By editorial board • 

Lively debate had all year in Readers Forum

More than 200 letters were printed in these pages in 2015. Dozens of topics were addressed, mostly local, with opinions on national and international issues sprinkled throughout.

Organizing the topics that generated the most letters includes some gray area, as many letters deal with multiple issues at hand. For example, several discussed local government, political ideology and religion all in one. With that noted, there were a handful of topics that clearly generated the most discussion — more than 20 letters for each topic — in the Viewpoints section. In no particular order:

Riverbend landfill — It’s no surprise that debate over the landfill was as heated as ever this year as the county commissioners approved a plan by owner Waste Management to expand the operation southwest of McMinnville on Highway 99W. The discourse was fueled by the growing opposition to the landfill by the McMinnville City Council, which went as far to reject a $15,000 community grant given to all Yamhill County cities by Waste Management. On a slightly different, waste-related note, the efforts of local Waste Zero champions attracted a few letters, as the group made a visual impact at many events throughout the year.

Firearms — Local debate on the Second Amendment and gun laws was sparked when the county commissioners passed a resolution opposing an extension of gun checks in the state. When the state legislature passed House Bill 941, requiring background checks on buyers in private gun sales, the county board said they would refuse to enforce the “unjust law.” Mass shootings in Roseburg, Paris and Southern California also sparked debate on the Second Amendment.

Religious ideology — Several topics are combined in this category as they all branch from religion. Locally, debate raged regarding invocations at the beginning of county commissioner meetings, sparking conversations about the separation of church and state. In June, same sex marriage was made legal nationwide. And around the country, businesses refusing to serve gay customers provided fodder for editorializing.

Political ideology — The clash between conservative and liberal beliefs touched on global issues like war and the errors of ways by the Democratic and Republican parties, but it was the celebration of the county’s “three-member conservative board” earning the most reaction from readers. …

Board of Commissioners — In case you missed the running theme of the previous four topics, it was the county commissioners who managed one of the most controversial years of Yamhill County governance in recent memory. The bulk of controversy was not on the policy side, however, but rather through resolutions and ideology. For those who love political theater, it was by far the best show in town.

On the next tier of most discussed topics in 2015, with around 10 letters each:

Homelessness — The topic was in the news early this year when a makeshift tent village was set up at a downtown church. The city of McMinnville held several community meetings to begin work on solutions for the local homeless problem. Later in the year, an application by the Yamhill County Gospel Rescue Mission was another controversial issue. Many ideas have been expressed, but few solutions exist at this point.

Elections — Even the minor elections generated plenty of letters to the editor. In May, nine readers submitted letters about the Carlton bond to pay for a new pool building, and six wrote in support of their favorite school board candidate.

Transportation — From downtown parking issues to complaints about drivers using cell phones, there were several issues regarding transportation during our daily lives discussed in the Viewpoints section.

Topics that garnered three to six letters include: the See Ya Later Foundation’s plan for a northwest McMinnville sports complex, marijuana legalization, vaccinations (sparked by a Yamhill-Carlton school’s decision to send unvaccinated students home), animal care, and vegetarianism. There was also a smattering of various state, national and international topics that local readers expressed their opinion about.

All in all, the discourse in our Readers Forum was once again outstanding, in our view. Few community newspapers our size have such a lively flow of letters to the editor. That fact certainly helped the Viewpoints section be awarded with top honors for best opinion section in both state and national competitions.

It’s no doubt this section would be of much less value without well-opinionated readers corresponding. Thanks to all who participate by reading, sending letters or commenting online. Keep it coming. And have a Happy New Year.



"Top honors"

Well done, N/R, keeping our community informed and involved.

Many thanks.

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