Letters to the Editor
Monitoring for airborne pesticides is insufficient
Insufficient air monitoring for pesticides doesn’t mean our air is safe.
Any trace of pesticides in our air should be unacceptable, but established parameters by our state allow it in the air we breathe. The Sun-Gazette’s July 24 article, “Trace levels of pesticides found in the Valley air” summarizes the Department of Pesticide Regulation’s (DPR’s) recent air monitoring results, declaring that Tulare County had the “lowest levels” of pesticides of any agricultural region in California. As a resident of Tulare County, should I have felt comforted? Well, I don’t. These monitoring results don’t reflect the exposures communities in Tulare and through the Valley face on a daily basis.
First, more than 19.5 million pounds of hazardous agricultural pesticides were used in 2017 in Tulare County, the third highest agricultural pesticide use county in the state. Yet Tulare County has only one monitor, located at Reagan Elementary, a school site not adjacent to any fields and where a ¼-mile, 6am-6pm/Mon-Fri buffer zone limits the use of drift-prone pesticides, which may have reduced air levels from the one small field within that range. I applaud such buffer zones, but they’re limited to schools and daycares. People still live and work immediately adjacent and sometimes surrounded by fields throughout Tulare County, yet this exposure isn’t reflected by DPR’s current air monitoring.
Second, samples at Reagan Elementary were only collected 60% of the year, skipping winter and early spring months when use of some pesticides peak. And samples are taken only once a week, failing to capture the daily exposure faced by our community.
Despite all these monitoring limitations, 61% of samples taken at Reagan Elementary had trace or higher levels of MITC, the breakdown product of carcinogenic metam fumigants, and 50% of samples contained trace of the carcinogenic fungicide chlorothalonil.
Do those number make me feel better? No, they don’t. It’s about time the state develop comprehensive pesticide air monitoring that reflects the true daily pesticide exposure our communities face.
County Health Centers provide best prescription for public health
The medical providers and staff at Tulare County Health Care Centers have a passion for serving our community members. As part of National Health Center Week 2019, Aug. 4–10, we invite you to come and find out why local health centers are the best prescription for public health.
At Tulare County Health Care Centers, the medical providers and staff go to extraordinary lengths to reach beyond the exam room to deliver whole-person care. Many factors contribute to a person’s overall well-being, such as homelessness, stress, behavioral health, substance abuse, and diet. At our health care centers we are committed to making community members feel welcome and treating their primary health concerns while connecting them to resources designed to address whole-person health.
Each of our health centers was recently designated as a Patient-Centered Medical Home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. This designation means our providers and staff have proven that we ensure patients are in the driver’s seat of their health care and that strong relationships are built between patients and their care team. Patient satisfaction is taken seriously, and staff demonstrate a daily commitment to providing patient-centered care while delivering high-quality health care.
Moreover, the Visalia and Farmersville Health Care Centers are paving the way in addressing the most important health concerns within our communities. We are a part of the national network of Federally Qualified Health Centers that are collectively saving taxpayers approximately $24 billion a year in health-related costs for the over 28 million people served, by preventing chronic diseases with evidence-based programs and policies and managing the unavoidable illnesses many of us face.
The Visalia and Farmersville Health Care Centers offer primary medical care, preventive and specialty care, health education, diabetes management classes, reproductive health services, substance abuse counseling, and mental health services, and we are able to make referrals to many Tulare County programs, such as Medi-Cal and other support programs, that are available to our community members. We accept most insurances and offer a sliding scale fee program for those who are uninsured or underinsured.
Again, as we celebrate National Health Center Week, we invite you to come see how our local health care centers in Visalia and Farmersville are healing our communities.
Tulare County Health & Human
Local neglected, abused children need our help
August is upon us, and it has brought me clarity and insight into the struggles and fight that I find myself and our organization in. There’s a shortage of volunteers for our abused and neglected children in Tulare County. I’m reminded of this fact whenever I go into a court proceeding and listen intently when a case is called, and a young child is brought forward. My initial thought is always, “This kid could use a voice; this kid could use a CASA.”
The tragedy of child abuse in our community is often examined in the media. Child abuse seems more heartbreaking when it occurs at the hands of a parent or caregiver, leaving the community asking how such a thing can happen. However, abuse and neglect are prevalent in Tulare County. It’s not a societal issue. It’s a common community issue.
Often the blame is placed on government agencies. Though it may provide a relief to name a person or agency as responsible, to do so often oversimplifies the complex reasons children in our community continue to suffer. Those of us who work or work alongside individuals in the foster care system know that it is a system overburdened and under-resourced, struggling to meet the demands placed upon it. At the height of the struggles are budget cuts and staff reductions which place additional strain on an agency already stretched to the limit.
Meanwhile, children are at risk; they still will suffer unimaginable abuse and neglect. Nothing will have changed, and all will seem well until the next tragedy occurs. The cycle will repeat itself until the community comes forward to meet the challenge. That’s where awareness and education come into the play. At CASA we provide orientations and 40 hours’ worth of education, which turns questions into answers.
You can help by becoming a CASA Volunteer. You can help by becoming educated about the true reasons behind child abuse and, in turn, educate others. A court-appointed special advocate speaks up for abused and neglected children in court and social services proceedings. CASA provides an opportunity for the community to become part of the solution. Since 1984, more than 900 CASA volunteers have provided a voice in court for more than 1,700 abused and neglected children in Tulare County.
There are many allies in the fight to stop child abuse and neglect in our community, agencies/individuals that provide mentoring, counseling, monetary gifts. There are neighbors and family members who step in to provide child care, transportation or simply lend an ear to listen. Still, we need more people to step forward and make a commitment, small or large, to ensure our most vulnerable citizens and our most valuable assets — our children — are safe from harm. We cannot wait for the next child to be hurt before we act. Join CASA of Tulare County. Let’s work together to end abuse and neglect in our community. Blessings,
CASA of Tulare County
Appreciation for speedy dog park maintenance
I frequent our lovely Exeter Bark Park with my three pups. I noticed a couple of things in need of repair for awhile and in the last few days, the park wasn’t being mowed.
Wednesday morning, July 31, while my dogs were playing, a city maintenance employee came to the park to replace doggy bags in the dispensers and I asked him about my concerns. He mentioned the yard maintenance is under contract to an outside company and took a look at the problems. He said he would tell his supervisor or the city manager, I can’t remember which. When I arrived at the park this morning, Thursday, the park had been mowed, the handle of the drinking fountain in the small dog area had been replaced and the issue of the service gate between the small and large dog areas not closing had been taken care of!
Kudos to Patrick, the city employee—and to the secretary who called in the order—for their quick action on these items. I also want to commend the Exeter residents who volunteer their time on the Bark Park Committee for their sustained dedication in keeping the Bark Park a safe and beautiful place for our dogs to play off-leash! Regards,