Questions about jail

How many jail beds do we need to support our local and county police patrols? How many jail beds do we need to support our local county courthouse? How many jail beds need to be funded to operate the jail without renting beds to outside agencies? What is the projected per-bed cost for fiscal years 2015-2018?

In the last year, our sheriff has reduced the number of available beds to Columbia County courts to fill our jail with federal inmates in order to meet the county’s funding shortfall. Reducing the available beds for our local courts is no different than closing the jail. If a person is arrested for cashing bad checks and a bed is not available, he/she will be released just as if the jail was closed because it is not considered a violent crime.

Having attended the first two jail summits, reading letters from jail supporters and op-eds from the county sheriff, I have heard a lot of opinions on why we should keep the jail open and how bad crime will grow in our community, but no factual evidence to answer the questions above.

Here are some of the obvious facts: The jail was built without an operating budget in place. Since opening the jail, the county has failed numerous times to pass a ballot measure to fund operations. The county has reduced the number of, and time available for, road patrols. The county has spent the equipment budget on the jail instead of replacing aging vehicles and miscellaneous equipment. The county has reduced the number of beds available for local law enforcement.

As taxpayers paying the costs, it is time for us to step up to the plate and/or set limits: serve the county or the feds, our choice.

Joseph Turner

Columbia City

Prefers principle over party line

Regarding the letter to the editor in the March 14 issue of the Spotlight regarding Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, and her votes on various issues (“Lonely and scary”), it spurred me to evalute my feelings about her votes.

She is a politician who votes on issues rather than party lines, a happening seldom seen here in Oregon. She makes this Oregon voter remember Wayne Morse and other politicians in the past who had convictions that ran deeper than party lines.

I would much rather vote for a politician of conviction than a right or wrong party line voter, be they Democrat or Republican. I may not agree with every position they take, but I can respect that they are voting for a principle rather than a special interest.

I have been voting in Columbia County elections for the past 54 years and feel we are fairly represented, both by Rep. Brad Witt and Sen. Johnson.

Jack Cate


Fundraiser support was appreciated

Thank you to Brandon and Sam Riahi of Grocery Outlet for allowing VFW Post 4362 to use space in the parking lot to raffle a load of firewood donated by Mark Comfort of Comfort Construction.

The winner was Brad Levin, who generously donated it to a disabled veteran. Grocery Outlet employee Janelle James drew the winning ticket. Thanks to all who supported a successful fundraiser for the Scappoose VFW Post 4362.

Frank Weber

VFW Post 4362


Take advantage of Obamacare

“I’m young and healthy. I don’t need medical insurance.” Famous last words. Sign up for medical insurance while you can — and at a great price. When I was in my 30s I had to have major surgery. I was off work for 10 weeks. I ended up paying a lot of bills for a very long time.

A friend who was in her 20s had no insurance and developed uterine cancer. Not good. When I was unemployed I couldn’t afford COBRA insurance which came to almost half the amount of my unemployment insurance. Then I had to have an infected (fortunately non-cancerous) breast cyst removed.

What I would have given for medical insurance that was affordable. We now all have the chance through the Affordable Care Act, so let’s take it.

Sign up for medical insurance before March 31. You never know what’s around the corner, no matter how young, or healthy, or powerful you are. You wouldn’t live anywhere without a smoke detector or locks on the door. Don’t live without health insurance. Go to

Lisa Frenz


Fan of Ekstrom

The Spotlight printed a letter to the editor that was so gripping in its uncomplicated clarity that, at the very least, it should be re-printed monthly for the next year, or until our land arouses itself from the delusion that its own self-centeredness brings.

It was written by Bob Ekstrom, of Scappoose (see “Defending the ‘high ground,’” Jan. 10).

Please encourage him to write to us more often with his gently spoken, but oh-so-telling a story, whatever stirs his literary calling.

Dean Nichols


Contract Publishing

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