It’s more commonplace to criticize a public utility, but this week praise — and thanks — are offered to Pacific Gas & Electric for swapping out the light bulbs along Washington Street in downtown Sonora. They installed LED fixtures instead of high-pressure sodium vapor streetlights, and the difference in visibility is striking.

To Calaveras Unified School District and Bret Harte Unified High School District for staging a joint career day, with an emphasis on vocations in addition to the traditional college recruiters. Working together they were able to come up with a bigger fair. Some 70 presenters will attend. This effort underpins something desperately needed for the community — showing kids they can make a good living and stay here. Our communities lose far too many young people as they search for jobs.

To three long-time educators who announced their retirements, thank you for your service to our young people. Dave Urquhart, superintendent of Big Oak Flat-Groveland School District will retire in June, as will Angela Fairchilds, president of Columbia College. Margie Bulkin, Tuolumne County superintendent of schools, will leave office when her term is up in December.

Sadly, we must say goodbye to two public servants who did so much for the community. Longtime Sonora mayor and city councilman Ron Stearn died Feb. 6, and former Sonora mayor and civic leader Marlee Powell Jan. 24. Both dedicated their lives to the community, and their contributions will long be remembered.

To Tuolumne County for not giving up on funding to build a jail to replace the antiquated facility in downtown Sonora. A groundbreaking ceremony was held this week, and construction will begin soon on a facility that the sheriff says will change lives. Let’s hope that mission can be fulfilled.

To the Tree Mortality Aid Program of Tuolumne County, which raised about $145,000 to remove more than 250 dead and dying trees since September 2016 on property owned by low-income and disabled people. They could not have afforded the $400 a tree cost to remove the hazard. The program should wind up by March.


To whoever threw hot ashes at some time in the past into their recycling. Also, to people who use recycling containers as diaper pails or rid themselves of bowling balls or propane tanks or cans of that sickly yellow color that looked so good in the store. It’s time to take recycling seriously. The rules aren’t complicated. We’re a long way from recycling 75 percent of waste, as specified — hoped for, actually — by state government.

To those who have turned Valley Springs residences into pot farms. Calaveras County Sheriff’s deputies have recently found several homes converted into indoor grows. One photo they released showed a sickly site of dozens of plants, packed into a room lit by overhead fixtures with plastic sheeting stapled to the walls and floors and plumbing hanging from odd places. Such an arrangement brings moisture that promotes mold and fungus, attracts cockroaches and other infestations, not to mention damage to electrical systems and plumbing.

And, finally to those who think baby formula is a hot commodity worth stealing for the black market, the optics on this one are just not good.