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Mendocino County Today: March 8, 2012

FORT BRAGG'S CV Starr Aquatic Center has been saved. The lavish $24 million swimming pool and exercise facility was established out of a bequest by a wealthy benefactor but had proved to be more expensive to operate than its subsequent income could cover. The Center had been closed for a month pending Tuesday's special election that saw Fort Bragg voters approve, by a large margin, to raise the town's sales tax by a half cent to support the Center. Two-thirds of the vote is required to pass any tax measure, and this one came in at around 75% with 1,272 in favor, 437 opposed. The half-cent will provide an estimated $700,000 annually for the Center which, along with its ordinary income from admissions and memberships, should put Starr well into the annual black.

THE CHILD MOLEST PROSECUTION of Richard Kruse, 68, a long-time resident of Albion, has begun with the claim of a woman who says she was molested 30 years ago by Kruse. Her testimony is admissible, Judge Ann Moorman ruled Wednesday. Jury selection is underway and the trial is set to begin next week. Several years ago, Kruse established an all-girls water ski team that met at Lake Mendocino. He is accused of molesting a 6-year-old team member.

BILLY NORBURY was scheduled for a preliminary hearing Wednesday, but the prelim has been put over while Norbury's freshly appointed attorney, Al Kubanis, familiarizes himself with the case. Norbury, 33, is charged with murder with a special allegation that he used a gun in the January 28th shooting death of his neighbor, Jamal Andrews, 30. A popular reggae musician raised in Laytonville, Andrews was black, Norbury is white. Andrews' many friends claim that Norbury shot Andrews because Andrews was black, a claim DA David Eyster says the evidence does not support. The two men had been neighbors in Redwood Valley.

WHAT'S WRONG with the Willits Bypass: “On March 28, 2012, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) will be deciding whether or not to allocate $200 million to fund the Willits Bypass. This costly bypass would be only 5.9 miles long and transport less than 10,000 vehicles per day. In 2007, the CTC denied funding for this project because of demands from areas of the state that are in more serious need of congestion relief. In response local city and county officials cried foul, and have been lobbying CalTrans ever since. It is unfathomable that this project is still being seriously considered while every year its proposed costs skyrocket. As of January 2012, the Wetland Mitigation expense alone is over $60 million, making this now not only a $10 million per mile “freeway to nowhere,” but the most expensive highway mitigation ever. As Caltrans and local career politicians push this project ever closer to reality, many of us still believe, as was well pointed out in Mark Scaramella's February 22, 2012 AVA article “The Shifting Sands Bypass,” that an elevated freeway viaduct anchored in unstable terrain is an unacceptable concept from almost any viewpoint — environmental, safety, financial — except, of course, political. This project makes a travesty of Proposition 1B funding for traffic relief in the most congested areas. Even a casual glance at the 2011 CalTrans Statewide Transportation System Needs Assessment shows numerous costly projects that would improve General Purpose and HOV Lanes and provide the traffic congestion relief voters were promised with these monies. The same report clearly demonstrates a shortfall of $295.7 billion in available funding for projects and programs identified in the needs analysis, all of which would more effectively serve transportation and safety needs than the limited number of vehicles passing through Willits. As to the traffic at the south end of town, the funds that MCOG has been sitting on to throw at the bypass should be used instead to just fix the problem with any one of half a dozen city-street two-lane north-south artery alternatives, proposed many times and always instantly rejected by CalTrans. We believe the political pressure applied to the Army Corps and others to push this project along and the continual rise in its costs represent the worst kind of pork barrel politics and is ripe for public inquiry, investigation, or at least public dialogue, and ask you to keep your watchful eye on it. Please feel free to contact us for more details on the Willits Bypass Project, or our work to promote responsible transportation planning. (Donna Kerr and Bob Whitney, (707) 459-3906, Mendocino County Citizens For Responsible Transportation)

A PREACHER was delivering his usual sermon when all of a sudden there was a cloud burst. After about one full hour of complete non-stop rain, everyone began to evacuate because the church was flooding, but the preacher just stood there preaching in the ankle-deep water. A man driove by in a car and shouted through the church doors, “Preacher, you better get out of there before you drown!” The preacher replied, “Don't worry. God will save me.” The man then drove away. The water was now knee-deep and a man in a raft floated over to the church and said to the preacher, “You better get in here before you drown!” Despite the second warning the preacher just stood there and replied, “Don't worry. God will save me.” The man then rowed away. Soon the water was waist-deep and a man in a powerboat came to the preacher and said, “You better get out of there before you drown!” Despite the third warning, the preacher just stood there and replied “Don't worry. God will save me.” With that the man jetted away. The water was now neck-deep and a man in a helicopter came by and yelled to the preacher, “You better get out of there before you drown!” The preacher refused to move and replied, “Don't worry. God will save me.” With that the man flew away. The water then got so deep that the preacher was sucked under and died. When he opened his eyes he noticed that he was in heaven. He then saw God and asked, “Oh God! Why didn't you save me from that horrible flood?” God replied, “I sent you a car, a raft, a power boat, and a helicopter! What else do you want from me?”

MOST of the Bypass will be up in the air

Then add big semis and their wear and tear

There’s not that much traffic

over the loose topographic

map of the Bypass to nowhere.

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