Letters to the Editor for April 27

Let CL decide

Nature does an amazing job of recycling and delivering pure, healthy water. Sometimes not everywhere it’s needed, but it’s our job to adapt to that — transporting it or living elsewhere. Sometimes the agent of transport is bottles. In fact, there is a huge industry devoted to it.

So, is bottling and selling clean water a failure in that it is wasteful of the resource or a risk to the people who consume it? Ask the citizens of Flint, Mich., about that.

This campaign to stop the people of Cascade Locks from selling some of its resource to benefit the community is a little fishy, but it’s not about salmon. It is, though, a red herring named Nestlé who’s reputation in similar water deals is suspect. The people of Cascade Locks are aware of this. And I suggest that they be very cautious about vetting Nestlé, resolute in their negotiations and clear on where the potholes are as they travel down this road. But it is their responsibility, not ours, to decide if the benefits to their community are worth the risks.

Russ Hurlbert

Parkdale

Measure 14-55

There are rumblings in CL (Cascade Locks), uneasy tempers ebb under people’s breath: friends and neighbors, merchants and their customers co-exist in the tiny town as blue and reddish signs sprout like spring weeds “for or against” the Nestlé profiteers coming for their water to sell. Moods have been pretty civil and needs to remain so. The up and coming election is a lesson in democracy: stimulating and disturbing. There isn’t much left to be said. The lines are drawn; the issue is not dead. The drums are not silent. Tensions may rise as the last vote is counted and reality sets in, filled with emotion, disappointment and elation mixed. Be gracious in defeat and humble in victory. No gloating nor despair. The result will test the community’s resolve and determination for the future. The town will survive, remove the signs and remain friends and neighbors.

The world is just but a drop of water, a blue diamond whirling through the Milky Way. Take Care.

R. D. Curtis

Cascade Locks

Vote no

“Mayday mayday” is the last sound an emergency responder wants to hear coming in over the radio; that is the sound of our brother or sister being trapped or injured and in need of help. Your current task has now changed and the worst thing that can happen is you’re not able to help because you don’t have the equipment or the resources or the personnel (RIT) there to help them, and because of that you know they’re going to die. As someone who has volunteered in emergency services for over 17 years, I have to worry about getting those calls every day. Measure 14-55 would put us at further risk — it would prevent our emergency resources from having the personnel and the equipment necessary to help when there’s a crisis. Measure 14-55 would prevent local control over economic growth in our community that can provide the necessary income that is needed for emergency services to exist. Our community in Cascade Locks deserves to feel safe and secure, like everyone else in the county. We have one actively responding volunteer and one paid staff — we no longer have advanced life support at our firehouse and we’ll only have two actively responding people in total. This isn’t good enough for the citizens of Cascade Locks. Measure 14-55 blocks an opportunity for us to have the resources to protect our community, which in turn puts our entire community and county at risk.

Make sure the maydays don’t go unheard. Be part of RIT (Rapid Intervention Team) and vote no on measure 14-55.

Craig Martin

Cascade Locks

Not wasted

I’d like to make a comment on a letter sent from Jerry Giarraputo (Our Readers Write, April 16, 2016). As a teacher, my students know that water is not considered as being “wasted by dumping it into the Columbia River.” They know it as being part of the water cycle.

Bev Annala

Hood River

Yes to future

About this proposed school bond: First, and most importantly, the passage of Measure 14-58 will not increase the property tax rate. That‘s a promise. The district has paid off other bonds before asking the community for a new one.

Our newest schools are almost 50 years old, and May Street Elementary School is almost 100 years old! The proposed repairs and replacements are not a luxury — they are a necessity! I volunteer at May Street and can testify that the building is packed to the gills, with many special classes being held in the hallways.

I have always held that good teachers make a great school, and May Street boasts the best teachers I have ever encountered. But there is a limit to their ingenuity! It’s time to replace the building. The science labs at Wy’east Middle School are 65 years old. The list of necessities throughout the district goes on and on.

Over 30 years ago, when we lived in another state, the school budget was put to the voters every year. Often it did not pass, primarily because older folks voted against it. “My kids aren’t in school anymore,” they would say. My husband and I vowed then and there that we would always support improvements in the local schools.

Your ballots will be coming in the mail soon. Please vote “yes” on Bond measure 14-58 and support the children of Hood River County as they deserve! They are, after all, everyone’s future.

Wendy and Dick Best

Parkdale

Not safe

When I read the front page article about storing “empty” propane tank cars on the Mt. Hood Railroad in Parkdale (April 16, 2016), I wondered, “Is this idea compatible with the beauty of the area? Is it consistent with encouraging tourism for economic development? Does this in any way benefit our citizens?” And, to quote a famous movie line, “Is it safe?”

My answer is a resounding “No!”

Readers may wonder if state and local land use laws might not be violated here. Unfortunately, the federal Surface Transportation Board preempts all state and local regulation of railroads. But there might be a political solution: perhaps our governor, state legislators, Congressman Walden, Senators Markley and Wyden, or the Hood River County Commission might be persuaded to apply some political pressure to store these rail cars in Texas, where their corporate owner resides.

The headline “Flammable, but not oil” is not really adequate to cover the potential hazard. The tank cars may be listed as “empty,” but with no regulation to inform us, how to we know how volatile is the residue?

How do we know the cars are “empty?”

And if you visit where the propane tank cars shown in the story’s photo are stored, and stand at a slightly different angle than the photographer, you’ll see our spectacular Mount Hood as the background for all this industrial ugliness. It is quite a scene.

David Hupp

Hood River

Clarification

In response to Randy and Ann Holstrom’s misquotation of my remarks published in The Hood River News’ Letters to the Editor on April 16 (Letters to the Editor, April 23), I did not write asking “… why anyone would want to move to Cascade Locks if they wanted to work there.” What I did state was my thought that if anyone moving to Cascade Locks did so with the notion that they’d be “… part of a growing industrial economy separate from the county …” they would have done so from a misguided position and probably be sorely disappointed.”

Furthermore, the implication that I was expressing opposition to economic growth mischaracterizes my remarks. I am not opposed to economic growth, in Cascade Locks or anywhere.

I wrote to express that my opposition to the proposed Nestlé water bottling plant in Cascade Locks based on my concerns over how this type and scale of economic development would negatively impact our National Scenic Area. I do not believe it is an appropriate form of economic development for Hood River County and I don’t think many of those supporting it have concerns beyond what they seem to believe is their own private domain. Cascade Locks is not its own sovereign nation.

I think it entirely appropriate for all people of Hood River County to weigh in on this matter at the ballot.

Personally, I would have liked to have seen a state ballot measure on the matter. Additionally, I don’t support the current state of the bottled water business anywhere … and especially not in the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area.

If you feel the same, please be sure to vote “Yes” on Ballot Measure 14-55.

Mike Stroud

Hood River

Yes for schools

Here in Oregon, school funding is a funny hybrid system. Our property and income taxes go to the state, which then sends money, on a per student basis, back to our school district to operate our schools. But capital improvements — like replacing roofs and boilers and 75-year-old buildings — are generally funded by local bonds, like the one on our ballots this month. Please join me in voting yes on 14-58 to keep our schools excellent for all our kids.

Paul Blackburn

Hood River

STR concerns

As a homeowner of a vacation rental in Hood River, I am writing out of concern about the proposed changes in the town’s short term rental policy.

Our family has been visiting Hood River for nearly 15 years. My husband, Josh, would initially come for a few days at a time to windsurf.

Starting in 2007, he brought me along, and I quickly fell in love with the town and the Gorge. Now we spend a month in Hood River every summer with our six-year-old twin boys. It’s inevitably the highlight of our year as a family.

To be clear, we definitely understand the concern about affordable housing in Hood River and the need to limit short term rental properties. However, I feel very strongly that the proposed initiative before Hood River’s City Council is not the answer, for three reasons:

First, homes would go needlessly empty. At present, our home is occupied much of the time and consistently cared for by Hood River Vacation Rentals. But if the proposed initiative were enacted, it would sit vacant all year, and we would have a much harder time keeping up with repairs. (My family would not sell our house or make it available for long term rentals, as we still want to use it as a vacation home and plan to retire there.)

Second, families with young children would have a much more difficult time visiting Hood River under the initiative. I can say from personal experience that homes or condos are far preferable to hotel rooms when the whole family is traveling together.

Third, I don’t see how giving preferential treatment to owners of vacation rentals who live fulltime in Hood River County, as proposed by Livable Hood River, would help other than in an entirely self-serving way for the benefit of certain city council members. Rather, the proposed regulations hurt people like us, who love Hood River and have already bought a home.

We would absolutely support a proposal to cap the number of short term rentals in Hood River in a fair and effective way. Unfortunately, this is not that proposal.

Nina Kirz

Redwood City, Calif., and Hood River

Embarrassed

Cascade Locks has been my home for 40 years and I should move away if my community is broke and poor? This is our home and I will fight the environmental bullies that are sucking five million municipal gallons of water a day from Mount Hood. By the way, these are the same types that decimated our economy in the first place. I was embarrassed for Cascade Locks and for the Native people the citizens’ water alliance brought in to stack the deck and hijack the citizens’ cause for prosperity. There were no facts or truth presented, only emotionally charged propaganda. For almost two hours, the Cascade Locks City Council listened to testimony supporting 14-55, when it was our turn to speak, they began screaming and yelling at us. When it got out of control, the mayor recessed the meeting. I have great respect for the Warm Springs Nation. I was born in Inchelium and my wife is a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville. I would never be a part of anything destructive to our Native brother’s way of life and culture. I was embarrassed for them by the behavior and emotional fever the local water alliance whipped them into. The local people present were split about 50/50. I am happy Hood River wants to protect their water supply for farming, businesses and residential use. Just realize this: Our watersheds are separate. We do not have farms. We do not have a diversified economy. We do not have an economy. Cascade Locks’ future depends upon a diversified economy — small businesses are all we have. We need large businesses, medium sized businesses, small businesses, while continuing to expand recreation and tourism. Since 1980, Cascade Locks has tried to be Cannon Beach. It never will be because of geopolitical obstacles. Economist past and present recommend a diversified economy. 14-55 is destructive, un-neighborly, mean-spirited and oppressive. It does not take into consideration that the most important thing in this world, when the environment is not negatively harmed, is the well-being of its inhabitants and your neighbors. Vote no on an unconstitutional initiative.

Richard Randall, council member

Cascade Locks

Housing solution

The most effective way to increase the supply of available residential real estate in Hood River is to decrease the demand. The largest demand for housing comes from people who are employed here or want to be employed here. If we cut down on jobs, on companies wanting to locate here or on existing companies expanding, then we would increase our supply of housing.

One of our major employers, Insitu, has grown from 14 employees to 900 employees in just 12 years. The CEO of that company stood up at a recent city council meeting and said that they needed to hire 100 more employees in the near future, but the biggest difficulty was locating permanent housing for these new employees. It seems to me that Insitu has created the housing shortage yet has not been willing to offer a solution.

The Port of Hood River is looking in to developing “Lot 1” down at the waterfront with more Light Industrial applications. They want to attract companies that will create more jobs. It seems to me that if the Port wants to create more jobs, then they should be part of the solution to creating more housing as well.

The hospital and the school district have also been heard to complain that they have a difficult time hiring teachers, nurses and administrative staff because there is no place affordable for these prospective new hires to live. Yet we have never heard them offer a solution to this problem.

The City of Hood River has come up with an idea to limit the number of vacation rentals thinking that this will free up housing for Insitu employees, schoolteachers and nurses. This solution seems a bit far-fetched to me, but I am sure whoever is behind that movement is far smarter than I.

My solution is to stop creating jobs, stop building factories and turn “Lot 1” into a public multi-purpose facility that we all can enjoy. We are a small rural community. Let’s keep it that way.

Greg Colt

Hood River

Support local farms

Some of you may have heard that the Hood River Farmers’ Market is changing its time and location. I loved the cozy and community-oriented location at the Hood River Middle School, but I heard from many people (customers and vendors) that they weren’t happy with it. I listened and now understand their reasoning: they had problems with the sloping hill, lack of parking, and frequently changing times to accommodate school hours. Some people told me they were unable to walk to the bottom of the hill and carry an armload of groceries back up! With those obstacles, I’m grateful anyone was able to come shop at all. That shows me what a dedicated community we have.

As a farmer who was born and raised here, I want a thriving local market that is accessible for everyone. My motivation is two-fold. Yes, the market needs to be worth my time or I can’t stay in business, but also a healthy local food movement means a healthy community and healthy local economy. Those improve everyone’s quality of life.

After five years of farming, I’m still here. I couldn’t have done that without all of you. Thank you. Unfortunately, total market sales have plateaued at a level that won’t keep many of the vendors in business.

Despite your amazing support, many vendors saw that change was necessary in order to keep the market alive.

I’m excited about the market moving to Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the Fifth and Columbia parking lot across from Full Sail, on the edge of downtown. I hope to see you there. Mention this article on opening day and get $3 off your purchase from TreeBird Organics (formerly Sunnybrook Farm).

Here’s to living local in the Gorge!

Psst! There will be free parking for market customers. Awesome, right?

Rebecca Wellman

Trout Lake, Wash.

Wants ‘real’ forum

I attended the public forum at the Sandy Public Library last Monday, where House Representative Republican Mark Johnson (House Dist. 52) and Republican Senator Chuck Thomsen, I thought, would take questions from the public. I saw from the state records that they both voted against raises for the minimum wage! I wanted to ask why! Also I could not find any record of Representative Johnson’s stance on key issues — the environment (limits on oil and coal omissions in our state), TPP Trade agreement, and campaign finance, and women’s rights, just to name a few. I found a website called “Smart Vote” by CNN that most all Oregon politicians take the survey saying what their views on key issues are and it said that our Representative Johnson refused to take it four times but they welcome him doing so any time. I wanted to ask why he refused to take poll, but wasn’t allowed the time!

So, getting back to the Sandy Library “so called” public forum, it was an organized, along with their community business supporters and Mayor of Sandy Bill King (I am a business owner by the way), orchestrated question and answer political event put together for Johnson who is up for re- election this November. What a waste of my time! Hey Mark Johnson, let’s have a real public forum where you will have to actually answer our questions!

Patty Caldwell

Sandy

On STRs

I am not involved with STRs but I do think that this should be considered a countywide problem.

I think that the people using these short term rentals also consume some of our water. Some may even take water out of the county. How do we check to make sure that this is not happening?

Any water that we do not use flows downstream to Cascade Locks, unlike their water, which does not flow upstream.

I believe that by voting yes on 14-15, we are also giving the county the right to indicate when this law is broken. In effect, STR rentals should have countywide approval. It should not be a decision that the City of Hood River can make by itself (like Cascade Locks and their water).

If we start micro-managing, where does it stop?

Leonard Hickman

Hood River

Support market

A few months ago, a group of local farmers came together over many meetings to solve a thorny problem: Attendance and sales at our Thursday Hood River farmers’ market were declining, and farmers were taking home, and throwing away, produce on many weeks.

While all the farmers loved the camaraderie of the market location at Hood River Middle School, school times forced a late opening of 5 p.m. in May and early June. Then there was the move in the fall to Springhouse. Getting to market was like following the bouncing ball: where and when are the farmers this week? And then there was the parking situation at Hood River Middle School. If you say, “What parking?” you understand the problem.

After those many meetings, the farmers made a recommendation to the Gorge Grown board: The market should move to Saturday, and operate from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the lot on the south side of Full Sail. Easy to find, easy to park, on a time schedule that makes sense for shoppers and farmers.

I’ve heard some complaints or suspicions that the market move is all about appealing to tourists. And as someone who is very familiar with the farmers’ deliberations on the market move, this is simply not true. Yes, visitors to the region will definitely visit this market, and probably rarely visited the Thursday market. And that will be good for our farmers. But the real reasons to move the market are that we get a more permanent space with more parking and with consistent times, and those times are better for many, many shoppers who use Saturday to fill their pantries and fridge at home.

So, please, when the market opens on May 7, come down and enjoy the music and food, and the faces of all those familiar farmers who’ve been growing amazing food for you for many years. Then buy some locally grown kale, radishes, salad greens, garlic scapes, fresh basil, collards and much, much more. And kiss a farmer, right there, near your parking space, on that nice, cool sunny morning.

Kathy Watson

Board Member, Gorge Grown Food Network

Hood River

Market move

I am writing as a farmer and vendor at the Gorge Grown Farmers Market. This will be our seventh year at the market. I served on the Farmers Advisory Committee that GGFM convened to decide whether or not to change the day and time and location of the market. The reasons for change were and are many, but the main one is the market was not working for the farmer vendors. Many locals came to the market and many bought prepared food and drink. Many farmer vendors did not sell out or even come close. It was not working for us. Change was needed. More support for the farmers and the market is needed — not complaining about how it doesn’t work for you. This is serious. If you want good local food, you support the farmers market if you can. Farmers are struggling. They need your support. I also feel that the attitude I hear about not wanting to mix with tourists is shortsighted. Tourists support our economy and we need to embrace them. We need their money. It’s not locals or tourists, it’s all of us.

Blayney Myers

Underwood, Wash.



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