Opinion, Analysis, Discussion
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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?“Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
Letter: Assessing situations and resolving problems; valuable skills for a Douglas County CommissionerApril 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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
Congress this year has an opportunity to pass a solution for Oregon & California lands and Western Oregon’s rural communities. We are reminded, virtually on a daily basis, why legislation is urgently needed.
Rural unemployment and poverty remain at high levels. Public safety services in a growing number of counties are decimated. Wildfires last year burned thousands of acres of federal land, and without active management, threaten to burn thousands more this summer.Learn more »
Here’s hoping that anti-logging activists goaded Seneca Jones into making a shrewd business move.
We don’t know what the Eugene-based timber company bid for a 735-acre parcel in the Elliott State Forest. Neither the company nor the Department of State Lands will say.Learn more »
Give adults the right to choose
I’m writing about a not-so-thoughtful March 23 letter titled ”Marijuana vs. cigarette use.”Learn more »
I was disappointed to see the sour April 1 editorial about the recent release of the county health rankings, especially when The News-Review’s New Year’s wish for good health was so hopeful.
While the results of the county health rankings are disappointing and individual responsibility will be critical to making changes, this editorial seems to curse the darkness rather than trying to seek a source of light. Perhaps the writer was sour because of a lack of exercise during the recent rainy spring break.Learn more »
The Oregon Department of Transportation is a forward planning operation. The maintenance and improvement of Oregon’s transportation system requires lining up projects and fitting them into anticipated funding. The Statewide Transportation Improvement Program is the planning vehicle.
Work on the 2015-18 STIP is firming up. There are many projects proposed for Douglas County.Learn more »
Editorial: Douglas County Fair’s array of acts, attractions still worth price of admissionApril 8, 2014 —
Even when people complain about the cost of attending the Douglas County Fair, as they will upon reading this, we’re still enthusiastic about fair time. This is despite the fact that 54 is the average age of a News-Review editorial board member.
So last week’s announcement of the 2014 fair headline acts generated attention here, even though more than one of us were hazy on some of the acts named.
Once again, Fairgrounds Director Harold Phillips sought to mix it up as best he could on musical genres.
The fair therefore opens Aug. 6 with Jonny Lange, a 33-year-old blues, gospel and rock guitarist who was said, at the age of 13, to have the voice of a 40-year-old blues crooner. How a North Dakota-born teen could achieve that distinction is fodder for speculation, but he’s toured with enough of the greats (B.B. King, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and Sting) to have earned his spurs and a hearty welcome to the fair’s main stage.
Up-and-coming country entertainer Thomas Rhett will be next up in the headline spot. The day on which he appears happens to be a red-letter fair date — celebration of the $1.3 million remodel for the Pavilion Building. Funded through private donations and a matching grant from county government, the project will be marked by a ribbon-cutting ceremony. It’s possible that Rhett, whose debut album, “It Goes Like This,” charted four singles, will wield the scissors.
The fair’s third night will find Seether on the main stage. This South African post-grunge/alternative metal band presents a kaleidoscope of variety just by turning on its mic and amps.
Lastly, Deep Purple returns from the recesses of every baby boomer’s past with at least a couple of veterans from the band’s most commercially successful lineup. We think Phillips sold the fair a little short by referring to an “A band being (wedged) into a B or C venue,” but maybe that’s because we’re hard pressed to remember any song besides “Smoke On the Water” from Purple’s playlist. Doesn’t matter. The lads from across the pond will make huge waves in the grassy amphitheater on the fair’s closing night.
The fair, however, is about much more than its main stage performers. Phillips said fair representatives this year are seeking to highlight the fair’s agricultural base. They should. We go to the fair to suss out the largest sow with the most piglets, our neighbor’s blueberry cobbler, the spendiest steer at auction, the most elegant orchid arrangement and that rutabaga that looks like Barney the dinosaur. Spending our dollars at the fair helps ensure there will be a place for all of these traditional county fair elements in coming generations.
And that’s not all. We don’t want to hear a peep out of anybody who isn’t intrigued by the prospect of being greeted at the gate by a robotic chicken.
Letter: Stimulate the economy in Douglas CountyApril 7, 2014 —
Boost growth, reduce fees
Unlike the federal government, Douglas County can’t issue stimulus dollars to pump money into the local economy. But there is another way to stimulate the local economy: Cut building permit fees by 50 percent for one year.
Douglas County’s unemployment rate is still more than 10 percent. Local building permit fees have increased significantly recently. Think of all the jobs that would be created for one year. Plumbers, painters, carpenters, electricians, landscapers, sheet rock installers and others would see an uptick in work.
If enough new projects were initiated, it would offset any lost revenue from reducing the county’s fees. Even if the county’s fees were not entirely replaced, the temporary one-year reduction on building permit fees would generate enough new projects to reduce our unemployment and funnel more dollars into local businesses.
It’s not government’s role to create new jobs. But it is the government’s role to give businesses the ability to create jobs without unnecessary red tape and fees that impede job growth.
Letter: Freeman can bring key insight on how government impacts Douglas CountyApril 7, 2014 —
He understands govt. process
Please join me in voting for Tim Freeman for Douglas County Commissioner. I’ve worked with Tim over many years in community projects, non-profit activities, small business challenges, and in sessions with the youth of our community who are trying to understand the political process.
Tim brings a wealth of experience as a small business owner and from serving in many nonprofit roles. He understands the challenges we face, but also recognizes the tremendous future we have when we work together.
I’ve watched Tim take the time to explain the complex situations we face in state government to many of our young citizens. He demonstrates a strong knowledge for the government process, a clear view that we expect integrity and solutions for our elected representatives, but also a key insight into how each piece of the government puzzle impacts the citizens of Douglas County.
Tim Freeman has the background, integrity and compassion to be our next Douglas County commissioner.
Editorial: Douglas County DA’s office shouldn’t have to cut prosecutorsApril 6, 2014 —
If public safety is truly the top priority of Douglas County commissioners, they need to find a way to increase the budget for the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office in the next fiscal year.
If they don’t, one of the 10 attorneys who prosecute criminals on behalf of Douglas County victims will be laid off. With one fewer attorney to take on cases, fewer criminals will be held accountable for their actions.
Douglas County already has enough factors that lead to a higher crime rate: drug abuse, poverty, high unemployment. If the county is unable to prosecute those who commit low-level crimes because of a lack of staffing, the crime rate could rise even higher. That will put more county residents at risk while doing nothing to discourage offenders.
We understand that the county has been reluctant to increase any department’s budget because its general fund has been steadily declining as federal timber safety net payments decreased. The general fund provides the money to operate the district attorney’s office.
Douglas County commissioners have been frugal with the timber safety net payments, knowing they wouldn’t last forever. At the end of this fiscal year, it’s estimated that an extra $53.5 million will remain in the general fund budget.
While that savings could be quickly depleted if the safety net goes away, we haven’t reached that point yet. It seems prudent to cover the cost of 10 attorneys for at least another year and, ideally, for three years.
This issue is surfacing now — more than three months before the county must adopt a budget covering July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015 — because county commissioners just ratified a three-year contract for deputy district attorneys. The contract is the first one negotiated after the deputy district attorneys joined a union last fall.
The contract calls for an 8 percent raise in May with 2 percent increases as the fiscal year begins in 2015 and 2016. It would cost the county an extra $93,503 in 2014-15 to cover the raises and keep the office fully staffed. Over three years, it would amount to $355,555. The prosecutors haven’t had their pay scale raised since 2007 — one reason that prompted them to form a union.
While we know some in the private sector may have gone without raises for just as long, these attorneys handle multiple cases at a time and put in long hours to put criminals behind bars. Their base salaries range from about $52,000 to $91,000 annually. If they left for private practice, they’d likely make considerably more.
The number of prosecutors has also been decreased from 12 to 10 since timber payments began declining.
Despite their conservative budgeting, the commissioners have made exceptions before for worthy expenditures.
This is the time to assure the district attorney’s office that its staff will remain intact.
Otherwise, it might appear the commissioners value having a free garbage dump more than prosecuting criminals.
Publisher’s Notebook: Seneca Jones owners won’t be intimidated by tree sittersApril 6, 2014 —
Kathy Jones is quickly rising to the top of my Favorite Oregon People list. I’ve met a lot of great people since I pulled into town almost two years ago, so my list is becoming kind of exclusive.
I wrote about Kathy Jones a few months ago, following a visit she made to discuss timber. She’s a self-described “timber woman” who speaks eloquently and firmly about the industry that she and so many Oregonians grew up in.
She and her sisters, Becky and Jody, own Seneca Jones Family of Companies, which has timberland in Douglas County.
Last time I spoke with Kathy she said she and her sisters planned to be a little more vocal about an industry that had been slapped around too long.
“The people of Oregon, multi-generational, are people of the land,” she told me last November. “They know how to live off the land and people who know how to live off the land revere it. They absolutely revere it, protect it and feel a spiritual bond with it. To be suddenly accused of destroying and killing the forests that sustains them steamrolled many and silenced them to shame.”
She vowed to end that silence and this week provided a little demonstration.
As you may have heard, the state has decided to sell a small slice of the Elliott State Forest in order to help boost the struggling Common School Fund that relies on timber receipts. It had hoped to harvest the timber itself, but got tired of fighting the tree sitters and lawyers and politicians who stand in the way of any public land harvesting.
In theory, it’s easier to harvest timber on private land because there are fewer hoops to jump through.
The roughly 3,000 acres of Elliott Forest up for sale (around 2 percent of the total Elliott forest) are split into three smaller parcels valued at around $3 million.
A group calling itself Cascadia Forest Defenders — known for its ability to occupy trees for weeks on end — warned anyone who buys that land to expect trouble, up to and including criminal activity.
“We will not respect new property lines, signs or gates,” read a press release from that group a couple of weeks ago. “Do not bid on these sales. If you become an owner of the Elliott, you will have activists up your trees and lawsuits on your desk. We will be at your office and in your mills.”
Kathy Jones’ reaction was exactly what I would have expected.
“On behalf of my sisters Becky and Jody, I am announcing that Seneca Jones has submitted a bid to the Oregon Department of State Lands on the East Hakki Ridge land sale from the Elliott State Forest,” her company press release stated.
Kathy Jones said her company hadn’t planned on bidding, but decided to after learning of the threats.
“We refuse to be bullied by eco-radical groups like Cascadia Forest Defenders, who have tried to intimidate everyone in our business,” Seneca’s press release continued. “Seneca will go to the mat on this one … standing up to bullies who would prevent responsible use of the Elliott. We are taking a stand for all Oregonians, our state and our children’s well-being. We take this action as three women and mothers who care deeply, and we will continue to advocate for more aggressive defense of lands and practices dedicated to enhancing the Common School Fund.”
Cascadia Forest Defenders would have us believe that the 3,000 or so acres up for sale represent some of the most pristine forest in the world, filled with endangered wildlife and trees that are hundreds of years old and that stand buffer between evil humans and the Pacific Ocean.
Then there is reality.
“What is the result of state forests being mismanaged through litigation?” the Seneca release asks. “Unhealthy forests that are prone to insect attacks, disease, blow-downs and massive forest fires.”
The endangered marbled murrelet — which joins the spotted owl as the Cascadia Forest Defenders’ poster child — apparently has been spotted nesting in old growth trees in the Pacific Northwest. When there are no old growth trees, the little seabirds will nest on the ground. They prefer to be within 2 miles of the ocean.
There is no evidence that the state is selling “old growth” timber where murrelets are nesting.
In discussing timber harvesting, it’s important to provide a little context. Oregon still has lots and lots of trees. In fact, about half of Oregon’s 61 million acre land base is forest and the government (in theory you and I) owns nearly 60 percent of that land.
The 3,000 acres being sold still leaves more than enough room for murrelets, owls and people who want to occupy trees.
Kathy Jones and people who make their living in the forest really don’t want to “rape the forest” as the Cascadia Forest Defenders suggest. In fact, they are more than a little offended that tree sitters from Portland have assigned themselves guardians of the forests, suggesting that they are more qualified and compassionate.
Citizens of Douglas and Coos counties should be just as offended, since the Cascadia Forest Defenders are using us as pawns. “It is clear that the State Land Board doesn’t care about Coos and Douglas county Oregonians who are sick of seeing the hills above their homes yarded away to timber mills while their counties grow poorer,” reads the Defenders’ press release.
The people I speak with are sick, all right. They’re sick of a handful of people with too much time on their hands determining public policy that has crippled this economy.
And they are happy to see someone with the guts to fight back.
Jeff Ackerman is publisher of The News-Review. He can be reached at 541-957-4263 or email@example.com.
Letter: Elect politicians receptive to the needs of Douglas County residentsApril 4, 2014 —
Vote for those who serve us
The political season is fast approaching and I’d like to ask a question. Why do some voters vote against their own best interest?
If they want a smaller, less intrusive government, why elect politicians who will tell them what they can and cannot do in their own bedrooms? If they want safe affordable heath care, why vote in politicians who close down planned parenthood clinics? If they want fewer abortions, why vote in politicians who vote against birth control for women, poor women in particular? Why vote in politicians who will fight for the life of the fetus and then squander that life in a wasteful war?
If they want a living-wage job, why vote in politicians who advocate “right to work” laws and destruction of unions? If they received a free K – 12 education at a local school, why do they vote in politicians who take money from the public school system and give it to for profit charter schools while using public school facilities?
They say they want a secure retirement in their old age; then why do they want to vote in politicians who would privatize their Social Security or give tax breaks to those who don’t need them? If they want our Oregon lumber mills to be more profitable, why allow whole uncut logs to be sent to Asia?
If they want politicians to be more receptive to the needs of “We the People,” why vote in people who are bought and paid for by billionaires, millionaires and hedge fund operators? I’m just asking.
Sharon D. Rice
Editorial: Roses & thornsApril 4, 2014 —
If everyone were as committed to a cause as Fred Smith, our community would be a much better place.
Smith has dedicated his 25 years of retirement to helping children, the elderly and low-income people. For his endless hours of support for others, he will receive the state’s top honor for volunteers: the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Governor’s Volunteer Awards Luncheon on April 24 in Salem.
We’re so pleased that a volunteer from Douglas County will be recognized, and Smith is an excellent choice.
He doesn’t just volunteer to keep busy. He has a purpose. At age 15, Smith escaped a household in which there was domestic violence. That experience drives him to help others who may face similar situations.
That’s why many of the organizations for which he volunteers are focused on children facing difficult circumstances, such as CASA, the Court Appointed Special Advocates program, and Douglas C.A.R.E.S. (Child Abuse Response and Evaluation Services).
We congratulate Smith and hope the 1997 Roseburg First Citizen can find a place in his award-filled home for this honor. But mostly, we’re grateful for the important and selfless work he does.
Beware of pests
Springtime hikes in the woods should be full of positive experiences, whether spotting tiny wildflowers or admiring the girth and height of gigantic old-growth trees. It’s a wonderful time of year to see the colors of nature’s palette.
But while admiring the scenic beauty of our area, we must be cautious of tiny forest creatures that might decide to hitch a ride home with us.
Hikers need to check themselves and their pets for Western black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks, after excursions into the woods. The pinhead-sized ticks carry Lyme disease and can give it to unsuspecting humans.
The key to avoiding the disease is to ensure any tick that latches on is removed in less than 24 hours, before it has a chance to pass the disease-causing bacteria to humans. Pet owners can protect their animals by treating them with an anti-tick and flea ointment.
Don’t use Lyme disease as an excuse to avoid a hike: Just be sure to check your body and your pets for unwanted invaders when you arrive home.
Let Portland take the lead
For medical marijuana advocates in Douglas County, the past few weeks have been a bummer.
Excuse the flippancy. But we were egged on by the names of the some of the dispensaries the state has so far licensed.
Most dispensaries have adopted names in keeping with marijuana’s purported benefits. There’s Oregon Medicinal Alternatives in Eugene and Homegrown Apothecary in Portland, for example.
But there’s also the Wickit Weedery in Springfield and Doctor Jolly’s in Bend.
Can you imagine a pharmacy calling itself Doctor Jolly’s?
It’s too early to tell whether all dispensaries will soberly carry out their services.
So it’s been a wise move for Douglas County governing bodies to adopt one-year moratoriums on dispensaries. It looks unlikely a medical marijuana retailer will be able to open anywhere in the county for at least a year.
Medical marijuana has been legal for many years in Oregon. But the state is experimenting with something new — a for-profit marijuana industry.
Regardless of one’s views on marijuana, it’s entirely legitimate for Douglas County residents to be wary and wait to see how well the industry functions.
Letter: Natural products require natural resourcesApril 3, 2014 —
Grow economy, not lawsuits
It seems that nearly every day we read another article about various “environmental” groups’ plans to sue lumber companies who might dare to log in any of our forests. This kind of leftist blackmail is not confined to our forest lands; ranchers are also constantly faced with losing their grazing rights due to lawsuits to protect real or imagined flowers, frogs and the like.
How long will we allow our economy to be held hostage by these folks? Dollars that should be paying employees and otherwise building up our economy are having to be spent to fight lawsuits! While the money and efforts of the logging companies and ranchers is aimed toward growing the economy, the money and actions of these environmental groups is aimed at preventing economic growth and ultimately destroying much of the agricultural industry in this country.
These are the same folks who only want “natural” products, but don’t want the ranchers to graze their livestock anywhere near water, flowers, frogs, birds ...
They don’t want to be surrounded in their homes with artificial man-made construction materials, but don’t want any trees cut down. There seems to be very little rational reasoning here, just a rabid desire to combat logging, ranching, and other “environmentally dangerous” practices — the backbones of our economy.
Letter: Help small businesses in Douglas County by electing Tim Freeman for commissionerApril 3, 2014 —
He’s qualified to do the job
As an Oakland city councilor and the president of Oakland Economic Development, I understand some of the difficulties and challenges of holding an elected office. Anyone can run for office, but only a few are truly qualified to do the job. That’s why I am personally supporting Tim Freeman as our next county commissioner.
Often, the many small towns in rural Oregon are left behind. Tim has a proven track record of standing up for us in Salem, representing our values and solving our problems. Douglas County is full of many communities, not just Roseburg. Tim has become an active member of all of the Chambers of Commerce in the county. He regularly attends ours in Oakland and is always listening, learning and doing what he can to help.
Over the years Tim has been a solid champion for small businesses across the state, doing everything he can to reduce government regulation and eliminate oppressive taxes and fees. Tim is a great communicator and will always respond to concerns of citizens in a timely manner.
Douglas County really needs Tim; he has the experience of being a State Representative and knows how to work with bureaus, agencies and departments to actually get things done.
It is this kind of experience and leadership that we need in Douglas County and that’s why I am asking you to join me in voting for Tim Freeman for our next county commissioner.
Linda Boddy West
Letter: Use Douglas County’s water to grow vegetables, not to water lawnsApril 3, 2014 —
Practice water conservation
Would you rather grow a green vegetable garden, or eat your lawn? I just returned from a trip to visit my daughter, granddaughter and great-grand kids in Sonoma County, California, where I lived for 30 years. They have a climate similar to ours. Their farming enterprises must share scarce water resources with a large urban community. Small vegetable farms, vineyards, pastures and lawns use the same water resources, much like Douglas County. They are holding seminars for all these interests to deal with their severe drought planning. The seminars state that nationwide, watering lawns is the number one user of irrigation in the United States.
The number one priority to conserve water in a drought is to get water use priorities straight, starting with lawns versus vegetable gardens. It’s a no-brainer; produce food, not green lawns. Remember, green lawns also use gasoline to mow, which is a global warming issue.
Wake up Douglas County. Sacrifice your green lawn this summer for the greater good of society. Convert it into a green vegetable garden, instead. Green is green. As an alternative, of course, maybe you could just eat your lawn — for the greater good of our society!