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October 8, 2014     Portola Reporter
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October 8, 2014
 

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6A Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014 Portola Reporter MENTAL, from page 1A the board did not address that request. "We're competing for people with licenses across the state, not just comparable counties," Livingston said. McKenzie, a former director of the Shasta County Health and Human Services Department, agreed that the department needs more staff, but disagrees on salary being the prime issue. She said local salary ranges shouldn't be compared to all 58 counties in the state, but rather to other small, rural entities. "People come to rural areas for reasons other than money," she said. McKenzie suggested that adding a therapist level III position would allow for upward mobility within the department and enable experienced individuals to be hired at a higher salary level. The supervisors liked that suggestion and directed Livingston to develop such a position. McKenzie questioned the department's preference for using interns and the grand jury's recommendation that they be used more. "I disagree," she said, stating that interns can be "fairly disruptive" as they require a lot of oversight, and there is no guarantee that they will stay with the department when their training is complete. She suggested that the department consider ways to keep interns such as implementing a hiring bonus, with additional bonuses to be awarded at length-of-stay intervals. McKenzie stressed another option to alleviate the department's waiting list -- contracting with outside therapists to provide service. "Counties contract a fair amount of work," McKenzie said. "It will help build capacity beyond the department." Livingston said he would consider that as a secondary option, but he was focused on building his "football team first." Livingston used that sports analogy at the beginning of his remarks when he told the board, "We've been playing with half a football team." The reserve fund McKenzie addressed the reserve fund, which contains $7 million. She described the fund balance as a "source of irritation" for many. McKenzie said the department is keeping a large balance because of the threat of having to pay for acute psychiatric care, which can cost $300,000 annually for one patient. PUMPKINS, from page 1A hosted by the friendly crew of the Sierraville Recreation Association, which runs events at the Sierraville Elementary School, There will also be bobbing for apples, face paintingand games. Also brand new this year is the Home Grown Talent Art Show, a juried exhibit of work by local artists. Deadline for art entries is Oct. 14. "It's an opportunity for all Sierra County artists to show their work, and for everyone to celebrate and discover the incredible talent we have right here," says B.J. Jordan, Sierra County Arts Council executive director. Entry forms are available at the Sierra County Arts Council website, sierra countyartscouncil.org; call 289-3673 to request a mail-in entry form. The Pumpkin Patch starts at 10 a.m. The art show opens at 1 p.m. There is a $5 entry fee to the art show. The Pumpkin Patch event is free, but there will be a small fee for pumpkins. See the SierraviUe Pumpkin Patch Facebook page for more information and photos. "I disagree with that point of view," she said and added that in Shasta County, they budgeted for just one such stay annually. "If someone had to go to the state hospital for more than one year, then you could make adjustments to the budget." McKenzie advocates using whatever funds are available in a department to provide services. During a subsequent interview, McKenzie said Plumas was unique compared to other rural counties she works with, where a lack of funds is the problem. Another fmancial concern is the fact that mental health must return $345,000 to the state, and will likely have to return much more if its leaders don't act quickly. Financial consultant Geiss explained that the Mental Health Services Act, a tax on millionaires to expand county mental health services, includes a lot of criteria. "The money has to be spent in certain categories," he said. "If you don't spend the money.., it reverts to the state and then is redistributed." Geiss spent two days in Plumas County reviewing the funds and determined that money not spent through fiscal year 2011-12 would need to be returned, and an additional $620,000 from 2012-13 was at risk. Overall, Geiss said the department has significant revenues to accomplish a lot of work and he recommended developing a five-year fmancial plan. "The main issue is the reversion and the need to act quickly," he said. The plan The county's mertal health department is currently without an MHSA work plan. "I was very distressed to learn that you didn't have one," McKenzie said, and she was further distressed that the department had been spending without one. She suggested that the department hire an MHSA coordinator to help develop the plan. "One of the hallmarks of MHSA installation is a well-defmed and robust stakeholder process that must be followed before a local plan is submitted to the State," read a passage from the consultant's report. "The requirement is intended to ensure that plans are responsive to local needs and service gaps, and inclusive of input from a broad range of constituents." The consultants concluded that the annual update had not been completed for 2013-14 and the next three-year plan, 2014 to 2017, had yet to begin. State law is very clear: "All expenditures for County mental health programs shall be consistent with an approved three year program and expenditure plan or annual update pursuant to W&I Section 5847." Last week mental health began circulating a questionnaire to begin the process. "I look forward to the MHSA process," said Livingston and discussed focus groups that would be set up for law enforcement and consumers, and by geographic areas. Law enforcement has been a vocal critic, and representatives from the criminal justice system were interviewed extensively by the consultants. "Criminal justice doesn't feel like they have a good partner," McKenzie said, citing a lack of collaboration. Livingston agreed that his department has been criticized, but said it's unjustified. "We've been providing services in the jail for free." He compared his department to public health, which charges for its services. As for collaboration with law enforcement, Livingston said, "It goes two ways." Livingston, who wrote his thesis on collaboration, said that he believes in it and it will be well represented in the MHSA process. Next steps Livingston left the boardroom with instructions to hire an MHSA coordinator and develop a therapist level III position. He did not receive a 23.5 percent pay increase for his employees nor direction to hire more staff. The board will continue to monitor the progress being made at mental health and may make its status a regular agenda item. Supervisor Kevin Goss will work with Livingston as the MHSA process gets underway. Tour follows the 'Stairway of Power' The Sierra Institute is communities. The fin'st stop will be at around 4 p.m., returning offering its last outdoor As the tour takes the Prattville intake on the participants to Sierra educational tour of the participants deep into the southwest shore of Lake Institute in Taylorsville. season Friday, Oct. 10. areas burned by the 2012 Almanor. Discussion will The tour guide for the day The institute reports that Chips Fire, discussions will be centered around lake will be Ken Roby, retired the Water, Power, Fish and also touch on En'e ecology ecology, Pacific Gas and fisheries biologist with the Fire tour, one of its most and other aspects of wildffn'es Electric Co.'s relicensing U.S. Forest Service, popular educational and in local forests. And, with process and the potential accompanied by Courtney scenic tours, discusses drought on everyone's mind, for a thermal curtain to be Gomola, Sierra Fellow with current issues and interests guides will talk about the installed in the lake to lower the Sierra Institute. Roby dealing with hydroelectric California drought and what the temperature of the North will provide information power. The tour follows the best practices are being used Fork Feather River I degree from the PG&E point of water (and the money) from during this time with water Celsius. view as well. the penstock at the Prattville resources. The bus will follow the Space is limited, so those intake on Lake Almanor to Tour participants will water down to Butt Valley interested are encouraged Butt Valley Lake and on to meet at 8:30 a.m. in Reservoir, where to call early to reserve a the Caribou and Belden Taylorsville at the Sierra participants will discuss place. Morning refreshments, powerhouses on the North Institute offices, where they the ecological effects of lunch and transportation Fork Feather River. will be introduced to the dams on fisheries. The are provided as part of the The Water, Power, Fish day's events and tour group will then travel down tour, which costs $50 per and Fire tour discusses the guides and enjoy morning to Caribou to visit one of person. Visit the Sierra many aspects of refreshments. Participants the older powerhouses in Institute website hydroelectric power will then board a bus and the area. After a picnic (SierraInstitute.us) for production and its impacts . beginthe journeydown. : -: lunchi the tour w hefid to moredformation, or call on fisheries, ecosystems, the !'Stairway of Power" the Belden Powerhouse ..... Lauri Rawlins-Betta at recreation and rural from Lake Almanor. The tour will conclude 284-1022. Putting PAID POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENT tuden ts First My School Board member priorities: I will put students first and help Plumes Unified School District provide the highest quality education for our children. I will be an objective and informed board member. I will work with all Plumas County communities, parents, students, employees and unions to guide Plumas Unified School District through these challenging times. Experiences that have helped prepare me to serve on the school board: I have been an involved parent in my child's education in Plumas Unified Schools for six years. I have been a regular classroom and community volunteer and PTA member. I sewed as chair of the Chester/Lake Almanor 7-11 committee, one of four committees established in each of the major Plumes communities to examine school facilities and district operations. The Plumas County Grand Jury praised the work of these groups saying they "took on a huge task and did an incredible job." Last year I served on the Budget Austerity committee established by the superintendent to make recommendations to the school district on how to improve district fiscal management and balance the budget. Serving on Budget Austerity Committee and as chair of the 7-11 Committee provided me with firsthand knowledge of the inner workings of the district. This will help me, as a board member, to plan for student and district needs and help avoid crises de- cision-making. I have been a resident of Rumas County for 14 years with family roots for over 50 years. I direct an organization with an average 7 million doll both federal and state funding streams. I understand that other enterprises, but my experience in managing budgets is a great My Vision: The district has been through difficult times over the past few the budget is necessary but does not have to children's education. My husband and I want our child and in the district to receive the best public education. Tough decisions are and these can be done while improving communication, trust, and respect in Plumas Unified School District. I am willinc r that the communities, students, teachers, and staff deserve as a member of the School Board. Vote for Traci a, "The Right Choice" different from