The 2018-2019 Glenn County grand jury covered a variety of topics in its most recent report such as the Glenn County Jail, roads, the district attorney’s office, Elk Creek water and more.
To view the full report, visit http://www.glenncourt.ca.gov/divisions/documents/2018-2019%20Final%20Grand%20Jury%20Report.pdf.
Here is a summary of some of the reports:
Glenn County Jail
The grand jury is required to complete an inspection of the county jail facilities each year – in accordance to the penal code.
“Built in 1990, the Glenn County Jail is showing its age,” it was stated in the grand jury report. “With little funding available, some of the previous grand jury recommendations have been met, some partially met and some have not been met.”
The grand jury findings included things like staffing being at a minimum; an environmental health report showing mold, chipped paint, etc. in some pod areas (the grand jury relied on outside reports due to members not being allowed in pod areas); some food having a temperature reading more than 41 degrees (however the food was discarded); refrigeration unit having an accumulation of ice build up; a smoke detector having a cage that couldn’t be removed for inspection; and, having Senate Bill 10 (which would change how an arrested and detained subject would be processed) going into effect in October, it will have an effect on the population of the jail, probation department officers, Glenn County Courts and the sheriff’s department.
The grand jury concluded that most of the findings have a minimal effect on the operations of the jail, jail and kitchen staffs and maintenance personnel are to be commended for their efforts in keeping the jail a safe and well maintained place for county personnel and jail inmates, according to the report.
“The grand jury wishes to thank the Glenn County Jail staff for their outstanding effort to provide a safe, clean place for inmates and staff in a dated structure that has seen its day,” it was stated.
“After one year of Glenn County juveniles being held at Tehama County’s juvenile hall, they seem to acclimate well,” it was stated in the Glenn County grand jury report.
The juvenile hall offers juveniles many self improvement and enrichment programs, and physical and mental health services providing juveniles with a chance to change their ways, according to the report.
The grand jury is required to visit the juvenile detention facility each year and the report also states that its purpose is to inform the community about the daily lives and access to programs juveniles housed in Tehama County can participate in.
The grand jury met with the Glenn County chief of probation, conducted interviews with Tehama County facility administration, had a Tehama County facility visit, interviewed Glenn County juveniles, reviewed the Tehama policy and procedures and interviewed the Glenn County probation officer.
Several of the findings of the grand jury, such as the juvenile hall having many policies and procedures followed by staff and juveniles, a reward system being in place for “positive behavior,” and juveniles stated that they felt safe and protected came with no recommendation.
The grand jury did recommend that the detention center consider holding a business fair showing jobs available in Northern California, that each of the Glenn County Board of Superiors make arrangements individually to visit the juvenile hall and the Glenn County probation officer ensure parents receive orientation information via hard copy or electronic form rather than by request only.
According to the grand jury report, for the last two years, Glenn County has withheld general funds from the Probation Department – making the department utilize the department’s reserve funds which will be depleted by 2020-2021. An internal memorandum revealed $813,098 would be needed to fully restore the probation budget back to its normal reserve amount.
The Glenn County Probation Department is made up of seven adult and three juvenile probation officers, one program manager, assistant chief of probation, office technician, supervising probation officer and chief probation officer.
“After interviews with several county departments, it was decided to reinterview the probation department to gain insight into the problems that may be caused by the absence of ‘general funds’ that has been slashed from the department’s budget in recent years,” it was stated in the report.
The grand jury conducted the investigation of the department to evaluate the process and procedures of the adult probation division to the Glenn County Probation Department and to know how the department was operating without the general fund support and depletion of grant funds held in its reserves.
The grand jury met, interviewed and reviewed Glenn County chief of probation, probation budget proposal to the Board of Supervisors, email communications from the Board of Supervisors to the probation department and from probation to the Board of Supervisors, and 2017-2018 Glenn County budget and expenditures.
The grand jury recommended that the Board of Supervisors return the promised general dunds back to the probation department so it can meet its obligations and retain their personnel.
The grand jury also found that within the next 18 months, seven probation officer positions will be at risk of elimination while the mandates to the probation department will continue or increase – it was recommended that the Board of Supervisors and probation department work to find a solution for financing for continued and/or increased monitoring of probationers by officers.
Glenn County District Attorney
The grand jury investigates areas within each of the public sectors that includes public safety.
According to the report, the grand jury selected the district attorney’s office to understand the process of prosecuting a crime in Glenn County, to better understand the responsibilities of the DA and to better understand why some murders in Glenn County take a long time to be prosecuted.
Upon the investigation, the DA makes a decision to send the investigation back to the investigating parties or department for additional information, take it to trial or make the decision for dismissal.
“The Glenn County District Attorney serves the people of Glenn County by prosecuting crimes that come before his desk, participates in county budgeting process, serves the grand jury when needed, help with department web pages and serves on other county committees,” it was stated in the report.
The current DA, Dwayne Stewart, has served the county for six years and most of his time is spent in court and/or preparing cases for court, according to the report. He also gets called out for warrants as well as working with the sheriff on arrests.
At the time of the grand jury investigation, the DA’s calendar showed homicide cases scheduled for every other week through the month of September. When the current DA was elected, the office had more than 7,000 cases that needed resolution, according to the report. It took him more than two years to clear the inherited cases.
The grand jury recommended that the Board of Supervisors provide financial resources to meet human resource needs of the DA’s office (finding that it was understaffed), that the supervisors also provide professional space that supports the confidential nature of the office, that the board provide the DA staff with an office in Orland without time limits, and that the supervisors also provide necessary resources to the DA to have all case files currently warehoused in boxes digitized.
“The grand jury found that the district attorney and his staff is performing their job duties of the office with the expected diligence the public expects on every case without favor,” it was stated in the report. “The grand jury commends the district attorney for his had work putting in many personal hours to insure the crimes are prosecuted to their full extent.”
Public Works – Glenn County roads
The Public Works road department is adequately funded for the current scope of work that it performs for federal and state agencies, according to the grand jury report. However, it’s lacking in funds to maintain existing county roads or to create new ones that might be determine to support the residents of Glenn County.
Recent fires and flooding have had an impact on Glenn County roads, according to the report.
“The infrastructure is old and needs replacing, with the influx of traffic from the Camp Fire and recent rains/flooding they will deteriorate much faster,” it was stated in the report. “Glenn County roads are in desperate need of repair.”
The grand jury interviewed the Public Works Department, gave a presentation to the Board of Supervisors and visited several road sites.
The grand jury recommended that the Public Works Department budget needs to be addressed by the Board of Supervisors to find additional funds to repair county roads and that the department needs to recruit additional employees, as it is understaffed.
“Commendations to the Public Works Department for their forward thinking in researching mitigating factors in making the county roads useful,” it was stated in the report.
Elk Creek water
“Elk Creek water has been undrinkable for years,” it was stated in the report.
The Elk Creek community relies on water from the Stony Gorge Reservoir for all uses including household, personal use, gardening, lawn and agriculture purposes. The chlorine odor and taste make the treated water undesirable for drinking, according to the report.
Community residents have relied on bottled water for several years to have potable water, however, treated water is used for all other purposes.
“Those subscribers having water service from the (Community Service District) had to give up use of well water in order to be given access to pipe in water from the CSD,” it was stated.
Elk Creek consists of about 175 people, 110 homes with 90 water connections. The Stony Gorges dam was built in 1926 and is the only source of water for the community.
According to the report, the area water is known to contain high levels of iron and magnesium from all sources of runoff water, including water that feeds into the Stony Gorge Reservoir.
“It is a combination of these high levels of mineral content and periodic episodes of water turbidity and the chemical treatment protocols required to treat the raw water that are the main reasons CSD states it needs a new upgraded settling tank,” it was stated in the report.
The grand jury interviewed CSD personnel, reviewed USDA proposed grant and conducted a CSD plant inspection.
The grand jury found that the potable water in Elk Creek is unusable for human consumption, that the CSD doesn’t have funds available for necessary repairs to the existing equipment, that the budget from Glenn County for CSD operations is insufficient, that the CSD needs funds for new equipment for treatment of raw water used from Stony Gorge Reservoir, and the state of California may require CSD to hire full-time employees with benefits.
To address these findings, the grand jury recommended that a new water treatment tank be installed, that Glenn County use reserves to install needed equipment, that the Glenn County supervisor of District 3 advocates support for funds, that CSD continues to investigate sources of funds for new equipment and daily expenditures and that CSD investigates the possibility and makes arrangements in the budget to hire full-time employees.
“The CSD is commended for using every available option to them to correct the undrinkable water in Elk Creek,” it was stated in the report.
Willows Unified School District – Measure B
The Willows Unified School District made improvements with Measure B that were necessary.
“The school bond provided upgrades to each of the district’s three schools by improving aged and out dated equipment and buildings,” it was stated in the report.
The grand jury looked into Measure B to ensure that the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee Measure B is following their bylaws, monitoring the expense report and informing the community of the progress.
The grand jury interviewed the WUSD superintendent, reviewed the resolution, reviewed the bylaws for the oversight committee, reviewed the audit performed by Christy White Associates in June 2017, reviewed the 2017-2018 grand jury report and visited the sites of construction and maintenance.
Measure B was passed by the citizens of Willows in 2016 and in the summer of 2017, the work started to be completed from the funds of Measure B and matching funds from the district.
According to the report, Phase One had been completed at the time of the investigation and Phase Two is near completion – it’s anticipated that all projects will be completed this year and most or all of the funds exhausted and the district provided about an additional $1.26 million to complete the project.
A tour by the grand jury of Murdock Elementary School showed improvements such as new portable classrooms, carpeting, computer lab and library and more.
Although the grand jury didn’t tour the Willows Intermediate School, according to the report, the superintendent stated that a new ADA compliant toilet room was provided, most buildings received a new coat of paint and more.
No recommendations were provided from the grand jury.
“The Willows Unified School District and the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee needs to be commended for the work that has been done toward the completion of this worthwhile project as it has increased the quality of education, as well as providing a cleaner, safer and more appealing educational environment to all staff members, students and the community it serves,” it was stated in the report.
Glenn County Senior Nutrition
The grand jury received concerns about possible misuse of the Senior Nutrition Program by people outside the target population, according to the report. Through an investigation, the grand jury didn’t find evidence to support these concerns.
“The most prominent finding is the insufficient funding to sustain the program into the future,” it was stated. “Another finding worth mentioning is the high quality of the service provided by the Senior Nutrition Program.”
The program – which has locations in both Willows and Orland – provides meals to seniors and guests and is a government-administered program that works closely with the Glenn County Senior Centers, a nonprofit, and passages Area 3 Agency on Aging.
Interviews were conducted by members of the grand jury questioning key individuals in the program, financial information was provided from the program and passages, written policies and procedures were reviewed along with the California Code of Regulations regarding elderly nutrition programs, conducted a written survey of patrons of the Senior Nutrition Program and went to the centers during lunch to observe the program operations and viewed the senior nutrition website.
The grand jury did find that suggested donations and guest fees for meals are posted but easily missed and that it is unclear if the guest fee is a suggested fee or required fee. It was recommended that the program revises the posted donations and fees to be more prominent and that they clarify fees for guests under 60 years of age.
Other grand jury findings and recommendations address the concerns over funding and operating costs – by way of applying for grants and researching ways to reduce the operating costs of the program.
“The Glenn County grand jury commends that Glenn County Senior Nutrition Program that provides a valuable service to seniors by providing freshly prepared, nutritious meals through both home delivery and senior participants and the Glenn County Senior Center site in Orland and Willows Senior Nutrition at the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Willows,” it was stated in the report.