May 30, 2003 11:00 pm

Battle for liberty hasn't ended

To the Editor:

Many are elated that the war with Iraq is over. If the truth be known, a major battle has been won. But the war is far from over.

We have severed a major host of terrorist zealots. But the enemy remains at large throughout the world, aching to launch all manner of attacks at America and her allies.

Eliminating a major sponsor such as Saddam Hussein takes a great deal of wind out of their sails. God-willing, supplies and refuges for terrorist zealots will continue to dwindle with the ongoing efforts of collective America, which has proven it is willing and capable of going right to the heart of the problem.

It began on Sept. 11, 2001. But only God knows when it will end, if it ever really ends at all. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

On the home front as well as abroad, by soldier and civilian alike, locations, weapons and tactics will change. But the war against terrorism and its hosts will continue as long as anyone is willing to honor and defend Lady Liberty.

Ron Fischer


Professor shows soft side

To the Editor:

My husband and I chuckled at the memories of Lee Johnson shared by Gary Fletcher (May 3 column) and others who took U.S. history from him over many years at Eastern Oregon University.

We all remember and enjoyed the predictable flares of anger, especially in the spring when the windows were open and sports activities, along with lawn mowing, disrupted his lecture.

However, I had the opportunity to see the soft side of Dr. Johnson. Two weeks before finals in 1970 I delivered a baby and missed my exam.

I remember taking the makeup exam that was not the usual multiple-choice, but an essay test. As I was struggling to get my thoughts in order and suffering from writer's block, Johnson came by and picked up my paper and told me not to worry about it.

I was stunned and very much relieved, and will never forget that special glimpse of gruff Dr. Johnson.

I still got my "A."

Jean Hunter


Put politics aside

To the Editor:

I received an invitation to attend the National Day of Prayer breakfast in Enterprise. I was out of town and unable to attend but I would not have attended. I do not believe the speaker, Bill Sizemore, epitomizes righteousness, and I felt that his appearance in our community was politically self-serving.

To speak of a lack of morality in government while being convicted of illegal business practices reveals a serious misapprehension of the relationship between ethics and morality. If one espouses Christian ideals and standards of behavior, the bar is set higher in terms of ethical business dealing, not lower.

In a powerful description of how the nations will be judged at the end of the age, Jesus cites the following criteria: feeding the hungry, satisfying those who thirst, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and coming to those in prison.

Herein lies a more appropriate Christian agenda for the nation. It stands in stark contrast to the political agenda currently popular. There is certainly waste and corruption in government that needs to be weeded out, but there is no more there than in the halls of the big businesses that have gained the most from tax-cutting measures. The fact that I paid at least 50 times more in taxes to the State of Oregon last year than did PGE gives me pause when reflecting upon ethics, either in business or in government.

I am interested in helping plan next year's National Day of Prayer in Wallowa County. But I suggest that we put politics away, set aside denominational and theological differences and gather to pray for one another, anoint those who come for healing, and join our hearts and minds in Christian love and mutual concern.

Rev. Craig S. Strobel


TCU provides hope

To the Editor:

How sad to read about the closure of Grande Ronde Hospital's transitional care unit. Ten years ago my mother was dying of cancer and Alberta Stave and Dr. Richard Holecek decided to place Mom in the TCU unit for a few days. I had promised her I would not let her enter a nursing home.

Two days later we lost our mother, but all the great people in the TCU were so caring and loving and let the entire family stay with her to the end.

Little did I know that five months later I had to have both of my legs amputated below the knees at Oregon Health & Science University Hospital in Portland.

My husband, Jim, and my sister asked if I could be moved to Grande Ronde Hospital until I could go home. OHSU checked and said the TCU was equipped to take me. The TCU could fill the bill for what I had to face. That feeling really gives you a new lease on life.

The first nurse I saw at GRH was Kathy Kirby, and what an absolute angel. My next 16 days were filled with a lot of care in preparation for me going home.

I wish, by some act, this unit could survive. It gives a lot of us hope, and we all need that.

Mary Evers

La Grande

Counseling beneficial

To the Editor:

I applaud the efforts of our local ministerial association in promoting the idea of premarital counseling for couples who want to get married.

A key finding of the research conducted by the Oregon Center for Family Policy was that couples who took the time to get counseling have a healthier attitude about the permanence of marriage and the need to work through difficult times.

Nearly all — 96 percent — of those who participated in premarital counseling believe that a couple that was experiencing hard times in their marriage should work to make things better.

Adults who have not had premarital counseling were five times more likely to say a couple facing hard times should get a divorce.

It was also noted that younger Oregonians are more likely to have participated in premarital counseling than older respondents; 82 percent of adults 65 and over and 71 percent of those ages 50-64 did not participate in premarital counseling compared to 54 percent of 35-49 year-olds and 44 percent of 25-34-year olds. This may indicate a healthy step toward future marriages.

My husband and I were one of those who had the privilege of getting instructions and wisdom from older couples who have been there and succeeded.

After 10 years of marriage plus three children, I should say that it was a wise investment.

As a couple, we believe that a healthy marriage is the best gift we can give to our children.

Merlie Smith

La Grande

Likes Magic on show

To the Editor:

Thanks, Magic Johnson, for saying on the air that "the people of Oregon deserve better than that" — referring to the trading of players that Portland Trail Blazer General Manager Bob Whitsitt had done for us.

I like the way that it was written that Whitsitt resigned "under pressure."

Maybe if we never had him, we could still have Clyde Drexler and announcer Bill Schonely and we would have the chance to root for a better balanced team of winners — not losers (on the court and in the courts).

I love the Eric, Ernie and Charles show on TNT before and after NBA games.

And when Magic is on the show, too, it is an extra wonderful bonus.

A long-time fan,

Jackie Colwell


Not everyone has returned home

To the Editor:

President Bush claims major combat operations in Iraq have ended, but not the end of the war. "We do not know the day of final victory, but we have seen the turning of the tide," he said.

If you follow the news at all you will see that violence is still occurring.

Service members are still being injured. Coalition forces in Eastern Iraq have been fired upon, and seven other incidents occurred over the weekend.

I get my information from the Department of Defense Web site. I stay up on all of this because for me the war isn't over. Our son, Spc. Anthony Bingham, has recently been deployed from Fort Riley, Kan., to Northern Iraq. He is with the 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, and will be joining the 101st Airborne.

He already served six months in Kuwait, but the Bulldogs have been re-deployed to Iraq and will be there for quite some time. So all of this to say, in all the excitement of the homecomings, don't forget to continue to pray for those who are still serving.

Thank God for those who are home with their families. I think we should have a county-wide welcome home for our local military. Remember those who have lost family members in this war, and please continue to show your support by tying or wearing a yellow ribbon to support the troops or a blue ribbon for a family member to show your support.

Fly your flags and be proud to be an American.

Beth Bingham


Prof started career in Imbler

To the Editor:

Much has been written or said about the late Lee Johnson and rightfully so. The former Eastern Oregon University professor's life and teaching have influenced many lives through the years.

I don't recall anything being said of the things that preceded in his life, before most of you knew him.

I would like to add another dimension. He came to Imbler grade school in about 1931, fresh from Eastern Oregon Normal School to teach seventh- and eighth-grades.

I was in the seventh grade.

He was to follow a very experienced and capable teacher who seemingly had some extra money to do many things for his students. Lee came when the Great Depression was in its full fury.

Mr. Johnson, as we respectfully called him, felt very inadequate following the other teacher. I recall his struggles trying to discipline unruly country kids. But as time went on he gained the respect of the students and the Imbler community.

I've wondered if the experience he had with us was what inspired him to go on to teach in higher education.

Lee was my friend until he died. Whenever I met him at the grocery store or on the street he treated me with the greatest respect and always on a first-name basis.

Elmer L. Perry

La Grande

Sales tax could increase

To the Editor:

Concerning the column that Dave Stave had on the April 24 opinion page about maybe we should be considering an Oregon sales tax as our schools are struggling without more funds to keep operating.

I came from Northern Idaho in 1969 where we were assured by our politicians that we would not have any more problems keeping our small schools operating if we passed a sales tax.

We had five small schools merging together, similar to ones here in Union County, hoping the high prices for their administrators, school building and furnaces, etc.,would help get more money from the state.

Then after the sales tax passed, we found the tax money based on the number of students and that the majority of the money went to Moscow, Lewiston, Boise and other bigger schools in Southern Idaho.

I'm sure if we pass a sales tax in Oregon, they will keep increasing it as Idaho is doing again, now that they are also having problems finding more funds for schools.

The money, if we vote in a sales tax in Oregon, will end up going to the bigger schools in Portland, Salem, etc. As usual Eastern Oregon would not get the extra benefit for our schools. And as the state's politicians try to get the sales tax through, instead of trying to find a fund not needing so much of the tax and put in a budget that can be kept, they will raise the sales tax as Idaho is doing.

We have to budget our money, so why can't they? Our state's problem is not more revenue but their spending.

Dottie W. Wilkes

La Grande

Volunteers doing good work

To the Editor:

Most people know that Grande Ronde Hospital Home Health Hospice provides a very special kind of care for terminally ill people and their families, but it's less known that if it were not for volunteers, our hospice could barely function.

Hospice uses a team approach. The team typically includes physicians, nurses, counselors, the clergy, home health aides and volunteers. While our hospice employs paid professionals, we also rely on volunteers to provide assistance at all levels of skill. Most of our volunteers work on these teams directly assisting patients, others help with the bereavement process following death.

No task is too big or too small for our volunteers, but often the most important thing they can do is just be there for patients, to reassure them they are not alone, to hold a hand, to offer a smile or to share a good cry.

It is not easy work, but the personal rewards are enormous. The strength and courage of patients provide a constant source of inspiration, and volunteers usually feel they gain more than they have been able to give.

Locally, 10 people donated their service to our community hospice during the last year. In a number of ways, volunteering for hospice differs from other community work. For one thing, patient-care volunteers are required to undergo at least 30 hours of standardized training.

Our hospice is growing as more and more people seek our help. For this reason, we have a constant need for volunteers. If you would like to learn more about hospice volunteering, call us at 963-1453.

In the meantime, we should be grateful to the volunteers of Grande Ronde Hospital Home Health/Hospice Program for the wealth of time and compassion they give for the betterment of our community.

Robin Ostermann, R.N.

Teresa Smith-Dixon, L.C.S.W.

Grande Ronde Hospital

Support alternative school

To the Editor:

La Grande High School has been in the position of developing and running a successful alternative school. Teachers Lin Casciato and Pete Ridder and teaching assistant Johanna Everidge have been reaching students who face obstacles ranging from poverty, teen pregnancy, long-term academic failure and chronic delinquency.

Their previous school performance has ranged from poor to disastrous. These students, labeled failures, troublemakers or dropouts in the high school, are accomplishing remarkable achievements in this smaller, supportive, demanding, more individualized setting. Students that once had straight Fs are on the honor roll. Not only are they exhibiting improvements in academic performance, they are showing improvements in self-esteem and reductions in behavior problems and dropout rates.

Even with its successes the school is threatened by budget cuts. With around 135 students dropping out of LHS per year in the past two years, it is important that the alternative school remain open. Statistics show that more than 80 percent of prison inmates are high school dropouts; teen parents who have two or more children can expect to remain on welfare for a decade. Society pays a high price for children's school failure.

Oregon law requires districts to provide educational alternatives for students who either are not meeting or are exceeding educational standards. Evidence of educational alternatives for those students that are exceeding educational standards is evident as early as the first grade but the system is failing those students who are not meeting the educational standards. The La Grande High School Alternative School is meeting those needs for freshmen and sophomores.

A budget meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday to discuss the alternative school and other programs. The meeting will be held at the middle school. Help keep the La Grande High School Alternative School open by showing your support.

Donna Marshall

La Grande