Letters to the editor for Feb. 19 to Feb. 23

February 23, 2007 12:00 am

Don't set a bad example for kids

To the editor:

First and foremost, we teach at the middle school. With that said, you might be surprised to read here that the funding debate currently at issue in our community is not the topic of this letter. Civility and common, everyday courtesy are the topics here.

In addition to the academics that we and our colleagues strive to address daily are the most basic and fundamental issues of how to effectively deal with people of all walks of life in lots of situations.

Children and teens still learn by trial and error and by watching examples we as adults put forth, especially in moments of high passion, tension and anger.

Adults teach the young to develop positive strategies to deal with difficult situations, and, ideally, we correct and coach along the way.

Dealing with people in authority and questioning their motives, conclusions, and opinions are some of the skills young people need to develop as they become adults.

Thankfully, most of our students were not present at Tuesday night's forum concerning the middle school.

Our students would have heard and seen the following from adults:

o A disrespect of the forum process and procedures by several community members who seized the moment to make impassioned personal remarks about the process and/or the people involved.

o A former circuit court judge who, after his remarks, told a community member that they/he/you can "go to hell," after she quietly reminded him of the courtesy of remaining at the microphone as Mr. Steele attempted to answer his statement.

Few, if any of these people have ever attended the open public meetings now going on for a third year concerning the middle school. Why not come and express your views to the group? You've always been invited. However, there are rules. No swearing; no putdowns.

Expressing displeasure is not easy. One could seek flashy public forums or fire from long range in the media.

Here's a suggestion: seek change by actually joining those you distrust in the long, tiresome meetings and hard work, playing the devil's advocate.

If not satisfied with that, run for the school board position(s).

Bill Mitchell, Baker City

Thomas L. Isaacson, Haines

Site review making MVMH better

To the editor:

I joined Mountain Valley Mental Health as a therapist this past June. I was excited to join MVMH because of its excellent reputation amongst professionals in the region for the services the agency provides. I do not know the politics of what happened with the former director or the previous therapists. I do know that I work with experienced and talented therapists. It is my impression that we replaced well-respected therapists who served the community well.

In therapy, best management practice requires that clients have an assessment and a treatment plan on file so that the therapists can track whether we are helping the client reach his or her goals. The state identified lack of documentation in this area as a deficiency for the agency. We are reviewing each client file to ensure everyone who utilizes our services has a well-documented plan. Even though some of the problems predate my employment, the intense focus on documentation has made us better clinicians.

This has been a painful issue for the community. Please know that my colleagues and I are responding to the state's concerns and are dedicated to building upon the reputation of MVMH for providing high quality mental health services.

Karen Waln, MSW

Summerville

Balance missing from BMS forum

To the editor:

I hoped for a balanced discussion of alternatives at Baker School District 5J's community forum on Middle Schools last Tuesday. However, I was disappointed by an unbelievable, biased presentation.

Architect Scott Steele's slide presentation for the existing Middle School showed only negatives, with one exception for land ownership. For the proposed new facility, he showed only positives, except for the cost of land purchase. Although Steele said that he was aware of a "few positives" for restoring the old buildings, they were "too obvious" to list.

Obvious costs for new construction, like extending and paving streets, building new city infrastructure, and bussing costs were ignored, while at the same time, closing a street at the current Middle School facility was exploited as negative.

Steele's portrayal of two identical construction costs, installation of sprinkler systems, as negative for the old buildings but positive for the proposed facility, was a counterproductive insult to the intelligence of the audience.

Our community needs consensus on a functional middle school facility. There is no advocacy group for restoration of the old buildings like there is for new construction, but plenty of people think restoration can be cost-effective and a better alternative for the middle school campus and community. Consensus requires an honest, objective discussion.

5J District's responsibility is to ensure an objective discussion, not ramrod a Preferred Alternative down the throats of a skeptical public.

Proponents for a new school must first convince the voters. Biased and dishonest presentations are disrespectful, destroy trust and harden opposition.

Let's not waste the hard work of the volunteer task force and moderators. In future forums, let's have balanced, objective discussions on all aspects of the Middle School question, including community costs such as siting and infrastructure.

Kata Bulinski

Baker City

School board works for you

To the editor:

The Baker School District 5J board wishes to thank community members and the Baker City Herald, Record Courier, KCMB radio station and Charter Television for the coverage of the forum in the Baker High School Commons on Tuesday.

The significant number of community members participating provided the Baker School Board and the Baker Middle School Task Force with more ideas as well as new questions to ponder.

The keynote speaker, Scott Steele of Steele Associates Architects, presented the community with information about existing buildings as well as new construction.

Steele praised the Baker community members for the number in attendance and for their interest in this issue. Moderator Alethea Bonebrake and Deryl Leggett, a member of the task force, maintained the focus of the forum on questions from community members.

As a board, we work for you and we will continue to do what is best for all of the students in our schools. We will continue to analyze the information presented, answer questions posed by all of you and recommend what should be done next.

John Boyer, chair

Baker School Board

We all have a stake in our schools

To the editor:

The saying "I don't have a dog in this fight" may not be completely true.

As I see it, we all have a stake in what happens to our schools. Bill Gates wrote a book on the digital age and conducting business at the speed of thought. The old schools with one electric outlet per room were state of the art at that time.

I am not an expert on any of these new technologies, but I do know the current students must have a grasp of technologies not even dreamed of in my school days — Class of 1942 Bonanza, Ore.

My schooling did give me a curiosity, which I still have. Participation in Tuesday night's meeting led me to believe that some more research needs to be done on the possibilities of remodeling.

I believe Tuesday night's meeting was very worthwhile. It should bring some new perspective to the discussion, and we can agree that something needs to be done.

The powers making the decisions need to operate with complete transparency and should not get too far ahead of the voting public.

Eric Romtvedt

Baker City

Let's play some basketball

To the editor:

We are about to lose a great opportunity in this community, and I am writing in an effort to save it.

I have been playing in the YMCA 5 on 5 league for the last few years. It has been a great opportunity to get out, have fun, and meet people. For some reason this year, we don't have enough teams for a league. I know there are enough guys out there who want to play.

I'm wondering why they haven't signed up. If there are reasons that you don't like playing that can be changed or you don't have a team, please come to the YMCA gym next Tuesday at 6 p.m. We are going to get the league started and everyone who wants to play but doesn't have a team, we will find you a team.

Please come and play, I would hate to lose this opportunity. Thank You.

Bryan Dalke

Baker City

You should have left that part out

To the editor:

I would like to say the coverage you gave the basketball playoffs last week was exceptional, and when I first started to read it, I was so impressed. But this was short-lived because of the front page article your reporter did on the Pine-Eagle boys coach, Jeremiah Sprague. There were so many nice things in the article about him, and all of them true, that I give you credit for, but why was it necessary to throw in the information about him being on trial in the Baker courts right now? It would have been such a nice article for him to cherish and put in a scrapbook but you ruined it all.

We all know he has some problems going with a misunderstanding of his care-giving of an elderly aunt, but you could have saved that information for a separate article when the hearing is over.

All of us that know Jeremiah are hoping he will be cleared. It is very hard to deal with the elderly or anyone with a brian dysfunction. Please be a little more caring when putting together your articles, taking first things first.

Veryl Waldon

Halfway

Disappointed by Tuesday's forum

To the editor:

What an incredible disappointment Tuesday's meeting to discuss ideas about a new middle school versus a remodel was! Not only did the promised roundtable discussions not occur, neither did a presentation of the pros and cons nor a comparison of the costs of remodeling versus new. The information presented was the same that had been previously given having to do only with a new school. We know what the middle school lacks, and we know that remodeling addresses those issues just as well as does a new building. What we do not know are the costs of remodeling, nor do we know exactly the total costs of a new structure because not everything has been considered and added in.

Because of the constraints put on questioning and because Scott Steele had not been asked to study the possibility of remodeling but only to provide plans for a new school, questions, concerns, ideas and comments about remodeling could not be addressed.

This is an incredibly talented, creative, intelligent and resourceful community. Allow those interested to brainstorm the possibilities of a remodel, address the pros, cons and cost in an open and knowledgeable way and then put the two possibilities (new or remodel) side by side for consideration and comment. We cannot make an intelligent, rational decision until we have all facts about remodel versus new placed side by side.

Judy Baker

Baker City

Seniors, beware!

To the editor:

Seniors beware! As the president of the Union County AARP Chapter and someone who is involved with and concerned about local seniors, I am compelled to notify local seniors of the following: seniors in our area are being approached by insurance salespeople claiming that they are working on behalf of Medicare. Out of town insurance salespeople have been contacting seniors and falsely representing themselves as working for Medicare and wanting to explain some changes in Medicare as a tactic to sell insurance.

Beverly Mathena

Elgin

Remodel of schools would fix problems

To the editor:

I am completely in favor of a bond levy to improve our schools; to make them accessible, safe and modern. Why can't the Baker School Board understand that all we want is a fair discussion of the actual facts and options?

The so-called "Pros and Cons" discussion at the Middle School Forum was an embarrassment. There were only "cons" listed for remodeling and only "pros" for building new on new land. The "cons" listed were simply the items that would be fixed in a remodel.

We have not had the opportunity to compare "apples to apples" as one participant requested. When will the school board allow us to hear and discuss the rest of the story?

Beverly Calder

Baker City

What happened

to America?

To the editor:

From the vantage point of a senior citizen, I feel the need to comment on what I observe is happening in our once-great nation! Listening to the media news circus recently, it seems America has become a modern "Babylon." I am appalled at the daily diet of scandals, violence, crime and corruption, immorality and perversion, personal and national tragedies. What has happened to "America, the Beautiful?" Has this quotation by late President Reagan come true? "If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under."

According to Matthew 24 in the Holy Bible, we are experiencing the signs of the end times as predicted by Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. We are not only hearing rumors of war, we are involved in physical wars and also engaged in an intense "spiritual war" for the heart and soul of America! We are being besieged from within and without by a ruthless and dangerous ideology which has sworn to destroy Israel and America, called "the great Satan" by radical Islam. Have we learned nothing from 9/11? There are forces trying to destroy our sovereignty and undermine our Judeo-Christian heritage.

A fascinating book by David Barton, modern historian, titled "America, to Pray or Not to Pray," quotes government statistics which document what has happened since the Supreme Court removed prayer from our public schools in 1962. Statistics prove that these were the immediate results of that decision: teen pregnancies increased, divorce escalated, SAT scores plummeted and violent crime soared to new heights.

Bill O'Reilly's latest book, "Culture Warrior," supports Barton's conclusions when he writes: "to conquer a nation, destroy the values of its people!"

Recently, I was furious to learn that Kofi Annan, recent Secretary-General of the United Nations, called America "stingy." Stingy?

America has been not only the most blessed nation the world has ever known, but we are the most generous people in the history of mankind! I know this from my personal experience as a secretary in the Foreign Aid Program in Pakistan, where we poured millions of dollars in aid to this Muslim nation!

Joyce B. Mitchell

Baker City

Time to reach out to non-believers

To the editor:

It's time to speak very boldly to unbelievers as well as to believers in the Bible. For the unbelieving, read Psalm 14:1; Proverbs 1:7; Ecclesiastes 2:14. It is a disastrous time to be blind or a fool as the Bible speaks of in our time! The Bible speaks of these things that are happening today!

Anyone who has studied Luke 21:28-29 knows this is speaking of Israel and other nations coming into place for the end-time return of Jesus Christ. Israel did just exactly that on May 15, 1948. She is the tree first spoke of. Any Bible student can see the other trees are all coming in to place as Jesus said!

Who are the other trees? You have only to watch the news channels with an open mind to see. They are Iraq, Iran, Russia, perhaps Germany and China. All are mentioned in Scripture. Which leads us to Luke 21:30-32. God's word warns us not to let these things come upon us unawares. Jesus said, "this generation shall not pass away til all be fulfilled." If you were born after May 1948, he's talking to you! We must understand he said all!

The one thing that must happen is a great awakening of the church. A great hunger for lost souls. The fire of the holy spirit must come into the churches of America if we are to see souls saved, healed and set free from bondage. Pastors, it starts with you! God is building an army of spirit-filled believers that are marching outside the church walls, going to the lost instead of waiting for them to come to them. This is what God said to do! It's a sad thing when the church is only interested in the 99 behind walls and know not where the one is or cares! Pastors, it's time to wake up the body of Christ to the calling before them!

Richard Fox

Baker City

VA benefits cut

To the editor:

The Blue Mountain Veterans Coalition held an excellent rally for veteran health care in La Grande on February 15. Why are veterans now fighting for Veterans Administration services?

Our veterans of all ages are suffering from many issues — some visible and others not.

Cutbacks in hours, staff, medical care and closing of these VA hospitals in some instances is a slap in the face to both our current military men and women and those who served in Korea, World War II, Vietnam, etc.

Those we elect to represent us should be adamantly supporting the VA.

Candidates who address these issues will be worthy on election day.

Barbara Brown

La Grande

Walden cut taxes, which cost counties

To the editor:

Our U.S. Representative, Greg Walden, is complaining about the cutoff of the county payments (which are basically payments in lieu of property taxes on government land in Baker County). He is making a big show of bipartisan legislation to restore them. He's making daily speeches in Congress to publicize the issue.

We certainly wish him well in this effort, but we can also keep in mind that his fingerprints are all over this problem.

Rep. Walden voted for mammoth tax cuts for the rich as part of the ultra-conservative "starve the beast" strategy to strangle the federal government. He received a "hero" award in 2006 from Americans for Tax Reform, the government-hating group that wants to shrink it and drown it in a bath tub.

He supported the worst administration in our country's history, an administration that acts like a huge sponge, soaking up the remaining taxes and sending them down some rat hole in Iraq instead of meeting the needs here at home for affordable health care, education, New Orleans recovery and other pressing domestic needs.

And now he has the nerve to take Congress to task for not funding county payments.

Our county roads will be crumbling because there's no money left in the till for the government to pay its fair share. We are the ones who should be complaining — about such incredibly poor representation!

Gale Vozar

Baker City

My thoughts on the middle school

To the editor:

Some of us have wardrobe malfunctions. I have a hearing-aid malfunction. No way can I participate in a community meeting, so I am doing so in writing.

Baker City would not be much of an historic city had the movement a few years back to abandon City Hall and the County Courthouse and build new ones out by the freeway been successful. Moving the middle school out of the center of town seems an equally bad decision.

There is a good deal of "look alive" value to the community to keep this hub of activity in this very visible location. Ambulance, police and fire departments are close by; utilities are already installed. We already own the ground.

Keeping the location where students can walk to school is also important. With obesity becoming so prevalent, the last thing we need to do is remove this natural daily exercise opportunity.

My thoughts: The thorough studies on the existing buildings should be completed and given serious considerations. Remodel if it is feasible. If not, tear the schools down, close the street, combine the grounds and build a new school facing Broadway.

What do we do with the students while a new school is built? When Helen M. Stack was being built, I was in the seventh grade. Classes were spread all over town. Our North Baker group had one classroom and one teacher on the second floor of North Baker School. We survived very nicely.

I recall quonset huts for classes when our high school was rebuilt after the fire. Some districts have used buildings half a day for high school and half a day for middle school. Perhaps the 5J offices could be relocated and the 5J building used for classes. There are endless possibilities even though Mr. Ulrey, in a seemingly disservice to the district that is paying his salary, seems to be very busy trying to eliminate obvious ones.

Whatever is done, maintain our buildings. It is completely unacceptable to endanger the health and safety of our students for the sole purpose of making our buildings appear worse than they are.

Margaret Brown

Baker City