Will quarry affect you?
It seems the amount of effort we are willing to expend on something is directly related to the degree it affects us individually. Will the proposed Austin Quarry at Highways 41 and 145 affect us individually?
With thousands of people living in these beautiful mountains, most of us can’t be bothered with issues south of Coarsegold, especially if we are retired. I would venture to say, however, that most of us (retirees included) do venture south of Coarsegold occasionally to shop in Fresno. How about those doctor appointments? Or that trip to the airport or train station from time to time? How about the Fresno restaurants and entertainment?
Even if your trips to Fresno or Madera are just once a month, you will definitely be affected.
A 24/7 operation of this magnitude (the largest ever considered by this county) is going to affect your travel time, increase the danger of passing a multitude of gravel trucks and add dramatically to the incidents of broken windshields. Are you prepared to handle that?
How about the things you have not considered.
All residents of Madera County are in this together. Picture buying your home, having your already overburdened water system further threatened by a project of this size, and having to consider the sizeable loss of property value due to a 24/7 mining operation with blasting.
This is what our fellow citizens in the Ranchos are being faced with. Am I my brother’s keeper? Should I care?
The answer is obvious. Do your part to get involved and speak out against the project that will have a 100 year impact on all of us, no matter where you live in the county.
It’s as simple as appearing in person before the Board of Supervisors public hearing on the project at 9 a.m. on Sept. 12. Or you can send a letter with your concerns to the Madera County Planning Department, 200 West Fourth Street, Madera, CA, 93637.
This is not a done deal by far.
Bing Hojlo, Coarsegold
Austin Quarry proposal should be denied
My concerns about the proposed Austin Quarry, at the SW corner of Highways 41 and 145, arise because by the end of this month my wife and I will be moving to southern Madera County at the intersection of 17 1/2 and Paula Road (in District 1) to live with our youngest daughter and her family.
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has been involved, and they have recommended mitigation of the effect on the air from both the plant and the trucks. The effect on the air will reduce air quality to a lower standard like that which exists in Fresno.
At the present time, weather reports show a higher classification for air in Madera County than in Fresno County. We moved from Fresno County to Madera County some 23 years ago, and want to stay here because of the cleaner air, the quiet, and the light and sound-free nights.
The trucking has been estimated at approximately 800 trips per day by 25-ton trucks. At a recent Madera Oversight Committee meeting we were told the trip numbers were calculated on an average and that at peak hours the trips would be double that. The two highways are not built for that much heavy traffic, much less the local roads.
The slow speed and congestion caused by the trucks will be exacerbated by the crush of southbound Highway 41 traffic which will be coming through an expanded stretch of 41 to that narrower section of 41 south of Highway 145. Another effect is the gravel thrown by truck tires which will affect the windshields of following vehicles.
I’m also concerned about water. While the quarry will be slow to start if approved, they plan on a well to pump 120 gallons per minute 24/7. This is very disturbing, much less the long-term overdraft of the aquifer, affecting not only existing homes, but also the new developments off Avenue 12 already approved by the county. This, at a time when we are still in a drought and the Department of Water Resources has agreed that the wells are in threat of overdraft.
The Madera County Board of Supervisors must reverse the approval by the planning commission with prejudice. The hearing on the Board appeal has been set for 9 a.m. Sept. 12, at the board meeting room at 200 West Fourth St., Madera.
Jim Flanagan, Madera
Shame on our officials
As a resident of Madera County for more than 15 years, I am once again appalled at the actions of our county government - this time with regards to the proposed Austin Quarry.
On July 19, three of the five Madera County Planning Commissioners, appointed by elected supervisors, voted to approve said quarry after a meeting where non-resident, blue-shirted Vulcan Material employees were allowed to overwhelm and sideline actual residents there to voice their very real concerns about the quarry.
Vulcan Materials and Madera County officials have been working hand-in-hand toward this project since 2010, yet people that actually live in and around the proposed area, as well as those of us who will have to navigate through these areas, are only allowed to speak at this one, far too brief meeting and forever hold our peace?
Is it any wonder that people believe and are outraged that “the fix is in?”
There is no urgent need for this particular aggregate material, which can be easily found and/or supplied by current quarry operations.
The people of Supervisor Districts 1 and 5 have the right to be given all the time they require to consider, be heard, and fully participate in the approval/denial process. For the planning commissioners to have this one public meeting and then rush a vote through is unconscionable. Thank goodness there are those paying attention to what’s going on.
Shame on our officials for dismissing, trivializing, and shunting aside our residents, who unfortunately pay for their poor decisions.
Coleen Seifert, Coarsegold
What has happened to America’s freedom of speech?
I had something very upsetting happen to me. I had a “Hillary for President” sign in front of my property. I don’t live on a busy road, so not many people would see it, but I like to let my Republican friends and neighbors know where I stand. I don’t want the town to think we are all Republicans.
My sign was defaced. On the front “Hillary for President” was changed to “Hillary for Prison” and on the back a large scrawl with these words – “Trump gang for life,” and a picture of a wall and the words “Let’s builds it.”
I find it frightening that there is so much hate being stirred up by Donald Trump. No candidate in the past preached hate like Trump does.
Elections used to be fun. My own family is half Republican and half Democrat. Let’s restore civility in politics, if not nationwide, in our little community of Oakhurst.
I am a Gold Star mother. Please think of how Trump talked about the one who stood by her husband’s side, trying to hold back the tears. When you hate talk the Muslims, it brings back memories of how we treated the Japanese Americans during World War II.
Some Christians say, “Well, we have become a secular nation.” Our founding fathers did that on purpose to avoid the wars that have ravaged the rest of the world over religion. Think of Ireland. How would you define who is a Christian? Being a secular nation protects every religion.
Some in my family say, “The Democrats want to take away our guns.” Think, my friends, how would that be possible? Give me a break. Would not allowing people on the “no fly list” to have guns affect your guns? Would not allowing weapons of war to fall into the wrong hands affect your gun ownership? Would limiting how many bullets can be fired in a minute really make you less safe?
Some of my family feels strongly about abortion. Which do you think is the best approach, “You have to have that baby, and if you do, you are on your own. If you can’t afford it, become a welfare mom. It is your problem.” Or, “The choice is yours, but if you keep the baby, we will help you get on your feet.”
I realize many people can’t stand Hillary, but how can you possibly vote for a man like Donald Trump? Let’s get some “Love you neighbor as yourself” going and “Let God be the judge.” If it is wrong to love someone of the same sex, as the Pope said, “Who am I to judge?”
What I am trying to say is let’s just try and get through the next few months and support whoever wins. That is the American way.
Francis Hagen, Oakhurst
July 21 was a frightening day for many of us in the Mountain Area during the Serpa Fire.
Pounding on our door, a sheriff quickly rushed us out of our home fearing for our safety. As we left, dogs in arms, we thought perhaps this may be the last time in our home.
Thanks to our truly brave, heroic, dedicated Cal Fire firefighters, lives and homes were saved. They did a tremendous job keeping the fire from spreading. They are our heroes.
We also want to thank the many sheriff deputies and other police for making it their utmost priority in informing residents of the fire and also staying to keep our neighborhoods safe.
We are truly blessed to have courageous, dedicated people in our community. Thank you for saving our homes.
Kathryn and Keith Fullerton, Coarsegold
I was sorry to learn that YARTS buses will not be running between Fresno and Yosemite Valley during the winter (Sierra Star, Aug. 11). YARTS made the mistake of making five trips a day in the off-season from Fresno to Yosemite Valley during a time when there is low ridership. This took a big chunk out the bus system’s budget.
Yet we should not give up on winter service. Instead of running buses through Fish Camp and Wawona, a more practical route would be from Fresno to Mariposa. One or more buses a day would leave Fresno and travel up Highway 41 to Oakhurst and then continue on Highway 49 to Mariposa to connect with the YARTS buses that run along Highway 140 between Merced and Yosemite.
Passengers could change buses in Mariposa and continue their journey to Yosemite Valley on the Highway 140 line.
The Oakhurst to Mariposa connection would require less road travel. This would save on fuel, wear and tear and bus drivers would not have to put on chains as the 49 route is usually below the snow line. They could also run smaller buses during the off-season.
This proposal should be given serious consideration.
James Bailey, Oakhurst
On our way to bankruptcy
So the failed YARTS scheme is curtailing its (unwanted) service to the Highway 41 southern Yosemite entrance due to lack of government subsidies and ridership.
Further, “Relocation of Highway 99 in Fresno, a key part of the bullet train project, is over budget, behind schedule and will cost millions of dollars more to complete, officials said Monday.”
Do you think for an instant that the local and state politicians (you know who they are) who supported these flawed, if not fraudulent, attempts at considerable taxpayer expense will learn anything from the experience?
Of course not, which speaks to their being removed from the offices of public trust before they further socialize/bankrupt our county and state.
The difference between a hand-up and a hand-out always seems to allude those self-righteous custodians of the nanny state.
Ray Krause, O’Neals
Where were the firefighters?
A close friend on mine from North Fork said there was a fire in a nearby mobile home recently and Cal Fire was unable to respond due to other brush fires for 45 minutes.
I would think at least one fire truck and crew should have remained in North Fork for just such emergencies. Neighbors in the mobile home park were able to control it until Cal Fire arrived to assist and finally put it out. But it could have been much worse.
Is there a state or federal requirement for just such a thing? If not, maybe our elected officials should explore a new rule.
Stewart Case, Oakhurst