The rain that doused Baker County earlier this week was no mirage.
But neither is the warm sunshine that quickly replaced the sodden clouds.
And sunshine, not downpours, has been the defining characteristic of this spring. Until Wednesday, in fact, this spring was the driest in the county since World War II.
With the whole of summer yet to come, the odds are high that the fire danger will escalate quickly as July progresses.
Which is not to say big wildfires are a near certainty in Baker County.
Writer didn’t mention effectiveness of vaccines
In a recent guest opinion published in another local paper, Baker County resident L.E. Castillo criticizes a new Oregon Health Authority vaccination requirement that parents who opt out of having their children vaccinated watch a “vaccine education module.” Castillo bolsters his objection by citing several studies showing that some children suffer adverse effects from vaccines.
Based on these studies Castillo advises parents “not to vaccinate your children until you’ve done some homework.” As an alternative to vaccination, Castillo recommends “homeopathic vaccine alternatives.”
Castillo makes no attempt to present the overwhelming evidence that vaccination prevents deadly epidemics that used to plague the world.
Parents magazine has this to say about vaccination: “The odds of experiencing a vaccine-related injury are greatly outweighed by the dangers of catching a vaccine-preventable disease. The measles vaccine, for instance, can cause a temporary reduction in platelets (which control bleeding after an injury) in 1 in 30,000 children, but 1 in 2,000 will die if they get measles itself. The DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis/chicken pox) vaccine can cause seizures or a temporary ‘shocklike’ state in 1 in 14,000 people, and acute encephalitis (brain swelling) in 11 in 1 million. But the diseases it prevents are fatal in 1 in 20 cases, 1 in 10 cases, and 1 in 1,500 cases, respectively.”
Bottom line is that Castillo leaves out of his guest opinion the most important information that parents should have in making the decision to opt out of vaccinating their children.
The federal government does a pretty fair job of making sure our soldiers, when they fight on our behalf, have cartridges for their rifles and shells for their artillery.
But after the battles, when these men and women get sick, they often don’t get so much as a “take two aspirin and call me in the morning” from our supposedly grateful nation.
The widespread failures of the U.S. Veterans Administration, and in particular its medical care apparatus, are of course appalling.
People who don’t even work, much less risk their lives carrying out our country’s policies, will be sitting in a doctor’s office maybe a day or two after they notice the symptoms.
Veterans, meanwhile, wait a month.
If they’re lucky.
In Oregon, by and large, veterans are not even that fortunate.
One trait common among lawmakers is the confidence that they can solve every problem by passing a law.
The futility of this notion is of course obvious to anyone with even a passing knowledge of human history.
Murder, for instance, has been a crime in most parts of the world for centuries.
Yet people keep killing each other, and in pretty much every country.
Probably no type of tragedy prompts more proposals from lawmakers than a fatal shooting at a school.
Firefighters and other emergency first responders in Oregon now know how much crude oil is rolling along the state’s railroads, including the Union Pacific tracks that run the length of Baker County and directly through Haines, Baker City and Huntington.
What’s not good is that we, the public, don’t have the same information.
Not yet, anyway.
I had a baseball glove and a ball and a bat and just down the block there was a grassy field smooth enough that only rarely would a grounder take a nasty hop and smack you in the nose.
But none of those things made me a baseball player.
Or want to be a baseball player.
You need a dad for that.
And not just any dad.
You need a dad, like my dad, who can wield a glove with his left hand and a bat with his right, hit a ground ball, catch the return throw, flick the ball out of the glove and rap another roller with just enough speed to test your mettle.
We’re not opposed to the Baker County Compensation Board’s proposal to make Commissioner Mark Bennett’s position half-time instead of the current quarter-time, and to boost his annual salary from $16,000 to $32,000.
But we expect to see specific examples of how the taxpayers will benefit from the extra outlay of cash.
Bennett and Commission Chairman Fred Warner Jr. have laid out a compelling case for the change.
In particular, they point out that commissioners need to understand the complex relationships among state and federal agencies that have a direct effect on Baker County’s economy and its residents.
The federal government, after all, manages almost exactly half of Baker County’s 2 million acres.
June 6, 1944, was a terrible day.
But at least Americans had the meager solace of understanding exactly why 2,500 of their soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen died while taking the first step toward liberating France from the Nazis.
It was an awful sacrifice, but a necessary one.
Today, 70 years later, we not only honor those who fought, and those who died, on the beaches of Normandy.
We also reflect on how vastly different the perceptions, and the realities, of America’s military endeavors are now.
I own two vehicles, which have between them 12 forward gears.
Not so long ago you needed three or four rigs to get that many transmission cogs, but such is progress.
The unusual thing about my modest fleet, though, isn’t the gearbox tally — showrooms abound these days with 7-, 8- and 9-speed transmissions — but rather the type.
Both are manuals, which is to say stickshifts.
It used to be you could tell oftentimes what kind of transmission a car had without wriggling onto the floor to count the pedals, which can give you a crick in the neck. Or worse, if you rise up too fast and whack your forehead on the fuse block.
If the shift lever poked out from the floor, the transmission almost certainly was a manual.
But if the lever jutted from the right side of the steering column, the odds were better than even that it was an automatic.
Harvey reflects on campaign, thanks voters
I would like to say thank you to Baker County for the vote of confidence you have shown in the primary election as your next Baker County Commission Chair. As I reflect on the following:
• Interview with Super Talk Radio Eddie Garcia
• Input with Lars Larson
• Participating in two different forums
• Mass mailing
• Radio ads on local stations
• Weekly Round Table meetings
• Placement of over 300 signs
• Attending the Rural Area City Council Meetings,
I am still amazed and greatly humbled that it was the individual person who took the time to learn about the issues and made the choice to cast their ballot. That is what really made the difference.
I would specially like to say thank you to the many volunteers who spent countless hours, providing me with documents, legal information and input on the many different areas that affect our county as a whole today. I am also grateful for those that provided the leg work getting the word out regarding my campaign.
Finally, a great big hug and thank you to my wife Lorrie who encouraged me, supported me, prayed with me and took on the role as my campaign manager.
After the November general election, it will be time to get to work and I am looking forward to January 2015.