Candidate endorsements for school boards, Port of St. Helens; Readers speak out against Port efforts to re-zone farm land; Reflecting on the origins of Easter

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Vote for Port commissioners who care

Numerous people are running for the Port of St. Helens Board of Commissioners right now. Some are newcomers to politics who want the Port Commission to serve citizen interests instead of just the Port's. How quickly residents have forgotten how the Port board tried to block us from Trestle Beach, putting up "No Trespassing" signs to keep people out of one of the few river accesses.

It was only after public outrage that they relented, took the signs down, and made parking safer. Now they pretend the attempt to lock us out never happened.Two candidates want to change the attitude of the Port from one of shutting the people out to willing cooperation. Just recently, the Port did not want to hear from us at a meeting until after they ruled on an important rezoning proposal. I read that they are tired of having to listen to taxpayers and residents. Melinda Bernert and Megan Kunkel-Hallstone are on the ballot for two Port board positions. They want to steer the Port in a new direction, and will welcome citizen input.

The election is only a short time away: May 16. Let's vote for people who care about what we want and need in our county.

Lona Pierce


New face running for School Board

I have been a lifetime resident of Scappoose, and my four sisters and I all graduated from Scappoose, as did our father, Dale Brooks.

My four children graduated from Scappoose and now I have grandchildren going through our school system. I feel it is time for me to give back by being a voice in our community. I love this community and have coached many sports over the years, and I love giving back to the place that I was raised.

One situation that jumps out at me is our Open Enrollment program. With our classrooms already at capacity, why would we open them up to students who are not in our district? Those parents aren't paying taxes that the parents in our district are paying, and once you allow them to come into our program, then you have to allow them in for possibly 13 years. This is going to add more tax burdens on people in the district, and that is not fair to them.

We also need more parent involvement in decisions that are made by our school board to insure that our students' best interests are at heart.

It's time for some new faces with fresh ideas and input. I want to protect our taxpayers from paying too much in taxes for new schools before they are really needed.

We also still need to make right the wrong we did when we took away the softball fields and concession stands from our female athletes. Title IX was put in place for a reason and we need to figure out how to make things right for past mistakes.

A vote for me is a vote for our community and a fresh face to hold our School Board accountable for their decisions.

Tim Brooks


Same bad plan

A few years ago, hundreds of Columbia County citizens spoke out opposing the rezoning of a large agricultural property owned by the Port of St. Helens in Clatskanie. The idea was so unpopular that it spawned three local groups opposing this industrialization. The state Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) rejected the plan, because Oregon values preserving agricultural land, especially when there is plenty of unused land nearby, already zoned industrial.

Now, the Port says it has a new plan. A new secret plan. A Port commissioner claims there is no need for public input, since they heard from us all a few years ago. But, isn't this supposed to be a new plan that corrects all the problems with the old plan, including stating specifically what the land is to be used for?

Why won't the Port commissioners show us the plan? Why don't they want public input? What are they up to?

Are citizens not entitled to review the plan, talk with others, weigh the risks and benefits, and speak our minds at a public hearing? I smell a rat. This is not the action of a Port Commission that wants to maintain and sustain public trust.

Annie Christensen

St. Helens

Open Letter to County Commissioners

The matter of the rezoning of hundreds of acres of Port Westward farmland to heavy industry is again before the Columbia County commissioners, having been halted by the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals for various defects and referred back to the county.

I write to urge you to drop the rezone effort. Vote to turn it down, just like the Planning Commission did when the original proposal was heard before that body.

The Port of St. Helens has spent tens of thousands of dollars on lawyer efforts to push this rezone forward, foolishly in my opinion, despite formidable opposition from landowners, farmers, quality-of-life advocates and citizens from all over the county concerned that facilitating potential industries there will likely lead to more congestion in our cities along the railroad/Highway 30 corridor.

Not to mention that the proposal also requires an exemption to the county's Comprehensive Plan, which otherwise prohibits conversion of farmland to other uses.

The county should be listening to ordinary people instead of the wannabe big boys angling to make lucrative deals on developing our public port lands.

Neither the county nor the Port is bound by the intent of port commissioners years ago when they purchased the farmland dreaming, apparently, of a world-class fossil fuel shipping hub. It's time instead to envision a future that enables our residents to farm, fish, grow trees, and launch small- and medium-size businesses and industries, while protecting our natural resources.

Drop the rezone.

Darrel Whipple


Lager is a great asset for Scappoose schools

I would like to publicly voice my support for Phil Lager's re-election to the Scappoose School Board, Zone 4. I have known Phil for many years. He is a tireless advocate for our youth with leadership qualities unmatched. His level-headed approach to today's issues, his experience with the budget committee, and his active role in many areas of the community make him of great value for the upcoming term.

Phil is truly a great asset to the Scappoose School District and the students.

Bart Grabhorn


Backing Kunkel-Hallstone, Bernert for Port races

I attended a public meeting last Tuesday where the candidates for positions on the Port of St. Helens Board of Commissioners presented their viewpoints and met with those attending. I was most impressed with the voice, vision and values of Megan Kunkel-Hallstone, who is running for Position 4.

She is articulate, bright and has a great vision for the work of the Port. She is adamant on the necessity of transparency and public involvement in the decisions that so greatly affect our community. She is a good listener. She has a vision for economic growth while preserving citizen safety and that of future generations. She also has a background in business, and is now involved in growing her family business on Sauvie Island, Columbia Farms.

I strongly urge your vote for this candidate.

I also support Melinda Bernert for Position 5. She has good ideas that are well thought out for increasing the economic health of our communities, without compromising the health and safety of our residents. She is also for complete transparency with the general public. Refreshing. I urge you to support her.  

Ann Morten

St. Helens

Supports Brooks for Scappoose School Board

I am writing in support of Tim Brooks for the Scappoose School Board. He is a lifelong friend of mine who was born and raised in Scappoose and attended the Scappoose school system. Tim and his wife Elida have raised four children, all who also attended the Scappoose school system and still live in the area.

Tim has two grandchildren, one who is currently enrolled at Grant Watts.

He has helped coach wrestling, baseball, and football in the community. Tim is also a member of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, the Big Brother Program located in Beaverton, and Branches Church in Scappoose.

Tim is an honest, caring, and passionate individual, who always strives for the best in everything.

The school board will benefit from his integrity, honesty, and willingness to listen for the sake of educational excellence.

I hope you will join me in voting for Tim Brooks.

Robert Glosenger


Parvey-Leskowich has good track record

This May we will have a chance to select a new Port Commissioner. One of the candidates, Natasha Parvey-Leskowich, has worked tirelessly to promote businesses in Columbia County. She is still involved in the Shop Local campaign and has worked with business owners and officials in every city in the county to create and sustain jobs in this area.

While she was the executive director at the South Columbia County Chamber of Commerce she was present at every ribbon cutting and grand opening that her schedule would allow. Together with Mayor Scott Burge, she started the Scappoose Business Network. With local insurance agent Michael Ismert, Natasha got the ambassador program up and running. Natasha is an advocate for Columbia County.

She will be an asset to the Port of St. Helens Board of Commissioners. This May, vote for Natasha Parvey-Leskowich to fill Position 4.

Roxanna Jennings

St. Helens

This is real business

The Port needs serious Commissioners to shepherd economic development not only today, but have the vision to address the needs of the District well into the future. The optimal commissioner is already seated in Position 5, that's Chris Iverson.

Chris approaches every decision only after considering both benefits and the possible impacts. He has done that by challenging staff, hearing from stakeholders and informally surveying the many members of the public he interacts with daily.

His advocacy for recreational river access is unparalleled, his commitment to shop local and consistently push for local providers sets an extremely high bar, and his business acumen and understanding of both the Oregon Statutes that guide Port operations and the community expectations are grounded in reality. Chris Iverson understands this is real and serious business ... he doesn't take it lightly. There is no question that he is the most qualified, and there is no question that we need commissioners that have demonstrated a commitment for more than just the last few months. Chris has proven his long term commitment to the public. Chris Iverson will be getting my vote, and I hope yours too.

Patrick Trapp

Columbia City

(Editor's note: Patrick Trapp worked with Chris Iverson as the Port's former executive director)

To change the world, just ask

The Judeo-Christian faith; The teachings, attitudes, and inevitable constructs, among them; the "made in the Image of God" value of human life from which comes hospitals, schools, well water projects, medical breakthroughs, orphanages, help to victims of ebola, war, and genocide regardless of sectarian background just to name a few. But add to that incorruptible courts, contract law; property, intellectual, and licensing rights that rarely if ever exist apart from the West.

These are directly informed by the 10 Commandments, Proverbs, and the Sermon on the Mount.

Judaism celebrates the "Sacrificing of the Lamb" that released them from building Egypt as slaves under Pharaoh to head for "the Promised Land." It's called Passover and it's celebrated starting April 10 to the 18th, this


Christianity celebrates "Sacrificing of the Lamb of God" that broke a spiritual ball and chain purchasing the slave from the bondage that sin is to join in the race to the as yet unseen "Promised Land." It's called Easter and it runs April 9-16 this year.

This Easter-Passover, consider being brave in the unseen world.

In spite of the pressure you may feel from your friends and acquaintances not to look at faith as an alternative choice, it's not really them. Pull back the stage curtain on this transitory material life. It will reveal the real world of truth, lies, spirits, demons, and angels.

Though you might have very little faith, pray. Ask Him for an epiphany you can understand.

It just might be enough to change you and you to change the world. Just ... ask.

Wayne Mayo


Contract Publishing

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