As my year as Board Chair comes to an end, I want to start this message with a heartfelt expression of gratitude.

I am grateful to our County staff, our public health team, and community partners, who stepped up with great courage and determination to serve our community during this unprecedented public health emergency. Working together, we’ve faced the pandemic head-on. As we begin to administer the vaccine, we have reason for hope.

It’s not over yet, but armed with the facts, we know what we need to do to protect the health and safety of our families, friends, and neighbors: wear face masks, wash our hands, and maintain social distance. By taking these common-sense precautions now, we can return to a strong economy, open schools, and normal day-to-day activities. 

These are trying times, but the generosity of our community won the day. One highlight is the Nevada County Relief Fund, which leveraged public dollars with personal donations to the tune of more than $1 Million – helping small business across the County and many of our most vulnerable residents.

With our kids distance learning, our parents accessing telemedicine, and so many of us working remotely, 2020 will be remembered as the year where reliable internet access moved from a nice-to-have to a must-have. I commend the Board for allocating $1 Million to expedite broadband access to 800 residents, which wouldn’t otherwise have happened for another year. The Board also funded the Distance Learning Center and Youth Hub, which connects students to the internet – an innovative solution developed by Bright Futures, the Fairgrounds, and County staff. Next, we must expand service countywide so everyone can connect to the internet.

New innovations are making our community safer. A case in point is our Mobile Crisis Team, which pairs one deputy sheriff with one therapist to respond to mental health, substance abuse, or homelessness calls, which will help people get the services they need, reduce arrests, and save lives.

I am grateful to our brave first responders whose swift actions during the Jones Fire prevented a larger calamity. I want to commend our Office of Emergency Services who supported our first responders and evacuees during the Jones Fire, helped us navigate PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shut-offs, and set up cooling centers on the hottest days.

While we know we can respond to crisis, we demonstrated our ongoing commitment to connect unhoused people with stable housing and wrap around services. Looking ahead, I’m heartened to see Brunswick Commons under construction – creating 41 housing units by spring of 2022. Nevada City approved Cashin’s Field project, which thanks to a $25.8 Million Federal Tax Credit allocation secured by the Regional Housing Authority with support of the City of Nevada City and the County of Nevada, will have 51 affordable units when it opens its doors and is currently estimated to be completed in the fall of 2022. The County’s purchase of the Coach and Four Motel in Grass Valley will provide permanent affordable housing for families, seniors, and veterans when the renovation’s completed.

We made important changes to our cannabis ordinance in order to bring more farmers into compliance in a way that supports community health. 

The South Yuba River Cohort achieved multiple objectives in our inter-agency work to protect the river corridor as a cherished natural resource for our residents and visitors.

We’ve embraced change and reckoned with our past – taking steps to address racial justice and recognize the Nisenan tribe whose Native American ancestors were this area’s original inhabitants.

Through it all, this Board vigilantly maintained core services and carefully stewarded County funds. I want to thank my friend and colleague, Richard Anderson, for his eight years tirelessly representing the Fifth District, and to welcome his successor, Hardy Bullock, who shares our commitment to represent all of Nevada County from east to west.

We are one County, united more than ever. With our faith in one another, our innovation and creativity, I welcome 2021, knowing that together, we will remain “Nevada County Strong.”