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<b>Talking mental health</b>

EDITOR: Thank you for publishing Cynthia Tuttelman's Close to Home column ("Let's talk about mental illness," Aug. 4). It seems as if mental illness isn't openly discussed unless a crime has been committed and the public is reeling from shock.

One reason the ill (and their families) are still stigmatized — even after years of progress in education and treatment — is that mental illness remains so mysterious, so frightening. It's often easier to view people suffering these disorders as monsters or freaks that belong in the shadows.

Yet any of us could be touched by mental illness — either directly or indirectly — at anytime. My mom was schizophrenic, and I grew up watching her go through periods of extremely high function as a civil engineer and lows where she quite literally lost everything. Witnessing her courageous struggle, I learned not only the meaning of bravery but also the strength of her desire to be a contributing member of society.

With the great strides made in studying the brain, we owe it to ourselves and one another to educate, discuss, facilitate recovery wherever possible and to welcome these folks into society in safe, supportive ways.

IRENE BARNARD

Santa Rosa

<b>An Evans fan</b>

EDITOR: In your Saturday article reporting that state Sen. Noreen Evans may not seek election to another term in 2014, you defined the 2nd state Senate District as "a huge swath of the North Coast from Marin to Humboldt County." While this is true today, due to redistricting it will not be the same for the 2014 election.

Fortunately for some of us in the north end of the state, the new district includes Trinity and Del Norte counties.

Evans has served the people of her district well, and I am sorry that she decided to not seek re-election. The redistricting gives those of us in Trinity County the opportunity to be served in the Senate by someone who actually cares about the people more than they do about corporate handouts.

GEORGE BATES

Chairman, Trinity County Democratic Central Committee

<b>A pool for Windsor</b>

EDITOR: In a recent article, I was alerted that the Lytton tribe wishes to build a community pool in Windsor ("Windsor weighs water, sewer service for tribe," Saturday). As a community member, and a long-time member of swimming teams, namely the Neptunes and the Windsor High School swim team, I could not be happier to hear this news.

Swimming is one of Windsor High's most awarded sports and produces some of the school's best athletes. However, without a community pool, the team and community lose a lot of its potential.

Without a community pool, students are forced to drive to Healdsburg High. Commuting every day to another town to practice puts an enormous amount of strain on the team. For me, as a full-time student doing sports and extracurricular activities, paying for gas to go to practice became almost too much. I have seen many of my peers and fellow athletes prevented from attending practice simply because they could not to afford to drive there.

Both my peers and I feel that a pool in Windsor would benefit the local competitive swimming community immensely as well as the community as a whole.

JAKE SCHILLINGS

Windsor

<b>A disgrace</b>

EDITOR: My husband and I raise service dogs for Canine Companions for Independence and are currently raising our sixth puppy for them. We both find it disgraceful that people would try to pass their untrained pets off as service dogs by purchasing fake capes ("Four-legged frauds," Aug. 8).

Do they not realize all the breeding and years of training it takes to create a true service dog?

As for the woman who wished to remain anonymous with her fake cape and selfish attitude — shame on her. She is ruining the chances for someone who truly needs a service dog to help them.

ERIN and ROB CLARK

Healdsburg

<b>Food stamp statisitcs</b>

EDITOR: According to an article on the front page of Sunday's paper, Amber Barretto's food stamp money runs out 10 days to two weeks into the month ("Grocery lifeline"). Yet in the picture I noticed she has all name-brand items in her basket. Perhaps she should consider buying store brand items, which are always cheaper.

The article stated that one in seven Americans receive food stamps — that's 14.3 percent of all Americans. I am 100 percent in favor of tax dollars going to those who truly can't support themselves due to circumstances beyond their control. However, I find it hard to believe that those people make up 14.3 percent of the population.

What percentage of the 14.3 percent could, if they wanted to, support themselves but simply chose to take government handouts instead? Remember that those who cheat the system make it that much harder for those truly in need.

My father set an example for me by working hard to support his family. I am doing the same for my family, and both my boys are well on the way to doing the same.

Socialism works until you run out of people to take money from.

RON VAN DE KRAATS

Windsor