Opinion, Analysis, Discussion
Balance in nature needed
Regarding the editorial on Kathy Jones: A woman proclaimed reverence for the land while proudly advocating clear-cuts. Perplexed, I contemplated all she said and searched my heart to understand. I recalled historical books I’ve read about Douglas County. The photos conveyed a sense of pride in falling huge, ancient trees. That sense of pride is misguided and dangerous. Those once-plentiful trees are now extinct. It reminds me of how, in the pioneering days, buffalo were hunted to the verge of extinction until we realized they were worth saving. Do we really want to replace our remaining forests with artificial tree farms? Times of plenitude are gone; we need to shift from harvesting to preservation and restoration.Learn more »
A clear choice for assessor
I’ve known Susan Acree for more than 25 years. I have nothing but the highest regard for her honesty, integrity, compassion and work ethic. She has displayed them every day in her work in the assessor’s office. Susan’s honesty and integrity really do count.Learn more »
Tim Freeman is a statesman
Tim Freeman has served the citizens of Roseburg well as a city councilor and state representative in Salem. He has gained invaluable knowledge in these roles about the needs of our county and what people and agencies to contact to fix our problems. What kind of uninformed voter would discard this highly qualified, experienced and honest candidate for one who had little or no knowledge or job experience related to the position?Learn more »
Vote “no” on Measure 10-131
Sutherlin pays Douglas County Fire District No. 2 $71,000 a month for fire service. It has free use of our firetrucks, equipment and fire station, including the ambulances. The district keeps all of the money it collects from using the ambulances. It also wants Sutherlin to give it all the equipment and the fire station if the annexation passes and pay even more.Learn more »
Timber bid appreciated
Hooray to Seneca Jones for deciding to stand up to the eco-terrorists by bidding on the timber sale near Myrtle Creek. At 88 years old, the decision on the suit will have no monetary effect on me, but it will on everyone following me.Learn more »
When a child suffers abuse, she stands alone and afraid — isolated from everyone — misunderstood and angry. The road to healing is difficult. It takes a kind of courage few of us will ever know unless we have fought on this battlefield. Child abuse is a war, and our children sometimes must fight that war alone or with very little help.
What should you do if you suspect that a child has been abused? How do you approach him or her? Or what if a child comes to you? It’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed and confused in this situation. Child abuse is a difficult subject that can be hard to accept and even harder to talk about.Learn more »
Bureaucracy delays licensing
Are readers as upset as I am by the State of Oregon and the Department of Motor Vehicles? They’ve put their burden of mismanagement on the shoulders of the citizens by requiring us to provide our birth certificate to get renewals, or a new driver’s or chauffeur’s license.Learn more »
Susan Acree has now turned her attacks on non-profits by attempting to revoke their tax exempt status. After refusing to recognize the decline in the real estate market, as all the appraisers, realtors, insurance agents, bankers, mortgage brokers and property owners have, she is now on a quest for more sources of revenue.Learn more »
Vote Smith for commissioner
Here’s a novel, refreshing idea: a candidate for commissioner who actually cares about the people of Douglas County. He won’t pander to any special interests groups. He won’t take people’s hard-earned money driving a publicly owned vehicle home and back every day. This alone would save a lot.Learn more »
New strategies needed in town
To all the ambitious folks running for office on the county commission and for city positions, here’s an idea that I have heard has worked in other small cities.Learn more »
Douglas County last week got its unemployment check.
The Bureau of Land Management sent $9.5 million, the county’s share of the Secure Rural Schools program, a politically popular handout. Counties in 41 states and Puerto Rico get money.Learn more »
Vote for responsiveness
For many years now, I have had the opportunity to work with Tim Freeman. As a non-profit director of an agency that is dedicated to strengthening families, I have always appreciated Tim’s straight-forward approach and his knowledge of the issues affecting children and families in Douglas County. As a legislator, I have always been able to trust Tim to be honest and up front as he tackles complex issues.Learn more »
Letter: Elect Douglas County Commissioner who is willing to take time to answer questions and solve problemsApril 21, 2014 —
Freeman serves county voters
Tim Freeman is one of the most personable elected officials I have ever met. He is always willing to take the time to answer any questions I might have or solve any problem. Just recently I asked him about bringing my granddaughter up to Salem to be a page in the legislature.Learn more »
Vote Smith for commissioner
Please join us in supporting Monte Smith for Douglas County Commissioner. We have known Monte for years, and Monte seems to know everyone else! Monte makes a great and lasting impression on everyone he meets; his honesty, warmth, and humor are immediately apparent. We were pleasantly surprised when he decided to run for office. It’s refreshing that a normal, earnest, upstanding citizen has such interest in serving our county.Learn more »
Understanding county needs
Writing a letter to the editor is not an easy thing to do, but I feel strongly that Tim Freeman, as a candidate for Douglas County Commissioner, is worth the effort. He took his job as a state representative very seriously and when I or anyone else needed his help, he was always available. As a dedicated public servant, he worked hard for the people in this district and will continue to do the same as a county commissioner.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
Letter: Know the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center requirements for transportation after a colonoscopyApril 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.
Unfortunately for me, my primary driver developed prostate cancer and my secondary driver had a stroke. I was ignorant enough to tell the VA I needed alternative transportation to get home. They will not let the DAV transport vans, Dial-a-Ride Medivan or a taxi take you home. To help this situation, I was told, “You know the rules,” and they canceled the colonoscopy I have been waiting for since October.
I am now officially a rule-breaker and trouble-maker at the VA, because my friends got sick. It certainly doesn’t matter that colon cancer runs in my family.
Letter: Real estate broker backs Hartman for Douglas County AssessorApril 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.
Last year, a client made an offer on 3.69 acres of land listed by another broker. The property has been used for grazing for more than 20 years and received a farm exemption as allowed by statute. Prior to closing, the land leases with the adjoining ranchers were extended. A senior appraiser from the Assessors contacted the selling broker and told him the listing price was too low, which violates all ethical standards. The broker reiterated that he discussed the listing price with the owner’s son and his principal to establish the price. The buyer made an offer of $45,000 which was a fair price. The seller accepted the offer.
The day before closing, the assessor removed the farm exemption from the property. The disqualification cost the seller an additional $1,041.00, which equates to 138 years of her previous tax liability. Even though the sale on the property was $45,000, the assessor had a certified RMV value of $110,700 and stated we should be happy with the reduction.
Tax representative Steve Gerlt appealed the removal of the farm use exemption to the Department of Revenue for the seller and is awaiting their decision. Gerlt also appealed the property value to the Board of Property Tax Appeals and obtained a reduction to the $45,000 sales price. The assessor was still trying to defend a value of $60,000; that is $15,000 above the sales price.
The assessment department is in shambles and Roger Hartman has the right solutions to straighten it out.
Vote Roger Hartman for assessor.
Letter: Efficiency and experience required for Douglas County assessorApril 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.
Susan has a wealth of experience that helps her serve Douglas County property owners. She is not only willing to do the job, Susan is doing the job well. Susan Acree is the best candidate for Douglas County assessor because she has real experience.
Join me in voting Susan Acree for Douglas County assessor.
Letter: Use election to jumpstart Douglas County economyApril 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!
But it’s not entirely their fault. They just didn’t have any new ideas. They didn’t have access to the money in Salem. After all, the dominant party in the state is the Democrats, holding the Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Treasurer, and Labor Commissioner offices.
So how does one get access to that state economic development money? Elect a strong, energetic Democrat to House District No. 2. Kerry Atherton is that person.
Kerry Atherton has fresh new ideas on how to jump-start our economy and create new jobs. He already has contacts in the power structure in Salem and will be able to get economic development money for projects in District 2.
Kerry Atherton is the only candidate from either party who has the knowledge, understanding and ability to create new jobs and fund the projects that will help our district reverse the downward spiral we find ourselves struggling with.
Kerry Atherton is also a fiscal conservative and a native Oregonian, born right here in Roseburg. It doesn’t get much better than this.
None of the other candidates for House District 2 have any ideas on how to improve our economy or create new jobs. None of the other candidates have any governmental experience, any leadership experience, or any clue on how to really help this district.
So, Democrats, vote for Kerry Atherton for House District 2 in the May primary.
Letter: Choose Douglas County Assessor based on qualificationsApril 16, 2014 —
Acree has the job experience
Roger Hartman has zero experience working in an assessor’s office.
Roger charges his “clients” for what they can receive freely. Douglas County does not charge for property tax reassessments, either through owner value review requests or petitions to the Board of Property Tax Appeals.
Roger lost every case he represented in Coos County last year. He didn’t return this year. His valuation requests were upheld in only 21.2 percent of the cases he represented in Douglas County this year.
Roger is making property tax claims about “over-valuation” that are eerily similar to those made by Tony Page in 2010 and those previously written by Loma Wharton, David Jaques and Marilyn Kittelman.
Roger recently posted on his Facebook page that he’s “definitely winning the sign war,” which apparently sums up the only qualification he believes is necessary to be elected Douglas County Assessor.
We have a better choice: a candidate with leadership, experience and honesty. Susan Acree has worked in the assessor’s office for more than 36 years. She is the best qualified person with the important experience and education needed to lead that office.
Please join me in voting for Susan Acree for Douglas County Assessor.
Guest column: Rural VA hospitals can run effective intensive care unitsApril 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.
During the campaign to save the Roseburg VA hospital it was pointed out countless times that the stakeholder council was terminated by Network Director Dr. Susan Pendergrass. It can be said emphatically that she operated outside of the law, precisely in the way Kizer was questioned in Congress. Pendergrass ordered the closing of the Roseburg ICU, and received a $21,000 bonus that year. We’re told it’s about safety, I think it’s about cost saving and reduced services to veterans.
Oregon’s congressional delegation should demand that the Office of the Inspector General investigate who ordered the closing, and how it was done without input from our community.
Another point: I have never heard one single recommendation from the VA on how one would go about providing an ICU. For the past five years I’ve heard nothing but reasons why we can’t have an ICU at the Roseburg VA hospital.
Roseburg is considered rural when it comes to health care provisions, and the rural argument has been used to emphasize everything from low patient numbers, to the problems of recruiting and retaining physicians. I recently visited the office of rural health website looking for a model or something other communities with similar demographics use to provide ICU care. Lo and behold, in searching I discovered that there is a model already set up for rural VA hospitals to operate an intensive care unit. Network 23 has set up rural ICUs to provide the care for veterans from Fargo, S.D., to Omaha, Neb. Why hasn’t Roseburg been offered one of these plans from our network leadership or from the central office itself?
The Roseburg VA director and chief of staff continue to play the broken record routine: We are rural, we don’t have the numbers, and the ICU is off the table. I’ve got news for them. Veterans in Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa have an ICU in their rural VA hospitals because their leadership took the initiative and figured out a way to do it.
Veterans continue to fight and defend our way of life. The Department of Veterans Affairs, specifically the Veterans Health Administration, owes it to those who served. This is not a negotiable option with cost being the major factor. Just like it has been described, a veteran is one who gives their lives as a blank check, to serve, to go wherever ordered; possibly to lay one’s life down. I challenge the leadership of VISN-20 and VA Roseburg to bring back the heart of our hospital, join the rest of the country and provide an ICU like they do in other parts of rural America.
Rick Sciapiti of Roseburg has served as past president and secretary of the Douglas County Veterans Forum. He is a combat-wounded U.S. Army Vietnam veteran who has also held offices in other local veterans organizations. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guest column: Green tariffs may help attract businesses to OregonApril 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.
Under bi-partisan leadership, House Bill 4126 provides additional flexibility for consumer-owned utilities that are facing significant growth, so that they can affordably meet Oregon’s renewable energy standard. Additionally, the bill a establishes a process for the investor-owned utilities, namely Pacific Power and Portland General Electric, to offer large customers access to renewable energy in a more direct way than is currently possible.
What does this means to the average electricity customer? Why is this a win for Oregon’s rural communities and their too often struggling economies?
The answer to those questions emerged last fall when Pacific Power was approached by several large businesses interested in investing in Oregon and creating jobs here.
These businesses included global leaders in high-tech manufacturing, social networking, consumer electronics, and the biggest names in retail. They all wanted to know how Pacific Power could provide them with more clean and renewable energy because their business plans and future investments are often tied to their sustainability goals. The utilities’ ability to offer a simple, direct means of using renewable power to run their operations is crucial to attracting more business and jobs to Oregon.
In short, HB 4216 allows utilities to offer these businesses the option of choosing, and paying for, renewable energy to meet their business needs, and to do so in a way that does not impact other ratepayers. Other states have this flexibility in their utility regulation. In the utility business, this is called a “green tariff.”
How exactly does a green tariff work? A customer walks into an ice cream store and only sees vanilla ice cream on the menu, but has a craving for mint chocolate chip. Currently, under the Oregon regulatory system, as an investor-owned utility Pacific Power would have to tell the customer that only “vanilla” is available. However, with a “green tariff” Pacific Power could provide different customers with different products — Customer A, mint chocolate chip; Customer B, strawberry; and Customer C could still choose to have plain vanilla.
Prices are still regulated by the state and an investor-owned utility will still need to justify the rates they propose — that doesn’t change. A green tariff will simply allow investor-owned utilities to be able to serve their customers with the flavor of product they want — and are willing to pay for.
This change is particularly important for rural Oregon, where smart energy policy, when coupled with available land, an eager workforce and friendly business climate, can help our state compete for new investment.
With the governor’s signature, Oregon will join states such as Nevada, Virginia, North Carolina and others in offering the renewable energy services that will help build our economy while seeking to keep rates for everyone as low as possible.
Scott Bolton is vice president, community and government relations at Pacific Power. He is responsible for the company’s legislative and governmental relations agenda and economic development for Oregon, Washington and California. Questions may be directed to Monte.Mendenhall@pacificorp.com.
Guest column: Legislature seeks reasonable approach on pot dispensariesApril 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.
I will also state that I oppose legalization based on what is currently happening in Colorado and Washington. Because of federal law, and the restrictions around banking and background checks relative to a schedule one narcotic, it would be safe to say all that has happened is the drug cartels now have legitimate outlets.
I think we should wait to see how things evolve in those states before we take any action in Oregon.
The original version of the bill the Legislature considered on dispensaries was relatively simple. It basically said that cities and counties could develop their own policies and procedures on the issue, in the same way they currently can in dealing with any other business.
The pro-legalization crowd did not like that, and so the compromise was to give local government a very short window of opportunity to institute a ban. The reason we felt this was necessary is because, due to the legislation passed in 2013, dispensaries had the ability to be anywhere they chose (except within 1,000 feet of a school) and there was nothing anyone could do about it.
By instituting the ban it would give a city or county the ability and time to develop rules and regulations. In the end they could still allow a dispensary to be sited in their jurisdiction, but they would have control over the process. I think this is a reasonable approach and it is what I encouraged the City Council to enact.
There are still a lot of issues yet to be resolved on this subject, and it will be dealt with in the 2015 Legislative Session.
One issue would be the need for a level of training for anyone operating one of these establishments. To administer any other scheduled drug a person has to be a pharmacist.
Shouldn’t there be a training requirement for this drug as well?
This is just one of several questions we don’t have answers to yet, and we need to have better answers before we move forward.
Medical marijuana was passed by the people in 1998. I have been involved in trying to make the program work and be accountable since that time. I will continue my efforts at the state level, but I also like the local control aspect of giving cities and counties a say in the process.
I hope the city of Roseburg and other cities adopt an ordinance, both for the purpose of having control and also for the protection against lawsuits that would probably happen if they don’t.
This really is a reasonable approach.
Jeff Kruse of Roseburg represents District 1 in the Oregon Senate. You can read his past newsletters at www.leg.state.or.us/kruse/ He can be reached at email@example.com.
Guest column: This county needs common sense, not divisivenessApril 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.
It seems in this new hysterical political environment we live in we must blame the entirety of one group or another for any real or perceived grievance.
Mr. Woods did raise the important issue of property rights.
As a veteran and home and rural property owner, I have fought to preserve these rights. I take our civil liberties and our property rights seriously.
I am no career politician, but the breadth of my experiences in this county has been extensive.
My father always said, “Son, it doesn’t matter what they say about you so long as they spell your name correctly.” And that’s about all Mr. Woods got right in his paid political ad.
What this county needs is an honest and open conversation about the ills of and remedies for this community. Not a mud bath or a phone slam poll that denigrates this person or that, but a real plan for putting our labor force back to work with living wages, and a plan for educating our children to give them the tools and skills needed to make them desirable to business and industry and the knowledge to not just be job ready, but job makers.
What we need is actual common sense, cooperation and the ability to listen, not the shrill voice of division.
Mark Vincent of Roseburg is a retired restaurateur and a candidate for Douglas County commissioner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editorial: Failed wave energy project leaves lessons in its wakeApril 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.
There’s nothing like it in the United States. Despite that, or perhaps because of the novelty, hopes were high. From the sea came the siren call of renewable energy.
The New Jersey company enjoyed the support of Reedsport, Douglas County, Douglas Electric Cooperative and the Oregon Wave Energy Trust, a public-private partnership.
The project seem poised for a breakthrough in 2012. The New York Times wrote an upbeat article about the company’s plans to put in 10 buoys, capable of powering 1,000 homes.
The year passed, and the project treaded water. In 2013, it started taking on water.
The company blamed delays on the weather, a lack of money and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Midyear, the company announced it wouldn’t put a buoy in the water during 2013.
This month, the company made official what had become obvious — it was pulling out of Reedsport. Meanwhile, it has a new project and will get millions of dollars from the Australian government’s renewable energy agency.
Good luck, mates. Ocean Power Technologies has been around for 30 years, has executives with six-figure salaries and has never been profitable. It has subsisted on government contracts, primarily from the Navy and U.S. Department of Energy. The Navy is interested in offshore electricity for reasons related to coast surveillance. For wave energy, this is a practical application.
Powering homes, on the other hand, is not.
The Department of Energy put $4.4 million into the Reedsport project without making enough juice for a night light. But even if the project had succeeded in creating electricity for 1,000 homes, it was a questionable endeavor.
Turning the ocean into a power plant presents risks to fish and fishermen. The risk would be taken for a form of energy that would be expensive, difficult to maintain and require huge public subsidies. As a topper, we don’t need wave energy.
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council estimates that Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana can meet 85 percent of its demand for more energy by making appliances, machines, etc. more efficient. The rest can be obtained from wind towers and natural gas power plants.
The Northwest already has a relatively small carbon footprint. It will get even smaller, even with more natural gas generators, in the next decade as coal plants in Boardman and Centralia, Wash., close.
Various forms of renewable energy are intriguing as small-scale operations championed by entrepreneurs. But local governments and utilities should be wary of the next big thing. They may get soaked.