June 13, 2002 11:00 pm

Ill-conceived transport plan

To the Editor:

Early this summer, Congress will consider whether to deliver deadly nuclear waste across the Columbia River and through the Grande Ronde Valley to a poorly designed waste dump near Las Vegas.

Although that is bad news for Nevada, it is worse news for us in Eastern Oregon. Think about train derailments and truck accidents.

Let me explain. The Department of Energy is not planning to hold any public hearings in Pendleton, La Grande, Union or Baker City because they don't want us to know what they are up to. President Bush and the nuclear utilities support this plan because it will pave the way for a new generation of nuclear power plants in America.

They are willing to choose big profits for utilities that drive our electricity and gas prices sky high and risk the families and emergency responders along Interstate 84 and the Union Pacific Railroad.

For generations the government has lied to us about the deadly chemicals and radioactive substances at the Umatilla Army Depot and Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Now they will pretend that this deadly waste delivery program will speed the cleanup of Hanford.

Nothing can be further from the truth. The government estimates that it will cost $60 billion to build the Nevada repository. There will be no money to start cleaning up Hanford.

U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith will cast a vote that tells us whether they believe that the people of Eastern Oregon deserve to know about and be protected from deadly nuclear waste shipments.

If you are interested, you should call our senators in Washington, D.C. at 202-224-5244 for Wyden and 202-224-3753 for Smith.

Kit Morello

La Grande

Fight to protect U.S. sovereignty

To the Editor:

Why are NATO AWAC aircraft flying over the United States? Can't we afford to patrol our own skies? Or is this a convenient way to get us accustomed to foreign military in our country?

Why are we seeing more U.N. World Heritage signs displayed in our national parks, historical landmarks and scenic wonders? Are we

supposed to accept U.N. insignias as friendly protectors?

Are we not a sovereign country? Are we not able to pay for our own military surveillance? Are we not able to honor our national treasures reverently enough? I resent the creeping presence of the United Nations in any form.

Life is too short to not take a stand for something you believe is important. I do not care if others scoff at my concern. Maybe others do not know the facts. Maybe others are concerned and just don't want to be looked upon as silly or radical. Maybe they are too busy.

Making a living is necessary. Raising children is a blessing. Freedom and national sovereignty are gifts. As we see jobs leaving the United States and our children pulled away from our values, we not only have to remember to rely upon God's guidance, we have to fight to stay free and sovereign as a nation.

Did you know that on April 11 our president joined the United States in the confines of the International Criminal Court? Do you know that our constitutional rights will not be our sovereign protection in that court?

ICC is part of the United Nations' agenda. What next?

S. Reed Smith


Campbell did excellent job

To the Editor:

I was very sorry to hear of the resignation of Sharon Campbell at Eastern Oregon University.

I taught with Sharon and found her to be a fine role model for her professional students in physical education and for those student athletes she coached in volleyball and basketball.

She set an example of professional excellence in the classroom and on the court that her past and present students could emulate.

Sharon gave equal time to her professional students in fitness and wellness, and to those students in athletics without disadvantaging either group. Neither group suffered because of her professional demands.

Congratulations on a job well done, Sharon.

Gary Feasel

La Grande

Allegation absurd

To the Editor:

In response to the letter of Dale Mammen and Sam Ledridge in Saturday's Observer, I did not intentionally misrepresent anything about myself in the ads that ran on May 8 and May 9.

An Observer staff member had e-mailed a draft of the ad to my home where I conduct my campaign business. I had yet to view the e-mail when the ad was printed, without my approval (or any member of my committee).

It was unfortunately poorly worded. The morning of May 9 I asked The Observer to stop the ad, followed the next day by a request in writing that it be pulled immediately. The staff at The Observer can verify this information.

The ad accurately stated the type of cases I handled when I was in private practice.

In my Voters' Pamphlet statement, I have stated that I was in private practice in 1983 and 1984. My ads have referred to my private practice and that I have been district attorney for the past 17 years and served as county counsel for the past 10 years.

As your district attorney, I was on the radio twice last week alone, informing our community about a robbery and a shooting that were current news.

It is clear to most that I am the district attorney and not currently in private practice. To attack my integrity and imply that I would intentionally attempt to make voters think that I was currently in private practice is absurd.

Russ West

Union County district attorney

and candidate for judge of the 10th District Circuit Court


City should think small

To the Editor:

I have a suggestion to add a notch to the belt-tightening of the City of La Grande's budget committee.

Quit buying full-size pickup trucks for your employees.

I wonder how much could be saved in initial purchase cost and improved gasoline mileage? Seems like a small pickup or an economy car would be more practical.

Seldom do I see more than one person in their gas-hog full-sized pickup trucks.

George Gilchrist

La Grande

Saxton right for area

To the Editor:

I have just had an hour-long, face-to -face visit with Ron Saxton, governor candidate for the state of Oregon — the whole state of Oregon.

If we want a governor who knows where rural Oregon is, knows irrigation is needed for crops and fish, can address health care in Oregon with fiscal as well as common sense planning, knows the land-use laws have far exceeded planning intent, knows that jobs are required to have a healthy environment as well as economic stability, knows the importance of Oregon's educational system and its need for an overhaul and has good common sense judgment in determining goals for Oregon, then elect Ron Saxton for governor for Oregon.

Ron has the support of many fine people such as Bob Smith and a lawyer from Portland named Andy Kerr — not the A. Kerr of extreme nonsense on the environment.

Ron owns a cherry orchard and has the same worries about the same things growers have here in our valley. Vote Ron Saxton if you want a governor who has the physical energy and mental astuteness needed for this most important position.

Marie Lester

La Grande

Lighten up on graduation dress code

To the Editor:

Schools are asking too much of many families when they demand a particular style of dress at graduation.

With all the costs associated with graduation, having to buy dress shoes, dress slacks and a dress shirt is just too much for many families.

My son and I are both on SSI. We've never received child support.

Although we are doing what needs to be done so he can take part in graduation, I know there are other single-parent families that are struggling.

Some kids stay home from graduation because they can't afford the new clothes. When you add the dress requirements onto the graduation present, the cards, the photos, a lot of money is needed and some families just don't have it.

Kids work hard to get through school and they deserve to take part in graduation.

Schools need to lighten up on the dress code for graduation. The kids are wearing gowns anyway.

What schools are requiring is a real hardship on some people.

Bobbi Smith


Development makes sense

To the Editor:

In response to the May 6 opinion page article, "Stay Vigilant in Protecting Farmland":

While I do not share your enthusiasm for Oregon's Land Conservation and Development Commission, I do respect your opinion. I wish, however, that you would explain why Oregon's land-use laws have "been a lightning rod for lots of upset folks."

The Observer has a habit, it seems, of being against anything that would bring business and jobs to the area and then whining about the lack of money available.

Could it be that Oregon's land-use laws have something to do with the highest unemployment rate in the nation? Maybe this is a trade-off that most Oregonians want, but they should quietly accept the fact that tax bases will be low and schools will continue to see declining enrollment as folks leave the state for jobs.

I first became aware of LCDC when I became a planning commissioner for the city of Union. What upsets me most is that county and local officials are left with almost no decision-making capacity. It seems as though all the planning decisions were made in 1973 and then etched in stone.

Yes, I'm one of those upset folks and I agree we ought to protect our prime farm land, but since when was 400 acres of dry, rocky, sagebrush-covered hillside up High Valley prime farm land? No, I don't own any of that land, but it just makes sense to allow development.

Local officials ought to be the ones deciding. As one of your readers wrote a few months ago, we need to revise the system so that prime farm land is preserved and other rural areas are developed to provide for the rural lifestyles that so many people desire.

Jack W. Nielson


Roberts fiscally responsible

To the Editor:

The race for Oregon's next governor is heating up. Both Republicans and Democrats have at least three strong candidates to vote for in the upcoming primary election scheduled for May 21. One candidate has emerged as the best choice. He is Jack Roberts.

Roberts has been Oregon's labor commissioner for the past eight years. How he has led that department gives us a great example of how he would lead our state. Under our current governor the total state budget grew by 70 percent over the last eight years, explaining why Gov. John Kitzhaber was consistently trying to raise taxes. During the same time period, under Jack Roberts' leadership, the Oregon Department of Labor and Industries grew by only 7 percent.

Roberts does not play partisan politics. He has earned a reputation that reaches out to both sides of an issue. The Oregonian, in endorsing Jack in his last race wrote, "Roberts has impressed Republicans and Democrats, business and labor folks with his intellect as well as his sense of balance and fairness."

This sense of balance and fairness explains why Roberts won every county in the state during that election. He would be a governor for all of Oregon, not just the Interstate 5 corridor.

Oregon doesn't need new taxes. It needs a new governor who can balance the state budget with existing revenue. Roberts has pledged to do just that. His experience tells us he can.

Please join me in voting for Jack Roberts for our next governor.

John Lamoreau

La Grande

Important piece of the pie

To the Editor:

Union and Wallowa counties have the historic opportunity to purchase, preserve and enhance the nearly century-old rail line from Elgin to Joseph.

If the moment is not seized, the contract to pull the rails will be undertaken and we will have lost another piece of Northeast Oregon's history and the many possibilities that an operating railroad can bring to the present and future.

You don't have to be a railroad fan, a history buff, a shipper of goods, a booster of tourism, a developer of business opportunities, a supporter of cooperation between Union and Wallowa counties, an appreciator of the railway's special scenery, a champion of growth in Elgin, an industry owner considering siting on a short line or someone hoping for work that can sustain them here to encourage our county commissioners to move forward with the purchase of the railroad using dedicated funds from the Oregon Lottery and Congress.

You just need to believe that a locally owned railroad is another important piece of the pie that is the economy of Northeast Oregon and that this operating shortline can bring opportunity here that we may never see if we allow it to go away.

Michael Rosenbaum

La Grande

Support Union ambulance service

To the Editor:

On July 21, the Union Volunteer Ambulance Service helped save the life of our 4-year-old daughter, Carsyn.

She had been injured in a freak mutton busting accident and lay unconscious in the stock show arena. We are grateful that the volunteer ambulance service was there that day.

Take a minute to think about your spouse, children, friends and neighbors. Do you want to wait 20 minutes for the City of La Grande's ambulance to get to Union in a dire emergency? Take our word for it, that 20 minutes seems like forever.

The residents of Union have a valuable resource in our ambulance service. These dedicated volunteers give of themselves while receiving little compensation in return.

Let's join together to give them the equipment they need. Vote in favor of the ambulance levy on May 21.

Ladd and Wendy Roberts


Questions raised on ethanol plant

To the Editor:

When I read in The Observer about the development of a bioenergy plant in our valley, it brought several concerns to mind.

The article stated that they would need 300,000 tons of waste wood a year. At 300,000 tons a year, how many years do they expect it to last? How will they remove all this waste wood without doing damage to our beautiful mountains? How will it affect the streams and the habitat for wildlife?

Will there by anything left for the animals and fowl that live and raise their young in the underbrush and downed wood?

How will it affect those who rely on finding and selling mushrooms and huckleberries as a form of income? What about those who use firewood to heat their homes and those who make a living selling firewood? Will we be like other counties where the residents cannot find an armload of wood to keep them warm?

How will this affect our quality of life in the valley? How much water will they require to cook the waste wood in order to make the ethanol? How much air pollution will this plant produce in a valley that already has problems with its air quality?

How much energy will be required to run this plant? And is it not required by law that the electricity they produce, although more expensive, must be bought back as it is from the Prairie City sawmill?

This kind of destruction can only last a few years.

Consider what our mountains and valley might be like in 20 years. Get smart people and think this all the way through.

Essie Wagoner


Union students did excellent job

To the Editor:

It is always a pleasure to attend the annual spring concert and art show for Union schools.

The students involved in band and choir, no matter whether they are in the sixth- or 12th-grade, should be proud of their musical abilities. Congratulations to the high school band on your ranking at district competition!

Mervin Cutright, you have shown what your dedication can bring to the lives of each of these kids.

The talent showcased at the art show is just as incredible. Jaime Gustavson, you have certainly inspired your students to use their creativity in a variety of ways.

It is refreshing to see young artists receive public recognition as families view the displays.

For all of you that missed this opportunity, remember you can catch it next spring.

See you there.

Sandy Sheehy