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Letters to the Editor published Saturday, March 27, 2010

A republic, if you can keep it

Editor:

After that abomination called the health care bill was passed, it got me to thinking about a quote from Benjamin Franklin.

After the signing of the Constitution, Benjamin Franklin was asked by a woman on the street “what have you given us sir,” Franklin responded “A republic, if you can keep it.”

We need to put people in Washington who honor and respect the Constitution as it was written.

James Fournier

Brookings


Garage Sale Saturday!

Editor:

The community Garage Sale Saturday is upon us again. 

The treasure hunters, bargain shoppers, and collectors mount up in anticipation of this bi-annual event. This is always a busy time for the Outreach Gospel Mission as well. In the days following, we have a line at our donation area. Please be patient with us. Call to schedule a pick-up since we are usually booked several days in advance. As always, we are accepting donations of clean re-saleable items with gratitude.

An ongoing challenge for us is our dumpster fee, which averages $2,000 per month.

We are unable to accept exercise equipment, TVs without remotes, and old computer equipment. The CTR/Carpenterville recycling site just north of Brookings now takes “e-garbage,” such as TVs and computer monitors free-of-charge, as they can no longer be put in a dumpster by Oregon law.

Feel free to call the Mission at 541-412-0278 if you have questions, and we wish you all Happy Garage Sale-ing.

Steve Raymond, director

J.D. Edwards, volunteer event coordinator

Outreach Gospel Mission


Where’s the can-do attitude?

Editor:

The motto of the U.S. Postal Service reads, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”

Unless you live in Brookings! I was told by the former post master that carriers are not required to get out of their vehicles to deliver mail, are not required to back up their vehicles to deliver, and any object within 25 feet of the mailbox is considered an obstructed mailbox and the mail carrier is not required to deliver the mail.

What has this country come to? What happened to the “can do” attitude of America? Our neighbors and I are constantly not getting our mail because of these ridiculous “not required to deliver” made-up rules. What happened to your credo U.S. Postal Service, or non- service? If my profession had these same rules nothing could or would get done!

Todd Whalen

Brookings


What is your point?

Editor:

This is in response to Ralph Martin’s letter (Pilot,  March 10).

 He asked why I would attend a tea party meeting. The reason is that I wanted to see what they were all about and not base my opinion on what is on television. For that matter, Ralph Martin came to a forum sponsored by the local Democratic committee last year. I suppose that he did for the same reason; to gather information “firsthand.”

The rest of his letter is too confusing to really respond to as it is so generalizing, pathetic and devoid of facts. Kool-aid drinking, licking boots, environmental Nazi friends? What in the world is your point, Ralph?

My original letter was about the census and the critical need to fill them out to ensure that Brookings and Oregon get their fair share of money back from D.C. Did you not understand that, Ralph?

Anne O’Dell

Brookings


Yes, our nation is in trouble

Editor:

 State of the economy: Mr. Bewell is right; our nation is in trouble (Pilot, March 20). 

Everytime I think about how bad things are, I will always remember one reason, Iraq $$$$$$. Blame who you want to, Mr Bewell; remember GWB?

Gary Neilson

Whittier, Calif.


Shame on Congress

Editor:

It matters little whether you are for or against the healthcare bill; Congress should be ashamed of themselves.

The dirty politics ran rampant in Washington. Many of their actions were unconstitutional, illegal and just plain wrong. We need politicians with integrity, willing to honor their oath to uphold the Constitution and with character and courage enough to vote with the will of the people.

It is time to clean-up Washington! All incumbents in Congress who voted unconstitutionally must be replaced in November. Perhaps a fresh group of politicians will remember they work for us, after all it is not “We the Congress” it is “We the People.”

Kathy Howard

Brookings

 

Hope people will give Gary Caughey a chance to succeed

A recent front-page article  announced the release from prison of Gary Caughey to Curry County recounting his criminal history up to 1986 (Pilot, March 17).

Through letters, phone calls and visits during the past 20 years we have come to know Gary.  We would like the residents of Curry County to learn something of what Gary has done with his life since returning to prison in 1986.

In his own words Gary says, “I have accepted responsibility for all of the harm I have caused…..Becoming a dangerous offender was a process, and becoming an all around decent person …has been a process.”

His actions over 20 years give weight to his words.

In 23 years of incarceration Gary has had no major disciplinary violations, in fact he has earned more than 500 days of “meritorious good time.”

Gary worked 23 years in the prison furniture factory and for 20 of those years was lead man. (The factory makes furniture for, among other customers, Oregon State offices). This is a “plum job” at an institution where meaningful employment is scarce.  Some of the money earned he has donated to help a struggling family in the Philippines.

Gary earned an Associate of Arts degree from Chemeketa Community College and a Bachelor of Science from Western Oregon University.

Gary finished literally thousands of hours of treatment covering sex offending, anger management, victim awareness, drugs and alcohol use, criminal thinking, communication skills and life skills. He is clean and sober and is determined to stay that way.

He came to realize “…that I, not anyone else, was the problem…and I had to reconstruct myself from the inside out.” His work on himself included three years as an ESL (English as a Second Language) tutor and the learning of Spanish himself. He crocheted afghans and tooled leather for gifts to others. He has run regularly and kept physically fit. For 12 years now he has followed meditation practices from the Buddhist tradition, took study courses in the Bible and was most recently baptized into the Seventh-Day Adventist faith.

We think Gary will be successful in adhering to the conditions of his parole and that he will become a productive member of society. We would welcome him as a neighbor ourselves. We hope residents of Curry County will give him a chance to succeed.

— James Hauser is a retired high school social studies teacher with 20 years’ focused effort working with at risk kids. Kate Hunter is the retired director of a community mediation agency working with victims and offenders. Together they have worked with and trained parole officers in Washington State on processes for reintegrating former serious violent offenders into the community.

James W. Hauser

Kate A Hunter

Vashon Island, Wash. 

 

Students, country being crippled by over reliance on paper, pencil testing

American education is at a crossroads.

We can continue to react to legislative and congressional mandates or we can use the research we know to be valid while satisfying the mandates from lawmakers. We have two choices. We can destroy our strengths in order to raise test scores, or we can build on our strengths and remain a world leader in innovation and creativity.  The current push for more standardization, centralization, high-stakes testing, and test-based accountability is rushing us down the first path.  What will truly keep America strong and Americans prosperous is the other path because it cherishes individual talents, cultivates creativity, celebrates diversity, and inspires curiosity.  We are currently chasing test scores around the world, in a world that, in most cases can’t offer the in-depth education we used to offer and still could.

Why is our obsession with test scores misguided?

•Students, who do not take tests well, do poorly even though they may know many things;

•Teachers may not teach to what is being tested;

•Race, ethnicity, and culture may invalidate the results;

•Paper and pencil tests assess only a small piece of what is important to know.

•These tests become “high stakes” (teachers, administrators, and student’s futures are dependent on good test results) and often these “stakes” are so high that cheating is the result;

•By limiting tests to mostly reading and math, as it is now, we also limit what we teach (music, manual arts, physical education, science, history, government, civics, etc. are curtailed or eliminated). This makes the learning of reading and math often less engaging and therefore less effective.

Want could we do? We broaden the notion of accountability to go beyond paper and pencil tests to more comprehensive measures of teaching and learning. We assess students in a way that engages students, provides accurate feedback, and eliminates cheating.

What does this look like? It’s expanding how we assess sports, music, and shop – we test them through their performance. It is a dynamic process where students participate with teachers designing what will be done – they learn while being assessed. When one can truly perform, a test score doesn’t matter.

We have a start on performance testing with the way we now assess writing ability – students actually write and are graded by teams of teaches other than those in their own school.

Will colleges and employers like this?  Here are a couple of examples:

•A student with average and below average grades built a robotic hand for his senior project. It was a daunting task requiring mechanical, mathematical, artistic, electrical, reading, and writing knowledge. His project garnered him a scholarship to a technical school and later ownership of his own business in metal fabrication and computer customization.

•Another student earned a four year scholarship due to writing performance. This person published articles in 45 magazines and journals and was working on a novel when the College Board tests were about to commence.  When the choice was, complete the novel or take the test, the university said, “Finish the novel.”

Finally, the best tests teach students and teachers alike; they are enabling and look to the future, not just assessing the past. Our children and country are being crippled by over reliance on paper and pencil testing. We can and must do better.

– John has been an educator for more than 40 years and has served as teacher, principal, superintendent, university instructor and a consultant to schools.

John M. Daggett

Ph.D.

Brookings

 

Privatizing county animal shelter won’t work

I attended a meeting of the Curry County Commissioners on Monday and was very disturbed at the news that Curry County Sheriff's Department wishes to quit funding Curry County Animal Control as of July 1. 

Sheriff Rector said that animal control is a low priority for the department so they would like to privatize the operation. This will not work for a number of different reasons.

  Animal control is a state mandated function. The county attorney clearly stated that the county is required to provide animal control.  This is a public safety and health issue and cannot just be discontinued because of a change in priorities. The safety of the public depends upon having an Animal Control Officer who can respond to calls about dogs at large,  deal with the quarantine of vicious animals and also to answer calls involving the mistreatment of animals. The laws in our state and county are very clear as regards animal protection and control and their must be an officer available to investigate these cases.

  Curry County is required to have a shelter to house dogs at large and also a place to quarantine any dog that has bitten a person.  The Sheriff's Department states that privatizing the animal shelter in Gold Beach will allow them to meet the state mandated requirements without it costing them anything.  But the money has to come from somewhere and you cannot expect a private non-profit to take on the expense and liability of housing these animals just because you consider the issue "low priority".  Not to mention the fact that any non-profit taking the shelter over would have only a few short months to jump through numerous administrative hoops before they were required to take over this function.  There is simply not enough time.

After speaking to Cathryn Powers, Curry County Animal Control Officer, my understanding is that there is a $20,000 shortfall in funds for Animal Control.  All of the rest of the necessary funds come from impoundment, boarding, and licensing fees and through the non-profit Pennies for Pooches.  If this is true then the County is only paying $20,000 a year to maintain Animal Control.  This is a small price to pay to keep our community safer.

 I believe the County Commissioners asked all of the right questions when this issue was presented to them by Sheriff Rector.  They need to keep asking these questions because this is a much more complicated issue then the Sheriff's Department would lead people to believe.  They seem to think that just by writing Animal Control out of their budget they no longer have any responsibility for it and their problem is solved.  I am afraid things are a little more complicated then that in the real world.

 As a private non-profit, South Coast Humane Society, (the Brooking shelter) works very closely with Animal Control and we understand the important function they perform.  At this time it would not be in the best interests of the public or the animals of our community if the animal control officer was eliminated or if the Curry County Animal Control facility (the Gold Beach shelter) was closed or privatized.    


Audrey Morris

Executive Director

South Coast Humane Society

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