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Cooperstown Quarry project deserves approval

    To say the least, the proposed Cooperstown Quarry is an unusual project.
    It’s big: The 135-acre west county open-pit operation would by the end of the century turn out 56 million tons of rock in a 24/7 operation that will include blasting, heavy equipment and Sierra Railroad trains to haul out the aggregate.
    Yet Jack and Tricia Gardella’s project enjoys almost universal support in Tuolumne County. It has been endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Authority, the County Business Council, the Me-Wuk Tribe, the Building Industry Association and the County Planning Commission.
   

Rise in county’s opiate drug use is alarming

    When the older among us were growing up, the mere mention of heroin would have our blood running cold.
    It was the most addictive and most dangerous of the wide spectrum of drugs that began permeating our culture in the 1960s.
    But it wasn’t the province of hippies, college students or those searching for spiritual enligtenment. Heroin addicts were instead inner-city derelicts whose minds and bodies were being eaten alive by a drug pushed in the darkest corners of society.
    On the other hand, we didn’t worry much about heroin. It wasn’t in better parts of cities, it wasn’t in suburbs and it certainly wasn’t in the Mother Lode.
    Until now.
  

Distracted driving a matter of life and death

    Cell phones have become such an integral part of our culture that we react without thinking.
 The phone rings and, even though you’re going 50 mph on a curvy, back road, you begin searching for the phone. You rifle through the cluttered console or reach into your jeans pocket while negotiating a left-hand curve, somehow convinced there is some urgency to the incoming call.
    Two things usually happen: You answer the bleating cell phone without incident, and the call is not at all urgent. In fact, it is never urgent enough that the 30 seconds it might take to pull off the road and return the call legally makes the difference between life and death.
  

Jamestown solar panel project worth exploring

    When it comes to generating bad news and costing taxpayers cash, it’s tough to top Tuolumne County’s landfill site off Campo Seco Road.
    The 1974 purchase of the Jamestown-area acreage as a dump was itself controversial. But operating it was nowhere as costly as the repeated and largely unsuccessful attempts to seal off the 1.5 million cubic yards of potentially toxic garbage dumped before the landfill shut its gates in 1995.
    In the years since, these closure attempts have cost the county more than $14 million, have brought ultimatums and fines from the state, have generated lawsuits and have forced the county to borrow millions to finally do the job right.
  

New chancellor is the right choice for YCCD

    Eighteen applicants vied to become the Yosemite Community College District’s new chancellor. A committee then narrowed the field to two finalists, who then answered questions at public forums at Columbia College and Modesto Junior College.
    But the board’s eventual choice for the important and challenging job likely surprised few: Former Columbia College president and Interim Chancellor Joan Smith won a three-year contract to head the two-college, 21,000-student district.
    She was also, clearly, the right choice for the job.
  

Full disclosure, full compliance expected of GCSD

    The state’s notice of violation, to say the least, is startling.
    It finds that the Groveland Community Services District reported that an August 2010 sewer spill amounted to only 10 gallons when in fact it was between 10,000 and 15,000 gallons and flowed into Pine Mountain Lake before the leak was halted.
    The State Regional Water Quality Control Board’s notice also reports that the district did not report other leaks. It concludes that the “recurring spills from the district’s sewer lines and the district’s failure to comply with notification requirements” violate  more than a half dozen state or federal laws and standards.
 

Our community acts deserve a full helping of bravos

    Within a month, we went from the bottom to the top.
    In late January, a vandal did nearly $90,000 in damage to Sonora’s Odd Fellows Cemetery, upending and breaking numerous century-old marble tombstones.
    But just two weeks later more than 130 volunteers, many of them high school students, came out for a cemetery cleanup organized by the Odd Fellows. If anything could restore our faith in mankind, this community effort was it.
  

Fire Districts should support working group concept

    They are the heart of local control.
 With their elected boards and largely local funding, Tuolumne County’s fire districts are the essence of taxation with representation. Board members and constituents are often friends or neighbors and, at least ideally, trust and communication prevail.
    So you can understand why leaders of a few of our districts are skittish about being part of a joint powers agreement aimed at improving fire protection countywide.
    “It’s not going to work,” said Charles Wagner, a Mi-Wuk-Sugar-Pine Fire District board member. “It’s going to be a failure from the get go.”
   

Mother Lode Fair needs sponsors, community support

    Faced with a state budget deficit of $25 billion, Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed cuts are deep, wide and ever closer to home.
    Among the most potentially painful here is a plan to slash all state funding from California’s 80 county and district fairs. Yes, the move would save the state $32 million. But it could financially hamstring more than two dozen fairs, including Sonora’s.
    If Brown’s cuts are enacted, the Mother Lode Fair would take a $200,000 hit.
 Although funding for this year’s July 7-10 fair is safe, beginning in 2012 the event could lose about a third of its $600,000 budget.
  

Supervisors set realistic, achievable goals for 2011

    As everyone involved with a business, a government agency or even a family knows, setting goals is a lot easier than reaching them.
 But if you set the wrong goals — be they unrealistic, impractical or unachievable — all that results is wasted effort.
 To Tuolumne County’s credit, it has set reachable, sensible 2011 goals tailored to today’s struggling economy and to our thinly stretched government budgets.
    Building out the ambitious Law and Justice Center off Old Wards Ferry Road is not on the list. Nor is purchase of a fleet of new sheriff’s patrol cars or paving Italian Bar Road. 
   

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