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Letters

Letters to the editor for the April 25, 2015 issue


Thanks for the coverage

Thank you so much for the front page article on the candidate forum. It’s been a very long time since we’ve had a forum in Columbia County. It takes the effort of the entire community to give the candidates and the voters opportunities to know one another, which is the most important function of the democratic process. In the past few years, even in local elections, expensive campaigning has replaced interaction.

I appreciate all of the effort you and your newspaper put into the interviews and into publishing a variety of letters to the editor, but that’s only a part of the picture needed to draw the community and its candidates and elected officials together. I think everyone was feeling like forums should be done, but we were all sort of waiting for someone else to come forward. Thanks to Alta Lynch’s dedication to the public interest, this forum came to be.

Rosemary Lohrke

Scappoose

Learn the facts before voting

All law-abiding citizens will agree that jails are necessary and taxes do pay for some of the expenses. What most of us are in disagreement with is the lack of prudent stewardship of tax dollars and the continued burden on property owners to cover increased expenses and revenue losses.

A prime example of poor stewardship is the hospital tax. Wasn’t that sold as necessary for our health and safety? Yet after spending $7 million, there is no hospital, and the health and safety concern disappeared with the money. Now, the commissioners want another $7 million to retain the jail for our safety. Seems the commissioners found the golden egg in property taxes.

The county’s annual financial report states that the Sheriff’s Office received 25 percent of the general fund’s unrestricted revenue. Understandably, with declining revenue, this amount has decreased. On page 11 of the report, the county treasurer states where the significant revenue losses are occurring, and it isn’t in property taxes. Property taxes only declined by $76,000 from 2012, a 1 percent drop, according to the report. Also stated on this page is that public safety expenses declined by $830,000 and that, “These measures were taken to reduce costs across the board in the public safety due to revenue streams that cannot keep pace with year over year inflation driven and contractual requirement increases.” The Sheriff Office and jail are part of the public safety expenses.

The report indicates inflation and contractual requirements are causes of the jail’s deficit. This is why it is critical that, before voting, we learn what all the jail’s revenue sources are, what the situation is with contractual requirements, and what other funding sources have the commissioners tried to obtain other than property taxes?

Maybe a change in the county commissioners is past due? There is a contender to consider in this May’s election.

Carmen Kulp

Scappoose

A broader vision for Envision

Envision Columbia County was described as an “environmentalist” group in the Spotlight’s Friday, April 18, article titled “Port officials field questions from critics” (page A2).

More accurately, the group’s purpose is to reclaim county citizens’ rights to safe community; to economic prosperity for local businesses, entrepreneurs and farmers; and to preserve our quality of life here.

We are blessed here in the county with a beautiful natural world, but that is just one element that enhances our quality of life here.

Danner Christensen

Envision Columbia County co-founder

St. Helens

Experience in our courts

I hope that you never have to appear in court. I hope that you never have to go through a civil lawsuit, or a divorce or child custody case, or have to deal with an employment matter. And, I hope that none of you reading this newspaper ever need to enter the courthouse. If so, you’ll want a judge who has the right kind of experience.

That’s why I’m voting for Cathleen Callahan for Columbia County Circuit Court, Position 1. Cathleen has the most experience of any of the candidates. She is the only candidate in this race with experience in both criminal and civil law. And since judges deal with all areas of the law before them, they need this type of experience. Only Cathleen Callahan comes close.

Cathleen worked as a criminal prosecutor for the city of Clatskanie. For almost a decade, she created appropriate sentences for crimes and, when necessary, put criminals in jail.

As a civil attorney, Cathleen helps average people deal with family law, such as divorce and child custody cases, employment law, and even bankruptcy law.

We need judges who have experience, and Cathleen Callahan has the most well-rounded experience.

Misty Amonson

St. Helens

Henry’s earned my vote

The county commissioner position is not a 9-to-5 job. You may start your day in Scappoose at a 7 a.m. Koffee Klatsch and end your day at a Clatskanie City Council meeting at 8 p.m. And, in between, you may have had a meeting in Vernonia and Rainier. Along with that, your desk is piling up with the business of running our county, a $40 million corporation with 20 departments and 140+ employees. You have to have the ability to negotiate and work with everyone, manage departments and personnel, as well as have the passion to spend those long days listening to the concerns of everyone countywide. And I can tell you from personal experience that our county is very lucky to have such a passionate and experienced leader, and no one works as hard or as long as Henry Heimuller does.

Henry’s hard work and experience has gained him the respect of his peers and other elected officials here and in our surrounding cities and counties. This benefits our county tremendously in getting things done. During these times, we can’t afford on-the-job training or gridlock with controversy.

Vote Henry Heimuller, commissioner Position 2.

Jeff Kemp

President

Pacific Stainless Products

Martwick is the best choice

Jean Martwick is the best choice for circuit court judge. I have known Judge Martwick since she first began providing her legal services in Columbia County. At that time, I worked as a court security deputy for the Sheriff’s Office and had frequent contact with her at the courthouse. She always arrived for court timely and treated everyone with the utmost respect and professionalism.

I retired from the Sheriff’s Office, got my private investigator license and opened my own private investigations business in 2008, and have had the privilege of working for and with her on criminal cases on several occasions. I can attest to the fact that she cares deeply about fulfilling her responsibilities to her clients, as well as being a hard-working individual who seeks to get to the truth in every case.

Judge Martwick has the knowledge, skills, abilities and dedication to the duties of serving as our elected judge in Columbia County Circuit Court. Her experience in our Columbia County Circuit Court far exceeds that of both her challengers combined.

Please join with me in supporting Judge Jean Martwick and vote to keep her as our circuit court judge.

James Gibson

Clatskanie

Support the jail levy

The jail bond levy needs to be supported. Whether we shoulder more taxes comes down to the issues and the future of our county.

For this family, the question is easily answered.

The old argument regarding the funding and construction of the jail is a moot point and long past any justifiable discussion. The issue of not spending money wisely has not been proven.

Closing our jail will be costly without any benefit to anyone. Mothballing such a facility will demand maintenance, electricity, heat and administrative oversight.

Not supporting a justice system and housing for the convicted criminals sends the wrong message if we desire to have a thriving, sustainable and functional community. Sending prisoners to Polk County is not cost-effective. It takes considerable time, not to mention expense, to transport the individuals back and forth. Also, officers are not able to patrol and respond when called.

We believe any business — large or small — in a feasibility study will examine several variables, not necessarily in any order, when considering locating here. These include the schools, which prepare future employees; the infrastructure of roads, rails, communication, energy sources, etc., which are important, of course; and, of significance, is the consideration for safety, security and the well-being of the employees and all the residents throughout the county.

Not having a jail operation and facility leaves any business person contemplating a move to Columbia County with more questions than answers.

We urge a “yes” vote when your ballot arrives in the mail.

Paul and Judy Nys

Rainier