SCNS EXCLUSIVE: Guest speakers help pack Burney IIT “Town Hall” meeting
Several guest speakers and key Shasta County figures, including recently appointed Sheriff Eric Magrini, District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett, and District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert, helped pack last night’s Intermountain Intervention Team meeting in Burney.
Nearly 80 area residents, officials, volunteers, business owners, and community leaders turned out for the monthly IIT meeting; which are held at the Burney VFW Hall on the first Tuesday of every month.
Key talking points during last night’s meeting included updates regarding staffing of the Sheriff’s Burney Station, replacing the town’s recently retired K-9, and other issues related to Intermountain area law enforcement.
Also discussed was a comprehensive explanation of the County’s proposed Measure A public safety sales tax and other ongoing topics of discussion and concern for area residents.
LEADING THE INTERMOUNTAIN AREA HEADLINES:
Once last night’s meeting was underway, District 3 Supervisor Rickert provided a much-appreciated and anticipated update regarding the County and State’s ongoing efforts to clean up an abandoned and dangerous mobile home park in Johnson Park, just east of Burney.
She also addressed other issues, such as several homeless encampments scattered throughout the area as well as other local crime issues and the financial impact residents face after being victimized.
Shasta County District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert, District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett, and Sheriff Eric Magrini spent more than two hours discussing the proposed Measure A public safety sales tax and answering questions posed by attendees at last night’s Intermountain Intervention Team meeting. SCNS photo
Next to speak was District Attorney Bridgett, who provided an “in-depth, but very brief” explanation of why she and the other guest speakers were there to discuss the proposed Measure A sales tax.
Bridgett also talked about the devastating and crippling effects recent laws and bills such as AB-109, Props 47 and 57, and other similar legislation have had on her office’s ability to stop the “revolving door” process criminals now enjoy when they are arrested – many of whom are immediately released or not booked into jail at all after committing crimes.
Sheriff Magrini was last to address the enthusiastic, nearly standing-room only crowd; covering a number of local law enforcement related issues. The recently appointed Sheriff did not shy away from some of the more difficult questions posed by community members, and was quick to answer any and all questions asked by those in attendance.
One of the key points of concern for area residents the Sheriff addressed – bringing current Burney Sheriff Station’s staffing levels up to once again be able to ensure full-time, 24-hour coverage for Intermountain area residents – was a priority on the Sheriff’s list of things to discuss.
Saying that increasing the remote, mountain station’s staffing was “of utmost concern” to his agency, Magrini assured meeting attendees that despite ongoing issues of hiring, training, and retaining new deputies, bringing “full-time, around the clock law enforcement coverage” back to the Intermountain area was “one of the most important issues” his department was seeking to resolve.
As it currently stands, there is a several hour gap when the Burney Station is not staffed overnight, leaving area residents frustrated, angry, and feeling helpless and unprotected during the early morning hours, when many crimes occur.
Although the lack of 24-hour law enforcement coverage has been an issue in the Intermountain area for some time, many area residents feel the problem was never resolved or properly addressed during the prior sheriff’s tenure.
“I’m not happy about it and I plan to change that,” the Sheriff told SCNS before last night’s meeting began; saying, “It may take some time, but this community needs full-time staffing. The residents need to feel safe and know we are there and ready to handle the area’s law enforcement needs.”
Magrini also spoke about his desire to replace the station’s K-9, who recently retired after his handler was promoted to Sgt.
“The funding is there and we already have a trained deputy ready to take over the position, but we still need to clear a few hurdles to make it happen,” the Sheriff explained.
Later, Bridgett, Rickert, and Magrini spoke more in depth about Measure A, a proposed one-percent sales tax that would be used solely to bolster public safety needs throughout the county. The measure goes to ballot next March and is “vitally essential” to meet the ongoing public safety needs of the county and its residents.
Proponents of the tax, which would provide approximately $31 million annually to the county, say the extra money would improve funding for law enforcement and emergency services – including fire protection – in the Cities of Redding, Anderson, and Shasta Lake, as well as throughout the unincorporated areas of Shasta County.
Funds generated by the tax, which is estimated to cost taxpayers about $4 to $8 per month, would add at least 45 law enforcement officers – spread between the various city and county law enforcement agencies that provide services to area residents. Funding would also allow for the addition of 55 correctional deputies, 15 district attorneys, seven probation officers, and seven public defenders.
Additionally, the tax would provide funding for such things as improving and updating County jail facilities – including adding 500 beds to the County’s sole jail facility in Redding; creating medication-assisted treatment and rehabilitation programs for custodial inmates; and enhancing or improving post-release alternatives to County jail incarceration.
Despite strong support, not all area residents quick to accept or adopt a new tax
Asked later about Measure A, Intermountain Intervention Team Vice President Kyle Cantrell explained his stance and position regarding the proposed tax.
“Vote no and we get more of the same thing that’s happening now: theft, vandalism, drug usage, and no accountability,” explained Cantrell. “Vote yes and we get 500 more jail beds, two more deputies for the Intermountain area, 24-hour patrols again, and other things that everyone keeps complaining about needing, but never bother to do anything about.”
Shasta County Sheriff Eric Magrini and District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett field questions from area residents after last night’s meeting. SCNS photo
Burney resident Michelle Harper was another to voice her opinion and strong support regarding the proposed sales tax.
“It’s too bad that more people didn’t come to the meeting last night and hear that this is a local tax that will have strong oversight and not be mismanaged,” Harper told SCNS after attending last night’s meeting.
“They have it written into the Measure to ensure that the money cannot be used for anything else,” Harper explained; saying, “This money from this tax will be in addition to what is already allocated for public safety, jails, and so much more.”
“The state legislature has screwed the people,” Harper continued; adding, “We need to work on our local level to enact some changes or we will continue to ‘pay’ for our local criminal activity.”
“If we want to keep paying and dealing with the criminals on the street, then vote against it,” said Harper. “If you want to stop supporting a criminal’s lifestyle, read Measure A, ask questions, and do your due diligence. Don’t just vote no because ‘no new taxes’ is your mantra across the board.”
“Sure, we all hate new taxes, but if this will help our local community, then I’m for it,” said Harper. “It has to start somewhere or we can just sit back and take what the criminals deal us.”
Despite Measure A’s proposed public safety enhancements, not all area residents were quick to accept the proposal’s sales tax.
Among others who questioned the need for another tax, Burney resident and educator Michael von Schalscha later told SCNS, “No new taxes. Enough is enough. Use the tax money they already have!”
Sandra Martinez, also of Burney, was another to voice her opinions about the proposed tax; writing online, “No new tax of any kind. Make the legislature act like adults and live within their means.”
“That’s enough of wasting taxpayer money,” Martinez continued.
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After their presentations, all three guest speakers answered questions from the crowd; some of whom did not hold back any punches in their quest for answers to the problems plaguing the Intermountain area.
Some of those problems residents addressed included homelessness and homeless encampments, aggressive panhandling, residential burglaries and thefts, shoplifting, drug use, and vandalism.
Several other topics were discussed at the meeting; including the planned, upcoming March 8 trip to visit two of the Northern Valley Catholic Social Service’s low-income housing projects due to the organization’s proposed Burney housing project; which has long been a point of contention for many throughout the community.
“This is our community and it will take a sincere effort from all of us to fix it.”
After the well-attended meeting, Intermountain Intervention Team President Tammy Allison said she appreciated the large turn out; saying, “This is exactly the kind of crowds we need every month, if we’re to make a real difference in our beautiful community.”
“Burney is a wonderful town to live in,” Allison said. “But like anywhere else, the city has many issues that need to be properly addressed so we can begin heading in the right direction to improve the area and quality of life for all residents.”
“This is our community,” Allison continued; emphasizing, “It will take a sincere effort from all of us to fix it.”
The Intermountain Intervention Team is a 501(c) nonprofit organization and their meetings are held on the first Tuesday of every month, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Burney VFW Hall.
Thanks to generous donations from throughout the community, snacks and refreshments are served at each meeting, and all throughout the Intermountain area are invited to attend and have their voices heard and questions answered. Transportation to and from the group’s monthly meetings can also be arranged for those with disabilities or who are unable to drive to the Veteran’s Hall.
For more information about the Intermountain Intervention Team, how you can join or help support the organization’s ongoing efforts to improve the Intermountain area, or to watch a live-stream video of last night’s meeting, visit IIT on Facebook.
To learn more about Measure A, visit safeshasta.com.
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Trevor Montgomery, 48, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 29 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 16 grandchildren.