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Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Why I moved to Nevada County

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Special to The Union
Hollie Grimaldi-Flores
John Hart/jhart@theunion.com | The Union

In 1993, my first husband and I were raising our son in a bedroom community in Sonoma County off Highway 101.

I commuted 30 miles to a bookkeeping job in Marin County.

He worked in the music business and toured the world six to eight weeks at a time.



We decided we wanted to buy some land and raise our child in an area that was safe with good schools.

Our only restriction was that we needed to be close enough to an airport for frequent travel.




My only requirement was that I wanted to feel safe leaving my son strapped in his car seat if I forgot something in the house and had to run back in for two minutes to retrieve it — something I would not even consider in our home at the time. Thus, our search began.

We began looking in the state of Nevada for the tax relief and quickly dismissed it. We looked around Lake Tahoe because we had friends who lived there but it did not feel like a place to raise a family.

Weekend road trips became common.

One day while driving back from the Reno area, we saw the sign for Highway 174 and decided to take it.

By the time we reached Chicago Park, I knew it was an area worth exploring further.

And explore we did!

Over the next nearly two years, we looked at pretty much every house on the market in and outside of our price range.

I sent for a relocation packet via the Chamber of Commerce and learned more about the area, the schools, and the variety of service organizations that made up Nevada County.

Whenever we came to visit, we would pick up a copy of The Union to get to know what we hoped would become our community.

We eventually found a nice home with some acreage and moved our now two children to what we believed would be a great place to raise them.

Great schools, great climate, plenty of recreational opportunities and very important — low crime. And we were right.

Fast forward 20 years …

I had a conversation last week with a friend who had read an article listing Grass Valley and Nevada City in the top 20 of cities with the highest violent crime rates in the state.

I said I thought that was preposterous. While he agreed, he said he had heard from family members outside the area who had read the same report.

Was it possible my little piece of Utopia was getting a bad reputation?

He sent me the article and it boils down to a numbers game.

The report was from 2010. In it, Oakland took the number one spot with 6,267 violent crimes (including 90 murders) but with over 400,000 in population, the percentage was not much higher than Nevada City or Grass Valley.

In comparison, Nevada City had 36 crimes deemed violent (zero murders), but with a population of just under 3,000 they placed number eight on the list.

Think about how absurd that is. Percentage-based data skewed our reality.

And then as I was beginning to write this column, a report came in about an attempted abduction of a young girl on her way home from school.

It was all over the newspaper and the Internet in minutes.

And I still believe it is our small town charm that made it so. The same crime in say, Oakland, would not have even made the news, let alone the front page.

I am not dismissing the crime, but the reality is we live in a relatively safe area with very little crime to speak of.

Nevada County is still a great area to raise a family.

I feel for those still struggling in the “rat race.” My commute is six minutes.

We have so many educational options in K-12 and a great two-year community college offering transferable credits, two-year degrees as well as technical certifications.

We have a state-of-the-art hospital and it is common to be on a first name basis with our local physicians as we run into them at a local fundraiser or sporting event.

We are within an hour and a half of major universities, and within 150 miles of major metropolitan areas. How lucky are we?

My son recently posted on social media: “The problem with looking through rose-colored glasses is that all the red flags just look like flags.”

I venture to say I am seeing clearly and the future for Nevada County remains so bright I have to wear shades!

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is the business development manager at The Union. Contact her at hgflores@theunion.com.


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