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Why We Love This Place Wednesdays: Four Lassen County Retirements

By Terra Avilla

Good things happen in your life when you surround your life with positive people. I have been very fortunate in that I, somehow, have continuously embedded myself with exemplary human beings, both in my profession and personal life.

It seems hypocritical to start my first article of the year with an article detailing about all of the people in our community who are retiring, but when you think about the decades of service they have provided our community, and when I think of how much these specific people have meant to me personally, how could I not?

How could I not write about Debi Savage? She has been instrumental in my life here in Lassen County. How could I not write about Rick Conrad, who has been instrumental in my well-being, while I have lived here? Or Kristen Wilburn or Jim Wolcott – two positive lights in our corner of the world. All of them are pillars in our community.

As happy as I was to see a close to the year 2020, its closure signified the closing of chapters of all four of these individual’s working career. As they begin their new start in retirement I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t saddened by their leaving. All four of them came into my life through their professions and, in a short period of time, they quickly became very real friends to me.

When I say I have a debt to Pastor Conrad that I will never be able to repay. I mean it. Anyone who has sat in on his sermons at Community Church will tell you that he is the real deal. Attending his sermons was one of the very first things that Frankie and I did that made Susanville feel like home.

As quarantine forced us to watch his final sermon on the internet, in our house, my husband and I cried. Not because we aren’t happy about the new pastor our church is getting, and we are truly very happy for Pastor Conrad to enjoy his retirement with his beautiful wife Dana, but because we are going to miss him. He was a part of our family in Lassen County.

When I say I love Jim Wolcott and I will forever be in debt to him, I mean it. When I first started working in Susanville, I quickly learned that the Fairgrounds was a central hub of activity and life within our community, and the key to that hub was Jim Wolcott. He was always very accessible and accommodating, and it is clear he loved his job and helping this community.

When I tell you that I got teary eyed thinking about the fact that I am not going to see him on his iconic golf cart, zooming around the fairgrounds, it’s not that I am sad because I have to find new ways to access the resources at the fairgrounds, it’s because I am going to miss him. He was part of my family in Lassen County.

When I say I love Debi Savage and will forever be in debt to her I mean it. Poor Debi, (the City’s amazing finance manager) retired and it was probably due to me calling her every two weeks with some random payroll crisis I was having.

I knew I loved Debi, when I called her during my maternity leave after I had Peach, and in my sleep deprived, emotional state, I cried on the phone about my EDD benefits not working (which she had no control over) and she just listened to me ball for a good three minutes, comforting me. When I think about not getting a hug from her every time I step into City Hall it makes my heart sad.

As happy as I am that she gets to run her feed store and enjoy her well-earned retirement, I am going to miss her. She is a part of my family in Lassen County.

When I say I love Kristen Wilburn and will forever be in debt to her, I mean it. In the world of women in law enforcement, Kristen is pretty much the exemplar. She is smart and witty and tough.

She made an effort to reach out to me when I started here and I will never forget that. One time she told me that I reminded her of herself, and that still might be one of the biggest compliments I have ever gotten. When I say I am sad that I won’t see that bright smile rolling around in CHP unit anymore, or dancing around waving a bell from Salvation Army, I am saddened.

I am truly going to miss working her. She is a part of my family in Lassen County.

As I thought, and wallowed in self-pity that all four of these people are ‘leaving me’ I listened to what Pastor Conrad said in his final sermon. He spoke about the beauty of new chapters.

Unfortunately for all four of them, they have already provided me their personal cell phones, so whether they like it or not they are only a phone call away. (Insert evil laugh)

In all seriousness, the love I have for them was not just connected to their professional role. You see, the benefit of living in our community, is people you meet in a professional setting, easily become your friends in a personal setting. It is something that we often take for granted, but should differently appreciate.

I (along with our entire community) wish you guys a very happy retirement and as you are (and will always be) one (or four) of the reasons I love the place we live.

Jeremy Couso
Jeremy Couso
SusanvilleStuff.com Publisher/Editor
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