Letters to the Editor: March 31, 2023

Election intimidation

Calling names, filing workplace complaints and promoting conspiracies has become commonplace in Yamhill County.
A blogger who promotes division and extremism has attacked several residents daring to dissent. He aligns them with groups he terms dangerous. He brands them as dangerous cult followers.

I was recently targeted in a long, rambling, disjointed rant that claimed indisputable proof I was involved in two political groups.
I had to look up one of them because I’d never heard of it. I have no personal history in the other, which the blogger admitted if anyone actually read through all the nonsense.

The “proof” was involvement in the groups by some people who donated to my county commissioner campaign. But in fact, it’s unsurprising that active individuals willing to make campaign donations would have prior political involvements.

The rant ignored the fact many of my donors were first-timers. I received many, many small donations, and I got endorsements from both sides of the political aisle, because its intent seemed to be defining me as something I’m not — an extremist. That’s not how real journalism works.

A local city councilor was featured in another rant.

After she complained about its genesis in an allegedly illegal recording, she received multiple death threats. But this was of no consequence to those whose conduct repeatedly results in undemocratic election intimidation.

Now we see the non-partisan school board race in Newberg creating such vitriol that a candidate felt forced to choose between livelihood and volunteer service. Regardless of our political differences, can’t we agree that running in non-partisan elections should be safe?

The purpose of this conduct seems to be to discourage candidates from running, discourage dissent and even discourage compromise.

We need to do better. Enough is enough!

Beth Wytoski



Not a county of three

I know an excellent plumber, but I don’t want him advising my medical team. That would be strange and inappropriate.

Yet our county commissioners — Johnston, Starrett and Berschauer — are replacing highly skilled and dedicated Parks and Recs board members with their friends, relatives and financial benefactors. How tragic for those individuals with a commitment to and knowledge of our community.

Have you ever had a boss or relative who would not listen to reason, take advice or consider other input? Who lacked depth of understanding and empathy? Who then made unilateral decisions sending out negative ripple effects lasting long into the future? It’s soul-crushing.

This appears to be about Bershauer’s commitment to leaving bikes in the garage and restricting family recreation to city streets. It’s appalling that she places her husband on the board to vote against a multi-use trail between Newberg and Dundee, a wonderful part of a very complex plan for years. It is horrifying that people with no knowledge about parks are taking over.

Not only are the commissioners replacing scientists, researchers, outdoorsmen and educators, they are also turning down funds to assist in getting people housed. They are rejecting expert advice on a fentanyl prevention program for our schools.

The commissioners are not listening to health professionals, educators, mayors, businesspeople, scientists, researchers or anyone. It’s the very definition of ignorance and arrogance.

Diminishing, obstructing, and ultimately denying all the hard work of our county’s dedicated professionals and experts, community and board members is a loss of intelligent collaboration to creatively solve the problems in our growing communities.

The taxes we pay are there to improve outdoor access, make our bypass work, educate our children, keep people housed and address addiction.
This is a county of 100,000, not a county of three It’s worth so much more than this.

Robin Ricker



Another black mark

Do you remember when President Roosevelt tried Supreme Court packing to get his way? Yamhill County commissioners just tried something that smells the same.

Gone is the parks board’s search effort for additional members. Gone is the option for a safe rail-to-trail walking for children and tourist-enticing bike/hike recreational travel.

Gone is the nearby RV option on the Whiteson Park property. Gone is strong support for two staff members helping manage Yamhill County park operations.
Park board bylaws allow for 13 members. But in my nine years of service, we’ve generally functioned with 7 to 10.

We’ve never had enough qualified applicants to fill additional seats, despite advertising. Then, suspiciously, we get seven applications in a single month, and the commissioners even appoint one person who never submitted a written application.

Remember the awkward work stoppage on a trail bridge and the costly repayment of a $3.2 million grant? How about the refusal to support a voter-approved Chehalem Park & Recreation District riverfront walking path in Newberg, or even its inclusion in a planning document?

Curiously, a review of applications turned up a remarkable uniformity in answers. Were the applicants coached?

My Christian beliefs taught me to treat others fairly, and this doesn’t meet the test. It feels like a slap in the face.

My educational training is also being tested. It taught me to listen, work collaboratively and learn from experience.

I’m not a novice couch-sitter. I’ve lived here 60 years and volunteered for city, county, state and national boards, as well as church and Scout bodies.

Tim Duerfeldt

County Parks Board Member



Hidden motives

It smacked of ulterior motives when the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners ignored Parks and Recreation Advisory Board vetting and recommendations in a recent flurry of appointments to the body.

Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer said the aim was to promote moving forward with a master planning process for county parks and recreation. Unfortunately, the actual effect has been to distract the parks board over the last couple of months from its customary cohesive and dedicated support in promoting parks for the benefit of all county residents.

The recent action has significantly diminished the board’s capacity to continue serving staff and residents and caused it to question the motives and interests of the commissioners in supporting parks and recreation management.

Further, due to the action’s unfortunate timing, and the resignation of two dedicated board members in protest, the popular summer promotion called Puzzle Quest, formerly Tangleboxing, has been jeopardized. It may not be offered this year.

The way parks master planning works, public desires are collected and transformed into broad goals for the parks program over the next 10 to 20 years. If the commissioners are thinking that changing the composition of the board will change the direction of parks management through the new parks master plan, they are woefully ignorant of the process.

In fact, the board is strictly an advisory body representing the desires of county residents. It has no decisionmaking authority.

In response, I have taken two specific actions within my capacity as parks board chair.

First, I have requested a meeting with county parks staff and Commissioner Kit Johnston, who is assigned parks liaison duties, to explain the commissioners’ action and provide guidance on how we can better move forward in accomplishing our mandate. Second, I have invited the newly appointed members to commit themselves to supporting continuation of the Puzzle Quest program this year.

Response to the latter will be the first indication of where the true interests of the new parks board members rest. And so far, I should point out, I have received a positive response only from the lone applicant recommended for appointment by the parks board.

Jim Culbert

Parks Board Chair



Remember this action

Our county commissioners are at it again, stacking the County Parks & Recreation Advisory Board with political allies and a family member — Lindsay Berschauer’s husband. Their recent actions led to two current members resigning in protest.

We are a growing county. Parks are part of a healthy, vibrant community and need to be strategically developed and well-managed to serve the needs of residents and visitors.

In the Twitter Age, we all need to get off our phones and out in the open air to exercise and to de-stress our minds and bodies. It will be interesting to see what this new board does to address those challenges through new opportunities for outdoor recreation.

I hope this group surprises me. If not, remember this action by our county commissioners when they come up for election again.

Philip Forve



Yes on fire merger

As a lifelong, several-generation McMinnville resident, I have been concerned about our fire service for a long time.

I have had the privilege of working with the men and women of the fire service occupationally for years now. It isn’t difficult to see the wear and tear our community puts on them day in and day out.

I understand there are good days and bad days in the fire service. But based on statistics, the McMinnville Fire Department has been having far more bad days than good.

More than 600 times, we have had no ambulance available in McMinnville. And one-quarter of the time, we aren’t getting the standard number of firefighters on a fire.

Turnover is far exceeding our ability to hire and train quality people. Coupled with the increased demand we are putting on volunteers, at a time when volunteerism is at an all-time low, that creates a dangerous situation.

As the owner of commercial and residential properties in both the city and adjacent rural fire district, I understand that merging the two and providing more effective service will cost more. But I believe in what we are trying to do by dissolving the rural district and creating a new one combining urban and rural jurisdictions.

I am one of the few who watches city council meetings, and feel our councilors have been transparent with their plans. I have witnessed them beg the community to interact as wrestle with decisions that will affect all of us.

If you don’t agree with their decisions, then hold them accountable. But don’t hold our firefighters hostage in the process.

Let’s get our fire and ambulance personnel what they need so they can continue providing us with the quality service we need. Vote yes on Measures 36-226 and 36-227 in May 17 balloting.

Brian Worden



Response time crucial

On May 16, the citizens of McMinnville will have an opportunity to vote for a faster, more effective fire and emergency medical response.

The time it takes for a fire engine or ambulance to get to your home is known as the response time.

Response times matter for all 911 calls, but are especially for heart attacks, strokes, significant trauma and structure fires. The sooner firefighters and paramedics arrive, the better the outcome for patients and homeowners.

Last year, the McMinnville Fire Department responded to more than 9,000 calls for service. The current staffing levels and deployment model cannot keep pace with that kind of call volume and service suffers as a result.

About 500 times last year, McMinnville Fire needed neighboring departments such as Sheridan, Grand Ronde and Newberg’s Tualatin Valley to move up to provide assistance.

Voters in McMinnville will have the opportunity to improve fire and medical response by voting YES on Measures 36-226 and 36-227. If both measures pass, a new fire district will be created and a new tax base for it established.

This will provide funding to hire additional firefighters and paramedics. It will also allow funding for new fire substations for the community.

Based on 28 years of fire service experience, I can attest to the need for more firefighters, paramedics and substations. That’s crucial for improving response times for residents of the McMinnville area.

Brian Smith



No role models here

I am at a loss to understand how Lindsay Berschauer and Mary Starrett have yet to be bounced from their positions for nepotism and ethical violations.

There were two different attempts to oust Berschauer. One was tossed for not dotting an I and other barely lost, due to virtually every farm and timber interest being in her back pocket.

The recall tried to boot Berschauer from the board for catering to those groups that fed her war chest with large donations, thanks to well-vested interests.

My question: Is there not someone looking over their outlandish actions who can take some action to save our county?

Outsiders look at our county, and especially its commissioners, as a joke. That simply reinforces my disgust with Ms. Berschauer, whom I spotted multiple times walking into the Post Office in Carlton in her pleather pants, nose in the air, deeming herself exempt from the mandates posted at both entrances requiring face masks.

Now issues raised with respect to the county parks board come to light. The commissioners seem to relish believing they are immune from any and all rules because of their high office.

Well, I, for one, have gotten past the humor to be found in all of their gyrations. I’m at the point where I am no longer humored, but rather thoroughly disgusted in their destruction of our county.

Hopefully, our children will not buy into the way our elected commissioners behave. They are definitely not decent role models!

Jay Winchester



Cleanup time

What power gave weather to the earth? What power changed the weather by introducing rain and the ensuing worldwide flood? What power calmed the wind and the angry sea?

Do mere mortals have the power to change the weather? Really?

We may not have power to change the climate, but we do have the power to clean up our mess.

Dorothy Mayes



Religion not controlling

As I type this, a right-wing federal judge is poised to weaponize his religious extremism. Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk has set the stage for singlehandedly denying women access to mifepristone, a safe and effective FDA-approved drug, throughout the country.

Regardless of this judge’s final decision, forced-birth proponents have had great success in forcing women to remain pregnant against their will, thereby creating conditions tantamount to patriarchal theocracy.

I’m proud to be an Oregonian, thus live in a state where reproductive freedom is protected. But we must not be complacent.

The 2023 Oregon Legislature will be considering House Bill 2002, which would protect and expand access to reproductive health care. That would provide some additional assurance.

The limitation or denial of health care based on a religious belief is wrong. Our constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion also means freedom from any particular religion.

If you oppose abortion, there is a simple solution for you: Don’t have the procedure. And keep your religion out of my uterus.

Alisa Owen




Alisa, In spite of all of your virtue signaling and hypocritically lecturing us on morals, just follow your own advise. If you oppose it don't do it. If you oppose the 'forced birth' chains of pregnancy, don't get pregnant. There are far more options for not getting pregnant than there are for killing your unborn child. Please, do not procreate.

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