LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Wednesday March, 26

By Observer Upload March 26, 2014 08:24 am



McCracken: County should not inflict further violence

To the Editor: 

Actions speak louder than words.  Abundant words of praise were spoken about the Shelter From the Storm at the County Commissioners’ meeting in The Observer (March 7 “County finalizes building location,” and Our View “County’s decision lacks vision”).

Over the years the Shelter From the Storm found space in many temporary locations, all of which provided limited safety and space. Eventually, a Community Block Grant was written for the shelter building. Plans were drawn to meet their specific needs. The county “donated” land close to needed court and law enforcement facilities where the shelter building now stands.

Community Block Grant finances are passed through local government entities for convenience and oversight. The title is generally given to the nonprofit by the local government once the building is completed. Our commissioners refused and instead offered leases. Was that donated land? Thus commissioners have control although they obviously lack vested interest in the building or the mission.

Due to deferred maintenance and neglect the county’s historic courthouse was deemed no longer serviceable and torn down before replacement plans were adequately investigated. The commissioners envisioned a multi-million dollar dream facility using federal money. They tried for nearly $15M in 2009 and $5M in 2010 but both were rejected. The commissioners then lowered their request to $2M from the state. It was granted, but with a timeline. Now time is running out for locating an approved site. So the commissioners concocted a quick and dirty plan to create a site by demolishing the shelter building.

Losing their building would tragically undermine the shelter’s critical mission. It is simply wrong and irrational to resolve one county problem by creating an equally critical, if less visible one. The commissioners, local lawyers and judges each paid lip service to the accomplishments of the shelter and claimed respect for victims of domestic violence, but the path chosen defies those claims.

If the county cannot come up with another location for a courthouse within the time frame allotted, they should start over. Next time they could do advance planning to ensure a timely, respectful process. Victims of domestic violence are often neglected, but our commissioners should not be allowed to inflict further violence.

Mary McCracken

Island City





Pokorney, Lackey, Bozarth: Barreto is well-qualified

To the Editor:

We know a man. A family man of principle. A man who built a very successful international company with a belief in free enterprise. He and his family have seen this company through good times and bad.

Greg Barreto is that man. Greg Barreto is the best candidate for the state House of Representatives District 58 seat. Greg Barreto knows Eastern Oregon and the hard-working, independent people who live here. Greg Barreto will take his business expertise to the Legislature and will work for all of us. Greg Barreto will stand for the Constitution and the principles that our founding fathers established. Greg Barreto knows of and respects the sacrifices made by veterans.

Vote for Greg Barreto for District 58 Oregon State House of Representatives.

Daniel Pokorney, John Lackey and John Bozarth

La Grande





Donnell: Upgrade better option for courthouse

To the Editor:

The Feb. 2 Observer article “Seven alternatives” discussed the issues involved in choosing a building location for the new county courthouse. Seven sites were analyzed. However, the most available one was not even discussed.

When the present jail and law enforcement building was built, it was supposed to have judge facilities on a third floor. The roof was temporary, and was designed as such. All ready for construction is the total roof area of the present building, with all utilities at floor level and ample space for secured ingress and egress, and, most important, security for the area could be as strict as deemed necessary.

The present building is the only building in La Grande that meets the earthquake code and atomic bomb blast code. It already has the special plumbing and electrical wiring and equipment required for a law enforcement facility. It was designed for what the county presently desperately needs: a facility that will meet the needs of police, district attorney and judicial personnel, with the security of being housed in a building that was designed specifically for them.

The county has already paid for a partial building that is showing the wear and tear of full use (if not overuse) for 30 some years. Yes, it needs an “upgrade,” not a “reinvent of the wheel,” as now proposed.

Stephen Donnell

La Grande





Hines: Police presence near schools slows traffic

To the Editor:

Kudos to the police department for the speed monitor and officers sitting close by the schools. It’s a good reminder to me and others to slow down, pay attention and keep our kids safe. It’s made an obvious difference in traffic flow.

Maxine Hines

La Grande




Busey: Delay in state’s textbooks not a crisis

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to the Jan. 22 article in which Mr. James Genereaux states that the delay of textbook sales to schools will cause “tens of thousands” of Oregon students to fail. This is ridiculous. What it will do is cause his company, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, to be unable to rake in tens of thousands of dollars from Oregon school districts this year. The Oregon Department of Education is attempting to modernize its textbook-review process to include free teaching materials developed by parties other than textbook publishers.

As any educator knows, it is not the textbook that prepares students with problem-solving skills and higher level thinking or inspires students to learn; it is the teacher, parent, advocate and community. As a retired teacher, I maintain there is very little correlation between the success of a student and what textbooks (new or old) are used for instruction.

I support the Oregon Department of Education’s decision in delaying the purchase of thousands of dollars of updated math textbooks to look for free or small publishers that have a product that can meet Oregon’s Common Core math skills. I would also bet that teachers can find a way to teach harder math skills to get students ready for harder math tests.

Pam Busey

La Grande