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Letters to the editor of the Spotlight

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Pick Simmons

Over the past 28 years as local residents and business owners/operators of the Haakinson-Groulx Mortuary in Clatskanie and Rainier, we have had the privilege of working directly with local and county law enforcement. On numerous calls our first contact has been with Deputy and Undersheriff Gerry Simmons. It has always been our experience to find Gerry personable, professional, caring and truly dedicated in serving Columbia County and its residents since 1980.

Here is a little background on a model servant: Born in Longview, he has spent most of his life in Clatskanie, graduating from Clatskanie High School in 1969. Honored to serve his country, Gerry joined the Marine Corp in 1969; served in active duty in June 1969 in Vietnam for one year; also served in Japan and returned to Vietnam, retiring from the Marine Corp in May 1994.

Gerry and Setsuko Ishii were married Nov. 2, 1973, in Fukuka, Japan. They have one son, Michael Simmons, who like his father also served in the Marine Corps.

Gerry was hired by Columbia County Sheriff's Office in 1980 and became deputy medical examiner in 1981. He was appointed undersheriff in 2000.

Gerry has been instrumental in developing several programs in Columbia County to better our communities in serving others in emergencies, such as Neighborhood Watch Program, purposely to improve safety within our communities, to better inform us of being more alert of our surroundings. He has worked directly with Mayor Diane Pohl in forming a Civilian Volunteer Search and Rescue program.

Through and through, Gerry has shown positive leadership dedication, direction, determination, honesty, integrity and professionalism. Therefore, our vote and continued support is with Gerry Simmons as sheriff for Columbia County.

Malcolm, Clair, Jackie Groulx

Pat Jacobson

Clatskanie/Rainier

Vote Dickerson

I would like for all my friends, neighbors and fellow citizens of Columbia County to know why I support Jeff Dickerson for sheriff. I spent my entire law enforcement career working for Columbia County and was a volunteer reserve deputy sheriff prior to being hired full-time. Combined it gives me 30 years of experience with Columbia County Sheriff's Office.

I know firsthand what it is like to try to run an agency with limited funds as I was responsible for the jail operations for 11 years. This included preparing and managing the budget for the jail, which has grown to roughly $3 million a year at the new facility. I also know firsthand what it is like to be part of the budget cuts that have occurred within the county. I have always made every effort to be as informed as possible on any issue before deciding what direction I will take; this election is no exception. I know Gerry Simmons very well and I will be the first to say that he is by far one of the hardest-working individuals that the Sheriff's Office has employed. I appreciate the fact that, like myself, he has had to put in hundreds, if not thousands of hours of uncompensated time for the county and its citizens over the years.

So why don't I support him for the sheriff's position? I believe he is a good candidate but I believe the county and its citizens deserve more than just a good, hardworking person to fill the role as sheriff. Gerry has made the comment that he would not make changes just for the sake of making changes. To date I have not seen or heard anything about what Gerry's goals or visions for the Sheriff's Office are, except for the short one-line statement on his campaign Web page.

I agree with many citizens who have voiced their opinions that the Sheriff's Office needs to make some changes and become a more public service-oriented agency and not just keep using the excuse that there isn't enough funds. I believe there are many things that can be done, the least of which is responding to citizens when they call or ask for assistance and not just mailing them a form to complete and send back. There are many other things that can be done with little or no additional cost to vastly improve the Sheriff's Office and its service to the public.

I believe it is time for someone with fresh ideas and a different perspective than that of the current administration. I didn't think I would ever support a state policeman for the sheriff's position; however, candidate Jeff Dickerson has impressed me with his well-rounded experience in both the public and private sector. I believe that Jeff Dickerson has more than the necessary law enforcement experience it takes to understand the law enforcement perspective and his business experience is an absolute plus, given the fact that the sheriff is ultimately responsible for preparing and managing two budgets (jail and patrol) totaling roughly $5 million. His degree and experience in journalism is icing on the cake as the Sheriff's Office policies and procedures have been in need of revision and improvement for some time.

Communication and journalism skills go hand-in-hand and the sheriff needs to be a great communicator, both verbally and in writing. Jeff has demonstrated to me personally that he cares about the Sheriff's Office, its employees and the citizens of this county. He takes the time to tell you his goals and visions; and in turn gives you the time to share your concerns and views with him. He is the only candidate that has taken the time to share his visions for the Sheriff's Office with me. I believe it is time for a different direction in the Sheriff's Office. I believe Jeff Dickerson has all the qualifications, experience and drive that it will take to make the improvements that are needed. I urge the voters of Columbia County to give him a chance to make a difference as he has committed to improve the service and professionalism of our Sheriff's Office.

Jim Gibson

Clatskanie

Climate change

Your editorial of April 9 invoked the specter of global warming and rising sea levels. Has anyone asked why the Corps of Engineers is dredging the navigation channel instead of building levees?

A few writers have called 1315 A.D. the beginning of the Little Ice Age, which they describe as several centuries of more-frequent storms, flooding, crop failures famine and disease lasting into the 1800s. I suppose there are written records of some of these events.

Recent storms in the Northeast and Midwest ought to get the attention of more people than those who have to dig out from record snowfalls. But it may be a bit early to say it is the beginning of significant climate change.

It is appropriate to ask about records of climate prior to the 1300s. What we are observing may not be unprecedented.

Eugene Oster

Scappoose

Customer service

An excellent column on customer service. I have made several copies of your article to distribute to some of the less desirable businesses that need to read your writings. I pay attention to those who offer good customer service as well as those who don't.

I would like to pass along one of the best here in St. Helens - Red Apple grocery store. Customer service is important to the management and employees of Red Apple. Seldom are you ever waiting in long lines for checkout. Other checkers simply call for more help if they see more than two customers waiting.

Compared to some of the chain stores, it's like the difference between day and night.

Our fast food restaurants have lots of room for improvements, too. Recently I discussed this very issue with the manager of a fast food restaurant and mentioned to him that for many of their employees, it is their first job and a perfect opportunity for them to learn good customer service skills as well as good work ethics. I urged the manager to strive for excellence in choosing and training new employees. I realize these are not high paying jobs but they're a good place to start and to learn good communication skills.

Again, thank you for your great article and I hope some of our local businesses will learn something from reading your article.

Dick Kohlstrand

St. Helens