Opinion, Analysis, Discussion

Publisher’s Notebook:

December 28, 2014 — 

The singer on my Pandora channel encouraged someone to stop the train that was taking him through life far too quickly. I was headed down Interstate 5 through a downpour right in the middle of Sunny Valley, of all places.

It’s not always sunny in Sunny Valley and our lives pretty much work the same way.

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Letter: Take our country back; eliminate corrupt legislation

December 24, 2014 — 

Corruption must be prosecuted

Prosecute Jamie Dimon and members of Congress for criminal corruption.

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Letter: Positive things are happening in Sutherlin

December 24, 2014 — 

Think safety for our community

With all the negative things going on in the world, I am writing this letter so people can see that there are positive things going on in Sutherlin.

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Letter: Enforce littering fines in Douglas County to alleviate dump fee issues

December 23, 2014 — 

Solution to dump fees

Here’s a simple solution to offset the county transfer sites and landfill operating costs: have sheriff’s officers write citations for littering. During business hours, place an officer between Roseburg and the Glide transfer site, or between Roseburg and the McClain Avenue landfill. Signs are already posted along our highways indicating fines of $600 to $1,000 for “offensive littering.”

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Letter: Enhanced interrogation of terrorists supported

December 22, 2014 — 

No sympathy for terrorism

I’m writing in response to Jeff Ackerman’s recent piece entitled “The discomforting parallels of torture.“ I enjoyed Mr. Ackerman’s article and marveled that U.S. former prisoners of war in North Vietnam could be so forgiving of their tormentors years after their ordeal. Their example is a testament to the human spirit and a triumph of goodness over the darker side of human behavior.

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Letter: Kitzhaber’s Executive Order will hurt the vulnerable in Oregon

December 22, 2014 — 

EO 13-04 cuts jobs for many

State help is needed for Sunrise Enterprises. Sunrise supplies a need in our county, because it provides a training place in a safe work environment for mentally handicapped persons to work. Governor Kitzhaber signed Executive Order No. 13-04, which cuts funding to Sunrise.

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Publisher’s Notebook: If the dump remains free, what would you cut?

December 21, 2014 — 

So it appears Douglas County will continue to be the only county West of the Mississippi where residents can dump their garbage at the landfill for free.

Never mind that the landfill isn’t really free. It’s costing the county more than $2 million that it doesn’t really have to spend and the economic horizon is getting darker by the day.

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Letter: Oregon universities must balance athletic and academic departments

December 19, 2014 — 

Athletics vs. academics

I’m as excited as the next guy or gal about what good the new coach can mean for Oregon State University’s football program; the same for the Beavers’ new hoops mentor.

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Letter: Obama is no longer constrained by re-election concerns

December 19, 2014 — 

Prepare for a rough ride

Well, it’s time to tighten our seat belts, folks. It’s time to gird ourselves and prepare, for we are about to endure the unendurable. We are about to experience the ultimate horror of “Barack Unchained.”

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Letter: Douglas County property tax appeal deadline is Dec. 31, 2014

December 18, 2014 — 

Property tax appeal time

Property and business owners, it’s property tax appeal time again! You have until December 31, 2014, to turn in your petition to the Douglas County Clerks Office. This is a free process to have your property tax values reviewed and adjusted by the Board of Property Tax Appeals.

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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:

1. Seek truth and report it.

2. Minimize harm.

3. Act independently.

4. Be accountable and transparent. (http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp):

In elaborating on the first principle, “Seek truth and report it,” it’s recommended that journalists “... diligently seek subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing.”

As a healthcare professional, it occurs to me that journalists often fail to follow this precept when reporting the stories of people who are critical of the health care they have received from specific institutions or providers. I suggest that it behooves journalists to ask individuals for a “Release of Information” so that the health care people involved can tell the other side of the story.

If the patient declines to provide this, the ethical thing to do, in my opinion, is to note this in the story. Without a Release of Information, health care providers cannot defend themselves in any way, because they are bound by privacy laws. There is no fairness in this.

John (Jack) Finney, PhD.

Roseburg

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.

Back in the late 1950s, we used to have a big square dance almost every Saturday night out at the Olalla Community Hall. Herb Northcraft was the caller as the adults did square dances and the older children danced a Virginia Reel or a Minuet. During the Thanksgiving party, the young mothers and girls gathered up all of the small children and had them write a letter to Santa Claus. They were told that Santa Claus was very busy and they should ask for just one thing they really wanted. I later realized that these letters were given to the parents who then bought the gifts, wrapped them and hid them for the Christmas Dance.

The day of the big Christmas Dance arrived and looking back, my dad acted strangely all day. I was 9 years old and busy thinking about all of the fudge, peanut brittle and cookies that would be available at the party. When we got there, I ran straight inside the building to beat my brother to the goodies. My father joined the men over at the old one-room schoolhouse, where they had a little fire and discussed manly business. I found out much later this manly business was smoking cigarettes and sipping whiskey in peace.

Everybody was dressed up in fancy square dance duds, shiny cowboy boots and colorful petticoats when the dance started. I was with the bigger kids off to the side doing a reel, but I noticed several times my dad was absent. Right in the middle of the third or fourth dance, there was a pounding on the back door of the rickety old dance hall. The door flew open and in strode Santa Claus. It was my father. Of course, the little kids didn’t know this and went wild shouting Santa Claus, Santa Claus is here! Others ran to their mothers and grabbed their skirts, pointing.

Santa made a little speech saying that although Christmas was still a few days away, he had a busy schedule flying all over the world and he came to Olalla early because there were so many good little boys and girls. He wanted to make sure they got their Christmas presents. He said the kids who asked for puppies or ponies needed to discuss this with their fathers. Santa started pulling gifts out of his bag and calling out the names of the tykes gathered round. You should have seen their faces as they were named. Pretty quick colorful wrapping paper was scattered all over the hall as the kids got the presents they asked for in their letters. Friends and neighbors, in this cynical world of politics and troubles, Santa Claus had some true believers in the hall that night.

Later, I asked dad about Santa Claus. He said there was a Christian man many centuries ago named Nicklaus who became a saint because of his generosity. Over the centuries Saint Nicklaus became Santa Claus. The whole Christmas affair was to celebrate God’s gift of Jesus bringing peace, forgiveness and salvation to mankind. It became a tradition to follow the example and buy gifts for children and friends.

My father told me Santa Claus is a spirit, the spirit of generosity and forgiveness. He said a spirit never dies and can be everywhere. When you put on the red Santa suit you accept that spirit and become Santa Claus. He also said it was a lot of fun to be Santa Claus and one should never pass up the opportunity to enjoy the look of wonder on a small child’s face. That is good enough for me, Santa Claus is real. I saw him once, out in Olalla.

The Chasm family moved to Olalla in 1958. Richard, being too lazy to move, is still underfoot in that neighborhood. He has pulled the green chain at the saw mill, planted seedling trees and worked as a Realtor to finance wandering around in the hills. Merry Christmas!

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.

Sixty-four years ago in the frozen mountains of Korea, the U.S. Marines endured a campaign as grueling and heroic as any in history. I participated in the battle of the Chosin Reservoir. I was a young man, 18 years old, serving in the First Marine Division.

Our battle lasted 15 days. The Marines had 17,000 men and we were outnumbered by soldiers from China, who had 120,000 men. We killed 28,000 — that’s 1,867 per day. We were then ordered to walk 73 miles to the Sea of Japan. It took four days and nights, fighting soldiers from China, an icy one lane mountainous road, 30 degrees below zero at night. When we reached the Sea of Japan, 1,000 U.S. ships were waiting for us.

Raymond D. Anthony

Roseburg

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.

If possible, whoever you are, could you return the bag and the papers to the library? You can just drop it in the book drop. We assume you need the money, perhaps to buy Christmas presents for someone you love. Just know that the money you took belongs to a completely volunteer organization. All the money we raise goes back to the library to buy books, magazines and other items. The library does not have a book budget and, therefore, relies on donations and the funds our group raises.

Deborah Utter

Secretary

Sutherlin

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.

And … before I forget … can someone tell me why this Great Nation of ours sends food all over the world while Americans (including children) are going hungry?

Lynn has been with the Roseburg Rescue Mission six years, moving here from a similar mission in Eugene, where he spent more than 15 years. So he’s learned a few things about hope, homelessness, hunger and how difficult it is to lump them all together, as we tend to do these days so that we can keep the conversation simple.

The Roseburg Rescue Mission celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. A World War II combat veteran named Norman Williams opened the first mission, according to the organization’s written history, after going through his own tough times and saw a firsthand need.

“Norman returned from the war hardened and drank heavily,” read a recent mission newsletter. “He had been described as the black sheep of the family, never a tougher, more profane man.”

Norman would go on to find a religious calling and opened a shoe store across from the rail yard at Southeast Sheridan Street and Lane Avenue. Because it was so close to the train depot, hobos (they are called transients today) would walk past the shop and Norman would stop and do a little preaching, often offering food and sometimes shelter.

Next thing Norman knew he’d transformed his shoe shop into a full-blown shelter, where he continued to preach, but also made sure the mostly men who came there had food and a place to sleep.

As you know, prayer is frowned upon in some circles of our society today. In fact, you could say it is downright “unfashionable” to believe in God, unless that particular God happens to be “hip.”

Buddha is a good example of that. It’s still pretty cool to be a Buddhist – especially among the Hollywood gang. The Dali Lama can probably speak at any public university in the country, but invite the Duck Dynasty patriarch to speak about Christ and all hell breaks loose.

They don’t understand the relationship between Black Friday, discounted 60-inch televisions and the birth of Jesus Christ.

An economist might argue that Jesus has done far more for America’s retailers (where would fourth-quarter earnings be without Jesus?) than any religious figure ever, including Santa Claus.

But let’s set religion aside for a moment and talk about the more than one hundred men, women and children the Roseburg Recuse Mission serves every day, 365 days per year.

“Today we are serving roughly 102 men and 54 women and children every day,” Lynn told me. And by “serving,” he means three meals a day and a place to sleep, at least for most of them.

Lynn said hunger might even be a bigger issue than homelessness, since some of those men, women and children go there to eat and don’t stay.

We might be surprised to learn how many Douglas County children go to bed hungry each night.

The reason I joined the military in 1969 was because I could eat three meals a day and thought the Chow Hall was Heaven.

Unfortunately, the Rescue Mission may run out of food one day in the not-too-distant future. The U.S. Department of Agriculture stopped providing food maybe four years ago, according to Lynn, because the Mission included prayer and was faith-based. The government still prints “In God We Trust” currency, but can’t give food to an organization that feeds hungry people who pray before every meal.

That same government has no problem sending food to nations who stone people for not praying to Allah.

I know … “Come on, Jeff! That’s different!”

OK, but for the love of God (any God will do), are we really going to let the cupboards of the shelter run bare?

On the plus side, the Roseburg Rescue Mission is getting very close to being able to double the shelter capacity for women and children at its Samaritan Inn, which is currently spread among three residential homes.

In a deal that has been three years in the making, the Roseburg Rescue Mission is preparing to purchase the old Umpqua Medical Center, located on West Umpqua Street.

The cost for the building is estimated at $1.6 million (including renovation), which is half what a new facility would cost. And a good chunk of that money will come from the exchange of the three existing rescue mission homes, grants and some creative thinking by several people.

But they are still a bit short of funding and have now gone to the community for a little help.

That’s where you come in, during this season of giving. I know how many needs there are and that this is one of many. No matter what your religion — or if you have no religion — food and shelter are about as fundamental as it gets.

If you have the means to donate food or money, the Roseburg Rescue Mission could use a little help and you can contact Lynn directly at 541-673-3004.

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

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.

The proposal is likely of no concern to those who already pay a disposal company to pick up their trash at the curb on a weekly basis. They realize there’s a cost to disposing of garbage, and they’ve appreciated the convenience of having someone else haul their trash to the landfill.

Those who like driving their garbage to the landfill should not be appalled at the proposed cost. If you bring along your recyclable materials and cover your load, it will only cost you $5 to dump three garbage cans.

If you refuse to recycle, you’re looking at $7 for up to three cans because those materials that could be re-used will instead lead to our landfill filling up faster.

The cost is extremely reasonable — so much so that it should ease fears that county residents will instead choose to dump their trash on other public or private lands. As former county commissioner candidate Dale Rogers pointed out in the county’s first public hearing on the proposal, people would spend more on gas driving out into the woods to dump their trash than just paying the fee.

While we have already decided that the county commissioners need to implement the fee, as recommended by Public Works Director Robb Paul, we want to point out the importance of this decision being made in public.

County commissioners heard testimony at their regular meeting on Nov. 26 and the public will have another chance to speak on the proposed fees at 9 a.m. Dec. 17 in Room 216 of the Douglas County Courthouse.

We think the county erred, however, in not issuing a press release or contacting the news media well in advance of putting the disposal fees discussion on its Nov. 26 agenda.

A proposal that would affect so many residents and reverse a long-standing tradition warrants additional notice, if county commissioners truly want to show they value public testimony and discussion with their constituents. Starting such a long-overdue discussion the day before Thanksgiving doesn’t sing “open government.”

We encourage public participation at the Dec. 17 meeting, but we want to hear innovative ideas for keeping the landfill fees low and discouraging people from dumping their trash on others’ property.

Protesting the implementation of fees will be a waste of time. Douglas County has cut its workforce and programs by a sizable amount. It has saved tens of millions of dollars from the federal timber safety, allowing it to operate the free landfill as long as it has.

The landfill must become self-sustaining through the implementation of fees, and reserves need to be built up to pay for the landfill’s closure in 10 years.

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.

So when the news is past, what do you do with the newspaper? More than you might think! Here are some suggestions to get extra value from The News-Review.

Clean the glass on a pellet or wood stove. It works great with just water and a razor blade scraper, saving the cost of cooktop glass cleaner and paper towels.

Keep weeds down in the garden. Layers of newspaper under your good topsoil or garden compost will keep unwanted weeds from shooting up with your veggies.

Cover plants with newspaper to shield them from frost. Also, wrap plant pots to insulate them during cold weather.

Use old newspapers as packing filler to keep things from breaking. Wrap glassware before packing a box. Shred and crumple paper as filler.

Make paper maché items for kids to play with or for decoration.

Help keep mud out of the house. Use the paper as a place to set shoes or boots when coming inside.

Recycle in paper collection.

I also saved one newspaper each year on the birthdays of my kids, so when they were older they could check out the news that happened and what sales were like “back then.”

Ron Brown

Roseburg

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.

I share Jeff’s concern about the “... dark clouds on the horizon for Sunrise and other so-called sheltered workplaces ...” in our communities. Unless you’ve noticed Sunrise employees carrying their lunch buckets and walking or bicycling to work each day, you may not realize what a huge part of their lives this job is for them. Many Sunrise employees have been getting up and going to work there for 25 years or more. Many of them are my friends; I know how important it is to them to head off to work each day and how much they look forward to payday. It isn’t the size of the paycheck, it’s the pride it gives them to know they earned that money through the fruits of their labor every day.

The idea that when Sunrise closes, these people will all end up with jobs in the community is an unrealistic pipe dream. The reason Sunrise offers constant supervision and training for their employees is because that’s the only way these workers can function in the job place. Sure, some of them could bag groceries and stock shelves in the stores, but for most of them, it would be beyond their capabilities. For this 75 percent (and I feel that is a conservative estimate), once Sunrise closes, they can look forward to a boring existence in front of the TV all day. I ask that our legislators and governor reconsider this poorly thought-out plan. Keep this wonderful business called Sunrise Enterprises operating.

David Erickson

Roseburg

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.

Some big things the dump sites won’t take without a fee are already getting dumped out in the woods. When I’ve been driving back roads, I’ve seen a freezer, an exercise machine, tires, and lots of mattresses and box springs. Sometimes I’ve had to get somebody to help me load the heavy stuff into my truck.

The illegal dumping problem will get a lot worse if we start charging a dump fee for everything at the dump sites. Don’t let this happen to our beautiful county. Say “No” to Douglas County dump fees.

John Paul DeRoss

Winston

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.

I am a member of the Veterans Day Parade committee. We were busy for many months planning and organizing our annual parade. One of the items we worked on was our parade application form. This form tells the committee the type of entry and includes a liability release. The form is available to the public in September each year, with an October 31 deadline for submission.

Announcements are made on local television and radio stations informing the public of these parade applications and the need to submit them to the committee. Early in November, members of the committee review the applications and the line-up (sequence) is created. One of our criteria is to have military or veteran groups toward the front of the parade. Numbers are assigned and groups with many or large vehicles are asked to go to a different start location. It should be obvious that if we did not have the applications and simply told people to show up when and where they desired, it could get very disorganized.

Every year there are at least a dozen or more groups who do not submit their applications. After signing the parade liability release form, they’ve participated in the parade after all the other entries. We have no problem with that. This is the first time that someone who never submitted an application — and did not bother to tell the committee they would participate — complained and expected others who did submit applications, to make room for them. When this did not happen, they then made a public complaint, without bothering to get information on the process.

Dirk Kruysman

Roseburg

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