Opinion, Analysis, Discussion
Be proactive in our world
Thank you for the Feb. 21 edition of The News-Review; it was one of the best ever! What I appreciated most were the two letters in the Public Forum. It would serve Douglas County and Oregon well if everyone would take heed and read them.Learn more »
Fix the railroad crossing delays
Everyone was happy and relieved when the railroad yard moved to Wilbur. With pubic funds, problem solved. Wrong!Learn more »
After any major wildfire, such as last year’s 48,679-acre Douglas Complex, post-fire recovery efforts must occur to reduce the likelihood of future disastrous fires again in the same area.
Implementing strategic post-fire actions reduces future risk to firefighters, homeowners, and ultimately the forest. Our forests are important to all of us, providing clean air and water, wildlife, recreation and important jobs. While there is always a potential for wildfires, the risk of fire occurrence and fire severity increases substantially if post-fire recovery efforts are not completed timely.Learn more »
The latest blow struck by two conservation groups against Sen. Ron Wyden’s California & Oregon Railroad trust lands bill was probably the lowest, too.Learn more »
Misinterpreted job projections
Fox News and the Republicans are spreading lies about Obamacare again. Recently a Congressional Budget Office report projected that 2.3 million people will leave the workforce during the next 10 years because of Obamacare. Fox News and Republicans immediately proclaimed that Obamacare is going to kill 2.3 million jobs!Learn more »
Groceries were gift from others
On Jan. 7, we were having our groceries checked out when our checker (I think he was a floor manager) excused himself for a moment. When he came back, he had a big grin. We saw a lady and a young man in a U.S. Army camouflage uniform come up behind us.Learn more »
City needs more common sense
I’ve never heard of back-in parking. It sounds idiotic. Spending money to make downtown traffic flow even more poorly designed and provide potential shoppers with a parking challenge as well seems wasteful.Learn more »
Roseburg’s handling of transportation fees demonstrated the hazards of ignoring an 800-pound gorilla.
Eventually, the gorilla breaks loose, forcing quick rather than deliberative decisions.Learn more »
ICU bed count study needed
I think Roseburg is becoming the national battleground for the question, “What is this country going to do with veterans from communities where the Veteran’s Administration’s Intensive Care Unit is eliminated?” The Roseburg VA ICU not only serviced local vets but was the ICU for many vets throughout Southern Oregon.Learn more »
Voters decide without fuss
Jeff Ackerman’s recent “Publisher’s Notebook” about term limits not being needed for Douglas County Commissioners caused me to review my distant past support of term limits.Learn more »
Service always appreciated
Our son is a career military officer and it is amazing the number of people who stop him and thank him for the job he is doing. These thoughts are greatly appreciated by our servicemen, but it caused me to remember the other unsung individuals who are not always shown the appreciation they deserve. I am thinking of the fire, law enforcement and utility employees.Learn more »
What happened to this Marine?
Almost a year and a half ago, my dear brother-in-law, Royce Cratty, went for a walk in the woods near his home outside Sutherlin. That was the last time his family saw or heard from him. A short search was called off, for many reasons that made no sense to me.Learn more »
Election signs: use restraint
I realize that the words “restraint” and “politician” rarely appear in the same sentence in these contentious times. However, I would urge our local politicians to consider making that a thing of the past, at least in the matter of campaign signs.Learn more »
There are three or four months each year when the average daily temperature in Phoenix soars above 100 degrees.
On a June day in 1990, a record 122 degrees was recorded in that sprawling desert city.Learn more »
Anytime the public’s money is spent, there needs to be heavy scrutiny to ensure the funds are being used wisely.
When the director of The Partnership for Economic Development in Douglas County gave his yearly update to the Roseburg City Council last week, he discovered it was his turn to be scrutinized.Learn more »
Smith has the skills we need
As a young officer, I looked to the older, more experienced officers for professional guidance. As my career progressed into administration and subsequent command of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, I recognized the need to focus back to those starting their careers and moving up the ladder. Times change, and change creates conflict. Solving those conflicts meant working as a team. Finding that leadership team was not always an easy task.Learn more »
In 2009, the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s intensive care unit was closed due to underutilization, not enough doctors, etc.
Before that, this facility began reducing the level of medical services, sending patients to the Portland VA hospital for more complex procedures, bringing the status of this facility from a Level II full-service hospital to a Level III giant clinic.Learn more »
An important law that goes into effect March 1 will make it more difficult for Oregon parents to enroll unvaccinated children in school and child care centers.
In the past, if parents chose not to immunize their child, they simply had to sign a piece of paper acknowledging that they were exempting their child from one or all of the vaccines required.Learn more »
On Congress and salvage
The Bureau of Land Management is considering salvage. It won’t. Even if it wanted to, it can’t. Congress insists upon a drawn-out legal (not environmental) process, which insures the snags will deteriorate to the point where they can’t be economically removed.Learn more »
Guest column: Why veterans need an ICU at the Roseburg VAFebruary 27, 2014 —
My husband and I are among the stakeholders of the Veterans Affairs Roseburg Healthcare System. Full disclosure: I am a disabled veteran and retired VA employee married to a 100 percent disabled veteran who receives his care at the VARHS. Recent events caught our attention.
During a press conference held by the VARHS, Director Carol Bogedain explained the decision to close the intensive care unit was made before she or Chief of Staff Chip Taylor came to Roseburg. True. Neither of them had any part in making that decision. Unfortunately, they have been placed in the position of having to support prior decisions made by the VISN (the regional office) and the VA Central Office in Washington, D.C. They have my sympathy. This might explain why Bogedain is taking the push by local veterans for an ICU so personally. It is not meant to be personal. We are aware of when the decisions were made and by whom.
We are also aware that when the decisions were made, the ICU census was low because patients were being diverted to Mercy Medical Center or other hospitals. There were broken beds in the ICU and inpatient ward. They lacked staff to tend to patients in workable beds. Without staff and beds, they couldn’t accept patients. The staff wasn’t replaced and the beds couldn’t be fixed or replaced due to budget shortfalls. Current and former employees can verify this. It appears that neither the VISN nor Central Office was or is willing to look into this.
Taylor has tried to prove to veterans it isn’t safe for them to have an ICU at this facility. We all know statistics can be made to show just about anything. Taylor provided studies that show ICUs that care for more patients have better outcomes.
Taylor also spoke of the importance of having skilled medical staff in an ICU. No one argues with that, but it is directly related to why veterans want an ICU at the VA facility. Veterans believe that VA medical personnel have a better understanding of and more experience with unique ailments of veterans, especially post-traumatic stress disorder. Latest findings indicate a high percentage of veterans, male and female, suffer from PTSD. Symptoms get worse in stressful situations and a veteran in need of ICU care is under stress.
Bogedain and Taylor insist that closing the ICU isn’t about money. They are wrong. It is about money. Bogedain, with her years of service in the VA, should understand this. Perhaps Taylor, who is new to the VA, doesn’t nor does the general public. I will attempt a simple explanation.
Many veterans cannot obtain health care services from the VA. The VA classifies veterans into about eight categories. To reduce the budget, the VA restricted eligible veterans to the top few categories comprising basically two groups of veterans: those who fall below the Housing and Urban Development poverty level for the area and those with service-connected disabilities.
Within those two groups are those with no insurance, some with insurance and those with varying levels of service-connected disabilities. Most of these will have co-pays for services and/or medication except for treatment for service-connected disabilities.
Those with a 60 percent or higher disability rating receive most services and medication at no cost. The co-pays are generally less than those charged by Medicare, especially for medications. When a veteran has to utilize ICU or inpatient services at a VA hospital, it is less expensive or at no cost. When a veteran has to go to a civilian hospital, the VA does not always pay the bill and when it is paid, it is often only after the patient has received threatening billing from the civilian hospital.
But that brings up another problem. Because of its classification Mercy can only bill Medicare/Medicaid a standard amount that is usually less than what it actually costs to provide care for a patient. That’s bad enough, but the VA reimbursement rate is about 75 percent of what Medicare/Medicaid allows. I suspect that’s why Mercy hasn’t jumped up with glee and only accepts VA patients according to the “availability of resources.”
Bogedain maintains that the Douglas County Veteran Forum is being stubborn and unreasonable. Perhaps she doesn’t understand that the forum is a unified effort of all veterans in the VARHS service area. From this side of the coin, it appears that the VA is being equally stubborn. Several suggestions have been given to the VA that might alleviate the ICU problem, but the VA appears to disregard all of them.
Simone Becker of Roseburg retired in 2009 after working for various federal agencies for 26 years, the last 10 at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Her last position was secretary to the associate director. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Letter: Kanipe Park volunteers forge agreement with Douglas County CommissionersFebruary 26, 2014 —
I wish to express my gratitude to the Douglas County Commissioners for agreeing to let the Friends of Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park Association have the opportunity to raise $65,000 toward building an equestrian and a non-equestrian campground at the park. It is hoped that camping opportunities will bring in badly needed income to help pay the operating expenses of the park.
If the required amount is not raised, the county will go ahead with its plan to clear-cut 20 acres of forest on the far north edge of the park.
Many fundraising events have been planned by local interest groups who value and enjoy the park. An atmosphere of community togetherness and cooperation has been fostered by the county’s offer to work together. We are hopeful that this is the beginning of a relationship that will benefit us all in the future. (Perhaps we can set an example for Washington, D.C.?)
Oregon has many horse camps, but none in our area. Equestrians who enjoy camping with their horses will be eager to come and enjoy our beautiful park with its lovely trails and beautiful views.
People without horses enjoy camping as well and there are many things at the park for them to enjoy.
Restoration of the English Settlement School is going well and a new roof is scheduled as soon as the weather settles down. Ground-penetrating radar will be searching for pioneer grave sites this spring. Also underway is restoration of the heritage orchard with the varieties listed on the orchard diagram made by Mildred Kanipe. Some that were previously thought to be extinct have been found for this project.
Thanks to everyone who is working on all of this.
Letter: Don’t be railroaded into providing a grant without requiring bypass measuresFebruary 26, 2014 —
CORP misleads the public
I very much appreciate The News-Review publicizing the problems with Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad blocking the crossings on Highway 99 and North Bank Road in Wilbur. I live off North Bank Road and have many times been significantly delayed by CORP’s switching operations blocking the crossings for periods up to 30 minutes.
CORP’s representative, Patrick Kerr, stated in a Feb. 9 article in The News-Review that blocked drivers can call a number posted at the crossings. Calling this number was also mentioned in The News-Review editorial on Feb. 16. There is no number posted at the North Bank Road crossing. There is no number visible traveling south on Highway 99 if a train is crossing. The only phone number is on an electrical enclosure on the south side of the tracks, visible by looking back along the tracks from the south side of the crossing. This number is 1-800-344-8261. It was very disingenuous for Patrick Kerr to claim that no one has complained by calling this number. Basically, if there is an emergency on North Bank Road, there is no posted number to call.
CORP built its switchyard with a big public grant and it is requesting more public money for an expansion. This expansion must include mitigation measures, such as a bypass, to reduce the inconvenience and risk to the public of their operations. I feel CORP has been very misleading in the discussion of the impact of its operations on the public.
Letter: Vote Freeman for Douglas County CommissionerFebruary 26, 2014 —
Freeman shows leadership skill
As a retired Oakland High School teacher, I have known Tim Freeman for 30-odd years and I am supporting him for Douglas County Commissioner.
I coached Tim for a couple years of high school football. Tim was a natural leader and voted team captain. I could tell even back then that he was very good at representing those who had elected him.
Tim has continued to be a leader throughout his life, as a member of countless civic groups, on the Roseburg City Council and now as State Representative. He is honest, straightforward, will speak his mind and do what is best for the most people.
We need a hard-working, experienced leader like Tim on the Douglas County Commission. Please join me in casting your vote for Tim Freeman.
Mark S. Wilson
Guest column: Science behind O&C forest legislation encouragingFebruary 26, 2014 —
When Sen. Ron Wyden unveiled his proposed legislation to manage Oregon’s 2.1 million acres of O&C land, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers of Oregon was encouraged.
Our conservation organization seeks to protect wild public land, water and wildlife, and BHA was asked by Sen. Wyden’s office to help identify areas of critical wildlife habitat for conservation protection. We are encouraged that many of our suggestions were included in the proposed legislation.
In addition, BHA believes that public lands should remain public, which this legislation stipulates.
While the bill would increase timber harvests, it also sets aside nearly half the acreage into conservation zones creating new backcountry areas and wilderness.
For anglers and the nearly 2 million people who depend on clean water, the legislation continues strong riparian watershed protection and for the first time in legislative history protects old-growth trees from harvest.
Protection of healthy public land and water is key to a robust recreation industry, which in Oregon translates into 141,000 jobs and generates nearly $13 billion in consumer spending from hikers, hunters, skiers, anglers, birdwatchers, mountain bikers and others, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.
But this legislation also provides for ecologically sustainable timber harvest where appropriate. Unlike dry forests where wildfire often creates a mosaic of openings that produce diverse plants — including diversity in age and species of trees — moist forests such as those found on O&C land in Western Oregon achieved diversity through timber harvest during recent modern history.
Nobody wants to return to the cut-and-run days of old-fashioned logging, but BHA does support sustainable timber harvest that will also provide a more diverse forage base for elk and deer. According to professors Norm Johnson of Oregon State University and Jerry Franklin of the University of Washington, both of whom helped craft Wyden’s proposed legislation, much of the O&C land today has a closed canopy where little sunlight reaches the forest floor.
This tight canopy has led to a reduction in forage for game, often forcing elk and deer onto managed private forestry property.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife closely monitors game populations in Western Oregon. While elk populations have remained stagnant, blacktail deer populations have declined significantly for more than 30 years. Some of this decline is due to predation, disease and other factors, but ODFW acknowledges it’s also due to a lack of forage for big game. Quoting from the 2008 Oregon blacktail deer management plan, “Changes in habitat availability and quality have contributed to declining populations since the early 1980s.
Habitat changes include both quantity of early seral habitat (particularly on federal lands where mature timber stands still have deer, but at reduced numbers), and quality influenced by changing reforestation management practices.”
In an interview with BHA, OSU’s Johnson asserts that variable retention timber harvesting will help restore a balanced succession of plant species, including variable aged trees, which will benefit elk and deer on public lands over time.
But forage for elk and deer is only one aspect of sustainable timber harvest. Protecting water quality and fisheries is critical, and scientific management of the landscape surrounding rivers and streams must be assured as well. According to conservationist Greg Block at the Wild Salmon Center, the Wyden bill establishes “permanent riparian protections for the first time for this type of large landscape and makes permanent key features of the Northwest Forest Plan aquatic protections.”
Bill Kremers, president of the Northwest Steelhead Association agrees that riparian protections are critical and says the bill is “more than just a timber harvest bill.” Kremers continues, “I think this is a good bill because it protects our streams. Protecting the riparian along these streams is critical to our native fish.” Both men were interviewed by BHA.
No legislation is ever perfect, however, so Backcountry Hunters & Anglers will continue to monitor this legislation as it moves through Congress.
But BHA is encouraged by the rational, scientific approach to balanced management of these public lands and waters.
The Northwest Forest Plan was a good attempt to manage them, but current science demands that management plans be reviewed and updated. Wyden’s O&C legislation does that.
Brian Jennings is sportsmen’s outreach coordinator for Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ed Putnam is co-chair of BHA for Oregon. He can be reached at email@example.com. The website for the organization is www.backcountryhunters.org.
Letter: Know the facts about governmentFebruary 25, 2014 —
Historical look at exec. orders
I have some sage advice for those decrying the issuance of executive orders: Do not take opinions from unreliable sources. Also, engage brain before putting mouth in gear. In other words, know what you are talking about.
In point of actual fact, executive orders are what makes the executive branch of government work. The most famous executive order was the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves in the South. Executive orders apply only to the executive branch of government, and are subject to court review.
The right likes to forget that Mr. Obama was a constitutional law professor, whereas the right depends on Hannity and Limbaugh for its opinions. If we were that impeachment happy, we should have impeached Ronald Reagan for supplying illegal arms to the Contras, or George W. Bush for keeping the wars he started off the books, so we couldn’t know what they cost us. In other words, the important stuff. I urge the spokespeople for the right to be more careful with facts.
Letter: Supporting the troops, but not the administrationsFebruary 25, 2014 —
Nothing gained from dying
I’m a veteran and I “Support Our Troops” as brethren. However, that does not mean I support where our troops have been, and continue to be, deployed. I’m of the Vietnam era and like so many other people, lost far too many friends there.
Fast forward to today and you will find a country of thriving economic growth and stability there. It is essentially the same as it would have been many years earlier, except for the delay attributed to our military intervention.
Why doesn’t anybody weigh and wonder why so many lives were lost, and for what?
It’s abundantly obvious no lessons were learned, as we re-enact the same situations and scenarios in the Middle East. The factions we’ve been fighting are back and resuming their agendas almost faster than we are withdrawing. As our government winds down our involvement and brings our troops home, (far too many in body bags), I once again find myself asking: Why doesn’t anybody weigh and wonder why so many lives were lost, and for what?
Norman Paul Neal
Editorial: Towns should be able to decide what happens in city limitsFebruary 25, 2014 —
Cities and towns often put a lot of thought and energy into the image its residents want to project.
In Douglas County, there are a dozen incorporated communities. None wants to be considered interchangeable with others.
Winston has put out banners to identify with its main tourist attraction, Wildlife Safari. Reedsport touts its connection to the coast. Canyonville is known regionally as the city that hosts Seven Feathers Casino Resort. Oakland trades on its Victorian-era buildings, while Elkton promotes its wineries, ties to Fort Umpqua and the butterflies that flock to its multi-faceted community center.
Conversely, it’s understandable that inhabitants would prefer not to be known as “the place where (fill in the blank with something undesirable) happens.”
That’s what Myrtle Creek is now facing.
In September, the paper’s editorial board cited various cultural and improvement projects in the city as evidence that civic pride was flourishing. Just a month later, Myrtle Creek joined Medford in voicing opposition to the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries within their respective boundaries.
One apparently short-lived dispensary still listed online at potlocator.com did business on South Old Pacific Highway. Myrtle Creek Mayor Dan Jocoy has said the City Council is united in preventing another dispensary from opening and intends to “do everything we can to make it difficult to have those dispensaries in the town.”
Jocoy’s announcement earlier this month was linked to news that an Oregon Senate committee had weakened a bill to let cities and counties restrict medical marijuana dispensaries. Now it turns out that Myrtle Creek may have allies in its struggle. A House committee on Monday moved to allow local governments to ban dispensaries in their areas. The measure will go the full House, and, if passed, back to the Senate. Its fate there is uncertain.
We understand the concerns of Eugene Sen. Floyd Prozanski, who has expressed reservations about granting municipalities power to ban any state-approved business. Cities have dealt with this issue before.
In attempting to prohibit businesses viewed by many as morally objectionable — card rooms and so-called gentlemen’s clubs come to mind — cities have bumped up against higher authorities that dictated otherwise. Roseburg learned this when a couple of strip bars opened on Diamond Lake Boulevard and Cass Avenue in the 1990s despite disapproval by neighbors and city councilors.
Sure, medical pot dispensaries have been legal since August. But the product they dispense continues to be an illegal substance for anyone without a medical marijuana card. And even those who do are ingesting a drug that American Medical Association delegates in November voted should not be legalized.
And while enterprising Girl Scouts in Phoenix and San Francisco have boosted cookie sales by setting up booths outside pot dispensaries, each of those cities has myriad other activities to keep them from being dubbed “places to go when you have weed-induced munchies.”
Myrtle Creek, like other small towns, should be able to protect the character its residents regard as representative of their values. We hope the House and Senate agree. It would be a shame to see that autonomy floating away on clouds of pungent smoke.
Letter: Downtown Roseburg parking issues draw fireFebruary 24, 2014 —
How smart is Park Smart?
The Downtown Roseburg Association says it needs revenue. Then why not fine all of the business owners and their employees who are parking in spaces meant for patrons? Park Smart employees do not seem to know who those violators are. We question why the Park Smart employees can’t figure it out?
We have been property and business owners in downtown Roseburg for more than 30 years and we can figure it out by simply driving through town every day!
How smart is Park Smart?
Letter: Whiskey Complex fire raises common sense questionFebruary 24, 2014 —
Birds reap and people weep?
I read a recent article in The News-Review concerning the salvage logging proposal on last year’s Whiskey Complex fire. Mr. Heiken of the Oregon Wild organization stated that woodpeckers have already reaped benefits from the burn. That is, to say the least, putting the woodpecker’s benefits ahead of everyone else. Mr. Heiken may be a forester, but if so, he should go back to school and take some lessons on common sense.