November 22, 2004 11:00 pm

All aboard for railroad success

To the Editor:

The article about the Two Rivers Excursion on the Wallowa Union Railroad was great.

Last month my wife and I took that trip. I especially enjoyed it because in my younger years I fished the Wallowa from Minam to Rondowa often. If you haven't taken that trip, you really should.

All of the help except the engine crew are unpaid volunteers, and they were so courteous, so friendly. The musical entertainment was great, snacks, soft drinks and bottled water were offered free at your seat and coffee was available in the diner throughout the trip.

The meal wasn't sandwiches and chips; it was a meal and served at your seat. It would have cost $15 to $20 in any restaurant in La Grande or elsewhere.

If the WURR is supported and promoted widely, I believe in time it could be a winter service for skiers, and can only grow in popularity as a summer tourist attraction. It is already attracting out-of-state visitors.

Let's try to help it and support and not run it down.

Roy Hills

Island City


Promote independent thought

To the Editor:

I was surprised to see that someone took the time to respond to my letter.

Not everybody is right, but we are all entitled to our opinions. Obviously my opinions sparked a little independent thought on the part of the person who responded.

Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Constitution, but you are also free not to practice religion if you choose.

The idea of getting back to the kind of country the founding fathers meant to create is wonderful. But they were slave owners who, while claiming that all men are created equal, excluded blacks, Indians and women.

We're still proud of the grand country that sprouted from the seeds sown by those founding fathers. Their grand experiment has created powerful industries and institutions. Of course, we don't stop to think about the generations of Africans who were enslaved in order to create them, or the untold number of indigenous cultures that were exterminated in the process.

We don't stop to think about the people who put in 40 hours a week to earn barely enough money to pay for a place to live and food to eat, or the businessmen profiting from the labor of a different underclass of people

I'm proud to be an American despite the host of sins that were committed to get us on the map. I'm proud of my ancestors who served in past conflicts, but I still feel that putting a soldier in harm's way without a clear-cut objective is a potential waste of a good soldier.

Bush's crusade against terrorists is more like chasing the boogieman. That's my opinion, and I don't rely on the church or the media to form


I think it's a shame so many people do.

Tom Dalton

La Grande


Work for victims

To the Editor:

My friends' son, Christopher Fahlgren, was murdered and the justice system failed them.

Martin Birnbaum, the district attorney, took away their rights. he can put any kind of spin on it that he wants, but the fact is Michael Botting will have the right to a parole hearing in 30 years.

In 30 years anything can happen. Will the prisons be too crowded? Will the parole board by made up of liberals who think he should get a second chance? Will he be what they consider a model prisoner? Will there be someone at the parole hearing who can speak for Christopher?

In 30 years Michael Botting will be in his 50s. He will have the chance to start a new life. That is not life in prison.

Michael Botting will get a second chance and if his parole is denied, in two years he can go to the parole board again. How many more after that? Christopher will not have any more chances to live his life.

Martin Birnbaum stated in an article Nov. 2 in The Observer that the Fahlgrens wanted vengeance. My friends wanted Michael Botting to have life in prison without the possibility of parole.

That is not vengeance. That was seeking justice for their only son, their only child. Martin Birnbaum's job is to work for the victims, not the accused.

Amber Heine

La Grande


Help your neighbor

To the Editor:

I can appreciate the disappointment that people of liberal politics are experiencing.

All the emotion rallied for the election season, however, doesn't need to have been wasted.

People confirmed, among other things, how much they care about the welfare of the poor and elderly. It may be that the current welfare system won't expand, but it's little trouble to help the folks in our own back yard. I've heard it said that there are elderly people here who have to choose between groceries and medicine.

Do you have any idea, the amount of rice, beans and potatoes $10 can buy? This is an excellent time to find out.

Do you know a doctor who constantly receives drug samples in the mail? Now's a good time to introduce him to your elderly friend.

If you want to have a wider or more anonymous impact, there are many churches and other organizations in the area that run clothing and food programs. If you want to anonymously help a particular person or if you are concerned about your money being spent purely on food, many churches, etc., arrange for you to earmark funds for specific purposes.

If you've got the rallying spirit in your blood, run a collection drive. You'd be surprised how many folks, who wouldn't raise their taxes to save their lives, open up their wallets when a kid is in the hospital.

However you help your neighbor, there's no "all or nothing" gamble for your efforts paying off. You win by the effort itself. Your neighbor, along with your help, received love and you had the privilege of giving it freely.

Nathan Smutz

La Grande


Promote peace

To the Editor:

What I recall most from the Bible is the commandment to love thy neighbor as thyself, and the story of the sheep and the goats:

"Then the king will say ... ‘Come, you who are blessed by my father ... for I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the people will ask when they had done these things. The king will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine you did for me.'"

The driving purpose of Jesus' life was to alleviate suffering, not to legislate morality. He showed us how to preserve the environment by living simply.

Just one example of how our moral values president has helped turn the world to the dark side — by cutting funds for international birth control programs, he has forced poor women into a position of being pregnant when there is not enough food to nourish mother, unborn baby and her existing children. Mother or child dies of complications due to malnourishment, her children are orphaned in a society that leaves them to be enslaved, becoming child prostitutes, sex slaves — or teenage terrorists.

This type of suffering has grown since 2000.

If our government could allocate for family planning one-one-millionth of the funds it spends on war, we might promote peace and begin to fulfill our mandate to help the least of these brothers of ours.

Mary Cooke



Recall unfair

To whom this may concern:

Many years ago there was a young man who had been accused of several wrongdoings by a small group of people.

He went before the grand jury "so to speak," and they could find no wrong. But because this small group of people would not leave the grand jury alone about the matter, they decided to let the people decide his fate.

Well, the people really didn't know the man; all they knew is what he had been accused of. So out of these accusations the crowd voted verbally to crucify Him, crucify Him!

Everyone knows the story and everyone knows it was wrong, but the damage was done!

I believe that Don Starr, Kelly Anderes and Rich Cason are not only good board members, but some of the very best board members. They have been beat up by a small group of people, set out in front of the public "who only knew accusations" and were crucified. I have thought a lot about my position on the ESD board, and I believe in my heart that I have made the best decisions possible with the information available to me. And I think I can speak for those who were recalled.

So, in short, if the people I look up to "that have much more knowledge and experience in the school systems than I do" are not worthy of an ESD board position, then I most certainly am not! This is my official resignation from the UBESD board. I know timing is bad and may be unfair, but then so was the recall!


Bob Wiles