Opinion, Analysis, Discussion

Letter: Turn out for Sutherlin fundraiser for Calapooia Reflections Museum

January 29, 2015 — 

Sutherlin is rich in history

I am the newest board member of the Calapooia Reflections Museum in Sutherlin. When asked, I was honored by the invitation.

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Letter: Douglas County livelihood depends on clean water

January 27, 2015 — 

Protect rivers from pipeline

As you know, clean water is a precious commodity. During this time of low rainfall it’s even more important to protect our rivers. The South Umpqua River is the waterway I’m most familiar with, living near it and swimming there for 30 years. No, I’m not a scientist, but an observant citizen.

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Guest Column: A look at the Douglas County Juvenile Department

January 27, 2015 — 

The Douglas County Juvenile Department has just released its 8th annual report card. The 2013-14 report charts the continued effectiveness of the programs involving teens, mostly 18 and younger, that are sanctioned in the criminal justice system.

Success in the juvenile department, as in many physical, mental and substance abuse programs, is measured in avoidance of future costs. The cost to society of continuing to deal with criminal activity, mental health issues and substance abuse issues as these teens develop into adult offenders is staggering. To give juveniles skills and guidance that will help them turn their lives around is a powerful tool to keep future costs down.

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Letter: Students explore the psi challenge

January 26, 2015 — 

Students run football psi

We are chemistry students at South Umpqua High School. Our teacher asked us if the New England Patriots had actually manipulated the pressure in the football game last weekend.

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Letter: Obama’s political direction draws dissent

January 26, 2015 — 

Hard to find the positives

Golly, I really would like to say positive things about our dear President, but he sure makes it hard. Where do we start, when he and his cronies have created such a mess?

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Publisher’s Notebook: In Defense of Animals ‘Worst Of’ list lacks credibility

January 25, 2015 — 

If you are going to publish an annual “Worst Of” list — and I’m not sure why anyone would — it would seem prudent to at least establish some credibility.

In Defense of Animals, a nonprofit headquartered in San Rafael, California, just made my “Top 10 Worst NonProfit” agencies list.

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Editorial: Music among gifts new First Citizens contribute

January 25, 2015 — 

A love for Roseburg and a commitment to making the city a better place are among the attributes of Roseburg’s newest First Citizens.

Once again, an audience of more than 500 heard an impressively long list of contributions to the community by newly adorned outstanding citizens Lani Kimoto and Clint Newell.

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Letter: Douglas County landfill use scaled to meet all needs?

January 23, 2015 — 

Weight ticket makes sense

According to a November article on dump fees, it appears that the cost of operating the Roseburg landfill amounts to a little more than a penny per pound. The cost to commercial operators is suggested to be 3 cents per pound.

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Letter: Some people will always be taken in

January 23, 2015 — 

Please do not be fooled again

The same gullible people who renamed their french fries to “freedom fries” because France didn’t want any part of Bush’s terrorist-creating Iraq-war fiasco, are now bashing Obama for not showing up for a phony, staged, photo-op picture.

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January 23, 2015 — 

Letter: Compare the U.S. today to the U.S. in 2012

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Letter: Calapooia Reflections Museum offers a look at county heritage

January 21, 2015 — 

Save our great local museum

After reading The News-Review’s interview with Jo Barnes about the Calapooia Reflections Museum on January 9, I was deeply saddened. The article reflects that the museum is in financial troubles and I believe this archive that walks us through the settling and heritage of our county needs all of our help to survive. Since the tolls of time have limited my opportunities to visit this treasure of history lately, I appeal to you to take a visit and enjoy our museum in downtown Sutherlin. It is well organized and fascinating to learn of our settler’s struggles, lifestyles and wartime heros.

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Letter: Don’t let corporate greed jeopardize American soil

January 20, 2015 — 

Pipeline not worth the risk

Since the time the pioneers took this land from the Natives, we have taken everything we wanted from this great land. We cut the forests. We plowed the prairies. We mined the minerals and the coal. We dammed the rivers. We fished and polluted the water. We hunted the wildlife, some to near extinction, like the bison. We warmed the planet. We also pumped out the easy-to-get oil. When it was gone, we fought wars to get oil from the Middle East.

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Letter: Some things have improved, but others issues remain

January 20, 2015 — 

Writers with too much time?

I love The News-Review Opinion page, but I think far too many writers have way to much time on their hands.

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Guest column: Here’s a look at what the county assessor’s office does

January 20, 2015 — 

State law mandates that each county elect an assessor. The assessor is charged, by state law, with implementing and maintaining a system that sets the taxable and market value for all real and personal property in the county. Roger Hartman is Douglas County’s newly elected assessor, bringing extensive private sector experience to the office.

His team is responsible for maintaining: maps of property boundaries, locations, descriptions and ownerships; an inventory of all properties that includes quality, quantity and important characteristics; an estimate of the market value of each taxable property; managing special programs like farm and forest assessments, veterans’ exemptions, and senior/disabled deferrals; administering all Special Assessment statutes; reviewing and preparing property review requests and appeals, and explaining the assessment process used; along with other duties.

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Letter: Operational costs for landfill in Douglas County must be paid

January 19, 2015 — 

Dump free, or pay firemen?

I had something in mind to write the Forum during the holiday season, but got busy and put it at the bottom of my To Do list, but I cannot let the letter about the “free dump whiner” go undebated!

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Letter: Opinion page draws comment in Roseburg

January 19, 2015 — 

Long live the Golden Arches

I am certainly not a great fan of McDonalds (or any other fast food chain), but I thought you did them an injustice by insinuating in the Jan. 14 Opinion page that they didn’t care about healthy eating or fair wages. What about all the other chains? Are they any better? Or for that matter, are most of our other restaurants? Minimum wages are the norm — right? And a hamburger is a hamburger. People choose where and what they eat and when you see a looooong line at the drive-through, you can see where the choice lies.

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Publisher’s Notebook: Freedom of speech trumps thin skin

January 18, 2015 — 

I’ve offended a lot of people in my more than three decades of journalism. I hope to offend many more before I’m done.

For most of those 35 years I’ve written a weekly column that has attracted more than a few nasty calls, emails and anonymous online comments from trolls and cowards unwilling to put their names to their opinions.

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Editorial: We need to help the next generation succeed

January 18, 2015 — 

Helping and preparing the next generation to succeed is one of the best actions adults can take.

Not only is it rewarding to see youngsters grow and learn, it’s important for the future well-being of our society.

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Letter: Umpqua National Forest needs some TLC

January 16, 2015 — 

Help preserve our older trees

Our all-aged trees in the Umpqua National Forest need some “tender loving care” and we can help. More than 65 percent of the UNF has old-growth trees coexisting with trees of newer generations.

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Pacific Connector pipeline is not in the best interests of America or Americans

January 15, 2015 — 

The pipeline is wrong for U.S.

What the Pacific Connector pipeline boils down to is allowing a foreign corporation to dig a huge ditch through some of the Pacific Northwest’s most scenic and most productive land, pushing landowners (taxpayers) off their property or denying them the use of it, so a pipeline can be constructed to move natural gas to a yet-to-be-built port. That port may or may not provide a few jobs to an unknown few people, in order for the gas to be shipped to a different foreign country, all to make this Canadian corporation lots of money. The corporation – it must be pointed out – that today is Canadian owned, can at any moment be sold to just about anyone.

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Letter: League of Women Voters of Umpqua Valley hosted health care forum

January 14, 2015 — 

Health care: a vital issue

The League of Women Voters of Umpqua Valley would like to thank The News-Review for its excellent front page coverage on the December 8 Community Health Care Forum. While the four presenters (Dr. Bob Dannenhoffer, Dawnelle Marshall, Janet Holland, and Christy Parazoo) answered several questions submitted by the audience that night, there was not enough time to answer all of the submitted questions. Responses to those unanswered questions are now available on the LWVUV website www:lwvuv.wordpress.com. The League would like to again publicly thank all four presenters for appearing at the forum.

What’s next for health care in Douglas County? As the headline for the article aptly stated, it is an “unknown future,” especially in the area of public health. The League will continue to provide additional educational health care forums for the public.

The national League of Women Voters position on health care states: “the League of Women Voters believes that a basic level of quality health care at an affordable cost should be available to all U.S. residents.” Local LWVUV members want to see this level of care available to all Douglas County residents as well. Thank you for your continuing coverage on health care changes in Douglas County.

Regina (Jean) Galleher

Sutherlin

Letter: Oregonians deserve good educations, jobs and retirement

January 14, 2015 — 

Restore Oregon to greatness

As a new session of Congress gets underway, I’d like to thank you for giving me another chance to represent you in the nation’s capital. I am humbled by the trust you have placed in me.

It’s easy to be discouraged by the state of Congress today. Extreme viewpoints dominate headlines and derail meaningful debate. Even common sense legislation seems difficult to come by. However, the stakes are too high to quit now.

This year I’ll be in a new role as Ranking Member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, which gives me great leverage to address what I consider to be of utmost importance: restarting this country’s legacy of investing in infrastructure. I believe repairing and rebuilding our roads, rails, bridges and ports is the best way to create jobs while making our communities safer and our economy more efficient. These jobs will rebuild our middle class, which has repeatedly taken hits in recent years as this country’s policies tilted toward the elite.

Every Oregonian deserves a fair shot at an education, a good-paying job and a secure retirement, so I’ll work to keep student loans affordable and Social Security intact. I’ll fight unfair trade deals, work to rein in reckless Wall Street speculators and make them pay their fair share of taxes, and vote to get big money out of elections.

You may have not voted for me, but I think we can agree it’s time to have a Congress willing to work together to restore the values that made this country the best in the world. I remain as committed to this goal as I was the first time I ran for Congress. Thank you for allowing me to represent our great district.

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio

4th Congressional Dist.

Springfield

Letter: House of Representatives owes Joe Wilson an apology

January 14, 2015 — 

Where are you, Joe Wilson?

Remember U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson from South Carolina, who stood during President Obama’s health care speech to Congress in 2009 and called, “You Lie.” He was given a formal rebuke by the House of Representatives and he then issued a statement of apology. It was regarding the right of illegal immigrants to receive health care.

President Obama has been given “Lie of the Year” award from politifact.com for “If you like your plan you can keep it.”

What about the following statements?

• I don’t have the power to do anything about immigration reform.

• I don’t know anything about Fast and Furious.

• The Benghazi attack was caused by a video.

• There is not a stitch of evidence that the IRS has been targeting political enemies.

• I was not referring to Isis as a JV squad.

• My administration will be transparent.

I think the House owes Rep. Joe Wilson an apology.

In a few weeks the president will be giving his state of the union address. Jay Leno said it best: “The White House has gone from change you can believe in to changing the story until you believe it.”

Lavern Suhar Brown

Sutherlin

Guest column: Absent safety net, Douglas County digs into its reserves

January 13, 2015 — 

As you know, the county has missed a payment for 2014-15 and has only a promise for safety net funding in 2015-16. Safety net is a direct feed from the federal government’s general fund. It compensates Douglas County for the 52 percent of our land base that is owned by the federal government and does not pay property taxes. It supplanted a long-standing formula that shared a portion of the revenue that was generated by the sale of commodities (mainly timber) with the counties and schools. This original formula became inoperative in the mid ’90s when harvesting ended as the Endangered Species Act and litigation brought the harvesting program to a halt.

There are two kinds of safety net payments. First is O&C Safety Net, administered by the Bureau of Land Management. From the county’s perspective these are very valuable funds because they can be applied to any county services. Second is Forest Service Safety Net, administered by the U.S. Forest Service. This money can only be spent on our road system and sheriff’s patrols.

The safety net has been reauthorized a number of times. The last reauthorization was for one year, following the previous four-year reauthorization that saw funding decline by more than 60 percent. During those four years, county departments (excluding public safety) took about a 40 percent reduction in safety net funding. After four years of cuts, and still no federal resolution, we chose to use our reserve funds to continue services at a reduced level. As we received reauthorization safety net payments, we plowed those back into the reserves to mitigate for the drawdown.

If the next Congress does not renew safety net, we will not be able to replace about $30 million of our reserves, a crippling blow.

Absent safety net funding, your property taxes are the next largest funder of county services. Property taxes are about $9 million each year. For many years, all property taxes have gone into the sheriff’s budget and funds less than half of that $21 million annual budget.

Landfill system operations currently use $2.6 million of reserve funds each year. Building facilities ($1.9 million per year), assessor and tax collection ($1.8 million per year), District Attorney’s Office ($1.5 million per year), Juvenile Services ($1.5 million per year), and libraries ($1.5 million per year) are the current main users of reserve funds. Most county departments use reserve funds.

Douglas County Commissioner Susan Morgan always welcomes your questions or comments. She can be reached by email at morgan@co.douglas.or.us; by mail at Douglas County Courthouse, Room 217, 1036 S.E. Douglas Ave., Roseburg, 97470; or by phone at 440-4201.

Letter: Safety should trump politically correct when addressing transgender issues

January 12, 2015 — 

Giving blood is not a right

Have our leaders lost all common sense?

January 2, The News-Review ran an article plus an editorial complaining that gay and lesbian liberties are not being adequately protected.

According to the editorial, it’s outrageous that gay men are not allowed to give blood. Furthermore, even though the FDA plans to end the ban, it will still discriminate against people who are actively having gay sex.

Shouldn’t having a safe blood supply take priority? Actively gay men have been banned from donating blood for the last 31 years because they carry a disproportionate percentage of AIDS, hepatitis and STDs. Screening tests are not infallible. Giving blood is not a right. Let’s make sure our blood supply is as safe as possible and quit worrying about offending a few people.

Secondly, the suggestion that transgender people should serve openly in the military is another example of special attention for a few, trumping what is best for most. Military morale has tanked in the last few years. Allowing open homosexuality in the ranks has not helped this problem. Introducing a new contentious issue would only increase dissatisfaction among our service members.

Oddest of all are the efforts to force schools and other public places to allow people to choose which restroom they use according to how they feel about themselves rather than their biological gender. As a teacher, I can categorically state that forcing this policy on schools will create chaos and unsafe conditions for our children. Kids can tell the difference between a boy and a girl. Providing a gender-confused kid with a private bathroom facility is not discriminatory — like a Maine high court recently ruled — it is common sense.

Everyone should be afforded courtesy and kindness, but let’s be rational in our approach to these issues.

Carol Lovegren Miller

Oakland

Publisher’s Notebook: Here’s a chance to help Jennifer Dwight get a new set of lungs

January 11, 2015 — 

A week after he said he’d “retired,” Dan Hern sent me a note asking for some help on another of his many community campaigns.

Hern is one of those guys who can’t sit still. Not when there are so many who need so much.

“Hi, Jeff,” he wrote in an email last week. “Happy New Year! I’m asking for the NR’s help for a young lady who is suffering from cystic fibrosis. There is an event planned for January 17th at the Pyrenees Winery to help her and the fight against the disease.”

Hern volunteered his significant auctioneer talents for the event and provided some contact information that led me to Jennifer Dwight, a lifetime resident of the Winston area who is fighting for her life.

Jennifer is just 30 years old, but statistics say she has maybe seven years to live and even less if she doesn’t get a new set of lungs soon.

“I was diagnosed just shy of my second birthday,” Jennifer said. “I had a lot of stomach issues. Food would go right through me. My parents took me to Portland where I was diagnosed.”

She said the disease is uncommon and that roughly 30,000 Americans have it. “It’s a genetic disease and both parents have to be carriers of the mutation in order for you to get it. The life expectancy is 37 and there is no cure.”

The disease affects mostly the lungs, but also the pancreas, liver and intestine. Difficulty breathing is the most serious symptom and results in frequent lung infections.

“It kills the lungs,” Jennifer told me.

She was coping with the disease as well as could be expected until last May, when she developed pneumonia. “My lungs took a big hit and they put me on supplemental oxygen. My lung function dropped to 24 percent and my doctor in Portland said I need a double lung transplant.”

Jennifer is a teacher by profession. She attended Oregon State University and earned a master’s degree in elementary education. She taught school, but her medical condition would only permit her to substitute at the Winston-Dillard School District. When her lungs began to fail three years ago she was forced to step away from the classroom completely.

“I was on a ventilator for 18 days last May,” she told me. “I spent an entire month at OHSU (Oregon Health & Science University).”

She and her husband Kerry (they met coaching softball) were recommended for a lung transplant and met with specialists at the University of Washington. “We went up there last July for our initial meeting,” she said. “We met with all the surgeons and then they put me through a bunch of gruesome tests to decide if I was a good candidate for a transplant.”

They wanted to know that Jennifer was healthy enough to survive the transplant operation and that she would be capable of taking care of them.

“In September I was listed for a transplant,” she said. “I’m just waiting for the call.”

When or if that call comes, Jennifer and her husband will have to be at the hospital within three hours. “We have a friend who has offered to get us up there on his private jet,” she said. “I wouldn’t be able to fly commercially.”

The family has good medical coverage, but the out-of-pocket expenses are significant. “After you have a transplant you are in the hospital 10 to 14 days and then we’d have to live near the hospital in Seattle for at least three months. I would have to be at the hospital almost every day for lab work.”

The insurance won’t cover those living expenses.

That’s where the fundraiser comes in. “Help us do our part in the fight against Cystic Fibrosis and save Jennifer Dwight’s Life,” reads the poster for that Jan. 17 event at Pyrenees Vineyards. The event will feature a wine pairing and auction for $500 per couple and it begins at 5.

Jennifer has created a wonderful website, where she contributes frequent updates. You can find it at www.jenniferdwight.com.

On her website, Jennifer reminds visitors that she is simply asking for some time. “I do not feel that I have experienced all the things I was placed on this earth to do.”

She goes on to detail the highlights of the 30 years of her young life.

“When I was a teenager, my dad and late uncle Stan Anderson introduced me to drag racing,” she recalled. “I talked my parents into letting me drive in the junior dragster series. I remember the day I got to hold up the Wally Trophy after winning a division race at the Coos Bay drag strip.”

Jennifer seems to have the kind of spirit we need and my guess is that she is one heck of a good teacher who belongs in a classroom.

I appreciate Dan Hern pointing me in Jennifer’s direction and hope the Jan. 17 event provides the support she deserves.

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

Editorial: Transparency push a refreshing start to year

January 11, 2015 — 

The new year is off to a great start. There’s a good feeling in the air. There’s optimism, hope and a desire to do the right thing.

In particular, it’s encouraging to see the push for more transparency, openness and access in our county government.

As newly elected Douglas County Commissioners Chris Boice and Tim Freeman took their seats beside veteran Commissioner Susan Morgan for the year’s first board meeting Wednesday, they announced cameras were filming the proceedings.

The video access meant constituents could view the commissioners’ actions in real time from anywhere across the county’s 5,000 square miles — or anywhere around the globe, for that matter — as long they had an Internet connection.

Those who were unable to watch a live stream of the meeting found an archived version available online a few hours later that day. Charter Communications cable TV subscribers may also tune in to public access Channel 191 on Wednesday and Sunday evenings to see the commissioners go over each week’s agenda.

The return of cameras to the commissioners meeting room wasn’t a one-time demonstration. The board is committed to providing the live stream at each meeting.

It was a move called for by many county residents after televised meetings ceased 5½ years ago.

Fortunately, the cost is minimal. County Information Technology Director Kevin Potter said the vendor, ustream.tv, charges just $99 per month.

Citizens who are shy about being on camera need not be discouraged from speaking at or attending board meetings. The camera is pointed at the decision-makers, rather than the audience.

In another office at the county courthouse, public records regarding property tax assessments have become easier to obtain. New Assessor Roger Hartman fulfilled his campaign promise by returning a public access computer terminal to the office. A second one is on the way.

The computers include information not available to home computer users over the Internet. Both terminals had been removed by his predecessor, a move Hartman opposed and emphasized when he ran for election.

“We work for the public,” Hartman told News-Review reporter Carisa Cegavske in an interview last week. “They have the right to have anything that is public information.”

Hartman’s statement should be echoed throughout government bodies across the county. Elected officials and government employees need to remember they work for the taxpayer.

In turn, taxpayers have a responsibility to understand how government works and where their dollars are spent.

That’s going to be a big assignment this year as county commissioners face tough decisions on how to pay for services in the next few years without draining all county reserve funds.

Commissioner Freeman has said he wants to make presentations to residents to show them the actual cost of services, so they can state their preferences for where their taxes should be spent.

We applaud this fresh beginning to 2015 from our public servants.

Guest column: Immigration isn’t that easy

January 9, 2015 — 

Most of those who favor the immigration of people from Central America seem to have some unrealistic expectations of what will swiftly follow: green card and citizenship for those immigrants who truly want to legally stay in this country.

Let me tell you from my own experience that meeting those expectations is far from easy. Back in early 1980s, we in the “underground railroad” brought up a couple, Reina and Benjamin Cruz, and their 4 year-old daughter, Cindy, from El Salvador.

Their underground railroad experience started in Pasadena, where they were held in a detention facility from February until April. A woman visited Reina there, and after listening to her story said, “Don’t be scared. We are here to help you.” Soon after, another woman, Mary Parmenter, told them that she’d be driving them up to Sutherlin, where she owned some property with a mobile home on it.

A bunch of us in Douglas County joined together to help out the family. We called ourselves CERCA, a Spanish word that means “near” or “close,” and which represented how we regarded these refugees. They were not only near us geographically, but close to our hearts as well. It was also an acronym for “Comite Ecumenico por Refugiados de Centro America.” We were a group of people from different churches whose purpose was to help Benjamin and Reina acquire a green card and acquire employment and housing.

We succeeded in getting them housing, thanks to some of our churches donating money for that, and one of the churches even hired the man as their janitor.

But despite the immediacy of these blessings, getting a green card, let alone citizenship was not such a simple process. We were fortunate enough to have an attorney in Hood River who had heard of our plight contact us with an offer to work on our behalf pro bono. Following his suggestions, we contacted the U.S. Immigration office in Portland. Through them we were able to obtain the names of some judges in Portland who might hear the couple’s plea for a green card.

That might sound like a fairly straightforward approach, but in reality it was anything but that. For the next year, some of us drove the parents to Portland many times for one thing or another. A major issue we had to tackle was satisfying the powers-that-be that Benjamin and Reina were indeed political refugees, and not economic ones.

During the year after we had begun this process, the Hood River attorney came to Roseburg twice to consult with us and the family. When we were finally granted a date when we could appear before a judge, it had been more than a year. Both Benjamin and Reina were eventually given green cards which signified that they were in the U.S. legally, and were allowed to work.

Benjamin was given a janitor job with Douglas County, which he still has today, while retaining his church job. Reina became employed as a presser in a local business, and is still working for them nearly 30 years later. She has endeared herself to many people here, friends and fellow employees alike. Her employer can’t speak more highly of her, and she has become one of my dearest, most esteemed friends.

This is a story with a happy ending, but it literally “took a village” to make it happen. To expect all the immigrants now crowding into the U.S. to quickly accomplish the same results is totally unrealistic. The justice system may now have made it somewhat easier sailing through all the bureaucratic red tape, but I guarantee that it’s still more complicated than any new immigrant can handle alone.

The Salvadoran couple applied for citizenship two years ago. To prepare for the required test, they studied for a year. They learned things about the U.S. that very few of us, including myself, know. After plunking down more than $700 apiece, they passed the test with flying colors, and are now citizens of the United States of America!

Both their daughters have graduated from college. Cindy, who was only 4 years old when her parents entered the U.S., and who still finds the sound of helicopters scary, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Portland State University. Her younger sister, Stefani, born in Roseburg, also graduated from PSU and is now working on her Master of Arts in San Francisco. Both were able to pay for college with money from their parents and by working themselves while attending college.

Judy Lasswell of Roseburg has been an active member of our community for 50 years. She has a master’s degree in counseling and taught welfare clients for 11 years at Umpqua Community College. She can be reached at julass@charter.net.

Letter: America will survive the Obama administration

January 9, 2015 — 

Who is the lawless one?

Oh, for heaven’s sake! I hope The News-Review readers will take with a grain of salt the “sky is falling” letters from the Obama haters. A recent letter claimed “America may not survive two more years” under Obama and his lawless administration. As proof, the letter writer cited the books of author Dinesh D’Souza, who makes a living out of writing awful stuff about the president, and who just six months ago was convicted in federal court of a felony. Lawless, indeed!

Norman Gershon

Roseburg

Letter: Proud of Douglas County programs

January 9, 2015 — 

Stepping up to help children

As a justice of the peace, I was always proud of Douglas County because it offered programs where people could be placed to get back on their feet and on the right path.

Now in Sunday’s (Jan. 4, 2015) News-Review front page regarding the juvenile center, Douglas County steps up again for our most important project: our children. Well done!

Gloria McGinnis

Canyonville

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