Letter to the Editor for May 5, 2012

Sewell does his job

A few years back there was a missing 15-year-old girl in the Portland area. You couldn’t pick up a newspaper or watch a television newscast without being inundated with the updates on the missing girl.

What the people of Hood River didn’t know is that a local 15-year-old girl was missing at the same time. The schools were aware of the situation as was the sheriff’s office, but no media was involved. As you can imagine, the girl’s parents were in total distress.

After several days, the parents asked if there was anything I could do to help. I spoke with the school and the sheriff’s department and was surprised to see how little was actually being done to secure the 15-year-old’s safe return.

At that point, I went to District Attorney John Sewell’s office and asked if I could meet with him. He was very busy, but agreed to meet and listen to my concerns about the missing girl. After going over the facts of the missing girl, he asked me to wait while he went down the hall to converse with the deputies involved with the case.

He returned a short time later and stated that at a minimum we were dealing with custodial interference; and at a maximum, kidnapping, and that he would do what he could to help resolve the situation.

Within 24 hours, the girl was released safe and well. There was no fanfare from the media. No front-page story in the local newspaper; just the safe return of a missing 15-year-old girl. Our district attorney did his job. End of story.

Mike Oates

Hood River

Sweep up cinder

As far as I know, The City of Hood River will not be spreading “lava rock” in the near future. Please get out there and remove the rock from your sidewalks. Makes for a safer walk for everyone.

Judy Judd

Hood River

Not on our watch

Thank you, Gov. Kitzhaber, for taking a stand on the coal export issue. I live near the Columbia River and recreate on it or near it almost every day for much of the year. The thought of dozens of mile-long coal trains, not to mention a 70 percent increase in river traffic via the proposed “coal barges,” makes me sick to my stomach to imagine.

It is not this and all their attendant impacts however, that upsets me the most. It’s the fact that most of this coal is dug from public lands, owned by everyone in America and leased by our corrupt government without the say-so of any of us, to private corporations who dig it up for export as if we were a third-world nation, and then sell it at immense profit, health impacts be damned.

The pollutants that travel the jet stream over to us after the coal is burned in China is yet another slap in the face in this nightmarish scenario being foisted upon us.

The right thing, the sane thing and intelligent thing (which means it will never happen but I will say it anyway) to do is to simply leave the coal in the ground! We might figure out how to burn it clean one day and may need the energy. Of course, this runs against the grain of capitalistic culture which can’t stand leaving a buck unmade, something that is leading the human enterprise at breakneck speed right over the cliff.

If you have the courage, Governor, please continue to take a stand for Oregonians and be an example for the world by standing your ground against the coal barons with a loud and clear, “Not on my watch!”

Daniel Dancer


Not ‘groundless’

To be eligible to run for district attorney, a candidate must reside in the state of Oregon. John Sewell has lived in Hood River well over 20 years. Brian Aaron claims that he is a “resident” of Hood River, and says much more.

Aaron has said in public that he actually “lives” in Hood River. During a candidate forum at the Columbia Gorge Hotel he said unequivocally that “I live at 1822 Columbia St. This whole thing is groundless.”

A review of public records shows that when Aaron spoke with the investigator from the Department of Justice examining is claim of residency, he told her he is staying in the basement of his secretary’s home. He said that he pays no rent there, that he actually splits his time between the Columbia Street address and his home in Lyle, Wash. — where he has lived for 19 years and his domestic partner continues to reside there with his pets and livestock.

One must wonder — would such a tenuous claim of “living” somewhere be good enough for example to allow a person to place a child in school in the Hood River County School District? I don’t think so.

At the end of 2011, the state of Oregon refused to renew Aaron’s public defender contract. That contract supplied much to his income. Aaron may need a job, but Hood River needs an honest district attorney. Claiming to, or even actually spending an occasional night at a particular address, while continuing to maintain your real home out of state, should meet no one’s definition of “living here” or being honest. Groundless? Really?

Jack L. Morris

Oregon City

Editor’s Note: Brian Aaron and Associates’ contract was not renewed, but Brian Aaron will continue to provide indigent defense, according to Kathryn Aylward, director of contract and business for the State Indigent Services office. “In Mr. Aaron’s case it was a function of the fact that his proposal was as an individual, whereas his prior contract was himself and one other attorney. We don’t generally enter into a contract with an office when it is one attorney.” (A Wasco County consortium’s contract was also not renewed for the same reason). “We hope Mr. Aaron will (continue), but he will be getting them paid hourly, and it is up to his discretion.” As to Aaron’s residency, County Elections Supervisor Kim Kean said: “It is a fact that Mr. Aaron resides in Hood River County. The Secretary of State and our office investigated it and determined he lives in Hood River.”

Vote for Nordbye

My first opportunity to meet Peter Nordbye, a candidate running for State Representative in House District 52, was at the home of Katie and Tom Cassat. Immediately, I was extremely impressed.

Then, I attended the forum held at the Resort at the Mountain. Here I had the chance to listen to all of the three candidates running to represent those of us in House District 52. From the initial gathering I attended it was obvious Nordbye genuinely listens, truly wants input from the people he will represent, and is unwavering in his convictions.

His campaign is best described as a grassroots movement. He will only accept local money from the constituents in this district with a $50 limit; and no money from groups or businesses. Simply put, “He cannot be bought!”

Please take a moment to view his website,

www.NeighborsForNordbye.com. Whatever your political affiliation; if you are unhappy with the current state of affairs in our state, and country you owe to yourself to see his website.

Oregon has led the nation on many important issues before. This is an opportunity to work toward democracy in our country again. Why not give it our all in an effort to once again become the “United States of America,” rather than “Corporations of America?”

To quote Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. It’s the only thing that ever has.”

The time is now. Let’s get this grassroots campaign spreading like wildfire. We need your help. Spread the word. If you would like to be heard vote for Peter Nordbye for State Representative for House District 52.

Maureen Pelchar



Are we all just protesting, or are we bringing about solutions? I was dumb-struck the other day by a letter to the editor of the Hood River News. The writer was complaining about all these “protesters” against Nestlé, the cable park, coal trains ... What are they doing to solve anything?

We (the protesters), I think, do need to give folks something tangible in place of the out-of-town corporate exploiter. We need to rally around and promote solutions. Back when I was in management for a large transnational retail chain, I was told by upper management not to come to them with complaints and problems without solutions.

I’m an activist. I do stand against things that I see as a threat to our community. I am heartened by people who bring up alternative solutions. Please, if you have 18 minutes follow this link: http://transitioncul-ture.org/2012/05/01/my-tedxexeter-talk-my-town-in-transition/

Elise B. Cain

Mt. Hood

Happy and SMART

“The happiest part of my week” — that’s how another volunteer describes our hour each Wednesday morning at Westside Elementary, when we read with children as volunteers in the SMART Program.

I couldn’t agree more. I have been a SMART reader for the past five years. Every week, I am glad I’m part of such a worthwhile program. Even on the days when I think “I’m too busy,” I always finish the morning happier than when I started.

It’s gratifying to see the progress the kids make as the school year goes on. It’s fun to get to know them, and it’s also fun to stay connected to children’s books and stories. What is happier than a Dr. Seuss book or a story about cows that can type?

The SMART program in Hood River always needs more readers, and it takes just an hour each week from October through May. Next year, the program will also be in need of volunteer coordinators to recruit and schedule volunteers, work with teachers to schedule the students and keep records on the program during the school year.

If you can give some time as a SMART reader, call one of the county elementary schools to find out more. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer coordinator to keep this valuable service alive in Hood River’s schools, call Kirby Neumann-Rea at 541-386-1234.

Cindy Yoshimura

Hood River

Tiffany gets my vote

I’ve recently had the opportunity to go door-to-door sharing information about sheriff candidate Gerry Tiffany. I was surprised at how many people were undecided, despite having a candidate sign in their yard. Many stated the following reasons for the yard sign:

Someone asked if they could put one in the yard;

I’ve known him since he was a little boy;

His parents go to our church;

He’s a nice guy;

Our kids go to school together;

My dad golfs with his dad

None of the above-stated comments are reasons I would allow a sign in my yard, or cast my vote for them. These are not reasons to elect the person who will lead the sheriff’s department. These might, however, be leads if you are looking for a church to attend, a fourth for your golf group, recommendations on who plays well together when looking for play dates for your children.

Gerry has short- and long-term goals for Hood River County and plans to see them through. He has no plans to leave our community and rumors of such are just that, rumors.

Please research each candidate’s qualifications, and base your vote on experience, vision for our youth and county and not on how many yard signs they have, if they are a smooth talker, or because dad golfs with their dad.

No official should be elected based on popularity, but on their ability, education and goals. Gerry has all three and he gets my vote.

Beth Flem

Hood River

Vote for John Sewell

I have worked for John Sewell as a deputy district attorney for seven years, and in that time I have greatly benefited from his leadership and dedication to seeking justice for the citizens of Hood River County. Before I came to Hood River I had worked in other counties where the district attorney was more of an administrative figurehead who prosecuted a few, if any, token cases a year.

John Sewell is very different. He actually carries a full felony caseload in addition to the administrative functions of running an office and being available to law enforcement at all times, 24 hours a day.

John is also sensitive to the many nuances that are involved in attaining justice; that one size does not fit all. He knows the difference between those who are career criminals and others who deserve second chances in life through diversions, drug court or other therapeutic interventions. John is fair, experienced and tough when needed.

The citizens of Hood River County have been truly fortunate for so many years to have John as their district attorney and I urge you retain him as you consider your vote this month.

Carrie Rasmussen


Sewell is experienced

I worked with John Sewell for 27 years when I was a deputy for Hood River County. In that time all the deputies greatly benefitted from his knowledge, commitment and availability during critical times when a fast and reliable legal opinion or advice was needed.

It was also important for me to know that what I started with an investigation and arrest would be carried with the same zeal into the courtroom and that criminals would get what they deserved.

John’s passion for his job and his never-ending efforts to get justice for victims are qualities I respect, qualities I urge you to consider when you are filling out your ballot. Join me in voting for John Sewell for district attorney because we need to keep reliability and integrity in the top law enforcement agency in Hood River County.

Steve Reynolds


Vote for Aaron

Brian Aaron is one resilient dude.

My hunch is that Brian is completely aware of his rank, he is willing to differentiate, he is not rigid, and he understands that diversity exists.

As a result, Brian is open, objective and meta-aware.

Brian will be an asset to this community as our new district attorney.

Vote for Brian Aaron on May 15!

Mary Jane Heppe

Hood River

Time for a DA change

We fully support Brian Aaron for the position of district attorney of Hood River County. With a combined 46 years of experience in the local law enforcement arena, we know what’s what in Hood River.

Brian Aaron has proven to be honest, dedicated and compassionate about his duties as an attorney, he has shown integrity unmatched in any other candidate, and we agree, it is time for a change in the D.A.’s office and Brian Aaron is the one to make the improvements necessary to move forward in that office.

David and Karen Thompson

Mt. Hood

English stands out

I started working with Matt English when he was a probation officer for Hood River County in 1998 and I was a patrol deputy for the sheriff’s office. Matt stood out in that position to people in the law enforcement profession as a quality professional and he was greatly respected.

Matt was quickly being recruited by the sheriff’s office to become part of a team of people who greatly care about the sheriff’s office and the citizens we serve. We wanted him to work with us because we knew that Matt was going to be a great deputy.

In 2000 Matt joined the sheriff’s office and the sheriff’s office was instantly better with him on board. In the years I have worked with Matt I have gone from being his trainer, to asking Matt how to handle certain situations.

Matt has become a fantastic leader. He is trusted and respected throughout the law enforcement community. He is a “go-to guy” in a law enforcement agency that is the “go-to agency” in the Columbia River Gorge. Matt is now being recruited by people from many law enforcement agencies and many citizens of the Hood River County to be sheriff.

There is a long list of words to describe Matt: leader, respectful, respectable, accountable, honest, trustworthy and many other qualities you look for in a sheriff.

When a group of people who Matt works with sat down together to talk about him we went on for nearly an hour making that list. It was easy to do. I can think of no better candidate for the office of sheriff.

Pete Hughes

Hood River

English for sheriff

I am writing a letter in support of Matt English as a candidate for sheriff for Hood River County.

Matt English has volunteered in my classroom for the last few years on a weekly basis. He comes in every Monday afternoon and works with kids on technology projects. The kids love him. They know he is a cop and they respect him.

Matt also spends his free time volunteering as a coach for our community education sports program. Matt is a wonderful role model for the youth of our community. I know Matt to be honest, hard-working and a man of integrity. Matt really cares about our community.

Please join my family and me in voting Matt English for sheriff for Hood River.

Kristi Van Dooren

Hood River

English is leader

We support a visionary, noble and strong leader, one with a positive mindset, a catalyst to progressive improvements, a nurturer of collaborative teamwork and admired by peers, a public servant always interested in others, a protector of our resources, one who values communication, shows fiscal responsibility and will be our next sheriff, Matt English.

Richard and Charlotte Arnold

Hood River

Uncle Neal for sheriff

My Uncle Neal (Holste) is nice, funny and he puts others first. He is an honest person and does his best in all he does.

Khloe Sytsma, age 10

Hood River

Trust English

I have worked for the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office for over 20 years. Throughout the years I have witnessed many changes in the sheriff’s office under Sheriff Wampler. Most of these changes have had a significant and positive impact on the sheriff’s office and the way we serve the citizens.

In my opinion, one of the best decisions Sheriff Wampler ever made was when he hired Matt English. In 2000 Matt joined the sheriff’s office. Working with Matt on a regular basis, I have seen him develop into a leader that people have come to rely on because of his intelligence, determination and resourcefulness.

I can say without hesitation that Matt is one of the most dedicated and hardworking people that I have ever met. I know that Matt cares deeply about our community and the sheriff’s office. Matt strives on a daily basis, not just with words, but his actions to provide the best possible services to citizens of Hood River County.

Training and experience are important considerations when choosing a leader, but those in itself do not automatically make a person the most qualified to lead others. Leadership skills are something that a person either possesses, or does not. Some people are natural leaders who have the ability to bring the best out in others, and in my opinion Matt possesses these qualities.

I believe it is extremely important and critical for the citizens of Hood River County to elect a person who will be accountable to citizens of Hood River County. We need a sheriff with the vision and commitment to take the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office to the next level which will make our community a safer place to live in during these times of rising crime and budget cuts.

This can only be accomplished by the right person who has the intelligence, work ethic, integrity and confidence of the people around him/her to make it happen. This is why I have pledged my support and vote for Matt English to be the next Sheriff of Hood River County.

Rick Princehouse

Hood River

Generous family

I am glad John Mooney wrote (Our readers write, April 28) with the information that some dog owners are not following the posted request by the Kreps family requiring “no dogs” during cattle grazing season.

We have all been given a wonderful gift to be allowed to walk and bike this beautiful private land thanks to the generous goodwill of the Kreps family. We can’t thank them enough for this privilege.

It is hard to believe that this gift could be threatened by a few thoughtless dog owners who think that the rules do not apply to them.

Please treat this land and the Kreps family with the respect they deserve.

Art and Judy Phemister

Underwood, Wash.

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