Vote for county

Our Hood River County deserves our support for needed, existing services that provide a safe and healthy place to live, work and play. As you already have heard, existing services that would be negatively impacted if these measures don’t pass include: 24/7 law enforcement and assistance, recreational emergency response, public health services, county parks, hiking and biking trails, services for our veterans, OSU extension programs, county road maintenance and snow removal, and mental health services.

Please join me in voting “yes” on two ballot measures that balance a budget solution across homeowners, tourists, and residents. The Local Operating Levy ballot measure would increase the collected property taxes going to Hood River County from 10 percent to 16 percent ($2.1 million). This is 89 cents per $1,000 higher than our current property valuation assessment. Our county has the ninth lowest permanent property tax rate in Oregon. The second ballot measure, Prepared Food and Beverage Tax, would raise $1.8 million annually with a 5 percent tax rate added to prepared foods that would help fund resources used by visitors and residents such as search and rescue, marine patrol, parks and forest recreational trails. This includes foods prepared by restaurants, markets and caterers. Please learn more about these measures and “yes” for Hood River County.

Fran Finney

Odell

‘Appalling’

Emily Fitzgerald’s story about Greg Walden’s Hood River Town Hall is a fairly accurate account of the event. Going to a ticket system to create a more orderly system for asking questions was successful. But there are a few important details that weren’t covered.

She said that Greg was “met with a restless audience shouting out questions and comments.” What isn’t mentioned is that most of the shouting and disruptive behavior came from one person — Benjamin Sheppard. Mr. Sheppard is a member of the Hood River County School Board. By any objective measurement, his behavior was appalling and disrespectful. In addition to repeatedly interrupting the proceedings, he also chose to wear a jacket that disrespected the American Flag and chose to not stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Public officials represent their constituents and the office they hold. By his public behavior at the Walden town hall, Benjamin Sheppard has brought great disrespect upon the image of the entire school board. I would encourage the board chair and members to encourage Mr. Sheppard to apologize to the community for his behavior before the public trust is further damaged.

Dick Reed

Hood River

Editor’s Note: Benjamin Sheppard is employed as a social worker and was elected to the school board two years ago. He is not to be confused with Ben Sheppard, who has served on the Hood River Port Commission for the same period and is co-owner of Sheppard’s Orchard and Vineyard Equipment.

‘Jedi tricks’

Climate change will always be a polarizing topic because neither side is ever going to concede they may be incorrect. People have a right to their opinions regardless of the reason. However, to say humans have no impact on our planet is like saying smoking is fine because you know a smoker who does not have lung cancer.

If environmental policies are going to be determined by retired MDs, radio station owners, and a president who cannot spell “warming,” I think we are probably doomed.

This is not a movie. Saying over and over the data you collected through scientific methods is neither scientific nor credible.

Steve Kaplan

Hood River

Forestry

 An open letter to Greg Walden:

You have spent years promoting better forestry practices. You claim that old practices have led to massive forest fires. I agree with you that new practices are necessary. This means that the latest science must be followed to achieve change. Yet you cling to one destructive old practice, salvage logging in burned forests. You claimed science supports it at your recent town hall meeting in Hood River. Where are your references to the scientists who claim salvage logging is the correct thing to do? If there are such scientists, who are they working for? If there are such people, they are also clinging, along with you, to the old in face of the new. Your support for salvage logging is outdated.

It is clear to me you did not read the report I mailed to you on leaving burned dead tree unlogged and the benefits to reforestation it provides. This report is a clear and scientific approach to studying salvage logging verse not logging the dead trees. If you are serious about making meaningful changes to forestry practices, how can you continue to support the old and destructive salvage logging? The report I reference shows that salvage logging slows the growth of and destroys a significant number of natural tree seedlings. This is the 21st century, please get out of the mid-20th and quit championing salvage logging.

Gary Fields

Hood River

No new taxes

The residents of Hood River are being targeted to pay more taxes. It appears that the bank accounts of Hood River residents are being used as a “piggy bank” by the bureaucracy to acquire more tax money. Hood River County collects $35,567,975.16 in tax money. The fear tactics used by the county bureaucracy to close various county governments is “very suspicious.” This appears to be a ploy tactic to collect more hard-earned tax money from Hood River residents. All county civil service of 142 individuals are financed. It appears that owners of property are paying rent to the county for living at their own residence. If tax proposals are passed, the cost of living at your own residence will cause all rent prices to go up for all residents of Hood River. A reasonable tax is becoming unreasonable. The tax proposal will last approximately five years. The upcoming election on increasing residents’ county taxes is a “real important” issue, for all residents of Hood River. I encourage a “no vote” on all new tax proposals.

Gerald Gard

Hood River

Editor’s note: Hood River County has two tax measures on the May 21 ballot: An 89 cent public health and safety local option levy, which expires after five years if not renewed by voters, and a 5 percent prepared food and beverage tax.

In the current 2018/19 fiscal year, Hood River County expects to collect an approximate total of $3,688,600 in tax revenue, according to the county’s adopted budget. Of that, $3,517,600 goes into the general fund and $171,000 goes into the special projects fund. Approximately $918,810 in cost reductions was approved, including staff reductions; and county staff estimates they are operating about $5.3 million below optimal service level.

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