Letters and comments for April 21, 2011
Letters and comments for April 21, 2011
A difficult choice
The La Grande School District is asking for a tax levy that will provide nearly $4.5 million additional tax dollars to the district over the next five years.
According to the district, if it does not receive the additional tax revenue, program cuts, reduced school days and staff layoffs might be necessary.
There may be some additional savings through equalization funding, expiration of technology bonds and consolidation of ESD services.
The request for additional millions in taxes comes at a critical time for the community. Fuel, food and medical costs are at record highs and are expected to get worse. OTEC advised a substantial rate increase starting this fall, and the City of La Grande is looking at water-sewer combined increase of 15 percent. Most property taxes will automatically increase 15 percent in the next five years. Seniors on limited income have not received a Social Security cost of living increase for the past three years.
School districts can expect little help from the state Legislature. According to a recent article in The Oregonian, Rep. Bob Jenson, R-Pendleton, was quoted regarding the school budget vote. “Given the hard times Oregon has been through recently, it is my humble opinion that we’re overspending on schools.”
The article also said even die-hard school supporters in the Legislature say they’re worried about K-12 gobbling too big of a chunk, leaving them to make gut-wrenching cuts to programs that help the elderly, frail, disabled and poor.
There is no question schools in La Grande and all over the state need additional funding. Local families are struggling to balance home budgets. The elderly, disabled and unemployed are stretching every dollar just to survive.
Times are tough and will get worse. No matter how much it is needed, the $4.5 million in additional taxes is a “tough choice.”
In 2010 Oregon counted 11,090 victims of child abuse or neglect — 48 percent were under age 6. Union County children accounted for 90 of the victims — with 52 percent under age 6. In Union County, 32 percent of these founded referrals were related to substance abuse (from 28 percent in 2009).
In April, the Board of County Commissioners joins with mayors from Island City, La Grande, Imbler, Summerville, Elgin, Union, Cove and North Powder to recognize National Child Abuse Prevention Month in Union County. Family Matters is the theme and the Commission on Children & Families, in collaboration with other community partners, is raising awareness of this proclamation in support of families that might be struggling with issues such as substance abuse, unemployment, parental involvement with law enforcement or domestic violence. For a complete listing of helpful child and family resources and services, go to www.unioncountykids.org.
On April 25 the fifth annual family fun fair will be held in Max Square. Family activities, games, drawings, food, music and entertainment will fill the time between 5 and 7 p.m. The day is designated as “Blue Monday,” and residents all over Union County are encouraged to wear blue in support of child abuse awareness and prevention. Community members, faith and school groups, service organizations, and more are welcome and encouraged to bring their families and have a good time. For more information, call CCF at 541-963-1034.
Remember, every child is worth saving. If you suspect child abuse or neglect, please contact DHS at 541-963-8571 or local law enforcement at 541-963-1017. Thank you for supporting families in Union County.
Union County commissioner
Spoiling the view
I always enjoy looking through Destination NE Oregon, which advertises all the wonderful places there are to visit in Northeast Oregon. Not only does it show beautiful pictures of our part of the world, a tourist can find places for lodging, restaurants, parking RVs, golfing, fishing, hunting and other activities that bring much-needed tourist dollars into our local economy.
It occurs to me that if the Antelope Ridge wind towers (much larger towers than the ones at Elkhorn) were placed in the scenario, how lovely would that be?
How many tourists are going to find it enjoyable to play golf at Buffalo Peak if the whirling blades are placed close by, throwing their ever-turning shadows over the golf course?
How many folks are going to want to take photos of wind towers covering our beautiful area?
How beautiful will the Destination NE Oregon magazine be when the photos in it show 164 wind towers?
It boggles the mind to know that there are those who are so callous about ruining our beautiful state all for the mighty dollar that benefits so few and destroys our way of life and harms wildlife and birds.
Education is key: People need to know the facts such as the cost of energy.
Taxpayers subsidize natural gas at 25 cents per MWH; coal at 44 cents per MWH; hydro at 67 cents per MWH; and wind power at a whopping $23.34 per MWH! This is not a good deal. Wind towers provide less than 3 percent of energy production. We could all conserve 3 percent and we won’t need towers!
Please go to www.fgrv.org or www.natlwindwatch.org to learn more facts about this travesty called wind power. Also, watch the little video showing the “flicker” of blades. You won’t like it at all.
The United Nations declared 2011 the International Year of Forests. Watch “Forests,” at http://www.un.org/en/events/iyof2011/videos.shtml.
Forests worldwide need our help. The greatest remaining wilderness in North America, the boreal forest with all of its incredible wildlife diversity, is being logged to make junk mail and sales catalogues.
Tropical forests including the Amazon are logged for agricultural expansion, often for cows to produce more meat for Americans.
It’s never been more important to think about how our lifestyle impacts forests. There are multiple signs of stress globally. Many impacts start with consumption patterns in our everyday lives.
Due to logging and clearing, the temperate forests are the most fragmented,
degraded and reduced from their original extent of Earth’s major forest types. Locally, I do think management has improved in the past couple of decades. However, there are too many projects on national forests that continue to propose logging of old-growth forests.
Take the Snow Basin project that is open for public comment. The preferred approach would log tens of thousands of old-growth trees in the southern Wallowas. That this massive loss of old-growth trees would have serious ecological consequences is unassailable.
Old-growth forests are rare. They’re lifeboats for old-growth-dependent species. They’re an irreplaceable part of our cultural heritage. They store huge amounts of carbon, and they provide numerous valuable services to our society.
Proposing logging in these areas is like asking an artist to paint over a Van Gogh, or razing a historic district for redevelopment.
Some of these old-growth forests are remnant stands within heavily logged areas. Yet they enrich the forest landscape by providing a unique forest structure, higher quality wildlife habitat and often harbor more sensitive plant species.
Commemorate International Year of Forests by protecting our essential old-growth forests.