NEVADA CITY, Calif. October 20, 2019 – Time flies when you’re having fun or are on deadline. It’s been twenty years since we started YubaNet!
Time for a look back and, most importantly, our plans for the future.
YubaNet’s origin story
Early in 1999, Susan and I started talking about providing the many non-profits in Nevada County with a place to showcase their work, fundraisers and events. In the age of dial-up connection to the internet, we created the first version of YubaNet.com and invited people to participate: “Welcome to YubaNet, a brand new website providing free community news, information, resources and opinion for the Gold Country and Northern Sierra Nevada communities. Community, communication and convenience are the three words that describe YubaNet best.”
Free classified ads, a post-it-yourself community calendar, a message board, chat and a link directory went live on October 16, 1999. We added a weather page and road conditions, then sat back and watched as seventeen (17) people found the website on that first day.
The name YubaNet comes from our location, overlooking the South Yuba River. As we sat outside toasting the new venture, a smoke plume started to rise to the north. Several phone calls later, we learned from the Tahoe National Forest’s Public Affairs Officer Ann Westling about the Pendola Fire.
The decision to post the fire information would be a transformational change taking YubaNet in a direction we hadn’t even considered. To the best of our knowledge, posting fire information in real time in 1999 simply wasn’t done. Word about the updates started to spread and more people visited the site. We persisted and every morning would receive a fax (remember those?) with updates on the fire. Phone calls with updates and maps started to fill out the information. Soon, local radio stations began calling. “Who are you? Where does that information come from? Hey, want to collaborate?”
By the end of 1999, Urgent News/Fire News, Headline News and satellite images were added to the mix. We started showing up at local government meetings and wrote news stories on elections, City Council and Board of Supervisors meetings.
By 2000, we changed the look of the site from the previous “Matrix”-like theme to a lighter, Sierra look. School closures, a monthly horoscope and an astronomy page appeared. In 2001, while the Star Fire was burning near Foresthill, we were able to help out the incident management team by providing server space that was accessible via satellite connection. At the same time, we learned a lot from first responders who always were incredibly generous in sharing their knowledge.
Fast-forward to July of 2016 and several design changes later, to the creation of Happening Now, the running log of accidents, power outages, fire starts, incidents and weather-related events.
Throughout these twenty years, YubaNet’s content has remained accessible for free, relying on voluntary subscriptions and advertising.
Editor’s note October 24, 2019 at 7:16 PM: We have to reschedule the party, due to a likely blackout #5, also known as a PSPS.
First, we are going to celebrate the first two decades – thanks to friends organizing a celebration on Sunday, October 27th at the Golden Era in Nevada City. Come join us between 5:00 and 9:00 pm. We will kick off a fundraiser to equip YubaNet with a generator and backup power designed to keep our equipment up and running during blackouts and storms. Hope to see you there!
Second, we have plans to expand coverage of regional news with a focus on in-depth special series and explainers of local issues. While it is important to provide emergency information during fires, blackouts or winter storms, the underlying causes need to be highlighted. More town halls on subjects of interest to the community with experts answering questions directly are planned.
Our tagline “We deliver news to the Sierra” encapsulates what we strive to achieve every day: Provide you, our readers, with the information you need to make informed decisions.
Thanks for the first twenty years, here’s to many more!
Pascale Fusshoeller, editor