A couple of Winston men did more than just notice something that bothered them on a spur-of-the moment stroll through the town’s Civil Bend Pioneer Cemetery. The put some elbow grease into a solution.
Michael Liles, 26, and 22-year-old Raymond Malone followed a whim by searching for the cemetery’s oldest grave some time back. It was probably harder than they thought. Moss-encrusted headstones and wayward foliage made it difficult to identify the plots. Many people would have considered it a shame and moved on. Liles and Malone, however, grabbed gloves, scrub brushes and weeding tools and set to work. The two figure they’ve cleaned up 60 to 100 graves as a way of paying respect to veterans. Malone said he salutes each grave after cleaning it and says a prayer for the occupant.
Sadly, the board overseeing the cemetery was less than enthusiastic about the cleanup. A board member cited concerns about liability if a volunteer should have a mishap on the grounds. Given that a fair number of the 2,286 graves no longer have links to family members to keep up appearances, we think Malone and Liles are on a meritorious mission. They deserve thanks and appreciation for their practical methods of paying respect to long-gone servicemen and women.
Only you can prevent forest fires
It’s worrisome to have a wildfire cut through 206 acres of forestland in south Douglas County so early in the year.
With the dry conditions, unseasonably warm temperatures and lack of rainfall, one wonders how frequently smoke will be a familiar visitor in our skies as spring stretches into summer. Or how many trees we might lose in our overgrown forests where plenty of fuels on the ground can feed fires.
We don’t even want to think about the threat to homes sitting on the edge of our forests.
Fortunately, Sunday’s thunderstorm helped firefighters knock down the Shively Creek fire in four days, limiting the damage. Still, the fire burned through a clear-cut area of recently planted Douglas fir trees. Those trees, an estimated 400 to 450 per acre, and the work to plant them is lost.
All we can take from the fire, suspected to be human caused, is the warning to be extra vigilant around fires and fuels. There can be no carelessly tossed matches or cigarettes. Backyard fires must be carefully tended. And be sure your home isn’t vulnerable to fire — remove any flammable substances nearby.
As the saying goes, let’s be careful out there.
One student’s influence
Yoncalla High School senior Taryn Lowes gets high marks for organizing a campaign to stamp out the R-word, a slur directed at the developmentally disabled.
Her sensitivity stemmed from her involvement in raising money for Special Olympics. The Oregon State University-bound Lowes asked fellow students not to use the derogatory term.
The campaign became her senior project, and it grew. She collected 450 pledges this year in Douglas County, making a powerful statement against a thoughtless and cruel smear.
She also used her organizing ability to help plan the Eugene Polar Plunge, a fundraiser for Special Olympics. She assembled a team of students and teachers to take the cold dive.
Lowes said she’s been inspired by meeting Special Olympics athletes. She’s also a source of inspiration.
Lowes graduates next month. She will be the class valedictorian and will leave a legacy of giving. Yoncalla High School Principal Brian Berry said he will be sorry to see Lowes go, but excited for the world to meet her.