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Bravos to our veterans, voters, schools and Giants

    It’s time for the post-election edition of Bravos & Barbs, The Union Democrat’s occasional compendium of the good, the bad and, sometimes, the ugly in the Mother Lode.
    As usual, far more of our residents deserve bravos than we have the time or space to list. You heroes and Samaritans know who you are, as do your friends, neighbors — which probably means a lot more than recognition in this space.
    Our barbs found a few targets among the unworthy, but others — they know who they are, and so do what friends they have left — escaped their notice. But their time will come.
        That said, November’s B&Bs:

    •To the more than 14,000 veterans who live in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties, for all they’ve done to protect our freedoms. And to those who took time out Thursday, Veterans Day, to honor their service.
    • To the San Francisco Giants, who  at least for a while provided a break from politics, community spats and the dismal economy with their magical, month-long World Series run.
    • To Tuolumne County voters, whose 70 percent turnout in the Nov. 2 election was seventh highest among California’s 58 counties. For perspective, Sierra County (81.9 percent) was No. 1 and Fresno County (33.9 percent) was dead last. Calaveras, with 53 percent, was slightly above the statewide average of 50.5 percent.
    • To Tuolumne and Calaveras county high school teams, which have excelled at a range of fall sports: Sonora, Calaveras and Summerville all made the football playoffs and hit the gridiron tonight. The Summerville, Sonora, Tioga and Bret Harte girls’ volleyball squads, which went through the regular season with only a handful of losses between them, this week began the playoffs with high seeds. And runners from Sonora, Summerville, Calaveras and Bret Harte cross-country teams are advancing in sectional competition.
    •To the Calaveras County School Board, which voted to spare the 87-student Rail Road Flat School and will make budget cuts in other areas.
     • To the Stanislaus National Forest, whose Twomile Restoration Plan has drawn praise from logging interests, off-roaders and environmentalists alike. It calls for controlled burns, thinning, meadow restoration, weed control and habitat improvement on 18,000 acres in the Clavey River Watershed.     
    • To the Calaveras County Water District, which completed its new Rancho Calaveras system on time and nearly $200,000 under budget. Not only that, but the system will bring clean water to more than 50 customers who for years endured failing wells.   
    •To the anonymous cowards who last month plastered several Sonora neighborhoods with white supremacist fliers titled “White and Proud,” and urging the like-minded to join the Ku Klux Klan. To Sonora’s credit, the fliers were greeted with universal disdain and outrage.
    •To the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors, for considering limiting its weekly public comment period, during which anyone can take the mike to make a point or air a gripe. The often colorful comment period is what freedom of speech is all about and should not be tampered with.
    •To our fall roster of those have crossed the line between simply breaking the law into a far more mean-spirited realm: The thieves who stole $2,000 worth of cut firewood from the Interact Club, which had planned to sell the cords and use the proceeds to fund a spring trip during which members would help rehabilitate Mexican schools. The Southern California poachers who snuck into Yosemite National Park and killed five trophy deer before a Department of Fish & Game dragnet brought them down. And the misanthropes who stole a pickup truck and building supplies from Habitat for Humanity’s Columbia property.

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