Opinion, Analysis, Discussion

Editor’s Notebook: It’s election time: Get informed, share your opinions

April 20, 2014 — 

You don’t need us to remind you that an election is nearing — you’ve seen the political signs dotting the roadways of Douglas County and beyond.

You might like to know how we’re approaching this election season, however, and some important deadlines.

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Publisher’s Notebook: Does the BLM think cows are more threatening that tree-sitters?

April 20, 2014 — 

My one take-away from the Nevada dust-up between the government and a cantankerous rancher named Clive Bundy was this: Cows and tree-sitters should be treated equally.

If we assume that the Bureau of Land Management actually owns the 247.3 million acres of America’s land — and not we the people — it has a right to protect its land from deadbeat cows and cranky ranchers. Much as it has the right to protect its land from tree-sitters, or other squatters.

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Letter: Is religious freedom for Christians in America the new target of discrimination?

April 18, 2014 — 

Courts rule out Christian values

“Don’t ask, don’t tell,” the discarded military policy regarding homosexuality, is still in force in America, except that it no longer applies to what a person does in the privacy of his or her bedroom, but rather to a person’s religious beliefs – if they are Christian beliefs.

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Letter: Douglas County needs realistic valuation and taxation

April 18, 2014 — 

Despite experience assessor gets “F”

If you needed to hire any professional to provide a service, what would you base your selection on? Most people would say experience and/or knowledge. But just because someone has been doing something a long time doesn’t mean they are providing quality in what they are producing.

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Editorial: Roses & thorns

April 18, 2014 — 

Stellar speller

Peter LaLande was calm and confident each time he stepped to the microphone and spelled the word pronounced for him at last Saturday’s Douglas County Spelling Bee. His demeanor and stellar spelling paid off. The home-schooled sixth-grader from Dixonville was named champion of the annual bee, taking home a laptop computer and printer.

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Letter: Know the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center requirements for transportation after a colonoscopy

April 17, 2014 — 

Long-standing appt. canceled

I would like to make any veterans in the area aware that if they have a colonoscopy in the future at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center, they must have a friend or relative sign them in at the clinic. The only alternative to this is staying overnight at the hospital after a 2-hour procedure. There are no exceptions.

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Letter: Real estate broker backs Hartman for Douglas County Assessor

April 17, 2014 — 

I’ll vote for Roger Hartman

I have been a real estate broker in Douglas County for 37 years and have never seen the assessment department in such poor shape as it is now.

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Letter:

April 17, 2014 — 

Acree is best for assessor

I support Susan Acree for re-election as Douglas County assessor because she is the only candidate who goes to work in the assessor’s office. She is doing a great job of representing everyone. She has done her work in the assessor’s office in a very quiet manner with great efficiency for more than three decades.

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Letter: Use election to jumpstart Douglas County economy

April 17, 2014 — 

Vote Atherton for Dist. No. 2

Between Susan Morgan and Tim Freeman, Republicans have held the House District No. 2 seat for the last 14 years. What do we have to show for it? We have nothing; no new jobs, no new businesses, no new industry, no new infrastructure, and no new hope!

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Letter: Choose Douglas County Assessor based on qualifications

April 16, 2014 — 

Acree has the job experience

Roger Hartman has zero experience working in an assessor’s office.

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Guest column: Rural VA hospitals can run effective intensive care units

April 16, 2014 — 

The latest installment of “Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center can’t have an intensive care unit and here are the reasons why” was the same old rhetoric that the veterans of Douglas County and Southwest Oregon have heard for the past five years.

Booz Allen Hamilton’s expert Dr. Ken Kizer and former undersecretary of the Veterans Health Administration was asked by Rep. Timothy Hutchinson, R-AR, at a congressional hearing proposing the 1996 Veterans Health and Eligibility Reform Act, “What guarantees there might be to ensure that hospital and VISN directors would not arbitrarily eliminate specialized services because of the high cost involved.” Dr. Kizer answered the committee and told them that oversight by stakeholders in the form of management assistance councils would be set up as oversight so this would never happen.

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Guest column: Green tariffs may help attract businesses to Oregon

April 16, 2014 — 

On the last day of February, the Oregon Legislature unanimously passed House Bill 4126 on to Gov. John Kitzhaber for his signature. This relatively small bill could potentially mean big opportunities for Oregon, and represents an all too rare win for rural communities in the state.

Pacific Power, along with every other Oregon public and private electric utility, supports this legislation as a “grand bargain” on energy policy this year.

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Guest column: Legislature seeks reasonable approach on pot dispensaries

April 16, 2014 — 

Last week I attended a special meeting of the Roseburg City Council as they discussed the issue of marijuana dispensaries. My purpose in being there (at their request) was to explain what had happened during the Legislative Session on the subject.

Since that time I have been under attack on Facebook by people who “know more than I do” on the subject. Let me say I acknowledge there are some medical benefits to marijuana, but it should also be acknowledged that smoking it has higher carcinogen levels than tobacco.

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Guest column: This county needs common sense, not divisiveness

April 16, 2014 — 

I’ve gone from pulling green chain to owning and operating a small logging business. I’ve been a realtor, small ranch owner, carpenter, property developer and businessman. I’ve been a jobs creator and business starter and owner for 39 of the 40 years I’ve been proud to call this county my home.

In several recent News Review issues a political ad accused me of having placed a small (nonpartisan) campaign sign on another candidate’s billboard and then putting it on private property without consent. The property owner was understandably upset, thinking I had willfully committed this inappropriate act. I immediately phoned Bill Woods after learning of this accusation. I explained that neither I, nor any of my volunteers had any knowledge of this event; and I offered an apology for any inconvenience he had experienced.

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Editorial: Failed wave energy project leaves lessons in its wake

April 16, 2014 — 

Wave energy may someday benefit Americans, but don’t expect ocean-generated electricity to flow to a plug near you.

For eight years, Ocean Power Technologies floated the notion of installing buoys off the coast of Reedsport to generate electricity for onshore customers.

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Letter: Ticks are more prevalent in Douglas County this year

April 15, 2014 — 

A tiny problem in our county

I think I can put to rest the question of whether or not ticks are out in full force in Douglas County.

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Letter: Gun control won’t reduce crime or increase public safety

April 15, 2014 — 

Why disarm Americans?

It is heartening to see the high degree of non-compliance by gun owners in Connecticut and New York with their states’ most recent “gun control” effort. These law-abiding Americans are now branded as felons for their defiance of the recent mandatory registration of semi-automatic rifles and standard capacity magazines. Many New York sheriffs have publicly stated that they will not enforce Cuomo’s so-called SAFE Act. As you know, many sheriffs, including our own, have taken similar stands.

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Editorial: Spirit of cooperation a building block in Kanipe park campground

April 15, 2014 — 

In 1749, a young Virginian used his family connections to secure the position of official surveyor for Culpeper County. The 17-year-old was paid well enough to purchase land in the Shenandoah Valley and launch himself on his way to greatness.

No other surveyor is likely to chart a resumé like George Washington’s. Still, it’s a good field to enter, and a handful of Umpqua Community College engineering students seeking related experience got the lay of the land last week at Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park near Oakland.

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Letter: Statistics and analytical skills needed by Douglas County Assessor

April 14, 2014 — 

Re-elect Acree for assessor

Qualities a person should bring to the position of Douglas County assessor include a good knowledge of statistics, finance and analytical skills. Because there are more than 20 employees currently working in the assessor’s office, it is also important to have good administrative and management skills.

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Letter: Vote out the bums and protect our rights

April 14, 2014 — 

Do we trust God or Man?

In the first chapter of his book, The Man in the Mirror, Patrick Morley writes: “America was founded by men who sought spiritual freedom to worship God. Where are the descendants of these men? Was their courage not hereditary?“

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Letter: Incumbent recommended for Douglas County Assessor

April 14, 2014 — 

Acree qualified on all counts

Experience, integrity and dedication are the hallmarks of a good public servant. Susan Acree, incumbent candidate for the office of Douglas County assessor, qualifies on all counts. She has worked her way through the ranks of that county office, was elected to the post and has served honorably. She has earned the confidence of her constituents, deserves to be re-elected and will have my vote.

Ada Duncan

Roseburg

Letter: Acree’s win record on appeals is not strong

April 14, 2014 — 

Fix assessor’s office issues

After reading The News Review’s April 4 article and Susan Acree’s Appraisal Plan published in 2012, it’s clear that Acree is in over her head and should not be re-elected to the position of Douglas County assessor.

She repeatedly cites “staffing shortage” issues as reasons why she cannot get things done. In her Appraisal Plan, she complained about inadequate staffing. The trouble is, she still complains about it two years later. She simply can’t hire or keep competent staff. Why is that? Is it the lack of competent staff or is it Acree? I’ve spoken with former staff and learned she’s simply too difficult to work with. She will tell you the assessor’s job is a 60-hour per week position. Well, sure it is, if you can’t keep staff.

She also complains of “too many appeals,” of which she prevails only 20 percent of the time. The answer to that is simple. Fairly and properly assess property values and the appeals will go away, freeing time for Acree and her limited staff. In The News-Review article, she admits 272 properties were appealed. She lost 80 percent of those appeals.

Finally, there’s the ever popular subject of public access. Acree sat before the editorial staff of The News Review and claimed the main reason she removed the computers was to protect confidential information. She also stated they were removed to prevent people from being solicited by those who could help in appealing assessments. When challenged, she admitted the records don’t show itemized personal property; therefore, there’s no confidentiality issue. I think the real reason is to keep the citizenry from understanding their assessment, thereby reducing appeals.

It’s time to fix the assessor’s office. Unfortunately, Susan Acree has proven she is not the person for the job.

Tim Bogan

Roseburg

Publisher’s Notebook: Wouldn’t you ask first before you shot through the bathroom door?

April 13, 2014 — 

I’m trying my best to believe this Blade Runner guy in South Africa who is on trial accused of shooting his girlfriend to death.

As a guy who keeps a gun near his bed, I’m aware of the consequences and responsibilities that come with that and, I gotta say, the Blade Runner leaves me scratching my head.

“He’s kidding, right?”

If you’re not like me and don’t follow shootings in South Africa because you have better things to do and can’t keep track of the shootings in the U.S., let alone around the world, here’s what happened, allegedly.

The Blade Runner, well known for running in the Olympics with no legs (he has artificial legs he uses to run that look like blades), is actually Oscar Pistorius. I was a huge fan because he had to fight to be allowed to compete because some thought his “blades” gave him an advantage.

“Not fair,” said those who were born with two perfectly good legs and wanted to ban Pistorius. “Those blades make him faster than he’d be if he had legs.”

Anyway, he had to hire a lawyer who convinced officials to allow him to run and he represented his country in both the 400 meter and 4x400 meter relay in the 2012 Olympics.

He was already a national celebrity, but the Olympics made him a national hero and international celebrity.

Who doesn’t like a guy who overcomes adversity and how does it get any cooler than losing your legs at 11 months old and going on to run in the Olympic games?

That’s what I thought.

As you can imagine, Pistorius had no problem getting girlfriends. When you are a celebrity, you don’t buy drinks and people want to be your friend. I know this only secondhand because I don’t have many friends and buy my own beer.

So Pistorius had a beautiful model for a girlfriend named Reeva Steenkamp and lots of endorsements that made him a millionaire. He had the world by the tail, in other words.

Then things got ugly.

According to Pistorius — and we must rely on his account of the events that Valentine’s Day night because Reeva Steenkamp is dead — he got up in the middle of the night to close the windows and move the fans inside.

He said he heard a noise in the bathroom near his bedroom and thought someone was trying to get into the house. He didn’t think it might be his girlfriend because he thought she was still in bed and didn’t see her get out of bed when he went to close the windows.

This is where I stopped to ponder the options.

“What would I do?” I wondered.

Well, for starters, I might check to see if my wife was still in bed. If she was I could cross her off the list of possible suspects who were making noise in the bathroom.

If the bed was empty, I’d probably guess she was in the bathroom. I hope she would allow me the same courtesy before reaching for the gun. I use the bathroom a lot at night and would hate to think she was reaching for the 9 mm every time I went potty.

Then I’d see if my kids were in the bathroom. For some reason they like my bathroom better than their own bathroom, so I’d probably … I don’t know … say something like, “Who’s in the bathroom?”

If they didn’t answer — and I don’t know why anyone would lie about being in a bathroom — I’d probably get a little more direct.

“I know somebody’s in the bathroom. Come out with your pants up, or I’m coming in!”

By then my wife would probably be awake, asking who I was talking to.

“There’s someone in the bathroom,” I’d tell her. “And they won’t say who.”

At that point I’d probably send her to go check on the kids, while I grabbed my 9 mm. We still had a way out, so whatever was in the bathroom was still no real threat. At that point I could even call 911, to let them know I thought someone was in my bathroom.

If a guy could call the cops on his cat, I should be fine calling about an intruder in my bathroom.

The Blade Runner allegedly skipped all of that, going straight for the gun. He didn’t check to see where his girlfriend was and instead fired four shots through the bathroom door.

Tragically, Reeva Steenkamp was behind the door and was shot and killed.

Pistorius said he was afraid and that he didn’t mean to kill her.

“He said what?”

“He said he didn’t mean to kill her and that he thought she was an intruder.”

“But he fired four shots. Didn’t he hear her scream after the first one?”

“Nope. He was scared. “

The guy who overcame all odds; who must have endured horrific pain and suffering to achieve a goal; who was a pillar of strength and a role model for anyone who has faced adversity was suddenly afraid of someone behind a locked bathroom door so he fired four shots through it?

Sorry, Oscar. I’m not buying.

In fact, it’s one of the most pathetic defenses I have ever heard and I’ve heard more than my share over my three decades in the news business.

If it wasn’t for his celebrity status the Blade Runner would already be serving his sentence in some South African prison. At the very least he’s guilty of gross negligence, but the chances are better that he’s a cold-blooded killer — allegedly.

Jeff Ackerman is publisher of The News-Review. He can be reached at 541-957-4263 or jackerman@nrtoday.com.

Editorial: Glendale should return to five-day school week

April 13, 2014 — 

The Glendale School Board would be wise to move its students and teachers back to a five-day school week. It’s a move other county districts should consider as well.

The decision to switch to a four-day week was never for academic reasons, but to save money for budget-strapped school districts. In some districts, changing to a four-day week delayed temporarily the closing of an entire elementary school.

Since making the move, schools and families have adapted. But they’re overlooking many advantages to a five-day school week and some of the hardships a four-day week causes.

The shorter school week is most problematic for elementary schoolchildren. Children learn by repetition, but when they don’t attend school on Fridays, they lose a day when teachers could be reinforcing the skills taught each of the previous days. The three-day weekend is nearly as long as the school week, giving youngsters more time to forget what they learned.

The shorter attention spans of young students make spending longer days in the classroom more difficult. They’re worn out and Friday becomes a day to recuperate. When students get sick — which happens frequently to the young — and miss a day of school, they’ve lost one-fourth of the week; two days and they’ve lost 50 percent of the instruction time.

Schools that eliminate Friday classes create inequities among families. Single parents or families with two working parents must find and pay for child care on Fridays, which is not an easy task with the limited availability and increasing cost. These families see the shorter school week as an undue burden, as opposed to families with more flexible schedules who see three-day weekends as an opportunity to do more traveling.

Fridays without classes mean no meals are served to schoolchildren, and with our high poverty rates in Douglas County we know that means some children are going without nutritious meals.

Four-day school weeks for secondary students are misleading for those entering the workforce soon. The standard five-day work week can be a shock to students who are used to having three-day weekends every weekend.

It’s terrific that some districts have seen continued academic success with a shorter school week, but they can’t point to that as a factor in the favorable outcome. Smaller class sizes, teacher expectations, family and community support are more likely reasons.

The declining test scores recorded by students and unacceptable graduation rate of 56 percent in the Glendale School District has school officials questioning their move to the four-day week.

The district’s business manager has said adding back Fridays shouldn’t create financial difficulties for the district.

It’s the teachers union that will have to approve the move.

If the teachers are truly interested in seeing their students succeed, they will recognize it’s time to reinstate Friday classes.

Letter: Use common sense and learn safe handling of firearms in Douglas County

April 11, 2014 — 

Gun safety, not zero tolerance

”Zero tolerance” means the people passing laws and ordinances have zero common sense and logic. They assume those required to enforce their misguided laws are similarly deficient.

We actually disciplined a child for pointing his finger at a playmate and saying, “Bang.” Office staff called the police on a high school student after he reported to the office that he forgot and left his rifle in his truck after a hunting trip. We bust a student for drawing a picture of a gun or eating a Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun.

Are we Americans really so stupid?

Guns are here forever; liberals need to get used to it. Passing more laws restricting guns is fool-hearted. We should be teaching our children about guns first with instructions and videos in grade school such as:

1. Never touch a gun without a responsible adult’s permission.

2. Always treat a gun as if it were loaded.

3. Never point a gun at anything you don’t intend to shoot.

4. Unloading an automatic pistol is not complete by simply removing the magazine.

Have high school classes with hands-on training and an on-campus gun range. I recently visited the website of Roseburg Rod and Gun Club. There was a photograph of an instructor and youth. The audience was also mostly the young learning about guns. This should be what we see in our schools.

Have you all heard these sayings?

“If guns were outlawed only outlaws would have guns.”

“What additional gun laws do you think the lawless will care about or abide by? It only punishes the law abiding and makes situations and places less safe.”

“The most dangerous places are those that post ‘gun-free zones’ or similar places inviting the bad guys.”

William D. Smith

Winston

Letter: Back-in parking and LNG projects earn criticism

April 11, 2014 — 

Recent letters right on target

I’d like to first start off by complimenting two letter writers who have a good grasp of what common sense and leadership is all about. They are the Jan. 28 writer for her excellent letter on the latest back-in parking idea and wasteful spending plans. On March 26, another writer sent an excellent letter concerning the LNG bullying and land-grabbing without compensation plan.

The back-in parking idea will just make it less attractive to come downtown. I don’t know whose brilliant think-tank that idea came from, but it just seems too ridiculous to consider. We certainly need to be more creative to develop a positive desire for people to come downtown, but please go back to the drawing board.

When I first heard of the LNG project, I thought it might be a real benefit. However, after seeing the whole picture, there’s nothing positive for anybody except the greedy people who will make big bucks from it. I’m not against a business such as LNG making money, but for sure they shouldn’t reap rewards for their product without compensating the land owners. Without the property access for this proposed pipeline, it couldn’t happen. Where is the justice for the people whose property is being ripped away from them without at least compensation? Thievery and corruption come to mind, along with flat outright injustice.

Gary Oilar

Roseburg

Editorial: Roses & thorns

April 11, 2014 — 

ROSE

Ready to make a splash

Swimmers apparently can’t wait to get back into Umpqua Community College’s pool.

The chairwoman of UCC’s physical education department, Cheryl Yoder, reports that she’s been getting a lot of phone calls from people asking when the pool will reopen.

This week, she was provided an answer — May 5.

A few days before then, the pool will be filled to let the water warm up to a suitable temperature.

The pool has been closed for three years for repairs. It became clear the community missed the outdoor pool.

The reopening of the pool will return one way the college can connect with the public and build support for other programs.

THORN

Putrid poacher

The poaching of game animals always makes us irate. The most recent poaching we heard about makes us ill.

Someone shot a fawn around 10 p.m. March 28 in Melrose. That means someone shot a baby deer.

We find the action shocking and reprehensible.

We encourage anyone who knows anything about the incident to contact the Oregon Hunters Association Turn-in-Poachers Reward Program at 800-452-7888 or email Senior Trooper Don Frerichs at don.frerichs@state.or.us.

A reward of up to $500 is being offered by the TIP program for information leading to an arrest and conviction in this case.

The shooter left the fawn in a ditch in the 1600 block of Melqua Road, about 1.5 miles east of the Melrose Store.

Please help catch this perpetrator. Such crimes should not be tolerated in our community.

ROSE

Gimme a “W”

Some good spellers come to it naturally. They can mentally “see” letters in the right order, or they have some other talent that helps them remember how a word should be arranged.

Others have to rely on good study skills, memory tricks or just plain determination. Whatever it is that makes them successful, two dozen of Douglas County’s best young organizers of vowels and consonants have advanced to the level of the Douglas County Spelling Bee. And on Saturday, at the Wildlife Safari auditorium in Winston, 24 winners will enter — but only one will emerge victorious.

One by one, the others will fall after putting an “i” where an “e” will be, or putting one more “p” than needed in a certain sequence. It’s hard to see them go down. All have worked hard. All are good representatives of the 35 schools (and one home school) where they have already demonstrated their word-busting ability.

So before they begin to melt away like Minnesota snow in April, we’ll take a minute to salute all these young spellers.

Letter: Another perspective on legalizing marijuana dispensaries

April 10, 2014 — 

You want crime with that?

Every town in Douglas County large enough to not be able to throw a stone across already has at least one legal drug dispensary. That would be the liquor store, plus grocery and other stores selling beer, wine and tobacco products. The social and medical problems caused by alcohol and tobacco make marijuana a non-starter by comparison, but they are legal.

Every community already has one or more illegal marijuana dispensaries. Where do you think people get it? My impression is that everybody who really wants to smoke dope already does. Communities voting to turn back the tide by outlawing in-town marijuana dispensaries are merely saying they prefer such dispensaries to remain criminal. They will get what they vote for, and proximity to a schoolyard or age of customers will not be among the concerns for the sellers. Those communities will have that warm feeling of righteousness and justification that comes with opposing evil.

Charlton McNutt

Glendale

Letter: Assessing situations and resolving problems; valuable skills for a Douglas County Commissioner

April 10, 2014 — 

Freeman brings common sense

As a small business owner for more than 40 years, I understand the challenges and rewards. Sometimes it feels like the government is out to make your life even more difficult. That is why I have supported State Rep. Tim Freeman over the years, from his tenure on the Roseburg City Council to his years in Salem and now as he runs for Douglas County commissioner.

Tim is a small business owner, too, and understands the challenges so many of us face. Having operated a local business for years, Tim brings common sense and a solid work ethic to his role as legislator. He is one to ask the bottom-line, simple questions that make bureaucrats squirm. He is always looking for ways to get government out of the way and trying to make life easier for ordinary people like you and me.

No matter how difficult, every small business has to balance the books. Tim believes government should live within its means as well, and be good stewards of the money entrusted to them by the citizens.

Whenever I have asked Tim for help, he has come out to assess the situation and helped to resolve it. Currently we are fighting for our rights on the Dunes in Douglas County and Tim has been invaluable. He has the connections to make a difference.

Please join me in voting for Tim Freeman, a fiscally sound, common-sense leader for our county.

Gary Leif

Roseburg

Letter: Knowledge of local issues is essential for position of Douglas County Commissioner

April 9, 2014 — 

Freeman ready to work for us

I am a fourth-generation Douglas County resident, having been raised in Days Creek and graduated from South Umpqua High School. Over the years, I have watched Tim Freeman work hard operating his business, at the Roseburg City Council and as a state representative, and I’ve been very impressed with his knowledge of local issues. Tim not only has a wide range of experience, but also has built relationships over the years and has a wide range of contacts at all levels of government.

As a commissioner in Jackson County, I understand how very local county government is. It is important for a commissioner to have a good network of relationships. Beyond that however, it’s important for a commissioner to have experience.

Tim Freeman not only understands the problems facing Southern Oregon, but, more important, he has experience in creating solutions for these problems. We don’t need more people to point fingers and say what is wrong. We need leaders who are ready to work hard from day one to help Southern Oregon forward.

Tim Freeman is this kind of leader. I wholeheartedly support him in his bid for Douglas County Commissioner.

John Rachor

Central Point

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