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Coastal Voices: Great people define Del Norte

By now you’ve probably heard that our community made the pages of the Sacramento Bee last weekend.

There were several things that I found disturbing about the article, starting with the description of Del Norte County. It said that Del Norte County is known for “illicit drugs, salmon fishing and the feared Pelican Bay State Prison.”

Really? Is that the top three? I can understand the fishing and prison references, but the illicit drugs? I am not naïve to think that illicit drugs aren’t a problem here, but is that really how we define our community?

Having been born and raised here I have seen some of the very best and worst that this community has to offer. Several years ago after graduating from college my wife and I had to make a decision on where we wanted to raise our children. We made the decision to move back to Crescent City and raise our kids, not because there were no other options as we both had job offers in another city, but because we wanted our kids be a part of this community.

I understand that Del Norte County has its share of challenges. Drug abuse, alcoholism, domestic violence, and gambling addictions all take their toll on our community. But to me, this community is defined by the people and their acts of kindness that I continue to witness and hear about time and time again.

It is defined by people like Davy Crockett, who volunteered his own time and equipment to help clean Crescent City up after the 1964 tsunami destroyed downtown, reducing the amount of time it took to reopen many downtown businesses like my family’s.

It is defined by the wonderful group of volunteers that gather every Wednesday evening at the Foursquare Church, providing a hot meal for the children of this community, as well as food for their soul.

It is defined by people like Karen Ortman and Dawna Bradley who continue to show up every Thursday to provide local boys the opportunity to experience the moral, mental and physical growth that Cub Scouts offers, despite the fact that their own children have long passed the age for scouting.

And it is defined by people like my son’s basketball coach, who purchased a pair of shoes with his own funds for one of his players, not because he thought it would make him play better, but simply because he recognized the kid needed new shoes.

I could go on and on. These are the stories that define this community for me. Are we going to allow our community to be defined by our problems, or rather by how we choose to deal with our problems? I would certainly hope that you chose the latter.

The past weekend offered us the perfect time to start to change the image that now taints our community. The Jaycees basketball tournament was in town, a wonderful event that I still remember participating in during my youth. The event stresses teamwork and sportsmanship and with more than 50 teams from out of the area, along with all of the supporting family and friends, each person coming here had the chance to leave town with a positive impression of our community.

So make sure that you represent the best that you have to offer to Del Norte’s visitors. If we can continue to make positive impressions on those that we come in contact with then we will eventually start to be recognized outside of our community for the types of things that make us proud to be a part of this community.

Rick Young is a Crescent City resident.

 

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