New smoke shop in GV out of place

A new smoke shop in Grass Valley has opened, just across the street from City Hall.

With a stenciled red sign on white plastic that reads “smoke shop,” it’s a little out of place.

Not exactly in keeping with the flavor of a “historic district.” I know the building has been vacant for a while.

I hope the sign gets changed soon. The storefront window is cluttered too. There’s some interesting *smoking-related paraphernalia* inside too.

The cigarette stores in town always seem to be busy. It’s not a good image to project across from City Hall, however.

Some ‘small-mindedness’ on Foothill closing

Ashland Shakespeare Festival
Ashland Shakespeare Festival
The closing of the Foothill Theatre was troubling because of some “small mindedness.”

The “Save the Foothill” effort just petered out. I wish the city, civic leaders and the local media (in their editorials) would have been more squarely behind keeping it open. More attention lately was put into a production called “Recession” at “Off Broad Street.”

City Council wasn’t nearly vocal enough. The Mayor should have led an effort for a resolution/campaign keep it open. I never understood that.

The “whisper campaign,” always present in a small town, was a heated debate between community theater versus Actor Equity (union) theater.

Some people in town criticized the union wage structure. This included people on the board of the Nevada Theatre Commission.

Others, typically a contingent of past and present community actors, argued that community theater was just as good as professional theatre. This included people on City Council.

Some people in FTC management and on the board were perplexed. A professional theater group is a “feather in the cap” of any small town.

Here’s the reality:

•The theater won’t be filled as much as it was before without FTC. Just do the math. The Nevada Theatre Commission will have to work hard to keep it occupied. A plan has been floated for the city to run the Theatre but that won’t happen now.

•People from out of town will be less likely to come here for community theatre, compared with a professional theater group. This means less money will “trickle down” into the community. It’s a classic example of our provincial mindset to think otherwise.

•The Executive Director of the FTC is an elected and hard-working board member of the chamber. But the city has no FTC now, which is, well, an unfortunate situation.

We often get involved in small-town debates without seeing the “big picture.” It’s usually a sign that we need more leadership in our community — from businesses, civic leaders and the local media.

Next up: The fate of Thomson Grass Valley, one of the biggest tax revenue generators in the city and is up for sale. The blow from losing this one will be much greater.

Did Hastert plea bargain bring justice?

Hastert (from
Hastert (from
The county DA’s plea bargain in the Thomas Hastert loan-fraud case — announced on Thursday — included a “no contest” plea to 59 counts but dropping 25 others.

The DA and Jerry Brown, who’s running for governor, sent out a laudatory press release.

“Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced that the man behind an ‘elaborate real estate scam,’ Thomas Hastert, pled guilty today to 59 felony counts of embezzlement, securities fraud, and selling unregistered securities,” it read.

It’s hard to imagine Hastert acted alone in his hard-loan deals, but dropping some of the charges — filing false documents, for example — will make it less likely that any others around here will be prosecuted.

I’m sure others in our community noticed this. No wonder perceptions linger of a “good old boys/girls network.”

As for restitution, it sounds good on paper — as well as politically — but will the victims ever get full restitution in their lifetime? Just do the math.

I hope the judge — the last “backstop” on this deal — more closely scrutinizes this agreement before it becomes final. The local media and community should too.

In instances like this, you need good investigative reporting in the news pages.

You also need a camera in the courtroom: The local paper just used a mugshot for the dramatic hearing. If you’re going to run an audio clip, you also need to edit it down from a full hour.

Will KVMR replace Bonanza Market in NC?

Folks in downtown Nevada City are wondering whether KVMR will go into the space where Bonanza Market is located on Broad Street.

Despite some efforts to spruce it up, Bonanza remains a tired-looking space, at least to me. KVMR has been looking to expand into larger quarters for a long time.

I’d prefer that the high-profile space remain retail — ideally a Trader Joe’s-*like* market. (Not Trader Joe’s, mind you).

I’d also prefer to see a business go there that would generate some shopping $$$, as well as foot traffic from visitors and locals.

On the other hand, if the *long overdue* deal for California Organics to go into the Broad Street Furnishings building materializes, my hometown will get a good organic market. The deal is still hung up over bridge financing, according to my sources.

Besides an organic market, it would be cool to get a barbershop back in town. And an ice cream store to replace the one that just closed.

Gary Tintle is committed to getting an ice-cream parlor back into the space where Confectionary Mines was located. Gary is a co-owner of the space.

A couple of people are interested. Cutting the rent will help.

Gary is being lobbied to sign on as president of the city’s Downtown Association, replacing John Paul, who resigned. Whatever it takes to bring that group together is welcome.

Improving the mix of businesses downtown will help draw more locals and tourists alike, helping to draw it out of the recession.

E-petition to stop reopening of the mine

An e-petition is online to stop the reopening of the Idaho-Maryland mine. It’s here.

This is another good example of using Web technology for grassroots activity, just as with Facebook. It’s a growing trend.

It’s interesting to see who signed the petition and their arguments. Many of them are thoughtful.

I don’t know of an e-petition for people who want to reopen the mine, but I’ll keep an ear to the ground.

I expect the debate on the mine to become a humdinger as the process continues — paling in comparison to last year’s growth initiatives and more along the lines of the NH2020 debate.

Let’s hope all the facts get out. NH2020 created a lot of controversy, but people tell me they’re not sure what it really said. That was depressing to hear.