Letters to the Editor: June 23, 2017

A holistic curriculum

The horticulture program at McMinnville High School is much more holistic than indicated by its most commonly understood definition as “the study of plants.”
The horticulture program teaches students the art, science, technology and business of agriculture through hands-on experience. It also gives them a unique community perspective and career-focused coursework. Acknowledging one’s roots is what creates a successful community.

To do this, one must be provided with the necessary educational opportunities that focus on the important local and regional industries. Allowing students access to tools for success in their communities not only augments their future, but the future of the community.

As a four-year student in the horticulture program and a past vice president and treasurer of the McMinnville Chapter of FFA, I am very disappointed to be informed of the proposed discontinuation of the horticulture program.

By losing this program, we widen the gap between the food we eat, the people who grow this food and the mechanisms and procedures that they use. We remove the important hands-on learning experiences that facilities such as the greenhouse, raised bed gardens and landscaping projects offer to students who need these outlets of creativity, hard work and visible progress.

By closing McMinnville High School’s horticulture program, we are closing a student’s ability to understand the world that doesn’t manifest itself within concrete buildings or behind a desk — the world of horticulture and agriculture that is so pointedly shut out of the lives of so many, but that plays an integral part in the lives of everyone.

There have been so many futures turned around by the horticulture program and by Kerry Naylor’s ability to teach students not just the basics of plant science, but the passion, relationships and community that this area of study thrives on.

Whitney Rich



Polluting our county

In what read like an advertorial June 9, Paul Burns did his best to justify having millions of tons of rotting waste at Riverbend Landfill. His comments included phrases such as we/Waste Management “protect the environment” and practice “environmental compliance.”

However, there is nothing about Riverbend that protects the environment. In fact, it is just the opposite. Riverbend generates a significant amount of air pollutants, including methane and CO2. It creates noxious odors that take your breath away and presents a huge seismic hazard. Stormwater runoff pollutes adjacent creeks, and toxic substances contaminate groundwater.

The landfill also generates nearly 40 million gallons of leachate (polluted liquid) annually that has to be trucked off site for treatment. Just exactly what aspect of this qualifies as “protecting the environment”?

Because of the threat that leachate contamination poses to groundwater aquifers, DEQ requires biannual testing of groundwater compliance wells located across the site to assure leachate is not leaking into groundwater.

Leachate presence is evaluated by testing for specific compounds. Each of these compounds has a permitted limit. If sampling data shows three or more compounds exceeding their limits, that is a DEQ violation and an investigation is launched.

The groundwater sampling data in May 2016 showed four compounds above their limits in a compliance well. DEQ opened an official investigation at Riverbend. By November, the number of compounds above their limits had risen to six. The DEQ investigation continues today, with no results expected until early next year.

In the interim, it is reasonable to conclude that leachate is present in groundwater at Riverbend and flowing down-gradient into the river.

When Mr. Burns touted their “environmental compliance,” he must have momentarily forgotten that Riverbend is out of compliance.

Frank Mitchell



California dumping?

Paul Burns’ job is to spin the upside of expanding the leaking Riverbend Landfill along the banks of our river for his Texas company, Waste Management.
Mr. Burns’ latest corporate threat is that Waste Management will keep the landfill open twice as long as previously planned because it has lost many of its large clients, thus leaving landfill space fallow to be filled slowly over time by a trickle of trash. But what he failed to detail is why Riverbend’s clients left and who the landfill now serves.

Half the fill loss is from Portland/Metro, which is boycotting Riverbend because of its environmental problems and because it found leaving Riverbend has very little effect on their citizens’ garbage rates.

Another quarter loss of the capacity was filled by Newberg’s SP Newsprint no longer in business. The city of McMinnville (aka the “host community”) plans to boycott Riverbend and run its trash (as well of all west county) through a transfer station to another landfill at a competitive rate.

Many of the coastal communities and Columbia County have left Riverbend because they get better disposal costs at other landfills. Newberg is temporarily sending its trash to Coffin Butte in Corvallis.

So, here is my speculation. Now that the trash flow from Riverbend’s nearby Oregon clients has dried up, Riverbend will be forced (if it stays open) to import trash from as far away as California to stay profitable. You laugh? The Oregon desert landfills are already importing California trash.

The county commissioners may very well have set McMinnville up to be exploited as the host of a California-laden trash dump owned by a Texas company.
The commissioners always said we needed to expand Riverbend for county use.

Ramsey McPhillips



Give us incentives

Two of our largest issues weakening our country today revolve around health care and the loss of manufacturing to foreign countries.

It is not unusual to see state or federal tax breaks to offer incentives for a company to keep a plant local. General Electric recently decided to move a plant to Canada. One major incentive was that they do not have to supply health insurance to their employees — no cost, no negotiating a rate, no managing the paperwork, etc.

Presently, individual states are working on plans to supply health care to their citizens. Why give tax breaks if we can provide incentives by helping our own citizens? California is planning a 2.3 percent sales tax to fund statewide health insurance. Nevada is planning on having Medicare as an option in the health exchange.

Both of these plans are very basic with relatively high deductibles, but individuals can buy supplemental insurance at a much more reasonable rate (or not, if they wish). Once these go into effect, how many companies will then choose to stay or move to these states?

Robin Zimmerman



Bypass the bypass

Long-time readers of the News-Register will remember I never supported the $223 million bypass for Dundee. There were so many options back in l990s to improve traffic in Dundee’s 11 blocks, including a roadway similar to the one in Newberg.

But the hype that some kind of bypass was urgently needed created the fishhook to build a two-lane road around 11 blocks in Dundee, dumping traffic south of Newberg and away from Highway 99W.

Highway l8 remains a two- to four-lane bottleneck between McMinnville and Newberg. No one knows how much traffic will be diverted with the new, expensive, two-lane so-called bypass.

Congestion will continue throughout Yamhill County and Oregon. The answer is not always new construction. Maintaining, repairing and expanding existing lanes is needed. New bridges are needed. Even McMinnville needs one. Those who continue to support the old outdated design around Newberg should realize that times have changed.

I still have hope that common sense will replace hype, and no more needed transportation dollars are spent on this expensive project.

Merilyn Reeves



Column misses mark

Jeb Bladine’s June 16 Whatchamacolumn about “Americans in the dark on health care law” starts off strong but finishes off-task and misleading.

Specifically, Bladine ends his column saying, “It’s tit for tat world in Washington: Democrats rammed the Affordable Care Act down our throats without a single Republican vote, and now it appears Republicans may return the favor.”

In his summation, he apparently misses the point of his own arguments. The majority of the column is not about who has the majority of votes, but how the Republicans are secretly planning and scheming to craft a law with no input from anywhere. When the Democrats negotiated the ACA, they did so with transparency and input from all stakeholders.

I don’t take exception to majority rule. That’s how laws are made -- and sometimes unmade. The side with the votes will prevail. I do, however, object to making laws in secrecy.

Cameron Urnes



Keep horticulture

After our community passed a huge education bond targeted to restore vocational education classes in the McMinnville School District, I would like someone to please explain to me why horticulture is being cut from the high school curriculum.

With our successful wine and nursery industries and the growing agricultural production in and around McMinnville, what sensible reason was there in making this decision? Why are the administration, budget committee and school board cutting programs that bring diversity and wholeness to our students’ education?

Horticulture is an integral part of vocational education, especially in our agriculturally-based region.

Liz Marlia-Stein


Deep disappointment

The voters of the district passed a very large school bond issue in support of increasing and promoting technical career education and training. We now find out that they have eliminated the education and training for the No. 1 technical career in Yamhill County and the McMinnville School District.

We are all very deeply disappointed and distressed over this very bad decision making that was obviously done behind closed doors and without any public input from the agricultural community in the school district. Had any research been done, this would have been the last program to be cut.

If you do your research, the growing of plants in the county is both the leading employer and the leading group of taxpayers. It is astounding that this group should be singled out for this action. Nurseries, vineyards as well as food and seed production are vital to the county economy and quality of life.

Thousands of jobs in the county rely on the growth of plants, more than any other technical skill needed.

As this was done without any prior notice, our collective resources were unable to prevent this disaster and we now must use public opinion to have this decision reversed. This decision also has signs of racism, as the primary group being singled out is the Hispanic population, most of whom are employed in horticulture-related occupations.

Alan Wenner




To all the people who wrote letters to the editor about the horticulture program being cut,hold on to your hats because this is going to happen in a lot more places in our school district. I believe the people running this district will cut many more things before it is over. They had a very large amount of money to spend and are doing a poor job of doing it. They are spending 50 million on a high school that had no plans or bids before they started. It was just a concept and a number. With the money they have already thrown away on the Palace at Cook Scool and the old Greystone building on Lafayette Avenue they will come up short on money for students. The Greystone building was made to sound like it was move in ready. It's been re-roofed,gutted and a new building is being built behind it. So if you want to see why they are cutting programs drive down Lafayette Avenue and see how our tax money is being wasted.

Don Dix

Cameron Urnes wrote -- "The majority of the column is not about who has the majority of votes, but how the Republicans are secretly planning and scheming to craft a law with no input from anywhere."

Travel back to March 2010 -- Nancy Pelosi commenting on the proposed Obamacare: "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it" No secretes there, eh?


Don... so it was a bad idea then, but ok now?..... that's a pretty weak justification of the processes.....

Don Dix

tagup -- Please point to where where I wrote anything was justified.

The fact is the Ds were all about 'secrecy' in 2010 when ObamaCare was on the table (until it passed), with Rs screaming lack of transparency. In 2017 the positions are reversed, and apparently the Ds have developed amnesia.

A quick summation of how partisan politics undermines government operations is much like two stubborn kids arguing ad infinitum -- 'yes you did' -- 'no I didn't' -- and the public usually gets screwed one way or another. Neither party can ever truthfully claim the high ground, but the low road is always in gridlock. Hard to find any sanity there!

Reporter Starla Pointer

In reference to Jim's comment ... the operational budget, which funds programs, is separate from the money used for building and remodeling. Yes, the district did dip into some of its savings for the Baker Field project; and yes, it also plans to use $1 million plus of savings to keep from cutting even more programs next year. Also, I'm glad to see parents and other supporters stand up for programs in which they believe.


Don: The Democrats spent nearly an entire year holding open public hearings on their bill. They invited in all interested private sector parties to get their input. They circulated every new version to all members of the Congress and all outside parties. They consider more than 100 Republican amendments, and gave every one of them full due process treatment. Everything was totally open and above board, and Republicans were offered every opportunity to participate fully, as was the public.

This is is a middle of the night railroad job. No comparison at all. To claim the GOP is treating its bill the same way the Democrats did is false to the point of being ludicrous.



Starla I'm curious to know the number on the Cook School and Greystone remodel that came out of the asset reserve fund or any other fund that was not grant or bond money. I also know that operating the district does not come out of bond money. It looks like cuts are already starting to me on building things. The so called field house for PE while the gyms are tore down won't hold 40 kindergarten kids let alone 40 high school kids. They could have left the gym at Cook School for the kids during the remodel instead a board meeting room. I'm still baffled by the lack of planning to take care of our kids.

Don Dix


The Ds made all kinds of deals in secret (Louisiana, Nebraska, Massachusetts, Montana, Connecticut, Vermont ... just to name a few). The Senate passed the bill on Dec. 24. 2009 @ 7:00 A.M. Effectively, there was not much attention due to the holiday season (kinda' resembles a 'middle of the night railroad job').

It's also clear (from a news video) that even Obama did not know what was in the bill just days before the vote in Congress. He also promised to put the bill online before the House vote. Didn't happen.

And then enter Nancy Pelosi's explanation to the public. If, as you claim, everything 'was totally open and above board', why did she feel a need to pass the bill so others could realize the contents? Nancy refused to comment otherwise.

Under these circumstances, it would be a real stretch to claim any individual that wasn't part of the process actually knew what was entailed in the bill if the President himself was in the dark.

This bill was 20,000 pages (9625 pages of rules) ... and before it was passed, the public knew what was in it? Really?


Steve, you are more well read than the average person. Did you know what was in the ACA before it was passed? The members of Congress didn't.


The ACA was a massive undertaking and because of political pressures was rushed even with the amount of time and numbers of hearings held. Actually many programs are so large that no one person will understand it fully. Did it have flaws, sure. It is a new concept for the U.S. Because no country have ever attempted this, everyone else has single payer because group insurance is just more efficient. That being said, after the implementation of the ACA there have been six years with Republican control in Congress where fixes could have been proposed and quite possibly implemented. Unfortunately, rather then fix the problems, an insistence that a full repeal was their only offer. Like a speeding car can be slowed and steered instead of just running it into a wall and try to buy a new car.

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