Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a six-part series looking back at the stories reported in 2020 in the Yuba-Sutter-Colusa area by Appeal reporters. (Dates are when the news stories were published.)
July 2: The new Fifth Street Bridge, expanding to four lanes between Marysville and Yuba City, neared completion. The project was over two years in the making and cost over $50 million.
July 3: After 17 years in operation, Don and Lavina Blaser announced the sale of The Brick Coffee House on D Street. The new owners, Heather and Ron Thompson of Marysville, planned to make few changes to the iconic food and breakfast spot in downtown.
July 8: Colusa County was added to the state watch amid rising COVID-19 cases in the area. At the same time, the state of California braced for one of the initial surges during the pandemic. Cases nearly doubled with hospitalizations running at 88 percent over the course of the preceding month.
July 9: Yuba-Sutter Marketplace began looking for a tenant to fill the space occupied by Sears, which announced its liquidation sale the month before. Sears planned to close most of its stores in the country, according to Ethan Conrad of Conrad Properties.
July 10: Yuba-Sutter reached 500 cases of coronavirus, prompting a warning from county health officials about ceasing indoor operations at bars and restaurants. Colusa County also announced the closure of indoor bars and restaurants.
July 11: An amended health order went into effect in Yuba-Sutter, beginning the shutdown of a few businesses and restaurants, according to area health officer Dr. Phuong Luu. Also due to COVID-19 restrictions, schools were forced to have drive-through graduation ceremonies. Yuba City and River Valley High School celebrated the class of 2020 via their cars.
July 14: Amid an abundance of business closures, Bishop’s Pumpkin Farms announced a modified reopening for its 48th season. The decision was a significant boost to the local economy, especially in the south Yuba County area. It also allowed employment opportunities for the area’s youth.
July 17: Sutter County supervisors approved the coronavirus relief program, which committed $600,000 in help for area small businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. The county had planned to use $10.3 million in federal relief through the CARES act.
July 18: Local merchants began to move customers outside due to the latest state restrictions to deal with the pandemic. Many businesses started putting up outdoor tents to allow for customers and restaurants to stay compliant with the ban on indoor dining.
July 22: Marysville City Council began a series of closed session meetings regarding the possible removal of City Manager Marti Brown. It was reported July 25 that the City Council revoted 3-2 to terminate Brown without cause.
July 29: The bi-county contact tracing team discussed what goes into each positive case in Yuba-Sutter. The team was made up of 24 tracers, 12 investigators and 12 trainees, and it worked seven days a week to not only contact each person who tested positive, but the individuals in close contact of the positive case. Without the tracing team, COVID numbers in the area would be much higher and the hospital would be more overwhelmed, Dr. Homer Rice said.
July 31: Seven victims of a former Kynoch Elementary School counselor filed lawsuits against Marysville Joint Union School District and the Marysville First Presbyterian Church. William Babcock, now 72, pleaded guilty to eight counts of child molestation and was sentenced to 22 years in prison for abusing students at Kynoch Elementary School as a counselor. Several civil suits were filed in Yuba County Superior Court against MJUSD and Babcock.
Aug. 1: All schools within the Yuba-Sutter area began preparing for distance learning following the decision from the state that schools on the California monitoring watch list could not return for in-person instruction. One of the online strategies of teachers and college professors was figuring out ways to properly organize group activities over a video conference platform. Another method taught to teachers was a way to prioritize assignments handed out to the students via live instruction versus homework.
Aug. 7: Christopher Bolton, in collaboration with Yuba-Sutter Arts & Culture, was working on a program to bring dinosaurs to life in Yuba City. It would be manufactured through robotics and animatronics as opposed to computer-generated images, bringing dinosaurs to life at the Yuba-Sutter Arts & Culture building. Bolton began working on a similar project as part of a Southern California collective.
Aug. 8: The area nonprofit and service clubs hit a financial rough patch due to the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic that canceled nearly all community fundraisers. Yuba-Sutter-Colusa United Way executive director Bob Harlan said the two biggest issues facing area nonprofits were fundraising and providing services to people.
Aug. 11: Sutter County supervisors planned to pursue a $10 million grant from the California housing association to convert old hotels in the area into permanent housing for the homeless. The state approved the grant program over the summer.
Aug. 12: Yuba-Sutter surpassed the state average in the rate of COVID-19 infections, but remained lower in rate of mortality and case fatality rate, according to Sutter County epidemiologist Dr. Robert Herrick.
The region planned a virtual ceremony to mark the completion of the Fifth Street Bridge replacement project. The project began two years before and replaced the old two-lane bridge built in 1958. The new bridge is four lanes across, connecting Marysville to Yuba City over the Feather River.
Aug. 14: Marysville Joint Unified School District learned of the first positive COVID-19 test result within its district when a staff member at Mary Covillaud Elementary School contracted the virus. It came at the same time that Yuba-Sutter reached a high in hospitalizations for the week at 32 -- 28 of whom were receiving treatment for COVID-19, according to hospital staff.
Aug. 15: A local resident developed a piece of machinery that was placed on the Perseverance rover for its nearly seven-month trip to Mars. Sam Clegg grew up in Yuba City and had been at the Los Alamos National Laboratory since 2003, where he worked on a technique known as laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS). The technique reveals what elements are present in a sample by using a powerful laser that vaporizes a small amount of a material.
Aug.. 19: On the heels of rotating blackouts for the first time in decades, the Yuba Water Agency implemented a program to ramp up hydroelectric generation along the Yuba River, a move that would feed more power into the state grid and generate up to $2 million in revenue for YWA.
Yuba College announced a mostly distance learning model in light of the pandemic with the exception of some health and public safety courses, according to Yuba College President Dr. Tawny Dotson. “Safety remains a challenge so we want to make sure we’re doing the right thing,” Dotson said at the time.
Aug. 20: The August Complex Fire was raging from Glenn County to the Colusa County line. The complex, comprised of 35 individual fires, was started by lightning in the Mendocino National Forest.
Aug. 21: There was a growing state problem with the Employment Development Department regarding millions who were laid off or out of work due to the pandemic. Local legislators reached out and called for reform within the entire EDD system.
Aug. 22: Two of the area’s largest events -- the Silkh Festival and Marysville Stampede -- were put on notice that they may be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Sikh Festival, or Nagar Kirtan, annually brings in over 100,000 people the first week of November who dine, shop and stay in Yuba City. Both events were later canceled officially.
Aug. 27: The cannabis industry continued to thrive during the pandemic, bringing in over $120,000 in sales tax revenue to the city of Marysville. Perfect Union Chief Executive Officer David Spradlin said he expected revenue to be at least 6 to 7 times what it was pre-pandemic in 2019.
Aug. 29: Thursday marked the one year anniversary of the death of Margery Magill, who was brutally murdered while walking her dog in Washington, D.C. Magill’s parents had been working on ways to honor Margery, including the building of a park bench to be placed in D.C. A scholarship was created and a building was named at Marysville High School to honor her.