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Dispatches from the Lucky Land of Lassen

The icy, cold Susan River this week from the Richmond Road Bridge

By Jeremy Couso
SusanvilleStuff Publisher and Editor

Our house burned down one time and it was, without question, one of the worst things that has ever happened in my life.

There we were – Marshel, Robbie, Jessie and I with absolutely nothing. No insurance to cover the losses, no savings to blunt the sudden crisis and every single thing we owned, except what we were wearing when we ran out of the house that night, just gone. Poof!

It has been nearly twenty years since our fire and the scars it left, both financially and mentally, are still there for me. I still tense up hearing the ‘crackle’ of a fire. Still hate that sharp, charcoal and chemical smell of a structure fire and its aftermath. Financially, it set us back decades or more, and we still deal with money problems it created.

It was a dark time for us and in the end, what saved my family, and made it possible for us to survive, were the amazing people of our community who gave us absolutely everything.

People like Bob and Carolyn Genasci who literally gave us a place to live while we recovered.

That is one of the reasons Marshel and I try so passionately to give back to the community whenever we can. We are grateful. Oh, so grateful.

Wednesday morning, I had to go cover a fire on North Roop street, on the other side of Main Street from our office, over in the area by Jeff and Carol Fontana’s house.

It was still dark, barely 6:00a.m., and much like the night of our fire back in 2005, Chief Moore’s firefighters, along with folks from Cal-FIRE and departments around the valley, were battling freezing temperatures along with the blaze.

Hoses iced up, live electrical lines failed and dropped to the ground, at one point there was a ‘flashover’ putting firefighters in genuine danger. It was everything you don’t want to see happen in a residential structure fire.

I try and take pictures like a good news reporter should. But, after a while you just want to take a deep breath, put the camera down and look away.

For a brief time, there was even a fear that there were people still inside the burning house, which thankfully turned out to be untrue. In heroic fashion the family’s 14-year old son Silas got his little brother out of the house and warned the neighbors in time.

Unfortunately the family’s little dog Bandit escaped during the fire and they are still searching for him.

Why do I bring this all up? I have a very good reason.

The family who lived in that home on Roop Street is a nice family with people who do nice things for our community all of the time. Yet, sometimes terrible things happen to nice people, something I will just never quite understand, but I do know that together we can make a difference.

Alex and Kelli Leon, and their sons Silas and Roman, could use some help right now.

We can’t all afford to make a contribution, but if you can’t, maybe share this link around so that others can help. Each week there are around 5,000 of you who read this column, if only a fraction of you contributed it could make quite a difference.

You can Venmo the family money directly – search for @alejandro-Leon-99 in Venmo.

You can also click here to head over to GoFundMe and make a donation.

This is something to keep in mind every time that someone in our town loses their home. Nobody goes through this and has an easy time of it. It’s up to the rest of us in the community to try and soften that blow.

A Change of Subject

I did not mean to cast such a downer mood on the morning. I actually had a cool thing planned for this morning’s column which we will run next week. I just thought it important that we help out the Leon family.

This is Pure Awesome

Abby Dunn, a Lassen High standout who is now a star adaptive athlete at University of Arizona, is someone who just radiates excellence and positivity wherever she goes and whatever she does. Her amazing personality comes shining through in a UArizona promo video posted this week to YouTube. Go Abby!

Best of Broadway Preview

So, now that I’ve told you about one of the worst parts of my job, let me tell you about one of the best!

It’s time for the annual Best of Broadway performances at the Veterans Memorial Hall and Saturday is Media Night, which means the SusanvilleStuff crew gets to go see a sneak peak at the entire show a week before anybody else gets to see it!

(Don’t tell anyone but it’s been more than a decade since I last went to an actual Best of Broadway performance, having seen every show on Media Night.)

It’s a great evening for photography. I take a fun group photo of the cast, in costume and then Marshel and I usually shoot around 2,000 pictures each to build a big gallery featuring the various musical numbers.

I love getting to hang out with all the really talented people in the cast and feeling that ‘backstage’ sort of vibe. I also get to see what my friend Mikalah, who co-directed a few of the numbers and performs in some as well, has come up with this year. It’s a lot of fun!

We will have a whole gallery of photos for you here at SusanvilleStuff next week and also, we are giving away tickets to the shows so watch for that.

Johnny and June Forever – photo by Mrs. Couso

Johnny and June Forever

Mrs. Couso and I went to go see the live Johnny and June Forever show at the Sierra Theatre Friday and it was awesome. I had forgotten how great the place looks when the fancy-colored lights are on. Brought back Video Dance Party memories.

A lot of folks came out to see the show and I was glad it was well-attended. That bodes well for future shows and live entertainment on the lovely little stage at the theatre.

Now, I am trying to dream up a live musical show idea, just so I can have an excuse to play on that stage. Over the years there have been a lot of neat musical acts that have come to town and played at the Sierra, I want to do that too!

If you have a good idea hit me up and let me know at jcouso@jeremycouso.com.

Until next time kids, take care of yourselves, stay warm and have a really nice weekend.

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