May 09, 2002 11:00 pm

Support clean energy projects

To the Editor:

In response to the recent letters, "County could take lead" and "Room for well in park," expressing fears regarding alternative fuels and energy conservation vs. jobs and the economy, I would like to point out that clean energy, particularly wind power, is a viable and fast-growing industry in our region.

Wind turbines are already reducing our need for fossil fuels by generating non-polluting power, and are providing a much needed economic boost all in one package.

The 263 megawatt Stateline Wind Project north of Pendleton generates enough electricity to power 60,000 homes annually. During construction, which was completed in 2001, it infused more than $10 million into the local economy. Generating the same amount of power using natural gas or coal would emit over 200,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year plus air pollutants and acid-rain precursors.

In Sherman County, along the Columbia River, a recent Associated Press article reported that Northwestern Wind Power has spent $24 million building 16 wind turbines on private farms and ranch lands. According to the AP, farmers receive $10,000 sign-up payments, $15,000 for each turbine installed and up to a $5,000 return per turbine per year.

The project provides income to farmers, leaves the land available for crops, and produces no air emissions.

In the Grande Ronde Valley we also have a steady supply of wind. The opportunity for development of this resource for the benefit of the local economy and the environment is very real.

Our local actions, whether they take the form of wind-generated electricity or support of progressively minded legislators will also have far- reaching impacts including reducing the perceived need to seek oil in pristine wilderness areas such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

We can do better economically and environmentally by supporting clean energy projects close to home.

Sue Miller


Discussion rises on energy sources

To the Editor:

We are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful area where people work together and actively care about our energy needs.

There sure has been a lot about energy sources in the newspapers lately. From farming the wind, new wind turbine manufacturing in Oregon, developments in solar collectors and fuel cells, it's obvious that advances in using our resources are occurring.

Did you know that a public utility in the Willamette Valley has a fuel cell in its lobby running a clothes dryer; that in California there is a partnership of major car manufacturers, fuel cell manufacturers and public agencies; that Chicago has been trying some fuel cell buses and that cities are investing in solar power so that they are independent? It's intriguing to consider how relatively rapid our growth in knowledge is in this area. We have a great opportunity to take advantage of this locally.

Our cooperative, Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative, will be sending us ballots to vote for new members to our board of directors. Two new nominees are on the ballot from Baker County, and one new one, Norm Cimon, from Union County. I do know that Norm Cimon is knowledgeable about existing and developing electric generating and distribution systems. He is fiscally prudent. No one can guarantee that they are going to lower our electric bills substantially, but he is very aware of the impact escalating bills have on families, farms and businesses.

He has good ideas about diverse funding sources to initiate pilot projects. Cimon is a team player that will work well with other members of the board and the management of OTEC. We will be voting for candidates from all counties served by OTEC.

Please consider them all.

Elinor Riley


Sexual assault underreported

To the Editor:

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. During the month we strive to increase public awareness about sexual violence. We also want to encourage public involvement in addressing the violence.

The statistics are horrifying: an estimated 683,000 women and 92,000 men are raped each year in the United States. Nearly 99 percent of the offenders of both men and women are male.

Sexual assault is the most underreported crime. Only 16 percent or less of the rapes are ever reported to the police. In a survey of victims who did not report rape or attempted rape, 43 percent thought that nothing could be done and 12 percent were afraid of police response.

Our most vulnerable are often the target of sexual violence. Among developmentally disabled adults, as many as 83 percent of the women and 32 percent of the men have been victims of sexual assault.

Young women are also severely victimized. An estimated 54 percent of women victims were under age 18 at the time of the first rape and 83 percent were under the age of 25.

Sexual violence affects many of us. Nationwide, one out of three women and one out of five men will be sexually assaulted at some time in their lives. Sexual harassment has been reported by four out of five students — 81 percent — in their school years, and over 50 percent of women in the work force.

Nationwide, an adult woman is raped every minute. This is too much. Let's stop the violence.

Danae Yurgel

Shelter From the Storm

La Grande

Support Cimon for OTEC board

To the Editor:

I urge all Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative customers who are concerned about a dependable energy supply at a reasonable cost to consider voting for Norm Cimon for the OTEC board of directors.

I believe that we need to look to renewable sources of energy — wind, solar, fuel cells — if we want a stable and safe energy supply for the long-term future. Norm is knowledgeable about energy issues and regulations and will work hard for OTEC members to build a strong co-op to deliver that energy.

Oregon Rural Action is a nonprofit community group also working hard to promote local renewable energy. ORA has helped sponsor several local wind energy workshops and will be doing much more to inform the community of viable local energy options.

We cannot afford more Enron collapses. We need affordable electricity. We need local production and control. And we can have that.

ORA as an organization and Norm Cimon as an OTEC board member can help Union County achieve it.

You will receive your OTEC voting ballot early this month. Open it right away, and vote Norm Cimon for the open Union County seat.

Patricia Bell

La Grande

Keep Yates locked up

To the Editor:

In the debate over the Andrea Yates case, Tim Holt in his April 3 column hit the nail on the head when he said "someone with schizophrenia is no more likely to commit homicide than is a member of the general population."

Andrea Yates may be sick but she is a murderer and needs to be locked up. Too many paroled murderers have killed again, even decades later. Why would a mentally ill murderer be safer after treatment?

The friends of the mentally ill who have written to say otherwise are shooting their own cause in the foot. I have a younger brother who has suffered from schizophrenia since he was 16. He was a strong, handsome, athletic young man.

No treatment has ever given us back a mentally healthy brother. He has never lived a normal life, but is residing in a group home. He is not violent or dangerous to anyone. There are thousands of others like him. Their group homes are found in residential neighborhoods everywhere.

To say that Andrea Yates is treatable and should not be liable for her crimes is to put all these mentally ill citizens in a category of dangerous untouchables. It will only make their neighbors insecure and hostile.

Mary Cooke


Secure our energy future

To the Editor:

Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative is holding an election for its board of directors.

The Enron collapse demonstrated the danger of allowing our energy futures to be traded by distant, greedy and giant corporations.

We should commend OTEC for its conservation-oriented programs such as light bulb coupons and cash bonuses for solar panel installation. However, more can be done.

We can take control of our own energy future by adding diversity to our energy sources through local energy generation.

A good first step toward increasing our control would be to influence changes in the OTEC board.

This year I'm encouraged that a candidate with fresh ideas is challenging the Union County OTEC board position. Norm Cimon has demonstrated his knowledge and vision for a more stable and diversified energy base. He wrote a series of articles on energy for The Observer last fall and directed the Wind Energy Forum in January.

Norm is interested in seeing OTEC consider wind turbines, photovoltaics, geothermal pumps, methane, fuel cells, and increased energy efficiency as a means for achieving greater independence.

Two other candidates who are challenging the incumbent in Baker County should also be considered. Last year, about 30 percent of OTEC registered voters returned ballots. I hope OTEC members will take the issue of board of directors elections more seriously this year. After all, it's our co-op.

I encourage you to vote for Norm Cimon and others who will take the steps to secure our energy future through diversification. May 4 is the deadline for returning OTEC ballots.

Meredee Lloyd

La Grande

Protest Extension cuts

To the Editor:

The Extension Service is a valuable resource to Union County. It is by means of the Extension Service that the Master Gardener program operates locally, a forestry program provides information for local woodland owners and an agriculture agent offers programs to area farmers and ranchers. It also is by means of Extension that our 4-H youth development program exists.

A very real threat to these programs became clear March 13, when Gov. John Kitzhaber announced his balanced budget proposal with reductions for Oregon State University totaling $36,917,438. Of this total $25,513,244 or 25 percent of its budget is to be removed from Statewide Public Services. SPS is the umbrella that covers agricultural experiment stations like the one in Union, Extension services and forestry research laboratories.

The cuts to this program amount to almost 70 percent of the proposed cuts. This 25 percent reduction is based on a biennial budget that began July 1, 2001. To accomplish this for the biennium ending June 30, 2003, a 50 percent cut would need to be implemented by July 1.

Yes, that is correct — a 50 percent reduction in budget for our local Extension programs. We don't want to envision how that would affect the education programs that OSU Extension provides through our Union County office. As 4-H parents and leaders, we are well aware of the great value that 4-H provides for our area youth. We believe there are many others in our community who also believe in the positive influence 4-H provides.

It is with our local voices joined together that Gov. Kitzhaber can hear our outrage, that we will not expect or accept our local Extension office to operate on this level of cuts. Let Gov. Kitzhaber hear from you. He can be reached at 900 Court Street N.E., Salem 97301, or by fax: 503-378-6827.

Kelley Gross, Lori Hines

La Grande

M.J. Muilenburg, Lori Ritter


Lock away predators

To the Editor:

I believe sexual predators should be locked up in jail and kept there. If rehabilitation cannot be accomplished there, then keep them safely locked away to protect our citizens.

I am outraged to read about the state of Washington's new halfway house on McNeil Island. There are nine full-time state counselors, a care manager, an office assistant and a psychologist. At present, one man lives there in comparative luxury — a well-stocked kitchen, clothing allowance, a neat bedroom and private bath, game room with computer and board games and routine visits to see his therapist.

The $1 million spent on this one prisoner could keep an inmate in prison for 40 years, a grandparent in a nursing home for 20 years or a mental patient under full psychiatric care for seven years.

Nine counselors each receive $35,000 a year with benefits, a psychologist at $58,700 a year and other employees. There are also state police stationed outside to see that the resident does not escape.

I sincerely hope that the State of Oregon uses some common sense and does not try to duplicate this unbelievable facility. I say lock them up, these predators, and keep them there. Let's spend our tax money on schools and other worthwhile needs.

Elaine Livingston

La Grande

It was a fun place to be

To the Editor:

I am writing to address the article published in The Observer on March 28, regarding the "reopening" of Michrina's restaurant in Union.

To begin with, Michrina's did not reopen. Another restaurant opened in the building that used to house Michrina's, with new owners, entirely separate from Michrina's restaurant.

I would also like to make note that Karla Michrina Roe was not mentioned anywhere in the article. Karla was an integral part of Michrina's Restaurant for the eight years it was in business. She was co-owner/operator as well as bartender and waitress, hostess, cook and dishwasher at various times. She was also the decorator and planner for most of Michrina's designs and functions. Karla made Michrina's Restaurant a fun, family place to be, often including her daughter Anna in many of the restaurant activities.

It was a sad day for everyone involved, either personally or as a customer, to see Michrina's close. Due to the new Oregon state health regulations, such as wrapping silverware and not presetting the dinner tables (as was shown happening anyway in the photo with the article I referred to) as well as the ventilation requirements now in force, it was difficult to remain open. We will miss the excellent food that Michrina's had to offer and now must find a new gathering place where we can feel as comfortable as we did with Ken and Karla.

Karla was dedicated to her regular customers and misses seeing them but would like them to know she would love for them to visit her at The Hut in Union, where she is presently working.

Maybe someday we will be lucky enough to have Ken and/or Karla open another restaurant in Union so we can enjoy their hospitality, excellent food and unique atmosphere once again.

Svea Ross