June 02, 2002 11:00 pm

Wagon trains in our future?

To the Editor:

Mortgage your home, work 7x24, invest in your community and what do you get in return?

Close ties to the community; the opportunity to sponsor and support youth and community activities; realization that you are providing needed products and services; satisfaction that you are pursuing the American dream; and maybe enough income to meet your personal financial needs, reinvest in your business, your future and the community's future.

But, of course you get these only until something better comes along and offers services and goods in a more convenient location at lower prices. The majority of profits made by large conglomerates goes out of the community. Unless you think that a conglomerate is opening up shop here just for our convenience. Competition is part of the capitalistic process, but is this what we are witnessing?

Even if it is capitalism, have we no loyalty to our friendly neighborhood stores? When will we get our priorities in order? How many small businesses are going to be put out of business if a Super Wal-Mart opens? How many businesses shut down when the current Wal-Mart opened? Didn't you notice?

How many of the smiling proprietors that greet us by name will go bankrupt?

The uniqueness of the Grande Ronde Valley shouldn't be in the landscape alone. We should show more respect for those who risk their futures on our doing business with them.

Respecting the contribution and importance of the small-business owner is becoming a very rare and unique quality in our communities. Who's going to offer services and goods when Wal-Mart closes down like many of the


Are we going to have to send wagon trains over the hills to Portland to bring in provisions?

S. Reed Smith


Keep court in competent hands

To the Editor:

We are fortunate this year in having a number of well-qualified candidates seeking to serve as our next circuit judge. All of them seem to have some of the qualities we look for when we try to match their talents to the requirements of the office. For me only one candidate fills the bill, Russ West.

I don't work with Russ every day, but the people I have talked to who do work with him seem to agree that what you see is what you get, and they're for West for circuit judge.

West has been in court on an almost daily basis for the past 17 years handling criminal cases from DUII to murder. He knows the law. He has a good work ethic.

I do work with West in the community, particularly in the Lions Club. I am impressed by his integrity and sense of fairness. He is always willing to volunteer to boost the activities that make Eastern Oregon a special place to live.

I feel I can depend on Russ West to continue the work that has made our circuit court a regional model. He has the energy to give us years of leadership. I hope that you will join me in making sure that our circuit court remains in competent, experienced hands.

Carlos Easley

La Grande

Anderson suited for judge's job

To the Editor:

Bruce Anderson is exceptionally well-suited for the position of circuit judge.

He has a thorough knowledge of law, a sense of fairness and the ability to make hard decisions in a decisive manner.

He is the best qualified and has the greatest variety of experience.

He has practiced both criminal and civil law, acted as an arbitrator and a mediator for civil, small claims and juvenile cases, and has practiced in both urban and rural settings.

Bruce has briefed and argued cases before both the Oregon Court of Appeals and the Oregon Supreme Court.

I value his calm, deliberate manner, that he does his homework, recommends mediation before resorting to courts, thinks well on his feet, listens effectively and explains so people understand.

I feel confident that fairness within the law will be his guide.

This is the type of person we need as circuit judge.

I urge you to join me in voting for Bruce Anderson.

Bev White

La Grande

Wick right for county commission

To the Editor:

I have one vote and I want it to count.

My vote will be for Ken Wick for Wallowa County commissioner.

Ken is a local, successful businessperson. He understands all aspects of the local economy: agricultural, tourism, retail, professional and public.

He volunteers a great deal of his time to help improve our lives and the lives of our children.

I am raising a family here and it is important to me we have the right leaders in place and Ken is one of those leaders.

I believe we are privileged to have the right to vote.

I value that right and will use it to vote for Ken Wick.

Mark Green


Much experience needed

To the Editor:

Judge Eric Valentine is retiring after 18 years of service. The circuit court judge we elect this year will be in office for at least six years and possibly longer.

It is important to choose wisely.

I believe Russ West has spent most of his law practice (18 years) as a prosecutor in Union County. Kip Roberson has practiced law for about five years, much of that as a public defender.

Bruce Anderson has practiced law for more than 20 years. He has extensive experience in family law, criminal law, real estate, business and contract disputes, juvenile law, guardianship and estate law.

Based on the support of our local attorneys, Bruce was appointed by the chief justice of the Oregon Supreme Court as a pro tem (part-time) circuit judge last year. He has proven his ability to bring a balanced approach to legal disputes.

I believe our judge should have extensive experience in all areas of the law, have practiced law for a long time and be a person who will assure that justice and fairness will be achieved in our courts.

Please join me in electing Bruce Anderson.

Rev. Vernon G. Slippy

La Grande

Avoid misconceptions

To the Editor:

In response to John Petersen's letter in the April 23 Observer, Petersen basically stated that all of Islam is violent and bent on killing Christians and Jews, and that the entire religion is a threat to all nations.

Mr. Petersen sounded like a very literal-minded, self-righteous Christian.

What he needs to understand about the suicide bombers is that they represent a very small portion of extremists with their own radical interpretation of the Koran.

The Koran states that Jihad is declared only when the Islamic religion is threatened. Only through Jihad is it acceptable for Muslims to take human life. The al-Qaida rebels, not the Islamic religion, have declared Jihad.

Much like the Ku Klux Klan or the Aryan Nations, which do not represent Christianity as a whole, al-Qaida does not represent the beliefs of the majority of Muslims. The Bible has been radically misinterpreted by Christian hate groups, as has the Koran by the al-Qaida.

Wars have been committed in the name of Christianity. The Crusades were the Christians' own Holy War to capture Jerusalem. And during the Spanish Inquisition, people were killed for not accepting Christian beliefs.

Remember, the religion didn't murder these people, the corrupted church leaders did.

Also keep in mind that the Palestinians are fighting the Israelis' own government-mandated terrorism. And yes, the Israeli military action against Palestinian civilians is terrorism. I'm not condoning the terrorist actions of the Islamic extremists, but people like Mr. Petersen should get the whole picture before they develop an attitude like his toward Islam. Promoting misconceptions can only cause more hate and anger.

Alex Dill

La Grande

Stolen box puts damper on derby

To the Editor:

It was another successful year at the La Grande Optimist Club/Bi-Mart fishing derby held at Morgan Lake Saturday. The volunteers who run this event are very proud of this project and have touched the lives of many young people over the years.

This year, though, we had a tackle box stolen from one of the volunteers. The tackle box is tan and brown and has five drawers. The fact that it was taken with around $500 worth of tackle really put a damper on this person's willingness to help in the future.

I don't expect that anyone who would steal the tackle box would also read letters to the editor, but if you stole it or know someone who did, please call Ted at 963-7290 to make arrangements to return the tackle box to its rightful owner. No questions will be asked.

Ted Blaylock

Island City

Anderson, West not fit for judge

To the Editor:

I am compelled, against my better judgment, to give my opinion as to the qualifications of the candidates for circuit court judge in District 10 — Union and Wallowa counties.

As many of the citizens of the counties will recall, I was attacked by certain members of the Bar during my service as judge and disciplined for telling the truth about the incompetence of the then-Wallowa County district attorney in an editorial in The Wallowa County Chieftain, and for four other minor charges out of 24 that were brought against me.

During this whole process and my service as judge, I had close contact with Russ West and Bruce Anderson. I believe they lied and misrepresented the facts about my conduct as judge. They were both as two-faced as any person I have ever had to deal with in my life, let alone professionals.

I have written proof of what I consider to be their lies and misrepresentations if anyone wants to see it. Only three of the charges brought by Anderson were upheld — as minor errors on technical ground — and all of West's were dismissed. Neither is fit to occupy the high position of judge in my opinion.

I do not know Kippy Roberson very well. My only concern with him is his lack of experience. If I were voting I would vote for none of the above or Roberson.

Ronald D. Schenck


Veteran officers back West

To the Editor:

We would like to take this opportunity to express our support for Russ West, a candidate in the May 21 election for circuit judge of the 10th Judicial District that serves both Union and Wallowa counties.

We had the pleasure of working with West for 17 years in his capacity as Union County district attorney. As Oregon State Police officers we participated with West preparing cases for prosecution that ranged from misdemeanors and DUII to major crimes including manslaughter and homicide.

During his tenure as district attorney, West has been a powerful advocate for crime victims. Under his leadership, Union County became one of the first to establish the multi-disciplinary team approach to the investigation of crimes against children. This system proved successful and is used statewide.

In 1992, West served as president of the Oregon District Attorney's Association. He was also appointed special assistant U.S. attorney and has experience in federal courts.

West is a dedicated family man and is well established in Union County. He and his wife Mary reside on a second-generation farm in Imbler. West understands the challenges facing a natural- resource-based economy.

West has the support of the majority of law enforcement personnel in Union County. His experience, knowledge, integrity and nearly 20 years of public service make him uniquely qualified to serve as circuit judge.

We know Russ West to be an honorable man. He has earned our respect and support, and we think he deserves yours too. We base our observations and opinions on nearly 60 years of combined law enforcement experience. Please elect West for circuit court judge for Union and Wallowa counties.

Jack Eckrich

Bob Routt

La Grande

Swimming not advisable

To the Editor:

The temperatures in Eastern Oregon are rising and it seems as if more and more children of all ages can be seen swimming in creeks, rivers, and ponds. However, that won't be happening in the community where I live.

I live about 12 miles out of La Grande. Recently the thought of swimming in our creek behind my house was a consideration, but then neighbors began telling us to stay far away from the creek. The reason: dead cattle.

I believe a neighbor — I will not mention any names — takes his dead cattle and dumps them up about 200 yards from my family's swimming hole. He has been turned in to the sheriff various times, but there is no real proof. You cannot turn an innocent person in for something they did not do. However, if you drive by the creek and look, you may see the carcasses of these poor animals.

Many kids swim in this creek and what if one of us got terribly sick from a disease that one of the dead cattle carried? Second, why are so many of the cattle dying? Maybe the cattle have a disease?

Why not bury them or burn them? Why dump them in a creek? Today, my other neighbors and I are taking a stand. We recently saw a cow just dumped in the creek with an ear tag on it. With this newfound discovery, we might be able to alert authorities. It is just not right.

All I have to say to this person is I believe that what you are doing is wrong. Dumping cattle in a creek can kill neighboring cattle and make kids and family in the area sick.

Kelli Jo McKee

La Grande