To the Editor:
This letter is in response to the op-ed written by Ed Davis in the March 6, 2022, issue of the Press Democrat.
I find this op-ed article distasteful for its negative connotations regarding the Eldridge cemetery. The site had been vandalized and the headstones removed not to erase the memory of those buried there, but to keep continued vandalism from occurring (actually, I believe there are some headstones in storage). Headstones were tossed in the creek and stolen by disrespectful individuals.
There is a map of those interred there and a handtyped list with names, location, and date of death exists and has been in Plant Operations of the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC) for years.
A sonar test was conducted to confirm the placement of the bodies and cremains in the 1990s. In fact, at the same time of the sonar test, the cremains were removed and placed into fresh urns as the originals had deteriorated so badly. Again, at that same time period, the cemetery was re-consecrated.
When Senator Wes Chesbro introduced a bill to denote a Day of Remembrance, a community committee came to SDC and highly complimented the condition of the naturalized area, where there are tiny metal markers and a map of each site with a name. Other institutional cemeteries did not fare so well. A result was a yearly memorial at SDC to honor those buried on the campus and in similar sites in our state. (This was the time when I appeared on 60 Minutes to discuss the cemetery, however Vickie Mabrey, the interviewer, had other subjects she wished to cover).
I do not agree with Ed Davis that there was an effort to erase the names or the people buried there (including two staff). If Mr. Davis came to work at SDC in the 1970s and wondered about the area, he should have gone to Plant Operations and looked at the hand-typed list for himself. He makes suppositions that the headstones were removed for sordid reasons. He thinks there is no record of the names and places. He is wrong.
Ed Davis states the future of the cemetery is “uncertain.” There is actually a push by the Glen Ellen Historical Society to have it be part of the future historic area, and the State of California’s Department of Developmental Services and local legislators have funded a great deal of money for a memorial wall and ADA parking. Ed Davis’s opinion should have been vetted by people with more than anecdotal references.
As a 40-year veteran employee of Sonoma Developmental Center, I know the facility has been loved and hated but, in my experience, I am proud of my many colleagues and the positive outcomes we helped create.
Teresa Murphy Glen Ellen To the Editor:
I was born in Belarus. I have friends in Ukraine and Russia. No one wants this war. Lukashenko, the illegitimate president of Belarus, who does not represent the wish of Belarusian people, is preparing to send troops to Ukraine and join the Russian invasion. This makes me angry. We are all brothers; our history is one braid. And this is madness.
To all Belarussian soldiers who are ordered to join Russia, to all the Russian people who are holding their fingers on a trigger, and to all those who allow them to.
Today, you can’t hide behind a command. Today, your responsibility is to think. You can’t afford the comfort of “our leaders know best, they know more than we do.” They don’t. Your leaders know only one faith — power for the sake of power. And you mine it for them, deaf and blind, mind and heart in fog, while your wives and sisters pray for you to come home, when they should have screamed at you to wake up. They should have thrown themselves at you, begged you to be a real soldier, to be a human. Instead, they looked at you as a human for the last time, their own humanity waning, because you denounced this holy status as soon as you fired your first bullet. That bullet carried you in it and as it burnt through the innocent flesh, your soul burnt with it.
“It was an order,” you say to us, to yourself. No — it is an anachronism, a relic. Today, the truth is at your fingertips, it is in the air available with each breath — love and freedom. Find courage to breathe it, and think and act. Be a human. A child one of you killed, all of you killed. A war your leaders began, you began.
Ewgeniya Lyra Kenwood To the Editor:
The purpose of the master plan for SDC appears to be strictly written to attract a developer. The most profit is in single family housing, and a hotel would also bring in local taxes.
Stores and factories of any kind are less profitable. Playgrounds and open spaces are certainly not profitable. Digging new septic and sewer systems is apparently very profitable. New construction is more profitable than remodeling.
Remember that animals don’t pay taxes, or work for you for their food. At least not all. There is no mention of putting electrical wiring underground.
The road system would be out of the control of a developer, so no need to discuss — even places to park cars, if there were a bus line with reasonable hours.
What also irritates me is quoting unrealistic construction costs for the housing. The only way we can provide low-income housing for people would be to bring in factory-constructed housing. And that cuts into the profit of a developer.
It is all about money!
Maud Hallin Glen Ellen To the Editor:
Any resource taken for granted is a resource at risk of being lost. That is why the California Groundwater Association, the Groundwater Foundation, and the National Groundwater Association joined hundreds of organizations across the country in celebrating National Groundwater Awareness Week, March 6–12.
National Groundwater Awareness Week, now in its 23rd year, is an annual week of awareness, education, and advocacy focusing on one of the nation’s most precious resources.
California depends on groundwater for nearly 46% of its public water. It also provides more than 1.4 million residents with safe and clean water through their private water wells. The United States uses 79.6 billion gallons per day of fresh groundwater for public supply, private supply, irrigation, livestock, manufacturing, mining, thermoelectric power, and other purposes.
For those California residents who rely on private water wells, we encourage you to use Groundwater Awareness Week to test, tend, and treat your private water system. An annual inspection of your well and its water can not only save you thousands of dollars in potential damages but can also protect the health of your family.
To find a certified water well contractor in your area, you can visit wellowner.org.
Whether it’s writing a letter to your representative, posting groundwater facts on social media, or having your own water supply tested and treated, please remember to take time and help protect groundwater in California!
Dave Schulenberg Executive Director, California Groundwater Association