Featured Stories

May rumors of hope overwhelm those of destruction


   Hurry on up, 2013.
   It's a tough way to the end news year -- reporting on the 509-J School District shutting down for a day due to web-fired and talk-spread rumors of potential violence. Not that the shutdown itself is tough, but certainly the reasons for it are anguishing.
   No doubt the 509-J school district's closing school last Friday was debated in nearly every household in the community, those with children and without. In the aftermath of Newtown, and with the rumors of shootings at Madras schools running rampant, the district decided to start Christmas vacation one day early.
   The decision was a lead story for media outlets statewide and beyond. While schools throughout the country faced many of those same issues, 509-J joined the relative few (only a couple others in Oregon) that chose to close for the day.
   District 509-J's decision -- and the issue in general -- should be debated. It was a major decision by the district. Not necessarily for kids to miss a day of school, but to acquiesce to threats made online. (Let's hope the Mayan-end-of-the-world stuff, though it was mentioned with the 509-J and other closures, didn't really play a key role in the decision). It sets a precedent. There's a fine line between being careful and overreacting to rumor and shadow.
   But there were other, relevant elements that pushed the decision: the rumors were widely known by students and many kids didn't plan on attending anyway. Culver held school, but about a third of the students stayed home. Plus, it was the Friday before Christmas break. An extra day of break, allowing a longer cooling off period between Newtown and school resuming, a day in which more security policy could be digested, made sense.
   Personally, even though I knew about the rumors, had there been school, I would have taken my daughter to kindergarten -- that is if I could have escaped the bear trap her mom would have set on my foot to keep me from doing so. As it were, on Friday morning, as I drove to work without my regular stop at the school, knowing my daughter was in her pajamas at home, I was fine with the district's decision. There are far worse things than being overprotective with our community's kids.
   At the Pioneer, we look forward to reporting much better news in the impending new year.
   It will include the opening of the new, beautiful Madras City Hall. The 509-J School District's levy-funded construction projects will start, eventually bringing a new K-8 school in Warm Springs, a new football/track complex and a performing arts center at the high school. Plus, don't forget the security aspects included in the bond -- keylock systems at all the schools in the district -- an overlooked, important element of the bond.
   Our medical facilities will be in the limelight in 2013, with St. Charles taking over Mountain View Hospital, and other changes and moves also in the rumor mill. St. Charles getting comfortable, and the community getting comfortable with them, will be major components of 2013.
   But, as far as I know, there aren't any rampant rumors of a large-employing manufacturing plant coming to town, or major retail outlet planning to build, which might help keep consumers in town. To the contrary, it looks like the medium-security element of Deer Ridge will remained shuttered for the foreseeable future -- which certainly won't help the local economy.
   But, if we hear of anything positive that we can substantiate, we'll gladly let you know.
   May the coming months bring such rumors of hope, inspiration and progress for our community -- and no more rumors of violence, ignorance and destruction.
   2013 -- we're ready.