By editorial board • 

Citizens willing to act curb societal tragedies

The national news seems dominated by incidents of sick, evil or sadistic behavior on the part of someone somewhere. On better days, reports may be leavened with elements of mere graft, corruption and malfeasance, but that’s about as good as it gets.

Social media mobs seem best-suited to simply amplifying the clamor and extend its reach. It’s not much good as a source of solace.

We generally strike a better balance with hometown news — much better balance. Even locally, though, tales of wrongdoing abound. So it was gratifying to find two examples on last Friday’s front page of citizens rallying to help make local life a little safer and healthier, and perhaps avert a tragedy or two in the process.

We can claim some of the credit, as we played a big role in bringing needs to light and goading readers into constructive action.

As temperatures hovered in the high 90s early last month, maintenance workers began removing window AC units from apartments occupied by low-income seniors at three federally subsidized housing complexes. Declaring the units unsightly and unsafe, the complexes’ shared Portland landlord said it would henceforth be limiting tenants to portable units typically costing about $300.

Last Friday, the Yamhill Community Action Partnership announced creation of a new Elder Assistance Fund to address the problem. And warmhearted citizens quickly began funneling donations its way.

Meanwhile, Newberg resident Donny Lehmann decided he had heard about all the summer drownings he could stomach. So he teamed with friend Nathalie Hardy to amass a cache of life jackets and get a kiosk built at Rogers Landing to make jackets available to summer swimmers.

The kiosk project drew strong support from Yamhill County’s Board of Commissioners, Sheriff’s Office and Marine Patrol, which helped make it a reality. It was dedicated just two days after a June Newberg High grad lost his life in exactly the kind of tragedy the project is aimed at preventing.

Eighteen-year-old Brandt Hatch was attempting to swim the Clackamas River at McIver Park when he went under just 15 feet short of shore. Wearing a life jacket would almost certainly have saved his life.

Commissioner Stan Primozich commended Hardy, when she presented the plan to the county governing board, saying, “I think government works best when people provide the impetus.”

Indeed. And in both these instances, that was clearly the case. The call for action came from concerned citizens, who moved to marshal their own resources before asking governmental units and helping agencies to embrace the cause.

There is, of course, still plenty of time for others in the community to step up. YCAP has a donation form posted at, and it includes space where the cause can be identified. Meanwhile, Coast Guard-approved life jackets may be dropped off at Youth Outreach, Pitter Patter Children’s Consignment or First Methodist Church in Newberg, or China House in McMinnville. The project organizers have created a GoFundMe account for cash donations.



Whenever I get depressed and down about the current state of affairs in this country and the tragedy of lives lost in this county someone inevitably steps up and renews my faith in humanity. There are some really good people in Yamhill county and I'm proud to call this county my home.

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