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Ellie

We now have two Ellies on the ranch; one is a beautiful cat that we were lucky to find at the local shelter and the other is an orphaned calf. ďMissĒ Ellie lives indoors exclusively being a lovely grey and apricot color with big green eyes. She is a delight to be around, though she has never developed an instinct for catching mice. Let me correct that. While she can catch mice and has, upon occasion, caught one, she views them differently from our outdoor cats. They are there to entertain her and when she becomes bored with gently batting them around, she lets them scurry off to parts unknown.

Living in the countryside, one inevitably is assaulted by visits of all sorts of wildlife. It isnít really an assault, but one is made constantly aware of the fact that there are many more of them than there are of you Ė and you need to learn to live with that. The outdoor cats, Jan and Deana, are extremely proficient in keeping the wildlife numbers under control. They have captured everything from gophers to mice to rattlesnakes. We are grateful for their efforts and reward them with extra treats and a warm bed safe in the garage at night.

Miss Ellie, the cat, lounges most of the day looking peaceful and happy. She likes to chase toys and things on a string for a short time before she collapses on the warm bathroom floor to rest up from all that exertion.

Ellie the calf lives in the horse barn at the present time on a bed of oat hay with alfalfa in one corner and a bucket of water in the other, as she canít reach the automatic waterer. She is all black with big, beautiful, soulful eyes and long eyelashes. She is also very friendly. If you hang your hand over the door, she will come up and lick it. While I cannot pretend that she is doing this because she likes it, I have learned that she is a very enthusiastic eater. Currently we feed her milk in a bottle specially made to feed young calves.

About 4 in the afternoon and every morning, someone appears in Ellieís stall with the bottle. Stand back, because she will run you over to get to it. She immediately clamps onto the nipple, and within less than five minutes she has consumed the entire bottle. While she is eating, her little tail twirls around with satisfaction. It is pretty entertaining to watch!

We look forward to being surrogate parents to Ellie until she grows up, where she can fend for herself out with the herd. Until that happens, we will continue to care for her needs and hope that she grows up to be a big beautiful cow.


Highway 154

I have written frequently about the problems facing drivers on Highway 154. As a longtime resident on the road, I have many years of first-hand experience with those issues. Over the years, I have witnessed changes not only to the volume of vehicles but to the road itself. They have not often been positive changes. Attempts have been made to make the road safer by straightening out numerous curves as best as could be done. The road has even been moved a number of times in a variety of places. All along, people have died on this road at predictable places for understandable reasons. They were either speeding or drunk or both. This led to unsafe driving practices that were unrelated to the road itself.

For years, people have told me that they would rather drive on 101 because they felt 154 was not a safe road to travel. As one of many who have to travel on 154 because we live on it, I usually respond that it is not the road that is unsafe but the way people drive it.

In the 1960s, the highway became a commuter road with vast numbers of people choosing to cut through the Valley on their way north or south rather than go on the 101, thinking it somehow would cut time off their trip. We used to laugh at people who took chances to pass another vehicle, only to be stopped at the signal light right in front of the car they passed.

Caltrans, in its infinite wisdom, decided to start adding passing lanes where possible on the assumption that it would prevent impatient drivers from taking unnecessary risks. What regular drivers on the road started noticing was not a lessening of dangerous driving as we had hoped, but rather faster even more risky driving habits.

More passing lanes were added encouraging faster driving and more through traffic; something we really didnít need. About the same time, traffic from parts south and north going to the casino exponentially inflated the volume of cars now coming at all times of the day and night. Also, at around this time, there was an increase in through truck traffic, something we never had before. While we have always had some truck traffic due to the need for local businesses to receive or ship goods, we have recently experienced trucks not only traveling in the middle of the night through the Valley as a shortcut but also spending the night in our wide spots along the road.

Now there is a move to restrict trucks either by weight or materials. While I feel very badly for the recent victims of the truck accident on the Santa Barbara side, the reports of discussions by SBCAG indicate a severe lack of understanding of the situation. Years ago, before someone made 154 a ďscenicĒ highway, hazardous material carriers were banned from portions of the road. I think a lot of real information must be learned before any changes are made.

Are you going to ban trucks from the rock quarry that carries a material not available for another 300 miles? How about trucks carrying grapes from Valley harvests or vegetable trucks? What about cattle trucks or horse vans or fuel trucks that provide fuel for tractors that harvest those crops grown here? Are you going to ban them, too? If you do, you risk being sued for destroying businesses. How many jobs are you willing to destroy in the name of making 154 safer?

How about funding a more vigorous law enforcement program instead of trying to promote fish that donít exist? I have seen a dramatic drop in speed and stupid driving when CHP is around. It is really wonderful to know that some idiot isnít going to shoot past you as you are trying to merge back into one lane. This is so commonplace now, that it is unusual when no one tries to push you off the road.

Ms. Farr, do you intend to get information from those who would be impacted by your wanting to ban certain vehicles from 154, or will you simply ignore them as usual? What residents have you reached out to hear what their experiences are? Do you or Caltrans have any idea what it is like to live or work on 154? Do you even know how many of us there are? I am appalled that you have already had one long meeting with no notice or outreach to the community that you are supposed to represent. Bob Field, who apparently commented at the meeting, does not even live on 154 Ė so how would he know about what goes on there 24 hours a day?


Outsiders

Watching all of the ads, flyers and road signs regarding the upcoming election has made me very wary of outsiders. Time after time, I see people who are not directly impacted by a given issue contributing, speaking loudly, or endorsing candidates or propositions or local elections when their opinion really shouldnít count. Many people do not have enough time or energy to really study who is paying for what and what their motives might be. Lately there have been official meetings such as the SBCAG meeting and another in Los Olivos regarding their supposed groundwater/septic problem that no local was invited to. All of the county people were there, however. Why is that?

We clearly have problems with 154 and traffic in general in the Valley, and we also clearly have no evidence ever presented to show that there is a pollution problem in Los Olivos. It was just announced as fact in the 1970s. Most people assume that it is true but when questioned during a VPAC meeting a couple of years ago, no evidence was forthcoming.

In the election for the board of ID#1, I have noticed that a large majority of the supporters donít live within the district boundaries. I donít live within the district, but I do own property served by the district, but I still donít get a vote. Why is that?

Have you looked to see who the donors are and where they live? Do they have some ulterior motive in trying to sway the voters to change the makeup of the board? How many of them are already associated with water companies? Are you aware that some of the candidates have only been to one meeting, and when invited to a meeting to discuss a recent audit didnít bother to show up? Is this the level of interest that you would expect of someone making decisions about your water supply? I suggest you check it out for yourself.

I am really struck by the small group of outsiders who are trying to orchestrate many important parts of our daily lives. It currently ranges from the assault on the owners of Matteiís Tavern where their property rights are being taken away, to the takeover of our water district, to the potential destruction of numerous valley businesses because of bad decisions about 154 and the machinations being put on by those outsiders who would change the town of Los Olivos.

Do we need to just sit by and allow these things to happen? I hope that you care enough about this valley to stave off these efforts to make us into something we are not. We are not someone elseís vision; we are ourselves, unique as each other area in this county is. Why would we want to be anything else? Your votes this election will reflect your commitment to the future. Please vote responsibly.