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Letters to the Editor published Feb. 11, 2009
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Gallery made huge misjudgment

Editor, Ceres Courier,

As the parents of one of the seniors AP art students whose art was deemed inappropriate for the Young Masters Art Show at Mistlin Gallery, we feel it is our duty to speak up on this matter. Our son stopped by the gallery to see his painting but he could not find it. On Thursday, more than a week after the committee had the piece, he was notified by his art instructor that the piece would not be judged or displayed because of possible gang symbolism. The piece he entered was a concentration piece which showed the merging of the biological with the mechanical. We cannot his art piece justice in trying to describe it. We can tell you we think it is excellent piece which is quite thought provoking. He spent many hours at home and school working on it. We were so taken by this particular piece of artwork that we had it photocopied and copies are now on our desks at work. We are troubled that such harsh actions would be taken without the input of the art instructors and their students. There is no excuse for the complete lack of communication in this matter. We are concerned about the officer's actions and wonder how far he went with his gang theories. Did he take pictures of the artwork of these students for future reference to gangs? Did he enter the students' names into a database as possible gang members? Will there be future consequences for them in the event the students are driving and are stopped by an officer for any particular reason? Will they be treated like criminals because of these actions? These questions may seem a bit much, however, the reasoning behind the removal of the artwork seems to have been a knee-jerk reaction by someone who may be deeply involved with the gang task force and may find gang signs at every turn. These are questions which deserve answers.

We feel sadness for all the students whose work was pulled from judging and display. We also believe each of these students deserve public apologies from the Mistlin Gallery Young Masters Art Committee. We know two of the students and we know that there is no gang involvement by either one. The only gang our son has run with would be as a member of the Boy Scouts of America, and he has attained the rank of Eagle Scout.

As for those who complain about the content of past or future artwork, it is art and art is like politics, not everyone is going to agree. Our advice: Stay home. Do not enter the front doors of any art gallery or museum because you may see something which is offensive to you. However, if you insist on entering we are sure you will find something which is thoroughly thought provoking.

David and Kathleen Griffin,


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Hanline reflects on CUSD progress

Editor, Ceres Courier,

Recently, I was honored to receive an award from the Ceres Chamber of Commerce that will always be special to me and my family. As one whose career has taken us from Southern to Northern and now to Central California, to be recognized as a community member is, in and of itself, very special. Ceres is made up of leaders and members who are deeply caring people who give much to make this a special place for all of us. To be considered in the company of those who have received such special recognition as Citizen of the Year is humbling and also inspiring.

Change is a part of life and, as such, one needs to approach life as a journey of challenges which makes each of us stronger people. Until January of this year, I believed my journey to Ceres Unified would end with my retirement from the District in 2010; however, a change has come about over the last month which I felt the need to share with you.

The leadership of CUSD believes in the principle taught by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great, that a smooth transition from one leader to the next is critical to having a truly great organization. With this mind, in January of 2008, the CUSD Board of Trustees selected Mr. Scott Siegel, former CUSD teacher and Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, to be my successor. Though the board considered conducting an external search, the caliber of internal candidates far exceeded the bar used to measure a superintendent. As one who is contracted by the California School Board's Association as an executive search consultant, I believe the Board made a very wise decision.

In essence, my contract ends in 2010 and Mr. Siegel's contract as superintendent begins. All is in order for the transition to the next generation of leaders for CUSD; however economic changes that have occurred since I signed my "last contract" in 2006 have impacted my journey, necessitating that I extend my career beyond 2010. Specifically, these changes are: (1) Cost of living increases for school employees dramatically shifted to the negative, which impacted our retirement calculations; (2) the retirement investment accounts that were part of our retirement calculations also shifted to the negative; and, (3) for my wife and I, these changes impacted both our retirement and the financial condition of our two widowed mothers.

With the aforementioned in mind, I am writing this letter to ensure that rumors are not the basis of understanding. At 57, I am blessed with both good health and a passion and love for the job of being superintendent. I enjoy my work greatly and believe that I can make a difference in the lives of students, if the opportunity is provided to serve in another school district. Even though Mr. Siegel offered to extend the transition, I made it clear to him and to the board that this was not an option. Mr. Siegel and the district need to begin the next phase in the life of CUSD, as the District reaches toward greatness.

This has been a difficult decision to make because I wanted so very much to end my career in the district and the community for which I care deeply. Yet I know that God has taken care of our family in the past and that this journey, with all its challenges, will be a growing experience for us.

In conclusion, thankfully, I have 18 months to transition to the next journey in my career, and we have much work to be done for CUSD during that time. Please be assured that I will continue to serve the district will all my strength, and that I am excited to focus my time and energy on doing all I can to facilitate our new building program. I would appreciate your support of Mr. Siegel and the board, now and into the future, and your thoughts and prayers for my family. Thank you for taking the time to consider my words.

Dr. Walt Hanline,


Ceres Unified School District

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Costs up due to uncontrolled growth?

Editor, Ceres Courier,

Regarding your Jan. 28 article, "Rate hikes survive protest hearing," both the water and sewer rate hikes may have passed in Ceres, but at what cost to regular, hard-working residents' budget, and at what intangible cost to our small-town neighborhood? Will we see more quality residents moving out of town because of the added expenses?

Many residents, including myself, opposed the rate hikes. Some stated that the city needs to postpone the rate hikes and/or find alternative ways to beef up the general fund, and needs to look for alternative ways to pay for the sewer and water needs. For some reason, the general fund is not fat enough to absorb the costs. Could it be that the city cannot pay sewer and water costs because of unmanaged growth? Perhaps, Ceres residents are left holding the bag because of past mismanagement of funds, and suffer from a lack of community awareness.

I want to thank all my neighbors who wrote their concerns to the city or who were able to personally attend the protest meeting on Monday, Jan. 26. Your comments were touching and poignant. It is my hope that our City Council took our letters to heart.

I believe that we have fine city officials and city council members. However, if residents do not ask questions of our local government and exercise our rights, then our out-of-town city officials cannot seek a compromise that benefits loyal residents who still want and can afford to live in Ceres.

Rick Rushton,


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Former city engineer sets

record straight with article

Editor, Ceres Courier,

I need to correct two statements in the article on developing sewer and waster master plans in the Jan 21 paper. Though the last formal master plans were done over 25 years ago, the technical sections were updated many times. The water system was last updated in 2007 to determine what improvements would be needed if the city participated in the surface water project.

The second statement is that the sewer master plan is based on the 1978 general plan. That statement is incorrect. Each time the general plan was updated, the affect on the sewer system was determined. If changes were needed, they were incorporated into the sewer master plan. Not many changes were needed since the 1990 general plan update. The each study included all the land in the general plan, not just within the city limits. All land that has been developed was covered by the water and sewer plans.

Joe Hollstein,

Former Public Works Director,

City of Ceres,


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Letters to the editor will be considered for publication but must be signed with the author's name, address and telephone number. Letters should contain 250 words or less and be void of libelous statements. Letters should be sent to: The Ceres Courier, P.O. Box 7, Ceres, CA 95307. Letters may also be emailed to