'Change is the only constant in life ...' - Heraclitus

Waytogo police officer Juan Valle!

You've probably heard or read recent comments by experts who study such things that the current homeless problem is really a drug addiction problem.

I hadn't thought much about that until last week. Did you notice in the police logs on page 2A that Sanger police dealt with  six mental health and seven drug related incidents in just one week. One of those incidents involved Valle and a homeless, probably drug addicted woman in Sanger Park. 

Valle was doing a routine check of the park when he noticed a woman with, as he described it, "a hole in her leg." She refused help and didn't want him to call for emergency medical services. But when he looked more closely and saw maggots infesting the wound he knew he had to act to protect the woman from herself.  

"That condition should have been very painful for the woman. However, due to drug use or her mental health status she showed no indications of being in pain or discomfort," said police chief Silver Rodriguez.

Valle got medical help for the woman and Rodriguez says he hopes with the assistance of mental help clinicians she will  also get the help she needs for her mental health wellness.

I remember when "Andy" was Sanger's only visible homeless person. Then along came the economic crisis of 2008 and the arrival of several homeless families in Sanger Park and nearby orchards. They were in general decent people living from paycheck to paycheck who had gotten in way over their heads with those notorious 'subprime' mortgages. I still keep in touch with a few who managed to get back on their feet.

Within the past year I did a story on the new wave of homeless in Sanger Park. They are very different than the ones who arrived as a result of the economic crisis. Homelessness, maybe as a result of drug addiction, is a lifestyle with the ones I met.

Maybe the experts are right for a change.


Since I got a "Fitbit" about a month ago I go for a morning and afternoon walk around downtown every business day. 

A Fitbit, by the way, is a little electronic device worn on the wrist like a watch. It tracks, among other things, number of steps, distance traveled and calories burned. It nags me to take at least 10,000 steps every day. That's probably better for my physical than my mental wellbeing because most of my walks around the old downtown core are just flat out depressing.

The city keeps telling us how business and development friendly it is. That's not the message screamed by downtown's broken and uneven sidewalks, vacant and deteriorating buildings, empty lots strewn with rubbish, dirty alleys that are no more than block long ruts with fading memories of ancient paving that once covered them and the smelly panhandlers and dumpster divers.  

If it's true what they say about a downtown core being the heart of a city, our city is dying of a broken heart. Let's hope the new downtown revitalization committee will  be able to make much needed changes.


Speaking of changes - Sanger was a bustling sawmill and shipping - Wild West kind of town - with a population of 800 when it got its first newspaper, the Sanger Herald. Newsboys hawked the first edition of the Herald on Sanger’s sawdust covered streets on May 11, 1889 after picking up copies of the paper from the Herald’s office on the south side of Seventh Street between N and O streets. That was 22 years before Sanger was incorporated as a city in 1911.

That first edition had very little resemblance to today’s Herald. Display ads dominated the front page and there was a complete absence of local news on the page. Ads have since moved to the inside pages and local news now dominates the front page. 

We use computers these days to put the newspaper together. We don’t set the type by hand and use an ink roller on the face of the paper forms the way it was done back in 1889.

Technology is not the only thing that has changed. 

Our readers and the area served by Mid Valley Publishing which owns the Herald, the Reedley Exponent and the Dinuba Sentinel have changed.

Recognizing and responding to those changes is the only way we can continue to meet readers’ expectations.

It’s only a few minute drive these days between any of the three cities where Mid Valley Publishing has a newspaper. A Sanger resident, Drew Esquer, is the postmaster in Dinuba and a former Sanger development director, Luis Patlan, is the city manager. Quite a few Reedley residents work in Sanger and the other way around. One of my favorite restaurants, the Mainstreet Café, is in Reedley and I'm frequently in Dinuba, sometimes to have lunch at the Safari restaurant with a few of my classmates from Dinuba High School. 

All three newspapers are printed in Sanger and we have copies of the Herald, the Exponent and the Sentinel on our front counter.  

The point is, Sanger, Reedley and Dinuba and the smaller towns in between have become one region, one “metro” area with a lot of interaction and many shared interests and family ties.

Many in our shared metro area, our region, because of the growth of social media and news websites, are no longer willing to wait for our newspapers to come out weekly; they want their news, at least in an abbreviated form, in real time.

Starting in July, embracing and responding to those changes, the Herald, Exponent and Sentinel will be consolidated into one publication, the MidValley Times, with complete coverage of our “metro area” in one newspaper. Our new, upgraded, more interactive and intuitive website will allow us to report regional news as it happens and then provide more details in the next edition of the MidValley Times.

We’ll still have offices and the same personnel in each city, the paper will still be delivered every Thursday … and I’ll still be keeping an eye on city hall and wondering about the municipal idiosyncrasies that keep attracting the attention of the county grand jury.


Look for this column next week in the new 

Please direct your questions or comments to sangerherald@gmail.com

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