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Letters: Year's end offers opportunities for reflection


by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Clackamas Fire District No. 1 Chief Fred Charlton gives a speech after his inauguration June. 30, 2012, at the district's training facility in Clackamas.As 2012 comes to a close, Clackamas Fire is taking time to reflect on a year’s worth of events that have helped shape the communities we serve.

We have seen our calls for service increase to a record number over the entire fire district as more and more citizens, businesses, and visitors need our assistance. We feel very fortunate to have been able to purchase two very unique pieces of fire apparatus that will ultimately allow our career and volunteer firefighters deliver a greater level of service. In July, Clackamas Fire District No. 1 purchased and placed in service a new rescue boat for navigating the various waterways within Clackamas County. In November, the fire district placed in service a new 3,000 gallon water tender to support fire suppression activities in our suburban and rural communities.

In October, we hosted our first annual Clackamas Fire Community Academy. The Community Academy is an opportunity for citizens to spend four-hours with firefighters learning CPR, how to use an Automatic External Defibrillator, the proper use of a fire extinguisher, climb an aerial ladder, pull hose from a fire engine and much more. The next Academy will be planned for early spring 2013.

This year, the annual Operation Santa Clause parades collected enough food and toys to assist an estimated 500 families in need. The 12 community parades far exceeded our expectations and the Fire District is very thankful for your generosity and support.

The afternoon of Dec. 11, 2012, will forever have a significant impact on our staff, citizens, visitors and communities we serve. Clackamas Fire responded with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, regional law-enforcement partners, American Medical Response and numerous fire agencies to the devastating shooting at Clackamas Town Center. This was a tragic event and we are working hard to learn from this incident and continue efforts to train for and respond to high-risk, low-frequency incidents.

Have a safe 2013.

Fred Charlton

Clackamas Fire chief

Protect our children year round

We mourn the deaths of the children taken from us through seemingly random shootings. We grieve for their families and for the lost potential of the young souls who have died.

For those of us at Children’s Center, where we help the victims of child abuse, we deeply feel the impact of these tragedies—here in Clackamas County and in Connecticut. We embrace the community’s reaction to these events and the heightened awareness that keeping our kids safe should be our top priority.

In the wake of the senseless deaths of 20 children, President Obama called on us as a nation to make caring for our children “our first task.” He asked us to reflect on whether “we can honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children—all of them—safe from harm.”

Sadly, we at Children’s Center know, as Obama concluded, that we are not doing enough to protect our children. So far this year, we have provided medical exams, forensic interviews and family support to 450 Clackamas County children who are suspected victims of abuse and neglect. We remember that 19 children died in Oregon as the result of maltreatment last year and 22 died the year before.

We could not agree more with political leaders who are calling for us to focus on the safety of children as our first and shared priority. Children’s Center now hopes that we can act together in meaningful ways to protect all of our children from the violence and betrayal of abuse that occurs every day in our community—a form of attack that steals young souls and lives from us. We hope the new light that shines now on our obligation to protect our children also shines on those who are silently abused and violated behind closed doors. We call on each citizen who suspects a child is being abused to take action and to report their concerns to the Clackamas Child Abuse Hotline by calling 971-673-7112.

Barbara Peschiera

Children’s Center Executive Director

Thank you, constituents

As I conclude my work as a Clackamas County commissioner, I want to thank you.

Thank you for your teamwork and for the opportunity to serve. Together we have made important strides to keep vulnerable people safe and healthy, help our residents get back to work, and make careful use of public resources. Here are some highlights of what we’ve achieved in the past four years:

Keeping vulnerable people safe and healthy:

We supported creation of five new health clinics, in partnership with school officials and community organizations. These clinics will help 10,000 additional residents a year get the basic health care they need.

We advanced efforts to keep women and children safe from abuse. Between 2011-2013, our investments are expected to help 5,000 people obtain domestic violence response services and 2,500 children and families avoid or stop child abuse.

We approved a homelessness prevention initiative that will help an estimated 1,100 families, including 1,160 children, move into stable housing over three years.

With leadership from the sheriff, we won unanimous approval to create a Family Justice Center, a one-stop service center to help families fleeing domestic violence obtain restraining orders, emergency housing and other key services in one efficient location.

We teamed up with the sheriff’s office to fund mental health crisis workers to accompany deputies on emergency calls and to work at the jail so we can keep our community safe while responding appropriately to people with mental illness.

Getting residents back to work:

We secured a preliminary commitment for over $8.2 million in regional funding to support crucial road improvements in the Clackamas Industrial Area. These improvements, known as the Sunrise System, will ease congestion and support growth in a key employment area that already hosts 15,000 jobs and has the potential to add 9,000 more.

We purchased an outfall site for the return of clean, treated wastewater to the Willamette River. Use of this site is expected to save the community as much as $80 million in avoided capital costs over two decades.

We struck a balance between the need to protect farmland and open space and the need to support job-creating development during the Urban Reserves process.

We revised county rules to help construction businesses that have suffered during the recession move their projects forward.

We fulfilled our commitment to fund construction of light rail in Clackamas County, which will help people get where they need to go and create jobs.

We resolved a conflict about how to allocate sewer costs, first by negotiating a short-term agreement and ultimately, a long-term one. This resolution will help keep sewer rates fair for customers.

We adopted a strategy to ensure that Clackamas County provides excellent services to clients and customers regardless of their heritage, English language skills and sexual orientation.

Making careful use of public resources:

We secured the redirection of over $1.4 million in county funds from administrative and other uses to meet the basic needs of vulnerable residents.

We directed staff to include a fiscal impact statement for new programs and projects to make sure the county appropriately spends public dollars.

We negotiated new labor contracts that are fair and curb cost increases so the county can keep providing crucial services to our residents.

We increased opportunities for public input into county decisions by hold evening business meetings and launching town hall meetings throughout the county.

By setting high expectations for staff performance, we are improving services to our residents and honoring the contributions of the many public employees who do excellent work. I have advocated to grow the culture of excellence within our government.

In this large, diverse county we do not agree on all issues, but we are united by one thing—our love of this special place. Although I am leaving the Board of County Commissioners, I plan to stay in our community. I also plan to keep working to strengthen it.

Together, and in partnership with our new county commissioners, we can protect fragile families and seniors, create a strong business climate, and make careful use of public resources. Together we can create a bright future for Clackamas County.

Thank you, again, for this opportunity to serve.

Ann Lininger

Former Clackamas County commissioner

Return my sign

To the person or persons who took the “hat shop sign” at the corner of Seventh and Main streets on New Year’s Eve, could you please return my sign?

I have driven all over downtown Oregon City looking for it. I can’t imagine what it could possibly mean to you.

It has lots of meaning to me.

It was a simple homemade sign that actually brought business into my shop.

My husband made this sign as a gift to me after the bridge opened. We could not afford a custom made sign, so he patiently made this sign for me.

My husband is old and does not want to make another one.

Please return it back to where you found it.

Sandra Gillman

Oregon City

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