A Difficult Task in Paradise: Getting Schools Back in Session After Fire's Destruction

The grim search continues in Paradise.

The grim search continues in Paradise. Kathleen Ronayne / AP Photo


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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Governors-elect ready for transitions … South Bend homelessness … Minneapolis grocery-stocking rules … and Midwest winter storm.

Good morning, it’s Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. I hope you had a good Thanksgiving. Wildfire recovery in California leads Route Fifty’s state and local government news roundup but scroll down for more from places like Banderas County, Texas; Herriman, Utah; and Detroit, Michigan. ALSO IN ROUTE FIFTY … when a local government is “unwilling” to make debt payments ... making railroad crossings safer ... Alaska ransomware recoveryBoston fiber expansion … and San Diego’s drone-testing survey.

CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES | The Camp Fire in Northern California is 100 percent contained. The Butte County Sheriff’s Office reported Sunday night that there have been 85 confirmed fatalities with 296 people unaccounted for 18 days after the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history burned through the town of Paradise.  According to CalFire, the Camp Fire burned across 153, 336 acres, destroying nearly 14,000 residences, 528 commercial and 4,293 other buildings. [CALFire; @ButteSheriff]

The Paradise Unified School District plans to resume classes on Dec. 3, but “no one can be certain how many students will actually show up when classes resume, or where.” Since the Camp Fire, school administrators and teachers have been working from nearby Chico as they have worked to contact families of the district’s 3,500 students. All nine of the school district’s campuses have been either damaged or destroyed, forcing administrators to figure out where they will be able to pull together makeshift classroom space. [The Sacramento Bee]

Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey has been warning survivors of the fire to be on the lookout for potential “donation scams, rental scams, fake disaster officials, public adjusters and unlicensed or fraudulent contractors.” [Chico Enterprise-Record]

WINTER STORMS | Just as thousands of Thanksgiving travelers were heading home after the long holiday weekend, an early-season winter storm brought blizzard conditions to parts of the Midwest. After moving through a swath of southeastern Nebraska, southern Iowa and northern Missouri this weekend, the early season winter storm moved into northern Illinois on Sunday night and will impact Michigan’s Lower Peninsula on Monday. Nearly 800 flights were canceled at Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports on Sunday and Mayor Rahm Emanuel warned of difficult travel conditions on Monday as the city digs out.

[Chicago Tribune; @ChicagosMayor; MLive]

TRANSITIONS | Connecticut Gov.-elect Ned Lamont is currently assessing ways to to make “structural changes” to curb deficit spending and that includes not tapping the state’s reserves since “it is not a rainy day.” [CTMirror] … In Minnesota, Gov.-elect Tim Walz said Friday that there’s a “strong possibility” that members of outgoing Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration will be retained when Walz officially assumes the governorship in January, at least temporarily. [Capitol View / Minnesota Public Radio] … According to Tennessee Gov.-elect Bill Lee, there have been approximately 800 applications for positions in his administration. [WKRN]

CITY HALLS | The Minneapolis City Council is giving another look at a decade-old ordinance, which saw changes two years ago, which requires licensed grocery stores in the city to “stock essential food items, including dairy, cheese, meat and vegetables.” This could lead to loosening some requirements to allow retailers “more flexibility in choosing what to stock.” [KSTP] … The owner of a Detroit auto collision repair shop who has been antagonizing Mayor Mike Duggan by digging into his personal life says the mayor is “in for a fight. Don’t mess with the bull, you’ll get the horn,” according to Robert Carmack. [Detroit Free Press] … Residents in Herriman, Utah have been calling on Mayor David Watts to step down amid an investigation into unauthorized transactions on a city credit card, including costs related to travel to Washington, D.C. as part of the Salt Lake County Mosquito Abatement District. [KSTU]

HOMELESSNESS | With the opening of a planned temporary emergency shelter in South Bend, Indiana delayed until Dec. 1, a consultant working with the city said that Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s administration did not follow his advice for opening the “gateway center” on time: “Every community that has had success has appointed somebody who monitors what nonprofits and the city is doing, a homeless czar of sorts,” said consultant Tom Rebman. “That would have prevented this permit from not being filed because somebody would have been ensuring everything was being done.” [The South Bend Tribune]

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | Some business boosters in Colorado think the state should be more recognized for its aerospace sector, the second-largest in the nation after California. “The industry is like a jewel that we have right here in Colorado that the average citizen doesn’t know as much about as they should,” said retired Maj. Gen. John Barry, president and CEO of the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum said. “There’s a lot going on that’s pretty exciting.” [The Denver Post]

WATER QUALITY | In Banderas County, Texas, local property owners are fighting an application for a planned Christian summer camp’s wastewater discharge permit, which many fear will ruin water quality in Commissioners Creek, a conflict that creates a “tug-of-war between property rights and neighborliness and between economic necessities and environmental stewardship.” [Rivard Report]

Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.

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