Comment : A note to our readers

A note to our readers from Patric Hedlund, Editor

There was a plan for this holiday issue. We wanted to fill it with only good news for our readers. But a national tragedy pushed into our lives, and into our community. We heard from many of you, heartbroken, distressed and stunned by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Madison Marasa, 13 of Frazier Park, an 8th grader at El Tejon School and part of the Teen- Beat Team, sent a story. Gretchen Skrotzki, principal of Frazier Park School, sent a letter for parents. Richard Hoegh of Frazier Park, Scott Robinson of Pine Mountain and Kelly Franti of Piñon Pines called and wrote with deep compassion for the families of Newtown and love for the children in their own lives. That was followed by the instinctual next question: What can we do to help make our own vulnerable children safer?

Psychologist Sarah Edwards wrote in with pointers for talking with our children about the tragedy (see her suggestions).

Franti, mother of two, who worked as an emergency 9-1-1 dispatcher near Chicago and in Colorado, joined me in a conference call with Kern County Sheriff’s Sergeant Mark Brown to ask about local preparedness, and about availability of technical assistance to implement emergency preparedness drills for staff and students in our schools. Then she followed through with a request to the school district.

Robinson, father of two and a new member of the El Tejon Unified School District board, contacted the ETUSD superintendent and new board president John Fleming to propose a review and update of the district’s emergency protocols.

Robinson, who works as an L.A. County firefighter paramedic, said during our call: "In my job I’ve seen people who have been shot up…I don’t want to see that here…especially not a child."

Others called to talk about the lack of mental health resources available to families facing that tough challenge, and about California leading the defunding of mental health hospitals in the 1970s, making jails and prisons the state’s most accessible mental health care system, by default.

Then we heard from Chuck Noble of Lebec, Woody Parks of Pine Mountain and Robert Phillips of Frazier Park. They each forwarded emails, sent out almost immediately after the Sandy Hook shooting, by groups advocating more guns in schools and less ‘gun free zones’ as the solution.

It is clear that a national conversation about a complex issue with many difficult elements has begun. We invite our readers to be part of that conversation. Weigh in with your own letters and OpEds. We want to hear from you.

Patric Hedlund, Editor (

This is part of the December 21, 2012 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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