Local Campaign Signs Disappearing
Philip Fay, who is running for Truckee Sanitary District’s board of directors, has had numerous campaign signs stolen and vandalized with spray paint. Some of his uprooted signs he discovered 200 feet away from where they were originally posted. In early October, Fay was contacted by the Truckee Police Department, who had arrested the person responsible. According to Fay, the person was caught red handed with spray paint in hand. Fay told Moonshine Ink that he has been replacing missing signs near daily in some locations since.
On Oct. 25, Truckee police posted a public service announcement encouraging campaign supporters to “engage in respectful and courteous sign behavior.” The announcement stated, “Theft and vandalism of a sign is considered a crime and will be investigated thoroughly.”
Luke Ragan is an incumbent running for the North Tahoe Fire Protection District, division 4, and another local candidate dealing with stolen campaign signs. He told Moonshine Ink that 28 of his 56 candidate signs have disappeared around the North and West Shores, particularly in Lake Forest, Dollar Point, and Tahoe City. Ragan, who has served for six years on the NTFPD board, is running against Ron Parson, general manager of Granlibakken Tahoe.
“That’s $400, plus my time putting those signs in,” Ragan said. He has not pursued police action in response to his disappearing signs.
Ragan did say that some of his signs on Caltrans and Tahoe City Public Utility District properties were removed by the agencies because they can’t endorse candidates. The others, he has no idea what happened. Parson told Moonshine he’s had three of his own signs disappear.
Caltrans does not permit signage of any kind in areas within state right-of-way. Some of Fay’s signs were removed by the agency, which he has since retrieved from Caltrans’ Truckee maintenance yard. Candidates whose signs have been removed by Caltrans can retrieve them at the Truckee or Tahoe City maintenance yards.
~ KM, AH
Takedown of Nationwide Catalytic Converter Theft Ring
Federal, state, and local law enforcement partners from across the United States executed a nationwide coordinated takedown of leaders and associates of a national network of thieves, dealers, and processors for their roles in conspiracies involving stolen catalytic converters sold to a metal refinery for tens of millions of dollars.
Arrests, searches, and seizures took place in California, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, and Virginia. In total, 21 individuals in five states have been arrested and/or charged for their roles in the conspiracy.
The 21 defendants are charged in two separate indictments that were unsealed in the Eastern District of California and the Northern District of Oklahoma following extensive law enforcement arrests and search operations. In addition to the indictments, over 32 search warrants were executed, and law enforcement seized millions of dollars in assets, including homes, bank accounts, cash, and luxury vehicles.
A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of California returned a 40‑count indictment charging nine defendants with conspiracy to transport stolen catalytic converters, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and other related charges.
According to court documents, three Sacramento residents allegedly operated an unlicensed business from their personal residence where they bought stolen catalytic converters from local thieves and shipped them to DG Auto Parts in New Jersey for processing. The defendants allegedly sold over $38 million in stolen catalytic converters to DG Auto.
Six defendants, all of New Jersey, operated DG Auto in multiple locations in New Jersey. They knowingly purchased stolen catalytic converters and, through a “de-canning” process, extracted the precious metal powders from the catalytic core. DG Auto sold the precious metal powders it processed from California and elsewhere to a metal refinery for over $545 million.
~ Department of Justice press release
$5.2 Million to Tahoe Partners for Forest Health
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE
The California Tahoe Conservancy has awarded two grants, totaling $5.2 million, for work in the Lake Tahoe Basin to improve forest health and reduce wildfire risk. The two grants include $5,024,037 to the USDA Forest Service, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, and $197,000 to the South Tahoe Public Utility District.
Funding for these grants comes from the State of California’s 2021 wildfire package.
Grant for Post-Caldor Fire Work on National Forest Lands
This grant supports the LTBMU’s efforts to protect public safety and restore lands damaged by the 2021 Caldor Fire, which burned almost 10,000 acres within the Basin, mostly on National Forest lands. In addition to the fire damage, firefighters bulldozed approximately 55 miles of fire lines to contain the fire and as a contingency to protect south shore communities. The LTBMU will thin 1,240 acres of forest impacted by the Caldor Fire, removing fire-killed or weakened trees that pose a hazard to roads, trails, private property boundaries, and recreation sites. This thinning also reduces wildfire risk. The LTBMU will also reforest and restore a combined 247 acres of fire-damaged forest and bulldozed areas.
Reducing Wildfire Risk to Water Supply Infrastructure
This grant supports work to reduce wildfire risk to critical water and sewer facilities. Damage to such facilities could be catastrophic for firefighters battling a large wildfire. STPUD will use the new grant funding to complete a vegetation management plan to reduce wildfire risk around infrastructure identified in the fire vulnerability assessment, and to complete related environmental review and permitting. Planning will cover STPUD infrastructure as well as Tahoe City Public Utility District, North Tahoe Public Utility District, and local private water companies.
~ California Tahoe Conservatory press release
Supervisors Reengage on Uses for Fire Station 51
Finding a new use for the old Fire Station 51 in Tahoe City is under discussion once again. The Placer County Board of Supervisors approved a short-term, non-exclusive right to negotiate an agreement with the Climate and Wildfire Institute to discuss the potential future reuse or redevelopment of the vacant fire station. The institute’s mission is to bring existing climate and wildfire science to policy and decision-making.
Fire Station 51 was built in 1961 and was the former home of the North Tahoe Fire Protection District, which relocated to a new facility in 2012. Since that time, the county has been working with stakeholders in Tahoe City to create a new vision for the space, which is located on the Commons Beach property along North Lake Boulevard.
The Climate and Wildfire Institute, which was recently awarded a $7 million state grant, reached out to the county in May to propose using the facility for its headquarters. Under the recently approved agreement, the county and the institute will continue public outreach and community engagement, identify potential uses of the Fire Station 51 property, and assess the financial feasibility of those potential uses.
A partnership with the institute also has the potential to advance economic development opportunities and welcome a new environmental steward to the region.
~ Placer County press release
Funding to Provide Rent, Mortgage, and Utility Assistance to Eligible Residents
Nevada County Housing and Community Services has funding available to help with rent, mortgage, and utility assistance for households financially affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The application is currently open and will be processed on a first come, first served basis.
Priority will be given to those at risk of homelessness who are behind on rent or mortgage payments, or have an eviction notice for non-payment. Eligible households may qualify for as much as $2,000 per month for up to three months, and can pay any current or overdue rent, mortgage, or utilities.
Income limits are set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. To be eligible for the program, applicants must have an income at or below 80% of the area median income. For a household of one person, income can be as high as $55,100 per year, and a family of four can earn up to $78,000 and qualify for the program.
Since the program funding is specific to financial hardships caused by the pandemic, documentation that shows loss of income from Covid-19 is required.
Funding is available through the Community Development Block Grant program, administered through the California Department of Housing and Community Development for Covid-19 financial relief.
Residents can submit their applications and learn more about the program and the application on the Nevada County Housing and Community Services website. For questions about the application process, contact Nevada County Housing and Community Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ Nevada County press release
Fewer Aquatic Invasive Species Detected on Watercrafts
As Lake Tahoe watercraft inspections shift to winter operations, inspectors report intercepting far fewer vessels with aquatic invasive species onboard this year.
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the Tahoe Resource Conservation District announced that out of 5,800 boats, jet skis, and trailers inspected since January, 56 were found to have aquatic invasive species onboard and eight of those were carrying quagga or zebra mussels, making this one of the lowest years on record for intercepting the prolific invader. This was a marked reduction from 2021, which was one of the highest ever — inspectors intercepted 132 vessels with aquatic invasive species, 28 of which carried quagga or zebra mussels. The high number of discoveries triggered an expanded outreach effort to boaters nationwide.
Around 30% fewer boats came through the inspection stations this year than last, likely due to higher fuel prices and unfavorable weather early in the season. However, the number of invasive species detections dropped by 73%. Boats need to undergo a thorough decontamination process if there are signs of mud, plants, animals, or water found during the inspection process, or the boat has a ballast system such as a ski or wake boat. Boaters continue to do their part with more than 50% of watercraft arriving clean, drained, and dry, further reducing the risk to the Tahoe region.
~ TRPA press release
Burn Code for Wood-Burning Fireplaces and Stoves
Burn code updates that help residents determine if they are allowed to use a wood-burning fireplace, stove or other device started Nov. 1, as the Washoe County Health District Air Quality Management Division encourages people to “Keep It Clean – Know the Code.”
The Washoe County burn code will be active through the winter months with a goal to maintain healthy air quality for all residents. Sign up for Washoe County Air Quality updates here.
The burn code applies to residences with a fireplace, wood stove, pellet stove, or any other wood-burning device; households where the wood-burning device is a primary source of heat can receive an exemption through AQMD (call (775)785-4110 for more information).
Wood burning in fireplaces and wood stoves during winter months accounts for around 40% of wintertime fine particulate matter in the Truckee Meadows. The harmful emissions can end up in lungs and pass into the bloodstream causing both respiratory and cardiovascular health problems. Long-term exposure to wood smoke can lead to decreased lung function, aggravated asthma, irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, premature death in people with heart or lung disease and increased susceptibility to heart and vascular disease for postmenopausal women.
Residents can go to ourcleanair.com or call (775) 785-4110 to get daily burn code status.
~ Washoe County Health District press release
Resort Association is Seeking Candidates
The North Lake Tahoe Resort Association is actively seeking candidates to join its volunteer Tourism Development Committee.
Two seats with a three-year term that run from January 2023 to December 2025 are open, and one seat with a one-year term that runs through December 2023 is open. The Tourism Development Committee meets on the last Tuesday of each month from 2 to 4 p.m.
Interested candidates are invited to submit a letter of interest and their resume by Nov. 28 to Kirstin Guinn at email@example.com.
Committee members help guide North Lake Tahoe’s marketing, public relations, and sales strategies, make recommendations on event sponsorships in the region, provide direction on in-market messaging and campaigns, and collaborate with other influential community members.
~ North Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce press release
North Tahoe Fire Receives Mechanical Chest Compression Devices
A total of five mechanical chest compression devices are being funded for the district, made possible through agency partnership funding approved by the Truckee Tahoe Airport District, and a benevolent contribution from the Gary Sinise Foundation.
The Truckee Tahoe Airport District approved nearly $60,000 in Agency Partnership funding in October for the purchase of three mechanical chest compression devices.The Gary Sinise Foundation donated two mechanical chest compression devices valued at nearly $40,000 in October.
The devices provide uninterrupted high-quality, high performance chest compressions to victims of cardiac arrest to achieve life-saving circulation, which frees up the firefighter/paramedic to perform other interventions at the same time the mechanical chest compressions are being performed during transport to the hospital.
~ North Tahoe and Meeks Bay Fire Protection Districts press release
Intermittent Interstate 80 Lane Closures Continue
Caltrans is alerting Interstate 80 motorists in Truckee to expect continued intermittent lane and shoulder closures this month for ongoing roadway improvements.
I-80 motorists traveling between the I-80/State Route 89 separation and Donner Pass Road/Coldstream Road should expect lane and shoulder closures and travel delays through the end of November. Construction crews are finishing drainage and paving work for the addition of eastbound ramp acceleration lanes and a westbound auxiliary lane.
Temporary striping will also be placed before the project is suspended for the winter months. Permanent roadway striping is anticipated in spring 2023, once weather improves and warmer temperatures return.
Typical delays of 15 to 20 minutes should be anticipated when traveling through the work zones on weekdays. However, delays of 25 to 30 minutes are common on Thursday afternoons due to increased travel levels. Caltrans makes every effort to reduce weekend travel congestion by keeping interstate lanes open.
The construction is part of a $30.6 million project to rehabilitate the existing concrete on I-80 in Truckee, install a westbound auxiliary lane from the SR-89 south on-ramp to the Donner Pass Road off-ramp, install eastbound acceleration lanes from the Donner Pass Road on-ramp and the SR-89 south on-ramp, improve drainage, and upgrade concrete walkways along ramps to meet current Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
~ California Department of Transportation press release
Moving In, Moving On, Moving Up
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Selects New Executive Director
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency governing board voted unanimously on Oct. 27 to offer the position of executive director to Julie Regan following a national search and public evaluation process. Regan, a current TRPA deputy director, has held an executive role at the agency since 2003.
The board received letters and comments of support for Regan from U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Representative Mark Amodei, and Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District Chief Scott Lindgren, among others.
The agency hired executive search firm Prothman in June after the executive director of 13 years, Joanne S. Marchetta, announced she would be stepping down. Prothman conducted a national search for applicants that included more than 29,000 direct contacts as well as advertisements in conservation and governmental publications. The agency received qualified submissions from 28 applicants, four of whom became finalists for the position.
The governing board invited feedback from TRPA staff and a panel of regional stakeholders that included public and private sector representatives, as well as social service and environmental non-profit organizations. Fourteen panelists interviewed the four finalists, followed by a reception where TRPA staff and advisory planning commission and governing board members could meet the candidates.
During the proceedings, the governing board interviewed the four finalists and invited additional public input. As required by the Nevada Open Meeting Law, all interviews and deliberations were conducted in open session. Regan will receive an offer and the board will vote on the final agreement at its next regularly scheduled meeting, Nov. 16.
~ Tahoe Regional Planning Agency press release
Appointment of Danny Renfrow as Chief of Police
The Truckee Police Department would like to announce the appointment of Chief of Police, Danny Renfrow.
Renfrow is a third generation Nevada County resident and has been with the department for close to 19 years. He is the first Truckee police chief to have exclusively served the organization in his law enforcement career.
An extensive hiring process took place in March 2022, including interviews with a community panel, public safety panel, town employee panel, the town’s department head team, and police command staff. At that time, Jen Callaway, Truckee town manager, made the decision not to move forward with the candidates and asked Renfrow if he would continue to lead in the acting chief role that he had been serving in since January 2022.
In October, the chief position was reassessed by Callaway, who said, “I have been proud of the leadership Chief Renfrow has demonstrated over the past 11 months and his commitment to Truckee over the last 19 years. When evaluating the chief selection, I asked for input and feedback from the police command staff, [Truckee] Police Officers’ Association, town executive leadership team, and the Community’s Chief Advisory Committee. It was clear to me that his management of the Truckee Police Department and contributions as a town department head are supported and valued. It also reinforced my confidence in his skills and ability to protect the safety and wellbeing of our community with a community focused vision for many years to come.”
~ Town of Truckee press release
Katrina Smolen Appointed to Public Service District Board
The Olympic Valley Public Service District has announced that Katrina Smolen was appointed to fill the board member vacancy. The board determined that Smolen’s professional background in hydrogeology, her long-standing dedication to the Olympic Valley community, and her continued interest in the district’s work were among the many qualities that will make her an excellent fit for the position. All residents/registered voters are encouraged to run in the election for three district seats in November 2024.
~ Olympic Valley Public Service District newsletter