Letters to the Editor: February 23, 2024

Don’t be so sure

Everyone knows? This statement, from last week’s “Pure hypocrisy” letter, misleads, divides and keeps us from civilly discussing important issues.

I belong to a church that has a good roof on a fairly new building. We have a newer building because our previous 80-year-old building was not meeting our needs.

Those needs included a commercial-grade kitchen and space for people to sit so we could serve meals to the hungry, provide food for Meals on Wheels and host events for all sorts of things. We also provide space for Alcoholics Anonymous and many other groups that can’t be fully accommodated at our Community Center.

Recently, I was in the church office doing a repair when a young woman came in needing assistance with rent and utilities. I heard some of her conversation with the person who administers our Pastor’s Discretion Fund.

I have no idea what the outcome was, but I’m sure she got some of the help she needed. The rest is not my business or anyone else’s.

Similar things happen many times each week, as the need is great. When I moved here 50 years ago, we had more members and could do more.

I am 79 years old and I still get up every morning and go to work so I can continue to contribute.

I can add my little bit to what others contribute. That way, bigger things get done than what we, as individuals, can do.

Please do not try to guess my beliefs, or what goes on inside my church — any church.

Members of groups help each other. As church people, we are in the business of helping, and that includes community members when the need arises.

Mike Rice


Experts in all things

So, our Yamhill County commissioners think they know how to run a public health department. It’s funny, but I don’t recall any of them having a background in anything remotely related to health care.

Is it Mary’s years as a television personality that qualifies her? Did she interview a few doctors on the morning show?

Is it Lindsay’s top secret consulting business in health care? Or is it Kit’s agricultural grow that makes him an expert?

These three amateurs have dictated an absurd policy about public health communications to the qualified public health expert whom we as taxpayers already have on the county payroll — on the payroll to, you know, actually run the health department.

Their argument about vaccine risks versus the risks of the other mentioned vitamin and preventive health services is laughable. I can only assume that in their vast medical careers, they have not learned the many risks of some birth control pills and vitamin supplements.

Yes, vaccines carry risks, just like unprotected sex, using antacids, smoking and taking vitamin D. I will weigh the advice from the experts, not these three medically unschooled political grandstanders.

Censorship of public health information for their political leverage should be beneath them, but it clearly is not.

Linda Saunders


Recommit to Ukraine

This February, Oregonians celebrated 165 years of statehood. We have a culture of independence, free-thinking, and the belief that we have a right to live the way we choose.

During my three years living in Ukraine as a volunteer with Peace Corps and Peace Corps Response, I realized how similar we are to the Ukrainian people. They also believe in their great nation and the possibilities ahead.

Ukraine, made up of vast farmland, is known as the breadbasket of Europe. Farming and sustainable living are a way of life for Ukrainians.

Even though I grew up on a farm in Dayton, I first dug potatoes and helped make homemade wine while living in a village in Ukraine.

My Ukrainian host family raised a pig to feed its members during the freezing cold winter. When it was too expensive to raise a pig the following year, they raised more rabbits, the leaner protein serving as a treat when the holidays came near.

The Ukrainian people are resilient. And while their grit has helped them these past two years, they deserve to live independently of Putin’s war and his authoritarian regime.

As we approach the two-year anniversary of the full-scale invasion, it’s time to recommit to supporting Ukraine. We can all play a part — by reaching out to our representatives in Congress, supporting Ukrainians in our communities, learning more about Ukraine’s history and people, and becoming be better informed on the war effort.

Sharece Bunn


Dereliction of duty

There you go again, commissioners. This time you are limiting the county’s Health and Human Services director from informing the general public regarding the safety and recommendations for vaccines (N-R, Feb. 16 ).

At this point, I was reminded of the 2017 commencement speaker at McMinnville High School, Hannah Siepmann, who challenged the audience to “Know Our Why.” I struggle to understand why, in this case, the commissioners have chosen to censor public policy information that benefits all of us.

In their oath of office, the commissioners have sworn to “faithfully and impartially discharge the duties” of their office. But this decision is not impartial; it favors a particular point of view.

As individuals, of course, the commissioners have every right to oppose vaccines or disregard vaccine information.

Their elected duty, however, is to inform all county citizens regarding the benefits and safety of public health issues. Further, in their oath of office, they promised to “perform said duty without fear, favor or compulsion.”

The promise of serving without favor is being violated. The why escapes me.

Douglas Cruikshank


Make it happen

I visited Marsh Lane yesterday to see what was being done to keep the homeless encampment out, and it was impressive.

The road was blockaded, with cement blocks arrayed along both sides. The trailers and RVs had been replaced by huge boulders. It almost seemed like overkill.

Then I looked around to see where the trailers and RVs had gone. I found some parked along Dustin Court by YCAP, some just off Lafayette Avenue, some along McDaniel Lane by Wortman Park, and lots and lots of tents.

My daughter, Katrin, has been homeless in Portland for two years. She has a trailer, which she’s had to move more than a dozen times.

Then, thankfully the safe rest villages program was launched. Most sites are reserved for tiny houses, but one was opened on Portland Bureau of Transportation land for RVs, the Sunderland Safe Rest RV Park.

Through a referral system, Katrin got one of the 55 spaces. It’s a dignified and humane approach to the daily trauma of being homeless.

The entire property is fenced. It features a locked gate attended 24/7.

There are laundry buildings, phone-charging stations and locking bathrooms with showers. A hot meal is delivered to residents each day at no charge, and there is staff on site to assist them with applications for permanent housing.

I would love to see our homeless population treated with this kind of respect.

Homelessness is now rampant in every town and city. Let’s all look for the right property in our community to build a truly safe and dignified place for our homeless neighbors, and work to make it happen.

Roshana Shockley


Stay in your lane

First, I can’t imagine what it must be like to be Yamhill County Health & Human Services Director Lindsey Manfrin. Having to work with county commissioners who stymie her ability to effectively do her job has to be frustrating and exhausting.

Second, I can’t wrap my head around why the commissioners feel we, as adults, are unable to think and sort through information for ourselves. Maybe, just maybe, they’re afraid of us being informed about healthcare choices that don’t coincide with their choices.

I would listen to Lindsey Manfrin, a trained medical professional, over any of our county commissioners. None of them have ANY medical background. None, zip zero.

Stay in your lane, people. Let Lindsey Manfrin do her job.

Els Sandberg


Playing the market

I was pleased to see the Feb. 9 article, “Mac High students learn by playing the market.” I’m sure the juniors in Mac High’s Economics and Personal Finance class shared the excitement of the competition, and that it had value in exposing students to the stock market, perhaps for the first time.

However, I was struck by the thought that the article did not indicate what kind of guidance or instruction the teacher provided prior to them making their selections. From the article, it appeared to me that the students chose their stocks based on what they had heard or experienced.

As a long-term investor who has done well since the early 1980s — primarily by being a member of Better Investing (https://www.betterinvesting.org/), a nonprofit helping people improve their financial futures by promoting sound principles of company fundamentals rather than technical analysis — I have learned how important it is to evaluate companies before investing.

By looking at a company’s management and historical financial data, compared to other companies in the same industry, and then using that information to project how the company might perform in the near future, it is possible to determine today how the company’s current stock price suggests the company might be a buy, a hold or too overpriced at the present time.

If students in that class are not being exposed to these principles, they have very little on which to base investing decisions.

It is not sufficient to buy stock in a company just because it is in the news, because it may be poorly managed, have limited growth prospects or be overpriced at present. Doing so is not the way to be successful in the stock market.

I hope the foregoing will be of interest to the teacher and the students taking the course.

Jim Culbert


Shielding the public

An open letter to Health and Human Services Director Lindsey Manfrin, prompted by the N-R article of 2/16, relating to vaccine information.
Dear Director Manfrin:

I write to thank you for your consistent efforts to foster community health, despite constant impediments put in your path by certain county leaders.

I was dismayed by the report in the News-Register that you had been ordered not to post any information about vaccines other than that they are available. In my opinion, based on their past performance and a quote in the article, the commissioners appear to believe they have authority to choose what health information is suitable for the public to see.

I’m not aware that any sitting commissioner has experience or professional training in public health matters. Nevertheless, the commissioners evidently feel that the public must be shielded from certain information, presumably because ordinary people are deemed not capable of reaching the “right” decision when faced with disparate views of vaccine benefits.

I hope that you can weather this storm and feel able to continue your good work.

Robert Wolcott


Instill work ethic

Your Feb. 16 editorial spent a good portion of its column inches rehashing past sins committed early in the formation of this great country. We are all familiar with them.
My baby-boomer generation was taught about slavery and resulting injustices, the imprisonment of the Japanese during WWII in California, women’s right to vote and the mistreatment of Indians, just to name a few. There was no push to hide these facts.

We were taught that rights of individuals were equal across the board, which eventually led to electing a Black man as president of this country for eight years. It has also led to a whole host of minority men and women being elected to be governors, mayors and so forth.

Yet you continue to crow about lack of equal opportunity for all.

All one needs to succeed in this country is a reasonably good work ethic and recognition of the difference between good and bad life choices. So it’s better to spend our tax dollars on educating students on the value of hard work and giving them a sound foundation on what made this country great.

You yourself said it best, “...an equal opportunity to enjoy the fruits of the American Dream, based solely on merit.” We don’t need any more DEI programs, which do nothing more than create a sense of entitlement in some and appease a misplaced guilt burden that others have chosen to carry.

Steve Sommerfeld


Unwarranted intrusion

I am disappointed in the overreach of the county commissioners regarding communications from the Yamhill County Health and Human Services director to the public concerning public health issues. I understand they are anti-vaccine, but personal preferences should not serve as cause to limit or direct public health duties.

Despite unsupported claims to the contrary, vaccines have and continue to greatly benefit the lives of people around the world. I’m sure many parents hoped for a polio vaccine much earlier, and an earlier flu vaccine would have saved scores of people who went on to perish from influenza.

But not to proselytize. The intent of this communication is to provide information from a document from the National Association of Counties, titled The County Role in Public Health.

On Page 4 you will find a listing of 10 “Essential Public Health Services.” No. 3 reads, “Communicate effectively to inform and educate people about health, factors that influence it, and how to improve it.” I do not believe any person would concur that a notice by our HHSD merely stating that vaccines are available, as suggested by Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer could be interpreted as “effectively communicating” how vaccines can improve one’s health, as recommended by this document.

As a former clinical microbiologist, I am dismayed by the intrusion of personal politics into the health support of individuals and the dismissal of scientific rigor.

Please let the our publicly funded department effectively carry out its duties and refrain from allowing personal bias to keep it from helping protect the people in our county — especially the young, senior and infirm, who most benefit from vaccines.

Andrew Velebir


Dump daylight time

I read with dismay this morning that half the Oregon senators think we’re stupid.

They voted against a bill to remain on standard time. The reason: It would be too confusing for Portland/Vancouver commuters and others frequently travelling between adjacent states.

I guess that makes Arizonians stupid also, as they don’t follow the twice-yearly lunacy their adjacent states go through. And lest we forget, residents of Malheur County — yes, it’s in Oregon, but in the Mountain Time Zone — seem to be able to handle the difference with adjacent counties.

Having travelled east-west for business multiple times a year, believe me, it is not that complicated to cope with different time zones. Now with cell phones, there is no issue, as they tell you the current time wherever they pick up a signal.

Instead of being the usual followers of California and Washington, let’s be the trendsetters and make the change first.

Mark Krigbaum


Quit interfering

In the Feb. 16 News-Register, County Commissioners Starrett and Berschauer were once again reported putting up barriers to Health and Human Services Director Lindsey Manfrin doing her job.

Director Manfrin said it eloquently in response: “If, as a local public health administrator, I am not able to say things like, ‘We generally recommend most people 6 months old and older get an annual flu shot; check with your provider to talk about the risks and benefits and if it’s right for you,’ if I’m not able to say that, I would like that in writing so that it’s very clear it’s not me as the local public health administrator making that decision.”

Director Manfrin holds Registered Nurse (RN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees supporting her sound medical advice. And she has ethical responsibilities from her licensure that you are putting in jeopardy.

Commissioners, neither of you hold medical degrees. Yet you want us to believe you know what’s best for our county regarding vaccines, specifically COVID vaccines.

On what authority do you feel qualified? Let Director Manfrin do her job.

What you have, commissioners, and want to continue, is a bully pulpit that gives unproven and potentially dangerous information to the citizens of Yamhill County.

Show us data that is factual, vetted and supports your position. In its absence, please stop putting up barriers.

Both of you are intentionally blocking the ability of Public Health to provide sound medical information. This is unacceptable.

I find it ironic that you comment about “less government interference,” but here you both are, interfering. I’m confident the residents of Yamhill County are intelligent enough to know what’s best for themselves.

Commissioners Starrett and Berschauer, please stop interfering with the work of Public Health. Let Director Manfrin and her staff do their jobs.

Lu Ann Anderson


A toast for downtown

If you are my age or older, and grew up in or around McMinnville, you can no doubt remember Rutherford’s Variety, the Cameron Price Grocery Store, Kienle Music, The Palm Cafe, Thrifty Drug, The Lark Theatre, Tommy’s Bike Shop, Lynn’s for Men, Montgomery Ward and, of course, the “drag the gut” turnaround at Mac Glass.

These are just some of the stores that once lined Third Street in McMinnville. These were the names of the stores when I was young.

However, in most cases, there were other businesses with their name on these storefront long before I came along. Now, decades later, while the businesses have come and gone, the buildings that make up one of the most attractive main streets in America —second-best main street in America, according to Parade Magazine — are still just as beautiful and classic as the year they were built.

It doesn’t matter which decade I visit my old hometown, it still looks exactly like the McMinnville I grew up in. This says a lot about the city leaders who have made decisions over the years regarding Third Street and its future.

I toast you and the citizens with a glass of famous local wine.

Ron Allen


No on HJR 2

I received a letter from the Taxpayers Association of Oregon, and it was very upsetting. It appears our governor and some of our legislators think we should have another property tax, and are asking us to amend the Oregon Constitution to allow it.

Many will have no concern because they are renters. But they are wrong in their assumption that it won’t affect them, as it will be passed on through rent increases.

It’s very disturbing when the state already has billions of dollars in its coffers. We already pay more taxes for roads that are not repaired — roads that in some cases are responsible for accidents and damage to our cars.

Supposedly, this new property tax would be dedicated to increased funding for public safety. But would that give us any safety from all the rioting?

House Joint Resolution 2 would authorize statewide voting on a constitutional amendment to allow the levying of up to 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation,.

It would behoove all of us to raise a storm to stop this legislation. Please spread the word to everyone. Have them call on their legislators to vote no on HJR 2.

Mary Novak



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