Union Democrat staff

Taggers go home

To the editor:

Re: Chris Bateman's column of Aug. 7, in which he repeated his column of May 26, 2000, about Wards Ferry Bridge. Thank you for bringing back the memory of a job well done by a crew of volunteers who cleaned out and painted over the graffiti that had covered the bridge for years.

It's too bad some people don't care that the graffiti spoils the beauty of the surrounding Tuolumne River Canyon. Why don't the taggers go home and scrawl their crude graffiti on their own homes instead of defacing public property?

Dale La Torre Elliott


TUD responds

To the editor,

We would like to take this opportunity to respond to the letter sent in by Ginny Van Bolt, titled "Water main breaks." Thank you,Ginny, for bringing up some key questions that other customers may have been asking, as well, regarding the Tuolumne Utilities District.

The recent water main break that occurred in Tuolumne was the result of aging infrastructure in the water system. Our construction crews determined that tree roots had grown up and squeezed an existing pipeline until it ruptured. Looking over the entire county that we serve we are faced with pipes that are on average 75 years old.

Unfortunately, we never know when or where a water line break will occur. It is for this reason that our crews are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to respond as quickly as possible to any issues that may arise.

The recent new automatic read meters that we replaced in Tuolumne did not have any connection to the main line incident you experienced. We have a program in place to eventually change all existing water meters to new automatic read meters that will be more efficient and save customers money.

In the future, we look forward to educating our customers on various issues that face the district. I hope this answers some of your questions. Feel free to contact us any time to address your concerns.

Lisa Westbrook,

customer service supervisor

Tuolumne Utilities District


Jeb's opens

To be edited:

Hell has frozen over. Water is no longer wet. The sky is no longer blue. Women no longer have secrets. And Jeb's Waffles & Ribs is OPEN!

Garry Swaffar


More prevention needed

To the editor:

I read with interest James Damschroder's July 10 article, "In the line of fire." It was terrific to have front page coverage that details the issues around wild fire prevention.

I have a concern, however, that the comments by fire officials and other statements in this story paint a too optimistic picture.

Marty Gmelin, Mi-Wok Ranger District resource management program leader, says, "… we're keeping up with it," and "it's all treated." Damschroder reports: "The forest along Highway 120 is "largely cleared of fuels."

Yes, a strip on each side of Highway 120 has been treated, but in actuality, the "forest" has not been treated.

I worry that this gives the false impression that we're doing all that's needed to reduce the threat of wildfire.

The truth is that the work that's been done is a drop in the bucket compared to what should be done. Far too many acres are left untreated. An once treated, most of those acres have no plan or funding for maintenance. The year after treatment, fuels begin growing again.

And as for the future, one cannot be optimistic. Funding sources for staff and grants for private contractors are drying up. There will be less work on the ground unless we take action.

Fire officials must balance their reports of what's been accomplished with what is still needed.

We need them to report what additional programs must be developed, along with strong lobbying efforts for the funding needed. And we, the public, must be willing to help with our tax money.

Ken Codeglia