– The Colusa County Public Health Department received confirmation of the first confirmed case of the coronavirus within the county March 27.
According to a release issued by the department, an older-aged individual with underlying health conditions and a history of international travel tested positive for COVID-19 and then began isolating at home.
– To reconnect with students during a strange and isolating time, teachers and staff from Pierce Unified School District paraded through the county on March 31, waving and cheering to students to bring a sense of normalcy back to their young lives.
“The school closure happened fast, and many were surprised and not ready,” said Laura Hansen, fifth grade teacher at Arbuckle Elementary. “All of us at Pierce Joint Unified School District were hoping that we could stay in school as long as possible since we know many of our students need consistency in their life.”
– A suspect was in custody after allegedly stealing a handgun from a local sporting goods store.
Officers from the Colusa Police Department were dispatched to Kittle’s Outdoor and Sport in Colusa on the afternoon of April 1, responding to a report of a robbery.
A black male adult, later identified as Dejon Tyron Stewart, entered the store and attempted to steal some ammunition before he was confronted by employees and left.
After an investigation, Stewart was arrested and charged with burglary, grand theft of a firearm, looting and grand theft during a state of emergency and booked into the Colusa County Jail.
– (April 9) The Corning Police Department upgraded its 911 system making it possible for dispatch to locate an emergency call from a cell phone to within five meters of its location.
The upgrade was provided through RapidSOS, at no cost to the police department.
“Providing the service free of charge is made possible through our commercial partnership with data providers that enable us to do this for departments,” said Keith Viveiros, ENP, RapidSOS public safety customer success manager. “Companies like Apple, Uber, and more, who send data through our Clearinghouse to PSAP’s. Our value to them comes through access to our vast network of over 4,000 9-1-1 centers across the country. It takes a commercial provider years to build that kind of network while we can offer it instantly.”
Tom Watson, the department’s Administrative Services officer, said the value of the service to the community and the department is enormous.
– While Glenn County libraries were closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were offering a number of online resources, such as electronic and audiobooks, online magazines and resources for teaching and learning, some of which weren’t typically available.
– The Glenn County Fair was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
– Willows community members got in their cars and drove by to wish Alex and Sylvan – who turned five and eight respectively – happy birthday while practicing social distancing. Some drivers put signs and decorations on their vehicles and some even dressed up in costume.
– Colusa Unified School District brought some much needed care and camaraderie to the community of Colusa on Friday when they hosted a car parade.
Led by Colusa Fire Department personnel in bunny costumes, more than 70 cars, trucks, ATVs and tractors paraded through the streets of Colusa to wave at students stuck at home during the school closure.
“It was so touching to see all of the staff lined up to get organized at Colusa High School,” said Rebecca Changus, principal at Burchfield Primary School. “The number of staff from our district able to join was absolutely touching.”
– (April 16) Although the Tehama District Fair has been canceled for this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Fair’s Board of Directors has decided the Junior Livestock Auction portion of the event will go on – virtually.
The Board decided the auction would take place May 16-17, however, if by them the coronavirus stay-home order has been lifted, the auction will be in person as before.
“However, I doubt that will be the case, not unless a miracle happens,” said Fair Manager Mandy Staley.
The Board has also appointed a livestock adhoc committee to make recommendations regarding specific details.
“We have to do all we can to help and support all of the youth who have been raising animals in preparation for this auction,” Board Pres. Shanna Long said.
– (April 23) A single vehicle crash on Corning Road took the life of 19-year-old Chad Torres during the early morning hours April 19.
It appear Torres was driving a 2001 Honda Civic east on Corning Road when he went onto the graveled shoulder as he entered a curve near Freeman Schoolhouse Road around 3 a.m., reported the California Highway Patrol.
As the Honda came back onto the roadway it overturned and Torres, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected from the car, CHP said.
Torres was pronounced dead at the crash by medical personnel.
Driving under the influence was suspected as a cause of the accident.
– K-9 Dutch joined the Orland Police Department – his partner is Officer Thomas Roenspie. Dutch is a German Shepherd Malinois mix and was donated to the department by Meyer’s Police Canine Training and the duo’s five-week training was paid for by a grant from the North Valley Community Foundation and Butte Strong Fund, which also paid for Dutch’s equipment.
– Like most hospitals at this time, Colusa Medical Center had limited visitation to the facility per the Center for Disease Control guidelines in an effort to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
Amy Micheli, Chief Operations/Nursing Officer for the Colusa Medical Center, said being a small hospital has been beneficial during this pandemic because decisions can be made very quickly.
“We don’t have to go through a big chain of commands,” said Micheli. “We can make decisions quickly and that has really put us ahead of the curve.”
– A letter signed by six county boards of supervisors chairmen and several city mayors in the north state was sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom, asking for local control over reopening local economies.
As part of the reasoning for asking the governor to allow counties to control an easing of restrictions, the letter cited the low infection rate in the six counties and low number of confirmed cases out of the approximately 500,000 people who make up the region.
“We ask you to allow our counties to exercise local authority to implement a careful and phased reopening of our local economies,” the letter read.
District 3 Assemblyman James Gallagher’s office sent the letter to Newsom April 24. The letter was signed by Gallagher, District 4 state Sen. Jim Nielsen, board of supervisor chairs of Sutter, Yuba, Butte, Tehama, Glenn and Colusa counties, and the mayors of Yuba City, Marysville, Live Oak, Wheatland, Paradise, Oroville, Gridley, Biggs, Williams, Corning, Tehama and Willows.
– (April 30) The two Corning men were shot and killed in a double homicide at Thomas Creek in Richfield on Thursday, April 30.
Edgar Alejandro Villa Valencia, 22, was shot around 8 p.m. while swimming at the creek with a group of family and friends. He was transported by family members to St. Elizabeth Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The body of Juan Manuel Valencia Vargas, 20, was located in Thomas Creek as sheriff’s detectives where investigating the shooting of Valencia.
According to the Tehama County Coroner’s Office, both men died from gunshot wounds to the torso.
Sheriff’s detectives continue to investigate the shootings that occurred in the area of the Thomas Creek Bridge on Highway 99W north of Sonoma Avenue.
– Local Future Farmers of America members talked about their plans to sell their fair animals amid the Glenn County Fair cancellation and COVID-19 pandemic. The Glenn Ag Expo was also started to offer an opportunity for 4-H and FFA members an opportunity to sell their animals virtually. Glenn County 4-H also hosted a virtual showcase to show off local members’ projects.
– To enrich the community’s connection to fresh, locally grown foods, the Colusa County Office of Education continued expanding their Farm to School program over the last two years.
“The whole point of the program is connecting students to local agriculture and to show them where their food supplies come from,” said Craig Richards, Farm to School teacher.
According to Richards, the program was started after CCOE received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service targeted specifically for getting things up and running.
– (May 7) Public testing for COVID-19 began taking place in Corning May 18, said Tehama County Public Health Supervising Nurse Michelle Schmidt during a press conference on coronavirus and the county’s response.
The testing started on Tuesday, April 5 at the Red Bluff Community Center and will continue there for two weeks before moving to a yet-to-be announced site in Corning.
“Tehama County has received 250 negative lab results and the one positive result who died as a result of complications of COVID-19,” Schmidt said.
– Glenn County’s unemployment rate rose in March compared to February and an Employment Development Department said it could’ve been because of the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic – but the figures were possibly not all encompassing.
– Mike Buckley’s fifth-grade class at Murdock Elementary School engineered a French drain for their 2019 Cal Water H2O Challenge project – which is an annual competition that asks students to tackle a local or global water-related issue through a classroom project. Buckley’s class created the drain because the school’s garden sometimes flooded when there was a significant amount of rain – making it difficult for them to work in the garden until the water was gone.
– The Colusa County Board of Supervisors held a special meeting May 8 to establish a Phased Opening Plan, which was then submitted to the California Department of Health for approval.
According to a release by the county, the board also included a Variance request outlining the county’s readiness to proceed with this plan at an accelerated pace.
“This plan is a phased plan that will allow for a slow and steady pace to return our community to normal operations,” read a statement in the Colusa County Phased Opening Plan. “The phased plan is necessary to continue to limit the spread of COVID-19 disease.”
– (May 14) An arrest warrant has been issued for Roberto Villa Valencia, 27, of Corning as the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office continues the investigation into a double homicide at the Thomas Creek Bridge near Highway 99W north of Sonoma Avenue in Richfield on April 30.
Valencia is being sought by the sheriff’s office as a suspect the shooting death of Juan Manuel Vargas, 20, of Corning. Valencia is not a suspect in the shooting death shot of Edgar Alejandro Villa Valencia, 22, of Corning, who was also killed at the creek incident.
A high-risk search warrant at a residence in the 1100 block of Sixth Street in Corning on Thursday, May 6. During the search agents located and recovered evidence related to the shootings, including a firearm believed to be used in Vargas’ death.
– To address the cancelation of the still exhibits and floriculture portions of the Colusa County Fair due to COVID-19 related downsizing, the Colusa County 4-H program planned to host a virtual showcase for 4-H members.
“This event allows 4-H youth members to enter the still exhibit items they made this year to be evaluated and receive feedback, recognition, and awards for their hard work,” said Nicole Marshall-Wheeler, 4-H Youth Development Advisor for the Colusa 4-H Youth Development Program.
– The California Department of Public Health approved Colusa County’s Phased Opening Plan and granted the submitted Variance request, allowing the county to fully enter into Phase 2 of the reopening process.
In this phase of the plan, restaurants were allowed to open to no more than half capacity to promote social distancing. Retailers were also allowed to reopen but curbside pick-up was encouraged.
“Retailers and restaurants have suffered tremendously,” said Cindy Campbell, president of the Colusa County Chamber of Commerce. “So now that we can visit these businesses, go … support your local establishments. They need us more than ever.
– (May 21) This year’s Tehama District Jr. Livestock Auction may not have been a record breaker, but for the 287 youth exhibitors who sold lambs, hogs, goats, rabbits and steers, the support shown by the community during the virtual sale was amazing.
“Thank you doesn’t begin to express our gratitude to this community,” said Mandy Staley, Tehama District Fairgrounds manager. “To the buyers, exhibitors, leaders, volunteers, sponsors and staff, we are truly amazed by you through these crazy times.”
She reported the sale has brought in more than $600,000 with $140,000 in add ons and more coming in by the hour.
With the impact of COVID-19 and the stay-at-home order, the sale couldn’t be live as normally, but had to go online virtual with the 4-H, FFA, and independent youth exhibitors each providing a 60-90 second video of themselves and their animals. Those videos were used for judging the top youths and their livestock.
– Following guidance from the California Department of Public Health, Colusa County Public Health Officer Gregory Burt advised superintendents of the county’s four school districts that in-person graduations were prohibited due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we close out the school year, we understand the strong desire to recognize your graduating students for their accomplishments,” said Burt in a release.
According to Burt, the CDPH did note, however, that drive-in only ceremonies were permissible as long as all public health precautions and physical distancing guidelines were in place.
– Glenn County was approved for local variance through the state to reopen through Phase 2B of the Glenn County COVID-19 Recovery and Reopening Plan – which allowed additional businesses and activities to reopen.
– (May 28) The identities of the 88-year-old woman stabbed to death, and her husband, who was also stabbed in their Los Molinos home, have been released by the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office.
Loreen May Severs was killed when stabbed once in the upper torso just before 7:46 a.m., Saturday, May 23, at 25267 Josephine Ave., reported the sheriff’s office. Stabbed in the neck was 91-year-old Homer Glenn Severs, who was able to leave the residence and go next door to the residence of his nephew, Frank, who called 911 for help.
Homer Severs was taken by medical helicopter to Enloe Medical Center in Chico where he underwent emergency surgery and listed in critical condition.
– Restrictions limiting social gatherings did not stop Colusa County veterans from honoring their brethren May 25.
In observance of Memorial Day, four unofficial services were held around the county to honor the hundreds of veterans buried on the grounds of the Colusa Cemetery, the Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Colusa, the Williams Cemetery and the Maxwell Cemetery.
“Today is not for the community,” said Colusa VFW’s Chaz Franklin. “It is for the veterans buried in these cemeteries. We didn’t care if we were going to have to stand at the gates. We were going to show up for them.”
– Local restaurants – including Carte Blanche in Willows and the 4th St. Cafe in Orland – talked about reopening and plans to reopen after restaurants were given approval to reopen their dining rooms amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Colusa County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to abstain from enforcing any COVID-19 orders that “infringe upon a citizen’s constitutional rights,” during a special meeting.
The decision includes abstaining from enforcing Gov. Gavin Newsom’s shelter-in-place order and phased reopening plan.
“Colusa County citizens are free to resume all normal functions as they desire, with the request to exercise kindness and good judgement,” read a release issued by the county.
– High schools in Glenn County talked about their plans to celebrate the class of 2020 and what graduation ceremonies were planned to look like, with modifications, while local pastors talked about being allowed to reopen and what modifications were being made.
– On June 6, The Board of Directors of the 44th District Agricultural Association was notified by the California Department of Food and Agriculture that they will not be allowed to move forward with an in-person livestock auction as previously planned.
“We are truly saddened to be delivering this news,” said Laura Ford, CEO of the Colusa County Fairgrounds.
The Board voted unanimously to move forward with the 2020 Junior Livestock Auction scheduled for June 13 on May 19, weeks after the decision was made to downsize the annual fair that runs concurrent with the auction due to COVID-19 concerns.
– Community members got together to host graduation parades to celebrate the class of 2020. In Orland High School’s case, the graduation ceremony had been postponed, so the parade marked their original graduation day. Willows High School hosted a modified ceremony where 10 students at a time would line up outside of the football field and one at a time would walk across the stage – joined by two guests who could take photos and observe. So the parade was to honor seniors in a way that would be seen by the community.
–(June 11) It is improbable that anyone taking part in this year’s Corning and Centennial high schools’ graduation ceremonies will ever forget the unique circumstances surrounding the experience. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremonies took place at Rolling Hills Casino and Resort Amphitheater in drive-in movie fashion, with cars, holding gowned graduates, parked in rows facing the stage listening to the events on their vehicle’s radios.
On the stage was a podium from which speeches were given and graduates’ names called out. Graduates stood in front of their vehicles as a member of the Corning Union High School District Board handed them each a diploma – no handshakes or hugs allowed in compliance with COVID-19 requirements.
Each step of each ceremony was displayed on the amphitheater’s two giant movie screens for all to see.
– For more than two hours on June 10, an estimated 200 people lined Tenth Street in Colusa to show solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement.
The peaceful demonstration was organized by a group of young individuals from Colusa who call themselves the BLM Allies.
“Our hope is that this protest will raise awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement and spark a conversation in our own community,” said one member of the BLM Allies. “With the recent murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, we believe that our country is at a tipping point and that change is long overdue.”
– Murder charges against a Corning resident accused of killing an Orland man were dropped by the Tehama County District Attorney. Initially, the DA’s and sheriff’s offices had concluded that due to evidence, Jason Young shooting Claybern Rudy Lozano was an act of murder. However, evidence later pointed “strongly to self defense,” according to the district attorney.
– Residents of Colusa County rallied together to help one terminally ill woman check off a bucket list dream.
“Maddie is a 20-year-old who is suffering from a terminal illness and at the top of her bucket list is to have sunset pictures taken in a blooming sunflower field,” said Monica Sankey, of Colusa, who has been working hard for months to make that dream a reality.
“The current world is too dark these days,” said Sankey. “If we can bring a little bit of sunshine into someone else’s life, that’s a little bit of sunshine we all get to see.”
– A motion to dismiss a lying in wait allegation has been denied for accused killer Salvador Garcia-Vaca, the man charged with murdering Williams native Karen Garcia in January 2018. Garcia-Vaca appeared in a Colusa Superior courtroom June 17 to review the motion submitted by his council in February, after several delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
– Victoria Lanzarin helped to organize a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest where a group of about 50 people marched through the city. Black Lives Matter protests had been taking place around the world in response to the death of George Floyd, the African American man who was killed by Minneapolis police. Lanzarin also organized a march in support of the Black Lives Matter movement to celebrate Juneteenth – which commemorates the day in 1865 when those who were enslaved learned that they had been freed.