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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Letters Dead heads vs. deadheads I apologize to the Columbia County and Port of St. Helens commissioners. On March 5, The Chronicle published an opinion piece I submitted. Somewhere after the article left my hard drive in a torrent of bytes, and was reconstituted in the physical world of ink and paper, two words in the title were inadvertently combined into one. These things happen sometimes in our digital world. I submitted the article with the title, “Oil Trains, Salmon, and Dead Heads: Management without Stewardship.” The words “dead” and “heads” were printed as the single word, “deadheads.” I care about this because that seemingly innocuous change could result in a misinterpretation of my intent. I meant the two words to refer to the remains of the unfortunate, recently departed bovines. Unfortunately, one dictionary definition for deadhead is a “stupid or dull person,” and the title could be misinterpreted as me hurling that insult at the commissioners. Nothing could be further from my intent. We the people of Columbia County hire our commissioners through our majority votes. They have a right to be treated with respect in our communications, just as we the people have the right for that respect to be reciprocated. This is especially true in the exchange of passionate opinions and sharp criticisms. As the founder of Envision Columbia County I, and other members, are working to reclaim our constitutional community rights to local governance and active, meaningful stewardship of our entire community. We will continue to do so with a passionate yet respectful tone, without resorting to angry, accusatory outbursts or derogatory name-calling. Danner Christensen Founder, Envision Columbia County (From the editor: I can’t let Mr. Christensen take the blame for this one. When I got his letter, we were headed to press and very short on time. Our word document program flagged the word, so I headed to the Oxford English Dictionary to check it out. Among other definitions is this: “a train, railroad car, airplane, truck, or other commercial vehicle while operating empty.” Given the title of the letter, and the fact that we have lots of deadhead train cars coming through the county, I incorrectly thought this is what he was referring to. We work hard to keep the tone and intent of letters submitted to us intact. I truly regret the error and apologize for any issues this may have caused.)


Careful stewardship I took great interest in reading the Viewpoint section about “Oil Trains, Salmon and Deadheads: management without stewardship.” I felt that the article was written with an implied assumption that industry, business and entrepreneurship is our enemy. Businesses and entrepreneurs are often cast as greedy and exploitative villains. The parable about the salmon, was used as an example to illustrate the lack of stewardship. I believe that the managers of our fisheries were trying to be good stewards. In 1930, the Pacific Northwest needed Flood Control and Power to provide food for our bellies and schools for our children. Well-intended and educated people made decision’s that “seemed” appropriate at the time. The parable properly makes note of the mistakes. It doesn’t really talk about the public benefit. I see the story as an argument to plan and find ways to make opportunities work in our complex community. The article mentions concerns about schools and neighborhoods being located close to the railroad. The truth is, that trains are safer, less expensive and more environmentally friendly to transport hazardous materials than trucks. Railroads have owned these easements long before the edifices were built. I agree with the thought that our elected officials sometimes have an aloofness and even an arrogance to the public. I think many people sometimes get this way, when they finally get tired of explaining and defending their view over and over and over. The flippant answer of “just move” certainly was rude. The sad irony is that we did move. Not away from, but closer to the tracks. And now years later we are complaining about the hazards. Was the building of neighborhoods close to the railroad good stewardship or bad management? Did the good outweigh the bad? I do have concerns about railroad safety and issues related to the transportation of coal and hazardous material. I see irony in the argument of shipping hazardous material, since we live down wind from a plant that stores a large amount of chlorine (how does the chlorine get there?). Has anyone in our county gone to Canada and investigated what environmental damage has occurred, and what steps should be done to mitigate the issue? Was the damage permanent or are we just afraid that it “might happen.” Might happen is a straw man argument to not do anything. This argument should be a challenge to plan for the contingency. The county needs jobs


Dave Coverly

that provide good wages and decent benefits. Worried about train traffic? Let’s install overpasses to improve traffic flow. Afraid of tanker cars exploding? Lets find out what type of modifications are needed to safely transport the Bakken oil and require those standards. Worried about schools that we sited in the wrong location? Create blast walls and escape plans to mitigate the risk. Create End of Life plans for the buildings and build new ones somewhere else when they become obsolete. Setting public policy is strategic and broad. Implementing public policy is tactical and narrow. Getting things done requires focus and determination. Let all of us step out of the shadows and create real jobs and real business opportunities. Stewardship is saying, “why not?” Let’s mitigate the bad! Good management should say, “How can we make this work?” Stewardship means the management or care of something, particularly the kind that works. If your company is making money, there’s probably been careful stewardship — or, a lot of luck. Rory Hammond, Deer Island It takes a team Thank you to all who came to celebrate this pivotal stage of the construction of the first of three Habitat homes, located at Sykes Road on Saturday, March 8. Thank you is extended to all of you that helped make this possible by your support as ReStore customers, donors, and volunteers. The event was truly enjoyable, even if a little damp. A big thanks goes to Sen. Betsy Johnson for her continuing support of Habitat for Humanity and presence, City Councilor Susan Conn for representing the City of St. Helens, Michael Wagy of CalPortland for taking the time to join us to celebrate this special event (knowing that he had very busy schedule), Steve Jensen of St. Helens Community Federal Credit Union, a Habitat supporter right from the beginning, and other officials who attended, our partner, Thrivent Financial, and their excellent support team of Eric McClung and Jason Susee. Any acknowledgment could not go without a big shout out to Columbia River Fire & Rescue Chief Jay Tappen, and the team of firefighters who helped raised the last two walls to complete the event, and kick off our celebration. Columbia County Habitat for Humanity Board President Boyd Ruby and our supportive board of directors also deserves recognition. It goes without saying it takes special construction project overseer to make the building of a home come together.

In our case, Mike Stone of Stone Builders, is that person. We would also like to thank Hardcore Construction, Oregon Association of Realtors, CANDO Electric, Lower Columbia Engineering, TFT Construction, NW Plumbing, the Columbia River PUD, KOHI Radio, The Chronicle and South County Spotlight, all of our great volunteers, and a special thanks to volunteers Bob Bay, Bill Jauron, Don and Debbie Ritthaler for their dedicated volunteer hours beyond any expectations. Forgive me if I have overlooked anyone. Contact me and I will rectify the oversight. While this build is far from complete, and continued fundraising will be needed, the excitement generated by our supporters at this event will be even more evident at the next big celebration – handing the keys of the new home to our next Habitat homeowner, Mike McDougle, and his kids. Bill Blank, Executive Director CCHFH Voters need assurances The voters need some assurances of where their tax dollars will be used; not just for the jail in general, but for housing local Columbia Write to Us We want to hear from you and encourage you to write letters to the editor. Because of space limitations, shorter letters have a better chance of being printed. We may edit your

County criminals only. Also we need assurances that the local prisoners and state and federal prisoners are housed separately. I spent 15-plus years with the Columbia County Sheriff’s office and jail. The first two years as a volunteer deputy, then as a full-time corrections deputy before retiring in August 2009 with an advanced certification in corrections from the Oregon Department of Public Safety. One of the things I observed while watching the mixed population of local and federal prisoners was that federal prisoners were making new recruits locally for expanding their business of drug trafficking and other related crimes, thus making Columbia County a new outlet for gang crime with local operators. In the past there was always a rather constant population of about 70 to 80 local prisoners. First we need to reserve at least that number of beds for local prisoners. If it means sending U.S. Marshall or immigration prisoners back to other jails so be it. This needs to be evaluated (counted) on a daily basis. Local inmates come first, last and always as to be housed in Columbia County Jail. On to the issue of where

inmates are housed. When the jail opened it was set up with ten housing units. Two for female inmates. Eight for male inmates. One of those pods for maximum security male inmates and one other pod that could house maximum security male inmates if needed. The other six pods for general male population. The problem comes with the fact many federal inmates come with a much higher level of crime involvement than their criminal history shows. This is due to the fact they have yet to be charged with, or convicted of these crimes, or their crimes took place in a foreign country. Often these people are the recruiters who in or out of jail are expanding the field of operation in crime for their gang, often this involves violent crime – bringing more drugs and violent crime to Columbia County. Any levy we are to vote on must have the wording that those funds would be directed to house persons who are charged for criminal acts in Columbia County, and will keep local inmates separated from federal inmates. We do not need the jail to be a training center for new crime in our neighborhoods. Dan Koch, St. Helens

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SCARLET (F) Scarlett is already spayed, up to date with shots, good with kids, good with dogs, and good with cats. Scarlett is just a puppy, coming into the shelter at a little under 10 weeks old. She is very sweet and very playful and will make a great addition to a family that is looking to adopt a young friend. She gets along well with other dogs and the family that gets her will be lucky to have him. His adoption fee will be $250.00, that includes all vaccines, microchip and the neuter. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to call 53-397-4353 or email

Columbia Humane Society


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