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For Safe Reggae 

Editor:

The Mateel Community Center would like to respond to the "Make Reggae Safe" letter in the Aug. 9 Journal. The letter refers to an alleged sexual assault at the Cooks Valley Campground, but links it directly to us and our event, Reggae on the River.

We were appalled and dismayed when we learned of the possible assault. Our hearts go out the woman involved. The safety of attendees at our events is a top priority. Although we had no oversight of Cooks Valley Campground, which held its own, separate music event the same weekend as ours, we did include it in a list of local accommodations on our website. We have not received a report of sexual assault occurring on any location under our control since Mateel resumed producing the event five years ago.

Every year we do our best to keep our festivals positive, safe, fun and problem-free. We train our coordinators in non-violent communications. We do not condone sexual violence or any violence. Strict procedures are in place to deal with violent offenders, including law enforcement intervention and expulsion from our events. We have open, ongoing communication with the local sheriff's office. Far from covering anything up, we actively seek out and address any problems within our control.

As we go forward, we are strongly considering taking the precaution of not listing any campground on our website unless that campground agrees to the Mateel's safety standards. We need to be certain that any campground we list for our ticket holders has a level of security that people would be as comfortable with as the security we had this year at the Reggae on the River campground in Benbow Lake State Park.

We sincerely appreciate feedback and welcome people to contact us at the Mateel Community Center with any concerns. Thank you, on behalf of the Mateel Community Center.

Cathy Miller, Mateel sponsorship director

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