News Briefs | August 13 – September 9, 2020

0
82

Alcohol Ban Extended on the Truckee River

TAHOE CITY

Addressing health and safety concerns resulting from a recent increase in activity along the Truckee River, the Placer County board of supervisors voted to temporarily extend an alcohol ban on the Truckee River until Oct. 15. The ban went into effect on July 27.

State law authorizes the board to impose an alcohol ban on the Truckee River between Fanny Bridge and the River Ranch during “designated holiday periods.” The existing alcohol ban will continue with the temporary amendment, currently enforceable by the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.

Outdoor activity is permitted in the state’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order, and recreation on the Truckee River has increased since Memorial Day weekend. The commercial rafting businesses have voluntarily reduced boat capacity by 50% to address COVID-19 concerns, however, the number of private rafters has significantly increased in recent weeks.

Advertisement

This has resulted in several concerns within the North Lake Tahoe community including alcohol-fueled misconduct, trash, and potential environmental degradation of the river, as well as increased exposure to COVID-19.

Both rafting companies operating on the Truckee River expressed support for the extended alcohol ban.

~ Placer County press release

Around the lake in two summers: Local residents Wendy Kronkhyte and Claudia Hanson don’t know anyone else who has circumnavigated Tahoe by swimming; they did it in under 54 hours over the course of two summers. Photo courtesy Robert Kronkhyte

Local Women Swim Tahoe’s Perimeter

TAHOE

Wendy Robinson Kronkhyte of Tahoe City and Truckee’s Claudia Hanson spent the last two summers completing something Kronkhyte’s husband Robert doesn’t know of anyone who has successfully done: Swim all the way around Lake Tahoe. The women started on July 28, 2019 and completed their last mile July 12 of this year.

Kronkhyte’s final stats for the swim are: 78.464 miles in 53 hours, 42 minutes, 4 seconds, in legs of between 2 and 6 miles a day. The swim is tricky because it varies year by year how long you can swim it, explained Robert, and there are usually about two months it’s fully swimmable. The pair wore earplugs, wetsuits, swim caps, and goggles and persevered in their goal through many struggles, both natural and personal, such as water temperature, traffic, job concern and days off, and other unexpected life concerns, Robert told Moonshine.

Proud of his wife and their friend? Beyond. “I’m overwhelmed, I don’t know of anybody that’s ever done that,” he said. “There are a large number of people that have swam across the lake … and I know people who’ve attempted it.”

~ BL

Health System Waives Out-of-pocket Costs

TAHOE/TRUCKEE

Tahoe Forest Health System has been waiving out-of-pocket costs for screening and testing, and in most cases, the treatment of those with COVID-19 illness, since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.   

Treatment for COVID-19 is covered under most health insurance plans and Medicare. However, patients should review their plan or contact their insurance company with questions about cost sharing. Medicare and some insurance plans may still have cost sharing requirements in place. If this creates a financial hardship, please be sure to contact TFHS’s financial customer service office, available at (530) 582-3598, to discuss your situation.

In addition, independent contractors of the hospital such as radiologists, ER physicians, anesthesiologists, pathologists, ambulance transportation, and durable medical equipment may bill patients separately as well.

~ TFHS press release

Hotel Tax on the Ballot, Hiring Top Town Officials Progress

TRUCKEE

The town council has voted to place a local funding measure on the November ballot to increase the transient occupancy tax (TOT), also known as a hotel tax, by 2%. The measure would not raise taxes for Truckee residents — it applies to overnight hotel and short-term rental guests only.

If approved by a majority of local voters, the measure would provide approximately $700,000 in annual locally controlled funding for general services, like facilitating housing to support essential workers such as teachers, nurses and firefighters. Additionally, local funding would allow Truckee to implement fire safe measures, protect, and preserve open space.

More information about the measure, along with a complete copy of the TOT Resolution is available at townoftruckee.com/localmeasure.

In addition to three council spots up for grabs (see p. 9 for our election guide), the town is also on the prowl to find a new manager and police chief. While neither are electable positions, the next town manager, in particular, will play a key role in the creation and adoption of Truckee’s 2040 general and downtown specific plans. Applications can be submitted through Aug. 19. A short list of candidates will be identified by town council on Sept. 2 in a closed session, and interviews will take place Sept. 14 and 15.

The process for selecting a police chief will begin once the town manager has been hired.

~ AH

Mental Awareness Campaign Launched

TRUCKEE

The Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee has partnered with the Katz Amsterdam Foundation to launch Part of Our Nature — a campaign to remove the stigma around mental health challenges and open access to local support and services. Through a creative strategy of powerful and humorous messages from animals, the multi-month campaign hopes to breach a difficult subject with familiar faces.

COVID-19 has illuminated and intensified the mental health issues many Americans struggle with. This is especially true for rural, mountain communities. According to a 2020 Behavioral Health Survey conducted before the COVID-19 outbreak in North Tahoe, 42% of respondents reported three-plus days of poor mental health in the past month versus the national average of 28%. On average, mountain community residents report poor mental health days at a 150% higher rate than the general American public.

~ CCTT press release

Bike Racks for Tahoe Program Extended

TAHOE CITY

Following two successful phases of the Bike Racks for Tahoe program that was introduced to public agencies and businesses in 2018 and 2019, the nonprofit Tahoe Fund will continue its partnership with the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition to offer low or no-cost bike racks to interested centrally located town center locations in the Tahoe Basin. The program is designed to encourage locals and visitors to ride their bikes around lakeside communities instead of drive.

Grant funding provided by the Tahoe Fund will also be used to support the bike coalition’s mobile bike racks, known as “bike valets,” at events around the Basin. Bike valets offer free, safe bike parking to event-goers to encourage them to ride — instead of drive — to concerts, festivals and more.

The Bike Coalition will be responsible for all ordering, shipping and professional installation of the bike racks on behalf of the selected businesses, with installations expected mid-September 2020.

~ Tahoe Fund, LTBC press release

Confirmed Cases of Rabies in Nevada Bats

SPARKS

The Nevada Department of Agriculture Animal Disease Laboratory has confirmed seven positive rabies cases in bats in Clark and Washoe counties. Rabies is most commonly found in bats, and bat activity tends to peak between the months of May and October throughout Nevada.

Any bats, dead or alive, that may have been in contact with people or domestic animals should be reported immediately. It is important that individuals contact the NDA Animal Disease Lab or their local animal control agency before attempting to pick up a bat. If an individual is asked to collect the bat for testing, they should carefully follow all instructions provided by the agency including using heavy gloves to avoid potential bites.

The Animal Disease Laboratory confirms between 10 and 20 cases of bat rabies each year. To date in 2020, the lab has tested 179 bats, and seven were positive for rabies.

~ NDA press release

Electric Buses, Trail Improvements Coming to Eastern Placer

AUBURN

Electric buses will be purchased and operating within the next three years to serve residents in Eastern Placer as part of an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide more achievable housing. The Placer County board of supervisors has accepted nearly $3.6 million in grant funds from Neighborhood Partners LLC in exchange for implementing transit and trail improvements. The transportation improvements will be completed by the county to support Meadow View Place in Martis Valley, a 56-unit housing project.

Placer County Public Works Deputy Director Will Garner says the electric buses will be used to support the expansion of TART service. The county also received $200,000 from the California Low Carbon Transit fund which will be used to help cover the cost of installing charging infrastructure.

~ Placer County press release

Homeless Count Released

PLACER COUNTY

The number of people experiencing homelessness in Placer County increased from 2019 to 2020, according to results from the annual point-in-time count released by the Homeless Resource Council of the Sierras. As the lead organization in the region’s Continuum of Care for homelessness, HRCS is a nonprofit collaborative comprised of members representing nonprofit and government agencies serving the community’s needs around homelessness.

A total of 744 homeless individuals were counted in Placer County, from Roseville to North Lake Tahoe. The count surveyed both unsheltered and sheltered individuals, and was conducted by volunteers, nonprofit, and county staff for the night of Jan. 29. By comparison, 617 homeless individuals were identified in the 2019 count and 584 in 2018.

~ HRCS press release

Local Agencies House Workers

TRUCKEE/NORTH TAHOE

July 1 marked the launch of the Truckee Tahoe Workforce Housing Agency’s first program, a partnership with Landing Locals, that will connect TTWHA member agency employees with second homeowners for long-term leasing opportunities.

TTWHA is a joint powers agency with the mission of providing housing to the employees of the four founding member agencies: Tahoe Forest Hospital District, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, Truckee Donner Public Utility District, and Truckee Tahoe Airport District.

Homeowners interested in participating in the program can reach out to Landing Locals through landinglocals.com/JPA. The agency is currently researching the master leasing of housing units, and exploring opportunities with the development community.

~ TTWHA press release

Memorial Plaque Installed in Tribute to Late Local Musician

TRUCKEE

A memorial plaque to recognize beloved Truckee musician Paul Covarelli was unveiled July 26 at the Truckee Amphitheater, marking just over one year since Paul passed away from a battle with cancer, on July 9, 2019. Paul’s widow, Erica, and son, John, were present to witness the unveiling.

With his wonderfully diverse music and warm spirit, Paul was a beloved member of the Truckee community. An incredible musician, he started playing guitar at age 5.  He was equally happy playing blues, rock, country, jazz, and show music. Either solo or with his band Jo Mama, he performed for over 25 years at the Truckee Amphitheater Music in the Park and the Donner Lake Fourth of July celebration. He arranged music for the Truckee Follies, taught guitar, and played venues all over Truckee and the Reno/Carson area.

The brass plaque is mounted on a locally sourced granite boulder, placed on the pathway overlooking the amphitheater stage.

~ Mike English

Funding Approved for Projects to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

SACRAMENTO

Caltrans has approved $146 million in Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP) funding for 166 local public transportation projects. These projects will improve the sustainability of transportation systems and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Approximately $140 million for 158 projects will benefit disadvantaged communities most affected by climate change.

Some of the projects that will benefit from LCTOP funding include:

  • 55 projects offering free or reduced fares to encourage lifelong transit users, including young riders, seniors, and veterans
  • 37 projects providing new and expanded transit service for better access to jobs and educational sites, as well as expanding transit options on nights and weekends
  • 26 projects purchasing replacement zero-emission vehicles
  • 14 projects purchasing, constructing, or installing passenger amenities at transit stops/stations to encourage increased transit ridership

~ Caltrans press release

STOP IN THE NAME OF THE LAW: Wrong way signs equipped with 24-hour flashing LED lights warn drivers not to enter an exit ramp. Photo by Wade Snider/Moonshine Ink

New Signage Deterring Wrong Way Drivers on State Highways

SACRAMENTO

Caltrans and the UC Davis Advanced Highway Maintenance and Construction Technology (AHMCT) Research Center released two reports highlighting ways to prevent rare but often deadly collisions involving wrong way drivers. One of the prevention measures included in the three-year pilot program — reflectors that alert drivers they are entering the roadway in the wrong direction — was so successful at deterring wrong way drivers that Caltrans has already installed the reflective markers on hundreds of miles of highways.

During the pilot program, Caltrans installed and tested different ways to deter wrong way drivers along exit ramps in Sacramento and San Diego, including:

  • Two-way reflective pavement markers that show white or yellow to right way drivers, and red to wrong way drivers
  • “Wrong Way” signs at the off-ramp
  • “Do Not Enter” signs equipped with LED lights flashing 24 hours a day
  • Active monitoring systems that use radar to detect wrong way drivers. These systems activate a secondary set of LED signs when a wrong way driver enters the ramp and sends real-time alerts and photos to Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol.

Caltrans monitored the exit ramps throughout the pilot and learned the two-way reflective pavement markers were an effective measure against wrong way drivers. The department is installing them as it performs maintenance or repaving.

~ Caltrans press release

‘Choices Given No Choice’

TRUCKEE

Choices, a service nonprofit for adults with disabilities based in Rancho Cordova that serves 20 clients in Truckee, is at risk of closing. The Alta California Regional Center sent out a notice to families across the region who receive services from the group, recommending they seek alternative care options by Sept. 1 since the organization is in “imminent danger” of being shut down, according to a press release from the service group, because they missed an audit filing deadline. Michael Zatopa, an attorney for the organization, said, “If the people who use Choices don’t want to go, the program can’t close until at least the Superior Court makes its ruling on Choices appeal of the DDS decision.” Choies currently employs 115 people and serves 169 clients.

~ Choices press release

Advertisement