Y-S educators say safety plans in place

Yuba-Sutter school officials said they are ready for an incident similar to the one that happened at Las Plumas High School on Friday.

A 17-year-old student allegedly brought a gun to the Oroville campus and held students hostage in a band room until finally surrendering to police.

A safety plan is in place and is rehearsed at schools in the Yuba City Unified School District, said Dave Morrow, director of student welfare for the district. At least twice a year, schools rehearse the lockdown procedures.

An announcement is made over the intercom and students are required to sit at their desks while teachers lock the doors and draw the blinds, Morrow said.

“It’s become a regular part of the school year for us, unfortunately,” the district official said.

Superintendent Gay Todd said the Marysville Joint Unified School District has a similar plan in which each school has its own emergency plan that has been reviewed and approved by the school board.

The MJUSD’s plans have steadily been updated because of the shootings at Lindhurst High School in 1992, Todd said. In that incident, student Eric Houston took 80 students hostage at the school after a shooting rampage that left four people dead.

The Yuba County Witness Assistance Program will be staying open this weekend to help people deal with anxiety that could crop up in some of the students who were at Lindhurst at the time of the shootings and now have kids in school.

�Every time there is a shooting, we say the specter of Eric Houston is back,� said program coordinator Sandy Fonley. �Our students have felt particularly vulnerable.�

Residents are encouraged to call the program at 741-6275.

Read more: http://www.appeal-democrat.com/news/school-54698-students-district.html#ixzz1sMMtQGjF

Good times at Lindhurst High

Lindhurst High School students celebrated their success in the classroom, kicking off a new program with a Renaissance fair in the campus quad Thursday.

The Olivehurst school had its first of many planned events as part of its Renaissance program. The school has seen an almost 100-point gain in its Annual Performance Index scores over the past three years.

Guidance counselor Joanna Alvarado is also acting as the counselor for Renaissance. The program grew out of a class and became an incentive for students to bring up their grades and keep them high.

Before this first year of Lindhurst’s “renaissance,” Alvarado researched some of the more successful programs in the area, including Bear River Middle School in Wheatland. The first step was taken Thursday with a lunch-hour fair.

“This lets them know about the new club and gets them interested in learning more,” Alvarado said.

Throughout the year, the club will help celebrate success in the classroom through a series of events, including scholarship assemblies and naming a student of the month. Students won’t be the only ones celebrated, as teachers and staff members will also be honored each month.

For their efforts in the classroom, students were treated to a fair filled with plenty of opportunities for students to celebrate success.

The Marines brought in a chin-up bar and the Army had a climbing wall for students to pull themselves to new heights. Free cake was served to encourage hard work to keep the school’s API score closer to 700.

Principal Bob Eckhardt is excited to see the push for students to keep improving in their studies because it adds to what he sees as a hidden pattern of excellence at Lindhurst that extends beyond the classroom.

The school’s sports teams also took home seven league titles, including a section champion football team and champion soccer, track and softball teams.

“We are riding a wave of success, and we don’t see an end in sight,” Eckhardt said.

Read more: http://www.appeal-democrat.com/news/students-54657-school-classroom.html#ixzz1sMRTSEdA

Wreck snarls bridge traffic

A four-car collision injured one man and stopped eastbound traffic on the 10th Street bridge during rush hour on Monday.

The collision happened around 5:15 p.m. and closed traffic while the cars involved were moved down to I Street to get statements. An unidentified male passenger was taken from the scene in an ambulance.

A blue Jeep was at the front of the chain-reaction wreck and suffered minimal damage. A green Ford pickup followed with a silver Toyota Tacoma. Both had badly bent front and back ends. A green Pontiac Grand Prix was the last one hit and suffered severe front-end damage.

Dennis Socha, 42 of Marysville was in his Jeep when, he said, traffic was stopped in front of him and he hit his brakes. Just as the truck behind hit him, Socha said he let off his brakes, and there was barely a mark on his car, though he complained of neck and back pain from the impact.

“I don’t remember what happened, it all happened so fast,” Socha said. “Everyone just stopped all of a sudden on the bridge.”

Albert Salas, 66, of Marysville was riding with his two chihuahuas when his Ford pickup hit the back of Socha’s Jeep and was then hit by the Toyota behind him. All three inside the Ford were able to walk away from the crash.

Brent Fetty, 38, of Santa Cruz was on his way to see his father in the hostpital when his Tacoma hit the back of Salas’ truck. Shortly after, the next car hit.

“It was so quick, I had no chance of stopping,” Fetty said. “I just watched that girl behind me in my mirror come up and hit me.”

Mayra Heredia, 18, of Wheatland, drove the last car in the collision. Her Pontiac hit the back of Fetty’s Tacoma and set off her air bags.

The passenger side air bag panel smashed half of the windshield outward. A passenger in her car, whose name was not available, was taken away by ambulance with minor injuries.

The accident is still under investigation, but Jenn Inc. accident investigator Eric Quintana said it looked like speed was a factor.

“Most of the time on a bridge, it’s speed and following too close,” Quintana said.

Read more: http://www.appeal-democrat.com/news/traffic-54490-front-suffered.html#ixzz1sMSPWBS1

Fire blackens Buttes

Lightning sparked a fire around the Sutter Buttes over the weekend that kept firefighters busy for more than 12 hours.

The fire burned between 250 and 280 acres on the east side of Peace Valley, said Sutter Fire Chief Dan Yager. No structures were burned nor was there any injuries resulting from the blaze.

Since the fire started at the top of a hill, fighting it was difficult, Yager said. The fire moved downhill faster than firefighters could move up to it.

To make matters worse, Yager said the area was too far away for hoses and remote enough to make it difficult to get in trucks. As a result, the strategy was to isolate the fire, Yager said.

Bulldozers and Cal Fire hand crews worked to carve a line around the fire. The fire started at 11:48 p.m. Friday and wasn’t extinguished until after noon on Saturday, Yager said.

“It was very labor intensive,” he said.

Crews from five units responded to the fire. Cal Fire firefighters were joined by Sutter County and Meridian units to head off the fire. In all, 23 fire engines, bulldozers and other vehicles, along with 67 fire personnel responded to the fire, Yager said.

The Peace Valley area was purchased by the California Department of Parks and Recreation in 2004 in hopes of building a park in the Sutter Buttes.

Read more: http://www.appeal-democrat.com/news/fire-54499-yager-sutter.html#ixzz1sMVAkc7S

Reich says area ripe for performers

The theater is a very important part of Robert Reich’s life. He’s worked with Shakespeare in Oregon and Utah and the ballet in Sacramento. He’s just kept away from the spotlight.

“I have no desire to get on stage,” Reich said. “I prefer to leave it to those who do it better than me – much, much better.”

Reich, 53, has been executive director of the Yuba-Sutter Regional Arts Council for a month. He’s been married to his wife, Kelly, for 16 years and has a 12-year-old daughter.

While he’s shied away from the stage, Reich stayed close enough to it to direct and produce a few smaller productions. His primary focus has been on the marketing end.

“I was really interested by the challenge of increasing the visibility of the arts in the area,” he said.

Reich sees a ripe opportunity for growth.

He is examining the school districts to see what foundation is being laid for students who might not realize they’re interested in the arts.

So far, he said, the Yuba City Unified School District and the Marysville Joint Unified School District are doing a good job using their resources.

Reich’s interest in arts in the schools goes back to his own theater roots. He started in high school with a few productions, and 20 years ago he was directing 400 kids in a production of “The Nutcracker” in the Napa Valley.

“It’s a passion that started in high school; then I went to college and kept doing it,” Reich said. “I had a lot of fun and wanted to make a career out of it.”

As for the rest of the community, Reich is focused on cutting down the commute in search of the arts. The problem is the lack of visibility for local events, so people drive to Sacramento or Chico, Reich said.

“There are a lot of quality arts activities that people just don’t know about.” he said. “People need to know they don’t have to go as far for the arts because there’s more going on here locally than they know about.”

But for those already in the know about the arts in the Yuba-Sutter area, Reich still has a few tricks up his sleeve.

In Fairfield a few years ago, he worked on an arts series that pulled in prominent actors such as John Amos (Kunta Kinte in “Roots”), John Aston (Gomez, “The Addams Family”) and Vicki Lawrence.

“I would love to see something like that in Yuba City,” Reich said.

Read more: http://www.appeal-democrat.com/news/reich-54476-arts-school.html#ixzz1sMU82rsT

UC chief visits Yuba County

University of California President Robert Dynes got a local first-hand look Friday at what agricultural research partnerships have done for the UC system and the state.

Dynes’ tour stops in Yuba County included the Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center in Browns Valley and a Marysville-area rice field. Both reflected ongoing research at UC Davis’ Agriculture Department.

Dynes, a professor of physics, opts to see the work first-hand during visits he makes to sites across the state.

“If you sit in an office, nobody tells you the whole story,” he said. “It’s extremely important to understand the impact of our research.”

His tour began with a demonstration of how different types of lumber that could be used for decks at homes in the foothills could fuel a fire. While a simulated redwood deck barely burned, a plastic-lumber composite deck turned into an inferno within 15 minutes.

“People aren’t usually around when the fire comes, and firefighters may not be able to save a home with that kind of spread,” said Stephen Quarles, wood durability adviser at UC Davis.

That research also resulted in the changing of state regulations on wood.

The next stop showed how a few feet of grass could drastically improve water quality for cattle. Leaving a section of grass near a creek ungrazed worked like a filter, preventing 99 percent of livestock-leavings bacteria from running into the creek, said Rob Atwill, a UC Davis professor. The recent E-coli outbreak in spinach was traced to water tainted by bacteria from animal feces.

Since even 3 feet of grazing land can make a big difference in the filtering of the bacteria, it should be a little easier to get ranchers to try this idea, Atwill said.

“Telling ranchers to give up 300 feet of prime grass isn’t easy,” he laughed. “A couple of feet of buffer will be much easier.”

Dynes’ other stop was at a rice farm, where he discussed the importance of the relationship between farmers and UC Davis. The combination of the school’s research program and the farmer’s efforts make it easier for rice farmers to find funding and stay ahead of the curve in developing new rice farming techniques.

Dynes announced last month that he is resigning, capping an often tumultuous four-year tenure as head of the nation’s top public university system.

He said he wanted to spend more time with his new wife. He plans to leave by June 2008 or earlier if the governing Board of Regents appoints his successor, then return to teaching physics.

Read more: http://www.appeal-democrat.com/news/research-54415-dynes-feet.html#ixzz1sMVXEWzv

Marysville tragedy remembered

Three two-by-four beams hold up what’s left of The Pink Trunk and what’s left of the apartment buildings above and behind it. One year ago, a mother and her 1-year-old daughter lost their lives in the fire that left the husk of a building that remains.

Family and friends of Crystal Porter, 19, and Katelynn Annmarie Risner gathered in front of 310 Seventh St. for a candlelight vigil Tuesday night.

About 30 people tried to make the best out of a windy evening that put out most of the candles as they were lit.

Joe Huong was at St. Joseph Catholic Church across the street from the blaze when it happened.

“I pass by here every day and say a little prayer,” he said.

A pair of doves was released in honor of the mother and daughter. The first took flight and landed in the lawn of the church and the other glided into the road. Neither tried to fly too far from the crowd, a sign the family saw as the loved ones it lost wanting to stay close.

The loss of her daughter and granddaughter hasn’t gotten easier for Michelle Porter. In front of the remains of the fire, she was at a loss when she tried to put her grief into words.

“I can’t think of anything other than how hard it is and how much you just miss them,” Michelle Porter said through her tears. “It doesn’t get easier.”

The fire wiped out The Pink Trunk, a thrift store for Rideout Memorial Hospital, and several apartments above and behind it. The windows of a neighboring apartment building have been replaced, and scaffolding along the wall shows progress, but the scorch marks still blacken the stucco walls.

The remains of the thrift store, which has since moved to 210 D St., are just three walls with a wreath in the doorway marking the tragic events.

Former Marysville Police Chief Jack Beecham said the investigation is ongoing. Investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have helped look for a cause, but so far there are no definite conclusions.

“It’s hard to tell people, but these investigations take time,” Beecham said. “We haven’t forgotten about them.”

But Tuesday night was less about the investigation and more about remembering lost lives. Crystal Porter’s cousin remembered her for the amazing mother who never gave up and loved her beautiful baby daughter.

“She always had the will to conquer the world,” Heather Cortez said.

Read more: http://www.appeal-democrat.com/news/daughter-54234-porter-remains.html#ixzz1sMWSg2Yc

Toys safe, child centers report

Even though Marie Childers didn’t have a list of the toys recalled nationally over the past three months, she was fairly certain the children at Kidz Time were safe from lead paint.

More than 12 million toys have been recalled by Mattel and Fisher-Price because of safety concerns, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. All of the products were imported from China.

Childers, a director of Kidz Time, said most of her toys are bought through wholesalers who specialize in child care centers and don’t sell to the general public. The rest are bought at chains such as Wal-Mart. She hadn’t checked the toys at the center because she didn’t know where to find the information about the recalls.

“You hear about it on the news and you just go on with your day,” Childers said.

When she had a chance to look over the list from the CPSC, Childers was relieved that her assumption was correct. None of the toys were on the list, which included more than 5 million toys with high levels of lead, or the 7.3 million Polly Pocket playsets with small magnets that children could swallow.

Most of the toys for Kidz Time and the Marysville Joint Unified School District’s child care centers are bought from catalogs and companies that focus on education and test the products thoroughly.

Companies such as Lakeshore Learning Materials, which provides learning toys for kids, imports some of its products from China. In an open letter to customers, company president Bo Kaplan said that none of the toys in the recall were distributed by Lakeshore because of its “rigorous safety standards.”

The combination of low prices, product guarantees and high safety precautions are what helped keep MJUSD’s child care centers from buying any of the recalled items, said Kathy Woods, director of child development programs.

“It ensured the children in our program were only playing with safe toys and not anything on the list,” Woods said.

For more information on future recalls and to sign up for e-mail alerts, visit www.cpsc.gov.

Read more: http://www.appeal-democrat.com/news/toys-54186-child-safety.html#ixzz1sMX4BuiT

All fired up about Sutter County

Fire has been a lifelong fascination for Dan Yager.

When he was about 5 years old and living with his mother in Los Angeles, he set a fire in their home. In a twist of fate, one of the firefighters who responded would later become Yager’s stepfather.

“In my own sick little way, I brought them together,” he said.

Yager’s propensity to start fires collided with his new role model and evolved into a desire to put them out.

His family made the trek north to Quincy and eventually settled in Sutter in 1978.

Five years later, Yager served as a volunteer firefighter during his senior year at Sutter High School. In 1988, he finished his four years as a firefighter with the Air Force and came back to Sutter to begin a 19-year climb to become Sutter County fire chief.

Yager, 42, has held the top post for three weeks, but he’s still adjusting to the change from being out with his fellow firefighters to spending more time behind a desk toiling with e-mails and paperwork.

“I’m not out there grubbing around the boys now,” he said. “But I still look forward to coming to work every day.”

His new post gives him a little more time to himself and to be with his wife and two teenage daughters. It also gives Yager a chance to give a bit more back to his friends and neighbors while doing a job he loves.

“It’s why all of us get into it, so we can serve the community we live in,” Yager said.

As far as the department is concerned, Yager doesn’t see a need for many changes. He credits the work of previous chiefs he’s worked under for making things easier for him by not leaving a mess for him to clean up. He especially praised the work of his first chief, Gary Kraus, who, he said, set the wheels in motion with a few changes and his high expectations.

“Chief Kraus moved the department to what it is today,” Yager said. “Now I’ve got to make sure our goals are set and we’re on track to meet them.”

Over his 19 years with the Sutter department, Yager said, the department has done a good job of keeping up with the times and the growth in the area. The greatest impact will be from the fire-protection contracts in Live Oak, where the area continues to grow, he said.

“We’re a small department, but the area gets a lot of bang for its buck,” Yager said. “It all comes back to the almighty dollar, but I look forward to the challenges.”

But for now, everything is in place for Sutter County residents to sleep easy at night, Yager said.

“We’re looking for ways to improve, but there are no big ax-wielding changes coming through,” he said.

Read more: http://www.appeal-democrat.com/news/yager-54158-sutter-department.html#ixzz1sMXaTjBD

Don’t overlook Marcum-Illinois

Just before a blinking red light on Highway 70 is a brand new sign that might be the only glimpse of a small elementary school most people get. The empty parking lot out front and the dark windows make the campus look like it’s perpetually on vacation with nobody there.

The quiet exterior of Marcum-Illinois Elementary School hides the progress being made to improve the school’s facilities and the learning process, which landed it on the nomination list for distinguished schools by the California School Recognition Program.

Sharon McIntosh acts as both principal and superintendent for the kindergarten-through-eighth grade school. As a principal, she’s happy to see her teachers be able to help the school’s 145 students pull its Academic Performance Index score to a 759. This is seated between a basic score of 700 and the school’s proficient goal score of 875.

“We’re definitely moving in the right direction,” McIntosh said.

As superintendent, she sees a school halfway down a long road to modernizing its facilities. The school is in the midst of a series of improvements and has already replaced “Lake Marcum,” a poorly draining parking lot that would fill with water every winter after a rainstorm. Now, teachers and staff can use the back lot instead.

“We’re the best-kept secret in the area,” McIntosh said. “People only see an empty backside because of the parking lot in the back.”

Students have been able to eat in the multipurpose room since it practically doubled in size. The lunches they get aren’t prepared at Marcum-Illinois, though. The kitchen is in the middle of being renovated, so the food is prepared at Plumas Lake and brought to the school.

A new sign in front of the school was bought by the Marcum-Illinois Parent’s Club. The group actively raises funds and works on various projects at the school.

In addition to the sign, the club is also in charge of coordinating Marcum-Illinois’ part in the East Nicolaus Labor Day parade. It also organizes fundraising for the sixth-graders’ trip to Woodleaf Outdoor School, ensuring all students can participate.

The school only has nine classrooms, one for each grade. Angela Batko’s second- and third-graders were busy working on their math lesson about “regrouping,” or “borrowing” as their parents would remember it. A long-term substitute teacher until she was hired by Marcum-Illinois, Batko sees the school as having a low profile that hasn’t been recognized enough for what it has done.

“I think a lot of what we do goes unnoticed,” she said. “Maybe they’ll stop at the blinking light and say, ‘Oh, there’s a school over there.’”

SCHOOL STATS

• School: Marcum-Illinois Elementary

• Founded: 1926

• Number of students: 145

• Colors: Blue and gold

• Number of teachers: 9

• Mascot: Cougar

• Principal: Sharon McIntosh

Read more: http://www.appeal-democrat.com/articles/school-54623-marcum-illinois.html#ixzz1sMRqB5Yh