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Letters to the Editor

Under my watch, volunteerism expanded

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office has a more robust volunteer program than ever, both in scope and in actual hours of service to the community—despite the accusations of my challenger in this election.

In 2008, one of the things I campaigned on was to improve efficiencies of the Sheriff’s Office by using dedicated volunteers. My opponent opposed that concept back then, as a deputy, and mischaracterizes our successes with volunteers now.

I have seen the volunteer program continue to build, with long-term commitments from key volunteers and increasing numbers of volunteers taking part in the broadening program. Some of the advances in the program include:

• The strengthening of the mostly-volunteer Search and Rescue (SAR) team at the Sheriff’s Office with better equipment, broadened training and recruitment that exceeds that of previous years. Volunteer SAR Coordinator (and former Posse member) Ron Hermo has said the 40 certified team members are the most involved with the program in his memory. Just this weekend six new recruits went through the sheriff’s orientation for new SAR members.

• The expansion of the volunteer reserve deputy program with dedicated reserves who are averaging a record 250 hours per month this year in augmented law enforcement patrols in the county and services to the community.

• The development of the Volunteers In Partnership with the Sheriff program, which is affiliated with the National Volunteers In Police Service program. VIPS volunteers provide a wide variety of service to the community by serving in the front office, at the front window, answering phones, taking fingerprints, assisting with jail visitations, filing reports, assisting with accounting and other tasks. They also aid in the field as needed with logistical assistance on major scenes, including traffic control, crowd control, child identification kits and public displays on my behalf.

Within months of taking office in 2009, I established the Columbia County Sheriff’s Volunteers Inc. — a nonprofit organization recognized by the IRS as a fundraising entity for the volunteer programs at the Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff is the president of the organization, whose board members include representatives of each aspect of volunteer services at the Sheriff’s Office, including SAR, reserve deputies, VIPS and the Ralph Painter Memorial Scholarship Committee.

At the same time, I have reached out to the union representing sworn deputies and received the collective bargaining unit’s approval for using VIPS to assist deputies and other staff with routine functions.

I also established the first Columbia County Sheriff’s Cadet program for youth 15-21.

This is a fledgling, pilot program in its first year, which began this past summer with one high school senior currently enrolled in the program and the plan to add more in the coming year.

I am so thankful for the scores of volunteers who have helped us fill gaps in our ability to serve the public. Their servant hearts are at the center of the commitment I have to the volunteers who serve our community.

The breadth and amount of service coming from volunteers these days stands in stark contrast to the accusations from my opponent in this election. This opponent accuses me of “eliminating the Sheriff’s Posse” in 2009, which is patently false.

A number of former Posse members are still volunteering with the Sheriff’s Office, and they can attest to the fact that the Posse was not “eliminated” by the sheriff. The Posse was refashioned in 2009 to serve as a mounted equestrian unit like most other posses.

Those Posse members who wished to continue wearing a police uniform and badge were invited to apply to serve as reserve deputies. Other former Posse members joined VIPS and SAR. A number of Posse members, however, chose to quit their affiliation with the Sheriff’s Office, and there was no one left who wanted to participate in a mounted posse.

My opponent in this campaign was not a champion of volunteers at the Sheriff’s Office when I took office. He filed a grievance in 2008 on the use of volunteer reserve deputies — just months before I took office. He also opposed my use of VIPS volunteers out in the field — in each instance insisting that the inclusion of volunteers takes the place of sworn deputies or police officers and was unacceptable.

In an effort to substantiate my assertions in regard to my opponent’s disingenuous claims, a copy of the grievance my opponent filed has been obtained and released.

I am eager to debate my opponent on this and other topics, but all requests for debate have gone unanswered.

Sheriff Jeff Dickerson, Columbia County Sheriff’s Office

St. Helens admitting mistakes, but not immoral

Concerning the latest from Sheriff Jeff Dickerson in The Spotlight dated Sept. 26, I will not attack either the sheriff or undersheriff personally, but I will attack their policies that have affected the residents of Columbia County. At this time I must set the record straight on the allegations presented by Sheriff Dickerson and Undersheriff Andy Moyer in the paper.

I admit that I have made mistakes, as most people have, in the 29 years as a deputy and have learned from those mistakes.

I will be able to look the staff in the eyes and relate to them this is what I have done and the consequences I have endured due to those mistakes, and this includes personal attacks from the current administration.

As far as the current allegations presented by Sheriff Dickerson and Undersheriff Moyer, I’m not sure what either one meant by the statement “lying in initial interviews.” I answered the questions as honestly as I could. The sheriff also leaves out the fundamental nature of two of the allegations.

I did get into an argument with a supervisor, but Sheriff Dickerson conveniently omits we were both yelling and swearing and the supervisor and I were both disciplined by him. He also omitted the fact that the supervisor and I apologized to each other the next day. This doesn’t excuse the situation, but it does clear up any misconceptions one might have concerning this incident.

As far as the “failure to show up for work,” that’s false. I called the office, specifically then-Sgt. Dustin Hald (who I am positive will deny this happened), and left a voice mail stating I would not be in that day but would be the next. I personally never asked him if he received the message and don’t intend to now.

As for the accident, I didn’t “flee the scene.” I left after making sure everyone was OK and they had all my information and knew where to reach me if needed. In retrospect, I should have stayed. But bringing this up after 27 years with the other two incidents shows I do not have a history of misconduct over 29 years of service, only that I have made mistakes.

Sheriff Dickerson states in the paper, “...it is immoral to do some of the things he has done. He is, not to me, an indication of someone who leads a moral life.” This is basically another attack on my character. This is not only defamatory to me, but also a direct insult to my family. I do not see a need to continually answer these slanderous allegations, insults and character assassinations and will not be answering other derogatory remarks in the future.

Again, I don’t deny having made mistakes. We all make mistakes. But I promise you: I will bring consistency and cooperation as well as honesty and integrity to the Sheriff’s Office, which I believe is sorely needed.

Dave Fuller, Scappoose

Questioning Fuller’s experience, attitude

With regards to the race for the Columbia County Sheriff, a question that comes first and foremost to my mind is what experience does Dave Fuller have when it comes to overseeing a budget in the millions of dollars?

It’s easy for a bystander to say he will do this or that, but, really, has he ever managed a budget of this size before? Just managing a household budget is difficult in this day and age, much less a budget the size of the Sheriff’s Office. It doesn’t appear to me that Mr. Fuller has the experience needed to deal with the financial issues faced by the Sheriff’s Office and the county.

I’d also like to tell you about my own personal experience with Dave Fuller when he served as a Marine Deputy for the Sheriff’s Office. I’ve owned and skippered boats for the past 30 years, so when the state mandated that you take the boater safety course in order to operate a boat, I was one of the first to take it and receive my card.

One day I was launching my boat to do a little fishing, when I had the “pleasure” of having Mr. Fuller pull me over for a boat inspection. My boat, life jackets, etc., were all in order and Mr. Fuller could find nothing to cite me for. His demeanor throughout the entire inspection, however, was surly and very rude. I don’t believe I’ve ever been treated with such disrespect. This is not what I expect when I deal with people in service to the public, much less from law enforcement, and it does not show leadership skills.

The office of sheriff requires leadership skills and it requires someone who can deal with the public and the employees of the county and Sheriff’s Office in a diplomatic manner. Based on my past experience with Mr. Fuller, I’d be very concerned about the example he would set and the impression he would give to citizens in general.

In my opinion, Jeff Dickerson has the professional experience, both financial and law enforcement, and the leadership skills needed to hold the office of sheriff, and my vote will be cast for him.

Bob Wagner, Columbia City

Disappointed in Dickerson, faith in Fuller

I am writing this letter in support of Dave Fuller who is running for the position of Columbia County Sheriff. Dave has been a highly respected deputy sheriff in Columbia County for over 29 years, serving under Sheriffs Bruce Oester, George Hulit and Phil Derby, prior to Dickerson.

Dave served two years in the Marine Corps from 1974 to 1976. He then went four years at Southern Oregon College (now SOU) earning a bachelor’s degree in criminology.

I and a lot of other people in Columbia County are very disappointed with the smear campaign that is being used by Sheriff Dickerson against Dave Fuller. Dickerson has used The Spotlight very effectively to give himself a launching pad to promote his campaign tactics.

On April 27, my residence on Westlane Road was broken into. I lost 12 guns, ammunition, old coins and lots of other quick-sale items. After calling 911 to the Sheriff’s Office three times and waiting hours for a response, I was told this was not a priority call. Stolen guns and ammo not a priority?

I was able to obtain the names of the meth and heroin addicts who robbed me and gave them to the Sheriff’s Office. None have been charged with the burglaries as yet, and none will be, I’m sure, after Dickerson reads this letter.

I’ve been broken into twice since April 27. Without arrests and convictions, burglaries will continue to be an ongoing problem for residents in rural Columbia County.

I do not blame the deputies I’ve worked with. I blame the policies of the incumbent sheriff.

In conclusion, Dave Fuller is honest, he has integrity, he has ethics, he knows how the Sheriff’s Office needs to be run. He will do the job we elect him for.

Dave Maloney, Scappoose

If only you knew the sheriff like I do

Columbia County is lucky to have Sheriff Jeff Dickerson as one of its leaders. Although there are some people in this county who think that someone — evidently just anyone — could step in and take over the position as sheriff, these people have a complete misunderstanding of what this position involves.

I see firsthand the devotion he gives to the citizens of this county: the countless — yes, countless — hours that he works to better this office for the people he serves. Each day after work he comes home only to spend many late night hours working on the budget, preparing for staff meetings, figuring out creative ways to try to keep employees that the office can no longer afford, to cut costs in the jail while maintaining a safe and secure place for inmates and his deputies, to answer emails that he didn’t get to while at his office, to be available to respond to an urgent call if he is needed and many other tasks that are too numerous to mention.

He does all of these things while maintaining a positive attitude in the midst of a dwindling budget over which he has no control.

He encourages his staff to remain positive and focus on the many tasks at hand.

I know him.

I know his heart is good. I know he is even-tempered and I know the humility behind all he seeks to do and wishes to accomplish. I know he strives for excellence and expects little recognition. I know that, in the many years we’ve been married, I have never heard him so much as raise his voice or say an unkind word.

I know when he holds others accountable for their actions, it is nothing more than he would expect from his own family or from himself. I know he has done great things in bettering this county and that there are many, many citizens, business owners and leaders who agree.

I pray for him every day, for his safety and for God’s guidance in all that he does.

The things his opponent and his supporters are saying about Jeff are so off the mark and mean-spirited, it’s hard for me to imagine anyone taking them seriously.

If you knew him as I do, you would know there is no other choice for a successful sheriff in this election.

Barbara Dickerson, St. Helens

Not liking Dickerson’s budget policies

As a concerned citizen and taxpayer living in Columbia County, Sheriff Jeff Dickerson should be explaining to all of us how he believes sending patrol and corrections deputies to the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training for cross training has or will benefit the citizens of Columbia County. At the price of paying overtime to deputies at an astronomical rate, Undersheriff Andy Moyer appears to think that if there is money left in the overtime budget, we need to use it. How is this train of thought financially responsible in any way?

For instance, Sheriff Dickerson cut all of his supervisors from the jail, of which three of the six are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. In order to just fill the basic schedule for the jail, Undersheriff Moyer needed to cover 244 hours of overtime for the first 19 days of July alone.

Now that the three corrections deputies have returned from the DPSST academy, they must all go through the Field Training and Evaluation Program where they are being trained and observed on how they perform as patrol deputies continuing the burden of overtime on the corrections staff.

This is what this administration calls fiscally responsible. The public should see just how much money is being spent on the overtime budget in the jail alone. Sheriff Dickerson has been really good at his threats and promises, and that is what they are, just threats and promises. This administration has made so many enemies of the citizens and fellow law enforcement agencies that it will take years of effort from a candidate that is not afraid to ask for assistance from their local agencies. Building a foundation of teamwork and trust is needed within the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, and Dickerson has proven he does not have the skills and abilities to accomplish this task.

Katherine E. Lineberger, Scappoose

Fighting Scappoose growth plans

Do you want corporate and other private jets screaming over the east side of Scappoose?

Do you want the Crown-Z trail wiped out?

Do you want even more traffic clogging the highway?

And all of this “justified” by predicting that employment in Scappoose will grow 7.6 percent every year, starting in 2010? Everyone knows that figure is ridiculous, but few have the time or resources to fight it.

I suggest you ask the following question of candidates for Scappoose City Council: “Do you oppose or support the UGB expansion?” and vote based on the results. Of course the candidate can have a surprise re-evaluation of her or his position after the election, but you do what you can.

Mike Sheehan and I will be taking this case to the Oregon Court of Appeals.

It’s expensive, so contributions gladly accepted.

Pat Zimmerman, Scappoose