3 letters: Saint Louise tax; generosity toward homeless; unreinforced masonry treasures in downtown Gilroy

Columnist on the money with points on why Saint Louise should not be tax supported

Dear Editor,
I agree with columnist Lisa Pampuch that: 1. A tax supporting a religious institution violates the Constitution and; 2. I’m opposed to the basic concept of requiring me to support a church program for a church I don’t believe in.
Had Catholic Healthcare West dumped their Gilroy hospital in favor of Saint Louise in Morgan Hill which had very strong local support, the more solvent local population would have almost certainly lessened the need for charity emergency patients and more South County residents would go to Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital in Hollister.
Bad mistake, but CHW was calling the shots and shot themselves in the foot.
When I see our hospital bills, there are all kinds of extreme charges which Medicare drastically rejects before a payment is made. When a private uninsured person is the patient, the hospital claims losses at their high standard rates which no insurance company would ever pay. This grossly exaggerates their claimed losses.
On the other hand, we are in our 80’s and, unfortunately, have made many trips to Saint Louise emergency and have always received excellent care and our excellent insurance has paid all the bills after deducting the excessive charges.

Charlie Cameron, Morgan Hill

Homeless shelter volunteers so appreciative of the generosity shown by one individual

Dear Editor,
Wow!! We are volunteers at the homeless shelter and were very impressed when Mr. Shailesh Shah came into the National Guard Armory in Gilroy with several boxes of sleeping bags, scarves, hats and gloves to give to those using the shelter. It was a very cold night and during our time there about 100 men and women and children had a real opportunity to really bundle up a bit more even though the shelter is heated.
Speaking with Mr. Shah about the nature of his gracious gift of charity, he expressed his desire to make sure these gifts go directly to the people themselves as he handed out each of the bundles. He said he was from India and came here years ago for his education and lost his job in 2000 and benefitted from the help of others at that time and now is involved in helping others.
The shelter has received many donations of clothing and toiletries from the community and the local churches, and the many volunteers that help in providing and cooking the meals and greeting and registering those that use the shelter. But this was a rare experience tonight of what one person can do for so many.

Aileene and Larry Edsinger, Gilroy

With a little help, unreinforced masonry buildings downtown can be turned into gems

Dear Editor,
What on earth is an unreinforced masonry building and why is everyone having fits about “fixing” them.
Well, masonry is bricks. I always thought it was cement. But cement is cement. It takes a mason to put up brick walls, so brick walls are masonry.
Early in our history, bricks were made by local men, who knew how, but had to do the best they could with what was available. I don’t know what that was, but it made for a rather soft brick that was good enough, and local businessmen could afford to buy it. The wall put in 1872 by Mr. Ellis on the Sixth St. side of Hall’s is made of that brick.
Walls made of soft brick are no longer seen as safe, and need to be reinforced. Therefore, they become unreinforced masonry walls. A huge deal.
Businessmen in those days were on their own. They didn’t have much money so they did the best they could. They bought good enough brick and if they could make a deal with the guy next door, they shared the cost of putting up the wall. That’s how we have buildings on Monterey Street whose owners own one half of an undivided wall in common with their next door neighbors.
For a long time that was good enough. A man wanted to sell his building, he just sold it including his half of the common brick wall. The buyer just bought it as is, and that was fine.
Another saving they made was to put up a wooden frame inside the brick walls on which to rest a second floor and/or the roof. But they either didn’t know how or couldn’t afford to fasten the floors and roofs to the walls.
So now we have walls of soft brick which might be held up by sheer will, with an unfastened floor and roof, which in an earthquake shucks around. Sometimes that is a good thing because where there is room to move back and forth, the building just goes back to the middle and stays there. That must have been happening, because those buildings still haven’t fallen on anyone, right?
But there is always a first time.
There has been a first time in other places with disastrous results. And we don’t want that here. So we want the soft brick walls reinforced, and the floors and roofs fastened to stable walls, and the fancy bits on the top front of the buildings attached by braces to their roofs. Nobody wants to do it. Actually, bracing the fancy top parts to the roof shouldn’t be too expensive, and it would take care of one of the concerns, namely that a bit would fall off and hurt someone.
Some people would say, take the darn things down. Some owners wouldn’t do that either.
Besides, done right, there’s a goldmine in them thar buildings.

Carol DeSantis, Gilroy


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