Letters to the Editor: April 29, 2016

The price is right

I support the upcoming school bond proposal because it’s the right proposal at the right time.

Like many McMinnville residents, I felt conflicted about whether improving existing schools or building a new high school would better serve kids in my neighborhood.

I think valid points have been made for and against the upcoming school bond. Having reviewed the arguments, I believe approving the bond is the right move for several reasons.

First, anyone who has walked around McMinnville High knows the facilities need to be improved. Investing in things like infrastructure, roads, bridges and schools is not optional if we are going to grow and thrive as a community.

Secondly, the price is right. I agree with those who would like to do it right and spend the big money to build what is needed. And I would vote for it.

But I am also pretty sure my fellow voters would not tax themselves to that extent. So I have to hope that retro-fitting existing facilities to carry on, which will maintain the current tax burden, will have a chance for success.

Lastly, the bond measure will provide a new facility that would house manufacturing and fabrication, engineering, construction and horticulture labs, focusing on high-wage jobs that are in high demand in the mid-valley.

Having served 20 years in the military, I’m familiar with sacrifice. I cannot think of a more worthy sacrifice than improving the lives and education of our children. We need to come together, and it begins by voting to support the 2016 school bond.

Philip DeMontigny



Vote for the future

I write in support of McMinnville School District’s bond measure.

As a member on the district’s Long-Term Facilities Task Force, I volunteered to make sure that tax dollars would be spent effectively. Unlike many tax initiatives, which promise that sending money to Salem will “Save Our Schools,” this measure actually will. This bond is our money that will stay in our community, be spent on our facilities and protect our children and investments. The task force toured schools, climbed onto roofs, looked at and under floors, boiler rooms, bathrooms, classrooms and hallways. We have proposed maintenance costs for mechanical parts and structures that are well past their useful lives.

In addition to these repairs, we will protect our children with enhanced safety and security upgrades, all while enhancing energy efficiency. The district kept its promise not to come back to voters until they retired an existing bond. As a result, we are able to make these important investments without changing our tax rate.

The bond also honors the choice of voters in 2007 and continues the renovation of the high school, providing future flexibility, classrooms, library, music facilities and a vocational technical center.

Companies historically open new locations to be near the resources needed for their businesses. Today, qualified workers are the resource. With the bypass addressing transportation issues and current high performance by our schools and students, the future for long-term economic and community health is taking shape.

We can help it by saying yes to this measure.

Steve Patterson



Build new school

I, for one, have been reading all the propaganda put out by the school district on its upcoming bond drive.

I support schools in all their endeavors. We need to upgrade our schools. There is no doubt. One thing I disagree with is another remodel on our high school.

It is time for a new high school. We are out of room. We have an auditorium that is too small. Parking is still limited. We are very short on athletic fields for soccer, baseball and football practice. The school district owns around 120 acres of unused prime real estate and is trying to buy more.

We could sell a lot of the property and fund part of a new high school that would have everything on one campus. Right now, tennis,softball and baseball are all off campus.

It will be three years to remodel the school. That’s not to fair to the kids. Let’s do what’s right for the kids and forget this bond and come together and build a new one-campus school.

Jim Hurl



A pig with lipstick?

Again we are asked to pass another school bond. This one’s for $89.9 million and will be used mainly for the high school. But they say it will also be used for other projects.

The district wants to build a freestanding vocational/technical building to give the kids a head start. Will this only benefit the kids who can afford to pay for the class materials and so forth? Why would you want to build this new building when we already have colleges and trade schools?

Is it another way to get more money?

As a taxpayer, this burden is getting heavier and heavier. How is this fair for property owners when others don’t have to pay their fair share? This is like the pig with lipstick on it.

As a retired person, my wife and I would like to sell our house and leave McMinnville because we cannot keep paying and paying. Vote no on this bond. The district needs to sharpen its pencil and try again.

Jim Mayes



Give students space

Please vote yes on the upcoming McMinnville School District bond.

We have been involved for the past two and a half years with the community task force that has thoughtfully and prudently looked at how to upgrade aging facilities, incorporate safety and security measures and provide high school students with the needed space for vocational/technical education and career exploration.

Energy costs are one of a school district’s highest expenses after personnel. This bond measure would allow the district to implement efficient and current cost-saving measures.

In addition, this bond also provides for a safer and more secure learning environment. Alarm systems will be replaced, door access controls installed and security cameras and emergency communication systems upgraded.

We need to prepare our students for the living-wage, high-demand jobs of the future.

This bond will not increase the tax rate due to a retiring bond and an increased tax base.

Janis Braich and Barbara Carter



He’ll listen for a change

So often in the last couple of years, I have been disappointed by the activities of the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners.

They seem to squabble with their constituents over myriad issues. Agendas seem hard for average folks to obtain in advance. Meetings are at inconvenient times for the average citizen. Commissioners vote against supporting state laws (as opposed to voting on an issue actually in their purview) and debate whether or not they should pray.

Needless to say, I was very happy to hear Rick Olson was running for county commissioner. I have attended a number of McMinnville City Council meetings over which he has presided as mayor.

He is measured in his approach to subjects. He patiently and intently listens to all positions and asks appropriate questions. When a topic is related to something over which there was a ballot measure somewhat related (i.e. local marijuana regulations), he cites ballot results locally on the topic.

I have never been able to tell what his personal views are on an issue. He seems to weigh all sides. If we elect Rick Olson as county commissioner, it is a start to get effective county government.

Denise Murphy



Time for fresh air

Do you wish we had county commissioners who are willing to meet and listen to their constituents so they can serve the public interest? During my last eight years working on a county-wide issue, none (with a single exception) of them have ever been willing to meet with me. Instead, excuses and stonewalling have been their tactics. This is not “government by the people” or “for the people.”

Elected officials are public servants. To do their job well, respect, listening and transparency need to be high priorities. Their personal attitudes and prejudices must be put aside. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Yamhill County, where citizens are routinely belittled at public meetings and forums, specifically by Allen Springer, and there is no transparency. We need a change,

Rick Olson, a candidate for county commissioner, is a welcome breath of fresh air. His governing principles include honesty, integrity, transparency and, above all, listening to all sides of an issue. In his past eight years as mayor of McMinnville, Rick has served us well.

In addition to governing a successful city, he also has experience in financial and planning matters. His résumé fits the job description.

Susan Meredith



He picks right battles

I attended a recent forum for candidates running for Yamhill County commissioner. Very enlightening.

One candidate, belligerent and aggressive, verbally attacked his opponent with personal name-calling. This same person then went on to describe how he found God by the McMinnville airport.

However, Rick Olson, the opposing candidate, took the high road and did not enter into contentious debate. Olson focused on the issues that face Yamhill County right now: economic development, attracting family wage jobs, communicating with county residents.

Yamhill County residents are fortunate to have the opportunity to elect Rick Olson for county commissioner, a reasonable person who listens, communicates well and will act on their behalf.

Marilyn Walster



Farmers’ rights? Really?

County Commissioner Allen Springer,

I was reading the voters’ pamphlet this weekend, and I see one of your major selling points is property rights.

How is it that you are a major proponent of property rights when one of your biggest pet projects is removing land from the private sector and giving it to a public entity (i.e. Yamhelas Trail)?

You also mention farmers’ rights. Putting a public trail right through the middle of multiple farms does not speak highly of your support of farmers’ rights. The Oregon Farm Bureau has stated they are against the trail, but you take the opposite position of tens of thousands of Oregon farmers and ranchers.

I think you might want to change your property rights statement to something that says you support the wants of the non-residents of the county over the rights of our county farmers and taxpayers. Or did you mean to say you support the rights of the government to own more land?

I also see you say you support taxpayer rights. I am a Yamhill County taxpayer, and as you continue to support the removal of private property from the tax rolls and attempt to add a huge sucking tax liability to the county, I have been waiting for the increase in property taxes to pay for it.

How much in county funds have you voted to waste on the trail? This does not seem to be a position of a guy that has taxpayer rights in mind.

If you were a proponent of taxpayer and property rights, you would say this trail should be purchased by a private entity and operated as a profitable business instead of forcing the liability onto the taxpayer and landowners of Yamhill county.

Chris Mattson



He’s the one

Rick Olson has served the city well as its mayor for the last eight years. He has provided strong leadership in economic development. He has also led technological improvements for the city that have enabled the city to cut costs and increase efficiency.

Rick knows the community he serves and is a willing listener to citizen concerns and ideas. He knows almost everyone he meets by name. He has become a respected state leader with his broad knowledge, enthusiasm for local government and more than 30 years of civic service to our community.

Kellie Menke



Seize opportunity

The Yamhill-Carlton School District is asking for approval of a bond to improve school facilities. I’m voting yes.

Our schools need updating. The district polled the voters and listened to what they said. It has whittled things back and has prioritized the items listed in the bond.

Yamhill-Carlton will receive a one-time $4 million-dollar grant from the state of Oregon if we pass this bond. This is money the district will not have to pay back. If the taxpayers fail to approve this bond, that money will go to the next school district in line. Let’s not lose those dollars.

I graduated from Yamhill-Carlton, and so did our children. It saddens me to see infrastructure repairs coming out of the operating budget, which should be used to educate the children in our communities.

Maryalice Pfeiffer



Keep schools alive

This May 17, Yamhill-Carlton schools are trying to keep their district alive.

School facilities are in a drastic state of disrepair. The bond would allow modern heating, electric and roof improvements to happen. The low-cost dome design for a new gym would also allow the facility to become a community shelter in a time of natural disaster. Security and technical services would also be updated in the schools.

It’s not unusual when a school bond comes up in the Yamhill-Carlton schools to hear some people say they don’t want to vote for a school bond because they don’t have kids in the schools. Here’s the downside of that viewpoint: When schools are condemned and shut down in 10 years or less by the State of Oregon, our students will be forced to go to other school districts, perhaps McMinnville or Forest Grove. Our residents will then pay taxes to those districts. So when a new bond is floated in McMinnville, Yamhill-Carlton residents will pay for it. But none of the improvements or new structures will be in our community. Residents will pay for improvements and new structures in our neighboring communities.

Let’s be smarter than that and improve our own facilities this year and prevent the condemnation of our schools.

Steve and Jane Harloff



He does us justice

When it comes to protecting the citizens of Yamhill County, there is more to the criminal justice team than just the sheriff’s office.

An important partner on that team is District Attorney Brad Berry. Over the last 16 years, I have had the opportunity to work with Berry on several different levels.

When I was a deputy, he was always willing to mentor me when it came to tough investigations and the writing of search warrants. As I became a narcotic K-9 handler, he continued his mentoring when it came to search-and-seizure case law.

Throughout my career, I have identified several excellent qualities in Berry when it comes to his leadership. Berry has always been professional. He serves with integrity and truly cares about the protection of our citizens through responsible prosecution of criminals.

Berry has represented our county honorably with his service in the state-wide District Attorneys Association. He has also represented our state at the national level while serving on committees.

While doing all this work, his dedication to our county has never wavered. His success in these organizations and the leadership qualities he possesses reinforces why I support him. Yamhill County has benefitted from his service over the years and he is, without a doubt, the right choice moving forward.

Tim Svenson



A voice for victims

What a shame it would be for Brad Berry to not be re-elected district attorney.

I have known Brad since he came to Yamhill County as a brand-new deputy DA. I have been able to watch Brad develop because my career has been providing advocacy for crime victims, starting in 1979 at the Yamhill County DA’s office, followed by 12 at the Oregon Department of Justice Crime Victims’ office and, since retirement, as a CASA.

I have watched closely what goes on in the DA’s offices across the state. It makes me proud to have a well-respected professional prosecutor who has chosen to make prosecution his career rather than to use that position as a stepping stone, as so often happens in other counties.

Brad has consistently maintained a strong victim-assistance program, and it remains one of his top priorities and one of the best programs in the state.

Yes, I know he is out of the office once in awhile, and thankfully so. He may be testifying at the Legislature for passage of a bill that will ease the plight of crime victims or in Washington, D.C., learning about new grant funds and new developments and best practices.

Wherever he is, he is always professional and a wonderful representative of Yamhill County. A vote for Brad Berry is a vote supporting crime victims.

MaryEllen Johnson



Let justice be served

I am pleased to see Alicia Eagan is still running for district attorney against incumbent Brad Berry.

I have been waiting for 16 years to see an end to Berry’s reign. I believe he’s part of a justice system that lets down seniors and the disabled in Yamhill County and the rest of the state.

My father was the second victim of the Sheridan Care Center death cases in 1997 and 1998. My experience led me to believe that Berry has not always been supportive of our most vulnerable community members. I believe a fresh look at the evidence from the first investigation would have an extremely different outcome if put before a jury.

There needs to be a new DA to do so and provide much-needed justice and closure for the people involved.

I hope community members give Eagan all the support they can, no matter what has been said against her by her colleagues, and give her a chance to share her vision for improving the justice system in our county. Yamhill County needs a new voice to defend the rights of its people. I believe Alicia Eagan is that voice.

Alecia Juber



A matter of respect

Several years ago, I saw Mayor Rick Olson interact with some disgruntled citizens airing a grievance that had nothing to do with McMinnville city issues.

Olson politely interacted with them and skillfully diffused what could have been a very confrontational situation.

When it was my turn to talk, I was struck by the mayor’s manner. He and I had never spoken previously. I had no idea how he, or anyone else on the city council, felt about the topic that brought me to the meeting.

Olson’s unfailing politeness and demeanor made it easy for me to say my piece. It was obvious that he set a positive tone for the entire city council. I never knew if he agreed with me. He appeared interested and knew it wasn’t appropriate to disagree with whatever a concerned citizen was saying.

That city council meeting stood in stark contrast to the many Yamhill County hearings and meetings I’ve attended. At some of those meetings, I’ve been shocked to see Commissioner Allen Springer argue with citizens.

County commissioners are paid a good salary to serve all their constituents and to keep their ideology to themselves. This, unfortunately, has not been the case over the last few years.

Yamhill County needs a commissioner like Rick Olson. He will impartially weigh information and make an informed decision only after he has heard all the facts from all sides of an issue. He will not promote the extreme anti-government agenda we see on the board.

Olson has worked hard as mayor of McMinnville. I have seen first hand how he treats his constituents with respect. We need a county commissioner who treats everyone fairly, respectfully and impartially.

Ilsa Perse



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