0823pa1process (Page 1) - Winters Express
A-4 — Winters (CA) Express, Thursday, August 23, 2007OpinionBESIDES VISITING ANOTHER state andstate of mind on my summer vacation, I alsovisited another era: the Middle Ages. It’s anannual event called Pennsic, and the word“event” really doesn’t do it justice. Under the umbrellaof the Society for Creative Anachronism(SCA) on a sprawling campground in westernPennsylvania called Cooper’s Lake, Pennsic is thestaging of a weeklong medieval war. Warriors aregrouped by kingdoms, and dress in full period armor.The weapons, of course, aren’t real — rattan andduct tape — but the injuries are. A six-foot 275pound brute in full armor hurtling at you headlongwith a four-foot rattan sword can packenough of a wallop to send you off the battlefieldin a modern-day ambulance.From a “castle” erected on a hilltop adjacent tothe battlefield, you can watch swarms of warriorsslashing and crashing their way around the field,moving as one like a school of fish, trying to outflankeach other. The wounded fall to one kneeand fight from there, or if “killed,” leave the battlefield.At the end of the week, one side emergesvictorious.Surrounding the battlefield, an entire medievalcity of about 11-12,000 people springs up, with thegoal of creating living medieval history. From attireto tableware, they immerse themselves in theyears spanning from 1000 to 1600 by doing ratherthan by reading. All things “mundane” (modern)are shunned (except port-a-potties!), and anyonewalking around in mundane street clothes is“naked.” Using a cell phone is a definite socialfaux pas.People camp in groups with names and heralds,often in medieval-styled pavilions, which hold upamazingly well in torrential Pennsylvania downpours.The bazaars are a shopper’s paradise ofhandmade jewelry, medieval attire, shoes, potteryand kitchenware. And although the weaponson the battlefield aren’t real, the ones for saleare, and each is a handmade masterpiece.Then there’s the classes. Oh me oh my, where tobegin. Here’s a partial sampling of just one timeslot on just one day: Beginning Thrown Weapons,Conversational Arabic, Embroidering NeedleLace Shapes, Making Elizabethan Buttons, Breadin Medieval England, Beer Brewing for the TotalBeginner, Advanced Viking Wire Weaving and BeginningBelly Dance. That’s just one hour. On oneday. Raises the “overwhelming” bar a bit, no?Then there’s the nightlife — party after party,hosted by camps. You must bring your own cup orgoblet to partake of the homebrewed beer andmead (honey wine), and utensils as well if there’sa feast. Entertainment is live, and songs comefrom people and instruments, not amplifiers. Myfavorite was “Put the Budwiser back in theClydesdale, boys…” Hear, hear!During Pennsic, you shed your “mundane” lifeand go through the looking glass into anotherworld. You choose a new name and “persona,”through which you experience whatever medievalculture and century interests you. As anewbie, I didn’t have a name or a persona, but didmy best to be a 16th century Hindu, mainly becauseI found someone who could make a week’sworth of garb for me and because Hindu clothingis light and breezy. I was worried about stayingcool in the withering Pennsylvania heat. Ishould’ve been more worried about drenchingrain and ankle-deep mud.Besides learning that I really loathe being wetand muddy (think: spoiled housecat in a mud puddle),I learned that while my wire jewelry-makingskills suck, I’m a dead aim with a javelin. I alsolearned about the origins of the Runic Norse alphabet,Christianity’s impact on the Pagan community,and India’s role in medieval trade. I tookfour belly dance classes and still look like anepileptic monkey, but hey, it was fun!It was during a 15th Century Italian dance classthat it dawned on me — my Italian ancestors likelydanced that very dance, and wasn’t it a pity thatthe steps were lost in time. Until I went toPennsic. And that’s what it’s really all about — notthe battles and royalty and fancy gowns, but anopportunity to reach back in time and touch yourown ancestors by learning to hand-stitch a perfectseam, forge a knife blade from a steel bar, makewine from honey or curtsey on the dance floor.You can almost feel your ancestors reaching outfor you across the centuries. It’s familiar, on a cellularlevel, like déjà vu. Maybe that’s why whenyou arrive at Pennsic, they don’t say “Hello.”They say, “Welcome home.”Thanks to all the firefightersDear Editor,We arrived home fromour vacation to charredland resulting from thebrush fire that envelopedmuch of our propertyTuesday night, Aug. 24.Due to the fine work of theresponding fire departments,our house wasspared, though unfortunately,a neighbor’s housewas not. Nonetheless, wethank our firefighters fortheir courage and great efforts.MERLYN and TOMPOTTERSEarly deadline next weekAll submissions for the Sept. 6 edition of theExpress are due in the office by noon on Friday,Aug. 31, due to the Sept. 3 Labor Day holiday.LETTERSTeach children bike lawsDear Editor,Last November, I washired by the Yolo SuperiorCourt as a Referee. I wasassigned responsibilitiesincluding traffic court andsmall claims court. Thetraffic court calendar includesjuvenile offenders.A number of the trafficcitations involve bicycleviolations. While most ofthe violations are committedby minors, adult violatorsare not uncommon. Ithas been surprising howmany adult violators donot know that the sametraffic safety laws apply tobicyclists as well as motorvehicle drivers. For instance,bicyclists are requiredto stop at stop signsand red lights. Bicyclistsare required to ride on theright side of the road or ina bike lane in the same directionas motor vehicletraffic. If you ride on thewrong side of the road orthe wrong way in a bikelane you may be cited.Many juvenile offendersare under the age of 16 ordo not have a drivers license.Unless they havelearned the rules of theroad, their knowledge oftraffic laws tends to belimited. For those bicyclists,it is important thatthey be taught the rulesthat apply to them. Parentsare the obvious candidatesto teach their childrenthe rules.A significant number ofjuvenile offenders involvebike helmet violations.Nearly everyone knowsthat young people underthe age of 18 are requiredto wear a helmet while ridingtheir bike. It is not aswidely known that thesame law requires helmetsto be worn by under-18 skateboarders, scooterriders and in-line androller skaters. The law wasenacted for safety reasonsto protect minors.As the kids approach theage of 18, they undoubtedlyfeel unjustly constrainedby the helmetlaw. I suspect that manybelieve that wearing a helmetis uncool. Regardless,they are expected to obeythe law or suffer the consequencesif cited.It is not widely knownthat riding double (ortriple) on a bike is illegalunless the extra passengersare on a “permanentand regular seat”. Bicyclistsare not permitted toride on a sidewalk. Bicyclistsmust have lightswhen riding after dark. Bicyclistsare not allowed tohave both ears coveredwith headphones.As a parent, it is importantthat we teach our childrenthese rules. Some ofthe rules have obvioussafety reasons. It is easy togive examples why bicyclistsshould stop at trafficsignals or use a light afterdark. Aside from the safetyreasons, it is importantto teach our children thatthere are consequences ifthe rules are not followedas expected. No one canforce anyone to follow therules all of the time. But, ifwe know the rules and wechoose to disregard therules, we should know thatthere may be consequences.The court can only imposea fine to punish a violation.However, a fine isnothing compared to theharm caused when a motorvehicle strikes a bicyclist.Many car-bicycle collisionsare preventable. Weowe it to our children toteach them how to be safeand to make responsiblechoices. Your local policeand the Department of MotorVehicles can provideyou more informationabout bicycle traffic safetylaws.DAVID W. REEDYolo Superior Court RefereeUtah, Iraq tragedies similarDear Editor,The tragedy of the Utahcoal mine collapse is eerilysimilar to the tragedy inIraq.Some multinational corporationshave been tryingto extract and “cashout” as much as possible ofthe world’s natural resources,especially carbonfuels. They, e.g. Halliburtonand Enron, have manipulatedthe Bush administrationinto de-regulatingthese necessary industriesand into putting thecorporations beyond therange of law enforcement.Instead of “safety enforcement,”the Bush administrationhas changedthe mission of the MineSafety and Health Administrationof the U.S. LaborDepartment into “complianceassistance specialization.”Why have laws ifyou are only requested tovolunteer to comply withthem? The reason is thatthe same Bush administrationis mandating that privatecontractors make“maximum economic recovery”from the naturalresources. The maximumeconomic recovery seemsto have neglected maximumhuman recovery.This sounds bad. Thefirst day of the collapse,the owner corporation deniedany liability by declaringan earthquake, an“act of God.” Later, it wasrevealed that the mine collapseis what caused theseismic recordings, the“earthquake,” not the otherway around.The previous mine ownerhad left the mine whenthat corporation could nolonger extract petrochemicalswithout collapsingthe roof. The new mineowner had a sweeter dealwith the Bush administration.The new corporationstarted pulling the pillars,the walls, even the barrierpillars.This is similar to theBush administration unemploying400,000 Iraqisoldiers and sending themhome without any jobs,and trying to replace themwith foreign contractors.Is this why there are180,000 U.S. private contractorsin Iraq and onlyabout 130,000 U.S. soldiers?Our military did afine job testing for WMDsSee TRAGEDIES, page A-6IT’S ABOUT TIME. Every once in a while the citydoes something right. After years of planning,and hours and hours of meeting by concernedcitizens, there is a new bathroom facility at RotaryPark. For a town that is trying to attract touristsand new business, having port-a-potties just doesn’tmake it.You would think that adding a new bathroom toa park would be a simple matter, but it took adozen people several weeks of meetings and asplit vote to get the bathrooms installed. Pickingthe bathroom was relatively easy. Picking whereto put it wasn’t so simple.There were votes for attaching it to the CommunityCenter, but it turns out that the plumbing atthe center can hardly handle the center. The oldplumbing from the co-op was going to be used, butit was too old and decrepit. The only good sewerlines were on Main Street, but no one except theplumber wanted it behind the gazebo, next to thestreet and the main line.If you want to try out the new facility, it shouldbe ready by the Earthquake Street Festival thisFriday afternoon. If you are into bathrooms, thisone is pretty nice. Everything looks indestructible,but time will tell. Hopefully the bathroomswill be open during the day and for events held atRotary Park.There are other parks in Winters that could usebathrooms, but having bathroom facilities in thedowntown area is something that should havehappened long ago. The port-a-potties served uswell, but it is time for them to go.The high school just tore down the old bathroomsand announcers booth at the football field.They haven’t used the bathrooms for years afterthe fire department condemned them after thehigh school put up a fence around their property.It seems the fire department didn’t think the bathroomswere good enough and the announcersbooth lacked an elevator and fire escape, hencethe red tag.School districts are stuck between a rock and ahard place when it comes to building anything.The state tells them what to do and it usuallymeans triple the cost. Hopefully these new stylepre-fab bathrooms that are being installed inparks across the state will be deemed suitable forschools. If you think I’m joking, just take a look atthe bathrooms at the new pool. Nice doesn’t go farenough to describe the portable trailer that housesthe new urinals and toilets next to the “newgym.”There are plenty of jokes floating around in myhead, but I’ll let you come up with your own T-shirt humor. For all the flack about naming thebridge after Bob Chapman, we now have a newbathroom that needs a name.NEW SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS. If youwanted to be on the Winters School Board,you’re too late, unless your name is DavidHyde, Matt Brickey and Thomas Harding. If youdon’t want to vote for these three new trustees, toobad, the elections are already over. There werethree seats available and three people filed, endof story.Truth be told, no one in their right mind wouldwant to be on the school board. Rick Romneyspent 20 years trying to make Winters a betterplace to raise a family. He finally took a lookaround, didn’t see any kids at home, and decidedto get off the board. If you see him walking aroundtown with a big smile on his face, thank him for hisservice to his community. I’m not joking about thesmile on his face. See it for yourself.With a lot of local school decisions now made inSacramento and Washington, D.C., the real issuesfacing school districts are funding and testing.Getting your students to pass a performance testwhen you don’t have all the tools you think youneed isn’t an easy task. Giving your students agood education, safe environment, and an enrichingexperience could take a back seat to other demands.Quite a balancing act, that is beingwatched by parents who only want the very bestfor their children.If we make a mistake at the Express, we get anotherchance to fix it next week. If you make a mistakewith someone’s education you may not get achance to fix it.I wish the new trustees good luck. My first request,get some decent bathrooms on the footballfield, and make sure that every child that completesyour requirements for graduation gets towalk across the stage with his or her classmates.Have a good week.Policy for Letters to the EditorThe deadline for Letters tothe Editor is noon on Mondaysfor publication thatweek. On Monday holidays,such as the upcoming LaborDay holiday on Sept. 3, lettersare due at noon on theFriday prior to the holidayLetters may be mailed orhand-delivered to The WintersExpress, 312 RailroadAvenue, Winters, CA 95694,or emailed to news@wintersexpresscom.Letters should not exceed500 words. Do not use all capitalletters.We reserve the right to editor reject any letter.Letters must be legiblysigned by the writer. However,we may withhold writers’names from publication ifthere is a legitimate reason,such as fear of reprisal.We will accept letters ofthanks naming individualsand local Winters businesses.Non-local individualsand businesses listed in lettersof thanks will be editedout.
A-6 — Winters (CA) Express, Thursday, August 23, 2007School board debates staff reductionBy ELLIOT LANDESStaff writerThe one discussion itemat the August 16 board oftrustees meeting was aproposal to reduce counselorstaffing at the MiddleSchool.“We have a resignationby the counselor at theMiddle School,” said SuperintendentDaleMitchell. “Friday is herlast day. The vacancy providesus with the opportunityto evaluate thestaffing level in light of decliningenrollment. TheDistrict will begin discussionthis fall about a comprehensiverestructuringfor expenditure reductions.”In proposing a reductionfor the position, Mitchellsaid it would be difficultto fill the position with thecaveat the position mightbe cut later, as part of thecomprehensive restructuring.Mitchell said the Districtis looking at government“7-12 funds” — forfunding counseling. However,Mitchell thought thestate or federal governmentwould look at this as“supplanting” rather thancreating new services. Hesaid the dollar amount thedistrict will need to cut aspart of the fall restructuringwill be more than willbe to be saved with theproposed change.Mitchell said an alternativeis to develop a positionthat is 70 percent parttime counselor and 30 percentpart time psychologist.The two part time positionswould add up to afull time position. He suggestedthe district couldsave over $22,000 by thisarrangement, along withhiring a part time psychologist.He said Emily Simmons,who has a backgroundin school counseling,thought the two jobswere compatible.As another option, he offeredhiring a substitutecounselor, until the latercomprehensive review.“This person wouldprobably be in placethrough January 2008,”said Mitchell. He remindedthe board that 85 percentof district costs arepersonnel-related.“Whether now or later,the restructuring willhave to impact personnel,”said Mitchell.“We have a concernabout the reduction of theMiddle School position,”said Jeff Sims, representingmembers of WAPSU,the Winters Area PersonnelService Unit.The group understandsthe impact of declining enrollment,said Sims. Hesaid the amount at theMiddle School appearedto be 30 students, and reducingthe position thatmuch was disproportionatelyhigh.“The perception is thatit is a reduction of convenience,”said Sims. “Let’slook at it more than justcost savings. Is this goodfor kids?”Traci Calvert spokeagainst the proposal,bringing up her objectionin the past to the board’shot-button decision lastyear to not allow students,who had failed the exitexam, to participate incommencement ceremonies.This includes studentAmber Johnston, whowas awaiting test resultsfor a repeat test at the timeof commencement.“I would like to thankMrs. McIntire and Mr.Romney for their vote ofconfidence,” said Calvert,referring to the schoolboard members that didvote to allow the studentsto participate.“Amber passed thattest,” said Calvert.Mitchell objected toCalvert’s comments, sayingher comments werenot related to the agendaitem.Calvert agreed to moveto the subject at hand.“I think we can all agreethat Amber fell throughthe cracks, and now I readthat we are cutting ouronly one counselor at theMiddle School. I can’t helpwonder, if there had beena counselor somewherealong the line who couldhave intervened on Amber’sbehalf, then maybethings would have beendifferent for her.“Cutting the counselor’shours at the MiddleSchool — not a good idea,”said Calvert. “Sharing itwith the overworked psychologist— an even worseidea. As a parent, I thinkMiddle School needs a fulltime counselor, at the minimumone. I would hopeyou would leave the positionin place, so therearen’t any more issues likeAmber.”“The counselor we hadwas gone for most of lastyear, is that correct?”asked trustee Rob Nickelson.How did we fill thatwork?”Mitchell answered an internwas used, along withextending the work ofschool psychologist JeffSims.“The only thing I will sayis, next year I’m going toput the graduation thingback on the agenda,” saidNickelson.Trustee Rodney Oroscosaid he was curious howWinters did in the latestround of STAR tests.“Is this going to be onestep forward and two stepsback, because we are goingto reduce a counselor?”asked Orosco.“I think reducing thecounselor is a mistake,”said Orosco, “becausethey need someone thatreally cares about them. A70 percent counselor whois also working on IEPs(individual educationplans), is a counselorthat’s going to say, ‘Takethese courses — now Ihave to go.’ These kidsneed someone sometimejust to listen.”“Too often, the right personis right under ournose,” said Orosco, speakingin favor of hiring peoplethat live in the community.“I’m suggesting we don’treduce the position, notever,” said Orosco, askedby Mitchell for specifics.“One’s not enough,” saidNickelson, supportingOrosco’s position. “Hire aperson, and if it gets cut,then it gets cut.”Action is scheduled onthis item for the Septembermeeting.Superintendent’s ReportSuperintendent DaleMitchell reported thatschool began on the previousTuesday.“It was a very quick transitioninto the schoolyear,” said Mitchell. “I washoping for complaintsabout overcrowding becauseof more studentsthan anticipated, but thatwas not the case.”He did not have numbersyet on actual enrollment,because of the adjustmentsin the first weekand tracking down absentees.Mitchell said he too attendedthe county fair, andhad seen Winters studentsdo well at the Lamb Showmanshipevent.Rob Nickelson asked ifthe school district receivesmoney for AFS (foreignexchange ) students.“Only regular ADA” (averagedaily attendance)answered Mitchell.Closed sessionAfter a closed session,the board admitted a studentback into school.Other items:~ Board President MaryJo Rodolfa swore in HighSchool Senior Julia Millonas the new student representativeto the board.~ Orosco, in his memberreport, said he had visitedall the school sites andsaid they “all looked fantastic”.He thankedSteady Eddy’s Coffee Shopfor the dollar-off for teachers’purchases on the firstday of school.~ Trustee Kathy McIntiresaid she went to theYolo County Fair, andWinters was well representedthere.~ Rodolfo said she alsovisited the school sites,and all looked good.~ “The wireless is upand running at the highschool, and they’re allpretty excited about that,”said Rodolfo. “And I sawour swim team holdingpractice in the new pool.That was pretty wonderful.There were lots of positivecomments.”Next meetingThe next board meetingwill be at 6 p.m. on Thursday,Sept. 6, at the schooldistrict office, 909 WestGrant Avenue.TRAGEDIESContinued from page A-4and deposing one dictator.The U.S. military missionis successfully completed.But the Bush administrationhas no policy forstopping the civil war ithas unleashed. Occupationfor maximum oil extractionis our policy, andthat diplomatic policy isnot in the long-term interestof our or any nation.Bush has dug us into ahole. If we allow him tokeep digging deeper, theroof will collapse.JOHN C. CHENDOSave a tree! Get your Express by email!Only $20 per year, worldwide!Write to email@example.com to subscribe