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<b>Helping young people</b>

EDITOR: In response to the Dec. 5 Close to Home article (" 'Dream Center' requires more thought"), I want to let the community know that the Sonoma County Board of Education has enthusiastically endorsed Social Advocates for Youth's Dream Center project.

We took this action at our November meeting because we know from firsthand experience with the Office of Education's alternative education program that at-risk youth need residential, employment and counseling services.

The young people that the Office of Education and SAY serve are trying to turn their lives around in the face of many obstacles. They are at a critical point — the transition between youth and adulthood. For this transition to be successful, they need the support, care and counsel that every young person deserves and that most receive from their families. This is not true for these youth, many of whom have parents unable or unwilling to care for them.

SAY has more than 40 years of experience serving high-risk youth. The former Warrack Hospital is an appropriate site, in a safe neighborhood. Many residents of that neighborhood have endorsed the project.

We as a community must support all of our young people. Their future as successful thriving adults depends on getting the help they need now.

HELGA LEMKE

President, Sonoma County Board of Education

<b>Let a jury decide</b>

EDITOR: It is clear that the people — the people whose child was killed — want Deputy Erick Gelhaus to answer for his actions. District Attorney Jill Ravitch should charge Gelhaus with manslaughter and let a jury of his peers decide the fact and measure of his guilt if any.

ED SHOOP

Sonoma

<b>End the bag debate</b>

EDITOR: I'm responding to Saturday's letter by R. Stephen Elkins ("Grocery bag debate"). Elkins favors recycling but is misinformed about the proposed ban on single-use plastic bags. Plastic produce bags are not included in the proposed ban.

Here's how the ban would work: Customers bring their own reusable bags into the grocery store, but if they choose fresh fruits or vegetables, they can put them in the store's plastic produce bags. At the checkout counter, they can give their reusable bags to the clerk or bagger who packs the bags. If there aren't enough reusable bags, the store could charge a small fee for each additional bag.

I've been bringing my reusable bags to grocery stores for several years and have not had any problems. Just fold and tuck four or five reusable bags inside another bag for a quick and easy way to carry them into the store. Everyone can do it. Let the grocery bag debate end now.

ROSE NORRIS

Santa Rosa

<b>Good-old-boy politics</b>

EDITOR: The Santa Rosa Police Department should be thanked for the early morning arrest of Supervisor Efren Carrillo on July 23. One of the potential charges was prowling. But the fact is, he wasn't just wandering around.

With apparent premeditation, and wearing only his socks and underwear, he went to the home of a woman he briefly met a few months earlier. He went to her bedroom window and penetrated the screen and blinds. The woman, hearing the intrusion, called 911 and called again when he was at the front door.

The Sonoma County district attorney wanted an impartial review of the Carrillo case, and it was sent to the state Attorney General's Office. On Nov. 1, prosecutor Cody Hunt filed a misdemeanor charge of peeking against Carrillo with the next hearing set for Friday.

It seems like good-old-boy politics.

MARTIN WISE

Petaluma

<b>Inspirational story</b>

EDITOR: I'm writing to express my appreciation for the excellent article by Staff Writer Kerry Benefield about kindergarten teacher Jose Sevilla ("A classroom journey," Dec. 5). The Press Democrat is doing a great service to our community by featuring such an inspirational story told by a very good reporter. Thanks to this newspaper and Benefield, Sevilla's hard work and dedication can be recognized by all of us.

DIANE GOLUBA

Santa Rosa