Work done by Relay for Life chairs appreciated

To the editor:

I would like to thank the Woodburn Area Relay for Life chairs, Tana Jo Neliton, Gina and James Audritsh for the successful 2013 event. Their leadership, knowledge, local experience and local contacts made it possible to put together a group of committee chairpersons who worked well together. They encouraged the chairpersons to move forward, make decisions and report back to the committee during the monthly meetings. They made it clear that the chairpersons could contact any of the chairs at any time with questions, comments and suggestions.

The chairs held almost monthly meetings for the committee chairpersons, immediately followed by team meetings. These meetings kept everyone updated on what preparations had been made, what still needed to be completed and who was helping with what part of this event. During these meetings the chairs encouraged and thanked everyone for their help, input and participation.

In addition to the regular meetings, the chairs met with the committee chairpersons, members of the city of Woodburn, business leaders, members of local civic groups and members of the general public. These meetings took place at various locations and times over several months.

I know that all three of the chairs work and have families. Yet, they still found time to provide their leadership and support for the 2013 Woodburn Area Relay for Life event. I am confident that the event would not have been as successful without the leadership of Tana Jo Neliton, James and Gina Audritsh.

Robert Prinslow


North Marion needs community support

To the editor:

I am voting yes on Measure 24-355 in support of North Marion Schools.

As a graduate, former school board member and business owner in the North Marion School District, I urge you to vote yes on the proposed operating levy Nov. 5.

The school district properties are the center of experience for most of our neighbors. Some of the buildings are more than 62 years old while the facilities both indoor and out are highly utilized by the communities of Donald, Aurora and Hubbard.

A four-year operating levy is being asked of the district patrons. The increase would be 0.74 cents per thousand assessed value starting in 2014-15. I agree with many of you that the discretionary dollars and any increase is hard to swallow. However, I believe there is a time for everyone to share in the direct support of the school district for the obvious needs. After five years of unmatched revenue sources and increasing expenses, the district has been hard hit to provide the quality education and experience I am sure you expect. Your increased taxes would go directly to the district to use for needed instruction, safety, maintenance and personnel.

I think this is a fiscally responsible request: 1. As taxpayers, North Marion patrons pay the least out of any school district in a four-county area 2. The district would benefit from a supplemental grant of (more than) $300,000 from the state as we are considered a poverty area but only if we support a local option for ourselves.

Fewer opportunities, larger class sizes, outdated instructional materials and not enough staff to support learning are NOT what I want to be known for. Please vote yes to support a four-year operating levy for your North Marion School District.

Jack Berkey


Bike For Bread thanks its sponsors

To the editor:

There are two things that can take the joy out of bike riding: rain and wind. On Sept. 28, the day of the Kiwanis Bike For Bread charity bike ride, we had a double dose of both. Thankfully, due to the generosity of our sponsors, we were still able to raise around $1,800 for our local AWARE Food Bank.

I would like to publicly thank our title sponsor, Legacy Financial, as well as our other sponsors: Abby’s Pizza, Carl Brown Insurance, American Family Insurance, Everybody Fitness, Hallmark Properties, Hand & Ledesma attorneys at law, Long Bros. Building Supply and Yes Graphics. We are fortunate to have such great local businesses that time and time again give back to our community. Please support these businesses. They help make our community a great place to live and do business.

I would also like to thank The National Honor Society members from the Wellness, Business and Sports School (WeBSS) who promptly showed up to volunteer. They are to be commended for being there ready for work despite the incredibly poor weather.

Walt Blomberg

French Prairie Kiwanis Bike For Bread Committee Member

What happened to those six city employees?

To the editor:

It is now October and the new hourly rate for those six employees (See “Salaries cut, but city employees keep their jobs,” Sept. 11 edition of the Woodburn Independent) has now been implemented. But we don’t know what happened to the employees. Did all six leave the employment of the city of Woodburn or did some stay and others moved on to other employment?

It would be nice to know if those employees qualified for unemployment benefits, received a severance package or an extension of benefits for a period of time paid for by the city. Those six employees have been put in a no-win situation: Either take the large pay cut and try and scrape by on just above minimum wage, or file for unemployment benefits and look for another job. But, do those six employees qualify for unemployment benefits? If they refused to accept the pay cut and did not report for work, then they really “quit” their jobs and probably would have an eight-week penalty for unemployment benefits. The city may have agreed to not protest any unemployment filings and there would be no penalty.

The year 2007 must have been very good for collecting property taxes because the city was so generous as to provide a “deferred compensation match” of 5 percent of the participants’ salary base. All those management employees and non-union staff were eligible for the 5 percent match. In other words, “free money” and also tax free. I do not know what Mr. Derickson receives as compensation but just for argument’s sake, let’s assume around $160,000 a year base salary. Do the math, and 5 percent of $160,000 is $8,000 and the city was so happy to match that dollar amount and that is for just one of those folks who are eligible for the match program. Of course, Mr. Derickson has to put in $8,000 of his own money as well. But, one would have to be pretty stupid to turn down the deferred compensation match. In fairness, the city did reduce the deferred compensation match to 2 percent in 2012. But it is still a tax-free gift of money but they do not have to pay taxes when the money is withdrawn from their account.

Lastly, from my understanding “all” city employees are eligible to participate in the deferred compensation program but not all employees are allowed to receive the matching money. Only the gifted few are allowed that privilege.

Terry L. Will


Levy needed to ensure safety, restore programs

To the editor:

On Nov. 5, The North Marion School District will ask voters to approve a four-year local option levy to help supplement our annual operating budget.

Since 2008, when the Wall Street financial crisis crippled our economy, public schools in Oregon have taken a beating.

At North Marion, we have cut staff, programs, building budgets, maintenance and a whole host of other measures to keep afloat. As a result, student performance is down and delayed maintenance is piling up. Even with increased funding from Salem this year, the list of items to be restored to the budget is overwhelming.

The needs of the district go beyond just getting back to where we were. It seems each month brings news of a new school tragedy reminding us that creating safe schools is our number one job.

We need to enhance our intruder protection, secure our buildings and classrooms and beef up our response efforts. All of these safety measures will cost money that we simply don’t have in the budget.

In addition, technology is fundamentally changing our culture, our economy and the way we teach our kids. Our kids need a 21st Century education if they are going to secure jobs in our modern economy. Giving them the tools they need is expensive and our current funding doesn’t get the job done.

Thankfully, passing a local option brings in matching grant dollars from the state making it a great investment for local voters. The local option would generate about $582,000 in the first year of the levy, but because we are a property-poor district, the state provides an additional $309,000 in Equalization Grant funding at no additional costs to local taxpayers. This money is only available if the local option passes.

Finally, the North Marion School District permanent tax rate is the lowest of the 31 school districts in Marion, Clackamas, Yamhill and Polk counties. North Marion has a $3.3333 rate, Woodburn is at $4.5247, Mount Angel $4.6288, St. Paul $4.7763, Canby $4.5765, Gervais $4.6427 and Silverton $4.5458.

For years, our local taxpayers have been paying considerably less for schools than their counterparts outside our district. This levy helps tap into that difference while still making us one of the best bargains in the four-county region.

To help restore the health of our district, invest in essential initiatives like safety and technology, leverage state grant money and keep our tax rate among the lowest in the region, I encourage you to vote yes for the North Marion School District Local Option.

Boyd Keyser


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