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Updated 3:10pm - Apr 16, 2014
Updated 3:46pm - Apr 15, 2014

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Coastal Voices: Giving to panhandlers makes matters worse

Last week, I was exiting the market and heading toward my vehicle when I heard someone calling out, “Excuse me, sir…” I turned around and saw a man who I did not know wanting to ask me a question. Surprise! He wanted some money.

I make a practice of never ignoring anyone, especially if the person wants to talk to me. He asked me for some spare change; I politely declined. I asked him if he was hungry. He said, “Yes, I’m hungry.”

I offered to buy him a cheeseburger. He declined. When he realized he wasn’t going to collect anything from me but some conversation, he walked away. 

It should surprise no one that I do not believe in giving money to panhandlers. For the obvious reasons it sets a practice that can only worsen the condition, stimulate more begging (because it works), and most certainly not solve the endemic problem.

If I was to give this man some money, would I be helping or hurting him? Are begging and homelessness related?

To better understand this issue, I called Crescent City Police Chief Doug Plack. He was cautious to advise me there are homeless people and there are beggars and often they are not the same people. I accept that premise.

When I returned to my office, I placed a call to Rural Human Services for some data. Here are the figures I learned from RHS: In February 2013, 78 people received some services. Twenty-six received  bags of essentials, which included eating utensils, can opener,  canned goods, and assorted other food products.

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Springtime abounds with events at local churches

I think this is the coldest winter I’ve experienced here in the 10 years I’ve been back — and of the five years I was here previously. But there are red tulips waving at me along my driveway, and fresh, lush growth on the miniature roses in front of the house, so there’s hope.

The seasons seemed kind of messed up to me the last couple years, so I’m anticipating that this year will be better and we’ll actually be able to grow some veggies. I had a good start last year, but all of the sudden, over a couple weeks, they just bit the dust, and someone told me it was just a bad growing year — or perhaps it was because it was just too moist due to the fog off the ocean.

The seasons of our lives tend to be like that, too. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, finding success in our endeavors seems to be a matter of two steps forward and one step back, leaving us frustrated, and at times, even bitter.

Times like that are when we need the help and encouragement faith can give us if we just let it. Too often, folks get discouraged and turn their backs on God, refusing to believe that help is available if we just ask. And then they hold on to bitterness about things, which only hurts us, not the other guy.

Our churches and various faith-based groups are numerous here, and in great variety. Check them out!

• Today the fifth Kabalah class for temple Beth Shalom will take place at 11 a.m. at the Curry Coastal Pilot building in Brookings. The class has been well-attended, and folks are reminded to park on the street and not to block parking for the Pilot folks.

• Tuesday, there will be a great Irish Variety show in the gym at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 3rd and E streets. Doors will open at 5:30, and the performance will begin at 7 p.m.

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Coastal Voices: Gun-rights supporter: Let’s respect all sides

First, let me say that yes, I do belong to the National Rifle Association and the California Rifle and Pistol Association.

I am a life member of both organizations. I have a federal firearms license. Now, having said that, please understand that I respect anyone’s feelings about guns.

If they are uncomfortable around guns for whatever reason, then I certainly would not flaunt firearms in front of them. That would be rude and insensitive on the part of any gun owner.

The folks in Walnut Creek, Calif., who decided to push the envelope and go to a coffee shop with guns strapped on, unloaded, in plain sight, with full magazines on the other side of their belts, were very ignorant. They never seem to care, when interviewed, about the rest of us that are law-abiding gun owners. According to them, they did it because they could.

A little common sense would have gone a long way toward letting the anti-gun folks know that we do accept your views and ask only that you respect our views concerning gun ownership.

Did the folks at the coffee shop break the law? No. They just used really bad judgment.

I am always willing to sit and discus guns, both pro and con, with just about anyone. My hope would be to have folks walk away from a conversation with a better understanding of why I like guns and, I would have a better idea of why they do not like guns. Even if we agree to disagree, at least we gave it a shot.

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Church Notebook: Family Fun Night coming up at Foursquare

Music has long been a staple of worship in our church services.

From stately, formal music in some denominations to those favorite old hymns from our childhoods, and the lively praise songs of our more contemporary services today, there is a song or two that probably speaks to you more than the rest.

“Bringing in the Sheaves” is one that I remember from those long-ago days, and one that one of you requested. Here is its story:

Knowles Shaw wrote the song in 1874. Known then as the “Singing Evangelist,” nothing made him happier than to preach Christ and see people turn their lives around.

In 1878, he was on a train from Dallas to McKinney, Texas, for a series of evangelistic meetings, when something went wrong.

The train derailed and rolled down an embankment. While many passengers made it out, Mr. Shaw did not. His song, however, lives on today. It’s a song of hope, with a sweet melody — one that, if you sing, you’ll find continuing to echo in your mind.

I first learned it 60 years ago — it, and so many other absolutely beautiful songs. While I enjoy many of today’s praise songs, the old songs I learned back then are still my favorites. Tell me yours — I’ll bet they might just be in this book I have of musical treasures and their history!

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Check it out, even if it’s a broken heart

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Randy Landenberger
House Calls runs every two weeks. Today’s column is written by Randy Landenberger, registered diagnostic cardiac sonorophone at Sutter Coast Hospital.

And now for something completely different — a condition that cannot be prevented by vitamins, exercise, red wine (darn!) or any other health measure.

There are some facts, some opinions, and some theories. Bottom line on chest pains though: Don’t try to diagnose yourself. Don’t delay. Get bona fide medical help.

Even if it is “just” a broken heart.

I’ve always thought it quite miraculous that memories can be stored in our brains. If you get a head injury or disease, you may lose reminiscences. A surgeon poking around in your skull can bring back images and recollections you’d thought long gone.

We possess another type of memories, not visual, auditory or olfactory, and I don’t think they’re stored in our brains. These are our emotional memories, the good, the bad and the ugly.

There is a theory I subscribe to, that emotional memories are stored in our muscles. Poets, philosophers, song writers and storytellers have been telling us this since the Dark Ages. Massage and physical therapists have many a tale of the emotions or psychological traumas that are re-lived or released when a client has his or her muscles worked on. 

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California Focus: Prison realignment results are mixed

As crime statistics for 2012 gradually filter in from around the state, gripes about the 15-month-old prison realignment program have begun rising in newspaper headlines and talk show airwaves.

There are two major complaints: One is that crime rose as realignment cut the inmate populace by more than 24,000. The other is that some criminals are being released earlier than before the program began in October 2011, in part because local jails in a few counties are overcrowded.

A typical gripe comes from Tyler Izen, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the state’s largest police union. “Our members are terribly concerned that we are allowing people out of prisons who are likely to recommit crimes and victimize the people of our city,” he said in a telephone interview.

He claimed probation departments have lost track of some former prisoners, but could offer no specific examples. “All I have is anecdotal information.”

It turns out that only one of those big gripes has any proven merit: In a few counties, prisoners are often released after serving minimal jail time. But sheriffs and the state Department of Corrections insist the releases never involve violent or sexual criminals and that ex-convicts get the same level of parole and probation supervision they did before.

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Church Notebook: Youth project coming to Smith River

There is a summer project coming up this year.

No, summer isn’t just around the corner, but preparations need to be made ahead of time for this.

The Sierra Service project offers challenging service and learning opportunities for junior and senior high school youth, serving in Native American reservations, rancherias and urban communities.

This summer, they will be coming to Smith River. Once before they came, back in the early ’90s.

Over 350 youth and adult counselors will be here from June 30 through Aug. 10. They will be housed at the Smith River Elementary School, and use the Smith River United Methodist Church to prepare meals.

They will be sponsored through the church and the Smith River Rancheria to find work in our community, from Crescent City to Brookings.

They expect to be doing a variety of building and painting projects, and working with the Fire Safe Council to clear brush from elder’s homes to provide defensible space.

The church will have forms for Home Repair Work Requests. Some of the types of work they can do include some types of weatherization, wheelchair ramps, stairs and awnings, interior and exterior painting, and wall and floor repair.

They will not be able to do plumbing or electrical work, do anything in mobile home parks, or anything that will require a permit.

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Coastal Voices: Acknowledging the need for healthier pope

Editor’s note: The following piece written by former Del Norter Pia de Solenni was originally published in the Washington Times and is reprinted with permission.

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Pia de Solenni
Pope Benedict’s resignation has shocked the world. Who knew that a “conservative” 85-year-old could surprise us?

In many ways, his decision is a culmination of the years of work to better prepare the leadership of the Catholic Church to engage with a global world. Karol Wojytla was only 58 when he was elected as John Paul II. Possessing a strong intellectual background, he spoke at least 25 languages and was fluent in eight, had communication skills and knew global politics. During his pontificate and more so under the pontificate of Benedict XVI, priests named as bishops were younger than before.

The world has changed significantly, and the church needs leaders who are more agile, supported by the natural endowments of relative youth. In the past, it might have made sense to nominate an older person who had a wealth of experience. Now, we need leaders who have experience and the ability to engage in a world that changes minute by minute.

Many Catholics see the role of the pope as simply a spiritual father who puts out documents now and then, and can be counted on for a blessing and a photo op with the occasional baby.

Yet the pope is responsible for the leadership of the Catholic Church and all the politics that comes with that. The Holy See has diplomatic relations with more nations than any other government and is actively leading Catholics around the world. Canon Law stipulates that the pope must be concerned for every soul in the world. Granted, there are plenty of people who would disabuse the pope of his concern for them. Nevertheless, he does have this responsibility.

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Coastal Voices: A steady erosion of citizens’ rights

With New York heading the draconian gun control laws  in the country, California legislators  rush impetuously to re-establish California as the trend setter in fashion and absurdity (“Lawmakers mull gun laws: If approved, would be the toughest in U.S.,” Feb. 9).

Of course a complete ban on military “style” semi-automatic rifles is the backbone of the gun-grabbers’  panoply of solutions to what is a far more complex problem. California lawmakers insidiously include semi-automatic rifles that incorporate detachable magazines to prevent quick reloading by a shooter. That ban would exclude a “grandfather” clause, thereby  stripping current owners of all semi-automatic rifles of possession of their long-owned rifles.

Additionally, one of 10 laws being considered is a background check on the purchase of ammunition.

At the federal level, Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s bill would seemingly cover semi-automatic weapons of all descriptions. A provision has even been suggested by a lawmaker whose name I did not record that went so far as to state that he wants to require that all guns be loaded a bullet at a time.

I can see it all now; gun owners of America will be returning to the trusty old flintlock. That has the salutary effect of reviving the flint mining  industry,  thereby creating new jobs!

When will the American electorate come to its senses and begin electing lawmakers with true zeal for the Constitution combined with common sense, or will it?

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Church Notebook: Pre-Easter activities coming

The recent news has certainly been surprising! To hear that the Pope will resign — that hasn’t happened in hundreds of years! But I think we have to give him credit for being willing to step down when he felt he would be unable to continue.

Once again, we will be waiting to see who is chosen to lead — perhaps a younger man who will be able to serve for a longer time.

I have to admit I am not very well versed in the Catholic faith, though many of my friends are of that denomination. It’s things like this that afford me the chance to learn.

Though I grew up Baptist, I now attend a non-denominational church, which I really like. And groups like the Ladies’ Christian Fellowship are just the ticket. The members of the group are from almost every church in town, and some from Klamath, too. Once a month, we enjoy getting together for good fellowship, a speaker and music—and contribute to a couple very worthy causes.

But the nice thing is, though we attend from many denominations, there are no arguments. Those differences are left outside the door. This month’s meeting brought an inspiring message from Pastor Larry Read of New Life Community Church — and an absolutely beautiful song sung by Marilyn Pricer that we won’t soon forget.

• Pre-Easter happenings are beginning, and will increase as we get closer. There is a weekly class at the Crescent City United Methodist Church in the Fireside room on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. The class will study the beginning of the Christian faith, exploring the Holy Land through the lens of the season.

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