Cheers for Pinnacles expansion; jeers for the state budget
THUMBS UP: For Peggy and Stu Kingman, who came to an agreement sell their 2,000-acre Pinnacles Ranch to the Nature Conservancy, which will put it in the hands of the National Park Service forever. The Kingman’s have waited to sell the ranch for more than a decade to ensure it would eventually become part of the neighboring Pinnacles National Monument. Their patience is admirable, and their property ads more luster to San Benito County’s crown jewel, giving it a 120-spot campground, 700 acres of oak woodlands, extensive grasslands and a unique wildlife habitat.

Kudos also should be doled out to Congressman Sam Farr, our senators and the Nature Conservancy for making the $5.3 million deal happen.

THUMBS UP: For Council of Government Directors who voted last week to move ahead on the Highway 25 Bypass project, which will send the state highway and its traffic around the heart of Hollister. The $28 million project had been threatened with lawsuits from landowners whose property will be used for the new road, but COG rightly voted to move ahead. COG should make sure it gives everyone a fair price for their land, but this long-awaited project must go forward before costs rise even higher. Once complete, the bypass will mean the city has control over San Benito Street in downtown, and will be able to make it a pedestrian-friendly area attractive to shoppers.

THUMBS DOWN: For the state budget, which threatens to yank $18.5 million from rural sheriff’s departments around the state. San Benito County would lose $500,000 per year if the funding is cut. That means a deputy to patrol the vast stretches of rural South County, a school resource officer for the San Benito High School and a correctional officer are at risk. So far, San Benito County is not fairing so well under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed state budget: the flyover for the Don Pacheco Y is delayed, the sheriff’s department may get hit with cuts, and even the local probation department may lose programs to help youth.

THUMBS UP: For DMB Inc., and the refreshing approach it is taking to a proposal to build homes on Highway 25. While we reserve judgment on the project until there is something concrete to mull over, we like what DMB representative Ray Becker is saying about how the company will go about the process. The company has no plans yet. It wants to ask the community what it would like to see on the Rancho San Benito property near the Santa Clara County line. If it turns out that we don’t want anything, well, Becker says the company will move on to greener pastures. It’s a novel and welcome approach to development in a county that has been sharply divided over growth.

THUMBS UP: For the board of supervisors, which gave $29,000 back to the Marshal’s Office. The prior board cut Marshal Robert Scattini’s budget from $179,000 to $40,000 in August under the guise of balancing county finances. But the cuts hit the marshal’s office disproportionately, giving credence to Scattini’s claims it was politically motivated. The tiny department reduced its secretary position to half time and the marshal’s deputy moved to the sheriff’s department. The new board has done right by Scattini, who was reelected in March with 70 percent of the vote.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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