TRUCKERS STEPPING UP TO MAKE U.S. SECURE

May 15, 2002 12:00 am

With memories still fresh of the rental truck bombing in 1995 of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, the nation's truckers are stepping up with an offer to help fight terrorism. Their idea sounds great. And Americans should embrace it with enthusiasm.

THE AMERICAN Trucking Association and similar organizations say 3 million drivers could be willing to receive training on what to look for in spotting terrorism.

Drivers would be asked to monitor bridges, highways, tunnels and ports, and fellow truckers, according to the Trucking Security Working Group, a coalition of trade associations that is putting the project together.

The truckers would look for out-of-the ordinary activities and use a toll-free number to call to report anything suspicious.

The CIA believes that terrorist groups or rogue nations are less likely to fire a missile at the United States than to use trucks, ships or planes to deliver chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.

The AWARENESS that aircraft can be used as destructive devices has grown dramatically since Sept. 11. In addition, state transportation departments are stepping up the surveillance of bridges and tunnels. Maintenance workers are being trained as to what to look for along the highways.

American truckers will be showing the highest degree of patriotism and citizen involvement by signing on to their own program. Only time will tell how many disasters will be averted as truck drivers care enough to pay attention and contact authorities when they witness something suspicious.

SUPPORT TORCH RUN

Union County law enforcement officers are putting on their running shoes and climbing on their bicycles Saturday for a good cause. Members of the La Grande Police Department and other agencies are participating in the inaugural Torch Run to support the Special Olympics.

The run and pedal relay begins at 7 a.m. in Elgin and makes its way in almost serpentine fashion through Imbler, Island City, Cove, Union, North Powder — and on to the finish line in La Grande Saturday afternoon.

AREA RESIDENTS have three ways they can get involved in supporting the Special Olympics. They can cheer on the relay participants along the route, or they can watch them on Adams Avenue when they arrive in La Grande at about 3 p.m. They also can make a pledge to the Special Olympics in the name of one of the officers by calling event organizer Brian Fischer at 963-8929, or they can stop by and enjoy a spaghetti dinner from 3:30 to 6 p.m. at Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church's parish hall. The cost is only $3.

The relay won't be easy for those participating. But Special Olympians also put out a lot of hard effort when they train for and compete in winter mountain sport and track-and-field events. The Torch Run is an excellent way for us to show our support for these deserving athletes.