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Carole Carson: Joyful Aging — One way to change bad habits

If you google “how to change habits,” you’ll find an abundance of advice from all kinds of people from all walks of life. Individuals who want to share their secret to success along with psychologists, psychiatrists, religious leaders, and successful entrepreneurs give counsel.

You’ll also find companies that will guide you through the changes you want to make (for a fee, of course).

You’ll also find that the rule for habits becoming permanent in three weeks has been debunked. The current thinking is that at least two and up to eight months of consistent behavior is required until the replacement habit is established and the former habit is extinguished.

After dipping into many of these articles over the past few months and experimenting with some of the approaches they recommended, I’ve come away with one that works for me.

This approach is based on multiple studies conducted by Cornell University psychologists involving hundreds of people. The studies focused on end-of-life regrets. As people approached their final years, the majority (75%) said their single biggest regret was not realizing their ideal self.

One way or another, the individuals expressed perhaps the saddest words in the English language, “If only . . .” They were profoundly disappointed in themselves that they had reached the end of their lives without having realized their ideal self.

Based on their studies, the Cornell psychologists came up with the concept of our three selves:

1. The ought-to self, as in, “I ought to lose 10 pounds.”

2. The ideal self, where I lose 10 pounds and maintain a healthier weight.

3. The actual self, based on what I continue to do day to day.

As you have no doubt discovered on your own, the ought-to self has no power to effect changes in habits. No matter how often we say to ourselves, “I ought to give up my nightly bowl of ice cream,” we open the freezer door at bedtime and take out the carton.

The only self that has the power to change daily habits is the ideal self. We intuitively know who this person is because we know when we’re falling short of living consistently with this self. That’s where the “ought tos” originate.

But if you’re like me, you’ve never taken the time to write down the attributes and actions of your ideal self.

GETTING CLARITY

If we are to realize our ideal self, we have to have an articulated vision of what actions the ideal self would take and not take. We need a detailed, comprehensive portrait of our ideal self. Only then can we be clear about whether we are on track or not.

Three weeks ago, I wrote the first version of my ideal self. Surprisingly, once I created this portrait, I slowly began to make small changes that reduced the space between my ought-to self and my ideal self without any apparent willpower or self-discipline.

For example, I drink less coffee now. This was not the result of telling myself I ought to limit my caffeine to three cups of coffee daily and toughing it out. Rather, it was because I spontaneously chose to stop at the three-cup limit.

To be human is to be fallible, so I will never fully realize my ideal self. But it seems I can definitely move in that direction.

Orison Marden, the founder of “Success” magazine, expressed the same idea: “We lift ourselves by our thought, we climb upon our vision of ourselves. . . . Hold the ideal of yourself as you long to be, always, everywhere.”

Since creating a blueprint of my ideal self, I’ve refined it as insights occur. I’ll probably continue to revise it as I seek to crystalize and distill the essence of this person. My sense is that it will always be a work in progress.

And as Marden recommends, I reread it every morning to remind myself of moment-to-moment choices I will be making during the day.

If you have some dysfunctional habits that you’d like to change—maybe lose a few pounds or give up nightly cocktails or drink more water, you might want to experiment with this approach.

Let me know if you need my ideal self portrait to use as an example. Of course, mine is unique to me just as yours will be unique to you, but it may give you ideas on what topics you might want to cover.

Also, if you have ideas on how habits can be changed based on your success, please let me know. Send your strategy and requests to carolecarson41@gmail.com.

Carole Carson, of Nevada City, is an author, former AARP website contributor, and leader of the 1994 Nevada County Meltdown. Contact: carolecarson41@gmail.com

Carole Carson

Phil Carville: A better you

If this long COVID-year has got you down, feeling tired and out of shape, perhaps you should create an exercise plan for 2021. It is the best Easter gift you could give yourself — here are a few benefits.

BUILDING MUSCLE

We begin to lose muscle mass (sarcopenia) after the age of 30. Studies show that you lose 3% to 5% of their muscle mass each decade. By age 70, you may have lost 20% of your muscle mass. Weight training, even light training, can produce powerful results.

WEIGHT LOSS

Muscle cells burn more calories than fat cells do. When you build muscle, you continue to burn more calories after your workout is over. You will burn roughly 100 to 150 more calories over the next 24 hours than a person who did not lift weights. You will find yourself both stronger and leaner.

REDUCE BONE LOSS

One of the most deleterious results of aging is bone loss. When you are young your body rebuilds bone tissue as it is reabsorbed by your body. As you age, your body cannot keep up and there is a gradual decline in bone density each year.

Weight training counteracts bone loss by stimulating osteocyte cells to rebuild bone. Studies of post-menopausal women found that regular weight training increased bone density in key locations (spine, hips and heels) as well as the entire body. Lift weights and you well have stronger bones.

LOWER YOUR RISKS

Here is an amazing statistic. You don’t have to spend a lot of time lifting weights. An Iowa State University of 13,000 adults showed that persons who both lifted weights and did some cardiovascular exercise (treadmills, steppers, rowing or swimming) for as little as 15 minutes each day lower their risk of heart attack, stroke and death by 40% to 70%.

Interestingly, working out more than one hour per week did not produce additional benefits regarding cardiovascular health.

IMPROVE INSULIN SENSITIVITY

More than 30 million Americans have diabetes. By 2030, diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. This is an insidious disease because it can creep up on you later in life.

Medical studies show that twice a week strength training reduces insulin swings. Also, people who lift weights were significantly less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

REDUCE INFLAMMATION

Inflammation is the cause of many health conditions such as hearth disease, auto-immune disorders, asthma, allergies and several others. However, Mayo Clinic studies show that persons who lift weight have lower levels of inflammation than those who did not lift weights.

IMPROVE BALANCE

According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of death by injury and the leading cause of non-fatal hospital admissions for older adults.

Stronger muscles improve balance, but also help you recover from loss of balance. Your stronger body can react so that you regain balance and prevent the fall in the first place.

IT GOES ON

I could go on and on about the benefits of weight training. Studies have shown that exercise in almost any form improves moods and reduces bouts of depression and anxiety.

How about brain training? Studies by the Archives of Internal Medicine demonstrate that persons between 65 and 75 who lifted weights once or twice a week performed better on cognitive tests than those who focused only toning exercises.

Want to live actively in your old age? Dr. Mark Peterson, University of Michigan, states “One of the best predictors of elder health is weight training. When we add strength, almost every other health outcome improves.”

BOTTOM LINE

Whether your goal is to lose weight, stay fit, keep your mind sharp or prevent disease, pick up some weights. If older, make sure you consult with a competent personal trainer and develop the age-related exercise program tailored to your individual needs and medical issues.

Remember what Yogi Berri said about the importance of exercise: “I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did”.

Phil Carville is a co-owner of the South Yuba Club. He is happy to answer your questions or respond to comments. You can reach him as philc@southyubaclub.com.

Phil Carville

Lorraine’s Lowdown: Go take a hike

Kinsey Is Once Again a Happy Dog. The 3-year-old mini Aussie loves retrieving The Union newspaper for mom Kathy Fraga. Kathy even places a “stunt” newspaper outside her Ridge Meadows home for Kinsey to retrieve on Sundays and Mondays when there is no print edition of The Union. Problem: Kinsey does not like the taste of newsprint, a predilection that became apparent when sunny weather didn’t require the newspaper be wrapped in a plastic sleeve. “I called The Union and left a message, feeling like an idiot the whole time,” reports Kathy. “But, lo and behold, the newspaper started coming in a plastic sleeve again. Kinsey was thrilled to have her newspaper the way she likes it, and she has job security now…”

Kinsey is a 3-year-old miniature Australian shepherd who has won titles in Rally and Agility with owner Kathy Fraga. Kinsey, who was recognized as a K9 Good Citizen at just 4 months old, turns up her nose at the taste of newsprint.
Submitted to The Union

That Kind Gentleman has been a Union newspaper delivery driver for decades, and says he doesn’t mind taking the extra effort for Kinsey. The driver appreciates Kathy’s “thank you” notes, but he didn’t want to be named herein because he doesn’t want to “toot his own horn…”

Former GeeVee Mayor Jason Fouyer, who is currently board chair of the Economic Resource Council, wants to focus on the positive. “I peruse the internet and see so much negativity,” says Jason. “I want to redirect that.” Jason has been soliciting and collecting heart-warming stories of our community during the pandemic, and sharing them on Facebook. “Facebook archives don’t let you forget anything,” explains Jason. “They are there forever and can be shared over and over…”

Jason’s List has more than a dozen highlights, including: Nevada County’s Relief Fund providing grants to struggling businesses and nonprofits, cities closing streets for restaurant expansions, drive-in movies, creation of “Nevada County Kind” and downtown GeeVee’s “Kindness Wall,” the Center for the Arts and Music in the Mountains presenting virtual performances, schools and teachers keeping students’ education on track, and families spending precious countless hours together…

Yubadocs Urgent Care Medical Director Dr. Roger Hicks has a way with words. He talks about “community immunity,” which is ever more elegant than “herd immunity.” Dr. Roger also ends his column in these pages with his easy to recite and remember maxim, “Keep your space, stay in place, and cover your face.” We are lucky to read his words of wisdom here in The Union, and Dr. Roger also shares his expertise as director of the California Urgent Care Association…

“I Have Spent Most of My Life in small, beautiful areas with close communities that were sometimes overwhelmed with visitors,” says Li’l Town resident Cathy Carter, who notes the decidedly rural area of Washington has often been flooded with people fleeing urban areas during the pandemic. Cathy and a few other locals decided to make signs to keep people – and dogs that roam downtown – safe from speeders. “I figured a little sense of humor would draw attention,” says Cathy, “plus make people laugh and think about what they are doing…”

Cathy Carter and a few other Washington residents created hand-painted signs asking visitors, especially those who speed through town, to slow down. Carter says she hopes the signs make people laugh and think about what they are doing.
Submitted to The Union

Kudos to Cunning Cathy. Here is the verbiage on just one of the Li’l Town Signs: “Slow Down. No Doctor. No Hospital. Full Cemetery…”

Cathy Carter and a few other locals decided to make signs to keep people – and dogs that roam downtown – safe from speeders.
Submitted to The Union
“I figured a little sense of humor would draw attention,” says Cathy Carter, “plus make people laugh and think about what they are doing…”
Submitted to The Union

Loyal Reader Jeffrey Boylan is one of many who chuckle at the signs. “They crack me up!” says Jeffrey, who is the Ag mechanics supervisor at the NevCo Fair and a river aficionado. “Slow down and enjoy the ride. You can never drive too slowly through the Little Town of Washington. The signs are a very clever way of helping keep Washington safe…”

Jeffrey Boylan says hand-painted signs in and around Washington made him laugh en route to his favorite spot along the Yuba River with his dog Frankie.
Submitted to The Union

Mary West Wears Many Hats, including sun visors while hiking. Mary writes a hiking column for three newspapers, including this one. She’s also a published author of three books, “Day Hiker Gold Country Trail Guide” in versions 1, 2, and 3, now in their second editions. All offer practical advice and include stunning color photographs Mary shot herself. Her books have won numerous awards from the Outdoor Writers Association of California…

Mary West is the author of three award-winning books, “Day Hiker Gold Country Trail Guide” in versions 1, 2, and 3, now in their second editions.
Lorraine Jewett

You May Not Know Mary has worked in communications for 35 years as a radio reporter, television producer and Cal Fire public information officer. Her husband of 29 years, Micah, edits her books. Their two sons are named Canyon and Ocean. She makes time to hike because she loves it. “I mainly hike on my lunch hour and on weekends,” says Mary. “I also plan my vacations around hiking opportunities.” When not hiking, working or writing, Mary is busy creating a water garden at her Lake of the Pines home…

Published author and newspaper columnist Mary West writes about hiking, hikes on her lunch hour and weekends, and plans family vacations around hiking opportunities.
Lorraine Jewett

From Food to Fairway. Twelve 28 Restaurant award-winning chef Zach Sterner is starting a local chapter of the Mediocre Golf Association (MGA). It’s a real thing, with real tournaments and a website that proclaims, “We all love golf and most of us have played for years, yet somehow we still suck at it. Since the PGA Tour stopped returning our calls a long time ago, we created our own league in 2006” (www.MGATour.com). With the slogan “Kinda Alright Since 2006,” the MGA boasts chapters across the globe, with each hosting eight annual tournaments in which “…bogey golf has a good shot to win.” Zach says, “Anyone interested can visit the Facebook group ‘MGA Nevada County’ for up-to-date info, and the link to join is on that page. As soon as I get some official members, I will post a schedule…”

“In These Uncertain Times, times are… pretty uncertain.” That’s the catchy albeit all-too-true opening line of new radio commercials for South Fork Vodka. The GeeVee-based company produces award-winning, gluten- and GMO-free vodka. Owners and co-founders Dan Kennerson and Jon Dorfman wanted advertising that sets their small, craft vodka apart from corporate, mass-produced spirits. “We were playing around recording different ideas when Jon came up with that line,” explains Dan. “We hope people find it funny as well as sincere…”

South Fork Vodka stepped in at the height of the sanitizer shortage early in the coronavirus pandemic, switched up a few distillery procedures, and produced 11,000 gallons of hand sanitizer. The company donated 4,000 gallons to those most in need. Dan says, “We gave some away, sold some, and still have a bunch available…”

Easter Weekend Ushers In reminders of some favorite quotes, allegedly by the Easter Bunny: “There is nothing better than a friend, unless it’s a friend with chocolate” and “A balanced diet is chocolate in both hands…”

Set aside the chocolate just long enough to send your happy happenings to LorraineJewettWrites@gmail.com…


Pushed to the limits: Public safety agencies, courts face challenges during the time of COVID

Entire aisles are off limits to people in the courtrooms to aid in social distancing at Nevada County Superior Court in Nevada City. People are required to wear face coverings at all times in the courthouse as well.
Photo: Elias Funez

It’s been nearly a year since Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed a statewide shelter-in-place order as a response to the growing toll from the burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic. Weeks of uncertainty followed as municipalities grappled with testing, ever-shifting health mandates and finally with vaccine protocols. A year later, many remain unsure there will ever be a return to “normal” as we once knew it.

ROLE MODELS

What strikes Penn Valley Fire Capt. Clayton Thomas as he looks back on 2020 is how quickly COVID-19 became an issue in the United States.

From the first reporting in December 2019 and January 2020, it seemed a “matter of weeks” before cases burgeoned, he said.

“It changed the way we do business,” Thomas said. “We went from rarely wearing a mask, except in very specialized situations, to nearly constant (masks).”

In the beginning, he recalled, no one was even sure how the virus spread.

“We knew it was airborne,” Thomas said. “Surface transmission was a big fear back then, but we since have learned that is very rare. There were so many unknowns. At the beginning, we were drinking from a fire hose (with) the amount of information.”

The fire department’s staff was training weekly on new protocols, determining on the fly how to handle masking and the number of people who could work in contained areas.

“A year into it, we’ve learned a lot about how this works, how it’s transmitted,” Thomas said. “The level of anxiety is lower. As a supervisor, I’m less concerned about one of my guys getting exposed — we know a lot more about to how to prevent it.”

Thomas said his department was fortunate to have gotten vaccinations early, especially since Penn Valley is one of only two fire agencies in the county that operates its own ambulance (along with Truckee), which adds to the potential exposure time.

As the president of the labor union for western Nevada County, Thomas encouraged all his members to get vaccinated.

“I think that it is the key to getting back to normal,” he said. “The odds of a vaccinated individual having a serious case or (dying) is almost zero. For that reason alone, it was worthwhile to me.”

Thomas said that while masking up initially might have seemed like a huge imposition, he thinks it has become the status quo.

And it’s clear he sees his profession as leading the way for the community.

“As health care providers and firefighters, we are uniquely placed to be in the public eye,” Thomas said. “We have the opportunity to be ambassadors for modeling safe behaviors to live with every day. I think that’s something fire service has been at the forefront of, showing people what they can do to keep themselves protected and safe. Just … trying to be a good role model for the community.”

BALANCING ACT

A video conference screen is used by attorneys and judges at Nevada County Superior Court last week. Using the technology during COVID helps to limit the number of people from entering the building.
Photo: Elias Funez

Nevada County Superior Court Judge Linda Sloven rotated into the assignment of presiding judge, responsible for overseeing the management of the court, in 2019.

“COVID-19 has pushed all of us to our limits,” Sloven said. “The ways in which our court management was able to keep things going during these turbulent times has astonished me. Our managers have worked day and night to come up with new schedules and new procedures to accommodate the sometimes daily requests by the bench to adjust to the demands of the pandemic. Our staff rolled with the changes and moved from their usual desks, put on masks, learned how to operate Zoom and to politely respond to sometimes very upset visitors to the court. It takes a village and, from my perspective, our court worked as a village to keep the wheels of justice turning.”

The court first began discussing what changes it needed to make due to COVID-19 in early March, she said.

“March 18, 2020, was the last day on which the court had normal operations,” she said.

Beforehand, however, Nevada County’s judges met on a daily basis to determine what types of hearings needed to continue even if court personnel were ordered to shelter at home.

“We closed four of our courtrooms and operated out of only two,” Sloven said. “We posted orders and notices inviting as many people as possible to appear via Zoom and telephonic appearances rather than in person.”

Other moves included extending deadlines for filings and hearings, postponing all jury trials and closing the Public Law Center with services via email and phone, she said. As the court slowly increased its services, it implemented a policy requiring masks and social distancing.

“We held no jury trials in April or May,” Sloven said. “One of our biggest challenges was figuring out how to hold jury trials while at the same time keeping people safe.”

Prior to the pandemic, she said, the court would typically summon 150 to 300 prospective jurors to come to court at 9 a.m. Tuesdays for jury selection. The court instead began sending questionnaires to prospective jurors, asking them to return them in advance of trial. The court then would bring in 16 prospective jurors at a time, and has spaced out the jurors throughout the courtroom during the trial. Spectators are allowed to watch via Zoom.

Sloven said the thing she looks forward to most is being able to safely interact in person rather than remotely.

“I find value in eye contact and a personal connection that is just not present in Zoom appearances,” she said.

“If I have learned anything from the past year, it is patience,” Sloven said. “What I thought would be a disruption of a month or two has turned into a major disruption of one year. This year has tested all of our patience. My hope is that we will all continue to make our best efforts to be patient with each other and to try to understand that most of us are making our best efforts at doing our jobs as well as we can under difficult circumstances.”

CODE COMPLIANCE

Amanda Kysar took on the position of code compliance officer for the Nevada City police department in October 2019, just a few short months before everything changed.

Her role back then was strictly municipal code enforcement and cannabis compliance, she said, along with acting as a liaison to the county’s HOME team.

When COVID hit, Kysar began dealing with enforcement of public health mandates.

Nevada City Code Compliance Officer Amanda Kysar holds a COVID go-bag containing face coverings and sanitizer. When COVID hit, Kysar began dealing with the enforcement of public health mandates, leaving the bags with local businesses.
Photo: Elias Funez

“At first there was confusion about jurisdiction,” Kysar said, adding that eventually it was decided Nevada City would work hand in hand with the county. “’What can we do?’ was the hot topic.”

In the early days, Kysar said, she had help from the chamber of commerce, which provided her with bags of sanitizer and masks to hand out to businesses in need.

“The situation was ’unprecedented,’” Kysar recalled, adding, “It all worked out. There was only one business we had to take enforcement action on.”

Most businesses in Nevada City are doing their best, she said, taking the precautions they deem necessary, even if some are not following county mandates.

“They’re trying to survive,” she said, adding, “The overwhelming majority are compliant and go above and beyond. We’re really proud of that. We have the lowest amount of complaints right now in the county.”

Parking Enforcement Officer Tim Brown has been the “boots on the ground” enforcing the city’s mask mandate downtown, Kysar said.

“He has been faced with some adversity, that’s for sure,” she said, noting that he has also been on the receiving end of gratitude from those who appreciate the mandate, however.

One big takeaway from the last year has been the ability of local businesses to band together, Kysar said, adding, “They have really been supporting each other.”

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.


Strawberry Music Festival organizers cancel 2021 festivals

Last year, the pandemic shutdown hit just as the music festival season was getting underway. By the end of April, more than 55 events in Nevada County had been canceled or postponed, including the Strawberry Music Festival, the Celtic Fest and the California WorldFest.

At the time, many hoped there would be a return to relative normalcy within the year. But as the one-year mark nears, many music festivals are facing the same dilemma: pull the plug or keep playing the odds.

On Monday, Strawberry Music Festival organizers made the difficult decision, announcing on their website and Facebook page that the spring festival — which has been held in Grass Valley since its move to the fairgrounds in 2014 — will be postponed again, to 2022. The fall festival, held in Tuolumne, also has been canceled.

“Many factors have informed this difficult decision,” organizers posted, noting their responsibility to protect the health and safety of everyone associated with the festival.

“We feel our best path forward is to spend this time cultivating a truly authentic Strawberry experience, for 2022,” the post continued. “Our mission is to preserve our Americana camping festival culture. … We have become confident that it will not be the real deal until we all feel safe being there. To feel like Strawberry, it is essential that kids, elders, and everyone in between are able to play, sing, dance, eat, drink, laugh, and love (occasionally with wild abandon). We will only endeavor to produce events that meet the Strawberry standard of quality, and will not try to replace that with something else.”

Organizers announced that anyone holding tickets from 2020 will be able to use their tickets at their choice of the next four festivals, through 2025.

“We are very much looking forward to coming back better than ever, together, in 2022,” said festival organizer Jodi Barnett in an email, adding that tickets for next year’s spring festival will go on sale on Nov. 1.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

Response questioned in fatal shooting of woman in Alta Sierra

In the wake of the Feb. 4 fatal shooting of Ariella “Sage” Crawford in front of her children by a Nevada County sheriff’s deputy, Crawford’s family pushed for the release of dash-cam footage that might provide some clarity as to what transpired.

Nevada County Sheriff Shannan Moon released that footage Wednesday, as part of a longer video that also included the 911 calls and radio traffic before and during the incident.

“It’s a gut-wrenching video,” said family spokeswoman Leiah Schenk Thursday morning. “As you can imagine, it was a very difficult day for (the family) yesterday. They’re struggling pretty bad. For all of us, it was a difficult video to watch, no matter if you knew Sage or not. … I don’t think anyone can see that and not feel a gut-felt reaction, not just for Sage but for the girls.”

In the 17-minute-long video, two deputies are seen responding to a report of a woman walking in the middle of the street with two small children on Names Drive in Alta Sierra.

Crawford pulled a knife as a deputy approached her and appeared highly agitated during the interaction. One of the deputies fired a Taser at her but did not make contact, and the second deputy fired a total of five shots as Crawford ran toward the first deputy. Crawford was treated at the scene after she dropped the knife and was transported to the hospital, where she died.

“The most important thing is the girls are being taken care of,” Schenk said. “The family needs to grieve, they need to lay Sage to rest and process everything.”

Even before the video was released, Crawford’s family was aware she had been having some sort of mental break, Schenk said.

“Having the police respond was not what she needed,” she said. “They were not equipped to handle that (situation). They did more damage than good.”

Schenk cited the Mobile Crisis Team announced by the Sheriff’s Office in October, asking why a team was not scheduled to work that day.

“That might have been what Sage needed,” she said, calling the failure to have an on-call crisis team a “huge disconnect that has to be fixed.”

“I believe this could have gone a totally different way,” Schenk said. “They failed Sage. She needed help they didn’t provide and it cost her her life.”

Community members organized under the banner of Justice for Sage Crawford have planned a vigil starting at 3 p.m. Friday outside the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office on Commercial Street in Nevada City.

“Prioritizing crisis management is an emergency measure that should be implemented to protect our community and those having mental health episodes, but we cannot stop there,” a group spokesperson said in a message. “Without addressing the underlying issues, like housing, lack of access to health care, poverty, and a brutal and violent system of policing, we will continue to see more events like this.”

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

Ariella “Sage” Crawford
Submitted to The Union
Sage Crawford, 33, was fatally shot by a Nevada County sheriff's deputy during a confrontation this month in Alta Sierra. A vigil was held Feb. 10 in Crawford’s honor.
File photo

Community calls for ’Justice for Sage’

Community members hold signs asking for justice for Sage Crawford, who was fatally shot Feb. 4 by a Nevada County sheriff’s deputy in Alta Sierra. About 50 people gathered Friday afternoon in front of the District Attorney’s Office to protest the deadly use of force.
Photo: Elias Funez

A crowd of about 50 people gathered Friday afternoon outside the office of the Nevada County district attorney to push for more accountability in the death of Ariella “Sage” Crawford.

Crawford, 33, was shot and killed Feb. 4 in front of her two children after two Nevada County sheriff’s deputies responded to several 911 calls in Alta Sierra.

“We’re all very concerned citizens, and it’s part of our responsibility to hold our elected officials accountable,” said Libby Woods, who helped organize the event.

Peaceful protesters in front of the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office hold signs saying the community isn’t safe and ask for officials like Sheriff Shannan Moon and Nevada City Police Chief Chad Ellis to step down.
Photo: Elias Funez

Woods pointed to homelessness and a national mental health crisis as part of the underlying systemic issues that led to Crawford’s death and said prioritizing crisis management is an important first step.

“We want to know what our elected officials are going to do to restore our trust,” she said, adding, “I don’t feel comfortable with business as usual.”

People begin to gather at the corner of Coyote and Commercial streets in Nevada City Friday afternoon to protest the fatal shooting of Sage Crawford by a sheriff’s deputy. About 50 people gathered.
Photo: Elias Funez

Sheriff Shannan Moon has asked the District Attorney’s Office to handle the investigation into the shooting. The two deputies who responded both are on paid administrative leave, a sheriff’s spokesman said.

Moon released dash-cam footage from the two patrol vehicles Wednesday, as part of a longer video that also included the 911 calls and radio traffic before and during the incident.

Signs are placed against the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office in Nevada City protesting the deadly use of force against Sage Crawford. The District Attorney’s Office is conducting an investigation.
Photo: Elias Funez

The video shows Crawford pulling a knife as a deputy approached her and appearing highly agitated during the interaction. One of the deputies fired a Taser at her but did not make contact, and the second deputy fired a total of five shots as Crawford ran toward the first deputy. Crawford was treated at the scene after she dropped the knife and was transported to the hospital, where she died.

One woman at the protest had spent time talking to Crawford and called her a “very kind lady” who never showed any signs of mental health issues.

About 50 people gathered in front of the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office Friday afternoon in Nevada City to protest the fatal shooting of Sage Crawford.
Photo: Elias Funez

“I just felt very safe with her,” said Cindy Cary, who said she first met Crawford on the bus last year. “It took me by surprise, for her to go off the deep end, it was not like her … She didn’t have a mean spirit, she didn’t deserve to be shot.”

The Peace and Justice Center of Nevada County has organized a Zoom Town Hall meeting for next Friday starting at 6:30 p.m., with more information available by emailing ncpeaceandjustice@gmail.com. The town hall is meant to brainstorm ideas on improving police response to mental health crisis situations, said Lorraine Reich.

“We want to give people an opportunity to vent,” Reich said. “The ultimate wish is to grow a community of concerned citizens and maybe develop a citizens’ oversight committee.”

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

Waiting for answers: Community rallies in memory of woman killed in officer-involved shooting

Sage Crawford, 33, was fatally shot by a Nevada County sheriff's deputy during a confrontation last week in Alta Sierra. A vigil was held Wednesday in Crawford’s honor.

“She was a mother. She was a daughter. She was a sister.”

And whatever transpired between Sage Crawford and law enforcement, she “did not deserve to be gunned down in front of her children,” said family spokeswoman Leia Schenk.

Schenk spoke to a crowd of about 50 gathered Wednesday afternoon at the site of Crawford’s fatal shooting in Alta Sierra, during a vigil organized to honor her memory.

Crawford, 33, was fatally shot by a Nevada County sheriff’s deputy during a confrontation on Feb. 4. The incident is being investigated by the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office. Dash-cam footage has not yet been made available.

“The loss of human life is tragic,” said Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh, who didn’t attend the memorial, in a prepared statement. “Regardless of whether the shooting is justified or not, the emotional trauma is worsened in a situation where a young woman is shot and killed in front of her children. The District Attorney’s Office is taking this investigation seriously. We are committed to a careful and transparent review of all the evidence.”

In a Facebook post Wednesday, Walsh said his office has been diligently conducting interviews related to this incident and is gathering background information. Critical evidence was collected at the scene and an autopsy was conducted last week.

“We are working to have the dash camera footage from the two patrol vehicles released to the public,” Walsh said. “We expect this to be finished early next week and want to release this to the public as soon as it is complete.”

According to Walsh, the footage captured the majority of the incident between Crawford and law enforcement and will be relevant toward establishing what took place.

“We ask for the public to be patient and wait for the evidence to be released before making any conclusions about what happened,” he said.

But during Wednesday’s vigil, Schenk questioned the delay in releasing the footage, and asked why the deputies were not issued body-worn cameras. She said Crawford’s family wants to be able to review the raw footage, and has not received any information regarding the coroner’s report.

“They had no regard for the children, they had no regard for her family. They have given them no answers,” she said.

While Crawford’s mother and sister were at the vigil, they chose to have Schenk speak for them.

“The family, in their grief, they have to get to a place of closure,” Schenk said, adding, “What happened to Sage could happen to anybody.”

According to law enforcement, on the afternoon of Feb. 4 Crawford was reported to have been acting erratically while armed with a knife.

Shortly after 1 p.m. that day, the Nevada County Regional Dispatch Center received several calls of a woman who was possibly under the influence, walking in the middle of Alta Sierra Drive with two small children. Deputies Caleb Toderean and Matthew Harrison responded to the area near Names Drive and made contact with Crawford.

According to Walsh, the deputies tried to calm her with no success. During the incident, one deputy tried to deploy a Taser at some point and the other fired his service weapon, Walsh said. Both deputies are currently on paid administrative leave.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

Leia Schenk, founder of the Empact Facebook page, provides a statement at the scene were 33-year-old Sage Crawford was fatally shot. Crawford’s sister and mother stand behind her.
Photo: Elias Funez

 

Members of the Alta Sierra community place flowers, photos, and well wishes at the site. The Nevada County District Attorney’s Office said it will soon release video of the incident.
Photo: Elias Funez

 

About 50 people attended Wednesday’s vigil held in honor of Sage Crawford.
Photo: Elias Funez

 

Notes to Sage Crawford are placed at the memorial site.
Photo: Elias Funez

 

Leia Schenk, founder of Empact, provides a statement for members of the media while standing in front of Sage Crawford’s mother and sister at a vigil for Crawford.
Photo: Elias Funez

 

Members of the community place items at a memorial for 33-year-old Sage Crawford. Alta Sierra community members have said they want a town hall meeting to have their questions answered.
Photo: Elias Funez

 

Members of the community place flowers and well wishes at the roadside memorial which has materialized for Sage Crawford, near the intersection of Alta Sierra and Names drives Wednesday.
Photo: Elias Funez

 

UPDATE: Deceased woman ID’d after fatal shooting in Alta Sierra

Deputy Involved Shooting

Please take a moment to view this video message from Sheriff Moon regarding the deputy-involved shooting on Thursday.

-Video Transcript-
Good afternoon Nevada County, I am your Sheriff, Shannan Moon. As you may know, yesterday your Sheriff’s Office was involved in a deputy-involved shooting in Alta Sierra. This was a rapidly evolving incident that unfortunately led to the loss of this young lady’s life. Each and every day our staff are called on to respond to situations that can have unpredictable outcomes. We take that responsibility very seriously and when tragic events occur, they impact everyone including our staff and their families.

Immediately following the incident, I requested that the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office conduct the formal investigation into the incident. This is to ensure the investigation remains independent from the Sheriff’s Office. This investigation will include taking statements from multiple witnesses, reviewing any available video footage as well as an in-depth analysis of the forensic evidence at the scene. I ask that you have patience with the investigative process as the highly skilled detectives from the District Attorney’s Office with the assistance from the Grass Valley Police Department and Truckee Police Department work diligently to recreate the events of Thursday afternoon. We also will conduct a complete review of the deputy’s actions based on our policies and procedures.

In the coming weeks, my office will publicly release video and or audio that may help to describe the incident. While it will not change the outcome, it will provide the transparency that your Sheriff’s Office is committed to.
With respect to future updates regarding this case, all information updates will be issued by the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office.

Based on standard policy, the two deputies involved have been placed on administrative leave. They are Deputy Caleb Toderean with four and a half years of service and Deputy Matthew Harrison with four years of service to Nevada County. We have received numerous questions as to the well-being of the deputies; I am thankful neither one of them were physically injured during this incident.

Finally, I would like to thank the many residents of Alta Sierra, including several that stopped to assist. I am aware of the significant inconvenience this created in your neighborhood and appreciate your patience and understanding.

Posted by Nevada County Sheriff's Office on Friday, February 5, 2021

The woman fatally shot by a Nevada County sheriff’s deputy during a confrontation Thursday afternoon accused law enforcement of trying to take her children, authorities said.

The woman, identified as Ariella Sage Eloise Crawford, 33, was reported to have been acting erratically while armed with a knife.

Crawford, whose birth name was Deidre Eloise Hawkins, appeared to have ties to California and Oregon and had been in the area for at least a few months, said Nevada County Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh.

Shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday, the Nevada County Regional Dispatch Center received several calls of a woman, who was possibly under the influence, walking in the middle of Alta Sierra Drive with two small children. Several deputies responded to the area near Names Drive and made contact with the woman, sheriff’s spokesman Andrew Trygg said.

During the incident, one deputy tried to deploy a Taser at some point and the other fired his service weapon, Walsh said. On Friday, Nevada County Sheriff Shannan Moon released the identity of the two deputies involved as Deputy Caleb Toderean, with four and a half years of service, and Deputy Matthew Harrison, with four years of service to Nevada County.

Both deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave, Moon said in a video released on the department’s Facebook page.

“This was a rapidly evolving incident that unfortunately led to the loss of this young lady’s life,” Moon said in the video. “Each and every day, our staff are called on to respond to situations that can have unpredictable outcomes. We take that responsibility very seriously and when tragic events occur, they impact everyone, including our staff and their families.”

According to Walsh, Crawford was with her two children and when contacted, she immediately became defensive.

“She started making statements that you are not going to take my kids away,” Walsh said, adding that the deputies tried to calm her with no success.

“We believe the dash-cam footage will show she attacked one or more of the deputies with a knife,” he said.

Moon said she requested that the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office conduct the formal investigation into the incident, adding. “This is to ensure the investigation remains independent from the Sheriff’s Office. This investigation will include taking statements from multiple witnesses, reviewing any available video footage as well as an in-depth analysis of the forensic evidence at the scene.”

According to Trygg, the Sheriff’s Office uses an “in-county” team based on its familiarity with the local judicial system.

“It makes the ability to obtain warrants or communicate with the judges more efficient,” he said. “As a side note, it is very common, in the surrounding counties, to have a team like this. Placer County has a regional team that is comprised of the police departments and Yuba-Sutter has a similar team.”

Moon pledged to conduct a complete review of the deputies’ actions based on her department’s policies and procedures, and to publicly release video and or audio that could help to describe the incident.

According to Walsh, dash-cam footage from the two patrol vehicles captured a majority of the incident as it unfolded, and he expected the footage to be released next week.

Crawford’s ties to the county are being investigated, Walsh said, adding she had had several “minor” contacts with law enforcement. In October, he said, Crawford and another party engaged in a physical altercation in which both claimed the other was the aggressor.

“Obviously, one of the focuses of the investigation will be to determine what was going on with her, if she was suffering from a mental health issue, or had a drug history,” Walsh said.

An autopsy was performed Friday, but toxicology results will take some time, he said.

The two children, who appeared to both be younger than 5 years old, remained in the custody of Child Protective Services, Walsh said.

UPDATE at 4:18 p.m.

From the District Attorney’s Office:

At this time the District Attorney’s Office can confirm the identity of the woman who died yesterday as being Ariella Sage Eloise Crawford, DOB 3/17/87. Her birth name was Deidre Eloise Hawkins. Her next of kin has been notified.

It has also been confirmed that the two young children who were present were Ms. Crawford’s children.

More details will be released as the investigation proceeds.

Initially posted

Nevada County Sheriff Shannan Moon on Friday released the identity of two deputies involved in the fatal shooting of a woman in Alta Sierra Thursday afternoon.

“Based on standard policy, the two deputies involved have been placed on administrative leave,” Moon said in a video posted on the department’s Facebook page. “They are Deputy Caleb Toderean, with four-and-a-half years of service, and Deputy Matthew Harrison, with four years of service to Nevada County.”

The woman, whose identity has not yet been released, was reported to have been acting erratically while armed with a knife.

Shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday, the Nevada County Regional Dispatch Center received several calls of a woman walking in the middle of Alta Sierra Drive with two small children, who was possibly under the influence. Several deputies responded to the area near Names Drive and made contact with the woman, sheriff’s spokesman Andrew Trygg said.

During the incident, one deputy tried to deploy a Taser and the other fired his service weapon, said Nevada County Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh. The DA’s office has taken the lead in investigating the incident.

The two children, who appeared to both be younger than 5 years old, are in the custody of Child Protective Services, Walsh said.

“This was a rapidly evolving incident that unfortunately led to the loss of this young lady’s life,” Moon said in the video. “Each and every day, our staff are called on to respond to situations that can have unpredictable outcomes. We take that responsibility very seriously and when tragic events occur, they impact everyone including our staff and their families.”

Moon said she requested that the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office conduct the formal investigation into the incident, adding. “This is to ensure the investigation remains independent from the Sheriff’s Office. This investigation will include taking statements from multiple witnesses, reviewing any available video footage as well as an in-depth analysis of the forensic evidence at the scene.”

Moon pledged to conduct a complete review of the deputy’s actions based on her department’s policies and procedures, and to publicly release video and or audio that could help to describe the incident.

According to Walsh, dash-cam footage from the two patrol vehicles captured a majority of the incident as it unfolded, and he expected the footage to be released next week.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

Two injured, one missing in Grass Valley residential fire

Neighbors watch as a residence goes up in flames on Park View Drive in Grass Valley Friday evening.
Photo: Elias Funez

Two victims were pulled out of a burning residence off Ridge Road in Grass Valley, but one remained missing early Friday night, authorities said.

Multiple fire departments responded to the house in the 10000 block of Park View Drive just after 5 p.m., but the structure was already fully involved with people possibly trapped inside, according to scanner traffic.

Firefighters don breathing apparatus before entering the structure fire Friday evening off Park View Drive in Grass Valley.
Photo: Elias Funez

Two burn victims were located, an adult and a child, said Nevada County Consolidated Deputy Fire Chief Jerry Funk. Both victims were transported by helicopter to a regional burn center, Funk said.

Their conditions were not known as of press time.

According to Funk, the fire had been contained as of 6:15 p.m.

“There was some extension to a neighboring structure, but it was quickly contained,” he said.

One possible victim remained missing and a search was being conducted inside the structure, Funk said.

Smoke fills the air surrounding the Park View Drive neighborhood in Grass Valley Friday evening where a structure fire occurred.
Photo: Elias Funez
Two burn victims were transported to hospitals by air ambulance while a third victim was unaccounted for as of press time.
Photo: Elias Funez
Firefighters put water into a window of a Park View Drive home in Grass Valley.
Photo: Elias Funez

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.