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Letters - July 16. 2005

Asbestos agony

America’s veterans have fought to protect the rights of our countrymen, but our Congressmen are preparing to pass a bailout for the asbestos companies that would deny the rights of Navy vets sickened or killed by this substance.

Veterans who bravely and honorably served their country will suffer the consequences of this legislation while the corporations responsible for their physical suffering and early death will receive an enormous windfall. Under this bill, many asbestos victims, and a disproportionate number of Navy vets will go uncompensated for their medical bills, loss of wages, and pain and suffering.

They should be Congress’ first priority, not the special interests pushing this unfair and dishonorable bill.

Thomas Warren

Hood River

Expand Wal-Mart

Jonathan Blake (Our Readers Write, July 13) told why we need a Super Wal-Mart in Hood River as well as a casino. Jobs: A super Wal-Mart will make 200 permanent jobs as well as the construction jobs that would be needed to build the place. To get that number of new jobs with the present mom and pop windsurfing business downtown — you would need another 100 businesses to compete with the present ones. A Super Wal-Mart would be the anchor to draw thousands of people into our area to shop and socialize. It would not affect the traffic downtown due to its proposed location. I am sure that the traffic engineers can keep all the hordes of cars out of your neighborhood.

Hood River was dying long before anyone here even heard of Wal-Mart so that argument against the store is false.

Paul Nevin

Hood River

Example of ‘1812’

I am a member of the Gorge Winds Concert Band. On the Fourth of July, we played at Jackson Park, as we have for the past few years. It is an honor to play any concert in our community, and this one is no exception. Included in our program was the 1812 Overture, written in 1880 by Tchaikovsky to celebrate the Russian victory in the Napoleonic wars. The part of the cannons was in the original composition. The Boston Pops Orchestra has cemented a tradition of playing the 1812 Overture, including the cannon fire, on the Fourth of July over the past 30 years or so.

As our own musical group matures and improves, we try to be as authentic as we can be. This was our third year playing the 1812 Overture, and our second year of playing it with the cannons. I am very dismayed at the thought of this performance, or any part of it, being interpreted as a “recruiting gimmick.” There is nothing I would want less. In fact, this year more than last, as the smoke from the cannons wafted over the stage where the band was playing, I thought to myself how horrifying actual war must be, with the smoke, the noise, the smells, the chaos. Even if one believes there is just cause, which I certainly do not in the case of our current war in Iraq, I would never try to encourage others to engage in such a dangerous mission by exciting them with great music and cannons. That would make the choice trivial, and it is definitely not that.

On behalf of only myself, I apologize to those who did not realize the cannon fire was coming. On behalf of only myself, I would not want anyone to think that war is typically accompanied by flutes and horns, or anything other than violence and mayhem.

On behalf of only myself, I hope that we play the 1812 Overture again next year, I hope we include the cannon fire, and I hope everyone considers for even that brief time what it must be like for our soldiers in real battle.

Carol Goter

Mosier

Honor soldier spirit

This Fourth of July got me thinking. Those of us who oppose the war in Iraq often have a difficult time convincing others (and perhaps ourselves) that we are patriotic. We want to “support our troops” but not their mission, and it’s often hard to make the distinction. The new phrase going around, “support our warriors, not the war,” doesn’t quite cut it with me.

When our service men and women are lauded for “protecting our nation” and “defending our freedoms,” as they were this Fourth of July, our predicament becomes even more acute. We DO wonder if our presence in Iraq is more of a problem than a solution to worldwide terrorism; more a stimulus to terrorism than a defense against it; more a threat to our country and its freedoms than a protection.

Yet there is a real sense in which these young men and women are protecting us and defending our freedoms. They are part of a long line of brave and dedicated patriots going back to the Revolutionary War, men and women who have followed the flag and sometimes died for it. As a veteran of two of our more recent wars, I have personally felt this allegiance to our flag and to the freedoms it represents — as well as the need to risk myself to protect them.

And this is something different from whether a particular nightly patrol, battle, or even a particular war is ill-advised or not. Once you have enlisted, you obey because you have given your word to, and you fight because your buddies depend on you. Unless you are a general, your job is not to decide whether a particular action is right or wrong, but to implement it with all your training, all your courage and all your loyalty. I daresay that most of us who criticize the war would feel the need to act the same way under fire in Iraq.

This is not to condone the war in Iraq. It is to honor the spirit of patriotism that our servicemen and women bring to it.

David C. Duncombe

White Salmon, Wash.

Vacation here

With gas prices so high, my sister and I decided to vacation right here in Hood River, where we also live. People come from all over to enjoy our charming town, why make a long drive and take our money elsewhere?

With our gas money savings, we put ourselves in a nice Suite right on the riverfront! It was like being in a resort, out of town, only we knew all the best places to shop and dine! It was a great way to spend a couple of days, and it’s nice to see the way “tourists” are treated here — no wonder they keep coming back!

We suggest it for everyone who wants to get away. There are so many places within a half-hour’s drive that are available, and we drive by most of them every day! From B&Bs to motels, Hood River and the surrounding area is a great place for locals to vacation!

Leilani Caldwell

Carol Reister

Hood River

Ordinance at issue

Regarding the story “Out By 6” in the July 2 issue of the Hood River News:

The issue in this case is really about the integrity of the zoning ordinance — particularly the provisions of the R1 (single home residential) zone which is located along Westcliff Drive from exit 62 east. All other B&Bs sited in the county are located on farms, orchards, or wineries and are on sizable pieces of property remote from their nearest neighbors none of them in an R1 zone — Lakecliff is the exception.

R1 zoning prohibits B&Bs outright. The Pates were granted a conditional use permit for a B&B on a “grandfather” basis and the limit for guests under this permit is four at any one time. The Pates applied for a “Home Occupation” conditional use permit to host wedding events based on their B&B permit. A Home Occupation permit requires that there be no increase in traffic or noise yet Lakecliff is an exception. All other B&Bs are required to provide parking on their own property while Lakecliff is allowed to park cars on Westcliff Drive, a narrow, substandard, nonconforming road. Again Lakecliff is an exception.

So the question becomes what values should govern the situation? Does a successful commercial venture justify what in effect is a change in zoning? Or should the established R1 zoning prevail and commercial activities be required to comply with the zoning provisions as written (as all residents are required to)? The Pates have taken the position that the money they have spent for improvements and the secondary business that their weddings generates justifies ignoring R-1 zoning and replacing it with the zoning that governs the Columbia Gorge Hotel located further west on Westcliff but in a C-1 (commercial) zone. The Hilbs and the Cohns (and some other neighbors not on record) do not agree and take the position that it is up to Lakecliff to conduct weddings so they do not intrude into the “quiet enjoyment” of the neighborhood.

Marc Cohn

Hood River

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