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Letters published June 24, 2016

Backing Mayo in November

I’ve known Wayne Mayo for over 30 years and he’s my choice for Columbia County commissioner. Wayne has many outstanding qualities that would make him an exceptional commissioner. He’s clear-thinking, approachable and straight-forward. He also has the courage to make tough decisions. However, what’s most compelling to me is his willingness to step in and help people, regardless of who they are or how difficult the circumstances, and he never expects anything in return. If you’re in a jam, you’d be fortunate to have Wayne nearby. This is a man who truly cares about people.

The next few years are critical for Columbia County. The commissioners will have a lot on their plates. Wayne’s ability to work with people and solve problems will be needed more than ever.

Pete McHugh


Jail operating committee update

We are writing this letter to provide additional information to the June 17 opinion article in the Spotlight about the Columbia County Jail Operating Citizens Advisory Committee (JOCAC) Report.

Most importantly, the complete report, listed as “Committee Report (JOCAC),” can be found in the General Link section of the Columbia County website at co.columbia.or.us and on some local city websites. Hard copies of the report are available at all city halls and libraries in Columbia County.

Also, for those that will not read the report, we wish to explain why the cost of housing U.S. Marshals Service inmates is only $9 per day, per inmate. Addressing the question of the cost of housing U.S. Marshals’ inmates, the committee believes that the relevant question is, how do the costs of housing U.S. Marshals’ inmates, over and above the cost of housing local inmates, compare with the $80 per day per inmate that the county receives from the U.S. Marshals Service? Because many of the costs to house 80 to 100 local inmates are fixed, the cost to house 60 U.S. Marshals inmates is $201,000 per year, or $9 per day, per inmate. Since the county receives $1,752,000 from the U.S. Marshals Service for housing 60 inmates, this leaves $1,551,000 to be used to reduce the cost to house Columbia County inmates.

A detailed evaluation is presented in the report.

We urge anyone interested in Columbia County Jail operations to read the report online or to pick up a copy at your local city hall or library.

Richard Lager, Chair

Gregory (Garrett) Lines, Co-Chair

Jail Operating Citizens Advisory Committee

Loss of a loved one to war resonates for years

The  story “Finding The Father She Never Knew” (see June 17 Spotlight, page A1) really was overwhelming for me.

I have a similar story, but a little different. My father was killed in World War II, but in the Pacific Theater. He was killed on Nov. 26, 1942 (four months and six days after my birth) in New Guinea. Even though I never met my father, unlike Marilynn in “Finding the Father,” my mother kept him alive for me. Even when she remarried to my wonderful stepfather, they always made sure that I had a relationship with my father’s family, who lived in Colorado and Nebraska. I so appreciate what Marilynn is feeling.

My middle daughter has also done extensive research concerning my father’s death and the circumstances of the war in that part of the world. My mother had kept every letter that my father had written her and she gave them to me, and I gave them to my daughter. They are a wonderful account of what a soldier was going through at that time.

Thank you for publishing this account. Please let Marilynn know that there is another in Columbia County that can relate. But, also, letting others in our community know that the loss of a loved one because of war does last for many, many years.

Geraldine Logan

St. Helens

A connection between marijuana and gravel operations?

A dear friend and I were sitting in the back yard today talking politics — local, state, national — it didn’t matter. We figured we could settle all the problems of our country if only common sense prevailed.

Evan and I have agreed on most political issues for over 40 years now.

Currently, we agree that one does not need a military-type rifle to shoot deer or to protect one’s self. We agree that the only time we hear about an AR-15 is when children and innocent people are killed with one.

No one brags about bagging a deer with an AR-15.

We agreed that the Republican dominated do-nothing Congress now in session cannot afford to anger the National Rifle Association during an election year. Common sense does not prevail.

So we then talked about local situations. Back in November, the legalization of marijuana was approved throughout the state. Columbia County commissioners and city of St. Helens council persons did what they could to negate that vote.

Since the moratorium and other attempts to control the pot business did not work out so well, it appears our leaders now want to make financial gain from these well-organized businesses slated to make lots of money — ergo — tax it.

What my friend and I are having trouble wrapping our thoughts around is this: A depletion fee on all rock leaving our county has been in effect since probably the mid-1980s. This fee has not been enforced for over 30 years. Granted, there are rumblings this will change, but I won’t hold my breath.

We have holes the size of lakes throughout Columbia County and the county has done nothing to enforce the depletion fees. I would expect a great many new developments are sitting on Columbia County rock.

The pioneer cemetery on top of Liberty Inn Hill has a pit within feet of grave sites of people who have been buried there since the 1850s. Land on the riverside of Scappoose has been decimated to the point of no return. Attempts have been made to disguise these pit sites with small humps of earth and “no trespassing” signs.

Stop your car sometime. Ignore the no trespassing. Take a look at this destruction. See if you then wonder why our elected leaders are so enthusiastic about taxing the new marijuana business and not enforcing the rock depletion fee.

The county commissioners and the gravel companies have long lamented that it is not fair to focus on one industry to raise money. Why, then, should it be fair to focus on another promising industry?

Here’s an idea: Perhaps it is because well-entrenched corporate buddies in the gravel business make large contributions to candidates’ re-election campaigns. I don’t like thinking if you make a contribution to candidates, you won’t be taxed on your business ventures.

Let common sense prevail. You can’t tax one, you can’t tax one without the other.

Nancy Whitney

Evan Kjornes

St. Helens