Sunday, 25 February 2024

Opinion

Dr. Nicki Thomas. Courtesy photo.

School funding in California depends on both state funding and local tax dollars.

State funding can only be used for operational expenses like teacher salaries, supplies, and other materials directly related to student instruction. For facilities maintenance and construction, schools depend on local tax dollars.

In 2016, Kelseyville voters passed Measure U by a significant margin, allowing us to make essential upgrades and repairs to our schools. We kept the community informed of our progress along the way, so people knew we respected and appreciated their support.

Thanks to sensible planning from our school board and careful execution from our staff and community partners, we were able to complete projects at every single school, even in the midst of a pandemic.

Some of the highlights included a new multi-use room, or MUR, at Kelseyville Elementary that now serves as both a cafeteria and a gymnasium. Before we had a MUR, kids didn’t have a covered space where they could eat lunch.

At Riviera Elementary, we upgraded the parking lot to make it safer and enhance the flow of traffic. At Mountain Vista Middle School, we renovated classrooms and bathrooms and added shade covers over ADA-compliant walkways. At Kelseyville High School, we built a state-of-the-art shop building and installed air conditioning in the gym.

These enhancements continue to make a big difference for our students. However, our work isn’t finished. Due to increased enrollment and the normal wear and tear of so many students on our campuses, we need to invest in our schools again. This should be the last time we request a bond measure for many years.

To figure out exactly what we needed, we hired a company to objectively assess our school campuses. Here’s what they said.

Original and historic buildings throughout the district are especially in urgent need of modernizing in order to meet current safety and accessibility standards, as well as access to the digital education tools necessary for our 21st century learning environment … Given increasing construction, maintenance, and utility costs, as well as the need for facilities to serve as an important community resource for emergency shelter in extreme weather and disaster events, this needs assessment focuses on safety, accessibility, durability and cost containment/mitigation.

Right now, Kelseyville Elementary is bursting at the seams. For the 2023-24 school year, we had to deny requests from several families who wanted to transfer in, and still, we are at 600 students (which is significantly beyond the population the school was built for).

With Measure Q funding, we would be able to update and build more classrooms, modernize the playground, replace non-operable windows, repair and repaint walls, and more.

At Riviera Elementary, we are also planning for a future with more students. This creates the need for more classrooms, an updated HVAC (heating and air conditioning) system, and replacing floors, cabinets, and data infrastructure.

At Mountain Vista Middle School, we’re planning on more classrooms, an upgrade to the irrigation system, replacing and repainting damaged walls and ceiling tiles, and more. I was principal at MVMS when the last round of updates occurred. After that, the new classrooms and bathrooms were never hit by vandals, only older parts of the campus. Students took pride in the parts of their school that were in good repair.

At Kelseyville High School, the pipe that carries sewage is half as big as it should be. This results in back-ups and problems that none of us wants to think about, but that our janitors and maintenance folks cannot avoid. Roofs and exterior siding are in need of phased replacement, and the remaining portable buildings on campus are more than 30 years old, which is far past their expiration date.

The point is, we are not asking for fancy upgrades. We are asking for essential maintenance and additional space to meet our growing student population. A new apartment building is under construction in the Kelseyville Elementary area, which will only increase our need for more room.

We’re happy to welcome more families to our Kelseyville community, but we need enough funding to provide adequate school facilities. Kelseyville Unified is proud of our good reputation, and we are dedicated to maintaining it.

We know that when a school district has a good reputation, it's easier for businesses to recruit employees to the area. There’s a lot of research that says well-maintained schools contribute to a positive campus culture, which increases student attendance and therefore, performance.

Also, great facilities attract great teachers and we are competing for staff because of the nationwide teacher shortage.

The bottom line is that our kids deserve a safe and comfortable place to learn. They need classrooms where air conditioning works in the summer and heaters work in the winter, allowing them to concentrate on their studies rather than the temperature. They need doors and windows that seal properly, furniture that isn’t broken, and walls where the paint isn’t peeling off. They need brightly lit classrooms and safe playground equipment.

Investing in schools is about the biggest bang for your buck you can hope for. These students are our future doctors, lawyers, teachers, and law enforcement officers. They will be taking care of us eventually. Let’s take care of them now.

Dr. Nicki Thomas is superintendent of the Kelseyville Unified School District in Kelseyville, California.

Citizens for Healing is an outlier group of Lake County residents who have filed an application to the federal Board on Geographic Names in Reston, Virginia. They are proposing to change the name of Kelseyville to “Konocti.”

The decision for their campaign is based on the egregious and horrendous behavior toward the Native Americans of this valley by Andrew Kelsey and his business partner, Charles Stone, who lived here from 1847 to 1849.

No one condones the reprehensible behavior of these men. Andrew Kelsey and Charles Stone were murdered by local Native Americans in 1849.

The history of the Native Americans who were the first stewards of this area 10,000 years ago is appreciated and respected. Their story is important to the history and culture of this region. This period in time is a painful part of the history of Kelseyville, and it is acknowledged.

Changing the name of Kelseyville will not change the past. This initiative divides the community rather than “heals” and the platform to discuss the past may disappear with the name. It is best to educate about the history instead of trying to erase it.

In 1854 new settlers, moving westward, came into this isolated valley. The new settlers were mainly farmers, but there were also merchants, blacksmiths, teachers and pastors. These were families who were coming from areas such as Massachusetts, New York, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri. They blended to make up the tapestry of this evolving town. They were the new face of this community and created an honorable town.

Kelseyville, formerly Uncle Sam, was officially renamed by the United States Post office in October 1882. It is believed that the community was named Kelseyville, not to honor Andrew Kelsey, but because, as often happened in the settling of new communities, he was the first man to build an adobe cabin in an unnamed area, on an unnamed creek.

Kelseyville is a diverse, rural town made up of different ethnicities. Throughout the last century, Kelseyville has thrived because of the residents who have worked diligently to make it a respected and inclusive town.

Kelseyville is situated at the base of the powerful and beautiful mountain, Mount Konocti. The Native Americans of this valley value it as sacred land; this sacred land belongs to the whole county of Lake.

Changing the name of Kelseyville to Konocti would create a sense of confusion and a burden to the historic school district in the community of Lower Lake that is called Konocti Unified School District.

There is great pride in the town of Kelseyville. The Kelseyville Business Association presents five major festivals a year: Bacon Fest; Dia de la Independencia, honoring the Kelseyville Hispanic families; the Kelseyville Pear Festival, honoring the agricultural heritage of Kelseyville; the Farm to Fork Dinner on Main Street, celebrating the food of Lake County; and Christmas in the Country, celebrating the joy of the season with the Light Parade.

The leaders of this town have worked tirelessly for the past 30 years building the brand of Kelseyville. This town draws thousands of visitors all year.

The community of Kelseyville is open to anyone who wishes a place at the table. It is a community who works hard to make Lake County a better place for everyone.

There will be no winners if the name is changed. It will be divisive, creating irreparable harm and financial hardship to the businesses, the school district, the fire department, the post office, the townspeople and Lake County government.

Kelseyville is rich in history and beauty. Let’s celebrate each other.

Save the Name of Kelseyville Committee includes Chair Marilyn Holdenried, Mark Borghesani, Jim Comisky, Helen Finch, Barbara Green, Debbi Holdenried, Patsy Huggins, Lois and Mike Jordan, Tammi Mandeville, Tammy Myers, Jamie Patten, Trena Moore Pauly, Kathy Prather and Vicki Totorica. For additional information go to “SaveKelseyville” Facebook page.

Dr. Nicki Thomas. Courtesy photo.

As the holiday season approaches, excitement and anticipation are in the air. Festive decorations fill the streets and stores. We’re bombarded with images of beautifully wrapped gifts, freshly baked cookies, and advertisements for every new gadget under the sun.

But for some, rather than a time of joy and celebration, the holidays can bring up complex emotions like grief, loneliness, financial stress, and unmet expectations. These not-so-cheery aspects of the holidays are hard for adults, but even more so for kids, who may not have the experience and skills to handle hard situations.

Curious children not only compare gifts, but traditions and celebrations as well. In our community Winter Break is often synonymous with Christmas Break — but it’s important to remember it’s not the only holiday celebrated.

Isolation

A big part of school is finding your crowd — the people who make you feel like you belong. The holidays can put a wedge between people, making them feel lonely or inferior. Not everyone celebrates Christmas. Wedge. Not everyone can afford the newest tech or fashion. Wedge. Not everyone is excited to spend time at home. Wedge.

And, anytime there’s a break from school, some students will lose more than just classroom instruction — they’ll miss the free meals that keep them fed, the social interactions that bring them joy, and the care of trusted adults at school who make them feel safe and seen.

There’s just no getting around it–the holidays can magnify stress, which feels so much worse with holiday carols playing in the background. Here are some issues to consider with ideas on how you might reduce the emotional challenges that can accompany this time of year.

Grief

One of the most difficult aspects of the holidays is navigating loss. Whether the absence of a loved one is due to death, divorce, or simply a change in circumstances, the holidays can make that loss feel especially painful.

Although it’s hard, it’s important for parents to acknowledge these feelings in themselves and to encourage their children to express their grief rather than bottle it up. If you’re a parent of a Kelseville student and you believe your student needs extra support right now, please reach out to your school’s counselor to discuss options.

One idea to help reduce the pain of an absent loved one is to give yourself permission to create new traditions. Rather than trying to keep things the way they’ve always been, change things up.

Financial stress

Financial stress can also make the holidays harder. Not only are there higher expenses, there are also higher expectations. Between childcare, food, activities, and gifts, it can be hard to keep up. Then, when children come home asking for unaffordable gifts, parents can feel doubly sad.

Locally, Toys for Tots can provide assistance for families who are struggling financially. And if your child attends Kelseyville Elementary School or Mountain Vista Middle School, don’t hesitate to contact your child’s school counselor to request that your child be put on the staff gift tree. Every year Kelseyville Unified employees contribute to holiday gifts for students to make their season a little brighter.

Other options

The holidays come with many challenges, but there’s still so much joy to be experienced and memories to be made. So what can we do to make this season more enjoyable for parents and children?

It can be helpful to focus on experiences rather than “things,” such as spending quality time together playing games, volunteering, or going outdoors. Go for a walk or hike, play in the snow (if we get any), or come up with a scavenger hunt. If you’re having trouble thinking of new ideas, Google “free activities with kids” and pages of ideas will appear.

Here’s one I found: www.verywellfamily.com/absolutely-free-activities-for-kids-2997490.

Family activities can create precious memories without the need for extravagant spending.

One activity that is scientifically proven to improve people’s mental health is practicing gratitude.

Consider asking everyone in your family to make a list of the things they are most thankful for — right now and throughout the year.

Are your kids thankful for the way the family dog greets them each morning? Are they thankful for playing at the park? All those little things add up.

While the holidays can pose some challenges, they also offer an opportunity to teach kids resilience and how to find joy in everyday experiences.

Dr. Nicki Thomas is superintendent for the Kelseyville Unified School District.

Dr. Damanpreet Jamarai. Courtesy photo.

February is Heart Health Awareness month, a great time to start on the path to better heart health and wellbeing and to understand the risk factors that can contribute to heart problems.

Late last year, the America’s Health Rankings report highlighted a startling fact: heart disease is one of eight chronic conditions that has reached record highs since the report began tracking health and wellbeing in the United States.

Despite a decline in deaths tied to heart disease, it remains the leading cause of death among men and women. Heart disease costs the U.S. health system $216 billion per year, according to the CDC, not including an additional $147 billion in lost wages and productivity.

Risk factors for heart disease include conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity as well as unhealthy behaviors such as physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol abuse.

In California, 25.4 percent of adults over age 65 qualified as physically inactive while more than 23.9% are obese and just over 7% smoke, according to the America’s Health Rankings 2023 Senior report.

What's more, the report shows strong disparities exist across geographic, racial, and economic groups, putting certain people at greater risk of developing heart problems.

The prevalence of heart disease, like overall health and wellbeing, is influenced by the “social determinants of health” such as lack of access to transportation, healthy foods, and safe housing.

Talk to your health plan and your health care provider about resources that may be available to you to help improve your health and wellbeing.

According to the American Heart Association, there are immediate steps you can take to help you live a longer, healthier life and help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

First, eat a healthier diet. Center your eating plan around vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and fish. Limit sweetened drinks, added sugars, processed meats, sodium and saturated fats.

Second, be physically active and keep any eye on your weight. Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week.

Lastly, live tobacco free. If you don’t think you can quit for good on your own, ask for help and talk to your healthcare provider.

For more helpful health and wellness information, visit https://www.uhc.com/news-articles/medicare-articles/medicare.

Dr. Damanpreet Jamarai is chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement of California.

This year we had a long and beautiful fall. The colder days and nights now bring us to the winter season.

Winter is a time for slowing down. Nature has moved from the leaves changing colors and falling and the gift of releasing and letting go, to now receive the time of Winter, the most Yin time of year. A time of rest, stillness, and replenishment.

A time for the seed underground to grow strong roots, storing up and conserving energy, to support growth in the coming Spring.

Because we are also a part of nature, winter is also our time to restore our resources and conserve energy. It is a time to connect with our deepest wisdom, and potential energy that energizes us to realize anything is possible if we simply follow our true nature.

In Chinese Medicine the winter season is the water element.

Water is about our ability to flow and overcome obstacles.

Water is transformative.

As the most yin of all the seasons and the elements, it is a time for stepping back from the outside world and instead, turn inward, to reconnect with ourselves.

When we take quiet time to go inward, and ‘be', we connect with our deepest essence and allow an internal, intuitive process to be heard.

The body/physical gift of water element is rest, solitude, re-balancing, and replenishment. When we have enough reserves, we have enough strength, drive and ambition. In the winter we need to manage our physical energy by not overdoing it or we can become tired and exhausted.

The mind/emotional gift of water is courage, faith, and trust. It is the renewed sense that we can count on our essence and the 'blueprint' for our lives. What happens if we become out of balance? We can feel anxiety, fear, and stress from not being able to live our fullest lives.

The spirit gift of water is the will, the capacity to persevere, listen to our intuition, and tap into our internal energy, so we can grow ‘roots’ that anchor us in who we are.

Keys to staying balanced in the winter season.

Allow yourself to be quiet and listen to your deepest self-essence.

Stay warm, reduce outward activity to conserve energy in the colder, darker months.

Take a quiet walk outside in the fresh air, listen to relaxing music, read books or listen to books on tape.

Take time for extra self-care: get a massage, take a soothing bath, or a hot foot soak. Get an acupuncture treatment to stay balanced!

The winter season is a good time to discover more about yourself through reflection, keeping a journal, paying attention to your dreams, and the practice of meditation.

Do more moderate exercise like Chi Gong, Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates.

Daily vitamins can help to keep your immune system strong: try taking multi- vitamins and multiminerals, B vitamins, Vitamin C and Vitamin D.

Drink lots of warm herbal teas, like chamomile, ginger tea, Bengal Spice and Good Earth tea. Eat warm foods, like soups, plenty of steamed vegetables, and complex carbohydrates. Have meals with whole grains, squashes, beans and peas, and dark leafy greens like swiss chard, kale, and bok choy.

Avoid too many cold foods and drinks. Although it is hard over the holidays, now try to have less sugar and dairy, as they can deplete your immune system.

Drink plenty of good quality water. Drink half your body weight in ounces. For instance, if you weigh 150 pounds, you need to drink a minimum of 75 ounces of water per day.

Stay warm, cover the back of your neck to protect against the cold wind. According to Chinese Medicine the wind can cause colds and flus. Also cover your low back area, to protect your kidneys, and your reserves of energy.

Follow the wisdom of water.

Be effortless in your response to its environment, adapting to change, yielding yet persevering, with the courage to stay the course, and staying rooted to one’s essence. Find the quiet contentment that comes with resting and waiting, being in the space of hibernation as you replenish your reserves.

Spring always follows winter. We don’t know what the spring will look like, yet if we have followed nature’s way and allowed ourselves to be immersed in winter’s gift of rest and replenishment, we will emerge in spring with renewed, vibrant energy, rooted in a clearer vision, and a deeper sense of how we want to show up and manifest our life.

Wendy Weiss is a licensed acupuncturist based in Lower Lake, California, telephone 707-277-0891. Visit her website at www.wendyweissacupuncture.com.

My name is Ray Buenaventura. I am your newly appointed chief public defender. I was appointed by the Lake County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 19, and began serving Oct. 16.

My background includes over 30 years of experience as a criminal defense lawyer, with more than 100 jury trials, ranging from minor infractions to murder cases with special circumstances (i.e. death penalty-eligible cases). I am a Certified Criminal Law Specialist and have taught evidence, election law and legal research and writing. I also created the first Youth Court Program in Santa Clara County. I am additionally on the Board of Trustees of the California State Bar Association, and have served on the Criminal Law Advisory Commission and the Attorney Discipline Committee.

As your public defender, it is my responsibility to establish a premier indigent defense program in Lake County. My goal is to ensure every Lake County defendant receives a professional and appropriate defense. I will devote my energy to promoting the public interest through innovative programs that can truly make a difference. I will work to build an effective and transformative Public Defender Office everyone can rely on.

I cannot do it alone. Community-focused, holistic public defense matters, and I want to work with you.

People should get the services they need to be successful; when they do, they are less likely to offend in the future. Building relationships, promoting engagement from every Lake County community, is essential to effectively supporting people that become involved with the criminal justice system.

I write this letter to extend an invitation to anyone and everyone willing to meet with me.

I am particularly interested in meeting people involved in rehabilitation programs, mental and behavioral health-focused organizations, youth groups, veterans, Lake County’s seven sovereign tribal nations, seniors, homeless shelters, food distribution centers, mentorship groups and vocational training programs.

Please feel free to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 707- 263-0133.

Working together, we can change the course of people’s lives. Will you join me?

Ray Buenaventura is the chief public defender of Lake County, California, and the mayor of Daly City, California.

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