November 02, 2003 11:00 pm

Birds create some drama

To the Editor:

On Thursday evening I drove over to Union to watch the Vaux's swifts go to their rest.

I stood in the park next to the hotel so I could see the tall chimneys at the back which were not visible from the street.

At 7 p.m., the swifts were a ragged chattering mass high above, little sickle-shaped birds catching insects on the wing. But in a few minutes, as if by signal, they began to fly lower and soon formed into a swirling mass.

By 7:15 the mass had become a whirlpool of birds and again, as if by signal, suddenly they funneled down into the middle chimney and were gone.

A man at the desk in the hotel said the swifts have been roosting in the chimney for the past two or three years. He estimated the flock to number in the thousands.

The swifts will perform nightly until a freeze kills off local insects and then they will continue their migration south. Their little drama is well worth a trip to Union.

Linda Elegant

La Grande

Butler's office responded

To the Editor:

On or about Aug. 14, I sent copies of letters from or to the Department of Human Services in La Grande about my son's case.

Here are those who took the time to answer me: U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore.; U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore.; U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.; U.S. Rep Darlene Hooley, D-Ore.; U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.; and Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers. I am grateful that they at least answered me.

Here's a list of those who did not take the time to answer: State Sen. Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day; Gov. Ted Kulongoski; Milli Morisette of the DHS Foster Care program; U.S. Rep. David Wu, D-Ore.; Steve Duin, columnist for The Oregonian; Ed Teachout of Channel 2 News, Portland; editor of the La Grande Observer; La Grande's city manager; La Grande's mayor; Todd Siex, regional manager for DHS Child Welfare and Self-Sufficiency Program; Jerry Buzzard of DHS Child Welfare; and Kari Geoghegan.

The only one who called me and showed any concern on this matter was Becky Sterup, who works for state Rep. Tom Butler, R-Ontario. I appreciate her showing concern about this problem with the DHS in La Grande.

We still are being denied visitations with our grandchildren; it has almost been one year since this event happened. I thought DHS's first priority was to reunite the family, but in this case they have torn us more apart. How many other cases are being handled the same way.

When it comes to election time you know whom we'll vote for or not vote for, plus our family and friends.

Concerned grandparents,

William F. Weber Jr. and

Dorothy F. Smith

Baker City

Annoying behavior

To the Editor:

There has been a lot of praise for the Cycle Oregon event that occurred in our area a few weeks ago. Well, here is one person who would like to make a couple of suggestions to the local people who support Cycle Oregon, as well as those who participate in the event.

My wife and I started for La Grande the morning the riders were to come through Union. When we got about a mile out of town, we were confronted with two riders who had pulled off the main road onto a side road and were standing in full view of the other cyclists and anyone who happened to be driving along the main road, urinating like a couple of 5-year-olds having a contest.

They were not making any attempt to conceal themselves. As we got nearer La Grande, we witnessed numerous riders leaving their bicycles at the side of the road and running into and out of the trees that line the roadside, obviously for the same purpose. At least they were not in full view of the road.

It would seem that someone should have a talk with the people who organize and promote Cycle Oregon regarding the protocol for participating in such an event. Just rudimentary things like going to the bathroom before they start the ride.

Scott Morrison


Watch those regulations

To the Editor:

The Union County commissioners and county planners should think long and hard before placing unnecessary ordinances on Alpine Power's proposal to develop a wind farm near Union.

The commissioners, who have been extremely helpful to Elgin in its economic development plan, should stay on track in pushing for ways to improve the job situation throughout the county.

The following should be considered in dealing with Alpine's proposal or any other developer who might want to set up shop in the county:

• We should take a long-range approach in considering renewable energy. Our zoning laws, which embrace the environmental livability concept, should be reviewed and redesigned for many types of industrial development, including wind generation.

Wind power, which might pose noise and sight-pollution to some, is certainly preferable to health-degrading pollutions such as toxic fumes and smoke.

Somewhere down the line, people are going to have to make choices. They will have to accept the lesser of two negatives. Increasing demands for electricity will mandate some type of power source, whether it be oil, natural gas or some other.

• We should change some of our zoning laws for many Eastern Oregon counties, or at least show more flexibility in their interpretation.

When the Legislature enacted zoning laws in the 1970s, they were designed under the concept that the whole state's population would grow at a rather rapid rate. Zoning was designed to slow growth, not stop growth altogether as it has done in many Eastern Oregon counties. Most of our zoning laws are more applicable to the west side of Oregon.

County officials should use common sense in their decisions.

Why spend lots of time and effort in attracting new jobs to the area and then turn around and retain or install a gauntlet of regulations that would run a potential employer off.

Harlan Scott


Bush should deal with debt

To the Editor:

I wrote the following in response to a letter received from Marc Racicot of the Republican National Committee.

"In response to your tin cup letter of Aug. 27, I have voted the Republican ticket all of my life excepting the one time that I voted for Franklin D. Roosevelt.

"The outstanding reason I do not support President Bush is money. Every activity of his is big money — not his of course, but public funds projected at $7.4 trillion.

"Bush came to Portland recently. I wanted to go from La Grande to hear him speak but Bush has all but killed the Amtrak.

"The Pioneer no longer runs, only coast routes with trains favoring vacations for the affluent.

"Bush got to Oregon on Air Force One at $50,000 per hour of the public's money. And it is reported that he raised $1.3 million here.

"Our big manufacturing companies have gone overseas largely because our tax laws favor this. As a result, our unemployment climbs. There is a solution that not only will help unemployment, but also big oil and big business: start a war and put the employed into the Army, allowing the unemployed to fill the newly vacant positions at home. Unemployment shrinks and political fortunes rise.

"All the while, the national debt grows by trillions — one heck of a credit card debt.

"The U.S. has a well-paid chief executive officer. Any CEO of a large company that spent the majority of his time running around making fund-raising speeches and vacationing at home would find himself in search of a new job.

"Wouldn't our CEO make better use of his time trying to pay off the national debt? Or better yet, figuring out how to extract us from the quagmire in which we find our nation."

David Arnott


It's time for fishing equality

To the Editor:

When the Confederated Tribes were given the right of taking fish in the treaty of 1855 did that include the use of nylon gill nets? The treaty reads in part: "the exclusive right of taking fish in the streams running through and bordering said reservation is hereby secured to said Indians and at all other usual and accustomed stations, in common with citizens of the United States."

The salmon are now running, and on Sept. 23 at the Port of Umatilla the Indians were selling salmon for $1 per pound. It was also witnessed that they put some of those fish into a dumpster. It is my understanding that they were to fish for their subsistence and could only take what was needed to subsist. Why are they allowed to continue to leave these gillnets in place if they are going to sell the fish or waste them? There are two groups who have eight gill nets in and around the Port of Umatilla.

How much longer is our government, Marine Fisheries, BPA, sportsmen and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife going to allow these intolerable situations to continue? How long are they going to continue to use our tax dollars to subsidize Native Americans, then allow them to take more than they need, then have them scream there is a shortage of fish. Is it the dams' fault? Do they need more grants or ranch land purchased for fish rehabilitation?

Many non-Indian fishermen have fished for several hours and haven't caught any fish. Shouldn't all of the fishermen be allowed to fish with modern-day gill nets, or should we change the laws to make us all equal and continue to use up all of our natural resources with all of this documented waste?

Glenda Christian


Imbler bond best option

To the Editor:

This month, voters in the Imbler School District will have an opportunity to vote on a bond levy for the construction of a new elementary school and gymnasium.

Many patrons in the Imbler School district firmly believe if we don't address the problem of an elementary school facility, which has reached the end of its useful life, we will soon be faced with the inevitable reality of merging with a neighboring school district.

The Imbler School Board and the Imbler Building Committee have spent the last couple of years considering options. Renovation of all or part of the current facility has proven to be cost-prohibitive. It would cost as much as one-and-a-half times the cost of new construction to renovate the current facility, by the time all the structural problems are dealt with and the facility is brought up to code.

In addition, we would have the problem of what to do with the students while the renovation is taking place. Merging with another school district has been studied. Based on the information gleaned from the failed attempt of merging the Joseph and Enterprise districts and the Imbler School Board's research, it was realized that the cost savings would not materialize and we could still be faced with a potential bond levy, this time possibly building somewhere other than Imbler.

Voting to impose a tax on yourself is never an easy thing to do. This is one opportunity to pay taxes into a local project where we can actually see how the money is spent. The money will be spent entirely on a project that the whole community can use, enjoy and be very proud of.

A positive vote for this bond on the Nov. 4 ballot will go a long way in securing the future of public education in Imbler.

Bill and Stacey Merrigan