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Letters to the Editor published Feb. 24, 2010
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Questions way H taxes being spent

Editor, Ceres Courier,

This is a response to Les Ballinger's letter to the editor, "Ceres has the finest of all public servants." I am glad to read in the Courier, that people in Ceres publicly thank the very quick response of Ceres Fire Station #4 crew and the Ceres Police Officer for a job well done. I'd also like to publicly thank them for a job well done.

In addition, I'd like to publicly thank the Ceres Fire Division's 32 sworn first responder firefighters who staff our four fire stations, for their immediate response regardless of what the 911 emergency is. Whether your house is on fire, or they are cutting you out of a wrecked car, or reviving a drowning victim, or just to rescue your cat stuck in a tree, they are the unsung heroes. There is not a single Ceres family that has not been directly or indirectly helped by the Fire Division and all these services we are provided.

I am concerned about a letter attached to my February utility bill regarding additional police and fire public safety services, titled "A Message from Your City Council and the Measure H Oversight Committee", that stated ,

"Dear Ceres Citizen, In November 2007, Ceres voters passed Measure H, which is a half-cent sales tax increase to fund additional public safety services that were sorely needed to provide protection and service our community.

"During 2008 alone, five police officers were hired to improve neighborhood safety, deal with gangs, drug houses and parolees at large. Three firefighters and two battalion chief positions were also funded to increase the fire department's ability to effectively fight fires and save lives and property.

"In the case of our city's fire service, Measure H funds are currently being used to provide a 24/7 battalion chief for shift management and the staffing of a three-person engine company at Ceres Fire Station No. 1 (the other 3 stations are staffed with only two people). The long-term goal is to staff each of the four fire stations with three people. The three-person engine company at Fire Station No. 1 greatly enhances efficiency, firefighter safety, increases man-power, and most importantly, helps better protect lives and property of the Ceres citizens.

"The Ceres Fire Division has 32 sworn positions (including all ranks), which is exactly enough personnel to staff Fire Station No. 1 with three-person engine company and Stations 2, 3, and 4 with two-person engine companies. If just one firefighter calls in sick or is absent for any other reason, it automatically creates a vacancy that must be filled in order to keep that engine company in service. Over the last year, the Ceres Fire Department experienced serious staffing deficiencies as a result of multiple firefighters who suffered injuries (both on and off the job) that led to long-term absences from the job. This, coupled with a tight overtime budget, has necessitated the use of Measure H personnel (the third person assigned to the Fire Station No. 1 engine company) to fill vacancies created by staff positions that are funded by the city's General Fund.

"The Fire Administration was faced with the choice of closing one of the city's four fire stations on a daily basis or utilizing Measure H personnel to "backfill" shifts for injured or sick firefighters. When considering the overall welfare and safety of our citizens, the clear choice was to do what was necessary to keep all four stations open as much as financially possible, rather than maintaining the three-person staffing at Fire Station No. 1."

For the life of me, I cannot understand what the Measure H Oversight Committee's dilemma is or their difficulty resolving this very serious issue.

Upon the passage of the Measure H initiative, the Ceres City Council appointed the Measure H Oversight committee, as required by the ordinance, to ensure revenues derived from this special tax are expended in accordance with the provisions of the voter-approved Measure H Ordinance.

Why has the Measure H Oversight Committee not expended the voter approved special tax in accordance with the provisions of the voter-approved Measure H Ordinance and hire the required three additional public safety firefighters? The Committee's failure to comply with the provisions of the voter-approved Measure H puts the Ceres Fire Division at risk and does not protect the lives and property of the Ceres citizens.

Craig Keesler,


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Reader loves billboards

Editor, Ceres Courier,

I don't have the urge to put pen to paper and express my thoughts now that I'm retired. But I must comment on your "hot hate" of a classic all American big billboard advertisements.

My wife and I have lived in Ceres for eight years and have enjoyed most of what the Valley has to offer. Before moving here we lived just east of the Bay Area. When was a child and teenager we would drive to Ceres and visit relatives for several days.

Regarding billboards, these signs have been a very important part of the Highway 99 experience as long as I can remember and I, for one, wish there were more.

Let's look realistically at what most of the Valley has to offer concerning scenic vistas, other than the beautiful orchards in the spring. It's somewhat bland - not dull, not boring, not unattractive but bland. I do understand that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and one man's trash is another man's treasure. Love those billboards.

So, Jeff, even though we disagree on the love of billboards, I look forward to reading the Ceres Courier every week. I only wish it came out more than once a week.

Ron Kennedy,


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Thanks for story on Hams, Baldridges

Editor, Ceres Courier,

I'd like to add my thanks and congratulations for the Feb. 3 article you did on Betty Ham. This was another nostalgia trip which brought back memories as well as provided information I'd either forgotten or perhaps never knew in the first place. For instance, although I knew my dad (Wayne Baldridge) had been mayor of Ceres as I was growing up but didn't really know it was 1930-1938.

Reading about family is always fun so I appreciated the opportunity for the memories. Gordon and I were very close growing up and he and Betty were neighbors of my wife and me when we were first married. I think Gordon and Betty's son is the only one of the Baldridge line still left in Stanislaus County. On my mom's side, however, (Turner), connections go back to when my great-grandparents arrived in 1852. And I still have two Turner cousins living in Modesto with some of their families still in the county. Thanks again and keep up the good work.

Ken Baldridge

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St. Vincent De Paul society grateful for assistance

Editor, Ceres Courier,

On behalf of the St. Vincent De Paul Society of St. Jude's Catholic Church and the recipients of 251 Christmas food baskets, we would like to thank the Ceres community for their donations of food and toys. A total of 1,266 individuals received food and 421 children received toys on Monday, Dec. 21, 2009.

Our appreciation and special thanks to CostLess Market; Rich Scola and Ceres firefighters; Sid Long; Assist International, Ripon; Wonder Bread; Gemperle Enterprises, Turlock; J.M. Equipment Co.; Ethel Pearson Elementary School; Sinclear Elementary School; Sensient Dehydrated Flavors, Cressey; and Alberto Martinez.

God bless you!

The St. Vincent De Paul Society food pantry is open to those living in Ceres, Keyes, South Modesto and the Airport area on Mondays and Wednesdays, except major holidays, 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Helen Marchy,


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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 may be sent to The Ceres Courier, P.O. Box 7, Ceres, CA 95307, or emailed to