Fetching a title
Dog lovers sometimes say they wish they had more to do with their pets besides walking with them or stroking canine bellies, gratifying as both activities are. Many breeds like to keep busy, too. Mutual satisfaction must be off the charts for one Roseburg man/dog duo now that they’ve captured the 2013 National Amateur Field Trial Championship.
Andy Kahn and 5-year-old Lab Ivy already are looking ahead to another national win in November after Ivy secured the amateur title in June in Wisconsin. The latter contest pitted Ivy against 120 other dogs, all of whom were asked to retrieve birds seen and unseen directed by whistle and hand signals. Kahn said it was no cakewalk, but the harder it was, the more Ivy rose to the challenge.
Roseburg has emerged a winner in a related sweepstakes. The city has been chosen to host the 2014 amateur finals, scheduled for June 15-21. The competition will be held at the end of Sunshine Road east of Roseburg. That’s near property owned respectively by Kahn and T.J. Lindbloom, who owned a Lab named McGuffie who won the national open trials in 1979.
We wish the best of luck to Kahn and Ivy in November in South Carolina.
The grand bargain fizzles
The Oregon Legislature managed in the same session to be too timid and too grandiose about pension reform.
Lawmakers adjourned this week without passing significant changes in how benefits are calculated. They nibbled at the issue, passing modest cuts in cost-of-living adjustments. Technically, they can boast of more savings, but only by delaying payments until the next two-year budget cycle.
The Legislature could have taken a major step in erasing a $14 billion unfunded liability by implementing stricter limits on COLAs and eliminating ways pensions are spiked.
But pension reform became part of a “grand bargain” that included tax increases too. Republicans couldn’t curb pension benefits without raising taxes. Democrats couldn’t raise taxes without curbing pension benefits. Not surprisingly, the grand bargain collapsed. What’s harder than passing a hotly contested bill? Passing two.
Pension costs are straining the budgets of school districts and local governments. The problem won’t go away. House and Senate leaders should have confronted the issue this session, rather than tying it to tax increases.
Thank you, firefighters
Volunteer and paid firefighters deserve roses this week for their prompt and efficient response to a wildfire, especially one that began on a holiday. Lyle and Dinny Blossom of Days Creek wrote to tell us how grateful they were for the expertise and dedication of the helicopter and ground crews from the Douglas Forest Protective Association that attacked the Bland Mountain Fire.
The couple said the blaze that grew to 160 acres came uncomfortably close to the northeast corner of their property. The volunteers with the Days Creek and South Umpqua fire departments provided comfort when they stood by with a fire tanker and crew to protect the couple’s home.
Other firefighters remain on the blaze, mopping up hot spots on the mountain to ensure fire doesn’t erupt again in the summer heat.
The firefighters may have just been doing their jobs, but their work often makes the difference between tragedy and relief.