May 18, 2003 11:00 pm

Prof had positive influence

To the Editor:

I have always appreciated the opportunity that was mine to have attended Eastern Oregon College (the name by which it was known when I first enrolled as a student in the fall of 1954).

Though many years have passed I have never forgotten the outstanding faculty that was then assembled at the relatively small institution.

Fond memories of the four years I spent at the school were triggered when I noted in a recent issue of The Observer the passing of Dr. Lee Johnson. He was an inspiring professor whose challenging courses and interesting lectures kept students intellectually engaged.

Johnson instilled within me an interest for history that lingers to this day.

Following my graduation from Eastern Oregon I pursued further studies as a graduate student at the University of Illinois and the University of Utah.

Though I gained much from these universities and the various professors from whom I received instruction, I don't recall sitting in any classroom where the lectures were as consistently stimulating as those provided by Johnson.

I was sorry to hear of his passing, but grateful for the positive influence he had on my life, and undoubtedly countless others.

David B. Walch


Oil could pay off war

To the Editor:

The news coverage of the Iraq War was great. A living-room war is much safer. With helmets that are built lower and bullet-proof vests for all of the service men and women, it really cuts down on casualties.

What comes around will come around again. The knights had armor. If a lot of the servicemen, who were the cream of the crop, had not been killed in World War II trying to keep our country free, they would have sired a better grade of people and we would not have all these degenerates that march against the principles that we survive on.

I suggest we allow France one day of oil a month in the illegal pipeline to Syria via France. In exchange we send all marching protesters to France.

The war did have one good thing going for it. It had a calming effect on other nations that promote terrorism or dislike the way we live. If Saddam's fighting force shucked their army suits for civilian suits to get out of the fighting, other countries could have the same problem.

With the war winding down, we have a zillion Iraqis to get back to a better life. Then we put in a large oil pipeline to Kuwait. We won the war, we can do it if we like. Connect it to their oil system that is already in place to export oil; sell enough oil through a period of time to pay for the war.

It would take a load off the taxpayers. Take part of the oil revenue and set up a system like they have in Alaska.

Let's run Bill Gates for president. He has a level head on his shoulders and he has the money.

Walt Mendenhall


Halt vandalism downtown

To the Editor:

The Women Business Owners' Alliance and the Garden Gate Club have been working diligently these past few weeks to place planters throughout the historic downtown business district.

We received remarkable support and assistance from RD Mac, especially Mike Good, from Public Works and from Jeff Evers who donated the soil — for which we are very grateful.

We selected concrete forms weighing 300 pounds each for the planters, thinking this would prevent the vandalism that has occurred in the past and that has discouraged attempts by business owners to improve the appearance of downtown.

Unfortunately, within 72 hours of placement, planters which had not yet been filled with dirt and flowers, were rolled into the street by vandals. La Grande's police on patrol spotted the planters early Saturday morning and put them back in place

Construction adhesive has now been used to secure the planters and as vandals seem to be more active after midnight around downtown's taverns, a Citizens' Watch will be coordinating efforts with the police to stop this senseless destruction.

Any citizen wishing to participate should call me at 663-1544.

Judy Starr

Women Business Owners' Alliance

Garden Gate Club

Good old days kind of bleak

To the Editor:

It is gratifying to read the letter in The Observer April 25 from Lindsey Lankford of the middle school. I agree with her that much public spending is misdirected.

Her assertion that teachers take money from their paychecks to buy special things for their classes has been true ever since schools were invented.

But the assertion that we had a luxurious schooling in the past is as far from the truth as saying Mount Emily was built by a local contractor with a spade.

I was educated through the seventh grade in St Louis, Mo. It was a 26-block walk to school. There was no dietitian, cook or lunch room. You carried a brown bag and either ate at your desk or where you could find room in the yard. Glue and ink were furnished, but pencils, paper and notebooks were not.

The school was built for 2,000 but had 2,700 students. No bus system, no parking lot, no ball park, no teams, no cars and no public cries about not enough money for schools. But as you say we oldies "probably" got a good education.

In eighth-grade in Cove additional things were added to the learning curve. If your grades were up you got conscripted to chop wood to heat the room or sweep the floor, dust the erasers and wash the slateboard. As to physical education, that was taught at home with such commands as cut the grass, hoe the corn, bring in the cows or take out the trash.

Lindsey, you did hit the nail on the head that it is not the lack of money that troubles education, it is the need for our political representatives to prioritize public need.

Keep it up Lindsey, but don't overstep your facts.

David Arnott


Not opposed to casket burials

To the Editor:

The election brochure that was mailed out on my behalf included the statement:

"I have always had an interest in Union's lovely Victorian cemetery and have a large family plot there. Ours is a changing society and I feel a director must be open to new projects and new ideas. One major change is the switch from regular burials to cremations and memorials."

Using this last sentence, someone is spreading a false rumor that if elected to the Union Cemetery District Board, I will oppose burials and only allow cremations.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I support both cremation and burials — whatever is the wish of the family.

My statement was based upon the statistics of the increasing number of cremations now being done.

In the fiscal year July 1, 2001, through June 30, 2002, the Union Cemetery District conducted 18 burials.

Of these 18, 16 were full-casket burials and two were of ashes.

In the fiscal year July 1, 2002, to date, there have been 25 burials. Of these, 10 were full-casket burials and 15 were were of ashes.

Thus I based my statement of the change — by the public — from full burials to burial of ashes.

If you have any questions or concerns please call me.

Donna Patterson


Train our caregivers well

To the Editor:

Here I am on the school levy bandwagon again, this time as a grandparent instead of a parent.

It's one thing to support the schools and pass levies when it's for your children. But why do we need to continue to support schools now when we no longer have children in school?

This is a question that I have heard over and over during my years of involvement from the senior citizen crowd. Well, senior citizens, you might like to give this a little thought.

We are educating the very people who will be taking care of us as we get older — doctors, nurses, dentists, lawyers, pharmacists, technicians and teachers to keep the cycle going.

I for one would like to know that these future caregivers and the rest of the professionals that make our country work will be getting the very best education that we can provide.

Who will benefit besides the students? That would be us.

These school dollars are the best investment we can make in our future. Please vote "yes" to pass this levy to keep our school and restore classes to the current level.

Donna Butterfield


Provide matching funds for trees

To the Editor:

Congratulations to La Grande for continuing to support the urban forestry program in this difficult economic environment.

Perhaps it is time for the community to devise a way to bridge some of the $12,000 cut the program took. Some of the major area corporations may like to set up a matching fund offer to encourage individual donations.

Boise Cascade has developed an active environmental outreach program in recent years. This would be a fabulous tribute to that goal.

Saturday many residents in La Grande will be taking part in the volunteer tree- planting program. This would be a fine time for area residents to make financial contributions to the program.

Could a fund be started at a local bank for that purpose with matching funds from local corporations?

Mary McCracken

La Grande

Can't go wrong with this team

To the Editor:

Union Cemetery District Director Irene Langford, whose term expires July 1, has chosen not to run for re-election.

I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude to Irene for the support she gave to me during her years as cemetery director. Because of her interest and dedication she was responsible for many of the positive happenings at the Union Cemetery District.

Looking ahead for the next four years, it would be nice to have additional directors who share the same positive attributes as Irene.

Donna Patterson and Kendall Baxter have already demonstrated their volunteerism and dedication to the community of Union.

Donna got the Union Cemetery District going in the momentous task of putting our records in electronic format and placing hard-copies of that information in public places where you, the public, would have easy access to it.

She also was on the committee that formed the cemetery's guidelines and has been a major supporter of the cemetery for the past few years, with technical support and research.

We know that Kendall has a similar integrity for also donating his time and talents to the people of Union. His accomplishment of being instrumental in bringing quality health care to Union is just one instance of his dedication and volunteerism. Likewise he has expressed an interest in the Union Cemetery.

He is no stranger to the workings of a cemetery district, as at one time he served as clerk for the Island City Cemetery.

Together, I feel they would continue the good works of the cemetery. I encourage you to vote for the team of Donna Patterson and Kendall Baxter.

Sidney Huffman


Howell deserves honor

To the Editor:

A nice article appeared on the front page of The Observer a few days ago, stating that Jim Howell received an award for his teaching of music.

I must have scanned it quickly, because I failed to get the significance of this honor. Imagine my surprise when, at the Oregon Symphony concert in Portland, I opened the program and there was Jim's picture as Music Educator of the Year.

Along with his picture as the winner were the four finalists' pictures, and a nice article about all five of these educators. If I had attended Monday night's concert, I would have been there to cheer for Jim in person, as these five received their awards then. As it was, I sat in my seat and reflected on the many students and parents he had influenced over the years, and was so grateful for his dedication and his dignity.

How fortunate we are to have Jim Howell teaching music in La Grande.

Lanetta Paul

La Grande

Trees, community take root

To the Editor:

La Grande is a Tree City. There are plaques and signs that proudly proclaim that our community values trees. The "city" part of the name was apparent April 26 when Brian Kelly, urban forestry consultant for La Grande, put on a tree-planting demonstration..

The event attracted local celebrities like Master Gardener Liz Alvord. There were friends, neighbors, grannies, babies and a couple of dogs.

The trees were planted on the parking strip in front of the New Day Enterprises office on Washington Avenue. The beautiful, young trees were planted when our building was built in 1999.

Last year, our property suffered from vandals who routinely would leave used condoms and broken beer bottles to greet us Monday morning. The ante was raised when the front door was urinated on and college students used our lawn as a putting green for impromptu golf games.

It is noteworthy that if a sprinkler head is used as a golf tee, property damage results. The final insult was coming back to the office after a weekend and finding that idle hands are indeed the devil's workshop. Joining the usual beer bottle clutter were several of our beautiful new, young trees that were broken and beyond help.

Losing the trees was painful for all our staff. Brian Kelly called and shared our pain. He called several weeks ago and offered replacement trees and the expertise to plant and care for them.

Now, back to the tree planting. More than a dozen citizens shared a lovely Eastern Oregon morning. Folks were going to disperse to various parts of town and plant trees in their neighborhoods.

It is a pleasure to see the new saplings all over town. They will endure and stand sentry over our town long after we are gone. More than just trees were planted that day. A sense of community took root as well.

Zee Koza, executive director

New Day Enterprises Inc.

La Grande

Joseph great place to start

To the Editor:

I'm writing this letter to encourage Joseph School District voters to vote yes on the upcoming school levy. The experiences I had as a student in the Joseph School District afforded me the confidence to pursue many opportunities.

In the nine years since graduating from Joseph, I've realized I was given more opportunities because I came from a small school and a supportive community. Unlike students from larger schools, I was able to participate in sports, drama, band, FFA, FBLA and other activities. It wasn't until I left Joseph that I learned how fortunate I was to have had dedicated teachers, coaches and a community that supports students. There is no doubt in my mind that my experiences, particularly in FFA and vocational agriculture, laid the foundation for my future.

In small towns, schools are the heart and soul of a community. If this levy doesn't pass, valuable educational opportunities will be lost. While I no longer live in Joseph, I still feel a deep connection to the people who supported me.

This is the perfect time to invest in our students and their futures. Please vote yes and give our students the opportunities they deserve.

ShanRae Hawkins


Story leaves out 2 team members

To the Editor:

An Observer story on April 22 implied that our whole track team was pictured and included, when in fact it was not. The article and picture only gave reference to the returning team members. Although the article was well-written, we would like to make it known there are in fact two more members of our team that are a great asset.

The first, Mandy Griffin, competes in the shot put, is a member of the 4x100-meter relay and is a threat in the pole vault. Her best vault is 8-6.

The other is Tawnie Overton, who competes for us in the javelin, discus, triple jump and 4x100-meter relay.

Never before have we been so committed to the team aspect of track than we are this year. We are very sorry that these two members were omitted because they, as the others do, make large sacrifices and work hard for the good of the team and our ultimate goals.We appreciate all the community members who support the Imbler track program.

Imbler Girls Track Team


Community can do so much more

To the Editor:

The Observer has published articles putting down Wal-Mart super stores. The articles seem one-sided.

I would like to see an article about what the super stores can do for the community, like provide tax revenues, jobs, charitable contributions to the community, to say nothing of bringing shoppers from around the area and ones traveling through.

From my experience the businesses that complained the most are already going down the tube. We have very few nice businesses downtown that are attracting shoppers.

We are on the old Oregon Trail route. It would seem to me that with a little creative thinking on the part of the council and the downtown merchants, a long-range plan could be implemented to attract tourists and shoppers.

Instead of complaining that one super store is about to bankrupt the town, the council and merchants should be looking past the inevitable and plan for the future. We should be supporting the small and large businesses that want to come into our area.

We should be enjoying this growth instead of hampering it. There is change in the future whether we like it or not. Cheyenne, Wyo., has its Frontier Days, Pendleton has its Round Up, Calgary, Alberta, has its Stampede, even Leavenworth, Wash., made a dying town into a real attraction.

It seems that although we have a great asset in Eastern Oregon University, we can do more to enhance our economic well-being. The council needs to get their heads out of the sand and think of the future of La Grande and Union County. What to do? A little imagination, a little ingenuity and a lot of can-do attitude on the part of all will accomplish a lot.

Sandee Fox

La Grande

Someone's pulling for you

To the Editor:

Johnny Arnold in his April 30 letter had a very good point in the fact that the politicians over here in Salem don't have a clue as to what is happening over there in Eastern Oregon.

I am proud to say I was raised in the mountains of Eastern Oregon in Wallowa. Every time I hear of public forums about cougars and bear populations, I have been at these forums trying to tell the people over here what a hazard it could potentially be.

They either don't want to listen or think we are blowing it out of proportion.

It will probably take a person or persons being killed before the law about bears and cougars is amended.

My advice to Johnny is to walk your kids to the bus stop and carry a sidearm if a predator gets too close. Kill it in self-defense.

Maybe then the Legislature will see there is a reason for this law to be thrown out.

For the people of Eastern Oregon I will continue my efforts to help the Legislature and others see the light.

Someone over here knows what it is like to live on that side of the Cascades.

You should know that there is at least one person fighting for you.

Edward Renfroe


Great improvement downtown

To the Editor:

La Grande's downtown looks so much nicer now because of the great project that Liz Alvord and the Garden Gate Club organized and made happen. They placed planters filled with flowers and plants along the sidewalks.

They've brightened the days of customers, business owners and staff, the many downtown residents and for travelers passing through. The Women Business Owners Alliance helped spearhead this project.

It's a beautiful gift to the whole community as well as to its visitors. It's a good feeling to have so many people feeling good about doing good.

We'll be able to enjoy your gift for a long time to come.

Doug Campbell, chairman

La Grande Downtown Development Assn.

La Grande

National Anthem hair-raising

To the Editor:

Watching the Portland Trail Blazer playoff coverage, we recently observed the Blazer coach, Maurice Cheeks, in an amazing moment of sensitivity.

Cheeks coached a frozen young lady through the National Anthem in a memorable and unique moment in basketball history.

Having attended most of the La Grande High School girls basketball games this season and having the hair raised on our neck by the various young ladies, who almost casually displayed their terrific singing talents and then walked off the court to pursue their teenage lives, we were once again reminded of our good luck.

At some other schools we often stood for a scratchy, emotionless recording of our anthem over the PA system, never at La Grande.

We don't know these girls but we thank them.

Guy and Nancy Crump

La Grande