Nevada County Fairgrounds wins prestigious Merrill award

The Merrill Award, named in honor of Western Fairs Association Founder Louis Merrill, is given for those fairs that clearly demonstrate innovation, vision, and excellence.

According to Sandy Woods, the former president of the Nevada County Fairgrounds, the Nevada County Fairgrounds was named the winner of the 2016 Merrill Award on Wednesday night at the association’s convention in Reno. Other finalists were the fairs in Marin, Orange County, Fresno and San Diego.

“The Nevada County Fair won the Merrill Award tonight! Awesome! I’m so delighted with the tremendous acknowledgement of our great staff and marvelous community,” Sandy wrote on her Facebook page. “I’m so proud! We’re blessed!”

The background on the Nevada County Fairgrounds’s nomination is here: “The Nevada County Fairgrounds had been nominated for their Community Involvement Day,” according to the Western Fairs Association website.

“After years of incorporating community giving into the fair lineup, the Nevada County Fairgrounds decided that they could better showcase their partner charities by providing a separate Community Involvement Day,” the nomination read. “By creating a special donation opportunity a week prior to the annual fair, the Fairgrounds connected the community directly with local charities like never before.

“The Foodbank of Nevada County, Foothill Lion’s Club, Nevada County 2-1-1 (school supplies donations), and the Story Club of Nevada County (book donations) were among the charities who participated in the Community Involvement Day. Community participants received ‘buy one get one free’ fair admission tickets in exchange for donations, and those who gave blood to BloodSource received one free fair admission ticket each.

As a thank you for their community’s participation, the Fairgrounds has given out over 2300 vouchers.”

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The incredible growing sinkhole in Grass Valley

This video was posted by engineering firm Holdrege & Kul

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Cartoonist Mark Fiore: “De-Obamafication”

“While everyone has been focusing on President-elect Trump’s tweets, Republicans in Congress are beginning to implement their extremist vision. Sure, an upstart group of House Republicans backed down on gutting the ethics office, but there is plenty more to come,” writes Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mark Fiore. The link to Mark’s political animation, “De-Obamafication,” is HERE.


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“MLK” by renowned New Hampshire-based artist Derek Russell was painted in 2013. It was commissioned and collected by GSV Capital. It is exhibited at the GSV Gallery in Woodside, along with others under “Portraits of Innovation.”

“The campaign, developed for Silicon Valley-based GSV — bringing together the likes of (King), Abraham Lincoln, Amelia Earhart, Apple founder Steve Jobs, and NHL great Wayne Gretzky — celebrates the contributions and wisdom of these legendary figures, along with the pioneering outlooks that propelled them to exceptional heights,” the firm said. More details are here.


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RIP Kevin Starr

Kevin Starr (Photo credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Kevin Starr (Photo credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Editor’s note: Few to none have done a better job of defining the “sense of place” in California.

“Former California State Librarian Kevin Starr, who produced rich social, cultural and political histories that chronicled the origins and rapid transformation of the Golden State, has died,” the Los Angeles Times is reporting. “He was 76.

“Starr, a professor at USC, died of a heart attack Saturday at a hospital in San Francisco, according to his wife of 53 years, Sheila Starr.

“Starr captured the state’s rise in influence, and its singular hold on the public imagination, in ‘Americans and the California Dream,’ a sweeping series of books that start with the Gold Rush and go on to focus on the Progressive Era, the 1920s, the Great Depression and other distinct chapters of California’s past.

“Throughout his work, Starr celebrated the state’s creativity, its innovation and openness to ideas. And he demonstrated a familiarity with a vast range of topics central to the state’s development and its image of itself: architecture, agriculture, literature, water infrastructure and the entertainment industry, among others.

“’He was the greatest historian Los Angeles and California ever had and ever will have,’ said former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, who hosts a book club that counted Starr as one of its original members.

The rest of the article is here.

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Lake Tahoe’s West Shore

We haven’t had this much snow at our place in Tahoe in a while:


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Scoop: County Schools Superintendent Hermansen to retire on August 1

1965083_10151946023042373_1736872933_nI received this letter this afternoon from County Superintendent of Schools Holly Hermansen. It was included in the school board packet. At the meeting next week, the board will be discussing a process for making an appointment:

“January 13, 2017

“President Meek and Members of the Board,

“I am writing to inform you of my intention to retire effective August 1, 2017.

“After over 30 years in education, I am very appreciative and reflective of the last 10 years that I have spent as Nevada County Superintendent of Schools. They have undoubtedly been some of the most fulfilling years of my career.

“There are many accomplishments that I am particularly proud of. Providing excellent programs that directly serve students has been my greatest joy. Our programs that serve special education, preschool and at-risk students are effective, high quality programs that change the lives of students and families. I started my career teaching in a juvenile hall, working in a preschool, and teaching students with disabilities, so these programs have been very close to my heart. County offices are tasked with providing programs and services for those students who most need them and our office can be proud of the work that we do in this area. Implementing intervention programs and services through our federal Safe Schools / Healthy Students grant has had a powerful impact on all our schools. We have implemented anti-bullying and social skills programs throughout the county, helping to keep our schools safe, which creates healthy learning environments. Years after our federal grant ended, we have worked very hard and have been able to sustain our highly effective school-based Family Resource Centers that provide significant resources and services for families. Our office has helped local school districts and charter schools navigate significant and unprecedented educational changes, including a new funding model, new state standards, a new state testing system and a complicated new state accountability system.

“Several exceptional programs have recently been implemented, including our Adventures in Learning summer school program, Teacher Educator Grants, a highly successful countywide professional development day that improves teacher effectiveness, and the innovative community-wide STEAM Expo that serves to expose our students to opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. Improving school safety and culture has been a priority. When I first came into this position, one of my goals was to create community partnerships. Those successful partnerships have been instrumental in creating successful programs.

“None of this would have been remotely possible without our unbelievably dedicated and professional staff. I can’t even begin to say how much happens behind the scenes to make all that I mentioned above possible. Every amazing employee in our organization contributes to making an impact on the lives of our students. Throughout my years at NCSOS, I have strived to make sure that every single member of our staff knows they impact the lives of our students.

“I am very aware I leave NCSOS in good hands. We have talented and dedicated staff, and an intelligent and thoughtful board. I believe there will be a seamless transition and our service to schools and students will continue. I am completely fulfilled by my work in education and ready to move on to whatever adventure comes next.

“In appreciation,

“Holly Hermansen
“Nevada County Superintendent of Schools”

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