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Coastal Voices: Find new route before economy devastated

Last March at the Chamber of Commerce Economic Summit, an audience member asked Del Norte County Local Transportation Director Tamera Leighton about an alternate route around the precarious Last Chance Grade on Highway 101.

I have a great deal of respect for the LTC’s executive director, so I was naturally stunned by her response when she said, “ ... there will never, never, never be a road around Last Chance Grade.”

Did Tamera know something of which I was unaware? Why couldn’t there be a route built around this dangerous, unstable part of U.S. 101?

Recently, Supervisor Roger Gitlin announced at a Board of Supervisors meeting that he was forming a committee to put on fast-forward the recommendation to Caltrans for the study, decision and construction of a highway around Last Chance Grade.

Former Supervisor Chuck Blackburn and I are co-chairing this committee. Trees of Mystery owners John and Debbie Thompson have also signed on as ardent supporters, as has Dale Miller, chairman of Elk Valley Rancheria.

Chuck’s knowledge of the history of Last Chance is vast and deep. My experience is a sad one, which I would hope would never beset any family. My parents plunged to their deaths in the Pacific after dropping me off in Klamath as I was on my way to Europe with a friend after graduating from Sonoma State University and working locally.

My parents were heading back home when the summit of Last Chance Grade collapsed and disappeared into the ocean, taking them with it in 1972. It still brings back haunting memories four decades later.

Chuck and I head a growing list of Del Norters who want to see a permanent fix. I expect there will be a great deal of popular support to find an alternate highway around Last Chance Grade.

Coastal Voices: It's time to reconsider the state of Jefferson

It’s time we asked the question, “When is enough enough?”

It should be evident by now that the big foot of state government controlled by Los Angeles and San Francisco has embarked on a war against the rural counties of Northern California.

Even if you were living under a rock and were not paying attention, the illegal fire tax should have gotten your attention. It is only being paid by those living in rural areas even if they are already paying a separate tax for local fire protection. That state tax alone will cost you a minimum of $1,100 over the next 10 years.  

But wait, there’s more, a lot more.  Back in May I pointed out in this newspaper that the California war on rural areas was being extended to our kids with the introduction of a bill that would mandate that children who identified themselves as members of the opposite sex could use all of the facilities of that sex.

In other words, if a boy identifies himself as a girl even though he has male parts, he is allowed to play with the girls on their athletic teams, other competitions and use the facilities consistent with his gender identity. Yes, it means he can also use the girls bathroom, locker room and shower facilities.

I predicted that If this were ever to become law, it would put an end to public schools.  No parent that I know would ever send their child to a school that would abide by this law. Well, guess what? That bill with the backing of Los Angeles and San Francisco and our own assemblyman has passed and was signed by the governor and is now the law, beginning on Jan. 1, 2014.

It’s time we asked a lot of questions like: Do we really need almost 6,000 state agencies to govern every aspect of our lives?

Despite trend, many families these days still intact

How intact is your family?

When I see families that still have good relationships, and couples who are still married after many years, I just have to think, “How wonderful!”

Our prisons are overflowing, drug abuse abounds and so very many people simply have no respect for themselves or any one else; it’s no wonder things are so crazy.

Sometimes I think it would be great if we could  return to the way things were when we seniors were growing up in the ’40s and ’50’s.  We came home from school, did our homework, and went outside to play until supper.

We climbed trees, rode bicycles, roller-skated and played tag and hide ’n’ seek. For much of that time, TV hadn’t made an appearance yet. I’d often curl up in my grandfather’s old Morris chair, listening intently to the radio — to those scary old mystery stories like The Green Hornet and others.

But things have changed, and way too many of our families have crumbled. Marriages falling apart, fathers simply walking away — and children left with no direction.

Thank God many families are still intact.

Coastal Voices: Sutter, critical access not bogeymen they're portrayed as

Read more... By now, many people have heard that I have accepted an offer to help open a new hospital and expand an obstetrics and gynecology program in Denver, so our family will be leaving Del Norte County by the end of this year. This was a difficult decision, not easy to make, especially since we have been deeply involved in this community and have made many friends over the past 14 years who will be difficult to leave behind.

As such, I feel like it is time that I share publicly my feelings about the recent conflict and rancor over the future of Sutter Health in the management and operation of Sutter Coast Hospital. I have served on the board of the hospital myself, as well as the Medical Executive Committee of the medical staff (including 2 years as chief of staff) for most of the time I have lived here, and I have never witnessed a time of more turmoil for the healthcare providers of this community. 

Reel Deal: Bottom fishing strong in ocean; Klamath R. low

Courtesy of Reel Steel Sportfishing Nichole DePaolo of Humboldt County caught this chinook salmon with Reel Steel Sportfishing out of Eureka on Sunday. The salmon bite in Crescent City has been slow.
Ocean salmon are still biting in Eureka, but they’re barely present here. The better bet is to go for bottom fish in the ocean.  

Anglers and fishing guides were excited for a release of 62,000-acre feet of water in Trinity River dams, but a federal judge blocked the release on Tuesday. 

Lower Klamath R.

A federal judge’s decision to block the release of water from the Trinity River has been the hot conversation topic among anglers on the Lower Klamath River who have been battling poor fishing conditions due to low, warm water.

“Conditions are pretty low,” said guide Steve Huber. Anglers are catching a few jacks, a couple adult salmon, and some steelhead, with many more half-pounders than adults, but “there are just not a lot of fish in the system,” Huber said.

Clear weather and clear, low water is making the fishing tough for most anglers, he said.

“It’s just really spotty,” said guide James Keeling, adding that shore-based fishermen were having decent success. 

“The bottom line is that they need to release that water,” Huber said, echoing the feeling of many anglers on the lower Klamath.


Church Notebook:Back-to-school season offers ways to give

Smith River United Methodist holding annual rummage, bake sale

From the looks of things in the stores, we are reminded that school will soon be starting.

We are being encouraged from the moment we enter the stores that we need to take advantage of their offerings and stock up not only for our own kids, but also for organizational projects as they put things together for local kids who need help obtaining the supplies they need for school.

That, of course, brings us around to that special project I like, the Christmas Shoebox gifts for kids run by Samaritan’s Purse. Samaritan’s Purse is a good organization run by Franklin Graham, the son of evangelist Billy Graham. 

So, I’m asking you to think about adding the organization to your list, and, perhaps as you shop, you could purchase one extra set of supplies and consider either doing a shoebox or contributing to one of the local churches who do them. 

House Calls: nicotine kick: give it the boot

House Calls is published monthly. Today’s article was written by Doron Andrews, a respiratory therapist at Sutter Coast Hospital.

Crescent City is a beautiful city on California’s northern coast. It’s well known for its lush nature and giant redwood forests that generously promote flora and beauty. Crescent City is a great place to walk outside, feel the ocean breeze, take in a deep breath of air and exhale the freshness that the coastal city offers.  

Unfortunately, not all of us are able to take in a full, deep breath of air, and in certain cases some individual’s struggle to take in a deep breath at all. 

What can possibly prevent someone from taking a full breath of air?  You guessed right — smoking tobacco.


Coastal Voices: Unproductive Congress can function better

It’s disappointing that U.S. John House Speaker Boehner just adjourned the House of Representatives for August “recess” instead of staying in session to tackle the pile of unfinished congressional work — including votes on comprehensive immigration reform, gun violence prevention, replacing the “sequester” cuts that are undermining our economic recovery, and key appropriations bills that are needed to avoid a government shutdown in October. 

Instead of holding votes on these critical matters, Speaker Boehner is stalling as he tries to appease the extreme anti-government, anti-immigrant Tea Party wing of his party. The shameful result: This is shaping up to be one of the least productive congresses in history.


Coastal Voices: Rural Human Services: What it is, what it does

For more than 30 years, Rural Human Services has been a fixture in Del Norte County.

In fact, since 1981, RHS has offered professional service programs that provide training, instruction and assistance to businesses and individuals alike. It is estimated that its community outreach programs touch more than 2,000 lives a month.

Yet, despite a prominent presence in the community for decades, little seems to be known about the agency. There are even a few misconceptions.

RHS offers five core programs and services: workforce development; domestic violence assistance; natural resources programs; supported living services; and food and family programs.


New beginning awaits after difficult goodbyes

It took the extraordinary to bring back a sense of normalcy.

Laura and I recently descended to a remote stretch of North Coast beach and found miles of magnificent solitude. Even though we’ve been hiking in these parts for 5 ½ years, we’d never been to this place. Therein lay the familiar in the unfamiliar: This was just our latest discovery of a spectacular nearby destination.

There seems to be no end to the secret rewards awaiting us in the place we now call home. And I needed the reminder after a series of absorbing events.

In June, the Triplicate produced one of its most significant projects in my tenure as editor, the product of hundreds of hours of work and many lost weekends for staff writer Anthony Skeens. “Inside the SHU” played out over four consecutive editions and provided an enlightening look at Pelican Bay State Prison’s brand of what you may or may not consider “solitary confinement.”

As we applied the finishing touches to the words, designer Bryant Anderson brought his artistic touch to layouts, giving the series its appropriately gritty veneer.

With another inmate hunger strike now under way, the prison’s Security Housing Unit is suddenly a national story, and journalists are scrambling to gain interviews with the main characters. They’re racing to retrace Anthony’s steps.

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