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Do you have something you want to say about stories we've published? A viewpoint you want to share? An event you want to discuss? E-mail your letters to news@spotlightnews.net or send them to 33548 Edward Lane, Suite 110, Scappoose, OR 97056. All letters must be signed to be published.

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Coal trains a Scappoose issue

Like many others, my Scappoose property abuts the railroad. I am developing a small organic farm. The constant deposit of tons of coal dust from the trains would destroy my property, and I would likely have to leave, probably losing my investment as the property would become virtually worthless. Some on the Scappoose city council have said it’s not our fight; those will not receive my vote, if I’m still here.

George Walker

Scappoose

Port of St. Helens neglected to research rail capacity

The Port of St. Helens needs new ideas and somebody willing to lead, not follow.

Terry Luttrell and other port commissioners voted to run coal trains through Columbia County without doing any research to find out if it is a good deal for the entire Port district, not just the Port. The Port claims that it has done research, but I have asked for the reports and they cannot provide them because they do not exist.

The only report they could come up with was a safety study done in 2009 for four unit trains per week, not the possible 40- to 50-per-week trains (when combining oil and coal transport deals). The unfunded safety costs alone will cost more than any jobs created. If every city in the Port district were to receive a highway overpass and other safety issues were resolved, it could end up costing the people and businesses of the Port district over $1 million per permanent job created. With more than 1,400 possible rail cars of coal and empty coal cars returning per day, the deal with Kinder Morgan will create transportation issues, reduce quality of life concerns, stunt future economic growth and hurt existing businesses.

All these issues will cost jobs and this will end up being a net job loss for the county. This does not even mention the fact that the coal trains run by many of our schools and could prevent possible emergency response access for police, fire or paramedics.

The recent school shooting in Connecticut proved a few minutes could be the difference between life and death. Prosperity through coal-by-rail is a false promise that will actually cost jobs and make Columbia County’s future dim. Please contact the Port and ask them to stop this reckless behavior and keep the interests of the people and businesses of the Port district in mind.

Michael Clarke

Scappoose

Port Commissioner Candidate Position Four