Consider savings over the long term

To the editor:

andquot;A penny saved is a penny earned.andquot;

This dictum, attributed to founding father Benjamin Franklin over two centuries ago, is as true today as ever.

As citizens, taxpayers and friends of Baker School District, we should prudently consider what we can do to get the most for our money.

The initial cost of design and construction, whether for renovation of existing structures, or for new buildings, will be paid from the proceeds of bonds authorized by the voters. In my role as a finance professional, I am indifferent between new and renovated buildings. However, whether new or renovated, the costs of maintaining and operating these buildings will be paid from the district's general fund budget the same budget that pays teachers' salaries.

The district's architect, Steele Associates, estimates that a new building, co-locating the middle and high schools, would reduce the district's energy costs by between 6 and 10 percent of its current annual cost of $440,000. This is as much as $44,000 per year, or nearly enough to hire another teacher.

With a new building expected to last 60 years, the savings grow to over $2.5 million, all of which can be spent to provide a better education for our children.

In considering choices, let us make sure that we get not only the facilities our children need for the best available learning environment. Let's also do what we can to take advantage of new efficiencies that will make our budget for education stretch farther.

Spending more for heat and light doesn't add to anybody's education.

John Peterson


No bad dogs,

just bad owners

To the editor:

We have been visiting Baker City for the past 15 years and love your town.

Last summer we noticed that Geiser Pollman Park bans dogs from the premises. In a recent article it looks as if the city is considering changing the ban. I just wanted to let someone know that people actually can be more destructive than pets by leaving their garbage, etc.

I think lifting the ban is a great idea and using a leash law would be an effective choice.

Also, adding a dog rest stop area would encourage responsible pet owners to pick up after their pets.

Our dogs have loved your park for many years and would like to continue to use it. As they say, there are no bad dogs, just bad owners.

Laurel Olson


Attacks on MVMH making job tough

To the editor:

I have been employed at Mountain Valley Mental Health for the past six months. I realized when I took this position there was public controversy. Although people were concerned about my decision, I assured them I had great confidence in the current staff having collaborated with them for crisis intervention. I was confident that the past issues would not affect me. I was wrong!

I was resolved to ride out the storm and simply do my job, but the dealings of the Healthy Mental Health Committee no longer make that possible. This is especially true with regard to the article of Feb. 8 (andquot;Group wants county to cancel contract) and the reference to the andquot;rotten appleandquot; and that quote andquot;employees and the therapists at MVMH have a different experience than the Board as to what is really going on.andquot; How do you know what my experience is? Was I or other current MVMH staff questioned by you? No!

The HMHC says they are concerned about the most fragile and at-risk members of our community and the quality of services they receive. If this is true, why are we weekly trying to rebuild the therapeutic relationships damaged by their public attacks and innuendos? It seems HMHC has an agenda that far surpasses their concern for our clients.

I would like to assure the citizens of Baker County that the staff at MVMH is extremely well-trained with a broader base of experience than any other period in our history.

It is my hope that the county commissioners will look closely at HMHC and question who are these people? What is their real agenda? It's confusing, as they have tried several different approaches aimed at directors, staff and board members. What is their real agenda? I also question their reference to anonymous letters. I'll take one visible client over a 100 anonymous letters.

Alan King, M.S.W

Baker City

Forest products industry is alive

To the editor:

In college I took a business class and was taught the importance of flexibility in the new economy that breaches boarders, bridges languages and is constantly changing. What I learned then makes a little more sense as I look at Oregon's forest products industry.

In the late '80s and early '90s, the prognosis for what used to be Oregon's leading industry was not good. Increased regulation had chipped away at bottom lines and left forest- product companies battered and bruised. To many it looked like Oregon would make a permanent transition to a high-tech and service-sector state, turning mills and lumber camps in to nothing more than symbols of a bygone era.

However, the forest industry went back to basics and has proven to be an Oregon employer for the long haul. Taking a cue from their global customers, the forest industry began to redefine and reinvent itself for a new world. They changed business models. They expanded markets and looked at new products. Most importantly, they demonstrated strong commitment to truly sustainable forest practices. In the past, the forest products industry and environmental groups have been at odds. Today they share a keen interest in biomass and producing renewable sources of energy.

Today in Oregon the forest products industry is alive and growing stronger. Oregon is the nation's largest producer of lumber, cutting 4.35 billion board feet in 2005. In the past, the importance of the forest products industry has been ignored and its viability questioned. The tendency to minimize the importance of this vital and potentially growing sector does a huge disservice to the more than 55,000 Oregon workers who are the backbone of Oregon's most renewable, most sustainable industry.

Sen. Ted Ferrioli

John Day

TV's good old days

To the editor:

I want to thank those who responded to my last issue about what to do with our bird problem, other than maybe a demolition derby contest of some sort.

OK, now another issue that concerns me is what we watch and see on TV these days. All the violence and other things our kids watch these days no wonder we have all the problems we do. I remember a time when we used to be able to watch all of our favorite cartoons during the day, and some of the old favorite series, like andquot;The Beverly Hillbillies,andquot; andquot;Hogan's Heroes,andquot; andquot;Father Knows Bestandquot; and andquot;Mr. Ed,andquot; the talking horse.

It seems that those and most of the cartoon series seem to be played late at night and everything else has been replaced with violence and shows that have swearing words.

This is what I call the good old days when we all had a little bit of that kid in us and liked to watch cartoons like andquot;Tom and Jerry,andquot; andquot;Popeye,andquot; andquot;The Pink Pantherandquot; and andquot;Yogi Bearandquot; trying to outsmart the ranger of the forest, just to name a few.

Even some of our commercials are for the birds. A few of them are cute like the little green lizard in some of his commercials with GEICO insurance ads. The one I like is where he is having his cup of coffee and talks about easy money so much for easy money these days. And don't forget the blackbirds that like to use Windex and get the window sparkling clean. The birds, being as smart as they think they are, they close the door and ring the doorbell to test the homeowner. It makes me wonder who is smarter.

By the way, my friend and I both made the paper last month. So the secret is out of who my friend is now. What a coincidence!

Brenda Dickison

Baker City

Take a closer look

at the watchdogs

To the editor:

In the last few months I have been reading all the andquot;Healthy Mental Healthandquot; discussion, and I can no longer keep quiet. I know personally some of the Mountain Valley Mental Health employees and most of the board members. They are all fine, hard-working, conscientious people and are doing everything in their power to make Mountain Valley Mental Health the best it can be.

I think we should be asking a lot of questions about the andquot;Healthy Mental Healthandquot; group. A lot of the andquot;factsandquot; that they have stated are wrong. They have been publicly slamming members of the board and employees of Mountain Valley Mental Health. Why is this group so anxious to undermine and destroy something good by making it look bad with wrong information? Could there be an ulterior motive? They talk about wasting public tax dollars and yet the trouble they are causing is costing taxpayers more.

I think the public certainly needs to be looking more closely at this andquot;group.andquot;

James E. Sanders Jr.

Baker City

Bush not the

only decider

To the editor:

The president went on record Friday, Jan. 26, on CNN stating that freedom of speech is one of our most important rights. Those who read my material know I am a firm believer.

He is bound and determined as the decider to escalate his war with 21,000 additional troops into harm's way. His tough talking overlooks his stateside Air National Guard duty, where he was never in combat, not having the guts of a cream puff.

Were he somehow drafted into the Army infantry for a Vietnam hitch, maybe he would have thought twice about lying to start a war.

Ignoring the Constitution, he interprets what fits his own agenda. He doesn't get it because he doesn't have it. I believe most adult Americans can score higher on an I.Q. test than Bush. I also believe he cannot hold diplomatic talks with his adversaries knowing they will outsmart him.

He's already climbed to the top of one list, passing Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon as the most unfavorable presidents of the last 100 years, according to my review.

He is not the only decider. Congress just might decide to impeach him. That way we can get rid of these Mickey Mouse policies that are more lunacy than common sense.

Babied all his life, everything was given to him on a sliver platter. Never doing a day's manual labor, he cannot comprehend responsibility when the chips are down.

We must stick together fighting for our civil rights. Congress must plug the loophole, never again letting the Supreme Court appoint the president. We must stand together demanding our votes are backed by a paper trail. Otherwise, we might as well kiss the Constitution goodbye and toss it in the Potomac River. We can never have another Bush in the future.

Bring on Clinton! A Clinton is better than a Bush president any day. The Clintons are diplomats, not warmongers.

By increasing the number of troops, Bush isn't fooling anyone. This is a stall tactic used prior to dumping his mess on the next president.

Ron Chaney

Baker City

Ulrey's letter more of the same rhetoric

To the editor:

This letter is in response to Baker School District Superintendent Don Ulrey's letter to the editor on Jan. 19, 2007. I would have replied earlier but was out of the state for the past five weeks. Frankly, I was shocked, appalled and felt betrayed by this letter consisting of the same biased half-truths rhetoric of the past 2 1/2 years.

Some background: Several days after my letter to the editor after the November election, Don Ulrey called me and invited me to lunch. I responded that I would be delighted to meet with him at the District 5J office and I would be accompanied by local architect Jim Van Duyn. Ulrey said he would have school board member Deon Strommer and Deryl Legget (former Baker Middle School Task Force chair) in attendance. We had two very successful meetings with them and a third one scheduled for the first week of January 2007. This meeting was canceled at the last minute because of Deon's health.

These were very frank, no-holds-barred discussions about solving the middle school and elementary schools dilemma. These discussions laid the groundwork for Van Duyn to work pro bono with architect Scott Steele to come up with some preliminary data accountable to the local community with no ties to the 5J administration or the Task Force.

This all went down the tube as a result of Ulrey's letter of Jan. 19.

John Burgess

Baker City

I've joined up

To the editor:

I've joined the Minutemen.

Steve Culley

Baker City

What a waste

To the editor:

Here it is Valentine's Day, a day of love. But I was sad to see Bush on TV this morning. What a waste this Bush's war is. What is it, his pride, stubborn, bull-headed spoiled brat, ignorance? I don't know.

I have three sons in the Navy. They were all for this war in the beginning. They were told it was for America's best. They are now singing a different tune.

I have never been for the war. What a waste of human life and money.

I am a mother and grandmother. I still believe all wars should be fought by the men who started them. Send Bush over to Iraq, or his daughters. I hope that Mrs. Clinton is our new president. No woman ever started a war. Plus, she has all the intentions of bringing our men and women home.

Let's start spending all these millions on our seniors, mentally ill, children, homeless, more medical for the needy, and so on. It amazes me how we Americans voted Bush in. I vote for America. Let's stay home and quit blowing up everyone's countries.

Carol Free


Schools don't have to meet fire codes

To the editor:

While watching the Middleton, Idaho, High School building burn a few weeks ago, I just kept thinking, andquot;that could be Baker Middle School!andquot; The Idaho State Fire Marshal on the scene that day stated, andquot;if they had had sprinklers, we would not be watching this terrible fire fight now.andquot; Idaho, as Oregon, does not require old schools to retrofit sprinkler systems, and that school was only 40 years old with only one story.

I read the report from the Oregon State Fire Marshal about the recent inspection of our middle school buildings and realized there were no regulation codes mentioned. I called the State Fire Marshal Office in Salem and talked to Randy Simpson regarding the report. He told me there were no codes used, because there were no codes in existence when the two buildings were built. The inspection could only be done on fire exits, fuel load, overloaded outlets, etc. other words, common sense.

Randy said if we were to remodel our buildings, we would be required to abide by 2007 fire codes. That would include complete sprinkler systems, an ADA elevator in each building and andquot;safe roomsandquot; on each floor for emergency use by persons who could not exit the buildings safely.

Yes, the buildings we have could be renovated, but the cost goes up considerably when you consider the implications of these regulations. We will not know the extent of the changes needed until the buildings are stripped down to bare bones. The asbestos, plumbing, electrical and heating problems would all have to be handled, and the buildings vacated for at least 18 months, possibly longer, to accommodate the renovation. Our students, teachers and building workers would have to be housed elsewhere.

Please come to the forum on Tuesday, Feb. 20, at the Baker High School Commons, 7 p.m., and listen carefully to the information presented. Ask questions and get answers. When we all have the same information and can look at the pros and cons of the situation, we can come to a reasonable decision and get on with the much-needed changes.

Cherrie Carlson-Conklin

Baker City

Don't burden us with school tax

To the editor:

I moved to Baker City from Astoria six years ago because of health reasons. My wife and I were very pleased that the schools here in Baker were so well maintained and we would never be burdened with the school tax that we were saddled with in Astoria.

Astoria had a very good old high school that was condemned for the simple reason it was built on a ridge and was susceptible to an earthquake.

A politically influential business man in Astoria owned several parcels of prime land on the shores of Young's Bay. The voting public was browbeaten into passing a yes vote. A bond was passed and a very elaborate new high school was built. A 20-year tax payoff was added to the property owners taxes. Later, the condemned high school was found satisfactory for a junior college. Another vote was submitted to the public for the restoration of the old high school and with the help of federal dollars it was made into a junior college.

Astoria is a small town, and in order to keep a college of this caliber operating it was necessary to advertise far and wide for students. As of today several classes have been cut for lack of students and some of the equipment bought for instruction has been sold for pennies on the dollar. To this day there has never been an earthquake. The new school is 20 feet above water and vulnerable to tidal wave. Of course the taxpayers are still paying for the bad decision.

I have never been inside the middle school here in Baker but the exterior certainly looks like it would stand for another hundred years with no problems. Baker City has several structures older than either of two school buildings. Why abandon perfectly sound structures just to modernize? If a child wants to learn they will, regardless of their surroundings. I did 88 years ago in a wooden one room school house in Wisconsin.

Leon J. Monpas

Baker City

Belief v. science

To the editor:

Lisa Britton's article on the Morrisseys and a healthy lifestyle (Living Well, February 2007) was well done except for one secondary aspect that really bothers me. There are no reputable, conclusive scientific studies that show that magnet medical therapy is effective for improving human health.

andquot;To date, the FDA has not cleared for marketing any magnets promoted for medical uses,andquot; the FDA reports at

This bother is amplified because I suspect that some people are going have read the article and conclude hey! that's for me! they're going to spend money for a quack medical gimmick, and maybe also disregard or downplay other physician advice. I feel sorry for them.

I do not doubt the Morrisseys' sincerity in believing that magnetic technology has worked for them. Barry Beyerstein, PhD, in andquot;Why Bogus Therapies Often Seem to Workandquot; ( states that there are at least seven reasons why people may erroneously conclude that an ineffective therapy works placebo effect et cetera.

Testimonials simply are of little worth in the scientific assessment of a health product. Many dubious products remain on the market primarily because satisfied customers offer testimonials to their worth. Essentially, these people say: andquot;I tried it, and I got better, so it must be effective.andquot; They don't know, forget or downplay the other things that may be making them better. This is not valid scientific evidence. Good science is not fooled; good people sometimes are.

It's unclear to me how this ethical predicament should be treated by an editor you want to portray andquot;goodandquot; information but don't want to hurt feelings nor inhibit future interviews that may involve controversial elements. I suppose you could get the interviewee to discuss the controversy, ask for a follow-up interview, or you could add an editor's notice like an alert, rebuttal, disclaimer or warning about the probable/possible non-efficacy of something that the article mentions. To take no action in future similar situations seems to me a disservice that acts to perpetuate myths and untruth the anathema of a news service.

Woody Hauter

Baker City