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Why one reader wont pay & why pot is a ruination
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Last week we issued our first-ever shopper product and scaled back on the printing of the Ceres Courier in an effort to build our subscription base.

In case you haven't read, the Courier has ended its free distribution and is asking readers to subscribe for home delivery. The cost is $20 for six months or $36 for a year as the best deal.

The Courier now costs four quarters at news racks.

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Gina Oltman wrote us a direct email saying she wasn't going to subscribe because she doesn't like our editorial page. She stated: "I would gladly pay $36 a year (even more) for a community newspaper that is fair, objective and journalistically sound. Unfortunately, the Courier does not come close to meeting those standards. It frequently runs opinion pieces that are poorly thought-out and downright insulting to anyone who doesn't agree. (Frank Aquila's nonsense in yesterday's paper, for example.) I also notice opinion slipped into news stories, which is a major journalism no-no. The only reason I read the Courier is because I find it in my driveway, and I figure ‘what the heck?' But I won't pay for it, and I won't miss it if it is not in my driveway. Sad. Would be nice if the community had a paper it could count on for solid news coverage and thoughtful, well-written opinion pieces."

Our publisher wrote back, saying our opinion pages welcomes different views and that we routinely publish letters to the editor.

But honestly, I don't think Gina has actually read much of our paper. To say I have editorialized in news stories is proof enough that she hasn't been a reader. We don't editorialize in news stories so don't even go there. Basically her email was an affront to the time, effort and reasoning I rotuinely devoted to opinion pieces.

As far as Mr. Aquila's piece, ("You must be a Democrat if you..." published Dec. 27) goes, I read it and must say he pointed out the hypocrisy of the left in brilliant and succinct fashion. I don't think anything he said was an exaggeration, such as the statement, "...If you believe shooting by criminals will stop by restricting guns from law abiding citizens."

I felt Aquila's piece was brilliant and spot on. Now if Gina has a rebuttal to Frank - well thought-out, of course - we'd love to see how she refutes what he said and will consider it for print.

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All you've been hearing in the media is all the great things about marijuana, now that it's legal to smoke in California (even though under federal law you can still be busted).

I thought I'd pass along this to counter the happy crowd's jubilation.

From comes this information about cannabis:

• Marijuana smoke is filled with many of the same chemicals as tobacco smoke, including ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, and formaldehyde. Some of these chemicals are known to cause cancer.

• People who smoke pot do show signs of damage and precancerous changes in their lungs. And a study published in 2013 in Cancer Causes & Control found that heavy marijuana smoking might raise the risk of lung cancer.

• Pot smoking leads to other lung effects, such as cough and wheezing.

• Heavy pot smokers in studies score lower than non-users on tests of memory, attention, and learning. The more they smoked, the worse they did.

• Regular users are more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, especially when they have a family history of the condition.

• Marijuana can have effects beyond the lungs and brain. These include anxiety, depression, fast heart rate, increased risk of heart attack (within the first hour after smoking) and suicidal thoughts in teens.

• Marijuana users also mention effects such as relationship and family problems, low energy and self-esteem, memory problems, and low life-satisfaction.

• According to the Centers for Disease Control, research shows marijuana users are significantly more likely than nonusers to develop chronic mental disorders, including schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a type of mental illness where people might see or hear things that aren't really there (hallucinations). Some marijuana users have an increased risk for psychosis (loss of reality), a serious mental disorder where people have false thoughts (delusions).

How can anyone herald this decision of the voters to be a good one?

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Ours seems to be a generation of headline readers. They don't seem to devote time to reading whole articles. No wonder fake news has taken root in the American landscape. That's why the narrative of Russian collusion has worked so well. There's been no evidence but plenty of allegations and headlines.

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It seems like there were lots of people who didn't like what I had to say about the vast majority of persons showing up at the Ceres marijuana dispensary on Angie. Let me preface this by restating what I wrote: "‘I'm not saying there aren't true cases where THC vastly helps people with seizures and other serious problems but I will have to agree with Paula Redfern, who told the council that the whole "medicinal" aspect of pot is a joke. It's a huge joke. In my opinion, it was apparent that the vast majority of the young people I saw were hardly in need of medical relief but addicted to pot as a way of escaping problems."

Carl Flores called me "an idiot." That's always an effective debate tactic.

Rocío Saldaña replied on the Ceres Courier Facebook page: "Since when can a person without a medical degree or license diagnose a person's medical needs by looking at them stand in line? Are you taking appts. Jeff? If so, I'm sure there are hundreds of people in our community that would benefit from your medical Super powers!"

It was an empirical observation, not a diagnosis, to be sure, based on my 56 years of observing life and human behavior. In no way am I saying illness can be diagnosed by merely looking at a person. But when you consider that it really doesn't take much to get a medical pot card - you can get them online - then you have to wonder if people who want pot are just saying they are sick or in pain so they can get high. Of course that's the case. And the fact that most of the people buying pot are under the age of 30, I'd say I've never seen that high a concentration of young people in my doctor's office waiting room.

Anthony Perata commented on my piece: "More reefer madness. Cannabis helps with a wide range of medical problems that some people may not want to use prescription drugs for, which come with a ridiculous amount of side effect. This article is ridiculous."

It would be nice, Anthony, if we could as a country work toward a drug free lifestyle by healthy living when possible. I don't see it as the goal of most marijuana buyers to work themselves out of having to use the stuff.

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Our story on the new State Foods Supermarket in Keyes prompted two comments about the taco trucks perpetually parked next to the store. Jorge Padilla suggested that Ceres needs taco trucks like found in Modesto, Empire, Turlock and Keyes.

We did a story a year ago about the fact that the city of Ceres does not allow taco trucks - out of a desire to protect brick and mortar restaurants in Ceres. Nothing has changed since then.

I have never once visited a taco truck and I've lived in the Valley since 1966.

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In 2011, Eileen Pittman posted a question on the Ceres, CA - Memories and Current Events Facebook page. She asked, "Has any of you lived in Ceres long enough to remember some of the old businesses, like Mae's Cafe, Ted's Gas station, Miners Department Store, Hendy's Drive-In? That set forth a flurry of interesting answers that are still coming today.

Faye Lane recalled the Bank of Ceres, the Whitmore School and her father-in-law, the late Clell Lane, had the Flying A gas Station, and later Phillips 66 Station.

Virginia Harnish said her father owned the C&J Richfield gas station on 99. "There was a little bar attached to it that I used to by candy at."

Patti Reeves Forbus said her grandfather ran a card room in Mae's.

Carolyn Hinkelman said "Ted sold us gas on Saturday night for a 6-pak of empty RC bottles." She also worked at the Snack Shack at lunch time. She remembers getting off the bus from Bakersfield at Mae's Cafe (the bus station in those days) the first time that she came to Ceres.

Maudie Lamb remembered trying to ride the barrel bull behind Neibler's gas station next to Hendy's Drive-In.

Jodi Davis Zurfluh remembered Florence's Dress Shop on Fourth Street and how once a year Florence would have a half-off sale. "We could not afford to shop there but always went to the sale. People would rush the door when it opened. I remember getting trampled. Crazy times!"

Great memories shared.

Do you have any feedback about this column? Let Jeff know by emailing him at He will read it, promise.