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Coastal Voices: Reflecting on state of the county

Editor’s note: This is the annual State of the County Address that was delivered at Tuesday’s Del Norte County Board of Supervisors meeting. A longer version entered into the meeting record can be found at www.countyofdelnorte.us/agendas/bos/publishedmeetings.htm under item 20 on the board’s Feb. 10 meeting agenda. 

2015 is anticipated to be the next positive step financially and operationally for Del Norte County. As we slowly emerge from the economic conditions that have limited Del Norte County’s ability to provide more than basic services, it is imperative that we look forward and plan for the needs of our residents and visitors in a proactive and positive manner.

Coastal Voices: Look to independent report for truth about 199

Tamera Leighton, director of the Local Transportation Commission (a position funded by Caltrans) takes a venomous strike against environmental groups and whitewashes Caltrans’ negligence about safety issues on Highway 199/197 when it comes to putting extra long STAA trucks on our narrow winding canyon highway (“Coastal Voices: Opinion or false statements? The facts about safety on 199,” Jan. 24). It is astonishing that there is still anyone out there who thinks putting many more trucks, especially extra long STAA trucks on Highway 199/197,  is a good idea for public safety after an independent safety review by a leading, respected transportation engineer, Daniel T. Smith of Smith Engineering, revealed otherwise.  Caltrans told the public within the environmental review documents that they were exempting themselves from their own required mandatory road safety design standards for STAA trucks, and that geologic instability of the Smith River Canyon prevented sufficient widening of the road that is required for STAA trucks. We needed to find out more. 

Coastal Voices: Opinion or false statements? The facts about safety on 199

My opinion is that there is a difference between an opinion and a false statement. 

“We are a travel destination,” is an opinion. “The design is so deficient that there are absolutely no improvements proposed between Hiouchi and Gasquet, which has some of the most accident-prone areas,” is a false statement. 

On Sept. 9, 2014, the Del Norte Triplicate printed a Coastal Voices column by Friends of Del Norte president Don Gillespie (“Bigger trucks on 199/197 would deter tourism, compromise safety”) that was treated as an opinion but was actually a misrepresentation of fact. While it’s unreasonable to believe that the Triplicate can fact-check everything, my opinion is that they have an obligation to basic fact-checking. 

Coastal Voices: State lawmakers may be last hope for lighthouse

Three years ago, I experienced the thrill of a lifetime. In November of 2011, Angela and I were at the right place at the right time. A cancellation opened up two seats on the helicopter flight out to St. George Reef Lighthouse. Without hesitation, I seized the opportunity to experience a part of American history few have been afforded. I didn’t realize then the long reach of Sacramento would close the door to one of the most famous lighthouses in the world just a few months later. 

Lady St. George rests atop an acre-wide reef, much of it submerged, 6 miles off the Del Norte County coast. She rusts away day after week after month after year. The lighthouse, an historic relic, is falling prey as you read this article to the stark reality of some of the roughest oceans and harshest climates in the world.  

Coastal Voices: School counselors doing great things in Del Norte

A recent Triplicate article discussed the lack of school counselors in California. Our state is last in the student-to-school counselor ratio in the nation. Del Norte schools, until recently, suffered the same fate of districts throughout our state. Four school counselors (two at the high school and two for the middle and elementary schools) attempted to serve over 4,000 Del Norte County students. The result was triage and “random acts of counseling.” Only the students in crisis or suffering great need were being helped. Little time was available for career, college and academic counseling.

County Commerce: Busy, exciting year ahead for Chamber of Commerce

Changes are apparent at the Del Norte Triplicate, in case you haven’t noticed. This is the first installment of a monthly column to keep the community informed of what the Crescent City-Del Norte County Chamber of Commerce is up to. I would like to thank Matt Durkee, editor, and Cindy Vosburg, publisher, for this opportunity. 

Our board of directors and many of our members are aware of what the chamber does. This article is to inform the community about the Chamber of Commerce and its visitors center and the Del Norte County Visitors Bureau. There are some in the business community who question the value of belonging to the chamber and how the chamber benefits them, their business or the community as a whole. So that is my goal for the next couple of months — to let people know what the chamber is doing and how they are doing it. 

Coastal Voices: A bold new idea: Let DN provide own reps

Well they’re all at the starting line ready to let the race begin. Yes, the race to fill all of the various political slots for 2016. We in Del Norte County will be ignored as usual. None of the candidates for U.S. Senate or other statewide offices will visit us, let alone know that we even exist unless they Google us. For our part, in the primary we will be faced with making a choice among those who have already been selected by big money donors who come from either the Bay Area or L.A. Some choice!

My dream candidate is one who lives right here in Del Norte County, who knows rural issues, who can articulate those issues to others and who has the ability to make good sound decisions that can benefit all of us. Don’t say it can’t happen. We’ve seen it before, when former Del Norte County Supervisor Don Clausen was successful in winning a seat in Congress and served in that body for 20 years. He did not need a map to find us; he was one of us.

Coastal Voices: Comments on police based in careful study

I am addressing “Encourage young people to express opinions” (Coastal Voices, Jan. 10) and “Law enforcement risk lives to earn trust” (Coastal Voices, Jan. 14), which were responses to my original article, “Police should be held to a higher standard” (Coastal Voices, Jan. 6). The first criticism is of my wide perspective, which is due to me being a child of the internet and having lots of digital information. For me, my entire country is my responsibility. Every one of my country-mates’ lives is important to me, no matter where they are. Compassion is not a limited resource and can be freely given. Systematic brutality is a problem, and it’s our problem.

Coastal Voices: Letters, obituaries hearbeat of community

Well thank you, Mr. Roger Gitlin, for your opinion article printed on Jan. 6 (“The Triplicate: What are my expectations of it?”). I really appreciate your efforts because I was among some of the disgruntled letter writers that almost quit writing after 35 years of letters to the editor. 

Since the very beginning of my frequent letters to the editor, almost every one I wrote was printed in a timely manner and exactly as I had written them. I wrote so often that I was asked at one time by this local paper to write a column. Then a few years ago, the letters I wrote were rewritten; some left out; some not printed in a timely manner, leaving me wondering if they were ever going to print them. 

Coastal Voices: A dream worth fighting for

Ever since my Mom bundled me up and took me to see Martin Luther King on a cold February night in Madison, N.J., back in 1964, he’s been a personal hero and, if I had to say, the greatest American of the second half of the 20th century. I had wanted to write something about him for the day we celebrate his life, but realized it couldn’t be printed in my hometown paper until the day after. Which got me to thinking, like so many other times, when it’s late at night and all you can hear is the seals barking and the channel marker clanging out its way home, when the moon’s a sliver and the breeze comes off the ocean, and the pages turn, then fly back and the ghosts return …


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