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Letters to the Editor July 5, 2014

Vote for new library leadership in November

We started attending meetings of the library’s Board of Trustees last September to speak out against a very restrictive new borrowing policy. This policy was changed a few months later, but we continued to attend the meetings because we were bothered by what we saw. 

The conversation was always about cutting or avoiding costs, never about what the library needed or the community deserved. They talked for six months about replacing broken computers. They put off making repairs to the front doors and the heating system (that was a cold meeting!). Light bulbs burned out and weren’t replaced for months or years. They replaced full-time employees with part-time employees to avoid paying benefits.

At November’s meeting, an auditor’s report showed a fund balance of over $345,000. For the next six months, the majority of the trustees acted as if that money was a figment of Trustee John Mertes’s imagination, despite a detailed report showing how the money had accumulated through budget surpluses in every year since 2008.

As the Triplicate reported on July 3, Clinton Schaad attended June’s meeting and confirmed that the money exists and is held in an unrestricted fund.

What will the Board of Trustees do now? They have been poor stewards of taxpayer funds for the past six years, allowing tax money to sit in a slush fund while the library fell into disrepair and there was no library programming for the public.

Libraries can be a vibrant center for community life, encouraging literacy, curiosity and learning at every age. Our library is not that vibrant center now and hasn’t been for many years.

To make changes in that direction, our library needs new leadership. That’s why we will be picking up filing papers on July 14 to run for the library Board of Trustees in November.

We are both lifelong readers. We care about our library and want it to be the best it can be. The $345,000 fund can create a healthy reserve fund for future needs and make our library a better community resource — there’s enough money for both purposes.

Please consider voting for the Angelas in November, for the library that our community deserves.

Angela Stanley, Smith River
 Angela Glore, Crescent City

A big ‘No’ to trucking in scenic river corridor

Nature tourism is our economy. The Smith River watershed’s health and beauty is our joy. Driving safety for locals and visitors is our ideal.

I say yes to a safe, beautiful scenic highway but no to a super truck route. Bigger truck traffic threatens our ideal, our economy, and our joy to live near the Smith River.

Caltrans’ big truck projects on Highway 199 and 197 are currently threatening the people and the environment of Del Norte County. Because the only purpose for Caltrans planning these projects is to bring extra long (STAA) trucks speeding through Del Norte County on their way to somewhere else, Crescent City is not the destination of Caltrans’ optimistically low estimate of 70 extra-long trucks a day.

Imagine the dramatic impact STAA trucks would have on the quality and personal health of this place we call home. The 72 private driveways along Highway 197 would have an extra-long truck passing every 10 minutes during a 10-hour day. Residents in Hiouchi and Gasquet would also be experiencing the noise, pollution, and hazard of big trucks all day and night.

Rural residential roads are no place for industrial transportation.  A network of larger highways already exists in our region of California. Caltrans’ projects to serve STAA are not appropriate for our delicate, unique river canyon geography.

Some things you may not be aware of:

1. Caltrans doesn’t plan to meet their own safety design guidelines for STAA trucks. For example, where there should be a 4-foot space allowance they are leaving only 1 foot.  

2. There are locations for everyday safety improvements that Caltrans can make along the same corridor. For example, Highway 197 needs guardrails along a narrow bank where a truck recently spilled its load of lumber into the river across from the Crescent City water tower. Also, Caltrans workers can make changes to the locations where accidents have happened between Gasquet and Hiouchi. 

3. Citizens and groups like the Environmental Protection Information Center, the California Biodiversity Center and the Friends of Del Norte are concerned and working to rein in Caltrans and help them do their job without damaging the communities and environments that these highways traverse.

We just have to say a big long no to STAA trucks and a sharp clear yes to road safety. 

Wendy Bertrand, 

 

Gasquet 

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