Bouquets and Brickbats

Firefighters earn plaudits for rescue

letters@thetribunenews.comAugust 9, 2013 

Jason Cox, left, and John Prickett, firefighters with the Paso Robles Fire Department, helped save a teenager from a burning car after it collided with a pole and downed several live power lines.

JOE JOHNSTON — jjohnston@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

Firefighters from Paso Robles’ Station No. 1 deserve a huge bouquet for public service after risking their lives to save a 16-year-old boy trapped inside a burning car. The young driver — who was suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs — hit a power pole at the south end of Paso Robles on Thursday night. When firefighters arrived on the scene, it was dark, live power lines were down and the car’s engine compartment was on fire. Firefighters managed to free the boy, whose injuries included two broken ankles, in about 10 minutes.

The rescue was a sobering reminder of the hazards public safety officers face as part of the job. They may not put their lives on the line every day, but when the need arises, they do whatever it takes to protect the public. For that, we offer each and every public safety officer a thank-you bouquet.

Alcohol-free card rooms? Why not?

The tables have turned for Grover Beach card room owner David Stearns. More than a decade ago, he opposed easing restrictions on card rooms. Among other changes, he objected to the proposed elimination of a requirement that Grover card rooms have liquor licenses. Gene Stroud, who was seeking to open his own card room back then, requested the changes, but they were denied by the City Council.

Now, lo these many years later, the positions are reversed: Stearns wants to be allowed to operate without a liquor license and Stroud is opposed. Stroud’s attorney calls the request “outrageous, and more than a little ironic.”

Yes, it is ironic. We’ll even apply the word “hypocritical” and we’ll lob a wild-card brickbat at Stearns.

But we see nothing wrong with the request to allow “dry” card rooms. In fact, there would likely be less potential for trouble without alcohol.

What’s more, it’s not as if removing the liquor license requirement would result in a huge proliferation of card rooms. There currently are only seven tables (not rooms, but tables) allowed in the entire city of Grover Beach; if the changes are approved, that number will increase only slightly, to nine.

The City Council has already given preliminary approval to the changes. We believe that’s the right call. While it’s unfortunate that this has turned into a feud between two businessmen, the council must resist being drawn into a grudge match and act in the best interests of the entire city.

Grant could help clean up beaches

Here’s some straight poop out of Sacramento: The State Water Board has made a preliminary decision to award two grants, totaling $2.7 million, to researchers who are trying to make it easier and faster to identify sources of fecal contamination in seawater.

One grant to the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project is for research on how fecal markers from various hosts — human, bird, dog, etc. — change as they decay in water. The other grant to the same organization is for development of portable equipment that will allow field testing of fecal samples, with real-time results.

“So what does all this have to do with me?” you might ask. Well, when you consider how long it took to determine that pigeon droppings were responsible for contamination near Pismo Pier, the value of speedy fecal ID’ing is clear. It means less time and money spent diagnosing the problem, and allows officials to move ahead toward finding a fix. And that, in turn, means fewer failing grades for our beaches.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. There’s obviously much work to do, and until we see some results, we’ll hold a beachy bouquet in abeyance.

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