December 07, 2003 11:00 pm

Rural should stay rural

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to Rodney Terry's proposal for a dirt race track on Palmer Junction Road. I drive by Mr. Terry's property to and from work and have been amazed at what I see on his property, namely manufactured homes in complete decay or shambles, and other pieces of what I consider discarded junk that blight the could-be- beautiful land he owns.

The idea of putting a dirt racing track on this property is uninsightful and short-sighted.

First, there is the noise that will travel farther than he or the planning commission can project, like across the canyon to Cricket Flats. Secondly, there is the pollution that the gasoline engines emit.

Do we need more haze and pollution in Elgin? Consider the wildlife that roam and graze freely and will be frightened away from the noise and crowds. Consider the increase in traffic and congestion. There already are enough beer cans and other kinds of trash strewn on the side of the road along Palmer Junction.

There is the great lie out there whenever anyone wants to add to the degradation of the environment. They use the trigger words "family fun, family wage jobs, more business for the town." This is an attempt to get what one wants; that is, another source of income at the expense of the environment and also, in this case, Mr. Terry's neighbors.

Some of us moved out here so we would not have to contend with traffic, noise and air pollution. Some of us like the quiet solitude and the wildlife. Is there something wrong with the idea of rural staying rural.

I urge others to oppose this reckless and polluting idea and write to the editor of The Observer and express their opinions.

I implore the Union County Planning Commission not to approve this land for the use Mr. Terry specifies.

Cheryl Lawhead-Yoder

75885 Palmer Junction Road


Provides services here first

To the Editor:

Concerning the article in the Oct. 14 Observer, "Local ESD takes to the air." Why are we flying administrators to Florence, Eugene and other places?

I am told the ESD is making money contracting with the Oregon Youth Authority to provide services, but according to Oregon statutes, the ESD's goal is "to provide equitable, high quality, cost-effective and locally responsive education services at a regional level."

I believe we need those services in our own counties first.

ESD offers services in Union and Baker counties, the Regional Special Education Program that provide services to the visually impaired, hearing impaired and autistic, and it provides speech therapy and diagnostic services to the schools. There are other programs too, but the special- needs programs are cut thin and service providers have extremely high caseloads in Union and Baker counties. How is the ESD justifying the cost of a plane and administrative services when these programs have needs?

Last spring I attended a board meeting in which the ESD laid off eight teachers, and in the same meeting bought a building and bus for the alternative education program now located in Haines.

ESD has a huge administrative cost, maintained at the same level as prior to the local districts taking over the special education programs.

Their Web site lists a superintendent, administrative assistant, director of special education, curriculum director, several alternative education supervisors and coordinators.

The local school districts are working with budget constraints. In the La Grande district, the superintendent is also part-time curriculum director, and the special education director is also supervising English language learner programs and talented and gifted programs.

Call ESD's board and tell them services need to be provided here first, administrative costs need to be cut and services need to be provided directly.

Carol Byron

La Grande

Tourists look to small stores

To the Editor:

I would like to talk about the Wal-Mart super store proposed for La Grande. This company has had one basic plan since the opening of its first store: build their stores in rural small towns where they can easily knock out the small business competition.

By doing that, it forces the whole community to depend on them for all their needs.

Building this store isn't just about saving $2 on a power drill. I can do that at the Wal-Mart we have now. It's about losing our choices.

Another point is that we get a lot of tourists here every year. They bring a lot of money into our community. They come here to get away from big box stores and urban sprawl. Any development has to be done very carefully but especially in small communities. I know our community leaders will protect everyone in their decisions.

Michael Brosseau


Be wary of court proclamations

To the Editor:

In accessing the trend our country is following, we have been veering from our original intent and warnings of the founding fathers.

This has been a mistake for civilizations in the past and could be true in ours.

We have been weakening our foundation as a nation.

We all know when the foundation is weakened, the structure eventually tumbles. Let us remember this, to be sure our judges understand they are not to sovereignly proclaim a law instead of enforcing the tradition that follows our constitution.

Thelma Hagen

La Grande

Tell us how to solve problems

To the Editor:

I have been listening to the nine — or is it 10? — candidates for the Democratic nomination for president, and there is one thing they all seem to be agreed on. There will be only one plank in the Democratic platform next year: get Bush.

All of these candidates seem to think the economy is terrible thanks to President Bush. When it is mentioned that the economy is growing at an unusually high rate, they say, "yes," but there are 3 million people unemployed, which sadly is true, but so far I have not heard one of them say how they would put those people back to work.

Maybe like President Roosevelt they would start the CCCs and WPA again. As I recall we went into the Depression in 1929 and employment started catching up in 1938.

As one Ph.D. economist recently said, every downturn for over 100 years shows that employment is the last thing to catch up.

I really wish these gentlemen and one lady would tell us how they plan to solve these problems instead of attacking each other, as well as attacking the president.

Roy Hills

Island City

Let chief run the show

To the Editor:

Dean Muchow has been chief of police in Union for at least the last six years. In that time he has supervised the two officers we have now and several more. In the past we had favorable comments about the effectiveness of the department. Yet, on Oct. 17, our city administrator put Chief Muchow on administrative leave pending an investigation into some complaints. It is my understanding that these complaints come from the two officers.

What happened? My understanding is that a few months ago the administrator, Bill Searles, started letting the officers go over the chief's head to complain directly to him. They have used this to promote their personal agendas. I have even heard people in town say that one officer thinks he should be our new chief. This is crazy.

Dean Muchow is an honest, moral man. He treats all citizens with respect and fairness. Even the people he's arrested like and respect him. He has the training and experience to be chief, unlike his two officers. Union has been lucky to have someone of his caliber, especially for the kind of money he is paid.

Every citizen in Union needs to get involved and talk to the city council about this. Our city administrator is wrong on this. He is leaving the city open to be sued for not following our own policies, and the council has allowed this situation to continue.

I encourage every person in Union who believes in fairness and truth to attend the next city council meeting at 7 p.m. Monday and demand that our elected officials give us back the police protection we pay for. We want our police force run by a qualified chief, not by an administrator who has not spent one day in a police training program.

Ermal Goucher


Treated well by city

To the Editor:

This summer my three sons spent several weeks with their grandparents in La Grande.

As Union County Fair week approached, my enterprising 10-year-old decided to pursue crafting and selling beaded gecko keychains from his grandma's yard.

He thought to ask if a vendor's license was required, so we called City Hall. Our experience was wonderful. Associate city planner Michael Boquist was kind enough to answer our questions, and then call us back shortly thereafter, offering to issue my son his own license for fair week, which he displayed proudly. My small entrepreneur did very well, and our treatment by the City of La Grande was the warmhearted, community-minded relations that I remember and appreciated during my own childhood.

It is often so easy to focus on the negatives in public service organizations. I couldn't let this opportunity pass by without expressing my sincerest appreciation.

Stacy (Huffman-Thompson) Shown

Graham, Wash.