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Sound Off! calls published April 15, 2008
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• What's with 95351ers?

What is wrong with these people who voted "no" on the zip code change? We believe they had to simply be ignorant about the issue. We feel we should be able to change our address to Ceres 95307 whether they agree or not! We surely don't want to wait 10 more years to vote on it again!

• Problem with new fence

I have a house in Ceres at 3207 Blaker Road, which we've been remodeling for about the last seven years as we can afford it. The house has been empty the whole time. The house was totally thrashed and all of Ceres probably knows that it was the old "pink house" but now it's looking beautiful because we put a lot of money and time into it for the neighbors to be happy to have us in the neighborhood. The problem we're having is we built a wall for security and aesthetic reasons. The cost was about $6,000. The city said the wall is not set far even back from the sidewalk. I made a mistake when I measured. I measured from the gutter back 16 feet and not from the back of the sidewalk 15 feet. So I'm like three feet into the 15-foot easement that the city says we have to abide by.

The city also says the wall is too tall. But when their inspectors came out and measured the height they determined that it was the right height and told us to go ahead and stucco it.

Nobody ever caught it and told us it was too close. The utilities say they need a 10-foot easement. I don't know where they got the 15-foot easement. There's tons of houses all around us in subdivisions that have walls and fences too close to the sidewalk that they're allowed to keep. They're telling us we have to tear it down and remove it and that's devastating because we have lots of money into it.

We're seeing if anybody out there can give us help on this.

• Kudos to Ceres police

I just want to give applause to the Ceres Police Department. My house was broken into on Tuesday between 12 and 5 o'clock in the daytime while I was working. When I came home I saw my back door open, the alley gate open and my grandparents' 50-inch TV, a computer, all their belongings, wedding rings, stolen. We thought they were lost and had no idea who done it. All we had was a description of the car from my neighbors. When the police came they did a tremendous job, they fingerprinted. Less than 24 hours later I got a call from police saying they believe they had the car stopped matching the description. It was the same car. They had my computer in the trunk of the car. It was three men and one girl. One was on parole for home invasion as well.

I want to give thanks and let people know Ceres police are doing their job! They recovered almost $10,000 worth of things that we had.

• Opposed to fix-it ticket fee

I'm calling about the Ceres Police Department charging $11 to sign off a fix-it ticket. I didn't realize that police services had gone ala carte in this city but I don't know what's next. When I call for my neighbor having a loud party or something like that, if I'm going to be charged a fee as well. I pay my taxes in this city, I vote for new taxes when they come up for police services, for schools, for whatever and now they want to charge me $11 to sign off a fix-it ticket for what will take an officer two minutes to walk out of the police department to take care of. I find it ridiculous. I have literally given my own blood for police officers when those officers were shot a few years back and now they want to charge me for what is a mundane police service.

• Thanks for helping soldiers

We have a soldier ministry at Ceres Christian Church. Each month we mail care packages to soldiers who do not otherwise receive much mail from home. Our pantry was running low so on Saturday, March 4, we set up a Send a Snack to Iraq booth asking the community of Ceres to donate snack items to send to our soldiers serving overseas. The response was huge. We were able to fill five 32-gallon containers with the donated items. We would like to thank each and every one of you who donated. Thanks to you a soldier will know that there are people here who love and support them. May God bless you.

• Respect Lovelle's family too

I'm calling about the call about Lovelle Mixon. Regardless of what he did, he was somebody's child and their family deserved to have respect just like the other families (police officers). Yes, what he did was wrong but he still had a mother, he still had a family. They did not do what he did. They deserve to have their moment of peace and respect. I'm very sad that the officers lost their lives and I'm very sad that Lovelle chose to respond to the situation in the way he did; it probably would have been better if he took his own life and left the other men alone. But regardless of all of that, he's still somebody's child and still deserves to have some respect.

• Fighting SSI cuts

Yes, I'm calling about why us senior citizens are getting our checks cut on SSI. I mean, I got a $36 cut. My neighbor got an $80 cut. What's going on? How can we fight this?

• You said it best, Jeff

Thank you for your comments in April 8 editorial. You have eloquently stated what many of us feel.

• He may buy a gun

Excellent article, Jeff, I could not agree more. These idiots are turning our country into a ghetto. I am 61 years old and have lived here most of my life. I remember when I never even took the keys out of my car. Now for the first time in my life I am considering buying a gun just to protect my family. What the hell has happened?

• History of racism

Jeff, I have been reading your editorial on the Ceres Courier and have mostly not agreed with you on much. But this recent one regarding youth Latinos really got my blood boiling just like yours. You unfairly targeted only Latino youths for trouble making and not all teens. I have seen many non-Latino teens deface and damage my property with their skateboarding and general vandalism. You made some good points on parenting but that applies to all races.

Let's revisit Ceres' racist past. I remember being a young Latino child growing up in the Ceres Labor Camp in the late 1970s and early 1980s. We would ride our bikes to go watch the cross burn by the local KKK at Whitmore park. We did not know what it meant but thought it was cool. Only now do I get sick to my stomach remembering and knowing what I know now. I grew up being harassed and pulled over for no apparent reason than being a Latino by Ceres Police. Why doesn't anyone in your paper do some research and do an article on the KKK history in Ceres?

It is very hard for people to understand an oppressed part of the community if you have never experienced the discrimination or direct racism. My family and I did well for ourselves and are all college educated and contribute immensely to this country. I grew up for 20 years in Ceres and I have recently moved back here from Turlock. I like the city despite its history but I cringe every time the Ceres Courier is delivered. It seems it is just a mouthpiece for Rush, Lou Dobbs, and Bill O'Reilly.

I really hope you put this letter in your paper as a response to your editorial.

(Editor's note: I have never condoned racism, nor the KKK and I'm sorry for any prejudice you have experienced. I believe in the Golden Rule in which we treat all people the way we want to be treated. We understand that KKK rallies had occurred in Ceres in the 1970s or 1980s but were staged by those living outside of Ceres, including Bill Albers who was a resident of Keyes at that time and later Salida. You're absolutely right - kids of all races cause trouble. No question. But the column addressed the area's biggest crime problem as coming from gangs born out of the Latino community. Those are the facts. The solution must come through the Latino community in taking care of its own. As long as people spend time being "offended" rather than doing something to reverse the tide, we really have no hope for a solution).

• Sees both sides

I am calling about the April 1 "Only the poor don't learn English" as well as the one for April 8, "A lot of poor speak English too." I can see both sides of this. There are poor people, medium class and rich. It doesn't matter if you're Hispanic, Asian or white. There are a lot of poor English speaking people as well.

We are in America and it's very frustrating and nobody speaks English that you're around or when you go into Kmart and there's Hispanic music being played. We do live in America and we should be speaking English and if we don't, your relatives don't, I think they need to learn English. And that goes not only for Hispanics but for Asians, Vietnamese, Filipino - English should be the first priority in America. As well as making automated phone calls and says, "Press one for English," I totally disagree with that.

• Another clean-up?

It has been a whole year sense the city has conduced its first community cleanup, as part of the Take-Pride in Ceres program. I thought this was suppose to happen a little more often than one time a year. Maybe when the weather gets better people will feel like getting out there and cleaning up the city!

• Stuff happens

Hey Jeff, I just read your opinion by the way - very good. Right before the officers got shot here in Ceres in 2005 - I have two boys they are now 22 and 23 - it was a nice sunny day and I had them pulling weeds around my house on Fifth Street. After about pulling weeds for about four or five hours one of them decided to go to the little store right down the street right there on Fourth Street. Kids were getting out of school and the police officers got a call that there was a gang fight at that parking lot - with weapons I was told. The officers run in there looking for high school kids (my kids were already out of high school). He was standing around watching and the officers tackled him down. He was totally innocent, took him into the police station. His brother runs over there and gets tackled. They arrested both of my boys. They only got one kid with weapons.

I waited for enough time to pass. The police shooting happened after that. I let it go to give the officers the respect that I was raised to give. I talked to the chief twice and officer to get an understanding of what happened and I tried to get a report. I never got a report. They finally dropped it after realizing my boys hadn't done a dang thing. So this is the kind of stuff that happens.

• Repairs are when?

In Febuary of 2008 the City Council members endorsed the half-cent sales tax. Roads and alleys were to be worked on, re-paved, slurry sealed or overlayed. When will this work start? Our roads and alleyways are in dire need of the work to be done. Hopefuly the city will use the monies where they were allocated.

(Editor's note: If you'll remember the voters rejected the half-cent sales tax measure for roads so there is no new monies for the projects you mentioned).