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Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
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Smaller and safer

EDITOR: There has been much interest recently in downsizing homes — eliminating unused stuff, keeping only what you really need, use and love. A clutter-free environment takes less time to maintain and brings peacefulness to daily living. People buy books about downsizing and even hire experts to help.

Would it be insensitive to comment that 4,658 households in Sonoma County were recently downsized 100 percent, free, by wildfires? All those homeowners have a clean slate.

Many of these households were under-insured; insurance won’t cover the cost of building a replacement home. Here’s where the tiny house movement can teach. A smaller house, if designed wisely with multi-purpose areas, tailored storage and design innovations, such as wall beds, feels much bigger than its low square footage would suggest. There are many architects in the area who can help with affordable replacements.

And, of course, replacements should be fire-resistant. Stucco walls and metal roofs can be built without waiting for changes in the building code. Windows are a weak point, but the already mandated 30-foot defensible area surrounding homes helps with this problem.

May the Phoenix arise.

HARRIET REDLICH

Petaluma

Helping out

EDITOR: I read about teacher Mary Schiller’s dilemma over the food truck (“SR culinary program leader put on leave,” Dec. 20). It seems to me that many schools’ entire resources were used by employing them as emergency shelters. Classes were canceled, and cafeterias and gyms became staging areas for the displaced. Using the school food truck to feed the same people that other school resources were used for is in line with that goal.

It seems that the Sonoma County Office of Education is upset that Schiller thought of helping before it could their act together and take credit. If what she did was wrong, then it should be held responsible for turning over other school resources to help without proper due process, public comment or the blessing of who knows who.

Give me a break. They owe her a public apology.

KAREN NORMAN-BOUDREAU

Sebastopol

Amusing, but an error

EDITOR: I am writing because there was a serious, if more than a little amusing, error in the Sunday Forum section article headlined “The story of Christmas rooted in working poor.”

The second paragraph begins with this sentence: “The Gospels tell us little about Mary other than to say that she was a parthenon, a young woman, a virgin, most likely illiterate.” (Emphasis added.)

Wrong. Mary was not a Greek temple in Athens. Instead, she was a parthena (Greek for virgin).

My surmise is that the author originally typed “parthena,” and somewhere along the line auto-correct struck again, changing “parthena” to “parthenon.” And no human being caught the mistake.

My first impulse on encountering this obvious error was to think, “Doesn’t anybody read this stuff?” I do hope that The Press Democrat will bear in mind that it has many terminally erudite readers and will make a special effort to catch such problems in the use of non-English words in the future.

DAVID CAHILL

Santa Rosa

Sonoma West’s survival

EDITOR: I have always respected and admired Gary Harris for his commitment and dedication to the Forestville community. That said, I was surprised by his letter regarding Sonoma West Medical Center (“Propose a parcel tax,” Tuesday).

The facts, as he reported, reflect a great deal of misinformation and inaccurate financial projections.

I don’t want to tear his letter apart item by item. Suffice it to say that Sonoma West Medical Center is serving our community as a full-service hospital, including 24/7 emergency medical access for west county residents.

During the recent firestorm, our hospital was critically important, receiving patient transfers from Santa Rosa hospitals due to imminent danger from the approaching fire. We continued to serve that need for several weeks.

Additionally, all work we do, including toxicology, is legal and has been vetted by management and legal staff. We provide an important service for outside clinical needs.

I don’t know why Harris decided that the Palm Drive Health Care District needs to increase taxes. I have no clue, and I have and no desire to do that.

Our community hospital will survive on its capabilities to serve the medical and health needs of the west Sonoma County community.

That is why we exist.

DENNIS COLTHURST

President, Palm Drive Health Care District

Time for peace

EDITOR: In celebration of this New Year, I am proposing that the United States embark upon a totally transformed relationship with Russia: a co-operative and friendly alliance that can finally begin the process of nuclear disarmament and move the entire world toward true and lasting peace.

There is no longer any reason for the U.S. to hesitate in beginning this new era of peaceful and fruitful relations with Russia — and with all other nations as well. The elimination of all the world’s nuclear weapons, and the end of all wars, would be a total victory for every human being. There would be no losers, only winners.

Why should the people of the world have to endure even one more day living in fear of a nuclear holocaust? And who can prevent us from finally making this planet a place of the deepest happiness for everyone?

Humanity has suffered enough already in senseless wars, foolishly wasting our energies in anger and hatred.

Let 2018 be the beginning of our final freedom from misery.

RAMA KUMAR

Fairfax

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