Turned away

EDITOR: I am Sarah Burke. I'm 10 years old, and my family and I have gone to the Harvest Fair every year since I was born. I am very upset that there won't be a Harvest Fair any longer. I looked forward to it as much as my birthday, and now it's being taken away.

Have you ever had something very special? Well, what if someone took it away? How would you feel? My Auntie Lu made something almost every year for the art gallery. I even entered once. My best friend and I have grape-stomped twice, and we had hoped to carry on the tradition.

The Harvest Fair was for families, but now it will only be for grown-ups. It is going to lose a lot of people. I may only be 10 years old, but I know it will be missed by more people than the fair board realizes.


Santa Rosa

Kids and water

EDITOR: There is one element in this fluoride discussion that I haven't seen addressed. How many in the disadvantaged population in Sonoma County actually drink tap water? Perhaps social workers or doctors who work with this population have some insight. If parents aren't able to make sure their kids regularly brush their teeth, are they going to make sure they drink tap water?

I gave all of my children fluoride tablets when they were young. I am not anti-fluoride. But I know how hard it is to get any child to drink water rather than juice, milk or sugary drinks.


Santa Rosa

New trail, old road

EDITOR: Bennett Valley residents would be more excited about public access to Jacobs Ranch ("Trail blazing," Feb. 24) if the open space district would spend some funds on rebuilding the access roads to the park. The Sonoma County Department of Public Works classifies many sections of the roads that lead to Jacobs Ranch as "failing."

The project is part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, a region-wide network that will attract hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians from afar. Much of the $1.8 million has been spent on ensuring the long road from Sonoma Mountain Road to the trailhead meets Sonoma County Emergency Services Department standards and replacing a bridge that crosses Matanzas Creek.

It is poor public policy for project planners to ignore Sonoma Mountain Road and Pressley Road, which are deteriorating to gravel before our eyes. Do lousy roads with slow response times for sheriff, ambulance and fire vehicles meet emergency services standards for a public park?

Some suggest that local residents create special tax assessment districts and essentially pay increased property taxes to maintain the county roads that serve their homes. Why is it fair to ask homeowners to shoulder this burden to increase recreation opportunities for non-residents?


Santa Rosa

Company store

EDITOR: I just finished the article about Robert Reich's view of Wal-Mart's effect on jobs ("Reich: Wal-Mart a 'job destroyer,' " Tuesday). Not surprising, really, but you've got to admit that Wal-Mart has a brilliant business model — pay minimum wages and minimal benefits, and the employees will only be able to afford to shop at Wal-Mart. The new version of the company store. Welcome to the 19th century. Or is it the Third World?


Santa Rosa

Excluding a minority

EDITOR: I'm sure David Rice considers himself enlightened and somehow "gay friendly" ("Ex-Scout leader cheers potential change in policy," Close to Home, Wednesday). If so, he is wrong.

Consider how his commentary would read if we substituted "black" or "Armenian" for gay. Would he feel just fine about an organization sponsored by, not an extension of, any particular church excluding members based on race or ethnicity? I think not.

And yet, somehow, here in 2013, many folks think it's still OK for the majority to decide just how a minority may participate in society. I imagine those same folks will look back in five, 10 or 20 years and feel deep shame. They should.