| TheUnion.com

Change your cylinder, change the world

Ah, it’s summertime.  Camping, barbecues, days by the lake or river, these are things we wait for all year long.  But while we might not think about it while we’re having fun, those 1 lb propane cylinders we use in our camp stoves and other portable appliances add up in both cost and environmental impact.

Now, your outdoor fun can be a little greener by making the simple, convenient switch to a reusable 1 lb propane cylinder.  Every year in North America, 40 million single-use 1 lb propane cylinders are used, with over four million in California alone.   Because of limited, expensive recycling options, the empty cylinders are often disposed of improperly in landfills, dumpsters, household trash, campsites, on the roadside, or in recycling containers.  Not to mention, the cost of those cheap single-use cylinders really adds up; especially when you learn that 80% of the cost is for the packaging, which is dangerous and more expensive than we realize.  When “empty”, single-use cylinders often still contain a small amount of gas, posing a danger to sanitation workers due to the risk of explosions and resulting fires. Because of the danger involved, they cost millions of dollars to recycle and dispose of properly.

“We are trying to educate the public about these cheap cylinders that they use, not realizing that there is danger because when there is a little left in the cylinders and they are compacted by waste management, these can explode,” explained Nate Pelczar, Special Projects Manager with the California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC).  “We are trying to remove these from the waste streams, and instead get into people’s hands these super cool, super easy, reusable 1 lb propane cylinders.” 

Nate Pelczar enjoys using a reusable propane cylinder. Photo courtesy of CPSC
CPSC Nate Photo

Switching to reusable cylinders is a smart and easy way to help people save both the environment and money.  Once you have a reusable cylinder, they can be used hundreds of times over ten years, and they pay for themselves after refilling just five times.  And those savings apply not only to the consumer, but to everyone who pays taxes or fees, as well. “Most people don’t realize how expensive it is for local jurisdictions to dispose of single-use cylinders properly.  It often costs more than paying for a new one; up to $40 to destroy a spent cylinder, and both the consumer and rate payer is footing the bill.  We can lower that cost to ratepayers by making this simple switch to reusable propane cylinders.”

To make things even more convenient, you don’t even have to refill your cylinder, you can instead take part in an easy exchange program.  For this, a consumer goes to one of many convenient locations to buy the cylinder pre-filled, uses it, and exchanges the empty cylinder for a full one.  And the best part is, you don’t have to travel to a big box store to participate in the exchange program; you can get them right here at five locations in Nevada County: Grass Valley Mobil, HBE Rentals, Inn Town Campground, and Chevron and Tahoe Mountain Sports in Truckee.  There is also a collection cage for single-use tanks at Donner Lake Memorial State Park. 

“Nevada County has such beautiful surroundings, we want to help protect those by having as many people make this very easy behavioral change that is both affordable and protects the environment,” said Pelczar.  “It’s easy.  It’s cheap. It’s convenient.  It supports local business.  It saves the ratepayers money.  It reduces waste.  Be part of the solution and make this change.”

To learn more, or to find all locations across the US that are participating in this program, visit https://www.refuelyourfun.org.

The COVID-19 Vaccine

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect ourselves, our community and the wisdom of our elders. Over 90% of doctors in the United States have already been vaccinated, including myself.

Over the last several months, California has made amazing progress in our fight against COVID-19. With more than 34 million vaccines administered, we now have among the lowest case and positivity rates in the nation. The sooner we all get vaccinated, the quicker we can get back to living our lives freely.

If you have not received your vaccine, it is normal to have questions. At Chapa-De, our team is here to provide our patients with helpful information and education so that they feel confident in making well-informed decisions about their health.  

Here are some of the most common COVID-19 vaccine questions we are hearing from our patients. Let’s work to combat COVID-19 together!

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

Millions of people throughout the country have now safely received the COVID-19 vaccines. These vaccines have undergone the most intensive safety monitoring in history. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, free and effective.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine make me sick?

You cannot get COVID-19 from any of the vaccines. They do not have a live virus or other infectious material in them. After getting a vaccine, you may have some side effects, such as a slight headache, nausea or tiredness. These are normal signs that your body is building protection and they should go away in a day or two.

How were the vaccines developed so quickly – were corners cut?

The COVID-19 vaccines were thoroughly tested, and no phases of the clinic trials were skipped. Due to the urgent need to save lives and reduce hospitalization rates, the administrative steps were cut, and doctors and scientists were given the resources to complete the rigorous scientific process. There were steps that were done at the same time, but safety measures were scrutinized by multiple regulatory agencies including the FDA, ACIP (physicians who specialize in vaccines), and California’s task force of physicians on vaccination. 

Will the COVID-19 vaccine make me infertile?

No. There is no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems (problems trying to get pregnant).

If I had COVID-19, do I still need a vaccine?

If you tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered, we still recommend you be vaccinated against the virus because your natural immunity declines over time and reinfection is possible.

If I am young and healthy, why do I still need a vaccine?

While you may be young and healthy, the effects of COVID-19 are unpredictable, and symptoms can be severe, long-lasting and potentially life-threatening. We urge all individuals to get vaccinated to ensure that infection and hospitalization rates remain low across the state so that we can all return to the activities that we love. 

How can I get my vaccine today?

COVID-19 vaccines are available at Chapa-De for established patients age 18 and over. If you are not a Chapa-De patient, we encourage you to visit myturn.ca.gov to locate a walk-in clinic or schedule a free vaccination appointment for all individuals age 12 and older.  

If you still have concerns, please contact your medical provider for more information. Chapa-De is currently accepting new patients. For more information, please visit chapa-de.org.

Dr. Alinea Stevens is the Medical Director and a Physician at Chapa-De Indian Health. She provides compassionate, high-quality adult and pediatric primary care to all people, regardless of their financial situation. Her professional interests include Prenatal Care, Pediatrics and Substance Use services.

Childcare Means Business

Families in Nevada County need high quality, affordable child care. Studies show that quality child care helps children develop and thrive. However, quality child care also impacts our entire community because investments in the childcare sector are critical for the continued functioning and recovery of our economy.  Providing direct support to local childcare businesses promotes economic stability by ensuring families can return to work. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic spotlights how child care is a pillar of our economic infrastructure. It also spotlights the gross deficiencies and inequities that were pre-existing conditions prior to the pandemic,” said Rossnina Dort, MA ECE, Director, Early Education Services, Local Planning Council for Child Care and Development.  “Some programs and child care educators will weather this crisis, yet many others will not, further exacerbating unequal access for children and families. Investing in accessible, affordable, and quality child care is essential to keep children learning, families working, and our economy thriving.”

Unfortunately, the need to access the critical support of affordable, reliable, and high-quality early learning and child care far outpaces their current capacity, and many families across the county cannot afford the cost of quality child care. In fact, the cost of quality child care is as high or higher than the cost of in-state college tuition. 

Without access to early learning and care, parents tend to miss work, lowering household incomes and potentially leading to job loss. Many parents are unable to enter or return to the workforce at all due to a lack of affordable, reliable care for their children. Supporting families with the cost of quality preschool and child care will result in a more efficient and productive American workforce in both the short- and long-term.

Current child care landscape in Nevada County

Each year, the parents of nearly 12,000 Nevada County children under age 12 struggle to find suitable child care to support their employment and career advancement. Inadequate child care acts as a barrier to worker productivity and to economic growth.

Access: Nevada County has a child care shortage, especially for vulnerable and low-income children. Subsidized child care for low-income families is only available to 34% of working families. Availability is even more limited for families who have infants and toddlers, work evening and night shifts, or live in more rural areas. Recent surveys of parents, conducted by the Child Care Coordinating Council for Nevada County with assistance from First 5 Nevada and Sierra Nevada Children’s Services, show 77% of parents report having difficulty finding child care. The shortage of child care programs creates limited access to child care and long waiting lists. Services are most scarce for vulnerable populations. We currently have an 88% unmet need for children 0-35 months old who are eligible for subsidized care and 60% unmet need for children 3-4 years old who are income-eligible for publicly subsidized early learning and care.  

Affordability: Cost to families is a barrier to accessing care for low- and middle-income families. A middle income family ($63,240) with one preschool child in a child care center will spend 19% of their annual income. A parent earning $12/hour working full time would spend 62% of their gross income on an infant in a child care center.


Quality: Only a fraction of child care in our county is quality rated through Quality Counts CA, a state certified rating system. Among the shortcomings in quality are high rates of provider turnover, resulting in a lack of stable, consistent caregiving for young children.

When families cannot secure the child care they need, their work opportunities are undermined. Family incomes are lower, workplace productivity falls and economic activity is reduced. Businesses suffer and tax revenues are lower. By helping working families, high quality child care boosts the economy. Inadequate or limited child care, by contrast, imposes burdens on workers, businesses, and taxpayers. Failing to prioritize and invest in child care now will only exacerbate child care closures and inequities.

Access to affordable, quality child care is crucial for economic recovery. The recent parent surveys conducted by the Child Care Task Force showed that parents who cannot work in person or remotely without childcare have to make major changes at work, such as: adjusting their available work hours; looking for a different job; or, leaving the workforce entirely.

Child care is not only essential for families, but also for employers and our state’s economic health. A recent study by the Council for a Strong America has shown that lost wages, business and tax revenue due to lack of access to child care totals $9.1 billion annually. The pandemic has exposed the reality that women, particularly women and single parents, have lost the most during this economic downturn. When families do not have access to child care, women are the ones leaving their careers to care for their children.

As communities throughout the country make decisions about schools reopening and online learning, parents are struggling to maintain work while tending to their children. When evaluating the economic crisis brought on by COVID-19, the nation’s already simmering childcare crisis is emerging as the primary obstacle to long term economic recovery. This crisis brings a myriad of consequences, primarily severe economic implications for women and children. 

Funds through the COVID Local Recovery Funds can address the underlying systemic deficiencies that have made the early and school age child care sector and its workforce especially vulnerable during this health crisis by establishing universal access to early and school age care and education, fair wage standards for this workforce, retention of a qualified workforce, and quality site certification for the care and education of all young children.   

Child care is essential. Safe and stable child care is critical to keeping kids learning, parents earning, and our economy thriving.

Dr. Marlowe Dieckmann Empowers Patients at Chapa-De Indian Health

Dr. Marlowe Dieckmann, MD/MPH says she is passionate about working closely with her patients to determine the best care plan for their individual needs.  

“I recognize that every single one of my patients has unique values and preferences. My approach to care is centered around providing a safe space where patients of all ages and identities feel welcome and respected,” said Dr. Dieckmann. “I am a people person and enjoy the rewarding opportunity to educate and empower my patients to be their healthiest self.”

Dr. Dieckmann recently joined the team at Chapa-De Indian Health where she provides adult and pediatric medical care. She says she was immediately drawn to the physical beauty of the Grass Valley health center and the talented community of providers.

“Chapa-De is a vibrant team of supportive, caring people who are committed to helping our patients as much as we possibly can,” Dr. Dieckmann shares. “I feel lucky to have the ability to work for a health center that enables me to care for all people, regardless of their financial situation.”

Dr. Dieckmann was born in the Bay Area and spent much of her childhood traveling internationally for her father’s work. It was during her time abroad that she witnessed extreme poverty and became devoted to finding a way to help those less fortunate.

Dr. Dieckmann earned her Master of Public Health at University of California, Berkeley and attended medical school at University of Louisville School of Medicine. Her residency was completed at Dignity Health Methodist Hospital of Sacramento Family Medicine Residency Program.

In her spare time, Dr. Dieckmann enjoys all outdoor activities, including river rafting, kayaking and snowshoeing in the nearby mountains.

“I feel fortunate to live and work in a region that provides ample opportunities for adventures, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when low-risk outdoor activities are encouraged.”

Dr. Dieckmann wants the community to know that Chapa-De is dedicated to providing a safe environment for both patients and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. The health center has implemented several precautionary measures and is offering video, phone and in-person appointments to patients.

“The coronavirus pandemic is unlike anything that I have seen in my lifetime,” Dr. Dieckmann said. “I encourage everyone to stay safe. Please continue to wear your masks, social distance and wash your hands frequently. We will get through this together.”

Chapa-De is currently accepting new patients. The COVID-19 vaccine is now being administered to patients in order of priority based on various factors.  For more information, please visit www.chapa-de.org.

Brunswick Veterinary Clinic Celebrates One Year Anniversary

The Brunswick Veterinary Clinic team wants to thank the community for their love and support following the reopening of the business, and looks forward to many more years of serving your pets.  Brunswick Veterinary Clinic was founded in 1986 by Jay Schuff, DVM and Rebecca Hahn, DVM., Following their retirement, the clinic reopened on January 29, 2020, under the leadership of experienced area veterinarian, Tarra Williams, DVM. Dr. Schuff and Dr. Hahn stayed on during the transition before permanently retiring in mid-2020.

Due to the support of the community, the clinic has just added a second doctor, Dr. Amy Grimm, to their team, and they are very excited to be able to provide quality, compassionate care for more patients.  Dr. Grimm grew up in South Africa and moved to California in 2005 to attend school. Following graduation, she practiced in the Sacramento area for several years, and relocated to Grass Valley in late 2020 after joining the Brunswick Veterinary Clinic team. In her limited free time, Dr. Grimm enjoys hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, and running.

Get your pets in tip-top shape at Brunswick Vet Clinic.
Brunswick Dogs 1

The doctors’ focus, as both veterinary professionals and pet owners, is to help pets live the longest, healthiest lives possible. That starts with the basics: a quality diet, plentiful exercise, regular grooming, and yes, routine checkups.  Brunswick Veterinary Clinic offers such checkups as well as vaccinations, parasite control, dental care, nutrition evaluations, microchip ID, spaying and neutering, digital imaging, lab analysis, and more.

The Brunswick Vet Clinic Staff

Specializing in emergency and urgent care services, the practice also serves as an urgent care clinic for pets in need, and has a wonderful, highly experienced internal medicine specialist who partners to perform ultrasounds, endoscopy, and other specialty services which were previously unavailable in our area. They also have a cardiologist who partners with the hospital to perform echocardiograms for pets.

“We have been taking in as many urgent cases as possible and are hoping to expand our capability to provide emergency and urgent care services to the community. We are lucky to have a wonderful, highly skilled team of technicians and assistants to help us provide the best care for your pets,” said hospital manager, Brooke Updegraff.

Local Parents Highlight Need for More Childcare Offerings

Early and school age care education programs contribute to children’s overall healthy growth and development, strengthen families, and support working families. Early care and school age systems were fragile prior to the onset of the pandemic as public funds and/or family fees have not met the cost of operations. These programs are at a critical juncture as demands on the field have altered considerably.

The COVID- 19 pandemic created significant upheaval as public health officials and government leaders quickly maneuvered to ensure the health and safety of its residents while tending to individuals infected by the disease. From the beginning, child care was elevated as critical to serving health care professionals, first responders, and other essential workers, as well as the long-term recovery of local communities. While some programs temporarily closed their doors due to shelter in place orders, many remained open, most of which were family child care homes. As centers and family child care home providers continued to serve families or prepared to re-open to serve essential workers, the need for additional resources quickly became apparent.

“Early childcare professionals take care of our children in good times, and have really stepped up in this unprecedented time to make sure that all children are cared for.  Some are even taking children for free, and this is pushing them to the limits of their resources, but they care about our children and families,” said Rossnina Dort, MA ECE, Director, Early Education Services, Local Planning Council.  “Programs need financial and other supports to meet public health guidance such as that related to cleaning and disinfecting, limiting groups of children to maintain physical distancing, and spending more time outdoors. Schools remaining closed for distance learning have also magnified pressures on programs to support young children in new ways.”  

The topic of child care and its important role in allowing parents to work, although not a novel issue, has come to the forefront of many national, state and local conversations, especially now with how the COVID-19 pandemic drastically and unexpectedly shifted everyone’s life. With many child care facilities forced to close or restrict their capacities, parents feeling afraid and uncomfortable sending their children to group settings, and closure of in-person public schools, many families are left reeling.

This pandemic has provided an opportunity to reevaluate and rebuild California’s child care system, and the only way that can be done with families as the focus is to hear what they need and want. This back-to-school season is anything but normal. With distance learning, split schedules, and child care center closures, parents are scrambling to find care so that they can work.

Listening to Families

In March 2020, Nevada County Office of Emergency Services launched a Child Care Task Force comprised of  a dedicated group of service professionals representing: Nevada County Superintendent of Schools, Nevada County’s Local Child Care and Development Planning Council, First 5 Nevada County, Sierra Nevada Children’s Services, Tahoe Forest Hospital, Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, Tahoe/Truckee Unified School District, and other stakeholders to gather information about the scope of need for early care and education and child care services for children birth to 12, in the ever-changing landscape that we’re currently living and working within during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the Task Force, the Child Care Coordinating Council serving as the Local Planning Council (LPC) for Nevada County developed a Child Care Needs Survey Prior to and During the Pandemic to better understand parents’ need for child care to support the overall coordination of early and school age care and education services. The Survey quickly received over 253 responses from working parents with children under the age of 12.

This information will be used to advocate on behalf of families for additional funding to be allocated to child care services including, but not limited to: sponsoring child care spots with local service providers, incentivizing providers to stay open using enhanced health and safety protocols, and supporting additional training for providers to ensure that children are receiving the highest quality of care.  And In understanding the demand, the LPC can also better support the supply side of the equation so that they are meeting the unique needs of parents during this time, planning for child care and development services based on the unmet needs of families in the local community, and advocating for policies and systems that truly support all families in Nevada County. 


Who are the Child Care Survey Respondents?  

  • 253 parents/caregivers with children 0-12 yrs of age in Nevada County completed the survey   
  • 74% needed child care prior to COVID-19   
  • The majority (72%) are employed (salaried, hourly, self-employed), with a majority working in essential services  
  • 81% parents/caregiver do not receive/qualify for child care subsidies  
  • The majority (66%) have school-aged children attending schools that are using a hybrid in-person and online format who need afterschool child care in order to continue to work  

Child Care Needs During COVID-19  

  • 77% found it difficult finding quality child care during COVID-19 compared to prior years  
  • 37% of respondents cannot work in-person or remotely without child care 
  • 72% of families find it difficult to find quality child care within their budget during COVID-19 due to cost, schedule, child care closures and quality of care concerns   
  • 43% of respondents need care for their children 4-5 full days per week
  • Respondents said that the top three things that would help them continue their employment are: 1) assurance that the child care programs are maintaining high quality services and keeping up with health & safety practices, 2) access to quality child care that fits their schedule and location needs (particularly child care programs at their child’s elementary school), and 3) financial support to help pay for child care.
  • The majority of respondents prefer public and private child care settings (centers/family child care, public child care, Head Start) and that juggling work and child care responsibilities during the pandemic has caused their productivity to suffer   
  • Over half (53%) of the respondents with school age children are unable and/or have difficulty paying for child care for thier school-age children. Respondents were split on if they would look for child care for their child if their child’s school reverted to an entirely online or hybrid schedule  


  • Decreased capacity and increased health risks and operating costs are damaging an already financially unstable child care industry. 
  • This survey revealed that the majority of parents/caregivers are very concerned that their child care will close, that they will not be able to afford care or find care for all their children and have higher risk of COVID-19 exposure.  
  • But what should be of even greater concern to employers is that if schools and child care do not fully open (and stay open), 40% of respondents who cannot work in person or remotely without childcare have to make major changes at work, such as adjusting their available work hours, looking for a different job, or leaving the workforce entirely. 

The majority of Parents (94%) Support Greater Investments in Child Care to Continue Their Employment, including scholarships/tuition support for child care fees, access to quality child care that meets their working hours and location, and assurance that the child care is maintaining high quality services and keeping up with health and safety practices.   Child Care is crucial for economic recovery, and it is critical that we invest in the development of early care and education facilities and strategies that support the retention and professional development of early and school age care educators. 

We need to reevaluate and rebuild California and our county’s child care system to truly meet the needs of children and families and the early care and education programs that serve them.

We can do this by:

  • Further developing high-quality learning environments and facilities that fully address the demand for early care and education services. We need initiatives that:
    • Recommend inclusive environments for all children within a mixed delivery system (e.g. center-based, public/private, community-based, school districts, family child care homes, etc.);
    • Ensure programs serving school age children receive the necessary supports to improve the quality of their services;
    • Provide state and local resources to equitably improve and expand public and private capital resources and technical expertise to develop, finance, and maintain new and existing high-quality facilities;
    • Award funding for construction or renovation of facilities in communities with unmet needs for early care and education service; and,
    • Promote new policies and policy amendments that support the development of early care and education facilities, including the integration of early care and education in land use, housing, transportation, and economic, workforce and community development.
  • Investments and strategies that increase the availability, accessibility and affordability of high- quality early care and education services for all children are crucial. To do this, we need to: 
  • Advocate for state and federal budget and policy determinations that result in protected, sustained, and increased funding sources for early care and education services;
  • Build a streamlined single subsidy reimbursement system reflecting the actual current cost of providing high quality care inclusive of compensating the workforce comparable to education and experience;
  • Restore funding for all early care and education programs as part of the educational continuum;
  • Coordinate across state and county agencies to support an array of comprehensive services comprised of physical and mental health, prevention and early intervention, TK-12 and higher education, community and economic development, family support, food/nutrition, social services and recreation activities; and
  • Ensure streamlined data collection systems that provide opportunities to understand the needs of children and their families and the impact of the services they access.

How we as a community and, in particular, employers pivot – how we adapt our culture, policies, and benefits to meet the new demands of this extraordinary time – will have a huge impact on employee engagement, retention, productivity, and overall well-being. To learn more, visit 4cnevco.org.

Dr. Dean Tomlin Builds Trust and Relationships with Patients at Chapa-De Indian Health

Dr. Dean Tomlin, MD says his approach to care is centered around creating a non-judgmental environment where patients feel welcome and comfortable.  

“I believe the patient-physician relationship should be a collaboration,” said Dr Tomlin. “I believe in meeting people where they are because building trust and relationships with our patients is so important to us at Chapa-De.”

Dr. Tomlin is a physician at Chapa-De Indian Health where he provides adult and pediatric primary medical care to all people, regardless of their financial situation.

While Dr. Tomlin recently joined the team at Chapa-De, he is no stranger to the Grass Valley health center. Over a decade ago, Dr. Tomlin was the sole physician providing care to patients at Chapa-De. He is amazed to see how much the organization has grown over the last several years.

“I am impressed by the dedicated leadership at Chapa-De and our ability to continue to meet the growing needs of our communities,” Dr. Tomlin shares.  “Our mission is simple. We are here to advance the health and well-being of American Indians and low-income individuals by providing quality, compassionate, patient-centered care to all people.”

Upon returning to Chapa-De, Dr. Tomlin was delighted to see patients that he treated years ago. “It is a privilege to get to know and treat multiple generations here at Chapa-De,” Dr. Tomlin said. “Babies who were once patients are now teenagers; teenagers have grown up and now have babies of their own.”

Dr. Tomlin grew up in Sacramento and attended college at the University of California, Los Angeles. He graduated from medical school at George Washington University School of Medicine and completed his residency at Sutter Family Medicine Residency Program.

“I feel like this career chose me. I’ve always been intrigued by family medicine and the concept of treating the whole person. I’m fascinated by the ability to combine science with touching the human condition over time,” Dr. Tomlin said.

Dr. Tomlin now lives in Colfax and enjoys outdoor activities, sports, coaching and spending time with his loved ones. Dr. Tomlin says that his career at Chapa-De is both rewarding and challenging.

“At Chapa-De, providers have the ability to do everything that we were trained to do,” he says. “Because many of our patients have limited resources, providers are called upon to use a wide skill set and to be more clever, more resourceful, and to really think outside of the box. This is a challenge that I thoroughly enjoy.”

Dr. Tomlin has also been faced with the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. He wants to assure the community that Chapa-De is committed to its patients’ health and safety during this difficult time. The health center has enacted several precautionary safety measures and is offering video, phone and in-person appointments, dependent upon a patient’s needs.

“Now is not the time to put your health on hold. If you are struggling or are in need of quality care – reach out to us. Let’s have a conversation. We are here for you,” said Dr. Tomlin.

Chapa-De is currently accepting new patients. For more information, please visit www.chapa-de.org.

Meet Dr. Matthew Harris

After thirty years of practicing at Lake of the Pines Dental, Dr. David Molina has retired and passed the reins to the next generation.  Dr. Matthew Harris has taken over the business from Dr. Molina, and wants to let the patients there know that he is continuing the practice with the same expertise, compassion, and attention to the needs of his patients that Dr. Molina has been known for for the past three decades.

Dr. Harris and Dr. Molina outside of LOP Dental. Submitted Photo

Dr. Harris has a passion for dentistry and more than anything, helping people. He enjoys all aspect of dentistry and learning new skills and concepts to help his patient care. He performs all aspects of dentistry from fillings to implants, root canals to wisdom teeth. He practices sedation dentistry, and loves taking care of “high dental anxiety” patients. He really just wants to help as many people as possible find their smile and enjoy coming to the dentist.

Dr. Harris was born into dentistry. Both his father and brother are dentists. His mother is a Certified Dental Assistant and his sister is a Registered Dental Hygienist.  In addition, his wife is a Dental Hygienist, as well, and her brother is a Dentist.  

Born and raised in Alberta, Canada, in a small town of 1800 people, Dr. Harris loves the community feel that he has found here.   His wife was born in California, but her mom was Canadian and they moved to that same small town when she was a young girl.  The pair went to high school together, but it wasn’t until they both ended up in the same college in Utah that they started dating.  Harris joked that, “I came all that way just to marry someone from my home town!” 

Harris graduated dental school from Oregon Health and Science University in 2012, and then went home and worked with his dad, who was his mentor, “Everything I know I learned from him,” Dr Harris said. 

After his father passed two years ago, Dr. Harris made good on a promise he had made to his wife to bring her home some day to California, and she wanted to be near her family in Placer County.  The couple moved with their three boys to Loomis, CA, and bought Dr. Molina’s well-established practice just outside the gates of Lake of the Pines.  Dr. Harris loves that people can drive their golf carts to their dental appointments, and the strong sense of community and welcome that he has found here.

“I want to thank Dr. Molina for his 30 plus years of service taking care of patients at LOP, and the people who live here,” Dr. Harris said.  “He coached soccer at Bear River, and we have that in common because I coach for my kids’ soccer and basketball teams.  He did so much for the community, and was such a great guy.  I will work hard to live up to the role that he has filled here for so long.” 

Even with Covid restrictions, the practice is still open and Dr. Harris is seeing patients.  They are following all ADA and CDC guidelines, and have an air filtration system in the office.  Dr. Harris’s staff is also screening patients, taking temperatures, and maintaining social distance in the office. 

For more information, or to make an appointment, visit Lakeofthepinesdental.com or call (530) 268-1445.

Senior Firewood Program a win-win for the community

Since 1979, Gold Country Senior Services has provided firewood to low-income seniors in Nevada County through the Senior Firewood program.  This essential program, one of the last of its kind in California, delivers much-needed firewood to our area’s most vulnerable population while helping to reduce the dangerous fuel load in our community.

Last year, 30 dedicated volunteers worked throughout the year to cut, split, and deliver firewood to 160 low income seniors with an average age of 72, including 30 veterans, in Western Nevada County.  

“Our Senior Firewood Program can be a lifeline,” explained executive director Janeth Marroletti. “Seniors in rural communities such as Nevada County still depend on firewood to heat their homes. Cutting and splitting the wood may exceed their capabilities, and purchasing wood may exceed their budgets. We’re able to offer a solution to help them heat their homes during the winter months.”

While it may be hot right now, pretty soon the temperatures will drop.  Even if seniors do have heaters in their homes, those run on electricity, which has become more and more costly even for those who are on reduced price plans.  Also, we are currently dealing with PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutdown (PSPS) events due to fire danger, which is made more severe by the amount of dead and dying trees that surround our community.  There is a way to mitigate both of these potential disasters; the Senior Firewood program.

“It’s not just about the seniors receiving the firewood; we have a great amount of people who cannot afford to have a tree removed, and we have a long waiting list of 160 families that want to donate their trees to the program,” Marroletti said.  “This program serves two fronts: making sure that seniors remain warm at home during the winter and that they get the assistance that they need, but also helping the community with tree removal when they cannot afford it, therefore reducing fire danger.”

While the program is very effective, it could be much more so with additional funding and volunteers.  Although volunteers by definition are unpaid (except in personal satisfaction), Gold Country Senior Services does incur expenses to run the program, and each volunteer can only do so much.  The agency pays mileage, and they just purchased a $10,000 wood splitter, which they had previously borrowed.  Many tree companies drop off wood to be used for the program, but currently the agency is only able to remove wood from homes that are close by with easy access. 

As our local population continues to age and the fire danger increases, the Senior Firewood program is only going to be more critical in the coming years.  “Seniors and the threat of fire is here to stay. This is a vital program to assist in the health of our senior population” Marroletti said.  “We have seniors that are frail, our population is aging, and the need for firewood continues to increase in our rural community, and unless we have a plan B for that and reducing fuel loads, the senior firewood program will remain a vital program for this community.”

To learn more about the program, or to donate, volunteer, or sign up to receive firewood, visit goldcountryservices.org/senior-firewood-program.

Help the Nevada County Relief Fund reach their goal by July 4!

Like the rest of the country, Nevada County is hurting right now.  Our small businesses and nonprofits are working hard to ensure that they can reopen in a way that keeps their customers and workers healthy and safe.  But to do so, they need a little help from their friends.  It was for this purpose that the Nevada County Relief Fund was started.

Now, you can help to ensure that our local economy can recover from the Covid-19 shutdown, which of course happened on the heels of the PSPS events last fall.  These two events have wreaked havoc on small businesses and nonprofits, and now is the time to give back the community that we all love.  The Nevada County Relief Fund has a goal to raise $500,000 by July 4, and they’re almost there!  Donations are tax deductible.

Relief Fund Helps ENTIRE County

Penn Valley, a smaller community of Nevada County, is often overlooked for the larger areas of Grass Valley, Nevada City, and Truckee, but the Relief Fund helped to ensure that small businesses there, as well as the town’s signature event, received help.

Penn Valley Rodeo

A tie down calf roper wrestles a calf to the ground during Friday evening’s opening events at the 2018 Penn Valley Rodeo. The Association who put on the annual event are a recipient of the Nevada County Relief Fund.
Elias Funez/efunez@theunion.com

Since the onset of COVID-19, numerous community events have evaporated, including the Penn Valley Rodeo, which has been a popular event for 63 years.  The Penn Valley Rodeo Community Association was still reeling from last year’s rodeo getting rained out leaving them without the seed money needed to sustain the organization and put on the next rodeo. With grant funding awarded by the Nevada County Relief Fund, the Penn Valley Rodeo will be able to continue their support for the local community.

Teresa Dietrich, sponsorship chair and board member, shared, “Our organization supports keeping our great western heritage alive in our area and we provide for a number of scholarships for youth and also seed the scholarship fund for the Penn Valley Fire Protection District’s EMT scholarship. We have been making some really hard decisions and this grant has a huge impact on how we can pay for our obligations to the community. It feels like a 1200 lb. horse just got off my foot – it feels fantastic!”

Simply You Salon

Spas and salons have been particularly hard hit by the stay-at-home order.  Ordered to shut down on March 20, they sat idle while awaiting the word that they could reopen, which came three months later. 

Simply You Salon in Penn Valley was no exception.  “I have eleven employees so it had a big impact on all of us,” said salon owner Jacki Olson.  “We got $2500 from the Relief Fund, which I was very grateful for.” 

Simply You Salon team
Simply You Salon was a reciepient of the Nevada County Relief Fund. Photo courtesy of Simply You.

Olson used the funds to make some changes in the salon to accommodate social distancing at stations for different services, including purchasing extra cleaning supplies and disinfectant, as well as plexiglass dividers which have been installed between places where people were typically close together, such as shampoo bowls and pedicure chairs, as well as for manicure tables so there is a divider between customer and manicurists.   Wanting to make sure that the funds were helpful to the entire team, the ladies who have stations were given discounts on their rent so that they could get started again.   Olson also purchased touchless hand sanitizers and is working on getting a touchless paper towel dispenser and garbage can, both of which are on back order due to high demand. 

Olson and her team are taking the regulations very seriously, and have made extraordinary accommodations to ensure the health of their clients and themselves.  In addition to the dividers, there are new protocols that are followed.  People wait in their cars and either call or text when they arrive, and then the staff member they have an appointment with lets them know when they can come in.  They have closed three of the four of the entrances so there is only one handicapped-accessible entrance and exit.  Olson says that they have always done a lot of sanitation, but now even more is done between each client.  “Our biggest fear is someone bringing the virus here.  We are following all the protocols, everyone is wearing a mask and we are constantly wiping down doorknobs, handles, everything.  It takes a lot of extra time and energy but we are getting into the flow and grateful to be open and serving our clients.”

Of course, both staff and customers must wear a mask at all times, which has not stopped a steady flow of business to the newly reopened salon.  “Two clients would not book an appointment until they do not have to wear a mask.  Another person had a client who tried to allow her to come in without a mask, but we let her know that by doing so we could be closed down,” Olson said.  “We are really busy, and just can’t do as many clients as before and have people calling every day.  I think we’re going to be fine; hopefully we won’t have to close down again.  I have a fantastic team here and the clients have been wonderful. It is so great to see them again!”

The Nevada County Relief Fund

The Nevada County Relief Fund was launched on April 14, 2020. Backed by a $100,000 “challenge grant” from the Nevada County Board of Supervisors, the community quickly responded with donations to the Relief Fund. Half of the money raised will go to the frontline safety net nonprofits in western Nevada County, who are providing a life line to our neighbors most in need. The other half will support local small businesses and nonprofits countywide with micro-grants to help cover key expenses until they reopen or resume normal operations.

Due to the generosity of the community and the Board of Supervisors, the Nevada County Relief Fund announced the first round of grant awards on May 29, 2020, totaling $210,000 boosting eight “safety-net” nonprofits in western Nevada County as well as the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation in eastern Nevada County, and twenty-eight small businesses from throughout the county heavily impacted by COVID-19.  A portion of the first round of funding went to businesses and organizations focused on the arts, due to their great importance to Nevada County.


The Nevada County Relief Fund is currently seeking donations for the second round of grants to be distributed in July.  Their goal is to raise $500,000 by July 4, and they are currently at $438,192.  Help to make a difference in your community by visiting https://www.nevcorelief.org/ .  A small donation goes a long way.