AUBURN, CA (MPG) - Placer County is seeking public input on the draft environmental report for the proposed Placer County Sports and Event Center project at the Placer County Fairgrounds in Roseville, now called @the Grounds. A public meeting on the proposal set for Sept. 17.

The proposed project is a collaboration between Placer Valley Tourism and Placer County. An initial phase would see construction of a 160,000-square-foot, indoor sports and event center, with the potential for adding a 30,000-square-foot expansion and a 6,000-square-foot culinary building later.

The draft environmental impact report is available for public comment until Oct. 8.

As part of the county's environmental review process, a public hearing on a draft environmental impact report is held during the public review period to encourage public comment and community participation.

A public meeting will be held Sept. 17 from 6-8 p.m., at Johnson Hall at the Placer County Fairgrounds, 800 All America City Blvd., in Roseville.

The facility for the meeting is accessible to people with disabilities. Those needing special assistive devices will be accommodated to the county’s best ability. For more information, please contact Suzy Vose (at the contact information below) at least 48 hours before the meeting.

The proposed sports and event center facility would be designed for hosting various sport events and tournaments such as volleyball, basketball, martial arts, dance and cheer competitions. The potential culinary building would include a demonstration kitchen, food storage area, meeting rooms, banquet rooms and offices.

The draft EIR is available for public review during normal business hours at the Placer County library in Auburn, the downtown Roseville Library, and at the Placer County Real Estate Services Division of Public Works and Facilities, 11476 C Avenue, Auburn, CA 95603. It’s also available online at https://www.placer.ca.gov/ppcsec.

Comments may be addressed by mail to the Placer County Department of Public Works and Facilities, Real Estate Services Division, Attention: Suzy Vose, Senior Project Manager, 11476 C Avenue, Auburn, CA 95603; at the Sept. 17 meeting; or by email to svose@placer.ca.gov. Comments must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Oct. 8.

For more information regarding the project, please contact the project manager, Suzy Vose, at 530-886-4950.

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EL DORADO COUNTY, CA (MPG) - A symphony performing in Georgetown? If that sounds ambitious, it is! The 45 member Sierra Symphony, well–known for performing all over El Dorado County, is scheduled to perform  September 16th at the Music On The Divide opening season concert to be located at the renovated Georgetown School Amphitheater. Under the leafy canopy of majestic black oaks, the rich sounds of the Symphony’s fall pops repertoire will thrill attendees of this special outdoor event.

Formed 33 years ago by the collaboration of John Pratt and David Smythe, the Sierra Symphony was originally to provide local players with the opportunity to perform quality music and to provide symphony orchestra concerts for the community. Other local musicians and music teachers, including Jim Snoke and Betsy Fulmer, were asked to meet and help in the formation of the symphony. As it has evolved, the Symphony’s mission is now “…to promote the enjoyment of a broad range of musical genres by presenting regularly scheduled concerts to the general public and by encouraging and supporting the participation of student musicians as members of the orchestra and as featured young artists."

Under the direction of conductor, Roy R. Fulmer, Jr., the Symphony plays a variety of genres, from Baroque to contemporary music of the 20th century, pops, and seasonal music. In fall, the orchestra provides popular selections from Broadway, cinema & jazz, mixed with light “classical” music. During the holidays, a Christmas holiday repertoire is featured, and in spring, the Young Artist Concert features El Dorado County young instrumentalists playing concertos and “classical” music.

The musicians making up the Symphony range in age from high school students to octogenarians. They come from all walks of life: students, retirees, teachers, professional musicians, church musicians, city, state, and federal employees, those in medicine, engineering, accounting, advertising, and many more professions. The majority of musicians live in El Dorado County, but some come from Placer or Sacramento Counties to have the opportunity to play for Sierra Symphony. Two of the members live right in Garden Valley. Retired BOMUSD teachers Dirk and Jeannie Koorn have played trumpet and bassoon with the Symphony for 30 years.

The richness of the orchestral sound is delivered by the balance of four different types of instruments: strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. The Sierra Symphony is composed of strings (violin, viola, violoncello, and double bass), woodwinds (flute, oboe, English horn, clarinet, and bassoon), brass (French horn, trumpet, trombone, and tuba), percussion (mallet instruments, timpani, & assorted percussion instruments), and sometimes piano.

The Sierra Symphony has been invited to play all the biggest venues of El Dorado County, including the El Dorado County Fair Grounds for the Butterfly Concerts, Cameron Park Community Center, El Dorado Hills Community Park Gymnasium, Mother Lode Lions Club Hall, Empire Theater, Cielo Estate Winery and David Girard Vineyards. It is an honor to have the Symphony travel to Georgetown, and Music On The Divide is proud to be able to bring such prestigious musicians to our forested venue.

The concert will begin at 3:00pm. Gates open at 2:00 for members, 2:30 for general attendance. The traditional refreshments of cookies and beverages will be available for free at intermission. The amphitheater can be reached by turning off Wentworth Springs Road ½ mile north of Georgetown’s intersection of Main Street and Hwy 193, where signs will direct you to the amphitheater parking. It will be wise to wear comfortable clothes, good walking shoes, and perhaps bring a seat cushion for your additional comfort on the wood beam seating.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $5 for students and free for children under age 5. Memberships in Music On The Divide can be purchased at this concert, entitling the member to 8 season concerts (including this one) for only $60 for a single, or $100 for a family. A whole year of musical enrichment will never be this affordable again. See you Sunday, September 16th !

For more information about the Sierra Symphony, go to http://sierrasymphony.org/, or find a sample of their music at https://www.facebook.com/sierrasymphony

For more information about Music On The Divide, go to www.musiconthedivide.org

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AUBURN, CA (MPG) - Work to remove dead and dying trees threatening county roadways began this week as Placer County continues to manage the tree death crisis in its forestlands.

The pilot project will remove 262 trees in Placer’s unincorporated community of Foresthill.

"The number of dying trees in our local communities is unprecedented,” said Office of Emergency Services Director Holly Powers. “A fallen tree could cause serious harm to people, or significant damage to county infrastructure like roads and buildings, so we have an important incentive to remove them.”

Arborists with the county’s consultant for the project, Mountain G. Enterprises Inc., have identified approximately 10,500 dead or dying trees countywide that could fall onto county roads or other county-owned infrastructure like trails and parking lots. About half of these are on federal land and most of the rest are on private property or in the county right-of-way.

Placer awarded contracts totaling $162,380 for the Foresthill work to A&E Arborists Tree Care of Yuba City in July.

Larger tree removal projects elsewhere in the county are still being planned, with more work expected to start later this summer.

Many other agencies are also removing dead trees in Placer County, including Pacific Gas and Electric, Liberty Utilities, Caltrans and CAL FIRE. Hazardous trees on private property are the responsibility of the property owner to remove, and some assistance is available to them through the county’s Firewise Communities Program and the Placer County Resource Conservation District.

Only trees that threaten county roads are eligible for removal by the county on private property, and only property owners who have granted the county right-of-entry approval will have trees removed. Affected residents have been notified of the removal schedule and can expect intermittent lane closures in area neighborhoods as work crews remove the trees. The project is expected to last up to 60 days.

Disposal of the trees is the contractor’s responsibility and at their discretion. Possible uses for the timber include lumber, wood chips and renewable energy produced at local biomass facilities.

Nearly all felled trees will be removed, but a limited number determined to be in ecologically-sensitive areas will be left in place. Trees deemed to have died before Placer County declared a local emergency in December 2015 due to the tree death crisis have been marked with white paint and won’t be felled by the county.

An estimated 129 million trees in California were killed by drought and bark beetles between 2010 and 2017, according to the state’s Tree Mortality Task Force. Placer County remains under a declared emergency due to the tree death crisis and is counted among the 10 hardest-hit California counties. That makes Placer eligible for reimbursement of 75 percent of the project costs through the California Disaster Assistance Act. The county’s 25 percent cost share is 100 percent reimbursable up to $364,000 through a CAL FIRE grant program.

More information about the tree death crisis in Placer County is available at www.placer.ca.gov/trees.

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Western Wildfires Continue to Burn

By American Red Cross  |  2018-08-16

Red Cross Working to Help Those in Need. You Can Help and Donate.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Conditions are slowly improving in California as thousands of firefighters gain more ground on containing the large wildfires which have charred hundreds of thousands of acres. The American Red Cross is there, providing shelter, relief supplies and comfort for those affected.

In California, more than 1,000 Red Cross disaster workers and multiple emergency response vehicles are responding to the fires. The Red Cross opened more than 20 shelters since the fires began and has provided more than 8,600 overnight shelter stays. Red Cross workers have also provided more than 102,000 meals and snacks and distributed more than 25,000 relief items. Health and mental health disaster workers have provided more than 11,600 services and caseworkers are meeting one-on-one with people to assist them in getting the help they need.

As evacuation orders are lifted in some areas and people return home, the Red Cross will continue working closely with state and local officials to ensure people get the help they need.

STAY IN TOUCH People can reconnect with loved ones through both the Red Cross Safe and Well website at redcross.org/safeandwell and by using the “I’m Safe” feature of the Red Cross Emergency App. The Safe and Well site allows individuals and organizations to register and post messages to indicate that they are safe, or to search for loved ones. The site is always available, open to the public and available in Spanish. Registrations and searches can be done directly on the website. Registrations can also be completed by texting SAFE to 78876.

DOWNLOAD RED CROSS APPS The Red Cross app “Emergency” can help keep you and your loved ones safe by putting vital information in your hand including shelter locations and severe weather and emergency alerts. The Red Cross First Aid App puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies at your fingertips. Download these apps by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps.

HOW YOU CAN HELP You can help people affected by disasters like wildfires and countless other crisis by making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Visit redcross.org or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Contributions may also be sent to your local Red Cross chapter, or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37864, Boone, IA 50037-0864.

You can also help people affected by the California wildfires. Donors can designate their donation to the California wildfires relief efforts and the Red Cross will honor donor intent. The best way to ensure your donation will go to a specific disaster is to write the specific disaster name in the memo line of a check. We also recommend completing and mailing the donation form on redcross.org with your check. The Red Cross honors donor intent, and all donations earmarked for California wildfires will be used for our work to support these disasters.

Source: American Red Cross

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Wait Time Scandal Shows DMV Still Doesn’t Get It

Commentary by Tim Anaya  |  2018-08-16

DMV wait times are unbearable under normal circumstances.  They are certainly ill-equipped to handle more than 23 million people expected to come through their doors through 2020.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Benjamin Franklin famously said that there are only two things certain in life – death and taxes.  In California, you could add a third – hatred of the DMV.

Anyone who has ever signed up for a driver’s license or register a vehicle knows just how inefficient, and at times hostile, the DMV can be.  They cling to outdated thinking, as if their primary mission is registering horse buggies to drive on California’s roads.

The DMV is the poster child for an unaccountable government bureaucracy – and the current scandal over astronomical wait times at DMV offices shows they still don’t get it.

The federal REAL ID, enacted in 2005, requires California to change its state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards to meet new federal requirements.  By October 2020, every Californian will need a REAL ID to fly on an airplane or enter a federal government building.  You must go to the DMV in person for ID verification before you can get one.

DMV wait times are unbearable under normal circumstances.  They are certainly ill-equipped to handle more than 23 million people expected to come through their doors through 2020.

Both Democrats and Republicans are outraged.  They grilled DMV Director Jean Shiomoto at a committee hearing this week.

San Francisco Democrat Phil Ting said that he was shocked after visiting a DMV office in his district.  “What we’ve been hearing are horrific wait times of six or seven hours.  That’s unacceptable.”

Laughably, in a July letter to lawmakers, DMV says that “the current statewide average wait time once customers check-in with the ‘Start Here’ window is 23 minutes for customers with appointments and 1 hour 23 minutes for customers without appointments.”

Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, told Shiomoto at the hearing that, “you have perpetuated the feeling that people can’t trust your agency.”  She’s right, and the Director inspired no confidence in lawmakers at 2 Capitol hearings this week that the agency can turn things around any time soon.

Predictably, Shiomoto asked lawmakers for more money at this week’s hearing – another $26 million.

The state has already given the DMV $70 million in additional funds to open more offices, expand hours, and hire additional personnel to handle the influx.  The DMV estimates it will need to spend over $220 million over the next 6 years to process all the applications.  That money clearly won’t address the other problems identified in this week’s hearings, namely the poor customer service culture and outdated/inefficient thinking that goes into department operations.

Assemblyman Jim Patterson was fed up after receiving numerous angry complaints from constituents.  He authored a request for the State Auditor to audit the DMV’s activities and how they are spending these additional resources.

Patterson’s audit would be one expenditure of public funds that’s actually worth every penny.  Taxpayers deserve to know just how bad things really are at the DMV and a nonpartisan audit is needed to document this and outline steps to reform the beleaguered agency and its operations.

Despite lawmakers showing their lack of confidence in Shiomoto’s leadership, the audit request failed to get enough Senate Democrat votes to pass (the request needed 4 votes each from the Assembly and Senate), despite bipartisan votes in both houses.  It’s a shame that something both parties seemingly agree on falls victim to today’s toxic political climate.

The DMV has long been overdue for a complete overhaul, and most important, an attitude adjustment.  Hopefully, the Real ID wait time scandal will be the catalyst that forces much-need change upon a stubborn department clinging to the ways of the past.

Tim Anaya is communications director for the Pacific Research Institute.

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AUBURN, CA (MPG) - Placer County regulations prohibiting all commercial cannabis activity wouldn’t change but some enforcement protocols would be adjusted under a proposed ordinance update moved forward by the county Board of Supervisors today.

Placer responded to and resolved 158 cannabis cultivation complaints in the first year of enforcing its cannabis regulations. To help ensure continued success, county regulatory staff proposed several updates to the cannabis ordinance to address lessons learned from the first year and to match up with current state law.

Notable changes include allowing non-commercial delivery of small amounts of cannabis in alignment with state law; adding a requirement for tenants to secure written approval to cultivate cannabis from parcel owners; and clarifying that cultivation limits apply to individual, private residences, not individual parcels.

The update also removes a $500 per plant penalty at initial contact by Placer code compliance officers, but retains a $1,000 per plant penalty, if compliance isn’t achieved within 72 hours of receiving notice to abate. A new provision holds that the county would only issue one 72-hour notice-to-abate per offender per year, allowing enforcement hearings and fines to proceed immediately against repeat offenders.

In a related change, the updated ordinance addresses under what conditions a chemical and forensic laboratory that tests cannabis for medical or forensic purposes would be allowed to operate in Placer County. In October 2017, the board rejected a provision that would have licensed such facilities, because of concern that it could encourage commercial cannabis activity.

A narrower allowance approved in a separate 3-1 vote by the board today would allow for a more limited range of chemical and forensic testing for medical, health and safety or law enforcement purposes.

The provision specifically prohibits any on-site cannabis cultivation or testing that could support commercial cannabis activities, and limits the amount of cannabis allowed at such a facility to a maximum of 3 pounds. Any facility where medical cannabis research would be conducted requires separate approval and licensing by the federal government.

District 4 Supervisor Kirk Uhler voted against the change, citing concerns about the sequencing of federal and local approval processes. District 5 Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery was absent from today’s meeting.

The ordinance changes approved today require two readings and would go into effect 30 days after a second public hearing, tentatively scheduled for Aug. 28. If there are no changes made at the second reading, the updated ordinance would become effective 30 days later.

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Bat Handled by Campground Visitors Tested Positive for Rabies

AUBURN, CA (MPG) - California State Parks and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) are advising visitors to Auburn State Recreation Area to seek immediate medical attention if they encountered a rabid bat earlier this month at Mineral Bar Campground.

Placer County health officials notified the state agencies that a visitor to the Mineral Bar Campground found a bat and allowed other visitors, including children, to touch the animal. The visitor took the bat to animal control the following day, and test results showed the bat was positive for rabies. Immediate medical treatment is recommended for anyone who had physical contact with the bat between Aug. 1 and Aug. 3.

 “We’ve been in contact with several park visitors who handled the infected bat and they are already seeking treatment,” said Mike Howard, Auburn State Recreation Area Sector Superintendent for State Parks. “We are urging any park visitor who might have had physical contact with the bat at Mineral Bar Campground during those few days to seek medical attention as soon as possible.”

State Parks has been working closely with the Placer County Public Health Department and CDPH to ensure that anyone who was in the area is notified about the danger of rabies exposure and infection. Additionally, California Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists surveyed the Mineral Bar Campground area and found no other sick animals. The campground remains open to the public.

Rabies is a viral disease that affects both animals and people. Animals with rabies shed virus in their saliva and can transmit the infection to another animal or person, typically through a bite. After a few weeks to months, infected animals develop neurologic signs including paralysis, abnormal behavior, and increased aggression.

Rabies virus is active in wildlife throughout California. CDPH reported that 231 cases of rabies were reported in animals in California in 2017. Over 95% of rabies cases were in wildlife, chiefly bats and skunks which are the principal reservoirs for rabies in California. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 38 human cases of rabies occurred in the U.S. between 2003 and 2015; 22 (57%) of these cases were acquired through contact with bats.

California State Parks and CDPH offers these additional recommendations to reduce the risk of rabies to you and your family while visiting state parks:

• Do not approach or handle wild or unfamiliar animals.

• Animals appearing sick or injured are far more likely to carry diseases.

• Report any animal that is acting abnormally to park officials.

• Keep pets confined or on a leash. Work with your veterinarian to keep pets current on their vaccinations.

• If you are bitten by an animal, immediately wash the wound with soap and water, and contact your doctor. Report bites from wild or domestic animals to your local public health agency.

For more information about rabies, visit CDPH’s website.

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