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Accountability is the theme of this week's Columbia County Spotlight reader mailbag.

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. Submissions should not include profane or defamatory language. We may lightly edit submissions for style and clarity. We encourage writers to suggest their own headline when submitting a letter; otherwise, a headline may be generated based on the contents of the letter.

Who is protecting us from wildfire?

How many of you have traveled Highway 30 between St. Helens and Rainier lately? Have you noticed all the brush and parts of trees that have been cut down and left to dry beside the highway?

If so, have you thought what might happen if someone tosses a cigarette out the window or sparks from train tracks fall into this debris?

A few days back, I saw a cigarette thrown from a car window — from the passenger seat — toward a huge stack of dried vegetation between the highway and the rail tracks.

I called the Columbia River Fire & Rescue (503-397-2990) with my concerns. When you call this number, you get a recording with many, many choices as to whom you would like to speak. I chose fire marshal. After three calls, someone answered.

Now, according to the Oxford University Press, the term "marshal" has many meanings. Among these is "an official responsible for supervising public events," "to bring together with (facts, information, etc.) in an organized way" and "a federal or municipal law officer."

I have no idea under which of these definitions the fellow with whom I spoke might fall, but his answer was that Highway 30 belonged to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), and I needed to call them — not CRF&R.

So I called the Portland office of ODOT at 503-731-8200. The woman with whom I spoke was surprised at the lack of concern displayed by a fire marshal of a fire department.

She gave me the telephone number of the ODOT Clatskanie Maintenance Office (503-728-8200). Apparently this is the ODOT crew which is in charge of maintaining this stretch of Highway 30. It appears the maintenance determined by this entity is to "cut it down and let it lay."

I called the above number and left a message. I have yet to receive an answer.

Climate change, global warming and catastrophic forest fires come to mind when I see this type of "passing the buck."

I hope many of you join me in calling repeatedly to the telephone numbers I have shared. Remember — just a small group can make a big difference. Thanks for reading.

Nancy Whitney, St. Helens

Mass shooting suspect's father failed him

Robert E. Crimo lll's father failed him.

In 2019, the police were called to the home because he was threatening to kill family members. Knives and a sword found in the son's closet were confiscated, only to be returned when the father claimed they were his.

His father helped him buy guns, even though for years, he knew of his son's penchant for violence spoken of frequently on multiple social media platforms and lyrics to rap diatribes he saw as his calling.

His father offered him no faith at all. One ex-classmate characterized him this way. (Crimo was) "a believer of nothing. Like nothing, no faith, nothing."

Robert Crimo didn't have a job. He loafed around the house fantasizing about killing. Where'd the money come from to afford the expense of the guns and ammo? I'd bet the enabling family.

Dads: Teach your children to produce. Teach them the joy of accomplishment. Teach them compassion and love for others. Help a stranger change a flat tire in front of your children. Teach them to have faith in God, who will one day judge their actions. Teach them the 10 Commandments, at a bare minimum. Don't lie to your kids or to others — set an example in everything you do.

Children are gifts from God, not pets. Train them, teach them — discipline them, hug them. And be sure, be sure, to play with them.

Wayne Mayo, Scappoose

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