Letters to the editor: Nov. 27, 2020

Saving farms and forests

We need to set the record straight with the News-Register.

Last week’s editorial incorrectly stated that the city of McMinnville‘s proposed urban growth boundary amendment was the result of negotiation with 1000 Friends of Oregon and Friends of Yamhill County. That is not true.

We became aware of the current proposal for a UGB amendment at the same time the city staff presented it to the city council. Because, among other elements, the city’s current proposal better protects high value farmland than the 2003 proposal, we decided we would not oppose it.

Friends of Yamhill County is keenly aware that our local economy depends on these lands. Deciding to not oppose this proposal, which we first saw at the same time as the public, was not the result of “negotiation.”

We share the editorial’s perspective that McMinnville needs to address affordable housing. However, instead of embracing an expansion-at-all-costs mentality, we advocate for an approach that includes overall community affordability.

Building more affordable housing closer into town will create a more affordable community, by reducing the need to drive or own a second vehicle and avoiding use of taxpayer dollars to extend and maintain expensive infrastructure.

Oregon’s land use system was created because state lawmakers recognized that farm and forest land were becoming fractured, and that would undermine key pillars of the state’s economy. 1000 Friends works to hold local governments accountable to protect the working lands our state depends on to sustain thriving communities.

We do not “have our thumbs on the scale.” We do make sure that governments adequately consider how we can create truly affordable communities and protect a bedrock value of Oregonians — maintaining a high quality of life does not need to come at the expense of wasting Oregon’s farms, forests and natural areas.

Alexis Biddle

1000 Friends of Oregon

Kathryn Jernstedt

Friends of Yamhill County


Blatant mischaracterization

I was disappointed to read County Commissioner Mary Starrett’s blatant mischaracterization of the mask mandate (“Group asks Starrett to mask up,” Nov. 20). In response to being asked to wear a mask at county commission meetings, Commissioner Starrett refused, casting her position as an act of resistance against government overreach by exaggerating the mask mandate.

“We’re told we must wear masks forever and ever,” she said.

Really? Not a single public health official on the local, state, or national level has suggested that masks will be permanently required to limit the spread of the SARS-COV-2 virus.

Moreover, Commissioner Starrett cited a Danish study from back in April/May that concluded face coverings did not protect those wearing them from developing COVID-19.

This is a misrepresentation of the reason for wearing a mask. Public health officials have been stating for months now that the purpose of the mask is not to protect the wearer, but to protect people who come into contact with the wearer.

Given Commissioner Starrett’s reticence to protect public health, it’s a good thing the board is moving to virtual meetings next month.

Adrianne Santina



Check facts first

After recently moving to the Willamette Valley, I had my first chance to read the News-Register and enjoyed it. I took the opportunity to read all the many letters to the editor — a great way to get a sense of our community — and would like to comment on one in particular.

Writer James Crawford should take the opportunity to consult any number of fact-checking organizations. If he had done so, he could have avoided referring to Dominion Voting Systems as a foreign company with ties to the Clintons.

Dominion is a Spanish company with an American subsidiary whose software is used and trusted by many states across the country. It has no ties to the Clintons.

And, of course, Dominion was used in 2016 as well, when Donald Trump was elected by very close margins in many of the same states.

Additionally, Mr. Crawford referred to states allowing dead people and illegal aliens to vote.

Of course, the occasional person votes and then dies after sending their ballot in, but before election day. That happens to a minimal extent every election, and is one of the most common subjects of conspiracy theorists. The same is true of illegal aliens voting.

Fact-checking organizations would have given a set of facts to the writer.

If Mr. Crawford or anyone else would like to find fact-checking organizations that are graded highly for their lack of bias, here are some websites: snopes.com, politifact.com and factcheck.org. There are others as well.

To all on both sides of our divided political scene, please, please, please check facts before bringing allegations into our public discourse.

Chuck Morrison



Tireless dedication

With regard to Sandra Ponto’s letter about teachers complaining about their jobs: You must not know any teachers personally.

I am a recovering teacher, having taught four years each in North Carolina and Portland.

Teachers get paid 10 months out of the year, not 12. They are not paid for their 2 1/2 months off.

For some of my years, I worked from 7 to 7 Monday through Friday, then worked through the weekend to prepare for the coming week. During my planning period, I often had to cover other teachers’ classrooms, because there were no substitutes available.

During lunch, I had cafeteria duty. In the mornings and afternoons, I had bus duty.

I bought many of my own supplies. I also served as a track and cross country coach, which gave me a small stipend.

I’ve never met a teacher who didn’t work his or her heart out for their students, despite often being confronted with thankless parents like Sandra Ponto.

On behalf of all teachers in the McMinnville area, thank you for your tireless dedication, even in the face of this catastrophic pandemic. Don’t let the Sandra Pontos of the world get you down.

Erin Butler




Rewards of teaching

I and my wife, now almost 80, are both retired teachers. We spent far more than 40 hours a week in a job we loved. We still communicate with former students who have graduated and become successful citizens.

My wife taught at the elementary school level. I taught high school and community college mathematics, mostly in California, but later in Oregon. 

I grew up in Oregon, but moved to California my senior year in high school.

When our three children were young, I coached and taught driver education on the side, as starting pay was only $7,800 a year. Later, I taught night classes at the local community college, Gavilan College. I also taught summer school for more than 20 years.

We both loved teaching and students. We made a difference in many young lives, and it was most rewarding.

Go visit a local school and you will see dedicated teachers who work long hours but are very happy with their jobs.

One of our granddaughters spent her eighth grade year here with us. She went to Duniway Middle School.

The year was very good, as the Duniway staff is excellent and very caring!

Richard & Sharon Lund



Evidence is clear

I don’t know Commissioner Mary Starrett, but I’ve read that she graduated from college cum laude, holds emergency medical technician certifications in three states, and serves on numerous boards, including Northwest Senior and Disability Services and the Yamhill County Board of Health. From this I conclude she is of at least average intelligence and has some knowledge of medical issues.

Her stance of not wearing a mask in public, encouraging others to not wear a mask and inviting folks outside our area to shop at establishments that don’t require masks — in violation of state mandate, no less — is therefore perplexing.Overwhelming empirical evidence shows her approach is the wrong one if the goal is public safety.

South Dakota and Vermont, states of similar size and demographics, both with Republican governors, approached the pandemic in opposite ways.

NPR reports that South Dakota, which is opposed to a mask mandate and resistant to other measures like social distancing, has 8,000 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. It reports that Vermont, which has a mask mandate in place, has 500 cases per 100,000, only one-tenth as many deaths.

South Dakota boasts of having the second-lowest unemployment rate in the country, but Vermont has the third-lowest.

South Dakota’s hospitalizations have quadrupled over the last two months, so its unemployment success promises to be short-lived. So, was its ballooning death toll worth the slight and temporary employment boost?

Other examples of mask-wearing efficacy can be found abroad.

Sweden has suffered 57 deaths per 100,000 residents after allowing the virus to spread unchecked, hoping to achieve herd immunity. Compare that to neighboring Norway, with five deaths per 100,000 and Denmark with 11 per 100,000.

Ms. Starrett is not ignorant, so she must have something in mind. Unfortunately, it isn’t the health of our citizens or the long-term well-being of our economy.

Stephen Long



Redemption center need

Instead of a typical, tired letter to the editor shaming people for their views, I would like to write about a progressive idea many of us can get behind — a bottle redemption center in our community.

Last week, I saw the challenges we McMinnvillians face with regard to returning our cans and bottles.

Episode one played out when I pulled into Roth’s and noticed four people waiting in the cold rain with garbage sacks full of cans, ready to shove them one by one into machines. I went into the store and came back out 20 minutes later to see the same four people still waiting. A store employee was out there grappling with a machine that looked  to be jammed or inoperative.

The next day, I returned a large blue bag of cans to a local home for the sake of our swim club’s fundraiser. The lady taking the cans had about 20 bags in her driveway. She said she was going to haul them to Forest Grove the next day — a 60-mile round-trip venture.

Here we are, a town pinched between Forest Grove and Salem, with only two options for returning cans: wait in the rain with the others or spend a good part of your day hauling them to a distant town. Why can’t we, a town of nearly 40,000 amazing people, have our own redemption center?

If you are in agreement, I urge you to e-mail the Oregon Redemption Center at info@bottledropcenters.com. Maybe if enough of us send them our thoughts on having a bottle drop center in our town, we will get one here.

Let’s be a community of action.

Jerod Harney




Hear! Hear! Jerod Harney!!


A bottle drop would be amazing! I save mine up and drive to Salem!


I agree, Mac needs a bottle drop.

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