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Letters To The Editor

From Our Readers

New academy a bad idea

Newspaper headlines read, "Salem says no to police academy." Of course they did. Salem would also say no to a toxic waste site. The bottom line is, no one wants an outdoor shooting range and emergency vehicle driving track located adjacent to homes and schools. At least Salem was honest. The same article had Salem officials bemoan the loss of potential tax revenue if DPSST were to build on 'Salem land.' The same holds true for Monmouth. Our city will not lose money if DPSST leaves.

Most DPSST employees do not live here and they do not shop here. We will lose potential money if the land DPSST wants is made tax-exempt for them.

I have attended both meetings sponsored by the City of Monmouth regarding the academy. Even though our local paper continues to report that Mayor Evans is hopeful the academy will stay and the concerns of the people will be addressed by officials, it is clear he isn't listening.

At both the city meetings the concerns were pretty clear; an academy for academic learning is all well and good -- an outdoor shooting range and driving track are not. These were and are the concerns addressed by a vast majority of those in attendance.

If an outdoor range is built on the north edge of Monmouth, the character of the city, the whole city, will be changed forever. There will be no going back. The quiet town, that offers a high quality of living for families will be replaced with a noisy town where gunshots and sirens are heard throughout the day in both schools and homes.

Don't be fooled by talk that only a few recruits will train at the DPSST academy. It will become the major training site for firearms in the State for every agency that carries guns. It will be open to all city police departments, all 36 county sheriff's departments, the State Police, and even Federal law enforcement agencies. The driving track will be open to fire trucks, police cars, and ambulances. When SWAT teams train, prior to practicing their dynamic entries, they will be exploding "flash-bang" grenades. This is what we will get with a new academy if DPSST has its way. Oh yes, don't forget State Police and emergency medical helicopter training at the new academy. There will be no end to the noise generated by this facility once it starts.

Why can't DPSST train officers for 7 weeks, transport recruits to an off-site facility for two weeks of shooting and driving, and then return to the academy to finish? Because DPSST refuses to compromise with the city. They demand everything or nothing. This type of thinking just doesn't make good sense.

Why did our mayor, city manager, and DPSST executive director come to the meetings with absolutely no data about the proposed facility? Why were the citizens who attended these meetings, better informed than our officials? Why were Monmouth citizens asked to accept the academy on 'blind faith?" Because if the truth were known about the noise and level of use the academy will get, our officials know that they would not get the support they need to get DPSST to stay.

If you live in Monmouth, demand that the city and state provide you with information about the use of the academy, the noise pollution that will result, the lead contaminants that will will be washed in our watershed, along with gas and oil from the track that could also end up in the ground. Most of us genuinely support law enforcement. A shooting and driving range in our back yards, next to our schools is another story.

DPSST should be made welcome to pursue its academic endeavors in Monmouth.

They need to find a better place to drive and shoot.

Steve Osborn

Monmouth

Casino traffic problem

It's an individuals choice to gamble or not, but all of us are confronted with heavy traffic everywhere near the Spirit Mountain Casino.

Ex-Governor Roberts and Governor Kitzhaber gave away the farm, when they made the gambling casinos tax-exempt.

An easy way for the state to deal with the traffic problem is to shift the responsibility of the problem to the casinos.

We need a state law that requires the casinos to upgrade and maintain all state highways to four or more lanes of traffic, within 25 miles of the casino.

Larry Nichols

Dallas

Fine Falls City neighbors

On Feb. 13 around 8 p.m. I hit a deer head-on when heading toward Dallas on Kings Valley Highway. Thanks to kind people from Falls City and their cell phones we got needed help. Sometimes people outside our community don't appreciate what a fine group of people live here.

Thankfully we do and that was just confirmed.

Thanks, Falls City unknown neighbors!

Dan Long

Falls City

A silver lining

When vandals destroy personal property it hurts. But when community members come together to repair the damage it far outweighs the hurt! Thank you to the volunteers from the Rickreall Watershed Council who helped us replant the trees along Highway 22. A special thanks to Brian Dalton who headed up the team.

The many comments that I/we have received from the community in Dallas regarding the destruction and replanting of the trees have been truly a blessing. I know that I live in a community that genuinely cares for each other. I am proud to raise my family and employ the 25 families that work for me in this community.

Thanks for the kind words and the help.

Louie Kazemier

Owner, Rickreall Dairy

Rickreall

DHS class of 1962

The 1962 class of Dallas High School will be celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2002. I am attempting to get mailing addresses from those students who have never attended a reunion, those who only attended the first one or two reunions, and anyone else from the class who may have lost touch with the rest of us.

If you were in the class of 1962, please write me at 945 W. Oak Street, Stockton, CA 95203 or e-mail me at maggies6@juno.com. I am hoping that our 40th reunion next year will include a large majority of the class.

Margaret (Maggie Van Order) Sanderson

Stockton, Calif.

Academy a bad idea

The proposal by the Monmouth City council to locate the Public Safety Academy on the site on the north edge to town next to the new school being built and adjacent to an existing residential area does not seem logical to me.

I do not feel it is in the best interest of the students in the school to be exposed to the firing of guns throughout the day, the sounding of sirens or screeching tires from fire trucks or police cars, while the students are trying to study or listen to materials being presented to them in class.

It is my understanding that part of the ventilating system to be used in building the new school is open window rather than air conditioning. If so, these sounds would greatly affect the quality of learning going on in the classrooms. As a teacher I would find it difficult to teach in that kind of atmosphere.

There is also the possibility that bullets could go astray from the firing range towards either the school or residential area. The use of one's backyard area in the residential area would be greatly affected by these noises that would occur on a regular basis.

According to the article in a regional newspaper, the City of Salem is willing to consider the academy being built in their city "only if Monmouth is eliminated." They argue that land for the academy could produce substantial tax revenues if used for other purposes. Salem is ready to forgo the economic activity the academy would create compared to the property tax revenue that might be received by other usage of the land. We have brought the same subject up at the city council meetings.

I would hope that your mayor and council would choose a different solution to the academy. I do no want it to be in my backyard.

Ron Mountain

Monmouth

Thanks from Cub Scouts

Cub Scout Pack 39 of Dallas, sponsored by Trinity Lutheran Church, would like to thank the community for its support of our Blue and Gold Banquet. The banquet is the Scouts' annual celebration of the birthday of scouting, and is a big event for the Cub Scouts.

I am deeply indebted to the help I received from the staffs of the Monmouth and Dallas public libraries and from A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village. They saved me many hours with their knowledge and resources, helping to make this a fun and interesting time for our families.

This family event was sponsored in part by the following local businesses, honoring our Scouts as they learn to care for their community: Coffee Plantation; Dallas Feed and Seed; Figaro's; Frito Lay; Grandma's Attic; Guys; H-2-O; Land, Sea, Air; McDonald's, Murphy's; Pepsi Cola; RollerZone; Safeway; Starlight Lanes; and Tipp's Copy Center.

Thank you for supporting our Scouts as they strive to fulfill their personal promise "to do my best, to do my duty to God and my country, to help other people, and to obey the law of the pack."

Deborah Schmidt

Blue and Gold Banquet Coordinator

Cub Scout Pack 39

Dallas

In response to Tamara Bonnett's letter in the April 4 Itemizer Observer: Thank you for your letter regarding Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge. I am sorry for how you feel in regards to the new observation platform on the south point of Baskett Butte. Let me explain why we felt the structure was needed.

In most situations we prefer to manage areas in a condition that is as "natural" as possible. However, the popularity of the hiking trail to the South Butte was creating concern in regards to federally listed threatened and endangered species. The trail did not have a defined end point, and consequently unofficial spur trails had begun to spread out across the top. These trails and other public use activities such as picnicking were, however inadvertent, causing trampling concerns to two federally listed plants, the Willamette Valley daisy and Kincaid's lupine, as well as the endangered Fender's blue butterfly. Even when the plants are dormant, the butterfly larvae are found in the duff layer below the Kincaid's lupine. Short of closing the trail, we felt the overlook structure would help keep most trail users from straying randomly across the butte. People are drawn to that specific site because of the scenic vista of the refuge, coast range and Cascade peaks. We plan to use interpretive signs at the structure to help educate trail users to the sensitivity of the site as well as the significance of the habitat found on Baskett Butte.

I realize the structure is rather bright because of the look of new wood. Rather than paint the structure, we chose to let the cedar weather naturally. Within a year, it should blend in much more with the surrounding landscape. Other plans include a carefully routed loop trail that would allow hikers an alternative return route to the parking area. We believe these features will reduce the impacts to the threatened and endangered species as well as help educate refuge visitors.

You may have also notices other management activities occurring on the butte, such as brush mowing and removal of the small Douglas fir trees. These activities have been carefully planned and are designed to improve the habitat for rare species. The trees were primarily removed by hand with the exception of equipment restricted to the trail area. Other activity includes mowing tall oatgrass (a nonnative invasive species) in the spring in selected areas, and general mowing of poison oak. On a limited basis, prescribed fire has been used in past years and is planned for the future. The exclusion of fire is one of the reasons the fir trees and poison oak have proliferated in the once open oak savannah grassland. Our goal is to maintain much of Baskett Butte in oak savannah habitat, protecting and enhancing conditions for the upland prairie plant community. In addition, we are working to restore some of the agricultural fields surrounding the butte to similar native habitat.

I hope this has at least helped explain why we constructed the observation platform on Baskett Butte. You interest in the refuge is appreciated. Please feel free to contact me about this issue further or on any other issue regarding management of Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge.

James E. Houk

Refuge Manager

Willamette Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex

Corvallis

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. Department of the Interior

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