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Home arrow Opinion arrow Editorials arrow Letters to the Editor, Oct. 23 to Oct. 27

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Letters to the Editor, Oct. 23 to Oct. 27

Scare tactics

and guilt trips

To the editor:

I don't like the proponents of Measure 33 using scare tactics and guilt trips on the taxpayers of this community.

For example: If you vote no, you don't care about kids. Or, if you vote no, you don't care about kids' safety.

I think this is insulting to Baker taxpayers.

Measure 33 is just poorly put together with too high a price tag.

Bottom line: To spend $32.5 million on a new school with less than 500 students is absurd. Vote no on 33.

Bob Tate

Baker City

Money well spent

To the editor:

Any funds used to inform the citizens of Baker County about the unhealthy and unsafe conditions of the current Middle School, is money well spent.

Betty Spooner

Baker City

Editor's note: Betty Spooner is chair of the political action committee KIDS, Keep Investing in Dreams for Students. The committee is raising money to support Measure 33.

Walden in lock step with Bush

To the editor:

What happened to my country?

Here we go again and in view of the results of the past three national elections I can't help but revisit two quotes that are so appropriate now:

1. "Nobody ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American public." (PT Barnum)

2. "Democracy is the best form of government known to man with but one glaring fault that the people do not have the intelligence to govern themselves." (Thomas Jefferson)

In view of the debacle that has overtaken the Office of the Presidency thus all of America, I have to agree with both quotes. Never, ever, did I think we would wind up with an administration and a president of the ilk we have. A president of such obvious limited intellectual capacity, the titular head of the gruesome foursome of Rove, Cheney, Bush and Rumsfeld, none of whom would serve their country and who now have started this cynical horrifying war, dividing this once great nation and leading the American people down the road to perdition.

And it's not just the war but the gross mismanagement of our entire national apparatus. This gang has lied to us, their employers; they stonewall any efforts at openness and have plunged this once great nation into such obscene debt that will take generations to pay for. Debt, death, destruction seems to be all they know how to do with 600,000 Iraqi dead, 2,808 American dead and an Iraq absolutely pulverized by our firepower, which we then must rebuild costing billions more. And what for?

United we stand, divided we fall, and boy are we ever divided. I am particularly enraged over their sinister use of religions, pitting one against another. Conservatives thinking they have a lock on Jesus, liberals knowing they don't. All this indicating to me that I wouldn't vote for Walden if he was the only candidate running because he's in lock step with Bush who in my opinion will go down in history as the scourge of my once great country, the United States of America.

Gene Wall

Baker City

Buildings untenable

To the editor:

Maintaining the middle school buildings in any condition is untenable. Not only are these buildings in sorry shape, they are insecure. Any surly character has access to the Central building any time during the school day; this can be said for the Helen M. Stack building as well. They were not constructed in an era where security concerns were an issue — security must be considered today.

Some have suggested that the auditorium in the Central Building is a gem. Hardly! It is impossible to fit my 56-voice Mixed Choir on the stage without pulling back the curtains. Moving middle school performances to the high school is untenable as well. There, the band, choir and drama programs are scheduled much of the school year. Additionally, visiting performances sponsored by the Community Concerts Association, etc. makes such scheduling more difficult.

Arguments stating children being benefited in any way by walking between buildings are naive at best and border on absurd. Has anyone fostering this as a valid argument been around the middle school from 7:45 — 8:00 a.m.? When these buildings were constructed, their design did not include buses ferrying students past them. "In the Good Old Days," virtually all students walked to these buildings — as did those who lived in Haines walked to their building, or they in Sumpter, or Muddy Creek; these local buildings are now gone or their use changed because the distances we transport students to school has changed and the school districts which sponsored them are defunct. Furthermore, our day is so very much more litigious that the student being injured yesteryear while walking between buildings might be coddled back to health, today would be the subject of a lawsuit with potentially damning results. Untenable, indeed.

This list could go on and on. Someone, when you were a youngster, was paying taxes that you might be educated. Surely some were grudging. Nonetheless, pay they did, and accept property tax increases they did. It's our turn to step up to the plate and call and see things as they really are. Now, that's tenable! Vote Yes on 33.

Thomas Isaacson

Haines

Committee info. readily available

To the editor:

This letter is in response to the one written by Norman Doyle, appearing in the Oct. 25 issue of the Baker City Herald.

Reasonable question: who are these 24 citizens? The roster is available by writing PO Box 843, Baker City, OR 97814 — this information was at the bottom of the ad which the Healthy Mental Health Citizen Advisory Committee ran in response to the open letter from the board which appeared Oct. 12. The names are also available at the Record-Courier and by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Many of the committee members were also very visible at the two hearings with the Baker County Court in the court rooms. At the second one, several of us were up front identifying who we were and then reading excerpts from former employees who were afraid of retaliation. I was one of those who participated.

In addition, over 150 petitions have been signed by community members who are concerned. One hundred fifty of these have been delivered to the county court. The petitioners have several options in expressing their concerns and then signing on. I have a copy of the blank petition and did receive several signed ones from the concerned citizens, which I turned in.

The discussion regarding what to put in the ads would perhaps have been interesting to Mr. Doyle. We had a limited amount of money, all from citizen contributors — all from committee members — so we knew the ad had to be small. What was the best way to capture the interest of the community?

My own involvement started as a concern about how much tax money was being used. Even though this is a private, non-profit agency, most of its income is from tax dollars. As I sat in on meetings, practically always as a listener not as a contributor, my concern widened to include real problems with the service to clients. Family members who shared their experiences were heart-rending.

Maryalys Urey

Baker City

Saxton wants to reform bureaucracy

To the editor:

I moved to Oregon from Utah over four years ago. It was a good move, and I am grateful to be in Baker and in Oregon. But I have been disappointed in what I perceive to be the size and unresponsive nature of Oregon State government. In Utah state government was small, personal and responsive to the needs of the citizens. Of course, the governor had a lot to do with that because he was the state's chief executive. Now, I don't expect Oregon to be exactly like Utah; Oregon has many more citizens. But I do expect the government to work for the people, not the people to work for the government.

Ron Saxton, candidate for governor of Oregon, has said that he will work to reduce the size of state bureaucracy. He has said that he will remove low performing state agency administrators, which is something I believe needs to be done. Gov. Ted Kulongoski has had four years to do something with the size and responsiveness of Oregon's bureaucracy, but in my view has done little or nothing. Therefore, I intend to vote for Saxton. I want a state government that works for the people.

George Winn

Baker City

Best practices

To the editor:

Being a board member of any non-profit can be difficult. However, Mountain Valley Mental Health's board has made their job more difficult because they ignored problems that have developed over the years and which finally reached critical mass. The former executive director was dismissed, then placed on paid leave and eventually brought back as administrative assistant to plan, build, and operate a16 bed locked facility in Baker City. It took months to get MVMH to even admit that an application for such a facility had been submitted. A new director was hired without a public recruitment.

The Oregon Department of Justice provides guidelines for board service. Board members are ultimately responsible for the management of the corporation. They are legally obligated to perform the Duty of Due Care — to act with common sense and informed judgment. When a problem exists or is reported they have a duty to investigate warnings and reports of mismanagement. Duty of Loyalty — organization funds/activities must promote the organization's public purpose rather than private interest. Duty of Obedience — compliance state and federal laws.

The non-profit industry has established best practices to assist non-profits with ethical and efficient ways of doing business. These best practices include an ethical obligation to the non-profit's constituents and the public to conduct their activities with transparency, integrity and accountability. Information should regularly be conveyed to the public about their mission, activities, accomplishments and the decision making processes. This information should be easily accessible to the public, creating visibility, public understanding and trust in the organization.

Most of MVMH's funding is from tax payer dollars. However, at a September County Commission meeting Board Chair Dr. Levinger said the board will not provide any information to the public regarding finances, policies, or service delivery. This stonewalling technique does not exemplify best practices nor foster trust or respect in the community. It is easy to understand why an exodus of employees has occurred during the past year as they tried, without success, to get the Board of Directors to correct fiscal and management issues internally.

Victoria Valenzuela

Baker City

Elect Ron Saxton

To the editor:

As a rural Oregon resident it is very important that we have a change in the governor's office. As I watched the last debate between Ron Saxton and Ted Kulonkogski, Ted stated that rural Oregon loves him. Since he was elected he has completely forgotten about us on the East side of the state. He has had many opportunities to engage and help with some of rural Oregon's most pressing issues and he has not.

The basis of Oregon's economy is agriculture, forestry and other natural resource uses. Under Ted's leadership, Oregon's natural resource users have been under constant attack. Oregon is becoming increasingly more difficult for us who are engaged in these businesses. Oregon's natural resource users are the true environmentalist. The hands-off approach, that the conservationists suggest and the governor's office seems to support, is not good for Oregon's economy and certainly not good for the land.

The success of Oregon ranchers, farmers, loggers, etc. is the only thing that will dictate the health of the economy, which will translate to more money for our schools, more money for health care and other services. We must have a change of leadership — elect Ron Saxton.

Mike Colton

Baker City

I'm not in favor of a new school

To the editor:

I am not in favor of this proposal for a new middle school. Education vs. state-of-the-art buildings and extras are two different things.

If the buildings weren't kept up for lack of funds, where are the funds going to come from to maintain a larger more sophisticated building?

A picture of the computer lab showed a tangle of wires. Untangle the wires. A picture of the science lab showed damage. New counter tops are inexpensive. Most pictures indicate poor housekeeping rather than damage.

There is still a school that hasn't been sold. What makes us think these buildings will sell? There is an offer on one building — only an offer.

The benefits for sixth-graders are luxuries. Sixth-graders still need reading, writing and arithmetic, not Spanish, shop, band, home economics. They need to stay in the grade school where they belong.

Two new gyms and six tennis courts vs. education?

Close the street that passes through the property to meet the needs for loading and unloading. Use empty rooms and floors. Put in an elevator for students with disabilities.

Remodeling would give 25 more years of use — then remodel. That's a long time. Because a building is old doesn't mean it is no good. My home was built in 1870. It's still good.

We can educate 350 students on 5.7 acres.

Of the listed benefits of a new middle school, I didn't see an educational benefit. Parking, faculty restrooms, energy efficiency, play areas, growth for 550 students, which grew 11 last year (or did it decline?) don't fit the bill.

The architectural firm reviewing the school cited fire concerns as one of the main issues. Training and drills are needed plus fixing areas that are problems. If we close the Eltrym that we go to out of choice, I would think we need to chain and lock that school now.

Finally, are there omissions of facts to skew people's view? I'm sure that this letter will make me seem like one who doesn't care about education or our children. That's not true. I just don't believe we have considered other options.This appears to be political not fiscal and educational responsibility.

Sue Christian

Baker City

Union supports Measure 33

To the editor:

Oregon School Employees Association (OSEA), the union representing the classified staff working in, and for, your local schools, urges you to vote "Yes" in support of Measure 33, the bond to build a new middle school and update other existing school buildings.

The current conditions of the old Central and Helen M. Stack buildings are sadly lacking. Having middle school students pass between two buildings, each with two floors, divided by a traveled city street, and in all weather conditions for eight class periods each day is a security and safety nightmare. The buildings are not Americans with Disabilities Act accessible, so students with disabilities, as well as those using crutches due to injuries, have difficulty getting to their classes and to the cafeteria. Using crutches can be uniquely hazardous during adverse weather conditions when traveling from one building to another, crossing slippery floors and then navigating stairs. Fire safety issues abound with open air shafts, dead-end corridors, combustible construction materials and no fire suppression or detection systems.

A new middle school will consist of a single-level building, energy efficient, fully handicapped accessible and built to current fire and safety codes. It will have electrical systems that will handle computers and a computer lab. The new school will be built on a site large enough for off-street bus loading and unloading, providing adequate parking for faculty and visitors, and will have sufficient space for play and athletics.

OSEA believes Baker School District 5J students and staff deserve to have a safe and healthy school environment now and for future generations. Please vote "Yes" on Measure 33.

Ruth A. Woodworth

Baker City

Saxton for governor

To the editor:

Being the first in his family to graduate college, Ron Saxton is a great candidate for Oregon's public schools. Being a father of three, I know I want the best education for my children. And frankly, I don't think Ted Kulongoski has what it takes to provide that kind of opportunity.

Kulongoski would rather spend billions of dollars on roads that do not need immediate attention rather than face the issue of the future of Oregon's children and their children and their education. Ron Saxton would provide excellent educational opportunities for Oregon's children.

Kulongoski also wants to impose an insurance tax that would hurt Oregon families with good credit who can barely afford insurance as it is. Most Oregon families barely make ends meet and can't afford insurance as it is. Younger Oregonians who are under the age of 25 already pay high rates, and Kulongoski wants to increase those rates. It would ultimately hurt those Oregonians under the age of 25 with good credit. On top of that, Kulongoski tapped Neil Goldschmidt to chair the State Board of Higher Education. Would you want someone running your government who thinks it's OK to molest children?

Saxton imposes the idea of taking funding from prison food programs and feeding prisoners less expensive food that will cost less than 15 cents per day, which will provide more funding to train correctional officers to be state troopers.

Matt Killmaster

Baker City

Room for students

To the editor:

I believe one of the most important questions on the ballot Nov. 7 is whether children are going to have space they need to get a good education. They must provide for the students who have special needs so they can attend that school. They also must have room for outdoor sports activities while they are attending the Baker Middle School. The students are our future. Vote "Yes" for a new middle school.

Joyce Kerns

Haines

Student safety is important

To the editor:

Which should come first? Retaining and restoring historic buildings or the safety of our students?

On-street bus loading, unloading, parent pickup and crossing a public street to change classes all are unsafe situations which must be corrected. It will take space to correct the situation.

The space problem is further compounded by the need for more parking spaces, more classrooms, more gym space, adequate track, and other outdoor sports facilities. It would require at least another two city blocks. Is this a desirable alternative?

The problem is further complicated by space for future expansion. If the projected student load has been underestimated, and more room is required, there is not a place to expand at the existing compound.

Tom "Mac" Kerns

Haines

Do the job right

To the editor:

In 1949 I started teaching on the third floor of Baker High School, now known as the Central Building. The next year I moved to the bottom floor. The conditions were terrible: heating, lighting, crowded halls, no sound insulation, shower rooms and lavatories were inadequate and unsanitary, and the gym and auditorium did not accommodate the student body.

It was depressing, but I didn't realize it then. For my third year, we moved into the new high school and it made a tremendous difference. The students liked it and I felt that they became far better students. The ideal conditions made me a better teacher.

Let's say you have a 1917 automobile in factory condition. It would be worth a very large sum of money as an antique. It might be seen in a parade, but used for daily commuting, shopping or a summer trip to the coast, no way. Poor tires, horrible brakes, needs a crank to start it, no radio, lousy lights, plain glass, etc. Yes, you could add modern improvements, but the value would drop accordingly.

In nearly original factory condition, Central is a 1917 shell with few improvements and very little value.

In 1917, how much did architects and engineers know about protecting a building from moderate to strong earthquakes? Was anything done in this regard to Central? When one reads about the high number of people killed in a strong earthquake, one finds that most of them were killed when the buildings they were in collapsed on them. Central could be a death trap.

I feel strongly that we should build the new middle school. If you are going to do a job, do it right.

Allan McCullough

Baker City

Saxton resonates with me

To the editor:

This is the first letter I have ever written to a newspaper. However, I feel so strongly about this upcoming election and my chosen candidate for governor that I feel compelled to write.

For many years, I haven't been happy with the way our state's government has been operating. Even though campaign promises were frequent, effective follow-through has been minimal. All I hear is, "We need to raise taxes." I, for one, am very tired of hearing about the need to raise our taxes every time I turn around. I believe it's high time we start holding government accountable. To echo the Oregonian editorial board in their endorsement of Ron Saxton on Oct. 15, 2006, this lifetime Oregonian is weary of hearing the same old thing! And, I am very skeptical of government in general. I have taken the time to listen to Ron Saxton on two different occasions when he was in Baker County. His energy and ideas resonate deep within me. Let's vote for a change in government — please cast your vote for Ron Saxton on Nov. 7.

Malcolm L. Townsend, Sr.

Baker City

What are you thinking?

To the editor:

I'm extremely disappointed that both our local newspapers endorsed our present governor, a most anti-natural resource proponent, for re-election. The Baker County economy is based on nearly 150 years of renewable natural resource history. Timber, livestock, farming and mining has always been what this area is all about.

Ted Kulongoski sued the federal government to restrict logging on federal lands. He proposes to increase roadless areas and have more wild and scenic river systems. He opposes any reduction in taxes, especially the effort to abolish the inheritance tax so our properties can be passed on to younger generations.

The list goes on. Even the liberal-based Oregonian has knowledge enough to endorse Ron Saxton. What are our local newspapers thinking? The renewable natural resource industries need a change of leadership in Salem.

Dan Warnock

Baker City

Need to build new school for health

To the editor:

My daughter Brynn was born with a rare incurable lung disease, Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension. She spent seven years of her life on oxygen 24 hours a day seven days a week.

She is now 10 years old and her health is so much better. She is getting stronger every year.

Brynn is a fifth-grader at North Baker Elementary, and if we do not build a new middle school she will not be able to attend a school with poor air quality. Central has bird feathers and droppings in the air system. To fix that problem would mean bringing the entire building up to code. Can our district afford that? It is not fair to her or any child with any type of disability, not being able to go to a public school with their peers.

Every child should have a right to a safe and free education. If a child is not allowed weapons in school then states should not allow unsafe buildings to educate our children.

Please vote yes on Measure 33. It is the safe thing to do.

Lissa Haun

Baker City

I pity the fool

To the editor:

To quote Mr. T, "I pity the fool" who votes yes on any form of levy or tax increase. Why? Because most of the working class already pays too much. When everything is totaled, most of us are in the 50 percent tax range. Just add the income tax, the Social Security tax, the property tax, the fuel tax, the user fees, the levies, traffic fines and the list goes on.

Taxes are there to provide necessities. At the top of the list are national security, police and fire protection and schools. Did you ever notice that when things get tight for the government, these are the things that suffer? How come they never ask us to vote in a levy for their 100 percent retirements or their bigger-than-average pay raises?

Oh, that's right, they get to vote those in for themselves. How about the ridiculous pork barrel projects for their lobbyists, and I never get to vote on which study is important. I actually got to watch government employees cut toes off of horned toads to mark them for a study. That study has got to be way more important than any school building.

Did you also ever notice that no government project or agency stays within its budget? They actually get rewarded for overspending by applying for and usually getting a bigger budget for the next year. Why is it that when one agency like ODOT is over-funded (which they demonstrated by spending our tax money funding crosswalk stings) the excess funds can't get transferred to schools or libraries?

Baker may need a new school or new books for the library, but we have already paid for them. It's not our fault that the funds got spent for politicians' pay raises, wolf reintroductions and studying the Hungarian ragweed. I pity the fool who votes himself more taxation. I would urge people to vote no on more taxation and yes on any government spending reforms.

I would also like to remind landlords that in the event a property tax increase is voted in to immediately raise rents to compensate the differences.

Mark J. Steele

Baker City

Yes on Measure 33

To the editor:

Please join us and many others in this community in voting yes to take care of badly needed upgrades to School District 5J's aging buildings and provide a safe and secure educational and working environment for students and staff.

The Baker Middle School Task Force has spent over two years of extensive research and consultations with contractors, architects, building inspectors and other professionals to identify the safety issues of the buildings and determine the most cost-effective means of remedying the problems. Educational needs which need to be met for the 21st century have been identified.

Is remodel of the District's two Middle School buildings an option? The buildings must have structural integrity in order for that option to be feasible. Two architectural firms with extensive experience remodeling and building new schools have examined the buildings and have both advised to build new. We trust their professional judgment.

Can a new middle school be built on the present site? Again, two architectural firms have advised that the present site is inadequate. The present site on 5.7 acres falls far short of the recommended site of 15-20 acres in order to provide adequate public parking, safe off-street bus loading and unloading, adequate sports, PE and playground area for both sexes.

None of these items were of concern when the sites were chosen in 1916 and in 1934. Few suitable sites of this size exist within the City's urban growth boundary.

Building costs have more than doubled in the last 10 years. It is not anticipated by the professionals that the costs will trend downward and the opposite is more likely.

There has not been a bond levy for new school buildings in this district for 53 years. The last generation did what was necessary to provide buildings to meet the educational needs during their time. It is now our responsibility to provide safe and adequate buildings for the next generation.

Please vote yes on Measure 33 to provide safe, secure buildings which meet the educational needs of the 21st century.

Deryl and Carolyn Leggett

Haines

Editor's note: Deryl Leggett is a member of the Middle School Task Force and a former school board member.

Don't let developers ruin Baker City

To the editor:

Many Europeans embrace the idea of economic growth without physical growth. Most Americans think this is impossible.

I have lived all across this country. What I have seen is that most cities seem overly eager to cater to the whims of developers, blinded by the promise of short-term profit, without regard to the long-term consequences of allowing such growth. Let's face it — Baker City is not the compact size that it is because well-meaning visionaries carried out a thoughtful mission in the best interest of concerned citizens. It turned out this way by default — the developers simply haven't yet gotten around to destroying it as they have in Bend and Boise. But that is now changing.

It's not a matter of if, but when, our town will experience an influx of people. And if we are to maintain a high quality of life here, there are certain practices that are best implemented beforehand.

First, we must think of foothills and open spaces surrounding our town as more than just view lots for expensive homes. A network of conservation easements and open space parks must be established while land prices are relatively reasonable, in order to preserve the views, and thus allow people an easily accessible escape in which to enjoy outdoor activities. It would also provide winter habitat for wildlife. Also, extend the Adler path to Haines. These promote quality of life.

Secondly, there is no shortage of empty downtown buildings and many houses are vacant also. Most towns foolishly expand outward to escape their problems rather than looking inward. No more construction is needed. What is needed is incentive to occupy the existing structures. Protecting large swaths of land combined with making it more difficult to re-zone agricultural land to residential would encourage smart growth. But this depends on smart city councilors and county commissioners.

Will Baker City become a vibrant, unique town envied by others, or just another homogenous piece of the American pie? I don't believe the council or commissioners have the foresight to create the former. I challenge you to prove me wrong.

Bryan Barrow

Baker City

School was in bad shape 30 years ago

To the editor:

We would like to add our support to build a new middle school.

We brought our family to Baker County over 30 years ago looking for a great place to raise our children. It is the best decision that we have ever made.

All four of our children have gone on to college because of the excellent education they received here.

We do have to admit that when our oldest son went to the middle school we were concerned with the safety and conditions of the middle school buildings then, and that was almost 30 years ago.

We need to pay attention to all the letters of support by former teachers and especially the maintenance personnel who have spent many years in these buildings and whom have all written of the deteriorating conditions.

Anyone who is undecided or against building the new school should take the tour and see for themselves the poor and unsafe conditions that we ask our children, teachers and staff to put up with each day.

We feel that spending the money to remodel these buildings after reading the Hummel report doesn't really solve all of the safety issues that the state laws now require. The area is too congested to safely load and unload students who ride the bus or are dropped off by car.

Please take the time to totally understand the issues and take the tour offered by the middle school before you vote.

Joe and Sharon Rudi

Baker City

There are problems with school plan

To the editor:

The taxpayers and patrons of Baker School District 5J need to give serious consideration to some aspects of Measure 33.

The location of the new middle school on Hughes Lane raises some critical safety issues. Hughes Lane is not a residential street but a very busy commercial road with heavy truck and farm traffic besides the normal car traffic. Hughes Lane is 1.2 miles of straight road with no stop signs with a posted speed of 35 mph which drivers have a tendency to exceed. There is a very hazardous intersection at Hughes Lane, Highway 30 and Pocahontas Road. Hughes Lane is more susceptible to hazardous weather conditions such as fog, blowing snow, black ice and even flooding than the residential streets in the center of town. This is not a safe environment to subject 450 students arriving by bus and car.

Much has been said for having the new middle school closer to Baker High School and the Baker Sports Complex. Actually, the existing middle school campus by car and bus is closer to these two facilities than the new site. The distance from the existing middle school campus is .9 miles to either parking lot at the high school or sports complex. The distance from the proposed middle school site by car or bus is 1.5 miles to the high school parking lot and 1.9 miles to the sports complex parking lot, and this is over a very busy Hughes Lane through a challenging intersection onto a fairly busy 10th Street as opposed to north on Fourth Street onto College with through streets and stop signs. Quite safe by comparison.

Another serious issue is that Measure 33 does not provide adequate or maybe no money for the upgrades needed on our elementary schools as outlined in a recent study. The figure to do the upgrades was $8 million. The survey done in April had 75 percent of respondents placing the highest priority on elementary schools.

Measure 33 was hastily put together and many options not given serious consideration. We need to vote common sense for the safety of our children and fiscal responsibility to taxpayers. Measure 33 needs a "No" vote.

John Burgess

Baker City

Why I'm voting

for Ron Saxton

To the editor:

The threat of West Nile Virus has motivated me to move from a politically passive position and write this letter of endorsement for Ron Saxton as our next governor.

For several years the mosquito-carried disease of West Nile Virus (WNV) has moved across the U.S. Last summer it hit unprotected portions of Idaho hardest. Hundreds of people became sick, some died; horses and birds also died. Next summer this virus will continue to progress, yet our state is still without funding and proper communication.

Presently this threat to the health of our people, environment and economy is not being taken seriously. We need only look at our neighboring state of Idaho to realize the potential consequences of non preparation. Nearly a thousand people were proven to have the disease there, but it is estimated for every confirmed case, there are potentially five to ten untested cases. This promises to put a strain on Oregon health departments and hurt our economy due to sick days taken and lack of tourism dollars.

A negative environmental impact is another impending result of WNV. It has been reported that the virus killed enough sage grouse in a portion of southwestern Idaho to cancel the season there. The potential consequences to agriculture and hunting can not be good if we continue to ignore the upcoming problems of this disease.

That is why I'm voting for Ron Saxton. Our present governor and state administration has had ample time to prepare for what's ahead, but have not. There are no funds, or plans in place to help protect the many citizens who have no protection; and health departments are not communicating well with vector control officials, who are charged to help control the spread of WNV.

A new governor would award us the opportunity of reform in our state government, so serious issues such as this can be addressed before it is too late.

Ellen Stevenson

Haines

Letter from school superintendent

To the editor:

Dear community members, staff, parents and students:

Offers for existing school buildings: The Baker School District has signed offers for the Helen M. Stack building and Churchill School. The offers are considered sealed bid(s). A "request for proposal" process is now open. The property has been advertised as of Oct. 20, 2006. The bids will be open at 1 p.m., Nov. 16, 2006. While this bid process is occurring, the district is required to maintain confidentiality of the bidders and the bid amounts.

Structural integrity studies: The Baker School District asked two architects (Gowland, Johanson and Zimmerman and Hummel Architects) and their engineering teams to assess the structural integrity (the electrical, plumbing, floor plates, walls, ceilings, roof conditions and structural design) of the two middle school buildings. These reports are available at the district office, 2090 Fourth Street or by calling 524-2260.

Site/location studies: The district considered nine building sites including the existing site of the middle schools in Baker City and narrowed the locations to two sites close to the Baker Sports Complex.

Estimated costs: The district accepted architectural bids for a new school and upgrades to the other schools ranging from $16 million to $22 million. The bond total is $18.8 million for a new middle school and $1 million for upgrades. This equals approximately $160 per year or $13.33 per month or 43 cents per day for $100,000 of assessed value.

Don Ulrey

Superintendent, Baker School District

Safety first

To the editor:

I am voting "Yes" on Measure 33. I really only need one reason why I choose to vote yes and that is our children and Baker Middle School staff deserves a safe place to go to school.

I toured the BMS and was appalled at the deterioration, worn out and unsafe environment that we are subjecting our children and staff to each day they attend school.

After reading the letter from Hummel Architects, I am convinced that we need a new middle school. These professionals have given us their sound advice as to whether these two old buildings should be remodeled or start anew. They have the experience to know that we will get the best school for our tax dollars if we build new. It has been stated that one can expect 25 years of service out of a remodeled building before you renovate again and 75 years of service out of a new building. The fact is that construction costs are not going to come down, they will continue to escalate.

This existing site is not large enough for a new middle school. Our children not only need a safe place to go to school, but a safe place to play and exercise.

Our community needs to stand behind and trust our school board and task force because they have done their homework. They have signed bids for the Helen M. Stack and Churchill buildings.

Our children's safety and well being are our first priority, as they were in 1916 and 1934 when the existing buildings were built.

Please join me in voting "Yes" for Measure 33.

Roxy Ulrey

Baker City

Editor's note: Roxy Ulrey is married to Don Ulrey, superintendent of the Baker School District.

Who is making these allegations?

To the editor:

As I watch the debate between Mountain Valley Mental Health board of directors and the 24 citizens concerning Mountain Valley Mental Health, I keep wondering why the 24 citizens do not identify themselves in their ads. It seems to me if the allegations are valid and the 24 citizens truly believe they are, why be so secretive as to who you are, at least with me it questions credibility.

Norman Doyle

Baker City

Support Saxton

To the editor:

Voters have the means of bettering the lot of all Oregonians by casting their ballot for Ron Saxton for governor.

Sherman Allen

Baker City

Wyden's Flat Tax

To the editor:

Sen. Ron Wyden has taken a welcome step toward making our income tax system much simpler and fairer. His Fair Flat Tax Act would eliminate corporate loopholes, make the tax return a one-page form that could be completed without professional assistance, and eliminate the preferential treatment given to those who make their income from capital gains and dividends. The current system mandates that if you earn your living from wages, you must pay a higher tax rate than someone who does not work but simply sits in his mansion while raking in the income from his investments. Of course, as long as Greg Walden and his Republicans stay in control of Congress, Wyden's bill has little chance and corporate loopholes will continue to be handed out like goodies to please the lobbyists.

On the state level, Ron Saxton and Tom Butler are running for office displaying a sneering attitude toward the ordinary voter of, "We are better than you, so we deserve to pay lower tax rates than you." Both are advocating cutting or eliminating capital gains taxes in Oregon. Saxton, a corporate lawyer, and Butler, a CPA, are predisposed to the tendency to needlessly complicate our tax laws. What they are proposing is to blast a huge hole in the state's finances to benefit the pampered elites who fund their lavish campaigns (both are spending far more than their opponents). In the long run, this means the rest of us would end up paying more to make up the gap because state government cannot run up giant deficits. Trickle-down economics has been so thoroughly disproven it is laughable to see anyone still trotting out these same old failed ideas. The original theory was that tax cuts for the rich would create such a stupendous boom in the economy that the deficit would be wiped out. When tried, the theory failed, but still it became enshrined as dogma, believed in blindly and touted as a snake-oil kind of cure for whatever ails the economy. The economy would be stimulated even more if the tax cuts were directed to people who really need them, and that is one thing the Wyden bill would do.

Craig Martell

Baker City

Voisin over Walden

To the editor:

While I was not surprised by the Herald's endorsement of Greg Walden, I was disappointed. The issue was made that Walden has broken with the President on a couple issues. No Democrat would have voted with the President on those issues. Then there's the Salvage Bill, which inflames the debate rather than addressing it. The problem with Walden is the votes the President likes. The Vote Security Bill which directly threatens Oregon's vote by mail in search of a problem that doesn't exist (despite Ron Saxton). The Patriot Act, Terrorism Act and Detainees Act all combine to create a situation in which the President can declare a US citizen an Enemy Combatant, deny them a court appearance, subject them to extraordinary interrogation (torture) and hold them for an indeterminate time. Add into the mix that your conversations are no longer secure, that the FBI can burgle your house; both with no warrants. This makes the "gun-banners" look scary? Walden voted for this mess. Carol Voisin is not a gun-banner, by the way, nor would she have voted to abridge the Constitution.

Walden voted to tie a minimum wage increase to more tax breaks exclusively for the rich. Walden voted to spend our children's future without cost to our generation. Walden has repeatedly voted to "stay the course" in Iraq. Walden voted to make Medicare a drug company benefit. Legislation important to farmers and ranchers does not leave his committee. I'm seriously confused as to what it is that makes Greg Walden a superior candidate in the United States of America or the Oregon Second Congressional District. As far as I can tell, he's an incumbent, he hasn't stolen any money, and he doesn't chase boys are his qualifications.

Obviously Carol Voisin and I have differences, we were opponents in the primary; but her worst politics are a vast improvement over Greg Walden's. I do have some basis to know this. Get to know her. Vote; it always makes a difference.

Chuck Butcher

Baker City

Prescribed burns are like arson

To the editor:

The article "Fires with a purpose" (Oct. 12, Page 10) is not very funny.

Mr. Ken Rockwell has joined the many who would rather see our public-owned timber burned than logged.

I started work for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in 1956 and worked on the W-W until I retired in 1983.

We logged only the amount of timber that grew each year. Loggers, truckers and lumber mills were active — they provided many jobs and much money to the county for roads and schools.

Most Oregon counties received millions of dollars for schools and roads. Loggers and truckers were in the woods to quickly extinguish forest fires.

Rockwell's apology for controlled burn smoke in the valley just won't cut it for me. Two of my friends, both on oxygen, passed away, possibly because of the smoke.

In most places setting a fire is arson and punishable by law. Especially burning property that belongs to the people of the United States and private property.

Let's bring them to task and ask a federal judge to ban controlled and prescribed burns in Eastern Oregon.

They could haul it out of the forest and utilize most of it.

They have eradicated Smokey the Bear.

Wayne Hyde

Baker City

Real cost of school is over $32 million

To the editor:

What a beautiful building for education. What a feather in our cap!

But ...

Friday's paper says it will cost $19.8 million to build. On Page 2A, it says the cost will include a projected $12.5 million in interest to bond buyers. If my math is correct, that means the actual cost of the building would be $32.3 million.

My question is this: Why saddle Baker County taxpayers with such an interest burden for 20 years? Also, how much does the district plan to sell the present Helen M. Stack property for? I think the building on 17th Street and Broadway is also for sale.

I would love to see it happen, but let's get real.

Bertina Eastman

Baker City

Students deserve

a better school

To the editor:

A positive vote for a new middle school will provide a safe, modern learning environment for our children. Baker School District residents have long taken pride in our school system and the quality of education it provides. In that tradition, we support a new middle school building.

The rebuilding of Baker High School after the fire is the only building update of significance in many years.

We can no longer afford to Band-Aid our facilities. We encourage you to visit the existing middle school and view the fire escapes, the heating systems, the electrical systems and the lavatories as well as the actual classrooms our students use daily.

True, the costs of a new building are high, but waiting longer will only be more expensive. Estimates of escalating building costs vary from 12 percent to 20 percent annually. Time can be on our side if we act now. Baker students deserve a learning environment that is safe, clean, modern and efficient to operate and maintain.

We are supporting Ballot Measure 33 in the November election.

Dennis and Terri Axness

Haines

Editor's note: Dennis Axness is co-chair of the Baker Middle School Task Force.

Vote Voisin to change course

To the editor:

As our ballots arrive, I urge my fellow readers to carefully consider Carol Voisin's qualifications and character as the Democratic candidate for U.S. representative. If she is elected, it increases the potential for a major change in direction for our country by changing control of the U.S. House of Representatives. If she is elected, there will be the promise of truth, honesty and effectiveness in a government that responds to real needs of real people, including our national security. If she is elected, there will be the chance to stop our country from prosecuting aggressive, preemptive wars of choice and to stop torturing those we imprison.

Without Congressional checks and balances, implementation of the 2006 U.S. National Security Strategy, which calls for preemptive war to overturn the government of Iran, has a good chance of becoming reality. There's no sign that the Republican Congress will object. But with a change in Congressional leadership, there will be hearings on alleged threats from Iran, and the administration will be compelled to provide hard facts, not merely mushroom-cloud hyperbole to further their neo-conservative goal of world military domination. (If this sounds alarmist, Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer-Prize-winning investigative journalist for The New Yorker, reported in April that we already have military and other operatives in Iran to prepare for an attack. President Bush has said that he doesn't want to leave Iran to the next president to solve.)

Also, a Democratic House will likely hold hearings that will expose the administration's deception and half-truths about government-crippling tax cuts, dismantling Social Security, defending skyrocketing health insurance costs, ignoring global warming, exporting good-paying jobs, suppressing voting in poor neighborhoods, and so on.

In addition to her business and civic experience and her strong positions on key issues, I like the fact that Carol Voisin is a theologian with a doctorate of theology degree. To me, this signals an opportunity to establish morality as the centerpiece of our national reconciliation and redirection. That's exactly what we need. Much more information may be found at: www.voisinforcongress.com

Marshall McComb

Baker City

Student in favor

of new school

To the editor:

I am a seventh-grader at Baker Middle School, and I highly support building a new middle school. This year I am among one of the four seventh-grade algebra students, which means that next year when I'm in eighth grade I will be in geometry and I will have to go to the high school for math. This is going to be a problem for me because I will have to find a ride to the high school somehow.

If we had a new middle school built, it would be right next to the high school which would make it much easier to get to the high school for geometry but we don't have a new middle school. I know that the school is a very historical building but it isn't safe, like in the locker rooms the pipes have asbestos in them.

I want to keep me and my fellow classmates safe. If a person in a wheelchair went to the middle school the only subjects they could have are: computers, seventh-grade language arts and PE, and they couldn't get to the locker rooms or have access to the other gym, and during the winter their wheels would get stuck in the snow.

Right now we have a person in the middle school who has a walker, and it takes him about five minutes to get up and down the stairs. Whenever I am trying to get to class it is so hard getting to your classes on time because the halls are too small and with about 350 people going through them at once.

When I'm trying to get into my locker with all of the people bumping into me it is very hard. As you can see we really need a new middle school. I have two little brothers and I hope that by the time that they get to the middle school there will be a new one. I really hope that this will help change people's minds about the middle school.

Naomi Smith

Baker City

Elect adults to the Baker City Council

To the editor:

The best use of your vote in the coming election is to vote for a councilor who will bring some adult guidance to the Baker City Council.

Carl R. Kostol

Baker City

Rural Oregon needs Ron Saxton

To the editor:

Never has there been a more urgent need for fresh leadership in Oregon, especially concerning our natural resource based businesses — timber, ranching and farming. All of us who live in our rural communities have seen an exodus of families due to decreasing local economies that can no longer support family-wage jobs and therefore our schools. Our current governor gives lip-service of support to rural Oregon, but in reality when he supports expanding the roadless areas in forests, increased regulation of water for beneficial use, and more state government control of resources than even the federal government mandates, it is imperative that we change direction now. Just the one issue of increased roadless areas has a three pronged negative effect: at least triple the time to respond to fire, the damaging impact these catastrophic fires have on our watersheds that we all need and use for our livelihoods, and even less available timber for rural employment. To use a President Reagan question about Jimmy Carter, are we (in rural Oregon) better off than we were four years ago with Kulongoski? The answer is a resounding "No!" I urge everyone who wants a healthy rural Oregon, and a vibrant, fresh leadership, to vote Ron Saxton for governor.

Curtis W. Martin

President

Baker County Livestock Association

Build a new school

To the editor:

Throughout last week there have been many letters concerning the Baker Middle School and what to do with its future. I understand this personally. I spent many wonderful years teaching at Baker Middle School. When I first came to Baker Junior High in the 1970s, I thought I had gone back in history. But slowly I grew to appreciate the wooden floors, the "real" blackboards, and the wooden file cabinets. Later in the 1980s when I came back to teaching, I continued my career at the middle school and adapted again to the basics of my surroundings. The halls were narrow, the stairs worn, the bathrooms antiquated, and the classrooms small. But we had a wonderful faculty, and I enjoyed my teaching.

Later I was transferred to the high school and immediately realized the magnetism of this school. It wasn't just the difference in the age group; it was also this professional academic building. The classrooms were larger, the halls wider, and the commons area spacious. The whole building had a feeling of openness. Even entering the building was welcoming with a large front desk area greeting all visitors and students. None of this had been a part of the middle school.

As Baker citizens, we have voted in a strong school board; they, together with a task force group, have worked long hours and many months trying to help us understand what I realized my first year at the high school: teaching in a modern academic area is a positive experience for students, teachers, and administrators. These people have sought the opinion of the experts, and the experts have endorsed this decision. Now they are asking us to respond.

Building a new school does not mean tearing down present buildings. Those buildings have potential in other areas. Building a new school demonstrates to our youth that education is important to us, and we are serious about giving them a safe atmosphere of learning. I believe we owe them this. I'm voting "Yes" on Measure 33.

Dianne G. Ellingson

Baker City

Voting no on bond is not anti-children

To the editor:

In discussing the school levy with community members, I share the following:

Voting "No" does not mean we are anti-education, or anti-safety, or anti-ADA, or anti-children or anti-progress.

Voting "No" does not even mean we are anti-tax increase.

There are many reasons community members intend to vote against measure 33. Because of space limitations I share the following 10:

1. Based on the results of the initial community survey (38 percent favored remodeling; 33 percent favored new) I believe voters deserve alternatives.

2. I believe a remodeled middle school will be safe and handicap accessible — the primary focus of remodeling.

3. I believe comparing the current school to a new school presents a skewed picture. A comparison of a remodeled school (three-dimensional model or even computer graphics) to a new school would give voters a better idea of what an additional $11 million of their money is purchasing.

4. I believe 6th graders belong in the three elementary schools in which they currently reside. The addition of 6th grade students to current levels and then using these inflated student numbers to substantiate the need for a bigger facility is unreasonable. The current elementary schools have room for the 6th grade students (Some districts are returning to K-8 elementary schools).

5. Considering the United States has an epidemic of overweight children, I believe that two- and three-story buildings and a walk between buildings is an asset, not a detriment (Elevators are part of the remodel, so multiple levels would not impede handicap accessibility).

6. I believe the usable life of buildings can be hundreds of years.

7. I believe the soft costs not included in this bond measure could exceed $5 million; that concerns me.

8. I would support a measure equal to or exceeding the current bond to remodel the current school because of the cultural value of historic buildings.

9. I believe the sensational presentation of the current state of the middle school creates an entirely emotional appeal.

10. Current educational research indicates schools located in residential areas central to student populations are more successful.

Priscilla Synan

Baker City

Vote Democrat

To the editor:

Last summer gas prices in Eastern Oregon soared way above $3 per gallon. As a result, many American oil companies, such as Exxon, registered huge quarterly profits in the billions.

The Bush administration said it wasn't their fault. The price increases were simply the result of the fighting in Iraq, nuclear threats from Korea and Iran, and surging economic growth in India and China. They also suggested that the painful fuel prices were the result of the perennial uncertainties of supply and demand.

Now that we are less than three weeks away from an important mid-term election the price of gas has fallen dramatically. Isn't that interesting?

If anything the war is worse in Iraq, the nuclear threats from Iran and Korea have escalated, and India and China continue to consume oil at record levels.

I think prices at the pump have dropped recently in a last ditch effort to prop up the dismal Bush administration. Munitions manufacturers, military contractors and oil companies have enjoyed and profited from the present political disarray. They would like to hang on as long as possible.

If you are unhappy with the current track record of monumental fiscal deficits, corporate tax cuts, political graft, corruption, greed and war profiteering, if you disagree with making brutal torture legal, if you are concerned about our loss of civil liberties, vote Democrat. Let's do our part and send a powerful message of reform by voting for Carol Voisin for Congress!

Richard Nase

Baker City

Build the school

To the editor:

I'm writing this letter in regards to the controversy over whether or not there should be a new middle school built here in Baker. First I have to say as others I really cannot afford any new taxes. On the other hand I can't see forcing kids to attend buildings that have far outlived their usefulness. So I am going to vote a big "Yes" to build it.

Let me share a few more good reason. I worked as a custodian for Baker schools for over 14 years, saw the building deteriorate more and more each year faster then we could keep up with them. Closets were being made into classrooms, roofs were leaking every raining season, plumbing was becoming a nightmare for the maintenance people. Heating was either too hot or too cold, air conditioning in the grade and middle schools are nonexistent.

You that don't want a new school for the kids should take the tour that is offered. Check out the showers, actually the non showers of either building, be brave, ask the kids what they have to put up with each day to attend school. Personally, I believe it's a sad thing when you put renovation or historical value over a child's life! Mr. Chuck Chase knows what he is talking about, please listen to what he is saying, so we don't have to be sorry later. Remember the high school!

Richard Fox

Baker City

No on Measure 42

To the editor:

I've been an agent for Farmers Insurance in Baker City for 13 years. I'm used to getting calls from people asking me about insurance.

But in the last two weeks, I've had many calls and questions about a ballot measure. Measure 42 would ban insurance companies from using credit information as a factor in setting insurance rates. I oppose Measure 42 and told them why. Here's what I said:

1. It's bad for most Oregonians.

If Measure 42 passes, people with good credit will pay more for their insurance; people with bad credit will pay less. Because 60-70 percent of Oregonians have good credit histories, most of my customers would be forced to subsidize individuals with bad credit. Measure 42 would cost most Oregonians more money for their auto or homeowner insurance.

2. It's also bad for Oregon businesses.

Because Measure 42 was poorly drafted by its sponsor (ballot measure activist Bill Sizemore), it would increase insurance costs for most businesses in Oregon by adversely impacting all lines of commercial insurance. That would increase the relative cost of doing business here, and force well-run businesses to subsidize the insurance costs of their competitors that are not well-managed.

3. Finally, it isn't needed.

In 2003, the legislature passed significant limits on insurance companies' use of credit information. Consequently, Oregon consumer protection laws are already among the most restrictive in the country on the use of credit information in setting insurance rates. Oregon laws prohibit insurance companies from using credit history to raise rates or drop existing customers. Insurers may use credit information only when people first apply for insurance and not again, unless requested by the consumer.

Complaint records from the state confirm the issue is no longer a concern in Oregon. In 2003, consumers filed 146 complaints about the use of credit information by insurance companies. In 2005, 10 such complaints were filed. So far this year, just 3 complaints have been filed.

More information is available at www.Stop42.com. I encourage voters to take a close look at Measure 42 and please vote "No."

Tom Van Diepen

Baker City

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