OpEd: Richard Skaggs is more Andy of Mayberry than Boss Hogg

By Gerard Conroy, Neenach

I believe the characterization of Richard Skaggs as Boss Hogg in the Neenach area is unfair [“He Boss Hoggs This Whole Neighborhood,” The Mountain Enterprise, June 28, 2019]. Having known Richard for over 15 years and his advocacy for betterment of the Neenach community, I object to the reference to him in this way.

I recall when Los Angeles County was terrifying rural residents in Neenach with SWAT tactics for code enforcement complaints, complete with drawn guns. Several of us in Neenach asked Richard to help. He took the challenge and, like a good former Marine, led our community into battle with Supervisor Antonovich’s liaison Norm Hickling. Neenach residents found relief and several were compensated for the actions of rogue L.A. County employees.

As the Great Recession’s financial meltdown hit, Joe Stamback, several other neighbors and I encouraged Richard to help lead the Oso Town Council, though there were no officers elected at the time. He helped to secure modified loan terms with Wells Fargo Bank for several distressed homeowners.

He was an early advocate for road improvements in the residential communities of Mettler and Holiday Valley. Skaggs expressed concern for making Highway 138 safer and guided us through the maze of bureaucracy to secure support from state and county representatives.

Richard financed a trip to Washington D.C. for three of us to meet with congressional representatives from both sides of the aisle. He explained community concerns and told about the impact of utility-scale solar encroaching on the Neenach community. We also spoke with representatives of the Bureau of Land Management. We believe our efforts helped block a large European utility company from building a solar facility in the Mettler subdivision area.

Richard Skaggs was an advocate, along with myself and others, for a Solar Utility Co-op (which received vehement opposition from Supervisor Antonovich’s office). A 501(c)3 was established to further that goal, and others. That became the Oso Community Foundation.

Richard purchased property here as a weekend retreat and created a way station for Pacific Crest Trail hikers. He often provides food, drink, shelter and entertainment to the hikers as a respite from his business life in San Pedro.

In my observation, he has done this with no expectations of thanks. I observed him to be a humble person when it comes to acknowledgement for his efforts. He was always ready to take on challenges brought to him and to find a consensus where possible, yet ready to fight when needed. I believe that Richard is more Andy of Mayberry than Boss Hogg.

This is part of the July 19, 2019 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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