She’s got moves: Sierra College trustee ready to run one last time |

She’s got moves: Sierra College trustee ready to run one last time

Nancy Palmer is always going somewhere, even when she’s staying in one place. The genteel Sierra College trustee with the slight north Florida drawl – she pronounces it “Floh-ida” – has circumnavigated the equator three times on her stationary bike.

“If I’m watching movies at home, I’m on my bike,” Palmer said.

She’s usually shuttling to Rocklin and Grass Valley from her Alta Sierra home, busy looking after the community college system she’s helped to lead for nearly 16 years. In summer, she visits Sierra College’s newest campus in Truckee. Only in summer, though.

“I don’t do snow,” Palmer said, portraying her roots in the heat of Jacksonville with a mock shiver.

Combined with her involvement with five local boards, two statewide community college committees and a handful of Sierra College subcommittees, Palmer volunteers her time with Music in the Mountains and a number of other community groups.

What’s currently driving her is the new construction at Sierra College’s Nevada County campus. Palmer represents most of western Nevada County and said she’s determined to see the $13.7 million construction and renovation project at the Grass Valley campus through to fruition.

In her limited free time Palmer, who is also a certified public accountant, pores over applications for the addition of solar power to the Rocklin and Nevada County campuses.

“I’m going to run one more time this fall,” Palmer said. “I want to see that construction finished. Then I can retire.”

The elections have become more difficult as the years have passed, Palmer said. When she first ran for the community college’s board in 1994 she spent $300 on the entire campaign. Now she takes out a loan in excess of $6,000 to run for the seat, but still sticks to some old campaign standbys to hustle votes.

“I get to the grocery stores and help carry groceries out. I kiss all the babies,” Palmer said, laughing.

This will mark the first time she’s campaigned without the support of her husband Gary, who died about a year and a half ago. However, Palmer said she’s up to the task. She’s used to doing things on her own – Palmer traveled by herself to Thailand and Hong Kong in 2008.

A former Naval couple, the Palmers were married in the Philippines and lived in Washington, D.C. Gary worked at the Pentagon.

“He hated the Pentagon,” Palmer said. “He always told me when he retired he’d move to Grass Valley. Of course, I’d heard of San Diego and San Francisco, but never Grass Valley. I thought it’d be pretty small.”

Gary took Palmer from book store to book store before they finally found a book mentioning Grass Valley. The couple moved to the area in 1973 and Palmer jumped into local society immediately, volunteering as a pink lady with the hospital auxiliary in Grass Valley. Over the years, she’s built upon her volunteering responsibilities and now needs three calendars to keep track of all her obligations – and she loves it.

“One thing that concerns and worries people when they first move here is they don’t know if there’s much to do,” Palmer said. “I just tell them they have to get out, there’s so much going on. You can’t get involved if you only stay home.”

To contact Staff Writer Kyle Magin, e-mail or call (530) 477-4239.

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