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Where to find best Christmas lights in Nevada County 2020

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas all throughout western Nevada County.

As the season nears, and the holiday lights shine bright in the night, The Union is looking for some suggestions on your favorite Christmas decorations and light displays.

You can add the addresses of your favorite displays to our holiday lights finder map below. Share the location, a photo if possible, and a few words about the display to help others also enjoy the decorations throughout our community.

Pin colors denote the year they were added.
Most lights displays return every year, but not all do.

  • 2017 = Red
  • 2018 = Orange
  • 2019 = Green
  • 2020 = Blue

The Union may publish some of the best photos with a list of the top attractions to enjoy this season.

Lights header

ADD addresses to the map
In the upper right corner of the map below, click the “Add” buttion. In the resulting screen, the the full street address in the ‘Location’ field. All the homes on the map will be the official list shared with our readers. Anyone can add addresses to the map.

GO out and look at the lights!
Take this map with you as you travel about the county looking at the lights displays.

SHARE this page with your friends and family!

You can see this map full screen.

Nevada County woman says Joe Biden inappropriately touched her while working in his U.S. Senate office

A Nevada County woman has added her voice to a recent spate of allegations that former vice president and possible presidential candidate Joe Biden touched her when she worked in his U.S. Senate office.

Alexandra Tara Reade said that in 1993 she was in her mid-20s when Biden, then a senator from Delaware, touched her several times making her feel uncomfortable. Reade said her responsibilities in the senator’s office were reduced after she refused to serve drinks at an event — what she called a desire of Biden’s because he liked her legs. Reade said she felt pushed out and left Biden’s employ in August 1993 after some nine months.

A spokesman for Biden couldn’t be reached for comment.

“He used to put his hand on my shoulder and run his finger up my neck,” Reade said. “I would just kind of freeze and wait for him to stop doing that.”

A confidant of Reade’s at the time, granted anonymity by The Union, confirmed that Reade relayed the story shortly after the events occurred.

“Back then, back there, things just happened,” the friend said.

Reade is the most recent woman to publicly share her story about uncomfortable encounters with Biden. Time.com states former Nevada State Assemblywoman Lucy Flores told her story last week. Flores said Biden approached her at a 2014 campaign rally and kissed the back of her head. A second woman, Amy Lappos, said Biden touched her face and rubbed noses with her at a 2009 fundraiser.

Caitlyn Caruso said Biden put his hand on her thigh and hugged her at a university event. D.J. Hill said Biden in 2012 touched her shoulder before moving his hand down her back.

Other women have defended Biden in the wake of recent allegations against him. Stephanie Carter, wife of former Defense Secretary Ash Carter, appeared in a photo used in a misinformation campaign against Biden. She called the former vice president a close friend in a USA Today story.

Biden in a Wednesday tweet said he understands social norms are changing.

“And I’ve heard what these women are saying,” Biden’s tweet states. “Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That’s my responsibility and I will meet it.”


Employment documents provided by Reade show that she worked in Biden’s office from December 1992 to August 1993.

Reade recalled a handful of times Biden touched her. On one occasion they were before a group of interns when he put his finger on her neck. She doesn’t remember how many times Biden touched her in that manner, she said.

“I was trying to be seen as a professional,” Reade added.

Reade said her expulsion from Biden’s office stemmed from an early 1993 staff argument over the suggestion she serve drinks at an event. According to Reade, Biden wanted her to serve because he liked her legs. Reade didn’t hear Biden make that suggestion, instead learning of it through his staff’s argument. Reade opted against serving drinks, a move she believes sidelined her career.

The friend in whom Reade confided at the time said they discussed Biden. Reade asked her friend if she should take any action. Being young and relatively new to D.C., she wondered if anything was wrong with Biden’s behavior.

The confidant said she asked if Reade would let her younger sister work in the office. When Reade said “no” to the hypothetical question, her friend said Biden’s actions weren’t appropriate.

Reade said she spoke to U.S. Senate personnel about her concerns. Word got back to Biden’s office.

“My life was hell,” Reade said. “This was about power and control.”

“I couldn’t get a job on the Hill,” she added.

In June 1993 Reade found herself in an office without windows. Two months later she left Biden’s office, she said.

Reade said Biden’s senior staff protected the senator. She was considered a distraction. Reade said she didn’t consider the acts toward her sexualization. She instead compared her experience to being a lamp.

“It’s pretty. Set it over there,” she said. “Then when it’s too bright, you throw it away.”

Reade said she tried to share her story when she worked for Biden, but was told to say nothing. Then Biden ran on Barack Obama’s ticket. Reade thought he may have changed.

Reade said she rethought her years-long role as a foot solider for the Democratic Party when she learned of Flores’ disclosure.

She wants more than “Sorry” from Biden.

“‘I changed the trajectory of your life,’” she wants to hear him say. “‘I’m sorry.’”

Contact Alan Riquelmy at 530-477-4239 or at ariquelmy@theunion.com.

Nevada Union employee dies in kayaking incident

Sean Manchester, 42, the director of special education and director of pupil services for the Nevada Joint Union High School District, died in a kayaking incident Sunday, according to Ashley Fucci, senior legal office assistant with the coroner’s division of the Nevada County Sheriff’s office.

Manchester was kayaking on the South Yuba River off Bridgeport, said Fucci. The cause of death is under investigation.

Nevada Union High School Principal Kelly Rhoden wrote in a message to the community that she was deeply saddened and shocked.

“Mr. Manchester’s spirit and passion for serving was uplifting,” she wrote. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, two young children, and family and friends.”

Manchester was the director of special education for over five years and director of pupil services for less than six months, said Brett McFadden, superintendent of the district. McFadden said Manchester had a way of making things happen.

“Sean was a guy that always made the impossible seem possible,” he said. “He was so student-focused and he had this sort of infectious spirit.”

Due to his energy and determination, the superintendent said, he expanded Manchester’s special education role, giving him more responsibility. This, despite the fact that Manchester had been in special education for 10 years.

“Sean never did anything less than 100 percent, usually nothing less than 150 percent,” said McFadden.

For 10 years before Manchester took the role of director for special education, the department felt like a rudder without a ship, said Eli Gallup, associate superintendent and Special Education Local Planning Area director for the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools. That changed when Manchester showed up.

“He was able to get much of his vision accomplished,” said Gallup, adding that the former director was able to create more nursing facilities even when the budget didn’t allow for it.

“He is an amazing champion for students with disabilities,” he said.


Friends and colleagues echoed a similar refrain about Manchester: he consistently helped others.

“He was one of those education leaders that you always felt better after you talked to him,” said McFadden.

“‘You’re doing the right thing,’ the superintendent remembers Manchester assuring him on more than one occasion. ‘We believe in you. We have your back.’”

Manchester’s support reached horizontally across departments and vertically to people well below him.

“He wanted to reach all the way to the student level even though he had 90 staff members under him,” said Gallup. McFadden agreed.

“From principals to teachers to custodians, people were crying (on Monday),” said McFadden of individuals around the district. “Sean didn’t care about titles.”

Superintendent of Schools Scott Lay said Manchester’s passions stretched from his work to outdoor activities to his family.

“I remember when he was so excited about being a father,” he said. “He would always have a smile on his face.”

Contact Sam Corey at 530-477-4219 or at scorey@theunion.com.

Sierra Roots hires executive director, starts push to build tiny home village in Nevada City

Nevada City-based nonprofit Sierra Roots got its start in 2010, working to feed area residents who found themselves homeless.

As board president Janice O’Brien notes with a laugh, she started out handing out sandwiches and water in a church parking lot every Thursday. Eventually, Sierra Roots began operating an extreme weather shelter in Nevada City, opening for 27 days over Thanksgiving and Christmas season in 2016-17.

“We flew by the seat of our pants,” O’Brien said, acknowledging the ad-hoc organizational methods that kept the tiny, all-volunteer organization going.

That’s all changing, however. Sierra Roots has hired a full-time, paid executive director and is in the beginning stages of a major fund-raising push for a tiny home village to house the chronically homeless.

“We’re on the cusp of major growth and major change,” O’Brien said. “Not in the sense of our mission — that remains the same. But we’re growing up.”

Former Nevada City planner Paul Cogley, who began volunteering for Sierra Roots last year, accepted the position a few months ago and has been working quietly since then to create a “paradigm shift” for the group. The executive director position, which pays $4,000 a month, is full-time by design, Cogley said.

“I didn’t see results coming from less than a full-time effort,” he said. “I’m giving this everything it deserves.”

Cogley was city planner for Nevada City from 1997 to 2004. From 2006 to 2013, he served as executive director for Churches United Corp., a Brooklyn nonprofit working on affordable housing and jobs training for low income families and individuals.

Cogley returned to Nevada County in late 2016 and in February 2018, heard O’Brien speak at a local church.

“I was (so) moved, went up to her and gave her my card,” Cogley said.

“Sierra Roots is well-named,” he said. “It’s a grassroots organization like I’ve never seen. There’s a special energy that’s amazing.”

A year ago, Sierra Roots was just starting the process of trying to mature as an organization, Cogley said.

It was clear to him, he said, the board needed to stop being a working board and separate out some roles.

“Janice, especially, had too much responsibility,” Cogley said. “She loves the one-on-one. But it made sense for her to let go of the administrative duties, for the organization to become more stable.”

Fund development is a big part of the nonprofit’s strategic plan, O’Brien noted. Cogley’s mandate is to diversify sources of funding to make Sierra Roots’ finances more stable.

One of his first steps has been to work on grant funding for Sierra Roots’ lunches; about 2,000 lunches were served last year, he said, all funded through donations. Similarly, Sierra Roots spent $11,000 last year on motel vouchers that were paid for by donations.

“We want to let folks know about the great strides Sierra Roots is making right now,” Cogley said. “A new executive director is a commitment by the board to do more than ever. I take the responsibility very seriously.”

“We got a lot of flak this winter,” O’Brien said, adding, “It’s good to see the growth. It’s scary, but it’s good. I’m willing — that’s all I have to be, is willing.”

Housing plan

Sierra Roots has been working for years to build community with the homeless, primarily in Nevada City, who cannot or will not go to Hospitality House for a variety of reasons including addiction and pet ownership, O’Brien explained.

Sierra Roots’ proposed solution is a community of tiny homes with a community center.

“This project is not just for the homeless, it’s for the whole community,” O’Brien said. “Our biggest thing is community. It is not just them and us — it’s we together.”

Sierra Roots has been negotiating with the owner of a property within Nevada City limits for a year now and is putting together a proposal for a long-term, low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to buy the parcel.

The organization has hired local architect Jo Garst to design the community facility that will anchor the site, in conjunction with 36 to 38 cottages of about 288 square feet that come complete with a bathroom, kitchenette and bedroom.

The center will feature an income-producing hostel with dorms for travelers needing lodging for a night or two, as well as a respite dorm for homeless guests who have been ill and need a place to recuperate. The center will also house office spaces, a kitchen and dining hall, a library, and laundry and shower facilities.

“It will be very light and open,” O’Brien said, noting that often those who are homeless don’t like the feeling of being closed in.

O’Brien estimated the project will cost about $5 million — a number that conforms to USDA guidelines.

“I’ve been told that’s feasible,” Cogley said.

O’Brien gives credit for the organization’s continued success to the “incredible” support from “very, very” generous donors. And she thinks that will continue with the push to build the tiny home village.

“There’s so much desire to see people get a place of their own — and that means the community will be healthier,” she said.

Cogley agreed, saying, “All our programs have been about community building. The village is the most profound vision (of that).”

The cottages will be easily built and O’Brien envisions sweat equity being put into the construction by the clients who will be moving in.

“It’s important for them to be part of the plan,” she said.

To that end, Cogley said, Sierra Roots will hold a “charrette” stakeholder meeting on May 9 to seek input from its homeless guests.

O’Brien has an ambitious timeline in mind, hoping to have the community center built in two and half years.

“If all the permits flow smoothly,” said Cogley, interjecting a cautious note to which O’Brien responded, “The manifestation of our dreams will come as quickly as we believe.”

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

Nevada County authorities catch suspected burglar in Penn Valley

About $1,700 was missing, and someone’s meth pipe was inside the burglarized house.

Nevada County deputies found the pipe after responding early Saturday to a Linnet Court home in Penn Valley. Moments later they found the stolen property along with Lena Lynn Sullivan, 38, of Sacramento, authorities said.

Sullivan faces a charge of second-degree burglary, along with an unrelated accusation of using someone’s ID with the intent to defraud, Nevada County Jail reports state.

Sullivan remained jailed Monday under $50,000 in bond, records show.

“We got a report of a burglary,” Lt. Sean Scales said. “We found the suspect, Ms. Sullivan. Several items of stolen property were recovered from her person and the tent she was camping in.”

Deputies found the victim’s home had a missing screen. The pipe, used for smoking methamphetamine, was inside. Scales said it likely belonged to the burglar.

A short distance away was a tent, concealed in some hedges, along with Sullivan and stolen property, he added.

“Jewelry, cash, electronics,” Scales said.

Contact Alan Riquelmy at 530-477-4239 or at ariquelmy@theunion.com.

Meet your merchant: Owner has cornered the market for land and tree clearing

Troy Sidebottom is one of those people whose career just seemed to have fallen into place.

Straight out of high school at Nevada Union, he landed a job working for a landscaping company. He kept getting promoted and pretty soon he was running the company.

Because there weren’t many land clearing or tree removal companies at the time, he and his crew were often faced with massive projects that involved removing debris and dead trees just so they could begin installing the landscaping.


That’s where Sidebottom saw a need and a niche. After a full decade of working in landscaping, in 2005 he decided to branch off and start a business of his own, All Phase Land Clearing.

“My childhood friend Ryan Coe and I started out with one tractor with a masticator,” said Sidebottom. “We were one of the first companies to come out with that. Ryan had a logging background so he brought that experience to the business.”

The pair lasted about two years before realizing it was time to increase their staff.

“The business just started growing and pretty soon we were booked six months out,” said Sidebottom. “We just couldn’t keep up with the work.”


In 2007, Sidebottom bought a second masticator and hired three more employees. But soon that too wasn’t enough. In 2009, he added a logging component to the business and put Coe in charge. This enabled the company to provide residential tree hazard removal and respond to emergency tree storm damage, 24 hours a day. They also began selling their wood to the mill at Sierra Pacific Industries.

Today, All Phase Land Clearing lives up to its name, boasting 15 employees, four masticators, a logging truck, three skidders (used to drag trees out of the forest), and their newest acquisition, a whole tree track chipper, which can chip trees up to 20 inches in diameter.

“We’re unique in terms of doing all phases,” said Sidebottom. “We’ve got four separate crews — two land clearing crews, a logging crew and a hazardous tree removal crew. Most of my amazing employees have been with me between five and 13 years. I would absolutely not be where I am without them.”


There is one upside to the devastation that took place during the Carr and Camp fires, said Sidebottom, and that is that more homeowners are now taking the threat of wildfire seriously. People are really stepping up to protect their homes, form associations and are no longer afraid to finally cut that one tree that’s growing too close to the house, he said.

PG&E is taking wildfire seriously too, and due to their reputation and expertise, All Phase Land Clearing has now been hired by the utilities company for a variety of land and tree clearing jobs within the county.

“Our motto is to do the best quality job we can for our customer,” said Sidebottom. “That’s why we’re now busy year-round. I think that’s what’s made us stand out — we do good work.”


Grass Valley customer Bob Cosick couldn’t agree more.

“I wanted to put up 21 solar panels so I had All Phase Land Clearing remove 13 cedars and about five oak trees using a crane,” he said. “They did an extremely professional job. They took three logging trucks’ worth of cedar down my long driveway. I was really impressed. They left the oak neatly stacked for me to chop up for firewood. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

George McKenzie of Nevada City said he was appreciative of the fact that Troy and his team effectively communicated expectations and their “plan of attack” ahead of time, which helped him better understand the process.

“I’m happy to say I had a fantastic experience with All Phase Land Clearing,” said McKenzie. “They were professional, fast, hard workers with the right tools for the job. They covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time, despite the fact that my property had very steep terrain. They had reasonable prices and did top notch work. I would recommend them to anyone who really wants to clean up their land and make it defensible in case of a fire. I was not disappointed.”


The grandson of a Nevada County miner, Sidebottom comes from a long line of people who aren’t afraid of a hard day’s work. His two sons, Tyler and Trayton, both worked with their father while growing up. Tyler has since started his own car detailing business and Trayton is a senior at Nevada Union. His daughter, Lexi, is 9. Just a year ago, Sidebottom married Gina Sidebottom, who is the general manager at Maria’s Mexican Restaurant in Grass Valley.

“We are two very busy people running businesses,” said Sidebottom. “My average day runs from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. For a lot of years I wasn’t out spending money and having fun in my personal life. I put everything I made back into the business. But I learned that if you do a good job and hire amazing employees, you stay busy. It’s that simple.”

Contact Cory Fisher at cfisher@theunion.com.

Fate of man convicted of manslaughter in Penn Valley shooting death in limbo

Daniel Devencenzi, convicted in the 2014 shooting death of a marijuana grow caretaker, has about six months to live.

His wife, Rhonda Devencenzi, said a doctor gave her the prognosis weeks ago. The 34-year-old Daniel Devencenzi isn’t undergoing chemotherapy and can’t move without having pain. He’s confined to a bed in a state facility.

“We go see him every weekend,” Rhonda Devencenzi said. “He’s just about at the point where hospice would kick in.”

Rhonda Devencenzi and a doctor have requested compassionate release for her husband. It’s one possible method her husband could be freed before his death.

Another method comes from a change in the state’s felony murder law. That change means only someone’s killer, or a person who played a significant role in another’s death, can be convicted of murder, or manslaughter in Devencenzi’s case.

Prosecutors have said another man, not Devencenzi, shot and killed Isaac Zafft. Devencenzi is serving 11 years on the manslaughter charge.

Kenneth Tribby, Devencenzi’s defense attorney, filed a motion last month in Nevada County Superior Court asking for a re-sentencing under the new law. Tribby in his motion says prosecutors agree.

“My position is I think that the law as written applies to both these defendants,” Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh said. “Judge (Tom) Anderson has a particular view of this law.”

Devencenzi and Nathan Philbrook, 34, pleaded guilty in April 2018 to manslaughter in connection with the 2014 shooting death.

Philbrook’s attorney, David Alkire, filed a motion in January asking his client be re-sentenced under the change in the felony murder law. Anderson denied the request, saying a jury could have convicted Philbrook of first- or second-degree murder.

Anderson’s decision was appealed to the Third District Court of Appeal. Philbrook continues to serve a 23-year sentence on manslaughter and attempted second-degree robbery charges as the appeal progresses.

The third man linked by authorities to Zafft’s death — 29-year-old Finley Fultz — has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge.

Fultz late last year went to trial, which ended in a mistrial after Anderson found problems with the prosecution. Anderson in December dismissed Fultz’s case, citing prosecutor error.

Anderson’s decision in Fultz’s case also rests with the Third District Court of Appeal.

Anderson has made no decision on Devencenzi’s request for re-sentencing. Prosecutors have until early May to respond to Tribby’s motion.

Felony sentencing

Different decisions by various judges on the new felony murder law have led local attorneys to surmise the issue likely will be decided by the state Supreme Court.

“It’s apparent that the California Supreme Court is going to have a number of issues to sort out before we know what Senate Bill 1437 means,” Alkire said, referring to the felony murder law.

An Orange County judge earlier this year ruled that the change to the felony murder law violates the state constitution — a move that helps set the stage for a Supreme Court review.

Alkire said a challenge to the law won’t hasten a resolution in the courts. However, Walsh said he thinks the Supreme Court will weigh in between six and 12 months from now.

“And the reason being — it’s an issue affecting people across the state,” Walsh said.

The prosecutor said he’s heard anecdotally that some 1,400 people across the state could be affected by the change to the felony murder rule.

Devencenzi’s time is limited. That’s one reason why his wife is pursuing compassionate release for her husband.


Compassionate release is possible for inmates who meet certain requirements under the law. Rhonda Devencenzi said both she and a doctor have written letters asking for her husband’s release. That was over two months ago.

“We’re just waiting on the process,” she said.

That process isn’t guaranteed. If approved at the state level, the choice would rest with local Judge Tom Anderson — the same judge who dismissed Fultz’s murder case and denied Philbrook’s request to be re-sentenced under the new felony murder law change.

Compassionate release may be a non-starter. Luis Patino, spokesman with the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said the Classification Services Unit — which handles compassionate release — has no record of a request for Daniel Devencenzi.

Rhonda Devencenzi expressed frustration with Tribby, her husband’s attorney. She said he’s been difficult to contact.

Tribby said he doesn’t think Daniel Devencenzi’s condition will hasten the legal process.

“If any of them can get him home, that’s what I want,” Rhonda Devencenzi said. “There’s no hope for him getting better.”

Contact Alan Riquelmy at 530-477-4239 or at ariquelmy@theunion.com.

Nevada County enforces FDA rules on CBD sales

When BriarPatch Food Co-op’s general manager got a note from the Nevada County Department of Environmental Health explaining the grocer couldn’t sell CBD as a dietary supplement, he was surprised.

Chris Maher had a different understanding of the law.

“We’re receiving contradictory opinions from the producers (of CBD),” Maher said.

On March 5, BriarPatch was part of a county-wide notice informing businesses that CBD, a non-psychoactive chemical compound derived from cannabis and hemp, cannot be sold as a dietary supplement.

That is, food businesses could only sell CBD as a topical treatment, not a food product.

“If it was a vitamin or other lotion or other products like that — something that wasn’t governed by the (Food and Drug Administration) — it was OK,” said Amy Irani, director of the Nevada County Department of Environmental Health.

The order, determined by the California Department of Health via rules from the FDA, startled some Nevada County businesses.

“It kind of took us by surprise by the way it happened,” said Louann Renfrew, supplement buyer with California Organics.

Irani said their notice was a voluntary removal order, meaning the agency was not removing the product from the shelves. Rather, department officials conducted annual inspections to ensure retailers had followed their request, and would only pull the item if it was still present.

“Most of the time, retailers will send (a product) back and get a credit,” said Irani, adding that the department did not want to penalize food businesses.

“I believe in education more than enforcement,” she said.

What confused some businesses like California Organics and BriarPatch was that the Food and Drug Administration’s order hadn’t been universally enforced in California counties. In Sacramento, Maher said, he saw CBD dietary supplements in food retail shops. Renfrew saw the same in Placer County.

“Why is there such a difference between Nevada County and Placer County?” Renfrew asked.

HOW it all started

In February, Irani received word from the California Department of Health that a Nevada County business was illegally selling CBD chocolate.

For about a month, the state health department and the county environmental health department corresponded to understand the law under the FDA. The federal agency states that “all cannabinoids, including CBD, are impermissible additives that adulterate food and supplements for both humans and animals.”

Further, the administration does not differentiate as to whether CBD is derived from hemp or cannabis. All CBD is considered an illegal food ingredient.

Thus, after reviewing the matter with the California Department of Health, Irani said she informed businesses that food retailers can’t include CBD as dietary supplements.


Businesses have been confused, however, on the legalities around the sale of CBD because of the 2018 Farm Bill. That legislation no longer classified CBD as a Schedule I controlled substance, significantly broadening its use. None of this, however, altered the Food and Drug Administration’s view that it had authority over CBD products.

Irani said she followed the lead of state Department of Health, which follows the Food and Drug Administration, not the 2018 Farm Bill. Ultimately, it’s up to her agency to regulate how retailers act.

“The local enforcement agency holds the permit on retail,” said Irani, therefore bestowing them power to enforce the law.

This leaves inconsistency of enforcement across counties because all counties are not doing the same thing, said Irani.

“I’m sure you can go to Placer County and get (CBD),” said Irani. “It’s a local call.”


In January, Assembly Bill 228 was introduced in the California state legislature in order to clear things up for retailers, allowing CBD derived from hemp to be sold as a food product.

“There is massive ambiguity in the (current) law,” said Steve Maviglio, a political consultant working with CV Sciences, a CBD pharmaceutical company based in Las Vegas.

Due to confusion in the law, “state regulators have begun cracking down,” he said, in some cases seizing products and stripping liquor licenses for continued sale of CBD. In other cases, he said, there has been no enforcement at all.

Maviglio said Assembly Bill 228 has bipartisan support, and is currently sitting in appropriations committee. The bill would allow the unambiguous sale of CBD from industrially sourced hemp.

The political consultant said the bill has an urgency clause, meaning it will go into effect once signed by the governor.

“The timeline is hard to say,” said Maviglio of the bill’s potential passage. “Could be weeks, could be months.”

For now, Nevada County food retailers are under enforcement from the county.

Maher of BriarPatch believes much of the confusion around the law is undergirded by cultural understanding of cannabis.

“I think we’re still disentangling the fear,” he said.

Contact Sam Corey at (530) 477-4219 or at scorey@theunion.com.

Nevada County cannabis grow ordinance nears supervisor vote

The public will get the chance on April 11 to offer comment about a proposed cannabis ordinance that, if passed, will end an almost three-year process to implement marijuana grow rules in Nevada County.

The county’s Planning Commission will hold a 1:30 p.m. public hearing at the Eric Rood Administrative Center, 950 Maidu Ave., Nevada City, on both the proposed ordinance and environmental impact report. Commissioners are expected to then make recommendations on both to the Board of Supervisors. The board is tentatively scheduled to vote on both at a May meeting.

The Planning Commission held an early February meeting on the environmental report only. The April 11 hearing is the first time both ordinance and report will appear before the commission.

“Recent cannabis policy has gone through an extensive three-year communitywide process including 10 months of the CAG (Community Advisory Group), countless public meetings with the Board of Supervisors and a yearlong environmental review,” Diana Gamzon, executive director of the Nevada County Cannabis Alliance, said in an email. “As the ordinance nears adoption, time is of the essence. Spring has arrived and it is nearly time to plant.”

The process to create new grow rules stemmed from the June 2016 failure of Measure W. That ballot initiative, if it had passed, would have banned outdoor grows and limited indoor grows to 12 plants.

Supervisors created a panel that included government officials and cannabis advocates after Measure W’s failure. Supervisors later formed the Community Advisory Group, composed of county residents and managed by a consultant. That group met throughout 2017 and formed recommendations for the ordinance.

That ordinance would allow medicinal commercial grows that meet zoning and acreage requirements.

A company hired by supervisors spent much of 2018 writing the environmental report for the new ordinance. Its completion triggered the Planning Commission meetings that will culminate in May’s supervisor meeting and vote on both ordinance and report.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

Facilitating transitions in Grass Valley

Adapting to changes in early adulthood can be difficult.

Just ask Paul Platner and his grandson, Gage Masters. Masters, a low functioning special needs student, will soon age out of Nevada Union’s NU Step program. At 22, he will need a place to live and something to do every day.

“How do we keep people like Gage part of the community and not isolated?” asked Platner. This was the question organizations at the fair were trying to help them answer, he said.

Thursday, a transition fair sought to ease things for Individualized Education Program students between the ages of 16 and 22.

But Platner isn’t just relying on what is available in Nevada County to aid him and Masters. He has personally been wrestling with ways to integrate caregivers and care recipients into stronger social networks. The grandfather hopes to start a co-housing community, where 20 to 60 families of caregivers and care recipients would live in a cluster of small homes surrounding a community center.

“It’s not a commune where it’s isolated,” said Platner. “It has to be part of the greater surrounding area because of jobs, because of healthcare, transportation and just wanting to be part of life.”

Co-housing community is currently just an idea. Platner is working to find enough interest in order to officially establish the community.

At the fair, the grandfather was trying to get Masters involved in organizations that promote his grandson’s autonomy, art work and boost his participation in volunteering activities.

A myriad of organizations were at the Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Building to help special needs students find housing, jobs, job training, counseling and more. Representatives hailed from places like the Department of Rehabilitation, Alta Regional Center, Neighborhood Center for the Arts and the State Council on Developmental Disabilities.

In the basement of the veteran’s building, Helena Heinzelman and Morgan Welty from the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools sat at a long table, their leaflets and fliers neatly organized.

Heinzelman and Welty were there to talk about a Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program, which helps individuals until the age of 25 in education, employment, permanency and well-being.

“In the past we have had many students with special needs use our services,” she said.

Contact Sam Corey at 530-477-4219 or at scorey@theunion.com.