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Coronavirus Stories: NorCal cities are sagging due to economic collapse



Coronavirus Stories: NorCal cities are sagging due to economic collapse

In the old mining cities that helped the birth of this country, bonanza can be counted every summer in recent years – not in ore extraction, but in tourism, festivals, and destination weddings.

Now businesses hope only to survive in the summer, even when the corona virus itself has left the region unscathed.

Residents in many rocky northern states, from the coast of Del Norte to here in the foothills of the Sierra, have largely watched this pandemic spread from afar, as if it were another nightmare in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Some feel trapped in the blind spot of public debate, lost between the horrific reality of the worst scourge and the noisy extremists who call it a hoax.

Their remoteness has not made them avoid the collapse of the closing economy. And the rare case of COVID-19 in Nevada County only makes restrictive steps make their livelihood even more pathetic.

Nevada County has a total of 41 cases, and one death – but no new cases have been reported since April 28. In addition, there were only 12 cases on the west side of the county, which included Nevada City and Grass Valley. The remaining 29 are in the east, around Truckee, separated by 40 miles of wilderness.

But the people here are torn restaurant owners, camp owners, hotel managers, gym operators, tattoo artists and wedding photographers. They know that if California is open, a virus will come to their community. If not, financial collapse will occur.

And Thiem and his wife, Erin, are owners of the Inn Town Campground in Nevada City, which has been closed since March 15.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

“We generate 70% of our revenue in three months,” said Dan Thiem, who owns Inn Town Campground in Nevada City with his wife, Erin. “And we can’t do that now.”

Many of their campers come every year and rent their places for months to come.

The state gives no indication when businesses like them will be allowed to open. Nor does it have a county. The couple submitted a proposal to the health department to open responsibly but have not heard from.

“This is a major failure in leadership on all fronts,” Thiem said. “The plan to deal with coronavirus is very disjointed, it perpetuates it and makes it worse for everyone.”

He felt that until countries such as Modoc, Yuba and Sutter began defying state orders in the past few weeks, the country’s leaders ignored more rural areas where jobs could not simply be turned online.

“The request is different for different people,” Thiem said. “I feel policymakers are Bay Area-centric, where they say, ‘Just go to work from home.’ You know that most of our economy here cannot be done from home. So, ‘Go to work from home because you are safer’ is different from saying, ‘You need to shut down and bankrupt your business.’ “

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He and his wife spent most of their days processing the cancellation even for months they were finally open.

“They are making other plans now for other parts of the country,” Erin Thiem said. “People need something to look forward to.”

Elizabeth Poston, owner of Living Outdoors Lancscapes, watering plants on Main St. in Grass Valley.

Elizabeth Poston, owner of Living Outdoors Landscapes, watered plants on Main Street in Grass Valley.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

In a corner of the downtown store, Lior Rahmanian found it difficult to find an exit for One 11 Kitchen & Bar. Like many people, he was ready when the coronavirus struck, in debt from renovations.

He first rented the ground floor of the 150-year-old building in November 2018. The place was once a prison, and the stone walls were one and a half feet high. Three restaurants have been operating there for years, with a small kitchen that needs renovation.

When he moved, the floor was black with oil, with leaks and rot in the wood. There are 11 unresolved violations from the health department, he said.
The three-month renovation turned into a seven-month ordeal, and he finally opened last June, with deep debt.

“We started running. The first night we opened, I believe it was Art First Friday. We have a complete restaurant in 15 minutes after opening the door. “

But in September and October, strong winds pushed Pacific Gas & Electric to turn off electricity several times in the region. Rahmanian had to close for eight days, losing more than $ 2,000 a day, while more than $ 10,000 of food disappeared.

“Everything is fresh; we don’t have frozen food here, “he said.

Then coronavirus appeared. He has to close eating at home. He laid off 16 of his employees and remained open to do roadside takeouts from noon to 8 pm, mostly self-employed. He could barely pay his bills – $ 4,200 rent, his PG&E bill, repayment to employees, supplier invoices, installments on renovation loans.

Lior Rahmanian, Chef / Owner of One 11 Kitchen & Bar in Nevada City

Lior Rahmanian, chef-owner of One 11 Kitchen & Bar in Nevada City, shows a stack of bills ready to be sent.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Lior Rahmanian in his business which is still doing curbside pick up.

Lior Rahmanian in his business.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

“One of my product companies, they froze my account because I couldn’t pay my bills. So I’ve paid them $ 100 here, $ 200 here, “he said.

On May 18, the county allowed restaurants to open, under pressure from a group of business owners. Rahmanian needed only a week to find four employees who were willing at the time the federal allowance paid them $ 600 per week above state unemployment.

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“Most people in the restaurant industry make more money now sitting at home rather than working,” he said. “I can’t afford to pay employees $ 4,000 a month.”

A neighboring business owner puts the following difficulties with them: “The government buys our employees; now we need to buy it back. “

Rahmanian reopened for visitors May 24, asking customers to order at the counter and sit on the outside terrace. He can serve a maximum of about 20 people at a time, compared to nearly 80 before.

He did not blame the government for maintaining distance or closure. He understands health emergencies and notes that the Nevada Territory has a large population of elderly people. He understands that people are afraid.

But he has to close and file for bankruptcy without any help, whether it is the owner who cuts the rent or the government offers help that is not just loans that he has to dig up later.

“Half the rent is the most I can pay until everything returns to normal,” he said. “And normal doesn’t mean the state or the governor or county tells me that I can open full power; that means when guests feel safe enough to fill this restaurant. Many people a year from now will still stay away from the big crowd and the restaurant is full.”

Joy Porter, a commercial photographer and chairman of the local chamber of commerce, helped organize the business to lobby the area to be open.


Rachel “Ginger” Lazarus, owner of the Cult of Gemini in Grass Valley, stamped out the counter inside her eclectic occult shop, which reopened last week.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

“I get a lot of calls from people who want to know why we don’t follow Sutter and Yuba districts,” Porter said.

Neighboring countries in the west – far more conservative and agricultural than Nevada County – announced that they are opening businesses, including restaurants, before the state gives them the go-ahead. They have the same number of cumulative COVID-19 cases as Nevada County but do not taper to zero.

Porter is still struggling to push the county further open, against another wave of people screaming to stay as tightly closed as possible.

Pamela Magill, 55, experienced a problem when she posted on Facebook that people who don’t feel symptoms should not go to the new coronavirus testing center.

“If we get 10 cases, they will kill us again,” he said.

His efforts, the Gold Country Gymnastics in Grass Valley, have been closed since March, but he let the children in the team train there in small groups.

“The old man said,” Thank you for doing this. Our children drive us crazy. They need to exercise, ” he said.

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He said the most he had at one time was 15 young gymnasts, and keeping the six foot distance was easy at a 15,000 square foot facility, where he paid $ 10,000 a month.

Pamela Magill, owner of Gold Country Gymnastics in Nevada City

Pamela Magill, owner of Gold Country Gymnastics in Grass Valley.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

But another contingent of parents was worried and told the health department that Magill had broken the rules.

The police came two days after the 9 May Facebook post. “Basically, the police officer said, ‘Can you stay under the radar?'” He said.

He did not want to do that. He said parents and children who felt they could exercise safely in the gym were entitled.

“Everyone knows it’s not a hoax. It’s definitely a real virus. There’s no doubt that it’s scary and dangerous and people are dying of it,” he said. But with no new cases in Nevada County since April, “there is absolutely no reason for our district to be locked. “

Wedding photographer Andrew Mishler and his wife Melanie, at their home in Penn Valley

Wedding photographer Andrew Mishler and his wife, Melanie, at their home in Penn Valley.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Farther down the hill in Penn Valley, Melanie and Andrew Mishler, who run a wedding photography business, initially disagreed about viruses.

“I think that’s a bull —; he’s not,” said Melanie, 44.

Her husband, 45, thought the closure should have been more drastic in the beginning.

“If everyone in the United States and other parts of the world would take this seriously in the first two or three weeks and limit movement, wearing masks, doing what professionals, scientists and doctors said, it wouldn’t be like that. Catastrophic, “Said Andrew.

Now this is a “big disaster,” he agrees with Melanie that they must learn to survive with the virus. And to survive economically.

Nevada County is a destination wedding location for people from all states and countries.

“We call it the new Napa,” Melanie said. “Everything, from warehouse weddings to vineyards to lakes – all kinds of places here.”

A decade ago, ordinary people brought their vendors from outside the region. “It’s still bumpy,” he said. “Now we have a group of very strict vendors that are truly leading. What’s the standard? ”

It all seemed to unravel before their eyes. They have lost more than $ 100,000 from rescheduling the pair for next year. They are afraid that this year will be lost.

“How do you hold a wedding with 150 people and social distance?” Melanie asked.

They are pinned through sadness, anxiety, anger, regret.

“One day I was angry at people for not maintaining social distance,” Andrew said. “The next day, that was the governor; the next day, this was China, because I heard they knew about it two months before. Then I was angry at ourselves.”

Grass Valley City Center

Grass Valley residents Thaddeus and Stephanie Raczkowski, along with their children Quinten, 4, and Everett, 6.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

At their camp in Nevada City, the Thiems paced under ponderosa pine trees and incense, where 70 of their sites were empty.

Normally, Dan said, “it’s full every weekend from Remembrance Day to Labor Day.”

They crossed the fence and marked an old cemetery for Chinese workers who helped the city flourish. The camp is located on a vein called Mohawk, where hundreds of tons of gold ore were extracted during the 1800s. The boom period ends with the mine closed and the shop closed.

By 1920, the population was less than half in 1880.

The couple worried that the latest era of prosperity will end too.

“What will happen on the other side of this?” Dan asked. “If half of the city center does not survive, what kind of community will we have?”

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Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.



Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.

Method Media Bermuda will present the documentary FABRIC: Portuguese History in Bermuda on Thursday, December 29 at the Underwater Research Institute of Bermuda.

A spokesperson said: “Method Media is proud to bring Bermuda Fabric: Portugal History to Bermuda for its 5th and 6th showing at the Bermuda Underwater Observatory. In November and December 2019, Cloth: A Portuguese Story in Bermuda had four sold-out screenings. Now that Bermuda has reopened after the pandemic, it’s time to bring the film back for at least two screenings.

“There are tickets For $ 20 – sessions at 15:30 and 18:00. Both screenings will be followed by a short Q&A session.

Director and producer Milton Raboso says, “FABRIC is a definitive account of the Portuguese community in Bermuda and its 151 years of history, but it also places Bermuda, Acors and Portugal in the world history and the events that have fueled those 151 years.

“It took more than 10 years to implement FABRIC. The film was supported by the Minister of Culture, the Government of the Azores and private donors.

Bermuda Media Method [MMB] Created in 2011 by producer Milton Raposo. MMB has created content for a wide range of clients: Bermuda’s new hospital renovation, reinsurance, travel campaigns, international sports and more. MMB pays special attention to artistic, cultural and historical content.

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Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.



Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.

Maestro Filipe Cunha, Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Braga, has been invited to conduct the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra, as announced today.

According to a statement sent by O MINHO, “he will be the first Portuguese conductor to conduct this orchestra in its entire history.”

In addition to this orchestra, the maestro will also work with the Lyceo Mozarteum de la Habana Symphony Orchestra.

The concerts will take place on 4 and 12 March 2023 at the National Theater of Cuba in Havana.

In the words of the maestro, quoted in the statement, “these will be very beautiful concerts with difficult but very complex pieces” and therefore he feels “very motivated”.

From the very beginning, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 will be performed by an Italian pianist (Luigi Borzillo), whom the maestro wants to bring to Portugal later this year. In the same concert, Mendelshon’s First Symphony will be performed.

Then, at the second concert, in the company of the Mexican clarinetist Angel Zedillo, he will perform the Louis Sfora Concerto No. 2. In this concert, the maestro also conducts Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

“This is an international recognition of my work. An invitation that I accept with humility and great responsibility. I was surprised to learn that I would be the first Portuguese member of the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. This is a very great honor,” the maestro said in a statement.

“I take with me the name of the city of Braga and Portugal with all the responsibility that goes with it, and I hope to do a good job there, leaving a good image and putting on great concerts. These will be very special concerts because, in addition to performing pieces that I love, especially Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, I will be directing two wonderful soloists who are also my friends. It will be very beautiful,” concludes Filipe Cunha.

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