Union Democrat staff

Parks, law enforcement

To the editor:

Many times I make suggestions to our Sonora and Tuolumne County officials, and most of the time they are just not acknowledged and ignored. One can only hope that these two items are at least publicly discussed and hopefully action taken on them.

The most important is the Save Our State Parks initiative on the November ballot. Passage of this proposition would create and save many jobs and really help our local business. On countless occasions I have asked the Board of Supervisors, (County Administrator) Craig Pedro and (Sonora City Administrator) Greg Applegate to get behind this initiative, and have never heard or seen a word from any of them. This one must not be ignored, it means saving what little we have left here.

Once, I suggested combining school districts to save money, which was met with much disdain. Now, finally it looks like there are small moves to do that in the offing.

However, that derision was only minor compared to what I received when I suggested this second item - combining the Sonora Police Department with the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office. Well, one would have thought I set the flag on fire, that is why I did not formally propose it at that time.

Now, in many towns like San Carlos and other California cities, they are combining departments. It makes great sense for our rural county. Sonora has a population one-sixth that of San Carlos. Around Sonora, it is commonplace to see sheriff's, police, and Highway Patrol cars within close proximity of one another.

At least consider combining the two agencies - save millions of dollars, lose no rank and file jobs and become more efficient.

Domenic Torchia


Torchia is president of the Tuolumne County Democratic Club.

Canal death

To the editor:

I have lost a friend. Scott Eric Smith, of Jamestown, slipped and fell into the Oakdale Irrigation District's North Canal on June 21. He has not been seen since, even though friends and family have been walking miles daily to find him and take him home. (Smith's body was found Monday).

This tragic event is not a first for these waterways. I cannot believe that a simple sloped bar grate cannot be installed at the entryway to tunnels.

If the Oakdale Irrigation District will not consider this, I intend to inquire about allowing a volunteer group to investigate, design, and install such safety features. There should never be a loss of life because of poor insight, indifferent design, or simply penny pinching.

If this man has lost his life, it should not be in vain. It should serve to inspire people to act so that future situations may at least provide a chance for an individual to save himself before being doomed by entering underground tunnels.

Accidents happen, lives are lost, but society should not allow for unguarded traps to consume anyone's life, no matter what the circumstance. Therefore, I am asking anyone who feels the same to join in, and at least consider supporting this endeavor.

If the Oakdale Irrigation District refuses to act and resolve the life-threatening danger that its system has created, it should reasonably allow responsible involvement by dedicated and concerned citizens.

I am writing this in memory of a man who was a devoted son, a father, and a good friend to many. And also to inspire action, so that there is less chance that an incident like this will ever happen again.

Emily McMurtrey