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August 30, 2013
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Editorial: Roses & thorns


Helping those who help themselves

There’s been a lot of activity lately at Casa de Belen, which is fitting for a place that’s all about work or school or community service.

At any one time, about 50 people live at the Roseburg shelter for homeless teens and their families. Residents are required to attend school, volunteer, hold a job or look for work.

It’s not a place to sit around and collect a handout.

The idea of helping people who want to help themselves is attractive. Businesses, service groups and individuals have donated a lot of labor, materials and expertise to improve the shelter, a former nursing home on Northeast Grandview Drive.

The support has impressed upon the shelter residents that there are people who want them to succeed, according to the shelter’s executive director, Penny McCue.

McCue had to lobby last spring for financial support from Roseburg and Sutherlin. City councilors eventually agreed that Casa de Belen serves a vital public function. The private support the shelter has received this summer reaffirms that the councils made a wise decision.


Firefighting costs

underestimated again

Once again, a bad fire season means the U.S. Forest Service must raid other funds, such as for timber harvest and recreation, to pay the cost of fighting forest fires.

It’s a shame to see so many acres of forests go up in smoke and have the agency charged with overseeing them lose its ability to do much of anything else because there’s not enough money to go around.

The Forest Service had spent $967 million fighting fires as of last week, forcing it to ask managers to look for $600 million from other areas to replace the funds.

It seems we ought to be honest with ourselves on the cost of fighting fires. The 10-year average has been $1.4 billion across all federal agencies, yet when a wildfire reserve fund was established by Congress in 2009, just $413 million was dedicated to it. In 2012, that fell to $315 million.

We can understand agency managers wanting to be optimistic about how much will be spent on fires, but if they consider the state of our forests, it seems obvious that the reality of the past will likely be what we see in the future.

If we want the Forest Service to be able to function beyond fighting fires, budgets should reflect the actual costs. Then, if we had a light fire season, the extra dollars could go toward developing trails, campgrounds or picnic areas where we can all enjoy ourselves.


Stellar seniors

For some of the extraordinarily elderly, the secret to longevity can be attributed to one simple fact: They haven’t died yet.

You could say that about a couple of Roseburg centenarians. But we think there’s more to it than that.

Harry Bentz reached 101 a week ago today; Martha Powell hit the triple digits Thursday. Both could be mistaken for being a few decades younger. Yet neither was particularly interested in dwelling on personal history when The News-Review came calling to ask the questions everybody wants to know when such milestones are achieved.

It’s just another day, Bentz said of his birthday. Powell meanwhile turned the topic from herself to her family.

They are not of the generation that feels the need to tweet about Oprah’s latest gaffe or post cute baby photos on Facebook. Bentz, Powell and their mostly vanished peers didn’t go seeking their inner children. They went forward and lived life, pushing through hard times and taking care of business.

Bentz, who retired from the Air Force in the 1970s, walks twice a day on a treadmill, eats well and asks not to be waited on. Powell, a former school board member, PTA president and Girl Scouts leader, follows lifelong habits of avoiding alcohol and tobacco and telling the truth.

We could all learn something from their examples, however long we live.

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The News-Review Updated Aug 30, 2013 12:20PM Published Sep 13, 2013 12:23PM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.