Letters endorse candidates, question flying school programs in Madras and why cigarette smokers should not be hit with more tax

Backing Larry Griffin

Larry Griffin has held position No. 1 on the Lake Chinook Fire Board in the highest tradition. His professional management skills bring a lot to the table; his passion is fire and emergency service to the whole district.

Larry has a home in Forest Park on Norman Drive and he is highly respected; the fire district needs individuals that have a positive attitude and are willing to work towards a win-win outcome.

Larry has a 31-year career with FedEx as the operations manager of International Heavy Weight Transportation, located in Portland. Larry interacted extensively throughout his career with government and aircraft agencies, such as FAA.

Larry is a talented communicator and facilitator with the ability to identify troubled situations and work to create a positive outcome.

Larry has a can-do attitude and the ability to work towards a positive solution; his strong leadership would benefit Lake Chinook Fire District.

I, Robert Buckner, Lake Chinook Fire Board president, highly recommend Mr. Griffin for position No.1.

Robert Buckner


Keep county safe, vote for jail levy

I urge you to vote yes on the jail operations levy on May 21. The current levy of $1.24 per thousand expires on June 30, 2019, and the sheriff is asking for a very modest increase of 15 cents per thousand (for example, an additional $15 per year on a house assessed at $100,000).

Now that Crook County is not contracting with Jefferson County to house their inmates, we are left with a $700,000 annual hole in the budget. Fewer inmates in our jail doesn't result in much of a reduction in costs, unfortunately. A minimum number of employees are required to keep the jail staffed 24 hours a day. The jail is already staffed with the bare minimum number of employees.

If the operating levy should fail, several deputies would have to be laid off, and the jail could house only a small fraction of the current inmate capacity. People who should be held in jail would not be because the resources just wouldn't be there to house them. The small increase in property taxes is worth it to keep our community safe. Please vote yes.

Melanie Widmer


We need jail fully operational

We urge all Jefferson County voters to support the three-year operating levy for the Jefferson County Correctional Facility. The levy will generate a proposed revenue of $2,212,898, set at $1.39 per $1,000. The proposed budget to operate the jail is $5,578,167, including salaries, associated cost, and facility cost.

Inmate cost is a total of $690,200. Included is an 11% surcharge on all salaries to buy down the county's PERS liabilities. The county employer contribution rate is 21.87% for tier I and II and 16.83% for OPSRP police and fire not including the 6% pickup for some contracts. The forecast for the next 2021 PERS cost is predicted at even higher increases.

Inmate medical cost has risen, evident by the budgeted increase to $500,000. The jail budget is experiencing "budget creep" by using beginning balance funds.

On April 15, there were 98 people housed in the jail, including 27 Crook County inmates. If the levy fails, the sheriff will be forced to matrix the arrested and inmates serving time. Staff cutbacks would only allow for 24 people to be housed, releasing 47 accused or serving time into our community.

The state of Oregon Criminal Offense and Arrest Report 2017 reports data of arrests in Jefferson County. Total arrests were 776, and of these, 155 were arrested for crimes against persons including murder, rape, sex crimes, and assaults. Crimes against property, 195 were arrested for robbery, burglary, arson, and vandalism. There were 426 arrested for behavioral crimes and 107 arrested for traffic crimes. Not included were parole violations or warrants.

On April 1, the Oregon Department of Corrections housed 52 inmates sentenced in Jefferson County under Measure 11. Vote yes for the Jefferson County jail levy; support law enforcement and our judicial system by keeping them locked up.

Bob and Joan Starkel


Back Richards for school board

I hope the community will vote for Kevin Richards to fill Position 5 on the Jefferson County 509-J School Board in the upcoming election.

I have known Kevin since he was a student; I'm familiar with his education and work experience away from Madras; and I've had the opportunity to work with him closely as a colleague and an advocate on issues that are important to our local agriculture economy and community.

Kevin and his family have a strong reputation as active and invested members of our community. When he moved back to Madras to farm with his family, Kevin returned with an impressive education and record of public- and private-sector experience. I have observed him apply the knowledge and experience he has gained in his own business and in service to our community through his roles, for example, on the regional advisory committee for OSU Extension, as a board member of Farm Bureau, and as an active advocate for sound policies that protect our water resources and local economy.

Kevin has been involved in career and technical education leadership, particularly FFA, at the local, state and national levels. That is valuable experience that can help guide the future growth of our schools' CTE programs, which are essential for student success in our rural community.

Finally, Kevin's personal ties and relationships within the community give him a keen sense of the challenges local students and families face. His understanding of our school district, its needs, and his personal connection to many families will make him a strong representative to serve on the school board.

I believe Kevin's homegrown familiarity with our school district and his demonstrated commitment to see our community prosper, along with his knowledge and relevant experience, is a strong combination to help lead our schools. Please join me in voting for Kevin Richards.

Mike Weber


Fly at your home airports, flight schools

I have lived and farmed in Madras for 49 years. I am very curious to know how many other people who live in Madras and its neighborhoods are bothered by this new and very concentrated air traffic we are having.

The little bit of information I have been able to gather is that Hillsboro Aero Academy is training 250 overseas, commercial airline pilots in our Madras skies. The program originated in Hillsboro, moved to Salem, Eugene, Prineville and is now operating out of the Redmond airport. They use the Madras Municipal Airport to take off and land and our airport receives minimal income from the FAA for runway repair.

Meanwhile, the residents of the area have to endure the persistent and repetitive disturbance of the small, medium and the huge double engine planes that circles and stalls over our homes and countryside.

When I called Linda Kramer (541-362-5644, ext. 303), who is in charge of the program in Redmond, and asked for information, she never returned my call. The academy seems indifferent to the community's observation of Easter Sunday or any Sunday as this is their busiest flying time.

I wonder about the student who crashed at the Madras airport and if the program jeopardizes the Erickson's air museum, our local pilots and our aerial applications. I also wonder how a private company from east of the mountains is able to make millions of dollars with this program and take advantage of the "folks" on the east side of the mountains. Why were they moved from town to town? Why aren't these pilots training in their own countries?

Big bank is being made at the expense of our rural area. We do have a voice and I hope that many of you will call Linda Kramer, the Madras Airport, and or the Madras City Council to express your opposition to this disturbance.

Leslie Weigand


Don't hit smokers with more tax

With regard to the guest editorial in the Madras Pioneer by Dr. Ann Turner, which is targeting a specific group of people, along with Gov. Brown ...

Let's talk about the "sin" taxes. Smoking/vaping/chewing (tobacco and marijuana), gambling and alcohol are legal in the state of Oregon. The legal use age for all of these is now 21. The good doctor talks about keeping our children safe, yet those "children" are able to vote and fight for our country at the age of 18. Are 18-year-olds still considered children? I hear the voting age may drop to age 16? Kids that young have trouble deciding what clothes to wear to school and are just learning to drive ... while texting.

In November 2007, Oregonians defeated Measure 50, an 84.5 cent cigarette tax increase to fund children's health insurance, by a vote of 59% no to 41% yes.

Yet, six to eight months later, the Legislature increased taxes on tobacco, anyway. Apparently, nonsmokers felt this was also an unfair tax, because it was targeting a select group of individuals. The government blames the defeat of Measure 50 on the amount of money the big tobacco companies spent. I didn't pay any attention to those. If 59% of the voters turned it down, why were the voters ignored and the taxes increased anyway? Only an estimated 16% of Oregonians smoke.

Appears to me that voting doesn't make a difference and taxes on "sin" have never been put to the voters again. Perhaps, our government knows that "sin" taxes won't pass by popular vote and just decides to arbitrarily raise taxes whenever they want, because they can? Their justification to raise taxes was to help pay for low-income children's health care.

More than 70% of Americans are now either obese or overweight by this measure (link below). However, the statistics are particularly worrying. Almost 40% of adults are obese. The childhood obesity rate, for ages 6-19, has increased to 20% (, Oct. 13, 2017).

Should we tax fast food or candy to fight the obesity issue? Think about your favorite candy ... assuming you eat candy. What if government decided that candy (insert favorite candy here ... mine is Baby Ruth) was not good for you and taxed it to try to force you to stop eating it, because it wasn't healthy, even though it's entirely legal and your right to consume it?

Tobacco/marijuana/alcohol/gambling is legal and the right to use it is up to each individual and not for the politicians, doctors or major corporations to control or manipulate. Sure, let's tax these "sins" to force people to quit? If people stop spending money on these products, that is lost tax revenue. But hey, they are getting you healthy.

Reminds me of Prohibition ... how did that work out? It created organized crime.

I would like to understand why our right to partake of, or use a legal product, is being taxed to force people to quit (for our own good) or regulated about when/where we can use it? Raising taxes is not going to drive down costs of treating illnesses that are "caused" by the "sins." There are a heck of a lot more causes for illness/disease out there ... don't get me started on mandatory vaccinations. Again, it's up to each individual to decide what is right for them or their family ... that's what America is all about. The right to choose.

Deborah Jorgensen


Vaccine Adverse Events are not getting reported

Did you know that doctors are mandatory reporters? That means that they must report abuse or face losing their license, yet doctors have no mandate to report vaccine adverse event reactions to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and usually do not as was the case with my daughter back in 2009, when I reported to my daughter's pediatrician the adverse reaction my daughter had to multiple vaccines given at one time.

I didn't even know that VAERS existed; there was no literature given or poster on the wall like there is for patients' rights. Oregon should definitely have a law that mandates anyone approved to give a vaccine should have to hand out literature and have posters posted about VAERS and mandate that every and all vaccine adverse reactions be reported to VAERS, as well as Oregon having its own system in place for keeping this vital information.

After all, since 1986, federal law prohibits anyone hurt or killed by vaccines from seeking damages from vaccine manufacturers. Vaccine manufacturers have a blank check and zero liability when it comes to this pharmaceutical medical procedure; that's crazy. It's been 33 years and we don't have an inkling about this vital information, because no one has to mandatorily report vaccine adverse reactions, better know as injuries. No on HB 3063.

Holly Garland


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