New ShasCo Sheriff has busy weekend with stops in Burney, Redding and Bella Vista

SHASTA COUNTY, Calif., — Shasta County Sheriff-Coroner Michael L. Johnson enjoyed a busy few days with community oriented stops at meetings and events throughout Shasta County including Burney, Redding, and Bella Vista this past weekend.

Johnson became the County’s top law enforcement official as Sheriff-Coroner last month, when he was tapped to fill the position left vacant by then-Sheriff Eric Magrini, after Magrini stepped down from the position to become assistant CEO for the county the previous June. Johnson had been serving as Chief of the Anderson Police Department when he took on the new role of Sheriff.


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Johnson’s recent stops included spending Thursday in the Intermountain area town of Burney visiting throughout the day and evening with officials and citizens, followed by spending Saturday at the Fall River Brewing Company in Redding; where family, friends, co-workers, and loved ones spent the day honoring fallen firefighter Jeremy Stoke at the inaugural Jeremy Stoke Cornhole Tournament. The new Sheriff closed out his busy weekend the following day while visiting the Bella Vista Volunteer Fire Company’s annual Chili Cook Off, where he and four others were selected to judge the heated, but friendly, competition.

During Johnson’s Thursday visit to Burney, he spent the day meeting with and getting to know some of the mountain station’s deputies, most of whom live in Burney or within the Intermountain area. He also spent time touring the area with Patrol Operations Lieutenant Jesse Gunsauls, who helped “bringing me up to speed” on some of the enforcement strategies for the intermountain areas, Johnson said last night.

Later that evening, Johnson met with some of the area’s local business owners while visiting the Burney Rotary meeting.

Shasta County Sheriff-Coroner Michael L. Johnson (Second photo, First from Left Side) spent Saturday at the Fall River Brewing Company in Redding; where he and others spent the day honoring fallen firefighter Jeremy Stoke at the inaugural Jeremy Stoke Cornhole Tournament. Michael L. Johnson photos

Then on Saturday, Johnson and Anderson Police Chief Jon Poletski, who was sworn in to fill Johnson’s position when he left Anderson to become Sheriff, attended the first of what enthusiastic organizers have said will become an annual cornhole tournament in honor of Jeremy Stoke, a City of Redding Firefighter who tragically lost his life during the 2018 Carr fire. 

The deadly Carr Fire, which left three firefighters and five citizens dead and injured nearly a dozen others, began in Whiskeytown Lake on July 23 and eventually spread to consume nearly 230,000 acres, before it was fully contained more than a month later. The fire destroyed multiple towns around Whiskeytown; and at its height, engaged as many as 4,766 personnel from multiple local, county and state fire agencies.

The massive wildland vegetation fire, which was caused by sparks from a faulty trailer tire, is reported to have caused nearly $1.7 billion in damages and cost around $158.7 million in suppression efforts. The more than month-long blaze destroyed at least 1,604 structures while damaging 277 others, becoming the sixth-most destructive fire in California history at the time, as well as the twelfth-largest wildfire recorded in modern California history.

Jeremy Stoke, A City of Redding Fire Engineer and Fire Prevention Specialist with more than 14 years experience, was killed during the devastating and deadly 2018 Carr Fire, which also killed two other firefighters as well as five citizens.

Stoke, a Fire Engineer and Fire Prevention Specialist with more than fourteen years of firefighting experience at the time of his death, had been on vacation when the Carr Fire erupted and reportedly returned from vacation early to protect the community he loved and served.

Three days into the firefighting efforts, on the evening of July 26, fire conditions worsened and “aligned to create extremely rapid fire growth,” according to the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation.

Along with City of Redding and other firefighters, Stoke was tasked to enter the conflagration and assist with evacuating homeowners and others from the area.

“As Fire Engineer Stoke heroically performed his duties, he was trapped by a rapidly progressing fire front and overrun by a rarely documented fire vortex, later determined to have wind speeds in excess of 165 miles per hour, equivalent to an F-3 tornado,” the Foundation has explained.

He went missing around 8 p.m. and was later found by his fellow emergency responders, “having died heroically in his duties”, the NFFF described.

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In his honor, The Jeremy Stoke Legacy Fire Foundation hosted their first-ever cornhole tournament Saturday. Cornhole is a lawn-type game in which players take turns throwing 16 ounce bags of corn kernels at a raised platform with a hole in the far end. A bag in the hole scores 3 points, while one on the board scores 1 point and the play continues until a team or player reaches or exceeds the score of 21.

“We’ve been doing this for a lot of years,” Stoke’s wife, Alyson told KRCR the day of the event. “Camping trips, family backyards, hanging out, barbecuing. This was his relaxation moment.”

The well-attended event brought in more than 50 teams, with 1st Place going to Chao & Ken with Team “Bang Bang”, 2nd Place going to Brett & Carter of “The Assassins” and 3rd Place honors going to Rob & Kevin with “Team Bass”.

During the event, Johnson mingled with other local and surrounding area law enforcement, fire, and emergency services personnel, along with citizens and others in attendance.

According to Michael Dimatteo, President of the Jeremy Stoke Foundation, all money raised during the tournament will go directly to the Foundation; which gives back to fire academies, local non-profit organizations and families of public safety personnel, and also creates scholarships for those looking for a career in the fire service.

“It’s impressive,” Dimatteo told KRCR’s Dylan Brown and Darren Leeds during Saturday’s event. “He probably would hate this right about now, but we’re taking something that was obviously a fun camping sport, hanging out on our days off, and we’re actually turning it into something that’s actually beneficial.”

On Sunday, Sheriff Johnson spent the day with the Bella Vista Volunteer Fire Company co-judging their annual Chili Cook Off and Fundraiser. Michael L. Johnson photos

Johnson finished off his busy weekend with a visit to the Bella Vista Volunteer Fire Company’s Annual Chili Cook Off and Fundraiser.

Along with a craft fair and flea market, the event featured drawings, door prizes, raffles and more and during the event Johnson was seen mingling with the crowd before it came time for him to put his taste buds to work co-judging the much anticipated chili cook off.

Johnson later jokingly said he used a “very sophisticated and complex process” in naming the top three winners for their well-received and much enjoyed culinary efforts.

“I hope you have had a great weekend,” Johnson said after his busy weekend; adding, “Let’s all give the next week everything we’ve got!”

To learn more about the Jeremy Stoke Legacy Fire Foundation and how you can support their cause, visit them on Facebook or online.

Contact the writer: [email protected]

Trevor Montgomery, 50, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).

Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County-based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.