Clements: Success of robotics tournament due to Croft

To the Editor:

One of the many things I am often asked is “what is the City of La Grande doing for kids?” Aside from the facilities the city maintains, the energy and creativity needed to engage kids comes from people, volunteers who give freely to help kids. It truly takes a village, and most important, the citizens of that village, to raise children.

This is why I want to recognize an individual, who, outside the auspices of the city, has worked to engage kids with computers and robotics; that person is Dr. Richard Croft.

I know Richard as a colleague at Eastern Oregon University and a fellow alumnus of Virginia Tech. At a time when science, technology, engineering and math are emphasized at all grade levels, Richard brought his academic and personal experience in computer science to kids through tournaments in robotics.

Since 2004, Richard has directed the annual Eastern Oregon Robotics Tournament. When he started in 2004, our region had but one team of kids working with robotics, so Richard began outreach and training. The results? Thousands of kids, ages 9 to 17 throughout Eastern Oregon, have participated in tournaments. It is fair to say Richard grew the robotics tournament program in Eastern Oregon.

In addition to growing the tournament, Richard’s expertise in tournament operations, from recruiting and training volunteers to developing and applying tournament rules and scoring, has made him an invaluable asset to tournament directors and organizers around the state.

His willingness and commitment helped to improve and expand robotics tournaments around Oregon through his involvement with the organization, Oregon Robotic Tournaments and Outreach Program. So, directly and indirectly, Richard’s impact on the young people of this state runs, perhaps, to the tens of thousands.

Sadly, Richard is retiring as director, but the legacy he leaves behind will continue to impact children across the state for many years to come. On Dec. 8, his service and commitment to youth was recognized at the end of this year’s tournament events. While others will step forward and continue the program, Richard’s efforts over the years deserve a special Thank You for an exceptional job.

Steve Clements

Mayor, City of La Grande

George: Make sure your voice is heard

To the Editor:

I am grateful for every person who attended the first set of meetings on the Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision. It was great to see everyone who had traveled from around the West to have their objections heard or to support those who were speaking out about the plan.

I was impressed with the care each of you took to present your objections to Mr. French and his team, but even more, I was awestruck at the control each of you showed in a matter that is very dear to each of our hearts and that impacts our ability to sustain our families in Northeast Oregon. While open access to our mountains seems to be such a simple concept when it comes to subsistence use, it eludes those who make decisions who have never had to worry about heating their homes with firewood or to extract food that supplements our families through the winter.

While we saw a solid turnout of Objectors in the meetings from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1, I fear a great deal of those who objected missed out on these first meetings and did not have their voices heard.

The team from D.C. stated we would hear back from them sometime at the end of January and we should expect additional meetings sometime in March to see what the next steps would be.

If the meetings are held in March, it will be paramount that every Objector attend the meetings and participate in the process. I ask each of those who know they are an Objector to follow Forest Access for All on Facebook to get current information on the process and how to participate.

John D. George

Bates, Oregon