Letters to the Editor: Oct. 22, 2021

Baker Creek congestion

Well, this letter is not about Lindsay Berschauer or the Newberg School Board. It is about McMinnville and its growing traffic congestion.

Do we point a finger at the city councilors and Oregon Department of Transportation? Yes, I think so.

I am referring to the new homes and apartments going in on the corners of Baker Creek and Hill Roads, 500 on one side and 500 on the opposite side.

You figure two cars per residence and that equates to approximately 2,000 more cars cruising down Baker Creek Road. We now have a huge congestion problem on Baker Creek at Baker and Highway 99W at Evans, so going to and from work or school causes big traffic backups.

I see left turn signals at various intersections along Baker, Adams and 99W, but what happened to signals for what are now among the busiest intersections in the city, due to the added housing?

It seems someone let it slip through the cracks. Or was it on purpose?

Hershey Steward


We deserve better

Since August, I have had the privilege of speaking with many fellow Yamhill County residents at the County Fair, Farmers Markets and front porches about Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer. We have discussed her lack of understanding of her job and lack of interest in being a leader for the broad constituency of Yamhill County.

I am one of more than 120 volunteers who have been collecting signatures on behalf of this recall effort, and we are very close to collecting the number required to force a recall vote. We plan to continue collecting right up to our Nov. 1 deadline.

We do not expect Berschauer to listen to the voice of Yamhill County and resign.

She has had almost three months to change her approach and be more open to both criticism and ideas from outside her small circle of financial backers. She has shown no indication of willingness to change. She refuses to build broad consensus to address the challenges and capture the opportunities for the residents, businesses and schools in our county, which is the primary responsibility of a commissioner. My wife and I elected to move to Yamhill County, after considering several locations, because we quickly recognized just how special this area is. It has tremendous potential for tourism, industry and food, wine and timber production to grow and provide great livelihoods for those fortunate enough to live here.

Our County deserves leadership with the vision and skills to bring people together for a better tomorrow. We deserve better than Lindsay Berschauer, and we cannot afford to wait three more years.

If you have not signed the recall petition, please do so before Oct. 31.

Phil Forve


Save a life, vaccinate

This letter, alas, is probably not for most of the people who read this newspaper. As readers, you are probably well-informed about the risks of COVID-19 and the need for vaccination.

But if you know anyone who is unvaccinated, it would be most helpful to tell them about former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s COVID-related death.
Powell was being treated for multiple myeloma, a form of cancer of the blood that greatly hobbles the body’s immune system. That made him especially vulnerable to COVID, despite his being vaccinated.

So in that sense, COVID did not kill him. The unvaccinated people in his community killed him.

I have a dear friend who is suffering from multiple myeloma, just as Powell was.

Every unvaccinated person in this area is a potentially fatal risk to my friend and will be until COVID is stamped out. A high community vaccination rate could be life-saving for my friend.

Please persuade all of your unvaccinated friends to get vaccinated to save someone else’s life, if not their own.

Brad Thompson


Lack of knowledge

Some comments are called for in response to the letter, “The religious right.” Calling BLM, Antifa and so forth anarchists is one thing, but calling them terrorists is more appropriate.

According to Webster’s, anarchists use coercion and terrorists use violence.

We’ve seen reports of breaking of windows, looting of stores, burning of buildings and beating of citizens. That constitutes violence, don’t you agree?

Reference was made to infringing on free speech. Does this fit?

Martin Luther King Jr. and his group demonstrated, did no damage and were heard. One must ask, when this violence was being perpetrated in Portland, where were the elected officials whose duty it is to enforce the law?

The Yamhill County Commission and Newberg School Board deserve much kudos for standing their ground to protect the vulnerable minds of children.

Flags and banners promoting critical race theory have no place in schools. The 3 Rs, problem-solving, respect and knowledge of the Constitution should be the priorities.
Kudos should also be given to the growing number of mothers organizing against the teaching of critical race theory.

Due to lack of research, involvement and resistance to wrong, great divisiveness has arisen in our nation. The children should not be manipulated as a result.
Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.

Mary Novak


Time is short

There are a lot of things to be afraid of in life. Your county commissioner should not be one of them.

Stop the bullying. Stop the misuse of your hard-earned taxpayer dollars. Demand more for yourself and your fellow county residents.
Time is short. Sign the petition to recall Lindsay Bershauer today.

Signe Johns


Voting rights

A recent surge of state voter suppression bills and ongoing attempts to erode fair and secure elections requires federal action. Congress must act now to implement national standards for federal elections in order to protect our democracy.

The Freedom to Vote Act would protect people’s right to vote, end partisan gerrymandering and help to eliminate the undue influence of dark money in our elections.

Nancy Carl


Do the right thing

In the pages of this newspaper, and in other media, many voices loudly proclaim that the greatest of American values is freedom.

Really? I would differ, arguing the greatest value is sacrifice, because freedom is only gained through sacrifice.

It was with great sacrifice that early settlers left home and braved the oceans to come to these shores. Signers of the Declaration of Independence risked their lives; suffragettes suffered abuse; men and women in uniform paid the ultimate price on the battlefield; and such examples could go on and on.

Wearing a mask or getting a vaccination is not a matter of freedom, it’s a matter of sacrifice for the greater good, so that others might live. While some 1,500 or more die daily of COVID-19, while thousands of children are left without parents, while our economy suffers, I weary of the strident and misguided appeals to freedom.

Like the many patriots who have gone before us, let’s do the right thing for the good of others.

Robert Thompson




Sorry. This will be long.
Hershey Steward’s letter about Baker Creek traffic brings back many memories as well as frustration. While I am the first one to be on the “do your *** job” bandwagon, in this case I think Mr. Steward should direct his questions to a city department rather than the City Council.
I was one of a large group of citizens that had legitimate concerns about the amount of development along the Baker Creek corridor. Ignore the financial aspects like a Lake Oswego developer walking away with profit in the tens of millions yet no local subs were visible on any of the development; and ignore the claim that this level of construction was “needed” for the city of McMinnville yet mailers had to be sent to Hillsboro and other areas to entice buyers since McMinnville was unable to absorb an amount of housing units that represented an entire 20-year demand, and let’s just focus on the traffic.
Stafford, the developer, did a traffic study in July. Anyone who drives on Baker Creek knows the traffic levels are significantly higher when school, particularly the high school, is in session. So two private citizens commissioned their own traffic survey during the school year and got a significantly higher traffic number. The Planning department instructed the City Council to toss out the private study because of a minor filing error. The study was done by a reputable company and the actual numbers were never accused of being wrong. (A fun aside is that Stafford argued that the development south of Baker Creek had to be built because two schools were going to be built on Hill Road. Stafford then justified doing the north of Baker Creek traffic study in July because no schools were in the vicinity. Gotta love that logic.)


Part 2:
The citizens were instructed that we had to use only the Transportation System Plan that began in 2005 and was at least a decade old. The TSP also carried the requirement that it be updated regularly in order to remain in effect. When citizens pointed out it had never been updated, and therefore it was no longer valid, the Planning Department stated the TSP was the governing document.
The northwest corner of McMinnville is the only section of town in the TSP that had no transit scheduled. Even the developer Stafford referred to potential transit options, not future, meaning no transit was on anyone’s horizon. When citizens requested that turnouts be added to Baker Creek at the developer’s cost, the Planning Department refused based on a new TRANSIT Plan that was in development but that citizens couldn’t use. According to the Planning director, the Transit director felt having turnouts required commitment to a bus schedule. Citizens felt the turnouts increased our future options at no cost to the city. Obviously, there are no turnouts on either Hill or Baker Creek.
The citizens highlighted the portion of the TSP that clearly stated that future development in the northwest corner of the city should be minimal because of the lack of east-west traffic options. Baker Creek and Second Street are the primary routes and Wallace is a secondary route. The golf course and the Cozine Ravine prevent other east-west transportation options. The Planning Department chose to ignore that section of the sacred TSP and we now have the highest density in McMinnville located in the northwest corner.


Part 3:
This whole corner of development has had several Planning executive decisions made, including the Planning department accepting about 15 acres of unbuildable land for a “park” even though the city Parks and Rec said the property should be rejected, open fencing along two intersecting 45 mph roads, and the removal of several large oak trees. The Planning department and the developer have done make-goods on the oak trees: one trunk is to be turned into a bench and the symbol of the new Lennar development is a metal oak tree. I’m sure that makes everyone feel better about losing the trees.
The final player in the Baker Creek traffic issue was a city engineer who told the citizens to just deal with it. He never denied that any of the numbers presented were wrong, however.
Lest you think the citizen group was unsuccessful, we raised enough questions that the developer had to accept multiple extensions or face beginning the process again. And if you watch council meetings from three years ago and then watch current meetings, you can see that the councilors are asking more questions and requiring clarification now. I count that as a success.
The City Council is run much like a jury. A jury is presented with information from one or two approved sources and they are instructed that no outside information can be taken into consideration. The Planning department is the gate to the city council. The council can only make decisions based on the information they are given. So the focus should be on making sure the council gets accurate, timely information on which to base decisions. The Planning department practice of throwing 700 technical pages at council members with less than two weeks for them to read and form questions has to stop. Try fitting about 100 hours into your regular schedule to just do a first read through, because that’s the length of time it takes. And that’s why things slip through the cracks.


And I let things slip through the cracks too. It should read that the city engineer never denied that the citizen numbers were *correct*.
Sorry for not proofreading more carefully.


Mr. Steward--why don't you ask Heather Richards why Baker Creek has become an obstacle course? Planning appears to be her passion.

Joel R

Thanks for that great info and analysis PAO.
Also, (and someone correct me if Im wrong as Im relying on memory)during the last Mayoral election I noticed that Mayor Scott Hill who was running for re-election received a HUGE "donation" from a donor with the curious name of something like "Oregonians for Affordable Housing". A few clicks of my mouse showed that it was I believe an association that represents builders. Hmmm? Now with Mcminnville's liviability being destroyed by traffic I think Mayor Scott Hill has some serious explaining to do.

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