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You are welcome

Thank you for featuring new pastor, Rev. David Hutchinson, of Plymouth Presbyterian Church in the Spotlight newspaper.

The write-up was so nicely done. We appreciate all you do and the quality which you do it.

Kathleen Dinwiddie

St. Helens

Find a long-term jail solution or close it

Having a jail is a critical part of local law enforcement. I attended the first two jail summits to learn what options our local public servants could come up with. The mayor of Columbia City suggested that they just put the measure on the next ballot and ram it through, which was not accepted by Columbia County Board of Commissioners Chair Tony Hyde. The commissioners explained that if jail supporters wanted it on the next ballot, they needed to collect the necessary signatures and have them validated by the Columbia County Elections Department by Feb. 19, in which jail supporters claimed they did not have enough time.

The last election was Nov. 5. Jail supporters had from Nov. 6 to Feb. 19 to collect and validate signatures to put the jail issue onto the May ballot, which is approximately three months and two weeks to meet Oregon election rules. Not enough time? Election rules do not compensate for gift shopping, holidays or college and NFL football games. County Commissioner Earl Fisher’s offer to put the measure on the ballot with support from signatures of those who are not validated as registered voters is legally questionable, as invalidated signatures would make the entire election invalid.

I would support a ballot measure to fund 102 beds at $127.50 for the next 10 years at a tax rate of 56.25 cents per $1,000 tax value if the county would limit jail bed rentals to the U.S. Marshall’s Office to 30 beds per day at $115. I will not support a ballot measure above 57 cents because it would be excessive with the addition of bed-rental revenue. I prefer a 10-year time frame, but would consider five years. I will not support anything shorter. I don’t want a short-term fix. I will not support a ballot measure that allows the county to rent out more than 30 beds per day to the federal government.

If jail supporters find my limits too strict, that’s too bad. Support a long-term affordable solution or close the doors. Either way is fine with me.

Joseph Turner

Columbia City

Push, push for the jail to stay open

Wake up Columbia County and city voters who want to close the jail.

Why? Why are you too tight to vote yes to get money for the jail, so we do not have to close it? And why did you vote down the city’s levy to have more money to run the St. Helens Police Department?

I have lived in a lot of counties in my life and have only felt safe in two. Those counties are Columbia County and Clallam County, Wash. I lived in Port Angeles, Wash., from December 1990 through December 1995. I was even able to work as a volunteer for the Port Angeles Police Department.

We have the best law enforcement in the city and the county. The officers are not gun-happy. They would save each other and, if necessary, someone innocent. They are very compassionate, well-trained and well-run in all aspects of law enforcement. They investigate everything thoroughly. They are a source of pride for our county.

I want all the young people 18 and over to go to the Elections Department and register to vote so they can vote in November.

My opinion in all of this is for you to delve in and study everything that will happen if the jail closes. We can’t move away — most of us — so push, push for the jail not to close. We won’t have a clean city and county — and safety — if the jail closes.

JoAnne C. Young

St. Helens

Reaching a tipping point

We may have reached a critical tipping point here in Columbia County with elected officials. It is time to vote, just as this paper has suggested.

The most recent example involves a Port of St. Helens commissioner, Colleen DeShazer, who has twice reportedly said that if people don’t like things she is doing or saying, “they should move.” Her cow head incident that has gone to international news, and her public suggestion to people to move, is something I will remember to take to the next election. She will reportedly not be asked to step down or be recalled by the remaining port commissioners. Remember she is sitting on an elected commission, the same as the other commission members evidently supporting her, and that everyone in the county ends up paying for.

Another elected person is Sheriff Jeff Dickerson, whose position supposedly exists to protect us, and he collects a hefty salary on the pretense of doing just that. A further indication to me that his attempts to balance the Sheriff’s Office budget are at best half-hearted is that he is making no attempt to freeze salaries that have rather consistently risen. I appreciate an earlier writer’s opinion that his tactics could be considered extortion. Another disappointment is that he did not open up beds that we have already paid for — that he has decided will remain empty — to provide shelter for the homeless during the cold and snow we recently experienced.

Now he is going to approach us again for funding through yet another election. Again, it seems critical to vote for the umpteenth time on this issue.

Consider another levy that has been rumored to be placed on the next ballot for Columbia River Fire & Rescue. I believe we still have the same fire chief who has not met qualifications to even hold that position and has nearly bankrupted the fire department. He has also been on other boards that have taken huge amounts of tax dollars and has managed to bring those boards to their financial knees. As far as further “managing” my tax dollars, he has shown complete incompetence. I know how I will be voting.

Then we have our three county commissioners, who are supposed to represent our wishes. These three elected representatives consistently whine about no funding for the county, yet they will not consider a salary freeze and continue to take their annual salary increases. Just think where their combined annual salary increases could be used. As far as representing us goes, they have repeatedly not honored election outcomes, have brought in businesses in financial trouble and appear to deliberately seek out industry that is potentially hazardous to every citizen. All of which are costly to the county, taxpayers and, therefore, voters.

We have a remedy. Vote.

We have senators, legislators and representatives in this county who cannot seem to get involved in local issues unless provided a photo-op, or they somehow benefit personally. Rather, they let out-of-county politicians work on issues for us when they visit. They all collect our tax dollars for salaries, all are supposed to represent our needs, are suppose to follow the laws and be accountable and all are elected. Some national voices have said they need to be removed. What say you? Vote.

Georgia Keiper

St. Helens

Frustrated with the bureaucracy

For 10 months I’ve been working with Columbia County Courthouse personnel and the District Attorney’s Office to get a custody/support order processed. It’s been extremely frustrating, mostly because of the incompetence I’ve encountered from literally every person I’ve dealt with. I’ve been given incorrect information, my paperwork has been “lost,” phone calls were not returned and I was told by a clerk that paperwork is sometimes clipped to a wrong file. She explained this is a fairly common occurrence.

What’s most frustrating is that, throughout all of this, not one person has acknowledged any fault on their part, or offered any apology. I became upset with the District Attorney’s Office when its staff couldn’t find my application, even though I have a voicemail from their office indicating they had it. I had to submit a new application, further delaying the process. With all I’d been through, I was understandably frustrated. The District Attorney’s Office asked if I wanted my case moved to Salem to be handled. I replied no. Days later, I received a letter from the District Attorney’s Office stating it had moved my case to Clatsop County for processing. I’m not aware of any job where you handle a complaint of this type by moving the person out of your jurisdiction, with no attempt to understand or correct the issue, let alone accepting any responsibility for the errors and mishandling that has occurred.

With the wage and benefits these employees receive, I’d expect them to be held accountable for an acceptable level of performance and serve customers with courtesy and respect. If others have had similar experiences, I urge you to report it. Perhaps then we’ll see accountability.

Kristin Walters

Columbia City