Column: Time for holiday giving, tough decisions

It is that time of year when special efforts are made to remember those less fortunate than ourselves.

For those seeking a place to direct their annual "spirit of giving," I recommend looking within your own communities. A number of organizations throughout Carson Country are in need of donations of money, food, toys and clothing. Time is running short, however, so if you see a few "angels" still hanging on your local Angel Tree, grab one or more today and help make Christmas a little more enjoyable for a local youngster or two.

Or, call the community food bank and ask if they could use additional turkeys or canned foods and help make Christmas dinner a little brighter for a local family.

Or, call your neighborhood school, latchkey program, senior center or church and ask if there is an individual or family in need of some small act of holiday kindness. Put a few extra dollars, quarters or dimes into the Salvation Army bucket.

Sometimes all that is needed is some volunteer help in serving a dinner or distributing gifts. If our time is all we can afford to give, remember, it can be the greatest gift of all to those in need of an extra hand or two.

Giving of a small portion of your time can also make the holidays a little less lonely for those living alone or far away from family. A short visit, phone call or note can often make someone's day.

And to make it a really special holiday, vow to repeat your act of kindness in April, July or September. If it makes you feel good in December to know you have helped someone less fortunate, why experience the feeling only once a year? It might even become habitual.

Lyon County officials face a difficult decision in determining whether to pursue revocation of the special use permit for Advanced Specialty Gases.

It appears a number of residents and business entities feel very strongly the nitrogen trifluoride manufacturing facility should not be allowed to continue operations in its current location. Some say that, in the face of petitions of protest and cries of imminent catastrophic tragedy, it should never have been allowed to open in the first place.

As a result of an explosion on July 30, a number of concerns with the plant's operating procedures have been brought to public light. Each must be addressed and answered to everyone's satisfaction. A fair and open ear must also be given to ASG's side of the controversy.

While it is not easy for public boards to ignore the political and emotional pressures involved with such issues, it would do everyone well to pay special heed to existing law.

A recent comment made by Planning Commissioner Bob Shields during discussion of a completely unrelated issue hit the nail on the head. All involved should take note.

In response to a request by a resident that the planning board should follow the rules of democracy and take a popularity poll within the community before making a decision on a barking dog issue, Shields stated:

"We don't live in a democracy. We live in a republic. That is what we are doing here."

In other words, making decisions by hand counts and signatures on petitions would eliminate the need for governing boards. Governing boards are elected/appointed to consider all aspects of an issue and uphold the laws of their jurisdiction.

If it is proven ASG has indeed violated the conditions of its special use permit or is a threat to the health and safety of the area, they should not be allowed to operate in Lyon County again. If, however, this is not proven to be the case and it is shown county and state statutes have not been violated, public sentiment and emotion must be put aside when making the final decision.

This will not be easy.

Faced with a federal mandate to set water quality standards for Walker Lake, the State Environmental Commission is also going to have to make some tough decisions.

There are two very differing points of view regarding the setting of salinity standards for the terminal lake. One side claims setting too high a standard (a low salinity level) is unattainable and trying to meet it will negatively impact the agricultural economy of the Walker River basin. The opposing side claims that to not lower the salinity level enough to maintain the lake's ecosystem and fresh water fishery will destroy the lake and negatively impact those dependant on the related tourism generated economy.

The federal government says the state must set a standard soon or face the threat of a federal lawsuit.

This too is an emotional issue that must be settled using only the proven facts.

Merry Christmas everyone.

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