June 03, 2003 11:00 pm

We're losing our rights

To the Editor:

Why is the economy in Union/Hanley County flat to dead? It is because we are following the gospel according to Hanley Jenkins for our "land useless" restrictions. You "can't do that here" because Hanley says so.

This man must go.

Until we are able to interpret land use by the standards of other communities, we will remain flat-lined under the personal guidelines of Jenkins, the county planner.

If two of our present county commissioners had the intestinal fortitude and the desire to see Union/Hanley County grow, they would put land use into the arena of making personal property rights the forefront of land- use decisions.

Our Union/Hanley Planning Commission should represent a cross-section of our county and not be a hand-picked group of people screened by Hanley Jenkins himself. The planning commission is part of the checks and balances to keep a planner in line with laws and the interpretation of those laws.

Other areas in our state are making great strides in economic development. They are also under the guidance of state laws that Union/Hanley County is under. The only difference between here and there is that we have Mr. Jenkins and a couple of gutless county commissioners who kiss up to Mr. Thousand Friends of Oregon Jenkins. They hold him up as a land-useless saint.

We are losing our personal property rights here in Union/Hanley County at a very rapid rate. If Hanley is not stopped, our private property will soon be governed by state of Oregon departments for the exclusive use of Oregon state. Meanwhile, the property taxes will still be paid by owners of that state used land. Grab the tar and feathers. We already have our railroad.

Kirk Achilles

La Grande

Born at Safeway store

To the Editor:

The recent article about the La Grande Hotel brought to mind the prior use of the site.

It was the home-site of La Grande pioneers and civic leaders Ben and Lydia Grandy. I have a picture of a large white house with tall trees and a large front yard.

The Grandys were the grandparents of my wife Jean Williams. The Williams family lived in Imbler but at the impending birth of Jean, the family came to La Grande and stayed at the Grandy home where Jean was born.

In later years Jean was fond of teasing her friends by telling them that she was born at the Safeway store.

Glen McKenzie


Great medical care available

To the Editor:

On Sunday, May 4, my wife and I were returning home to Salem after transporting our daughter to Brigham Young University, Idaho.

While traveling through Northeast Oregon at about 12:30 p.m., our SUV hit ice, slid sideways, flipped upside down, and slid perhaps 80 feet on its top, coming to rest in the median of I-84.

Although conscious, we were helplessly trapped in the vehicle, quite disoriented and unaware of the extent of possible injuries.

Two marvelous paramedic teams, one from North Powder and one from La Grande, arrived shortly thanks to a quick 911 call from a caring motorist. The men and women making up these teams carefully extracted us from a very compressed vehicle. They provided first-rate care for us at the scene, and rushed us to Grande Ronde Hospital emergency.

We continued to receive highly competent care at the hospital. Having been patients in a few emergency rooms in the past, we were somewhat surprised with the emergency staff's genuine concern not only for our medical condition, but our personal comfort.

We appreciate the medical professionals in the paramedic teams and emergency department. The community leaders of La Grande and North Powder have developed a great emergency-response system. We are grateful to those individuals and groups within your community that support and sustain your hospital.

We were fortunate to have sustained only minimal injuries. We also consider ourselves very fortunate indeed to have received consummate care from the beginning of our harrowing ordeal to the end.

James H. and Melanie J. Reynolds


More interested in baseball

To the Editor:

I would never have believed that the public schools in Oregon would be in the dismal, decayed state they are in today. If you don't believe this just visit one.

Talk with school administrators, teachers, students, support staff and parent-teacher organizations. Our present and past Republican-controlled legislatures have failed miserably with needed funding, and their only answer to the problem is to make deeper cuts.

Art, music, physical education, health, drama and athletics have been eliminated in many school districts and yet they are all an important part of the total curriculum. Teachers have been released and class sizes have increased dramatically to the point where instruction and learning are secondary to class control.

The Oregon Legislature is going to wait until the last minute to deal with a crisis that should have been a priority item on their agenda. It is a shameful situation and it is evident that our Legislature is more concerned with Major League Baseball for Portland than educating the children of Oregon.

Gary Feasel

La Grande

Land-use planning laws justified

To the Editor:

In reading Kirk Achilles' May 29 letter, if I am to understand correctly, it appears that Achilles feels that all of Union County's economic woes are the result of the county planning department and lack of personal property rights.

I do not know what project was denied to Mr. Achilles, but maybe he should step back and look at the larger picture of how zoning and development affects all of our lives.

The Oregon land-use laws first came into effect in the early 1970s when the then-Republican governor became very concerned about the unchecked urban growth that was occurring all over the state.

Oregon decided that it needed to come up with a set of rules to help orchestrate the development of our communities instead of allowing the short-term financial will of land developers dictate when, where and how growth would occur.

Although not perfect, Oregon has a series of land-use planning laws that have to be adhered to with little room for interpretation.

I think Achilles apparently wants to conduct some sort of activity on property that is not zoned for that use. Union County has areas zoned for various uses.

The last time I checked there was plenty of space remaining in our industrial- and commercial-zoned areas, which makes me wonder how land-use is affecting the economic growth of the community.

If Achilles feels that we need additional residential or industrial land, and the community agrees that this would be in our best interest, there are processes that allow for this to occur.

I for one believe that Hanley Jenkins, our county planner, is doing a fine job. He should not be subject to derogatory comments made by someone who apparently is used to getting his own way, even at the community's expense.

Greg Thurman

La Grande

Administrative costs up too much

To the Editor:

At the present time it appears that Union County will have about 9.23 percent less income in 2003-04 than last year. The county budget committee must determine where expenses can be cut in order to achieve a balanced budget as required by state law.

Through its elected commissioners, county government is responsible to decide how best to spend its income to fulfill the function of providing law enforcement, good roads, accounting, tax collection, etc.

County budgets fund administration and the agencies that provide direct service to the people, including the sheriff, district attorney, jail and legal service for low-income people. The administrative portion includes commissioners' salaries, the planning department, emergency services, the treasurer and county clerk.

In the proposed budget the required budget decreases are not equally reduced between administrative and direct people services.

In the administrative category there is a sum of the percentage increases of 61.9 percent. This is not a dollar amount but the sum of all the individual percent increases in this category.

For the direct support of public health and welfare — sheriff, corrections, legal services, juvenile department and others — we find a decrease of 86.85 percent. Of this figure the sheriff lost 22.03, corrections 12.1, victim services 10.72, juvenile 6.35, and legal service 5.54 percent. It is apparent that administrative people get increases in funds while direct services to the people are cut.

If this proposed budget is adopted, law enforcement and those services that function to maintain safety and welfare will be paying for the increases in administrative services.

You can provide input to the county commissioners at their June 18 budget hearing. Ask why administrative people are getting raises and law enforcement and others are bearing most of the cuts?

These questions and their answers could determine future livability and personal safety in our county.

Stephen Donnell

La Grande

Congratulations on fine show

To the Editor:

Congratulations, Eastern Oregon University, on a great performance.

My granddaughter, daughter-in-law and I completely enjoyed every minute of "The Scarlet Pimpernil," performed at Eastern last week.

The play was funny, the acting was very good — with such talented young men and women.

The evening was enjoyable.

Jeanette V. Jones

La Grande

Needs should be top of list

To the Editor:

We all pay state taxes. Those taxes should be spread fairly and evenly across the board. Our taxes should be divided proportionately to "causes" we need and want.

Need should come first — period.

When Measure 28 failed, it was because we said the taxes already paid were inappropriately utilized, even misused. Maybe not, but they obviously were not directed to needs first.

It seems simple: What I "need" comes first; that which is left is for "want."

Then came the smoke-and-mirrors. The taxpayers won't realize what we have done. The governor "takes" $5 million from the salmon program and gives it to schools. OK, a conscious decision.

But don't raise the fishing fees to recover the $5 million — that's just another way to tax without a vote, and remember, we said "no" by vote. If you want to "reallocate" the taxes paid, based on need first, that's smart, but don't backstab me to make it up. That's an unfair tax.

Stop blaming the PERS retirees. They didn't manage the system.

Someone needs to stand up and say, "We, the State of Oregon, mismanaged the PERS system; we need to fix it."

Richard Lee Underwood Sr.

La Grande

Removing marker hurts much

To the Editor:

This an open letter to the person or persons who removed the brass marker from the grave of my mother at the Enterprise Cemetery. My husband and I went to the cemetery today to put flowers on my mother's grave, and discovered that sometime between May 2002 and today (May 21, 2003), the brass marker had been removed.

I hope you enjoyed removing this marker, for you have removed all traces of my mother from this earth. My husband and I know the place where she is placed to rest but for future generations who wish to find the place, they will not be able to.

I would like to let you know that many people trace their past relatives by going to cemeteries. As for myself, this was just as big of a loss as on the day of the funeral, for now there is no reminder of her anywhere.

I do hope you enjoyed yourself and I forgive you for what you have done.

Kathy Street

La Grande