Mailbag: Fire rings are part of 'our culture'

I strongly oppose the Newport Beach City Council vote to remove the fire rings at our local beaches and the South Coast Air Quality Management District's proposal to ban the fire rings or test the use of propane instead of wood.

Having lived in CdM for 35 years, my family and friends have enjoyed our annual cook-outs at the beach and appreciate this long-honored tradition. It's part of our culture.

But let's look beyond my personal enjoyment. The fire rings are a unique recreational amenity that is accessible to all. It's not just visitors that enjoy our beach culture, but so does our local population.

The rings are used by local groups on a weekly basis during the spring and summer. Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, local church groups, youth clubs, schools and other local citizens celebrate birthdays and other special occasions.

As a Newport-Mesa Unified School District board member, I know of several schools and groups planning trips this week to celebrate the successful completion of the school year.

Opponents of the fire rings have claimed that families and groups will use the beach just as much without the fire rings. I seriously doubt it! The fire rings are what make this experience so unique.

The beach and fire rings provide our high school students with a safe and alcohol-free venue to celebrate. Very few other locations are monitored as well as Corona del Mar State Beach to assure everyone (including teens) does not possess alcoholic beverages.

Parents throughout our city appreciate that this unique type of fun exists for our kids. Please be sensible and don't take this away!

Karen Yelsey

School board member

Corona del Mar

A doctor's view

As a 69 year-old, Caucasian male I hardly fit the image of a NOW or League of Women Voters supporter. I am, however, a retired physician, former staff member of Hoag Hospital and a long-time supporter and admirer of Hoag's presence in our Newport community.

It was with sadness, but unfortunately not surprise, to hear of Hoag's decision to cease providing abortion opportunities to it's women patients. The newspaper quoted Hoag officials as saying that it was a business decision. Anyone who believes this, in view of Hoag's recent decision to join forces with St Joseph's Health in Orange — well, that bridge to nowhere in Alaska is probably still available for purchase!

Whether to provide a medical service in a community is not a business decision; it's a medical decision, to be discussed, debated and adopted or denied based on input from the medical staff, in this case, particularly the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Hoag. I seriously doubt that that occurred. Rather, the administration caved into the power of religious politics within the medical community.

I can guarantee you that this never would have happened in the days, not too long ago, when the Hoag medical staff was composed of dedicated, informed and concerned physicians who would have stood up to the Board of Directors.

Dr. Elliott C. Mercer

Newport Beach

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