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James Ochsner Becomes Sutter County's Director of Library Services
January 27, 2012
James E. Ochsner, a 12-year veteran with the Sutter County Library, has taken over as Director of Library Services.

Mr. Ochsner, of Sutter, has been serving as the interim director since the retirement of Roxanna Parker in December of 2010. He has 12 years experience with the County Library. He served for 15 years as a principal and teacher at Covenant Christian School in Yuba City.

During his tenure with Sutter County, Mr. Ochsner was instrumental in the implementation of the California Council for Humanities' "How I See It" teen services grants and receiving the Library Services and Technology Act Continuing Education grants. He participated in the LSTA California of the Past Digital Story-Telling Grant, which involved working with Japanese-Americans who were willing to provide an oral history of their World War II internment stories.

In addition, Mr. Ochsner created an Organizational Consulting Project, which was used to help implement the conversion of Sutter County Library's Collection to radio frequency identification (RFID) and self-check. This program allows library material to be checked out directly by library customers and also prevents theft of items that have not been checked out.

Mr. Ochsner holds a bachelor's degree in art with an emphasis on history from Dordt College in Iowa, and an Executive Master of Library Information Science from San Jose State University.

He and his wife, Jenette, have four children. They are active in Sutter Buttes 4-H and the Sutter High Precision Rifle Team.

His appointment to the position of Director was approved at the January 10 Board of Supervisors meeting.

Tisdale Boat Ramp Re-Opened
January 26, 2012

The boat launch facility at the Tisdale Weir on the Sacramento River in western Sutter County has reopened, the Sutter County Public Works Department announced this morning (Jan. 27, 2012). The Public Works Department closed the boat launch on Monday after the Sacramento River was forecast to rise high enough to spill over the weir.

American Lung Association Local Tobacco Control Grade
January 19, 2012
Today, the American Lung Association (ALA) in California released its annual local tobacco control grades for all 482 cities and unincorporated areas of California’s 58 counties. Local grades are awarded in three categories: smoke-free outdoor air, smoke-free housing, and reducing sales of tobacco products. These three grades are averaged for one overall local tobacco control grade for each jurisdiction. Again, Sutter County received an overall grade of “F”.

You can view the grades at: www.lungusa.org/associations/states/california/advocacy/fight-/sotc-2012.html

Some points were gained this past year by the City of Live Oak for a new city ordinance which prohibits smoking in parks and other recreation areas and within 50 feet of city-owned building entrances. This gave the incorporated city an improved grade of “D” in the smoke-free outdoor air category. Gary Baland, mayor of Live Oak, stated he “was pleased that the council took the action it did. Working towards decreasing exposure to cigarette smoke is best for the health of the community of Live Oak.”

Lou Anne Cummings, M.D., Sutter County Health Officer, responded to the grades, “The report indicates we are making progress in reducing the impact of tobacco on our communities, but our work is not done. The ill effects of our high smoking rates show in our County chronic disease rates, such as cancer and heart disease. Sutter County has some of the highest in California. One goal of Sutter County Public Health is to ensure that people do not start to smoke and to provide help to smokers who want to quit. Prevention of chronic disease and promoting good health improves the life for you and your families.”

In 2010, the Surgeon General’s Report released important new information that indicates there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. For the complete report, visit www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/index.htm

For help with quitting tobacco, please call 1-800-NO-BUTTS or contact Sutter County Tobacco Control Program at 530-822-7215 or visit www.suttercounty.org/publichealth

FEMA: Sutter County Must Improve Administration Of Building Standards In Floodplain
January 17, 2012
While Sutter County won praise for exceeding minimum standards in its approach to floodplain management, the county must address existing non-compliant structures and improve the administration of building standards in the floodplain to remain eligible for participation in the National Flood Insurance Program, according to the results of an audit conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Sutter County has managed the floodplain in a manner that has resulted in discounts as high as 20 percent on flood insurance for property owners. In fact, the county’s floodplain ordinance “exceeds minimum NFIP standards,” noted Gregor Blackburn, Floodplain Management Chief for FEMA Region IX, in a recent letter reporting the results of a field visit and audit of county building records in 2011.

The report said that Sutter County has 5,100 flood insurance policies as of October 2011, totaling nearly $1.6 billion in coverage. Since joining the program in 1988, FEMA has only had to pay $2.3 million in claims within the county.

However, 14 non-compliant structures were identified in the report. They include buildings constructed without a permit, without sufficient elevation certificates, or with inadequate flood-proofing, such as flood vents that were covered after construction. In some cases, FEMA questioned the calculations used to determine whether construction was a “substantial improvement.”

In 2008, FEMA placed thousands of properties in southern Sutter County in a Special Flood Hazard Area designation after the California Department of Water Resources declined to certify that its levees along the Feather River provide 100-year level flood protection. As a result, new or substantially improved buildings must be built one foot above the base flood elevation, or be properly flood-proofed.

In 2011, FEMA conducted a Community Assistance Visit (CAV) to Sutter County. Such visits are designed to assist communities in meeting FEMA standards to remain eligible for the benefits of the NFIP, which include access to federal flood insurance, and federal emergency assistance in the event of a flood disaster.

The Sutter County Division of Water Resources, which handles floodplain management, and the county’s Building Division, which issues building permits, have already begun to address the properties in question and are working on new procedures to improve coordination and communication about building issues in the floodplain to avoid future non-compliant structures.

“These are serious issues we are addressing,” said Douglas Gault, Director of Public Works and the county’s Floodplain Administrator. “We are developing a corrective action plan and are confident we can address FEMA’s concerns.”

The NFIP was ceated by Congress in 1968 to fill the void left by private insurance companies who refused to provide insurance against the flooding of buildings. Communities voluntarily join the program, but must enforce restrictions on where and how building can occur in order to stay eligible for the program. Sutter County joined the NFIP’s emergency program in the 1970s, and the regular program in April of 1988.

Notices will be mailed to property owners identifying the issues and Sutter County will have to take administrative action, Mr. Gault said. Just what that action will entail will depend on each situation, and is still being determined.

FEMA’s letter said Sutter County must develop a corrective action plan that addresses the violations or the county could be ineligible for discounted flood insurance, placed on probation, or suspended from the NFIP altogether.

“We will take the steps necessary to address FEMA’s concerns,” Mr. Gault said. “Sutter County’s ability to participate in the NFIP is valuable to our citizens and we will not jeopardize the benefits of the program.”

Holiday Closure
January 10, 2012
On Monday, January 16th, most county offices will be closed in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Exhibit of Vintage Hood Ornaments at Museum
January 09, 2012

The Community Memorial Museum is featuring an exhibit of vintage automobile hood ornaments during the exhibit Hood Ornaments as Automobile Art open now through February 16th. “Automotive mascots”, as the hood ornaments are called, flourished during the 1920s up until 1942. Artistically modeled figures were attached to the radiator lids on the hoods of the automobiles.

This exhibit features female figures as hood ornaments. Some of them were known as Speed Nymphs. Many of them incorporated flowing robes and hair in aerodynamic Art Deco forms. After Howard Carter opened Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922, Egyptian designs were popular everywhere, and hood ornaments were no exception. A number were designed by well known artists. Some hood ornaments were original to the automobile, and others were added by the owner later to express their individuality. A few actually incorporated openings where steam could escape if the radiator overheated, causing a whistling sound that would alert the driver that it was time to add water to the radiator.

Museum open hours are Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4:00 p.m. The Museum is located at 1333 Butte House Road in Yuba City. Admission is free. For more information, call the Museum at 822-7141.

Sutter County Supervisors Public Hearing
January 09, 2012

The Sutter County Board of Supervisors will conduct two public hearings on Tuesday night, Jan. 10, to consider proposals to establish fees for launching boats at Sutter County boat launch facilities, and raising the day use and camping fees at Live Oak Park.

The fee increase is being proposed to help offset maintenance costs which are estimated to exceed $50,000 annually. Currently, the only fees collected by the County are for day use and camping at Live Oak Park, and a $30 annual fee for launching boats at Live Oak Park. (The annual fee is $15 for seniors). Because annual revenues from existing boat launch fees is less than $2,000, the bulk of the maintenance and dredging costs is absorbed by the County's General Fund.

Under the proposal, a daily fee of $7 would be charged for launching boats at Live Oak Park, Yuba City Boat Dock, or Boyd's Landing on the Feather River, and at the Tisdale Boat Launch facility on the Sacramento River. Sutter County residents could pay a one-time annual fee of $80 that would allow them to use any of the four boat launching facilities. Non-Sutter County residents would be charged $100.

The day use fee at Live Oak Park would be raised from $5 to $7 per vehicle, and the overnight camping fee would be raised to $18. A rate of $125 would be charged to overnight camping groups of 51-64 individuals.

The public hearings, continued from the Dec. 13 meeting, will be conducted at 7 p.m. at the Hall of Records, 466 Second Street, Yuba City. The Board could vote on the proposal following the public hearing.

Healthcare Coverage Expands
January 04, 2012

The new year brings an exciting new program that expands healthcare coverage to people who weren't covered before, and it includes mental health and substance abuse services.

Path2Health, which began Jan. 1, expands no-cost medical coverage in 34 rural counties - including Sutter - to uninsured, low-income adults between age 19 and 64.