An open letter to Ellen Peterson
After reading your story in the April 21 Sierra Star, I wanted to send a heartfelt and sincere thank you for 40 years of selfless public service to both the Yosemite Joint Union School District, and the entire mountain community from me and my family.
Your positive demeanor and boundless energy defined what a teacher/coach/mentor should be. Yosemite High has many wonderful teachers, but you were one of, if not, the best. I don’t know what your parents were like, but they must have been something special to have produced a jewel such as yourself.
Now 1976, what a year that was. We were so young and had such lofty ideals, but you never lost sight of them ... amazing. Yosemite High went through some tumultuous times, but you were always a shining light, never jaded or discouraged by “nattering nabobs of negativism.”
Your focus was, and continues to be, the students. I will always admire you for that remarkable trait.
Ellen, enjoy your well earned retirement, but I know you’ll never really ‘retire.’ I just don’t see that energy ever waning.
Tom Allcock, Ahwahnee
$170,000 worth of tax services
A short note to thank the Sierra Star and sierrastar.com for your support of the AARP Tax-aide program. We had a very successful season here in Oakhurst and in Madera.
At the Oakhurst Library, AARP volunteer tax preparers did about 330 federal/state 2016 returns, plus many prior year and amended returns. We also met lots of people who just had questions.
The Madera site prepared about 235 federal/state 2016 returns.
Overall, Madera County had a 10% increase in the number of returns we filed over last year, and the best part - all of our services are free.
If taxpayers would have had to pay about $300 on average to have their returns professionally prepared, then we saved Madera County residents about $170,000 - money that they can use for other purposes.
We prepared returns for teenagers and families, as well as for seniors. There are no age restrictions on our services, nor does one need to be an AARP member to receive the free assistance.
Darlene Kelly, AARP District Coordinator, Madera County
A personal look at Vulcan’s Austin Quarry project
After hearing so many opinions about the Austin Quarry proposal at the southwest corner of highways 41 and 145, I felt compelled to share my wonderful experience working at Vulcan’s River Rock facility in Fresno for 26 years until retiring.
Even though I began at River Rock under Sequoia Rock Company and then CalMat, I was never more grateful than when Vulcan bought CalMat in the late 1990s. The differences were stark between my former employers and Vulcan in how my personal safety and work-life balance were respected by management.
Vulcan never sacrificed worker safety for productivity. The company was so serious about safety that they would make sure we pursued work goals in a safe manner, even if tasks took much longer to complete. It’s no wonder that Vulcan has received dozens of national, state, and local safety awards for years, including from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
I also worked under Russ Austin, the namesake for the Austin Quarry, for over a decade at the River Rock facility. “Uncle Russ” always had an open door policy for employees, and his commitment to our region included leading environmental reclamation efforts and community partnerships. The Rank Island Ecological Reserve in Fresno stands as a testament to Russ and to the values of Vulcan.
Like many of my neighbors and friends, I am also dedicated to environmental stewardship and providing opportunities for good growth in Madera County. From my work in the industry, I know just how important these materials are to our community and region.
As Madera County continues to grow, we need a local source of aggregate. We cannot take these materials for granted. Partnering with Vulcan will help us reach the future of environmental protection and economic prosperity that we all desire.
Justin Caudrel, Coarsegold
Paw print on our hearts
I want to update you on Jericho, a pup I rescued from the Eastern Madera County SPCA a few years ago. I figure it’s nice to hear about past rescues and success stories.
I knew I wanted a Queensland Heeler mix, so when I saw him on your website I knew I should set up a meeting. That was in November 2009, and I’m very glad to report that he is doing well and loving life.
When I first got him, he was a bit wild and mostly untrained. When I first brought him back to my mom’s house in North Fork, he instantly took to exploring the four acres she owns. He seemed to get along well with our other dog, Darcy.
Over time and with a little formal training, Jericho became a well-behaved dog. He instantly fell in love with my then-boyfriend, now husband. I know he loves me, but they have a very special bond indeed.
Over the years, he’s gone on dozens of camping trips, run many, many miles alongside the mountain bikes, kayaked, backpacked the High Sierra, and has endured many hours in the car between California, Colorado, Washington, and Montana.
Though we no longer live in California, I am forever thankful to EMC SPCA for their devotion to animals. Jericho has certainly found his forever home and will forever leave his paw print on our hearts.
Thank you for connecting us with this joy in our lives.