“The sandwich needs to be a puff”

Mar 24, 2021

March  22, 2021 — The Board of Supervisors agreed to work on dedicating staff and funding to an economic development  program run by West Business Development Center.

Supervisors also agreed to spend Measure B money to remodel the behavioral health training center in Redwood Valley, purchase a gun locker for the site, and reimburse the sheriff’s office for crisis intervention training for law enforcement. And, now that the county is in the fourth year of collecting the half-cent sales tax, the board requested proposals on what it would take to get a psychiatric health facility going in different locations.

The one cannabis item, which came up briefly at the end of the day, generated the most correspondence, including eighteen lots of 25 letters each that were forwarded from the Planning Commission. The board established a moratorium on Phase III cannabis cultivation permitting, in preparation for a new controversial chapter in the county code, which has not been finalized yet.

Move2030 is an economic development program based, according to Paul Garza, the chair of West Business Development Center, on data and research. The work was funded by a grant from the U.S Economic Development Administration.

Garza said that, in spite of an economy concentrated in too few industries that don’t provide a living wage, which he declared was $27 an hour for a family of four, there were bright spots in using biomass for sustainable product development, manufacturing in cannabis, food, beer wine and distilleries, and metal. Some of the biggest challenges, according to surveys, are access to technology and startup funds. Michelle Hutchins, the Superintendent of the Mendocino County Office of Education, was enthusiastic about using the program to fine-tune workforce training.

Supervisor Dan Gjerde was all in, citing a study by economists with Sonoma Clean Power that projected a grim recovery for Mendocino County. He said he approved of West’s request for a staff person and funding to continue its work.

Supervisors Ted Williams and Maureen Mulheren agreed to bring a proposal back to the full board within a month.

The board also agreed unanimously to authorize close to $300,000 of Measure B money to remodel the Behavioral Health Training Center, including fire sprinklers. Another $8400 of Measure B money went to purchasing a gun locker, though Jan McGourty called in to say she thought it was inappropriate.

Another $12,400 of Measure B funds went to reimbursing the sheriff’s department for a training that is usually paid for by NAMI, the National Alliance of Mental Illness. This particular training was not held at a county building, though, so NAMI refused to pay for it, according to Jan McGourty. The board chose to reimburse the training this one time, but to have a plan moving forward.

Supervisors also called for more plans about possible locations for a puff, one on a ranch somewhere in the unincorporated county, and another at the property on Whitmore Lane, which CEO Carmel Angelo called “a free fixer-upper,” because it was purchased with $2.2 million of CARES Act funding. It will need a new roof, though, which will cost close to $3 million. Williams urged Dr. Jenine Miller, the head of behavioral health  to research the options.

“Maybe this is like ordering a sandwich,” he analogized. “We have some check-mark boxes, and we need to know which ingredients we can throw in there for a total of about seven bucks. I think we need our director to bring forward those check-boxes. And if a puff is one, great, if not, give us a few more we can choose from...pick a location, tell us what the options are, and let’s vote on it.”

Supervisor John Haschak gave a general idea of what he would be voting for. “I think that there’s pretty much consensus that the sandwich needs to be a puff,” he opined.