Thank you for covering local funding crisis


I applaud The Spotlight's efforts regarding the editorial published Nov. 30, 'Funding crisis for Oregon counties runs deep,' and I certainly encourage more.

This has always been what I believe to be one of the most important issues plaguing rural communities, especially ours. It's difficult to prevent and investigate crime - in particular drug-related crime - without a proper and professional police force.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has negotiated a cocaine renaissance and Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai will never eradicate poppy production. To think the drugs produced through those efforts isn't making headway into rural communities is foolish. When you toss in the FedEx of the drug-logistic system - Mexico's Zeta cartel - things get brutal.

A good friend of mine who works for Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms confided in me there's a resurgence of reasonably priced, abundant and profoundly pure cocaine being discovered in routine traffic stops on country highways running through cornfields in the Midwest and rural roads between San Francisco, Calif., and Seattle, Wash. He added, '...the rocks are so much better than what was tingling the noses of those who frequented disco clubs in the Eighties...'

The drug carrier system is so much more advanced that even with well-financed rural sheriff's departments, it would still be a phenomenal struggle. Now, think about our sheriff's office of just four officers and no detectives, no undercover drug buyers or narcotic squad, and we are in a position where it is simply a matter of time before Highway 30 becomes a stellar, open road from the shores to the big city where drug business can enjoy immense profits with little interruption.

Then add to that the susceptibility of our local high schools and grade schools and the picture gets bleaker and bleaker.

When you take into consideration that rural communities are also suffering from an escalation of violent crime as well as drug crime (two murders in November alone, which Forest Grove Police Captain Mike Herb contends are unrelated) things get even more daunting.

I have volunteered to help Undersheriff Andy Moyer and Sheriff Jeff Dickerson in their past few stabs (no pun intended) at passing a levy, to no avail. I think it's important we have a group of concerned citizens who can educate citizens on this issue before any levy is in place. There has to be an ongoing stream of education where the public can learn the true picture of the situation before getting clouded by political motivation, such as funding measures.

Certainly you can understand that in today's political climate, once a ballot measure is in place, feces hits the fan and the average constituent has a bad taste in his/her mouth. Also, vehemently divisive positions are assumed either for or against political winds.

This is a passionate issue for me; I moved here 18 years ago because it was a beautiful community and a peaceful place for kids to grow. I don't want Columbia County to fall into a wasteland and turn into a rural Compton.

Thanks again for exposing this issue.

- Randy Sanders, St. Helens