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Letters to the Editor

Planning for death can help keep focus on living

No one likes to think about death and dying, but it's something everyone has to face eventually. There's an incredible resource in our community that provides comfort, dignity and respect to all those coping with a serious or life-limiting illness: Hospice and Palliative Care of Washington County

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, a time to raise awareness about the compassionate care that hospice and palliative care provides.

One of the most important messages to help people understand is that hospice and palliative care helps patients and families focus on living.

The hospice team provides expert medical care to keep patients comfortable and able to enjoy time with loved ones. The hospice team answers questions, offers advice on what to expect, and helps families with the duties of being a caregiver. The team also provides emotional and spiritual support for the entire family.

Hospice is covered by Medicare, Medicaid in most states, and by most insurance plans and HMOs. Hospice care is provided in the home, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and long term care centers.

Hospice care is available to people of all ages, with any illness. Hospice professionals and trained volunteers will ask you what's important and listen to what you say. They make your wishes a priority.

If you or a loved one are facing a serious or life-limiting illness, the time to find out more about hospice and palliative care is right now.

Christine Larch, CEO

Hospice and Palliative Care of Washington County

Time to change 'business as usual' in Forest Grove

I am writing in response to recent comments by City Manager Michael Sykes about Mandy Hayes' Oct. 19 guest column.

I have a question that he seems to be the best person to answer. Why does the union have so much power as they can tell a city manager how much to pay one of the city's employees? This seems completely wrong to me.

Mr. Sykes, you have lost all credibility after a federal jury sent the city a $6.5 million wake-up call that business as usual in Forest Grove needs to change. I believed they also called for Mr. Sykes to be fired for the way he handled things.

I have just moved back to Forest Grove (I had a lovely welcoming committee of Forest Grove's finest) and have been watching what goes on here very closely.

Maybe it is time to change business as usual for the benefit of the citizens of Forest Grove. I know I plan on doing my part.

I have met Mandy Hayes and since she has worked for the city I believe she knows what's going on.

Debbie Rogers Bianchi

Forest Grove

City should treat all part-time employees fairly

The part-time employees of the City of Forest Grove have petitioned for decades to receive retirement benefits. Part-time employees work in the library, aquatic center and police department. These employees directly serve the public and have a very important role in contributing high-quality service to Forest Grove citizens and visitors.

Over the years the employees sought help from their directors and unions in repeatedly requesting City Hall to grant part-time employees retirement benefits. And all requests were rejected by City Hall. Until this year, when an exception was made for one employee.

Several months ago, the city manager appointed the existing human resources technician into the human resources manager position. The position was a full-time, 40 hour per week position. The employee did not want full time work and City Hall authorized the employee to work part-time. Here's where the city's decision-making concerns me - they gave the employee a retirement account. I was shocked when I heard staff explaining the plan in a budget committee meeting last spring.

Instead of enrolling the employee into the traditional retirement plan, they opened a 'deferred compensation' account for the employee and began making contributions with city funds for her retirement. During the budget meeting city staff actually described how this was a good arrangement because the employee was satisfied with the offer and it saved money, as the contributions were less than paying into the traditional retirement plan. Then why not provide these accounts to all part-time employees?

'Special' arrangements such as this worry me. It seems odd that the city could come up with special arrangements for this one part-time employee to have money at retirement, while other part-time employees are forced to build their own retirement funds.

If the policy is part-time employees are not subject to receive retirement benefits, I can understand that. But I would expect that all part-time employees be treated the same.

I have to ask questions if exceptions are made for one part-time employee.

Mandy Hayes

Forest Grove