Opinion, Analysis, Discussion
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.”Learn more »
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.Learn more »
Letter: Speak up to protect work options for the disabled in Oregon; say “No” to Executive Order No. 13-04December 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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
It was encouraging to hear Roseburg High School had joined an elite list of Oregon high schools.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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:Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
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.Learn more »
Publisher’s Notebook: The Roseburg Rescue Mission could use your helpDecember 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editorial: It’s time for fees at the Douglas County landfill and transfer sitesDecember 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 CountyDecember 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.”
Letter: Oregon legislation affects disabled workers’ pride, as well as jobsDecember 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.
Letter: Keep Douglas County beautiful — say ‘No’ to dump feesDecember 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
Letter: Veteran’s Day parade in Roseburg uses applications with good reasonDecember 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.
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.
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!
South Umpqua School District superintendent
Letter: Douglas County coordinator for Health Care for All Oregon plans rally in SalemDecember 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.
HCAO-Douglas County coordinator
Publisher’s Notebook: Still not convinced Roseburg needs parking metersNovember 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 email@example.com.