Williams is a community of approximately 5,300 people located at the crossroads of Interstate 5 and State Route 20. It lies 60 miles north of Sacramento, mid-way between the Sierras and the Pacific Coast.

Located in the heart of the Sacramento Valley, Williams is an agriculturally oriented community. Rice, tomatoes, vine and seed crops, walnuts, almonds, hay, grain, and cattle are raised in the area surrounding the city. The average rain fall is 16 inches annually. Temperatures are moderate, although on rare occasions the winter temperature may dip below freezing and in the summer the temperature may reach 110 degrees.

Williams was founded in 1874 and was first known as Central. In 1876 it was renamed to honor William Williams, who donated much of the land for the town site. It was made a General Law City on May 20, 1920. (A general law city is a municipality that is limited to governmental structures and powers specifically granted by state law. Local government may exercise only those powers that the state expressly grants to it.)

The City of Williams is the gateway to the Northern California hunting and fishing mecca. Pheasant and dove hunting is available, and the nearby foothill regions provide deer, elk and wild boar hunters a challenge. The Sacramento River, 10 miles east, provides salmon, striper, steelhead and sturgeon fishing. Catfish abound in area canals and there is trout fishing within easy driving distance. Numerous hunting clubs and game preserves are located in the near-by vicinity. It is touted as “A Great Place to Live, A Fine Place to Visit” on their home page.

Colusa County is one of the original counties of California, created in 1850 at the time of statehood. Parts of the county’s territory were given to Tehama County in 1856 and to Glenn County in 1891. The county has a total area of 1,156 square miles, with a large number of streams, including Elk Creek and Salt Creek. The county’s eastern boundary is formed, in part, by the Sacramento River.

National protected areas in this region include the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, and parts of the Butte Sink National Wildlife Refuge, Mendocino National Forest, and Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge.

Drug Abuse in Colusa County

In recent weeks, a Colusa County Task Force combined with local law enforcement conducted searches which located methamphetamine, narcotic paraphernalia, and items indicative of sales.  Five children were turned over to the Colusa County Child Protective Services after drug endangered children cases were initiated.

Such cases are unfortunately not unusual in California, where the scourge of drugs runs rampant, ruining lives of not just individuals, but families.

A positive note to this is that a lot of work is going into preventing future addiction: as reported in the Williams Pioneer Review, Colusa County fifth graders have been putting their heart and soul into the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program for years. Highlighted was the Maxwell Elementary School where, at a recent D.A.R.E. graduation, Colusa County Sheriff’s Deputy Leanne Knutson, the county’s school resource officer, said each Maxwell student in the program earned at least one challenge coin. The coins are given out to students who complete specific tasks.

“I don’t think I’ve had a school where every student received a coin,” Knutson said.

The D.A.R.E program is designed to give elementary school-age youth facts and current information about the harmful effects of tobacco, alcohol, and other harmful drugs.

“Everyone wins in D.A.R.E.,” Knutson said.

Knudsen recognized Emma Hendrix, 10, of Maxwell for earning the most challenge coins. For her effort, Hendrix received a basketball.

As part of the program, each student wrote an essay describing how the D.A.R.E. and its Decision-Making Model helps him or her process their thoughts in order to make safe and responsible choices and to resist peer pressure.

Shelby Dunlap, 10, who was chosen to read her winning essay, said students should rely on what they learned in the program when faced with negative influences.

“You should use D.A.R.E. if someone offers you drugs,” Dunlap said. “Even if you are being bullied, you can use D.A.R.E.”

Knutson, Colusa County Sheriff’s Lt. Neil Pearson, and fifth-grade teacher Kyle Cabral presented certificates to approximately 30 students recognizing their completion of the program.

Unfortunately for many, such programs came too late or not at all. Nearby Sacramento is infamous for being the California city with the highest rate of opioid abuse and overdose. Nearby Williams, along with many other Northern California towns, is an extension of this addiction epidemic.

Fortunately, resources exist for those seeking escape from the prison of drugs. Reputable facilities that utilize several different approaches to addiction operate within the area, offering hope for those who seek it. Methodologies vary; failing to successfully find the path to rehabilitation does not mean hope is lost, only that a new approach – the right one – needs to be found.