Opinion, Analysis, Discussion

Guest column: We must restore Douglas County’s economy

October 1, 2014 — 

Douglas County lags behind the rest of Oregon and the nation in recovery from the Great Recession. People struggle to find well-paying jobs and young families are leaving for better opportunities elsewhere. We must —and can ­— change that. Here are the outlines of a plan I believe will work.

The Douglas County economy will strengthen and grow if we focus on (1) supporting key sectors that bring money into the county and keep it here, (2) creating a safe and supportive business environment and (3) offering incentives, education, and technology to attract businesses to relocate here or, for businesses already here, to grow and expand.

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Letter: Mayor of Roseburg gets vote of confidence

October 1, 2014 — 

Why replace Larry Rich?

Mike Baker says it’s time for a change in the mayor’s office. I disagree. I think it’s time for us to acknowledge with our vote what a fine job Larry Rich has done as mayor of Roseburg during his tenure. Larry has devoted his creative energy and thousands of hours of his time to helping make Roseburg a better place to live and he hasn’t received one penny of compensation for his efforts. (That’s right, the mayor’s job is an unpaid, volunteer position.)

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Letter: Roseburg Veterans Medical Center must fix underlying causes of patient wait times and worker morale

September 30, 2014 — 

Treat problems, not symptoms

Clerks, nurses, doctors and nurse practitioners providing primary health care at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center are disrespected, neglected and aren’t getting big bonuses. In last year’s survey, Roseburg had the worst employee morale in the nation. The administration says they have difficulty recruiting doctors and nurse practitioners. They should ask why many competent and compassionate MDs and NPs leave Roseburg to work at another VA.

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Letter: Elect a Douglas County commissioner who can help manage our resources wisely

September 30, 2014 — 

Boice will listen to the people

Chris Boice is a servant leader within our community who is running for county commissioner. Chris is a local business owner. He is an active community member serving as a board commissioner for the Housing Authority of Douglas County, as a member of the Douglas County Search and Rescue, and as a church deacon. As an involved business owner, Chris sponsors numerous county events.

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Guest column: Why is Douglas County stuck in recession?

September 30, 2014 — 

In Douglas County we have many organizations working on economic development. They all mean well, and they are all working hard, but there is a general lack of an overall “vision” in these efforts. We need a cohesive vision of the future that can serve as a focus for economic growth.

What do we want Roseburg and Douglas County to look like in 2025? What are the strengths on which we can capitalize?

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Letter: Marijuana-impaired drivers will not make Oregon roadways safer

September 29, 2014 — 

Vote ‘no’ on Measure 91

I am writing in response to a Sept. 17 editorial in The News-Review concerning marijuana-impaired drivers. Having read through the article, I was somewhat relieved to see that it was a reprint from the “People’s Republic of Eugene” Register Guard newspaper.

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Letter: Include an affordable Children’s Theater in Roseburg’s Downtown plan

September 29, 2014 — 

Need a theater for our children

Wouldn’t it be great if Roseburg’s Downtown plan included a Children’s Theater? When I was young, we used to go to the Indian Theater on Jackson St. for Saturday matinées. We loved it. Now, you pay an arm and a leg to get in to see a movie; then to get popcorn and a drink, they take the rest of you. Greed is huge these days. Why can’t we step up as a community, put greed aside, and build a place downtown for the children and adults of this community to enjoy?

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Letter: Choose a mayor who will do what’s best for Sutherlin residents

September 29, 2014 — 

Elect McKnight for Sutherlin

I have known Todd McKnight since 1976. He is an honest, hard-working man and a devoted husband and father.

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Letter: Explore the key elements of growth for Douglas County

September 29, 2014 — 

Elect Leif for commissioner

We have several good candidates for commissioner, but I will cast my vote for a man I’ve known since childhood. This man has always been open, honest, committed and dedicated to school and community. He has worked tirelessly to build a thriving business, raise a family and immerse himself in community affairs. Countless hours have been donated for our good. He’s a man of morals whose experience and leadership have been instrumental in completing numerous projects within the county.

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Letter: Vote for service, integrity and business acumen in Douglas County commissioner

September 29, 2014 — 

Boice will make the best choice

I want to let the people of Douglas County know who they should vote for in the upcoming election in November and why. My vote will be for Chris Boice.

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Guest column: The county benefits from a full-service VA hospital

September 28, 2014 — 

The Roseburg Veterans Affairs Healthcare System has cut services over the past few decades. OK, so what? Are you aware that the VA cutting services and having them performed elsewhere could affect your job and the local economy? That’s right, this is not just a “veteran issue.” The VA restoring services is a Roseburg and Douglas County issue as the history below will show.

One of the major pulls to this community for decades has been the Roseburg VA hospital. The town grew up around the VA grounds. In 1932, the hospital buildings of the Northwest Soldiers Home were built.

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Editorial: It’s the month to increase awareness of breast cancer

September 28, 2014 — 

The longer we live, the more likely we are to know someone who’s been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The prevalent disease has touched our mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers and many friends. It’s not specific to females. Men can get breast cancer too.

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Editorial: Roses & thorns

September 30, 2014 — 

Still going strong

A remarkable woman turned 99 last week. Mary Esselstrom spent her birthday at the Roseburg Walmart, where she works 8-hour days, three consecutive days each week.

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Letter: High school classmate endorses Gary Leif for Douglas County Commissioner

September 26, 2014 — 

Backing Leif for commissioner

I have known Gary Leif since high school. When I heard he was running for Douglas County commissioner, my first thought was, “What a great public servant he will make.”

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Letter: Umpqua Community College needs good leadership and more programs to enhance employment opportunities

September 26, 2014 — 

Our college is a mess

The 30 percent student loan default rate is a disgrace and poor leadership on the part of the Umpqua Community College president. Instead of soliciting money for new buildings, he should be asking for scholarships for students and creating better programs that will help students get employment after graduation.

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Letter: Candidate for Roseburg mayor deserves respect

September 26, 2014 — 

Focus on the issues, please

I usually keep my political views to myself, but the Sept. 19 Public Forum letter that questioned the ethics and character of mayoral candidate Mike Baker demands a response.

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Guest column: Shall we call October ‘Moon of the Rotting Meat?’

September 24, 2014 — 

The local Native Americans, I’m told, had quaint-sounding names for the months of the year. May was the “Moon When the Dogwoods Blossom” and June the “Moon When the Salmon Have Sore Backs.” I’ve pondered that notion at times and what it would mean to name our modern months that way. August here in Southern Oregon might be called the “Blackberry Picking Moon” and May the “Moon When It Rains on Everybody’s Hay.” Under this system I suppose that October might be known as the “Moon of Rotting Meat.”

The butchered remains of deer and elk start piling up below the road near my house during the first week of October and it continues through November. One spot in particular, a handy old logging landing, seems to draw the carcass-tossers. Unfortunately, the buzzards have all gone south for the winter at that time of year and the colder weather slows down the process of rotting so that the stench lasts into December and January. It seems to be some sort of tradition around here and, having walked the road frequently for 34 years now, I suspect that what I’m seeing is the result of the children and grandchildren of long-dead hunters carrying on the family ways.

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Letter: What makes a good Roseburg city councilor?

September 24, 2014 — 

Qualities of a good councilor

In my opinion, it takes someone who is committed to the community, is a good listener and puts the wishes of the constituents before any personal agenda. In addition, effective councilors need a demeanor that doesn’t embarrass or belittle people who might have opinions different from their own.

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Letter: Douglas County vote on GMOs should be based on health concerns, not politics

September 24, 2014 — 

Vote ‘yes’ on Measure 92

I have decided to vote “yes” on Oregon Ballot Measure 92. It would require the labeling of GMOs (growth modifying organisms) on food sold in Oregon. It is simply an extension of current requirements for the labeling of ingredients on all commercial food products.

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Letter: Canyonville resident discusses changes in Oregon property tax deferral program for seniors and the disabled

September 24, 2014 — 

Time to vote out Kitzhaber

Some people believe that what Oregon needs is four more years of John Kitzhaber as governor. There may be others who thinks it might just be time for some fresh thinking in our governor’s office. Whichever way you might be leaning, I offer the following anecdote for your consideration.

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Letter: City of Roseburg’s marijuana dispensaries decision should consider negative impact already seen in other states

September 23, 2014 — 

Council choice is questionable

The decision of the Roseburg city council to allow marijuana dispensaries in Roseburg is an example of the victory of misguidedness over common sense. The two members of the council who opposed the action obviously understand that making an addictive drug that is so harmful to young people more available is just plain stupid. They deserve to be applauded for their wisdom.

The argument that the dispensaries will be highly regulated to prevent non-marijuana cardholders from getting the drug is illusory. Any clear thinking person knows that once the marijuana leaves the point of purchase, it is untraceable. The youth of Douglas County already have access to harmful drugs. The city council’s actions only increase the availability.

If the city council members who supported the dispensaries studied the negative consequences that are occurring in the states of Washington and Colorado with their recent marijuana laws, our council would have voted more sanely.

Furthermore, it is difficult to comprehend how the mayor, who works with high school students every day and should have their well-being foremost in any decision the council makes, could support dispensaries in Roseburg.

Daniel Sherman

Tenmile

Guest column: Open primary would serve government of the people

September 23, 2014 — 

I am part of a national as well as state political reform movement seeking, among other reforms, to open up state primary elections to those voters who do not identify as either Republican or Democrat. This growing number of independent voters (not belonging to a party) is nationally now up to 42 percent and is the fastest-growing segment of our population. In Oregon they are called “unaffiliated” and includes 30 percent of Oregon voters, or a staggering 663,197 Oregonians presently excluded from voting in our current closed Oregon primary system. This lack of a voice (a vote) in the primaries is more troubling still when one considers that our younger voters and women are the most likely to be excluded for they include even higher percentages of independents (unaffiliated). Pew Research Center surveys show 50 percent of Americans age 18-33 now describe themselves as political independents.

I strongly believe this denial of the vote to non-party voters in the party-controlled, partisan primary in Oregon has significantly contributed to our current extreme partisan politics, leading to uncompromising partisan extremism of both left and right, repeated glaring examples of party-entrenched politicians putting party interests above the needs of effective governance for the common good, and brought the approval rating of Congress to the lowest levels in modern times. This is why I support a “Vote Yes on Ballot Measure 90” (which would open up the Oregon Primary to all registered voters).

As a history and political science professor at Umpqua Community College I highlight the great accomplishments of the Democratic and Republican parties in our nation’s history. In supporting a “Vote Yes on Ballot Measure 90” for a non-partisan, open primary rather than our current closed, party-controlled primary, I am not attacking the need to have organizational parties nor the many notable Americans past and present who have served in both our major parties. What I am arguing for is a governing system that compromises as needed, that respects the good, problem-solving intentions of those Americans serving on both sides of the aisle, and that never forgets that the bottom line is to serve the people in this government of the people rather than a government of the party.

Unfortunately we have increasingly seen entrenched party loyalty and interest less and less willing to compromise “to get the job done” and “serve” the broad electorate. George Washington warned against the evils of party “factionalism” back in 1796 in his famous “Farewell Address.” It was during Washington’s administrations that our first political parties arose, and Washington, the man honored for 200-plus years for putting national interests before personal or factional needs, warned from the start of the dangers to national health when party interests are served before national interests. Washington said, “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge . . . is itself a frightful despotism. The common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of wise people to discourage and restrain it.”

Our locally established reform group, the Independent Voters of Oregon supports a “Vote Yes on Ballot Measure 90” because we believe that opening up our primary to all voters will help “discourage and restrain” extreme party factionalism through broadening the electorate beyond just the ideologically committed conservatives and liberals, thus candidates will have to appeal to a much broader public perspective and need in the primaries as they have to do later in the general election. We believe this primary reform movement to open the state primaries will begin to give us candidate choices in the fall more open from the start to solving the needs of all Americans and lessen the great Red State-Blue State divide that all polls show so disheartening to the majority of Americans. Denying millions across the nation the fundamental right to vote in primaries simply because they do not belong to a party is the last major example of voter suppression and disenfranchisement in our nation. We in Oregon have the historic opportunity in voting “Yes on Ballot Measure 90” to return more power to the people and remind the parties to start working together again “to get the people’s business done” at all levels of government. Non-partisan elections have worked for a century at the local level and, contrary to the claims of party opponents arguing against Measure 90, the Top Two Open Primary works just fine in Washington state and California. I believe strongly that a “Yes Vote on Measure 90” establishing a non-partisan primary here in Oregon will contribute to more effective government for all Americans.

Charles Young has taught history and political science for 13 years at Umpqua Community College. He can be reached at Charles.Young@umpqua.edu.

Letter: Voter satisfaction with performance, not term limits, should guide election of officials in Douglas County

September 22, 2014 — 

Remain free to elect wisely

Our Founding Fathers envisioned a democracy where the citizens could vote to decide who would act as their representative in governmental affairs. In the near future, the citizens of Douglas County will be allowed to vote in a non-partisan selection for a county commissioner. The majority of those choosing to vote will elect someone to manage the affairs of the county and supervise county employees. It’s your choice, so choose wisely. In four years, you can file your evaluation of their performance at the ballot box. Several past commissioners can attest to the effectiveness of this proven system.

You will also be allowed to vote on a referendum to limit these elected officials to two terms (eight years in office). By all means, vote “no.” This is just big government limiting your right to choose your representative. If you are smart enough to vote your conscience in this election, why not in eight years? Do not let these people take away another freedom. Just say no! Our Founders risked death to ensure this right. Protect the Constitution and your right to vote for a candidate of your choice.

Stephen Truesdell

Roseburg

Letter: Mayor is an asset to the city of Roseburg

September 22, 2014 — 

Larry Rich has skills we need

Roseburg is a wonderful small city, and it was a pleasure and a privilege to serve as a city councilor. What I didn’t realize until I became one of the eight councilors was just how cohesive and agreeable those are who serve the city in a variety of capacities. That includes the various departments and the large number of volunteers serving on the numerous commissions. They’re indispensable to the quality government that graces our city.

At the top of all this is the mayor. Larry Rich is an incredible asset in that position and adds competence, steadiness and clear vision to every issue concerning Roseburg. Council meetings that he chairs are a lesson in excellent governance. Additionally, the fiscal position that’s maintained in Roseburg is a clear-cut model for a huge number of cities this size. He treats with consideration and respect any citizens who wish to address issues, and those who have spoken always leave with the assurance they’ve been heard.

In short, I urge citizens to return Larry to the office of mayor this November. He earns our respect and support.

Michael Hilton

Roseburg

Letter: October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month; volunteer at Battered Persons’ Advocacy of Roseburg

September 22, 2014 — 

Stop domestic violence now

Domestic violence and child abuse affect all of us and the greater community. Children who grow up in violent homes are more likely to be involved in criminal activity, substance abuse, and have difficulty in school.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a designation that serves to raise awareness and dialog about domestic violence, which has a profound affect on a child’s well being and development. Children who grow up in homes with domestic violence often witness violence on a daily basis, live in fear, and blame themselves. Half of the batterers also abuse their children and the children who are not directly abused exhibit the same psychological impact as those who are.

Battered Persons’ Advocacy of Roseburg provides empowerment, advocacy and support to women and families who have been the victims of domestic violence. In 2008, 35 percent of sixth-graders in Douglas County had witnessed domestic violence in their homes. Each year more than 4,000 nights at a shelter are spent by families fleeing domestic violence. BPA is the only organization in Douglas County that provides specific services for victims of domestic violence.

The strong correlation between domestic violence and child abuse has motivated BPA to join the UP2USNow Child Abuse Prevention Coalition. The coalition aims to reduce the incidence of child abuse and neglect five percent by 2015.

As a community, we need awareness and collaboration to end domestic violence. BPA provides legal advocacy, emergency shelter, support groups, and community education. For more information about BPA services please call the 24-hour crisis line at 541-673-7867. For more information on domestic violence or volunteering, please call our office at 541-957-0288.

Amelia Murray

Roseburg

Editorial: Candidates must see landfill fees are necessary

September 21, 2014 — 

Douglas County residents got their first comprehensive look at the six candidates for county commissioner last week, when the Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a candidate forum.

Questions from the packed audience were appropriately centered around county funding, because no issue is of more importance.

While still better off than other southwestern Oregon counties that have relied on timber revenues for decades, the county is beginning to draw down its savings account. The board of commissioners has been looking for every opportunity to save money or boost revenues.

The dwindling federal timber safety net can’t cover the services the county has established. Increasing timber harvests on public lands to feed county coffers remains uncertain as bills await approval of a divided do-nothing Congress.

A proposed natural gas pipeline across Douglas County would bring additional property tax revenue, if it actually gets built by private companies, but that could be years down the road. And there’s no guarantee on the number of jobs it would create or companies it would attract to our county.

The continuing multimillion-dollar expense of operating a free landfill and transfer sites could be remedied by the commissioners themselves, however, and is long overdue.

Commissioner candidates Chris Boice, Dale Rogers and Mark Garcia recognize the need for the county to impose fees on residents who take their trash to the dump. Being the only county in Oregon, and one of few across the country, to avoid collecting fees for the majority of trash disposal is financially foolish.

We don’t understand how county leaders can condone spending $2.6 million annually on a department that could be self-sustaining. That’s nearly one-third of all county property tax dollars collected each year.

It’s money the county has been willing to spend while it sheds its public and mental health services, reduces library hours, and relies on the federal government to fund the majority of our sheriff’s office.

Commissioner candidates Gary Leif and Jeff Admire oppose fees for fear it will increase illegal dumping. Leif went as far as saying the cost of cleaning up illegal dumping would exceed what we now spend to operate the landfill.

It appears they think Douglas County residents, who regularly travel to the landfill now, are so low class that they would instead go out of their way to dump their garbage on public lands. Sure, some will. But most would realize they’d pay more in gas and time than the fee commissioners might impose.

Providing incentives for those who recycle, as suggested by candidate Rita Harris, is sound advice.

We’re pleased to see county voters have so many choices in who to elect to a two-year commissioner term in November.

We won’t be disappointed if the candidates who oppose landfill fees reverse their view. They must realize that continuing to subsidize garbage disposal is out of step with the rest of the state and unsustainable for our county.

Guest column: Legislation needed to punish professionals for sexual misconduct

September 21, 2014 — 

Professional misconduct can take many forms with none being more heinous than the sexual exploitation of clients seeking mental health services. This population is especially vulnerable when taking into consideration the fragile nature of their mental state either being referred to or becoming aware that help is needed to cope with life’s too often overwhelming events. It is in protecting this population that the state of Oregon must consider a collaborative effort in bringing together the professional boards of Oregon which license, register and certify mental health service providers under one unifying code of ethics. Mandatory reporting was instituted in Oregon due to the outcry of notorious abuses of those who could not always speak out for themselves. The political and public support for these populations resulted in current laws that protect children under the age of 18, the developmentally disabled and laws that protect the aging from elder abuse, of which there were over 10,000 allegations levied in Oregon in 2012 alone.

This, in and of itself, is enough to point out that tougher laws with harsher penalties are still needed. The public should again push and demand stronger legislation. Currently, model legislation has been designed making sexual misconduct and sexual exploitation of a client punishable as a crime in Oregon. This model legislation has been reviewed by Oregon State Rep. Tim Freeman and other legislators, with Freeman taking the lead in sending this model legislation on to be drafted as a bill stating “this is something I get can behind.”

Agreement surrounded the basis that behavior such as this is unacceptable and work needed to be done in creating effect legislation to criminalize this behavior. However, not all issuing authorities in Oregon share the same philosophy in reporting cases of sexual misconduct or sexual exploitation of those individuals that fall between those two groups to law enforcement agencies for criminal prosecution. It was reported that in Oregon over 600 allegations of abuse were brought about concerning adults seeking mental health services in 2012 as well.

Various boards in Oregon hand down some severe consequences for such actions which include potential reprimands, suspensions, revocations, civil penalties, information sharing to other agencies and notifying the National Practitioners Data Bank, none of which are certain by any means pending internal investigations. Criminal background checks are initially required and performed as a matter of course. This first round of background checks does sift out those with documented adverse criminal histories, although it is not clear that all agencies perform such checks upon renewal.

The central concern surrounding this issue is to “do no harm” and this should require that we advocate for these individuals and bring them the protection they deserve and should expect when seeking services from mental health professionals. Too often, sexual exploitation or misconduct is viewed or manipulated as a sexual relationship between two consenting adults. This should never be the position of any issuing board or the public whatsoever. This is a crime, period. As a mental health professional, having sex with your client is the personification of abusing the power and control a professional is assigned by the client from the onset of the relationship. This type of behavior is contrary to the reason that services are provided and reduces the industry as a whole to predator status and should not be tolerated.

Mental health professionals who engage in such behavior should be prosecuted as criminals and placed on the sex offender registry as any other sexual predator would be. The industry should take a stand against this type of behavior and seek to maintain the integrity of the profession by working together to enact and implement this legislation and make having sex with a client a crime. Issuing boards in Oregon, having adopted this legislation, would then be required to revise their codes of ethics, practices and procedures to mirror the statutes which make this behavior a criminal act. Clients of mental health services deserve an opportunity to be well and not be seen as an opportunity to be exploited by their providers. I encourage readers to contact their legislators and support this model legislation to protect those individuals seeking services. Without safeguards, which this model legislation will provide, more innocent people will continue to suffer enduring and unnecessary trauma at the hands of the very professionals sought out to treat them.

Michael W. Fernandez of Roseburg is a 30-year resident of Douglas County and service-connected disabled veteran who holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Southern California. The type of legislation he refers to is already being drafted in Oregon, California and Utah. He can be reached at mauied3802@gmail.com.

Letter: Candidate Gary Leif has the necessary skills to serve as Douglas County commissioner

September 19, 2014 — 

Elect Leif for commissioner

I would like to take this opportunity to express my support for Gary Leif for Douglas County commissioner. I have known Gary for many years and he has always been a hardworking, dedicated businessman.

He has a great ability to negotiate and bring people together. Gary was the youngest first citizen for the Winston Dillard Chamber of Commerce, where he also served in many capacities, including as its President. He has tirelessly volunteered for many community boards over the years and would bring talent, leadership, intelligence, and experience to the commission.

Douglas County would be well served by Gary Leif as our next commissioner.

Valynn Currie

Roseburg

Letter: Commissioner candidate Gary Leif has public service experience to address the needs of Douglas County

September 19, 2014 — 

Leif is the right choice

Gary Leif is the best candidate for Douglas County commissioner. He has years of public service under his belt as a volunteer, serving citizens county-wide. His work has improved roads and highways, benefitted downtown Roseburg immeasurably, and once earned him First Citizen recognition in Winston.

As a colleague on the Downtown Roseburg Association, I’ve watched him work as a bridge-builder and decisive leader. And he has run Leif Photography, a successful business, for almost 40 years. He is well known to families and school kids throughout the county.

Gary has my support. I call on all Douglas County voters to give him theirs.

James A. “Cap” Caplan

Roseburg

Letter: Make outdoor wear reflect our commitment to safety in Douglas County

September 19, 2014 — 

Think children, plan for safety

School has begun, with a chill in the crisp morning air. As summer slips into autumn, mornings are darker and the evening sun sets earlier. Winter rains will soon be here.

Our children catch a bus or walk to school each weekday. They gather and talk excitedly on their way to their destinations. Meanwhile, parents turn on automobile headlights and drive to work, traversing busy streets with kids on the roadsides and sidewalks. How visible to those drivers are the kids? It depends upon what they’re wearing. With the right amount of reflectorization, children can be highly visible.

A reflective square the size of a postage stamp will be picked up in a car’s headlights at 500 feet away. That distance allows drivers time to brake and/or turn to avoid hitting a reflectorized child. Without reflective clothing, drivers will see a child in their headlights at approximately 50 feet. Tragedy can be the result.

How much reflective material is needed, and where is it most effective? Answer: the more reflectivity the better, primarily on your child’s head and torso.

Fortunately, many backpacks, hats, jackets, footwear, gloves and popular outerwear are reflectorized. The more reflectivity a garment contains, the higher your child’s chance of being seen in the increasing darkness.

Reflective trim often uses bright neon colors. Insert it into seams and use it to create logos or patterns for additional reflectivity. When more sides of a garment are reflective, they’re more quickly visible to a vehicle’s headlights.

Reflectorized garments are equally important for bicycle riders and for parents. Are you visible in the dark and the rain? It’s important to consider heavy reflectorization in purchases for your family and for gift-giving.

Let’s make this winter’s outdoor wear reflect our commitment to our loved ones’ safety!

Lindy Follett

Roseburg

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