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Coastal Voices: 199 needs guardrails, not trucks

Once again we read about another car in the river, a fatality along the Highway 199 Smith River Canyon, just months after two men were killed as their car went off the highway and submerged in our wild river.

According to data from Caltrans, in the 10-year period beginning Jan. 1, 2003, there were 13 injury collisions with 18 injured parties at this same site, between mile post marker 10.3 and 10.6, most in passenger vehicles.

This latest accident adds another car in the river at this site where at least two other vehicles have been immersed before. I find it hard to believe there isn’t a complete guardrail system along this long but fast curve. The middle of this gentle curve has a guardrail, but both ends do not. Obviously this creates a dangerous situation.


Coastal Voices: Pierson just the start of needed change in DHHS

Tuesday’s Del Norte Triplicate continued its reporting on the issue of Barbara Pierson and the labor relation issues surrounding her short tenure with the Department Of Health and Human Services. On an initial reading of the various articles, it is easy to misconstrue this is nothing more than a labor relations issue, “so why should I care?”

Something greater is at stake here than labor relation issues. The issue is changing the culture of the DHHS. I have been meeting with the some of the supervisors to share in a personal way an outsider’s perspective on our experience in dealing with the Department of Health and Human Services. I have done so with the intent to advocate the critical need for wholesale change in the culture of the DHHS.

I believe change was the intent of the Del Norte County Supervisors based on their appointment of Pierson as the director. The supervisors did not appoint anyone from within the ranks of the existing staff at DHHS. The possible reason for their choice: there was a need for a different perspective and approach to the overall administration of DHHS.


Coastal Voices: Trash stored in residential areas a threat to neighbors

About two years ago, I wrote a column about litter and discards in our open lands and forests. I would now like to write about the serious environmental hazards associated with careless storage in residential neighborhoods.

You may be aware that some of your neighbors may have serious safety and environmental hazards right in their own backyards. Supervisor Roger Gitlin sponsors a litter cleanup program, “Take A Bite Out Of Blight.” My wife and I have volunteered on several occasions with other good citizens to clean up abandoned homeless camps, vacant lots, and residential homes. I would say the word “disgusting” does not begin to describe the discarded material and litter we have collected.

My earlier column spoke of discarded furniture, trash, oils, used diapers, copper wire, appliances, and bottles of stored urine (for meth recycling) in our open lands. Our forests, treasured wildlife, water supplies, recreational users, and visitors are in peril with these environmental and safety threats. As with the gentleman who wrote recently in another Coastal Voices about the Pacific Shores mess, I wrote letters of concern to federal, state, and local officials, and received scant response.


Coastal Voices: Gitlin takes out the trash, leads fight for Last Chance

We’d like to thank Del Norte County District 1 Supervisor Roger Gitlin for his immediate response to our request that the trash on U.S. 101 North be removed ASAP.

 Last summer, we had watched litter accumulate through the entire tourist season. Both sides of the freeway and the median were just covered. It seriously looked like a third world country. Right in the middle of it was an ‘Adopt a Highway’ sign that read “Highway maintained by Redwood National Park employees.”

I called RNP several times but to no avail. Then, I called Roger Gitlin as I had seen him and a group of volunteers picking up litter in the area from the breakwall and B Street pier to the harbor beaches. I also saw the trashed area from the Washington St. off ramp to the Wal Mart parking lot flushed out and cleaned up.


Coastal Voices: Tolowa Dunes a blind spot for cops, politicians

Yes, Tolowa Dunes State Park is being trashed south of the parking lots (Triplicate, April 2) and this has been going on for a long, long time.

A besieged neighborhood, parking lot break-ins, poaching, extreme environmental damage and volleys of gunfire and constant ATV marauding are the norm, and these major problems have historically been ignored by “don’t care” law enforcement agencies and politicians.

I’m an amatuer naturalist, one of a loose group of people who hike the area, and I began keeping a daily log of dunes damage on Jan. 7, motivated by the poaching of a buck whose backstraps alone were taken. I also wrote a letter to Supervisor Martha McClure in which I outlined some of the problems and requested help.


Another View: Reason can't explain everything

Last Sunday, 2.2 billion people around the globe celebrated the greatest miracle in history, an event the average, rational, sane person would classify as an utter impossibility — a dead man coming back to life after being sealed in a tomb for three days.

I didn’t believe in miracles until I witnessed one that couldn’t be explained away. My mother was 72 years old and had just been diagnosed with lung cancer. A malignant, egg-sized tumor was lodged in the airway between her lungs. Her doctor said it was inoperable and she’d be lucky to last six months. In the 1940s, she’d been a nurse on a TB ward. Tuberculosis had damaged her lungs, as had her years of heavy smoking.

My husband, kids and I were staying at her house in south Texas at the time, on the Mexican border, where the population was about 99 percent Mexican and Mexican-American. We were attending a church of around 200 where we were one of the few gringo families. There were tambourines available for everyone in the congregation who wanted to do something besides sing and clap hands during the praise and worship time. Musical accompaniment was provided by a large mariachi band that included trombones, trumpets, standing base fiddles, drums, violins, violas and guitars. The sound produced by the musicians, singers and tambourine pounders was so exuberant, I sometimes felt sure it would blow the roof off.


Coastal Voices: Fantastic treatment received at Sutter

I was a guest of Sutter Coast Hospital for several days last week. I am an 84-year-old woman and it appears I will be around to celebrate my 85th birthday thanks to the excellent treatment I received there.

I was transported by Del Norte Ambulance to the hospital emergency room. On arrival I was told by Julia, a registered nurse, that I would be seeing a young, very smart doctor named Dr. Torrey. She was right. Dr. Torrey had me admitted to the hospital.

After four days stay I have a long list of people to thank and no complaints. I can’t mention everyone’s name as there isn’t enough room on this page but I haven’t forgotten any of your smiling faces.


Coastal Voices: How the community stopped Sutter Health's attempt to grab ownership

It’s been five years since Sutter Health first tried to transfer ownership of Sutter Coast Hospital out of Del Norte County. Now, Sutter’s biggest lies are finally unraveling.

This is the story of how our community stood up to the 800 pound gorilla known as Sutter Health, and won. Today, thanks to grassroots community opposition, Sutter Health has failed to complete its plans to take ownership and downsize our locally owned hospital.

Remember the big lie about Sutter Coast needing to downsize to Critical Access in order to be profitable? Sutter Coast spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a carefully crafted PR campaign to convince our community that Critical Access was a financial necessity.


Another View: There is more to Easter than candy, eggs

When I was a kid, Easter was all about sweets — chocolate bunnies and marshmallow eggs, peeps and jelly beans. But now I find it bittersweet.

Death lends some bitterness to it. If Jesus hadn’t died and risen from the dead, there would be nothing to celebrate.

Though pagan fertility symbols like eggs and rabbits may be bitterly reviled by some Christians, I think they’re sweet. Eggs and rabbits, after all, bring forth abundant life through chicks and baby bunnies, just as Jesus brings forth abundant life through his resurrection.


Another View: Letís make homelessness a felony

While writing about homelessness a few years ago, I decided to try living homeless, for accuracy’s sake. I chose a city 100 miles away and left everything behind except my trusty old Honda, a half tank of gas, and the clothes on my back. My days were spent panhandling — a deeply humiliating exercise — and visiting underfunded social service agencies, churches and charities. Sleeping in the backseat of my car was so cold and cramped, I caught very few winks. 

Sleep deprivation and the lack of a home base severely disoriented me. I felt confused, forgetful, frightened and utterly low. I hadn’t realized it was possible to feel so discombobulated. After a hellish week that seemed like a year, I gave up and drove back home to avoid further mental disintegration.


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