December 17, 2001 11:00 pm

Making money off Old Glory

I believe our American flag has been stolen from us as American citizens.

It is a symbol that once brought up feelings of deep connection to our land, our diversity as a nation both in people and landscape, our freedom, and our independence feelings that overwhelmed me with pride as a child and as an adult wandering our nations capital and reading the great words of great leaders who lived and died for a new concept in government.

Now I see our precious flag everywhere, used to sell automobiles, vacuum cleaners and products that arent even made in America. It is being desecrated.

It is used to degrade people who dont agree with our current governments political approach. It is used to mask exploitation of other peoples in other nations and of our planet.

Our flag is used to fool American people into forgetting the grave problems facing our nation domestically: increased wealth in the hands of ever-increasing few and the increase in those living in poverty, and the many who live with no health care in the richest nation of the world.

The flag is being waved most vociferously by those who are making the most money off of the current situation and disposing of rights that this country is founded on.

I want our flag back for the people not only those who agree with me, but for all of us.

Julie Farnam


Not enough coverage

To the Editor:

I was very pleased to read your Nov. 23 editorial, Salute to areas state champions, regarding Union High Schools girls cross country team and Coves volleyball team. However, you are a little too late.

I find it regrettable you did not treat these fine young athletes with the respect and honor that they deserved in your newspaper at the time they were named state champions.

The Observer did not write an editorial until the family and friends of the Union girls cross country team ran a half-page ad acknowledging this newsworthy event. Prior to our ad, The Observer had only written a few sentences in a small article mentioning they had won their respective championships.

When will we all wise up and realize every high school sport deserves the same respect as football, basketball and baseball?

As one of those family and friends, I challenge The Observer to show support to all high school athletes and in particular those who come home with a state title by publishing pictures and in-depth articles.

You were right on the mark in your editorial when you said:

Union and Coves teams deserve congratulations for their efforts. State titles arent easy to win, but the girls from both schools have etched themselves into their schools and their communities history.

Now lets see The Observer walk the talk and give all high school sports the news coverage they deserve.

Patty Wilson


Treated well at hospital

To the Editor:

The citizens of La Grande are very fortunate to have such a wonderful hospital and dedicated staff at Grande Ronde Hospital.

I was visiting in your community and needed to be taken to the emergency room.

From the moment we entered, we were treated with kindness, professionalism and true dedication to my condition.

I am grateful to Dr. Pat McCarthy and all the staff for such excellent care.

God bless and let each and every one of the amazing people that helped me know how very special they are.

Diane Weil


Seek consultant out of Portland

To the Editor:

Regarding an article in the Nov. 22 Observer business section, Grant to help Buffalo Peak Golf Course.

The $11,000 grant from the state would be matched with $8,000 from Union County economic development money.

It will pay a Florida consultant, National Golf Foundation Consulting of Jupiter, to analyze and also prepare a business and marketing plan.

The fifth paragraph states: The study will include a visit from the consultant at a cost of $2,500.

The math: the $18,000 budget with a $2,500 visitation cost equals 14 percent of allocated funds. Is this good financial management?

On the same page, an article on unemployment states, ... the unemployment picture has been bleak for some time throughout the state, with only Alaska having a higher unemployment rate among U.S. states.

Couldnt we have gone to Portland for this consultant and saved dramatically on the visitation cost and at the same time helped the unemployment problem by one person?

Go figure!

Gregg MacDonald

Bellevue, Wash.

Hayes touched many young lives

To the Editor:

Six years ago I had my eyes opened up after watching my first cross country race my daughter was competing in as a seventh-grade Union runner.

I was not sure what to expect, but I had a friend tell me what to do, where to go and next time wear running shoes.

Some people say the sport of cross country is hard to watch, but I have learned over the years it is only hard if you are not willing to watch, support and learn.

I saw all athletes participate with nobody on the bench, everyone cheering on the first runner and the last runner, runners going the extra limit for a placing for the team, and coaches from other schools supporting their teams, but at the same time encouraging competitors from other teams.

Cheering other schools was new to me because all the sport activities I have attended always required some kind of not so nice remark.

The Union cross country program taught my daughter how to run, but that was only a small part of her success. She learned commitment, dedication to herself and others, leadership, loyalty, honesty and hard work.

These skills filtered not only in running, but in school and personal self-growth.

We cannot even begin to express what Tom Hayes has done for our daughter, but I think he knows how we feel. He has touched many young lives over his coaching and teaching career, and he will forever be a part of their lives.

I hope parents and coaches from other sports, all school administrators, all teachers, and sports activists will take the time to go watch a cross country meet and learn what this sport is all about.

Just maybe they will see what I experienced six years ago.

Go, cross country runners!

Beth Upshaw


Adoption great way to grow family

To the Editor:

Thank you for the heartwarming article in the Dec. 5 Observer about the Montgomery familys adoption of the little Romanian girl.

This is a nice time of year to remind folks that adoption is a wonderful and rewarding way to build or expand a family.

My wife and I adopted a little girl in China five years ago, and it is by far the most rewarding thing we have ever done.

The costs you list, particularly for international adoptions, may seem a bit daunting to some, but for $15,000 ($3,000 of which went directly to the orphanage to help more children), we got two exciting weeks in China, with an interpreter, staying in four-star hotels, plus a little bundle of love and joy that has immeasurably changed our lives for the better.

This is clearly the best money Ive ever spent. In recent years the federal government has been paying up to $6,000 of adoption expenses through a tax credit. There are severe restrictions to this credit that are scheduled to start next year, but Congress sometimes extends tax credits at the last minute so that may change for the better.

Jon Norem

La Grande

Executives on the take?

To the Editor:

I hope everyone read the blip in Washington Whispers (U.S. News & World Report Dec. 10 issue) about the secret meeting that was scheduled this week to work out millions in bonuses for U.S. Postal Service executives.

It should be more than a blip. After all the begging for a government bailout re: Anthrax, and the constant increases in postage rates, it boggles the mind of this peon. And reminds one of the blind beggar on the street corner, who pockets his tin cup early and goes home to read the evening newspaper .

Has our whole world gone crazy?

Evalee Reed

La Grande

Buying stuff not answer

To the Editor:

You have me very confused about what sort of economics you really believe in. The Observers Nov. 21 editorial suggested that we spend our tax rebate checks to buy stuff.

More stuff is the last thing that most of our homes need. We buy too much stuff now that we cant afford and dont need. That is why we have so many yard sales. Buying stuff does not contribute toward a solid economy.

You ran a news story in which our governor is asking all state departments to reduce their budgets by 10 percent. Will you please tell me how to spend my tax rebate check on the forestry department or the 4-H or the Extension Service or any other state natural resource agencies? Maybe you could ask Rep. Mark Simmons, R-Elgin, why the Legislature left us with such a fiscal mess.

You ran a banner headline stating that we are one of the 10 worst states at protecting our natural resources. Where should I send my tax rebate check to help with that problem?

Bill Oberteuffer

Island City

Combine city/EOU libraries

To the Editor:

Since moving to La Grande I have been amazed at a couple of things concerning the two small libraries in town.

First, was that a university library (even a university with an education program) would devote so much space to childrens literature.

Its not that I think that theres anything wrong with childrens literature its extremely important for children. Its just that it would seem that this space might be better used in a university library, especially when a city library is only a few blocks away. The second thing was that the city library has extremely short hours. I suspect that is due to lack of use by the local citizens and/or a lack of funding for the library either of which are sad statements on our city.

When I noticed these things, I thought that a merger of the two (a new building or expansion of the university library) seemed like an obvious solution. In fact, I was saddened by the early news that the Safeway building might be used for a city library, therefore making a merger less likely.

Imagine my amazement when, in the past week, there have been at least two mentions of the possibility of merging the two libraries (one supportive and one dismissive). I wholeheartedly agree with this proposal.

I have read that this concept wont work but havent been told why. Although I do not know the details or potential obstacles, this plan seems so logical that I cant imagine why it cant be accomplished. There are many things that are used in common at each library which would be a great savings for both when merged.

A merged library would also be a step toward removing the ivory tower mystique that some in both communities seem to feel.

Tim Hoffnagle

La Grande

Werent local companies qualified?

To the Editor:

I have lived and worked here in La Grande for almost two years. I have a certain devotion to this town.

I believe that to help this town grow I should spend the money I make here, here. Im not naive enough to think that it all stays here, but I do believe a good part of it goes to ensure that the economy in La Grande stays alive.

I could not help but notice while the new Safeway was being built that all the trucks in the parking lot were from out-of-town companies.

Did any of the $7 million spent on that building stay here in La Grande?

It bothers me to think that our local construction companies and subcontractors didnt get any of the business, which would have ensured that the employees (residents) of those companies had jobs and who knows maybe some of the local unemployed might have gotten jobs.

I just have a hard time believing that our local companies were too expensive or underqualified.

Pat McDonald

La Grande

Sixth Street poor place for library

To the Editor:

There is a bit of age-old wisdom that says never argue with a man who buys printers ink by the barrel.

Being somewhat foolish, I will venture to take issue with the writer of The Observers Dec. 6 notebook column when he opines that a good place for the joint library would be across Sixth Street from the Union County Justice Center.

Why is there so much interest in locating such public facilities in the part of La Grande that is lovingly known as Pill Hill? Yes, it is a beautiful part of the city, but it is troublesome for parking, speed control of college traffic, snow and ice in winter and off the beaten path for all but local residents.

It would involve a lot of taxpayer money for building and acquisition of expensive property and do nothing to bring truth to the sign posted by ODOT at the intersection of Adams and Island avenues that directs us to City Center Pendleton.

Make no mistake about it, the investment of Safeway at Adams Avenue and Willow Street is in due time going to move downtown La Grande away from the empty storefronts in the vicinity of City Hall and our beloved Max Square.

It would seem more beneficial and economical to acquire the old Safeway building and parking lot to house the library and perhaps the obscure Chamber of Commerce which now hides behind the video signs. It would enhance City Hall, make Max Square useful and retain the viability of the business district.

Remodeling the facility and enhancing it with some greenery would seem far more practical and economical than adorning an historical residential area with more soon-to-be-too-small public buildings.

David S. Arnott


Bed-liner sails high in wind

To the Editor:

On the morning of Dec. 8, as my wife and I headed for La Grande, the wind was blowing hard. As we neared Hot Lake, the bed-liner in our pickup truck started to lift. We stopped to tie it down but it was not possible.

A woman stopped and offered help but the liner tore out at the corners and we last saw it out across a field and railroad tracks, flying high at times.

I failed to get the ladys name but I want her to know that her efforts were greatly appreciated. My door was also warped around against the side of the truck, denting it and making it impossible to close.

We continued on to Island City where the Promise Keepers Christian mens group changed the oil and filter and fixed the door so it would open and close. What wonderful, caring people there are in Union County and the state of Oregon a wonderful place for an 80-year-old man to retire.

May God bless those helpful people.

William E. Bronson