Published every Tuesday          Phone/Fax (530) 336-6262           P. O.  Box 224, Fall River Mills, CA 96028

Letters to Editor


We do not accept unsigned letters and will verify when we feel necessary. Please include phone number and name.
  1. We will NOT publish - Name withheld by request letters. 

  2. We reserve the right to edit letters.

  3. Thank you letters (free of charge) 50 words or less, no names. In-depth thank you letters will be boxed and published for a pre-payment of $2.50 per column inch. If you have questions, please call us at 336-626

Your legislators
U.S. Senate
Barbara Boxer

1700 Montgomery St.
St 240,

San Francisco, CA 94111


Dianne Feinstein
One Post St. Ste 2450
San Francisco, CA 94104

U.S. House of Representatives
Lassen/ Modoc County

John Doolittle

4230 Douglas Blvd, Ste 200

Granite Bay, CA 95746


C.A. State Assembly

Doug LaMalfa
2865 Churn Creek Rd. Ste. B
Redding, CA 96002

State Senate
Sam Aanestad
777 Cypress Ave.

Redding, CA 96001


House of Representatives

Wally Herger

55 Independence Cir, Ste 104,
Chico, CA 95973

Lassen County Supervisor
Brian Dahle


Modoc County Supervisor

Dave Bradshaw

155 Co. Rd. 90



Shasta County Supervisor
Glenn Hawes
1815 Yuba Street

Redding, CA 96001


Yes On Measures X and Y

Dear Editor: I am writing to urge the citizens of Big Valley and surrounding areas to vote yes on Measures X & Y. Measure X will form the Southern Cascades Community Service District. The District will provide a locally controlled Advanced Life Support Ambulance Service to this area. Measure Y supports a $65 per parcel, with a 2-parcel cap per unique property owner, that will fund our ambulance service. This is about $6 or a maximum of $11 a month!

No one likes to see property taxes increased; however, this tax will provide great benefi ts to our local communities and people traveling through our area. The tax money will fund a desperately needed Advanced Life Support Ambulance Service along with providing local jobs. Tax monies will stay in our area. The ambulance service from Mayers and Frontier hospital Districts is a temporary fi x. Property owners in those Districts pay for that service. When these resources are exhausted, we face a longer response time and possible loss of service.

Returning our local Advanced Life Support Ambulance Service will improve response time to local emergency services. Vote Yes on Measures X & Y.

 Rose Marie Thompson Bieber, CA 96009

Because you ask:
Call 336-6262 or email
 with your questions.

The cause of losing radio signal, especially A.M. Signal turns out not to be wind or solar power generation, but electrical generation that can leak,

Don’t ask me exactly how it works other than that when you have a massive number of active electrical connections such as the number used to power the solar panels up and down, or old wooden poles and cross beams as are often part of carrying power from point a to point b, the wood expands and contracts allowing loss and that loss of power is what causes the problem with the a.m. systems.

Because you ask:
Call 336-6262 or email
 with your questions.

I’m currently trying to find the answer to two questions which at first blush may be related.

I wanted to know why 105.3 FM doesn’t seem to have as powerful a signal as it did a couple of years ago. A friend wants to know why Q94 doesn’t have as strong of a signal as it did a couple of years ago. Another friend wants to know why he can’t get 570 AM from Alturas on his radio since the solar farm went in.

My initial research pointed to a possible common connection between the three problems - that of the generation of electricity. I do plan to continue to pursue that angle, however, I contacted a chat line and came up with eight answers and none of them had answers, but all felt it wasn’t the generation of electricity.

If someone points me in the right direction I may be able to get the answer plus some suggestions on how to solve the problem.

If you’ve got any thoughts let me know, mtecho@ or P.O 224, Fall River Mills.

Thanks, Walt

Because you ask:
Call 336-6262 or email
 with your questions.

I’m writing to you guys because of an area of concern of mine that I don’t really know how to handle.

When the railroad went away, some company started removing the ties & rails. They created a very large pile of the ties near the old railroad station at the beginning of Black Ranch road. For quite some time they worked on sorting & bundling those ties. But it seems to me that they’ve stopped doing anything with them (sure, it’s been winter months, but even last summer I never saw anyone there).

My concern is the concentration of creosote in a limited area. When those ties were spread out over a hundred miles or more, not a big deal. But that is massive amount of ties in a very small area & they have been sitting there for years now. I’m wondering if the creosote is leaching into the water table. Burney’s water table.

Answer: The Railroad belongs to Jeff Forbis who lives in Mount Shasta. The ties in question also belong to Mr. Forbis.

1.Mr. Forbis has been and is seriously ill and hasn’t been physically able to handle a number of issues involving the railroad property.

2.Yes, those railroad ties have been treated with Creosote. According to the Montana education website, “creosote is a general name for a mixture of different chemicals, and limited research on health effects has been completed, it is difficult to quantify the risks. Creosote has been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a probable carcinogen. Studies have shown increased risk of cancer and respiratory problems in plant workers repeatedly exposed to creosote. Exposure to creosote on the skin has been shown to cause rash and irritation and in an extreme case, cancer. Direct skin contact with creosote poses the most likely health risks to people outside industrial applications. Creosote treated wood should not be burned, since burning volatilizes hazardous chemicals in the smoke. One currently suggested disposal method for treated wood is in sanitary landfills. However, check with your landfill first to inquire about local policies. Another currently suggested method for disposal is burial. However, if this option is chosen it is critical to consider surface and ground water movement in your location to minimize the possibility of creosote getting into water supplies.”

3.A check with local water experts put the groundwater table at approximately 300 feet which is fairly deep. They also point out that the ties are old, used ties, taken in from the rail bed. Much of the creosote has worn off and lost some of its toxicity over the years. The ties have been exposed to the elements for a number of years - the sun, rain, snow as well as heat and freezing. Their research indicated that most problems with creosote leaching into water supplies has been when the objects treated are new and freshly coated, They say that people should take the proper precautions when around, dealing with or handling old or new things treated with creosote. However they just didn’t feel that stacks of old ties would have enough creosote which could come off the old ties and go deep enough to get into the ground water supply.

4.There was a truck at the site, with no one around Sunday. The sign on the side said Midwest Rail and was out of Missouri.

I am not a scientist or an expert, nor do a pretend to be. Is there a potential problem? It appears to be unclear. I doubt if it can completely be ruled out. From a practical standpoint, it appears to be doubtful that it will be cleaned up any time soon or that it is critical that it be done.



Many drivers, including commercial drivers drive onto the shoulder of the road to avoid the areas with cuts across the traffic lanes. Those cuts predate the traffic signals at the intersection and Highway Patrol officers have pulled drivers over because of it.

Popular belief is that they were put in to promote safety, (wake people up) before the intersection.

Also locals believe the cuts are excessively intrusive, can damage cargo and damage equipment being towed. They certainly don’t do vehicles any good and do little if anything to promote safety.

I inquired to Caltrans. My inquiry was shuffled upstairs and the promise to get back to me was broken.

At least one other area resident has made numerous calls trying to get answers and they have gone unanswered. In other words we’ve been stonewalled. My understanding is that Rob Stinger who is in charge of traffic operations at Region II in Redding is the go to man. His direct e-mail is Robstinger His phone number is 225-3229.

It strikes me that if the individual gets enough calls and e-mails he might take another look at the strip issue, maybe even reduce them to the cuts they use on the side of some roads. Makes a similar noise without tearing the vehicles apart.

It has to be a better start than writing our elected state officials and the head folks of Caltrans.

I’m not out to cut any life saving safety measure. It is simply my belief that it has been superceded by more advanced measures that are in place and working.

If he can show me where I’m wrong I’ll be happy to back off - Just don’t stonewall me or anyone else.


I’m a reporter in the Intermountain Area, and have been for well over 35 years. That means I’ve been an ambulance chaser for the same time. I’ve seen my share of deaths and three times or more that number of major injury accidents.

Those experiences leavesme with a decent perspective of just how dedicated, caring, skillful and concerned emergency responders are. Believe me – they are all of those things. They are also one of, if not the, most important assets our communities have.

Time is seldom in their favor. The longer a fire burns, the bigger it is or more of the house it consumes. The longer it takes to respond to a developing situation, the more dangerous or heated it becomes. The more time, even minutes, that it takes medical personnel to arrive on a scene, the more the chances for recovery or for a full recovery decreases.


I’m whining!

In case things look a little out of sorts, a little strange or archaic with this issue it is undoubtedly because it is. I have two lap tops. One went south on me a few months ago and was sent to the factory for a new hard drive. The other went south on me unexpectedly Wednesday. It either has a bad power cord or battery.

I have the one with the new hard drive. Only for some reason it doesn’t like the programs I fed it, which means it doesn’t want to help me put out a newspaper. Normally a battery or power cord wouldn’t be a major problem, but the store where I bought it is over 50 miles away and now there’s construction delays on the highway. The store was less than helpful but after two hours worth of dialing this place and that someone agreed to send me a new cord in three to five business days - They don’t understand newspaper deadlines.

If the cord doesn’t work then it is probably the same delay for the battery. If that doesn’t work, I’m just apt to visit them and physically stick the entire computer ... and end up in the Sheriff ’s log. Anyway, I have this “old” 4-5 year old, computer that microsoft is totally retiring in April, and it has an old version of a program I haven’t used in a few years. Of course an old version of the program I was using isn’t compatible with newer versions of the same program so you can imagine what it was like trying to get any of the things in the old version of the other program to work in an old version of my older version of a different program. But I did it. I won’t bore you with the details or repel the faint of heart with the language I used and it may be rather strange in an area or two, but I did it. It almost left me yearning for the good old days until I thought about it. The good old days were 30 years or so ago when a whole bunch of us used to gather Monday morning with Ruth Day seated at “Junior,” our Compugraphic’s Phototype setter. Ruth would type our gibberish and translate it into usable English after we, usually I, received a considerable tongue lashing and yet another lesson in English. Once she finished, the rest of us would trim away the unused portion of the strips of copy that Junior p u t out, run it through a “Wax” Machine which contained a mixture of wax and vaseline, place it on layout sheets with blue (non reproducible) lines on makeshift light tables - getting most of the lines straight most of the time. We’d “spoon” the last of the pages sometime around 1 a.m. Tuesday and I’d head off to the printers. Spooning was putting a blank page over a finished page and rubbing the dickens out of it with a wooden spoon to make sure everything stuck. So any yearning for the good old days was fleeting at best and any whining that I’m doing is a plea for leniency from you, my friends and readers. It’ll be better next week.


I’ve gotta admit that I still don’t like the windmills on Hatchet Ridge. I still think they are an eyesore, but I sure like the money the company bribed us with.

This year the county’s Board of Supervisors awarded $1.1 mil. from the windmill money - $300,000 of that will be over a three year period to a total of four applicants - Mayers Memorial Hospital, the Sheriff’s Department, the Burney Library, and the Heritage Foundation for the Fair. The Sheriff’s Department’s money is for another deputy for this area.

Thank you!

On another note, Skip Willmore suggested that we do a column that will answer people’s questions regarding what’s going on or questions about what is going on. I think that might turn out to be a lot of work finding answers, but it will also be a lot of fun, so if you have a question drop me a note at the Mountain Echo, an e-mail at mtecho@frontiernet. net, or call me at 336-6262.


I put Maggie on a diet.

You wouldn’t  think a 10-15 pound ball of fur would need to go  on a diet, but it was getting pretty obvious. 

Maggie’s doctor at  the Burney Veterinary Hospital is Dr. Pam. 

The problem is that Dr. Pam really likes  Maggie, but Maggie doesn’t trust Dr. Pam.  After all, would you trust someone that grabs you by the tail and  sticks a thermometer where it  had no business going?

Usually that exercise is followed by Maggie,  trying to show the good doctor how fit she is,  clawing her way straight up the front of my shirt. So far I’ve managed to catch her when she pauses on my shoulder en route to the top of my  head.

The diversion usually works. Dr. Pam, distracted, usually makes a comment something to the effect that Maggie isn’t  too fond of the place.

At that point she calls in reenforcements and after five minutes Maggie is in a full- nelson in the arms of one of the other ladies and Dr. Pam doesn’t have a chance to worry about her weight, having to still examine her ears or teeth.

It used to be that  those periodic exercises were strenuous enough to burn off what little excess fat she had.

Then she got sick on human food and Dr. Pam ordered her onto a special doggie diet that included special treats. 

So Donna and I would sit in front of the TV at supper or breakfast and try to enjoy our meal while Maggie sat in front of us staring in her woeful, pathetic, way. It was easy to see by her stare how much she loved us,  even if we were starving her to death and I was sure she’d haunt me forever if she starved to death.

It wasn’t that she didn’t like the new food, she loved it, especially the treats.

I’ll admit that I’m a softy. There would be no human food period. It could kill her. But treats, come  on?

Well, two a day grew to five.

She’s a pretty shrewd little puppy. If she could get one after each meal by working on dad, she quickly learned that it wasn’t that hard to work another couple out of me a day. 

I knew I was supposed to exercise her. But the winter was cold and the summer was hot, so she would lay in her chair, next to my desk and snore, as she is right now.

She went from 11 pounds to 14 and Dr. Pam didn’t say anything, probably because Maggie managed to distract her when they were in the same room.

She began to look like a fur covered sausage and Donna began using both hands to carry her. Then I slipped and called her “bubble butt.”

Now Maggie and I have Dr. Pam and Donna to worry about.

I’ve moved my TV tray so I can’t see her woeful, pleading eyes while I’m gorging myself with all that wonderful  human food and starving her.

We’ve also taken to walking a lot. I figure that since it takes her five or six steps to my one, chances are she will burn some weight off and I only give her three treats a day and two meals instead of three.

If Maggie doesn’t turn me in for puppy abuse and I can continue  to brush my teeth without looking in the mirror at that horrible person that stares back, we’ll probably make it by springtime, before Dr.  Pam notices her being overweight. ~T.S. Eliot



To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.”
 President Abraham Lincoln


On April Fools Day I challenged folks to find errors in the paper and send them in, along with $20 bills for each mistake. Right off I was the recipient of (unfortunately) a counterfeit item of currency for several thousand dollars.

There have been a number of excuses resulting in three or four bad ones since then that I have taken care of, but last week I screwed up the date on page one and no one noticed. That should have made me a millionaire.

I apologize and am taking steps to curtail many of these. Can’t do much about painful emotions at any given moment, or any given story, but I can get more hard nose about trying to get things in the paper well past deadline which cause the bulk of the problems.

Again, my apologies.



Heart and Prayers

My heart and prayers also go out to Gages’ family.But also, deepest prayers go out to the truck driver. I know first hand, the hell he faces every day and night. I pray he can find some comfort from my prayers.
Shirley Palmer


One of the first things I was taught was not to write editorials about things I don’t know anything about.

That makes a lot of sense. The reader expects to learn something about something from someone who knows what he or she is talking about.

The only problem is that it takes a whole lot of fun out of life. But that isn’t the subject matter of this editorial (how’s that for tossing out a teaser and then distancing ones self from it. Actually, in Around about way it is related.

In this case I grabbed something off the internet a few weeks ago and published it.

It was called service and took on a number of agency’s by reputation, not necessarily by fact.

I should have recognized what I was doing, but I didn’t until later when it was pointed out to me.

It involved “Service.” and the kind of service we were presumably getting up here as well as elsewhere .n reality we get pretty darned good service up here. Oh - service has its moments, even up here,but for the most part, you and I know which ones are hiring out their bulls to do a service, and which ones are actually providing a service. So. rather that just give the “service providers” blanket thumbs down, take another look

at them and single out those, such as the people pushing the State Responsibility Area fee, for your unhappiness. Most folks up here are providing a service, not servicing us.


Thanks I would like to express my gratitude to everyone at Mayers Memorial Hospital. Especially the staff in the Long Term Care Unit. I received excellent care while I was a resident there.

I also appreciate everyone who came to visit me.

Ruth Bouse Diane Bouse


Hi Walt, In your April 1 paper I read the Mistooks article and thought it was hilarious! I haven’t had that much of a laugh in quite awhile. (especially the 3 inch by 5 foot card) You had about every type of error included. Good for you!

F. M. Murphy SLO, CA


In case you haven’t figured it out yet, this is April 1 or April Fools Day as commonly known.

Since we are a weekly issue and don’t come out on April 1 very often, we couldn’t resist the temptation. The vast majority of items, news and otherwise, are normal news items that you would find in any of our issues.

However, we have a few funnies spotted throughout the paper, including at least one classified ad. Let us know how many you find.

Vote Ye for Proposition X and Y

Dear Sirs. I am writing to ask the voters to vote yes on Proposition X and Y in support of the proposed Southern Cascade Community Service District, which will establish a full service ambulance in the Southern Cascade area. We need to have available, a full service advanced life support ambulance for our citizens as well as those traveling through the area. It is a big concern when we currently have to deplete other area resources when an ambulance is needed. The current response time for an ambulance to this area is a minimum of 20 minutes in good weather. The air ambulance can not be used without the support of a full service ambulance, with the response time in good weather, of an additional 45 minutes. To support this ambulance service there is a $65 per parcel tax with a cap of two parcels per unique property owner (which would amount to around $11 maximum per month per property owner). The tax, once in place, can not be raised without the support of the voters. These two propositions need the support of all the voters in the area to help us insure the availability of life supporting services to everyone. Please vote YES on Propositions X and Y.

Thank you. Dorothy Campbell Adin


Charges of racism are raising their ugly head the Intermountain Area. That is something we don’t see very often, but when we do, it can become quite ugly.

I’d like to make a few observations obviously without being privy to all the facts.

First people were given a reasonable chance to contact me and haven’t, thus I’m going with what I have. And secondly, I have to assume that this has nothing to do with bullying which seems to be a frequent complaint of parents because what I can ferret out doesn’t really fit that pattern in this incident.

First there are a lot of charges that are, in my opinion, blown out of proportion.

If there is a real problem it would strike me that it, as bullying did a couple of years ago, would be a major topic of conversation amongst parents and would, in turn, reach me. It hasn’t.

If there has been a major problem there would be a lot more than a single report on the Sheriff’s log - which is taken, recorded and broadcast by Shascom, an independent agency which contracts with the Sheriff’s Department and Redding PD amongst several other agencies. There are no local axes to grind.

If there was a major local problem someone would have contacted us to look into it and do a story before they went to an Indian press headquartered in New York.

If there was any type of real problem someone would have contacted Ignacio Venegas, a second term school board member and member of the Pit River Tribe who was thought highly enough of by the tribe to send him to the Washington D.C. meeting with the president a couple of months ago and who has children in the schools.

If the problem was an ongoing problem that was fostered by the School District then why would the parents want to transfer their children to another high school in the same district? Then there is the switch from racial problems in the complaint to sexual problems.

The pictures I saw of the two main victims show exceptionally pretty, properly dressed, girls that any father would be proud to have go off to school and feel relatively comfortable for their safety, especially in the Intermountain Area.

Now the questions is muddied. Is the problem one of racism or is it one of distasteful sexual conduct and what does one have to do to with the other.

Obviously there is always the possibility of a racially charged problem. It is known as ethnocentrism - the because you re different from me I’m superior to you - type reasoning.

There is also always an opportunity for someone of the opposite sex behaving inappropriately.

That said...

Apparently, from what I can find out, if there is or was a problem, the victims could well have been stirring the pot without thinking.

Pride in who you are and what you are is, should, and I hope - will always be there.

One of the allegations against the victims was that they had stickers or posters portraying “Indian Power” or “Indian Pride” posted on the outside of their lockers.

It is a free world, we have freedom of speech and on and on. However, if those allegations are correct, then they were, at least subconsciously, asking for or looking for a backlash. At best they should have had better sense and at worse they were trying to instigate a problem.

Were the students who reacted to the girl’s signs or posters wrong? You bet they were and someone should kick them in the posterior hard enough to put their butts up between their ears so it takes a surgeon to solve the problem. But instigating a problem is the wrong tool.

Yes there has been a history and thus simmering discontent.

When I came back to this area in 1976, the deputies still had riot helmets used at 4-corners on top of their lockers at the substation.

The Sheriff’s log was full of Indian involved incidents, bookings at the Burney Jail had their share of Indians listed. There weren’t that many Indian kids finishing high school, fewer going to college. Far more Indians lived in shacks than in nice homes. Now 30 plus years later there are very few Indians booked into jail. There are a variety of Indians who have graduated from college, some of whom are in college level jobs back here. The tribe has a casino, a health clinic, a recycle business, a gas station, a mini-mart, a housing authority that is assuring more and more Indians have nice homes.

Indian folks have medical and social help. Indians have good jobs, show up neat and clean and on time for work just like their “white” counterparts elsewhere.

Racism or sexual assault is so far out of the norm there is no way it should be tolerated or excused and besides punishing the guilty, steps should and are being taken to correct it.

Kids can create problems amongst themselves without help from adults. Teens create problems between the sexes without any outside help.

The Pit River Tribe and its individual members have come too far to let verbal crap affect them. There are always going to be idiots around. That is a sad fact of life. If there is a physical threat, report it instantly, but don’t cry because some idiot doesn’t like you or someone wants to stir the pot.

I’m not saying that parents need to let their kids be abused by other kids, but maybe the kids should toughen up a touch. Things aren’t going to improve when they grow up and they need to learn to deal with it.

In the meantime if there is a real problem, force those in charge to do their best to eliminate or minimize it but don’t stir the pot just to stir the pot.

Thank You

 The family of “Baldy” McCulley would like to thank everyone for the love and support shown to us at this difficult time. Baldy touched the hearts of so many and you have touched ours in return. Thank you for sharing your memories of him, the delicious food, beautiful flowers and prayers.

Thank you to Pete and Suzie Lorenzen, Eva Leighton, Thor Thorlakson, Rose Schneider and all those who helped with the services. A big thank you goes to all those who came from far and near to help us celebrate his life.

We would like to thank Dr. Watson and the caring staff at the Mayers Memorial Annex for your compassion and care for Baldy.

Our lives have been forever changed by knowing him. He will be greatly missed, but we know he will remain in the hearts of those who knew him and look forward to the day we will be with him again. With warm regards Amy and family


 I took this off the internet. A friend, Terry Scovel sent it to us. It really does put things into focus.

“I became confused when I heard the word “Service” used with these agencies:

1, Internal Revenue “Service.”
2, U.S. Postal “Service.”
3, Telephone “Service.”
4, Cable T.V. “Service.”
5, Civil “Service.”
6, State, City, County & Public “Service.”
7, Customer “Service.” This is not what I thought “Service” meant.

But today, I overheard two farmers talking, and one of them said he had hired a bull to “Service” a few cows. BAM!!! It all came into focus.

“Now I understand what all those agencies are doing.

I hope that YOU are now just as enlightened as I am.” 


I have no real feeling one way or the other for the Fall River Valley Community Service District’s pending sphere of influence boundaries. I can understand Jerry Monath’s feelings and proposal. It has taken the district four years to get as far as it has gotten. If the residents of Big Eddy opt out and then need or want the services at a later date, it may well take four or five years to go through the hoops again.

Money is not the issue, there wouldn’t be enough money collected in Big Eddy taxes to give the CSD any big boost, and even if it did, it would have to come from money already collected by the county. Proposition 13 doesn’t allow for new taxes or increased taxes on the property owners without a 2/3 vote of the people involved.

On the other hand, I can understand the resident’s desire to stay away from the district. The District’s previous Sphere of Influence fiasco, complete with the “we’re going to take you over whether you like it or not” attitude and the old board that rubber stamped the general manager, left a foul taste in a lot of folk’s mouths. Add that to LAFCO now ramming the Sphere through without any real effort to find out what the people want is enough to sour any deal.

Also a consideration I am sure is that just because they have a good manager and board now doesn’t mean that a new board and manager might not go down the same path as the previous board and manager.


Last Monday and thus Tuesday, left a lot to be desired.

I’m not into astrology, but my rising star must have ran head-on into a fish bowl full of Piranha.

There is one thing you can say about me - If I’m gonna screw up, I do it with a flare all my own.

Last week I managed to send an old classified page to the printer along with the rest of the paper. Then I was either in a lead-lined building, deep in the canyon or someone blew up the cell tower that would have serviced my cell phone.

The press caught the error, but I didn’t get the message until I was pulling into the loading dock minutes away from picking up the finished product. Since an odd number of pages would have looked even dumber they did what had to be done, they ran the one they had.

Thus Shipwrecks was still going out of business and at least one employer was looking for staff.

As Paul Harvey used to say, “And now for the rest of the story.”I walked innocently into the business in question and two nice young ladies accosted me, wanting to know who had put the ad in the paper. It seems as if they had received a number of calls wanting to know if they were being fired.

It reminded me of the time years ago when I ran a full page ad for Sierra Market and in 48 point type advertised a sale on ground beer instead of ground beef.Anyone who’s reached adulthood knows that crap happens. A typical example of this is illustrated by last week’s editorial and the chain reaction it caused.


I have always had good luck talking with Caltrans public affairs but I haven’t been so fortunate talking to a variety of other department personnel over the years.

Like many folks who contact people by e-mail, I grab a previous email in my file and respond to it. I’d never had a problem before.

Thus when a friend who also drives Highway 299 between Burney and Fall River Mills complained bitterly about the rumble strips, it raised the question and I decided to get the answer, especially when he told me he had been in contact with someone there and they’d consistently not answered his emails.

I contacted Trisha at Caltrans public affairs, using my lazy system of responding to her last email. She responded immediately telling me I needed to talk to Rob Stinger, chief of Engineering and Operations. She said he was out of his office and would return the following Monday. She also said she had forwarded my inquiry to him and that he was good about answering such inquiries. That was in October.

I remembered it for a couple of weeks, figuring I’d give him time to get back to me. He didn’t and I forgot about the issue.

A couple of weeks ago I ran into my friend again and it jogged my memory. He still hadn’t heard anything.

I figured okay, if he won’t answer me, I’ll see if he’ll answer my reader’s concerns.

 Here’s what has transpired since.

The offending editorial


Many drivers, including commercial drivers drive onto the shoulder of the road to avoid the areas with cuts across the traffic lanes. Those cuts predate the traffic signals at the intersection and Highway Patrol officers have pulled drivers over because of it.

Popular belief is that they were put in to promote safety, (wake people up) before the intersection.

Also locals believe the cuts are excessively intrusive, can damage cargo and damage equipment being towed. They certainly don’t do vehicles any good and do little if anything to promote safety.

I inquired to Caltrans. My inquiry was shuffled upstairs and the promise to get back to me was broken.

At least one other area resident has made numerous calls trying to get answers and they have gone unanswered.

In other words we’ve been stonewalled. My understanding is that Rob Stinger who is in charge of traffic operations at Region II in Redding is the go to man. His direct e-mail is Rob. stinger

His phone number is 225-3229.

It strikes me that if the individual gets enough calls and e-mails he might take another look at the strip issue, maybe even reduce them to the cuts they use on the side of some roads. Makes a similar noise without tearing the vehicles apart.

It has to be a better start than writing our elected state officials and the head folks of Caltrans.

I’m not out to cut any life saving safety measure. It is simply my belief that it has been superceded by more advanced measures that are in place and working.

If he can show me where I’m wrong I’ll be happy to back off - Just don’t stonewall me or anyone else.

I got Mr Stinger’s email address screwed up as it originally appeared in the edtorial. I’ve now corrected the one above anyone who would like to contact him can do so. Anyway Don Smith, a faithful reader and owner of a motor home tried to respond and couldn’t because of the errors in the address, so he brought it in, I found out the problem and sent it to Stinger for him.

Mr. Stinger replied to my email thinking it was Don’s email address and thus I received his reply

Dear Sir: I read with interest Mr. Caldwell’s editorial in the Mountain Echo about the confounded rumble strips which I try to avoid whenever I can; not knowing it was illegal. I must agree with Mr. Caldwell because whenever I go over them in my car or motorhome is shakes the dickens out of everything and I believe, unnecessarily. It seems, if you must have something there instead of the god awful ones you have now, you might replace them with something less intrusive. Thank you for taking time to read this message and I implore you to please fix the problem.

Thank you, Donald F. Smith, McArthur CA

Mr. Stinger’s reply to Mr. Smith which I am forwarding to Mr. Smith

Hello Mr. Smith. Thank you for your email. I read Mr. Caldwell’s editorial and was surprised to read his claims of being “stonewalled”. Since last summer, I have received several calls about the rumble bars at the SR-89/299 intersection and have always made an effort to talk directly with the person voicing the concern. I do not recall ever being contacted by Mr. Caldwell. Our Public Information Office has had regular contact with Mr. Caldwell over the years and was curious why he had not contacted them directly if he felt he was being ignored. Perhaps it gives the editorial more impact if it is perceived that the government is not responsive to its citizens.

As for the intersection, we are well aware of the “rough ride” issues. The rumble bars were originally installed many years ago to address accidents that were occurring at the intersection. The recessed grooves and white stripes were meant to alert drivers that they are approaching a stop sign. When they were originally placed, the vibration and noise from the bars was not as pronounced as it is now. We think that the paving and chip seal projects that have come through the intersection over the years (and replaced the rumble bars) has actually resulted in a rougher ride.

Unfortunately, there is not a quick and inexpensive fix. Since there are no construction projects coming through the area in the near future that could address the problem, we are looking into options that can be performed with state forces. We have been having discussions with our Burney Maintenance Crew and are closing in on a fix… but even if the numbers pencil out, it may take a couple months to implement depending on material and equipment availability, and of course, the weather.

Thank you for your patience. If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email or give me a call.

Rob Stinger, P.E. Chief - Traffic Engineering & Operations Caltrans District 2

I also received a phone call from Trisha and an email. She had inadvertently filed my email under the topic of her email and not my request - thus the inadvertent “stonewalling.”

Hi Walt: Here are the conversations from back in October. Again, my sincere apologies for not getting Rob’s response back to you. Like I said on the phone, he really is wonderful about returning calls and emails right away which made it hard for us to understand what may have happened. I spoke with him personally and he explained the situation to me, as stated below. But, he will keep me updated on the progress of this and I PROMISE to keep you informed. Again, I really am sorry for letting this one get away from me. Please feel free to call me at any time if you have a concern and I will do my best to provide you with a speedy answer!

Have a great weekend.

I have no problem in telling Mr. Stinger I’m sorry and that it isn’t Trisha’s fault, hopefully the whole affair will be filed under oops! The rumble strips will be toned down or disappear and I promise to check before I write.


Time to play catch up.

I know I’m tooting our own horn, but it is deserved.

I seldom give Ron Mosher the pats on the back that he deserves but I think he not only turned out a great sports section as usual this week, but his Sports front page is spectacular!

Way to go Ron.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned putting our puppy, Maggie, on a diet, she is really on a diet now - I got her the puppy version of Jenny Craig food. I hope she gets skinny quick - those soulful looks are killing me.

As far as the computer situation - everything is pretty much back to normal. The cord came in for my one computer and it works fine.

Steve Murdock fixed the glitch with my programs and is adding memory to the other computer - hope I never have to go through another Monday like that again.

The folks at the Record Searchlight who get my pages ready for print and who print them, really bent over backwards for Mountain Echo that week and I deeply appreciate their help.

On a more editorial type note, it is amazing the differences in the type of independent audits that different special districts get.

Mayers Memorial Hospital just got their annual independent audit. The firm they used took 46 pages and went over every item in detail explaining how this affected that etc. The bottom line, Mayers is doing fine.

The last time the Fall River Community Services District got an audit, it was the standard run of the mill format most of the special districts get and the firm auditing them didn’t bother to tell them that they were in deep financial trouble.

After catching it on their own, the new board and new management are working on it and are in the process of bringing the districts finances into line. I hope next time they get an audit, the auditor will take the time to tell them they have a problem.

Money is also a major factor. It is a major reason why so many people that should be locked up are running around loose. It is also the major reason Big Valley no longer has a resident ambulance. Modoc has money problems, real money problems.

Modoc Medical Center has had money problems for a lot longer which contributed mightily to the County having its problems. You can’t blame the county or the hospital for the Valley’s loss. They can only do what you can do and they had to cut their losses. Residents within their hospital district pay taxes to support the Medical Center. Big Valley does not. You can’t use other people’s money to provide you service.

It is also true that, providing the proper oversight is in place, people will get what they pay for.

It took something like 45 minutes to get an ambulance to Big Valley High School for an injured football player last season. If the Valley had its own ambulance it would have been staffed and at the game, capable of helping in case of an injury, or responding to another call in the Valley if needed.

As people we all do stupid things, intentionally or unintentionally. Those “things” may well put us in harm’s way. . We all grow older or have aging family members. A large number of community members in our area have dangerous or potentially dangerous jobs. We deal with machinery and equipment. We harvest huge trees or transport them. We work with four legged critters that can kick, step, butt, buck or pin us. We hunt with rifles. We hike where there are mountain lions, coyotes and snakes. We swim in rivers and lakes and we drive on rural highways. We often drive faster than we should or where some other driver may well have had more than their share of alcohol to drink or are high on whatever. We get impatient and pass people when we shouldn’t. We drive when we are sleepy. We slide on ice or snow. Additionally, a fair percentage of us are out of shape, overweight, sick or elderly.

Yes, it is inevitable that formation of an ambulance district will cost the people owning or renting property in Big Valley some additional money annually.

I include renters. While it isn’t mandatory for landlords to pass the costs to maintain their property on to their tenants I don’t know of any landlords who are so wealthy they don’t care or dumb not to recoup their costs and at least break even.

It costs a lot of money for equipment, supplies, insurance, utilities, upkeep, maintenance and personnel to run an ambulance district.

Tax revenue is part of the picture, not the whole picture. The board of directors of a community services district will also have authority to set ambulance fees which will help offset the district’s expenses. As a recognized, legal, governmental body they will be able to apply for grants also.

I live in the Burney area. I take a lot of pride and comfort in knowing that I have a fine hospital 15-20 minutes away. The same goes for having an excellent fire department and ambulance service.

feel the same way in the Fall River Valley where I work. I would want to feel the same way if I lived or worked in Big Valley.

It is great to have back up. It is great for Big Valley residents to know they can call on Mayers or Modoc in a pinch, but there are way too many variables like weather, time, limited availability due to calls in their own districts to make an intelligent choice to opt out of having their own ambulance and ambulance team, a service they own with friends and neighbors manning it.



©2006 Mountain Echo ~ Mountain Echo, P. O. Box 224, Fall River Mills, CA 96028  Tel. (530)336-6262
Website designed by Murdock Creative Designs -  please contact the Webmaster with questions or comments