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New supervisor needs to fill planning commission seat

  With pressure mounting to adopt the county’s general plan, the Plumas County Planning Commission is down one member.

  When former supervisor Robert Meacher left office at the end of 2012 that also concluded the term of Betsy Schramel, his appointee to the planning commission.

  But Schramel continued to serve, unaware of a county ordinance that tied her presence on the commission to the individual who appointed her.

  It appears that other county officials were also unaware of that provision until Indian Valley resident Sheila Grothe brought the issue to the Board of Supervisors and county counsel.

  At the planning commission’s March 21 meeting, Planning Director Randy Wilson announced that Betsy Schramel was no longer a commissioner and it would be the responsibility of county Supervisor Kevin Goss to either reappoint her or make a new appointment. The Board of Supervisors would need to approve his appointment.

  During an interview last week Goss said he had received three applications for the position, including Schramel and Grothe.

  He said that Schramel would like to remain on the commission until the general plan is adopted because she has invested so much time into it, after which she would resign her post.

  Goss plans to make an appointment at the April 2 meeting of the Board of Supervisors, but is still accepting applications.

  Those interested may call the Board of Supervisor’s office at 283-6170 to obtain an application or contact Goss at 284-0824.

  Goss said he would review all applications and ask follow-up questions if necessary.

Phoning it in

  Grothe, one of the applicants, has been studying the actions taken by the planning commission over the past few years.

  During the public comment portion of the March 5 Board of Supervisors meeting, Grothe questioned the participation of Richard Rydell on the commission.

  Rydell is the Lake Almanor area representative on the commission, but often participates via telephone from a residence in Colorado.

  During the supervisors’ meeting, Grothe said that she had reviewed the planning commission meeting minutes from 2010 through the end of 2012 and was alarmed by Rydell’s level of participation.

  Of the 46 meetings held, Rydell was absent 19 times, attended in person five times, and participated by phone 22 times.

  Grothe said that the Brown Act allows telephone participation, but questioned the number of times that it has occurred.

  “I don’t think this is appropriate representation for people in Chester or in Plumas County,” she said.

  Rydell did not attend the March 21 planning commission meeting either in person or by phone, because he had accompanied his wife to a Houston hospital for specialized cancer treatment.

  During a phone interview the following day, Rydell said he had tried to attend the meeting via phone from the hospital, but that requires proper public notification and there wasn’t enough time.

  “I’d rather be at a planning commission meeting than at the hospital,” Rydell said.

  As for his meeting attendance in general, Rydell said that his wife’s health requires that they spend time at their Colorado Springs residence so she can receive specialized medical care not available in Chester or Chico, but they both hope to return to Lake Almanor in May.

  Rydell said he spoke with Supervisor Sherrie Thrall and told her that she could appoint someone else to the planning commission if she thought it would better serve the public, but he would prefer to stay on the commission until the general plan is adopted.

  Rydell, like Schramel, has served on the planning commission since it was reactivated in 2007. At that time it was a seven-member commission and included Thrall.

  “My goal is to get this general plan complete,” Rydell said. “It would be a shame not to finish it out.”

  Rydell, who is a retired hospital administrator, is also on the Seneca Healthcare District board of directors and attends those meetings via phone when he is out of the area.

  The other planning commission members are Larry Williams, Quincy; John Olofson, Graeagle; and Mark Dotta, Eastern Plumas.

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