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Letters to the Editor Aug. 24, 2013

Last Chance Grade must be fixed without delay

Rarely have I been so moved by the written words of any commentary as when I read the Coastal Voices piece by Kurt Stremberg on finding a new route around Last Chance Grade (“Find new route before economy devastated,” Aug. 22).

His personal tragedy of losing both his parents at Last Chance on Highway 101 in 1972 was sobering. Kurt’s message calling for the immediate replacement of a road around the problematic Last Chance Grade was riveting.

After reading the column, I asked myself, is this our last chance for Last Chance Grade? Usually, there are two sides to any subject; not in this case. U.S. 101 at Last Chance is going to collapse and when that happens, all bets are off.

Caltrans will build an alternate route through the park and there will no discussion about fauna or flora. Even a fast-track road will take 18–36 months; all the while Del Norte County will languish and suffer, and in that process will slowly, painfully succumb.

I deferred to my senior colleague on the Board of Supervisors,  District 5 Supervisor David Finigan, whose district situates within Last Chance Grade. Dave’s knowledge on Last Chance is extensive and his insight to resolve the problem is imperative.

Last Chance needs to be resolved now! In 2003, Caltrans performed a full-blown study on Last Chance and decided the best way to fix the problem is to have all the equipment and materials on site to patch up the road.  For the last decade, those supplies have been stored at Wilson Creek Road.

In my opinion, that choice was regrettable. Caltrans needs to go back to that study, dust it off, and re-examine the already selected alternate route and build it!

I observed the route earlier this month. Kurt, former Supervisor Chuck Blackburn and I  were escorted by the Green Diamond team. The entire detour would involve less than three miles of roads and impact the state parks by about 2 acres.


Coastal Voices: Youths work hard to curb alcohol abuse

Editor’s note: The following was submitted by members of the Coastal Connections Youth Organizing Project and Redwood Voice.

On behalf of the Coastal Connections Youth Organizing Project (CCYOP) and Redwood Voice, we would like to thank the Triplicate for its Aug. 15 article “Youth talk about theft of alcohol by minors” on the meeting hosted Aug. 14. We’d like to share with those who weren’t able to attend some of the important details we felt were missing from the coverage.

CCYOP and Redwood Voice are programs with the objective of empowering youth and giving us voices in our community. We recognize the importance of ensuring that we are not only heard, but listened to.

Redwood Voice is a group of 10 young adults with the goal of amplifying the voices of youth in the community through media. Redwood Voice and CCYOP made the decision to collaborate on this article.

We believe it’s important for the community to know who hosted the meeting and who we represent. CCYOP is an organizing committee composed of local youth from diverse backgrounds who have come together to explore issues relevant to youth and organize for policy change. We represent the more than 200 local youth who are affiliated with Coastal Connections, a program of Del Norte Mental Health Services serving all transitional-aged youth in Crescent City.

Our work is part of a regional organizing network, where families, elders and youth, united by common values, are using a relationship-based method of organizing that supports community leaders in conducting research and creating policy solutions with decision-makers to achieve dignity and equity for all people. Our work is funded by Building Healthy Communities.


Church Notebook: Grace Lutheran welcomes temporary pastor

Conference focusing on fatherhood is scheduled next weekend in Hiouchi

One of the differences in the various denominations of our churches is in the way pastors are selected.

Some are assigned by the ranking heads of their various denominations, and others are called and selected simply by their members. This is usually the case with churches like mine, which is non-denominational and has had the same pastor for the last 15 years. Other denominations may prefer to limit a given pastor to a specific period of time.

In the 10 years I’ve been writing this column, I have listed a lot of pastoral changes, and this week, we have another one.

Grace Lutheran Church on Cooper has been without a permanent pastor for some time. On Sunday, it welcomes a new “vacancy pastor,” who will stay until a permanent pastor is found.

Pastor Marty Tyler will preach at the 8:30 and 11 a.m. services. The congregation will welcome him at 2 p.m. at a family potluck at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.

The Tylers are originally from Vancouver, Wash., and come to Crescent City now from Morgan Hill, Calif. Wife Debbie is a PA with the department of Corrections in Soledad. They have five grown children and have fostered a number of others.

Pastor Tyler pursued a number of occupations until feeling the call to the ministry in earnest in 1999, attending seminary in St. Louis and graduating in 2004.

He has provided pastoral care for shut-ins and held worship services in retirement centers.

Welcome, Pastor Tyler!


Was enemy set to invade Del Norte?

From the pages of the Del Norte Triplicate, August 1942.

Kilsoo K. Haan, Washington representative for the Sino-
Korean People’s League, reports in the following story that the Japanese have huge submarines capable of carrying up to four airplanes and Japanese war plans even included an early capture of Crescent City as the first step on the invasion of the West Coast:

The indicated sneak Japanese “test” bombing of heavily forested Mt. Emily in Oregon may be considered a prelude to further hit-and-run attacks from the air along the Pacific coast, according to our information on the enemy’s war plans. 

These plans call for the use of Crescent City as an operational base for fanning Japanese troops out along the coast. Japanese agents made a very thorough survey of harbor and railroad facilities along the coast and then left for home early in 1941.

Crescent City was then chosen, on the basis of these studies, as a base for operations, not only because of its centralized location, but because of the abundance of raw material in the vicinity.

While the area possesses numerous natural barriers to an attack, the Japanese believe they could seize it by a sneak commando raid and the shoe would then be on the other foot. Lake Earl was planned as a seaplane base.

With abundant water supply, the area was found by the Japanese to possess billions of feet of good lumber, one of the world’s greatest copper ore deposits, immense quantities of limestone for cement, more than half of the known U. S. chrome, besides almost inexhaustible supplies of manganese, pyrites, marble and even coal. 


Coastal Voices: Find new route before economy devastated

Last March at the Chamber of Commerce Economic Summit, an audience member asked Del Norte County Local Transportation Director Tamera Leighton about an alternate route around the precarious Last Chance Grade on Highway 101.

I have a great deal of respect for the LTC’s executive director, so I was naturally stunned by her response when she said, “ ... there will never, never, never be a road around Last Chance Grade.”

Did Tamera know something of which I was unaware? Why couldn’t there be a route built around this dangerous, unstable part of U.S. 101?

Recently, Supervisor Roger Gitlin announced at a Board of Supervisors meeting that he was forming a committee to put on fast-forward the recommendation to Caltrans for the study, decision and construction of a highway around Last Chance Grade.

Former Supervisor Chuck Blackburn and I are co-chairing this committee. Trees of Mystery owners John and Debbie Thompson have also signed on as ardent supporters, as has Dale Miller, chairman of Elk Valley Rancheria.

Chuck’s knowledge of the history of Last Chance is vast and deep. My experience is a sad one, which I would hope would never beset any family. My parents plunged to their deaths in the Pacific after dropping me off in Klamath as I was on my way to Europe with a friend after graduating from Sonoma State University and working locally.

My parents were heading back home when the summit of Last Chance Grade collapsed and disappeared into the ocean, taking them with it in 1972. It still brings back haunting memories four decades later.

Chuck and I head a growing list of Del Norters who want to see a permanent fix. I expect there will be a great deal of popular support to find an alternate highway around Last Chance Grade.


Letters to the Editor Aug. 20, 2013

Time for Del Norte to figure out its economy

There are those that have in Del Norte County and those that do not. As a former foster child of this county, I know only too well.

Were it not for a miracle escape, I too would be dependent on food stamps and public assistance. I do have to say that in my time there I was able to write three grants, one for 150 pairs of new shoes for children in need, one for a Christmas dinner for 750 people and one for a wheel chair ramp for the local food bank.

Those that have seem to make it impossible for those that do not. For example, a local doctor pays employees $10 an hour with no benefits. How is that a livable wage?

These people go to work everyday, they are not drug addicts or drunks, so how is that fair? The old saying, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, is sadly true in Del Norte County.

Not everyone has rich relatives to pay their way or old-time connections. The children in your county are hungry and it’s time for Del Norte County to step up to the 21st century and figure things out.

Alaska is booming, so much so that it has to go to the lower 48 to find employees.

Misa Heximer, Anchorage, Alaska


Coastal Voices: It's time to reconsider the state of Jefferson

It’s time we asked the question, “When is enough enough?”

It should be evident by now that the big foot of state government controlled by Los Angeles and San Francisco has embarked on a war against the rural counties of Northern California.

Even if you were living under a rock and were not paying attention, the illegal fire tax should have gotten your attention. It is only being paid by those living in rural areas even if they are already paying a separate tax for local fire protection. That state tax alone will cost you a minimum of $1,100 over the next 10 years.  

But wait, there’s more, a lot more.  Back in May I pointed out in this newspaper that the California war on rural areas was being extended to our kids with the introduction of a bill that would mandate that children who identified themselves as members of the opposite sex could use all of the facilities of that sex.

In other words, if a boy identifies himself as a girl even though he has male parts, he is allowed to play with the girls on their athletic teams, other competitions and use the facilities consistent with his gender identity. Yes, it means he can also use the girls bathroom, locker room and shower facilities.

I predicted that If this were ever to become law, it would put an end to public schools.  No parent that I know would ever send their child to a school that would abide by this law. Well, guess what? That bill with the backing of Los Angeles and San Francisco and our own assemblyman has passed and was signed by the governor and is now the law, beginning on Jan. 1, 2014.

It’s time we asked a lot of questions like: Do we really need almost 6,000 state agencies to govern every aspect of our lives?


Letters to the Editor Aug. 17, 2013

Questionable if Sutter isn't considering Critical Access

As most of your readers know, Sutter Health Corporation has frightened and angered this community by acting through the local Sutter Coast Hospital Board, beginning a process to eliminate the local board and moving control of our hospital to a regional board in San Francisco.  Apparently, this would allow them to downgrade our hospital to a “Critical Access Hospital,” which they have done in other areas. 

Critical access is a federal program to financially assist small hospitals with no more than 25 beds and some other conditions, all of which would be bad news for our hospital. It seems that Critical Access would be of financial benefit to Sutter Health Corporation, a non-profit corporation, but would drastically reduce services to this community.

A few months ago, Sutter Health replaced the CEO of Sutter Coast Hospital.  The new CEO is Linda Horn. I think Ms. Horn is more proficient in public relations than was the previous CEO.  I think the actions and methods of Sutter Health had destroyed all credibility with this community and that they felt the need for some public relations proficiency.  

Ms. Horn told our Board of Supervisors, during their May 28 meeting, “Critical Access is not being discussed.” By that I thought she meant to convey that Critical Access was not being considered by Sutter Health nor by the Sutter Coast Hospital Board for implementation. 

Perhaps I was wrong. According to Dr. Greg Duncan’s email newsletter, Critical Access discussion is alive
and well. He reports the Hospital
Board had a discussion on Critical Access at their Aug. 1 meeting and that Mr. Cohill, a Sutter Health executive, stated he believed Critical Access would be implemented here in Crescent City. 

Perhaps Ms. Horn would like to clarify the current status of Critical Access discussion for our community?

Clif Shepard, Hiouchi


In the days of leather helmets

With another Warrior football season about to stand, it is fun to look back at the difference this year’s players will face as they don their gear in the locker room, as compared to what we did when I put on a football uniform 65 years ago. 

Our pants were khaki-colored, and we wore these same pants for practice and games, even though our colors were red and white then. These bulky pants had all of your lower body pads built in. Thigh and knee pads went on at the same time you pulled your pants up. 

The shoulder pads were made of leather and were about twice as heavy as today’s pads, while not providing nearly the protection that the modern ones do. 

The helmets were also made of leather and were painted white. They did not have face masks; broken noses and lost teeth were common. 

Our game jerseys were red with white trim and were made of wool. We wore these game jerseys both home and away. What made these even more uncomfortable  than just being wool was that they had a long tail that went between your legs and buttoned in the front so you could never get your shirttail pulled out. 

It was not until the 1949 season that we got more modern pants and jerseys. The pants were white and the shirts were red. Pads had to be inserted into the pants, just like now.


Despite trend, many families these days still intact

How intact is your family?

When I see families that still have good relationships, and couples who are still married after many years, I just have to think, “How wonderful!”

Our prisons are overflowing, drug abuse abounds and so very many people simply have no respect for themselves or any one else; it’s no wonder things are so crazy.

Sometimes I think it would be great if we could  return to the way things were when we seniors were growing up in the ’40s and ’50’s.  We came home from school, did our homework, and went outside to play until supper.

We climbed trees, rode bicycles, roller-skated and played tag and hide ’n’ seek. For much of that time, TV hadn’t made an appearance yet. I’d often curl up in my grandfather’s old Morris chair, listening intently to the radio — to those scary old mystery stories like The Green Hornet and others.

But things have changed, and way too many of our families have crumbled. Marriages falling apart, fathers simply walking away — and children left with no direction.

Thank God many families are still intact.

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