Letters from governor, senator, superintendents and others

by: MIKE LIGHT - The artist's hope with 'Santa's Sorrow' is that the community is engaged enough with Clackamas Town Center tragedy that they will be able to make the connection with the initials of the victims. 'If they are not, it will prompt them to have the discussion with themselves or others about what the initials stand for. Sometimes I believe giving the viewer the benefit of some level of awareness in general,' he said.All flags at public institutions statewide are to be lowered immediately and flown at half-staff until sunset on Wednesday, Dec. 12, as mark of respect for victims of Clackamas Town Center shooting.

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and their friends during this very difficult time. I would also like to thank the first responders and the many citizens who helped protect those at risk.

I have directed State Police to make any and all necessary resources available to local law enforcement.

Gov. John Kitzhaber


Proud of response

We have already heard several descriptions by friends and neighbors who were at the Clackamas Town Center mall, and it is clear that this random act could have easily happened to people we know.

Happy Valley and Clackamas County continue to work in partnership to provide safety and livability to our citizens and our adjoining neighbors.

We are proud of the rapid and professional response of our law enforcement, and our hearts and prayers are with those who lost loved ones as victims. We share their grief.

Mayor Lori DeRemer

Happy Valley

Support students in crisis

As many of you have heard, there has been a horrific mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut. The fact that most of the victims were young children is especially heartbreaking and sad. This certainly adds to the sorrow we are feeling in our own community this week. We extend our thoughts and prayers to the Newtown, Conn., community.

As we have done since Tuesday, we need to continue to show our support for students, and to acknowledge what they are feeling. For those who had a tie to the shooting at the Town Center earlier this week, this latest event could raise added stress and anxiety.

Please remember that students handle crises with a wide spectrum of responses. Some may be visibly upset. Others may shut down. Some may inappropriately make light of these events. All these responses are normal. Ultimately, it is important that we support students, whatever their response. We have counselors and administrators at each school who can further support students who may be struggling with these acts of violence.

When violence happens it may be hard to know how to talk about it. If students are talking about this latest shooting, I encourage you to listen. Give them time and space to work through their emotions.

Even though we’ve had multiple violent public events this week, such events are rare. We need to reassure students that our schools have safety procedures in place, and remind them that staff and students practice these safety procedures throughout the school year.

We have trained safety personnel in our schools, including police officers who work within all our schools. We have on-going working relationships with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and the Milwaukie Police Department. Student safety is our top priority.

We are all feeling more vulnerable today. It is important that we understand that adults as well as children may be personally impacted by these events and may need your extra understanding and support in the coming days.

Matt Utterback

North Clackamas superintendent

Shocked and heartbroken

I am shocked by the horrific and deeply disturbing events at Clackamas Town Center. To lose even one Oregonian to violence is heartbreaking. To have an ordinary December afternoon at the mall descend into a scene of murder and terror is absolutely devastating.

My thoughts and prayers tonight are with the victims, their loved ones, and all who have been affected by this terrible act of violence.

Sen. Jeff Merkley


Additional support availible

ln response to the tragic events at both the Clackamas Town Center and at a Connecticut elementary school, I want to assure you that we will continue to take all the safety precautions necessary to ensure a safe school environment. ln Gladstone School District, We have a comprehensive safety plan that includes students, staff and a district level Crisis Response team.

In response to these tragic events, we have a team of trained staff who are on alert for students who may need additional support during this difficult time.

When children experience traumatic events, they can be comforted most by parents or trusted caregivers. Listening and offering assurance is essential. Follow regular routines and keep things as predictable as possible as this provides a feeling of safety.

As with any situation, each student responds in a variety of ways. You may notice difficulty sleeping, a change in appetite, a desire to stay close to home, irritability or other behavioral changes. Children need reassurance from those around them and a calm environment to feel safe. It is important to keep with routines, as predictability helps to keep children feeling safe. Therefore, we would encourage you to continue routine school activities as much as possible.

Do not underestimate your child’s awareness or understanding of what has happened or what may be happening. Please be mindful of the media that your child is exposed to as with the vast amount of information from a variety of sources (news, social media, newspaper) this can be overwhelming and confusing to children.

Please feel free to contact your child’s teacher if you are in need of additional support. We can also refer you to the Clackamas County Crisis Hotline, 503-655-8401.

Wendy Wilson

Gladstone elementary principal

Prevent future tragedies

In the midst of the season of hope and joy, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon laments the tragedy of violence resulting in death, wounding and terror at Clackamas Town Center yesterday.

Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon calls upon all houses of worship to pray for the victims’ families and loved ones, and for the perpetrator’s family who are suffering now. We give thanks for the police, emergency professionals, and mall staff for their courage and quick response, making clear that we will not be paralyzed by fear in the face of sudden violence. We also acknowledge the importance of pastoral care and mental health services for all those impacted by this tragedy, and we give thanks for everyone who is part of the healing process.

Causes of these tragedies can be complex, including lack of resources to recognize and treat mental illness, easy availability of military-grade weapons, and the culture of violence permeating our society. At this time in our society, we must be willing to tackle these hard issues together in order to foster healing and help prevent future tragedies.

Rev. Dr. LeRoy Haynes

EMO Board president

Don’t take my rights

I noticed that a couple of your initial articles about the Town Center shooting applied a very bias tone concerning the gun-rights debate.

Please do no not spin it by giving only one-sided voice to banning advocates such as Ceasefire Oregon. Perhaps this can be saved for an Opinion column, but people can form their own opinions based on reported facts.

Especially considering the weapon in this case was stolen, that’s hardly grounds for making a case to have the government take away more of our rights. Many, many people in Clackamas County (where I live) and throughout Oregon value those freedoms. The right to own and bear arms is about self defense, and ultimately freedom from tyranny - which are not illegal or unethical principles. An armed law-abiding citizen could have put a quick stop to this tragedy, which could have been much worse if the shooter’s gun didn’t happened to jam up.

I appreciate your publication and read it regularly. I just fear that putting this kind of spin will tarnish your reputation and lose readers, especially here in Clackamas County.

Nate Alford


Demand action for sane gun laws

Our thoughts are with everyone who was shot and their friends and families.

We do not know all the facts yet, but a few things are already clear. Our communities can never be safe while the gun industry profits from arming the deranged and the dangerous with increasingly lethal weapons. As long as weapons that belong only on battlefields are sold in our communities, the lives of ordinary citizens will continue to be sacrificed as mere collateral damage by the gun lobby and the politicians who turn a blind eye to the carnage.

The outrage must outlast the news cycle if we are to stop the bloodshed. This kind of terror will continue in America until our legislators stand up to the gun lobby and put the lives of our families over the profits of one industry. Ceasefire Oregon has been working to ban assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines. We have also been working to require background checks for every gun sold.

Call your senators and your representatives, on the state and national levels. Call the White House and demand action! Do it in memory of today’s victims, and in defense of tomorrow’s.

State Sen. Ginny Burdick’s proposed legislation to ban oversized ammunition magazines represents a major step in the campaign to stop the mass killings associated with semi-automatic weapons. We need more legislators like Ginny Burdick.

Congress has failed to act, and the President has failed to lead. The Oregon Legislature needs to show some courage and protect our citizens from these weapons. Next time, the gun might not jam

Penny Okamoto

Ceasefire Oregon, executive director

Support mall, one another

The North Clackamas Chamber of Commerce shares our concern and support for all those impacted by Tuesday’s tragic events. Please support the Clackamas Town Center Mall and one another as we move forward together as a community.

Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who was in the mall at the time of this unfortunate incident. We are grateful to have the stellar support of all the law enforcement agencies and rescue personnel in the area, who immediately took action and continue to ensure the safety of everyone remaining at the property.

David Kelly

Chamber CEO

Safety taken seriously

We are all shocked and saddened by the tragedy that has unfolded in Connecticut. It was an unthinkable and horrific event. We all are struggling to find the capacity to absorb and respond to this tragedy on the heels of the incident at Clackamas Town Center.

Tragic events like this challenge our sense of security. It is appropriate and expected that we will all react with fear and apprehension. For many of us, this event will surface previous traumas. We naturally respond with a whole range of emotions and even some irrational behaviors. We all need to exercise patience and understanding with each other as we learn to cope.

We want you to know that all district staff take our responsibility for student safety very seriously. The Oregon City School District has a well-trained and prepared crisis response team, building emergency teams and plans. Our schools remain a safe place to learn.

Teachers and staff have been encouraged to take time as needed to talk about what has happened and the memories and fears it may evoke. School counselors and the crisis response team will remain on alert for those who may need additional help in dealing with this trauma. Please take time to talk with your child today.

Resources to assist you are available at

We know we all will keep those affected by the tragedy in Connecticut in our thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time.

Larry Didway

Oregon City superindendent

Contract Publishing

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