Don't be shy, we really do want to know what you're thinking

Our readers aren’t usually shy about letting us know how they feel. It’s not unusual for people to approach G-T staff members as they go about their daily lives. And although sometimes we have to beg off to get to a story or work on a deadline, we’re usually happy to hear what our readers think – even if it’s criticism. Sometimes it’s just a chance to vent and as the messenger we occasionally get caught in the crossfire.

We’re stopped at the grocery store, while walking down the street, even as we cross the border — to be asked our opinion on something they read in the newspaper or heard on the street. A quick trip to the post office to pick the mail can turn into a half hour discussion. Sometimes we can fill the questioners in on a few details about what they heard and sometimes they can do the same for us.

Last Saturday at Ralph Patterson’s funeral was no exception. Following the service several people took the time to let me know that they were unhappy about the way the North Valley Hospital Board handled the Assisted Living issue. After the Assisted Livings closure we received a couple letters on the subject from concerned citizens and we editorialized about it. Since then the hospital has been picketed and we’ve got photos in this week’s newspaper and a slideshow online at There’s also a new poll on our website asking what you think the hospital board should have done differently, or whether you agree with their final decision to close the facility. If you get a chance, take the time to vote and we’ll let you know the results in the newspaper.

Hospital District manager Linda Michel has also written a letter this week explaining just how the Assisted Living was financed. Her letter is an effort to clear up who made the original decision to build and what further steps were taken by the board in the past regarding that original financing. So there’s even more grist for the mill.

Speaking of Ralph Patterson’s funeral, it was really well attended. I spent a lot of time at the A&W and it brings back a lot of good memories. After a Little League game we all loaded in the back of the coach’s pickup (remember when kids were allowed to do that?) and headed down to the drive-in where Ralph and his wife Elvie (who is also gone now) would treat us to a small root beer or a ice cream cone.

Later, their son Kevin and I turned out to be best of friends and I spent a lot of time not only at the A&W, but at the Patterson’s home. They always made me feel part of the family. Like my own dad, having a good time revolved around food. Unlike my dad though, Ralph was a great cook and was always baking and making treats for everyone.

Whenever I saw Ralph, especially after I started at the newspaper, he’d greet me with “What do you know Gary?” and when we parted he’d say to me, as he said to everyone, “Don’t take any wooden nickels.” At the funeral everyone was given a “Rotten Ralph’s” wooden nickel and of course afterwards, at a nice meal prepared by the ladies of the Oroville United Methodist Church, there were A&W root beer floats for all.