Norm Nicholls: Tourists, black ice and other holiday wonders |

Norm Nicholls: Tourists, black ice and other holiday wonders

Happy New Year one and all and may 2009 be a great year for us all! May a spirit of cooperation, understanding and good fiscal management lead us as individuals, friends, colleagues and leaders of government (local, state and national) toward a brighter future.

On a local basis may our leaders particularly use fiscal constraint in their decision making and be mindful that having reserves for an uncertain future makes a lot more sense than spending monies for extravagant infrastructure upgrades such as parking meters, high-rise parking structures, etc. Enough said.

Wow … Was this town full of tourists, or what? We usually stay close to home during the holidays but this year we did venture out a few times to shop and eat out. The grocery stores were packed beyond belief and when we went to La Bamba’s one night and Village Pizzeria another, there were nearly as many people standing and waiting as there were dining.

Tourism is the backbone of our local economy and we can certainly handle a few weeks a year of craziness. Tourist dollars are what allows us who live here the opportunity to play and enjoy our wonderful mountains and recreational opportunities when they leave.

With other parts of our local economy below par (i.e. construction, development and real estate), tourism is necessary and needs to be encouraged.

Winter Tips … Black Ice! Last Friday was a good example of extreme black ice conditions. I personally saw three fender benders and one roll over accident just in the vicinity of the Highway 89 North/I-80 intersection on the north end of the Bypass.

The two main precautions when driving in black ice conditions are awareness and slowing down. The slowing down and driving cautiously is self explanatory.

Awareness requires some thinking and reasoning and may I offer examples and a few suggestions. On Friday morning I heard the rain stop about an hour before I left my home at 6 a.m. I had noticed that the temperature on the weather channel had dropped to 28 degrees. As I was backing down my driveway I hit the brakes and I slid. When I got to the first intersection, there were no cars coming so I hit my brakes lightly and slid again.

Now I had the choice of going out a back road or taking secondary and primary roads to my destination. I chose to use the secondary and primary roads since the odds of them being sanded were much greater. My assumption was correct, the roads were sanded, and I proceeded to my destination slowly. It only took a few minutes longer than normal.

Also make sure your windshield and headlights are clean of road residue so you can clearly see the conditions ahead. And lastly … do not use Bull Pine Road as a short cut from Northwoods to Donner Pass Rd. There are many of us who have found out why.

Time to speak out … I had the pleasure of meeting with Ryan Slabaugh, the new Executive Editor of the Sierra Sun, in November. We spent more than an hour talking about our column, the newspaper itself, and he shared some of the goals of the Sierra Sun’s operating company (Swift Communications) which included getting reader feedback.

I see the Sun is asking for feedback via an online survey at

I voiced some of my ideas with Ryan which included fewer issues per week, keep the news local, reinstitute some form of home or mail delivery for those that can’t get out, and I suggested a weekly calendar of upcoming council and board meetings with agendas, “prior” to the day of the meeting. Now it is your turn to express your ideas!

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