Union Democrat staff

In support of Fire Chief Randy Miller

To the Editor:

This is a dark day for the Mi-Wuk-Sugar Pine Fire Department.

I am one of many who are deeply saddened by the resignation of Chief Randy Miller.

During his tenure this agency has blossomed from one that was once able to provide only minimal emergency coverage into one that now provides well-staffed, round-the-clock service. Insurance rates for residents and landowners have been reduced and we have a safer place in which to live. Chief Miller has cared deeply for our community and for "his" firefighters. He will be greatly missed. I extend to him my sincere appreciation for his service and wish him well.

During Chief Miller's recent leave of absence the department has been blessed to have Larry Crabtree acting as Interim Chief. His extensive experience, knowledge and devotion to fairness and integrity have served us well. Fortunately, he has agreed to remain in this position until a new chief is on the job. However, all is not well.

As one who was present at the May 14 meeting, the tactics of those who seem, for reasons unknown, to be bent on destroying the department, both from within and without. The community's divisiveness was readily apparent during the public comment time as some attendees, perhaps acting as puppets, venomously voiced accusatory questions and untrue rumors. Interim Chief Crabtree dispelled the false rumors and answered questions. He encourages anyone with concerns to contact him at any time.

I appeal to all my fellow community members to work together to support our fire department. Join the auxiliary, attend fundraisers, go to board meetings, and thank those who provide us with firefighting, emergency medical and public assistance services. We have a gem. Let's keep polishing it!

Laurel Wallace

Mi-Wuk Village

Sonora High ag woes smell fishy

To the Editor:

Now I've heard everything! The Sonora High superintendent says the district is maintaining the same financial support for agriculture programs, even expanding them within two years, yet it has made the decision to transfer Stan Kellogg to Cassina High, without valid explanation or respect for the work that Stan has done over his tenure in the ag department during the past 24 years!

The program is being cut dramatically.

As an alumnus of SUHS, I am appalled that this should happen in these times and at this critical juncture in these kids' lives. Stan has been there for them to give the future farmers and ranchers of the Sonora area hands-on experience in what it takes to produce food and fiber for all. He has given many of them the reason to come to school! Stan has taught these kids to be humble and grateful for life's gifts.

It seems more than a little fishy when, after receiving the green light on a $23 million school bond, $2 million can be spent on a state-of-the-art pool, but one of the best ag teachers to ever teach at SUHS loses his position and is relegated to teach at a continuation school, for no apparent reason! What gives?

Tuolumne County and is and always has been a rural area where people work hard in the agriculture and timber industries. Those who came here for it's beauty, though they be teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc., need to remember why it is beautiful. If it were not for the caretakers of the land (farmers and ranchers), the beauty would disappear.

Fran Bryant


TUD subsidies irresponsible

To the Editor:

At the TUD board meeting held on Tuesday, May 14, very few citizens brought up the controversial apartment complex. However, the board did mention this complex several times. The members of the board rudely interrupted citizens to engage in argument. Despite these interruptions, several valid concerns were raised about the proposed subsidies.

The draft for this proposal has no numbers on it whatsoever. Water connection fees are designed to do two things. Provide funds to cover the cost of infrastructure needed to support the new development (offset the impacts of development), and provide funds to reimburse or cover the cost of infrastructure investments made by other users that "oversize" the water system for future growth. So, if an agency temporarily reduces the capacity charge/connection fee, it needs to find a way to "backfill" the discount. TUD will have to look for another funding source, what will that funding source be? TUD is in serious financial debt. If they are discounting the capacity charge/connection fee, they may be "shorting" their capital improvement program or shorting those who invested in oversizing. TUD has water treatment plants that are in need of serious repairs.

Last summer TUD's customers were told they needed to conserve water. There was May 17th, 2013 stating that TUD is very concerned about the water supply. TUD buys 95 percent of its water from PG&E. That water is supplied by Pinecrest Lake. The Board is requesting the state to be more flexible on the minimum levels of this lake, so that TUD can take more water from it. Is it responsible to be giving developers subsidies when TUD is in debt, needs repairs to its infrastructure, and the water supply is low?

Heather Doyle