October 12, 2003 11:00 pm

Need more comprehensive survey

To the Editor:

An invalid statement was made in the library district article on the front page of the Sept 10 issue. The article is misleading, as a result.

You said that 41 percent of county residents surveyed said they are against a taxing district to establish a county library. Then you stated that only 184 of the 500 surveyed responded. That is not quite 37 percent responding, and even if all of those were negative, it is still not 41 percent of the survey. How were the 500 people selected? Were they all library patrons?

Unfortunately, we seem to be in a time when folks want public services, but don't want to tax themselves to pay for them — witness the state tax situation. Maybe a more comprehensive survey would bring responses from those who really want a library. Or maybe the city library should charge an annual fee to those users not currently supporting it financially. I would readily pay such a fee, in the absence of a county taxing district.

Howard L. Bailey

La Grande

Volunteers needed for SMART

To the Editor:

Oregon schools narrowly escaped a crippling financial blow this legislative session. Time to breathe a sigh of relief and go back to business as usual? Definitely not.

Now's the time to rebuild, not just Oregon's education system, but also the pride and involvement Oregonians have traditionally had in their school system — prior to Doonesbury, shorter school years, and uncertain funding. It's time to look beyond how budgets, government and teachers are singularly impacting the education process and figure out how best to help our kids move forward.

Better education is not only a pocketbook issue — our children thrive and achieve when they are supported by an engaged and caring community. Oregonians have shown they are willing to do what it takes to keep our schools open. Yet, outside of taxes, voting and contacting legislators, many concerned Oregonians still feel powerless to know how they, as one person, can make a difference.

When individuals get involved, the results are real and powerful. Through programs such as SMART — Start Making A Reader Today — where volunteers give an hour each week to work with children in one-on-one reading sessions, success speaks for itself. Independent research shows that SMART students develop key reading skills significantly faster than their peers and maintain these gains even after leaving SMART.

Volunteering for programs like SMART doesn't involve a major time commitment, special skills or financial obligations. But dedicating just one hour each week to connect personally with children and help our schools is priceless. It's not only schools and kids that benefit. The pride that comes from working to make a positive difference builds hope and strength — something Oregon desperately needs now as we look to the future.

Mary Jubitz, CEO

Oregon Children's Foundation

Trucks provide important service

To the Editor:

In response to the letter, "Trucks not over regulated," I am afraid I side with Mr. Randall Driskell on this issue.

My dad has been a truck driver most of his life. Therefore, I grew up in the trucking industry.

Roger Morin's letter in response makes it sound like he is not against over-regulation of the truckers but against trucks and drivers, period.

Think of this: Timber is felled in the woods, skidded to the landing, loaded on a truck, brought to the mill to make boards and plywood so you can build a house. Pulp is hauled to the mill to make toilet paper to wipe your hind end. Trucks haul wheat to a mill to make flour so you can make bread, cake, etc. Trucks haul sugar beets to plants to make beet pellets, to be trucked to cattle ranches to feed cattle that will be trucked to the slaughter house to be butchered and made into hamburger, to be trucked to the restaurants so you can have your Big Mac. And trucks haul the asphalt from the batch plant to the construction site to patch or re-build the roads they destroy. It's the circle of life.

As far as fuel-wasting, polluting vehicles, this would be the 1979 Ford F-250 4x4 with a six-inch lift, 460 motor with cherry bomb mufflers and sucked valves heading down Island Avenue smoking excessively. THAT should be regulated.

As far as the truckers turning in front of you, they come off the freeway and have to go into the mill. When they come out of the mill most of them need to get right back onto the freeway. I have watched cars and pickups just fly right by the trucks sitting there trying to pull out. Finally, the trucks just start moving. Do any of the rude, inconsiderate cars or pickups, slow down or stop to let them out? NO! Maybe there should be a stop light added to the strip for this purpose. Or better yet, maybe ODOT could build a separate on and off ramp straight into the mill.

Sandie Gregory


Cattle using old golf course

To the Editor:

We read with interest the article in The Observer Sept. 4 "La Grande Country Club celebrates 75th anniversary."

What may be of historic interest was the sentence "the original facility was built west of town." Indeed it was. The road to the golf course crossed the railroad tracks just west of the weigh scales on Interstate 84, rising along a gentle slope to the club house at the edge of the low bluff, just north and parallel to the railroad tracks. The road then descended west until it intersected with the Robbs Hill road.

At one point, under private ownership, the club consisted of a swimming pool called Pine Cone, a small grocery store and filling station and cabins for travelers on the gravel precursor of the old Highway 30.

The clubhouse was a large structure, — large by 19th and early 20th century standards — approximately 90 feet in length by 35 feet wide, wooden with a concrete foundation. Remnants of the concrete foundation can still readily be seen from I-84. The clubhouse burned in 1926.

A large pump brought water from the Grande Ronde River to a huge underground cistern located basically in the center of the course to irrigate the grounds and supply the clubhouse. The cistern is still intact.

At least one of the tees at the high end of the course was underlined with macadamed asphalt, which is still very visible, and many loads of large- and middle-sized boulders and rocks were deposited in ravines and low depressions along the edges of the course.

We bought the original golf course and adjacent mountain pastureland in 1955, about 30 years after the course ceased to exist, and seeded timothy, brome and orchard grasses, and use the old course for summer pasture for our cattle.

Gary and Bernice Webster

La Grande

Lot available downtown

To the Editor:

It seems that the year 2003 is the year of class-action lawsuits. Such being the case, there is a great opportunity for La Grande to get a lot of money and free media advertising by bringing a suit against Greyhound Bus Lines for breach of contract.

It is thought that Greyhound has very deep pockets. Our local lawyers would also benefit at $500 per hour.

Tickets bought from a far-off place to La Grande is a contract between the passenger and the bus company to deliver the passenger to the city of La Grande, not to dump the passenger at a service station on the highway where it costs an additional fee to get to the city.

We could also enlarge this into a personal injury suit by having someone hit on the highway while walking to La Grande after being dumped off at the Flying J at 3 a.m. Oh what fun we could have and think of the money to be had.

On the serious side, one wonders if it is the desire of our civic people to make La Grande devoid of public transportation to the outside world. Glory be to the automobile, the gas station and those who own them. As to those without, well let them ride a horse.

As a suggestion: what is wrong with building a transportation center on the empty used car lot at the end of Jefferson across from the old Safeway diggings — I'm sorry, the library? We would then truly have a city center.

David Arnott


Stand by for Portland Street light

To the Editor:

I would like to share some information with your readers regarding Tuesday's letter to the editor titled, "Trucks provide important service," and the comment it made about adding a stoplight on Island Avenue for trucks entering and exiting the mill.

During the past two years, the Oregon Department of Transportation, in cooperation with Boise Solutions, local business owners and the Idaho Northern and Pacific Railroad, has been developing the Island Avenue Signal Section project.

A pivotal feature of this project will be moving the Boise mill access to a new location at the intersection of Portland Street and Island Avenue. A new light at the intersection is planned. As part of the project, the signal at the La Grande Town Center will be removed.

Construction will begin in May 2004 and be completed by the end of summer.

For more information regarding this project, please contact ODOT project leader Steve Davis at 963-1585 or myself at 963-1330.

Tom Strandberg

ODOT Region 5 Public Affairs La Grande

Quick response pays off

To the Editor:

Last Saturday a wildfire occurred on Craig Loop. All of us who live in the area were quite concerned about our safety and our homes.

Thanks to the quick response and efforts of our local fire departments and others, the fire was contained and put out without any major damage.

Too often we take for granted our safety and security and forget about those who protect us from harm and loss. Our family is grateful to all those involved in protecting our homes, including Imbler/Summerville, Elgin, Island City, Cove, state and Forest Service fire responders.

David and Pat Rainey


Supposition in letter

To the Editor:

I was amused by the letter from Cecil Mecham in the Sept. 6 Observer.

The most amusing portions were facts replaced by supposition. The first was the insinuation that archers want to carry handguns to protect themselves from predators. Most of the archers I know are not happy with the change.

In the 1960s bowhunters requested that ODFW make possession of a bow and gun illegal during bow season to eliminate the rumor that archers killed the animal with a gun and stuck an arrow into the hole. This might have happened with scabby hunters but such hunters are not exclusive to bowhunting.

Later ODFW, in attempting to curtail scabby party hunters who hunted for elk with no valid elk tag while pretending to hunt bear, cougar or coyotes, declared this illegal unless the elk tag was valid and unfilled. This applied only to those hunting with that other weapon. Many of those hunters were extremely unhappy.

Years later their voices were heard by a judge who determined ODFW did not have that authority due to the Second Amendment, and therefore bowhunters could carry handguns, and scabs could hunt predators during elk season without a valid tag.

Mr. Mecham, you are correct that predators do not select bowhunters as prey in general; however, they walk through the woods using cow-calf voice imitators that in essence say "here's lunch." I have three friends who have had to defend themselves against cougars, and did so with their bows and not a gun.

Beyond that, Mr. Mecham, how can you tell the gun report you hear is not shot at a grouse or a bear, or sighting in a rifle? Is it again supposition replacing fact? One believes what one wants to believe.

Gene Erwin

La Grande

Jobs would be shifted

To the Editor:

I have followed the debate over whether the Wal-Mart superstore should be constructed. I read an article in the paper telling us how many jobs will be created if the superstore is built. No doubt consumers will pay lower prices if the superstore is built.

Presently La Grande has three large grocery stores. If the superstore is built, there will not be any more people shopping. I do not believe for a minute that Union County will be able to support four large grocery stores.

One of them, probably Shop'n Kart, or possibly Albertsons, will go out of business. Rite Aid would likely go out of business as well. This will create vacant business space. The jobs Wal-Mart claims it will create will be lost elsewhere. In short, jobs will be shifted, but not added to the community.

I am fully supportive of more competition and paying lower prices as a result. I am however, opposed to more urban sprawl.

Rather than have Wal-Mart create urban sprawl as it is proposing, and then have vacant business space created, why not have Wal-Mart buy out Shop'n Kart, which will close anyway when the superstore is built, and create the proposed superstore in the existing Wal-Mart/Shop'n Kart complex. This will avoid more sprawl and give Union County people the lower shopping prices they desire.

Mark Kemp

La Grande