Sutter County native son built and flew plane before the Wright Brothers

It’s little known, even locally, that the first American to build and fly an airplane was not a member of the Wright family, but the son of former Sutter County District Attorney Zachary Montgomery. John Montgomery, who was born in Yuba City, was in his early 20s when he and his brother dragged a glider built in their barn to a hill outside of San Diego and John piloted the plane the length of two football fields for what is believed to be the first instance of a heavier-than-air craft under controlled flight in the United States.

This video was produced in 2010 as part of an exhibit. We came across it today and decided to post it on YouTube and share with everyone the connection between the birds of Sutter County and the history of aviation. Even Alexander Graham Bell recognized that all future attempts at flying would stem from the machine Montgomery created and flew.

In Sutter County, museum hosting gathering to kick start ‘Hacker Lab’ here

The following is from a flyer announcing a joint presentation by the Community Memorial Museum of Sutter County, the Yuba Community College District, and MarComm Media, scheduled for 6 p.m. tomorrow, March 7, at Ettl Hall behind the Community Memorial Museum at 1333 Butte House Road, Yuba City.

“We are bringing YOU together with folks from different industries in the Yuba-Sutter Region! You will have an opportunity to see what businesses need and what skills they are looking for.

“Using Stanford’s Design Thinking Process, we will facilitate a Design Session where you’ll be able to help the industries in your backyard creatively solve problems.

“You’ll arrive, get fed, and will join like-minded people at a table. You and your new friends will talk with each other to discover problems you face, and you’ll discover creative ways to solve these problems together.

“No need to bring anything except your ideas – be ready to share what you’ve been thinking about or what you’re planning to work on. We provide the sticky notes, markers and food. This is a free event.”

In Sutter County, Museum of Forgotten Warriors founder Dann Spear’s video captured images of the 1997 flood fight

Dann Spear worked for Sutter County’s Road Department  for 25 years. He was also founder of the Museum of Forgotten Warriors. In 1997, he was assigned to videotape the flood fight effort as part of the Damage Assessment Team from the Public Works Department. Dann passed away last week.

From the office of Scott Mitnick, County Administrator

Sutter County Road Department employee Dann Spear, who even before he retired started the Museum of Forgotten Warriors, passed away last week.

Dann’s contribution to the memories and appreciation of the service of our military was well earned. His museum grew bigger every year, and it appears local veterans will not let the effort end with Dann’s death.

Many at the County will miss him. We were reminded that Dann was assigned during the 1997 flood fight and evacuation to carry around a video camera to record events, including damage. Below is a short video with some of the images Dann captured as part of a team assigned to assess the damage in real time.

Note at the end of the video the group of emus that blocked his path temporarily on the levee. It was a story Dann loved to tell.

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: