assist counties.

At its recent Annual Meeting in Sacramento,  CSAC decided to include a service project: filling backpacks with items for foster children in the Sacramento region. CSAC had a table set up with backpacks and six different groups of items—for three age ranges and for boys and girls. Items included t-shirts and sweats, pajamas, leggings, pens and pencils, small flashlights and stuffed animals—even earbuds and gift cards for the older kids. CSAC asked attendees to take a few minutes to fill a backpack or two with these items—and they did not disappoint. Together as a county family, they created almost 500 backpacks filled with the things that can help make an abrupt transition just a little easier.

On Friday, Sutter County Board of Supervisors Chair Dan Flores and Health and Human Services Director Nancy O’Hara were on hand when CSAC Deputy Executive Director Graham Knaus delivered 25 backpacks to Sutter County’s Social Services department.

The service event was made possible by the generous sponsorships of the CSAC Finance Corporation, Kaiser, and the Stuart Foundation, and volunteers from the Institute for Local Government.

For more about this special project, read the story by Graham Knaus:

Sutter, Yuba Ag Commissioners team with Farm Bureau to host pesticide spray education program

Sutter County Fire personnel demonstrated a Pesticide Incident Triage tent at the annual Spray Safe training hosted by the Yuba-Sutter Farm Bureau in cooperation with the Sutter County and Yuba County Agricultural Departments in Yuba City on Wednesday. Approximately 180 people attended the event at the Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds.

The Sutter County Agricultural Department joined hands with the Yuba-Sutter Farm Bureau and the Yuba County Agricultural Department to host the annual Spray Safe pesticide training in Yuba City on Wednesday.

Approximately 180 people, including 50 primarily Spanish speaking individuals, participated in the training.

According to Sutter County Ag Commissioner Lisa Herbert, said the program is conducted across the state to bring awareness about safe and effective use of pesticides on crops. Brian Leahy, Director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulations, was the keynote speaker.

Topics included pesticide safety, safety around schools, saving money and time while reducing spray drift, preserving water safety, worker safety, heat illness, and orchard spray drift management,



Sutter, Yuba counties combined make up Yuba City metro market ranked 7th for best economic performance among U.S. small cities

yubacityIt was exciting news late last week as we first learned that the Yuba City “metro area” was being ranked 7th among the nation’s small cities for economic development performance in the Milken Institute’s annual report on Best Performing Cities U.S. Index.

It is an honor not just for Yuba City, the largest incorporated city in the Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area, or “metro area,” but for the entire region comprised of Sutter County and Yuba County. It is a recognition that our region is situated for economic expansion.

The Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities (BPC) U.S. index provides a way to measure which American metros offer the greatest opportunities for prosperity and innovation across the nation. The BPC index measures metropolitan areas’ economic performance using outcomes-based metrics such as job creation, wage gains, and technology developments to evaluate the metros’ relative growth. Their latest rankings can be found here:

For the report, the Milken Institute examined Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas (SMSAs), a designation determined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and used by the Census Bureau and other federal government agencies for statistical purposes. A metropolitan area, sometimes referred to as a metro area, greater area, commuter belt or conurbation, is a region consisting of a densely populated urban core and its less-populated surrounding territories, sharing industry, infrastructure, and housing.

Sutter and Yuba counties were designated an SMSA after the 1980 U.S. Census determined there were more than 100,000 people living in the two counties. The SMSA was named Yuba City because it was the largest incorporated city in the two counties. The SMSA includes all of the incorporated cities of Yuba City, Live Oak, Marysville, and Wheatland, and all of the unincorporated areas of Sutter and Yuba counties.

The ranking was based in part on the number of high tech industries in the two counties, and the high rate of job growth over the past year.



In Sutter County, Tattooed & Tenacious is a history exhibit at the museum


Tattooed And Tenacious: Inked Women in California’s History, is the latest exhibit at Community Memorial Museum of Sutter County.

The exhibit officially runs from January 13 through March 11, but you can get a sneak peek and meet some tattoo artists during a reception at the museum from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. today. You can even leave a picture of your own artwork to be part of the exhibit.

The exhibit is a traveling exhibition from Exhibit Envoy in partnership with the Hayward Area Historical Society and History San Jose. The exhibit also features Yuba-Sutter area tattoo artists from To the Grave Tattoo, Heart n Soul, Righteous Ink, and Artistic Temple Social Club.

The Community Memorial Museum is located at 1333 Butte House Road, Yuba City. The museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. The phone number is 530-822-7141. The website is