Welcome to Grass Valley
Small Town. Big Adventure. Big Entertainment.
Nestled in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Foothills, Grass Valley, California is truly a postcard image. Bathed in a wondrous mix of cedar, pine, and an assortment of deciduous trees that burst forth a multitude of Fall colors as the cooler temperatures arrive, this circa 1800 Gold Rush era town offers a window into the past while providing the best the present has to offer. – Grass Valley Downtown Association
The Pine Cone Effect
By: Alex Gammelgard, Police Chief of Grass Valley
As a Nevada Union High School student, I never imagined that one day I would serve as the City of Grass Valley’s sixth police chief. Here I am today, with the best job in the world: serving the very community that has provided me with this opportunity—a community that for those of us who get to live here, has shaped us as much as we may shape it.
My parents built their home on lower Banner Mountain in the early 1980’s. The areas above Loma Rica Ranch and the NID canals were part of my “backyard playground.” As the youngest of three boys, I had plenty of opportunities to discover all that western Nevada County has to offer. In fact, I “learned to swim” with a little direction from my older brothers tossing me in a NID canal—of course, being who I am now, I must advise readers that this is not the preferred method—but I survived.
I went to Nevada City schools, attended Deer Creek Elementary and Seven Hills Middle School before moving on to Nevada Union High School. My wife, Erica, went to Grass Valley schools, and we formally met at Nevada Union. However, because of the small-town connections in western Nevada County, we are sure our paths crossed many times before. Our boys are repeating some of our past. Interestingly, our oldest has been educated by some of the same folks who helped shape my life on the same campus at Deer Creek School.
After high school, I went away to Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. There
I studied Business Administration with concentrations in finance and law and public policy. Like many young adults living in our area, I had grown accustomed to all Nevada County had to offer. I never realized just how special it was until I left for a while—it was all I had known. It didn’t take long to realize how fortunate I was. There are many beautiful places between here and Spokane, and many others across this great country, but none rise to the level of our hometown.
Where else do you have 75 degree days in the middle of winter and within 24 hours the weather can turn to an arctic blast, covering tall trees with white snow—snow that rarely lasts on the ground for more than a few days? Where else can you be skiing in less than an hour on some of the best mountains in the world and watch the sunset on the Pacific Ocean the next day? Where else can you do some spring skiing in the morning and water skiing in the afternoon? Where else can you be fishing for salmon, steelhead, or stripers and be only minutes from lake trout, hunting, and kayaking? I believe there are not too many places. On top of all that, there is a community here filled with culture, and history that rivals anywhere.
Our family is blessed to live here, and my wife and I are truly lucky to raise our three boys here. My hope is that their childhood is as rich as ours was, that our community continues to maintain its vibrancy and adapts to the new realities in a digital world. I am excited for the future of our towns and confident at what we want is to keep Nevada County—well, “Nevada County.”
There’s more to Grass Valley than our historic downtown. As the community has grown and the city expanded its boundaries, pockets of commerce have sprung up along the length and breadth of Grass Valley to serve the expanding and diverse population.
Daily life is rich with choice and opportunity. The ancient healing arts live comfortably alongside traditional medicine. The Faith Community is as diverse as the population but comes together in unity to serve the needs of the community.
While we live “on the scenic route” there’s nothing rural about life in western Nevada County. We’ve preserved our history and enjoy the small-town charm, but have many big city services and amenities.
Our performing arts organizations present world-class entertainment and music festivals throughout the year, we have a cutting-edge technology institute and a thriving tech industry. Both Grass Valley and Nevada City have won accolades and many “best of” awards for the quality of livability in our communities.
As a whole, we espouse the “Support Local- Live Local” philosophy, strive to be good custodians of our region and celebrate what makes us unique as individuals and as a community.
So we invite you to come, explore and perhaps you too will become enchanted with our community and consider making western Nevada County your forever home!