Letters to the editor for December 7, 2011

Postcard pretty, listen to the county, letter to Kitzhaber, more...

Postcard pretty

We would like to thank and compliment the merchants and the City of Hood River for the Christmas lights downtown.

As former downtown merchants it is so good to see how pretty and vibrant our town is. It should get everyone in a very festive mood - we can imagine visitors to Hood River saying what a neat town this is; must be a great place to live! And it is!

Thank you very much.

Ron and Marlene Van Metre

Hood River

Listen to county

The (Percy Jensen) letter in the Nov. 30 edition of the News is right on target! While the issue is voted on by the city, it is important to the county residents as well and they should not be ignored.

This decision affecting both residents in the city and the county is most likely unique in that it affects both entities with the deciding vote cast by the city. The decision affects both entities equally and both residents should have a say.

Hopefully this should not be a contentious issue as happens too much in our society. Hopefully the outside interest, if any, should not have a say in any way.

As a former elected city council member, the body making this decision should look upon this issue with that thought in mind. The county creates much of the wealth and they spend it in the city of Hood River, therefore creating a mutually compatible situation that should have a happy ending for the majority of the city and county residents.

Hood River has two large and up-to-date grocery stores, and they take good care of their customers. Should the small addition be made to the present Walmart facility, I seriously doubt it will make a big difference to either store. The small size of this addition may add some competition, but not much.

I believe the people involved, city and county, have the ability to make the right decision and I sincerely hope these two bodies work out this issue on their own, realizing the city has the vote in the end.

Finally, based on looking back on this issue after several years, I firmly believe Walmart had every intention to add this small addition as was shown on the original store plan and should certainly be allowed to do so. I know how my vote would be cast had I still been on the council.

Robert A. Wymore, M.D.

Hood River

Letter to Kitzhaber

Dear Gov. Kitzhaber: I am a teacher at Hood River Valley High School in Hood River, Ore. I have been an education professional for over 20 years.

Almost since the beginning of my career, three major negative trends in public education continue to adversely impact children, families and the educational process. These negative trends are (1) an increasing discontinuity in the educational process due to declining revenue and the imposition of high-stakes testing and test curricula; (2) the de-contextualization of the classroom through over-reliance on abstract standards of achievement; and (3) the rise of privatized models of education that serve corporate business interests, but neglect the needs of children, families, schools and communities.

Two "new" initiatives that Oregon is now pursuing continue these negative trends. Both the Education Investment Board and the promotion of Common Core Standards sideline teachers, students, parents and communities, in effect saying to them, "We know better than you what your children need."

Beyond the arrogance of these initiatives, the clear message is that democracy on the ground is not a priority. These authoritarian, top-down models promise efficiency and high achievement, yet ignore the most basic research and evidence regarding child development, brain-based education and the needs of second-language learners.

We have looked for a silver bullet to reform education but instead we have created an educational system that serves state bureaucracy and private business but not the public child.

We have excellent and exciting models for teaching and learning. These models include reasonable expectations for growth and development, support and respect for education professionals, a minimum of bureaucratic interference and adequate funding from stable revenue sources.

We can look to the work of Stephen Krashen and his advocacy for children's basic needs: food, health care and books; Diane Ravitch's narrative journey from standards bearer to child advocate; the success of the Finnish school system in funding and supporting teachers and learners; Eric Jensen's studies of brain-based education; the work of Howard Gardiner on the varieties of intelligence; James Cummin's research on the importance of meaning in second-language learning; Kelly Gallagher's models for teaching reading and writing at middle and high school.

There is no shortage of good models for public education. Isn't it time to look for our educational goals in the fundamental and essential relationship between teacher and student? That would be true reform.

Mark S. Reynolds

Hood River

Teddy's words

Theodore Roosevelt's ideas on immigrants and being an American in 1907:

"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American… There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag… We have room for one language here, and that is the English language… and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is loyalty to the American people."

That's why we need to take care of our elderly, disabled and hurricane victims. Then the flood victims and tornado victim too.

We need to take care of our own people, and not worry about amnesty for illegal aliens. As Obama says, set them up in the USA and spend up to $100,000 each. Take care of our poverty first.

John Dorsey

Hood River

Doom didn't materialize

This is in response to Sam Dunlap of Home Valley, letter dated Nov. 23.

I am in complete support for our local Walmart. It astonished me that you took such a hard stand against our Walmart and you don't even live here. This Walmart has been here for many years and they have been great neighbors to our town.

Where they are presently located is a business park area. What better place to expand, not to mention they'll add value to our local tax base? Everyone had the same concerns when Walmart first came to town about local businesses shutting down. That never happened.

Apparently, Mr. Dunlap, you don't remember how downtown used to look before Hood River welcomed the windsurfing community. Downtown was a depressed area including the residential properties. Hood River had all but abandoned that area, that is, until windsurfing became popular here.

The windsurfing community came in, cleaned up downtown, allowing new businesses to rebuild, and started buying and remodeling residential properties. Downtown is a beautiful place now. Walmart didn't close up our downtown area.

I believe it is hard for anyone to be an employee. I've never had an employer who didn't have high expectations from my work day. And I'm also paying more for insurance and benefits. These are hard times and work is work. And businesses have to make money. That means taking a hard line with expenses and overheads.

Besides, all the letters I've read from Walmart employees show how proud they are of their employer. Who are you to ascribe how they should feel?

I would also wager that most of the employees in the downtown area are not full-time. I would love to shop downtown if they sold what I needed; were open when I needed it; and I could afford to buy it there. For example, if my child needs something for school, it might be 7 or 8 p.m. before we get out to shop and Walmart is open, affordable and has those items.

Wake up Hood River. If we lose Walmart, we lose a company who is always one of the first up to the plate for community support and charity. We lose one of the best places to buy our goods and a lot of good, hard-working people lose their jobs. Is this really what we need??

Kathy Mussi

Hood River

Decoration messages

As an amateur sociologist and observer of patterns of cultural change, I was fascinated by the message of the seasonal display in the entrance hallway of the Hood River library. The beautiful wreath, centered on the wall, caught my attention first, declaring simply, "It's Christmas."

Next, my eyes panned slightly to the left: A cute little snowman standing on the table seemed to say: "It's winter … don't forget about good old Frosty!"

And finally, to the right of the wreath, displayed atop an artistic wooden post, I saw the poem by James Dickey, entitled simply "A Birth."

The wreath, followed by the poem's title, had prepared my mind to expect a traditional Christmas theme. But apparently, Christmas is no longer about the birth of Christ. Rather, it is a time of year when we should reflect upon the birth of our "inner horse."

Kristy Sargent

Hood River

Holiday hit-and-run

We would like to send out a big Merry Christmas to everyone in the Gorge except the person who hit our car and then just drove away! We understand accidents happen; so why run away like a coward? Own up to your mistake.

To make matters even worse, it happened in our own driveway. You hit our car, sending it through our fence and couldn't even bother to tell us.

This happened on Friday night on the corner of Ninth Street and Oak, the night of the parade. If anyone has any information regarding this event, please contact the police.

People who act in this manner have no place in our society and especially in our town. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

Jill and Scott Monier

Hood River

Don't cast stones

In reference to the Nov. 23 letter by Sam Dunlap: You were complaining about big business (Walmart); what you're forgetting is that there are other large businesses in Hood River that are doing things along the same lines as Walmart.

Such as corporate-owned service stations, where employees are making minimum wage and maybe getting 35 hours a week (with no chance at overtime hours to keep things under budget). Just enough to keep them off state assistance, but not enough to pay their bills and put food on the table.

They have to put up with - just because someone is having a bad day - name calling, rudeness, and people who need anger management classes.

Sometimes they have to be faster than the cars that are speeding through their stations. Ask some of the station attendants that you go to I'll bet they have some stories to tell you.

You know what; I'll also take a chance and tell you what, that they are happy just to have that job with our economy the way it is. I know because I'm 53 years old and am very glad to have just that kind of job; otherwise I would be out on the street with the rest of my family.

May be you need to be on the receiving end of your own comments before casting stones.

Dawn Baker

Parkdale

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