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Letters to the editor for December 29, 2008


E-Cycle: It’s easy, free

For most people an old, obsolete TV or computer monitor is trash, albeit heavy, space-occupying trash.

Trouble is, tossing such stuff into a landfill can cause problems more serious than clogging your closet capacity.

Polluting groundwater with poisonous heavy metals, for instance.

Televisions, computer and computer monitors contain toxins such as mercury and lead.

Americans threw away about 232 million of these devices in 2007, but just 18 percent were recycled rather than landfilled, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The agency estimates that 235 million more are taking up the aforementioned closet space.


Cooperation, not antagonism

The Baker School District needs to save money.

The Oregon School Employees Association wants to protect its members who work for the district as cooks, bus drivers and in other non-teaching jobs.

Both goals are reasonable.

What’s also reasonable is to expect that district and union officials will work together to try to achieve both objectives.

Their relationship is hardly amicable now, though, and we hope they try to mend it before it erodes any further.

The animosity dates to the summer, when Superintendent Don Ulrey, in an effort to curb costs, cut one cook position.

Although the affected employee was transferred to a different job in the district, the decision prompted OSEA to file an unfair labor practice complaint against the district. Union official Mary Kay Brant contends Ulrey should have told the union before transferring the OSEA worker.

Perhaps, but considering the district moved, rather than fired, the employee, the complaint seems unnecessary.


A Marine reminds us that even amateur poetry can possess power

It’s all too easy to sulk these days, so dire are the dispatches which daily pummel even the casual consumer of news.

The news business depends on bad tidings, of course — the assorted awfulness that afflicts our world is as essential to the media as forage is to the cattle rancher.

People complain that they’re bludgeoned by this onslaught of negativity but I think they’d miss it if went away altogether. We are, most of us, attracted by stories of disaster and despair — mainly, I suspect, because they remind us that no matter how rotten we thought things were going for us, we’re better off than those poor people who were just on TV.

This is at best a meager and brief sort of solace, but accept it.

The tenor of things has turned particularly pessimistic, it seems to me, during the second half of 2008.

There has been but little respite since the start of summer. First fuel prices rose to unprecedented heights, then the housing and financial markets sunk to levels unimaginable mere months before.


Congress wants to throw around a lot of money next year to improve roads and other publicly owned in

We hope some of those dollars land in Baker County.

Equally important, we hope those dollars not only boost the local economy, but also make the county a better place to live and to visit.

To achieve those goals, local officials will need to compile a list of projects that lack only the money to get them going.

Officials will have to hurry, though.


Letter to the editor for December 23, 2008


Remembering Jeff Rogers

If you read the obituaries in Friday’s Baker City Herald you will know that Jeff Rogers died last Tuesday.  You might also have noted that he delivered newspapers for the Baker City Herald.

What you might not have known, unless you knew Jeff, was that he was a special kind of guy — the sort you just don’t come across often anymore.

For as long as I’ve known him, Jeff had battled kidney disease and its complications. Most people would accept that having a chronic disease, and the frequent dialysis and doctors appointments that accompanied it, would end working at any job.

But Jeff was not most people.


Letters to the editor for December 22, 2008


Compromise needed

The decades-old disagreement over managing America’s public forests has not been fertile ground for compromises.

But occasionally such a chance comes along, and we despair when the rare opportunity seems to be slipping through our grasp.

That appears to be the case, though, with the federal government’s campaign to reduce the risk of summer wildfires by  logging and lighting prescribed fires in overcrowded forests.

What frustrates us is that the basic idea behind that campaign appeals not only to the Forest Service and the timber industry, but also to many environmental groups that have vehemently opposed other types of timber sales.

Groups such as Oregon Wild and the La Grande-based Hells Canyon Preservation Council agree with Forest Service officials that millions of acres of national forests in the West are sickly and vulnerable.

There’s general concurrence, too, on research that shows historic logging of the biggest, healthiest trees, combined with the exclusion of lightning-caused fires, is largely responsible for the problem.

The Bush Administration’s and Congress’ chief strategy for solving that problem was to ease federal environmental laws so the Forest Service can get the trees cut and the fires lit sooner.


Bass Pro Shops gift runs into a minor snag

Bass Pro Shops sent me a Christmas gift, which struck me as a pretty thoughtful gesture considering it’s been at least a year since I hooked a bass.

And I landed that smallmouth without the assistance of any of Bass Pro Shops’ quality products.

They didn’t pay me to write that.

Truth be told, I’ve never bought anything from the company. Not even a little bag of those black rubber worms. I’ve heard bass go for those worms almost every time. Although I suppose if you’re a famished bass there is only one time, unless you come across an angler who believes in catch-and-release. That’s the bad thing about being a fish — the likelihood that your last meal is fake.

Well, that and all the swimming.

Anyway I felt guilty as soon as I opened the envelope and read the letter from Bass Pro Shops announcing, and here I’m quoting: “We are pleased to enclose your 2009 Bass Pro Shops Media Discount Card for catalog or retail purchases.”

With all those capital letters I knew right off this was a heck of a lot better present than a Chia Pet.

Except maybe for Chia Scooby Doo.

Bass Pro Shops even spelled my name right, both on the letter’s salutation line and on the discount card (I mean Discount Card). That’s a feat rare enough that it qualifies as its own little stocking-stuffer.


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