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Weed council candidate Bob Hall has long history of community involvement

Kelsey Shelton
Mount Shasta Herald
Bob Hall

Bob Hall said the future of the town of Weed is bright and he wants to continue improving his community during a fourth term on the city council.

“I have a long record of volunteer involvement in our community,” said Hall, who was first elected to the city council in 2008. 

He currently belongs to the Water for Citizens of Weed California group and to the group “Faces,” which “is actively working on ways to celebrate Weed’s ethnic diversity.”

Over the past decade, Hall’s work with the Weed Pride group replaced Main Street’s crumbling sidewalks with 44,000 pavers and installed decorative street lighting, Hall said.

After moving to Weed from McCloud in 1967 to attend College of the Siskiyous, Hall joined the Army. 

“Lacking enough discipline to commit to school I decided to go into the Army. I had met a beautifully innocent yet culturally dynamic young woman named Mary Guerra, with whom to this day I remain infatuated,” said Hall of his now wife.

The two have a daughter and a son who also reside in Weed. Three of his four grandsons and Hall’s two great-grandsons also live in the community.

After a three year stint at International Paper Co. in Weed, two years on a Southern Pacific Track Gang, and three years painting houses, Hall eventually worked for 10 years at Medo-Bel Creamery and 20 years at JH Baxter Lumber Treating. 

“While at Baxter’s I attended COS and became a licensed vocational nurse,” said Hall. Hall retired from nursing in 2012.

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Hall has coached youth sports for more than 40 years, and hopes to coach his great grandsons. Hall continues to volunteer every Saturday evening to facilitate an open gym for the community. 

At one point, Hall helped create a program to assist those who had lost their driver’s licenses due to nonpayment of fines, which technically makes one unemployable. “Nine people have had their driving privileges reinstated and most remain employed today,” said Hall. 

Q&A with the candidate

Hall answered a series of questions via email.

Q: What prompted you to run for Weed City Council?

A: In my estimation Weed had fallen into a systematic lack of community spirit and pride.  We were accepting things such a major rough railroad crossing that literally forced us to have nearly annual front wheel alignments. We were accepting a downtown area that displayed cracked concrete sidewalks and gutters, live bare wires sticking up from street light poles.  We were accepting a Main Street in nearly total darkness at night.  Almost all street lights were nonfunctional.

Weed was handcuffed to one grocery store with no competition. A common saying was, “We can’t even buy a pair of socks in Weed.” I believed that a stronger effort to bring in some competition could be made.  Grocery Outlet and Dollar General have been great successes and have made living in Weed much more affordable and convenient.

Q: What are your main goals if elected?

A: Continue the Main Street  downtown area revitalization process.  It all takes time.  A city must never just take private property without giving every possible opportunity for the owner to adhere to the city’s expectations regarding the conditions and safety of property.  We have been more than fair and are presently in process of placing some buildings in a receivership-type status. We have potential builders that say they can bring buildings up to code sell them and recoup their costs. We need to find funds for fresh street blacktopping with new painted lines.

Establish an effective road fund for the city.  At present there is very few funds for road maintenance and state and federal grants are rapidly disappearing. Weed is not that far from being forced to return to having some gravel roads if we don’t address this issue.

Continue fighting for Weed’s water rights. Due to confidential negotiations I cannot provide details, but I am very confident that our courage in taking a moral stand for our community’s water and in resisting an unethical water grab, will finally pay off, leaving us in a better place with secured rights to the Beaughan Springs water our community has depended on for 110 years.

Q: Do you have any ideas to increase economic development?

A: As a community we are responsible for our labor force.  We must debunk the excuse of “I don’t have kids in school, therefore I am not responsible.”  We all are responsible – a community is only as strong as its trained labor force. 

Many of the livable/higher wage jobs in Weed are held by folks who do not live in Weed.  At present our schools are not producing people who are qualified for most of these jobs. We have a community college which is eager to branch out to occupational oriented type learning – we should seize this opportunity. We must assure that our young people are prepared for the challenges of competitive job markets. If we as a community focus on producing a top-notch labor force, not only will we attract Industry but we will be preparing our young citizens for better futures. If we build it they will come!

One of the biggest educational challenges is ensuring the strongest possible bond between teacher, parents and their children. Key to any change like this depends upon community buy-in – which means support and creativity applied to our school board and faculties. Everyone must be involved. 

Weed is no longer just a lumber town. But much of our recent job growth has been minimum wage service industry jobs – which just don’t cut it for people trying to raise families here. In order to develop living wage jobs our community needs to be open to new types of industry, including the cannabis industry and larger-scale locally owned businesses, with the potential to bring better jobs to our community. 

Q: In what ways could the City Council support businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: Create navigation map for possible loans and grants.  Communicate with businesses to access economic health. Create a simple, user friendly website that acts as a one-stop for resources, tools and information for small businesses. We possibly could redeploy state Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to small businesses if thing worsen and stop or defer financial burdens such as Licensing Fees, wave fines, fees, interest and penalties on payments due to the city for 90 days.

Q: Do you support the .25% sales tax proposed in Measure M?

A: Due to projected budget shortfalls for our new Community Center and the need to shore up funding for our cemeteries, I find it necessary to support the tax.  Most communities already have higher sales tax rates. I believe the Community Center will be very instrumental in the social development of Weed and our cemeteries need funding.  We are very fortunate to have 75 to 80% of our sales tax comes from the South Weed commercial area.  This means 75 to 80% of what is raised through this .25% sales tax will come from visitors passing through rather than local residents. I am not crazy about taxing but this type of tax is wise considering the economic dynamics of Weed.

Q: In your opinion, what is the most pressing issue that is currently facing Weed?

A: A lack of livable wage jobs that can allow a family to purchase their own homes. 

Presently many of our citizens rent and may never qualify for home ownership loans due to limited incomes. Livable wage jobs will lead to better housing and the over-all positive growth of Weed. 

We must balance the needs and desires of our retired citizens and working folks with demands that we grow economically while respecting those generations who have made Weed what it is today.  Such as life, a community is either growing or dying, nothing is static.  Gathering the wisdom from our elders and the energy of our youth is imperative if we are to create a vison of Weed for the next 20 to 50 years.

Q: What is your favorite thing about Weed?

A: Our ethnic diversity.  Weed has one of the most diverse populations of any small town. Our white population consists of strong Italian, Irish, English French and German cultures. Our black population is smaller than it once was (30% during the 1960s), but remains proud and vibrant. Our Hispanic and South and Southeast Asian citizens display very strong family values and social bonds and are contributing greatly to our local economy—opening stores and restaurants and sending their children to attend our public schools.   

I was fortunate to be the mayor of Weed during the Boles Fire and through two years of recovery.  I was given the opportunity to work with so many inspiring people who taught me what the “human spirit” is all about. 

As one of the first cities to experience such a disaster, Weed came together with a sense of urgency and humanity. The spirit that aided us with our recovery and healing still exists today.  Some say this spirit is a blessing from a divine being, some say it comes from the mountain, some say it comes from the alignment of the stars. I don’t know its origin, but I do know that it lives within the people of Weed. I love Weed and our future is bright.