Three images of life in Nevada County |

Three images of life in Nevada County

Over a period of about two hours on Wednesday night, we were treated to several different views of what it means to live in Nevada County.

Scene One was at the venerable National Hotel in Nevada City, where we checked out City Councilman Steve Cottrell’s all-candidate mixer. People who live elsewhere might find it strange that a candidate for re-election would throw a party and invite not only his supporters, but his campaign rivals and anyone running for state office, too.

Sure enough, we found plenty of candidates taking the opportunity to schmooze, including Sally Harris, one of four people vying for three seats on Nevada City’s City Council. Sally is also the new business manager at The Union, which has enabled her to become accustomed to strange situations, so she fit right in.

We also had the opportunity to meet two men who are trying to unseat Rick Keene, our District 3 state assemblyman – Democrat Bob Woods who, like Keene, is from Chico, and Libertarian Robert Burk of Nevada City. They wore suits, in contrast to our host, Cottrell, who sported the more typical Nevada City politicians’ garb, which could be called “lumberjack chic.”

Burk and Woods acknowledged that trying to unseat a Republican from a state or national seat is an uphill battle in the foothills, but they get points for coming out and pressing the flesh.

We also met Don Grundman, who came all the way up from San Leandro to visit us. He’s the American Independent Party candidate for U.S. Senate and won our awards for most immaculate suit and most … interesting … platform.

In a nutshell, Don believes that there is no law requiring us to file an income tax return or to pay income taxes, and that the Internal Revenue Service should be dismantled. As a burdened taxpayer, the idea sounds good to me. But I will let Don try withholding his taxes first and see what happens.

Cartoonist Bob Crabb was walking around, soaking up ideas for his feature in The Union, “It Takes a Village Idiot.” Democratic dervish Debbie Lange was abuzz about the upcoming presidential primary. And District 1 supervisor candidate Josh Ramey brought his baby, Nathan, who charmed everyone by showing off his button: “Vote for My Daddy.”

But most enjoyable was talking to the regular folks who dropped by because they heard there was a party going on. That’s Nevada City.

Scene Two was another taste of Nevada City – the grand opening of the Stonehouse Restaurant, on the other side of Deer Creek from the National Hotel.

Dining out is a favorite pastime for many of us in the county, so a new bistro on the scene is an event. This one was especially so, because the building containing the restaurant, known as the Old Nevada Brewery, has been watched carefully since local entrepreneur Nikko Wu bought it last year. Wu first considered opening a restaurant herself, then thought better of it and leased it to sisters Mimi Boardman and Pam Scanlon and their partner, Carsten Owens.

The three were proudly on hand Wednesday night to show off the result of months of remodeling. The restaurant, with the main dining room upstairs and a bar and casual dining area downstairs next to the open grill area, is a complementary blend of historic stone walls and wooden beams with cosmopolitan flair.

(Mimi let me in on a secret: The huge beams were painted awful colors. Deciding that stripping them was not an option, she laboriously repainted them to look like wood, complete with grain and knots. I stared at them for minutes and couldn’t tell the difference between them and bare wood.)

Also checking out the scene with friends was Nevada City council candidate Ruth Poulter, who, like us, had stopped off at Cottrell’s mixer earlier.

We haven’t tried the food yet, but the Stonehouse Restaurant joins Kirby’s Creekside across the street to make the corner of Broad, Boulder and Sacramento one of the liveliest spots in Nevada City.

Scene Three brought us back to reality as police stepped into the restaurant. Seems they were looking for three burglary suspects who were last seen running toward the Stonehouse. They didn’t find who they were looking for, but it was a reminder that our idyllic corner of California in some ways isn’t any different than a big city.

A friend who lives in Nevada City told us this week that neighbors on either side of her were burglarized recently and that the thieves tried to get in her house, too, but it was locked. She had brought her door-locking habit from the Bay Area. Too many longtime Nevada County residents are sadly realizing that the days of leaving their homes open are ending.

Richard Somerville is the editor of The Union. His column appears each Saturday.

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