From beautiful ocean views and towering redwoods to friendly, generous residents, Del Norte County is a special place to live. If we are to maintain and improve our quality of life, however, we must remain ever vigilant and proactive in addressing myriad challenges.
During 2007, The Daily Triplicate will serve as a forum for discussing and solving a number of these problems. We'll offer in-depth and ongoing coverage of those issues. We will focus on an editorial agenda, or what we view as the 10 most important issues for Del Norte County and Crescent City officials, leaders and residents to tackle this year.
Those issues include:
With nearly a third of the county living below the poverty line, economic development must be the top priority for all levels of local government. Our future rests in creating well-paying jobs and expanding sales at existing and new businesses.
Methamphetamine is the root problem in a large number of local crimes, from burglary and theft to assault to domestic violence. The drug destroys families and individual lives. Ending its trafficking and use in the county must be a major community focus.
Following the exodus of 15 doctors in 2005, the county suffers from a lack of health care providers. To ensure that residents receive needed care and that health costs remain low, we must recruit medical professionals.
Eight of 11 Del Norte County schools failed to adequately improve their standardized test scores during the 2005-06 school year. We must improve test scores and school performance to prepare our children for the competitive world they will face as adults.
Housing and rental prices force many residents to spend an extraordinary amount of their incomes for shelter. Some find themselves trapped in a cycle of renting motel rooms from month to month while others simply live on the streets. Housing stocks must be increased and costs lowered.
Declining salmon stocks threaten sport fishing, the commercial fishing industry and the way of life for the Yurok tribe. Restoring salmon stocks in the Klamath River must be the guiding principle in the federal government's management of the water body.
After undergoing significant budget cuts and suffering the director's resignation in 2006, the library is at a turning point. If local residents value the library as a community center and if they value learning, then we must rally to give the library the resources it needs lest it become little more than a small repository of outdated books.
Our community is isolated, limiting economic growth. Improving major highways, air service and our harbor is necessary to attract more businesses and tourists, and for our safety should a natural disaster strike.
Abandoned buildings, piles of tires and junk heaps of rusting appliances discourage businesses from locating here, hurt tourism and poison the environment. Del Norte County and Crescent City must continue current efforts to remove and clean up blight by requiring landowners to be responsible for their property and to their community.
From redwoods to the marbled murrelet, Del Norte County is home to several rare forms of life. Preserving their ecosystems is not just our duty as the planet's dominant animal but locally a matter of economic survival. Maintaining those resources make living here precious.