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The Columbia County Spotlight's readers have some thoughts on the two-party system, St. Helens City Hall 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. 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.

Environmental groups miss forest for trees on fuels project

I really respect the work that the Columbia Riverkeeper does. I also respect 1,000 Friends of Oregon. But it is beyond me as to why they would go after a company that is working to bring a clean fuels hub to Columbia County.

Both organizations claim to understand the critical importance of moving away from fossil fuels. Yet they seem to be working awfully hard at stopping NEXT Renewable Fuels from helping Oregonians do just that. It is hypocritical at best.

Not only that, these outside groups are getting in the way of a future for Columbia County that includes green jobs and long-term tax revenue benefits.

I hope they'll recognize the contradiction of their ways, and soon. We do not have time to waste as the climate changes before our eyes and intensifies with every passing fire season. We must act now, quickly and collaboratively to develop solutions like renewable fuel.

How about they stick to their backyards of Hood River and Portland, and we'll decide for ourselves what is good for Columbia County.

Gustavo Francisco, St. Helens

Politically homeless and fed up with nonsense

After moving to Columbia County in 2010, I registered as a non-affiliated voter because of the progressive liberal socialist swing in Democratic Party policies with the election of Barack Obama. In the years since, I have maintained what I thought was a respectable civil profile of my political views.

Between President Obama's pursuit to fundamentally transform (socialize) the nation, the hatred spewed by President Donald Trump, and the disgusting tribal behavior of both political parties during the 2020 and 2022 elections it is time to take the gloves off and call politics for what it is: pure undiluted BS.

The Oregon Legislature, with a Democratic majority, passed the Oregon motor voter law in 2015, forcing people to become registered voters, of which the majority are now non-affiliated voters; therefore Oregon is legally not a "blue" nor "red" state.

The entire 2022 election was nothing but a disgusting name-calling de facto fight between the fascist far right and progressive liberal socialist far left.

The Democrats were more scared of losing power than concerned about the failing economy nor the high gas prices. No more discussing the issues of the day, it was a contest of how many lies can a candidate tell in a $2 million 30-second ad during prime time.

Can either political party really solve the problems of homelessness and inflation before the next election cycle? Hell no, they'll be too busy trying to raise funds for the next election's ads.

Joe Turner, Columbia City

What is St. Helens hiding in failed reservoir work?

The City of St. Helens has an empty failed rehabilitation of the 2 million gallon reservoir. The contractor gave up trying to repair the reservoir. The city spent over 2 years in litigation and accomplished nothing.

n March 1, 2022: The city hired Walker Consultants to investigate for cause and responsibility.

n March 23, 2022: I filed for a copy of Walker's report to the city and was denied. I realized that the contents contained something the city doesn't want revealed.

n April 4: The city signed a settlement and mutual release agreement with all parties involved.

n May 24: Walker Consultants took core samples of the interior concrete, I filed and received a copy.

I began referencing my copied documents.

Kennedy/Jenks was hired in 2016 as a consultant. They developed the plan and specifications for the W-449 rehabilitation project.

This plan and specifications lacked due diligence by not having a thorough concrete testing. The bidders were not given an interior walkthrough, and the reservoir hadn't been drained before bid submittals.

The city accepted the Kennedy/Jenks plan, and the core samples provided proof that the concrete was deteriorated.

This chosen plan ended with the city having a failed and damaged reservoir.

Talking with the city has not convinced them to release a copy of the report.

My belief now is the city is seeking protection by keeping the report from being released. I derived from documents many areas that show signs of neglect.

I filed for this Walker report again on Oct. 26, 2022, and was denied on the 28th. This Walker report contained information that convinced all participants to sign the release agreement.

This report had changed the litigation parties position, and stopped the years of litigation. The parties all agreed and claimed no liability for the reservoir's epoxy liner failure.

I was going to again file for the Walker report but was told the lawyer was adamantly not going to release the report. I now suspect that all participants were concerned about the contents. It appears that the cause and responsibility has become a big issue, but that was what Walker Consultants was hired to find.

There must something bad, probably not an embarrassment, but neglect.

Ron Trommlitz, St. Helens


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