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Letters - January 4/8

January 4

Thanks for parade

To all the Hood River Valley firemen, past and present, who provide us with the annual Christmas fire truck parade, this is a thank-you letter that is long overdue.

The decorations are always beautiful and spread much Christmas spirit and joy.

My family sincerely appreciates your hard work and voluntary gift to the Valley.

Letha Buchanan

Odell

Top heavy

Exactly what does a superintendent of schools do? Does anyone out there really know?

Our last superintendent left Hood River Valley after a vote of no confidence from the school board. Due to confidentiality rules, we dumb taxpayers aren’t allowed to be told the details. There’s no way to know what happened. Secrets can’t be defended, rumors are rampant, and the truth isn’t allowed to be divulged. However, one of the assistant superintendents, with the board’s approval, is now acting interim superintendent. I was at the board meeting where the board and assistant superintendent agreed that school would continue uninterrupted, with no problems presented, simply by reassigning and redistributing responsibilities within the existing staff. That is without hiring anyone until the end of the school year. The assistant superintendent has acted as interim superintendent before, when Mr. Bugge left, and should know what is needed. What isn’t being done that needs done that justifies spending $90,000 to $100,000 in salary, plus benefits, and the cost of a search for a new superintendent? That amount of money would support three entry-level teachers or could be used to re-establish music programs, counseling, or any of the other things cut due to budget restraints.

If the board and administrative staff don’t think they need anyone from December to June, well over half the school year, do we really need anyone at all? Based on the conversations I’ve had, our high school is actually doing better without a principal. So far the co-principal approach seems to be working well. If enough administrators leave, we might get back to the main objective of the schools, which is educating students.

Michael F. Fifer

Hood River

Grace and switch

Maybe a brief refresher course on American history might help. The first Thanksgiving proclamation in the New World was signed by Governor William Bradford in the Plymouth Colony in the fall of 1621. More than 150 years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence the Pilgrims observed Thanksgiving on American soil.

With the passing of time, Thanksgiving became a yearly custom among the colonies and the new nation. In 1789 George Washington issued his famous Thanksgiving Proclamation:

“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and to humbly implore His protection, aid and favors ... Now, therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the Beneficient Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His care and protection of this country, and for all the great and various favors which He has pleased to confer upon us.”

In 1864 Abraham Lincoln issued a Presidential proclamation appointing Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday.

Nothing is more right than giving thanks to God.

Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner is not the turkey or ham or all the trimmings. It is coming together in love and fellowship to “render unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His care and protection of this country.”

Now what is bait and switch? That is when a (greedy, self-centered, uncaring) person sells you something of great value and when you receive it, it is of lesser value and not the real thing.

The Hood River Adult Center had a meal they called Thanksgiving dinner and a meal they called Christmas dinner. We were not permitted to give thanks or even say God Bless to those around us. They wanted our (Christian) money by calling it a Thanksgiving meal and a Christmas meal.

Please, next year don’t use the bait and switch, call it for what it is, a harvest meal or holiday meal, but please, please, don’t insult us or offend us anymore by calling it a Thanksgiving meal and a Christmas meal.

Pastor Michael Harrington

Mountain View Baptist Church

Hood River

Grow Cooper Spur

The Hood River News continues to show support of the Cooper Spur Wild and Free Coalition. The coverage on Dec. 25, 2002, reads more like a promotional advertisement for CSWF than an article, to me.

Deschutes County just recently approved another destination resort called Pronghorn. That county has clearly seen the benefits these resorts provide. Why else would Deschutes County move forward with yet another destination resort? They already have Crosswater, Sun River, Black Butte, Eagle Crest, and the Inn at the 7th Mountain. The reason Deschutes County approves destination resorts is because they are beneficial. The new Bandon Dunes Golf Resort has also been very beneficial for Coos County, and now Bandon Dunes is proposing an expansion of that resort. Many jobs have been created and the tax receipts have increased as a result in Coos County.

Cooper Spur Mountain Resort is the perfect place for an expanded destination resort. I hope the Hood River County Commissioners have the foresight, as the Deschutes County and Coos County Commissioners have, to see the benefits that expanding Cooper Spur will have on our local economy.

Jodi Gehrman

Mt. Hood

Find ‘true spirit’

There have been many stories and letters in the paper about Cascade Locks and Hood River in the last few months and what kinds of businesses are appropriate for the Gorge. There has also been a discussion about if or whether the Warm Springs Tribes should be allowed to build a resort business here. As I sit here on Christmas Eve thinking about what we ought to focus on this time of year, I wonder if we all sometimes miss the point of the holiday season. Instead of spending so much time and energy proving who is “right” and who is “wrong” on these issues, let’s talk about people without jobs and no money to buy the children Christmas presents. Let’s focus on the 40 percent unemployment rate on the Warm Springs Reservation and the fact that Klickitat and Hood River counties had the highest unemployment rates in Oregon and Washington last August. Regardless of where you stand on big box stores, destination resorts, or casinos, I know that nobody wants this economic hardship to continue in any of these communities one minute longer than it has to. Let’s all work together to find a solution to the human suffering that exists in the Gorge and on Oregon’s Indian reservations. Let’s all remember the true spirit of the Holiday Season. Merry Christmas everybody!

Dorothy I. Wilson

Cascade Locks

Expansion is good

Hood River County would be well served by the jobs and the increased tax receipts that would result from an expansion at Cooper Spur.

I’m a local supplier of stone used for landscaping and fireplace construction. Believe me, if Cooper Spur were to expand like I’ve read in the paper, my business would not only benefit, but other local contractors such as electricians, plumbers, excavators, painters, roofers, and a host of other material suppliers and home furnishing companies would also clearly benefit for years to come. These jobs pay family wages. Many of us in Hood River County depend on local construction work to pay the bills, and we do all our shopping locally.

The new homes and other facilities at Cooper Spur would increase annual property tax payments to Hood River County. Many of the people who would own those homes would use them as weekend and holiday retreats, just as they currently do now up at Cooper Spur. This means they generally won’t have their children in our schools, but will be paying property taxes nevertheless. That sounds good to me.

Other tourists and people seeking recreation will stay and spend money both up at Cooper Spur and down in Hood River. When I go to a resort like Sun River, I may eat dinner one night at the hotel, but then I’ll go into town the other nights and spend money in the restaurants and shops in Bend.

We have the natural beauty that would support a successful year-round destination resort, and the Cooper Spur area is the natural place to locate a resort in Hood River County. Many eastern Oregon counties don’t have the scenic qualities that we do. We should recognize our opportunity and stop this no-growth attitude. I don’t believe that a resort at Cooper Spur will harm the farmer’s ability to grow and sell fruit either.

Don Olmstead

Parkdale

Outside in?

A recurring theme stated by supporters of a destination resort is that outsiders are telling the folks in Hood River County what to do. That’s rich. A Portlander is the only one begging our commissioners to let him build a resort in our county that will impact our county roads, our businesses, our property taxes, our farmland and our water supply. This would cast our business climate and prospects into the Stone Age. We have more low-wage seasonal service jobs than anything else. If we have more jobs like that, then obviously our unemployment rate will be even higher than it is now. Where will this county get that extra seasonal unemployment check money? From your property taxes? Out of your school’s budget like this year? Get a grip on reality. Just because the mills closed and a bunch of windsurfers showed up does not mean you would be better off all bitter and surrounded by rich outsiders who bought hundreds of condos from a Portland contractor. What if we all made minimum wages serving outsiders weekending here? Would we be fiercely independent then? How many minimum wage workers can buy homes now, much less if condo people colonize Hood River? Choose dignity and make a career or a real job for yourself or someone else, but stop asking the commissioners to let outsiders turn you or your kid into a resort peasant.

John Wood

Hood River

January 8

Pray for soldiers

If Saddam Hussein had been deposed during the Persian Gulf War we would not now be “gearing” up for a possible war with Iraq. He was not a “nice” fellow then (or now) but those in charge of our war maneuvers did not feel it expedient at that time to “put him down.” If this war takes place there is no doubt that there will be a loss of many lives, and I just read in the newspaper of an expenditure of $50-60 billion. All this wouldn’t be necessary if Saddam had been deposed.

Let’s pray that Saddam doesn’t expose our soldiers to poison gas, as it is thought he did in the Persian Gulf War, with many of the veterans complaining of various ailments. If so, this was a dastardly deed.

Dorothy Mathison

Hood River

Yes on 28

I am convinced that most voters would be more than willing to vote yes on Measure 28 if they were aware of the following: that for just an average of $6 per month in additional taxes for the next three years, they could prevent 5,512 of our most vulnerable citizens (statewide), the developmentally disabled, from losing all their services. In addition, if Measure 28 doesn’t pass, the Columbia Gorge Center right here in Hood River, which has provided employment for these citizens for 35 years, will lose its major funding and may even have to close. Voters, now that you are aware of just one of the serious consequences of a no vote, please vote yes on 28. Our most vulnerable citizens are depending on you.

Lennie Mueller

Parkdale

Threat to mountain

Now we are threatened with yet another local challenge to our intelligence and welfare. Clean water, agriculture, wilderness and quality of life are more important than a destination resort. Crystal Springs is some of the best water you will taste — anywhere! Valley agriculture is, you know, what will feed us when we need to eat. I think there’s a clear case for agriculture being an important element to “homeland security.” A positive element! Mountain wilderness — that place we can go for inspiration, decompressing and recharging, healing. How would a destination resort affect quality of life in this area versus other possibilities? Judged on evidence from other areas the answer would be “negatively!”

Superb water, agriculture, wilderness and quality of life, it should be an open and shut case. There should be no human-caused threats such as logging and resort development whatsoever allowed to our Crystal Springs water source. The citizens of this county should be up in arms over any threat to any of these amenities!

In the early 1800s, after the Louisiana Purchase, an idea took hold in the European American imagination. It is known as Manifest Destiny. This doctrine said European Americans had a right to the North American continent. The rationale was, they believed, the Native Americans did not use the land to its maximum capability. There were fortunes to be made from exploiting those lands! And that is what happened.

Today we have a contemporary scenario of manifest destiny. Agriculture is not considered the highest and best use of land, while business that makes a huge profit (a killing) for a few is. Witness across this continent the agricultural land going under malls, subdivisions, resorts, industry, pavement. In real terms agriculture is way more important than many economic exploits.

We would be wise to develop a national respect for farmers and an ethic to honor and protect agricultural land. Hood River Valley has some terrific agricultural land and farmers who know how to bring forth food from the land.

This is holy ground we live on. Let’s compel our county officials to seek out intelligent economic development. We must take a long term view and work together today to preserve the clean water and environment on which the vitality of our valley depends. We would all prosper by endeavors that are actually forward looking to solving the pressing challenges of our day, so that future generations actually inherit a better world, not a bunch of junk jobs and toxic leftovers.

Keith Harding

Mount Hood

Keep water clean

The Crystal Springs Water District recently put out a special edition of their newsletter “The Water Connection” sent to its members. It is complete with a map and an explanation of where our drinking water comes from. It explains how the water source is in danger of being degraded by expansion of the Cooper Spur Ski Resort owned by Mt. Hood Meadows, Inc.

There is no reason we should permit a wealthy Portland land developer to degrade the public’s lands for his own profit. The district users should not pay in any way for his huge real estate expansion or worry about our water quality because of Mt. Hood Meadows’ intrusion. Just say no to Franklin Drake and his managers.

Portland would not stand for his intrusion into the Bull Run watershed — nor should we. It is the same issue whether the district serves 200 or 200,000 people. Keep our water clean for us.

Kate Mills

Mt. Hood

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