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Editor's Note: Reliving the anticipation

It happened Tuesday night as I was about to unplug the tree.

Hours earlier, Laura had spread out a few wrapped gifts there. The first tag I checked had my Mom’s name on it. Visceral emotions arrived in a rush.

It wasn’t just the reality kicking in that my father, 91, and mother, 89, are coming to our house for the holidays. I’m not sure that’s ever happened during my nomadic adulthood, although I’ve spent many a Christmas back home with them in the Willamette Valley.

Coastal Voices: Leave parks as you find them

A number of articles have recently been published concerning picking mushrooms in Redwood National and State Parks.

Several of those articles contained a significant amount of inaccurate and misleading information, which I felt the need to rectify.  However, I was prompted to respond to these articles primarily to address a larger issue of the reasons for and the basic concepts behind national and state parks.

The idea of national and state parks is truly an American concept, with the establishment of the areas around Yellowstone and Yosemite as national and state public preserves in the late 19th century being the birthplace of this idea.

Our View: Crime wave? Let’s keep perspective

When it comes to crime, Del Norte County has probably always had its share. As a rough and tumble fishing and logging town, Crescent City was no doubt a far-west embodiment of the Wild West in its early years. Even today, the populace is an eclectic mix, not just another one of those retirement communities that dot the Northwest coastline.

Throw in the fact that it’s near the juncture of two major highways with a steady stream of strangers passing through, and you’ve got a place that’s tough to police with the small-town resources afforded our local authorities.

So when those authorities warn of an increase in residential break-ins, it’s not surprising that the citizens take note. Lately they’ve done so in a big way. A couple of town hall meetings on crime prevention each brought out more than 100 people. At least one new Neighborhood Watch has been formed. The sheriff and police blotters sport far more than the usual number of calls regarding suspicious people or vehicles.

Coastal Voices: Leave the mushroom pickers alone

Thank you for reporting both the good and bad of Professor Dennis Desjardin’s experiences back home (“Mushroom man: Ex-Del Norter has become fungi expert”).

I’m one of his admirers here in the Bay Area, and was dismayed to read about his recent run-in with the law there (but not entirely shocked, having heard similar stories elsewhere). I did a little research you might be interested in.

Redwood is a hybrid National and State Park, so the federal rules apply. The part of the Code of Federal Regulations they charged him under (which says nothing about fungi, however) contains this little gem: “as otherwise provided in this chapter.” Further reading reveals that the statute gives broad leeway to (federal) land managers to set rules for the collection of forest products (and to make all kinds of exceptions).

Coastal voices: Sticking up for the pledge

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Did you ever think those 31 words would be so reviled by many in our country?

Recently in Eugene, Ore., the City Council and Mayor Kitty Piercy declared the pledge to be divisive and voted down a proposal to recite the Pledge before each City Council meeting, deciding instead to have it recited at the four meetings closest to the Fourth of July, Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Flag Day.

Editor's Note: School reform on the horizon

You’ll be hearing a lot in the coming months about efforts to reform Del Norte schools. Meetings have been held, visits have been made to other school districts that might serve as models, and more meetings are on the horizon.

Upcoming articles will focus on where our schools and students stand in comparison to the rest of California, what types of reforms we may be looking at and the timeline for adopting and implementing them.

The newspaper’s on-line poll at triplicate.com recently sought opinions on Del Norte schools. A little over half the respondents, 353 (66.9 percent), said the schools are not doing well enough and need to be improved. The other 174 (33.1 percent) agreed with the statement that the schools are “generally doing a good job of educating our children.”

The majority of students responding to a recent survey of their own said they’d like tougher coursework and more advice regarding their vocational futures. You can read more about that in the first installment of our upcoming report on Del Norte education.

Gopher Gulch: Gratitude is good stuff for what ails you

If you pay much attention to the news, you might find it difficult to be properly thankful this year.

Our community is full of tweakers that are ripping off the rest of us while the Board of Supervisors  worries about marijuana dispensaries. People who served at the community dinner last Thanksgiving may well be homeless this year, and far too many people are unemployed. On the national level ... we don’t want to go there, do we?

Nevertheless, Thanksgiving is still my favorite holiday. That could have something to do with the news sources I subscribe to. The Del Norte Triplicate and one weekly news magazine are my only sources of what passes for news these days.

Our View: Enjoy that turkey and gravy, but...

In Del Norte, there are traditions to keep, and habits to break.

Thursday is Thanksgiving, and most of us will settle down to a feast of turkey and all the trimmings. It’s a holiday in which we count our blessings, and it’s only natural that it be built around food. Sustenance is the stuff of life. If we overdo the celebration a bit, oh well …

The problem is that overeating is hardly a special occasion for many of us. If adults made Thursday the exception rather than the rule, they’d set a good example for their kids and we’d all have something to be thankful for.

Del Norte got put on the map in an unfortunate way by a recent statewide report that found nearly half our children to be overweight or obese. In fact, from 2005 to 2010, our county had the highest percentage increase in overweight kids in all of California.

Coastal Voices: Progress seen in restoration of our harbor

Exactly eight months ago today as your mayor, I wrote a Coastal Voices article where I pledged my and our City Council and City’s support in working together with the Crescent City Harbor District to assist in the recovery of our harbor so that we could be fully operational (more or less) for the state of crab season start.

I challenged the people of the North Coast to come together for our broken harbor and much-deserving local fishing community.

Here we are eight very quick, demanding and challenging months latter and against many odds and layers of bureaucracy, we as a community are at the threshold of the 2011-12 crabbing season and although it’s not perfect, we are operational.

House Calls: Menopause: There is help, and it is safe

House Calls runs every other Thursday. Today’s column is written by Christopher B. Cutter, a physician at Sutter Coast Community Clinic.

Few things are as certain as the eventual onset of menopause in a middle-aged woman.

At the average age of 51.2 years, the quarter million primordial eggs that she was born with will be gone. As a result of that, she will abruptly stop producing estradiol and progesterone, whose waxing and waning presence had been in her life since just prior to puberty.

If she is lucky, she may feel just fine. Otherwise, she may join the millions of women who start to suffer with prolonged hot flashes and other body changes that often become a real challenge.

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