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A story of courage, honor

It was 6 a.m. in Afghanistan, Oct. 3, 2009, at Combat Outpost Keating when the attack began with ferocity. Four hundred enemy fighters opened up with RPGs and heavy automatic weapons on the 53 soldiers below known as the Blue Platoon Bravo “Black Knights” Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, Fourth Brigade Combat Team, Fourth Infantry Division.

Eight died that day. One would die later of complications due to PTSD.

B Troop was tasked with interdiction on a popular route used by Taliban for re-supply out of Pakistan. In a valley surrounded by mountains on three sides, COP Keating offered little in the form of tactical advantage. The landing zone immediately became too hot for air supply-evac. Strafing the hills from helicopters added little due to the crags used by the enemy.

Rolling out of bed to the sound of heavy fire, the Black Knights grabbed their weapons to join the fight. Their job was to resupply ammunition to the Afghan National Army unit posted there with their two Latvian trainers. When the barrage started, the Afghans fled, leaving the 53 Americans to defend themselves at 8-to-1 odds and against superior positioning. With concrete exploding around them, the soldiers scrambled for their positions at mortars and 50 calibers.

As the morning wore on, Spc. Stephan Mace had been caught in the open and gravely wounded. After hearing Stephan Mace shout out his predicament, Spc. Ty Carter sought to go to his aid. Pinned down from above, Carter’s first impulse to get Mace was denied by his immediate superior, Sgt. Brad Larson. Eventually, and in conjunction with an aircraft strafing run and braving withering fire, Carter ran to a wounded soldier, tied off the blood loss and carried him to safety.

Running repeatedly to re-supply defensive positions with ammo and medicine, Sgt. Carter did his best to support his fellow soldiers while engaging the enemy himself. Hit by shrapnel and impacted by close explosions, Carter remained in the fight essential to the ultimate defense of the outpost.

The battle lasted all day.

After getting Spc. Mace back to the aid station, five buddy-to-buddy transfusions — a battlefield first — were administered. A tree caught fire next to the aid station. Having been raised in Spokane, Wash., Carter was the only one who knew how to work a chain saw. Braving enemy fire with hot embers landing on his back, Ty cut the tree down, falling it in a direction that saved the aid station.

This week, on Aug. 26, America honored Marine turned soldier Staff Sgt. Ty Michael Carter of Spokane with the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest honor we can bestow on our warriors. In response, the humble Staff Sgt. is quoted in the Huffington Post: “This award is not mine alone. I am grateful for the service of all the soldiers I fought with that day.”

To those who pray and/or offer encouragement: many of the Black Knights deal with PTSD as a result of “that day.”

To the survivors of B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment: you have made us proud. Beyond proud. If we could bear the memories of that day and give you a restful mind, we would. It’s our hope and prayer over time you will find comfort in our grateful appreciation, our admiration.

Wayne Mayo

Scappoose

Are campaign contributions the reason why?

The Columbia County commissioners can prevent the perception of a biased public hearing on the Port of St. Helens application to rezone almost 1,000 acres of farmland at Port Westward by having an opportunity for public testimony in St. Helens, as requested.

In 2012, Commissioners Earl Fisher and Tony Hyde both received one of their largest political campaign contributions from Portland & Western Railroad. PWR is one of the main beneficiaries of the Port’s application, if approved, because the rezoning could trigger a massive increase in bulk commodity transportation by rail.

If the rezoning is approved against the recommendation of the Columbia County Planning Commission, items such as coal by rail could be shipped through the cities of the port district on unit trains, cutting the cities in half and thus hurting economic development, increasing commute times, impacting quality of life and causing unfunded transportation and safety issues. Extrapolating from the 2009 rail safety study, which was based on four unit trains per week, the unfunded transportation issues alone could be well over $120 million.

Who is going to pay for this?

The railroad and the port are under no legal obligation to pay for these impacts, so the cities, businesses and citizens of Columbia County will be stuck with the bill. The three largest cities in the port district are aware of this potential problem and have proactively asked for impact studies on the effects of increased rail traffic.

Our cities are trying to protect us. Why aren’t the county commissioners?

As it stands now, the only opportunity for public testimony will be at the Clatskanie High School at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 18, which is the most remote location in the port district. The time and location of the public hearing makes it impossible for some working in Portland metro area to attend.

The county seat is in St. Helens and the vast majority of people and businesses who reside in the port district are within 20 minutes’ drive of St. Helens.

The stated reason for moving the hearing to Clatskanie is that the impact of the rezoning is primarily in Clatskanie. Are the county commissioners not listening to the cities and the county Planning Commission? Or are they even aware of how increased rail traffic will change Columbia County?

Given the economic, safety and quality of life impacts of a massive increase in rail traffic on all the cities of the port district, except Clatskanie, why would the only hearing be located in Clatskanie? Clatskanie will have no unit trains cutting its city in half, so its residents that will get a benefit with limited negative impacts.

Given all this, are the county commissioners trying to stack public comment in favor of the rezoning so they can justify the rezoning for the benefit of their campaign contributor? Without having the proper research to make an informed decision, what are the county commissioners doing?

Brian Rosenthal

Scappoose real estate

and commercial investor

Port’s land-use plans not in county’s best interest

On May 29, 1973, Gov. Tom McCall signed Senate Bills 100 and 101, creating the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission and setting up statewide protections for farmland.

On Dec. 27, 1974, LCDC adopted 14 statewide planning goals. Goals three and four were set up to protect both agriculture and timberlands.

From the moment these laws were passed, powerful and wealthy interests have worked hard to overturn them. Initiatives were proposed in 1976, 1978 and 1982, all defeated by a large public vote.

I am speaking as an individual and not in my role as a Soil and Conservation District Director, but in 1976 the SWCD passed a resolution to support the preservation of agricultural lands in our county.

The soil survey shows that three-fourths of the soils in the land zoning change the Port of St. Helens is proposing north of Clatskanie are Class II and III soils and are considered good productive agricultural land.

In addition to these soils, there are other reasons to oppose a land-use change. Establishing a shipping terminal will create dust and diesel smoke, forcing existing farms and businesses, like Seely’s Peppermint, to either close or relocate.

The port’s proposed expansion is adjacent to the endangered white-tailed deer refuge. The Thompson property, which is also included in the expansion proposal, is located on a historic seining site.

A shipping terminal will eliminate this historically significant location as well as have an adverse impact on the white-tailed deer population. This is one of the last remaining stretches of mature riparian habitat on the lower Columbia River, and the Port’s land-use change proposal can adversely affect potential great blue heron rookeries as well as existing osprey and bald eagle nests.

The proposed rezoning and plan amendment is not in the best interests of county residents. Residents should say so at the hearing on Sept. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Clatskanie High School.

Bill Eagle

St. Helens

Zone change is good for jobs

The May election of 2013 pitted the pro-jobs Port of St. Helens candidate Terry Luttrell against Michael Clarke, anti-jobs, anti-development candidate.

Luttrell won by a landslide.

That alone should tell the county commissioners where the voters of Columbia County stand on economic development. The voters of this county are tired of Columbia County having one of the highest unemployment rates in Oregon. The anti-jobs people keep screaming “quality of life,” but what is the quality of life for the massive number of unemployed people of this county? What is the quality of life for the spouses of those unemployed workers in this county? What is the quality of life for the children of those workers in this county?

One of the reasons they don’t care about the “quality of life” for these people is that it appears that most of the people and money opposing economic development in Columbia County comes from people who are not residents in this county. The May election showed this to be true.

Now the new problem in Columbia County is that once again the Sheriff’s Office needs a levy to in order to keep the jail functioning correctly. Many of the other agencies in the county are in the same position, needing adequate funds to run their departments. Here, again, it shows that adequate funds to run the county are obtained more efficiently by having more tax payers instead of more taxes.

The answer to the Sheriff’s levy is for the Columbia County commissioners to show they are in support of the port’s economic development plans to create more taxpayers. If they cannot support the Port of St.Helens economic development plans, then the taxpayers of this county should not support the jail levy.

It is the job of the county commissioners to solve tax problems by creating more taxpayers than taxes. To help with the Port of St. Helens economic development plan at Port Westward, they should reject the Planning Commission’s recommendation and allow the zoning change.

Fred Yauney

Scappoose

Port too cagey to trust

The Port of St. Helens says no coal storage terminal is currently proposed at Port Westward and coal is not the reason why they have requested the rezoning of 957 acres of agricultural land to industrial use.

They will have to forgive many of us who find their bland assurances less than comforting.

What would allay our fear is making, on the record, a clear statement that no coal terminal will be considered. Period.

Other ports, including Portland, have declared coal terminals are not a good fit for them. Our Port should do the same. It would not only be reassuring, it would be refreshing to hear the port use something other than ambiguous language to define their intentions.

Likewise, the county commissioners certainly realize that splitting five cities with back-to-back unit trains is a bad deal for Columbia County, not to mention giving up farmland in the bargain. This being true, they must deny the port’s request. They are the ultimate decision-makers and are entrusted with holding a vision of what is in the best interest of all for the long-term benefit of our county.

Please attend the hearing at Clatskanie High School on Sept. 18 at 6:30 p.m.

Let the commissioners know you will support their decision to deny a broad-based request to plunder rich agricultural land without knowing the purpose for doing so.

Nancy Ward

Scappoose

Feeling blessed

After colliding with a semi flatbed tractor-trailer on Highway 30, I was tended to by several passersby. I didn’t get any names under the circumstances, but want to thank those private citizens who comforted me until EMTs were on the scene.

May you receive blessings for your help.

Lonnie and Ken from Scappoose Fire Department, thank you both, you guys were great.

Emergency team from Emmanuel, thank you.

Above all, thank you Lord for no broken bones and no head injury.

Yes, recovery lies ahead, and there is a lot of pain and hobbling, but sometimes slowing down helps us see and appreciate all we have before us. Linda, my lovely wife, I publicly thank you for your care and tending to my recovery. You are a godsend.

Bruce Carvalho

Scappoose

Dear Spotlight staff

Wow! What a great job you did with your ads and the feature incent for Columbia Riverfest.

We could hardly believe what an excellent, creative job you did. You exceeded all our expectations.

Thank you for your part in making Columbia Riverfest a success.

With your support we drew nearly 4,000 people to Columbia County Fairgrounds for a fun filled, family friendly day of entertainment, and message of hope.

Thanks again for all you did.

Fred Butcher

Festival Director

Proud to be an ‘Indian’

It’s a shame the government gets involved in every aspect of life, to the point of trying to extract our existence.

Case in point: The Indians who lived in Scappoose years ago left a legacy with us who live here. Scappoose, which is an Indian name, and the school using the mascot name “Indians” show the pride we have in our heritage.

Local Indian tribes have stated they don’t have a problem with Scappoose using an Indian as a mascot, as it is done with pride.

Gov. Kitzhaber states we can no longer take pride in our Indian heritage and we can no longer use an Indian as a mascot.

I know government would like to forget the past and what was done to the Indians. I believe they would like to forget they ever existed.

If that’s the case, then the government has a problem. I, as a resident and alumni of Scappoose, am proud of the Indian heritage and prouder to have carried the name of ‘’Indians’’ through my school years and today.

I hope you who attended school locally will speak up and let it be known how you feel about the Indian name being removed from our schools.

I had an incident where a local Indian saw me wearing a Scappoose Indians shirt. The Indian stated, “So you are one of those Scappoose Indians?”

I stated, “Yes I am.”

The Indian said, “Well good for you, and keep showing your pride for being one.”

The Indians have stated they see the pride we carry in the name and don’t have a problem with it, so why should the government?

Pinky Garver

Scappoose

Thank you for 4-H fundraiser success

I would like to thank all who came out and rode at the 4-H Horse Leaders Annual Bunker Hill Trail Ride Fundraiser on Aug. 24. Special thanks goes to Eric Olson, Olson Quarter Horses, for hosting this ride and grooming the fabulous trails.

Thank you to the following who donated prizes or other services to the event: Columbia Theater, Safeway, Dutch Bros., Deer Island Store, Klondike, Hudson Garbage, Oregon Hunters Association, Carolyn Olsen and 4-H Clubs: High Withers & Tail Swishers, Hilltop Wranglers, Sauvie Island 4-H, Rodeo Riders, Scappoose Silver Spurs, Wranglers, Turn ‘N’ Burn, Lariats, Foxy Trotters and any others that I have missed. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Karen Van Winkle

Columbia County 4-H Horse Leaders Committee

Support the person, not the party

Your Aug. 2 edition included a letter entitled “In Agreement with Dean” written by Tammy Maygra of Deer Island. I want to comment on that letter, which cast some aspersions about Oregon Sen. Betsy Johnson and Oregon Rep. Brad Witt.

This letter was quite partisan in favor of the Democratic Party.

It is my impression that we voters decided recently to remove partisan politics from our local elections. I have been a proud Republican since I campaigned for General Eisenhower for President when I lived in Chicago, a town run for many years by a very strong Democratic Party.

We moved to Columbia County about 13 years ago. As the president of my homeowner association, I met Betsy Johnson shortly thereafter and she has since invited me to several fundraisers for people she believed to be good candidates — most of whom are Democrats. Sen. Johnson and I have never discussed our party affiliations and I believe she supports people because she feels they are the best for the job and for Columbia County, not because of their stated party affiliation.

Partisan politics is what is tearing apart our national political scene and I commend both Sen. Johnson and Rep. Witt for not playing the partisan card in their professional lives. Surely, Howard Dean is one of the worst offenders of this type of hateful politics and is a rabble rouser of the first order on the national scene. If he has voiced an opinion that Sen. Johnson should be defeated in the next election, that is as good a reason I can think of to keep her in office.

Ideologically I am a staunch Republican and I believe the current federal administration and federal Senate are a national disgrace, but I still pride myself in supporting the best people to represent me in St. Helens, Salem and Washington.

I was very active in politics in Santa Clara County, Calif., prior to our move to Columbia County and I always did my best to become acquainted with the candidates to be sure they represented the interests of their constituents and not necessarily their political party. I believe that worked well for Santa Clara County and it will work well for Columbia County as long as we keep good people in office like Sen. Johnson and Rep. Witt, who consistently put what is right before what the party tells them to do.

Robert J. Braud

St. Helens

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