Pubdate: Wed, 18 Oct 2000
Source: Redding Record Searchlight (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Redding Record Searchlight - E.W. Scripps
Contact:  PO Box 492397, Redding, CA 96049-2397
Author: Alex Breitler, Record Searchlight, TOWN MEETING AIMS TO TACKLE DUMPING, DRUGS

HAPPY VALLEY - Drugs. Trash. Stray dogs.

These problems aren't new to this rural town west of Redding. Nor are they 
unique to Happy Valley.

But sensing an upswing in citizen complaints in the past year, law 
enforcement and county officials will meet with residents Thursday night to 
discuss what Shasta County Supervisor Irwin Fust called "mounting" concerns.

"People are calling me and saying, 'We've got to get rid of this,' " Fust 
said Tuesday.

"This" can mean several things in Happy Valley, a country town dotted 
sporadically with small farms, houses and mobile homes. Trash sometimes 
accumulates on roadsides, and abandoned cars and building code violations 
are also a concern, Fust said. Each week, sheriff's logs report phone calls 
from residents irate over wandering livestock and stray dogs.

"You really get frustrated with it," said Fust, whose district includes the 
community of about 6,000 residents that boasts an annual strawberry 
festival and a series of produce-selling farms and ranches.

These problems may be growing, but they're hardly new, said 20-year Happy 
Valley resident Jim Ray, owner of Discount Feed on Happy Valley Road.

"I've seen it off and on," Ray said Tuesday while making small talk with 
customers inside his store. "Piles of trash that shouldn't be there - 
people dump here and there because they can't afford the fees (at the dump)."

Last year's Canyon Fire destroyed many of the abandoned cars, Ray said. But 
the blaze also gutted 64 homes, one of several tragedies - including the 
double slaying of a gay couple and two other murders - that made last year 
one to forget for Happy Valley residents.

Drugs may be the biggest concern. At least two high-profile methamphetamine 
cases took place in the town in recent months. In March, surveillance 
agents arrested a Happy Valley man suspected of transporting a 
methamphetamine lab in the back of his pickup. The same month, officials 
learned Shasta College laboratory equipment had been stolen and used in two 
Happy Valley meth labs.

The community accounted for only 2 percent of Shasta Interagency Narcotics 
Task Force cases in 1999. Sixty percent were from Redding, 15 percent from 
Anderson and 7 percent from Shasta Lake, said Ed Pecis, the task force 

Still, Happy Valley's web of gravel roads, wooded hills and large land 
parcels make for loads of good hideouts for drug users, Pecis said.

"We have more mid-to-major narcotic violators moving into the rural areas," 
Pecis said. "They're coming from other counties. Instead of moving right 
into town, they're moving into outlying areas. They don't feel the law 
enforcement pressure, and it's pretty wide open."

Because Happy Valley has a high turnover rate - residents move in and out 
frequently, Fust said - the purpose of Thursday's meeting is for community 
members to learn who they can turn to when they have problems. It's also a 
chance to voice their concerns.

Two similar meetings have been held in the past six years, one to introduce 
new federally funded sheriff's deputies, the other to discuss a growing 
methamphetamine problem. After each forum, drug use seemed to wane, Fust said.

He hopes Thursday's meeting has the same effect.

"I want the DA and the sheriff and all those guys to hear from these 
folks," Fust said.

Reporter Alex Breitler can be reached at 225-8344 or at