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The Times receives letters about back-to-school in Beaverton, Washington County business regulations and more.

Flavored tobacco ban will hurt minority-owned businesses

Like many immigrants who've helped build and support this great country, I decided to bring my talent, education, and ambition to the U.S. to contribute to the community and to build a life.

Earlier this year, I bought the 7 Star Convenience Store in Washington County. Today, I employ four people and I support my wife and our two daughters.

Along with selling essential goods like milk, eggs and bread, I sell tobacco and it makes up 50% of my business. Even though no government agency has ever found me in violation of federal, state or local age-verification laws, I'm facing a crisis if the county commissioners decide to pass Ordinance 878 restricting the sale of flavored tobacco products to 21-and-older facilities.

Although I'm sure the county is well-meaning in its efforts to prevent and end the use of teen vaping, stopping responsible store owners like me from selling products the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has deemed legal to sell to adults will not have the intended effect. Customers will just go to stores in neighboring counties or states.

This ordinance will only hurt Washington County convenience stores and grocery stores — many of which are owned by first-generation Americans like me, and like Commissioner Nafisa Fai, who supports the ban.

I don't use tobacco products. As my daughters grow up, I will do everything in my power to educate them about the risks of alcohol, tobacco or cannabis. Commissioners should focus their efforts on education, too, rather than prohibition. History shows it doesn't work.

We, business owners, are doing the best we can to serve our customers, our communities and our families and to keep tobacco and vape products out of the hands of minors through checking IDs. We would appreciate the county allowing us to continue.

Prabhiyot Kang, Forest Grove

Preparing students to return to classrooms

I couldn't agree more with Kinnaman Elementary School Principal Ashlee Hudson's description of having students back at school for the first time in a year and a half as "pure magic" ("Back-to-school in Beaverton brings mixed emotions," Sept. 8, 2021).

Read our story on the first day of school in Beaverton, published online Sept. 8, 2021.

My daughter was eager to return to Rock Creek Elementary, and I credit her readiness to her participation in Beaverton School District's summer learning program — Camp Achieve.

Camp Achieve is more than reading and math. Students engage in social and emotional interactions — especially important after last year's distance learning.

Like all parents, I did my best to support my child during distance learning, but there is no replacement for being around peers.

From African drumming to basketball to art, Camp Achieve students were exposed to learning in a way that made them look forward to school starting in September. During her weeks at Camp Achieve, I watched my daughter's confidence return, and I knew she was prepared to return to the classroom.

As a parent in the Beaverton School District, I want to do everything I can to make a difference in the lives of my daughter's peers. I recently joined the Beaverton Education Foundation (BEF) Board so that I could do more.

From after-school programs for middle school students, to more books in school libraries, to technology support for families with connectivity challenges, BEF supports programs big and small to fill in gaps in district funding. Camp Achieve is one fitting example of BEF's commitment to finding solutions.

Nearly a decade ago, Camp Achieve started as a summer program at one elementary school with support from a BEF grant. This summer, Camp Achieve put the magic back into education for thousands of our children.

Chanel Sheragy, Rock Creek

Pass national voting rights legislation

I am angry, totally disgusted with all members of the House of Representatives and the Senate that refuse to vote for the right-to-vote bill (the For the People Act).

This is supposed to be a democracy, a form of government that is based upon all citizens having a right to vote. If getting reelected is more important than preserving our democracy, I say that now is the time to pass term limits and get rid of the dead wood in Congress.

It is not unreasonable to have voting by mail, multiple days to hold our elections, drive-by voting and automatic voter registration.

What are the Republicans afraid of?

Gary L. Hollen, Southwest Portland


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