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Coastal Voices: Change not always good: Political contacts take time to cultivate

I have been involved in politics in Del Norte County for over 50 years. I always get amused by people running for public offices contending that “Change is Good.” I do not necessarily agree.


Coastal Voices: Bar-O Boys Ranch in need of volunteers

Surrounded by steep, forested hills and a raging river, the rugged Smith River canyon may seem like an unlikely location for a confinement facility.  Bar-O Boys Ranch, a program of the Del Norte County Probation Department, helps minors focus on personal growth and social development.  

Although the wards at Bar-O Boys come from a mostly urban landscape, their life experiences are actually somewhat narrow when it comes to understanding possibilities.


Coastal Voices: A brief history of a small coastal county and its hospital

I remember when I moved here as a medical wife in 1989, learning about ER call coverage. Physicians with hospital privileges were required to take calls at the hospital. It wasn’t a choice, it was a necessity. ER physicians lived here then, and physicians provided backup.Those on-call days were hard with full office schedules but most physicians joined with others for call coverage so they could sleep the rest of the time. Sutter had come in to manage, eventually building Sutter Coast Hospital.The Hospital District became the Health Care District when Seaside Hospital closed.


Coastal Voices: ONRW would stop mining near Smith, permit requirements already in place

It is important for this community to realize the opportunity of designating the Smith River as California’s first river to be distinguished as an Outstanding National Resource Water. What are the benefits of this designation, and what are the concerns and fears of our community that need to be accurately assessed and addressed? That was the hot topic at the last Board of Supervisor meeting.


Coastal Voices: Cost-benifit of guardrail at U.S. 199 trouble spot

I recently took a drive on Highway (U.S.) 199. It had been about 25 years. The Smith River corridor’s beauty was as distracting as ever. Undoubtedly those distractions have led to a number of accidents over the years. Along with the usual causes, like speeding, DUI, etc., leading to single vehicle accidents along the route, I began to wonder why more guardrails were not placed along certain sections of the road like the one just past the 10 mile marker where too many have gone into the river.


Coastal Voices: What would my grandpa think of 2016

Twenty years ago, I wrote a column about my grandfather for the then Daily Triplicate. It was about a man, age 91, in the last month of his life. 

In the two decades since, I have met a surprising number of people who remembered that piece, acquaintances and strangers telling me how much my story reminded them of their grandparents. I visited a friend years later, and was surprised to find the column clipped out and taped to the refrigerator – about as high of honor a writer can receive, in my opinion.


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.


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