Ramping up accessibility

Sidewalks around Ellis Lake and throughout Marysville are getting torn apart so wheelchairs and baby strollers can roll.

Work is already under way at 9th and D streets, where a construction crew is breaking up concrete curbs and putting in handicapped-accessible ramps to make the area compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, said assistant engineer Catherine Dykes.

The work will continue up D Street at the 11th, 12th and 14th street intersections.

Thirty more ramps are expected to be added within the city. Areas involved include the south side of 14th Street from D to H streets, the west side of G Street from 11th to 14th streets and 5th and J streets.

Funds for the project are coming from a $1.5 million Community Development Block Grant overseen by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. The program helps to improve conditions in communities through grants.

Work around Ellis Lake is expected to be finished by the end of this week at the earliest. All of the sidewalk work in town should be finished by July 6, Dykes said.

Read more: http://www.appeal-democrat.com/news/street-50403-work-streets.html#ixzz1sH7SnpS2

Nielsen returning to politics

A former state senator says he will run for the Republican nomination in the 2nd Assembly District seat in 2008.

Jim Nielsen, 62, declared his intent after Jason Larrabee, the closest competition in his party, stepped aside and endorsed him Wednesday.

Nielsen is best known for his time in the Senate from 1978 to 1990 when he co-authored California’s “Victims’ Bill of Rights,” enacted in 1982.

“I was privileged to serve the north state for 12 years,” Nielsen said. “This appears to be the proper time for me to do so again.”

The seat is currently filled by Doug LaMalfa, who will be leaving the Assembly next year after serving the maximum three, two-year terms. The district includes Butte, Colusa and Sutter counties.

Nielsen plans to retire from the California Board of Prison Terms this year. He has served as deputy commissioner since 2001.

He also owns a small cattle ranch in Sanger, a city of about 18,000 near Fresno.

During his term, Nielsen became the youngest person to serve as Republican Senate leader in California history.

Since his term in the Senate, Nielsen has helped with the campaigns of Republican candidates such as Pete Wilson and more recently Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and President Bush.

Honors for Hmong fighters

Sai Pa Thao still has a pea-size lump on his ankle from the fighting – and he’ll gladly press your finger to where shrapnel still rests under his skin after more than three decades.

That lump is one of the many wounds he suffered in the Vietnam War. He received a Purple Heart in 2004.

Sai Pa Thao, James Thao and Xiong Pao Vue will be the only three men from California honored with medals for their wartime courage at the National Lao-Hmong Recognition Day celebration July 22 in Milwaukee, Wis.

They have worked for several years in the Appeal-Democrat’s mailroom, thousands of miles from where they fought in their respective separate battles more than 35 years ago.

Started in 2002, National Lao-Hmong Recognition Day honors the sacrifices of the Hmong people during the Vietnam War to disrupt Viet Cong supply lines along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

When he was about 10 years old, Sai Pa Thao trained with his parents to fight in Laos.

He remembers fighting Communist forces five times. He was wounded three times.

Thao will proudly show the scars left on him at a young age, whether they are physical or emotional.

During a battle, he was just a few feet from a Viet Cong soldier. What happened next followed the little experience he had at the time.

“I shot very close until my enemy’s brain exploded,” Thao said. He paused for a moment as the memory came back to him. “It was either them or me. I was very lucky.”

Vue fought in the same province as Sai Pa Thao and James Thao, who are not related. The leader of Vue’s village told everyone to grab a weapon and fight, so the 14-year-old Vue was thrown into the fray.

His most vivid memory is when he and seven fellow Hmong had to block a road against about 20 Viet Cong fighters. After a barrage of gunfire, Vue said, all 20 were either dead or had fled while the group he was with was still standing.

Vue isn’t sure how many people he killed on the battlefield, mostly because he was young and the battles were very chaotic. He would fire his gun and toss a grenade or two, but details were lost in the shuffle.

The post-battle carnage sticks in his mind.

“I just saw many people dead in the morning,” Vue said.

The only family he has left today is a sister. His father wanted them to escape but never made it out of Laos himself. Vue said he and his sister made it to the United States in 1992, after spending time in a refugee camp.

James Thao began fighting when he was 12 years old in Military Region 2. This region was in northern Laos and included the famed Plain of Jars. It was also where some of the most intense fighting took place.

Because they fought hard and had pride in the mountains, many Hmong died while helping the United States, James Thao said. In return, some of the Hmong were allowed to settle in the United States starting in 1976.

James Thao didn’t come until 1988, while Sai Pa Thao made it in 1983.

Memories of people they saw fall – and those who still are being hunted – stick in their minds.

“Every time I think about it, a tear comes out,” Sai Pa Thao said.

Summer Kids: Frontier fun

With the spark of a flint, the click of an arrowhead and the whispers of a flute, about 40 children were whisked back more than 150 years to the time of the mountain men.

The Muzzleloaders set up camp Wednesday on the back lawn of the Sutter County Community Memorial Museum in Yuba City with a variety of handmade replicas of 19th century items. The presentation was part of the museum’s free annual summer program to expose children to history.

“They can learn about historical figures and live part of our history,” said museum curator Julie Stark.

The Muzzleloaders, a “black powder organization” based in Browns Valley, studies the history of mountain men from 1800 to 1840. Members compete with groups from across California and also teach children about the era.

Roger “Roger Behave” Kanihan showed off his collection of handmade wooden flutes. In between performances, he chipped away at an arrowhead with a bone tool as wide eyes followed his every move.

“I’ve been trying to make bows and arrows for a while, but all I’ve gotten are cuts and splinters,” said Serena Droughton, 9, from Marysville.

Across the camp, David “Whiteman” Baker showed off a collection of guns, knives and even a cannon. While the guns added firepower, he explained, they took time to load and were notoriously inaccurate, making knives and hatchets more important.

“If you didn’t carry at least five knives, you weren’t a mountain man,” Baker said.

Furs from deer and beavers were laid out for the children to feel. Some of the children ducked under a wolfskin cape with its head resting upon their own heads.

To get some of these furs, the mountain men would occasionally run into a deadly grizzly bear, which would force them to fight back desperately with a knife.

“Just stick it in, twist it in and hope it did its job,” Baker said as he twisted his knife in the air while his attentive audience pulled back and winced at the thought.

Around a large metal bowl, some of the kids learned how a fire was made before matches and lighters.

Nick Veal, 8, took a clump of jute and placed some charcloth in the middle. He tentatively swiped his flint against a piece of steel few times, then steadied his hands and clicked the steel until a spark jumped into the charcloth.

“Whoa,” Nick said, and the kids around him quickly joined the chorus.

Just like Baker showed him earlier, Nick blew into the smoldering pile and a flame burst out. A mixture of joy and shock caused the flaming jute to fly from his hands and back into the bowl. As quickly as the fire started, it was smothered by the lid of the charcloth can.

Seems this “mountain man” business will take a little practice.

Read more: http://www.appeal-democrat.com/articles/mountain-50057-children-baker.html#ixzz1sH8XVOEw

ZIP code ripped

Three numbers drew the ire of Arboga residents in a ZIP code dispute, but a name change could help make the transition a little easier.

A 90-minute meeting Tuesday night with postal service representative on the front lawn of the Arboga Community Center drew about 80 people to discuss moving the town’s ZIP code from 95901 to 95961.

ZIP code boundaries in the area were redrawn by the post office because growth in the area caused one of the codes to run out of plus-four codes, said Distribution Manager Dale Robbins. Those four numbers give a more precise location for mail to be delivered.

The new lines shifted Arboga residents from the Marysville post office to the Olivehurst post office. This angered those who didn’t like the new name’s image and left them worried about their mail delivery.

“We don’t want Olivehurst,” many people said, complaining they would be associated with a town that has a higher crime rate, which they argued would affect property values.

Two appraisers reassured residents that their property values wouldn’t be affected, but residents were still concerned.

“You’ve got a bunch of unhappy people who won’t change their minds,” said Richard Webb, 76.

Also of concern was the actual delivery of mail. Residents complained that in recent weeks the mail has been delivered roughly two hours later than usual.

With a new ZIP code, they wondered if there was a chance their mail might get lost in the shuffle.

“If I can’t get these checks, I can’t pay my bills,” resident Dwaine Jones said about his military payments.

Those fears were settled somewhat by Olivehurst Postmaster Cheri Smith, who said that by the official changeover on July 1, she will have control over their mail and will personally make sure service is as smooth as possible.

Underlying the meeting was tension about changing something residents wrote in their return address for decades and the fact the post office made such a significant change without talking to the community during the two-year process of redrawing the lines.

However, there was a little hope in the end. After a brief brainstorming session, community members saw an opening to start a petition that would change the Olivehurst post office’s name to either Plumas-Arboga or simply Plumas Lake.

Neither Robbins or Smith would comment on how much time it would take for a name change to take place, but were happy that something productive came out of the meeting.

Read more: http://www.appeal-democrat.com/news/mail-50042-residents-post.html#ixzz1sH8A2qHj

Looking good at age 104

The “trunk” of a family tree with five living generations celebrated her 104th birthday this week.

Loretta Ensworth was born in Wakefield, Kan., on June 12, 1903.

She’s the proud mother of three children, eight grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.

Ensworth’s only surviving daughter celebrated with her and 40 other residents of Marysville Nursing and Rehab with a strawberry-filled birthday cake.

Daughter Dorothy Hubbard, 75, remembers her mother as a great cook who could whip up a good pie from scratch, an active member of the Catholic Church, and a loving mother.

“She’s lived as long as she has because of her strong faith and her ability to find the good in people,” Dorothy Hubbard said.

Ensworth moved to the Yuba-Sutter area in 1942 and has lived here ever since.

Ensworth’s son-in-law helped care for her for 20 years before she moved into a care home. Jim Hubbard said he’s surprised at how well she’s doing after 104 years.

“I don’t understand what’s keeping her here, but she’s hanging on,” he said. “She’s a lot better than a lot of the younger women here.”

Cindy Wise said Ensworth’s been very sharp in the past eight years she’s worked with her, despite her declining vision and hearing. After every bath, Ensworth’s hand reaches out for her Oil of Olay.

“She’s always wanted to be presentable and look good,” Wise said.

Read more: http://www.appeal-democrat.com/news/ensworth-49820-great-good.html#ixzz1sH9NOt7J

Nurses try to rally public

A newly formed nurses’ union at Fremont-Rideout Health Group is trying to rally community support for its contract demands.

“We’re disappointed with the lack of change,” said union spokesman Dan Lawson.

Today, nurses will deliver petitions with more than 2,500 signatures from community members to Lisa Del Pero, who chairs Fremont-Rideout’s board of directors.

The petitions support the union’s call for lower patient-staff ratios and higher standards for floating nurses, Lawson said.

Floaters are nurses who move between departments.

The higher standards would ensure that those nurses were properly trained to fill the positions where they would roam, Lawson said.

The nurses voted to unionize in September.

Fremont-Rideout’s administrators are looking over the proposals that were presented by the union in May, said CEO Theresa Hamilton.

It’s not clear how long it will take to look at the impact of the union’s demands.

Part of the proposal calls for nurses to get a 15 percent annual raise. With a current average wage of $36 per hour, the cost of the nurses’ demands will have a big impact on the budget.

“We want a fair contract, but we want one that offers economic stability,” Hamilton said.

Without that stability, she said it would be unclear how Fremont-Rideout could continue its focus on safety and quality.

Read more: http://www.appeal-democrat.com/news/nurses-49819-union-fremont.html#ixzz1sH90Lgfr

Gas prices giving state drivers a break

Pump pains for drivers have eased slightly in the last month, but it will be awhile before prices return to where they were a few years ago, according to a American Automobile Association report.

The average price for a gallon of gas dropped 21 cents to $3.16 in Marysville between May 15 and June 12. Only Chico and Tracy are cheaper at $3.15. The statewide average was $3.30.

AAA spokesman Sean Comey said the price drop-off is still below what is expected this time of the year, but prices have become difficult, if not impossible, to predict in the past five years.

“There is no normal anymore,” Comey said. “The factors have gone well beyond rainy days affecting travel.”

Comey attributed the high prices to a high demand that moderated slightly in the survey period and an abnormally high number of problems with refineries.

He added that some of the decline in prices could be the result of increased political pressure and negative publicity for energy companies.

The high demand has created a short supply for gasoline in California, which made for a difficult transition from the winter blend to the summer blend, said Tupper Hull, Western States Petroleum Association spokesman.

The difference in the blends creates a cleaner burning fuel for the warmer summer months when more people travel and the air sets more, Hull said. This transition normally happens in the beginning of March.

The demand in California has left a shortfall of 3.5 million gallons of gas per day, according to the California Energy Commission. In previous years, there has been enough of a supply to allow the switchover to go smoother with little increase in prices, Hull said.

Compounding these problems were a number of accidents and fires that shut down parts of refineries throughout the transition process. This has left production levels at their lowest in the last 10 to 12 years, Hull said.

“It seems like it was a difficult spring,” he said.

To make up for the average shortfall of 3.5 million gallons, gas has to be imported from the Northwest, the gulf coast and even the Middle East, Hull said. This importing pumps up the price of gas to cover transporting expenses and an increased demand.

More gas had to be imported with a short supply during the blend change, which drove prices higher, Hull said.

Both Hull and Comey recommended that drivers cut back on driving to cut back demand and hopefully bring prices down.

Read more: http://www.appeal-democrat.com/news/prices-49699-hull-gas.html#ixzz1sHAI96AH

Looking good at age 104

The “trunk” of a family tree with five living generations celebrated her 104th birthday this week.

Loretta Ensworth was born in Wakefield, Kan., on June 12, 1903.

She’s the proud mother of three children, eight grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.

Ensworth’s only surviving daughter celebrated with her and 40 other residents of Marysville Nursing and Rehab with a strawberry-filled birthday cake.

Daughter Dorothy Hubbard, 75, remembers her mother as a great cook who could whip up a good pie from scratch, an active member of the Catholic Church, and a loving mother.

“She’s lived as long as she has because of her strong faith and her ability to find the good in people,” Dorothy Hubbard said.

Ensworth moved to the Yuba-Sutter area in 1942 and has lived here ever since.

Ensworth’s son-in-law helped care for her for 20 years before she moved into a care home. Jim Hubbard said he’s surprised at how well she’s doing after 104 years.

“I don’t understand what’s keeping her here, but she’s hanging on,” he said. “She’s a lot better than a lot of the younger women here.”

Cindy Wise said Ensworth’s been very sharp in the past eight years she’s worked with her, despite her declining vision and hearing. After every bath, Ensworth’s hand reaches out for her Oil of Olay.

“She’s always wanted to be presentable and look good,” Wise said.

Nurses try to rally public

A newly formed nurses’ union at Fremont-Rideout Health Group is trying to rally community support for its contract demands.

“We’re disappointed with the lack of change,” said union spokesman Dan Lawson.

Today, nurses will deliver petitions with more than 2,500 signatures from community members to Lisa Del Pero, who chairs Fremont-Rideout’s board of directors.

The petitions support the union’s call for lower patient-staff ratios and higher standards for floating nurses, Lawson said.

Floaters are nurses who move between departments.

The higher standards would ensure that those nurses were properly trained to fill the positions where they would roam, Lawson said.

The nurses voted to unionize in September.

Fremont-Rideout’s administrators are looking over the proposals that were presented by the union in May, said CEO Theresa Hamilton.

It’s not clear how long it will take to look at the impact of the union’s demands.

Part of the proposal calls for nurses to get a 15 percent annual raise. With a current average wage of $36 per hour, the cost of the nurses’ demands will have a big impact on the budget.

“We want a fair contract, but we want one that offers economic stability,” Hamilton said.

Without that stability, she said it would be unclear how Fremont-Rideout could continue its focus on safety and quality.