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Congressman Mike Thompson has hosted another town hall over Zoom. This time he was talking about a new COVID19 relief bill that is supposed to be voted on next week. Thompson is supporting President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package and says it needs to be implemented ASAP. It is supposed to bring relief to cities and states, as well as individuals and businesses.  The congressman’s office says it will bring tens of millions of dollars to his district. It includes $350 billion for local governments to use for vaccines, replacing lost money and helping businesses. He says local representatives have been lobbying him for several months to get more direct aid to individuals too. Since there was a call for a $2,000 payment and it only came to be $600, individuals should get that additional $1,400 in this package.

The state inspector general says prisons are still riddled with complaints about staff misconduct. After over 98% of prison employees were exonerated by their local wardens, the inspector general’s office says the process remains broken, nor is it independent or fair.  Inspector General Roy Wesley sent a letter to the governor and lawmakers with an update on new processes taking on misconduct, but it showed of more than 50,000 inmate grievances over 95% were not considered staff misconduct by wardens. A total of 541 were forwarded to a new investigation unit and only 86 were further investigated.

Could more business restrictions be lifted now that coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are down? The Governor says parts of the state are beginning to open back up and that more counties will be allowed to reopen next week. The governor was in Los Angeles yesterday at a new federally supported mass vaccination site. That site opened the same day as the Oakland Coliseum. The two are expected to get about 6,000 vaccine doses/day. Gov. Newsom says the state has about a 3.5% positivity rate currently. So it appears rural counties in Northern California and elsewhere will enter the red or orange tier.  Mendocino and Lake remain in the Purple, widespread tier.

The contract with a recruitment company has been extended in Lakeport after being tabled during the pandemic. The Retail Coach was hired in 2019 so they could try to retain the businesses in the city and work on bring in new ones. During the pandemic, that was a chore, so they stopped their work. This week the city council voted to re-up with the company after they already assessed the city and began some work with existing retailers. The company says the city of about 5,000 people gets a lot of business from others who don’t live in the city, including for work, shopping and medical appointments. The company is extending their contract this year as the second year instead of last year and brought down their price about $5,000 to $25,000.

The prescribed burn to start the restoration work at the Anderson Marsh State Historic Park is set to begin. As we reported yesterday, the Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association won a grant from the state for wildfire damaged beautification. So weather permitting the prescribed burn will take place Saturday as part of the work to restore the three acre entry meadow which was burned by the Clayton fire in 2016. The prescribed burn is part of the project to restore wildlife habitat as well as remove any invasive weeds or diseased soil and replace it. And to work to reduce the chance of another catastrophic wildfire.

The City of Fort Bragg has a new city council member. Fellow council members voted unanimously for Marcia Rafanan Meadlin to be the new member, over eight other candidates. She’s also a member of the Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians. Her historic swearing in will take place Monday at the next regular council meeting. She’s going to take the rest of the term of Will Lee who resigned after moving out of the area.  She also got several letters of support for her candidacy. Meadlin’s application says her family’s been in Fort Bragg since before it was even named. She has a small restaurant in town, works with local schools, the elderly and helps the homeless and developmentally disabled.

State Senator Mike McGuire’s having an online town hall meeting on the Great Redwood Trail, the proposed 300 mile trail from Marin to Humboldt he’s been championing. McGuire describes it as converting a decaying railway into a world-class destination for hikers, cyclists and nature lovers. The town hall will look at his long-term vision, how it will be a boon to the local economy and next steps for getting it built and operational. When it’s done, McGuire says it will be the longest rail-trail in America surrounded by rolling oak woodlands, rugged and remote North Coast river canyons, and old growth redwood forests. To attend Thursday’s virtual town hall, contact McGuire’s office.

Plans for more school reopenings in Mendocino County. The Charter School Association of Willits says teachers that wanted it, have had their vaccines. They’re gathering parent surveys to see if parents want their children back in person. There will be two in person cohorts of six students in kindergarten and another on Zoom. The groups that are in person will go 5 days a week. First grade kids parents have said they’d like their students there two full days, so they’re considering two five-hour days a week on site. But second thru fifth graders are apparently up for continuing their distance learning, but have enrichment activities and/or tutoring two days/week for two hours/day on campus. Willits Charter is bringing back 6th graders mid March.

An unconscious man found in Willits. Police say he was in the driver seat of a car, and they noticed a meth pipe and drugs nearby.  Keegan Knight was awoken and detained by police who also found he was on active post release community supervision for possession of a controlled substance while armed.  Since he was on parole, there was a search and officers found about a pound of suspected methamphetamine, a large amount of heroin, DMT, Xanax, and suspected counterfeit OxyContin pills, ammunition and other items connected to drug dealing. They also found he had a stolen federal law enforcement badge. He was arrested on 8 felony charges including transportation and sale of a controlled substance, possession of stolen property and being a convicted felon in possession of controlled substances.

It looks like the recall effort against Gov. Gavin Newsom could land on a mail in ballot. The possible recall gets on the ballot after organizers gather enough signatures so now we wait to hear what the Secretary of State’s office says about all of the signatures. Like the presidential election, all mail in ballots will go out to every voter in the state for a potential recall and any other election. The Legislature approved of mail in elections last year because of the pandemic. And yesterday, they did the same. The Secretary of State’s Office has reportedly pegged the election at over $7 million dollars for the recall if it qualifies for the ballot. The bill passed by lawmakers for mail in elections will only apply to this year though. It heads to the governor’s desk next.

A new city manager has been named in Point Arena. The City Council voted to promote Paul Andersen to lead the city after Richard Shoemaker retired. Andersen has been a city employee since 2016. He was last the Deputy City Manager. Now he takes on the city’s daily operations and works with the council on their goals and objectives. He was also a legislative aide for former Congressman Dan Hamburg, has worked on multiple campaigns, served himself as a Council Member, and has represented employees for public-sector unions. He says he’s honored to be the Point Arena City Manager and is looking forward to working with the City Council, staff and the “community at large to provide the best possible service to residents and make meaningful positive changes to their quality of life.”

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