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Sound Off! calls published Feb. 16, 2011
• Take down Christmas lights

I'd like to comment about Christmas lights on Richard Way. Leaving the lights up on my neighbor's house is one thing but leaving them on...Christmas has been almost two months ago. Could you please turn off your Christmas lights?

• Professional approach of Mr. Benziger

Dear Mr. Benziger, I was present at Smyrna Park this morning after the horrible accident involving four Mae Hensley students. For the record, I did not witness the accident. I just wanted to let you know that I saw you there, and wanted to commend you on how well you did your job. For lack of a better term, your "bedside manner" was remarkable. You managed to do your job as a reporter, while exhibiting both a respectful and professional demeanor. Thank you for the unintrusive way you did your job this morning, especially with regard to the disheartening nature of the incident.

• Traffic laws disregarded everywhere

I doubt that speed was a factor (in last week's fatal automobile crash). He apparently made the left hand turn without any problem. Inattention and a lack of respect for posted stop signs is more likely the cause. Anyone who drives south on Darwin Avenue knows that stop sign is there.

I have observed a serious disregard for stop signs throughout the Ceres and Modesto area. A lot of motorists feel that stopping at stop signs is a major inconvenience for them. There is a general disregard for the laws of the road these days. I observe people routinely failing to stop at red lights or stop signs while making right hand turns and now even while making a left hand turn. People continually ignore red lights and blow through them knowing they have a few seconds before the cross traffic gets the green light. You see people driving and talking on cell phones all the time.

There is a lack of respect for our traffic laws. Enforcement of traffic laws by our police departments needs to be a priority, not just around schools and on school days but all the time in all places. People need to be reminded that there are laws to be obeyed and that failure to obey them can lead to catastrophic consequences.

• What happened to Hampton Inn?

I was wondering what has happened to the original plans over on Mitchell and Service to build a motel and a McDonald's and a restaurant and a gas station. Is that not happening any more? I thought you might know.

(Editor's note: In May 2008 the Ceres Planning Commission approved a three-story, 162-room Hampton Inn as well as six commercial buildings totalling 25,955 square feet for a proposed McDonald's, retail space and gas mart. Mayor Chris Vierra stated that the struggling U.S. economy caused the developer to put the brakes on the project.)

• We have to protect our children

I'm calling about today's tragedy. I just think people need to stop and look at this. My grandsons go to Don Pedro School and there's been so many times that I pick them up and parents are not paying attention. We have to protect our children. We have to watch out for these other kids.

• Whitmore Oaks is in better hands now

I'm calling in response to the article in "Sound Off!" regarding the new management at Whitmore Oaks. I have lived here since Whitmore Oaks since it opened and I can honestly say that the new manager has done more for the upkeep of the units and common areas in the few short months he has been here than the former manager did in the seven years he was here. He much preferred to sit around and chew the fat with the little old seniors. We are not suffering. This is still a great place to live.

• Student's take on banned slogan

I'd like to call in regards to "CHS staff is squelching school spirit" (call in the Feb. 2 Sound Off!).

I'd like to start by saying the quote on the shirt was not an idea given by staff. The activities director is not denying it but truly did not say the quote. As for the 24 students who got kicked out, good. How can they possibly go unpunished? All Ceres High students got a warning via over the intercom in the last minute of school on Wednesday stating that inappropriate sayings were not allowed at the game that night.

So as for last week's caller, maybe they should get their facts straight. To add to last week's call stating that Central Valley has different rules than Ceres High, they too have the same rules to be followed. So maybe we should focus on not airing our dirty laundry via the Ceres Courier and focus more on the games played.

• Proud of Ceres in aftermath of tragedy

I have lived in Ceres for 49 years. I live one block off of Smyna Park. I heard the sirens on that tragic morning and later heard the sad news of the death and injury to three young girls. I am a mother, grandmother and great grandmother myself.

As I watched the news that evening and learned that a candlelight vigil was being held, I was compelled to walk down there myself to pay my respects and to silently say a prayer for the loss and injury, not just to the girls' families but to the family of the man who had caused this tragedy. As the crowd began to grow larger and I talked to a few people, I realized that I was not the only one who was not involved in any way with the victims but came, like me, just to show respect for people in our community who were hurting and needed support. The news people mingling in the growing crowd seemed to show respect and suddenly the police were there to block the street between Rose and Moffett to give the vigil more access to the site and safety. As I walked home I crossed the street at Rose and saw an officer standing beside his patrol car blocking that end of the street. I stopped and thanked him for their response in seeing that our citizens were protected. He thanked me and told me when they knew of the vigil they had placed a Community Service Officer in the parking lot of the park to observe the vigil not knowing how many people would be there. When he realize how the community was coming out to show their support, he immediately called for more officers to support and protect their community. My spirit was lifted as I walked home and I felt pride in my community, our police, and the staff at Mae Hensley school for their to help the kids in their school begin the process of going through the shock and the grieving for their loss. I just want to thank them all.

I read so much negative things about our town, I think this tragedy has shown who we truly are.