School leaders helped children through chaos

As the shooting occurred at Springwater Trail High School on Tuesday afternoon, the events that unfolded seemed chaotic and out of control. My 18-year-old daughter called me at work from her classroom, sobbing in terror that they were in lockdown. As I calmed her, I learned that there had been a shooting and the other students had been brought to her room for safety. Suddenly she was forced to hang up. We were not able to retrieve her until nearly three hours later, when she walked out very shaken and completely unharmed.

The right man, Larry Bentz, principal at Springwater Trail, was in the right place at the right time. The police responded quickly, in force, and appropriately. The years of our schools practicing safety drills, the hours of planning the right tactics, the tough lessons learned from the horrible losses in the past all came to fruition on that afternoon.

My daughter told us that evening that Mr. Bentz went to the two classrooms himself, supplying information to the students, answering all their questions, and, more importantly, showing the compassion needed to calm the students. She was so impressed with him. He deserves to be commended and rewarded for a job thoroughly and compassionately done.

After parenting for 30 years, it was a very hard realization to suddenly understand that I cannot protect my children from all harm, no matter how hard I try. Nor, I realized, can I ever express how grateful I am to the team of people who took care of all the children on the two campuses with such a life-giving outcome.

With all our hearts, thank you.

Desirée Pheister


Community should build shelter for homeless

I am a resident of Walter Hill, and I am concerned about the homeless people living there who are scaring the residents. When it starts getting dark, I almost never see residents on Walter Hill walking around. I think it's because there are homeless people out at that time.

There are many ways to deal with this problem. Build a shelter for the homeless people to stay in. We could try to help the homeless people with their problems so they can get on with their lives.

Building a shelter is a good solution. You might think that it will cost too much money, but there are ways to solve this problem. We could ask church groups, concerned citizens or volunteers to help us raise the funding.

There are many other ways to solve this problem, like give the homeless people an opportunity to get a job and a place to live. If that works, we can also have the homeless people on the Springwater Trail get an opportunity to get a job and home.

There are homeless people on Walters Hill who are scaring other residents who live there. We can fix this problem by making a homeless shelter. Then residents on Walter Hill can feel safer to ride bikes and take enjoyable walks and other things, so think about it.

Matthew Mills


Police should help those in cars, too

I was at Hogan Cedars Elementary School picking up my granddaughter ( I have guardianship) yesterday. I was waiting in my car, in line in front of the school, when the lockdown was initiated. After a while, a motorcycle officer came by and said over his microphone to stay in our cars. We couldn't leave or go in the school. We were left out in the open with no plan for us. Some parents had small toddlers. There were also some kids in a daycare bus. We were strung out over a wide area. I was in my car from 2:15 to almost 5 p.m. (Not fun for a 59-year-old bladder! Being a Vietnam vet, seeing guys in dark clothing made me very nervous too).

I'm a disabled veteran. One of my disabilities is I'm hard of hearing. Had it not been for my car radio, I wouldn't have known what was happening.

Bottom line is I think the situation for us was handled very poorly. I think Gresham police need to be trained on how to evacuate people for the hot zone and not leave them in the open.

Just my 2 cents from a vet who's been shot at.

Val G. Shaull


Best way to support troops: Bring them home

I salute Joe Walker of Gresham for his wonderful letter about true patriotism (in the Wednesday, April 11, edition of The Outlook). It would appear that Joe and I are both Vietnam veterans who saw the folly of that war and recognize the folly of this war in Iraq.

I think the best way to support the troops is to get them the heck out of the mess our misguided emperor 'W' has gotten us into. Iraq may have had a few bad guys in it, but thanks to the Bush administration, there are now hundreds of thousands of new terrorists in this disgusting breeding ground, bought and paid for by the thieves at Halliburton, who have milked the American taxpayers for years now. Add to this, the secretary of defense has had to extend the tours of our brave men and woman from 12 months to 15 months because for some strange reason, our forces are stretched beyond belief.

The DOD used to pay out about $174 million in re-enlistment bonuses. That figure is now $1.3 billion and climbing because they can't find any fresh cannon fodder. I also have news for Jane Pluemke with regard to Veterans Administration health care. I have nothing but high praise for the VA here in Portland. I would be dead if it were not for the wonderful doctors and staff here. I am confident that the VA will be a model for excellent universal health care once it is properly funded by congressional leaders such as Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Barak Obama.

The only reason the VA has a bad rep is because conservative neocons did not fund it properly, vastly underestimating the meatgrinder that Iraq would turn into.

Mike Mattingly


Road changes make traffic worse

With the price of gasoline going constantly higher, one would think the city fathers would be considering ways to make driving around Gresham cheaper. That doesn't appear to be the case.

First they put dividers on Division Street, forcing people with no desire to add driving distance, to make illegal U turns to reach businesses they used to be able to reach with a simple left turn.

Then they put similar dividers on Powell Boulevard, forcing drivers going east to the post office to have to travel four and a half additional blocks to get into the parking area or to reach the drive by mail boxes. Here, too, I see drivers making illegal U turns to get to the post office from Powell, rather than going the recommended four and a half extra blocks to enter legally.

The dividers on both Division and Powell cause traffic back ups, as there is no longer a left turn lane on either street. Only a couple cars at a time can get into the short space now allotted for left turns. If a third car wants to turn left, they must stop in the drive lane, causing everyone behind them to have to stop, too.

Just when I thought they'd messed Gresham traffic up about as much as they could, they changed the signal light times on Burnside, another setback for those of us living in Gresham proper. The wait times, to get across Burnside at signaled intersections, has gone from around a minute to over a minute if the traffic on Burnside is light; to a minute, 40 seconds in medium Burnside traffic; and to 2 minutes, 15 seconds during heavy traffic times. The only intersection that doesn't seem impeded now is Eastman Parkway and Burnside.

The folks making these traffic changes do not seem to be looking at the gasoline dollars, we citizens will have to spend long term with all this extra driving and idling at intersections.

Jean Skaggs


City needs to improve sidewalks

I am a concerned citizen of Gresham. I am very worried about sidewalks in Gresham. Gresham citizens deserve better and safer sidewalks to walk on.

First of all, some roads in Gresham have no sidewalks, like on Regner Road. That's a danger to kids who are walking to school; they could get run over while they're walking in the street. Some people also like to walk places, and then they have to walk right next to traffic, which usually won't stop or slow down for pedestrians.

Second, a lot of the other sidewalks there are very damaged. It is very easy to trip and fall on the hard ground with all the cracks protruding. In fact, it's happened to me several times, and it could happen to you, too. It's not very pleasant. Parents: Do you really want your kids to get hurt walking to school just because the sidewalk isn't there, or is damaged? I wouldn't think so.

Here is my solution for this problem: we could have a fun city fund-raiser. A sidewalk sale for arts and crafts, and use the funds to repair sidewalks. My solution will work because many people will buy arts and crafts if they know the money is going to their community. The benefit of this is that then kids and adults alike don't have to walk in the street with a risk of getting run over.

Some people may say things like, 'There still won't be enough money to build and repair sidewalks.' What I have to say to those people is this: Then perhaps instead of putting money towards building new roads and islands in the roads, it should be put to the sidewalks.

So I urge you to call and write to the city.

Rayna Mack


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