Year in Review: January and February

December 29, 2017

Jan. 1: With the start of the new year and the expiration of Proposition 30 (a temporary sales tax measure to support education), the statewide sales tax decreased from 7.5 percent to 7.25 percent in the Yuba-Sutter area. The only local cities to have higher sales tax rates were Marysville (8.25 percent) and Wheatland (7.75 percent).

Jan. 3: Wheatland High School culinary teacher Kuulei Moreno won a $10,000 prize on Food Network’s cooking show “Cooks vs Cons.”

Jan. 5: Yuba County Office of Emergency Services Director Scott Bryan organized an action plan meeting with emergency responders, city and county officials in preparation of a storm moving toward the area expected to bring 4-6 inches of rain over the weekend. Local officials worked to prepare Yuba-Sutter residents for the possibility of localized flooding, power outages and downed trees due to the storm.

Jan. 6: With water levels expected to rise in the area’s rivers over the weekend, due to an incoming storm, public safety officials in Yuba County issued verbal voluntary evacuation notices to residents and businesses located along the Yuba River outside of Marysville. The verbal notices were intended to advise residents and businesses of the potential danger.

Jan. 7: A Japanese television program shot an episode of “Sakagami Expedition” – an extreme sports show that included hired stuntmen on a four-person teeter-totter trying to keep away from a bull – at the Flying U Rodeo arena in Yuba County.

Jan. 9: An atmospheric river system that dumped 3 inches of rain over a 48-hour period caused localized flooding around the Yuba-Sutter area.

– Yuba County Agricultural Commissioner Stephen Scheer said heavy rains in spring of 2016 ruined most of the county’s prune crop. With about 70 percent crop loss of the nearly 9,000 acres of prunes planted, the county submitted a disaster declaration with the state in an effort to help farmers recoup losses through low-cost loans or low-interest loans.

Jan. 10: Thirteen people living in a homeless camp known as “Thorntree” – located between Jack Slough and a levee on the north side of Marysville – had to be rescued by emergency responders after fast-rising waters flooded the encampment.

Jan. 12: Two atmospheric rivers unleashed enough rain to put pressure on the area’s levees that hadn’t been seen in about a decade. However, local officials said the area’s flood control system retained integrity considering the high river levels.

Jan. 13: Two Yuba City residents were taken to the hospital after a home exploded, collapsed and caught fire on George Washington Boulevard. The cause of the blast was unknown at the time, but PG&E officials said crews found a gas leak 75 feet from the house. It was unclear if the leak caused the explosion or if it was the other way around.

Jan. 15: A Plumas Lake man – Robert Alex Price, 45 – had ties to at least 16 burglaries in the past year as the victims where away from their homes. Price was suspected of using an online search tool to target some of his victims. The Yuba City Police Department obtained a $1.3 million warrant to hold Price in custody.

Jan. 20: More than 700 beehives valued at nearly $250,000 were stolen in Sutter County. The beekeeper, who was from Montana, lost all but one of his hives, crippling his honey operation. He was unsure if his insurance would cover the thefts.

Jan. 21: Roman Zarate, who was charged with murdering his former boxing coach and friend, Taj Fields, was found incompetent to stand trial in Yuba County Superior Court. His case was postponed while he could be treated in a state mental hospital.

Jan. 24: Weekend storms left the Yuba-Sutter area with one of the state’s top rainfall totals of 2.41 inches over the span of five days. Trees were toppled and power outages were caused by 50 mph winds.

– Two medical marijuana dispensaries – Ricer City Phoenix and Marysville Cannabis Co. – received the initial approval needed to begin with the process of opening their doors in Marysville. A selection committee found that both businesses successfully completed the application process for two available openings in the city’s initial round of licenses.

Jan. 25: Officials estimated that the Yuba County Water Agency experienced $3 million in damages due to a string of storms over the span of a few weeks. Some of the most significant damages included woody debris build-up on the North Fork, as well as landslides at various locations along the Yuba River.

As for the county, Yuba County supervisors allocated $370,000 to the Public Works Department for necessary road repairs.

Jan. 26: Rideout Health officials were given the go-ahead from the state to open three floors of the new $250 million expansion wing of the hospital. The three floors included registration, imaging, emergency room, private patient rooms, and an interventional radiology room, among other things.

– The remains of a soldier from Yuba City – Shadow McClaine – stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky/Tennessee, were located after the woman had been missing for several months, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The remains were found at a highway exit.

Jan. 27: Two Yuba County men – Larry Don Patterson and William Lloyd Harbour – were sentenced to life in prison for the 1973 murder of two young girls. The case had gone cold for many years until it was reopened thanks to the advent of DNA testing. Patterson and Harbour were not arrested for the 1973 crime until September 2016.

The bodies of the teenagers – Doris Karen Derryberry, 13, and Valerie Janice Lane, 12, – were found on Nov. 13, 1973, with multiple gunshot wounds, some at close range. Derryberry had been raped, and a vaginal swab taken years before DNA testing became available eventually led to the suspects’ arrest.

Feb. 2: More than 1,200 students and faculty at Andros Karperos School in Yuba City were evacuated due to a suspicious item being found on campus. The threat was later neutralized after a Sacramento County Sheriff’s bomb squad destroyed the suspicious item with a water cannon.

Feb. 3: Sutter County Development Services Director Danelle Stylos was placed on paid administrative leave by county supervisors after she was arrested on suspicion of felony voter fraud, perjury and other offenses.

nSnowpack measured in the Sierra Nevada Mountains was at it highest level since 1995, officials with the Department of Water Resources said, with a measurement of 173 percent of its average.

Feb. 4: The remains of Army Pfc. Shadow McClaine – a 2009 graduate of Yuba City High School who went missing in September 2016 in Nashville before her remains were found in January 2017 – were returned to the Yuba-Sutter area and escorted by a convoy of police officers and firefighters to Holycross Memorial Services.

Four Olivehurst residents, including a 6-year-old girl, were killed in a vehicle crash on Highway 70 near Butte County. Their vehicle reportedly lost traction due to wet pavement and slid into the oncoming lane before striking another vehicle. The passengers of the second vehicle survived but suffered major injuries.

Feb. 7: With storms heading toward the Yuba-Sutter area expected to bring 4 inches of rain and high winds, Yuba County safety officials closed Simpson Lane due to the Yuba River and the potential for high-water levels. Safety officials from both sides of the river visited homeless sites in the river bottoms to warn campers of the hazard, as well as residents of a trailer park near a boat dock in Yuba City.

Feb. 8: A portion of the Lake Oroville spillway washed out, resulting in a shutdown of releases from the structure to investigate the cause. Officials from the Department of Water Resources said the damaged spillway did not pose a threat to the dam’s structural integrity or to the public. Officials also said the reservoir had sufficient capacity to capture inflows from the storm for at least three days.

– Rising water in the area’s rivers led to three farmworkers being rescued by boat by the Yuba County Sheriff’s Office and an evacuation of the Feather River RV Park in Yuba City.

Feb. 9: With Lake Oroville filling up, DWR officials decided to continue releases over the main spillway in order to make more room for expected inflows. The lake’s elevation continued to climb after the facility’s main spillway was shutoff days before due to erosion on the chute.

Feb. 10: DWR officials said Lake Oroville’s emergency spillway might need to be used for the first time ever due to the reservoir’s elevation quickly reaching capacity.

Back in Yuba-Sutter, public information officers and safety officials were dispelling rumors that the Oroville Dam was at risk of failure.

Feb. 11: A Monterey County judge ordered a sexually violent predator be placed at a residence in Yuba County within the next 90 days to help reintegrate the man back into society after years in a state hospital.

Feb. 12: For the first time ever, stored water went over the emergency spillway at Lake Oroville after the reservoir’s elevation had reached its maximum of 901 feet.

Local county officials expressed confidence that the area’s flood control system could handle the increased flows.

Feb. 13: Sutter, Butte and Yuba County residents were evacuated after officials at Lake Oroville said the reservoir’s emergency spillway was at risk of failure. Most residents reported getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for several hours on the way out of town.

Both the Fifth Street and 10th Street bridges were blocked by law enforcement, as well as northbound traffic on Highway 99 and Highway 70.

Feb. 14: With mandatory evacuations still in place for the majority of the Yuba-Sutter area – excluding Yuba City and Wheatland – local residents were in limbo, waiting for more information from officials regarding their safety and when they might be allowed to return home.

Feb. 15: Mandatory evacuations for residents of Sutter County, Yuba County and Marysville were reduced to an evacuation warning after DWR officials announced significant progress had been made to reduce the water elevation in Lake Oroville.

With residents returning to the area, construction crews and levee maintaining agencies remained busy shoring up reaches of levee that showed signs of stress from extended periods of high water levels in the river.

Feb. 16: As the weather began to clear, emergency response crews at Lake Oroville worked feverishly to dump rocks and shot-crete on the emergency spillway using helicopters in an attempt to reinforce the area in the event the structure had to be used again.

Feb. 19: DWR continued reducing releases out of Lake Oroville as inflows decreased. Construction crews continued work to improve the area’s levees and to address issues that were brought on by the recent influx of water into the flood control system.

– In Colusa County, Maxwell residents experienced flooding due to what officials said was water overwhelming the area’s creeks and canals.

Feb. 21: Medals stolen from a Vietnam veteran during the evacuation were returned to him by Yuba City Police Chief Rob Landon. The medals were located with the help of social media. Two individuals from Yuba City were arrested in connection to the burglary.

Feb. 24: With most of the floodwaters gone, Maxwell residents began cleaning up and repairing what was damaged.

– After 19 consecutive days of the water elevation in the Sacramento River being above monitor stage, Meridian and Robbins basins remained under an evacuation advisory. The prolonged period of high water saturated the levees, making them more susceptible to a potential failure or breach.

Feb. 25: Local agricultural commissioners raised concerns over the impact the heavy rain and high water might have had on the area’s agricultural industry. The biggest concerns were over saturated soils and the lack of pollination threatening crops like almonds and prunes. Officials said they wouldn’t be able to determine the impacts until after floodwaters receded.

Feb. 27: DWR officials announced they would begin gradually ramping down outflows from Lake Oroville until releases were halted completely. The reduction in releases over a few days was to allow workers to clear a debris pile that had formed at the base of the spillway and reduce water elevation on the reservoir’s power plant so work could be done to get it operating again.