Powell House remodeling ‘exciting’ for Nevada City

The new owner of the Powell House in downtown Nevada City plans to renovate the historic building for new apartments and commercial space, and will be appearing at tonight’s Nevada City Planning Commission meeting.

At the meeting, slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall downtown, owner Brad Croul and architect Jeff Gold are scheduled to present their application for “interior and exterior remodeling and renovation of the Powell House,” according to the agenda.

“That house is a contributing building to the national register and within the historical district,” said City Planner Cindy Siegfried. “They kind of have an exciting project, proposing five apartments and some commercial retail on the first floor.

“That corner has kind of been looked at by the city, and they’ve been wondering what’s going to happen with it,” Siegfried added. “The City Council is excited.”

In 2006, the Powell House, which sits at Nevada City’s southern entryway on South Pine and Spring streets, was bought with the intent to convert it into a 10-room boutique hotel.

Ventura County developer Andrea Kitay paid $730,000, and expected to put much more than that into restoring and remodeling what she called “a fabulous wreck.”

City officials have hoped restoration of the Powell House would help anchor continued redevelopment along Spring Street.

The building was first constructed in 1855 as the home of First Baptist Church.
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Pot will be the new frontier of Gonzo journalism?

A patient displays a jar of medical marijuana outside the Roscoe Compassionate Collective in Canoga Park. | The Los Angeles Times
A patient displays a jar of medical marijuana outside the Roscoe Compassionate Collective in Canoga Park. | The Los Angeles Times
I get a kick out of reading Jim Romenesko’s headlines. Oftentimes, I don’t read the actual posts he puts out there (there’s upward of 40 a day) but I love the attention grabbers he tosses.

One caught my eye in particular because of all of the medical marijuana issues occurring in Nevada County, and particularly Nevada City which I cover. The Westword, a Denver based blog, is looking for a medical marijuana reviewer for its site. The person would go around and, you know, check out the facility.

Here’s what the Westword wrote about it (headlined: Calling all potential pot reviewers: Westword wants you!):
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Judithy Lowry in the Smithsonian full-time now

Judith Lowry sits in front of her painting "The Race for Fire" which will be on display at the Roseville Maidu Interpretive Center in Roseville, Calif.
Judith Lowry sits in front of her painting The Race for Fire which will be on display at the Roseville Maidu Interpretive Center in Roseville, Calif.

The artwork of Judith Lowry has been on the Smithsonian Institution’s radar for more than five years.

The Nevada City resident’s acrylic paintings were shown by the prestigious educational center during “Continuum 12,” an exhibit in New York sponsored from 2003 to 2005 by the institution’s National Museum of the American Indian.

Now, Lowry will have a permanent spot in the hallways of the institution. The Smithsonian has purchased her six-panel work, “Weh-Pom and the Star Sisters,” one of the pieces featured in “Continuum 12.”

“To have your work installed in any museum is always an honor,” said Lowry.

“Weh-Pom and the Star Sisters” — or “the girls,” as she calls the series — is one of Lowry’s favorite works, she said.

Its six panels depict five women and a wolf man in the stars, dancing and pouring star dust downward. The vivid colors and symbolism in the paintings are hallmarks of Lowry’s work.

She’s best known for portraying the contemporary perspective of Native American life and her execution in acrylic on life-sized canvasses. “The girls” are 48 by 60 inches each, according to the National Museum of the American Indian.
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You can also call it an idea center

In many respects, it’s an incubator for ideas.

The APPLE Sustainability Center in Nevada City will be the gathering place for people and groups in the community to share ideas on how to live green, said center Executive Director Mali Dyck and Nevada City Mayor Reinette Senum. Among its many uses, education will be at the top, as workshops are being forecasted for the newly renovated building at 412 Commercial St.

After hosting a preliminary opening for the center last week, both Dyck and Senum were asked one question: What will the APPLE Center do when it’s fully functional? Here’s what they said:

Dyck: Already we’re getting approached by people … It’s amazing the people who walk in with ideas, or questions. A young group of business people who meet once a month, called the Exchange, who I’ve never heard of, are going to have their October meeting here. Basically, they get together and talk about their businesses and learn about something that’s happening in the community. And that’s totally sustainability. It’s not green building, or tanning, or seed picking, but it’s connections and getting people to talk to each other and help each other with their businesses.
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Stories from the past week: Foreclosures, marijuana and history

On courthouse steps, auctioneer seeks bids on bank-owned homes

Almost every day at around noon, an auctioneer stands in front of the Nevada County Courthouse and tries to sell someone’s foreclosed home.

It’s a reflection of the nation’s continued housing crisis, which has hit California particularly hard, evidenced by the more than 358,000 homes that have gone into foreclosure auction this year, with 57,000 of them finding buyers.

In Nevada County, 434 properties are in pre-foreclosure and 280 are being auctioned for sale, according to the county clerk-recorder’s office. A key indicator has been the 1,120 notices of default that have been filed in Nevada County in 2009, according to the county clerk-recorder’s Web site.

Most days, the auctioneer has to postpone the sale of foreclosed homes because there are no bids. It’s not for a lack of interested parties. The steps at the courthouse are often filled with interested citizens, either worried about their own foreclosed home or bargain hunters. The crowd size differs from day to day.

Read the full story in The Union.
Continue reading “Stories from the past week: Foreclosures, marijuana and history”

Accessibility an issue in Nevada City

FREED flexed its muscles and got the Nevada City Council to remove two consent items Wednesday regarding the approval of $82,000 in funds for street and bicycle improvements.

The nonprofit, a Nevada County independent resource center serving people with disabilities, took issue with the council’s willingness to approve two items for road improvements after recent changes to Coyote Street failed to include any curb cuts.

“I want to challenge you guys to come out, maybe with a wheelchair, and see what it’s like,” said Patrick Kenny, who spoke from a wheelchair to the council. “We’ve made a lot of improvements, but I’ve seen quite a regression in regards to the (American Disability Act) in the past few years.”

Editor’s note: Read the full story in The Union.

Nevada City woman works as producer on new Michael Moore movie

Nevada City resident Cory Fisher was well versed with journalism before jumping into the film industry.

Having worked for the Los Angeles Times and the Tahoe Daily Tribune at different points in her career, including a bout as a high school teacher, Fisher’s research and interviewing skills were invaluable for her when she was hired by Michael Moore’s sister and fellow Nevada City resident Anne Moore to help create a teacher’s guide for the film “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

Since then, she’s worked with the Moores on “Sicko” and the soon-to-be released “Capitalism: A Love Story” as a producer, using her journalistic skills for the filmmaker’s politically charged documentaries.

Editor’s note: Read the full story in The Union.

Vice Mayor: There are other options for medical marijuana

Robert Bergman
Robert Bergman
Nevada City Vice Mayor Robert Bergman suggested medical marijuana proponents create a co-op to sidestep the need for a dispensary in the Gold Rush town.

“In all of my wanderings and research, I wondered what you could do and what you couldn’t do” with medical marijuana in Nevada City, Bergman said. “I surmised it’s still possible for a co-op.”

“If you look at the intent of the thing, the Compassionate Use Act, what it’s really getting at is, you can get your marijuana,” Bergman said. “This is just a different implementation.

“No one wants to deny anyone from getting their medicine.”

In a 3-2 vote last week, the Nevada City Council banned the dispensaries, with council members Sally Harris and David McKay spearheading the opposition to dispensaries on the council. They both argued that Nevada City was too small geographically for a dispensary.

Bergman, who had sought more time to research the issue before a decision was made, sided with Harris and McKay to settle the issue although his reasons differed from those of his colleagues.

He also suggested that a collaboration between Nevada City, Grass Valley and the county could be another possible solution for dispensary proponents.

Editor’s note: Read the full story in The Union.

NC planning commission cancels meeting — again

The Nevada City Planning Commission canceled its Thursday meeting due to a lack of applications, marking the third time in the last three months a meeting had been canceled.

“It’s silly to bring in one sign application,” City Planner Cindy Siegfried said of Thursday’s cancellation. “We’ve got to have a substantial amount of things to take before the commission.”

The next meeting will be Oct. 1, where some architectural review will take place, Siegfried said.

So far, there are no plans in place to change the regularity of meetings for the planning commission, which is required by city code to meet the first and third Thursdays of every month.

But there may be more cancellations with the winter and holiday season as the still-slow economy continues to discourage building, Siegfried said.

City Hall will be closed Friday, Sept. 18, as part of the city’s budget-cutting measures.

KVMR currently hush-hush on new building plans

If KVMR has something to say, they don’t want to say it just now.

I spoke with KVMR (local community radio station in Nevada City) Board of Directors President Joey Jordan yesterday about an agenda item on the Nevada City Council budget regarding KVMR’s campaign to raise money for a new building.

The gist is that KVMR has outgrown its current building, according to the agenda item and the documents accompanying it. But that’s about as far as the public will learn about this campaign now.

The item was placed on the agenda “inadvertently,” Jordan said.

“We’re just not ready to talk about it,” she said.

I hear ya. I’ll be following along and waiting for KVMR to talk. It’s particularly interesting because, as has been indicated inadvertently, they’ll be going to the council about this for some possible public funds. Or maybe not.

I’ve got questions to ask.