March 07, 2004 11:00 pm

Speak up for veterans

To the Editor:

This is a plea for help. The unselfish members of your community are about to be dealt a devastating blow. The current regime has decided to spend billions on a flag-waving campaign camouflaged as a war.

This will give us more veterans. Many will come home needing life-long medical care. Many will come home mentally and spiritually scarred for life.

This, added to the thousands of veterans in the area, leads me to believe we veterans have become the unappreciated.

Is this the truth you want us to believe? I hope not, I truly pray it isn't. Anyone who saw the Feb. 14 edition of The Observer knows what I am talking about.

The current administration is about to take away the only medical facility within 200 miles from us. They say they have a better way, ha! Let me tell you some facts about many veterans. We don't trust many people or organizations.

There are many vets who would stop receiving all medical treatment. It is not their fault they are so emotionally scarred that they only trust other vets. Many are so damaged physically in such ways that only veterans' hospitals are equipped to care for them. There are many who need to have daily or weekly medical monitoring.

Have you tried to get a doctor's appointment lately? Guess what?

Veterans from Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Montana receive care at the Walla Walla VAMC. If you are taking the time to read this maybe there is still hope. Please contact the Veterans Administration, your senator, your congressman or state representative.

Please don't be silent, we need your help.

Rex Watson

La Grande

Where's tax money going?

To the Editor:

In response to the letter to The Observer Feb. 12 from Kevin Kennedy, I am offended by your attitude toward voters.

I am 21 years old. I lost my father when I was a baby because the hospital gave him minimal care for lack of insurance. In March my mother went into a coma and I was faced with the choice of paying $2,000 a day or taking her off life support and sending her to die in a nursing home.

I watched my 38-year-old mother become a barely breathing skeleton. She left behind four children and two grandchildren. I have lost both of my parents to the disease of poverty.

I am now raising my three siblings and my own children, and fighting to keep them on health insurance. My husband works 50 hours a week and was also in the military but he isn't even eligible for health insurance.

I have lived in Oregon for seven years now and I have watched taxes increase every year while somehow the budget for health care and education decrease.

These voters that you complain about, and appear to think of as lazy or heartless, look very hard for what little is left after taxes.

They are indeed thinking about their own pocketbook. That minimal amount means extra time at work and away from their families to make up the difference, because the difference may be their own health insurance, the shoes on their children's feet or even the food they put on the table.

What about our children's education and the safety of our neighborhoods? We need police officers to patrol our streets to prevent crime instead of brand new cars.

Maybe the real question should be, "Where is the money going?' instead of "Why aren't we giving more?''

Crystal Martin

La Grande

Bush doing what's right

To the Editor:

A few people in our country have made the false accusations that President Bush had gone AWOL during his service in the Texas Air National Guard. This is absolutely not true. The president has presented documents to the American people that he had served honorably during that time period.

President Bush has proven himself in his presidency to be a courageous leader for America. Doing what is right is not always popular, but at least it is always right.

Ben Baker

La Grande

Move ahead with library

To the Editor:

I attended a city council meeting the other day and heard some very good comments in favor of the new library design. For some reason I thought that discussion was drawing to a close. However, having read a few negative comments on the Opinion page of The Observer since then, I felt another positive comment might be in order.

I, too, have lived in La Grande for quite a while — 45 years to be exact — but I have lived elsewhere, too, and I think the new library design fits in fine. We have a wide variety of types of architecture in town and this would make a fine addition.

I would expect that the architects have considered La Grande's weather conditions when designing the building. Some of the letter writers don't give the architects much credit for engineering knowledge. Also, the folks on the library staff will have had input into the interior design including the children's library and they certainly have had experience with kids.

Let's stop trying to second-guess people who know what they are doing and let them move ahead with the project — And be thankful that ODS is along as a partner.

Howard Bailey

La Grande

Library costs seem high

To the Editor:

In response to the Feb. 21 community comment from Patty Turner:

I was at the city council meeting when they accepted the cost from ODS for the new La Grande Library. I made comments about the cost, which according to the national average are quite high. I have since received public information stating the budget figures for the cost of the exterior shell of the building. Those figures of $1.8 million, about $104 a square foot, do not make me feel any better.

On top of that cost, you have the site utilities, site prep for parking, parking lot lighting, striping and landscaping. Plus all the interior work and design.

I think it is great that La Grande is getting a new library, and in no way do I want to impede the progress for the library to be built. At the same time, do we want the city to have blinders on as to what the real cost of the building should be?

The construction company I work for and two other local contractors were interviewed for this project. We were all told that ODS did not think we were big enough or qualified to handle a project of this size.

The fact that we were not offered to put a proposal together for the library does not stop me from wanting the city of La Grande to get what it wants for the best price possible. If asked, I would donate my time and construction experience to help see this happen.

Patty Turner stated that the company I work for could beat, or meet any price from an out of town contractor. I did not say that, but because local contractors were not given the opportunity to put forth a competitive bid proposal for the new Library, we'll never know.

Johnny Arnold

La Grande

Adjust timing of ‘Walk' signs

To the Editor:

When it comes to pedestrian safety and courtesy, look to Chicago. I spent a week in the Windy City earlier this month, and in a mile-long walk to the Sears Tower downtown I noticed something.

The white "Walk" lights for pedestrians at intersections stay on much longer than they do in La Grande and elsewhere in Oregon. Although Chicago's downtown streets are wider than La Grande's to accommodate four lanes of travel, the "Walk" light stays on long enough for a pedestrian to get from one corner to the other without seeing the ominous amber "Don't Walk" lights blink in their faces.

La Grande's "Walk" signs stay on for about seven seconds crossing Adams Avenue. A pedestrian gets half across the street when the "Don't Walk" light appears. Does that mean we should stop in our tracks for a minute or two and block traffic, turn around and return to the place where we started, or proceed in some illegal fashion by walking in a "Don't Walk" zone?

Pedestrians should be able to traverse our intersections without guilt. Running across the street to beat the seven-second deadline is not an option for many of us.

I say let the timing of the "Walk" signs be adjusted to stay on long enough for pedestrians to get safely across the street.

Dave Stave

La Grande

Concerned about flat roof

To the Editor:

We agree with those who say the library building does not fit the town. But our main concern is the flat roof.

Did you see what our winter did to the ceiling tiles at our new Safeway? Do we really want to put books, videos and computers under such a roof? It could be disastrous.

Roy and Loree Leonard

Island City

Open eyes about Wal-Mart

To the Editor:

I enjoyed Bill Rautenstrauch's column about minimum wage jobs and Wal-Mart. He mentioned doing minimum-wage jobs for extra money. Builds character, job skills, cleaning sooty furnaces, etc. I can go along with that. We've all done them.

He says they come in handy, like when college students work for their education or seniors are supplementing their Social Security income.

There's one more part to that. Wal-Mart is the largest retail business in the nation, yet they won't pay over minimum wage, or overtime pay, or health insurance. Who's that handy for? Of course no one starts at the top, but they're not supposed to start at the bottom and stay there.

Another important thing here is the part about not having to stay with that job if you don't want to. This area has plenty of minimum-wage jobs. You can either move to another minimum-wage job, or keep the one you have to pay the bills.

That is why Wal-Mart targets rural communities, so the job seekers won't demand anything from them in fear of getting fired. Then they knock out all the competition and they really have a large labor pool to choose from.

We already have a Wal-Mart here. This community better open its eyes before it's too late. They don't take prisoners.

The last point I'd like to bring out is this. We could argue all day over a superstore. The real issue isn't what this store has or doesn't have. The real issue is, do we take the risk to find out?

Doesn't it make more sense to keep the Wal-Mart we have now instead of putting our head in a noose, chopping out both legs, then standing back to see what happens?

Michael Brosseau


Harassment alleged

To the Editor:

On Feb. 17 my niece was running errands for me in my 1991 Thunderbird super coupe, painted by a famous artist in Las Vegas — a one-of-a-kind.

At about 11 a.m. a plain blue truck pulled behind the car and flashed its lights. Behind it was a black and white. The truck was unmarked and the men not in uniform. The reason for stopping my niece was a broken taillight, broken by a hit-and-run at Safeway.

I was angry and called a policeman named Reddington. He asked me to get all the information from my niece, and when I did he informed me they were narcotics agents. They kept asking for someone named Alan. There is no such person in our lives.

I believe this is a form of harassment.

La Grande has a drug problem and yet the police knowingly bother honest people.

I've studied law and there's no way this stop was legal. You have to have more than a broken taillight for undercover agents to make a routine stop.

Becky Wagner

La Grande