Letters from readers for May 10, 2019
Buddy poppy season: Thank you, veterans
Today and every day, thank veterans for their service. These are men and women who are serving and have served in the Armed Forces, and have put their lives on the line to keep us from harm's way so that we can keep our freedom.
On May 17 and 18 , the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Auxiliary will be at Ace Hardware, Market Fresh, Safeway, Walmart and the United States Post Office in St. Helens with poppies accepting donations, and May 24 and 25 we will be at Walmart.
One hundred percent of your donation goes toward helping veterans and their families.
Without your donations we could not assist with the following: Meals on Wheels — there are 100 veterans and/or their families that reside in St. Helens and Scappoose who cannot afford meals; volunteers at the senior center; volunteers at the veterans hospital in Portland who visit and purchase personal items for veterans in the hospital; spouses, widows and children; Christmas gifts for veterans in assisted-living and nursing homes; VFW national home for children in Michigan; cancer aid and research; scholarships; packages to soldiers in war zones; collected pull tabs from cans for the Fisher House for families of veterans who are receiving treatment so they have a place to stay; the Honor Flight, which provides World War II veterans a trip to Washington, D.C., and accommodations.
Your contribution is truly appreciated, so stop by and say "hi" and pick up a free poppy.
Thank you to the local businesses for supporting us. We would like to thank all the veterans for your service and your continuous support to our community and our country.
Mike and Cindy Sacry
Time for Change: Vote Chip Bubl for Port Commissioner
I am sure that many people who live in Columbia County don't know much about the Port of Columbia County, nor why the decisions made by the port affect the quality of their lives.
The port district extends 51 miles along the banks of the Columbia River. The port owns 10 different property sites and 2,400 acres of land. The port's mission includes fostering local opportunities to create and sustain jobs and to maintain environmental assets in the Port district.
Decisions the Port Commission makes in terms of the kinds of businesses it supports and recruits affect livability, public safety and environmental risks to the Columbia River. The port has a long history of supporting the use of one of its properties, Port Westward near Clatskanie, as a terminal for the export by ship of fossil fuels, including coal and oil. Recent decisions made by the port commissioners would allow greatly increased train traffic.
Currently, approximately one mile-long train per week passes through our community carrying ethanol for export. The actions approved by the Port Commission would allow that to increase to up to 38 trains per month carrying dangerous crude oil. This would create traffic nightmares and greatly increased risk of derailment fires, explosions and oil spills into the Columbia River, threatening our salmon and endangering our safety. Many schools are located very near the tracks. We know these risks are real because of the history of oil train derailments, spills and fires in the U.S., Canada and Oregon — all to create 20 jobs (equivalent to one Starbucks franchise).
The record of the current Port Commission proves they consistently defer to influence of corporate profiteers who are generous with their campaign contributions, while ignoring legitimate concerns of citizens. They have seemed incapable of weighing risk versus benefits when making decisions regarding Port Westward. They summarily dismiss documented safety, traffic and environmental concerns while accepting, without question or supporting facts, outlandish and unproven claims of job and economic benefits.
It is time for a change.
Chip Bubl is running for an open Port Commissioner position. We know Chip. He has given a lifetime of service and dedication to the citizens of our area as our Oregon State University Extension Service agent. Chip has a track record that proves he is a responsible, hardworking individual who can be trusted. His background in science gives him the critical thinking skills to seek out true facts and make unbiased decisions that will be in our best interest.
Chip will wisely support enhancing our economic strength by supporting those projects where the benefits outweigh the risk and inconvenience to our community.
I hope you will join me in supporting Chip Bubl for Port of Columbia County Commissioner Position 2.
Support incumbents for Scappoose schools
As life-long residents of the Scappoose area, we have been served by the Scappoose School District in many ways —as students, as parents, and now as grandparents. Whether you have lived in the area for a long time or not, we all expect excellent schools. School board members past and present have selflessly given their time, energy, business experience and commitment to assure that all of our students have the opportunity to prepare for the road of life ahead.
Three of these people are current board members Michelle Graham, Jim Hoag and Will Kessi. These fine individuals know the issues facing kids and schools today. They understand the role of a school board member and have the necessary experience to guide the district during a time of change in leadership at the administrative level. They are more than qualified to protect our children's interest in a period of increasing pressure on our budget.
We are voting for Graham, Hoag, and Kessi on May 21 because they are simply more qualified than their challengers and can handle this time of change while maintaining our expectation for excellent schools.
Please join us in voting to re-elect Michelle Graham, Jim Hoag and Will Kessi to the Scappoose School Board.
Mike and Kristi Bradley
Supporting Chip Bubl for Port Commissioner
I have known Chip Bubl for quite a few years. I am voting for Chip for Port of Columbia County commissioner because I know I can trust him to make decisions that are going to be in our regional residents' best overall interest.
I found Chip to always be extremely reasonable and well-informed when I have worked with him. Chip will do his homework and work hard to seek out information on both sides of an issue and evaluate the credibility of that information before deciding.
I applaud all of those who give their time, energies and expertise to serve our community in unpaid elected positions. I feel we are very fortunate to have a person of Chip's integrity, skill set and experience willing to serve our community.
Licensed drivers make all of us safer
Immigrants are part of the fabric of Oregon. Immigrants living in Oregon are part of our families, communities, workplaces and places of worship. Like many of our families, immigrants join the long American tradition of coming here in search of a better life and the freedom and opportunity we offer.
House Bill 2015 would allow all Oregonians who can pass a written safety exam and driver's test and provide proof of identity and insurance the opportunity to attain a license to drive — regardless of immigration status. It would make all of us safer and would be great for our economy.
As a tax preparer, I know just how much people and businesses contribute to our communities and believe we should allow everyone to participate in our economy to their maximum potential.
We might disagree on how to solve our complex and broken federal immigration, but we can agree that immigrant Oregonians should not be separated from their families over a traffic stop. We should allow them to contribute to our communities even more than they already do. In 2018, over 58% of Columbia County's residents voted to protect our immigrant neighbors by rejecting Measure 105, and we must do the same now.
As a longtime business owner, I urge our legislators to support House Bill 2015.
It's Your Money Inc.
St. Helens lagoon decision a done deal?
Quietly at the May 1 St. Helens City Council meeting, an authorization was passed for a professional services study do be done for the lagoon repurposing project, bringing toxic waste from Portland to St. Helens.
The details of the scope of work sound scientific, but is very short on needed details to accurately decide the true feasibility of the project. Certain details such as the problems of PCB dust are mentioned, which would indicate that a decision has already been made to use the lagoon as a toxic waste storage site.
The funded study's design does not allow for the total hazard picture to be demonstrated. It is a study that does something and can be sited as a study but it does not accurately describe either the hazard problem or the fact that a decision has been made. The study states that a number of test sites will be studied, without say what data will be collected and what are the limits that if exceeded would stop the project.
The assumption is that the data would be shared not only with the public, but with all appropriate agencies — I mention "assumption" because this is not stated. This study is for Phase I to provide information for Phase II, not to give a "go" or "no go" for Phase II; it seems that decision has already been made.
The method and design of this plan is somewhat of a mystery.
Editor's note: Stephen Topaz is a member of the St. Helens City Council.
Not keen on vaccines
We home school to protect our medically fragile daughter, Elaina. I am a teacher by training and degree. My other five children benefit from my training and expertise. We also love accessing the public education system as we attend a charter school for specialty classes and field trip experiences. This combination allows my children to have a very rich scholastic experience that would otherwise be quite limited as a result of their sister's diagnosis.
Due to my daughters' diagnosis of a genetic disease, Rett syndrome, we have been advised by two doctors not to give her the MMR vaccine. The Legislature's House Bill 3063 limits the access Elaina has to society. Living in a wheelchair with a genetic disease is already extremely limiting. Please urge your representative and senator to vote "no" on HB3063. My daughter deserves to be part of society. We are entitled to the rights to make medically appropriate decisions for our children without being marginalized.
Oregon's vaccination rates are still incredibly high, there is not an emergency.
As a family we also refuse certain vaccines such as MMR and varicella because they contain cells derived from human babies, including fragments of human DNA. Our stance on this issue, the use of fetal tissue, is not going to change.
Using fetal tissue is a violation of our faith.
When I explained the impacts of this bill to my children they were heartbroken. They have been isolated their entire lives due their sister's diagnosis. They are finally able to participate in school settings and make friends and they don't want to lose those connections. They also don't want to be forced to move out of state and away from their grandparents.
Protect my rights to protect my children. Advocate for medical choice, caution the Legislature to not act.
Editor's note: HB 3063 removes the ability of a parent to decline required immunizations against restrictable diseases, such as measles, on behalf of a child for reasons other than a medical diagnosis, such as for religious or philosophical reasons. Medical exemptions would remain valid under HB 3063.
An opportunity for change
We have the opportunity to completely change our county. Let's move away from pandering to fossil fuel companies toward smaller light industry that provides family-wage jobs without being dependent on the volatile fossil fuel market.
We have been a sacrifice zone too long. How many actual jobs are at Port Westward? How many are held by county residents? How many failed attempts have there been to promote grandiose schemes to satisfy oil tycoons?
Just look at the campaign donations to incumbent commissioners and state senators and you have your answer. Corporations are taking advantage of us because they can get away with it.
Make your vote count by supporting Chip Bubl and either Steve Hanson or Nancy Ward.
Let's act for the people.
Yes for Columbia County Rider
I am writing in response to April 26 letter by Mr. Joe Turner (see "Portland commuters bear own transit responsibility").
Mr. Turner does not know what he writes. There are bus riders who do not own a vehicle to drive and park in Portland. There are bus riders who make more than $15 per hour, but not much more. There are bus riders who are retired seniors that ride to volunteer, go to medical appointments or to attend college classes that are offered free to those over 65 as audit. There are college students who are attending training in Portland and need the bus to complete their education. There are parents who moved to Columbia County knowing there was a bus system so that they did not have to drive.
What Mr. Turner doesn't state is that all of us that take the bus are also taxpayers. We pay taxes in Columbia County, we pay Oregon income tax and we pay a commuter tax in Portland. So, Mr. Turner, we are not using the system to take from you or anyone in Columbia County. Let's bring Columbia County into the 21st Century with transportation that will benefit the worker, the student, the senior, the disabled, everyone — even Mr. Turner.
Preheim distorted the truth about Trapp
Almost everything written by Brady Preheim in his letter last week (see "Follow the money") was just wrong. The following was correct: Yes, Mr. Patrick Trapp was the director of the Port of Columbia County (at the time called the "Port of St. Helens") — that was true. Yes, he did an interview on the Odd Friday show (I listened). Yes, he was appointed to the Port Commission. The best practices mentioned about transitioning from manager to board are normally associated with an immediate transition. Mr Trapp was gone from the port for almost one and half years before being sworn in.
As for the skewed comments: I've heard Mr. Trapp as well as other port commissioners commenting that it was roughly 500 emails ... only 45 or so were from folks in Columbia County. I believe Mr. Trapp commented on the show that he had reached out to a number of U.S. Coast Guard and spill management experts on his own.
I spoke with an individual who sat at the same table who didn't recall Preheim asking Trapp if his mind was made up before the public meeting and, if so, why hold a public meeting.
Regarding the Connect Oregon Grant and the Oregon Transportation Commission, this is what I remember: Mater's allegations were made in spite of experts within multiple state agencies reviewing and evaluating the application. All found the applications to be in compliance and complete.
Preheim commented that Trapp has raised over $8,000. Is that a reflection of the amount of support he's getting from the county, small to large business, family, friends and individual supporters? Mr. Trapp's signs are placed where he has received permission and not in public right of ways.
At the Rainier candidate forum he announced he was being endorsed by both the Oregon Building and Construction Trades Council and the Northwest Carpenters Union.
I have found Mr. Trapp to be open, honest and responsive to all of my questions. Your vote should be based on accurate information, not distorted and/or misleading half-truths.
Make roads safer by having everyone licensed to drive
As a former 911 dispatcher, I know we are all safer when all Oregonians have the opportunity to get a driver's license. Oregon roads and communities will be safer for everyone when all drivers, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, are required to pass a written safety exam and driver's test and provide proof of identity and insurance. That is why I am writing in support of House Bill 2015.
In Oregon, driver's licenses are an absolute necessity for our families. This bill would allow thousands of Oregonians, including the elderly, immigrants without legal status, low-income individuals, those born in other states, people who are houseless, survivors of domestic violence, and victims of natural disasters who do not have all of the documents required to get an enhanced license, the opportunity to get a standard driver's licenses.
I have seen and heard of many accidents throughout my career as a dispatcher, and many were avoidable. I believe we would all be safer and more accidents would be avoided if everyone was required to know the rules of the road and have insurance.
House Bill 2015 does not hurt anyone and makes us all safer. It makes sense to support it.
Urging yes vote for road safety
One of the things I've always loved about being an Oregonian is the sense that we truly care about one another, that we are willing to look out for our neighbor's safety and welfare. As a longtime Oregonian, I was glad when I heard Oregon lawmakers are considering passing a law that would ensure standard licenses are available to all drivers who can meet the requirements to drive, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status.
The ability to drive legally is a core everyday need for many Oregon families as people take their kids to school, commute to work, and take care of family and neighbors in need. In rural Oregon, driving is part of everyday life. It's not practical or safe for people to walk for miles on country roads just to get to and from work or take care of their families.
Oregonians might disagree about how Congress should reform our complex and broken federal immigration system, but we can all agree that our immigrant friends and neighbors shouldn't be separated from their families over a traffic stop. The United States has a long tradition of immigrants coming in search of opportunity. Let's keep it that way. This legislative session our lawmakers have the opportunity to uphold Oregon's values and I urge them to vote yes on House Bill 2015.
School board must represent all kids
We are writing to express our support for Will Kessi, Michelle Graham and Jim Hoag to be re-elected to the Scappoose School Board. Their combined years of experience and knowledge about how a school district must be operated is invaluable for navigating the uncertainty that presents itself in our near future.
The district will have a new superintendent, two new principals and the ever-growing burden of a financial deficit that will be impacting all the school districts across the state of Oregon. One only has to read about some of our neighboring school districts to see the impact that this financial shortfall is having.
Having spent three years on the district budget committee (two years as chairman), we have seen firsthand how financially prudent these three have been in positioning our district to weather this storm without the tremendously negative impact that it could have had without their experience leading the way.
We also strongly believe that the decisions that Will, Michelle and Jim have made have always been in the best interest of all the students in our schools, not just select students that they choose to benefit. It is quite disturbing to look at some of the other candidates and see that they are being backed by a group that promotes seclusion of some of our students based on their sexual preference or orientation.
In today's world, that is not acceptable and as a community, we cannot allow this to exist in our schools. Regardless of your beliefs, it isn't the school districts job to label and exclude certain groups of people. Working with hundreds of kids through pediatric nursing and volunteer opportunities, we have seen the harm that being singled out or excluded can cause a child. It can be devastating to a young person trying to find their way in the world.
The role of a school board member is to set policy based on state and federal regulations. They must carefully balance what is best for our district with the rules that our government has given them to ensure the district stays in compliance and doesn't lose potential funding which would impact all students as well as teachers and staff. A board member cannot allow their personal beliefs to cloud their judgment on what is best for all the students in Scappoose School District.
Between the two of us, we have been small business owners, work as a pediatric registered nurse, work in the corporate world, and have thousands of hours of volunteer work with the youth in our schools and community.
We have seen good leaders and bad leaders and know that these three are some of the best. We urge you to vote for Will Kessi, Michelle Graham and Jim Hoag to be re-elected to the Scappoose School Board.
They have our vote.
Brian and Summer Hoag
Incumbents are best for Scappoose schools
Three Scappoose School District board positions are being contested in the upcoming election. With a new superintendent and three new building principals on board, this is a very pivotal election for our schools.
There are times when making changes in board leadership is desirable but, with due respect to the challengers, at the current time, our greatest need is for stability and proven leadership. I like the strategic plan that's been developed, and I feel the district is currently functioning at a high level and moving in a positive direction.
We have good teachers, administrators and staff. Our best hope to keep this going and to support the new administrators is to re-elect the incumbents.
Please join me in voting for Michelle Graham, Jim Hoag and Will Kessi.
Change in support of Chip Bubl
The upcoming election is as important as any other, maybe more so. It is about electing the people who make everyday decisions about how to make our basic services function effectively, such as our libraries, our schools, or our port district. This is why large voter turnout is no less important.
When I vote, I want to know, what will the person I vote for do if elected? What are their priorities and motives? Will they work with their fellow elected for the good of the people?
It is a vote I do not cast lightly. Elections bring in the new and some old faces back. I, like most people, are more inclined to listen to those I don't know more closely for exactly that reason. I gather the facts as best as I can, based on the information and demeanor of the individual running. It is easier when on the ballot you recognize someone who you already know, trust and respect for their work in the community; someone who gathers the facts and reaches out to others. Sometimes it is not easy because it may mean changing the status quo. Still, change, if directed correctly, is good. Change just for the sake of change makes no sense. But it does if you think it will bring new vision, new ideas and more openness.
This is why I have decided to support Chip Bubl for Position 2 on the Port of Columbia County Board of Commissioners. Chip is running against the incumbent, which means he is facing an uphill battle. A large voter turnout for Chip sends a strong message, regardless of the result.
One of my concerns is railcar safety. Local officials have a pulpit to appeal to those at the federal level, starting with the president, on down, and insist on it. I would like my elected officials to feel this same way.
Look, I get it. I understand the need for interstate commerce and rail transportation. I just think we deserve the best and safest service possible that does not separate cities and towns, but as recently as April 24, an ethanol train derailed and eight of 14 cars burned near Fort Worth, Texas. Both DOT-111 and 117R tank cars transport ethanol. A safer generation of redesigned rail tank cars are needed urgently, but they won't appear on the scene for years because of industry delays and lobbying — unless action is taken.
I also happen to think it is time to take a good hard look at the type of manufacturing and job-producing industries we want to attract and how we go about attracting them.
I believe there are qualified, experienced commissioners serving who are still open to new input should the voters decide to leave them in place, and I believe they are willing to work together with newly elected candidates.
I urge citizens to attend the informational meetings and town halls and listen and ask questions. Determine for yourself how you would like to see these positions filled.
When experience becomes the Establishment
I am a married father of four children — all whom have attended or are attending Scappoose schools. Current board members Will Kessi, Jim Hoag, Michelle Graham have served Scappoose for many long years, and for that I am thankful. They are politicians with a lot of experience. However, that might be part of the problem.
Experience sometimes gives officials the belief that they know better than the voters that put them there. Personally, I like all three of them, but their recent actions as board members have given me great pause — and why I am using my vote to head in another direction. I have watched them align themselves with Portland and Salem bureaucrats instead of parents and taxpayers of Scappoose.
In many meetings over the last several years I have personally attended, concerns of local parents and citizens get pushed aside, not addressed, completely ignored or worse — laughed at — while the Portland "experts" tell us how we should run our schools in Scappoose. This is what I mean by experience becoming the Establishment. When we stop listening to voters and parents, we are heading for trouble.
In a 2019 board meeting Kessi, Hoag and Graham supported keeping parents in the dark on controversial issues within the district. I was shocked. Once again, the concerns of local citizens get pushed aside, while the Portland "experts" and the elected Establishment tell us only what they think we need to know.
This might work in the boardroom of a private business, but is not good practice for our local schools.
I want the voice of Scappoose citizens to be heard again, so I am voting for Steve Kreins, Nikki Tetz and Kevin Friemuth to replace Kessi, Hoag and Graham.
Put parents on the Scappoose School Board
The Scappoose School Board currently has three members who have been on the board for a combined 61 years! They have a total of zero kids in any of the schools in our district. Their lock step, rubberstamp voting record has been a detriment to our community over the past few years.
The turmoil from the superintendent level on down is a reflection of their poor leadership decisions. Their unwillingness to listen to the voice of the people has been disappointing.
Steve Kreins, Kevin Freimuth and Nikki Tetz are running to replace these three incumbents and to provide fresh new leadership for our parents, kids and teachers. They have six children in our schools with two more on the way. They are all three extremely well qualified and involved in our community.
I would encourage you to research their backgrounds and get to know them. I have, that is why I'm voting for Kreins, Freimuth and Tetz.
Editor's note: Jeff Maloney is the husband of current Scappoose School Board member, Lisa Maloney.
Bubl for Port Commission
For many of us in the local area Chip Bubl has long been our go-to person for info on gardening and farming. Fortunately, he is willing also to serve in another capacity — as a commissioner for the Port of Columbia County.
Knowing Chip has our best interests at heart, we can trust him to investigate and understand technical issues that arise, and to take responsibility for his decisions on the board that may impact all of us. Chip knows the history of the port, its successes and failures, and is the perfect person to scrutinize the speculative schemes that seem to appear so regularly at the port's door.
Chip has a keen grasp of the local transportation problems that are made worse by port decisions approving dangerous oil unit trains running through five cities to Port Westward. We can trust Chip to be a leader in steering the port to a safer future for all residents of the district, taking special care to protect the Columbia River and our air, water and land.
We can trust Chip to listen well, be open to new ideas, and to respond to questions honestly in public meetings.
Vote for Chip Bubl for Port.
Licensed drivers make roads safer
Right now, over 100,000 Oregonians — our friends, family and neighbors—can't get a driver's license. This puts many undocumented immigrants in an impossible position: drive without a license and risk arrest and deportation or choose not to drive and be unable to provide for their family.
This isn't an exaggeration. Under the Trump administration, deportation proceedings due to traffic violations have increased by more than 138%. Oregonians shouldn't have to live in fear of being deported or worry about their families being torn apart simply because they are taking their kids to school, going to work, or taking care of their family or neighbors.
Right now, our state Legislature is considering passage of House Bill 2015, also known as the Equal Access to Roads Act. This bill would ensure that standard licenses are available to all drivers who can meet the requirements to drive, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status
Living in Scappoose, I often think about what it would mean if I didn't have access to a driver's license and how this restriction impacts families just like mine. No matter how we feel about immigration, safety on the road for all of us is important. Driving is an everyday core need and we must strongly reaffirm our commitment to providing a safe community for all individuals, regardless of ethnicity or immigration status.
By passing the Equal Access to Roads Act, our Legislature can make sure our roads and communities are safer for everyone. I urge the Oregon
Legislature to pass the Equal Access to Roads Act, HB
A vote for Tetz, Freimuth and Kreins
The Scappoose School District has three board members up for re-election. It is time we make a change.
The three incumbents have made poor choices over the past several years: hiring a superintendent who they previously fired after the district paid out $500,000 in a lawsuit against him, voting on resolutions without listening to what our community wanted, and voting down a resolution that would notify parents of controversial issues in the classrooms. The three incumbents call themselves experienced and transparent, but that last action alone says otherwise. They have a history of promoting their unspoken agenda despite passionate pleas from the community.
This election is going to require good citizens to stand up to these incumbents who put self-interest over good education.
There are three candidates running against these incumbents who will put the kids and community first. They will be transparent and, most importantly, listen to community members.
This is why I will be voting for Nikki Tetz, Kevin Freimuth and Steve Kreins.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.