In deference to all our readers and some of us here at The Bee who are bone weary of articles about candidates, campaigns and at all that, we've declared today's shorts column a politics-free zone.
There are many other important and/or interesting things going on in our community:
Don't just say 'no'
Some subjects get people so riled up that they aren't interested in collecting the facts and studying the pros and cons. It's just no, no, no from the outset.
That happened with the Modesto Irrigation District's proposed sale of water to San Francisco, and it seems to be happening again with the suggestion that that Modesto might annex the unincorporated community of Salida.
Stanislaus County Supervisor Terry Withrow first offered this suggestion shortly after taking office in 2011, but it got a low-key response. Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh threw out the idea with more gusto last spring, and the city and county agreed to pay a consultant to provide the financial impact on their respective entities.
But some Salidans want to vote now because they want the idea nixed before it gains ground. We think it makes far more sense to wait for the numbers report. After it comes out, Modesto may not want Salida after all or the county may not want to give it up.
In the meantime, the subject already has become so contentious that it makes sense for a mixed-view committee to help present the idea and the financial study results to Salida residents in a non-threatening way.
"Just say no" might be an appropriate attitude toward illegal drugs. It's not the wise response to the suggestion that annexation might be the most efficient way to provide services to a whole town.
School music lives
Public school music programs are dead and gone, right? Wrong. More than 200 young musicians from eight high schools around Stanislaus County will perform Thursday at Modesto Junior College's annual High School Orchestra Day. The event, free to the public, runs from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the main auditorium of the Performing Arts Center on the east campus.
MJC's bands, orchestras and choruses are finishing up the semester with concerts, meaning there will be a whole lot of music available on campus. The guitar department concert is Thursday evening; the beginning and enrichment piano concerts are Friday. The best place to get the times, dates and other information is on the college's Web site, www.mjc.edu, under the Calendar of Events list.
Clean water at schools
It's a simple thought: If we want youngsters to be healthy, we need to give them access to, among other things, clean and free water to drink at school. It shouldn't have taken a federal or state law to implement the obvious, but apparently it did because not all schools have complied with the requirements that went into effect in July 2011. A story by education reporter Nan Austin showed the latest form of what were once called water fountains. Now some of them are called hydration stations. Her story is available on modbee.com; search for "hydration."
Share Yosemite memories
Many residents of the area have fond memories of their visits to Yosemite National Park. They might want to consider putting them in writing for possible inclusion in a commemorative book marking the park's 150th anniversary. Amateur and professional writers are invited to submit short stories. They must be received by Feb. 1, and may be submitted electronically (preferred) at http://bitly.com/Rmllig; via mail to Kassandra Hardy, Yosemite National Park, P.O. Box 577, Yosemite 95389; or via e-mail to Kassandra_Hardy@nps.gov. More information about the anniversary is available at www.nps.gov/yose/anniversary.
No cash on Golden Gate
There's a milestone moment approaching for the Golden Gate Bridge: By about February, cash will no longer be accepted for bridge tolls. As the Marin Independent Journal reported this week, Golden Gate is going to electronic-only as a cost-saving strategy. The bridge district will eliminate 32 jobs in the changeover. Drivers will have to use FasTrak or a new system dubbed "pay by plate." Those who don't pay will be sent a bill for the $6 toll. If they don't pay within 21 days, then a $25 penalty will be added, the Independent Journal reports.
Veterans Day tomorrow
Veterans Day is Sunday, and observances are scheduled throughout this weekend. Please take the time to do something and say something to acknowledge the contributions and sacrifices of our veterans.