Bingo drama in Marysville

Thursday mornings at the Marysville Senior Center bring an hour of drama as people wait to see which Ping-Pong ball could make them yell, “Bingo.”

All it takes is 5 cents a card per game, and seniors can follow the swirling balls and cover the numbers that pop up on their cards.

Winners collect the pot in every game, except the last one. The finale is a round of blackout where the first player to cover their entire board wins $5 from Taco Bell or Carl’s Jr.

Thursday’s turnout of 14 people was one of the largest the center’s secretary-treasurer, Irene Broome, had seen.

It brought out more than the usual four or five people that come by. The more people that join in the games, the bigger the pots can get, which would draw in more people, she said.

“The center provides coffee or tea and someone normally brings along donuts or something like that,” Broome said.

Aside from blackout or the typical five in a row, caller Bill Sparks mixes in a few variations to keep things interesting. Sparks, 78, started volunteering at the center when he was talked into calling the numbers over a lunch. He was happy to do it because it gave him something to do.

“At my age you’ve got to keep active and keep doing things,” Sparks said.

Sometimes he forgets the rules he sets or O-66 won’t light up on the board behind him. In a game of GO, where the object is to fill up only the G and O columns of a card, Sparks called out N-38, which drew a playful groan from the players.

“Yeah, they make sure to keep me honest,” he said.

Marysville bingo player Irene Andrews didn’t seem to mind when Sparks slips up.

“That’s the second time this year,” she said with a grin.

Andrews took care of collecting everyone’s money, checking cards and awarding the pot to the winner.

It’s not an official position. She just happens to be there every Thursday when from 10 to 11:15 a.m. the games are going.

She also pulls in her friends who go to games at the Elks Lodge in Marysville and the VFW Hall in Olivehurst. Andrews pitches each game as a good brain exercise to help people keep their minds sharp as they age.

“It’s good for the mind,” Andrews said. “Every Thursday morning I tell my husband I have to go exercise my mind.”

Read more:

Cooling (?) trend expected for weekend

A late-summer sizzle has kept Yuba-Sutter residents in a constant sweat, but relief is on the way, just in time for Labor Day.

Temperatures reached 104 degrees Wednesday and are expected to stay above 100 degrees today, but will gradually drop to the low-to-mid 90s by Labor Day, according to the National Weather Service.

The high temperature for the Yuba-Sutter area for the 24-hour period ending at about 5 p.m. Wednesday was 103.

A high-pressure system in the southwest United States is the cause of the warmer weather, National Weather Service forecaster Jared Leighton said.

Not only did it bring its own heat, but the high pressure also cut off the delta breeze, which has so far kept this summer relatively cool.

The hot weather is causing Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to ask customers to cut back on their energy usage during the peak demand hours in the afternoon. The company said the move is strictly precautionary and doesn’t expect any shortages this weekend.

As for Labor Day, AAA of Northern California is expecting a flat travel schedule for people trying to get in one last summer vacation. A slim 1 percent increase from last year will have an estimated 4.9 million people planning to travel this weekend, with 3.9 million hitting the roads, based on AAA surveys.

“There is a lot of concern about travel costs,” said AAA spokeswoman Cynthia Harris. “High gas prices will definitely have an impact on families trying to travel.”

For the travelers who do hit the roads, the California Highway Patrol will be at maximum enforcement, with 80 percent of available officers on the roads, including Commissioner Mike Brown. Last year, there were 46 fatalities on California’s highways, but none in the Yuba-Sutter area.

The focus will be on drunken drivers, as well as speeders and seat belts, said Jeff Larson, Yuba-Sutter CHP spokesman.

“More units on the road means we’re going to be making more stops,” Larson said.

Read more:

Expert tours Wheatland, speaks out against bullying

Ten years ago this December, Bill Bond was greeting his students like he did every morning in the main lobby of Heath High School.

When the Paducah, Ky., principal went to answer a phone call, he heard eight pops from the hallway.

“I thought, ‘Please let those be firecrackers,’” he recalled.

Instead, eight of his students were on the ground and after being shot by 14-year-old Michael Carneal, who dropped the gun on seeing his principal come out of the office. This was Carneal’s reaction to constantly being teased and bullied, Bond said.

Today, Bond tours the country while telling students and teachers how to curb the style of bullying that led one student to take three lives almost 10 years ago. He toured the Wheatland School District on Monday.

To begin with, teachers and faculty should change their perspectives on words. If a student hits another student, it almost always results in a suspension. But when words and insults are thrown around with the sole purpose of constantly belittling someone, Bond said, the punishment is less harsh and the consequences for the insulted student are much worse.

“Words will cut you all the way to the heart, and the effect will last longer and larger than a slap in the face,” Bond said.

This idea also goes to the students doing the insulting. Teachers and principals shouldn’t label students as bullies because that gives them an identity to live up to, Bond said.

Separate studies and surveys of students showed that students don’t have a lot of faith in administrators. Bond pointed out the results which show two-thirds of bullying victims felt their schools’ staffs responded poorly to the bullying abuse. Even more disheartening for Bond was the fact that 35 percent of those victims thought teachers were interested in what was going on and only 25 percent of administrators felt the same.

“They think things aren’t going to change, and people on the outside think it’s just going to make them tougher,” Bond said.

He likened those attitudes to the same ones that tolerated the drinking fountains he grew up with that had signs for “Colored” and “Whites Only.” But at some point, those views changed because people wanted them to change. The most important thing for students is that they take responsibility for their actions, and that begins with changing their mindset about the consequences, he said.

“If I give a student a punishment, then it’s me giving it to them,” Bond said. “If it’s a consequence, I can say, ‘Hey, you earned it.’”

Read more:

Parade is a family affair

A day off from school has become a day for schools in Nicolaus to get a little help from the community while getting a little entertainment in exchange on Monday.

The Nicolaus Labor Day parade will be celebrating its 16th year of raising funds for four schools in Nicolaus. The original idea was inspired by a similar event in Verona, which had been canceled a few years prior to the Nicolaus version’s start in 1991.

It started with the voices of a few parents who thought they could recreate the fun, fundraising and community spirit that slipped away in Verona, said parent Cindy Gander.

The idea was to have a parade for the schools and booths along the way for the community to come and support the schools.

For the town, it’s a chance to come together, raise some funds and have some fun.

“It’s a lot of work, but the kids love it,” Gander said. “My son said he likes it almost more than Christmas.”

The four schools rotate the work of putting together the parade and side events every two years.

This year, Marcum-Illinois Elementary School will be chairing the event. Set-up for the day is in the hands of East Nicolaus High School, while Pleasant Grove Elementary School is in charge of the parade route and Browns Elementary School runs a raffle and silent auction.

Proceeds from the day and concessions will go to the parents club or booster club of each school.

After 15 years, the tradition of this annual fundraiser has brought the community together tighter with each year. Some of the kindergartners who grew up with the parade have gone through college and are starting to bring children of their own to the schools, said parent Teena Earhart.

East Nicolaus High School Principal Wayne Tierney has helped his school get involved in the seven years he’s been there. The cheerleaders, football players and boosters all man booths to help bring in funds for the school.

“It’s an all-day family affair and a wonderful tradition that brings the community together,” Tierney said.

A pancake breakfast will kick off Monday’s festivities at 7 a.m., followed by the parade at 10 a.m.. The route will run from Garden Highway in Nicolaus, ending at St. Boniface Parish Hall.

Read more:

Dog serves as Y-S woman’s ears

When the doorbell rings at Claudia Hollis’ house, be patient. Listen for the paws and the whine coming to the door and then running back. Chip needs to let her know you’re there.

Hollis is hearing-impaired and has been since birth. Sometimes she hears voices in a conversation, but can’t make out the words. High-pitched sounds like a phone ringing or a doorbell are troublesome, especially without her hearing aid. But with her new hearing dog Chip – the first in the Yuba-Sutter area – she’ll know when someone’s at the door.

Chip, a 2-year-old black chow and pug mix, was a week from being euthanized at a Southern California pound when the Sam Simon Foundation found him.

He fit the desired mold of a smaller dog with a good temperament who would be confident with people, said Kim Meinhardt, a hearing-dog instructor with the foundation.

Working well in crowds is critical because, as a service dog, Chip goes almost everywhere Hollis goes.

�He’s got access rights just like any other service dog,� Meinhardt said.

The foundation is funded entirely by Sam Simon, whose credits include co-creator of �The Simpsons� animated television show.

Hearing dogs are available for no fee, but it could take from six months to a year to actually place the dog. The number of trainers limits how many dogs are available, so the foundation thoroughly checks to see if the owners can care for the dog and if the dog responds well to its new environment.

When Chip first came into Hollis’ home, the biggest worry came from the cat that Claudia and husband John adopted in December. They weren’t sure how the feisty Rummy would react to another pet. Since Chip moved in Aug. 17, the two have gotten along, aside from the occasional stolen sunny spot on the living room floor, Hollis said.

Meinhardt eased Chip into the home before he was finally dropped off to stay, but the hearing dog’s training isn’t over. Hollis has to work with him every day to keep his training sharp and send reports every few weeks to keep the foundation up to date about how Chip is doing.

If he does his job, Chip is rewarded with a treat.

In an ideal situation, Chip will hear a phone, doorbell or even someone calling �Claudia� and run back to touch Hollis to let her know what’s going on before he takes her to the source of the noise. When the fire alarm goes off, he’s trained to jump on her chest to wake her up.

�It gives me a much more secure feeling knowing that somebody is alerting me with these things,� Hollis said. �He’s still getting used to the house and the way everything sounds.�

Not only is it a whole new sound environment for Chip, he’s also part pug – a notoriously stubborn breed. The actual training is kept to 45 minutes until he decides his work is done. There are even times he slips with his training and has to refocus.

�Sometimes you have to start from the basics of coming to you when he hears a sound,� Hollis said.

Even with Chip’s occasional lapses and occasional stubborn streak, Hollis, who is the branch manager of FREED Center for Independent Living in Marysville, is excited to have someone other than her husband help her be aware of life around the house.

�I’m just so happy to have him,� she said. �He’s going to become the other guy in my life.�

Read more:

YC planning panel OKs car dealership sites

Plans to move John L. Sullivan Dodge Chrysler from Marysville to Yuba City cleared another hurdle this week.

The Planning Commission on Wednesday recommended that the City Council OK a general plan amendment for what would be the new location for the dealership formerly known as Don McCullough Dodge Chrysler.

The amendment, rezoning and development plan would accommodate plans for the dealership on 40,000 square feet at Harter Parkway and Highway 20 to show more than 400 cars and provide room to sell, service and maintain new and used cars.

The plan will be sent to the council for its consideration on Sept. 18.

Yuba City Community Development Director Aaron Busch said the plan has a good chance of passing.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but a favorable recommendation from the Planning Commission normally results in a favorable vote from the City Council,” Busch said.

Another car dealership plan was approved at the same meeting. The new Yuba City Toyota/Lincoln/Mercury dealership will occupy 66,000 square feet and will be located in the same vicinity as the relocated Sullivan dealership.

Read more:

Injured worker: ‘I’m still alive’

A Yuba City man was upgraded to serious condition Friday after a drilling accident at a natural gas well in Meridian.

William Stanley, 30, had his femur broken in multiple places and his hip broken Thursday after getting wrapped in a steel cable when another worker slipped and landed on the controls of a sand-cable mechanism being used to purge water from the tubes of the well.

Stanley was awake in the trauma intensive care unit of Sutter Roseville Medical Center.

He said he remembered climbing up on a spool to get to the sand where he was going to work. This maintenance was routine for him and would take place once or twice a week, he said.

Then the machine started.

“I got sucked in and started screaming for them to shut off the machine,” Stanley said. “If it were a little bit further down, I wouldn’t be here today.”

He declined to futher comment because of a possible investigation by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Though he can’t work and is currently looking at more time in the hospital, Stanley said he is thankful that he’s able to tell his story.

“I’m still alive, that’s the good thing,” he said.

Read more:

College narrows search

Yuba Community College District officials have narrowed their search to three sites for the new Sutter County facility.

The final possibilities are near Highway 99 and Eager Road, at East Onstott Frontage Road and Highway 99 or at Colusa Highway and Royo Ranchero Road.

The new Yuba College site would include district offices and about 15 classrooms.

It will be a long process to get the building up and running, said district spokesman Adrian Lopez.

After reducing the number of possible sites from 12, the district will let consulting firm Eckbo, Dean, Austin and Williams Inc. check the three sites to determine which is the most appropriate for the district’s needs.

Once the final site is chosen, there are environmental hurdles to clear and infrastructure worries.

With all of these concerns, the earliest the facility could open is 2010, Lopez said.

The people behind the scenes of this project have been working hard since funding for the $31 million project was approved with Measure J in the November 2006 election.

Careful consideration was given to make sure the location didn’t cause a massive amount of traffic congestion while still being accessible to residents in the area by bike, bus or car, Lopez said.

Also considered was the safety of the land in terms of earthquakes and floods, pesticides used in the area and potential eyesores that could damage the learning environment, Lopez said.

• Aztec property: 15 to 20 acres near or adjacent to Highway 99 at Eager Road.

• Basrai property: 15 acres at East Onstott Frontage Road at Highway 99, near Eager Road off-ramp.

• Meagher and Tomlinson property: 19 acres at Colusa Road and Royo Ranchero Road

Read more:

Blaze hurts man

A Yuba City house fire sent one man to the hospital and left a family homeless Tuesday night.

The blaze broke out just after 6:30 p.m. in the home at 1908 Harbor Town Road.

The fire was knocked down within five to 10 minutes of firefighters arriving, said Pete Daley, Yuba City fire operations chief.

Gurdeep Gill, 26, who was asleep in his bedroom, suffered burns and smoke inhalation. He was taken to Rideout Memorial Hospital and later transferred to U.C. Davis Medical Center in stable condition.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but preliminary results from investigators show the fire may have started in one of the front bedrooms. From there it progressed to a short hallway and into the kitchen, Daley said.

The fire caused “significant damage” to the interior of the house with about 25 percent caused by the fire itself and 75 percent by the heat, Daley said.

The garage and the two cars inside were spared, but the cost of the damage to the house is expected to be significant, said Battalion Chief John Limas.

Red Cross and Trauma Intervention Program volunteers were at the scene providing counseling and water for Gill’s mother, Parmjit, while investigators checked the house.

Neighbors offered to take the family in for the night.

Rideout adds new officers

Fremont-Rideout Health Group announced it had filled three positions Monday, including the administrator position at Rideout Memorial Hospital.

Joe Avelino, 43, started work Monday at the hospital where he is expected to improve relationships between physicians and staff members, Fremont-Rideout spokeswoman Carol Ramirez said. He comes from Whittier Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles County where he served as chief operating officer and chief nursing officer.

“We want to evolve into a world class provider and raise the standard of care,” Ramirez said.

The hiring of Avelino is part of a process to get an administrator and a nursing officer at each of FRHG’s three hospitals to help improve patient care, Ramirez said.

While he has experience at civilian hospitals, Avelino also served two years of active duty during which he coordinated the care of injured soldiers coming back from Iraq, in part by developing the Army’s first Community Based Healthcare Organization in Riverside.

He received his bachelor’s degree from American University and his masters from George Washington University.

Also announced Monday were new Feather River Surgery Center Administrator Ann Perry, 47 and Vice President of Human Resources Tresha Moreland, 41. Perry has worked with FRHG since 2001 in cardiac-related positions. Moreland will start Aug. 22

Read more: