Retirees who arrive in area provide benefit to economyRichard Hensley, regarding your editorial in the Aug. 28 Blue Mountain Eagle "Newcomers causing income shifts for communities," my initial reaction as a retiree and relative newcomer to John Day was to take offense at your broad-brush categorization of us as isolated and uncaring about what happens around us, hiding out as we are in our "trophy homes with great views."I think, though, that you may be uninformed as to the contributions of retirees here. In point of fact, in the nine years I have lived here, I and many other retirees, newcomers or not, have been involved in organizations, groups and activities whose goals and purpose are to benefit our community. There have been numerous studies and projects through the years aimed at determining the best ways to encourage industries and new businesses to consider locating here, efforts designed to secure a stable economic base and insure those family-wage jobs you refer to. These processes have included public meetings to receive input from concerned citizens wanting to make a difference, and many retirees routinely participate in these meetings to express their commitment to a strong and healthy economic future for Grant County. As for retirees not caring about the education of local children, evidenced by voting against school bond levies, I am not sure what the basis of your conclusion is on that issue. Didn't such bond levies pretty much become a thing of the past with the passage of Ballot Measure 5 in 1990, which basically turned over local school funding decisions to the state? While my children were not raised here, they are products of Oregon's educational system, K-college, and now my grandchildren are in that same system, giving me a strong interest in our state's education as a whole. It benefits all of us, retired or not, to have young people receive the best education possible so they will become productive citizens, well-prepared for whatever future endeavors they undertake. It's not retirees who stand in the way of adequate funding for schools. That problem is much larger in its scope, if the Legislature's fifth special session this year is any indication.As for retirees not creating jobs in their communities, I suppose that's a fact, save perhaps for hiring the contractors who build those "trophy homes." But retirees do pay for services, such as utilities (phone, water, sewer, electricity, cable TV, etc.), and consumer products purchased locally. And then there are our property taxes, which go to fund county and city governments, whose responsibilities include providing an array of services and programs to constituents within their jurisdictions. Now that I think about it, all of the above-mentioned recipients of retirees' money, both public and private, require employees to keep them going, so while we don't create jobs, perhaps it at least can be said we help fund the jobs that are already here.It would be nice to be one of the "wealthy retirees who can afford to live wherever they want." I suspect, however, those in that category have gone off to Bozeman or Whitefish or Jackson Hole where they've settled into trophy homes with great views and movie star neighbors. I don't know much about Wallowa County, except that it boasts some extraordinarily beautiful scenery, so I can't really blame folks for wanting to retire there. But comparing the Montana and Wyoming retirees to retirees in most places in Oregon misses the mark, in my opinion. Many of us who choose the smaller areas of Eastern Oregon as our retirement destination may not be wealthy, but we came here because we wanted to, and involved ourselves in pursuits that we hoped would benefit the communities we now call home. We appreciate the blessings afforded us in this remarkable area and only want to make it better for all, old-timers and newcomers alike.Anita F. LanningJohn DayCongress poised to launch costly spending binge After Labor Day, Congress returned from its summer break. Now, it has two primary things on its agenda: passing the bulk of its spending bills for the coming fiscal year and scoring political points for the November elections.That's a dangerous combination for small business owners and their taxpaying customers.The U.S. Senate, controlled by Congress' biggest spenders - and by the narrowest majority possible - will be pushing hard to spend as much as possible in an attempt to buy public support. Doubtless, Senate Democratic leaders such as Majority Leader Tom Daschle will paint a dire picture of what will happen if Congress fails to pass huge spending increases over and above what President Bush and his allies in the House have passed.In doing so, Daschle and company will prove an old theorem: some in Congress don't believe you can ever spend enough.To put the Senate Democrats lamentations in perspective, consider for just a minute that defense spending has increased some 21 percent since President Bush took office. That's not surprising considering the nation is at war. But even if just the president's budget request were approved, spending at the Department of Education will also have increased 26 percent, and Department of Labor-Health and Human Services-Education will have increased 19 percent since the last election. (And Labor-HHS-Education spending will have nearly doubled since 1996.)And that's with the "heartless" Republicans controlling the White House and the House.Darrell McKigneyPresident, Small Business Survival CommitteeWashington, D.C.Affirmative action laws helped weaken agenciesA trainload of roses to Tad Houpt, who uses the old bean. Since Civil Rights and Affirmative Action were passed, it isn't only the military that has gone to hell, it's also the BLM and USFS.But remember that Congress passes these laws. The great environmental movement (traitors) since 1970 have done what? Changed the culture and face of America. Before them, the hippies and the feminists were the ones who protested the American way, the ones who are turning America into a Third World Country, and they will never change.How many acres have burned due to these fools, these traitors to the American way? Don't leave out the hippie judges, who are still protesting the American way, or the lawyers. Before Civil Rights and Affirmative Action were passed, the BLM and USFS was made up with people like Tad Houpt. It wasn't just a job, it was a sincere feeling of accomplishment. These traitors and street people must really feel proud over their accomplishments of closing the job markets. If we have a Big Depression, who else can be blamed?Ray HarperMt. VernonFirefighters defended, ecology of forests analyzedThis is a response to a letter written to the paper on July 31 by Austene Trowbridge Hendrix. There were a number of "stupid errors" that I would like to address. To begin with, Hendrix stated that our forestfires were under very poor management and control. She followed this statement by claiming that the state and federal agencies are not respectable and a disgrace to our community. Personally, I find this an insult, and a majority of the people of Grant County who do care for our forests will probably agree with me. I hate to break it to you, Ms. Hendrix, but those very people you insulted make up a large part of the very active community that is keeping Grant County's economic system above water.Simply put, Ms. Hendrix, firefighters are "walking away" from fires to save their lives. I have not met a firefighter yet that will willingly sit back and watch a fire burn without trying everything possible to put it out. Unfortunately fighting fire is not like sitting around and writing letters to the local newspaper complaining about the hardships of life. Firefighters are an elite force of men and women who put their lives on the line daily and sacrifice their time with their families to make sure the public has a place to hunt, fish and recreate. Did you know, the weekend the Malheur Complex, Flagtail and Monument fires exploded, there were also over 68 fires started on the Malheur forest alone? Did you know that all but the five fires I just mentioned were stopped by the very same people you called lazy, ignorant and disgraceful? When firefighters "walk away" from fires, it is because there is no safe way to work on the fires, i.e. escape routes or safety zones. But, if you would rather have firefighters die, leaving behind loved ones, children and family, than lose a few thousand acres of timber, then feel free to go out there and tackle 50-foot flame lengths moving at 4-5 mph upslope, if you feel you can outrun the fire in dog-hair thick timber.As for your description of fire ecology ... I am terribly sorry, Ms. Hendrix, but your homework needs to be done before you can make those terrible accusations. Fires does not kill our resources completely. Fire was and still is a very natural part of the forest environment here and all over the world. Let me share some of the finer points of fire ecology that I found by doing minor research. You claimed that fires killed our resources completely. However, the facts are that fires release nitrogen and other nutrients from woody vegetation back into the soil in the form of mineral-rich ash, which makes them readily available for new plant growth. Plant regeneration begins almost immediately following a fire. Many wildlife species thrive on the occurrences of fire. If you take a walk about the areas that are now open to the public you will see the evidence that supports this very fact. Plants are already starting to put out new shoots. The deer and elk are quite prolific in the burnt areas. Personally, my crew witnessed a large herd of elk, about 100 head, in the area of the High Roberts fire. Open ponderosa pine, larch and Douglas fir forests in the West burn naturally every 5 to 30 years. Most of the forested area that burned in 2000 was managed timberland, not pristine old growth or roadless wildlands. The areas where humans have most changed the land are most likely to experience unnaturally intense wildfires.I could continue enriching your environmental education with facts from science, but that would take years to combat the information passed through the public by prejudice and ignorance. As for your statement saying years ago everyone fought fire together for free, well I hate to break it to you, Ms. Trowbridge, but nothing in life is done for free. The loggers, ranchers and Forest Service did not fight fire for free. Fire-fighting was historically done by CCC crews, Forest Service works and local people hired by the Forest Service for temporary duty.You ask the citizens of Grant County to put this county back together or we will all be jobless because somebody didn't do the right thing. Did you ever consider how much money these natural disasters have brought to the community? Ms. Trowbridge, the right thing is to educate ourselves. I grew up in a logging family, listening to similar comments that you made; however, I took it upon myself to find out the real information and I am applying myself to make changes. At the end of July, a group of senators promised to enact legislation that would ease environmental rules so forest fuels could be thinned out to ease the threat of major wildfires. Our own president has now made statements that he is joining the battle to help our forests. I challenge you and everyone in this community that agrees with you Ms. Trowbridge, write those senators and the president; educate yourselves with true facts and information. Please do this instead of sitting back claiming the people who are putting their lives on the line to save homes and valuable land, who are pushing against the overwhelming tide of ignorance to save our environment, are not respectable and are a disgrace. Don't separate the community by alienating people and spreading uninformed statements. Become part of the solution instead of making more of a problem.Persephone Dawn ThompsonJohn Day  

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