Opinion, Analysis, Discussion

Letter: Speak up to protect work options for the disabled in Oregon; say “No” to Executive Order No. 13-04

December 17, 2014 — 

Let them keep their wings

Governor Kitzhaber’s Executive Order No. 13-04 would clip the wings of one of Oregon’s finest assets.

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Letter: Letter: Stand against foreign control of American land

December 17, 2014 — 

Unacceptable in the USA

I oppose the proposed Jordan Cove Liquefied Natural Gas project and the Pacific Connector Pipeline that would allow Canadian natural gas to be transported in a high pressure gas line over 300 miles from Malin, Oregon to Coos Bay, Oregon for transport by ship to Asian markets. The Jordan Cove project, the Pacific Connector Pipeline and the natural gas in the pipeline are owned and operated by a Canadian energy company called Veresen Energy.

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Letter: Choose a life based on love

December 17, 2014 — 

Focus on the unselfish act

Richard Packham’s “Thoughts on the war on religion” in The News-Review on Dec. 7 is no exception to the reality that the controversy between God and Satan is a very real fact of life. All wars are religious wars, even personal ones, such as the one that seems to be raging within Packham himself.

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Letter: Downtown Roseburg parking meters discourage local customers

December 15, 2014 — 

Parking meters don’t bring biz

Approximately a year ago, I found it necessary to appear in downtown Roseburg for a very important discussion. The appointment was extended and when I was free, I “beat feet” back to the car. I was too late by 10 minutes, the meter enforcement had arrived and departed. He did leave me a note, however; gracious sort of people, downtown.

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Editorial: Roses & thorns

December 14, 2014 — 

Unexpected honor

It was encouraging to hear Roseburg High School had joined an elite list of Oregon high schools.

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Publisher’s Notebook: The discomforting parallels of torture

December 14, 2014 — 

I have friends who are experts on torture, so when it comes to opinions on whether the CIA went too far — as a recent Congressional report suggests — to get information from our suspected enemies after the attacks on 9/11, I’ll defer to them.

By now you’ve heard about a report documenting the CIA’s torture methods in the wake of the infamous Sept. 11 attacks.

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Editorial: Can interim Roseburg VA director’s goals be achieved?

December 14, 2014 — 

It’s good to see the interim director of the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Doug Paxton, interacting with so many members of his staff, as well as veterans.

As a veteran himself, it’s easy to believe him when he says he wants to listen and learn from veterans, and help them as much as he can.

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Letter: Pacific Rivers Council works toward balanced solution to O&C land management

December 12, 2014 — 

PRC supports Wyden’s bill

A Nov. 18 letter writer made several misleading statements in the Public Forum. I’m the executive director of the Pacific Rivers Council and we’ve spent the last two years working with timber industry members, county officials and decision makers trying to develop a balanced solution to the management of O&C lands. We support Senator Wyden’s bill, because it will maintain needed protections for our watersheds and increase timber harvest – doubling it, in fact, from current levels.

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Letter: What’s in store for America?

December 11, 2014 — 

Look ahead at things to come

After winning control of the Senate, Republicans are crowing about what good things they can now do for America. Of course, the first thing they will do is try to repeal ObamaCare again.

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Letter: Obama’s treatment of Israel is unacceptable

December 11, 2014 — 

How can they work together?

So-called peaceful Palestinians murdered five Jews in a synagogue. Secretary of State Kerry asked both sides to work together after this terrible attack.

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Letter: When journalistic ethics, HIPPA and health care workers collide

December 9, 2014 — 

A question of ethics

The Society of Professional Journalists states that “... ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough.” The SPJ has identified four principles to be followed:

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Guest column: Santa is alive and well in Olalla

December 9, 2014 — 

Santa Claus is alive.

Here it is almost Christmas and once again we face the age old question: Is Santa Claus real? I think so, in fact, I saw him in the flesh one Christmas out in Olalla. It happened like this.

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Letter: Douglas County veteran seeks local Chosin Reservoir veterans

December 8, 2014 — 

Call for Chosin Reservoir vets

Veterans Day has just passed and I am still alive (82). The purpose of this letter is to find other U.S. Marines in Douglas County who were in the battle of the Chosin Reservoir.

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Letter: Sutherlin Library requests the return of missing paperwork

December 8, 2014 — 

Please return library receipts

I represent the Friends of the Sutherlin Library. On Wednesday, December 3, sometime between 12:30 and 1:30 in the afternoon, someone took our money bag from a book cart in the main part of the library. The bag contained $42.50 in cash, as well as numerous receipts and other banking information.

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Publisher’s Notebook: The Roseburg Rescue Mission could use your help

December 7, 2014 — 

Over a bowl of hot clam chowder on a chilly Friday I had a chance to talk about hunger and hopelessness, two things that are happening every day in this community of givers.

Across the table from my soup sat Lynn Antis, executive director for the Roseburg Rescue Mission. We met because I knew little about what his nonprofit organization really does and because homelessness, hopelessness and hunger seem to be growing in this Land of Opportunity.

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Editorial: It’s time for fees at the Douglas County landfill and transfer sites

December 7, 2014 — 

An inevitable proposal has finally come before the Douglas County commissioners — one that won’t be popular with the majority of residents but is necessary and long overdue.

The proposal would put an end to free dumping at the county’s landfill in Roseburg and its 11 transfer stations. The $2.6 million cost of operating a solid waste system can no longer be subsidized by the county. The expense must be passed onto the users, just like it is in every other county on the West Coast.

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Letter: The News-Review – More than just the news in Douglas County

December 5, 2014 — 

It’s more than just the news

When I was cleaning our pellet stove recently, I remembered a recommendation to use newspaper to clean the glass. It made me think about how newspaper is usable for a great many things besides the news. You can use it to save money on other paper stock you buy by multi-tasking it.

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Letter: Oregon legislation affects disabled workers’ pride, as well as jobs

December 3, 2014 — 

Sheltered work places needed

After reading Jeff Ackerman’s Nov. 16 editorial about the valuable contribution Sunrise Enterprises makes by providing supervised work opportunities for disabled persons in our community, I feel that I should add my concerns about the planned closing of this needed facility.

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Letter: Keep Douglas County beautiful — say ‘No’ to dump fees

December 3, 2014 — 

Dump fees are not the answer

I love Douglas County. My mother and I were born in Roseburg. My grandfather, John T. Long, was born in Coles Valley (Melrose). I have great-great-grandchildren living here. It’s a beautiful place to live, so let’s keep it that way with a “no fee to dump” policy. Otherwise, Douglas County will look like our neighbors, with every side road locked up to keep people from dumping. Every wide spot along the road will have garbage dumped over the bank, and many are near waterways.

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Letter: Veteran’s Day parade in Roseburg uses applications with good reason

December 2, 2014 — 

Parade protocol has a purpose

Recently, there have been comments about the local National Guard unit being at the end of the Douglas County Veterans Day Parade in Roseburg.

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Letter: Wanna join a geezer baseball team in Roseburg?

December 2, 2014 — 

Plan to enjoy middle age

If there are youngsters 55 or older who would like to start a geezer baseball team, drop a line to Jack at P.O. Box 806, Canyonville, OR.

Middle age is no time to grow too old to enjoy life!

John (Jack) K. Ormond Jr.

Canyonville

Letter: South Douglas County: a great place to live!

December 2, 2014 — 

Thankful to be a Lancer

As Thanksgiving draws near, it is time to reflect on things I am most thankful for. I have two sons who have grown up to be outstanding young men. I live in a great nation where we celebrate diversity and struggle to achieve all at the same time. But just as important, I am thankful to be a Lancer. As a lifelong educator I dreamed of a place that shares the same passion for young people as I do. I live in such a place. The current “Clothe-a-Child” and “Dress-a-Teen” campaigns will provide hundreds of young people with much-needed clothes and shoes for the holidays. More than 150 food and toy baskets will be provided to deserving families by the Myrtle Creek Elks Lodge and fire departments.

Our recent success in football brought out the community’s best; I saw signs of support stretching from Tri City all the way to North Bend. The South Umpqua Booster Club and parents do an outstanding job of supporting all of our athletes and sport teams.

Last but not least, I sat in a recent South Umpqua School Foundation meeting and saw them struggle with so many funding requests from our schools. Without hesitation, they doubled the amount of money the community raised at the fall auction (from 10,000 to 20,000 dollars) for these important school safety projects. Now I know I have excluded many things this community has done for my kids (all 1,487 of them), but you must understand that I only listed those items I experienced in the last few days. This is a great place to live and a great day to be a Lancer!

Steve Kelley

South Umpqua School District superintendent

Myrtle Creek

Letter: Douglas County coordinator for Health Care for All Oregon plans rally in Salem

December 2, 2014 — 

Health Care: a human right

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed December 10 Human Rights Day in 1950 to bring attention to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights passed in 1948 by the UN Assembly.

Article 25(1) of that document states that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, medical care and necessary social services.” Prior to this 1948 declaration, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proposed in his January 11, 1944, State of the Union address that all U.S. citizens have the right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.

Health Care for All Oregon (a statewide advocacy coalition of more than 100 organizations) emphatically believes that health care is a human right. The mission of HCAO is to provide publicly funded, privately delivered, high quality, affordable, universal health care to everyone in Oregon. Can this be done? HCAO emphatically says, “yes!”

To bring this message home to our State legislators, HCAO plans to rally in Salem on Wednesday, February 11, 2015. I am one of the local coordinators for HCAO-Douglas County.

Prior to the rally, HCAO-Douglas County will hold information sessions on the proposed health care legislation that will be presented during the 2015 State legislature. We also plan to mobilize Douglas County residents to attend the rally. HCAO-Douglas County is growing and we need your support. Please contact me at 541-315-0857 for more information.

Bob Bickers

HCAO-Douglas County coordinator

Sutherlin

Publisher’s Notebook: Still not convinced Roseburg needs parking meters

November 30, 2014 — 

I had a lot of mail on last week’s column, wherein I sniveled about getting a $25 parking ticket I received on a mostly empty downtown Roseburg day.

One reader reminded me that the $25 fine (if I don’t pay by Monday it’s $35) is a 10,000 percent increase over the 25 cents the meter would have cost me for the extra time I needed to eat my $25 lunch for two.

I’d written that it was a 1,000 percent increase, but math and dunking basketballs have never been my strong suit.

So it was far worse than I calculated it was.

I also reminded readers that I didn’t mind being punished for screwing the city out of a quarter, but wondered why that error should come with a $25 fine. There are guys on Wall Street who have screwed the government out of a lot more than a quarter and their fines have been nowhere near a 10,000 percent penalty. In fact, some of them got a Christmas bonus.

Over Thanksgiving I received a great note from Roseburg City Manager Lance Colley offering a “different” perspective to my column.

For the record, I was having lunch with Lance when the meter cop was tagging my truck outside, so if you think I might have any pull with City Hall, forget it.

In his note, Lance reminded me that there are a lot of good people doing a lot of good things to make downtown Roseburg more appealing.

He’s right. Except for the parking meters, downtown Roseburg has a lot going for it. There are great restaurants, small businesses and a gym, where I go three or four times a week to build enough muscle so that I will eventually have the strength to cut down every parking meter with a hack saw.

Paul Newman went to prison for that in one of my favorite flicks, “Cool Hand Luke.”

There are two things most of us have always wanted to do before we die:

1) Shotgun our television during a political commercial.

2) Chop off the tops of parking meters.

My bucket list is pretty simple.

Lance — if you don’t know him — is a great guy who was raised here. He loves Roseburg and works his tail off to help keep it afloat, which is no easy task these days.

Another guy who loves Roseburg is Gary Leif, who has a photography business downtown and has been involved in improving Roseburg for years. He sent me a note with a little history on the parking meter issue because he remembered that I whined about getting a parking ticket two years ago as well (it was only $10 then, so the fine is now… let’s see … more than double).

When you buy ink by the 500-gallon barrel you can do a lot of whining.

Gary said he helped establish the city’s Park Smart program. Park Smart is where you send the fine money and is the opposite of “Park Dumb,” the crime I have been accused of.

Gary said he lobbied to get the city to dump its previous parking meter contractor because most anyone who shopped downtown got a ticket, which was not good for business. Especially during a period when you could fire a cannon down Jackson Street and not hit a single shopper.

A year later, according to Gary, the city told the downtown group it needed more money from the parking meters so they did what most governments do when they want to raise fines, or salaries — a survey of other cities.

“We gave the city the (survey) information and expected the fines to go from $10 to $15, but they (city) decided on $25,” Gary explained, reminding me that the Roseburg Downtown Association, which runs Park Smart, has no authority over the fine amounts.

The city’s relationship with the downtown association saves the city around $3,000 per month from what it used to pay the previous contractor, according to Gary.

While I appreciated Lance and Gary taking the time to provide some context, I’m still not convinced downtown Roseburg needs parking meters as much as it needs customers and shoppers.

So I found a 10-inch Kobalt Hacksaw online for just $6.98, with free shipping. I’m not sure how long it would take to hack off the top of a parking meter with a mini-hack saw, but just in case I also ordered a Kawasaki Air Cut-Off tool for just $23.65 (still less than my parking ticket). That one looks much more efficient and probably requires smaller biceps to operate.

And before you call 911 to rat me out, I’m not saying I plan to chop down meters for the holidays. At least not until I check with a lawyer to make sure I won’t be sent to an actual prison, or reform school.

I can handle some community service, so long as I don’t have to wear those black-and-white-striped jail outfits.

Things ended poorly for Cool Hand Luke, who probably wished he had left his hacksaw at home.

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

Editorial: Crucial county decisions must be made in public

November 30, 2014 — 

We may not always agree with the decisions of our elected officials — just about everybody has probably had that experience at some point — but we can live with the decisions if they’re made during a transparent, public process.

That’s how our government is supposed to work. The people we elect to represent us to get to spend the tax money we provide, but we get to watch that process occur. We get to talk about how we’d like to see the money spent and what services should be provided, and others get to do the same.

When decisions are proposed or made without public discussion, that’s when we get upset — and then we speak out on behalf of everyone, figuring you agree that government should be open.

The lack of public discussion surrounding this year’s dismantling of the Douglas County Health Department prompts this editorial.

This past spring, county commissioners rushed to unload the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities programs by the end of its fiscal year. Then the county announced it would transfer the duties of its Public Health Division to the state in a similarly short period of time.

Yet, there were no public hearings held — no opportunity for our local health care practitioners or taxpayers to discuss the pros and cons of such a move. There was no public accounting of the money that might be saved, liability lifted or health improvements realized.

Nor was there an explanation of the urgency for these decisions. Douglas County has known for more than two decades that its future funding was in question because of the addition of the northern spotted owl to the threatened species list. Since the owl likes living in our forests, county commissioners knew timber receipts would be reduced drastically.

We’ve recognized the county commissioners many times for their keen foresight in starting to build our savings account back in the ‘90s.

So, yes, funding is an issue for our county, but that’s nothing new. Financial resources did not become an emergency this year.

If county funding now must be considered an emergency, that’s an even better reason for county commissioners to publicly inform taxpayers about the county’s responsibilities and its priorities — and to get feedback from their constituents on where they think the county should spend its money.

They can’t abdicate the responsibility by pointing out that no one’s been showing up at budget committee meetings in the past. Some of us have been questioning the way the county spends its money for years.

We’ve also commented on how those expenditures skew county priorities — and not for the better.

It’s past time for county commissioners, particularly Susan Morgan, who’s been leading the drive to kick mental and public health out of the county system, to have an open, honest and advertised discussion for the reasons for the move. And to set aside time to hear from all of those who have concerns about such moves — especially at such a rapid pace.

We look forward to hearing the date and time of the meeting, along with why Douglas County wants to be the first county in the state to provide less protection against communicable diseases for its citizens.

Letter: Remember to feed the parking meter in Roseburg

November 28, 2014 — 

The rules are for everyone

Oh, boo-hoo, The News-Review publisher got a parking ticket. I guess we need a new placard to hang on vehicles: “Special, the rules don’t apply to me.”

The ticket enforcement officer had no idea how long the publisher had gone over his allotted parking time. It could have been minutes or hours, and the officers are just doing their job. Yes, their job! I thank them for doing that job and not giving in to the grey area, black and white, right or wrong.

Sorry, the publisher was wrong and it cost him $25. It’s not about the quarter, it’s about a system of accountability for making a mistake and ensuring you don’t keep repeating bad behavior. After a $25 ticket, I bet he will check his watch when he feeds the meter from now on and try to follow the same guidelines the rest of us less “special” people do.

Rheo Wheeler

Roseburg

Letter: Sutherlin Lions member impressed by students

November 28, 2014 — 

Faith in future is reaffirmed

The Sutherlin Lions noon and evening clubs conducted a vision screening for more than 900 kindergarten through sixth grade students in the Sutherlin East and West Schools, the Seventh Day Adventist School, and the Oakland Elementary School. This letter is intended as praise and a pat on the back for the students, parents and teachers of these schools.

The students were well-behaved, courteous and polite. It was a pleasure to be part of this event and have my faith reaffirmed about the future of our country. We did determine 90 of these students were recommended for further testing. In addition, there was another large group who demonstrated minor deficiencies. All parents will receive a copy of their child’s results, so they can determine if there is any action that they should take.

Jon White

Sutherlin

Letter: Roseburg’s parade order should put veterans in the front

November 28, 2014 — 

Put veterans first in parade

I’d like to thank Hannah Hawkins for her service. And the parade organizers, too, deserve thanks for the outstanding job they do every year. However, I too have often questioned the line-up of the parade, and agree that the National Guard should be front and center, not at the end.

Our Veteran’s Day parade is big and grand and colorful and entertaining, and the organizers work hard to please the crowds. Of course no one wants to be last, but I feel the heart of the recognition should go to our local soldiers, and that should be right up front.

Let’s hope this gets reconciled for next year’s celebration.

Linda Hellenthal

Roseburg

Letter: U.S. should have enforced the immediate release of Tahmooressi

November 28, 2014 — 

Politicians: all show and no go

Why are Americans so cowardly? That must be what most foreigners think. Some things this country does or doesn’t do defy description and are contrary to the American spirit.

I’m an old guy, but when I was growing up in the ’30s and ’40s, we Americans were the best and could do no wrong. Boy, how things have changed. I don’t think Americans are cowardly, but our politicians are a different story.

A couple months ago, I heard an interview with Hillary Clinton. She was asked what she, as president, would do about the Mexicans and the kidnapping of Sgt. Tahmooressi? Her response, “I would call the Mexican president.”

What would she do if nothing happened?

She replied, “Then I would call him again.”

That seems to be the typical response from the liberals — all show and no go.

Well, I would have made two phone calls, too; the first to the Mexican president with an ultimatum. Deliver Sgt. Tahmooressi to the U.S. border unharmed, with all of his belongings, including his guns, within 24 hours, or we would come and get him. My next call would have been to the Commander of Camp Pendleton to take a regiment with armored vehicles to the Mexican border to receive Sgt. Tahmooressi, or to go get him.

Does anybody remember the USS Pueblo? It was captured by North Korea in international waters in 1968 and is still there. The crew was held for 11 months. What is the matter with this “great” country of ours? We should have demanded immediate release and if refused, brought down the full force of the U.S. military.

I wonder how World War II would have been fought and ended without the courage of President Truman.

William D. Smith

Winston

Guest column: Be a hero for kids: Become a Court Appointed Special Advocate

November 27, 2014 — 

Last week four community members were in the courtroom — not as attorneys, witnesses or the accused. They were there as community heroes, being sworn in as Court Appointed Special Advocates or CASAs.

Judge Julie Zuver spoke of the importance of their new role as advocates for children who are in protective custody due to abuse or neglect. They each will act as a link between children and the juvenile court, by making recommendations to the judge based on information they have gathered from the child’s parents, relatives, teachers and others. Their goal is to guide children out of the foster care system into permanent loving homes as effectively as possible.

The four new CASAs are community members like you. Between them they have an abundance of real world experience that will benefit the children for whom they become CASAs. Their backgrounds and interests include teaching, nursing, social work, school administration, grandparenting, volunteering, being a Big Sister, cheer coach, mentor to teens and advocate for elders. They each believe that every child in our community has the right to be treated with dignity, to be safe, and to thrive in the embrace of a loving family. And they each decided that becoming a CASA was a good way to make sure vulnerable children have a voice.

CASA of Douglas County supported 78 volunteers last year, who gave 9,000 hours to advocate for 314 children. The addition of four new advocates means that 15 additional children in foster care now have a CASA. However, more than 100 children are still on our waiting list. Their stories can have better endings when a CASA fights for them to make sure their basic rights and essential needs don’t get overlooked. Every day CASAs see the difference they make in the life of a child. A teen who does better in school because their CASA found them a tutor during summer vacation. A first-grader who can read the chalkboard because their CASA realized they needed to have their eyes checked. A boy who got to spend a week in camp with his brother because their CASA advocated for more family contact.

A child with a CASA is twice as likely to find a safe, permanent home. Studies have found that at-risk children benefit greatly if they are able to connect with at least one supportive adult who can provide support and advice during their childhood. And for a child residing in foster care that person is often their CASA.

CASA was started in the late ’70s by a Seattle superior court judge, who needed to make a decision on behalf of abused and neglected children with only the information provided by the state child protective services. It has grown to become a national association in the United States with over 77,000 advocates serving in 933 state and local programs. Because of our volunteers, 233,000 children have been assisted through CASA services in the U.S. Typical training consists of 30 hours spent in workshops and 10 hours spent in observing court cases and procedures. Each CASA volunteer has a coordinator along with the location overseer who are available for consultations and guidance during classes.

The mission of the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association, together with its state and local members, is to support and promote court-appointed volunteer advocacy so that every abused or neglected child can be safe, establish permanence and have the opportunity to thrive.

As a member of the CASA of Douglas County board, every swearing-in ceremony makes me proud. It highlights the volunteer-powered network of committed people who are making sure our children have every chance to thrive and grow up to be productive adults.

I hold CASAs and the work they do in the highest regard, as well as the support and leadership provided to them by the CASA staff. I also encourage anyone who is interested in becoming part of the organization as either a board member or child volunteer to give them a call and learn about the many ways you can be involved.

Gary Leif is a business owner/real estate developer and member of the CASA Board. For more information on CASA of Douglas County call 541-672-7001 or visit www.CASAofDouglasCounty.org.

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