The long-awaited boat ramp Colusa-Sacramento River State Recreation Area opened with a grand ceremony. Phase I of the new boat launching facility, located just inside the state park off 10th street, cost $2.9 million and was funded by the California Department of Boating and Waterways. Dozens of people from the community attended the Dec. 28 launch as city officials celebrated the culmination of years of planning and construction.
Newly elected District 1 Supervisor Merced Corona, of Arbuckle, was sworn in on Monday, Jan. 7, during a ceremony at the Colusa County Courthouse. Corona was elected with nearly 60 percent of the votes within his district. The District 1 election was the only contested race of the June 5, 2018 mid-term primary.
Talks between the officials representing the Colusa Fire Department and Sacramento River Fire Protection Authority officially began to consider merging the two departments after the Colusa City Council established an exploratory ad hoc committee. Colusa Fire is the oldest fire department in Colusa County, and was established in 1873 with 34 volunteers. Sacramento River Fire Protection District was formed was formed in 1997 by consolidating the Colusa County Fire Protection District and the Grand Island Fire Protection District, both of which were formed in 1928.
After three decades at the Colusa County Fairgrounds, the Colusa Firefighters Association’s annual crab feed returned to the department’s Market Street station. The single largest event for the Association raised thousands of dollars for a number of sponsored programs, including Santa on Wheels, Senior Citizen Smoke Detector Program, and others. The 2020 Crab Feed will be held at the 750 Market Street Fire Station on Jan. 18.
Colusa County mourned the tragic death of Davis Police Officer Natalie Corona who was the first California law enforcement officer shot and killed in the line of duty in 2019, and the second officer shot and killed in 2019 in the nation. Corona died Jan. 10 while investigating a motor vehicle accident. Her killer was found dead a few hours later from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. The 22-year old Pierce High School graduate had wanted to be a police officer her entire life, and had been on duty just a few weeks when she was killed. Corona’s death drew thousands of people to her memorials and inspired numerous charity events, including an Honor Ride that pays tribute to law enforcement officers who paid the ultimate price, as a way to raise money for various endowment funds as memorials to her life. Corona would be laid to rest in her hometown of Arbuckle on Jan. 18 with hundreds of peace officer from across the state in attendance and thousands of people lining the streets of Davis and Arbuckle for the 40-mile procession. So far in 2019, 122 peace officers have died in the U.S. in line of duty. Of them, 46 died by gunfire, largely in the states of California, New York, and Texas.
A trial by jury was set for the Williams Unified School District trustee accused of election fraud and perjury. Rosa Orozco-Lopez, 62, of Yuba City, who claimed to live in Williams when she filed candidacy papers in 2014 and again in 2016, was charged in 2018 with two counts of perjury by declaration, one count of filing false nomination papers (declaration of candidacy), one count of voter registration fraud, and three counts of voting in an election in which she was ineligible to vote. On March 9, before her scheduled May 21 trial, Orozco-Lopez reversed her not-guilty plea on multiple felonies and pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of fraudulent voting and voter registration fraud. She was sentenced to three years probation and community service. Orozco-Lopez last appeared in court on Oct. 9 for a review of her probation, where it was determined she had completed her community service and that no further review would be necessary.
Pierce High School’s Arbuckle FFA tested the skills of 1,700 FFA members from throughout the state at the annual Field Day on Feb. 2. The event was rained on but not rained out. PHS junior Alli Lux chaired the 21st annual event, primarily as a way to promote and emphasize agriculture jobs. The Arbuckle FFA Field Day was started in 1998, and was the only agriculture education event of its kind in the state. The daylong event takes months to plan and dozens of donors, judges, and volunteers to implement.
California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson was in Colusa on Jan. 25 for the annual meeting of the Colusa County Farm Bureau. The state organization turned 100 years old in 2019. Johansson said the need to engage legislators and the public about the importance of promoting family farms and ranches and finding solutions to problems facing rural communities has never been more important, especially after loosing three Central Valley farmers in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm election.
About 30,000 people were thought to have come through the gates of the Colusa County Fairgrounds for the three-day Colusa Farm Show how, which wrapped its 54th year on Feb. 7 of showcasing the latest innovations for the agriculture industry. On Feb. 6, more than 450 people attended the 17th Colusa Farm Show Rabobank Breakfast at St. Bernadette’s Hall, hosted by the alumni of the California State University, Chico College of Agriculture, the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation, and Alpha Gamma Rho. Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea gave the keynote address, speaking about the devastating Nov. 8, 2018 Camp Fire that destroyed much of Paradise.
Caltrans closed Interstate 5 on Feb. 14 between Maxwell Road and Highway 20 after an “atmospheric river” rolled though the area during the night. Motorists on the southbound side stood in traffic for hours, while many took their chances on rural roads, only to find road closure signs at almost every turn. A number of people as well as semi-trucks drivers, tried to divert off Interstate at Delevan Road, only to be stopped by the closure of County Road 99 and Four Mile Road. Motorists on the southbound side stood in traffic for hours, while many took their chances on rural roads, only to find road closure signs at almost every turn. Meanwhile, Williams Fire Department, Public Works, Glenn Colusa Irrigation District, and volunteers worked to build a protection barrier on Highway 99 to keep floodwaters from inundating the north end of Williams.
Williams California Highway Patrol Officer Philip Martinsen was stabbed on Feb. 15, after struggling to arrest a motorist on Interstate 5. Haile Eden Neil was reportedly driving in excess of 100 mph in Interstate 5 near Myers Road, in Arbuckle, with her hazard lights flashing on when Martinsen initiated the traffic stop. She became belligerent during a field sobriety test and used a concealed knife to stab the officer. Tow Truck driver, Christian Melendrez, 21, of Arbuckle, would later be hailed hero after stopping to help the injured officer cuff Neil.
Neil was charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and driving under the influence but committed suicide on April 14, one day before her case was to be heard in court, by hanging herself in her cell at the Colusa County Jail. Her family would later file a wrongful lawsuit claiming the Colusa County Jail failed to get the young woman, who was diagnosed with a mental illness at age 13, the proper mental health care she needed while she was incarcerated.
Colusa County started gearing up for the decennial census that will take place in 2020. The Board of Supervisors authorized the Colusa County Health and Human Services to enter into an outreach agreement with the state to make sure every person in counted. The state granted Colusa County $25,000 to make sure all households answer the census. The Colusa County Census Committee plan to accomplish that by partnering with the libraries, family action centers, the media, and by other means.
Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, and Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Tehama, introduce a bill Feb. 20 that would repeal provisions of recently passed legislation that allows parole hearings for juveniles originally sentenced to life without parole. The legislation was called “Erik’s Law,” named for Erik Ingebretsen, of Colusa, who was brutally murdered in 1997 by Nathan Ramazzini, his childhood best friend, with both were just 16 years old. Ramazzini was convicted in 1998 for first degree premeditated murder, lying in wait, plus one year for the use of weapons – in this case the bat he used to bludgeon Ingebretsen to death and the knife he and Leo Contreras, then 19, used to mutilate his dead body. Ramazzini is one of about 270 California inmates who were sentenced to life without parole for murders they committed while they were minors. Due to the passage of Senate Bill 394, in 2017, Ramazzini and other convicted murderers would be eligible for parole after serving 25 years in state prison. Contreras, who was sentenced to 25 years to life for his part in Ingebretsen’s murder, has already been released.
It was an end of an era in 2019 for Sankey Automobile Company, after Hoblit Motors purchased the General Motors dealership from Paul Sankey. The auto dealership was originally founded in Williams by Paul Sankey’s maternal grandparents in 1921, before moving it to Colusa in 1924. The Colusa City Council proclaimed Feb. 28, 2019 as Sankey Automobile Company Day in Colusa in honor of an iconic business that passed into history.
The Colusa Police Department began grappling with a police officer shortage that would haunt them most of 2019. City officials believe police officers leaving their training grounds for better benefits and pay once they have “their feet wet” is the primary reason for lack of officer retention at small agencies. Police Chief Josh Fitch said his department also lacks an ability to provide police officers with special assignments and other opportunities for advancement. With fewer people going in to law enforcement (a national trend) applicants who want to work in Colusa are at an all time low, as is the number of people who can pass background checks, Fitch said.
The Colusa County Board of Supervisors on March 5, at Sheriff Joe Garofalo’s request, asked Gov. Gavin Newsom to continue to declare that a state of emergency exists in Colusa County as a result of a series of storms that continue to dump excessive rain on already saturated grounds. Due to flooded conditions, 24 Colusa County roads remained closed weeks after the Feb. 5 storm.
The first in a series of Town Hall meetings on a proposed groundwater management tax was held in Arbuckle on March 7. Colusa County landowners thronged to the first meeting trying to get their arms around the Proposition 218 process, which would ultimately pass to fund the new Colusa Groundwater Agency.
Williams Police Chief Ed Anderson resigned March 18 after he and three other Williams PD staffers became embroiled in an internal affairs investigation that ultimately cost Sgt. Steve Woldanski, records technician Eileen Niblack, and K-9 handler Sgt. Jennifer Parker, their jobs. Former Police Chief Jim Saso would return to the helm of the Williams Police Department on April 1. Saso served as Colusa County Assistant Sheriff to Sheriff Joe Garofalo since 2015, but current and former Williams officials said the city needed him more. Saso said leaving the Colusa County Sheriff’s Office was a difficult decision, but he felt it was more important, toward the end of his law enforcement career, to leave a department that functions well under its current leadership and staff to resume command of the Williams Police Department, where he can help guide a smooth transition toward the future.
The Williams City Council voted 3-2 on March 13 to bump their pay 40 percent, although the raise won’t take effect until December of 2020. Mayor Alfred Sellers, along with Councilmen Santos Jaurequi, and Roberto Mendoza voted to increase the stipend from $300 a month to $420.
Councilmen Sajit Singh and John Troughton voted against the increase, which is the first time stipends have increased since 2010.
The Colusa City Council on March 20 unanimously approved a developer agreement with RPTS Development LLC, who plans to build a cannabis manufacturing business at Colusa Industrial Properties. The project is located on two acres of land next to the Colusa Visitors and Business Center on Davison Court. The property was previously scoped out by Cultivation Technologies, Inc, one of the first companies to express interest in marijuana production in Colusa back in 2016. Compass Leaf, the cannabis company also under development at Davison Court, is building their operation on the remaining eight acres originally sought by CTI.
After two county employees from the Colusa County Child Support Department requested a $6,500 trip to Niagara Falls at taxpayer expense for a conference officials determined would provide them with little or no benefit, newly seated Supervisor Merced Corona said all requests for out-of-state travel under his watch will receive more scrutiny. Since Corona took office in January 2019, out-of-state travel requests are no longer passed on consent calendars with little explanation, but are required to be brought to the full Board of Supervisors for open discussion and vote. Taxpayers and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association have long criticized government employees and politicians for taking unnecessary pilgrimages, typically held in popular vacation spots, when money could be better spent elsewhere. Corona said he received at least 10 calls from his constituents about the Niagara Falls trip. Since then, some Colusa County Departments have changed their own policies for approving taxpayer-funded junkets, regardless of where the funding originated.
Williams officials announced at the City Council’s March 20 meeting that the city received a “clean” audit report for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, although it concluded General Fund revenues were down from the previous year, not up as many people believe. The report, delivered by Finance Director Rex Greenbaun, essentially disputed a recent OP-ED written by former Mayor Chuck Bergson, who claimed that the city had received such a large influx of cash from recent developments that it should be able to fix its crumbling facilities, including the roads. According to the audit report, the 2018 General Fund revenues in the amount of $3,817,841 2018 was a decrease of $124,000, from $3,942,241 the previous year. Of that amount, $103,000 was a decrease in sales and local taxes, largely as a result in the drop in the price of gasoline.
One hundred years after a worldwide movement began to free Korea from Japanese rule in the early 20th century, a patriot who supported the cause from American soil was returned to his beloved homeland.
Two officials of the Korean government oversaw the exhumation and cremation of Jai Soo Lee, of Maxwell, and his wife, Jai Sun, on April 5, so their ashes could be returned to South Korea to be buried with honors in the Daejeon National Cemetery near Seoul. The Korean Prime Minister, Korean dignitaries, and several members of Lee’s family attended the ceremony on March 8. Lee immigrated to Hawaii in 1902 before Japan colonized Korea in 1910. He dedicated himself to building a good life in America and became a well-respected rice farmer in Maxwell. In 1920, Lee helped develop and served as treasurer of the Korean Aviation School, in Willows, which was established to train fighter pilots for the Korean Provisional Government, which he and other Korean patriots with means supported until Korea was liberated from Japan at the end of World War II. Lee died in 1956.
Dozens of people were doused in blue on Saturday to raise awareness that strong, nurturing communities that support families play a role in preventing child abuse and neglect.
Men, women, and children of all ages participated in the third annual Colusa Color Run, hosted by Colusa County Community Advocates for Parents & Children, which is held every April in connection with Child Abuse Prevention Month and the annual Colusa County Office of Education’s Family Fair, which recognizes April as the Month of the Young Child.
The color run has been become so successful in such a short period of time, CAPC hosted two start times this year.
Longtime Maxwell resident Elsie Brown celebrated her 100th birthday with five generations of family and friends with a party at the American Legion Hall on April 13. Brown is a 1937 graduate of Pierce High School. She began her residency in the town of Maxwell the same year. She was married to Marion Brown, who was Maxwell Fire Department’s chief from 1951 to 1996. She was town’s librarian for many years. In 1942, Elsie served as an aircraft spotter during World War II.
The Maxwell Unified School District Board of Trustees voted in favor of offering full day kindergarten when the 2019-2020 school year convenes after summer break in August. The April 10 decision by Maxwell officials came ahead of passage of Assembly Bill 197 that would have mandated kindergarten be “the same number of minutes per school day,” as provided to students in the first grade, beginning in 2022. However, Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed the bill. Newsom said that while he supported increased access to full-day kindergarten, he could not sign the bill, as it would impose new costs outside the state budget. In 2014, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill.
Groundbreaking got underway on April 18 on the new Ag Barn at Princeton High School. The facility will be the first of its kind at the small high school in northeastern Colusa County, and will house animals raised by students that participate in the FFA organization. The $93,000 project was funded primarily from a Career Technical Education grant, plus the Ag Boosters raised and donated about $10,000 for the additional work.
The Colusa City Council on April 16 introduced an ordinance fortifying property owner responsibility for mandatory garbage service.
City officials said the new ordinance is essentially consistent will the practices currently employed by the city, but makes changes to the billing and collection process in order to make the collection of delinquent accounts more feasible. Garbage service will not only continue to be mandatory for all occupied residences, but once formally adopted, the amended ordinance will require all property owners to have the garbage collection bill transferred to their names, if not in their names already.
The Colusa County Board of Supervisors on April 16 voted unanimously to temporarily reduce development impact fees countywide after admitting their growth expectations from 13 years ago turned out to be highly overstated.
The good news to builders who have developed commercial property in the county since the fees were adopted in 2006 is that a spreadsheet glitch prevented the grossly inflated impact fees from ever being charged. The board permanently suspended the Arbuckle/College City traffic impact fees, and directed a new comprehensive development impact study be conducted in order to project facility and road needs within the county that are based on realistic growth expectations. Officials said that before the recession hit in the late 2000s, the county – as well as the state – was experiencing tremendous development pressure. When the fee structures were developed, the county estimated that approximately 31,000 new homes and 1.6 million square-feet of commercial and industrial development would be built in county jurisdiction between 2006 and 2025, from which impact fees would need to generate about $290 million for the county to build additional fire departments, new health and human services facilities, additional libraries, public offices for county administration, new jails and juvenile detention facilities, and 60 miles of new county roads, freeway interchanges, and traffic signals. Obviously those projected developments did not happen, nor does the county believe they will happen anytime in the future.
E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web,” was the focus for the 2019 Community Read on April 27. The 10th annual celebration included a hands-on spider lesson with the Exploratory Science Center at the Colusa Library, a presentation on weaving, a Stagehands production of the play, based on the famous children’s book, and a number of other activities. The annual event is held in honor of Virginia Yerxa (1920-2009), who was a member of the Colusa Unified School District Board of Trustees for 25 years, and was involved in many other activities and organizations in the community.
The Colusa Planning Commission got a glimpse of what the Triple Crown Cannabis Research and Development Business Park on East Clay Street might look like at full build-out. The nearly 1.5 million square-foot business park would include greenhouses for the cultivation and processing of marijuana, manufacturing facilities, warehouses, administrative offices, parking areas, and enclosures for storage. The long-awaited project was pitched several years ago to replace the controversial housing development proposal known as Riverbend Estates, and gained momentum after the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.
The Pacific Islands came to life at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Colusa on Saturday. The ministry’s first luau had much to offer, including rich Polynesian food in the form of a whole roasted pig, sweet barbecued chicken, Sapasui, sweet potatoes and other flavors of the clime and culture of Tonga, Hawaii, Fiji, and Samoa. Rev. Kalolaine Lavalu-Afu, pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church, and her family prepared the meal and provided the entertainment, which included the costumes, music, and dances that are unique to the islands Fiji, Hawaii, and Tonga.
The Colusa County Board of Supervisors last week introduced an ordinance to amend the county code on commercial cannabis operations to include marijuana nurseries and testing at Colusa Industrial Properties. The action falls just four months after the board approved limited indoor cultivation in the business park, which is currently in the process of being annexed into the city of Colusa where marijuana processing and distribution have been embraced.
Maxwell High School’s 89th Annual Rodeo on May 18 was pretty much a washout. Rain stayed at bay for the parade, which featured floats, classic cars, riding groups, and the ever-popular Maxwell Fire Department volunteers, but the royal court, high school students, staff members, and volunteers had their work cut out for them as a downpour after the parade soaked most of the afternoon events. The 2020 rodeo, which will be a 90-year milestone in the small community will be held on May 19.
The move toward consolidating the Colusa Fire Department with the Sacramento River Fire Protection District has been going well through most of 2019. So well, the Colusa City Council approved an automatic aid agreement that would allow the agencies to cross-jurisdictional boundaries. City officials said that under the agreement authorized May 21 the strict boundaries the two departments have maintained for about 30 years will cease to exist during certain emergency conditions, and would serve as the trial run for a permanent merger. Plans to merge the two departments would be put on an indefinite hold by the end of the year due to the difficulty blending funding sources for the two distinct agencies.
The Williams City Council decided the road damage from heavy trucks is a burden the city can no longer afford. The City Council voted 5-0 on May 15 to ban trucks on the northern portion of Husted Road, where floodwaters have made the road more vulnerable to damage. The ordinance amending the city’s municipal code dealing with truck routes went into effect in mid-July. While the city repaired some section of roadway on Husted, not all the damage caused by trucks has been repaired. Part of the problem, officials said, is that the road has water seepage from both sides of the street, making it an unsuitable structure to tolerate heavy truck traffic to begin with.
The Colusa County Fair celebrating “80 years of American Flair” wrapped up on June 9 after four days (five if you count pre-events) of competitions, pageants, midway games, carnival rides, animal exhibitions, and deep-fried everything. Melissa Ramirez, the daughter of Juan and Maria Ramirez, of Maxwell, was crowned Miss Colusa County opening night. Caeden Agnew, of Colusa, will wear the crown of the 2019 Colusa County Mini Miss until this time next year.
Agnew, 11, the daughter of Garrett and Emma Agnew, of Colusa, was crowned at the popular pre-fair event on June 5. The Colusa County Fair Foundation’s annual fundraiser was also a pre-fair event on June 5. The Foundation hosted a “Redneck Rodeo,” which raised over $100,000. The group plans to go even bigger in 2020 with an event held on June 10. The 2020 Colusa County Fair will be held June 11-14 with the theme “Barn in the USA.”
Michael Rogers, a former supervising probation officer for Butte County, assumed command of the Colusa County Probation Department after being sworn in by Superior Court Judge Jeffrey A. Thompson on June 11. Rogers is supervise, plan, and coordinate the activities and operations of the probation office, including adult and juvenile probation, and provide his staff with technical assistance in the areas of probation and criminal justice.
Michael Rogers, a former supervising probation officer for Butte County, assumed command of the Colusa County Probation Department after being sworn in by Superior Court Judge Jeffrey A. Thompson on June 11. Rogers is supervise, plan, and coordinate the activities and operations of the probation office, including adult and juvenile probation, and provide his staff with technical assistance in the areas of probation and criminal justice.
The Colusa City Council formed an ad hoc committee on June 18 to start tracking cannabis revenue and put together a plan for its use. Colusa has several cannabis businesses operating in the city, and several more in development, including plans for potential multi-function cannabis campus on East Clay Street. Because the cannabis fund is restricted revenue, the use of the money the city has made off of developer agreements with cannabis manufacturing companies would need to go to the City Council for action before they are spent. Officials project the projected cannabis fund balance by June 2020 is approximately $506,000. Mayor Josh Hill and Councilman Tom Reische comprise the committee tracking cannabis revenue.
The Williams City Council last week introduced an ordinance June 19 that prohibits people from living in recreational vehicles unless they are parked in a lawfully operated mobile/RV park or campground. People living in RVs parked on vacant lots, at existing residences, or on public streets have come to symbolize a perplexing regional homeless crisis in California, and Williams is not immune to the problem. The Williams Planning Commission approved the code amendment in May and recommended the ban to the City Council. The 2019 ordinance went into effect in July. The ban does not target RVs with working self-containment functions (water and septic) in which no outside services are needed, such as those used by temporary visitors and vacationers, so long as they are not connected to city services or used for sleeping purposes beyond seven days.
For the first time in six years, the Colusa City Council adopted a proposed annual budget that didn’t dip heavily into reserves. Although city officials said they would not start the 2019-2020 fiscal year on July 1 in the red, balancing revenues with expenses was nevertheless painful. The City Council approved the proposed $19 million budget, which includes capital projects, water and sewer, at a special meeting on June 18. While the budget took into account an anticipated increase in sales tax and VLF by about $53,000, due to the economy, as well as an increase in building permits, business licenses, and transient occupancy taxes, city officials anticipated franchise fees to be down by $5,000, property taxes down by $16,000, and other revenues down by $20,000. The city will also see increases in liability, workers compensation, and property insurance premiums, Benson said, as well as increases in personnel costs. Personnel costs represent 67 percent ($2.2 million) of the General Fund expenditures.
The Colusa County Grand Jury released its findings in June following an exhaustive investigation into the local allocation and distribution of gasoline tax funding, which was initiated by a complaint from a citizen of Williams in 2018. While the grand jury found that maintenance and repair of local roads is consistently underfunded in all of Colusa County, including the cities of Colusa and Williams, the 17-member panel concluded that gas tax dollars are being distributed to each of the jurisdictions properly. Colusa County officials had hoped the Grand Jury report would settle the long fight between them and a former Williams official that California law – not Colusa County or the Colusa County Transportation Commission – determines how tax collected for road maintenance is allocated back to the county and cities. Apparently, that is not the case as the argument has continued to surface at Williams City Council meetings throughout the remainder of 2019.
The 2019 Farm to Fork dinner on June 20 combined fine dining with homestyle comfort at Veterans Memorial Park, in Colusa. Four years running, the annual event was created by Colusa Farmers Market Manager Jennifer Diaz to help raise awareness and bring in more customers to the vendors who participate in the market each week during the summer. Three quarters of the proceeds from the Farm to Fork dinner go to many organizations in the county.
■ The Colusa County Board of Supervisors approved a temporary recommended budget for 2019-20 that was $2.3 million in the red. The $97 million “stop gap” budget allowed the local government to function until they approved a final budget in September. One of the factors that contributed to the county’s budget woes in 2019 was the increase in pension contributions for public employees, a problem not unique to just local agencies. According to Pension Tracker, the total market pension debt owned to public employees by taxpayers in California is more than $1 trillion, the second highest in the nation after Alaska. Pensions for city and county (non-public safety) government employees averaged $74,599 in 2018, while the average pension for public safety retirees was $108,320.
■ Sophia Stocks, the daughter of Steven and Kimberly Stocks, of Princeton, was crowned Big Queen of the 2019 Portuguese Festa on June 30, in a tradition dating back centuries to Portugal when a young woman was chosen queen for the day by Queen Isabella at a feast celebrating the end of the great famine period (1315-1317). The Festa do Espírito Santo (Festival of the Holy Spirit) has been held in the eastern Colusa County river community for more than 100 years, and is the area’s oldest celebration of Portuguese heritage, Azorean culture, and the Catholic faith.
■ Jill Wright, adult education instructor with Colusa County Office of Education, was named the California FBLA “Business Person of the Year” at the 2019 National Leadership Conference June 29 in Texas. Write was a Maxwell High School teacher for 33 years. After retiring, went on to teach Adult Career Technical Education for the county.
■ Until July 4, 2019, the last time Stonyford residents came together for an old-fashioned Independence Day celebration was the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976, which celebrated the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Thanks to the newly formed Stonyrose Heritage Society, Stonyford residents can look forward to a new annual tradition that includes a parade and town barbecue on the Fourth of July. For its inaugural event, the SHS picked up expenses for the free hot dog and hamburger barbecue, although donations were accepted to help with future events. Side dishes like baked beans and potato, Jell-O, and noodle salads complemented the dinner and came from the community “pot-luck” style. A variety of pies prepared by community members were also served, but only after five judges, Sandy Corbin, Kayla Grosberg, Barbara Cook, Irene Huttman, and John Huttman, had a crack at their pre-cut presentation and taste in the event’s first pie contest. Barbara Piearski was the winner.
■ Two men walked into the Umpqua Bank in Arbuckle on July 5 wearing masks over the faces and brandishing handguns. The two men robbed the bank but were pursued by law enforcement. One escaped on foot after he jumped from the vehicle when it came to a stop near the Yolo County line. The second man abandoned the vehicle in an orchard south of County Road 2, west of County Road 88, near Dunnigan, and also fled on foot. After months of investigation, Michael Gene Jones, Jr., 49, was arrested in Woodland on Oct. 6 on a felony warrant obtained by the Colusa County Sheriff’s Office in late September.
Jones Jr. was booked into the Yolo County Jail and then transported to Colusa County and charged with second-degree robbery, two special allegations involving the use of a firearm, grand theft auto, receiving stolen vehicle, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He has pleaded not guilty. John Williams III, 40, was arrested on Oct. 7 by the San Mateo Sheriff’s Office and is still awaiting extradition to Colusa County on a felony warrant alleging the same charges. He has not yet appeared in court on the bank robbery charges.
■ Two men reportedly assaulted a Williams resident at gunpoint in a home invasion robbery on July 9. Deputies from the Colusa County Sheriff’s Office, along with officers from the Williams Police Department and California Highway Patrol, were called to the 2500 block of Davis Road around 4 AM on a report of an assault in which the victim had been held at gunpoint, said Sheriff’s Det. Sgt. Jose Ruiz, in a statement. Upon arrival, law enforcement located the victim outside the residence. The suspects fled the scene and were never found.
■ The Colusa County Aviation Association hosted their 23rd Old Tyme Fly-In on July 13 at the Colusa Airport, which is how they annually inspire people, especially the younger generation, to love airplanes and aviation as much as they do. The annual event included a pancake breakfast and raffle in the hanger of Sacramento River Aviation, as well as a small classic car show.
■ The Williams City Council adopted a 45-day moratorium on the issuance of conditional use permits for the operation of large residential care facilities. The 4-0 decision, at a special meeting on July 9, came after the Williams Planning Commission revoked the conditional use permit for Mrs. Love’s Guest House after city officials learned it has stopped providing residential care for senior citizens – a stipulation of their permit – and had contracted with Colusa, Yuba, and Sutter counties to house adults under 60 who have serious mental health issues.
■ Salvador Garcia Vaca, 23, the suspected murderer of longtime Williams resident Karen Garcia, was located and apprehended by the U.S. Marshals Service in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, after more than 18 months on the run. Garcia-Vaca was turned over to the Colusa County Task Force in the early morning on Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, and was booked into the Colusa County Jail. He had been on the run since he was last seen on Jan. 13, 2018, writing “Bring Karen Home” on vehicles at a car-tagging event in Williams. He is suspected of killing Karen on Jan. 8, 2018, inside their Colusa apartment where the couple had been raising their 2-year-old daughter prior to their breakup a few weeks earlier. Karen’s body was found on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, in Woodland, where the Yolo County Coroner’s Office announced the cause of death as blunt force trauma. Garcia-Vaca’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 16, 2020. His flee from justice after Karen’s death was featured on the hit show “In Pursuit with John Walsh.” Season 2 of the popular show, which is expected to run an update on the case with footage of Garcia-Vasa being returned to the U.S., will get underway in early 2020 on Investigation Discovery channel.
■ Former Narcotics Task Force Commander Mike Bradwell was promoted to the second highest position at the Colusa County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Joe Garofalo swore Bradwell in as assistant sheriff on Aug. 1 to fill the vacancy left by Jim Saso, who returned as police chief to the Williams Police Department last April.
Assistant Sheriff Bradwell will be largely responsible for all public safety operations, and will oversee personnel. He will also aid, advise, and cooperate with the Sheriff in general administrative matters and in determining matters of policy. Bradwell, who has been with the Colusa County Sheriff’s Department for 13 years, has received the Distinguished Service Commendation for exceptional service. He also represented the Deputy Sheriff’s Association as president and vice-president for several years.
■ The Stagehands civic theater group celebrated five decades of making people laugh or bringing them to tears on Aug. 10, 2019. The Stagehands was established in 1969 by Dan Lee, Sarah Toon, Joanne Ferraiuolo, and Colusa County Fair Manager Robert Bisho. The group held numerous performances over the years since first bringing the community John Patrick’s comedy “The Curious Savage,” that same year. The Colusa City Council and the Colusa County Board of Supervisors, in proclamations, declared Aug. 10, 2019 as Stagehands Day in Colusa. Proclamations also recognized the group for their years of community service. Saturday’s celebration in Veterans Memorial Park in Colusa of Stagehands’ golden anniversary included a large display of memorabilia from the last 50 years, including numerous posters, scrapbooks containing newspaper articles, and a booklet published by Lee, an historical account of the civic theater’s first decade.
■ Working only at night to beat the August heat, painters gave Williams City Hall and Fire Department a whole new look. In less than a week, Williams’ historic city offices and adjacent fire station were given a much-needed facelift. The building was last painted in the 1980s and a coat of paint well overdue. The Planning Commission approved the earth-tone pallet on July 24. The main color, Pismo Dunes, accented by Ashen Tan and Classic Gray, are not part of the City’s approved color palette, which required city staff to go through the Williams Planning Commission for approval.
■ Colusa will see the return of competitive swimming in the summer of 2020 thanks to a very successful fundraising event on Aug. 17. More than 100 swimmers backstroked, breaststroked, and freestyled their way to the finish line, raising more than $10,000 to restart a program many thought had died with the ages. Swimmers competed for trophies at the Colusa Swimming Pool in a number of events, mostly 25-meter and 50-meter races. They also competed for best floatation devices and best-dressed swimmer, the latter honor going to the Colusa Fire Department volunteers, who came out of the locker room in cutoff turnout gear, held up by suspenders and with their faces smeared with zinc oxide. The money raised by the fundraiser will go largely to pay league fees when the 2020 swimming season gets underway.
■ Pierce Joint Unified School trustees and staff welcomed community members to Arbuckle Elementary School for a ribbon cutting ceremony on Aug. 14, 2019 to officially open the newest classrooms at the school. McCuen Construction, Inc., of Loomis, built the gable style building in about 10 months, so that it would ready at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. The building was funded by the proceeds from the sale of $3.7 million in general obligation bonds, which voters approved in 2016.
■ Enrique Saavedra Hernandez, 24, was arrested on Aug. 22 on suspicion of deliberately setting a number of fires along County Road 99 as he walked from Williams to Arbuckle. Hernandez admitted to setting the first fires because he wanted to see if they would burn. Firefighters from Williams and Arbuckle responded to the fires, which burned from 10 to 30 feet of dry grass before they were extinguished. Hernandez pleaded guilty to setting the fires at his arraignment and was sentenced to two years in prison.
■ Colby Stillwell and Ryan Sherbondy secured their spots at the World Duck Calling Championship in Stuggart, Ark., after winning the two qualifying contests at the annual waterfowl festival held in Colusa, Aug. 24-25. The contest was held at Veterans Memorial Park, across the street from Kittle’s Outdoor & Sport Co., which sponsors the annual event each year. For their wins, Sherbondy and Stillwell each received $750 in cash to pay for airfare to the world competition and other prizes. Daniel Ault, placed second in the State Championship; Stuart Mattos placed third; and Stuart McCullough placed fourth, with all winning an assortment of prizes.
■ Natalie McCullough took over the helm at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Colusa following the retirement of longtime administrator Barbara Genera. McCullough, a mother of five, started her career in education in 2006 and added to her teaching credentials a bachelor’s degree in accounting. While working as a principal for a Catholic school in Woodland, McCullough also attended law school and possesses a juris doctor degree.
■ Agriculture Commissioner Gregory A. Hinton on Aug. 27 released the 2018 crop report, an analysis of the gross values of all agriculture commodities grown in the Colusa County in the previous year. The report showed the gross production value for Colusa County agriculture was about $908 million (up 2.8 percent) from $884 million in 2017. Almond production remains Colusa County’s top crop at approximately $326 million, followed by rice ($234 million) and walnuts ($61 million).
■ A lawsuit over the new assessment fee to fund a local government agency tasked with sustaining groundwater was filed in Colusa County Superior Court. Jeanmarie McCullough, representing the McCullough and Barthels family trusts, filed the complaint Aug. 2, asking the court to invalidate the operation fee for the Colusa Groundwater Authority. Protesting landowners, including those who filed the lawsuit, claim the operations fee is not a lawful assessment because the CGA did not identify the special benefits conferred upon the parcels subject to the fee ($1.21 per acre) nor was the operations fee apportioned so that the amount charged to a parcel would not exceed the reasonable cost or expenses to be funded. A status conference is scheduled in Colusa County Superior Court on Feb. 11, 2020.
■ In a historic decision, the Colusa County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on to reduce the terms of California Land Conservation Act contracts as a way to make up for some of the county’s property tax losses that result from landowner participation in the long-running agriculture and open space preservation program.
The board, following a public hearing on Aug. 27, exercised its right under Assembly Bill 1265 to reduce 10-year Williamson Act contracts to nine years and 20-year Farmland Security Zone contracts to 18 years, beginning Jan. 1, 2020, in order to recapture about 10 percent of the property tax savings currently afforded landowners who agree not to convert their farmland to non-agricultural uses for decades at a time.
The state-run Williams Act program has been in place since 1965 in order to reduce urban sprawl, preserve agriculture, and maintain open space by giving participating landowners a significant break on their property taxes.
■ Colusa County released the findings of a survey which will allow Colusa County Department of Health and Human Services to develop a strategic plan to address one of the root causes of homelessness: the lack of affordable and supportive housing for at-risk individuals and families, and those with chronic problems, such as illness, physical disability, mental health disorders, and substance abuse. According to the survey authorized by Colusa County, as part of the Dos Rios Continuum of Care, which also includes Glenn and Trinity counties, there were 196 people in the three-county area identified as homeless during the last 10 days of January. According to the survey, three individuals were sleeping in abandoned buildings, seven stayed in a motel, six were outside, two slept in a park, three slept on a sidewalk, and seven were living in a vehicle. Of those, 18 were homeless for the first time, the survey said. In the three-county area, 18 percent of all homeless are children; 8 percent are military veterans, and 8 percent have a mental illness.
■ The Colusa County Board of Supervisors voted against advancing the Colusa Groundwater Authority 100 percent of its revenue from a new fee imposed on landowners for ground water sustainability activities until the lawsuit asking the court to invalidate the tax is settled.
Colusa County landowners were slated to pay the $1.21 per acre in new property taxes beginning with their December tax bills to fund efforts to develop groundwater management plans that comply with state legislation signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2014 that protects groundwater from the effects of drought and climate change. But instead of advancing the agency the full revenue from the taxes, the county will place the money into a fund as they are collected and dispersed to the CGA three times a year. If the CGA prevails in the lawsuit, then Colusa County officials said they could – in the future – reconsider advancing the tax revenue annually before it is collected.
The Williams City Council on Sept. 18 agreed to spend up to $100,000 on two electronic monument signs for both the east and west side of Interstate 5. Each of the brick monuments feature a digital billboard to advertise community events, much as the mobile trailer in downtown Williams has done the last five or so years. The signs, controlled by remote access, are capable of showing text, photographs, graphics, animation, videos, time, temperature, dates, etc.
■ Hundreds of people attended Grocery Outlet’s grand opening in Williams on Sept. 26, 2019. Many had stood in line for hours to be the store’s first customers. Chris and Cara Duncan, the independent owner-operators of the new Grocery Outlet, handed out over 200 gift cards ranging from $5 to $200. When they ran out of those, the couple handed out $3 off coupons. Still, the customers kept coming and no one appeared to leave empty-handed. In addition to store coupons, gift cards, and grocery giveaways, the Duncans presented a $1,500 check to First 5 Colusa Children and Families Commission for programs that enhance the lives of all children, prenatal through age 5, through education, outreach, and systems change. The store is the first large grocery retailer for Williams, and was a welcomed addition to the community, city officials said.
■ The Colusa County Board of Supervisors approved a balanced 2019-20 budget on Sept. 24. The $99 million budget, which includes special districts, county services areas, special revenue funds, and internal services, allocates about 3.6 percent more spending than last year, although most of that increase (94.4 percent) is outside the general fund. While the Board of Supervisors oversee the entire budget, which includes state and federal funding, they have the most control over the general fund component of the budget, which is about $33.6 million, up from $33.4 million last year. This year’s budget continues the county’s participation in the Sites Reservoir Project, and allows for the purchase of long-needed software for Animal Control, the Agriculture Commissioner, and Community Development Department. The budget also funded 12 new vehicles, including five patrol vehicles for the sheriff and three for Health and Human Services.
■ The Colusa Unified School District Board of Trustees announced Sept. 23 that they would rename the Colusa High School athletic field to honor former Superintendent of Schools Larry Yeghoian, who died unexpectedly on Sept. 1, 2019. Yeghoian spent 39 years as an educator, coach, and school administrator, 11 of which were at the helm of Colusa schools. He enriched the lives of students, dedicated himself to family and community, and served as an example to all, said Colusa Unified officials. Yeghoian retired from the district in 2012, but continued to remain active in the community. He was a member of the Colusa Lions Club, and integral in organizing the annual Christmas Tyme in Colusa celebration, Easter Egg hunt at the Colusa County Fairgrounds, cooking at various fundraisers, and putting out the American Flags that lined the streets of Colusa on holidays. In 2014, Yeghoian was presented the Colusa Alumni Association’s “You Inspired Me” award, and his name is forever etched on the inspiration wall at the football field. In September, the Association made Yeghoian – who donated countless hours to help the association develop and continue to produce a newsletter – an honorary member.
The Colusa City Council announced they would award $176,000 in Community Development Block Grant Program reuse income to help rehabilitate the Devonshire Apartments. The funding will be part of a $5 million overall of the facility’s interiors by the Regional Housing Authority, which was awarded federal low income tax credits for the project on Sept. 25. Built in 1972, The Devonshire has provided low-to-moderate income earners housing in Colusa under the federal Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) for more than four decades. The $7.5 million total project cost includes new appliances, cabinets, and fixtures. Regional Housing will also convert one apartment into a small community center and another into a three-bedroom, which will reduce the complex from 30 units to 28. Once completed, the facility will be managed by a non-profit set up and associated with Regional Housing.
The Colusa County Sheriff’s Department announced it would continue to boost recruitment and retention efforts by growing their own deputies. The Board of Supervisors on Sept. 24 authorized Sheriff Joe Garofalo to put as many as three recruits through the Peace Officer Standards and Training Academy, which started anew in December, in an effort to fill openings. Colusa County has supported the training program for nearly two decades as a way to attract recruits with ties to the community. Officials said they hope by paying for the academy along with giving the recruits a monthly fee and benefits, the deputies hired to go through the training program will stay in Colusa County rather than use their first assignments as springboards for higher paying jobs elsewhere.
■ The merging of the Colusa Fire Department with the Sacramento River Fire Protection District is not likely to happen anytime soon in the future. Colusa officials said the ad hoc committee, which consists of representatives from both agencies, has met regularly to discuss consolidating the two fire departments into one agency, but the group continues to run into snags along the way. Since May, the two fire departments have been crossing the strict boundaries that had been in place for 30 years as sort of a test run for consolidation, but the roadblocks to a complete merge has more to do with differing revenue sources, which makes merging the two agencies difficult. The Colusa Fire Department was formed in 1873, and is funded from revenues within the city’s general fund, which are expended at the discretion of the City Council. Sacramento River Fire Protection District was established in 1997 by consolidating the Colusa County Fire Protection District and the Grand Island Fire Protection District, both established in 1928. The agency receives funding from several sources, including property taxes, special assessments, grants, donations, impact fees, and Indian Gaming Funds. Until talks of consolidation resume or the idea is scrapped entirely, the two departments will continue to provide each other mutual aid when needed, officials said.
■ Local agencies began to scramble for a solution to the news that Enloe Medical Center would reduce ambulance service in Colusa County in November after reportedly loosing $400,000 a year. The cost per transport in an ambulance is $1,360 with the average reimbursement just $670 per transport from insurance; $589 from Medicare and $174 per transport from Medi-Cal.
Enloe asked Colusa County Board of Supervisors to provide an ambulance subsidy or provide a second ambulance resource staffed with a mix of volunteers and fire firefighters. Local Fire agencies believe the solution may be the formation of a special district to fund ambulance operations. That solution can take two years, officials said.
■ Students in Maxwell that get caught vaping in school, both nicotine and marijuana-laced products, will no longer get a vacation from class. Instead, the Colusa County Office of Education announced that it would provide an alternative to suspension to help the schools and community address the growing vaping problem in a more supportive way. Colusa County Tobacco Use Prevention Education Coordinator Santana King and School Resource Deputy Trenton Beck pitched the brief intervention program on Oct. 9 to the Maxwell Unified School District Board of Trustees, who have been under pressure by parents to improve discipline and safety of students. Colusa County schools not currently utilizing the program will also have the opportunity to get on board with the program.
■ Veterans Memorial Park in Colusa, on Oct. 12, went to the dogs, literally.
Friends of the Colusa County Animal Shelter hosted its first successful Puptoberfest, attracting quite a few people with and without their four-legged family members. The first-of-its-kind event featured a dog walk, costume contest, lawn games for kids, vendors, a photo booth, and raffles, along with treats for the dogs and food and drink for the two-legged variety. In addition to a dog walk to Will S. Green Park and back, dogs of all breeds were paraded about in a costume contest dressed as superheroes, insects, and pumpkins, among other characters.
■ The Maxwell Park and Recreation District Board of Directors said they would renew efforts to put a tax measure before property owners in 2020 in order to avoid eventual insolvency. The board is looking to use MK Election Services, of Merced, to oversee the Proposition 218 process, although they have not yet signed a formal contract. The district has approved an increase to the assessment that was set at $15 per parcel in 1986 to $64.50 for all parcels with a dwelling located in Maxwell; 30 cents per acre fee for farmland without a dwelling 43 acres or more; and $12.90 per year for parcels without a dwelling less than 43 acres, but plan to reconsider those amounts after the first of the new year.
■ A fire on Oct. 24 destroyed the new home on Jay Street in Colusa of the Safe Haven Wellness and Recovery Center. The Colusa Fire Department responded to the call about 5 AM to extinguish the blaze, but not before the flames totally gutted the inside of the historic building. The Colusa Police Department continues to investigate the cause of the fire as arson, officials said. Safe Haven moved from its Main Street facility to Oak Street during the summer of 2019 and had just celebrated its grand opening on Sept. 26. Behavior Health started Safe Haven following the passage of Proposition 63, the Mental Health Act of 2014, to be a non-judgmental and safe place where people can socialize, share, and learn skills on how to handle mental health challenges. It grew from about five participants to 20 to 30 active members participating daily. Many of those participating in Safe Haven’s 12-step programs struggle with substance abuse, which often go hand-in-hand with mental illness.
■ The Maxwell Park and Recreation District Auxiliary hosted its first Zombie 5k Run on Oct. 26 and the group could not have hoped for better fall weather for their kick-off. Sponsorship from Morning Star Packing Company, and donations from a few other local businesses, made the event possible.
■ The Sacramento Valley Museum ended the season on Oct. 26 with a sold-out Murder Mystery fundraising dinner and a real who done it. “Murder at the Banquet” brought out the museum’s biggest supporters, who come together every year to keep history alive, as well as a few newcomers.
The one-act comedy, in three scenes, was set in modern times where members of the International Association of Mystery Solvers were about to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, when not one – but two – sleuths were murdered most foul.
■ The Colusa County Sheriff’s Department launched a search for 18-year-old, Jose Canchola, of Colusa, after he was reported missing. Canchola was last seen leaving a residence around on Myers Road in Williams around 3 AM on Oct. 27. On Monday, Oct. 28, the Colusa County Sheriff’s Office performed a large search and rescue operation in the area of Lonestar Road and Myers Road but found nothing. After being missing for about three weeks, Canchola’s body was found floating in a ditch by farmworkers roughly two miles from where he was last seen. Colusa County Sheriff’s Department officials said they did not suspect foul play in Canchola’s death.
■ Two Colusa men believed to be members of a Sioc Street gang entered not-guilty pleas in connection with an alleged assault and robbery on Bridge Street in Colusa in the early morning hours of Oct. 9. Nickolas Roberto Rojas, 25, and Andrew Garcia, 22, are facing multiple felony charges, including assault and street terrorism. Both have extensive criminal histories. They have pleaded not guilty.
■ After having to move the date of the Arbuckle Car show a week because of high winds and power outages, the Arbuckle Revitalization Committee still marked a successful event on Nov. 3, 2019 with over 300 participants.
■ The Colusa County Board of Supervisors will allow the City of Colusa to draw the county airport into its proposed new city limits when the proposed annexation of Colusa Industrial Properties into the city moves forward. The board offered that consent on Nov. 5 after declaring there is no impact to airport operations either way.
While Colusa County LAFCO will make the final decision on the proposed annexation, county officials said allowing Colusa to include the airport on the map would keep boundary lines neat and set the stage for guided growth in the years ahead.
■ The Colusa Groundwater Authority, in a joint meeting Oct. 30 with the Glenn Groundwater Authority, selected Davids Engineering to help the two agencies work together to develop a single Groundwater Sustainability Plan for the Colusa Subbasin. The Chico-based firm has been contracted to complete the Hydrogeological Conceptual Model and water budgets for the Colusa Subbasin, set groundwater management standards and objectives, and identify actions or projects that meet the standards and objectives outlined by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014. The GSAs’ goal is to establish a monitoring program and plan that is geared at sustaining groundwater by 2042, officials said. The estimated cost of developing the plan is $911,000.
■ The Colusa Fire Department received approval from the Colusa City Council on Nov. 12 to convert its Ford Expedition XLT Command Unit into a Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulance. The BLS, a large red SUV, is already up and running and transporting people to the hospital when Enloe’s ambulance is unavailable. The BLS ambulance responds to all CFD calls within the Colusa City limits and will be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The cost to convert the vehicle was about $5,000. In December, the City Council approved the addition of one firefighter/EMT to the staff, with those costs expected to be offset by the reduction in the overtime the staff currently incurs throughout the year.
■ At a joint meeting on Nov. 21 of the Colusa County Board of Supervisors, City of Colusa, and the Sacramento River Westside Levee District, Barry O’Regan, principal engineer for Kjeldsen Sinnock Neudeck, the civil engineering firm tasked this past year with the doing the Small Communities Flood Risk Reduction Studies, announced that geological and hydraulic studies have determined that deficiencies in the levees, where the Sacramento River runs through Colusa County, would not meet FEMA’s new 100-year-levee protection criteria. The study determined that 29,000 feet of river levee protecting the city of Colusa would need to be improved, at a cost of about $198 million. About 3,500 feet of the levee protecting Grimes would need to be repaired, at a cost of $27 million, and 8,600 feet of levee at Princeton would need repaired, at a cost of $21 million. Although it could still be a few years away, the new FEMA maps will ultimately be used to determine mandatory flood insurance rates for federally backed mortgages, which could cost $1,500 to $1,900 per year for single-family structures. Following several community meetings, officials said the next step would be the formation of a governance team or JPA to move the projects forward.
■ The Colusa City Council at a meeting on Nov. 19 said it must look for ways for the city to break even on the Colusa Scout Cabin so that it does not become a burden on local taxpayers. The city took in only $6,475 in rental fees in the nine months since they resumed management from Colusa County, but spent $11,118 on mostly energy and maintenance, in part because no formal agreement, schedule of use, or even cleaning policy could be found between the city and scouts. But while both the Colusa City Council and the Colusa County Board of Supervisors honored a “handshake” agreement allowing the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts free access to the building, the city cannot legally grant preferential treatment to one non-profit over another. The city is expected to consider and adopt a formal use and fee policy by early 2020. The city’s goal is to see non-profits and the public take more interest in using the facility or sponsoring scouting activities so that revenue generated could go toward building maintenance and improvement, officials said.
■ In California’s moved-up primary election on March 3, a contested race has formed for two seats on the Colusa County Board of Supervisors. Four candidates have declared for the District 2 seat being vacated by John Loudon, who announced his retirement earlier in the year. Robert Moriconi, Dave B. Markss, Laurie Waters, and Daurice Kalfsbeek Smith have filed for the position Supervisor Loudon has held since Gov. Jerry Brown’s first appointed him in 2014. In District 3, Incumbent Kent S. Boes will face a challenge by Jason D. McMullan. District 4 Supervisor Gary J. Evans will run uncontested for his fifth term in office.
■ A Sacramento County Superior Court Judge has sided with the Colusa County District Attorney in having the authority to move forward with its lawsuit against the California Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) in an effort to bar convicted murderer Nathan Ramazzini from ever being released from prison. The DA expects their lawsuit challenging Senate Bill 394, which granted parole hearings to inmates sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for crimes they committed before the age of 18 to be heard in 2020. Ramazzini, who is housed in a special unit at High Desert State Prison in Susanville, killed Erik Ingebretsen in 1998 with both boys were just 16 years old. Ramazzini, who was sentenced to life without parole, could receive his first parole hearing under SB 394 in July 2021, after serving just 25 years in prison.
■ Colusa City Councilman Josh Hill was selected by his peers with a unanimous vote to serve as Colusa’s mayor over the next year. The reorganization, which is done each December, places Hill at the helm after just 19 months on the dais. Hill was appointed to the city council in April 2018 to fill the vacancy left by the unexpected death of Kirk Kelleher three months earlier. He secured his seat for four more years as the top vote getter in the general election the following November.
■ More than 600 veterans in the Colusa Cemetery were honored when Colusa participated in Wreaths Across America for the very first time. About 1,700 cemeteries across the nation gathered Dec. 14, 2019 to remember all those whose sacrifices allow this nation to stand as a shining beacon of liberty and freedom. ■