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<b>State fire fee</b>

EDITOR: I greatly appreciate your recent series dealing with the issues facing rural fire departments. The issues facing Sonoma County departments are the same issues facing most volunteer departments throughout the state. These departments respond 24/7/365 to all manner of emergencies and are the primary providers in rural communities. Costs continue to rise while access to funds becomes more problematic.

Unfortunately, your articles failed to address the impact of the state's recently enacted state responsibility area fee. This fee has severely affected the ability of rural departments to raise funds. In Mendocino County, both Willits and Brooktrails recently lost fire tax votes by only a few votes. The fee clearly had an impact.

Over the past year, this fee has removed $230 per residential parcel within fire districts that are also classified as state responsibility areas. None of these funds are earmarked for local government. To my knowledge, none of this money has come back to the benefit of the communities saddled with the fee.

With the potential of a severe fire season, these dollars would go a long way to support the volunteer fire departments that protect life and property in the rural communities.

JIM LITTLE

Chief, Laytonville Fire Department

<b>Good neighbors</b>

EDITOR: Ever since Social Advocates for Youth opened Tamayo House, the residents thereof have been good neighbors. Christ Church, Methodist, which is directly across the street from Tamayo House, has never had a single problem with Tamayo House residents.

Neither has the preschool on our campus had any problems with Tamayo House. Finally, the Harvest for the Hungry Garden, behind the church, has had no problems with SAY residents.

I believe neighbors of the future SAY Dream Center can expect to have the same excellent neighbor relationship as our church has experienced.

RONALD SIMPSON

Santa Rosa

<b>Dry farming</b>

EDITOR: The governor has officially declared a drought in California. The public has been given water conservation tips for reducing water needs at home. I would like wine growers to tell the public what they are doing to reduce water needs in Sonoma County.

It seems to me this will play a major role in how Sonoma County fares during the drought. Perhaps dry-farming should be the newest breakthrough in wine growing techniques.

And perhaps our reservoirs would not be so low today if dry-farming had been employed in previous years. Vintners could produce quality, not quantity.

BECKY WELLS

Forestville

<b>Carlstrom's silence</b>

EDITOR: Kara Mills ("Carlstrom voter," Letters, Monday) described Erin Carlstrom as "a passionate leader on the issues that matter most in our community." Wow, really?

Carlstrom has not publicly addressed the decision to close Santa Rosa City Hall prior to the Andy Lopez sympathy rally three months ago. Carlstrom has not addressed the issues of addition training for our city police and the county Sheriff's Office -#8212; training that may prevent another shooting under similar circumstances.

Can we call that leadership? Where are her leadership skills? The Lopez shooting is a matter that matters most in our community.

MICHELE FARLEY

Santa Rosa

<b>GMO studies</b>

EDITOR: Tom Fendley's comments ("GMO dangers," Letters, Sunday) could not be further from the truth. To the contrary, there is a mountain of scientific evidence that genetically modified organisms are safe for consumption. Also, there is zero evidence that the use of pesticides has increased. GMOs require much less pesticide.