Letters to the Editor for March 12, 2011

March 12, 2011

Unfair burden

Wouldn't you agree that teaching responsibility is one of the most important pieces of public education? I always thought it was, but I'm not so sure now.

I have recently learned that when a student gets expelled from Hood River Valley High School, the school district (taxpayers) pay the bill for that student to complete their education, i.e., GED. I'm confused by that.

Why would the taxpayers be responsible to pay for something that was caused by an immature choice on the part of a student? Don't we want to teach that student that they are responsible for their choices? Shouldn't it be the financial responsibility of the student to complete their education?

This is just one example of the mismanagement of taxpayer money that goes on by way of our schools. When will the taxpayers say enough?

Bill Riccotel

Hood River

Kudos to robotics team

I wanted to congratulate the Hood River High School students who are members of the robotics teams on their successful year of competition which lead them to participate in the Oregon State Championships.

As a proud parent I extend a heartfelt thank-you to teacher Jeff Blackman, mentors and sponsors who all helped make the students' first year a success. To all the team members I say, GREAT JOB.

Timothy Pearson

Hood River

Newfound appreciation

Who would have thought it would happen to me? A 57-year-old (what I thought) healthy, active individual. A heart attack on Feb. 21 this year has changed my life - even thought it was a simple stint in the artery and a short stay in the hospital.

This event has made me aware of a lot of others in this special club, not one you really want to be in. The real story is how many people you touch in your life.

The support of family, friends and community has been overwhelming. I have the chance to find out what you might miss if you were gone. This small-town family that I have become a part of has made me feel very special.

The outpouring of concern for my family and business by everyone has been overwhelming. It makes me proud to be a member of this community.

I plan to be here for many years to continue to tell stories and bother (in a fun way) as many of you as possible. Remember to eat healthy; your life depends on it.

Mike Hannifan

Mikey's Mufflers

Hood River

Lock-In success

I had the "opportunity" to help chaperone the Lock-In at Hood River Valley High School last weekend and it was truly enjoyable. Hard to imagine how one might call spending the wee morning hours with 820 teenagers enjoyable, but it was a remarkable experience.

The students were incredibly well-behaved, from the dodge ball court to the dance floor, the theater to the game rooms; they obviously were enjoying themselves, even though exhausted by a 48-hour tour of sleeplessness.

I saw some great student leaders organize a raucous round-robin ping pong match when they were down to just one lopsided ball. I watched as one student after another engaged others often tagged as at-risk, or misfits, bringing them into the activities rather than leaving them on the sidelines.

And I watched a remarkable transformation of a school semi-trashed with water bottles and paper, a logical bi-product of 800 energetic adolescents, put back into order within minutes by hundreds of helping hands.

Congratulations to HRVHS students and staff who once again showed they have the right stuff.

Maija Yasui

Hood River

Lead or read?

Was Wendy Best's letter to the editor (March 9) regarding turmoil in the Middle East a misprint? Shouldn't it have read, "Let women read"?

Mike Caldwell

Hood River

CAT facts clarified

Alan Winans' letter "Get on (the) board" (March 9) is helpful in encouraging citizens to present themselves for the three positions that will be filled, at the May elections, for the Columbia Area Transit (CAT) board of directors. He has also been helpful in the past as the district went through the long and arduous process of funding and planning the construction our fine new transit center.

Indeed, he was the person who pointed out the availability of the lot where it is sited and has made many suggestions - some of which were adopted -- along the way.

Someone considering running for and serving on the transit district board might conclude from a reading of Mr. Winans' letter that the present board and the executive director have been remiss in their management responsibilities. Fortunately, that is, at the very least, a misconception.

The board and the executive director work well together and the past few years have seen remarkable progress both in the creation of the new center and in the establishment of new services.

Briefly addressing specific allegations - or "insinuations" might be a better word - in his letter:

1. Seating is not limited at our meetings, though the usual room is not large enough for more than about 20 or so people. No need has yet arisen to worry about that.

2. The director, following a most ethical and open procedure, asked the board to approve his hiring of his wife for a short-term job organizing the office records after our move to the new center. This was a contractual hire for services.

His wife holds a graduate degree in library science and has done library work professionally, which certainly qualifies her very well for handling filing systems. The pay scale for the work was not deemed inappropriate for the work and the board found this to be a very intelligent solution.

3. The fiscal oversight responsibility of the board is made easier by a sound and open process for paying bills: Checks are prepared by the staff, signed by the executive director in consideration of the documents, then co-signed by a board member after verifying the documents.

For the benefit of the other members of the board, a detailed list of bills paid is presented at each meeting and all questions answered. A motion to "approve" the bills already paid is then made and voted on. No, that is not an oxymoron.

4. I do not know what other directors in Hood River are paid but we feel the director's salary is appropriate and certainly not excessive.

I should add that the board is nominating Mr. Schwanz, the current executive director, for a state-wide Special Districts Association award for the excellence of his work.

Furthermore, his administrative skills have been recognized by the Oregon Department of Transportation, who has asked him, as the most qualified person statewide, to take on the reorganization of a large, grossly mismanaged transit district in another part of the state.

Because he has well-trained and efficient staff here who can handle the day-to-day office affairs, the board has approved, on a month-to-month basis, the "loan" of his services for this purpose (our district will be reimbursed for the work he does outside our district).

Thomas Penchoen

Chairman of the board

Columbia Area Transit

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