I am a U.S. Air Force veteran and a proud graduate of Clackamas Community College.

I chose Clackamas because it was a veteran-friendly school where I could stretch my military educational benefits. CCC has been the most embracing, supportive, welcoming academic environment that I have ever been part of. The college staff doesn’t just expect you to think critically, they show you how to think critically. The college also offered me the opportunity to gain valuable work experience as a work study student in public affairs, my career of choice.

Most people know that community colleges are a great place to pursue a career or a transfer degree, but it’s also a great place to build real world experience from top-notch professionals who care about your success.

I worry that continued disinvestment in in our community colleges will erode their ability to help those who need it most. I worry that the current proposed funding level at the Legislature will lead to additional cuts in courses and programs, such as veterans services, and force higher costs on students.

As thousands of veterans prepare to return home, I urge the Legislature to fund our community colleges at a minimum of $460 million. Our military families and veterans are counting on this infrastructure to be there for them, just like CCC was there to support me.

William Burkhalter


Help us shape the future of our parks

As a resident of Clackamas County for the last 28 years I realize the value of community parks.

When I first moved here in 1985 I lived near Risley Park in Milwaukie, which is now a part of the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District (NCPRD). Risley Park was so well used on weekends that many times my wife, Suzanne, and I went to Milo Mclver State Park when Risley Park was full.

Decades later I am more familiar with other park facilities in the region, through active involvement in the community and service on budget committees, the local water and sanitary districts, and now as one of your county commissioners. Over the years I have knocked on many doors and spoke to many of you about many issues. The future of our parks and natural areas are always a topic of conversation (“Support for locally elected North Clackamas parks board?” May 22).

Over the last year the NCPRD has kicked off a master planning process that will ultimately create a road map for the future of parks in the greater North Clackamas area. Citizens are passionate about parks, especially as the area grows and becomes more densely populated and as open spaces become scarce.

We have now found ourselves in a new era of environmental stewardship where our creeks and natural areas are duly recognized as vital assets and are an important component of many of our local parks. The cost to maintain and build parks to meet growth demands has resulted in several challenges, including budgetary. Many government services are facing tough times with operating costs outpacing current revenues. The NCPRD is wisely looking ahead during these challenging financial times. As a only county commissioner and a resident of the district, it is an issue of personal concern to me as well.

The NCPRD includes the cities of Milwaukie and Happy Valley and the unincorporated areas of Jennings Lodge, Oak Grove, North Clackamas and Sunnyside. The city of Damascus has expressed interest in joining the district, the Milwaukie Center wishes to retain its identity, and the highly populated but underserved areas have long awaited some signs of equity. The current funding mechanisms and new growth have resulted in many new quality parks in Happy Valley. Parks that are within safe walking distance are few and far between for the majority of taxpaying property owners who reside west of I-205.

I hear these concerns. There is some worry that not all voices are being heard during the current NCPRD master-planning process. Please know that your opinion is important and that you still have an opportunity to influence the future of parks in Clackamas County. The Board of County Commissioners wants to expand the outreach of the NCPRD master-planning process. Our Community Planning Organizations and other groups will also be included in this discussion.

Please contact me or any commissioner to share your ideas and concerns. Help us shape the future of our parks.

Paul Savas

Clackamas County commissioner

Get the facts on CRC

I am responding to the letter to the editor written by Commissioner Paul Savas in your April 24 issue. I know that Commission Chairman John Ludlow already responded.

Commissioner Savas is making an issue of the CRC project as far as scheduling a work session. The other four commissioners said no. So what does he do? He goes after Chairman Ludlow, because he didn’t get his way. Remember, Mr. Savas ran for commission chair last May, and lost to Charlotte Lehan and John Ludlow, who appeared in a runoff in November with John winning by a huge margin. Chairman Ludlow and Commissioner Tootie Smith were voted into office by an overwhelming majority last November because the voters/taxpayers in Clackamas County want change, and commissioners they can trust.

If he wants more information, then maybe he needs to pay more attention during work sessions and the public hearings. How much information do we need when making a decision? Sometimes to much information can be confusing. If you consistently try to keep getting more information, then nothing will get done. It almost sounds like Commissioner Savas is an analytical person. This type of person struggles, when it comes to making decisions. There is nothing wrong with this. However, sometimes, we need to make quick, common-sense decisions.

In the case of CRC, it not only involves Clackamas County, but also the entire metro area. Keep in mind, Clark County does not want light rail on the bridge. The idea of the new bridge is to improve the flow of traffic.

With light rail on the bridge, you have the same number of traffic lanes you have now. This makes no sense. More lanes are required to improve the flow of interstate traffic. Also with out the approval of the US Coast Guard, there is no bridge. The bridge needs to be built higher to accomodate river traffic. Light rail can not be higher. So it may not happen at all.

The interstate bridge does need to be replaced, however, if Wisconsin can build a bridge for $600 million, why can’t we? During the campaigns last year, Mr. Savas supported both John Ludlow and Tootie Smith. He was even at their victory party on elecion night. Yet, when it comes to some very serious issues, he votes against them, always claiming that he needs more information.

If the other four commissioners feel they have plenty of adequate information regarding CRC, then that should be good enough.

Jeff Molinari


We welcome submissions from readers on local issues for our Editorial and Opinion page. Please send your thoughts by noon Friday to Raymond Rendleman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Keep Letter to the Editor submissions under 400 words; longer submissions will be considered for Community Soapboxes. Submissions may be edited for length, grammar, libel and appropriate taste. Letters must be accompanied by a full name, a telephone number and street address for verification purposes. Readers are also invited to call 503-546-0742 with story ideas and comments.

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