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Our View: A recall result plain from the start

The whole state should have seen what was coming with the recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom.

A Democratic governor in a heavily Democratic state pushed to a recall under rules allowing for a bare minimum of signatures. A few Republicans rose to the top, shaking their fists and promising a new day for California. The politicking had begun in earnest.

The game board was set, except everyone knew who was going to win, or was fooling themselves.

The writing was on the wall, at least for the last few weeks before the election. The loyal troops rallied under the governor’s banners, boosting once dismal polls and handing Newsom a massive win.

It’s almost as if Gomer Pyle had returned for one more show, amazed at the obvious: surprise, surprise, surprise.

Now that it’s over, we can see what the recall accomplished. For one, it resulted in the expenditure of some $276 million in taxpayer dollars. For another, Newsom’s enemies just gave him a mandate for the remainder of his first term and wind in his sails for what, at least for right now, appears to be a successful run for reelection.

The recall also did wonders for enhancing the name recognition of some Republican politicians who no doubt are looking to higher office.

But it also did exactly what it was supposed to: Give the people the choice of whether to remove an elected official.

Of course, the expenditure on a failed effort looks foolish in hindsight. How couldn’t it? But what cost do you put on letting the people have their voices heard at the ballot box? Should that right be pushed aside depending on what the polls state? Should we forego a recall because Democrats have a 2-to-1 voter registration advantage over Republicans? Would Newsom supporters feel different if those numbers were reversed?

Or do we just remove the recall option entirely; let the Legislature start impeachment proceedings, which would be even more partisan and vicious than a recall; or wait until the person’s term is up and then try to vote them out?

Representative democracy is a messy business. No one said it would be easy, but it can at least be more efficient and just a bit fairer.

The threshold of signatures required to start a recall — 12% of turnout in the previous governor’s election — is too low. Also, no reason is required to recall a governor. At least with impeachment some reason, like alleged criminal acts, is given. With a recall, people can just be unhappy, as opposed to wanting to remove someone for violating the law.

Recalls are rare. Not all states provide for them, and you don’t see them too often in those that do, including ours. However, that’s no reason to allow the system to continue unchanged. If you see a problem, fix it.

And one potential fix is to just wait until the next election.

We get the chance every four years to remove a governor. Additionally, they’re term limited. There’s no fiscally prudent reason to hold a recall because a governor is unpopular. Wait. You’ll get your chance soon enough.

However, the recall is a power the people have, and there’s no reason the voters of California should relinquish it. Having the power doesn’t mean it should be used on a whim, though, especially when only 12% of turnout is needed to invoke it.

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth putting real effort into it. Having a threshold of, for example, 20% or 25% like some other states would show there’s truly a strong movement behind the recall effort, and provide a better argument for spending the money required for the election.

The pundits, voters and officials of this state will be dissecting the recall for months, if not years. There will be a push to reform the recall process, which will stall and ultimately get buried when the newest flashpoint emerges. A decade from now it’ll be a curious footnote in state history.

All this should really be no surprise surprise surprise. After all, we really should have seen it coming.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com

Our View: Making a good citizen

We need more people like Lou Conter.

The World War II veteran and survivor of the USS Arizona turned 100 this week. That’s a milestone few of us will reach, and one worth recognizing and celebrating.

When you consider the person who reached it, it’s also worth honoring.

Conter has gotten a lot of ink in these pages, and rightfully so. This community has time and again held him up as an example of the best of us. Not too many people have experienced what he has, or seen the world change to the degree he’s witnessed.

But those aren’t the only reasons why we celebrate Conter. We recognize him because he’s an example to not only follow, but repeat. We need people who selflessly serve our country, now more than ever. Especially in the wake of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we must remember that what’s important is this country’s unity, not the divisions created by its political parties.

But our country, like those parties, is nothing without the people that comprise it. We can disagree with those on the other side of the aisle, but we have to remember that we’re all part of the same nation.

In other words: Out of many, one.

For that one nation to be unified, it must be filled with good citizens.

How do you define that? Is it someone who joins the military and fights for their country? Is it the volunteer who packages and distributes food to people in need? Is it the protester who, as John Lewis said, stirs up “good trouble” as the police put on the handcuffs?

Examples of good citizens are found in all of these people, as well as countless others across the country. There is no mold for the good citizen. They come in all shapes and beliefs, and they can disagree with each other and often do.

Disagreeing with others does not make them the enemy, despite what some would have us believe. Civil argument forces us to reassess our beliefs, and sometimes change them when warranted. It also reminds us that we do not live in a vacuum, and we share our society with people who don’t think the way we do.

And despite all the things that divide us and place us in different camps, we still unify around the country we call home. We want it preserved, we want it safe, we want to leave it in better shape for our children.

This, hopefully, we can agree on.

We are still dealing with the aftermath of a contentious presidential election, and the gubernatorial recall is still large in the rear view mirror. We can disagree about who should lead us, and still work together toward improving the country and ourselves.

Nevada City’s Constitution Day parade may be canceled, but its spirit hasn’t. We honor that document just as we honor people like Lou Conter — for the example they provide, and road map they give us for how we can live better lives.

Few of us will amass the level of accolades a World War II veteran will have, and that’s fine. We can accumulate our own, in our own way, and in small actions that have big impacts over time.

We can live and act beyond ourselves, knowing that our actions affect others, and caring about that. We can get the vaccine, because it’s not only about the individual, but the greater whole. To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, we can stop focusing on what this nation can do for us, and instead work on what we can do for this nation.

Those are the types of people we need more of.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com

Our View: Getting back to business

We, as a people and a nation, have been dancing around the future of COVID-19.

The truth is, the coronavirus is here to stay. And we need to start acting like it.

This new normal brings a lot of changes with it, and it’s pretty obvious over the past 18 months that lots of people don’t like change. They don’t like having to wear a mask. They don’t like vaccines. They don’t like social distancing. They don’t like being told what they have to do.

Neither do we. The difference here, however, is we do things we don’t like to protect ourselves, our friends and neighbors, and even strangers. We do these things because we live in a society that requires the individual to forego doing whatever they want, when they want, in favor of the greater whole.

The question here is how to do what’s best for society’s wellness while maintaining our economy’s health.

The easiest way, and the one sitting in front of us, is abiding by the mask requirements instituted by Dr. Scott Kellermann, the county’s public health officer. And, of course, by getting the vaccine.

For some reason, vaccines have been pushed to the forefront of politics and in some cases divided people based off their chosen party. Blaming political opponents and their beliefs isn’t the answer. Appealing to common sense, and education, is.

Last week, a spokesperson for Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital said that since vaccines became available, over 90% of its COVID-19 hospitalizations have been unvaccinated people.

The vaccine has been available for months. Millions of Americans have received it, and millions more in countries across the globe. This vaccine saves lives. Just ask the millions of people who have gotten it.

Think of the long-haulers, the ones for whom the impact of the coronavirus has lingered for months, and could continue to linger. They may face permanent damage to their hearts and lungs.

Who knows what else they might face as time slowly marches on?

There’s one thing we do know: We can fight this, take care of ourselves and our community.

There isn’t going to be a return to the shutdowns of last year. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s political career couldn’t handle it, and it’s obvious that a majority of people wouldn’t obey. At the height of the pandemic, when restaurants were forbidden to serve indoors, our authorities took an educational approach, not a punitive one. No government is shutting down a business for flouting mask rules. No one is forcing you to wear a mask, despite all the signs that state otherwise.

And if they try, and you don’t like it, you can leave.

The same is true for those upset that a business allows unmasked people inside. Feel unsafe? Then take your money elsewhere. The government can wave all the magic wands it wants, but it either can’t, or won’t, enforce the rules it makes. Just visit a grocery store on any given day for proof of that.

What we can do is enforce our own deeply held beliefs. We can choose who gets our patronage, and where not to take our business.

Unfortunately, this might be the only realistic path to overcoming the pandemic. People who support masks and vaccinations should frequent businesses that share those views. Those opposed to masks and vaccinations should avoid them.

Employees who want good working conditions and a safe work environment will vote with their feet. Customers will vote with their wallets.

Then maybe, after too many more months of dealing with a virus that could have been contained last year if we’d just done the right thing, we’ll move past dancing around the politics of COVID-19.

And get back to real business.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com

Our View: When it’s time to go

The sky over South Lake Tahoe resembles that of a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

The Caldor Fire burns at the edges of homes beneath South Lake Tahoe, too close for anyone. Smoke billows up and spreads, contaminating the air and clouding our lungs. Through the haze, you can see an old sun, red and damaged, shining weakly.

And then — despite all the work, the home hardening, the careful planning — the evacuations came.

The Caldor Fire weighs heavy on many hearts right now. South Lake Tahoe, about two hours away by vehicle, is closer to Nevada County than you might think. Many of us have art of the lake on our walls. We proclaim our feelings for the lake on ubiquitous bumper stickers. We visit when we can. A lucky few have homes in that area.

Now we watch and wait and hope that a community like no other, a place that draws people from across the world, resembles what it was just a few weeks ago.

Pictures and video of South Lake Tahoe have spread like, well, wildfire. A stalled line of vehicles stretching toward Zephyr Cove, while the lanes headed into town are strangely empty.

It was a scene similar to the one we saw Aug. 4, when the River Fire broke out near Colfax. We saw it again on Aug. 25 with the Bennett Fire near Grass Valley.

In the latter case evacuation orders for a portion of the Glenbrook Basin led to gridlock for the area around Brunswick Road and Highway 49. It didn’t last that long, just long enough to stymie hundreds, if not thousands, of residents and workers from escaping the area.

Someone who disobeyed the evacuation order could have waited an hour, then driven away on nearly empty streets — a pleasant surprise during rush hour.

But that’s not what an evacuation should be. Lingering like that could lead to tragedy when the next fire, or the one after that, gets out of control.

Individuals can harden their homes, but they can’t widen public roads. However, they can work with their neighbors in rural areas, perhaps even cutting a dirt road and ensuring an escape route if necessary.

We can also join, or help create, Firewise communities. These groups not only build communities built around resilience to fire, they may lead to reduced fire insurance costs.

Would more fire hydrants help? What about a return to logging, thinning the trees and removing fire fuels? That biomass plant idea that gets kicked around every now and then may not be be such a bad idea, either.

There is no easy answer to the problem of fire — that much has been clear for as long as people have lived here. But we can constantly work toward an answer by tackling different aspects of the question.

Involvement in Firewise communities, thinning the forests, hardening our own homes and preparing for evacuations are essential parts of that answer.

Our government needs to do its part as well. Its evacuation map resembles a jigsaw puzzle, with each piece identified by a near unintelligible code. It’s a great idea, and what we’ve got right now, but we need something better and more understandable that includes an outline of the fire, not just the evacuation zones.

The firefighters and first responders on the Caldor Fire — and any fire, regardless of size — deserve and have our support and thanks. They work hard for us when the fire happens, and we should work hard for them beforehand. We can leave an “evacuated” sign when we flee our homes, saving first responders time when they arrive. We can thin our own fire fuels that pose danger to our homes.

And, when the alert hits our phones, we can grab our go-bags and get in the car.

And just go.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com

Our View: Meet the editorial board

The Union Editorial Board is changing shape.

It happens every few years. Some existing members figure it’s time to move on, and others in the community are keen to serve.

That ebb and flow of volunteers who serve on the board can take months, as can the process of finding and installing new blood.

After many weeks, our newest members have been selected and are participating in our weekly discussions that form the basis of each week’s editorial. They are, in their own words:

Ed Beckenbach and his wife, Sharon, moved to Nevada County in 2001 following his retirement from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, where he managed a biomedical research program. After much searching, they bought some land in North San Juan despite being warned by their Wildwood-based Realtor that there were “hippies” out there. Ed has served on the boards of directors of the North San Juan Fire Protection District, Nevada County LAFCo, and the Sierra Family Health Center.

Bruce Herring is a former teacher, dean of academics, principal of Bitney Prep High School and a former owner of Wolf Creek Wilderness. He and his wife, Sally, have lived in Nevada County since 1988. Bruce was an unsuccessful candidate for the NID Board in 2018.

Thea Hood is a naturalized U.S. citizen born in the Netherlands. A retired college professor, she taught a number of years in Australia, Zimbabwe and South Korea, with the remainder of her teaching career in the Napa Valley. She has a passion for international volunteer service, helping build orphanages and churches in Bolivia, Honduras, Nicaragua, South Africa, Japan and Italy.

Skip Pollard is a retired marketing and media executive who spent 35 years in advertising and publishing in New York City and south Florida. He and his husband fell in love with the Nevada County foothills when visiting after their wedding in 2013, and shortly thereafter purchased their home in Grass Valley. Skip loves hiking the Sierras, gardening, cooking and watching too much sci-fi.

Rachel Rein is a citizen scientist, writer, educator, and artist. She is currently pursuing an MFA in interdisciplinary arts. Her passions include genealogical DNA testing, data visualization, research, digital documentation, gaming, hand-coding HTML and CSS, and discovering new fruit to try. She volunteers with CHIRP, the non-profit of the local Nisenan Tribe. She produces a local voter guide each election and she created LandEmpty, which connects consumers with reusable alternatives to disposable items.

Judy Silberman is a Brooklyn native who’s been a Nevada County resident for 24 years. She traded in 60 acres of central Vermont woods for a home in downtown Grass Valley. She is a retired Montessori certified teacher who volunteers in local nonprofits, and is active in several faith communities. Her pastimes are dancing, reading, and walking with friends and family.

And our existing board members:

Jonathan Collier works as a strategic consultant and serves as a local community advocate in Nevada County. He sits on the board of directors for the Briarpatch Food Co-op and the Origins Council, and previously on the Nevada County Arts Council and the Nevada County Cannabis Alliance. He also volunteers with several local nonprofits on various committees. His current focus is on solving our housing crisis and creating community resiliency.

Valerie Costa has been The Union’s special publications editor for the past six and a half years, where she creates all of the fun inserts people get in the paper, such as Nevada County Rancher, Current, and many more. She is also the administrator of gonevadacounty.com, Nevada County’s official tourism promotion website. She loves what she does and takes pride in highlighting local businesses, places and people in a myriad of ways.

R.L. Crabb is a writer and cartoonist. His first newspaper cartoon appeared the day after Ronald Reagan was elected president. Since that time his crude and vulgar works have appeared in countless publications, including The San Francisco Chronicle. He considers himself a “Groucho Marxist,” rejecting membership in any party that would have him.

Tom Durkin came to the Gold Country in 1980 via Kansas, Hollywood and Sacramento. He is an award-winning, multi-genre writer, reporter, editor and photographer who has a BA in psychology and an MFA in TV/film, both from UCLA. Currently, he is a biweekly columnist for The Union, single, and looking for a real job because freelancing sucks.

Joslyn Fillman is the features editor of The Union, Prospector and Sierra Sun. She grew up in Nevada County and went to college in the Bay Area, where she studied English literature. She’s worked at the newspaper since moving back to Nevada County four years ago. When not working, Joslyn likes river walks, drinking lots of local coffee, and listening to live music, which Nevada County has no shortage of.

Paul Matson moved to California in 1970 from Wisconsin, and to Nevada City permanently in 1974 from the Bay Area. Matson served as a Nevada City Council member for 20 years with some terms as mayor, and on several boards and commissions, including the Miners Foundry Board of Trustees.

Rick Nolle came to Nevada County after 40-plus years of high tech management. He is currently a broker-associate for Century 21 Cornerstone Realty in Penn Valley. He believes in community support and involvement. He is a charter member of the Penn Valley Municipal Advisory Council, vice chairman of the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County, past president of the Penn Valley Rotary Club, and past director of the Penn Valley Fire Protection District.

Jo Ann Rebane is a 19-year resident of Nevada County, a third-generation California native and a graduate of UCLA. She retired from a challenging career as a litigation paralegal at a top law firm in SoCal. In Nevada County, she continues to support classical music, local theater, as well as numerous local foundations and charities. Politically active, she leans strongly toward conservative/libertarian political and social causes.

Alan Riquelmy is the editor of The Union and Sierra Sun. He’s been in journalism for almost 20 years, and has worked at four different newspapers across Alabama, Georgia and California. He’s covered stories ranging from droll parades to capital murder cases in federal court. You will be hard pressed to find a bigger fan of “Doctor Who” or The Cure.

Publisher Don Rogers oversees The Union, The Sierra Sun in Truckee and the Tahoe Daily Tribune in South Lake Tahoe. He has served as publisher and editor at daily papers from San Diego to upstate New York in a career that began three decades ago in Quincy, California. Yes, he’s managed to annoy sources, colleagues and readers from coast to coast in the spirit of challenging assumptions.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com

Our View: Read the memo

Some people haven’t yet gotten the memo — there’s still a pandemic going on.

Most of us thought it would end with the advent of vaccines. We remained huddled in our homes, only stepping outside when masked, following the rules and staying safe.

And then, when the vaccines became available for everyone in early April, many of us raced to our doctors, pharmacies or the Whispering Pines clinic for the shot. We thought it was over. We thought the world would return to normal.

Instead, it appears those days are gone forever, and we’re currently living in what’s now considered the new normal.

The Delta variant of the coronavirus is proving we’re nowhere close to being out of the woods. Case numbers are exploding in Nevada County. After not seeing a COVID-19-related death here since early April, we’ve had five so far this month. It wasn’t that long ago that we’d have under 10 people suffering from COVID-19 in the hospital on any given day. Now we’re closer to 30.

Read the memo: We’ve got to do things differently if we’re going to beat this.

It’s clear that vaccinating enough people to reach herd immunity isn’t going to happen. Those who wanted the vaccine got it in the first month it was available. Nevada County then saw the numbers drop, leading them to taper the hours of their free vaccination clinic, and then shutter it completely.

Sure, some folks who were on the fence ultimately chose to get the shot. But now we’re left with a sizable group that isn’t going to get it.

That means we’re left with an ever decreasing number of tools in our toolbox to fix this thing.

There will be no national mandate for everyone to get the vaccine, and that’s a good thing. This country is too large for a one-size-fits-all rule.

A county mask mandate, implemented on Friday, makes much more sense.

Everyone must now wear a mask in Nevada County when in a public setting or business — a targeted, specific approach to this county made by local leaders and officials.

This county can’t issue a vaccination mandate, nor should it have that power. But there’s no reason businesses shouldn’t have the ability to choose who to employ, or are allowed on their premises, based on that criteria.

People opposed to the vaccine have argued they shouldn’t be forced to get the inoculation. Likewise, businesses shouldn’t be forced to employ people who don’t get the shot. The Delta variant is highly contagious. There’s no reason you should be compelled to visit a hairdresser, nurse, or any other professional who won’t get vaccinated.

That’s just business, and what business wants to hire people who could lead to fewer customers?

Our country is dealing with an onslaught of misinformation about the virus and how we should react to it while our hospitalizations and infections skyrocket. We can encourage our friends and family to get the shot, but we can’t make them.

What we can do is control ourselves, where we go, and what we say.

If you don’t like a business’ stance on vaccination or masking, don’t go there. For those who support taking these health precautions, frequenting these businesses is the equivalent to voting with your dollars. It shows you care about local business owners, and provides a living, breathing example for others to emulate.

There are too many people who refuse to listen to rational arguments. But they can see your actions, and the actions of others who feel the same way.

They can see the vaccinated people in our community, when the 20% of breakthrough cases occur, don’t go to the hospital at the same rate as the unvaccinated. They don’t need the same level of care. And they don’t die of COVID-19 at the same rate.

That’s the memo they should see.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com

Our View: Changing the cliche about wildfire igniting near you

The cliché has proven true.

It’s not a matter of if, but when.

“When” turned out to be Wednesday, Aug. 4, when the River Fire broke out. A small fire soon grew to over 100 acres. Then it kept growing. One firefighter said he expected it to reach 10,000 to 15,000 acres.

The fact that it didn’t should make every one of us thankful, and a bit more scared at the same time.

Our greater community is fortunate this blaze didn’t become the next Camp Fire or Dixie Fire. The possibility was there, and through our firefighters and first responders’ efforts, as well as fortunate weather, we escaped that fate.

And while everyone escaped with their lives, not everyone got away with their homes intact.

Phones screeched with alerts, and the media jumped on reporting about the fire, just as firefighters rushed to contain it. Residents consulted the county map, determining the zones marked for mandatory evacuation and those under a warning.

A great plume of smoke blotted out a large portion of the sky on Aug. 4. People stared at it, wondering, how close is that? What danger am I in?

The answer, then as is now, is plenty of danger. We only feel it acutely during moments like this.

Now that the fire is fully contained, and we can collectively breathe a long awaited sigh of relief, it’s time to reassess how prepared we were individually, determine how we can help those who lost everything, and figure out how everyone can do a better job next time around.

A go-bag by the front door is essential, but so is an evacuation checklist. Some things won’t fit in the bag. You might think you’ll remember the family cat, but situations go sideways when under the threat of wildfire. Make the list, and have the go-bag. Keep the car maintained and gassed up. A stalled vehicle during an evacuation will only make things worse.

Don’t wait for the hi-lo siren before evacuating. The county has a website that divides the area into zones. Print out a copy of the zone map, if that helps you. Post it on your fridge and get familiar with it. Know your zone, and sign up for Code RED alerts.

Ensure you know multiple evacuation routes. A series of Highway 49 wrecks on Aug. 4 snarled traffic. Duggans Road likely saw more vehicles that day than it has in years. There are only a handful of routes in and out of our area. Be sure you know them.

You may be safe, but many people returned to their homes to find them gone. Local nonprofits already hit hard by the pandemic will now feel an additional pinch from the River Fire. They need our help.

Whether it’s the Food Bank of Nevada County, Interfaith Food Ministry, or any of our nonprofits, consider giving what you can. They need it.

And all of us, once the River Fire is in the past, need to figure out what to change when the next big fire comes along.

The county’s zone map, while a great tool, is difficult to interpret. Giving zones names like THX-1138 doesn’t help, either.

The zone map needs names that identify the specific areas they encompass. A key detailing what the different colors mean must be clearer. People don’t want to hunt for a drop down menu when the county is on fire. The map interface needs to be more user friendly.

This community needs to be more streamlined as well. This is the time to fill your go-bags and post your evacuation lists. Now is the time to trim your fire fuels in preparation of the next major fire. Just make sure you don’t start one in the process.

As individuals and as a county, we can change the cliché. It’s not a matter of if, but when — and we’re ready.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com

Our View: Keep the fair fun and safe

Like a distant friend, gone too long, the fair is finally back.

It had become tradition, the Nevada County Fair, a staple like Thanksgiving with the grandparents or the birthday cake from your favorite bakery. You counted on the fair, knowing it would always be there.

Until, of course, it wasn’t.

The COVID-19 pandemic shuttered almost every public event. Communities across the globe closed the doors and windows. Businesses locked their doors, some of them for good. And the world hunkered down to wait for a vaccine.

Now it’s here, and the fair, as the motto goes, is back in town.

Stretched before our community are five days of contests, exhibits, rides and regalia. Children racing to the farm animals, then slowly petting them with care. The auctions drawing cheers from the crowd with each sale completed. And the Destruction Derby to cap off the fair, the roar of engines punching the air.

Workers wave like old friends as they guide your car through the parking lot. Then it’s off to the front gate, tickets in hand, before bursting into a self-contained, temporary world — Nevada County’s Brigadoon.

Everyone makes their way to Treat Street at some point. Weary parents wait as their children can’t make a choice. Maybe the fried chicken, or the corn dogs, or the cotton candy clinging to your face, eyes bigger than the stomach, but worth it.

Organizers have been building toward this point for months. This will be a fair to remember, but we must ensure it’s for the right reasons.

The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t disappear with the advent of vaccines. For one, not everyone has been vaccinated. Another problem is that the Delta variant is proving effective at infecting those who have gotten the shot.

The vaccine is not a cure all. It’s more akin to a seat belt. You can get into a wreck either way, but you’d much prefer to have that seat belt on if you do. Chances are, everyone who wears one will have fewer and less severe injuries.

And they’ll be more likely to walk away.

So if fair staff says it’s wise to wear a mask while at the fair, wear a mask. There will be hand washing stations throughout the fair. Take advantage of them. This isn’t about politics. It’s just good hygiene.

In late June, our county was seeing under 10 new cases a day. That started to climb a few weeks later. On Thursday, we had 78 new cases.

The strange times we’re living through haven’t ended yet, and wishing them away, or ignoring them, won’t help. We are fortunate to have a fair of this quality in our community. Let’s work toward making it one of the best.

And that means we need everyone’s help.

We can halt the spread of the coronavirus through our actions. If you don’t feel safe, or you’re worried about the virus, stay home. Otherwise, take the right precautions, mask up when appropriate, keep your hands clean and stay a good distance from others.

You know, all the things we’ve been doing for over a year.

We can be careful and have fun at the same time. We can support our fair and keep the COVID-19 numbers down.

It just requires diligence, commitment and the will to keep others safe.

And, if you’re already in line, maybe one of those corn dogs as well.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com

Our View: Prepare, and pray for rain

Dark clouds loomed over western Nevada County on Tuesday, at least for a while.

Maybe you felt a few raindrops fall — rare this time of year. It grew cooler that day, then warmed quickly. By Thursday you never would have known a few drops of water had fallen from the sky this week.

And we’re not likely to see any fall again for some time.

A little later in the year, dark skies herald an end to the fear of fire for another season. Rain falls, and the North State slowly relaxes for another winter. We made it, people say. We made it through another fire season.

But we’re nowhere close to that point right now.

The Dixie Fire, at 221,504 acres Friday morning, likely is just one of the first major fires of this season. The Tamarack Fire, southeast of South Lake Tahoe at 68,696 acres, is another. Neither is completely contained.

They won’t be the last fires of this season.

It’s easy to fall into a groove of out of sight, out of mind. Sure, there are huge fires in our state, but they’re far away. We might have some hazy days, but the flames aren’t at our front doors.

That’s true. They’re not … yet.

Chances are we won’t get several hours’ notice of a major fire headed our way. If we’re lucky, we’ll at least have a few minutes. That’s why it’s essential to have a go-bag, have a strong plan, and test multiple exits from your neighborhood.

Because the road you use every day might be the one covered in flames.

Anyone who’s fled from a fire knows the stress that fear can bring. There’s no time to plan in that moment. That’s why a go-bag — including items like a map, prescriptions, a radio, flashlight, batteries, clothes, emergency cash, and essential documents — should have its own place by the door or in the car. No need to think about what goes in it when the time comes. Just grab, and go.

Evacuation orders should be heeded. Don’t wait for the hi-lo siren issuing from the sheriff’s vehicle. Sign up for Code RED alerts. Watch local media — TheUnion.com, Yubanet, KNCO and KVMR — as well. Both government and media will do what they can to inform the public, but the responsibility is on the individual.

It’s also incumbent on each of us to ensure our homes are hardened. That includes clearing fire fuels from the land, removing low-hanging limbs and keeping grass and brush cut.

If we maintain our defensible space, and all our neighbors do the same, our chance of safely fleeing a fire increases.

It also increases the chance of firefighters saving our homes. They have something to work with when our fire fuels are removed. Don’t expect them to save a building surrounded by fire fuels and consumed in flame.

We must perform the same tasks as a community. We’ve made some good progress on that, with the Ponderosa West fire break being the main example.

But there’s plenty more we must do. Forests must be thinned, and that often requires the OK of a handful of different property owners, some of them various governments.

Our cities and counties must also keep at their own mitigation efforts. This is a team effort, and our western Nevada County team has done a pretty good job so far.

But there’s always more that should be done, always another overgrown field that should be cut. Acknowledging that and working together means we can protect ourselves, our neighbors and our community.

So prep your go-bags, create a plan, and pray for rain.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com

Our View: First, a few questions

It’s a question people are asking — what is going on with the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County?

For an entity billing itself as a nonprofit, local volunteer organization, the answer would seem to be: plenty. A further question would be, how much of it is legitimate concern, and how much is dirty laundry?

The Fire Safe Council, which usually flies under the radar, has made recent headlines. First, there’s a letter from a Nevada City attorney making serious allegations about financial shenanigans. County officials are looking into it. At least one Fire Safe Council member thinks a lawsuit against the nonprofit is in the works.

Then there’s the $140,000 proposed salary, not including benefits, for Jamie Jones, executive director and CEO. That salary is in a three-year contract renewal, which could be voted on at the council’s Aug. 26 meeting.

Some eyebrows have been raised about that salary, especially since the previous CEO — Joanne Drummond, who had an abrupt departure a few years ago — was making around $85,000.

Inflation is bad, but it’s not that bad.

Add to this an ongoing audit of the council, and you’ve got the makings of a fiery debacle.

Or, alternatively, maybe nothing at all. The council is the body that requested the audit of itself. A nonprofit can pay its executive director whatever it wants. And what attorney representing a former worker for any business or nonprofit wouldn’t make these claims? A lawsuit is supposedly on the way, and the stage must be set.

Also, shouldn’t a nonprofit with significantly higher revenue when compared to a few years ago properly compensate its CEO as it sees fit? A higher salary is arguably warranted.

Maybe. However, considering the allegations and their seriousness, the Fire Safe Council would be wise to cool its heels, take its time, and proceed slowly.

Fire is a paramount concern to everyone who lives in Nevada County. We harden our homes, prepare our go bags and hunt for companies willing to insure us.

The Fire Safe Council of Nevada County is at the center of many of these efforts. It prides itself on its involvement in safety efforts and education. Its defensible space clearing and wood chipping programs are regular occurrences this community needs.

The council’s reputation can’t just be good. It must be impeccable. That’s why it should wait until the completion of the audit, and the answering of any questions from board members and the public, before approving Jones’ contract renewal.

Serious allegations have been made. Approving a salary this high before those allegations have been addressed would send the community the wrong message.

Sure, any attorney can shoot off a letter making allegations. But in this case, county officials are looking into these claims. Moving forward at the council’s August meeting with potentially only preliminary audit reports would look bad.

Let the experts do their work, and then provide time for the council to discuss the audit publicly. Be sure to give notice about the meeting when this discussion will occur, and listen to public comment.

Because everything is better when the people’s business is done in the open.

The Fire Safe Council of Nevada County is a nonprofit, but it functions as a quasi-governmental body. It has open meetings and provides its agendas online.

It also has a donation button on its website, where people can give money.

“We are dedicated to making Nevada County safer from catastrophic wildfire through fire safety projects and education,” the website states. “We accomplish this mission by providing valuable training, community outreach, and fuel reduction services at no cost, or very low cost to the residents of Nevada County.”

Sounds good. But first, there are some questions.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com