To the Tuolumne County Counsel’s office for navigating the minefield of balancing the public’s right to know how taxpayer dollars are spent with proprietary business information confided to the Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority. To outsiders, it may seem like the office has not been forthcoming, but Deputy County Counsel Carlyn Drivdahl has been helpful in providing documents and explanations.
To another Tuolumne County staffer, Deputy County Administrator Daniel Richardson, who oversees facilities, for implementing the Board of Supervisors’ directive to reduce the lease payments the county makes each month. The Alternatives to Detention program will move into the space once occupied by the InnovationLab at the county-owned former Tuolumne General Hospital. The move will save the county $54,000 a year. The county rents 35 properties for more than a dozen departments — including the public defender, sheriff, public health, behavioral health, and social services — at a cost of $913,000 a year. Could there be other moves in the offing? Perhaps the Department of Social Services in a space on Cedar Road that costs $17,749.06 a month ($213,000 a year)?
To the rescuers of a young bald eagle found unable to move with a fish hook down its throat at New Melones, Elissa and Mark Wall, Pat Sanders, Pat Benik and Dr. Jeanne Smith. The Walls found the bird, Bureau of Reclamation Ranger Sanders picked it up and Benik, with Tri County Wildlife Care nursed it back to health after Smith, a veterinarian who specializes in birds, performed the surgery. They think the eagle is female, who will stay in the area as long as she can find food. That’s a win for all of us. Few sights are more riveting than seeing an eagle in flight.
To a collective of those responsible for the diminishing the Mother Lode Fair. It’s hard to point a finger on this one because truly it is a group responsibility for keeping a county fair vibrant — most certainly the part-time director and the board, but also the people. Great interest remains in the animal auction as evidenced by the record sales each year and the number of children and teens who remain interested in raising farm animals. But the fair itself is another story. It has not kept up with the times, offering the same old events every year while the price of admission increases. Let’s hope the board’s request for ideas from the community about a theme works, because a county fair is a tradition-laden event.
To those who refuse to see the value of arts to the community. Like the fair, a vibrant arts community is a quality-of-life issue. It is yet another facet of community development. People want to live where they can go to the theater and other performances, view and buy artwork and take classes to enhance their creativity. Several supervisors have disparaged the role of the arts. Perhaps those in the arts community have not done an effective job at communicating their worth. Hopefully, the closing of downtown Sonora gallery Ventana will be a wake-up call that art is business and must be nurtured.