The 2018-2019 Yuba County grand jury covered a variety of topics in their most recent report – the jail, complaints of a utility district overcharging, successful school programs, and the county’s efforts in addressing its homeless population.
Aside from a few recommendations on ways to make operations better, the grand jury’s report was largely complimentary of the different organizations highlighted – the Yuba County Jail, Yuba-Sutter Transit, Yuba County Animal Care Services, the Olivehurst Public Utility District, the Marysville Police Department, various schools within the Yuba County Office of Education, and two homeless programs supported by Yuba County.
To view the report, go to https://bit.ly/2XijAcD.
Here is a summary of the findings included in the full report:
Every year, the Yuba County grand jury analyzes operations at the Yuba County Jail – both as a Penal Code requirement and as part of an imposed federal court consent decree stemming from a case in 1979.
After two separate inspections of the facility, the grand jury concluded that the jail was operating effectively while serving the needs of the inmates and the public, and that inmates and detainees were being treated and taken care of appropriately.
The jurors viewed various areas of the facility, including the laundry room, kitchen, medical area, law library, exercise areas and the intake/booking areas. They also conducted interviews with several staff personnel and inmates.
Considering its the favorable findings, the grand jury did not provide any recommendations for the sheriff or county Board of Supervisors regarding the jail.
Teachers, parents and students at Lindhurst High School and South Lindhurst High School have raised concerns about student safety at the Yuba-Sutter Transit’s bus stop at Johnson Park in Olivehurst, which has had issues with drug and gang activity. For many of the students that utilize that bus route, it’s the only means of transportation to and from school.
In the span of a year, the Yuba County Sheriff’s Office received 479 incident calls for the Johnson Park area. On top of that, the location of the bus stop – which sees approximately 100 students utilize it per day – is almost a mile away from the high schools. The grand jury inquired with Yuba-Sutter Transit about the possibility of adding another bus stop closer to the schools, and they were told it would not be practical to do so but that the agency’s board could direct a change.
In its report, the grand jury recommended the Yuba-Sutter Transit Authority Board review its current schedules and bus routes and to make an effort to provide a safer environment for the success of the students. They also recommended the board add another stop closer to the schools’ location.
Animal Care Services
The grand jury toured the Yuba County Animal Care Services facility in Olivehurst. From their visit, they noted that personnel, both volunteer and officers, were very passionate about their jobs and the care and compassion they provided the animals.
They said the overall conditions in the shelter were clean and the animals appeared healthy. One of the challenges faced at the shelter is available space but a lack of funding prevents them from being able to expand.
The group said the dedicated staff and volunteers are encouraged to keep up the high standard they’ve set for themselves. The grand jury recommended the shelter continue to work with the county on enlarging the facility to double its kennel space.
A citizen complaint was filed against the Olivehurst Public Utility District alleging the company violated water utility services terms by failing to provide a second notice at least 48 hours prior to disconnection; its reconnection service fees were excessive; and its billing service was not user-friendly.
The grand jury conducted interviews with the complainant, other customers from the Plumas Lake area and OPUD representatives, as well as reviewed relevant documents to determine that there was no wrongdoing by OPUD.
The group found that OPUD follows the policy for water service disconnection and water service fees set forth by the California Public Utilities Commission, and that the service provider’s billing service practices were updated to make the payment system more user-friendly – payments can be made via mail, in-person or electronically. Their only recommendation was that OPUD continue offering multiple payment methods to their customers.
The grand jury looked into the Marysville Police Department and the different programs and services it provides in its effort to support the local community.
They stated the department is efficient with its limited funds, providing programs such as Coffee with a Cop, the Pink Patch Project, a civilian police academy, various events with the Marysville Joint Unified School District and a cadet program. Over the past year, the department has evolved to add a new full-time animal control officer and full-time parking enforcement officer. The department is currently fully staffed at 19 officers.
The grand jury found that the department should be congratulated on serving the city and its residents with the highest degree of professionalism and competence, and that it is actively seeking ways to enhance the services it provides to the community through grants and other means.
The Yuba County Office of Education is comprised of the Camptonville Union Elementary School District, Marysville Joint Unified School District, Plumas Lake Elementary School District, Wheatland School District and Wheatland High School. The grand jury toured three county school sites – Bear River Intermediate School, South Lindhurst High School and Virginia School – to learn about different programs being provided to the students that are outside the typical general education experience.
Some of the stellar programs noted in the report were Bear River Middle School’s Renaissance program that facilitates student achievement; a class provided at South Lindhurst High School that helps students with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process; and the many services provided to students with disabilities at Virginia School
The grand jury found that the programs at the schools align with the needs of their student population.
The grand jury reviewed two programs supported by Yuba County that serve the local homeless population – 14Forward, and the Life Building Center.
With more than 900 homeless people estimated to be living in the Yuba-Sutter area, the grand jury said both programs are changing lives for the better. 14Forward provides temporary housing in the form of 20 sheds to homeless individuals for a specified amount of time. The Life Building Center assesses an individual’s personal needs and helps them get the resources needed to improve their situation.
They credited the county for working together with other area organizations to address the growing need. They said other counties, like Alameda and Sacramento, are using Yuba County’s programs as a framework to develop their own plans.
The grand jury found that through combined efforts of the involved agencies and the Life Building Center, the public has become more aware of the homeless population and what the county is trying to do about it. Also, the classes and services provided by the two programs are helping homeless individuals get off the streets and into their own homes and jobs.