In response to online-exclusive investigative coronavirus coverage

What Would it Take to Leave the Neighborhood?

I really appreciate the great local coverage you’re providing. The updates from Tahoe Forest are fantastic community-service journalism.

One thing I’d like to get updates on is the availability of coronavirus antibody testing in Truckee. Like many people, I wonder if our family has already been exposed. (I had a work trip to the Bay Area in February for a meeting with coworkers from Europe, then I got quite sick myself, heard other coworkers at the meeting were sick thereafter, then all my three kids got moderately sick, and finally my wife got as sick as she’s ever been with most of the symptoms of COVID-19 and was diagnosed with pneumonia at Tahoe Forest in early March but couldn’t get tested…)


Anyhow, if I knew antibody testing was available, that’s something I’d leave the neighborhood for! Thanks again for all the good work you’re doing,

~ Ben Shefftz, Soda Springs, via letter

In response to Tahoe Talks conference call Straight From the Source

Second Home is Where the Heart is

Personally, I am very fortunate to be in a fairly (but not entirely) unique position where this teleconference touched me on many aspects of my life. I live in Nevada County (Lake of the Pines area) and have worked there for Sierra Nevada Home Care and Hospice of the Foothills in the past. My family is lucky to share the ownership of a second family home near Meeks Bay in El Dorado County. I want to note that I do not consider our Tahoe “cabin” as a vacation home, it truly is a second home to me and precious beyond a price tag. This has been my home away from home for nearly my entire life and I treasure the thought of being able to share it with future generations.

We have refused to allow even close friends who have wanted to rent our Tahoe cabin in the past few months so that they could just get away for a while. Frankly, it has caused some tension in those friendships, but I have been able to cite the special needs of the Tahoe area with direct quotes from local news reports and advisories. Thank you for your honesty and fact-based truth! Our second home has been vacant since early February as a result. So far, I have been resisting the urge to go up there and get away myself. But, I confess, our second home is my “Tara” and I need to be recharged! Who knows what havoc the local neighborhood bear and invading ground squirrels have done to our home in the past three months!

I have sat in on many Zoom meetings in recent weeks, and yours was conducted in a very professional and informative manner. Thank you for the opportunity to participate and expand both my working and personal knowledge of the work you are accomplishing!

When we do visit our second home, you can be assured that we will, as always, be respectful of the full-time local residents and businesses. We always tread lightly and leave no trace.

~ Linda Adam, Meeks Bay, via letter

How to Handle Second Homeowners

Eighty-plus percent of homeowners in Tahoe Donner own second homes.

We are at risk now just as much as the 20% left that are there to protect their homes and equity investment as well as health issues. If you deny us access to our homes, who is going to provide the extra insurance coverage cost for being non occupied? As an example, Farmers Insurance, one of the few fire insurance companies willing to service the area, reduces your coverage to 60% if the home is unoccupied for more than 30 days at a time! Will they change the coverage of all homes as a result, including fulltimers, because you are next to 80% of the unoccupied homes?

Who is going to check on water leakage, potential fire danger issues, electric and appliance failures, infestations of rats, chipmunks, bears, etc.? In addition, I’m concerned about vagrants taking advantage and occupying a huge inventory of vacant homes. It happened several years ago when a group of gypsies broke into vacant homes. Regarding health coverage, Truckee is 30 minutes from Reno. Reno may well be capable of accommodating more patients than someone’s hometown three to four hours away.

Think again if you think it’s a good policy to keep 80% of homeowners from protecting their property. Not going to happen.

It’s time the 80% register to vote in Truckee so we have a say in matters that directly affect us!

~ Suzy Knisley, Truckee, via letter

In response to Rosie the Riveter and the WASP

WASP in the Family

I read with interest the article written by Pat Dillon and was surprised by the mention of my grand-aunt, Gertrude “Tommy” Tompkins Silver. My family has continued to search for her and the P-51D she was flying, with the assistance of many people who have volunteered their time, money, and skills.

This coin was awarded to the descendants of Gertrude “Tommy” Tompkins Silver, female wartime pilot hero of WWII, who was featured
in last month’s In The Past. Lo and behold, the article caught the eye of her great-niece, Truckee frequenter and Moonshine afficionado Laura Whittall. Courtesy photo

I had the honor of attending the 2009 ceremony for the WASPs in Washington D.C. and accepted the Congressional Gold Medal (see attached photos of the front and the back of the medal) on Gertrude’s behalf.

I was also privileged to participate in the memorial service for the 38 WASPs who died during their service. The memorial occurred at the Air Force Memorial, before the festivities began. A rose was given to each of the families of the 38 who died. As each name was read, we placed each rose on a lucite table located in the center, until all 38 roses were in a loose pile. The service included many speakers and a missing man formation, with the jet peeling away straight up the middle of the arches at the memorial. That service, and the entire event that followed, was a moving tribute to women who contributed such a valuable service during WWII and then were sent home. It is an experience I will never forget.

I was also lucky to meet many WASPs and their grown children (affectionately called KOWs, Kids of WASPs) at one of the last WASP reunions in Tucson, Arizona. Listening to these women reminisce about their time as a WASP and hearing them sing their songs was taking a step back into history.

Without a doubt, as Pat Dillon said, “…women can — and did — do anything as well as the men in the effort to save the world.” That comment is certainly true of the WASPs.

~ Laura Whittall, Sacramento (Truckee frequenter), via letter

Kennedy Will Support Constituents, McClintock Did Not

Few of us were alive in 1918, so this pandemic has added a new and gruesome anxiety to our lives. We live in a fragile environment, where the weather makes the news, it determines our visitor numbers and our very existence. Our community is fragile, too many of us are out of work. We’re not sure where our next meal will come from; will our children fall behind? What if we come down with a disease that seems to know no bounds? Will we be able to cover our medical expenses with or without health insurance?

Just when we needed help and assurances and certainty, for our families, our caregivers and our businesses to get through COVID-19, our Representative Tom McClintock said NO, one of only 40 members of Congress to vote NO on the federal stimulus funding. He could have supported his constituents. He didn’t, he failed us.

We can do better. Let him know how you feel in November. Join us in voting for Brynne Kennedy for Congress.

~ Paco Lindsay and Theresa May Duggan, Meeks Bay, via letter

To Mr. Matthew Green, Acting Sierra District Superintendent

Dear Matt,

staff are still hard at work during the pandemic, with added duties like making sure recreators adhere to social distancing rules. Courtesy photo

The Board of Directors of the Sierra State Parks Foundation would like to extend our sincere appreciation to you and your staff for the professional manner in which you continue to serve the public and mission of California State Parks during the COVID-19 pandemic. The strong leadership exhibited, from permanent and seasonal employees alike, serves as a model of public service. We recognize the hard work of the maintenance staff in keeping our park facilities functioning and safe, the park rangers who are ensuring that our visitors adhere to social distancing, the cultural and natural resources staff as they are stepping into new roles, the administrative staff reacting to consistently changing realities, and the interpretive staff providing creative programming and messaging.

As your partner, it is our honor to be a part of the effort of keeping parks relevant and finding a new normal during this challenge, and we look forward to resuming operations on a wider scale. Please extend our message of appreciation to the men and women of the Lake Tahoe/Donner California State Parks.

~ Lolly Kupec, Sierra State Parks Foundation president, and Heidi Doyle, executive director, via letter

Appreciation for an Officer’s Kindness

Dear Sheriff Balaam: Thank you, thank you, for the kindness of your officer W. Daniel #2890 in this time of stress for us all! He is a credit to your office and to all law enforcement professionals.

I am a first responder family nurse practitioner at the Western Sierra Medical Clinic in Kings Beach, California. As you can imagine, the COVID-19 epidemic has greatly increased the challenges, dangers, and stress of the work I do.

On Tuesday morning, April 16, I reported to the clinic prior to 8 a.m., and got a text from my medical assistant telling me that she was ill and would not be able to come to work that day. Then there were technical issues that interfered with our daily 8 a.m. Zoom meeting with the medical staff of clinics located in other locations. My medical director, Dr. Christina Lasich, told me that I should go home to Incline Village, and work remotely from there, as she was concerned about security issues if I stayed in the Kings Beach clinic alone.

Driving along Lakeshore Boulevard to go home, I was stressed and distracted, worried about my medical assistant, my safety, and the difficulty communicating with the other clinics. I let my speedometer get over the 25 mph posted limit.

Officer W. Daniel stopped me, and after checking my driving history, he very graciously let me off with a warning. Of course, I was very relieved not to have the points on my driving record, or to need to appear in court, or pay a fine.

Thank you, thank you, Officer Daniel. I do sincerely appreciate your kindness. I had seen pictures of the nurses in Italy, France, and New York City being saluted by the grateful citizens, but I had not heard of nurses getting that kind of respect and appreciation in our part of the country. Thank you to Officer Daniel for restoring my faith in people and saving me from an even more terrible day. It seemed like a salute of respect and appreciation from the Sheriff’s department to the profession of nursing.

~ Shirley Neely McCulloch, Kings Beach, via letter


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