Opinion, Analysis, Discussion

Editorial: O&C bill still needs work to offer certainty

November 23, 2014 — 

Congress will be in session for eight more days this year.

That makes it unrealistic and undesirable to pass a bill directing management of the unique Oregon & California Railroad trust lands this year.

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Publisher’s Notebook: Shouldn’t the punishment fit the crime?

November 21, 2014 — 

I’m one of those guys who wonders whether the punishment really ever fits the crime.

A guy gets 25 years for stuffing his girlfriend in a freezer and is on the streets 15 years later on “good behavior” because when he was serving his time he didn’t stuff a single person into a freezer and he ate all his vegetables.

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Guest column: Consider alternatives to Wyden’s O&C legislation

November 21, 2014 — 

I oppose S. 1784, Sen. Wyden’s proposed O&C legislation. We need more broadly accepted and beneficial solutions.

Long-term sustainability of old growth in the Western Oregon forest cycle should be a guiding legislative principle. Where, in this Senate legislation, is there gradual, intentional regeneration and renewal of old growth forest stands? Trees over a certain age cannot be harvested. Thinned forests eventually die out, and as we saw in the Douglas Complex fire of Southern Oregon — these stands burn up.

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Editorial: Roses & thorns

November 21, 2014 — 


A festival for all

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Letter: Winston meeting highlighted good things in community

November 21, 2014 — 

List of assets was impressive

Now that the elections are over, maybe this is a good time to send a letter I’ve been thinking about ever since my husband, Duane, and I attended an annual meeting last winter. It was a meeting where community members got together on a Saturday morning in January and talked about how to make things better in Winston. Steve Schenewerk, local pastor and community volunteer, was the MC. He led us in an exercise that would be beneficial to any group or individual.

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Letter: One of Roseburg’s drive-up mailboxes creates traffic flow issues

November 21, 2014 — 

Call to take out a P.O. dropbox

It‘s time to remove the drive-up mail box that’s in front of the post office. It’s on the wrong side for drive up drop-off, which results in people stopping in the street and getting out of their vehicles to deposit mail. These drivers often leave their car door open, which just adds to the problem.

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Health care act is a fraud

November 21, 2014 — 

Health care act is a fraud

“This is a big f***ing deal,” to quote Vice President Biden. Did you know how stupid the progressive Democratic elite think you are?

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Letter: Roseburg veteran wanted to detox

November 21, 2014 — 

A cry for help from the VA

On Nov. 4, 2014, my husband, Jerry Sofranko, took his life. Jerry was battling prescription drugs: methadone, oxycodone, mood and stress drugs prescribed for years by the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center. These prescribed pain medications immediately triggered a dormant drug addiction. Jerry realized what was happening and repeatedly asked and pleaded for the VA to please help him detox off of the pills. He had been having all kinds of reactions to the medications and wanted to be done with them. The VA refused to help him detox. He felt that he could not do it with out medical help, but they said no, go home.

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Letter: Wyden hopes to balance differing elements with O&C bill

November 21, 2014 — 

Supporting the O&C bill

Senator Wyden’s O&C bill is finally working its way through Congress. It seeks to balance timber supply, county revenue, jobs, clean water, sustainability, and environmental protection. It also honors Frank Moore, a World War II veteran who landed at Utah Beach during the Normandy invasion and fought across France, Belgium, and Germany, returning home only after the war was won. Since then, he has tirelessly worked to sustain the North Umpqua River and the unique steelhead it supports. Wyden’s bill creates the Frank Moore Wild Steelhead Refuge in the Steamboat Creek watershed. This is an honor Frank Moore richly deserves.

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Letter: True capitalism isn’t the problem; enforce the laws in Douglas County

November 19, 2014 — 

Socialism fuels local drug war

I was disappointed (a frequent occurrence) when, on the front page, the paper blamed capitalism for the drug problems here in Douglas County. The header of an article written by Jessica Prokop blamed capitalism for the increase in drugs on our streets.

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Editorial: Attend hearings on Pacific Connector pipeline project

November 19, 2014 — 

If you care about the economic future of Douglas County then it is a good idea to mark Dec. 9 and 10 on the calendar.

On those days the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will hold two local hearings on its recently released environmental impact statement on the Pacific Connector pipeline project.

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Letter: Show appreciation for Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center employees

November 18, 2014 — 

Recognition for VA staff

With all the negative publicity surrounding the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and while awaiting new leadership, I would like to propose an Employee Recognition Day for all the employees of the hospital to show a change of direction. Low morale and bad leadership do not last forever.

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Guest column: Our generation must respond to climate change

November 18, 2014 — 

My parents were members of the Greatest Generation. After spending all four years of the war in the South Pacific, Dad had five bronze battle stars and two commendations. When I asked what he had done to earn them, his response was always, “My job.” My mother never complained of the shortages on the homefront. It was what you did. When faced with an existential evil, you sacrificed.

Today we are faced with an existential evil, but we are not rising up in unison as we did then to respond. Are we lesser people? No. We are simply faced with a threat that has crept up on us slowly. We are the frog in the pot of water that does not recognize the slowly rising temperature. We are being cooked, but we don’t see the danger. Folks with a vested interest are convincing us that we are in a Jacuzzi, not a cook pot, and working hard to keep us placid. And, in truth, all of us want to believe that the threat is bogus because the reality is terrifying.

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Letter: Current O&C plan provides no ecological or economic balance for Douglas County residents

November 18, 2014 — 

Wyden’s O&C plan won’t help

An Oct. 30 letter writer was correct: balance is necessary when managing public lands. However, if he’s really interested in policies that support children and education, Ron Wyden’s O&C bill is not the one.

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Letter: No need to sacrifice rich history to grow local economy

November 18, 2014 — 

Find better RV park location

The Douglas County Parks Department is planning to develop a Recreational Vehicle Park around the environs of the former United States Coast Guard Station, now a museum, at Winchester Bay.

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Letter: Republicans must use time wisely

November 18, 2014 — 

What will 2016 election bring?

I’m an Independent voter. In the last election, I voted for three losing candidates.

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Letter: Where’s the love of our country in ‘transforming’ and ‘remaking’ America?

November 17, 2014 — 

Disregarding due process

Now I’m not sayin’ our young President is a narcissist, but may I at least ask when his third autobiography is due out?

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Letter: It’s time for political representatives to work together on behalf of their constituents

November 17, 2014 — 

Dreaming of a little teamwork

I dreamed that all our senators and congressmen in the west actually worked together to fight as a team. I’m a little tired of each one happily sending out propaganda statements about how hard they’re woring for us, when the entire west is methodically being damaged by federal policies assaulting our once productive range lands forests, mining and rivers.

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Publisher’s Notebook: Our disabled citizens need workplaces like Sunrise

November 16, 2014 — 

The plan was not for me to be a single parent to an autistic adult son.

But life rarely goes as planned so we go with the flow, or … as Forest Gump reminded us, “Life is a box of chocolates. You never know what you’ll get until you bite into one.”

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Editorial: Funding needed for feasible health college in Roseburg

November 16, 2014 — 

Anyone with money to invest who cares about the future of Roseburg has an opportunity to make a difference.

A long-anticipated study on the feasibility of establishing a private health college in Roseburg was recently completed. It concludes the project is viable.

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Editorial: Roses & thorns

November 14, 2014 — 


Public service pays off

In a real sense the story this newspaper printed earlier this week regarding Doug Page, commander of the Earle B. Stewart American Legion Post 16 in Roseburg, symbolizes two key elements.

For one, Page personifies the service our veterans rendered to this great nation.

Yet his story, centered on his service with the American Legion, also represents the changing nature of America and its newest crop of veterans generated by the decade-long global war on terror.

Page mentioned during his interview that he struggles to get younger individuals involved in the American Legion.

He made a good point that if organizations like the American Legion are not supported now, such entities won’t be around in the future. Page deserves praise not only because he is a veteran but because he chose to give back to that part of our community that gave so much on foreign shores for our great republic.


Celebrate artists

Art isn’t usually one of those items at the top of the American pantheon. We are a busy society, eager for the next new horizon and often dismissive of writers, poets and painters.

That is why when someone such as Douglas County’s Bob Heilman steps into the spotlight, if for even a moment, it is refreshing.

Heilman, a writer from Myrtle Creek, is reissuing his book of essays called “Overstory: Zero: Real Life in Timber Country.”

Heilman is an established writer and one of the best things about his stories are their focus on lives and issues right here in Douglas County.

Distinctive points of view, such as Heilman’s, can be hard to come by sometimes. Yet the very fact we have someone of such talent who writes right here in our local area is good news for our little slice of the American heartland. We need to celebrate our writers, artists and poets.


Be prepared

Eight hunters in the past few weeks found themselves lost in one form or another as they trekked the beautiful mountains in our area, and complacency may be, at least in part, to blame.

After spending time enjoying our beautiful area — hunting, fishing or other forms of recreation — it can be easy to misjudge a particular mountain situation, especially as the days grow shorter.

So it is imperative that people take a few basic items to ensure they do not become a statistic if they get lost while hunting.

That means packing simple things like a map and a compass. And have a plan. Discuss and know where you are going to hunt and what to do if you get lost.

Learning that eight people became lost in the woods in a few weeks isn’t a statistic to hang your hat on. We can do better than that.

Letter: Winston’s Douglas High School presented a fine tribute on Veteran’s Day

November 14, 2014 — 

Veteran Tribute was remarkable

The Douglas High School Music Department’s Veterans Tribute on Tuesday evening Jacoby Auditorium at Umpqua Community College was awesome!

Mr. Carwithen and Mr. Pust have done a remarkable job in the selection of compositions, and their guidance of these young people’s presentation of instrumental, voice and drama was exemplary. Numerous other parties (pianist Finch-Johnson, writer Fallose, principal presenter Mr. Annear, support personnel and businesses) are to be commended for providing a touching homage to our deserving veterans.

It is wonderful to see the exceptional skills of our multi-talented youth and to be presented with a unifying event in these times that often seem to be focused on day-to-day dissention.

Dennis Danz


Letter: ‘Majority rules’ is part of our democratic system

November 14, 2014 — 

Not fair? Really?

Many local “red-leaning” voters already feel aggrieved and resentful about being outvoted by “blue-leaning” counties. We don’t need The News-Review’s publisher, Jeff Ackerman, throwing gasoline on the “It ain’t fair!” bonfire. (Publisher’s Notebook, Nov. 9.)

There’s nothing unfair or underhanded about Oregon’s bluish election results. No one’s stuffing ballot boxes or hindering red voters’ rights. A Portland vote only counts once, and our votes here do count. That’s it—one person, one vote, statewide.

Compare Douglas County with Lane County. Art Robinson got more than twice as many votes in Lane County (42,480) as he did here (20,322). And 52,705 Lane voters picked Richardson for governor, compared to only 24,068 in Douglas. Why were these majority results here but minority results in Lane? It’s simple: There are many more people, more voters, in Lane County.

Both counties had similar voter turnout percentages (Douglas 71.4 percent, Lane 72.5 percent), but the number of ballots was way different. Douglas returned 42,903 ballots while 148,594 Lane County residents voted — nearly half-again our county’s entire population (est. 108,850).

Nevertheless, each of our votes does count. My county voted against equal rights for women (what year is this?) and letting judges serve in the National Guard (it’ll do them good), but my votes for Measures 87 and 89 helped them pass statewide. A Douglas County vote counts exactly as much as a vote in Lane County. They just have more people and more voters. So even though Robinson got twice as many votes there as he did here, many more people in Lane County chose DeFazio, resulting in 62,802 votes in the two counties for Robinson, and 115, 864 for DeFazio.

There’s no plot against Douglas County’s voters. It’s just simple numbers and the democratic principle of one person/one vote and majority rules.

Cathryn Feral

Myrtle Creek

Letter: Gun purchase clearance in Oregon should occur within three days

November 14, 2014 — 

Know the gun laws of Oregon

I was in a gun shop the morning of November 8 to pick up a shotgun the dealer had ordered for me. After 45 minutes, the dealer was told I could not have the gun until December 22. There was no denial or reason given. I have been through this before, so I told the dealer I would be back after three business days had lapsed. The dealer said fine.

Here is the three day law: If the State Police cannot say yes or no in 30 minutes, they must provide an estimate of how long it will be. Federal law requires that three business days must come and go between the time the background check was requested and the day you can take possession.

In many states, the dealer contacts the National Instant Check System operated by the FBI and there is no fee. Before you buy or order a gun, ask dealers if they will comply with this law. If not, find another dealer. Some dealers are afraid, but there is no reason for them to be.

These delays are the result of a political decision. There is no reason at all for them except to hinder freedom and waste everybody’s time and money. In fact, there is no honest reason for a State Police unit to do this, as has been argued in the legislature. When a cop stops you for a traffic violation, it does not take days, weeks, or months for that officer to find out if you are a good citizen or not.

Michael D. Heath

Myrtle Creek

Letter: Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center staff praised, morale low

November 12, 2014 — 

Look at misuse of power issues

I came in good faith to Roseburg for a great management job opportunity at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The Nutrition and Food Service staff is a group of hard-working employees. They work as a team and get their kudos from each other, not their Chief.

The nursing staff and physicians provide excellent patient care. During the 7 months I was employed, the clinical managers all collaborated with me concerning patient care issues, but not my Chief.

The Nutrition and Food Service is run by intimidation and non-collaboration. Going “up the chain of command” and the constant threat of “disciplinary action” has given those at the top too much power. I was hired by a panel and dismissed by the opinion of one.

I should have spoken up immediately when my delegation authority was removed. I should have realized my future when I saw my Chief continued to carry my management title under her name.

There are serious morale problems at the Roseburg VA. Look at those departments with the lowest employee satisfaction scores and look at their management and you will find the answer to the problem.

Mary Reynolds


Letter: High hopes for new direction from recently elected Douglas County commissioner

November 12, 2014 — 

Beginning of good things

It’s no secret that Douglas County has a huge drug and alcohol problem; statistics don’t lie. I’m delighted that Douglas County chose a commissioner who’s prepared to address this. He’s seen the studies showing connections between high unemployment/economic instability and substance abuse.

Before Chris Boice was even elected, he discussed encouraging ideas and at one public forum, he shared his belief that people who struggle with substance abuse need our help, not our rejection. He’s mentored young men toward rehabilitation/recovery and given them jobs (with frequent testing for safety and accountability). Many other businesses refused to consider them because of their past.

He also mentioned his support of a local nonprofit that’s in the grant writing process to build a 150 bed, long term (2+ years), residential, addiction rehabilitation/treatment center. Statistics show long-term residential treatment facilities have the most successful sobriety rates across the board; the current treatment options in Douglas County are either outpatient or short term and are not working well.

This nonprofit plans to partner with local businesses for apprenticeship/job training for graduates of their rehab center, along with intense after care to mentor graduates starting life anew. This kind of “hand-up” compassion is refreshing and exciting. Douglas County residents might have the opportunity to get the help and healing they need, put their struggles behind them and become sober, active, contributing members of society again. That makes me want to stand up and cheer!

Chris Boice has shown he’s not only a hard-working, successful business man, but a compassionate advocate for the down-trodden. He has real ideas for real solutions to some of the toughest issues we face in this region. I’m so excited that Douglas County made the right choice, and it’s just the beginning of many good things to come.

Andria Fisher


Editorial: Ford’s Pond decision a win for Sutherlin

November 12, 2014 — 

While no official vote was tallied, the decision by the Sutherlin City Council Monday night to move ahead on a plan that revolves around Ford’s Pond was a sound one.

At issue was whether the city should use a purer form of treated wastewater to store at Ford’s Pond as part of a broader, nearly $21 million, batch reactor system blueprint. The batch reactor system plan is in response to Oregon Department of Environmental Quality assertions regarding the city’s failure to meet environmental regulations regarding wastewater.

The batch reactor plan includes a provision to store excess wastewater at Ford’s Pond during a portion of the year.

That stipulation created both opportunity and some potential financial pain for Sutherlin residents. The opportunity revolved around the ability to use a higher form of treated wastewater ­— dubbed Class A — and therefore set the foundation to utilize the Ford’s Pond as a recreation area. A lower form of treated wastewater — Class B or Class C — contained limitations that, in reality, would confine access to the pond and squash hopes of a city park.

Some members of the council sought to use the less pure water as a method to save money. A group of local residents, the Friends of Ford’s Pond, pursued a plan to use Class A water in an effort to create a park area around the local tarn.

So, in effect, battle lines were drawn regarding this local issue.

One element to the subject — a boost in water rates for residents — did not help clarify matters either. Yet the Ford’s Pond wastewater classification question and the potential water rate hike were, and remain, separate issues.

The city will most likely be compelled to boost water rates anyway to pay for the new reactor plant.

The decision by the council Monday night to go ahead and use Class A water in Ford’s Pond could mean a lot of different things to different people. Framed within the wavering haze of small-town politics, just about any motivation by anyone can sometimes be skewed.

A glance at the bigger picture, however, illustrates clearly that what really occurred with this issue — manifested Monday night — was a triumph for democracy. As Americans we practice the often messy business of democracy so often that we forget when its benefits are so clearly evident on a small stage.

Different people with vastly different goals set the agenda on this issue a while ago. Monday night, a large crowd appeared at the meeting to view its proceedings. Finally, after debate and comments, a decision that will benefit the community as a whole was reached. It was nearly a prototype of small-town democracy in action.

Monday night, the council did exactly what it is supposed to do.

Guest column: Going beyond a day of honor and recognition for veterans

November 11, 2014 — 

November 11 is one day out of the year that we pause collectively as a nation to celebrate the service and sacrifice of our military, veterans and their families. I am proud that we mark the day with patriotic parades and ceremonies in communities across the state from Astoria to Ontario, Portland to Klamath Falls, and Coos Bay to Bend.

This year, we will not add any new names to the state’s Afghan/Iraqi Freedom Memorial Wall in Salem — a first since it was dedicated in 2006. But we still remain a nation at war and we must always remember that the work we do is because of those few who have chosen to actively protect our freedom — and always at a cost.

As we highlight the service of all veterans, we should also recognize that our commitment goes far beyond a day of honor and recognition.

Oregon has over 320,000 veterans, from the greatest generation of World War II to the latest generation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Most are strengthened by their service and have returned to serve in new ways and help build our communities.

At the same time, it is no surprise that many are challenged by the visible and invisible wounds of war. Those most impacted by their service have an unwavering spirit and resiliency. They deserve the best in care, resources and support as an investment in their continued leadership for our state and nation.

In particular, our Vietnam veterans give me great hope. While they did not receive a welcome home in their own time, they are now deeply committed to serving our most recent generation of veterans. Every time I returned from the sands of Iraq and first touched down on American soil, Vietnam veterans were there to welcome me home, whether it was high noon or midnight.

The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs shares the commitment that our Vietnam veterans exemplify. Our mission in serving veterans is large, but we have tremendous resources to leverage in the federal VA, fellow state agencies, local governments, national service organizations and community partners.

Veteran services are not always about ODVA providing a service directly, but often more broadly about our leadership, advocacy, and strong partnerships on behalf of veterans. With your help, we will continue to innovate and strengthen our shared efforts.

This Veterans Day, please join me in giving thanks to all those who have served and are still serving in Afghanistan and around the world. Let us recognize them on this one day and commit to partnering throughout the year to ensure that our military, veterans and their families thrive in Oregon.

Cameron Smith served three tours in Iraq as a U.S. Marine and is the director of the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs. He can be reached at cameron.smith@state.or.us.

Letter: Focus of pride should be on fairness and acceptance

November 10, 2014 — 

On Apple CEO: Proud to be gay

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, recently came out and declared that he is “proud to be gay.” Whereas I believe that Cook’s declaration is a good thing in terms of furthering acceptance in diversity, I often find myself bemused with assertions of personal pride in being something that one had no personal choice in.

We should be proud of actions that we take. I think Cook could be proud of making the declaration for the purpose of furthering acceptance, while being gay is just something he finds that he is, like being male or being American by virtue of having been born in the U.S.

We will not have equality until we have equanimity, until the time that, if we notice difference, no emotional tone arises with the noticing. I’m afraid that really isn’t in the cards, or rather, in the genome. We are wired up to notice differences and react; it will continue to be a question of which differences we tend to emphasize as to whether and how much sense of threat each difference presents to us. We can be proud to notice and be aware of our knee-jerk reactions to the extent that we work towards fairness and acceptance.

Charlton McNutt


Letter: No pets policy is a deal-breaker for some who seek home rentals in Roseburg

November 10, 2014 — 

Pets are part of the family, too

After four previous trips to Roseburg, my husband and I decided this is where we wanted to retire. We loved the “feel” of the town; just small enough and just big enough, with friendly, outgoing people and so much to do outdoors all year long. We couldn’t wait to get here, find a place to live and start our new life.

But I want to share about something else that’s important in my life: my dog Watson. Watson is a purebred Australian Shepherd. He’s a blue merle, tri-colored, long legged bundle of energy and love. We rescued Watson and count it all joy. He has taught us patience, and about that adorable unrequited love a dog has for “his” human. He’s full of joy and small for his age, coming in almost 10 pounds smaller than his breed. Watson’s “before” life was not good. He didn’t know much love, if any. We taught him to play, to feel free, and also to feel cared for and loved. You see, Watson was caged most of his life, until we were lucky enough to adopt him.

We are great dog owners and we take that responsibility seriously. Watson is well mannered and well cared for, and he is the reason why we cannot live in Roseburg. We never dreamed we wouldn’t be able to rent a home in this town because we have a dog. Our hopes of living here are gone. After looking for five days, seeing 30 rentals and getting 30 “no” answers, we’re leaving without that opportunity. You see, we will not abandon Watson to achieve that.

Our hope is that owners would re-evaluate those blanket decisions and understand that the pet is family. Watson would’ve loved to live here, too.

Charlotte Rose-Lawton

Reno, Nevada

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