Friday, 27 May 2022

Regional

The Cottonwood Creek Bridge in Butte County. Photo courtesy of Caltrans.

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. — Caltrans announced Monday it has completed construction of the new Cottonwood Creek Bridge in Butte County.

The $15.3 million project includes $3.2 million in funding from Senate Bill (SB) 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.

The new bridge, located on State Route 99 north of the Thermalito Afterbay reservoir, replaces an aging structure damaged by erosion.

Over the years, swiftly moving water from Cottonwood Creek removed sediment around the bridge piers, compromising the integrity of the structure.

“The project is part of Caltrans’ effort to rehabilitate or replace several bridges in Butte County and neighboring Yuba and Sutter counties,” said Caltrans District 3 Director Amarjeet S. Benipal. “We’re continuing to honor our SB 1 commitments to all California travelers.”

The Cottonwood Creek Bridge in Butte County. Photo courtesy of Caltrans.

In addition to building a new bridge, construction crews realigned a segment of roadway and widened the Nelson Avenue intersection at SR 99 by providing an additional left-turn lane onto eastbound lanes.

In the past two years, Caltrans has also upgraded the Western Canal Bridge on SR 99 in Butte County and replaced the SR 70 Simmerly Slough Bridge north of Marysville, the SR 20 Wadsworth Canal Bridge in Sutter County, and the SR 20 Dry Creek Bridge in Yuba County.

SB 1 provides $5 billion in transportation funding annually split between the state and local agencies. Road projects progress through construction phases more quickly based on the availability of SB 1 funds, including projects that are partially funded by SB 1.

For more information about other transportation projects funded by SB 1, visit rebuildingca.ca.gov.

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom announced the availability of three $50,000 rewards for information leading to an arrest and conviction for the murders of Tyler Dickson in Butte County; Jesus Sanchez in Ontario; and Iran Moreno in Pasadena.

Under California law, law enforcement agencies may ask the governor to issue rewards in certain unsolved cases where they have exhausted all investigative leads, to encourage individuals with information about the crimes to come forward. Public assistance is vital to law enforcement, and rewards may encourage the public cooperation needed to apprehend those who have committed serious offenses.

The rewards involve the following cases:

Butte County – Tyler Dickson: A $50,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction for the murder of Tyler Dickson. On July 3, 2021, 20-year-old Dickson was fatally shot while sleeping in a tent at a campsite in Butte County. The Butte County Sheriff’s Office has exhausted numerous investigative leads and requested that a reward be offered to encourage any individuals with information about this murder to contact Butte County Sheriff’s Sergeant Patrick McNelis or Detective Tristian Harper at 530-538-7671.

Ontario – Jesus Sanchez: A $50,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction for the murder of Jesus Sanchez. On October 23, 2021, 18-year-old Sanchez was fatally shot in Ontario in front of a house where there was a large party. The Ontario Police Department has exhausted all investigative leads and requested that a reward be offered to encourage any individuals with information about this murder to contact Ontario Police Detective Kyle Mena at 909-408-1769 or 909-395-2001.

Pasadena – Iran Moreno: A $50,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction for the murder of Iran Moreno. On November 20, 2021, 13-year-old Moreno was killed by a stray bullet that came through his bedroom window in Pasadena. The Pasadena Police Department has exhausted all investigative leads and requested that a reward be offered to encourage any individuals with information about this murder to contact Pasadena Police Lieutenant Keith Gomez at 626-744-4517.

More information on the Governor’s Reward Program can be found here.

Officials said a Redding woman who claimed to have been the victim of kidnapping in 2016 has been arrested for making false statements to a federal law enforcement officer and engaging in mail fraud.

U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert, FBI Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan and Shasta County Sheriff Michael L. Johnson announced the arrest on Thursday of Sherri Papini, 39.

According to the criminal complaint filed in this case, on Nov. 2, 2016, Papini was reported missing, and extensive searches were conducted for her in Shasta County and California as well as in several other states.

On Nov. 24, 2016, Papini was found in Yolo County near Woodland. Papini had various bindings on her body and injuries including a “brand” on her right shoulder.

At that time, Papini told law enforcement officers and others that she had been abducted and held by two Hispanic women at gunpoint and held against her will. She also provided details of the alleged abductors to an FBI sketch artist.

Based on her account, law enforcement agencies were on the lookout for Hispanic women matching Papini’s description.

The investigation eventually showed, however, that this was a false narrative Papini fabricated. In truth, Papini had been voluntarily staying with a former boyfriend in Costa Mesa and had harmed herself to support her false statements.

During an interview conducted by a federal agent and a Shasta County Sheriff’s Office detective in August 2020, Papini was warned that it was a crime to lie to federal agents.

She was presented with evidence that showed she had not been abducted. Instead of retracting her kidnapping story, Papini continued to make false statements about her purported abductors.

In addition, Papini caused the California Victim’s Compensation Board to pay victim assistance money based on her kidnapping story.

From 2017 through 2021, Papini’s request for victim assistance caused approximately 35 payments totaling over $30,000, including for visits to her therapist and for the ambulance that transported her to the hospital after her return.

“When a young mother went missing in broad daylight, a community was filled with fear and concern,” said U.S. Attorney Talbert.

Talbert said the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office immediately began investigating, calling on the assistance of the FBI.

“Countless hours were spent following leads, all in an effort to bring this woman back to her family. Three weeks later, she was found 146 miles south of where she disappeared, and the focus went from trying to find her to trying to find her abductors. Ultimately, the investigation revealed that there was no kidnapping and that time and resources that could have been used to investigate actual crime, protect the community, and provide resources to victims were wasted based on the defendant’s conduct,” Talbert said.

“This case exemplifies the FBI’s commitment to working tirelessly with law enforcement partners and prosecutors to examine all facts and seek the truth, no matter how long that process takes or how complex the analysis may be,” said Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI Sacramento Field Office. “We are grateful for the dedication of the agents, investigators, lab technicians, professional staff, and prosecutors who aided our collaborative fact-finding efforts. We are relieved that the community is not endangered by unknown, violent kidnappers, and thank the public and media for their patience and strong support for this case since the initial reports of Sherri Papini’s disappearance.”

“The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office is very thankful for the partnerships with all of the local, state, and federal allied agencies that have been involved with this investigation for the last five
plus years,” said Sheriff Johnson.

Johnson said Papini’s arrest was made possible by the “outstanding hard work” of a multitude of agents, detectives, DOJ criminalist, forensic analyst, crime scene investigators and support staff members that were assigned to this investigation.

“Everyone involved in this investigation had one common goal; to find the truth about what happened on Nov. 2, 2016 with Sherri Papini and who was responsible,” Johnson said. “The 22-day search for Sherri Papini and subsequent five-year search into who reportedly abducted her was not only taxing on public resources but caused the general public to be fearful of their own safety, a fear that they should not have had to endure. The Sheriff’s Office has appreciated the support and patience from the citizens of Shasta County and abroad. This investigation has always been a priority to get solved for the Sheriff’s Office as well as for our investigating partners at the FBI and the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Forensic Services and Bureau of Investigation.”

“At the California Department of Justice, we're proud of the work that our investigators and forensic experts do each and every day to provide critical investigative leads to our law enforcement partners across California,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “No matter the circumstances, our team is committed to the facts. While this case deals with a tough situation, we'll continue to do our part to help secure justice. Thank you to our partners at the federal and local level for your commitment to seeing this case through.”

If convicted of making false statements to a federal law enforcement officer, Papini faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.

If convicted of mail fraud, she faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.

Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, officials said.

This case is the product of an investigation by the FBI and the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Forensic Services and Bureau of Investigation, and the California Highway Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Veronica M.A. Alegría and Shelley D. Weger are prosecuting the case.

On Wednesday, Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) and Rep. Jared Huffman (CA-02) announced that Sonoma County is set to receive over $3 million in federal funding to provide local jurisdictions the tools necessary to reduce the risks of natural disasters, including wildfires and earthquakes.

This funding comes from the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s Community Development Block Grant Mitigation Resilience Planning and Public Services program which allocates $2,078,100 for Sonoma County and $1,000,000 for Santa Rosa.

“Mitigating the effects of natural disasters is one of the most important tools we have to reduce the impact these destructive events have on our lives,” said Thompson. “Reducing the risks of natural disasters could help us save lives, prevent property damage, and keep our communities safe. I’m glad to see this funding for our district so we can effectively prepare for fire season and ensure a robust response to any threats our district faces.”

“As the climate crisis worsens, so does the risk of natural disasters,” said Huffman. “We know all too well the devastating impacts these events can have on our region, and mitigation efforts are a critical part of our response. Rep. Thompson and I have been pushing for federal support that meets this urgent need, and this funding from the Biden-Harris administration will help ensure our communities are more resilient against future disasters.”

For Sonoma County, the $2,078,100 includes:

• $500,000 for a Community Emergency Response Team Training
• $500,000 for a Community Resilience Center Needs Assessment
• $500,000 for a Community Education and Marketing Plan
• $374,500 for a Disaster Recovery Plan
• $203,600 for a General Plan Safety Update

For the city of Santa Rosa, the $1,000,000 includes:

• $500,000 for a Storm Drain Master Plan
• $500,000 for a Vegetation Management Education and Inspection Program

The California Department of Housing and Community Development established the Resilience Planning and Public Services Program to provide federal resources to local jurisdictions for the acquisition of public services needs and mitigation-related planning that will reduce the risks of three primary hazards: wildfire, flooding and earthquake.

NORTH COAST, Calif. — On Monday, March 14, at 10:30 a.m., the North Coast Railroad Authority, or NCRA, will hold its final meeting.

After nearly 30 years of controversy, massive policy setbacks and straddling bankruptcy for years — the agency that was charged with trying to bring rail back to the North Coast will officially cease operations, per state law passed by Senate Majority Leader Mike McGuire.

And, at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, the Great Redwood Trail Agency will spring to life.

This new agency, created by SB 69, will take over the rail corridor and is charged with advancing the master plan later this fall and building the Great Redwood Trail on top of the current rail bed.

When fully built, the Great Redwood Trail will run from the San Francisco Bay to Humboldt Bay, becoming the longest rail trail in America.

Sen. McGuire will be speaking to kick off their first meeting.

“The Great Redwood Trail will be a game changer for the North Coast. Over 25,000 miles of former freight rail line have been transitioned to trails over the past 30 years throughout America and we couldn’t be more excited to move the Great Redwood Trail forward here in Northern California,” said McGuire, the author of the legislative and budget items that created the new agency.

He added, “The Great Redwood Trail will be a world class destination for hikers, cyclists and nature lovers here at home and from across the globe. Stretching from San Francisco Bay to Humboldt Bay, the Trail will encompass 300 miles of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet. Monday will be a historic day for our region and we can’t wait to say goodbye to the dysfunctional North Coast Rail Authority and say hello to the Great Redwood Trail.”

The trail will serve not only as a recreational, social, and exercise path, but will quickly become an economic driver for the North Coast communities it runs through.

Outdoor recreation was a $93 billion industry in this state before COVID, and the revenue has been steadily climbing to return to that level.

The meetings will be held via Zoom.

NCRA’s final meeting:

Date and time: Monday, March 14, at 10:30 a.m.
Zoom Meeting ID: 825 2940 1844
Pass code: 808342

GRTA’s first official meeting:
Date and time: Monday, March 14, at 11:30 a.m.
Zoom Meeting ID: 833 3517 4933
Pass code: 808342

Dungeness crabs on fishing vessel. Photo courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Wildlife officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Enforcement Division have noticed an uptick in the number of commercial Dungeness crab cases in North Coast waters since December 2021.

Since Dec. 9, 2021, there have been five cases out of Crescent City and two out of Eureka regarding possession of undersize crabs by commercial crab fishermen.

The most common violation during this period has been commercial harvest of undersized crabs.

Commercial Dungeness crab fishermen are expected to measure their entire catch and keep only crabs that are equal to or greater than 6 ¼ inches, which is slightly more than the required 5 ¾ width required of recreational crabbers. There is a provision in the law to authorize possession of no more than one percent of the catch to be undersize.

In all seven cases, citations were written, the loads were seized and the proceeds from the sales of the crab were directed to the Wildlife Preservation Fund until the cases can be adjudicated in court.

Collectively in the seven cases, there were 575 undersized crab discovered during inspections in the past few months.

The illegal loads seized have ranged from 8 to 24 percent undersized, making them gross violations of the one percent undersized Dungeness crab allowance.

During the investigations, wildlife officers discovered evidence that some boat crews had attempted to avoid wildlife officers at the dock and had possibly dumped a load of short crabs. One of the cited violators had been recently warned by wildlife officers for possession of short crabs.

A slightly different type of Dungeness crab violation also occurred in December 2021 involving an anonymous citizen tip that a commercial passenger fishing vessel would be using 120 recreational traps in addition to their commercial traps to fish for commercial Dungeness crab outside of San Francisco Bay.

Their investigation revealed that the suspect fisherman was illegally using recreational traps prior to the commercial season opener to enhance his commercial landings. In total, 8,322 pounds of crab were seized.

“Wildlife officers hope word will spread through the commercial crab fishing industry that Dungeness crab violations will result in citations and possible permit suspensions or revocations,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “California’s commercial crab fishing industry has historically been a viable commercial fishery that contributes much to California dinner tables and the economy. The majority of commercial crab fishermen remain compliant. Our end goal is to simply reduce the violations of a few to zero.”

Both commercial and recreational crabbers are required to have a measuring device to ensure all Dungeness crab meet the minimum size limit of 6 ¼ inches for commercial harvest and 5 ¾ inches for recreational harvest, measured by the shortest distance through the body from edge of shell to edge of shell directly in front of and excluding the points (lateral spines).

While there has been an observed uptick in the number of commercial crab violations, CDFW commends the broader majority of the commercial Dungeness crab fleet for their compliance with the rules governing the fishery and their significant efforts to reduce the risk of whale and sea turtle entanglements.

Upcoming Calendar

28May
28May
05.28.2022 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cobb Estate Sale
28May
05.28.2022 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
12 Tribe yard sale and fundraiser
28May
05.28.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Steele
28May
05.28.2022 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Rodman Preserve public hours
28May
05.28.2022 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Morning cemetery tour
28May
05.28.2022 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Weekly writing workshop
29May
05.29.2022 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cobb Estate Sale
30May
05.30.2022
Memorial Day

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