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Lawmakers have agreed on a multibillion dollar proposal for school to restart in person in the spring. The $6.5 billion proposal apparently doesn’t go far enough or happen fast enough for Governor Newsom’s taste. That’s a direct quote from the Gov. who could veto the bill, not sign it, which makes it law anyway or approve it. The Assembly Budget chair though says they think it’s the right plan which will encourage the most schools to open up. Schools cannot be forced to have in person learning, but the new Safe and Open Schools plan approved by the Legislature will give schools more leeway in when they open, and money to do it. School officials don’t like the Governor’s blueprint for reopening though which he announced in December. The new plan gives $2 billion to reopen this academic year and $4.5 billion until next fall to extend the school year, increase the school day or other expenses after lost learning during the pandemic.

There’s a new committee in Ukiah on Equity and Diversity. It’s a spinoff from the City Council to make sure all demographics in the city are represented. They still need a couple more representatives, one to represent seniors and the other for those whose primary language is not English. The first meeting is next month. So far there are seven others, Denise Gorny on behalf of those currently or that had formerly lived at or below the poverty level, Xochilt J. Morales de Martinez for those with physical or mental disabilities, Darren Jackson to represent the LGBTQA community, Les Marston for Native American tribes and communities in Mendocino County, Susan Stern on behalf of the Hispanic-Latino community, Jani Sheppard to represent People of Color, Troyle Tognoli for Youth 21 years and younger.

The Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians is asking to meet with CalFire on the Jackson State Forest logging plan. They also want the Jackson State Forest Manager Mike Powers to be there for a government to government meeting on proposed timber harvest plans and on the Tribe’s ancestral territory. The request was sent Tuesday by the Tribal Chair. The procedure came out of an Executive Order by President Clinton in 2000 for United States governments to confer directly with sovereign tribal nations. The Tribal Chair’s letter said they’re concerned about their land, the cumulative impact of logging on carbon sequestration during dire climate change; native plants, medicines and foods and the overall threat posed by the proposed logging to the “health of the forest and the critters big and small who live there”.

Out of nowhere the Lake County Public Health officer announced he’s leaving. The abrupt announcement made by Dr. Gary Pace in a meeting with local leaders yesterday. Lake Co News reports the Clearlake City Manager confirmed the news. He also announced it at their City Council meeting last night, calling it disappointing. So now the city needs to look for a new public health officer before Pace leaves, which will be this spring, possibly in April.  Pace has only been Lake County’s Public Health officer for 16 months. Lake County Board of Supervisors Chair Bruno Sabatier says the item will be on their agenda Tuesday. Pace will no doubt be at the meeting as he gives the board his COVID19 update each week.

Hybrid schooling is coming to Fort Bragg next week. There will be some in person learning for kids, but only k-6th grade in alignment with the state dept. of Public Health’s guidance. 7th-12th graders cannot get back to any in person learning until Mendocino County is in the Red Tier, or less than seven positive COVID-19 cases/day, per 100,000 residents, for five consecutive days. The Mendocino Unified School District Superintendent has said there are so far no plans to reopen but they’re working towards March or April. The Fort Bragg School District Board of Trustees voted last week for Preschool, TK, 3rd and 6th grades back onto campus Monday. First, 2nd, 4th and 5th graders will return March 1st, a week later.

Pacific Gas and Electric hears from customers on their wildfire prevention plans and what the year 2020 brought. A senior manager with the utility in the online community meeting says even during the pandemic, they’ve been doing everything the utility had been planning to “address the threat of catastrophic wildfires”. Amidst the pandemic she says, it was a very difficult year in Calif. not only the virus, but record breaking heat, rotating power outages and the wildfire season. The company said they’d be continuing their work with customers to keep communities safe. They have new weather stations, cameras, they opened community resource centers for those without power while following state and county public health protocols. They’re also strengthening their electric system with stronger poles, covered power lines and targeted undergrounding.

Another week of high unemployment claims in the state. There were nearly 160,000 new claims for unemployment for the week ending Feb. 13th. That number climbed by over 20,600 from the week before. The initial claims this past week were the highest in a month. Across the country, 861,000 Americans filed initial jobless claims last week, up 13,000 from the previous week. Calif. has 18.4% of all unemployment claims filed in the United States. Claims have been high since mid-March 2020 due to the pandemic and lockdowns to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The state has a new portal for businesses struggling to survive during the economic collapse due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The California Labor & Workforce Development Agency created the portal for businesses to follow the guidelines set out by the state. It went live last week at It was put together as a one stop for businesses to find all the information they need on one website instead of jumping to various sites. It includes trainings, resources, places to get tested for coronavirus, Cal/OSHA’s temporary emergency standards and more. It also has county by county information. Employers can download the information specific to them. You can also leave feedback there, everything is confidential.

After it got out that the Lake County Public Health Officer Dr. Gary Pace is leaving his position, he put out an official statement. Dr. Pace says it was a difficult decision to resign and that his official last day will be in mid April. He says he’s prepared to continue providing support after that time, if needed. He went on to say that serving Lake County during the COVID-19 pandemic was one of the most rewarding experiences and greatest challenges of his career and that especially over the last 11 months, he gave everything he had the capacity to give. Dr. Pace had been a family physician for over 20 years and will return to clinical practice in coming months. He says while he won’t be the public health officer anymore, he looks forward to being part of the broader pandemic response, and helping to see patients through the days ahead. 

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