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Good Job

I guess I am getting old and grumpy. What is with the “good job” expression being so commonly used in very unexpected settings?

Most of us have used that term to praise our children and grandchildren when they accomplished something challenging or new.

Learning to tie shoes: Good Job

Making your bed all by yourself: Good Job

Making an A in math: Good job

You get this, right?

On a recent visit to the dentist, the hygienist, deep into my mouth, was giving instructions:

Open your mouth: Good Job

Turn your head to the left: Good Job

Rinse and spit: Good Job

Shortly after, on my visit to the doctor’s office I got:

Please step up and sit on the exam table: Good Job

Take a deep breath and hold: Good Job

Take another deep breath and hold: Good Job

I just had to ask each of them, “Do you have small children?” One did and one did not, which leads me to believe this expression is not just for those who have young children. It now permeates our daily language.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to hear children being praised for their accomplishments, but good grief I am an elderly woman who is just turning her head from side to side or taking deep breaths. This is akin to using the term sweetie to address me. No, thanks.

Okay, okay, I already admitted I am getting old and grumpy. But, I am sure that those of us who have reached the Golden Age do not want our lives diminished by language used on small children. We can share life experiences with these young folks that would knock their socks off. And yes, we did a GOOD JOB.



True Value Penn Valley

Scott Gutierrez, Penn Valley True Value owner
Photo by Valerie Costa


You could say that Scott Gutierrez was born to own a hardware store. His family bought a True Value in Placerville when he was two years old, and he grew up learning not only the ins and outs of the hardware business, but also the supreme importance of great customer service.

“When I was young, a lady came in to my parents’ store looking for an 1.5” finishing nail, but they only had 2” finishing nails. My dad took the box and cut every one down to 1.5”,” Gutierrez recalled. “I understand that in today’s competitive environment we can’t do that type of detail, but that dedication to making the customers happy and ensuring that they get what they want and need is paramount to me and the way we run the store.”

As many young people do, Gutierrez wanted to escape small town life and go big. So he went to college to learn about business management, and then went to work for Meek’s Hardware and Lumber for 13 years. He tired of “corporate politics” and returned home to work with his parents at the family business where customer satisfaction was the guiding principle. It was truly a family endeavor, as Scott and his parents also worked with Scott’s twin brother, their uncle, and cousin. There he remained until True Value called the family and told them of a great opportunity in Penn Valley.

True Value Penn Valley

True Value has been a staple in Penn Valley since 1978, but on January 1, 2011, the previous owner decided not to open the doors again. The following day, the employees arrived at work to find the doors locked, and waited for two hours before figuring out that the store had closed. It remained closed until the Gutierrez family purchased and remodeled the store, which they did at great personal expense before the final paperwork for the transfer of ownership was signed on December 7, 2011. They reopened the next day with Scott at the helm, and have been working to grow the store ever since. “We put our trust in the handshake deal with did with the previous owner, who had received other offers but wanted the store to remain a True Value, and kept our faith in God that everything was going to go through,” Gutierrez said.

The family started the store with seven brand new employees, and has since grown to an average of 60 employees. When his parents decided to retire in 2017, Scott bought the Penn Valley store and his twin brother purchased the Placerville store, and both brothers have thriving businesses due to the foundation of family values and customer service that their parents modeled in their own business practices. Gutierrez says that a big part of his success was bringing Matt Buhman, a key carrying manager at his parents’ store who had been there for a decade, to come help build this business. Buhman said that if he came, there had to be a position for his girlfriend (now wife), Tammy, who is Gutierrez’s right hand person who is the operations manager/HR/ bookkeeper and so much more at the store. After ten years, Matt is leaving to finally pursue a career in mechanical engineering, for which he had earned his college degree before agreeing to come work for Penn Valley True Value, but Tammy remains happily in her role and has no plans to leave.

“When I knew I was going to take Penn Valley True Value, I knew that my family had a successful business plan based on great customer service, and I wanted to follow that. But being in a corporate environment for 13 years, I was afraid that I had lost that small business mindset of customer service, making sure you really fit the needs of your customers vs. chasing the dollar. It was important to me to carry on that culture, and I knew that Matt would help me to do that. To this day Matt and Tammy are the two best employees I have ever had. I’m sad to see Matt go, but I’m so happy for him that he is going to pursue his passion and work in the field he earned his degree in.”

True Community Value

One of Gutierrez’s core values is being a good community partner and keeping Penn Valley business local as much as possible. In the past ten years since he took over the store, he has worked to expand the selection there to provide what those in the community want and need to help Penn Valley thrive economically.

Since Penn Valley is a ranching community, when he opened the store Gutierrez saw a huge need for ranching supplies and so opened True Value Fence and Ranch Supply in the old Empire Fence building, where they cater to the farm and ranch supply needs for 4H and FFA as well as local ranchers. Gutierrez tries to maintain the balance of providing for the community’s needs while not competing with their neighbors, Pearson’s Feed and Simply County. He works to cater to those needs without stepping on toes by carrying convenience needs for the ranchers as well as hardware.


Wildflower Nursery is ready for fall
Photo by Valerie Costa

The other need he saw was Lake Wildwood, which is a different population of people trying to beautify their properties, and so he opened up Wildflower Nursery, which sits where before there was only a dirt lot in the main intersection in downtown Penn Valley. At first, Wildflower Nursery was just a convenience nursery, but has since grown to a beautiful destination nursery and community gathering spot. It’s a place to hang out, with a creek that runs through it, shaded benches, and a gift shop. Future plans post-Covid involve hosting beer, wine, and cheese events with live music; with the goal being Wine at Wildflower on Wednesdays. Scott’s wife Rory orders for the nursery, and she was the main impetus to bring in giftware. In his dedication to supporting other local businesses, Gutierrez carries unique, locally made items such as furniture by Jody B as well as nine other local vendors who sell on consignment. “The idea was beautifying the heart of downtown Penn Valley, and I feel like we hit the nail on the head with that,” Gutierrez explained. “Our goal isn’t to make a profit at Wildflower, our goal is to break even and have a spot for people to feel comfortable to hang out.”

At the beginning of 2021, the only hole Gutierrez felt was missing was lumber. The store had convenience lumber, but not like a place where contractors could stop by for supplies for their projects. So Gutierrez invested in a lumber racking system and they are now a full blown lumber yard with a contractor salesperson, who they got from Diamond Pacific after 25 years. They have also acquired a couple of delivery trucks, including a piggyback forklift delivery truck. “The contractors who were going up to Grass Valley now can just keep Penn Valley money in Penn Valley to help self-sustain the community,” Gutierrez said. “Penn Valley is really starting to find its place. When I first came up here, we were driving past the ball field and there was a sign that said “lifestyle with opportunity”. That was an inspiration to me, and I bought that actual sign. We have taken it to heart and ran with it.”

Penn Valley True Value is not about transactions, it’s about relationships. It’s also knowing their customers by name. Some contractors are there five times a day. Some customers come to hang out and talk, not buy anything. With the big box stores and Amazon, price isn’t everything; you have expertise there that will add so much value to your project beyond what you pay for the product. However, to stay competitive and remain fair in their pricing, if you come with an ad that shows the same thing at a lower price, they will match that price if possible as long as the comparison is “apples to apples”.

True Family Value

During the store remodel in 2011, Gutierrez was living in the store as his wife was staying in their south Sacramento home while she finished her degree to become a pharmacist. He saw the old store owner and mentioned that he was living in the store, and the owner said that his parents had recently passed and so he had a house available in Lake Wildwood that he could rent to Gutierrez if he was interested. He was, and moved into that house where they lived until 2014, when he and his wife were ready to buy a home. They were driving around Lake Wildwood and saw an open house at a property that was everything they dreamed of, and learned to that it was the old Vogt Ranch, a big piece of Penn Valley/Lake Wildwood history. They bought the house, which sits on six acres, and are raising their two small children (ages two and four) on their own private slice of heaven. “The True Value here is a big part of Penn Valley, and the Vogt ranch is a big part of Lake Wildwood; it’s the only farm inside of the gated community,” Gutierrez said. “We feel so fortunate to have two important pieces of Penn Valley in our family.”

Family to Gutierrez isn’t only his wife, kids, and blood kin; it is also the employees who come to work at Penn Valley True Value. He selects his employees based on three essential values: humble (not thinking less of yourself, just thinking of yourself less); hungry (drive to come to work); and smart (not necessarily intelligence, emotional and situational awareness). Applicants who possess those qualities are people who will fit in just fine with the Penn Valley True Value family. “One of the things I love most about doing this is knowing that I can provide jobs for people in our community. And not only just a job, but a good job, where they enjoy coming to work,” Gutierrez said. “We may not be able to pay people corporate career wages, but what we can offer is flexibility and a good work environment, and you don’t get that in many places today.”

“We try to keep that family feel, and make sure during the onboarding process to make new employees feel like they are part of the family, and that they are part of a real team.” Tammy added.

In fact, Penn Valley True Value is currently hiring, and it’s a fun fact that several current and former employees have found love working at the store; so much so that Gutierrez performs wedding ceremonies for them and writes the love story of each couple to present at their weddings. So if you are single and looking for love and for work, and have the three necessary qualities to be a True Value employee, drop by with an application. You could find much more than just a job.

Penn Valley True Value is located at 17387 Penn Valley Dr. To learn more, visit their website at https://stores.truevalue.com/ca/penn-valley/18863/.



Don’t Feel Bad, We All Did It!

My family moved to Lake Wildwood in 1980. We made landscaping choices with “deer proof” plants as the logical choice! Standards for defensible space have become stronger since many of us bought our homes, so many of us need to do a little catching up. Not all homes are the same, but as a defensible space advisor I see some common and easily corrected problems.

Here’s a short list of common problems so you can do your own mini-inspection and get to work correcting them. Many are easily solved! Does your home have any of these issues?

1. Missing an address sign which can be easily seen in the dark or in smoky conditions.

2. Homeowners mistakenly planted extremely flammable plants, often lining the driveway (oleanders, junipers, grevillea, rosemary). One of our top priorities is ensuring that you can evacuate safely. Think about driving out while these plants are on fire!

3. Plants are in rows leading to the home creating a fire runway straight to your home. This also creates ladder fuels that can ignite overhanging trees.

4. Plants are too close to the home, within the critical 0-5 feet zone.

5. Vents need 1/8” wire mesh coverings. Most are 1/4”. This is to keep out flying embers.

6. Propane tanks need 10’ of clearance in every direction. Trunks of trees are ok, but no limbs.

Not all homes have the same issues. When you invite us for a Defensible Space Advisory Visit we will help you make a customized, prioritized plan. We are ready and willing to help you! Please contact us for our free, confidential help! https://www.areyoufiresafe.com/contact-us or at firewise@lwwa.org

Next: Our landscaping mistakes and how to fix them!



Don’t Play Politics with Fire Safety

With the end of summer upon us we find ourselves preparing for another fall and winter. The leaves are starting to fall, our lake activity is slowing down and the Pool is beginning to end its season. My letter in the Lake Wildwood eBits recently resonated with our community, and I feel that our neighboring community members outside of Lake Wildwood could benefit from a message of importance. Although Lake Wildwood has done tremendous efforts to create a fire fuel reduction department, invest in thousands of dollars in equipment, education, county fire drill training and communication, some feel it is still more important to worry about playing politics instead of getting on board with the needed efforts to protect the community and mostly themselves. The most important thing to do to prepare for a fire and evacuation is do your part. Not worry about someone else before you do what you should be doing.

The last few months and especially the past week or so we have seen the catastrophic effects to our air quality caused by the many fires around us. Luckily, and I mean luckily, we have not had any fires directly threaten Lake Wildwood. Last week there was a structure fire that could have been the center spark for the entire community. Our Penn Valley Fire Department did an amazing job at quickly stopping the spread of this house fire to the surrounding homes. As I look at this incident, it makes me wonder why so many homes in Lake Wildwood are doing nothing to abate the spread of wildfires and address the dangerous condition their lots pose to the safety of others. We are actively giving notices to what we can identify as rule violations, but the rules do not cover specifically what is deemed a serious hazard to the community.

Information on Fire Wise and defensible space is listed on our link below. Our team cannot venture onto property to investigate the areas behind your homes unless you are on a greenbelt or the Lake and Golf Course. Many homes are just not putting the effort into preventive fire fuel reduction, clearing leaves off the roofs, trimming low hanging trees, branches over roof lines, dense landscaping greenery, and so on.

South Lake Tahoe has lost hundreds of homes to an out-of-control fire; I just drove the Mt. Shasta region and saw the devastation, and I am wondering just what motivation we can give to literally wake up some lot owners to clear and maintain their lots in a safe manner. Lake Wildwood is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to get caught up on the years of neglect of some major clearing and is continuing to do so daily. We are purchasing state of the art equipment to assist our efforts at clearing and maintaining our open spaces. There are many small areas behind homes that are targeted for clearing and we are getting there.

I am asking this community, or those specifically that are not taking this fire danger seriously, to please change your attitude towards it and think about the safety of the entire community. As someone who has lost their home to a fire, I personally know the catastrophic effects a fire can do to your home, belongings, your family and the many years after recovering. Let’s all do it. Do what we can for the sake of yourself and others. Everything you need to know about fire safety is located on our Fire Wise section of the website, and LWA Members can get there by visiting https://www.lwwa.org/association/be-fire-wise-3212.html.


On the Front Lines

As the Director of Food and Beverage at a venue located within my community, I have been on the front lines of the hospitality industry during one of the most challenging times our industry has faced and continues to face. That last statement feels odd to write, because in a “normal world” every day in our industry can feel like the most challenging. When the world began to reopen, restaurants placed ads for positions only to be met with echoes. The pandemic changed our industry, it was one of the first to go and was certainly not deemed essential work. From the articles I have read, Servers, Cooks, and Chefs have left or continue to leave to find work that offers more stability and/or less pressure.

As a professional Server in a restaurant, you have a performance evaluation with every interaction and the gratuity is your grade. The evaluation can be swayed by so many determining factors including what type of day, week, month—and now especially with Covid—year a guest had. Servers have told me stories of waking in the middle of the night with anxiety and disappointment, realizing they forgot to deliver the condiments their table requested.

Cooks are the unsung heroes. My first night in the kitchen on the expediting line, I immediately found a new respect for their craft. I stood reading the orders hung in front of me, organizing plates in the window and at times I was lost. During the chaos, I took a moment and was stunned at the tornado that emerged before me. I observed the cooks standing over equipment reaching temperatures of 400-500 degrees – it resembled a battle scene. They methodically read their orders formulating a strategy in a matter of seconds. Sauté pans shuffle and burgers flipped as flames shoot toward them. Items are dropped into the fryer as the hot oil grazes their skin. I stood in awe and was humbled by their skill… all while guests were in the dining room, seemingly unaware of the amount of detail in this process taking place in a matter of seconds and minutes.

Some restaurants have closed for good. The restaurants able to re-open their doors are limping along with limited team members. When my venue began to re-open, we started this way, and I thank my team regularly for being here. If there is anything I have learned from Covid, it is to be grateful of what we have, especially those around you. I value and respect my team. They were so willing to jump back and push through all the challenges and uncertainty. In my opinion, hospitality workers were needed more than the world realized. One server recently shared a narrative regarding a guest who frequents our venue. The guest shared that she is lonely and enjoys coming in to be around the buzz of people while she reads her book. The Server sits with this guest for a few moments and asks about her day. “Those are the moments that fill my cup, the meaningful interactions with those who need it,” the Server says.

We have some overwhelming hectic nights in our kitchen preparing over 100 orders of food in an hour and a half. Upon completing those nights, I have pulled the kitchen aside thanking them for showing up. One particular night I gathered the team and stated, “I know tonight was hard and you could be sitting at home collecting unemployment, but you chose to be here, and you are here under incredible stress and pressure. Thank you for giving it your all and providing for our community.” Behind the scenes, we are planning and hosting multiple events aside from running the day-to-day restaurant and bar, adding more pressure to the kitchen. Whether we are preparing for 150-person golf tournament or a wedding, we are doing all we can to offer our community a space that exceeds expectations.

As we yet again hear about the rise in new cases the thought of shutdowns remains in the back of our minds, and we hope they don’t occur again. So, I ask, next time you dine with your local restaurant or elsewhere, and the wait is a bit longer than usual, and/or your table was not where you would have liked to be seated, please take a moment to appreciate being out in a social setting again. Understand the people serving you with a smile choosing to show up day to day are doing it because they genuinely care to be here. They are doing their best to accommodate with limited team members at their side. To those who continue to support thank you, you help us through some of our most challenging days.


Penn Valley Artist Earns Award in 40th Annual PBS KVIE Art Auction

Celebrating PBS KVIE’s decades of creating an accessible venue to bring art into the homes of Northern Californians, the 40th annual PBS KVIE Art Auction will showcase 266 works of art by emerging, well-known, and world-renowned Northern California artists. PBS KVIE art curator Jill Estroff has announced that Penn Valley artist Ingrid Lockhart has been recognized with an award after submitting her art to the annual juried competition.

Lockhart’s “Fern Medley” won a Juror Award in the Photography category. The piece will be featured as part of this year’s auction, a live three-day event broadcast on KVIE Channel 6 and online at kvie.org/artauction that airs on Friday, Oct. 1 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 2 from noon to 10 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 3 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“It’s exciting to see so many artists participating for the first time in this year’s auction,” Estroff said. “Stellar jurors attracted both emerging and established artists along with California masters and returning favorites for our 40th anniversary. PBS KVIE is thrilled to shine a light on so many talented artists, bringing their work to a whole new audience. We’re so grateful for their support.”

A complete list of artists juried into the collection is online at kvie.org/artauction. Images and information on every piece of art up for bid, including air dates and times, will launch on August 30. An awards ceremony to announce the Best of Show and first place in each category will be streamed online at kvie.org/artauction on September 14.

Proceeds from the auction help support PBS KVIE local productions and community outreach services. This year’s auction is sponsored by American River Bank, a part of Bank of Marin, Krogh & Decker LLP, Nick Sadek Sotheby’s International Realty, and Sutter Health.


Broadcasting from California’s capital since 1959, PBS KVIE inspires viewers to explore the world and connect with their community through engaging experiences in current events, drama, history, nature, science, and more. As a member station of PBS, the most trusted media institution in America, PBS KVIE curates the best in educational television programming and online content available, reaching almost 1.4 million households in the nation’s 20th largest television market. PBS KVIE can be viewed in 28 of California’s 58 counties and brings our region the highest quality programming like “PBS NewsHour,” “Nature,” “NOVA,” and “Masterpiece,” and is also one of the leading producers of public television programming in the country with series like “America’s Heartland,” “Rob on the Road,” “Studio Sacramento,” “KVIE Arts Showcase,” and “ViewFinder.” For more information, visit PBS KVIE’s website at kvie.org.



Pickleball Club Update: Meet Elizabeth

Today, I will introduce you to Elizabeth Pavlik. I enjoyed a very interesting conversation about her life and all its unique characteristics. First, I will start off by sharing that Elizabeth is Russian, born and raised in Moscow.

She and her eight-year-old daughter, Sofia, spend six months of each year living in the big city of Moscow and another six months here in the community of Lake Wildwood with the squirrels and wild turkeys. Sofia attends our local public school and belongs to the Water Otters Swim Team. She is a busy, industrious young girl, who is juggling studies between her school in Russia and her school in Penn Valley. Elizabeth is very grateful to her parents for all their daily support via Skype to keep Sofia engaged and progressing in her Russian schoolwork. It is not an easy feat.

For the eight-year-old, certain holidays are more important in the United States than in Russia. She pleads to be here for Halloween but concedes that New Years in Russia is much more special. Elizabeth is very adaptable to both worlds and finds happiness and positivity wherever she is. Her perspective is mirrored in her choice to start an online school in the psychology of tarot cards. All of her courses are in Russian and have attracted students from around the world. She is very proud of the fact that she has created her own cards with artistic depictions and history of each character.

Elizabeth has always been interested in travel and has visited over 40 countries so far. At one time, she even worked as a travel guide. She has backpacked extensively through Russia, been to Carnival in Brazil and visited India. On her bucket list remains a cruise to Antarctica, the Northern Lights, South Africa, and South America. Her zest for life is impressive, to say the least.

When we talked about the differences in daily life between the two cultures, Elizabeth quickly confessed that she prefers Moscow when it comes to getting her hair and nails done. There is a vast difference in cost and results. She also cites health care as something she prefers in Russia. Naturally, the cost of living in Moscow is considerably higher than the outlying areas of Russia. In actuality, it is comparable to our cost of living in California. However, when it comes to teaching her daughter how to snow ski, the costs in Russia are much lower than at our expensive California ski resorts.

Elizabeth is new to pickleball and is picking it up very quickly. She has met many members and has wisely taken advantage of the drop in times to experience the many different skill levels in our players. She is upbeat and eager to learn. Elizabeth is a very delightful addition to our pickleball family here in Lake Wildwood. I enjoyed our chat.



Strong Eyes

I was recently in the hospital for a simple procedure that turned out not so simple…in fact, it was life-threatening. I had a virulent infection moving in the direction of my heart. The fix required heavy-duty antibiotics and a gruesome five-inch surgical gash in my chest, a wound that had to be kept open as it healed in order to prevent further infection.

About the third day in the hospital, a male nurse was pulling a yard of yucky gauze out of my wound and stuffing clean new gauze in (not as horrific as it sounds). He was a tiny Asian man at the edge of old age. His name was Shen, I think. Nice guy. Also a wise guy—wisdom, not sarcasm. We talked as he worked on me. Here’s what I remember of the conversation:

Shen: “Is this hurting?”

Me: “No. Thank you for being careful.”

Shen: He paused…thoughtful…penetrating old eyes peering at me over half-lens glasses.

Me: I squinted back at him, curious…“What?”

Shen: “You have strong eyes.”

Me: My turn to pause. “That’s an odd thing to say. What do you mean?”

Shen: “You are happy. You are strong. I see it in your eyes.”

Me: I was taken aback, and even more curious…“What makes you think so?”

Shen: “The man in the next room, he is sad. His condition is not as bad as yours, but he is sorry for himself. Sad eyes. You have a bigger problem, but you are okay. I see it in your eyes. You are happy.”

Me: “You’re right, I am happy, but it’s not strength. Things happen. You deal with them. You move on. It’s not strength, it’s just life.”

Shen: “Not for him.”

I thought a lot about Shen and what he said. I wanted to believe him. I wanted to think of myself as strong. But it’s not really strength. It’s attitude. Or maybe it’s both, but the attitude comes first.

I think I have a good attitude. I really do. It keeps me motivated and carries me through a lot of challenges. It keeps my self-respect intact, even when I’ve done something stupid or failed at a worthwhile endeavor. It keeps me looking ahead to good things in life, while always aware that bad things can happen (notice that I’m writing these words from a hospital room with a big surgical gash in my chest).

I can’t claim any credit for this attitude. I think it was built into me by my Mom and Dad.

You would probably think of my Dad as a loser. He was a heavy drinker…high school dropout…occasional street fighter…your classic bad boy. He tried one career after another, never quite getting it right. In the Army, he would rapidly rise to the rank of Master Sergeant (he was a natural leader), but then his bad boy would take over and he would do something stupid and get demoted. That happened more than once.

But here’s the thing. Dad never quit. He never felt sorry for himself. He would always, as the old song used to say, “…pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again.” Dad didn’t win very much, but he had the attitude of a winner. He was always ready to start all over again. You could see it in his eyes…strong eyes.

In Dad’s last year (he died in 1980 of lung cancer) he and my mother were operating a crude gold mine in the Arizona desert. Just the two of them. The mine yielded only a single gold nugget, which Dad fashioned into a necklace for Mom. Shortly before she died at age eighty-five, Mom told me that the necklace was her most prized possession, and that her last year with Dad, in the desert, living in a battered old RV, was the best year of her life.

Attitude is everything, isn’t it?

I’m no stronger than anyone else.. Surgery scares me and I hate it, but surgery scares everyone. A lot of things scare us, but when they’re necessary, we just do them. The difference is that some of us do them with an expectation of good things to come, while others get mired in despair or self-pity. You see it in their eyes.

Think of the people you know. Think about their eyes.

Shen was right, wasn’t he? Somehow, eyes really are the windows to the soul.



Preparing for Fires and PSPS Shutoffs

As we move into fall, we anticipate stronger wind events, even drier conditions, and, often, continued high temperatures. When this combination of conditions arises, PG&E will de-energize their power lines to prevent any damaged equipment from sparking a wildfire. These events could last up to several days, so these are the steps you should take to get prepared:

•Sign up to receive PSPS outage alerts: https://www.pge.com/en_US/residential/outages/public-safety-power-shuttoff/prepare-for-psps.page

•Take inventory of items you need that rely on electricity. Fully charge items such as your mobile phone and electric vehicle. Consider adding a battery-powered portable charger to your emergency kit.

•Create a storage plan for medications that require refrigeration. If you are unsure about what this may mean, please contact your pharmacist.

•Develop a plan for essential life-saving medical equipment. Temporarily relocate to a location that still has power, have a safe backup power source, or plan to use a PG&E-provided Community Resource Center, which are typically open during the day.

•Stock up on batteries, flashlights, and nonperishable foods.

•Plan for water needs. If you are on a well, store plenty of water for drinking, cleaning, and flushing.

•Keep your car fueled with gas or electricity.

•Practice opening your garage door manually, or park in the driveway.

•Develop a plan for entry for locations that require electronic entry, such as workplaces, apartment complexes, etc.

•Keep cash, especially small bills, on hand as ATMs may be unavailable.

•Reach out to family, friends, and neighbors who may need additional information or support.

I’m sure many of you already have a generator to help you get by during these events. Please make sure to follow basic generator safety so you don’t start a fire or poison yourself with carbon monoxide. Find generator safety tips here: https://www.mynevadacounty.com/DocumentCenter/View/39174/Copy-of-Generator-safety-1?bidId=

There have been several recent fires in Penn Valley, Lake Wildwood, and North San Juan. Thanks again to our local fire agencies for their aggressive attack on those incidents.

While it’s never too late to do fire safe clearing around your home, we all need to avoid creating sparks with power tools, as well as setting hot power tools down in combustible material. Fire officials advise against the use of any power tools after 10 a.m. The mornings are getting cooler and moister, so that’s the time to get outside and work (but never on a Red Flag Warning day!).

Know your evacuation zone, sign up for CodeRED Emergency Alerts to your home and work address, and have supplies ready if the power goes out. Find more preparedness information at ReadyNevadaCounty.org.

COVID Update

COVID transmission in Nevada County continues to be at record highs, with the second-highest number of new cases added to our dashboard on the last day of August. Recent data shows that more than 90% of new cases are the Delta variant, and there has been a big uptick in cases in children zero to seventeen. In the last full week of August, we saw record numbers of hospitalizations in Nevada County.

COVID testing services are still available, now on Saturdays, as well. If you are experiencing COVID-like symptoms or have had a COVID exposure, book an appointment at LHI.care/COVIDtesting. There are now home-based COVID test kits available online and at some local pharmacies. (You may have to inquire at the cash register – they don’t seem to be stocked on shelves.) While their results tend not to be accepted by schools and employers, they can help provide peace of mind if you’re wondering if your sniffles are just allergies or COVID. That said, please stay home if you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID. Schools, in particular, are really suffering right now with staff shortages and whole classrooms being quarantined. Let’s do our part to help them get back to some sense of normalcy.

In late August, the FDA formally approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. This formal approval replaces the emergency use authorization granted by the agency last December. The FDA may grant full approval for the other COVID-19 vaccines in the future. If you are interested in getting vaccinated, you can book an appointment or find walk-in clinics at MyTurn.CA.Gov.

Outside of the current statewide election, you can now vote for your favorite artist bus wrap for our transit system, Nevada County Connects! Vote for your favorite design this September at MyNevadaCounty.com/BusArt.

Stay safe, find time to enjoy blue skies while we have them, and reach out if you have questions, concerns, or ideas you’d like to share with me: 530-265-1480 or Sue.Hoek@co.nevada.ca.us.



Editor’s Note

Happy Autumn,

As we head into fall and settle into the school year, we can all look forward to some cooler weather and the beautiful changing colors of the trees. It’s one of my favorite things about living in this glorious place, and I get excited at this time of year seeing the first hints of red and yellow around town. Even though the heat of summer is subsiding, it is just as crucial that we remain vigilant with our fire safety and preparedness. Make sure you have your go bag ready, know your zone, and practice your escape routes in case the unthinkable happens. And pray for rain. Lots and lots of rain.

My first issue of The Wildwood Independent went well, and I am so excited to start writing articles that will highlight different businesses, people, and organizations in Lake Wildwood and Penn Valley. For my first article, I have highlighted Penn Valley True Value, a truly exceptional locally owned and operated business. They are so much more than just a hardware store; if you haven’t been in to check them out, please make sure to do so. Communities thrive when the people in them support local businesses!

I have loved getting to know the many wonderful contributors who make The Wildwood Independent a truly local, informative newspaper. I will slowly be meeting with each one individually to get to know more about them as people and the topics they cover, and I am excited to get to know each and every one of them and thank them personally.

There is a correction to make regarding the email for submitting questions and content. The correct email to use is twieditor@twi-news.com. Of course, if that doesn’t work, you can always use my Union email, which is vcosta@theunion.com, or give me a call at (530) 432-2614. I welcome your comments and suggestions for future issues, and look forward to providing you the best news source for the Penn Valley and Lake Wildwood communities.

Praying for rain and a fire-free fall!

Valerie Costa