Another wackadoodle weekend in The Union

What would The Union be without its political wackadoodles? Few fit the bill more than Judi Caler on Nevada City,  co-founder of Reclaiming Our American Rights (ROAR).

We were first introduced to Judi when she showed up at a Board of Supervisors meeting with Barry Pruett, Russ and George and the other hard right and tea party kids when the County hired our business to manage the GoNevadaCounty.com tourism website in 2011.

As YubaNet reported: “Judi, who introduced her self as a co-founder of Reclaiming Our American Rights (ROAR), proceeded to paint a scenario melding First 5 of Nevada County, Occupy Wall Street, the Constitution and the takeover by a ‘one-world government’ as cause and effect of the contract. Referring to Shannon Pelline as ‘married to a well-known blogger, I wouldn’t appreciate my tax dollars used to promote his views.’ She also reminded the BOS that ‘three of you are up for election and the people are watching.” (The BOS voted 5-0 to award the contract to our business. We managed the contract through 2015 and received a wonderful letter of thanks from the board).

Fast forward to 2017 and Judi has a “Other Voices” in the weekend Union titled “Convention of States adopts ‘Newspeak’ to sell the ‘Con-Con'”

Huh? It begins: “In the novel, ‘1984,’ George Orwell’s unsettling prophecy of a totalitarian society, Newspeak was the official language of Oceania.”

The “Con Con” or the “Can Can”?

“Shamelessly, Mark Meckler and his legal operatives at the Convention of States Project turned to Newspeak. Accordingly, Meckler told senators at a February 25, 2015 Nebraska committee hearing that they’ll direct their ‘commissioners’ by text messaging during the convention because legally, commissioners are equivalent to hired insurance agents!”

I read her column a few times and still have little idea what she is talking about. I was relieved to read this, however: “This article was abridged by the author from her original which includes documentation.” I can only imagine what that reads like!

What do our out-of-town visitors think when they pick up The Union on the weekend and read about the “Con Con,” let alone those who might want to move here? lol.

In honor of the “Con Con,” here’s the “Can Can”:

The Union’s Boardman gets it wrong again: This time on fire insurance moratoriums

The Union’s weekly columnist “Bored Georgeman” (AKA George Boardman) has a penchant for getting it wrong, as regular readers know. In his latest snafu, this “fake journalist” defends an article in The Union that stated “An insurance moratorium was in place across Nevada County.”

WTF? An insurance moratorium “across Nevada County”? No, dumbling. What the Boardman was too ignorant to observe is that this moratorium as of 10/18 covers the following zip codes: “95975, 95946, 95959, 95945, 95949” in western Nevada County but not ones such as these “96160, 96161 and 96162” in the eastern county.

You can’t fix stupid!

Simply Three performs “Rain” at The Center (just in time for some real rain)

We love string music. Whenever we travel, or are at home, we try to go to a string performance: In recent years, this included a string quartet in the courtyard at Venice’s Palazzo delle Prigioni; a string quartet performing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London; world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell at an InConcert Sierra concert in Grass Valley; and Black Violin at The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley.

On Thursday night, we saw a group called Simply Three at The Center. Grass Valley was the fourth stop on the group’s 24 city tour. The trio of Glen McDaniel, Nick Villalobos, and Zack Clark, together known as Simply Three, has been entertaining audiences since 2010. Simply Three has old school training but a new school sound. One of their You Tube videos — “Wake Me Up” — has generated 22 million views.

It was a full house, ranging from high school students to boomers to retirees. The group received a long applause. We grabbed dinner at Tofanelli’s before the show — a reminder of the economic impact of arts and culture in our towns. All in all, a great time on a “school night.”

Here’s an original song they played called “Rain”:

And they also played the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams”;

Our “Sierra Stages”: Arts and culture a catalyst for growth in rural areas

The introduction to the fall issue of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine:

IN THE EARLY ELIZABETHAN ERA, English acting troupes performed in inns, college halls and private homes. Then along came London’s Globe Theater in 1599, showcasing Shakespeare’s best-known plays. Theater became a popular pastime.

Good performing arts have always been good for the economy. In September, we visited Ashland, OR, jokingly called the “town that Shakespeare built.” We spent the weekend at a local hotel, ate out, shopped, and saw Julius Caesar and Henry IV at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s tree-covered 4-acre campus. The Festival’s economic impact in Oregon is estimated at more than $250 million annually.

In the foothills, The Center for the Arts in historic downtown Grass Valley has become a regional hub for performing arts. In over 150 performances a year, The Center attracts patrons from Nevada County as well as Placer County, Sacramento, Tahoe, Reno and the Bay Area. Its patrons contribute an estimated $1 million annually in event-related spending to the area.

“Golden Age” for Local Arts

This year The Center has helped usher in a “Golden Age” of arts and culture in the foothills, culminating with Grass Valley-Nevada City and Truckee being selected as two of the 14 statewide Cultural Districts by the California Arts Council. “The Center is one of the most exciting presenting venues in Northern California,” as the Nevada County Arts Council said in its nomination letter for the Grass Valley-Nevada City Cultural District.

The capital campaign — estimated at $3.8 million — calls for adding 200 seats in the main theater, adding more comfortable seats, state-of-the-art sound and lighting, an expanded stage, new restrooms, improved HVAC and more.

Other cultural assets such as Julia Morgan’s NorthStar House in Grass Valley, and the Miners Foundry Cultural Center and Nevada Theatre in Nevada City also have undergone various capital improvements — helping to prepare them for the five-year Cultural District program.

KVMR Community Radio and the Nevada Theatre Commission teamed up to complete critical repairs to the back wall of the theater, build a much-needed backstage area and provide a home for KVMR. The $4 million project was completed in 2015.

Also in western Nevada County, the Penn Valley Community Foundation has been seeking donations to build a $3.5 million, 12,500 sq.-ft. community center that would be home to InConcert Sierra and the Sierra Master Chorale.

In the Sierra, Truckee is seeking support for an estimated $30 million project called “The Stages at Northstar,” which includes a theater and amphitheater. “The Stages at Northstar will provide a substantial positive year-round economic impact to the greater Tahoe region,” according to the Tahoe Regional Arts Foundation.

The Union shows it is clueless about the home insurance business

The Union writes: “MISS: To insurance companies dropping home insurance policies — or no longer writing them — in Nevada County. No doubt millions in claims will soon come out of the ashes all across Northern California, but millions more have been paid by homeowners for the very insurance support now being sought by victims of fire.

“Fewer companies writing policies also means homeowners, along with prospective homeowners, have more trouble insuring a property — and trouble buying and selling homes, a negative impact on our economy.”

First of all, The Union is way behind in its reporting, as usual. This has been an ongoing problem — long before the recent fires. You wonder about The Union’s sourcing and experience.

Second, homeowners have to share the blame with insurance companies when it comes to digging in their heels about creating “defensible space” with arguments of “property rights” and so on. This is an ongoing issue here, with the right wing nuts showing up at government meetings objecting to tighter regulations about clearing brush.

To be sure, we recently had a “come to Jesus” discussion with our insurer (you can ask him), reminding him about all the money we spend to create defensible space. Tree trimming and brush clearing is expensive. A recent bill for us topped $1,000, just to be proactive.

It’s a tough pill to swallow for some homeowners that Nevada County is a risky place to insure, but the simplistic argument of bashing “big business,” as The Union has, reflects a podunk and ignorant mindset. It is counterproductive.

Celebrating local youth on October 26

Celebrate local youth during the national event Lights On Afterschool, Oct. 26, 2017, 5-7:30 p.m., at the NEO Youth Center in Grass Valley. Lights On Afterschool, is the nationwide event that aims to raise support and awareness for after school programs.

NEO, which stands for New Events and Opportunities, was founded in 2008 by two local youth. Their mission, to encourage healthy choices among peers by providing positive spaces to thrive. For the first six years, NEO acted as a pop-up youth center hosting over 80 events each year throughout the community.

The NEO Youth Center opened their doors March 2015 providing free after school programming, workshops, and events for teens and young adults ages 11-25 years old. Now, with a designated space located on Joerschke Drive in Grass Valley, NEO is able to provide positive activities for teens five days per week. The Youth Center just reached their 500th member and sees about 100 visits per week.

This fun and free Open House features guided tours of the Youth Center, live music, food, and more. Attendees will also hear from our local youth and teachers, meet city representatives and community members, and find out more about after school activities youth can participate in at the NEO Youth Center.

Keeping the lights on after school not only lights up a room full of activities, where conversations take place, passions are explored, and needs are met, but it lights up the lives of local youth and adds to the overall health and vitality of the community.

For more information on the event or the NEO Youth Center please visit http://www.ncneo.org or call 530-470-3869.

—Jesse Locks

(Photo credit: NEO)

The Center for the Arts, Stucki Jewelers and others reinvigorate downtown Grass Valley

(Photo: Josh Miller)

The Union has been too dour in its business reporting of downtown Grass Valley — a reactive rather than proactive approach to news gathering. Our Sierra FoodWineArt magazine — a quarterly publication— has scooped the newspaper on downtown’s biggest project, and its most imaginative one.

Our fall issue, circulating since last week,  has an exclusive on a dynamic, $3.8 million expansion of The Center for the Arts — its first ever capital campaign. The renovation will help cement western Nevada County as a destination for the arts, drawing visitors and locals for generations to come. Details are HERE

We also have an exclusive on Mill St. stalwart Stucki Jewelers Inc. opening the largest walk-in humidor for premium cigars in the foothills — a growing retail trend. Owners James and Nicole Arbaugh “figure the premium cigar humidor will compliment their mainstay jewelry business — providing offerings for men and women shoppers.”

Jewelry and premium cigars are luxury-lifestyle products (think Robb Report magazine), and both are gifts for “right of passage” celebrations such as birthdays, graduations and weddings. Stucki also carries distinctive gifts such as crystal decanters and flasks.

Stucki hosted a cigar rolling demonstration this summer

“Our goal is to have one of the top humidors in Northern California,” says James. He and Nicole carefully researched the project and brought on one of California’s premium cigar distributors, San Jose-based JMG International, as a consultant.

The walk-in humidor is being stocked with hundreds of premium hand-crafted cigars — including ones from Cuba — along with loose-leaf tobacco and pipes and accessories such as cigar cutters, lighters and ashtrays.

The world-renowned brands include Arturo Fuente, Padrón, My Father, Montecristo, and Ashton, among others. The cigars are hand-rolled with premium tobacco from places such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua. The selection includes top-rated and rare cigar samplers and gift sets, as well as individual cigars priced from $8-$25. More details about Stucki’s plans are HERE.

Our magazine concludes: “Other businesses that recently have opened or are in the works include the Grass Valley Brewing Co.; Twisted Ale Taphouse & Grille with craft beer, local wine and imaginative pub food; the Wild Eye Pub, a vibrant, multi-use venue anchored by a local-foods eatery, a shared kitchen, an event space and pub; and Sourdough & Co., a casual restaurant featuring freshly baked sourdough bread, delistyle sandwiches and fresh soups and salads. With the planned expansion of The Center for the Arts, the downtown has a bright future.”