Most Viewed Stories
Ex-Sutter Supervisor Montna proud of levee upgrades
Former Sutter County Supervisor Larry Montna has a colorful way of discussing some topics. A sampling:
Growth: "You can't stop progress and you can't stop babies being born. ... If you stop growth, you might as well go out to the cemetery and crawl in a box."
Agriculture: "If you look at the orchards going in, everyone plants walnuts. They think we're going to sell them to China. But you've got to open those markets first."
Community cookouts he has organized: "The health department would be after me if they knew what I've done with that thing (referring to a device stored at his muffler shop). You can cook a whole bunch of coleslaw in there and stir it up, make tons of it. It's a cement mixer."
During his 12 years as a Sutter County supervisor, Larry Montna was known as someone unafraid to take a strong, and emotional, stance at times. And when asked on Thursday about his decision not to run for another term last year, he choked up a bit.
"I've been on boards and commissions for 40 years," said Montna, 73, his eyes red around the edges as he sat in the office at his Yuba City muffler shop. "I think my wife and I, it's time to do something else."
Montna said he is glad to have left when he did, when his term ended Dec. 31. With local governments looking at years of tight funding, he said, it's inevitable they'll have to cut staff, and state and federal governments won't help.
"The pension thing is going to bite us in the butt," Montna said. "I think the old term, 'leaner and meaner' is going to come into play."
Montna said he is constantly noticing changes: New people move in while some types of business, like ag processors, disappear.
More fast food restaurants open and people are more tethered to their personal devices than community events.
As a supervisor, he said, he learned growth is inevitable, so governments have to be ready for it.
Along those lines, his most proud accomplishment as a supervisor is seeing the beginning of a process to make sure however the county evolves, it's protected against floods.
"Our levees weren't the strongest in the world," Montna said, describing his pride in establishing the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency, which is set to begin upgrades this year. "When it's done, it'll help everyone from Thermalito Afterbay to the Feather River confluence by Verona."
Montna said he didn't leave the board with regrets, though he had acknowledge he could get passionate about certain topics.
"I doubt it," he said, when asked if he could've done more if he'd been more detached. "I would rather end up in a big argument with someone than talk about myself."
Larry Munger, a supervisor with Montna, said he believes Montna never wavers once he has decided how he feels.
"He's always been firm in what he stands for," Munger said, recalling Montna in particular being emotional on property rights and anything having to do with people who have disabilities.
Montna and his wife, Norma, established a community pool for people with disabilities, Butchie's Pool, in memory of their son Larry "Butchie" Montna, who had Down syndrome and was killed in an auto accident when he was 15.
Much of what Montna's contributed to the board comes in the form of historical perspective, Munger said.
"Every meeting, he takes you back to the '40s and '50s and how everything got done then," Munger said. "You've got to respect his knowledge."
Montna said he still has hopes for the county, in the form of new recreation opportunities on the river, luring back ag processing and helping commercial development expand and diversify.
"It's going to be tough. One guy can come along and change the whole thing," he said of the board's future.
"You never know."
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at email@example.com or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.