Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Coronavirus in rural America (Part CXLIX): More rural school trauma, this time out of Oregon

The Oregonian reports from Adrian, Oregon, population 177, in Malheur County, in the south eastern corner of the state.  The headline is, "Rural Oregon school superintendent fired after enforcing state mask mandate," and here's the lede: 

Kevin Purnell was fired Monday as superintendent of the Adrian School District just one week after students returned to school.

The Adrian School Board, convening in an emotionally charged special meeting, voted 4-1 Monday evening to terminate Purnell after meeting in an executive, or closed door, session for less than half an hour to consider the matter.

The board provided no public explanation for its surprise decision to oust a superintendent who has been on the job for three years and in the district for 14 years. But critics and supporters of Purnell’s stance on mask mandates made clear it was a pivotal issue in his fissure with the board.
* * *

The conflicts ... emerged amid rising COVID-19 cases in Malheur County and continued opposition to government-mandated mask-wearing in Adrian. Purnell has said he is not in favor of Gov. Kate Brown’s mandates, but he was described in comments by Adrian residents as a “rule follower” who would enforce them anyway.

The board has not named interim superintendent.

Adrian taxpayers will pay $52,500 plus health insurance costs owed to Purnell’s under his contract over the next six months.

Purnell has been an educator for 37 years and an administrator for 19.

* * *  

“I’m a senior this year at Adrian and I don’t really care what it takes,” said Elizabeth Nielson, Associated Student Body president. “Being online in school was not good. And if it means doing something I don’t want to do, because I don’t want to wear a mask, I’ll do what it takes” to attend school in person.

In other words, this student leader is willing to wear a mask if it means she can attend school in person.  In effect, she supports the superintendent. 

Across Oregon, school boards have been angered by Gov. Kate Brown’s mandates, including the requirement that everyone in a school building wear a mask. Two other local superintendents, Alisha McBride in Vale and Darren Johnson in Nyssa, have publicly come out against the mask order since it was announced in July, but their districts have been complying.

Here's my recent coverage of a school board meeting in rural Arkansas, in my hometown, where no superintendent was standing up for the kids' health--and thus none got fired.  

My news feed is full of illustrations of and commentary about bad behavior by patrons at school board meetings.  It's definitely a thing right now.  One clip even showed patrons threatening violence against the school board.  

Postscript:  From The Oregonian, an editorial on Sept. 5, 2021, about events in Adrian and another small Oregon school district, Newberg.  

Further Postscript:  The school district is paying $100,000 in damages to the terminated superintendent, Purnell, in exchange for an agreement that he will not sue.  

Monday, August 30, 2021

On "Save the Children" branding in a rural Arkansas school: Is use of this phrase a signal to QAnon followers?

In a blog post back in January, I mentioned the possibly misleading use of the "Save the Children" slogan at an event in my hometown, Jasper, Arkansas.   Here's an excerpt from what I wrote there: 

[A] strange association that seems to exist between "Save the Children" and QAnon.  Here's a report on the topic from the New York Times' Kevin Roose back in September, under the headline, "How ‘Save the Children’ Is Keeping QAnon Alive."  I've always known Save the Children as an international charity aimed at helping underprivileged children around the world, and I see it is one with a good ranking.  I've therefore been puzzled at how it has come to be associated with QAnon.  Turns out, the "Save the Children" associated with Q Anon is not the charity.

I noted that a literacy event had been held at a park in Jasper and that

one of the items distributed was "hand soap from Save the Children's first Gift in Kind donation to the community."  I looked up "gift in kind" on the Save the Children charity website and found no results.  Also, there is a caption [in the Newton County Times story] that reads "Save the Children Program Coordinator Kelsey Engle and Jasper Elementary student Henry Martin distribute resources to families driving through the Parables in the Park event." 

None of this made any sense, and I wondered if the use of "Save the Children" language was signaling a link to Q-Anon. 

Now I see the "Save the Children" language is back in fall school preparation and inexplicably used in relation to the elementary school library.  This is in an August 11, 2021 story headlined, "Jasper district prepares for opening day of school with COVID-19 still present."  What grabbed my attention is the caption for the accompanying photo of a woman with stacks of books.  The caption says, "Barbara Hefley, Jasper Elementary/Save the Children after school program teacher, begins sorting and rearranging learning materials in preparation for the first day of school."  (emphasis added)  Nothing in the accompanying story mentions "Save the Children," so the reference is entirely opaque.  I can only speculate that someone has for some reason rhetorically linked the Jasper after-school program to "Save the Children."  But is the link to the charity or to QAnon?  Everyone is in favor of literally saving children, of course, but does the use of this phrase, by extension, link the state-funded school program to the QAnon conspiracy?

Postscript/correction:  In looking for a link to the Newton County Times story mentioned in the prior paragraph, I found this story, titled "After school childcare program secured for Jasper," from June, 2020, explaining the school's link to Save the Children International, the charity.
Jasper Mayor Jan Larson connected with the Jasper School District, State Sen. Breanna Davis and US Sen. Tom Cotton's office to tackle this problem faced by working parents in Jasper and surrounding communities.They have been relying mostly on day care providers within their families or transporting their children to childcare centers in Harrison or other towns in which the parents work.

With the assistance of legislators and the school district, the Jasper Elementary School was able to secure a program through the international Save the Children program.

Jasper School District's assistant superintendent Dr. Candra Brasel explained how the literacy-based program was found and how it will work.

Dr. Brasel said she created and distributed a survey to get feedback from area residents. When Sen. Cotton's staff and Sen. Davis visited, Mayor Larson brought the information to their attention and asked for their assistance. "Sen. Davis is the one who actually got the information about Save the Children and forwarded it on to us."

A team from the Save the Children organization recently came to Jasper and visited with Dr. Brasel and elementary principal Kim Liggett. The organization provides a similar after school program at Mountain View. "They could tell we were on board and committed to provide literacy focusing on reading and to provide a safe place after school," Dr. Brasel said.

Jasper will offer the after school program for children in kindergarten through 6th grade. The Jasper School District Board of Education elected Michelle Martin and transferred certified staff member Kelsey Engle to be the coordinators for the Save the Children and Early Steps to School Success programs.

The Early Steps to School coordinator will work with children ages birth to 5, and provide assistance in the home focusing on literacy including giving the family books to read aloud.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

More on wildfires in rural northern California

I've been periodically posting about this topic for a few months now, but I figured the series was worth another installation as the Caldor Fire--a major California wildfire--pushes into the Lake Tahoe Basin today.  Here's a New York Times story from a few days ago about the possibility of this happening.  Here's a current story from the Sacramento Bee about what is happening.  And here is the evacuation order and warning information as of about 9:30 pm Pacific time tonight. 


 
The Caldor Fire started more than two weeks ago at the western end of El Dorado County, which lies just east of Sacramento County, less than an hour from where I live.  Part of El Dorado County is exurban to the greater Sacramento metropolitan area.  The Caldor Fire, which started near a premier wine region of El Dorado County called Fairplay, has since burned primarily eastward, in the direction of Lake Tahoe.  The counties wineries and other rural attractions like Apple Hill have been saved--so far.  

Several days ago, CalFire officials indicated that the fire had become the state's highest priority--indeed, the nation's highest priority--because of the Tahoe link.  I felt a little miffed, I admit, because it didn't seem entirely fair to divert resources from the longer-burning Dixie Fire a few hours to the north, in Plumas and Lassen counties.  (After all, "first in time, first in right" is a great American legal principle, and the Dixie  Fire came first.)  The only reason for that diversion, it seems, is that the Tahoe area is more built up and more economically vibrant, a big tourist draw--well, that and the fact that the folks who can afford to live in Tahoe tend to be wealthier than those in Plumas and Lassen counties.  Here are two screen shots of a Twitter thread a few days ago encapsulating that dynamic. 



And here is my prior post speculating about this issue.  

The other story I want to link to tonight is out of Plumas County; it's another dispatch from Annie Correal writing for the New York Times.  Correal grew up, partly, in the Indian Valley area of Plumas County, and in this dispatch she writes of the role of independent fire-watchers, many of them from the area, who accumulate local followings for their postings about the fire on social media.  These folks are especially important in communities like Lassen and Plumas counties who draw fewer media from the region to cover what's happening in these places that are little seen in uber-urban California.    

Earlier posts about the Dixie Fire are here, here, and here.  

Law and Order in the Ozarks (Part CXXXIII): another rural story about the U.S. Census

I've been trawling around my hometown newspaper, The Newton County Times, for pandemic coverage and saw this story about the 2020 Census count for Jasper, the county seat of Newton County.  While I was growing up there in the 1970s and 1980s, the sign at the edge of town announcing the population was either 394 or 512, as best as I can remember.  A photo I took of the sign in 2008 said 498, as featured in this post from Legal Ruralism's early days.  

(c) Lisa R. Pruitt 2008

The 2010 count was 524.  Now, the 2020 Census has found the population of Jasper to have again fallen below that 500 mark, to 482.  

Here's the coverage from the Newton County Times on August 23, 2021:

It wasn't a surprise, really, but Jasper Mayor Jan Larson said she didn't expect the town's census to drop as much as reported by the US Census Bureau which recently released results of the 2020 Census.

According to the census bureau, Jasper's updated population figure is now 482. The 2020 census had Jasper's population at a high of 524 in 2010, and according to its figures, has fallen yearly since.

But Larson said she and city staff conducted their own census count using water meter subscriptions and other city data and estimated the city's actual population is around 538.

The undercount can be attributed in part to the COVID-19 pandemic that delayed the accumulation of data by the census bureau, but other factors should be taken into account. Larson noted that the county still hasn't completely incorporated 911 addressing, noting that Jasper residents still have post office box numbers that are not recognized by the bureau. The bureau also relied on receiving data via of its website on the internet, but some residents don't have access to it or in some cases the bureau's electronic forms would not accept the data city residents tried to input.

There were also problems experienced by the canvassers who made repeated visits to residents because their information would not be recorded by the bureau.

All of this has me thinking more about this story from rural Colorado, where a county official took the accuracy of the count into her own hands, if you will, working to ensure that residents responded in spite of the Census Bureau's approach to the count, which is not necessarily a good fit for rural places and small towns.  

Also related is this recent post, which suggests that Newton County is about to "blow up"--meaning to experience explosive growth due to ecotourism.  Reminds me:  I wish this Newton County Times story had some data on the 2020 Census count for the county.  In 2010, it was 8,330.  

This overall population loss story is in contrast to another Newton County Times story in the same edition about an over-crowded 5th grade at Jasper school.  Here's an excerpt: 

Jasper Elementary School is experiencing growth in its fifth grade classroom. So much so that the Jasper School District Board of Education passed a resolution at its last board meeting, Aug. 16, supporting a waiver request affecting the class size and teaching load. 
Under the state statutes, for grades five through six, except for those courses that lend themselves to large group instruction, the average student/teacher ratio in a school district shall be no more than 25 students per teacher in a classroom. There shall be no more than 28 students per teacher in any classroom. 
Superintendent Dr. Candra Brasel told the school board that the fifth grade is up to 33 students this year. That amount of growth does not warrant hiring another teacher, but the school district can ask the education department for a waiver. She said that the plan calls for a paraprofessional to be assigned to the fifth grade classroom to assist the teacher.

This reminds me that when I was in the 5th grade at Jasper School, I was in a mixed 5th-6th class. which is how such matters were handled back then.   

In any event, it seems that the Newton County population bulge that is coming was born in 2011.   Will they stick around for the 2030 Census?  

Postscript:  About a month after this post, I read that Arkansas' population increased 3.3% between the 2010 and 2020 Censuses.  

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Coronavirus in rural America (Part CXLVIII): cases spiking in far northern California

Hailey Branson-Potts reports in today's Los Angeles Times from Crescent City, population 6,676, the county seat of Del Norte County, where California meets Oregon and the Pacific Ocean.   Here's an excerpt:  

Cumulative coronavirus cases [in Del Norte County] have more than doubled over the last three months, from 1,380 confirmed on May 10 to 2,805 on Friday. At least 70 cases were confirmed Thursday alone.

The county of 27,800 people has one hospital, the 49-bed Sutter Coast Hospital in Crescent City. The next-closest in California is a 90-minute drive south in Humboldt County — over a stretch of Highway 101 called Last Chance Grade that is crumbling into the sea.

The state has sent extra doctors, nurses, X-ray technicians and respiratory therapists to the overwhelmed Sutter Coast Hospital, and 40 ventilators have been ordered, [State Senator Mike] McGuire said.
* * *
Like many facilities in rural regions, where it can be hard to recruit professionals, Sutter Coast struggled with staffing shortages even before the pandemic. Now, [Sutter Coast Chief Executive Mitch] Hanna said, that deficit is exacerbated by doctors and nurses falling ill with the virus.
Just 35.8% of Del Norte County's population is vaccinated, compared to 56.3% of Californians.  Meanwhile, 83% of the hospital's new COVID-19 patients have been unvaccinated.  
Earlier this month, more than 100 doctors in Del Norte and neighboring Humboldt County signed a letter pleading for residents to get vaccinated.  
The letter said:  
As your physicians, and as the people with whom you have worked, played, laughed and cried, we must admit we are tired,” it said. “We will keep working, of course. But we are tired. We are tired of the suffering, pain and death that can be avoided by getting vaccinated.

A recent post about high hospitalization rates in six rural northern California counties is here.  To this list, Branson-Potts' story adds the counties of Amador, Plumas, Shasta and Placer.  

Friday, August 27, 2021

Coronavirus in rural America (Part CXLVII): A report from close to home on the rural-urban divide over school mask mandates

I've been following for weeks the debates across the nation on mask mandates--in particular, the states seeking to ban mask mandates.  The aim of these laws is to remove local control--that is, to prevent local school boards, for example, from requiring students, faculty and staff to wear masks.  These bans on mask mandates, passed by state legislatures or implemented by executive order of the governors in places like Texas, Arkansas, and Florida, have been challenged in the courts on various bases.  

Some of those legal challenges have succeeded.  In Arkansas, a Pulaski County (Little Rock) judge struck the ban on mask mandates, Act 1002, on the basis of equal protection--specifically that it wasn't proper for private schools to be permitted to have mask mandates while public schools could not.  

One interesting argument in that case implicated the rural-urban divide, specifically with respect to hospitals.  You see, Act 1002 banning mask mandates had made an exception for state hospitals, but not for county hospitals.  The latter tended to be rural, thus setting up a double standard for urban vs. rural.  Here's what the plaintiffs' brief, submitted by attorney Tom Mars, argued in that regard: 

Remarkably, the failure to exempt all detention facilities isn’t the only irrational exemption in Act 1002. When exempting “state-controlled health care facilities” from the ban on face mask mandates, the drafters of Act 1002 apparently forgot to consider that Arkansas has many “county controlled hospitals,” predominantly in rural parts of Arkansas. There’s no exemption in Act 1002 that even arguably includes county-controlled hospitals. There should have been, however. By arbitrarily creating two classes of government hospitals, the General Assembly has denied equal protection of the laws to a population that is already underserved, many without access to internet service, and already challenged by the distance they must travel to receive adequate medical care. There is no question that Act 1002 makes it illegal for any county-controlled hospitals to require patients, visitors, or the medical staff to wear face masks. This is yet another reason why Act 1002 lacks any conceivable rational basis, as required by the Arkansas Constitution.

The only case I know that struck a law as unconstitutional because of a double standard across the rural-urban axis is a 1999 decision out of Arizona that said the state could not impose different gun regulations in rural parts of the state than in urban parts.  I wrote about that case here, and a recent blog post by my student also mentioned it. In any event, this argument about rural hospitals and a lack of rational basis to differentiate between them and state hospitals didn't loom large in the Pulaski County judge's decision.  

Since that Pulaski County decision, most of the larger school districts in Arkansas have instituted mask mandates.  Not a huge surprise.  A few rural-ish districts like Elkins, an exurb of Fayetteville (the second largest city in the state and home to the University of Arkansas), have decided on other solutions.  Elkins' solution is a "separate but equal one":  it'll put masked students on one side of the classroom and unmasked students on the other.  

I learn about these decisions from my Twitter feed, as I'm not otherwise plugged in to what small schools in Arkansas are doing.  Plus, small schools don't attract as much attention as urban ones in the state media.  Therefore, I mostly don't know what rural school districts in Arkansas are doing.  I did, however, recently learn what a few small districts are doing from reading the Newton County Times, a weekly paper from my home county.  It has just reported what the Jasper School District is doing, and the story is basically one of inaction.  

First, let me note that the August 18, 2021 issue of the newspaper featured on the front page two photos of faculty and staff training for the Jasper district, taken before the students were back.  Among the dozens of folks pictured, only one (on the far right of the photo, about to enter the crowded room) was wearing a mask.  And the folks were also not socially distanced from one another.  In fact, one photo showed close interactions among staff playing rock, paper, scissors as an ice breaker activity.  Another photo showed staff clustered around tables.  It reminded me of photos I included in this blog post last year, when school staff were distributing bagged lunches and compiling homework packets to go home to students; no one was wearing a mask in any of those mid-2020 photos either.    

Two stories in that August 18 issue of the Newton County Times explained that Jasper School District (which includes Kingston in Madison County and Oark in Johnson County), along with another in the county, the Ozark Mountain School District (OMSD) that includes Western Grove, will not be requiring masks, pursuant to the April, 2021 state law banning mask mandates.  That's the law that has since been struck as unconstitutional, giving districts latitude to impose mask mandates should they choose.  If anything were to change, the stories reported, it will be because school boards decided to disrupt that status quo from the spring.  Thus I've been waiting for the school boards to meet and take up the issue.    

Regarding the Ozark Mountain School District, that August 18 edition of the newspaper reported this on the district's safety protocols, including contact tracing: 

OMSD will not mandate the wearing of masks. Students and staff who wish to wear masks may do so. 
School buses will be sanitized after each trip. Seating charts will be made and adhered to in order to ensure contact tracing abilities.

Now, the digital version of the August 25, 2021 issue of the newspaper explains that the Jasper School District board met and decided to keep masks optional.  Here's the story: 

Students and teachers with the Jasper School District don't have to wear a mask at school, unless they want to. That was the policy when classes ended last spring and it continues unchanged as classes began on Tuesday, Aug. 17. Also left in place is 10 days of paid leave for employees who must be quarantined or isolate due to COVID-19.

These were questions left dangling after the school district's Ready for Learning Committee met last week to review and approve this year's Ready to Learn Plan during the on-going coronavirus pandemic. They were left for the Jasper School District Board of Education when it met Monday night. Aug. 16.

Superintendent Dr. Candra Brasel ... said education officials recommend schools that do implement a mask mandate have legal consultation to keep it on the right side of the law.

It's interesting that no mention is made of any medical consultation, which would also seem appropriate.  Then there are quotes from a few of the school board members. 

Board member Skip Emmett said masks are important, but the community won't support it. "People have to make choices," he said.

Board member Quentin Rylee said he is against masks especially for children. He said children are more likely to get sick wearing a mask that they put on after dropping it on the ground.

I went to school with Quentin Rylee, and I'm rendered nearly speechless by his ignorant statement.  The story continues with a nod toward medical advice: 

The CDC advises unvaccinated children between the ages of 2 and 12 should wear a mask in public spaces and around people they don’t live with.

The board also decided to leave the COVID Emergency Leave Policy alone because federal funds continue to pay for those days of leave. The leave may be taken by a staff member due to testing positive for the virus, experiencing COVID-19 symptoms; or is a probable close contact, or close contact; needs to care for a dependent who is subject to a quarantine or isolation order and the employee's job duties are not able to be performed remotely.

Brian Cossey, director of federal programs and district operations continues to be the district's COVID-19 point of contact officer responsible for keeping track of the virus in the district. He said proper documentation will continue to have to be provided to take the leave as well as returning to school afterward. This protects the school district and assures that the system isn't being abused.

Vaccines are now widely available for persons over 12 years of age. Vaccinated people don't have to quarantine, he said.

I wrote here a few weeks ago about the lack of convenience in getting the vaccine in Newton County--including the fact that the local vaccine clinic in Jasper was set for the Friday before school started--hardly enough time to get both doses and have the two-week period for maximum efficacy kick in.  Newton County is one of the poorest counties in the state, and a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette recently wrote about the urgency of reaching these populations with convenient vaccination opportunities.  Hasn't happened in Newton County. 

The Newton County Times story about the school board meeting continues: 

The board voted to approve the Ready for Learning Plan. Besides continuing with optional masking and COVID leave, the plan calls for social distancing at least 3 feet, continuing the protocols for hand washing and respiratory etiquette and, maintaining healthy facilities.School buses will continue to be disinfected. Drivers and aides will be encouraged to wear a face covering while students are on the bus when social distancing is not feasible. Students will be encouraged to wear face coverings on the bus when social distancing is not feasible.

This attention to disinfecting surfaces (also seen with respect to OMSD, as noted above) continues to be interesting--and misplaced in light of the science about COVID-19.  This is not a virus spread on surfaces; it is spread through airborne transmission, yet the theatrics of wiping down surfaces continues--not only on buses in rural Arkansas, but also in many places I frequent in urban California.  

The Newton County Times story continues with these details of other safety precautions: 

The school district's federally funded remote feeding program will continue. Cafeteria rules include no sharing tables. Bottled water will be made available for students as needed. The school staff will be responsible for self-screening before arriving at school. Thermometers will be provided for anyone within to screen at school. Visitors will be screened upon entering the buildings.

Brasel said funding has been released to school districts earmarked to make up for expenditures related to COVID-19. The money has been released in three rounds. Jasper School District received over $300,000 in the first round and $1.3 million in the second round. It will receive about $3 million in a third round (designated as ARP ESSER), 20% of which (about $650,000) is to be used to address learning loss of students. The money will mostly be used to hire additional personnel and curriculum. The board approved the ARP ESSER budget Monday.

I hope the newspaper will eventually report more details on expenditures related to personnel and curriculum--expenditures directly related to learning loss from the pandemic.  

The school district is buying four air conditioned school buses with these funds. They were ordered Monday night at a cost of just over $100,000 each. Two will be assigned to the Jasper campus and one each to Oark and Kingston.

Not saying the school buses aren't needed, but the expenditure does not seem to relate to COVID-19.  Indeed, to the extent that air conditioned buses mean students are less likely to open the school bus windows, that's a net loss on the ventilation needed to decrease the likelihood of virus transmission. 

That earlier story, from the August 18 issue of the paper, ended with this paragraph, which contradicts part of the August 25, 2021 story.  After stating, "the [federal] money will mostly be used to hire additional personnel and curriculum," it continues:  

The school district plans to use these funds to buy four air conditioned school buses, new heating, air conditioning and ventilation equipment for all three campuses and for renovations. The money primarily is to be used to continue to purchase cleaning supplies, personal protection equipment and more water bottle filling stations as the pandemic continues. These funds sunset in 2024.

I'm not sure why they'd be buying personal protection equipment--masks--since no one is wearing them.  The ventilation equipment seems like a great idea, but how quickly can they get it purchased and installed since the need for it, in relation to COVID, is immediate.  As for "cleaning supplies," again this seems odd given cleaning surfaces is effective at stopping the spread of the virus.   

Meanwhile, I get daily updates from the New York Times on vaccination rates in various places of interest to me.  One of those places is Newton County.  In the past month, the vaccination rate has gone from 23% to 25%, as documented by these periodic screenshots.  Not nearly enough, but it's something.  

August 5, 2021

August 17, 2021

August 24, 2021

The more recent NYT reports show details of the demographics of those vaccinated.  
This one is from today, August 27, 2021

Postscript:  The Sept. 22, 2021 issue of the Newton County Times features a brief front-page story indicating that the Newton County Courthouse is closed because of COVID-19.  The story reads:

The Newton County Office of Emergency Management announced in a Facebook Bulletin Sept. 12 that the courthouse is closed until further notice due to a COVID-19 outbreak.  The courthouse will be closed all week and is not expected to reopen Monday.  The District Court announced it would not be in session Sept. 20, advising those having business with the court to re-schedule.  

A Sept. 1 story headlined "Circuit court criminal cases adjudicated," stated that "most cases on the spring docket have been continued.  In doing so the period of continuance shall be an excluded period from the speedy trial rule."  

The Sept. 22 story notes that the County Collector, Nedra Daniels, is working in her office "as she is already processing tax payments that are due next month.  She said she did not know when the courthouse would reopen to the public.  She said last yer when the courthouse was closed due to the pandemic, taxpayers were able to pass their payments through an open window at the courthouse office.  She said that is her plan for operating if the courthouse doesn't reopen soon."

Meanwhile, according to the New York Times, Newton County's vaccination rate hit 29% this week.  

A September 1, 2021 story in the Newton County Times announces that "NARMC 'all things COVID'" and reports that the North Arkansas Medical Center in Harrison had 14 COVID patients as of August 14, with "one on a vent" and an average age of 63.  

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Indian Valley native in New York Times on the Dixie Fire and Rural Life

Annie Correal, who grew up in the Indian Valley in Plumas County, California, has published this in the New York Times, where she works.  It's a very personal reflection on the #DixieFire and its impact on Plumas County, which I've recently written about here, here, here, and here.  

A short excerpt of her piece follows, highlighting the sense of abandonment many feel in the face of the most recent wildfires, as resources are shifted each time a new fire erupts in a more populous area:  

“They just want to let us burn,” said Butch Forcino, repeating a common refrain heard among the valley’s weary residents, who have watched fire crews appear and disappear. He lost his home in Indian Falls to the fire and, like many of those displaced, has been living in a trailer in a friend’s field.

* * *

Most have stayed despite evacuation orders, tending to their hundreds of head of cattle even as the largest wildfire burning in the United States bears down.

Some officials have tried to encourage them to leave, saying they put themselves and firefighting crews at risk. But at a time when about 100 large blazes are burning across the West, stretching federal and state resources to the limit, they fear that if they do not protect their homes, no one will.
Please read the rest of Correal's poignant essay, and also my prior post about folks refusing to evacuate because of a sense of duty to protect their neighbors property--and a fear that if they didn't protect their own, no one else would.  In other words, some don't trust CalFire to protect their property.  This fear has surely been aggravated in the past few days as we have heard repeated announcements on state and national media that the highest fire priority in the nation is stopping the Caldor Fire from reaching the Lake Tahoe Basin.  This suggests that it has taken a threat to rich folks' homes to get authorities to pull out all the stops to get a fire under control.  These recent events have renewed my concern about whether adequate resources were dedicated in late July and early August to stopping the spread of the Dixie Fire in nonmetro, sparsely populated Plumas and Lassen counties.  Were those communities just not important enough to marshal more resources?  

Also, the photos accompanying this story are as extraordinary as the writing.  Don't miss them.  

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Redwood burl poacher gets light sentence in northern California

Here's the story from Kimberly Wear for California's North Coast Journal.  The man gets a sentence of community service rather than prison or parole.  : 

An Orick man is now banned from stepping foot into Redwood National and State Parks as part of his sentencing today after pleading guilty last month to poaching burl from old growth redwoods at the protected site. He also received two years probation, a $1,200 fine and 400 hours of community service.

Derek Alwin Hughes' case dates back to 2018, when the parks' rangers began an investigation into the pillaging of an old growth tree near Newton B. Drury Parkway that had massive chunks cut out from the base. Using photo monitoring and tire track evidence, they were able to obtain a search warrant for Hughes' home.

* * *  

Incidents, like the one involving Hughes, are unfortunately not uncommon in Redwood National and State Parks, which is home to some of the world's last old growth stands. 

* * *  

And redwoods are not the only local natural resource under siege, succulents and red abalone, a species on the brink with the collapse of much of the state's bull kelp forests amid a "perfect storm" of ecological events tied to climate change, are among other local plants and wildlife also sought by poachers.

Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney Steven Steward, who prosecuted Hughes' case, had asked the court to impose the maximum fine — a three year sentence and $10,000 fine — "given the extent of damage to irreplaceable shared natural resources and the importance of deterring such behavior," a release from the DA's Office states.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

A rural approach to getting a fair count in the Census

Shannon Namjabadi reports for the Colorado Sun under the headline, "Is Mineral County — population 865 — really one of the fastest-growing counties in Colorado?"  The story is about the efforts of Mineral County administrator Janelle Kukuk to ensure that the county got a fair count in the 2020 census.  The story does a fabulous job of explaining rural difference--in this case as it relates to the decennial U.S. Census.

Here's an excerpt: 

Kukuk had misgivings as soon as she heard how officials planned to conduct the once-a-decade census in tiny Mineral County.

Dropping census packets off at people’s homes might work in cities and suburbs. But in this Colorado county of 865, residents live on sprawling acreages sometimes inaccessible to delivery people. Her UPS packages are left in a lockbox on the side of the highway. Her census packet, delivered last May, was dropped onto a gatepost 5 miles from her house.

The plan, Kukuk thought, was flawed. And it galvanized her to get more involved.

The long-time county administrator got busy contacting every property owner and personally guiding confused or technically challenged residents through the census.

“PLEASE RESPOND,” said one note the county sent. “Mineral County is Counting on You!”

In the end, her monthslong push seems to have worked. When census data was released in August, Mineral County looked like one of the fastest growing counties in the state — not because it’s a boomtown, officials said, but because of Kukuk’s campaign to get a more accurate count of residents than in the 2010 Census. The population increased by 153 residents, up from 712 the decade prior.

“Rural America, rural Colorado doesn’t really come up very high on people’s radars,” said Kukuk, the county administrator since 2015. “But to us, a 153 person difference, that’s huge.”

On paper at least, Mineral County’s 21.5% population increase makes it the only small county to buck the state’s growing divide between the expanding Front Range and stagnating rural areas to the south and east. And it could be a boon for the county as the census guides how $1.5 trillion in federal aid is distributed for programs including affordable housing and Medicaid.
Officials say Mineral County represents a bright spot in the effort to accurately conduct the census in an unusually trying pandemic year, and that it demonstrates the difficulty of reaching rural regions that are among the hardest to tally for the decennial count.

Census forms aren’t delivered to post office boxes, where residents in sparsely populated swaths of the state often receive their mail. Instead, federal census takers go house-to-house in those areas in an attempt to reach as many people as they can. The sheer distance between homes can be challenging for census workers and the arrival of unexpected visitors is not always welcome.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Floods kill more than 20 in rural central Tennessee

These floods over the weekend in and around Waverly, Tennessee, population 4,105, are being attributed to climate change.  When I first saw the photos, I was struck by the similarities to the unprecedented July floods in western Germany, Belgium, and The Netherlands.  

Some NPR coverage of the flooding is here.  President Biden has declared a major emergency in the area.

More technology to make rural America obsolete?

The Salt Lake Tribune reported a few days ago on a technology that permits food to be grown in vertical "gardens," thus requiring less land area.  The headline is "It grows 1,500 times the food with 5% of the water. How a Utah vertical farm combats climate change."  The story reminded me of prior stories about this and similar technologies and the possibility that they will be one more reason rural America dries up and blows away.  

That is, if we don't need wide open spaces to grow enough food to feed the United States and help feed the world, what reasons will remain for policies that support rural communities.   After seeing some of these early stories late in the first decade of the 21st century, I put a photo of a prototype of these vertical greenhouses into slides I used whenever talking about reasons I was hearing that rural America was becoming obsolete. 

Some of those earlier stories are here, here, here, herehere (from 1967!) and here.  

Here's some more info about the technology the Tribune is reporting on, framed in relation to climate change and the burden of extreme climate events on farmers and ranchers.  The leading quote is from Steve Lindsley, president of Grōv Technologies, a sustainable agriculture startup based in Vineyard, Utah, population 12,543, part of the Provo-Orem Metro Area:

One of our clients is the owner of a big cattle ranch outside of Amarillo [who said], "If I can’t keep my animals healthy and safe in Texas anymore, I can’t do it anywhere.”

Whether freak winter storms or endless heat waves, climate change is forcing agriculture to evolve. As an energy and water-intensive industry and a major producer of greenhouse gasses, most climate experts agree that evolution is a necessity.

At Utah’s largest dairy farm on the west side of Utah Lake, Grōv Technologies wants to demonstrate that it is possible to feed a hungry planet and fight climate change.

“Five hundred acres of food, on a third of an acre, using 5% of the water,” explains Lindsley, “that’s the story, but it’s just the beginning.”

If you’ve seen 1999′s “The Matrix,” walking into Grōv Technologies’ Elberta, Utah facility and meeting the towers might give you deja vu. Unlike in the film, this deja vu is nothing to worry about.
The technologies behind Grōv are the twinned Olympus farms: two-story cylinders that slowly but steadily rotate squares of wheat or barley grass through a rapid growth cycle — from seed to feed in seven days.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Children's Justice Attorney Education Program gets Springboard Prize grant to expand attorney access

The University of Nebraska College of Law reports:  
The Children’s Justice Attorney Education program, a partnership of the Nebraska College of Law and the Center on Children, Families and the Law, will increase the availability and accessibility of court-appointed and juvenile county attorneys thanks to a grant from the Aviv Foundation. The CJAE will support juvenile attorneys to better serve rural children and families, including low-income, Latinx and Indigenous populations.

The program was one of two Nebraska projects chosen from the more than 389 proposals submitted for the Springboard Prize for Child Welfare.

“The CJAE will build on the proven practices of the Children’s Justice Clinic,” said Michelle Paxton, director of the clinic and the Children’s Justice Attorney Education program. “We plan to provide rural attorneys extensive education in federal and state child welfare laws, along with invaluable information and insights into the subjects necessary to become strong advocates.”

Attorneys participating in the program will receive training in trauma and child development, substance use, domestic violence, complex family dynamics and the Indian Child Welfare Act. During the eight-month program, attorneys will participate in expert case consultation and reflective practice, in which participants reflect on personal biases, thoughts and feelings about cases and use this expanded awareness to improve their advocacy.

“The (Center on Children, Families and the Law) is equipped with a team of experts that will provide guidance to CJAE participants throughout the program,” said Eve Brank, director of the center and professor of psychology. “CCFL’s psychologists, attorneys, child welfare practitioners, social workers, mental health practitioners and former state wards will consult with the program’s participants to allow rural attorneys an opportunity to address complex legal questions in their cases while integrating social and psychological factors to increase their child advocacy skills for underrepresented communities.”

Friday, August 20, 2021

Coronavirus in rural America (Part CXLVI): six rural California hospitals exceed winter COVID19 surge

Kristen Hwang reports for Cal Matters:  

Hospitals in six rural California counties — all in remote, northern parts of the state — are now treating more COVID-19 patients than ever, breaking records by exceeding their winter surges.

Driven by sharp spikes in infections and low vaccination rates, COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Del Norte, Tuolumne, Lake, Humboldt, Nevada and Mendocino counties have more than tripled in the past five weeks, according to a CalMatters analysis of state data.

All six are experiencing record highs — more hospitalizations than at any other time since the pandemic began. Another three counties — Amador, Placer and Shasta — have similar numbers of hospitalized COVID patients compared to their winter surge.

These sparsely populated counties have limited hospital beds and staffing for intensive care units. Del Norte and Lake counties had zero ICU beds available as of Wednesday, according to the state data. State public health officials on Monday issued an order requiring hospitals statewide to accept transfer patients from facilities with limited ICU capacity.

Adventist Health Sonora, the only hospital serving Tuolumne County’s 54,000 residents, has already run out of room for its most severely sick patients.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

The water (infrastructure) crisis in rural-ish coastal California

The Los Angeles Times and New York Times ran back-to-back stories out of Mendocino, California, population 894, with the topic being the town's water shortage.

 Here's the lede for the LA Times story by Hailey Branson-Potts:

The Santa Claus of water rolls through this foggy coastal hamlet in a silver and white truck, bringing joy and relief.

Wayne Jones refills water tanks for residents and businesses whose wells have gone dry. A bespectacled bald man with a majestic white goatee, he moves quickly and speaks sparingly.

Amid Mendocino’s worst drought on record, people are increasingly desperate for the private water hauler’s help.

Mendocino has no municipal water system. All businesses and homes rely upon wells — some hand-dug in the 1800s. But rain has been scant. Underwater aquifers are depleting. Wells are running dry.

The New York Times story by Thomas Fuller includes still more information about the role of infrastructure--or lack thereof--in this rural water crisis. 

 Mendocino’s water shortage is an extreme example of what some far-flung towns in California are experiencing as the state slips deeper into its second year of drought. Scores of century-old, hand-dug wells in the town have run dry, forcing residents, inns and restaurants to fill storage tanks with water trucked from faraway towns at the cost of anywhere from 20 to 45 cents a gallon. Utilities in California, by contrast, typically charge their customers less than a penny per gallon of tap water.  

This past week, residents of Mendocino watched as the Senate passed its $1 trillion infrastructure package, wondering whether some of those funds might reach them. Dianne Feinstein, the senior senator from California, has pointed out that the package specifically targets drought mitigation projects such as water storage, water recycling and desalination.

But it can’t come soon enough for many living in the small towns in northern parts of the state.

The drought is revealing for California that perhaps even more than rainfall it is money and infrastructure that dictate who has sufficient water during the state’s increasingly frequent dry spells. The drought, and the effects of climate change more generally, have drawn a bold line under the weaknesses of smaller communities with fewer resources.

Six hundred miles to the south of Mendocino, in a much more arid part of the state, the Lake Perris reservoir, a large artificial lake that provides drinking water to San Bernardino and Riverside, is nearly full.

Lake Skinner, Lake Matthews and Diamond Valley Lake, in the dry hills southeast of Los Angeles, are all around 80 percent full.

I'm reminded that Governor Gavin Newsom declared the first stage of the current California drought several months ago at Lake Mendocino, near Ukiah, the county seat.  That first phase of the drought included Mendocino County, of course.  

I'm also reminded of another coastal town--this one on the central coast--that has been struggling with water woes for a few years:  Cambria

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

More fire coverage out of rural northern California, including two prisons where the fire is bearing down

Let me lead with the brilliant Hailey Branson-Potts' story out of Susanville, California, the county seat of Lassen County, population 34,895.  Branson-Potts writes for the Los Angeles Times, and she regularly reports out of rural northern California.  She recently reported stories here and here out of Lassen County, so she knows it well.  Remember that Susanville is home to two state prisons, one set for closure in 2022.  Here's the part of her story that touches on the presence of 5,400 prisoners in the literal line of fire, eight miles east of central Susanville at High Desert State Prison (with 3,220 inmates, it is at 139% capacity) and California Correctional Center (with 2,187 inmates, at 65% capacity).  The initial quote is from Dana Simas, spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, about plans as of Wednesday afternoon:  

At this time, there are no directives to evacuate, and the institutions are in no immediate danger. We are also monitoring air quality and working with our public health and health care partners to ensure the safety and wellness of our population and staff.

Branson-Potts continues:   

Simas said the state corrections department is in “constant communication” with Cal Fire and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, as well as local officials, regarding the Dixie fire. Officials also are monitoring air quality and is providing N95 masks to staff and inmates at both prisons.

The institutions, Simas said, “have long-standing response plans in place to ensure continued daily operations, as well as the safety of our staff and incarcerated population through natural or other disasters.”

Simas said she could not discuss details about where and how prisoners would be relocated during an evacuation “for safety and security purposes.”

In other fascinating news regarding the prison closure, there is this about a court ruling out of Lassen County that could--and let me emphasize the could--be a game changer re the planned closure:

Earlier this month, a Lassen County Superior Court judge granted the city of Susanville a temporary restraining order halting the state’s plans to close the facility.

“It does not appear to the Court that the necessary requirements imposed upon the executive branch in facilitating the decision to close the California Correctional Center have been complied with,” Judge Mark Nareau wrote in his decision to grant the temporary restraining order. “The executive branch of the government of the state of California, like the citizens it serves, must comply with the law.”

In another story, Branson-Potts reports with Lila Siedman out of El Dorado County, where the Caldor Fire ignited over the weekend (as discussed in yesterday's post and in this coverage by Capital Public Radio) .  

The Caldor fire in El Dorado County has exploded to more than 50,000 acres, destroying a school, a church and numerous other structures.

Thousands of rural residents fled the flames, and two civilians were seriously injured Tuesday as the fire tore through rugged terrain with zero containment.

Caldor fire response spokesperson Chris Vestal said the blaze exhibited unusually high flame lengths and rapid spread. An incident report described its behavior as “unprecedented.”
* * *
It was at about 1,300 acres Monday afternoon when it began surging because of changes in atmospheric conditions.

Pushed by gusty winds, the fire hurtled north, and “unfortunately in the path of that fire has been communities,” said Mike Blankenheim, unit chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Amador-El Dorado Unit.

Lastly, the Cache Fire started this afternoon in Lake County.  A tweet with some photos of the destruction there is here.  The area near Hayfork, in Trinity County, is also on fire

What I'm hoping we'll get in the near future is a sense of the extent to which, as new fires have emerged, limited resources are moved from more remote and rural areas (e.g., Lassen, Plumas, and Lake counties) to more populous ones (e.g., El Dorado County).  

Call for Papers: Deadline to submit an abstract for Law and Rurality Workshop is Friday, August 20, 2021

Read more here, with a short excerpt following (and sorry for the late notice of this opportunity here on Legal Ruralism):  

We are thrilled to announce a new partnership with the fabulous Hannah Haksgaard at the University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law to continue her Law and Rurality Workshop as a permanent, annual event for both emerging and established scholars whose work engages with rurality and the law, broadly defined. We welcome scholars of all disciplines who are willing to read, share, and receive constructive feedback on in-progress work.

This year’s workshop will be held virtually on Friday, October 29, 2021, with the exact schedule to be determined by participant interest. (Little sneak peak: Although we are virtual this year as things remain uncertain with COVID, we are exploring options to include in-person events on some, perhaps alternating, years in the future.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Are California communities prone to wildfire getting enough support from state and federal government?

This op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, published in the wake of the Dixie Fire's destruction of Greenville, California (read more here), suggests that rural communities are not getting enough state and federal support.  I was musing on that argument--and tossing the idea out to my Twitter community--when the Caldor Fire broke out in El Dorado County over the weekend.  Now, tonight, I see the media here in the Sacramento region suggesting that the lack of resources to devote to the Caldor Fire has contributed to its spread and the attendant destruction.   Thankfully, Governor Newsom has declared a disaster in El Dorado County, which will bring in federal resources.  

I'd just really like some reputable journalists to investigate this situation--to explore the extent to which the state and nation simply don't have enough resources to fight all the fires--rural and urban, east and west--that that we are going to encounter given current climate conditions.  What should we do about this going forward, given that this is apparently the new normal.   

Air tankers have been flying over my house en route to El Dorado County most of the day.  I live in eastern Sacramento County, bordering El Dorado County, and I'm guessing the tankers are coming from Travis Air Force Base between here and the Bay Area.  

Post Script:  In Cal Fire's update on the Caldor Fire at 5 pm on August 18, they acknowledged the competition for resources among the many fires still being fought in California.  Meanwhile, another fire, the Cache Fire, today destroyed a mobile home park in Lower Lake, in Lake County, California.  Still more competition for resources.  

Monday, August 16, 2021

Coronavirus in rural America (Part CXLV): rural Texas school districts shutting down for a week or two

Here's the story from the Dallas Morning News today:  

On Monday, Iraan-Sheffield ISD, a district about 80 miles south of Midland, announced it would shut down its three campuses starting Tuesday, keeping its 338 students home until Aug. 30.

Iraan started school on Aug. 10.

“This decision was made to ensure the safety of our students and staff, as well as to make certain that we have appropriate staff available for each campus,” Superintendent Tracy Canter wrote in a letter to parents Monday afternoon.

No virtual or remote learning will be made available at this time, Canter wrote, although the district was working with the Texas Education Agency on alternative plans.

She also pleaded with staff and students to stay in quarantine over the two-week break.

* * *

Bloomburg and Waskom ISDs — two small districts in East Texas on the borders of Arkansas and Louisiana, respectively — told families on Sunday that they would not hold classes this week at some of their campuses.

A Facebook post from administrators from Bloomburg, a 250-student district about 30 miles south of Texarkana, said the district would close starting Monday through Aug. 20.

“We feel this is the best decision to protect our students, staff and community during this time,” the post said.

In related news, the Texas Supreme Court on Sunday upheld Governor Abbott's ban on mask mandates after at least one trial court had struck down the governor's order.   

In Arkansas, the Marion school district near West Memphis, which started classes in July to get ahead of possible closures due to outbreaks, had 1000 students and staff in quarantine by last week.  While many Arkansas schools have imposed mask mandates after an Arkansas trial judge struck the state's ban on such mandates, most of those schools have been large districts in urban areas.  That said, I note that the West Fork school district, exurban to Fayetteville (now the state's second largest city after the 2020 Census), tonight reversed its earlier decision and is imposing a mask mandate temporarily.  Elkins, another exurban/rural school district near Fayetteville, is separating masked and unmasked students within each classroom.  But it seems that most school boards that have considered what to do are requiring masks.  Still, many, many rural Arkansas districts have not yet taken up the issue.  

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Rural and small town in the lyrics of Nanci Griffith

Nanci Griffith, folk-and-country music singer died on Friday.  She was an artist I followed closely in the 1990s and into the early 2000s.  News of her death sent me back to her work, which I listened to on Saturday.  One thing I noticed are the rural-themed lyrics, and I'm going to highlight a few here.  

The most obviously rural song, perhaps, is "Trouble in the Fields," which included these lines, which touch on urban use of the rural, rural difference, and the farm crisis of the 1980s, with a reference to the Dust Bowl era, too. 

Baby I know that we've got trouble in the fields
When the bankers swarm like locust out there turning away our yield
The trains roll by our silos, silver in the rain
They leave our pockets full of nothing
But our dreams and the golden grain

Have you seen the folks in line downtown at the station
They're all buying their ticket out and talking the great depression
Our parents had their hard times fifty years ago
When they stood out in these empty fields in dust as deep as snow
And all this trouble in our fields

If this rain can fall, these wounds can heal
They'll never take our native soil
But if we sell that new John Deere
And then we'll work these crops with sweat and tears
You'll be the mule I'll be the plow
Come harvest time we'll work it out
There's still a lot of love, here in these troubled fields

There's a book up on the shelf about the dust bowl days
And there's a little bit of you and a little bit of me
In the photos on every page
Now our children live in the city and they rest upon our shoulders
They never want the rain to fall or the weather to get colder

Then there was "Gulf Coast Highway," which highlighted seasonal and informal work, as well as attachment to place:

Gulf Coast Highway 
He worked the rails 
He worked the rice fields 
With their cool dark wells 
He worked the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico 

The only thing we've ever owned 
Is this old house here by the road 
And when he dies he says he'll catch 
Some blackbird's wing 
Then he will fly away to Heaven come 
Some sweet blue bonnet spring 

She walked through springtime 
When I was home The days were sweet 
The nights were warm 
The seasons change, the jobs would 
Come, the flowers fade 

This old house felt so alone 
When the work took me away 
And when she dies she says, she'll 
Catch some blackbirds wing 
Then she will fly away to Heaven come 
Some sweet blue bonnet spring 

Highway 90 The jobs are gone 
We tend our garden 
We set the sun 
This is the only place on earth 
Blue bonnets grow 
Once a year they come and go 

At this old house here by the road 
And when we die we say, we'll 
Catch some blackbirds wing 
Then we will fly away to Heaven come 
Some sweet blue bonnet spring

Lastly, I want to mention "Hometown Streets," which featured these lines that touch on lack of anonymity and nostalgia.  Here's the refrain and a verse:

I need a hometown street where the boys are pretty
And a friend is still a friend
I need a hometown street where the love you're given
Surely comes back 'round again
Hometown streets are paved in gold 
With faces that you've always known
But, you'll never see them
Until you pack your dreams and leave them
The one I loved has moved away
It's hot in this city
Hey, it's always late
Here in this place
Love doesn't get the time of day

After preparing this post, I noticed that the New York Times obituary for Griffith featured this subhead:  

Her best-loved songs were closely observed tales of small-town life, sometimes with painful details in the lyrics, but typically sung with a deceptive prettiness.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Remembering Greenville, California (Part II): the public sector

Sign on Grenville High School, 2013
The message now seems ironic

Last week, I posted some 2013 photos of Greenville, California (all (c) Lisa R. Pruitt 2013).  I shared them because Greenville, one of the four population centers in Plumas County, California, was nearly entirely destroyed by the Dixie Fire about 10 days ago.  In this post, I'm going to share more photos of Greenville, taken in 2013, with a focus on public infrastructure--schools, the sheriff's substation, the fire department, the community center, the Indian education center.  

Greenville Fire Truck, 2013

Roundhouse Indian Education Center, Greenville, 2013

Greenville High School 2013
Interesting that Future Farmers of America is the co-brand

A sign at the Greenville school complex, 2013
Indian Valley Elementary School, Greenville, 2013

Ambulances at Greenville, 2013

Public transit in Greenville, 2013







Greenville Substation, Plumas County Sheriff, 2013

On the side of the old jail, pictured below, which sits behind Sheriff's Substation


These next photos are the Indian Valley Community Center, which featured a range of modest facilities.    

Scholarship guidelines for classes at 
Indian Valley Community Center, 2013

Indian Valley Community Center, 2013

Indian Valley Community Center, 2013

The Indian Valley Recreation Scholarship Fund flyer above states that it "helps ensure all people, regardless of ability to pay, have access to programs that enrich lives and teach life-long lessons.  Donations to the fund help a child learn to swim, play on a team, practice life skills or discover a new talent."  The chart below that language shows the amount of discount/scholarship, pegged to Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines or WIC Guidelines.  

When my students and I were working in Plumas County in 2013, we visited with the man responsible for trying to sell the Indian Valley Hospital building.  The facility had then recently closed, with folks channeled to either Quincy, Chester, or Susanville, the latter in neighboring Lassen County.  

Interior of Indian Valley Hospital, then recently closed, March 2013

Helicopter pad for Indian Valley Hospital, 2013

For Sale Sign at Indian Valley Hospital, 2013 

Some post-fire photographs of these places are in this series posted August 12 by the Los Angeles Times.  The after-fire photos include one of the Greenville fire station.   I have seen photos on other websites that suggest the school complex at Greenville survived.  

Today's Los Angeles Times update on the Dixie Fire is here.