Opinion, Analysis, Discussion
Beware of our political parties
George Washington, in his farewell address (Sept. 19, 1796) warned the nation about political parties and their deleterious effect to the people’s liberty.Learn more »
Advocates and heroes for vets
Veterans Affairs employees at Roseburg, Eugene and the coast have been the stable advocates and heroes for veteran patient care, despite the overwhelming suppression of creativity, innovation, use of professional skills, and need for change in leadership.Learn more »
It’s that holiday time of year. As we are rushing around to local businesses with their glitzy displays of holiday kitsch and the annual offering of silly, useless items we all seem to love so much, we should all take a moment to thank that person stocking shelves, pushing carts out of the parking lot, operating the cash register, or serving you lunch.
Oregon’s retail and restaurant employees typically make the minimum wage of $9.10 per hour. If they are lucky enough to work in a restaurant, they get to add tips to that, when harried and financially stretched shoppers are kind enough, and generous enough, to leave a tip. They work part-time schedules that are unpredictable at best, and rarely offer enough hours to pay the bills. Many of these people would love to get the chance to eat Thanksgiving dinner with their families (think the local gas stations and corner stores, which are often open all day Thanksgiving Day). Many will also miss Christmas.Learn more »
They need work options
Oh, my, I am so frustrated to think that the sheltered workplaces for our disabled citizens may be closed soon. Governor Kitzhaber’s executive order has already limited state funding for them and it will stop funding even the placements that are already established in these sheltered workplaces by July 1, 2015.Learn more »
Attend health care forum
Recently the League of Women Voters of Umpqua Valley showed the 2012 PBS documentary “U.S. Health Care: The Good News.” The documentary highlights several communities around the country that have come up with innovative ways to provide quality health care, while at the same time lowering health care costs.Learn more »
Once a year, Roseburg puts on a parade to honor our servicemen and women who serve this country. This year the parade consisted of about 100 entries: veterans, local businesses, schools, clubs, organizations and current military personnel.
As a soldier in the National Guard, I volunteered to be in the parade with my brother, Hank, who is also in the Guard.Learn more »
The parade is to honor veterans
The Greatest Oregon’s Veterans Day Parade is an event that takes considerable planning and work over nine months. We present a quality parade for this community to experience, honoring veterans and their service so that all may enjoy the freedoms we have.Learn more »
We appreciate our veterans
With the recent Veteran’s Day observance in Douglas County, three events stand out that deserve special praise. First, this year’s parade in downtown Roseburg was a huge success and according to reports, the attendance set a new record. The parade committee should be given a lot of credit for all their hard work. These fine volunteers spend months of planning and preparation to ensure the countless number of details were completed on time that would lead to one of the best Veterans Day parades in the state. Douglas County is truly fortunate to have people with this level of dedication.Learn more »
Congress will be in session for eight more days this year.
That makes it unrealistic and undesirable to pass a bill directing management of the unique Oregon & California Railroad trust lands this year.Learn more »
I’m one of those guys who wonders whether the punishment really ever fits the crime.
A guy gets 25 years for stuffing his girlfriend in a freezer and is on the streets 15 years later on “good behavior” because when he was serving his time he didn’t stuff a single person into a freezer and he ate all his vegetables.Learn more »
I oppose S. 1784, Sen. Wyden’s proposed O&C legislation. We need more broadly accepted and beneficial solutions.
Long-term sustainability of old growth in the Western Oregon forest cycle should be a guiding legislative principle. Where, in this Senate legislation, is there gradual, intentional regeneration and renewal of old growth forest stands? Trees over a certain age cannot be harvested. Thinned forests eventually die out, and as we saw in the Douglas Complex fire of Southern Oregon — these stands burn up.Learn more »
List of assets was impressive
Now that the elections are over, maybe this is a good time to send a letter I’ve been thinking about ever since my husband, Duane, and I attended an annual meeting last winter. It was a meeting where community members got together on a Saturday morning in January and talked about how to make things better in Winston. Steve Schenewerk, local pastor and community volunteer, was the MC. He led us in an exercise that would be beneficial to any group or individual.Learn more »
Call to take out a P.O. dropbox
It‘s time to remove the drive-up mail box that’s in front of the post office. It’s on the wrong side for drive up drop-off, which results in people stopping in the street and getting out of their vehicles to deposit mail. These drivers often leave their car door open, which just adds to the problem.Learn more »
Health care act is a fraud
“This is a big f***ing deal,” to quote Vice President Biden. Did you know how stupid the progressive Democratic elite think you are?Learn more »
A cry for help from the VA
On Nov. 4, 2014, my husband, Jerry Sofranko, took his life. Jerry was battling prescription drugs: methadone, oxycodone, mood and stress drugs prescribed for years by the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center. These prescribed pain medications immediately triggered a dormant drug addiction. Jerry realized what was happening and repeatedly asked and pleaded for the VA to please help him detox off of the pills. He had been having all kinds of reactions to the medications and wanted to be done with them. The VA refused to help him detox. He felt that he could not do it with out medical help, but they said no, go home.Learn more »
Supporting the O&C bill
Senator Wyden’s O&C bill is finally working its way through Congress. It seeks to balance timber supply, county revenue, jobs, clean water, sustainability, and environmental protection. It also honors Frank Moore, a World War II veteran who landed at Utah Beach during the Normandy invasion and fought across France, Belgium, and Germany, returning home only after the war was won. Since then, he has tirelessly worked to sustain the North Umpqua River and the unique steelhead it supports. Wyden’s bill creates the Frank Moore Wild Steelhead Refuge in the Steamboat Creek watershed. This is an honor Frank Moore richly deserves.Learn more »
Socialism fuels local drug war
I was disappointed (a frequent occurrence) when, on the front page, the paper blamed capitalism for the drug problems here in Douglas County. The header of an article written by Jessica Prokop blamed capitalism for the increase in drugs on our streets.Learn more »
If you care about the economic future of Douglas County then it is a good idea to mark Dec. 9 and 10 on the calendar.
On those days the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will hold two local hearings on its recently released environmental impact statement on the Pacific Connector pipeline project.Learn more »
Recognition for VA staff
With all the negative publicity surrounding the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and while awaiting new leadership, I would like to propose an Employee Recognition Day for all the employees of the hospital to show a change of direction. Low morale and bad leadership do not last forever.Learn more »
Guest column: Our generation must respond to climate changeNovember 18, 2014 —
My parents were members of the Greatest Generation. After spending all four years of the war in the South Pacific, Dad had five bronze battle stars and two commendations. When I asked what he had done to earn them, his response was always, “My job.” My mother never complained of the shortages on the homefront. It was what you did. When faced with an existential evil, you sacrificed.
Today we are faced with an existential evil, but we are not rising up in unison as we did then to respond. Are we lesser people? No. We are simply faced with a threat that has crept up on us slowly. We are the frog in the pot of water that does not recognize the slowly rising temperature. We are being cooked, but we don’t see the danger. Folks with a vested interest are convincing us that we are in a Jacuzzi, not a cook pot, and working hard to keep us placid. And, in truth, all of us want to believe that the threat is bogus because the reality is terrifying.
But the temperature is rising, and the frog is us, and our children and grandchildren.
On Nov. 6, Mary Wood, a law professor at the University of Oregon and the author of “Nature’s Trust,” spoke at the Douglas County Library. Her subject was our ethical responsibility to be the next great generation and respond to the threat of global climate change. The atmosphere is a public trust, she, and increasingly the courts, maintain. The government has a fiduciary duty to protect it. We can insist that it do so. We can also individually reduce the burden on our stressed resource base by living up to the standard of our Puritan forebears and “Use it up; wear it out; make it do or do without.” Failure to do both means handing to our children a world plagued by drought, shortages and the violence that invariably results from those conditions.
It is no longer material whether you are Republican or Democrat, left, right or center. Facts are facts. The United States military accepts and is preparing for the reality of a warming planet. The corporate world also recognizes that climate change threatens the bottom line for those businesses not profiting from carbon-based fuels. In its 2014 Global Responsibility Report, General Mills stated, “Business, nongovernmental organizations and individuals need to act to reduce the human impact on climate change.” General Mills does not stand alone among industrial giants. Nike, Kellogg, Pepsi, Nestlé, Monsanto and Coke are some of the others. (Big Business Working on Climate Science, US News and World Report, August 5, 2014) “Coke reflects a growing view among American business leaders and mainstream economists who see global warming as a force that contributes to lower gross domestic products, higher food and commodity costs, broken supply chains and increased financial risk.” (Industry Awakens to Threat of Climate Change, The New York Times, January 23, 2014)
We are at that Dec. 7,1941, moment. We can look the challenge squarely in the eye and take it on (Americans have a long history of being very good at that), or we can continue to act like there is no urgency and allow the future to judge us as the generation that refused to suck it up and do our job today for the children of tomorrow.
Ruth Kaser, a 37-year resident of Roseburg, is a newly retired public school teacher who taught middle school social studies and elementary special education over a 24-year career. She is a member of the Douglas County Global Warming Coalition.
Letter: Current O&C plan provides no ecological or economic balance for Douglas County residentsNovember 18, 2014 —
Wyden’s O&C plan won’t help
An Oct. 30 letter writer was correct: balance is necessary when managing public lands. However, if he’s really interested in policies that support children and education, Ron Wyden’s O&C bill is not the one.
Nobody is arguing about the importance of healthy fish populations, but many people in our communities need help. Sixty percent of Douglas County’s children are eligible for free or reduced price lunches and nearly 20 percent of county residents live below the poverty line. We also have a local unemployment rate of more than eight percent, which is above the statewide average. Since 54 percent of the county’s forestlands are under federal ownership, the decline in timber harvests on O&C lands has cost jobs and opportunity for our local economy.
Ron Wyden’s O&C plan is nothing more than a continuation of the status quo; in fact, it would make the situation even worse. The Wyden plan doesn’t “double” timber harvests. The plan’s new regulations would actually decrease harvest levels, while inviting new lawsuits from the likes of the Pacific Rivers Council. In addition, Wyden’s plan would reduce timber revenues to virtually nothing, breaking the federal government’s promise to manage O&C lands for the benefit of western Oregon counties and their communities.
If the Oct. 30 letter writer supports the current “hands-off” approach to federal forest management, he’s entitled to his opinion and should just say so. But supporting Wyden’s plan under the guise of a “balanced” approach is grossly misleading at best.
We need to continue telling Ron Wyden that we need an effective solution that truly provides sufficient harvest levels, protection from frivolous lawsuits, and adequate revenues for counties. It’s possible to balance everything we value in our forests, without dooming many of our local residents to poverty and hunger.
Letter: No need to sacrifice rich history to grow local economyNovember 18, 2014 —
Find better RV park location
The Douglas County Parks Department is planning to develop a Recreational Vehicle Park around the environs of the former United States Coast Guard Station, now a museum, at Winchester Bay.
The buildings of the former USCG station at Winchester Bay are the only examples of Federal Architecture in the Lower Umpqua Area. Awash in the history of the area, they’re extremely valuable assets to western Douglas County just as they are.
As important to the local economy as RV’s are, improperly placed, they constitute a net degradation of a property’s value. It isn’t hard to figure out. Drive through any RV Park and then ask yourself: “Is this what we want surrounding the stately buildings on the hill next to the Lighthouse?”
There are numerous RV parks, both private and public, in the Lower Umpqua Area. If demand warrants increasing their number, private RV park operators should be able to meet the need. Virtually all of Salmon Harbor is now a gargantuan RV park, developed and operated by public entities, which includes Douglas County.
Douglas County Parks Department should look elsewhere in its attempts to raise revenue by developing an RV park. The old USCG Station and its surrounding grounds at Winchester Bay ought to be left alone. It has been developed into a world class museum of Coast Guard and local history. The shop and garage of the former station are now effectively and properly used by the maintenance crew of Douglas County Parks. The development of an RV park on the station property would be an insult to the property, the local population, and Douglas County.
There should be no development of an RV park on the grounds of the old United States Coast Guard Station at Winchester Bay.
Letter: Republicans must use time wiselyNovember 18, 2014 —
What will 2016 election bring?
I’m an Independent voter. In the last election, I voted for three losing candidates.
I’d like to throw my opinion out to the people. I feel very sorry for the Republicans in 2016; I think they were set up. They have two years to pass all of the bills they can, while they control both the House and the Senate. If they don’t, this will have a large bearing on the election in 2016.
The Democrats have a record of 5 percent unemployment, the economy is doing well and most people have medical insurance. The result will be a Democrat for president in 2016.
I think there was some underhanded politics. Did the Democrats hogtie the Republicans? What do you think?
Letter: Where’s the love of our country in ‘transforming’ and ‘remaking’ America?November 17, 2014 —
Disregarding due process
Now I’m not sayin’ our young President is a narcissist, but may I at least ask when his third autobiography is due out?
And I would not dare question his love for his fellow American, but isn’t it curious how he will not use any language even approximating “Islamic terrorist,” yet doesn’t hesitate in the least to brand millions of Americans as “. . . bitter clingers . . .” just because they believe in God and the Second Amendment of our Constitution?
And when he exhorted to his minions that “. . . voting is the best revenge!” (and I’m assuming he didn’t mean for Mitt Romney), or when he spoke to the racist and pro-illegal invader group “La Raza,” telling them they should “. . . punish our enemies . . .”, wouldn’t it be reasonable to question his motives? Revenge? Punish? Really? And who would La Raza’s enemies be, Mr. President?
Finally, and far be it from me to suspect his patriotism, but does “. . . fundamentally transforming . . .” or “. . . remaking America . . .” sound like the words of a man who loves his traditional country?
When the dust from the mid-term elections has settled, our young, ego-maniacal, ideologue of a President, Barack Hussein Obama, will, with great personal disregard to Congress and the majority of Americans, grant some form of amnesty to millions of culturally different, prolific, criminal invaders who are illegally in our country.
What better way to dilute, punish, take revenge on, and begin remaking America?
Letter: It’s time for political representatives to work together on behalf of their constituentsNovember 17, 2014 —
Dreaming of a little teamwork
I dreamed that all our senators and congressmen in the west actually worked together to fight as a team. I’m a little tired of each one happily sending out propaganda statements about how hard they’re woring for us, when the entire west is methodically being damaged by federal policies assaulting our once productive range lands forests, mining and rivers.
All of the politicians claim to have had some education and they should at least have seen football games. Everyone wants to be the quarterback (that’s where the glory is), but without teamwork, you get the kind of mess we see in politics today.
Just dreaming ...
Publisher’s Notebook: Our disabled citizens need workplaces like SunriseNovember 16, 2014 —
The plan was not for me to be a single parent to an autistic adult son.
But life rarely goes as planned so we go with the flow, or … as Forest Gump reminded us, “Life is a box of chocolates. You never know what you’ll get until you bite into one.”
My autistic son’s name is Luke. I call him Cool Hand Luke because he’s been a blessing and, well, blessings are as cool as they come.
My wife pretty much raised Luke while I worked to keep a roof over our heads. We learned he was “special” when he was maybe 4 or 5 years old and that he would require all of the special attention we could muster.
Fortunately, my wife could muster more than most and she was the reason Luke made it through childhood and through those “terrible teen” years that are tough enough for anyone, let alone someone who is autistic.
School officials told my wife that Luke would probably not make it through high school, but that was before they knew my wife.
She volunteered at Luke’s school just so she could be close to him and she did such a good job with the kids they hired her.
When he started high school, Luke was pretty much tossed straight into the fray. He had an aide, but for the most part was on his own. His big sister and her friends were there to make sure nobody messed with Luke and nobody did.
They say patience is a virtue and my wife had more than most. She read to Luke almost every day of his life and there were nights when I wondered how she managed through it.
Luke went on to graduate high school and we eventually moved to Roseburg, where my wife would spend the last two years of her life.
Now it’s up to me to make sure all of my wife’s work doesn’t go to waste. The rest of my life will be dedicated to making sure Luke — who just turned 22 — is a functioning, contributing adult, capable of caring for himself. And if his life can be half as full as mine has been he’ll be just fine.
The great news is that I don’t have to do it alone.
Autism — if you haven’t noticed — has reached epidemic proportions: 1 in 68 young people have been identified with an autism disorder, which includes a wide spectrum. The complex neurodevelopment disorders have common social impairments that often make communication difficult. Some autistic people (and most are males) cannot communicate at all and demonstrate self-destructive behavior, while others, such as Luke, are referred to as “high functioning,” or belong in the category often called Asperger syndrome.
The bigger issue is the growing number of young adults with various disabilities who face a future with very few employment opportunities. And unless we find, or create, those opportunities those millions of young people will become dependent on a government that is running out of money to take care of the growing number of social needs.
A friend of mine named Jason Harman introduced me to Barry Robinson, a local businessman who is on the board for Sunrise Enterprises. Sunrise was founded in 1969 to, according to its mission statement, “assist persons with disabilities to access meaningful employment opportunities and achieve self-fulfilling lives.”
“Bingo,” I thought during my first lunch with Barry and Jason. “I’m talking to the right guy.”
The next step was a tour of the various Sunrise facilities, where they are serving nearly 150 adults with various disabilities. They do that at a large wood products, recycling facility out in Green, a recycling center on Harvard Avenue and through thrift stores in Roseburg, Myrtle Creek, Winston and Reedsport.
During my tour of the Green facility I asked one of the guys if he could point out the employees who were disabled.
“You can’t tell?” he asked.
“No,” I replied.
“Good. That means we’re doing our job.”
The point, you see, is assimilation.
Unfortunately, there are dark clouds on the horizon for Sunrise and other so-called “sheltered workplaces.”
The state believes every disabled individual should be assimilated into the workplace community and that places such as Sunrise, which offers a comfortable, supportive environment, are somehow stunting the process.
So the governor signed what is known as Executive Order No. 13-04.
The first paragraph of that order acknowledges the problem Sunrise is already trying to address: “Individuals with disabilities persistently face higher rates of unemployment than their non-disabled fellow citizens.”
This is where I would typically say: “duh.”
The order goes on to brag that Oregon is “a leader in providing supportive employment services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
That could be, and, if that’s true, it’s because of organizations such as Sunrise, not because Oregon has somehow figured out how to find jobs for disabled people.
Government’s solution to these kinds of social problems is to dump more money into them with very little accountability.
“We don’t disagree with a competitive, integrated job in the community,” said Sunrise Executive Director Sam Gardner. “But the governor’s order says it is the goal for everyone, which takes away the choice for sheltered employment. The reality is that not 100 percent of those folks are able to work in the community. In fact, I’d guess about 20 percent of our folks would be able to work in the community.”
Barry Robinson, a longtime Sunrise board member, believes it’s a numbers game with the government. “Oregon wants to be an example for the rest of the country,” he told me. “They want those with the least severe disabilities working in the community, while the majority, or those with more difficult disabilities, staying at home.”
Sunrise, by comparison, tries to serve the entire spectrum and it does that while generating more than 70 percent of its own revenue through its manufacturing, recycling centers and stores.
“We are empowering these people and that is something to be applauded, not disparaged,” he said.
Unless the public gets involved, or the state officials realize the value of facilities such as Sunrise, that wonderful organization will be reduced to an office filled with job “coaches,” but no real jobs.
And that won’t help my son become a productive and contributing member of a community we’ve come to love.
Jeff Ackerman is publisher of The News-Review. He can be reached at 541-957-4263 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editorial: Funding needed for feasible health college in RoseburgNovember 16, 2014 —
Anyone with money to invest who cares about the future of Roseburg has an opportunity to make a difference.
A long-anticipated study on the feasibility of establishing a private health college in Roseburg was recently completed. It concludes the project is viable.
If funding can be secured, the health college could bring a much-needed economic boost to Douglas County. Not only would it diversify the economy, but it should create stability.
With our aging population and the technological advances in medicine, the need for health-care workers is only expected to increase. Training more of those workers for health-care careers in Roseburg would be a wise move.
Health care is an industry believed to be largely recession-proof — that’s something this part of the country hasn’t experienced before. We’ve had to learn to survive in a boom-and-bust economy.
Realizing a more stable economy would be a refreshing change that could make a huge difference for those who live here, while attracting even more employers.
We’ve always known we live in a beautiful area that has a desirable climate and is centrally located — close to the beach and mountains and halfway between Seattle and San Francisco.
If we had the jobs and services people rely on, it would be the ideal place to live.
The health-care college study provides optimism, forecasting that payroll and locally purchased services would total $35 million annually. Conservatively, an estimated 300 to 350 jobs would directly or indirectly be created — not including those involved in construction of the health care college. About 200 jobs would be added specifically for the college and they would pay wages well above the regional average.
As many as 1,500 students could be served, a number deemed feasible considering market demand.
The study reviewed 25 local sites before determining downtown Roseburg would be the desired location. Multiple sites within walking distance could be utilized, and those sites are likely for sale, or their owners could be persuaded to sell.
The potential for this project could transform downtown Roseburg. Suddenly the town could be bustling with students, faculty and support personnel heading to classes and work.
The demand for housing and eating establishments nearby would surge.
The college would be modeled after Mercy College of Health Sciences in Des Moines, Iowa, which has the same parent organization as Roseburg’s Mercy Medical Center: Catholic Health Initiatives.
The funding need for the project is huge: $180 million.
We hope that’s not insurmountable. Certainly there are plenty of foundations with ties to Roseburg that could contribute. And any foundation concerned about Oregon becoming more deeply divided between the thriving urban areas and the depressed rural locales should want to get involved.
This is an extremely worthwhile project. We want to see it continue to move forward with frequent and transparent updates on its progress.
Editorial: Roses & thornsNovember 14, 2014 —
Public service pays off
In a real sense the story this newspaper printed earlier this week regarding Doug Page, commander of the Earle B. Stewart American Legion Post 16 in Roseburg, symbolizes two key elements.
For one, Page personifies the service our veterans rendered to this great nation.
Yet his story, centered on his service with the American Legion, also represents the changing nature of America and its newest crop of veterans generated by the decade-long global war on terror.
Page mentioned during his interview that he struggles to get younger individuals involved in the American Legion.
He made a good point that if organizations like the American Legion are not supported now, such entities won’t be around in the future. Page deserves praise not only because he is a veteran but because he chose to give back to that part of our community that gave so much on foreign shores for our great republic.
Art isn’t usually one of those items at the top of the American pantheon. We are a busy society, eager for the next new horizon and often dismissive of writers, poets and painters.
That is why when someone such as Douglas County’s Bob Heilman steps into the spotlight, if for even a moment, it is refreshing.
Heilman, a writer from Myrtle Creek, is reissuing his book of essays called “Overstory: Zero: Real Life in Timber Country.”
Heilman is an established writer and one of the best things about his stories are their focus on lives and issues right here in Douglas County.
Distinctive points of view, such as Heilman’s, can be hard to come by sometimes. Yet the very fact we have someone of such talent who writes right here in our local area is good news for our little slice of the American heartland. We need to celebrate our writers, artists and poets.
Eight hunters in the past few weeks found themselves lost in one form or another as they trekked the beautiful mountains in our area, and complacency may be, at least in part, to blame.
After spending time enjoying our beautiful area — hunting, fishing or other forms of recreation — it can be easy to misjudge a particular mountain situation, especially as the days grow shorter.
So it is imperative that people take a few basic items to ensure they do not become a statistic if they get lost while hunting.
That means packing simple things like a map and a compass. And have a plan. Discuss and know where you are going to hunt and what to do if you get lost.
Learning that eight people became lost in the woods in a few weeks isn’t a statistic to hang your hat on. We can do better than that.
Letter: Winston’s Douglas High School presented a fine tribute on Veteran’s DayNovember 14, 2014 —
Veteran Tribute was remarkable
The Douglas High School Music Department’s Veterans Tribute on Tuesday evening Jacoby Auditorium at Umpqua Community College was awesome!
Mr. Carwithen and Mr. Pust have done a remarkable job in the selection of compositions, and their guidance of these young people’s presentation of instrumental, voice and drama was exemplary. Numerous other parties (pianist Finch-Johnson, writer Fallose, principal presenter Mr. Annear, support personnel and businesses) are to be commended for providing a touching homage to our deserving veterans.
It is wonderful to see the exceptional skills of our multi-talented youth and to be presented with a unifying event in these times that often seem to be focused on day-to-day dissention.