To put all the blame on Congress is a cop out. The school board [sets] the policies.

The buck stops with school board

I read Dick LaJeunese's letter ('Do homework before you sign school board recall,' July 6, 2011) and believe he and Mr. Howell are whiners.

I served on Osborn School Board in Arizona for eight years; two as president. The board is the ruling party. They select a superintendent to follow the direction of the board and law. (Hopefully these are the same!)

During my tenure we directed the superintendent to do many things: form a co-op with other districts to do purchasing, periodically offered a golden parachute for experienced personnel with extensive years in the district, extensive interaction with the community, (like Gales Creek provided). And a board member sat in on all district-wide committees which included negotiations with all employees.

To put all the blame on Salem is a cop out. They do have an impact but so does Congress. The school board does not handle everyday business but they set the policies and direction. Before reading Mr. Howell's (what I view as a threat) statements on having a recall, I felt as a retiree with no children or grandchildren in the district I would merely vote. Now I look at the recall as a direct grade card for the board members actions or lack thereof!

I will sign the petition and grade their work: D+

Bobby Griffin

Forest Grove

Volunteers make a difference

The SMART (Start Making A Reader Today) program wants to thank our wonderful volunteers in Forest Grove and Cornelius for a successful 2010-11 program year! This year more than 32 volunteer readers dedicated at least one hour each week to read with more than 54 children.

The children participating in SMART read many books one-on-one with their reading buddies each week. The children took home 604 books this year to keep and share with their families.

I want to especially acknowledge our volunteer site coordinators at each school. These folks dedicated from 3-20 hours each week to provide leadership (scheduling with the teachers and volunteers) and program oversight at their schools. We would not have SMART without their commitment to the children in Forest Grove and Cornelius. Val Donley, Jennifer Norman, Caroline Dau and Heather Cope provided leadership at our Forest Grove/Cornelius Schools this year.

As we head into our 20th year of providing literacy support to children in Oregon, we want to thank all of our volunteer readers and coordinators who have dedicated their time to SMART and helped us reach more than 144,000 children in Oregon since 1992. We look forward to another great year in 2011-12. If you would like to join us to support children in the Forest Grove and Cornelius area, or to learn about SMART, please visit us at or call our office at 971-634-1616.

Stacy Goodwin

SMART Program Manager

Cornelius fees make city safer

I would like to take a moment to respond to Sydette Squire's June 29 letter to the editor.

Her letter prompted me to look at what my family pays in taxes and fees to the City of Cornelius.

My portion of property tax that goes to the city is based on a rate of $3.98 per $1,000 assessed value of my home. That rate has stayed the same since voters approved Measures 5 and 50.

Last year my family's portion of the property tax bill that went to Cornelius was $511.00. Obviously, this would change depending on the assessed value of your home, which the city does not control. As for other fees/taxes:

1. The street light fee was eliminated in November of last year.

2. The general service fee is attached to the water bill. This was a flat $8 a month charge for residential customers. Last month the city council dropped the fee by one dollar per residence, changing it to $7, totalling $90 for this year.

3. The gas tax is .02 cents a gallon. If my family averages 100 gallons of gas a month, the total tax would be $2 a month or $24 a year.

Adding together these two fees, my family's total comes to $114.00 a year.

What do I get for my $114 a year?

My $24.00 gas tax is strictly for road improvements. Fixing roads is expensive and takes extensive planning. I can't expect every pothole and bump in the road to be fixed overnight.

My $90.00 yearly General Service Fee goes in many directions. It helps support the critical safety of Cornelius residents by supplementing the police and fire department budgets.

It also complements the library and parks departments. Some residents may feel that public library and parks are not necessary in times of financial crisis. I disagree. I think they become more important the tighter the economy becomes.

The General Service Fee also aids the the nuts and bolts of Cornelius - the city council, planning, community development and the Internal Services Fund for administration, facilities and information systems.

I believe my fees make Cornelius a safer and more enjoyable place to live.

Team 3 have said they would like to do away with the General Service Fee entirely. Financially, I don't think this is the best decision for Cornelius. They have not given any concrete ideas to the public on how they will fill the holes in the budget if the fee is taken away.

Patty Harmon


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