Grass Valley’s Holiday Lodge nothing to gain, everything to lose with drug activity, owner says |

Grass Valley’s Holiday Lodge nothing to gain, everything to lose with drug activity, owner says

Dave Brooksher
Staff Writer

The owner of the Holiday Lodge visited Grass Valley this week to meet with city officials and deal with the fallout from a May 30 bust, when 15 individuals were arrested after police found drugs, weapons and people in a motel room that was supposed to be vacant.

"It's a blow, let me tell you," said 88-year-old James Ralph, of Goodlettsville, Tenn. "That activity is a terrible thing, and I assure you it's not going to be here again."

"We have no interest and nothing gained from drug activity and everything to lose," Ralph said. "That's the way we feel about it."

Ralph, a combat veteran of World War II with a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University, has owned four other hotels. He said he has a plan for getting back to business as usual, and it involves focusing on serving tourists at the exclusion of local area residents.

“What I have told my managers is do not rent to local people, because we can survive without them. The risk is that (local) people who rent rooms have an ulterior motive, such as dealing in drugs.”
James Ralph, Holiday Lodge owner

"What I have told my managers is, do not rent to local people because we can survive without them," Ralph said. "The risk is that (local) people who rent rooms have an ulterior motive, such as dealing in drugs."

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Ralph declined to comment on whether or not Dawn Olson, a hotel employee, would be fired in response to her arrest. Olson faces charges of criminal conspiracy and maintaining a place for the sale and use of narcotics but has denied any wrongdoing.

"The new manager will make that decision," Ralph said.

"I believe she knew those people and that she should not have rented to them, and that's about all I can say."

While Olson identified herself as the "office manager," Ralph said that it might be more accurate to call her the "head housekeeper."

Janet Douglas, Ralph's daughter and the motel's current manager, supervises Olson's position.

Ralph says Douglas has been away too much, which may have contributed to the drug-friendly environment which seems to have developed in her absence.

She's getting married, he said, and leaving her job at the Holiday Lodge for reasons unrelated to the recent controversy. Hester Ralph, another family member, is arriving this week to take over for Douglas when she leaves.

"My manager here now is getting married and moving away, but I have a new family member on the way to manage," James Ralph said. "This new family member has no connections in this area."

The alleged drug activity, calls for service and high profile arrests at the Holiday Lodge have generated anger among members of the community, but Ralph says it hasn't scared off his customers. Tourists don't always follow the local news, he said.

"So far it hasn't hurt business," he said.

"For just a few days we were down, but the regular customers are coming back," Ralph added.

"Out-of-town guests, those we should have and welcome, they didn't see any of that activity."

The next order of business facing Ralph and the staff of the Holiday Lodge is to address the numerous code violations identified by city officials from the fire department, planning and building departments.

Initial reports indicated that motel staff would have just two weeks to address the problems, but Ralph said that deadline has been extended to July 1.

"Right now we are in the process of correcting some things the city didn't like when they inspected," Ralph said.

"Of course, when you have a scandal, you expect the regulators to look at everything."

Fifteen people were arrested in the weapons and narcotics investigation May 30.

In the course of the investigation at the Holiday Lodge on East Main Street and Dorsey Drive, Grass Valley Police officers uncovered a trapdoor in one of the hotel rooms, which was reportedly used to stash drugs and/or flee from officers.

To contact staff writer Dave Brooksher, send emails to or call 530-477-4230.

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