Letters to the Editor: May 6, 2016

Bond needed

In choosing to send a bond to the people of McMinnville, the district’s long-range planning committee and the school board kept fiscal responsibility front and center in the process. For that reason, this new bond will not increase current tax levels, as it replaces two retiring district bonds.

Building a new high school was seriously considered, but the price tag was so high it would have required a hike in the tax rate and leave us with a smaller high school than the one planned. The board felt that was not a good deal for taxpayers.

The plan chosen by the school board will give taxpayers the biggest return on investment. It allows the high school to gradually grow to a size that remains manageable, but keeps the efficiency that comes with having a single school administration for years to come. The need for improved vocational education is also recognized as a priority. Many students do not choose an advanced college education after high school, and the district’s efforts to give such student a running start into vocational jobs will be greatly enhanced by enlarged space for training in the mechanical and construction fields.

The bond will also allow the district to bring several schools up to a higher level of energy efficiency and improve safety and instructional capabilities for students. All in all, this bond gives the community an excellent bang for the buck, and deserves our support.

Scott Gibson



A leader for a change

I wonder how many citizens today realize the importance of a county commissioner.

Just as the president leads our country and the governor leads our state, a commissioner is a leader of our county. The position of a county commissioner is vital to the welfare of the whole of our county and all of the communities within it. The citizens count on their commissioners to represent them in their best interest at all times.

Yet, sadly, in the past several years, there have been many, many citizens whose voices have been left out or intentionally ignored. Decisions have been made that have caused great dissention and distrust, when how easy it would have been to open the doors of dialogue, inclusivity and compassion.

This election gives the people of our good county the opportunity to raise our voices and choose a leader who will listen intently to citizens’ concerns and new ideas, a leader who will understand the importance of each community and the benefits that each one brings to the county, a leader who can be trusted and admired, and one with foresight to take us in a direction that brings unity, strength and prosperity.

Rick Olson has been that leader as he has served as mayor of McMinnville, and now we need his guidance for all of Yamhill County.

Liz Marlia-Stein



He’d be terrific

McMinnville Mayor Rick Olson will be a terrific Yamhill County commissioner.

Rick has proven himself to be receptive to listening and learning from area residents -- traits necessary for a more responsive county leadership. His opponent declares himself to be an independent thinker, my-way-or-the-highway kind of guy who does not have to explain his votes or actions.

This is an easy choice. Olson has vast experience, is a thoughtful decision maker and has the ability to fairly represent all the citizens of Yamhill County. He would provide a voice on the three-member board of commissioners that doesn’t exist today.

Ed Farrar



He’s a crimefighter

As a police officer and chief of police, I have worked with District Attorney Brad Berry for nearly 20 years. I can say with absolute certainty that Yamhill County law enforcement and our citizens have greatly benefited from his leadership as the district attorney. The district attorney’s office is well-organized, efficient and responsive. Police officers work very closely with the DA’s office and when we need assistance or a reference, the DA or a deputy DA is always available and provides the professional support and information necessary for success. Berry has been responsible for developing or assisting in the creation of many mission-critical law enforcement task forces, such as the Major Crimes Response Team, Domestic Violence Investigation Team and implementing the requirements of Senate Bill 111, which requires mandatory protocols for officer-involved deadly use of force cases. The importance of a positive and effective relationship between law enforcement and the district attorney’s office cannot be overstated. Berry has been a significant factor in building a productive collaboration with law enforcement, which has advanced the safety and well-being of Yamhill County. Please join me and vote YES for our District Attorney Brad Berry.

Brian Casey



‘Nuff said

The News-Register endorsed Rick Olson for Yamhill County commissioner April 29. The Newberg Graphic did, too (April 27). If you still need to know why your vote should be for Rick Olson, read either or both of these endorsements.

Susan Karp



Mouthful of mush

I would like to thank Beth Rankin for her April 22 letter regarding county commission candidate Allen Springer.

I concur with her observations from the candidate forum, which I also attended, but would like to add two points: The first is that Springer opened his comments with an attack on his opponent rather than any statement as to his own qualifications.

Only near the end of this session, after several more attacks on Olson, did the moderator remind him that this was a candidates’ forum, not a debate. Second, Springer chewed gum throughout the session. That may seem a trivial point, but this was the political equivalent of a job interview, and I don’t know any employer who would hire an applicant who chewed gum throughout such an interview.

It indicates an attitude of contempt for the interviewer (in this case, the audience), the proceedings and the employer (the people of Yamhill County). For that matter, starting a job interview by badmouthing a competing applicant is also not a very good way to endear you to a prospective boss or employer.

Most egregiously, Springer displayed either ignorance or a hope that his audience was ignorant by making a patently false statement about the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In response to a question about prayer in county commission meetings that referenced the separation of church and state as established in the First Amendment, Springer stated that the separation of church and state was not established by the First Amendment. In fact, the amendment opens with the words: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Springer could read these words for himself. Supreme Court decisions down through the years have upheld the separation of church and state based on them.

Peter McGraw



He brings us together

When we first moved to McMinnville, I contacted the mayor and indicated we were brand-new constituents who would like to learn more about our city by taking him to dinner.

To my surprise, Mayor Rick Olson accepted, but refused our offer to pay because of state ethics restrictions forbidding paying an official’s expenses.

So we went Dutch. He impressed us that first night with his integrity, but also regaled us with his charm, friendliness, brightness, knowledge, even modesty. I’ve discovered it’s always a delight to be in Rick Olson’s presence, no matter what role he’s in at the moment.

Still, an official needs to be more than a just good person. As a taxpayer, I’ve closely watched his administration over the years and continue to be impressed.

He not only seems a trustworthy guardian of the public purse, but, much more importantly and so very rare anymore, he’s proven to have talent for bringing people together and finding ways to avoid bitter divisiveness even on tough problems.

Watch him in action during council meetings if you have doubts. He’s been so nonpartisan, so non-divisive in governing, that I didn’t even know what party he was until very recently.

Cooperation, conciliation, compromise and consensus building are not curse words to him. When was the last time you spotted an elected official actively looking for what we have in common rather than emphasizing what separates us?

I wish I could say the same for my observations of his opponent. While Allen Springer, like Mayor Olson, seems intelligent and hardworking, this county is a community and needs more ways to work together if it hopes to remain successful. I wish Springer had the same gift and inclination as Olson for uniting us.

Charles Hillestad



On top of Mount Springer

Driving up and down Highway 18 from Sheridan, my attention is directed to the sleek red-and-black Allen Springer signs posted along the route.

Today I noted that sets of them, back-to-back, bracket the dump. It occurs to me that this presents two opportunities May 18: Either the task of clearing them out and adding them to the mountain of garbage will be much easier this election year, or there will be the option of volunteers to scale the pile and with a shout of “Excelsior!” and those signs, claiming the high ground for it’s proper namesake.

Perhaps the ceremony will begin and end with Bible readings. Mount Springer will always be there as a marvel and a reminder of our county commissioner.

Across the road, and in a much better position from which to observe the growing mass, is a Rick Olson sign. If you want to get a better perspective, take a look from there.

Tom Lenon



Always on the job

I strongly endorse Brad Berry in his re-election bid as the district attorney of Yamhill County.

I’ve worked professionally with Brad as a fellow department head at Yamhill County for more than 20 years. I’ve watched him serve the citizens of our entire county with energy and enthusiasm. Brad has aggressively implemented advanced technology to increase efficient operations in the district attorney’s office.

On several occasions, I have had to communicate with Brad outside of work hours, on nights and weekends regarding work issues. He is always on the job, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It made no difference where he was or what he was doing.

Even if he wasn’t immediately available for some reason, he always got back to me in a matter of minutes. My contacts around the state consistently had praise and respect for Brad. He is a highly professional district attorney, and I believe that he has served our citizens extremely well.

I worked with him as a team member on the progressive Evidenced-Based Decision Making Initiative. As a key member of that team, he had the ability to think at a high level and look for ways to improve the prosecution of criminals, without compromising his responsibility to ensure safe communities.

Murray Paolo



Bond for the future

Why vote for the Yamhill-Carlton School bond?

The State of Oregon has provided four million reasons. Yamill-Carlton has been awarded a $4 million grant to be added to the $14.2 million raised by this bond. We were very fortunate to receive this grant, but will only get it if this measure passes. The improvements to be made include enhanced school security. Our campuses are now wide open. In this day and age, this is just not acceptable.

The buildings are in dire need of repair. As prudent owners, we need to maintain our investment, and that is not possible without a bond.

We are spending far too much out of our operating budget for repair, maintenance and high utility bills that should be being spent on staff and supplies for education.

Improvements to science and career/technical education facilities will improve the opportunities available to our children.

The administration and school board took a close look at community response following the failure of the previous bond and acted accordingly, tailoring the current measure to the wishes of the community. It is a reasonable compromise.

My children have attended Yamhill-Carlton schools during the last 15 years. I have volunteered in the schools and seen the skill and dedication of the staff. I also saw the condition of the buildings, mechanical systems and classrooms. It is time to step up and improve the learning environment.

After graduation in June, I will no longer have children in these schools. Nonetheless, I will be voting for the school bond to support our community.

John Donehoo



Vote today without delay

We’ve received our ballots in the mail, but many of us think there’s no point in voting now. The real election is in November, right?


Our local elections (the ones that most affect us) are happening right now.

These races are nonpartisan, and with only two candidates running, whoever wins in May, wins. Period.

There are three of these races in Yamhill County: County commissioner, assessor and district attorney. Each of these is crucial to a viable County government that serves its citizens well. Each race deserves your attention.

For commissioner, I like Rick Olson. He has ably led McMinnville, first as a council member and now mayor, developing a reputation as a solid leader who listens to and respects both citizens and fellow officials. A Navy veteran who understands the value of planning, Olson knows that we must invest in and protect our environment for our agricultural county to succeed economically. Olson will pay attention to the needs of the entire county and will not bully or belittle citizens who disagree with him.

The assessor’s office must continue to upgrade and modernize, so my vote goes to Derrick Wharff. Wharff, the county’s chief appraiser, is experienced and professional and will keep the assessor’s office moving forward.

As Yamhill County’s longtime district attorney, Brad Berry has earned the respect of his peers and others in the legal and public safety fields that the DA must work with closely. I see no reason not to re-elect Berry.

You may have your own opinions, but your preferences won’t count for anything if you wait for November. Vote now!

Susan Watkins



Horse with no name

Mount Springer... perfect.

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