December 21, 2003 11:00 pm

Hard to see principles applying

To the Editor:

In his Nov. 11 letter, John Petersen said our president is a "born-again Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ." He also derides the Moslem faith for their atrocities and concludes that as, "followers of (Jesus) Christ … we are commanded by God to love these people."

The Bible, the basis of the Christian religion, has a lot to say about loving our enemies, doing good to those who spitefully use you, turning the other cheek, walking the second mile, feeding the hungry and healing the sick. It also instructs us not to kill but love our enemies.

These are great principles and worthy for all of us to live by.

However, any resemblance between these principles and bombing the hell out of Iraq certainly escapes me. Sending our young men off to disarm Iraq, which apparently had no weapons of mass destruction and did not pose an imminent danger to the world, does not sound like following the Christian principles of loving our enemies and the command not to kill. It might be possible to find some justification in Christian principle to defend yourself, but Christian principle never justifies starting a war with someone who might someday do us harm.

Christian principle is bringing "peace on Earth and goodwill toward men." I find it not only difficult, but also impossible to square Christian principle with what is happening under the leadership of our president whom Petersen calls "a follower of Jesus Christ."

Lewis Currie,

La Grande

Picketers respectful in Union

To the Editor:

The editorial in the Nov. 20 Observer titled "City in turmoil," referring to Union, said, "Everyone is upset that details about Searles' decision haven't been disclosed, and some ugly and tasteless signs have popped up."

Since when is it a crime to launch a campaign in support of anyone? I'm not sure who "everyone" is, and I'm surprised at the comment that everyone is upset. The signs were of various colors, neatly lettered. That doesn't appear to be ugly.

The picketers were well-mannered, stayed on the sidewalk, didn't disrupt pedestrians, were not rude and, indeed, were courteous to everyone walking by. They did not prevent anyone from going into the council chamber.

What is ugly is intimidation, none of which was on the side of the picketers. They were Americans voicing their opinions without shouting, without flag-burning, without overturning cars or burning down buildings. Their opinions were voiced on signs.

The Observer said, "The controversy isn't doing anyone any good." Perhaps the well- mannered picketers were showing the community that there is something they believe in, something to stand up for and something to show an opinion about.

The issue they were picketing about is secondary to the rights they were expressing in this, the land of the free.

It appears to be The Observer's opinion that signs expressing an opinion are ugly and tasteless. Did The Observer ask any of the picketers to explain the signs or did it simply take a side in the issue at hand?

Land of the free, indeed.

Scott Morrison


Mountaineers look good

To the Editor:

I felt privileged to be able to watch the Eastern Oregon University Mountaineers play in both games at the AT&T Alaskcom Jamboree in Anchorage.

I am originally from Eastern Oregon and my nephew was one of the quarterbacks for the Mountaineer football team this year. So, I was very excited when I heard EOU was coming to town.

The Mountaineers played well in both games and they were a lot of fun to watch out there on the court. I hope the community of La Grande will show up to support them this season as there is a lot of talent and heart in this team. My family had a great time watching and cheering for them.

I hope they enjoyed their trip to Anchorage as much as we enjoyed having them here.

Sara Jackson-Coats


Support training center

To the Editor:

I am a volunteer firefighter and an EMT-B for the La Grande Fire Department.

I appreciate the opportunity to express what I think is a need within our community. I would like to provide information to the community to raise awareness and support for a Public Safety Training and Education Center.

The first attempt to inform the community of this project was via an article in the paper in July and a subsequent pancake breakfast to raise funds for this project. The second attempt was via over 900 letters to a majority of the businesses within the community.

Unfortunately, the response was disappointing since we only received 19 of those letters back with donations. I'm hoping the community is more aware of the La Grande Volunteer Firefighters' project to promote the safety of our citizens, and the preservation of the structures of the various businesses in our community.

The project will be ongoing for an unknown period of time since the amount needed is fairly large and the current federal grants for the fire service don't cover the construction of buildings for training. This is why we are pursuing community support. The La Grande Volunteer Firefighters are a non-profit organization.

You will likely see future fundraising projects and I would like to ask for your support, since the volunteer firefighters of La Grande feel training is essential to protecting the health and safety of our firefighters and citizens, and the preservation of the businesses in our community.

For information on this project, please contact the fire department at 963-3123 and one of the volunteers would be glad to provide you this information.

Tim Holt

La Grande

Military efforts well worth it

To the Editor:

As a patriotic American working in a dangerous corner of the world, I am gratified by the support of my fellow Americans back home in trying to make conditions better for me and our fellow Americans here in the Middle East.

Many servicemen and women have come here and some have died, fighting to ensure a peaceful future for this region and the entire world.

Their task, and that of our president, is far from an easy one. But I am gratified to observe the fervor and dedication they exhibit in carrying out their dangerous duties. I realize that there will be times of difficulty in the struggle to make the Middle East a more peaceful place to live. But the long-term goal of a more peaceful world should be kept in mind during these difficult times.

I encourage all my fellow Americans back home to continue to give their full support to our far-sighted president and to the servicemen and women fighting in the Middle East.

Please keep them and all of us Americans residing in this dangerous part of the world in your prayers; and let's hope that all of us can strive to bring about the long-term goal of a peaceful, democratic region that experiences the end of conflict and disharmony and the birth of peace, concord and brotherly love.

Kim Hester

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

Students ask good questions

To the Editor:

I would like to echo the appreciation expressed by Roy Hills (Nov. 22 letter) to the Imbler School students, faculty, staff and administration for their Veterans Appreciation Day on Nov. 6. I was also able to participate in the program as a veteran.

I had the pleasure of speaking to my granddaughter's fourth-grade class, taught by Sandy Mills. It was the first time I had spoken to a group in public about my experiences in the military and in Vietnam. I talked for a short while, then let the students ask questions.

I was very impressed by the awareness of the students and the intelligence of their questions.

There were questions about the military, hardware, weaponry and war. There were also questions about life in the military, the people of Vietnam, their lifestyles, food and the country. It was an excellent class to speak to. Way to go, Mrs. Mills.

The program then followed in the gymnasium as described by Mr. Hills. It was attended by friends and relatives, students and residents of the Imbler area. It was as powerful and moving as he said, especially when the entire school came by, shook our hands and thanked each one of us.

The day was billed as the first annual Veterans Appreciation Day. I hope to see many more. It was a very positive experience and made me truly proud to be a veteran and a citizen of the United States of America. We are truly blessed to live in Union County with towns like Imbler and its school.

Once again, I am grateful to the students, faculty, staff and administration of the Imbler School.

Randy N. Simmons

La Grande

What holiday's all about

To the Editor:

Before reading the front-page article of the Nov. 29 edition of The Observer, I thought everyone knew what Christmas was about. Although now I'm not so sure. I would like to take this opportunity to remind people what the holiday season is really about.

It's about thoughtful giving, spending time with your loved ones and appreciating what you have. It's about being kind and going that extra mile to make someone else's day better. It's not about presents, cars or jewelry.

And, perhaps most importantly, it's about Jesus' birthday. This year I wish more people would remember what Christmas is really about, and that the guy who wanted to go home for Christmas would really get to go.

Madison Young, 10

La Grande

Another flag preferred?

To the Editor:

To the letter writer who is "sick and tired" of seeing our country's flag proudly displayed in yards, windows or on vehicles.

If you don't support the United States of America, our government or troops, I would like you to respond to only one question:

Whose flag would you rather see?

Steven "Mad Max" Fund


Powder Valley respectful team

To the Editor:

I had the pleasure of being one of the game officials in the Powder Valley Badgers' win over Mohawk.

During the entire game, it was a lot of fun to work with the Powder Valley team, which went on to win the Oregon Class 1A (eight-man) football championship this past weekend. Not once was there a sportsmanship issue with the players or coaching staff. The players, in particular, were great to work with.

When there was a penalty or a question, they would ask politely for an explanation and always end the conversation with a sincere "thank you." The coaching staff was courteous and professional and concentrated on coaching their players and not trying to "assist" the officiating crew in performing its duties.

As a member of the Portland Football Officials Association who works a full varsity schedule as well as JV and freshman games, I get to see a lot of different coaches and teams. My schedule this year included some very good teams, including many that advanced deep into the Class 4A playoffs.

Nowhere else this year did I see such good examples of sportsmanship and unselfish teamwork as I did with Powder Valley in its semifinal game. It was truly an honor to get to spend some time with this coaching staff and group of players.

Steve Fawver


Pay attention to Union mess

To the Editor:

The points made in Tuesday's editorial in The Observer about Union and former police chief Dean Muchow only showed how little the writer understood what is at stake here.

This is not a fight for one man. The issue of Muchow's employment with the city is finished. This fight is about city leaders who don't follow the rules, a city administrator whom I feel has so little respect for our laws and policies that he did not even try to resolve the issues surrounding this administrative leave by following the disciplinary process in our employee handbook.

This is about every one of us being vulnerable at the hands of unethical men.

Administrator Bill Searles was so desperate to find some wrongdoing that he brought in the sheriff's office to look for evidence. Does that sound like a man who had a credible case for termination?

We have lost three capable city employees besides the chief due to the lack of management from our city administrator and lack of support from the city council.

I understand that two of our city councilors threatened one of our public works employees because he had the courage to speak out against the administrator.

The leadership of Union has failed us. This town is a mess. Edmund Burke once said that "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." The good men and women of Union can't afford to move on. It's time to stand up and pay attention.

Dean Muchow was just the straw that broke the camel's back — not the battle cry.

Deborah Clark


Plan has problems

To the Editor:

Concerning the requirements the planning commission set for Rodney Terry's racing facility in Elgin, this area is zoned for agriculture, grazing and logging. There is a conditional-use permit on this property for camping and fishing.

Neighbors are requesting that Terry carry a multi-million dollar liability insurance policy for fire.

Will the taxpayers foot the cost of increased police and ambulance services? What about drugs, alcohol and crowd control? What about the devaluation of nearby properties? If property values deteriorate, who will be accountable?

I talked with a woman who lives near the now- defunct Starkey racetrack who said "it was nothing but a drunken brawl." State police were called in for crowd control. Some of the people would use alcohol or drugs and ride their bikes on the road, which created noise and disturbances to the neighbors. It is my understanding that all 25 neighbors signed the petition to close this racetrack and they were glad to see it go.

Even if Mr. Terry bans alcohol, who is going to police the use of alcohol and drugs in such large crowds? Not everyone who attends these events drinks or uses drugs, but it only takes a few to ruin it for the majority.

I have heard that Mr. Terry has suggested that the trees will act as a barrier to noise. However, this land has been logged and the trees are sparse and far apart.

I suggest the Union County Planning Commis-sion do some homework and visit his ranch, and talk with the people in Starkey who signed the petition.

The commission needs to follow the zoning laws and deny any conditional-use permits that do not conform to the intended use of this land. Another petition with more signatures will be forthcoming.

Cheryl Lawhead-Yoder