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The Spotlight hears from readers about the value of local journalism, the importance of wearing a mask and more.

Editor's note: Have a letter to share? Email your thoughts to Editor-in-Chief Mark Miller at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Letters should be no more than 400 words. All submissions must include the name and hometown of the author. Commercial solicitations and campaign announcements will not be accepted as letters to the editor. Submissions should not include profane or defamatory language. We may lightly edit submissions for style and clarity.

Clear, honest, fair and local news reporting matters

It takes 25 minutes for an aircraft electrician to replace a starter generator in a UH-1 helicopter, and an additional 20 minutes for that electrician and a test pilot to start the helicopter, set the proper voltages and complete a test flight around the airfield. Under Army regulations at the time, anything that could be repaired within two hours was considered combat-ready.

The devil is in the details they say, being that the electrician must use "one-time-use-only" high-density bolts when installing a starter generator — which, due to a labor dispute between the manufacturer and machinist union, caused a 210-day backorder resulting in some "combat-ready" aircraft sitting on the ground unable to start their engines. This is what I had to explain to the Congressional Budget Office during a Senate Armed Forces Services Committee investigation in August 1979.

Similar to working in military operations, a journalist's job is to report the who, what, when and where in the news, complete with all the devilish details, and to pass these facts and details onto their readers in a clear and concise format; not to sell the political agenda of the president, congress, governor, county commissioners or city council.

Would having local journalists make a difference in today's politically polarized world?

I subscribe to both local papers, not just for local news but also for those special letters to the editor in which sometimes I contribute. In the last six months, I've had complications that have left me basically deaf — no more listening to "Odd Fridays" with Tammy and Brady on KOHI radio — and reading the closed-caption news on television is something else with all of its syntax errors, so I look forward to the papers I get on Wednesday and Friday.

So yes, local journalism does have an impact, as long as it's done in a bipartisan fashion. And yes, I did take a semester of journalism in high school.

Joe Turner, Columbia City

Talk all you like, just wear a mask

More than a thousand Americans are still dying from COVID every day, but I walk into my local Fred Meyer and still see people who aren't wearing masks.

Sure, wearing masks is an inconvenience and we're all tired of it but it helps to slow the spread of COVID.

I have noticed, however, that the Interstate Fred Meyer in Portland has someone at the door asking the maskless to mask up. Seems like a good idea.

I sometimes hear people say things like, "I have a right to have control over my body." Well, yes, you do, but when you exercise your right in a way that denies my rights, then we have a conflict or a collision of rights. So you can get as drunk as you want at home, but you can't drive your car on the public streets and highways if you are drunk. We have laws which handle these collisions of rights.

So if you are not vaccinated and and if you are also not wearing a mask in public places you are a potential danger to others. So mask up. Do it for yourself, those around you and for your country. It's fine to complain and talk about your rights, but just do the right thing.

Ray Horn, Scappoose

Another health crisis is still unfolding

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact across the globe, with millions of lives and livelihoods lost, unlike anything we've experienced in decades. The last time the entire world was this focused on a pandemic was over two decades ago, when HIV/AIDS was killing almost 4,000 people every day and new infections were doubling every year.

Since then, the global response to AIDS has largely been a success story, with millions of lives being saved through testing, treatment and prevention efforts. The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to stop or even reverse this progress. On World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, it's important to remember HIV/AIDS is still a crisis. [Ed.: This letter to the editor was received last Wednesday, Dec. 1.]

In 2020, there were 1.5 million new infections and 680,000 AIDS-related deaths. People living with HIV/AIDS are at more severe risk of COVID-19 and live in parts of the world with limited access to COVID vaccines. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to almost 70% of people living with HIV, but less than 5% of the population has received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.

We have the power to beat both of these viruses. We just need the will. That's why it's so important that Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici show support for programs that are helping the fight against both COVID and AIDS, like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, one of the most effective and efficient health organizations on the planet.

Michael Kalkofen, Beaverton

Integrate I-5 bridge intelligently with road system

I think the best place to build the new Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River is on the east (upriver) side of the existing bridges.

Looking at a map, I-5 veers to the east, especially on the north (Vancouver) side. That way, the bridge could be shorter, have a smaller footprint, cost less, and displace fewer businesses, etc.

In order to be high enough for the river traffic, it would be too steep for light rail. I am not in favor of light rail, but if we must have it, put it on the newer (southbound) one of the existing bridges. I think a better idea than light rail is express buses that can drive on a steeper bridge.

The south (Oregon) side of the bridge should have freeway-type on-ramps and off-ramps to eastbound and westbound Marine Drive, Highway 99E and Highway 99W to avoid congestion and keep traffic moving.

Bob Mattila, Brush Prairie (Washington)

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