Death is not the end

To the Editor:

For all who have lost someone, and for my sister, Susan Conte, who passed away in May of cancer, I offer this poem by Henry Scott-Holland:

Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we still are. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak to me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow, laugh as we always soughed of the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that is always was. Let it be spoken without effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same that it ever was. There is absolute and unspoken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well.

Charleen Pahl


Adventist Health Sonora event appreciated

To the Editor:

My husband and I would like to commend our Adventist Health Hospital administration for their show of appreciation of their employees.

Their annual “Thank You” dinner at the Sonora fairgrounds provided a delicious and full menu holiday meal. Santa was available for family photos, seasonal music played in the background, and beautiful decorations were throughout the building; they even had faux snow falling as you entered the building. Administration stood ready to welcome all at the door with a sincere “Thanks for coming,” and a smile.

To top off the experience, there was a carriage ride awaiting out front.

We deeply appreciate the thought, planning, and investment of time this administration puts into the refreshment and encouragement of their employees and their families at this time each year.

Jud and Cheryl Casjens


Santa belongs in Courthouse Square

To the Editor:

My husband and I are a little upset about the lack of advertisement for our favorite downtown Christmas Santa.

I have lived here for roughly 17.5 years, and this is just pathetic and sad. He should be front and center in the downtown Courthouse Square along with a big, beautifully decorated Christmas tree, not shoved down in a hole-in-the-wall park where the homeless hang out.

Last year was bad enough, shoving him in between two buildings because they were working on the park. That, my friends, was a disgusting joke, right? Nope, this year really topped it off.

We had no idea he was there, and I am sure many parents in this town had no clue either. Please bring him back to the Courthouse Square. if it is done right, there is no reason that the park will be ruined, and for the sake of our small town, get a Christmas tree up downtown.

As the Christmas parade ends, we should have a tree light up in our city. There’s no reason we can’t have either one of these. I don’t think it is asking too much.

My daughter is 9 and has been going to Santa in downtown since she was a baby along with our 3-year-old, and I am sure that I am not the only parent that has made this their family tradition.

This year we didn’t get to go, because the signs for him where poorly placed. If it’s a budget thing, I am sure it would not cost much to add a tree with lights and decorations somewhere in our city and bring Santa back to the park.

We need to get our Santa back where he belongs, waving at families and children driving though our town.

Yvonne Atkins


Don’t mess with downtown intersection

To the Editor:

I am a resident of Tuolumne County but do own property in the City of Sonora. I was recently told that a proposal will affect traffic access onto Washington Street from Racetrack Road/Snell Street.

The area of Snell between the Red Church and businesses to the north of the city parking garage would become a “mini-park” that includes a “space for seating, an informational kiosk, bike parking, and outdoor dining.” Really, in that small space? What about traffic, was that part of the plan?

This is my main access area into downtown. I live off of Racetrack Road and there are two choices for access, either Snell Street or the road going through the Seventh-day Adventist property. Neither is ideal.

I understand tourism is important, but projects to increase tourism should not be pushed to the extent that they negatively impact city/county residents. This plan will negatively impact traffic flow.

Additionally, another crosswalk is proposed which could create a situation where autos and/or school buses will be “caught” between the two crosswalks and thus cause traffic to back up along Snell Street and Highway 49.

At this point the city administrator and City Council are not listening to what their own staff and city merchants are saying (and they are saying this is not a good plan) and are pushing aggressively ahead to obtain grant money.

Don’t be fooled that the plan can change along the way, as the City Council is saying, once the grant money is obtained; this will not be the case. Grant money is funded for specific plans.

We must speak up and let our public representatives know what we think. You can view the plan on the city’s website or on the Tuolumne County Transportation Council website.

Connie Cassinetto


Resources needed for water testing

To the Editor:

A Dec. 16 Letter to the Editor sarcastically attacked me and our nonprofit center for sampling water quality in forest streams to locate areas where livestock and other sources cause contamination with E. coli and high levels of fecal coliform.

The writer claimed we shouldn’t be investigating “legitimate foothill industries” and should instead be investigating impacts from marijuana cultivation in the region.

Our organization, the Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center (or CSERC), does sample water quality in forest streams. We do that work because no other agency or organization is doing that important task. And, yes, we often find that water in those streams is polluted at levels that violate health standards. The samples are never tested by CSERC, but at an independent certified laboratory.

We do that important water protection work with occasional grants and with funding provided by donations from those who support our efforts. Whether the stream we sample is near a campground or a meadow where cattle are present, our purpose is to identify threats to public health and to the environment, whatever the source.

With that same goal, long before the letter ran, our biologists were already shifting to do some limited stream sampling in foothill areas. It would be positive if government agencies had the capacity to sample streams near all pot farms or other agricultural sites for pesticides, fertilizers and other pollutants. The reality is that our small environmental center has neither the staff nor the resources to do all the water sampling in the region that would be desirable, so we use our limited funds and staff capacity to sample where we believe we can make the most meaningful difference.

John Buckley

Executive Director, CSERC