Owners Missing Money at Foreclosure Auctions


Because there’s strong demand for affordable residences in markets that are seeing home prices surge, some homes sold at foreclosure auctions are netting more than what the lender is owed. Once debts, liens, and fees are paid off, the home owner who’d fallen behind in their mortgage payments is entitled to the remainder. But here’s the kicker: Many home owners don’t realize their rights, which means much of the money is going uncollected.

For example, Denver County, Colo., officials say they have nearly $1.5 million in uncollected surpluses from the sale of about 50 foreclosed homes.

“In the past, people who lost their homes to auctions were typically underwater. [Now] prices have risen so that real estate investors, especially at auctions, are sometimes willing to pay more than what the [homeowner] lost it for,” says Brandon Turner, author of “The Book on Rental Property Investing.” 

Portland, Ore., Denver, Seattle, and Miami are all places where home prices are rising fast, and struggling homeowners may find more windfall profits in foreclosure auctions.

“Denver is one of the hottest real estate markets in the nation right now,” says Mica Ward, spokeswoman for the public trustee of Denver County. “So when a home does have to sell at a foreclosure auction, we’re consistently seeing that the home is selling for more than what is owed.” She estimates that about 80 percent of foreclosure auctions in Denver County result in surpluses over the original debt. She returned up to $169,000 to one foreclosed homeowner this year following an auction.

Source: Realtor.com


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Federal Funding Available to Address Tree Mortality on Private Forestlands

Dead trees killed by Bark Beetles. Picture by John J. O’Dell

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California is expanding its initiative to assist private forestland owners in addressing tree mortality and other drought-related damage to improve forest health. NRCS will provide financial assistance for landowners with dead and dying conifer forest trees in certain counties. Removing dead tree debris and other woody material will also help reduce the spread of invasive pests and reduce the threat of wildfire.

“The dry conditions posed by California’s ongoing drought have increased the potential for devastating wildfires and insect-related tree mortality,” said Carlos Suarez, NRCS California state conservationist. “In the upcoming year, NRCS will continue and expand our 2016 forest recovery efforts by initially allocating $4 million for tree mortality projects. We will also provide additional forestry staff to meet the overwhelming demand for assistance.”

Landowners with dead trees on non-industrial private conifer forestlands in Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Fresno, Kern, Lake, Los Angeles, Madera, Mariposa, Nevada, Placer, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Tulare and Tuolumne counties may be eligible for financial assistance. Funding is available through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program here

The Forest Tree Mortality Initiative is focused on removing dead trees on larger, severely damaged, private forestlands. Interested applicants will need to develop a Forest Management Plan for their forestland property. The minimum size forestland property is one acre and at least 100 feet wide. An applicant with more than 20 percent of their conifer forestland property covered with dead trees will receive priority funding consideration. An approved NRCS Forest Management Plan for tree mortality will not include tree removal on lands within 100 feet from homes. Please contact your county’s tree mortality task force about opportunities for removing dead trees around homes. Approved conservation practices include treating or removing woody residue from dead or dying trees, thinning overstocked forest stands, and tree planting.

Suarez further explained that the Agency’s landscape restoration efforts are part of USDA’s Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture. “Our focus is to combine healthy forest practices with the need to sequester carbon and improve soil health,” he added.


Contact NRCS at:
Nevada County
Grass Valley Service Center
113 Presley Way Ste 1
Grass Valley, Ca 95945-5846

Placer County
Auburn Service Center
11661 Blocker Drive, Suite 120
Auburn, CA 95603

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The Mad Russian of Texas Creek

Texas Creek.  The solitary but likeable emigrant loved his vodka and garlic, talked to the animals and even kept a pet skunk during 13 years as a ditch tender at the isolated mountain station.

Born in Russia, Walter Proscurin found his way to the Gold Country and held a few odd jobs before he hired on with NID in the early 1950s. He worked summers in the mountains repairing canals and flumes.

Walter’s unusual life in the high country was traced through interviews with NID retirees Jason Davis, Frank “Snowshoe Fritz” Plautz, Lee Droivold and Kent Pascoe.

A year around employee was needed at Texas Creek, four miles southwest of Bowman Reservoir, and it was at the onset of the record setting winter of 1952 when Walter began his career as a high country ditch tender.

“I remembered him calling for help because there was so much snow pushing against his house. He thought the snow would push it into the creek,” said Davis.  Davis used to pack supplies into NID’s remote mountain stations.

Asked what he remembered most about the Russian, DAvis lauged, ” He used to take garlic with his vodka.  You couldn’t get within six miles of him”


“He ate garlic like we eat bread,” added Plautz, who retired after 22 years as NID’s Bowman lake tender. “He was serious.  He wasn’t much for joking. But he was a good-hearted guy. He always wanted to do something for your”

Frank’s wife Ramona, said Walter was very eccentric and may have gained his nickname of the Mad Russian because of the way he would wave a rifle and chase hunters out of the Texas Creek area.

Walter lived alone in a stone and wood cabin on the bank of the Bowman-Spaulding Canal near its crossing at Texas Creek. A foundation is all that remains of the cabin today.

The stout naturalized U.S. citizen, stood about 5′ 10″ and weighed 220 ponds, was responsible for keeping the water flowing through several miles of canals and old wooden flumes from Windy Point to the Clear Creek Tunnel.

Pascoe said the Russian was a big hit during his ventures into Nevad City. “He used to throw himself birthday parties at a Nevada City bar. One year, he must have spent $500 to $700 buying everyone drinks.

He loved animals and he would feed the coyotes. He had a bear coming up there for a few years. He always kept a salt lick for the deer.. He fed the birds and kept a pet skunk und the house.

The 63 year old Russian died on March 24, 1968. The cause of death was listed as heart problems and pneumonia and died alone. He is buried in the Pine Grove Cemetery in Nevada City.

Source: NID Waterways, Summer 2016

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Time To Enter Your Exhibits For the  Nevada County Fairgrounds Harvest Fair

Nevada County Fairgrounds. The deadline to turn in entry forms to enter exhibits is 4 pm on Friday, September 16. It’s free to enter, and all exhibitors will receive complimentary tickets to the Friday evening performance of the Draft Horse Classic.

Entry forms are now being accepted at the Fair Office and on-line at NevadaCountyFair.com.  There are more than 100 different categories to choose from, including fruits and vegetables, cobblers, harvest pies, scarecrows, jams, honey, cut flowers, produce characters, and birdhouses. There’s even a “Garden Photo Contest” to share the beauty of your own garden and plants; and an Adult Artistic Corner for those interested in showing off arts and crafts. So many fun categories to choose!

There’s a division for youth and teens, which includes categories like apple face dolls, decoupage, Halloween masks, painted pumpkins, wreaths, table settings, and ceramics. Plus, there’s a Special People’s division for those interested in showing off their talents at the Harvest Fair.

Exhibitors must either submit paper entry forms at the Fair office or enter online at NevadaCountyFair.com between now and Friday, September 16 at 4 pm.  It’s free and it’s simple!

Complete descriptions of all Harvest Fair divisions and categories are available online at NevadaCountyFair.com, at the Fair’s Office on McCourtney Road, or by calling the Fairgrounds Office at (530) 273-6217.

The Draft Horse Classic and Harvest Fair runs September 22 – 25 at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. There are six performances featuring the beautiful Draft Horses – Thursday and Friday at 6:30 pm, Saturday at 10 am and 6:30 pm, and Sunday at 10 am and 4 pm.

In addition to the Draft Horse performances, the Harvest Fair is happening at the Fairgrounds throughout the event. Musical entertainment, Art at the Classic, food vendors on Treat Street and around the grounds, a clogging jamboree, Harvest Fair exhibits, and visits to the barns make for a fun family day at the Harvest Fair.

For Draft Horse performance tickets or information about entering a Harvest Fair exhibit, call the Fair Office at (530) 273-6217 or visit NevadaCountyFair.com.

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Happening Each Day At the 2016 Nevada County Fair



No pre-registration required. Show up 15 minutes before event and have fun!
At the Nevada County Fair, August 10 – 14, there are exciting contests and activities
happening each day of the Fair! Here are a few of the fun contests planned for this year’s Fair.

New this year is the Jello Eatin’ Contest on Wednesday from 3 – 4:30 pm. Be the first to finish a bowl of Jello and whipped cream – without using your hands! Also new is the Critters Cackle Contest on Thursday from 3 – 4:30 pm. Do you have the most authentic cow, rooster, pig, or donkey noise out there? Kids and adults can show off their talents and our audience will take a vote on the best ‘cackle’ in the group.

With the “Kick It Up!” theme, we have fun activities like the Pool Noodle Ponies, where Fair-goers turn pool noodles into trusty steeds on Wednesday and Thursday from 1 – 2 pm; and the Kids Craft Corral where kids make cowboy outfits, harmonicas, puppets and more on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 2 – 3 pm.

A returning favorite this year is the LIVE Art Battle on Saturday from 1:30 – 4:30 pm. Artists of all ages will have 20 minutes to create a painting, and then the audience will vote for their favorite. All supplies provided. Entry forms are available online or at the Fair Office.

If you love creating with Duct Tape, don’t miss the Duct Tape Art Challenge. Kids and adults will have 30 minutes to create an item or thing. Some tape will be available for use;  however, if your project requires specific colors/patterns or supplies, please provide. Happening on Friday; kids contest at 3 pm; adults 3:45 pm.

How about entering your baby in the Diaper “Doggies” Race? Find out how fast your little “doggie” (aka baby) can crawl. There are two categories: 6-9 months and 10-12 months.

This contest is limited to the first 20 contestants in each age category, so sign up your bundle of joy anytime on Sunday at the Special Events Tent. Love Instagram and love taking photos? Take a picture or two with your phone and submit it to Instagram using #kickituppics. There will be daily winners!

On Wednesday at 5 pm, join us for "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?  Local fifth graders are ready to challenge the audience to some good old; fashioned fun! Participants will win cash and prizes. No pre-registration is required – just show up at 5 pm at the Pine Tree Stage.

We’ve also got Squash Mobile Races on Friday, “Minute to Win It” fun each day, and karaoke happening every night from 8 – 11 pm and Sunday from 8 – 10 pm.

There are no entry forms for most events – just show up 15 minutes early at the Special Events Tent and get ready to play. Lots of fun and great prizes!

For a complete list of special contests and activities at this year’s Fair, August 10 – 14,

visit NevadaCountyFair.com.

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John J. O’Dell

66 Million Trees are Dead in the Sierra Nevada Forest

Nevada County  It seems like every day, while driving around the county, I see another group of pine trees dying or dead.

There is a small about 1,000 foot long cul-de-sac near my house. I counted 27 pine trees dead or dying in that cul-de-sac.   According to various sources  we have 66 million trees that are dead from the drought and the number is growing. Pine beetles of different varieties are to blame and the principal species which are responsible are: mountain pine beetle, fir engraver beetle, western pine beetle, Jeffrey pine beetle and pine engraver beetles.


National Forest Service

The U.S. Forest Service today announced that it has identified an additional 26 million trees dead in California since October 2015. These trees are located in six counties across 760,000 acres in the southern Sierra Nevada region of the state, and are in addition to the 40 million trees that died statewide from 2010 to October 2015, bringing the total to at least 66 million dead trees. Four consecutive years of severe drought in California, a dramatic rise in bark beetle infestation and warmer temperatures are leading to historic levels of tree die-off.

“Tree dies-offs of this magnitude are unprecedented and increase the risk of catastrophic wildfires that puts property and lives at risk,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “While the fire risk is currently the most extreme in California because of the tree mortality, forests across the country are at risk of wildfire and urgently need restoration requiring a massive effort to remove this tinder and improve their health. Unfortunately, unless Congress acts now to address how we pay for firefighting, the Forest Service will not have the resources necessary to address the forest die-off and restore our forests. Forcing the Forest Service to pay for massive wildfire disasters out of its pre-existing fixed budget instead of from an emergency fund like all other natural disasters means there is not enough money left to do the very work that would help restore these high mortality areas. We must fund wildfire suppression like other natural disasters in the country.”

Between 2010 and late 2015, Forest Service aerial detection surveys found that 40 million trees died across California – with nearly three quarters of that total succumbing to drought and insect mortality from September 2014 to October 2015 alone. The survey identified approximately 26 million additional dead trees since the last inventory in October, 2015. The areas surveyed in May covered six southern Sierra counties including Fresno, Kern, Madera, Mariposa, Tuolumne and Tulare. Photos and video of the May survey are available on the Forest Service multimedia webpage.

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A Near Death Experience And Lessons Learned

Klamath National Forest, Tom Browning and two others were forced to take refuge in fire shelters while the fire burned over them. Tom, a retired Fire Battalion Chief, shared this near death incident on Tuesday night with more than 20 FFA and 4H students from Bear River and Nevada Union high schools as part of the Nevada County Fairgrounds Foundation’s Speaker Series. The series brings business education – through access to business leaders, life experiences, and leadership tips – to local high school students.

When faced with an adverse or dangerous situation, Browning’s advice to the students is to “stay calm.  You can’t think when you panic or are overwhelmed. Being calm is contagious.”

Browning has more than 40 years of firefighting experience, including 34 years with the City of Grass Valley Fire Department. He retired as a Battalion Chief in 2011. Since his retirement, he has been a member of the North San Juan Fire Protection District, where he serves as volunteer Battalion Chief.  He is also a member of Nor-Cal Team II, a federal Inter Agency Incident Management Team, whose responsibility is to help manage large wildland fires on federal responsibility lands.

Browning is a sixth generation Nevada County resident, and has served as past president of the Nevada County Livestock Producers and the Nevada County Farm Bureau; and is a current board member and past president of the Nevada County Fair Board. He holds his AA degree in Administration of Justice and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management.

In sharing leadership and life experience advice, Browning emphasized to the students that they should “focus on education and learn as much as they can; experience and learn from life’s lessons; be ethical by doing the right thing even when no one is looking; never give up; and never stop learning.”

The Fairgrounds Foundation’s speaker series, which began in October, featured six speakers. Students had an opportunity to hear about the speaker’s career path, how they achieved their goals, insight regarding their area of expertise, and an opportunity for questions. The series, sponsored by Sandy Ballou of California Outdoor Properties, will start up again in October and high school students are invited to attend.

About the Nevada County Fairgrounds Foundation: The Nevada County Fairgrounds Foundation’s mission is to support and improve the community’s Fairgrounds, and to support youth in agriculture. For more information about the Fairgrounds Foundation, or to become a member, visit NevadaCountyFair.com/foundation/.

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John Paye, Former NFL Player and Super Bowl Champion Speaks at Nevada County Fairgrounds


On Thursday night, John Paye, former San Francisco 49er and Super Bowl Chamption, spoke to local 4H and FFA students as part of the Fairgrounds Foundation’s speaker series. This monthly series provides business advice, tips and leadership experience to local high school students.


John Paye, former NFL player for the San Francisco 49ers and Super Bowl champion,
shares life-experiences and successes with local youth 

“Be passionate about what you are doing, put in the extra work, and be consistent.” This is the message of success that John Paye, a former NFL player for the 49ers and Super Bowl champion, shared with local youth on Thursday evening.

Paye addressed FFA and 4H students from Bear River, Nevada Union and Placer high schools, as part of the Nevada County Fairgrounds Foundation’s Speaker Series, which brings business education – through access to business leaders, life experiences, and leadership tips – to high school students. Paye served as the fifth speaker in the series.

During high school, Paye was voted USA Today’s High School Football Player of the Year. He found a home at Stanford, and was a four-year starter for the Cardinals. He was named All-Pac Ten and All-American while also playing as a starter on Stanford’s basketball team for three years. After his college career, Paye was acquired by the San Francisco 49ers, where he played for three seasons serving as backup to Joe Montana from 1987-1988.  Paye was part of the 49ers offense during their 1988 Championship Season, ultimately going on to win Super Bowl XIX.

Paye shared with students his experience in sports, including playing baseball with Barry Bonds, basketball with Michael Jordan, and football with Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. He also shared his childhood memories of the Nevada County Fair, which he continues to visit each year.

Beyond the field for the past 15 years, Paye has worked throughout the west coast educating youth on the importance self-empowerment, saying no to drugs and alcohol, and staying in school.   He reminded the students the importance of staying focused. “Stay on task and don’t get distracted.  Staying focus will help you succeed.”

The Fairgrounds Foundation’s speaker series continues through May.  Students have an opportunity to hear about the speaker’s career path, how they achieved their goals, insight regarding their area of expertise, and an opportunity for questions. The final speaker in this series will be Tom Browning, retired Fire Battalion Chief and current Fairgrounds Board member. The series is sponsored by Sandy Ballou of California Outdoor Properties.

About the Nevada County Fairgrounds Foundation: The Nevada County Fairgrounds Foundation’s mission is to support and improve the community’s Fairgrounds, and to support youth in agriculture. For more information about the Fairgrounds Foundation, or to become a member, visit NevadaCountyFair.com/foundation/.

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The Wines of Basilicata

Basilicata, in southern Italy, is a region whose name crops up only in wine circles. It is home to just four Denominazione di Origine Controllata  DOC’s, (certified growing areas) which collectively cover only two bottles in every hundred produced here.

Winemaking in Basilicata dates back over a thousand years. While in central and northern Italy it was the Etruscans and Romans who pioneered local winemaking, in the south this task was largely undertaken by seafaring Greeks.  Basilicata was also influenced by the Byzantines, who ruled the area during two distinct periods in both the 6th and 9th centuries and gave the region its current name. (from Greek basilikos, meaning prince and governor).

It was during the Middle Ages that Aglianico (then known as Ellenico) took its place as the leading wine grape variety – although recent theories lean towards the introduction of the grape (known as vino de llanos, or wine of the plains) under Aragonese rule in the late Middle Ages.

Compared to the rest of Italy, the total wine production in Basilicata is very small; less than 500,000 hectoliters, of which only 3% comes under the DOC designation.  The main area for viticulture lies in the heart of  the fertile Vulture Massif in the north, located around extinct volcano of Mount Vulture on volcanic soils.

Although the mountainous terrain and harsh weather makes vine-growing a challenge, this area still enjoys an abundance of sunshine throughout the growing season and cool temperatures around harvest, thanks to the mild currents from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west.  In this hilly territory the local variety, Alianico del Vulture, reigns, producing quality wines which exhibit fine aromas and flavors.

There are some very pleasant examples of Moscato, and some superb Malivasia, the best of which come the Vulture zone and the eastern Bradano Valley.  Primitivo, Sangiove and Montepulciano also do particularly well, as does Bombino Nero.

The Aglianico del Vulture wine, but expands further afield to the plains of Materia where it is used in Vino da Tavola wines.

Judy is a retired education administrator and dietitian, now enjoying writing for a living, who lives in  Loomis, California, where she grows fruits, vegetable and grapes and makes award winning home wine.

Nevada County Fairgrounds Foundation to Host Cioppino Feed


February 11,2016

Join the Nevada County Fairgrounds Foundation at its sixth annual All-You-Can-Eat Cioppino Feed on Saturday, March 5 in Ponderosa Hall at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. Doors open at 5 pm, and dinner service begins at 6 pm.

For the event, the chefs will create and serve Arnie Romanello’s special 100-year-old recipe for all to enjoy. Dinner includes antipasto, all-you-can-eat Cioppino, salad and garlic bread.  A pasta dish will be available for those who do not prefer Cioppino, but want to attend the event. A no-host bar will be available, and there will be a silent dessert auction and a live auction.

Tickets are $40 per person. If you’d like to purchase a table for 8, it is $400 and includes two bottles of wine.   Tickets are available by visiting the Nevada County Fairgrounds, calling the Fair Office at (530) 273-6217, or downloading an order form at NevadaCountyFair.com/foundation.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Nevada County Fairgrounds Foundation and its mission of supporting and improving the community’s Fairgrounds, and supporting youth in agriculture.

For more information about the Cioppino Feed or the Foundation, visit NevadaCountyFair.com or call the (530) 273-6217.

John O’Dell
ODell Realty
(530) 263-1091