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The Observer Paper 10/29/14

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Home arrow Opinion arrow MY VOICE

Turned off by partisanship

WASHINGTON — While terrorist bombs were blowing up in the Moscow subway, Washington, D.C., was enjoying the fact that Congress was in recess and the tumult and shouting were blessedly muted.

Newspapers that pursued various members of the House and Senate through their town hall meetings found an oddly mixed reaction, with the accolades and brickbats coming from predictably partisan corners and no consensus about the accomplishments or outrages of this historic session.

Not in area’s best interest

It has started.

The businesses in Union County that stand to gain financially from the Antelope wind project in my view will not act or behave necessarily in the best interest of Union County citizens since it is all about money.

The wind factory developer will be soliciting businesses while requesting their support and endorsement of the project. Endorsements, therefore, will come from businesses that are in a position or are receiving revenue from the project.

Horizon open house

Public encouraged to attend, ask questions

As most people in Union County know, Horizon Wind Energy — the owners and operators of the Elkhorn Valley Wind Farm near Telocaset — has proposed a second wind farm known as the Antelope Ridge Wind Farm.
Horizon’s operating Elkhorn Valley Wind Farm provides jobs, significant taxes and fees, and economic investment for Union County. Horizon’s proposed Antelope Ridge Wind Farm will provide more jobs, additional revenue for local services and greater economic investment for Union County.

Wallowa-Whitman putting $12.3 million in stimulus monies to work

A recent Observer editorial on the nation’s economic recovery effort asked, “Where is the investment in small towns and rural regions?” Speaking for the Forest Service, it’s all over Northeast Oregon.

The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest has received $12.3 million in American Re-investment and Recovery Act funds. These funds include:

Problem gambling is growing problem locally, statewide

Gambling has become part of the Oregon landscape, culture and economy. Oregon has more forms of legalized gambling and offers easier access to gambling than most other states. This week has been proclaimed Oregon Problem Gambling Awareness Week, and our state joins a national campaign to promote the benefits of problem gambling prevention and treatment.

Problem gambling remains a hidden issue that can have devastating effects on individuals, families and the community. Some people become addicted to gambling in much the same way a person can become addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Not about old-growth

It isn’t about environmentalists. It is about ecology but only as it serves economics. Both terms have the same root, the Greek word oikos, which means home. Before we can manage our home (economics) we need to understand it (ecology).

Forest stands cascade off of Mount Emily, fingering down through shaded draws and eventually merging to form the forests that cover the benches above the Grande Ronde Valley. Those benches were originally covered with old-growth Ponderosa pine. The Union County Museum hosts photos that show log decks in Imbler from the turn of the last century. Those decks are filled with giant Ponderosa logs that were most likely taken from the immediate vicinity of Mount Emily.

Strategy derails beauty

Dear Neighbors of Union County,

I encourage the taxpaying citizens of Union County to continue to question your Union County commissioners about the benefits of the proposed wind farm(s).  Maybe they’ll be wonderful, with all the benefits promised. And maybe they won’t.

Take it from us in your sister county of Wallowa: two of your commissioners have been very effective in decisions ruining our rural beauty. The hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of parked rail cars we look at 24/7 from Joseph to Minam are a manifestation of a failed business plan. While the original mutual county effort to save the rails was noble and with hope, the continuation of this plan beyond anything but paying down the debt we took on in 1999 is akin to keeping clipper ships alive in the face of steam.

For the sake of green or greed

In 2009, the U.S. Department of Treasury awarded $546 million to Iberdrola from the stimulus program. Per the CEO of Iberdrola, the offshore parent company of Horizon and the developer of Antelope Ridge, they expect to receive another $470 million in 2010.

Horizon’s Elkhorn Wind Farm in 2007 and 2008 received $11 million each year in tax credits from the state of Oregon. In addition, Union County gave Horizon a property tax deduction of $331,680 each year for 2008 and 2009 which will continue for the next 10 years. The federal government also allowed in 2008 and 2009, a Production Tax Credit of $5,518,500 each year wherein it will continue for 10 years which will amount to $55,188,000. If you add up these numbers, it amounts to in excess of $81 million over 10 years, which are political giveaways at taxpayers’ expense. Just imagine what kind of jobs that could be created with this kind of money being addressed to private sector and infrastructure.

Take a close look at wind farm

Citizens of Union County have a proposal for a wind energy generation facility to be constructed on the southern end of the valley, in close proximity to Hot Lake and the city of Union. Preliminary documents portray a project we feel is fiscally wasteful, aesthetically grotesque and environmentally damaging, and as a result we feel a need to highlight some issues.

Local budgets are lean yet our county commissioners are willing to forgive millions of dollars in revenue by allowing development under a Strategic Investment Program. Federal stimulus money, a large percentage that will be going out of country, is mainly responsible for the project development. Once constructed state tax dollars will be subsidizing the project at an approximate rate of $23.34/MWH.

La Grande’s debt to Imbler

I read with great interest The Observer’s front page article on Feb. 11,

“La Grande District Option Levy...,” to see if there would be a line item for payment to Imbler Charter School District (ICSD) of $136,749.25, the payment for the education of 12 La Grande students with individual education plans, or IEPs, for the 2008-2009 school year.

Dissolve renewal district

As longtime residents of La Grande and the Grande Ronde Valley, we are disheartened to see the City of La Grande considering cuts to essential services and facilities that enhance the quality of life when an option with less overall impact still remains.

It is easy to target fire, safety and emergency services as well as the library and pool because they are the services most visible and utilized by community members and those which evoke an emotional response from people. The dissolution of the city’s Urban Renewal District is one option that has not been “put on the table” by the La Grande City Council.

Fire, police and ambulance services should not be cut except under the most dire circumstances, as these essential services are a core part of the community infrastructure.

Museum ‘kicked to the curb’

A travesty of justice was handed the Elgin Museum and Historical Society at the Elgin City Council meeting Jan. 12.

After 10 years of operating in the former police department in the Elgin Opera House building, the city council voted to vacate the museum from these premises for expansion of the current opera house lessee’s theater business. In October, the city council voted to remove the museum from the upstairs former library of the opera house, which it had occupied for the past seven years.

Museum board members approached the city council on Aug. 13, 2002, asking permission to expand the museum to the second floor of the opera house (the former library). Following is a quote from the city council minutes: “The consensus of the council was in favor of this request.”

Letters and Comments for January 22, 2010

Letters and Comments for January 22, 2010

The importance of Ladd Marsh

Editor’s note: Leslie Graham’s fourth-grade class at Central School visits Ladd Marsh several times a year to learn about wetlands. Students were shocked when they read about recent vandalism at Ladd Marsh, Graham said. They decided to write letters to the editor to let everyone know their view about the vandalism. Four of the letters appear below.

Home sweet home: Habitat seeks applicants for next house, donations

Grande Ronde Valley Habitat for Humanity Inc. is seeking applications from families that wish to build a home in Elgin.

If your present living arrangements are inadequate and your family income is below the mean for Union County, you may be selected to partner with Habitat to build a home that would carry an interest-free loan. Your family would be expected to commit 500 hours of time toward the build. Your time plus the efforts of many volunteers and donated materials make this an outstanding value for you and the community. Applications may be obtained by calling 541-963-3879. The deadline for applications is Jan. 15.

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