In Sutter County, a community grateful for the fire fighters amid the rattlesnakes, wild hogs, and the smallest mountain range in the world

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Fire fighters from multiple agencies converged on the Sutter Buttes to help with the fire that threatened homes and a critical communications array.

Grass fires are usually simple to put out. Until they are not. When the grass is extremely dry and fuel for a fire across undulating hills and down deep canyons in the Sutter Buttes, things can get complicated in a hurry.

Fire fighters from surrounding communities joined the battle this week when a grass fire erupted Tuesday evening in the Sutter Buttes, leading to the evacuation of four homes, and creating a very real threat to a multi-million dollar communications array on top of South Butte.

The peak of South Butte is the highest point in Sutter County, 2,112 feet–and the highest point in the Sacramento Valley, which is why several law enforcement agencies and many private companies, including radio and television stations, have equipment on the peak that helps them communicate throughout Northern California. (One Sacramento TV station was broadcasting from a camera it has stationed on the peak as flames rose toward it).

As the fire spread up the south side of South Butte, aerial tankers dumped chemical retardant in a thick line in an attempt to stop the fire before it reached the peak. The strategy was a partial success, but a small amount of damage occurred at the communications array as fire crawled up the peak and around its left flank northwesterly toward the 1,000 foot tall West Butte.

The Sutter Fire Department, along with fire fighters from Meridian, Sutter, East Nicolaus, Pleasant Grove, Yuba City, Colusa County, Sacramento County, Sacramento Metro, CalFire, and Beale Air Force Base responded. CalFire and Sac Metro provided aerial resources that helped fire fighters on the ground contain the fire by Thursday morning.

Sutter Fire Chief John Shalowitz cautioned firemen to watch for shifting winds, rattlesnakes and wild hogs in the Sutter Buttes. “Head on a swivel, keep alert,” he said at a Wednesday morning briefing.

Sutter County’s Sheriff’s Office, Road Department, Community Development Department, Office of Emergency Management, County Administrator’s Office, General Services, and IT departments provided support to the fire fighting effort. County Supervisors were active in staying informed so they could share information with constituents.

With thousands of fire fighters already deployed to wildfires across California, Sutter County is very grateful to have received so much mutual aid support during the Sutter Buttes fire. Many of these fire fighters recently returned from deployment at the fire near Redding, including Yuba City Fire Chief Pete Daley, who led a strike team last week that included members of the Yuba City and Linda fire departments, which saved the historic, mostly wooden town of Old Shasta.

Sutter County got a good look at how California’s fire fighters respond during a time of need. Fortunately, the Sutter Buttes fire was small (1,200 acres) in comparison to what is happening in other parts of California. But we appreciate every fire fighter who turned out.

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The undulating hills and steep canyons of the Sutter Buttes makes fighting fires there a challenge. Then there’s the unpredictable weather patterns, rattlesnakes and wild hogs.

In Sutter County, community benefits from emphasis on Code Enforcement

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This building once occupied a location along the old Highway 99 alignment at Tudor, south of Yuba City. After the highway was re-routed, this building and several others on two adjoining properties was overtaken by squatters, who spread garbage and brought abandoned vehicles and trailers onto the property. After a Code Enforcement action to displace the squatters, a new owner has purchased the property and cleared both lots. Code enforcement officers have also led to $185,000 in fines and administrative costs for those violating the county’s local ordinance prohibiting outdoor grows of marijuana.

Whether it is abatement of outdoor marijuana grows that violate the County’s rules or enforcement of building standards that displace squatters, Sutter County’s Code Enforcement efforts in the past year are having a positive impact.

In the Tudor area, two parcels that attracted a half dozen or more squatters has been cleared by a new owner–at great expense. The property, which included an iconic wooden structure familiar to those traveling the old Highway 99 route south from Yuba
City to Sacramento, was the subject of more than 90 calls for service to the Sheriff’s Department and Code Enforcement in the space of seven months.

Squatters occupied several buildings on the two properties, but after code enforcement tagged the buildings as uninhabitable, the squatters were removed from the property by the Sheriff’s Department. The property has been sold to a new owner who invested a great deal of money in removing debris, which took 15 large truckloads.

Earlier this year, the Board of Supervisors imposed fines and administrative costs of more than $185,000 combined on the owners of eight different properties for violating Sutter County’s ordinance banning outdoor marijuana grows. The County Counsel’s Office is taking the necessary steps to place liens on the properties.

This year, there have been 18 complaints of violations of the outdoor marijuana grows to date. In each case, the marijuana gardens have been abated before fines and administrative costs accrued. However, there may be more instances of reporting of outdoor marijuana gardens. The harvest season (essentially September/October) generates the largest numbers of complaints as the smell of the gardens permeates neighborhoods.

 

 

In Sutter County, Child Support Services seeks your help collecting donations of backpacks and back-to-school supplies

August is Child Support Awareness MonthSutter County Child Support Services is celebrating August Child Support Awareness Month by accepting donations of backpacks and back-to-school items for children the Child Support Services workers have become familiar with through their case work.

Last year, the community helped Child Support Services supply 65 children with backpacks full of school supplies through the Backpack and School Supply Give-A-Way program. Generous donations were made by County of Sutter employees, local attorneys, local businesses, and members of the public.

This year, the goal is to help supply the back-to-school needs of 100 children.

The program helps make a positive academic difference in the lives of children in our community. Not every family can afford to provide children what they need to succeed in school. A brand new backpack brimming with new back-to-school supplies is good for a child’s self-esteem as they start a brand new school year.

You can help. Donations of backpacks and school supplies (a list of needed items is listed on the poster above) can be dropped off at the Sutter County Department of Child Support Services, 543 Garden Highway, Suite A, Yuba City. Supplies can be donated through August 6.

For additional information, contact Cynthia Weinel at 530-822-7338, ext. 246, or at Weinel.Cynthia@Sutter.cse.ca.gov

In Sutter County, Ag Department ensures you are getting farm fresh produce from real farmers selling at the Yuba City Certified Farmer’s Market

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The tomatoes have arrived at the Saturday morning Yuba City Certified Farmer’s Market. The market, where local farmers sell local produce directly to you, occurs at the Town Center park (water fountain) on Plumas Street every Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to noon.

Want access to farm fresh fruit and vegetables? In Sutter County, you have an opportunity every Saturday morning at the Yuba City Certified Farmer’s Market on Plumas Street at Town Center park (where the water fountain is located). The market opens at 8 a.m. and runs until noon.

The Sutter County Agriculture Department certifies that those who are selling the items at the farmer’s market are selling what is grown on their property. The certification process is the result in a change in state law several years ago that allows farmers to sell directly to customers without expensive packaging.

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Some, but not all, of the growers at the market sell organic produce. According to the Sutter County Agriculture Department, there is a separate registration and certification process for labeling produce organic.

One of the great aspects of the Farmer’s Market is the ability to directly interact with the people who are growing your food, or with Master Gardener’s from the UC Davis Farm Extensions Service. In addition, Sutter County Public Health is conducting a “Fruit and Veggie Festival,” with a raffle and fun games for kids this Saturday.

There are approximately 35 certified producers in Sutter County. With that certification, they can sell at any Certified Farmer’s Market in California. Most sell locally, however, including in surrounding counties.

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In Sutter County, fear drove an immigrant to find his voice in poetry, and now he is nationally acclaimed

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The Sutter County Library is hosting nationally acclaimed poet, and Yuba-Sutter resident, Marcello Hernandez Castillo for an evening of poetry readings and a conversation about writing and immigration issues. The Friends of the Sutter County Library and Yuba Sutter Arts are coordinating the July 13 event, which is free and begins at 5:45 p.m., and putting on a reception with refreshments following Mr. Castillo’s discussion.

The library is located at 750 Forbes Avenue, Yuba City.

Castillo will read from his poetry and discuss the important part the library played in his life and his work. He will share his impressions of the community growing up and offer advice to other young writers.

A poet, essayist and translator, Castillo is the author of the pamphlet, DULCE, winner of the 2017 Drinking Gourd Poetry Prize. His debut full-length poetry collection titled Cenzontle was just published and was awarded the A. Poulin, Jr. prize for poetry.

Castillo’s work has appeared in the New York Times, PBS Newshour, People Magazine, The Paris Review and the New England Review. He currently teaches in the MFA program at Ashland University in Ohio, but calls Marysville home where he lives with his wife and son.

At a young age, language was Castillo’s best defense. Growing up undocumented, he has said that fluency in English and, later, poetry were the tools with which he could protect against deportation. Writing was “a way to kind of offset any questions or any suspicions about my documentation status,” he said. “By way of fear, along came poetry.”

Castillo, who entered the U.S. from Mexico with his family at the age of five, did not address his own story in writing until recently. After he received exemption from deportation under Deferred Action for Child Arrivals or DACA, a policy that applies to people who entered the U.S. before the age of 16 and before 2007, he earned a BA at Sacramento State and then became the first undocumented student to earn an MFA at the University of Michigan. And then he returned to Mexico for the first time in 21 years.  Those two experiences gave him a new perspective on the trauma that had pervaded his experience with the U.S. immigration system.

 

 

In Sutter County, a balanced ‘status quo’ budget

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We would like to thank several local photographers who donated images for use in the budget book, including  Jack Davis, Rachel Ekberg, Michelle Zearfoss, and John Hollis.

The Sutter County Board of Supervisors approved a balanced, “status quo” Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Recommended Budget on Thursday afternoon. Staff from various County departments prepare a recommended budget prior to the fiscal year, and the Board of Supervisors decides whether the recommendations will become the operational spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2018 and runs through June 30, 2019.

The budget reflects a stable local economy and an organization committed to living within its means. The approximately $334 million budget includes estimated revenues of $17.4 million in local property taxes (5.7 percent increase), $10 million in vehicle license (4.6 percent increase), and $3.3 million in sales taxes (a decrease of 6.4 percent).

Federal and state funding for Welfare and Social Services ($51.6 million) and Behavioral Health Services ($37 million) are the two single largest sources of funding. Sutter County is the employer of record for the Behavioral Health employees who provide services to residents in both Sutter and Yuba counties.

As a local government, Sutter County has very limited local revenue/tax sources to support the vast array of municipal services it is charged with providing to residents and businesses covering approximately 600 square miles. The few taxes and fees which the County relies on are among the lowest in California and are infrequently adjusted (most do not keep up with inflation).

Sutter County is also highly dependent on Federal and State government funding to support a large portion of the regional and social services it is obligated to provide. To complicate matters, the County’s changing demographics have resulted in rising service needs and demands for public assistance above the Statewide average. For example, demands for health and human services and public safety services continue to increase at concerning rates.

Consequently, the Sutter County organization has learned to live with limited financial resources during recurring years of rising service demands. This, in turn, has caused the County to defer maintenance of its many buildings, vehicles, equipment, and assets. The County has also reduced staffing, passed on benefit costs to employees, contracted out services, combined operations and services where possible with other service providers, and cut back on employee training and development. After years of making “one-time” cuts and reductions, the County remains at a crossroads with respect to looking toward the future.

You can see the entire recommended budget here: https://www.suttercounty.org/doc/government/depts/cao/cao_budget

And here’s a nifty tool that will let you explore the budget in many different ways: https://suttercountyca.opengov.com/transparency#/4400/accountType=expenses&embed=n&breakdown=191373ea-8e08-44c5-8995-9115018347ff&currentYearAmount=cumulative&currentYearPeriod=years&graph=bar&legendSort=desc&proration=true&saved_view=null&selection=5F9B9F1CBFB79F18881CBF0CBBF6B0A1&projections=null&projectionType=null&highlighting=null&highlightingVariance=null&year=NaN&selectedDataSetIndex=null&fiscal_start=2015&fiscal_end=latest

In Sutter County, music, food and art in two downtowns tomorrow

33894889_10155755899330889_2300133073531961344_nGreat weather is on tap tomorrow when Sutter County’s two incorporated cities showcase their downtowns with street fairs centered on art and music and food.

Yuba City’s annual Summer Stroll (2 p.m. to 10 p.m.) on Plumas Street is produced by the Yuba City Downtown Business Association with the assistance of a great number of corporate sponsors.

Like its sister event, the Christmas Stroll, the Summer Stroll showcases the Plumas Street Shopping District by offering family friendly street vendors. Visitors stroll between the existing downtown shops and a variety of attractions in the street, including a Kids Science Area and a Kids Water Area. At least six bands will play in a free all-day street concert.

Meanwhile, in Live Oak, the City is hosting a Mural Marathon Street Fair from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. near the intersection of Broadway and Elm streets. Five artists are competing for cash prizes for painting the best mural on equal sized large sections of a building. The artists have been working since Thursday, and the winners will be announced between 5:30-6 p.m.

The event is co-produced by Yuba Sutter Arts, which acquired a grant to help the artists with materials. Yuba Sutter Arts is Sutter County’s designated Arts Council. The Arts Council has provided a sneak peek at the mural work on its Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ysrac/photos/pcb.10160538710135437/10160538710025437/?type=3&theater

Arts and crafts and food vendors and music will be part of the street fair.