December 12, 2019 – In the continued spirit of Ready Nevada County, Office of Emergency Services (OES) expands capacity with new hires and aligns with key stakeholders to create initiatives ranging from Arts & Education to Senior Services to County Road fuel reduction treatments. On Friday December 6 at the Wildfire Prevention Stakeholder Meeting, a quarterly event hosted by County of Nevada, Steve Monaghan, County of Nevada Chief Information Officer and General Services Director, introduced United States Air Force Major Paul Cummings as the new OES Program Manager responsible for overall OES programming. “Expanding and restructuring our team is a crucial part of serving Nevada County. Combining staff and expertise across departments and skill sets only makes us stronger. Adding Major Cummings and Lieutenant Jakobs to the team is a win for our community,” says Captain Jeff Pettitt.

Cummings wasted no time updating stakeholders on the expanding OES team and the office’s recently submitted fire prevention grant applications, “Building and maintaining relationships at all levels in the community is key to ensuring Nevada County’s wildfire readiness. I’m looking forward to continuing our efforts to learn from and connect with our stakeholders as we find ways to best serve this community.” Lieutenant Bob Jakobs, a Nevada County Sheriff’s deputy with experience leading the SWAT and dive teams, will work on evacuation planning and will be responsible for the training, guiding and equipping the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) and its personnel. Major Paul Cummings, from the 9th Operations Group at Beale Air Force Base, technically begins his role January 15 when he completes his 6-month assignment as a Department of Defense (DoD) SkillBridge internship with OES.

“We were thrilled to host Paul through the Skillbridge program and offer him a permanent position,” says Human Resources Director Steve Rose. With their unit commander’s concurrence, DoD Skillbridge provides separating service members the opportunity to intern up to 180 days with an employer to gain work experience at the end of their military service. Captain Jeff Pettitt is serving as the Captain of Administration in the Nevada County Sheriff’s Department and will oversee Lieutenant Bob Jakobs, also recently added to the OES team as the EOC Coordinator.

To address the need for year-round defensible space inspections and provide continuity to the program, Shayne McLaughlin was recently brought onto the team in a full-time capacity as the Lead Defensible Space Inspector. Analyst Jenn Tamo, will continue her work overseeing community engagement, grants, and supporting the EOC. Steve Monaghan adds, “We learned so much this year about services our community really values. Matching that enthusiasm with programming and grants, that we know make our county safer, creates powerful momentum for years to come. We will continue to look for every opportunity to bring resources to this important issue.”

County of Nevada Office of Emergency Services submitted the following fire prevention grants:

Evacuation and Wildland Urban Interface Risk Analysis: Nevada County seeks additional funding to conduct a science-based evacuation route and urban expansion evaluation of our high fire risk communities. These assessments will shape future county ordinances, planning and infrastructure upgrades.

Egress/Ingress Fire Safety Project: The goal of this project is to implement roadside vegetation management on 200 miles of County-maintained roadway. (Submitted by County of Nevada Public Works Department).

Community Wildfire Protection Plan: This project updates the Community Wildfire Protection Plan which supports the goals and objectives of the California Strategic Fire Plan, the local CAL FIRE Nevada-Yuba-Placer Fire Ignition Plan, all Nevada County Fire District Plans, the Local Hazard Mitigation Plan, FIREWISE Community Assessment, and local homeowner association plans.

Lodestar Shaded Fuel Break: The Lodestar Shaded Fuel Break, identified in the CAL FIRE Nevada-Yuba-Placer Fire Ignition Plan will be a 150’ wide roadway shaded fuel break, running East-West on Lodestar Rd. to Buck Mountain Rd. between Hwy 49 and Dog Bar Rd. in South County. Like the Ponderosa West Project, if funded, it will be managed by Fire Safe Council of Nevada County.

Senior Firewood Gold Country Partnership: The County of Nevada and Gold Country Community Services are partnering to remove hazardous vegetation which include downed, dead and decaying trees that pose a threat to public health and safety. The program will assist some of the most vulnerable members of the community, those who are low income seniors with access and functional needs. “We were excited and look forward to collaborating with Nevada County to support seniors in need in our community to help with firewood and clearing trees from properties. There is currently a waiting list of about 10 months to clear trees and we hope the grant is awarded to facilitate expanding our service to meet this growing need,” says GCCS Executive Director Janeth Marroletti.

Ponderosa West Grass Valley Defense Zone Phase II: The objective of the Ponderosa West Grass Valley Defense Zone Project Phase II is to continue the ongoing fuel management defense zone across additional BLM and private stakeholder land. It extends the successful shaded fuel break project managed by Fires Safe Council of Nevada County and implemented in coordination with CAL FIRE. “We know that collaborative leadership is crucial to getting funds for important projects. Working with the county and other stakeholders makes all the difference when applying for grants. Fire Safe Council of Nevada County is eager to take on more to keep us safe in the coming years,” says Fire Safe Council of Nevada County Executive Director, Jamie Jones.

FORESTFIRE: FOREST⇌FIRE is an arts and education project in collaboration with Nevada County Arts Council (NCAC) and NCAC artist in-residence, Michael Lewellyn. The goal is to share a transformative cultural understanding about the forest we live in, our relationship with fire, and our role within that relationship. Through an interpretive art installation, Forest⇌Fire will share a science-based solution to catastrophic fire and an economically sustainable, hopeful future. “Nevada County Arts Council is thrilled to have partnered with Nevada County’s Office of Emergency services on such a significant application to help bring its newest initiative, FOREST⇌FIRE to Western Nevada County. Our museum-class exhibit isn’t just a thing of beauty, it shares the 13,000-year history of forest ecology in our region and offers solutions to catastrophic fire that could save the Northern Sierra Nevada. These solutions require the energy and focus of multiple agencies and community partners, and FOREST⇌FIRE simply positions the artist as a powerful vehicle of communication at the heart of this critical conversation.”

Wildfire as a Top Board Priority

The Board of Supervisors adopted their annual Board Objectives on February 12th, and continues to set wildfire prevention and preparedness as a top priority.

About Ready Nevada County

Ready Nevada County represents the multifaceted stakeholder effort coordinated by the County of Nevada to raise awareness and mobilize the community to prevent and prepare for wildfire. We are working to expand Nevada County’s wildfire readiness through increased planning, strategic partnerships, improved communication, and ongoing public engagement.