October 14, 2001 11:00 pm

Dont convict before trial

To the Editor:

I am responding to the articles printed in The Observer regarding the tragic event that occurred Nov. 25 outside of the Long Branch bar and cafe in La Grande. The reporting of this incident was more closely aligned with the type of news one might expect to receive from the tabloids rather than an objective and professional local newspaper.

From the first articles printed in December 2000, the reporting was erroneous, biased and unprofessional. The Observer portrayed the incident using such inflammatory words as beating, bashed, shoved in the chest ... then jumped..., none of which had any basis in fact. If I am not mistaken, we still live in a country where we are innocent until proven guilty.

The Observer seemed to have had the three young men present at the scene tried and convicted well in advance of the moment when the grand jury determined that any charges would even be handed down.

The weeks and months following the event have been excruciating for all involved, including those who were accused of causing the injuries. The Observers reporting did nothing to help alleviate that suffering. I cannot imagine how reading that your loved one had been viciously beaten and bashed could have been consoling or comforting for the injured mans family.

Had The Observers reporter attended more than 20 minutes of the prosecutors closing arguments during the trial, she may have actually had an opportunity to get some real insight into the facts of the case and offer a piece of correct and informative reporting. Predictably this was not the case.

Many lives were affected that night, unfortunately none so tragically as that of Mr. Stephens. I simply cannot understand why The Observer chose to report on this incident in such an unethical and improper way. For shame.

Darilyn P. LeGore

La Grande

Respect governments efforts

To the Editor:

As Americans and parents, we feel the need to voice our opinions on our countrys conflict. My (Teresas) father served in World War II, Kens father served during the Korean conflict, and Teresas brothers served during Vietnam. They served their country to protect the freedoms we have. Now some fanatic terrorists are trying to make us rethink our beliefs and freedoms because they do not agree or understand them.

We have read and seen a lot about give peace a chance. The terrorists do not want peace. We have been attacked by them in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the two embassy bombings in Africa, the USS Cole in Yemen, and now in our own country. How bad did it have to get in order to do something about it?

President Bush is being very rational in his decisions to take one step at a time and not just go in with guns and bombs blazing. Our military knew when they signed on that they could be called to defend and serve our country. We have family who will be serving during this conflict and, yes, we worry about their safety. We also believe they are ready to protect, defend, and serve our country.

We seem to forget that peace is the hardest battle to fight. We should all be united and respect our governments efforts to stop terrorism not fight amongst ourselves like the terrorists want us to.

If we are not united, the terrorists will get what they want a country divided and pitted against each other.

For all the people who are against military action against the terrorists and the countries that harbor them, you should become ambassadors and go to these countries and try to talk things out. Good luck and may God be with you!

Ken and Teresa Moody

La Grande

Try self-evaluation first

To the Editor:

The events of Sept. 11 are shocking and frightening. So are the responses taking shape by the American government and citizenry.

I compare what happened in New York and D.C. to Nagasaki and Hiroshima, not Pearl Harbor. The United States secretly developed the atomic bomb for years before leveling two Japanese cities and dispersing radioactive contamination. Our government carried out this mission to end the war and save American lives. To the Japanese citizenry it was probably terrorism.

I believe a similar rationale is behind current terrorism. America is a powerful country whose policies affect the lives of people around the world. We sometimes arm oppressive governments, turn our backs on subsequent genocide, and disregard environmental and human rights issues. Generally there is profit being made. Angry survivors are becoming terrorists.

I fear many more lives will be lost in our retaliatory efforts, which may actually recruit another generation of terrorists. An American psychologist, born in Palestine and, in his words, raised to be a terrorist, called in to OPB radio trying to explain how our policies there lead to terrorism. Rather than listening, the commentator quickly cut him off. A missed opportunity to gain some self-awareness and insight into our present situation.

Rather than rushing to mobilize troops to attack unknown enemies scattered throughout the world, we should be making efforts to evaluate past and present actions around the world.

What policies are generating such intense hatred? The destructive attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., were certainly not the work of cowards or crazy persons. They were carried out by intensely dedicated, self-disciplined persons consumed by hatred. This hatred must be understood and if possible redressed.

When children fight we try to determine what started it before meting out punishment. Self-examination would be a productive first step to ending terrorism.

Mary McCracken

La Grande

Sadness from the sky

To the Editor:

The Sept. 11 attacks have touched all of our lives. Life will not be the same.

Many people in La Grande have asked how the recent bombing has affected our daughter Amy Glaze-Kersting (La Grande High School class of 1993) and our son-in-law Todds life. They both work for a major airline mainly on the east coast.

Amy as a flight attendant and Todd as a captain fly Boeing 737s and 767s in and out of New York-Boston-Dulles and D.C. regularly.

Todd tells of the sadness and emotional exhaustion of flying over the smoking Twin Towers area in New York. He reports of the sorrow of the loss of lives in their flying family. Amy tells about tall Texans offering assistance on her flights should she need help.

She also tells of the federal marshalls offering security on her flights, the half-empty terminals and low-occupancy flights. They both plan to continue to fly.

As Amy says, the company needs them.

It would be interesting if other local people wrote about how the recent events affected their lives.

A proud mother of a strong daughter,

Patty Glaze

La Grande

Amazing outpouring of help

To the Editor:

I would like to comment on the amazing outpouring that came forth during the Eastern Oregon Care Package drive two weeks ago. The effort was brought about in response to the devastation after the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City on Sept. 11.

Eastern Oregonians were serious about coming to the aid of victims and workers in New York.

Many, many generous individuals, businesses and organizations selflessly donated supplies, time and their own ideas to help send the care package on its way.

The donations arrived in New York on Sept. 27. Ecstatic volunteers immediately began organizing for distribution. Six firehouses will have access to the donations, then school children and all others who have been directly or indirectly affected by the attacks.

Much amazement has been expressed regarding the willingness of Eastern Oregonians to reach out to fellow Americans in New York this way. All those who participated have truly touched many lives with their kindness and generous spirit. God bless you.

Whitney Black

La Grande

Firefighting response overwhelming

To the Editor:

In the wake of the tragedies our nation has experienced, it might be easy to lose sight of local demonstrations of hard work, commitment and caring such as those displayed by our local firefighters and farmers recently.

A fire broke out on Pumpkin Ridge. We residents have always feared this possibility because of our vulnerable circumstances: timber and little water availability.

Firefighting response was overwhelming both in terms of numbers of people and in reaction speed.

What could easily have been a tragedy for our family and those nearby was averted quickly, thanks to the hard work, dedication and ongoing commitment of many people.

I understand that Elgin, Imbler, Summerville, Union, Cove and Island City volunteer fire departments responded to our crisis, as well as Oregon State Forestry and several local farmers who brought their own equipment.

I am grateful to all those who helped on behalf of our little community. I want to let you know that I deeply appreciate the feeling of community care that you gave.

Julie Farnam


Dont mix alcohol, guns

To the Editor:

This is a plea to all businesses in our community that sell alcoholic beverages. Please, refrain from advertising special sales on alcoholic beverages specifically targeted to hunters.

Just as alcohol and cars do not mix, alcohol and guns do not mix. It is my understanding that those who sell alcohol to individuals known to be intoxicated are held liable for the results of that sale.

Dont the businesses promoting the consumption of alcohol

while engaging in a potentially dangerous situation also have a responsibility?

We also need to consider that those hunters who purchase alcohol may consume some of that beverage prior to getting behind the wheel so we now have two situations where lives can be endangered: drinking and driving and drinking while carrying a loaded weapon.

I implore our local businesses to use responsible advertising and to consider seriously the results of their decisions.

Judy Hendrickson

La Grande

Halt fires while small

To the Editor:

Five miles south of Ukiah a short time ago, a forest fire that was started by lightning could have been stopped before it became a big fire.

There were two Oregon foresters and two federal foresters who had trucks and water to put out the fire. They were approximately seven minutes from the fire, but they waited almost two hours before they decided to do anything the forest being a level five at the time.

The fire got out of hand because of their lack of action. It took 65 to 80 firefighters, air tankers and a million dollars in tax money to complete the job.

I feel they should be treated like any other arsonist. They should have to pay restitution and serve jail time.

Because of their stupidity, they burned almost 10,000 acres of


Do you really want to pay for this kind of forester with your taxes?

Les Ihli

La Grande

Kind souls, after all

To the Editor:

We live in sad and discouraging times. It is naive to expect common courtesy, much less genuine acts of kindness from complete strangers.

So when I lost my wallet a few weeks ago I had no expectation of seeing it again.

This caused me no small amount of worry. There happened to be more than $200 in my wallet. I was quite distraught thinking about the bills I had to pay. I was also in the middle of a move.

So when my wallet arrived at my house in the mail, including all of the money, I was overjoyed.

There are no words to express the great amount of gratitude I have for the kind person who sent my wallet to me and, unfortunately, I have no person to say that thank you to.

There was no name on the envelope. So to that kind soul, I would now like to say thank you.

Shianne Walker

La Grande

Appreciated preparedness forum

To the Editor:

On Oct. 3 I attended the emergency preparedness forum put on by the La Grande-Union County Chamber of Commerce and was impressed with the presentations representing 17 agencies.

I was impressed with the apparent communication between these various agencies in carrying out their individual plans for emergency disaster. I appreciated the sufficient time that was given for a question-and-answer period.

I learned about specific needs our fire department has as Fire Chief Bruce Weimer shared his thoughts. Our local Emergency Alert System has a specific $2,000 need and various agencies would like to train volunteers.

I thank the Chamber Advocacy Committee for holding this forum, and hope they will hold another similar one, perhaps geared more to the needs of each agency and how local people can be of assistance as well as informed.

I also would like to see another forum advertised in advance and under the briefly section.

Judith Hammonds

La Grande

Expose flag burners

To the Editor:

Not even during Flag Day or the Fourth of July have I seen so many flags displayed as in the aftermath of Sept. 11.

Sadly, however, there are Americans who would tear them all down and burn them if they could. And it has begun already with the burning of a flag in Medford. As reported on Sept 19, the flag had covered the coffin of a U.S. veteran.

Atrocities such as this make any patriots blood boil. But the best action to take against these people is observation of their descriptions, license numbers, time, date and location of the act. Videotape and photograph them if possible. They are willfully destroying not only our nations flag, but a symbol of liberty, love and hope.

Turn in your observations to the police so flag burners can be exposed to the public for who as well as what they are.

Remember always that while symbols can be burned, the ideology embodied cannot so easily be destroyed.

Stand fast, fellow citizens, under Old Glory and God Almighty.

Ron R. Fischer


Fulfill promises to veterans

To the Editor:

As the representative for the Union County Veterans Service I have been involved with the veterans of Union County for many years.

During this time I have seen veterans benefits become more and more difficult to obtain and in many cases disappear altogether. The time it takes for the Veterans Administration to process a claim is now easily over a year. Prior to this week there was an eight- to 14-month waiting period for a veteran to see a doctor at the Walla Walla veterans hospital.

I have now been informed that the Walla Walla VA Hospital will not take any new patients. The turning away of new patients is due to shortfalls in funding. The VA hospital in Portland faces a shortfall of $17 million and is eliminating many staff and services.

While it is true that there has been a huge increase in demand for services at all VA hospitals because of the advancing age of our World War II veterans, these veterans were promised care by our government when they basically saved the world during World War II.

How can there possibly be a surplus in this nations budget and how can we send $300 million to various refugee causes around the world when we continue to break our promises to those who have given the most to our great nation?

These broken promises are a shameful example of how we continue to fund many programs at the expense of our veterans. It is time for all of us, whether we are veterans or not, to write to our representatives and demand that the promises made to our veterans be fulfilled.

Timothy Jederberg

La Grande

War opposition not unusual

To the Editor:

Dissenting wars are not new to Americans; there have always been those who oppose all wars, from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, from World War I, the war to end all wars, to World War II.

In earlier times those who disagreed with the very idea of war were often called detestable names, such as traitors, both to cause and nation. Yet those very wars gave Americans their freedoms and preserved it to this day.

Freedom hasnt just been given to us. It was not a gift, but won with the lives of our fathers, our grandfathers and our great great-grandfathers.

Freedom is never free. Freedom is not like a baked potato once its baked, its done. Freedom is more like flying a kite. You must continually let out and pull in to keep it alive in the ever-changing winds.

Even after the vicious attack by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, protesters said we should wait and see and they were called zoot suiters because of wearing outrageously oversized clothing in fabrics used in making uniforms for servicemen, only to show their detestation for men in uniform.

Dissenting government decisions is a game people play. I can tell you I hate the thought of war, but Id hate losing freedom more. I boarded the USS Richmond at Pearl Harbor in 1940 and she left the harbor two weeks prior to Dec. 7, 1941. I served in the South Pacific for two years, leaving only after the Coral Sea Battle. Then I served in the Aleutians, leaving only after the Komindorskie Battle. And I would not ask for more. Still, if America needs a man of my age and experience, I would volunteer to help save the free world again.

Buck Hayden

La Grande and Joseph

No exploitation of issue

To the Editor:

In her opinion piece, HCPC chief not guilty of hypocrisy (Oct. 9 Observer), Jennifer Schemm, misses the point.

Any hypocrisy on Ric Baileys part has little or nothing to do with whether he uses a chain saw or cuts firewood. It has everything to do with the fact that someone who advocates for the preservation of some public lands for the benefit of resources other than wood, such as clean water and wildlife and for hunting and other recreational resources, would (allegedly) violate a closure that was put in place to protect the forest from wildfire a wildfire that would put all those values at risk.

Ms. Schemm chides The Observer for exploiting the issue in its Sept. 22 coverage of Baileys citation. I read that article, and nowhere was there any inference or allegation of hypocrisy. The newspaper simply reported the facts.

Did The Observer give more coverage to the issue than if Joe Average Citizen had been accused of such a violation? Certainly, just as would be expected if, say, a high officer in the Oregon Hunters Association had been cited for a game violation.

Whether or not Bailey knew of the closure highly unlikely, given its wide dissemination and the fact that Mr. Bailey pays very close attention to the activities of the U.S. Forest Service and whether or not if he did it he gets off on the technicality of the area not being adequately marked, are immaterial.

Most people who are knowledgeable about and care for the forest, let alone an officer of an organization that professes those goals, would have been acutely aware of the high fire danger and would have avoided personal wood cutting during such conditions with or without the closure.

Bob Weinberger

La Grande

Remember those in need

To the Editor:

It is with with a heavy heart that I share my concerns for our country and communities. As you know, our country has suffered a tragic attack and it has torn at all of us trying to understand it.

There have been billions of dollars donated to the families who have lost their loved ones. It just boggles my mind the amount of help that has been given. It is truly heartwarming.

My concerns are that the trickle-down effect will devastate more than those in New York who are directly affected. The jobs that have been lost, the failing economy and now the attack on our country will create a huge need.

With the rising cost of utilities and housing, it is going to be hard for the social service organizations in our community that try to help in these situations to keep up with the need. There will be many children and families who will not have heat, water, electricity or enough to eat, due to lack of funds.

I encourage all of you to remember our community and those who are in need. The United Way of Union County supports many of the social services in La Grande.

Support of the United Way is vital to our community. Without this funding source, many organizations will not be able to continue helping those who are going to need us.

Please remember the United Way of Union County when you are considering your giving.

Donna Fuhrman, program director

Neighbor-to-Neighbor Ministries

La Grande