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September 7, 2011     Chester Progressive
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September 7, 2011
 

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Look for your 9/11 display flag inside I I - " ke A/manor Areas .~-~.~ --i~~ ~ ......... ~ -,~- ._. Vol. 65, No. 10 Feather Publishing Co., Inc. 530-258-3115 www.plumasnews.com Wednesday, Sept. 7,2011 5O District receives grant Like most fire departments across the state, the Peninsula Fire District operates on a limited budget and faces on- going needs for new equip- ment and updated gear. Professional Insurance Asso- ciates (PIA) is teaming up with Fireman's Fund Insur- ance Company to donate $13,315 to Peninsula Fire District to purchase new equipment. Fire Chief Gary Pini said the grant money would be used to purchase three items that will help firefighters improve their emergency re- sponse capabilities through- out the community. The items are: A thermal imaging camera. This nearly indispensable camera allows firefighters to "see" through smoke to locate victims and find the source of a fire. A Knox master key unit. Mounted on the fire engine, this secure box holds a master key the fire depart- .merit uses to access local residences and businesses in an emergency. It saves valuable time when every second counts. A fire extinguisher trainer. This portable unit can be ignited and shut off instantly to allow hands-on fire extin- guisher training for the local community. "This grant package helps supplement our current bud- get and allows us to provide our crews with additional equipment we need," said Pini. "We are deeply apprecia- tive for this generous contribu- tion to enhance the emergency services we provide to our community." The grant is part of a nationwide philanthropic program funded by Fireman's Fund Insurance Company. The program is designed to See Grant, page 4A Tuesday, Aug. 23, was Joan Sayre's final day of work at the Lassen Gift Company. Also well-known as a local historian, Sayre has chalked up her fair share of history during her long tenure: Sept. 1 would have marked 47 continuous years in the same location. From left: Sharon Henry, Joan Sayre and Mary Rice. For a picture of Sayre back in the day, see page 5A. Photo by M Kate West 47 YEARS: store _employee retires M. Kate West Chester Editor chesternews@plumasnews.com "I feel good about it; it's time for myself," Joan Sayre said on her final day of work at Lassen Gift Company Aug. 23. "Once I made the decision it has been easier. I will always be in Chester." She is leaving work be- hind after nearly 47 years and said she is feeling a little sad. "I'm quitting because of health, otherwise I'd still be here," she said. Her regrets include not offering further service to the many people who have lived and traveled to the Lake Almanor Basin. "I'll miss the people, the three and four generations I've been waiting on. They always come back and check in with me; they're like family," she said. Her 47 years with the com- pany is indicative of the fam- ily work ethic. Her husband, John, retired three years ago after working 50 years at the Collins Pine Mill. Sayre, a longtime resident of Chester, moved to the area in 1960, just in time to start her freshman year at Chester Junior-Senior High School. An art class in her senior year sparked a lifetime interest in the arts. Remain- ing steady to those interests, she is a longtime member of the Chester Piece Makers Quilt Guild, a director on the Chester-Lake Almanor Museum board and a found- ing member of the now defunct Almanor Art Associ- ation. Her first "real" job was as a waitress in the Old Town Chester Restaurant named Black Magic. She has worked for Lassen Drug, now transformed into the Lassen Gift Company, since Sept. 1, 1964. Retirement plans include enjoying her home and going for long walks. "I want to be with my family and friends," she said. As for traveling, she said she and John are not big travelers and have no particular plans. "This is God's country. People travel many miles to get here and we live here," Sayre said. Lassen Gift Company owner Sharon Henry recognized Sayre's accomplishments with special gifts and praise. To commemorate the day, Henry presented Sayre with flowers, balloons and a cake. "We set everything up on a red table cloth. Joan's favorite color, and we are having Chinese food, also Joan's favorite," Henry said. In speaking about Joan's retirement she said. "I always thought We'd do our 50 years together." Cleanup of river planned The fourth annual Lake Almanor Basin Cleanup Day is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 17. The event is hosted by the Almanor Basin Water- shed Advisory Committee and supported by the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment. The day starts at 9 a.m. in the Chester Park where volunteers will-register, pick up supplies and form small groups with site captains before spreading out around the lake and its tributaries to pick up the garbage. A complimentary post- cleanup barbecue for volun- teers will offered at noon by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. Over the past three years, approximately 60 cubic yards of trash has been collected as a result of the event, and tires are by far the most commonly collected trash. In fact, the grand total is nearing 100 tires. Last year, over70 volun- teers turned out to clean up 45 trash bags worth of various items from five sites around Lake Almanor. Items included pieces of rusted iron, tires, plastic bags, shot- gun shells and, yes, a kitchen sink! This is the third year the event has been part of a larger network of cleanups occurring statewide through participation in the Great Sierra River Cleanup and the California Coastal Cleanup Day. The Great Sierra River Cleanup is a project of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and occurs on rivers through- out the Sierra region. Cleanup participants collect data on the trash collected, which will be compared with data from other areas of the state. See Cleanup, page 4A Inmate influx will pit safety against economics Dan McDonald Staff Writer dmcd onald@plumasnews.com In just a few weeks, Plumas County's criminal justice system is going to be hit by a tsunami. On Oct. 1, a wave of inmates and parolees will begin flowing into the county as a result of Assembly Bill 109. That bill transferred much of the responsibility of housing state inmates to the counties. Small counties like Plumas will be hit especially hard. The county jail has just 67 beds and the probation department is already under- staffed. "People are shocked about what is coming," Plumas County District Attorney David Hollister said. "They don't fully understand what AB 109 is. And when you To subscribe to the Progressive, call 530-258-3115 explain it to them, they are outraged." Hollister's comment was delivered during a meeting Tuesday, Aug. 23, in Quincy. The meeting was another in a series of gatherings by the Plumas County Commu- nity Corrections Partnership, which was formed to address AB 109 issues. The executive committee includes Chairperson Sharon Reinert, who is the county's chief probation officer, Superior Court Judge Ira Kaufman, Sheriff Greg Hagwood, public defender Doug Prouty and Hollister. The committee's goal is to make the transition of inmates to the county as smooth as possible. But the committee said the additional inmates would impact more than just the jail. They could strain the cash-strapped county's health care system and public safety in general. "If we are going to employ tunnel vision, and just look at our incarceration problem, those are the numbers we need to work with. But I think what AB 109 is dOing to us is something far more drastic," Hollister said. "We also have to look at how we are going to supervise these "The problem with AB 109 is you have the economics and then you have public safety. And there is going to be a tension there." Ira Kaufman Plumas Su perior Court Judge folks. And that includes parolees, and those who are released under our com- munity supervision program that we are trying to create right now." On Oct. 1, the county will immediately be responsible for 67 new parolees. The burden to be pla~.ed on the understaffed probation department was the main topic of discussion. There are seven full-time probation officers in the county. However, Poinert said two of the officers are actively looking for another job outside the county. She said one probation officer is currently in charge of nearly 60 "high-risk" cases. "That is too large of a caseload for the high-risk people," Reinert said. "And when we get these new people, depending on their risk assessment, that could double the caseload." Reinert said one officer is handling a "low-risk" caseload of 103 people. More probation officers needed The committee agreed to ask the Board of Supervisors to approve hiring more probation officers. But Reinert said the county has been running an ad for a probation officer since March. "And the position is still vacant. I don't have enough applicants to even consider interviewing," she said. "Every county in California is going to be hiring probation officers, which is going to make it extremely hard to recruit up here." The reason is the high- stress job pays just $17.28 per hour. And applicants must have a bachelor's degree in a related field. Most counties in California are hiring probation officers because of AB 109 and most of those counties are offering a much higher salary. Los Angeles County which received $110 million in AB 109 funding compared to $200,000 for Plumas is hiring 400 probation officers. "They are hiring prosecu- tors, public defenders and probation officers," Hollister said. "And they are hiring them at a wage that we proba- bly can't compete with." The disparity in pay re- sults in a high turnover rate. Reinert said many probation officers work a short time in Plumas County before leaving for a higher-paying job in another county. Plumas County is also one of few whose probation officers are unarmed. "That is one of my biggest complaints is officer safety out in the field," Reinert said. "For us to go out and do searches ... I don't allow my officers to go out without a deputy who is armed. "Most of the time they have difficulty finding a deputy because they are under- staffed and they don't have time." Reinert said. "So my officers end up out in the field with no protection. And we are doing the same thing as the deputies. We are going into houses. We are arresting people. We are doing searches. Who knows what we are walking into when we walk into a house?" The committee agreed that probation officers need higher pay. "The wages are just too low," Kaufman said. "We are just postponing a problem. Unless you start out at a higher pay level, you are not going to attract qualified people. We need to have a living wage that will keep qualified people here. Other- wise we have a revolving door." The jail Hagwood said the jail's 67 beds could dwindle quickly, depending on a number of factors. "We have 67 beds if we have everybody in jail who is See Inmate, page 5A