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Letter to the Editor for Dec. 5, 2014

Thank you, Mr. Peacock: 

On Nov. 25 I was walking to the main office in Baker High School, passing through the Commons. I saw Mr. Peacock talking to some of my fellow classmates. As I approached, I realized that everyone that passed by addressed Mr. Peacock. Kids I had never seen before; we were all from different friend grounds and backgrounds. But one thing, one person, united us all. That man was Mr. Peacock. We all knew him and he new all of us — every last one.

Let me give one of my personal stories about Mr. Peacock. I didn’t attend public school until my junior year. One time during my junior high years I had come to the high school for one of my brother’s sports fundraisers. Mr. Peacock saw me. I knew of him but didn’t know him personally. He saw me and said, “Hi, Little Payton.” I was known. No one in the entire school knew me or bothered to ask me who I was. But one person cared. Mr. Peacock somehow knew me when I was unknown. I am now a senior and his caring personality is still ingrained in my mind with admiration.

And I am not the only one he knew. Last year I would see him standing in the halls between classes saying “hi” to students and addressing them by their names. He knew them. And he still does; he still cares.

Some may say that it was a mistake to name the new school court after Mr. Peacock. I personally strongly disagree. There is no person more worthy than Mr. Peacock to be the namesake for the new court. He united our school for years, knowing every student. He has impacted students and the entire school with his leadership. Baker High School is blessed to have a former principal as amazing and inspiring as Mr. Peacock to dedicate the court to.

I read a letter to the editor criticizing the school board for not involving the community in the decision to name the hew high school court. I don’t know the rights or processes of the board, but to me the outcome of their decision seems right. To say I’m not biased would be a lie. But it’s hard not to be when I have experienced Mr. Peacock’s impact in our school. 

A quote from the letter states that, “Actually, it seems a little weird. It (the name Peacock) doesn’t fit well, in my opinion, with the bulldog image. Having that name painted on the floor is strange.” Sure, it seems weird to put the name “Peacock” on a school with the bulldog as their mascot. But to say that it does not fit well with the bulldog image is a false statement. Mr. Peacock has invested immensely into the high school and has impacted many individuals in his 22 years as principal. If I could pick one individual to represent our school’s image, it would be Mr. Peacock.

The name was not chosen as an alternative mascot, it was chosen to honor one man, alongside the symbol of Baker High School, to show how much he has meant to our school.

“Naming a gym for a guy who will soon be forgotten is silly.”

I agree, naming a gym after a guy who will soon be forgotten is silly. But that’s the thing — Mr. Peacock will not soon be forgotten. He has left a permanent mark on me and many other individuals in our school and community. I guess those who have not met Mr. Peacock do not understand this, but those of us who will be using the court — current Baker High School students and future students — know and will hear about the great principal who led this school with nobility and love. We will all understand why the court was named after such a great man.

We love you, Mr. Peacock. Thanks for everything you have done for us.

Anna Payton

Baker City 

Keep the tax kicker

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber figures he and the state’s legislators know better than you do how to spend some of the money you earn.

The notion that the state might collect more money from income taxes than it needs to provide public services seems never to occur to many politicians.

Fortunately, Oregon’s unique income tax “kicker” law occasionally forces them to at least discuss the issue.

A diary can be the greatest gift you’ll ever get

Your most boring day can become a family heirloom, more valuable than any diamond.

But only if you write down the details, however banal they might seem at the time.

The passage of decades transforms the routine and forgettable rituals of life into memories that provoke laughter and tears.

I’m referring, as you’ve no doubt figured out, to a diary.

With rare exceptions — Anne Frank’s being the obvious example — diaries have very few readers.

Letter to the Editor for Dec. 3, 2014

School board ignores public in naming court

Regarding the naming of our school’s gym floor “Peacock Court”: After reading of this remarkably pompous decision by the Board to completely ignore what would seem proper protocol to include the public’s input in the decision-making process, I asked people if they knew who Peacock was, only one person of the 14 I asked knew! When the Board of Director’s decided to name the court “Peacock” without public input, they made it clear they have little respect for public opinion on such an important matter.  Evidently the Board does not acknowledge the public’s right to input on something that represents our community.  This is not to mention that it’s the public that pays the taxes to support our educational institutions, and elects the Board.    

The name will most assuredly generate embarrassing commentary from visiting teams for future generations of our students to endure for years to come. I sincerely hope this behind-closed-doors decision generates the public outcry that it deserves!

C.V. Gwin

Baker City

Manson married? At least it’s only on paper

So Charles Manson is engaged.

And you thought the Thanksgiving dinner conversation at your family’s table was awkward.

Fianceé: “I’ve decided to get married.”

Mother: “How exciting! And please pass the sweet potatoes. Do we know him?”

Fianceé: “Well, you might have heard of him, yes. Ever read “Helter Skelter?”

Father, after his wife nose dives into the gravy bowl: “Does anyone here know how to do the Heimlich maneuver?”

Manson, whose messianic visage once dominated the covers of such esteemed magazines as Life and Rolling Stone, hasn’t gotten much publicity this century.

But the announcement that a 26-year-old woman, Afton Elaine Burton, plans to marry Manson, who turned 80 earlier this month and has been in prison in California since 1969, sent TV producers scrambling to find the grainy news footage that’s familiar to anyone who has a passing knowledge of the Manson case.

Defining a protester

One thing we ought to do, in discussing the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, is define the word “protester.”

People who bust windows and burn and loot businesses are not protesters.

They’re criminals.

There is no legitimate reason to destroy or to steal someone else’s property to express your disgust at a grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting Michael Brown, who had no weapon, on Aug. 9.

The owners of those businesses didn’t kill Brown.

And they didn’t serve on the grand jury.

They’re innocent. And they’re victims, just as Brown is.

Real protesters, those who are truly aggrieved by the grand jury’s decision and who want to effect change, can also gather in the streets.

They can march and chant and they can even yell at the police officers whose job it is to preserve a semblance of order.

Indeed, protesters did all of those things in Ferguson.

We understand why they’re outraged.

No matter how legally sound the grand jury’s conclusion might be — a decision not to indict a police officer in a fatal shooting is, after all, the most common result — a reasonable person recognizes that something went wrong in Ferguson.

We’re certainly not satisfied with the notion that when a police officer has an altercation with an unarmed man — even a man who, like Brown, punches the officer and later charges at him — that the unarmed man must end up dead.

Nor can we dismiss the racial issues. Wilson is white, Brown black. A disproportionate number of fatal police shootings involve black victims.

No sane person wants these tragedies to continue.

But we’re less likely to make meaningful progress as a society if some people use the death of someone they didn’t even know as an excuse for causing mayhem.

That’s the act of a coward, not a protester.

Why we're thankful

The weather forecast calls for a seasonably cool Thanksgiving in Baker City, with afternoon temperatures in the low to mid-40s.

But even if the midwinter chill from earlier this month returns for the holiday, it will still be a day to warm the heart.

And fill the stomach.

The reality of Thanksgiving and other holidays is that the very reason we rejoice — being with those we love — can be the source of great sorrow for those who must, for whatever reason, spend these days alone.

Except in Baker City, on this Thanksgiving, no one ought to be in that predicament who would prefer to share the holiday with others.

We are thankful to live in a community where the toughest choice for those who won’t be gathering with family on Thursday is deciding which free Thanksgiving dinner to attend. There are three:

• Elks Lodge, 1896 Second St., 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

• South Baker Intermediate School, 1285 Third St., 3 p.m., hosted by Calvary Baptist Church

• American Legion Post 41, 2129 Second St., 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

None of these events would happen without dedicated volunteers.

On a day when most of us relish the unique embrace of our families, these selfless people give their time, and themselves, to make sure others who aren’t as fortunate can feel that same special thrill of a warm meal taken among friends, and with smiles and laughter all around.

We give them our thanks.

Forest ills need a faster fix

The announcement that forests are sickly in the Blue Mountains and elsewhere in the drier sections of the Northwest hardly qualifies as news.

The problems — unnatural epidemics of insects and disease, massive wildfires — are as blatant as a bolt of lightning, and have been so for at least a few decades.

But a recent study brings a fresh, albeit troubling, perspective to the problem.

Branded for life (or a while) as a failed elk hunter

So I went elk hunting for most of a week and the only blood I spilled was my own.

No one who has ever watched me fire a rifle will be even slightly surprised by this revelation.

There are, fortunately, just a few members of this club. Not that they would boast about their membership.

My injury, a minor flesh wound inflicted not by a bullet but by a 9-power rifle scope, was of course not my fault.

I blame the bull elk I was peering at through the scope.

Sage grouse help from.... Salem? Yep

Baker County won’t go it alone in trying to convince federal officials that local sage grouse populations don’t need to be added to the list of threatened or endangered species.

Our ally comes from an unexpected place.


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