I attended the Planning Commission meeting regarding the expansion of Walmart. I did not speak because I do not do well speaking in front of others.
The commissioners allowed the public to speak, with the people who were for the expansion to speak first. The whole debate was not how you feel about Walmart. It will ultimately be decided by the attorneys.
I am writing to express my concern about what people said about Walmart.
There were accusations that Walmart is a big corporation who thinks they are above the law. Are you even aware that Safeway and Rosauers are corporations also?
There were people who stood up and said they hire part-time people so they don't have to give them healthcare. The facts are they do offer healthcare to associates even if they are working part-time.
There were accusations that they do not take care of their associates or their community. I have worked there for seven years and can tell you they do care. They have an associate in critical need program where if you are having severe issues they will pay you $1,000 to help you out.
They offer online college at a reduced rate where your time working applies toward your goal of whatever is needed to get your degree.
If we know someone is in need of help, the associates do fundraisers to help their friends and neighbors out. When someone loses everything in a fire or other emergency, they offer gift cards to help the people out. They donate a minimum of $500 a month for the communities that request donations.
When there are wildfires that are threatening our area, they donate food and drinks to the people on the front lines who are trying to save your community. They work hand in hand with the police department to help them with local activities.
A mention was made that they shouldn't get the expansion because of the CEO's salary. Do you honestly think that denying the expansion will make him lose his salary or sleep at night? What has that to do with our community?
It was said that the housing costs have skyrocketed so it will put a strain on the housing if Walmart hires more people. Are you saying Walmart has caused the skyrocketing prices?
Ask the schools how many supplies are donated to them yearly to help the kids whose parents can't afford to get all the supplies needed by their kids.
It was said we don't need the competition. But it was one of the opponents who said it costs too much to buy food here but they just go to Fred Meyer. Is that helping our community?
There were numerous people who said it was not against us workers of Walmart. Really? It was against all the workers who are proud of what their store does for the community. It was against all the elderly and low-income people who have to decide if they will be able to buy their medication for the month.
Get real, people! This is about helping our community! If you care about the community, competition for the local grocery stores will only bring prices down to make them more reasonable for everyone in our community.
Do I agree with everything Walmart does? No. But that's like asking if I agree with everything done in the community. Obviously I don't because I feel you have let the community down by your actions. Yes, I work at Walmart and I am proud to wear my blue shirt showing my support.
Anita Ogden lives in Hood River.