Letters to St. Helens Update

the opinions of Bill Eagle, or that of his wife, children,

Letters to the Update are the opinions of the  writers and do not necessarily reflect mother, father, sisters , brothers, domestic pets etc..

See My Standard Disclaimer.  Send all  letters to eaglew@sthelensupdate.com


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From: Sandy Goodman 11/20/21

I just read Wayne Mayo’s letter in the Update, dated 10/15/21.

Wayne is righteously horrified with what is going on in this nation. People are being prevented from expressing their opinions and being denied their First Amendment rights. People have a right to protest Critical Rece Theory being taught to our children, and have a right to express their concern to our local school boards.

I, along with other patriots, want to thank Wayne Mayo for his responsible reporting concerning vital issues.  Our Democracy is at stake and we all need to be prepared to defend what little of our rights still remain.

From: Doug Walker (Rep. Hometown Hero’s of Columbia County) 11/12/21

Beginning last Saturday, a small but heartfelt "Thank You to Veterans Past, Present and Future" began to appear at veterans' parks all over Columbia County.


The Hometown Heroes of Columbia County found this way to not only thank but to also honor all those who have signed a contract with the American people to defend our country and our unique way of life from all enemies foreign and domestic. Whether serving at home or on foreign soil, these patriots have been, and are, willing to give their all for our greater good.

Fewer than 1% of our population have agreed to put their life on the line so that the other 99% can enjoy doing what we do. For around 250 years, our servicemen and women sacrifice so the rest don't have to.


Our "Thank You" message extends to those who, at some time in the future, will don the uniform and sign that contract.


God bless all veterans, and God bless America.


From: Charles Bickford 11/8/21

The concept of "freedom and liberty" held by the anti-vax mandate protesters at the waypoints for Scappoose students is false.

Freedom from what? A useful position in our community?

One of every 12 people in Columbia County is known to have been infected, and more have COVID-19 but do not show symptoms. Of the 50 or so people in the protest group, there were at least five with the disease. They were un-masked, and had their own children with them, as they confronted, shouted at and blocked children going to school. That is a form of reckless endangerment; they should be identified to both the police and child welfare entities.

Being outdoors in a crowd won't shield us from infection. The breaths of infected people swirl around and are inhaled by others, including both the schoolkids and the kids with the protesters.

Many people know you can blow out a candle behind a bottle because the airflow curls around the bottle. Same with the unmasked, unvaccinated and infected so-called "patriots" in the group that are upwind of or near innocent folks. They are not "patriots," they are "pidliots." Their allegiance is not to America, it is to their favorite radio/TV nutballs — the same highly paid skunks that make their living by finding a wish list in the population, pretending to adhere to the same values, and collecting cash from groups and influencers that attract them like moths to a flame.

Vaccinations and masks are historically well-proven ways of reducing disease. Polio, measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, and many more fatal or debilitating sicknesses have been nearly erased as a result of wise precautions. Without them, the lifespan of average Americans would be only about 40 years.

If these people want to prove their beliefs, I suggest that they take a few trips to places like Pakistan, Africa, East Asia and others where there is a religious fervor against vaccinations and masks.

We cannot have "freedom and liberty" without the honest goal of actual truth. Being told "believe me, I am on the radio" or, sadly, "on the pulpit" are instructions to ignorant people, not a source of fact.

Columbia County is too often harmed by zealots with agendas of various types, and the term "American" is routinely used to do harm. I am an American, and I realize that I must not believe in or act on harmful fairy tales.


From: Robby Backus 10/29/21

'Why is it ... a wealthy and growing town of roughly 8,000 residents lacks the amenities and resources of its neighbors?'


While helping organize the history tent during the Scappoose Centennial, I came across one fact that was too preposterous to be true: that Scappoose is one of the wealthiest towns in the state.

To my astonishment, many credible sites back up this claim, with one site ranking Scappoose the third-richest city in the state.

However, from the surface, it is impossible to tell.

Scappoose lacks a community rec center, a developed main street, public riverfront access, a consistent annual event, holiday festivities, and many other amenities that make life more enjoyable. Forget a pool — Scappoose doesn't even have a legitimate outdoor basketball court. Even the town's greatest landmark, the Peace Candle, has needed significant restorations for many years. Not to mention that Scappoose High School will be turning 50 years old next year, and the middle school will be hitting the century mark by the end of the decade.

So why is it then, that a wealthy and growing town of roughly 8,000 residents lacks the amenities and resources of its neighbors? Although there are many culprits, one main reason is due to the poor decision-making at the state and local levels.

A well-documented timber tax cut has robbed our county and town of valuable revenue for decades. Also, failing to impose a competitive tax on the practice of extracting materials from the land has reduced the town's potential revenue year-after-year.

Forgoing these two potential revenue windfalls, on top of poor budgeting and financial management, the city's leaders have created the situation we are in now.

More recently, the city has been awarded $1.6 million from the federal government as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. And last week the city voted to spend over half of this money on a new ambulance and water meters — two improvements that are needed, but underwhelming, and help raise the question: how did we get to this point? To the point where when the city was given the opportunity to address issues brought on by the pandemic, or help shape and grow the town moving forward, we had to squander it because our fire equipment is outdated and infrastructure is dilapidated.

So how can we fix this dilemma? Well, the first thing (and arguably the hardest) is changing the narrative and correcting the idea that our town can't afford nice things. Because that is simply not true.

The money is there, but is the political will?

Robby Backus is a Scappoose resident and teacher at Scappoose High School.


From Bill Eagle 10/24/21

I think that the letter writer from 10-15-21 may be confused with what Merrick Garland is proposing. There has been well financed campaigns to go after school Board members and election workers.  These people have been followed, phoned and frightened with threats against them and their families.  There is nothing innocent about these actions. I see no reason not to call what they are doing “Terrorism.”

I agree that School boards do need to hear from parents, but not with threats and intimidation.

To my knowledge “Critical Race Theory” is being taught as a college level course in some universities. I seriously doubt if it is being taught in any elementary school anywhere. My guess is that the people complaining about it, don’t have the slightest idea what is being taught or who is teaching it.

For the general knowledge of the letter writer, Antifa isn’t an organization, it is an idea.  Conflating it with Black Lives Matter will confuse some people. BLM was formed as a social movement to protest racially motivated instances of police brutality. The violence in Portland was not instigated by BLM, but by other groups, like The Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer.

Lastly, the Spotlight letter writer advocated Education voucher.  I personally believe in our public education system and I do not desire to have public tax money going to support private schools. Vouchers would further starve our public schools and would cheapen the education for the majority of Americans.

From: Wayne Mayo 10/15/21

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland's chilling directive to the FBI to develop strategies to label and prosecute parents attending school board meetings as possible terrorists is outrageous. 

School boards need to hear from parents — and respond.

Efforts to introduce the controversial "critical race theory" into school curriculum, the influence of the National Education Association over the CDC policy, and outrageous statements from politicians like former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, "I don't believe parents should be telling schools what they should teach," have parents rightly alarmed.

Many parents believe the BLM-Antifa "divide and tear down" agenda as witnessed on the streets of Portland, Oregon, are gaining traction in American education.

Education vouchers need to be on the ballots everywhere. Taxpaying parents deserve that. The money should follow the student.

From: Wayne Hare 10/11/21

Black Americans get a lot of messages about who matters and who does not in this country, and the question is: Are the messages intentional or unintentional? I lean towards unintentional but they have become deeply ingrained.

I've driven Interstate 15 in Utah dozens of times over the course of two decades, traveling from my home in western Colorado to one of my favorite adventure playgrounds in Zion National Park and nearby. The route takes me through Saint George, Utah, an area referred to as the state's "Dixie."

There are a lot of Utah Dixies, though there's movement to change some names: Dixie National Forest, Dixie State University, Dixie Hospital. Saint George is a retirement community, and Chamber of Commerce signs on the highway extoll the many virtues of retiring to the Dixie area.

But here's what I notice: Every sign, no matter how often it gets replaced, always features white couples.

I used to ski patrol at one of the Aspen ski resorts. Every year, the Aspen Skiing Company would unveil a new marketing campaign, and employees were required to attend a meeting to see what the company would promote that year. Ads and movies featured many hundreds of happy people — happy white people.

I met with the senior executive VP of marketing and pointed out that he was sending a message to folks that Aspen was a playground for whites only.

Twenty years later, the Aspen Skiing Company, a company with the best of intentions in advocating for and creating racial justice, still does not include any Black images in its advertising, so ingrained is the image of skiers being white. And full disclosure: The Aspen Skiing Company has engaged me to help them with their mission and advocacy.

A few years ago, I toured the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The tour ended in the Rotunda, where the guide proudly drew our attention to a huge ceiling painting and border sculptures that had plenty of room to capture key moments in the development of the nation: brave-looking white guys astride ferocious looking white horses. Chinese railroad workers. Noble "savages," a.k.a. Indigenous peoples. Men, woman and children trekking the Oregon Trail.

But what wasn't there, in a building built with Black labor, was any depiction of a Black American.

When we sing the national anthem, if we get to the third verse, we pay tribute to slavery even there. The man who wrote this ode to freedom owned human beings who never experienced the freedom that Francis Scott Key wrote about.

When we were very young, all of us were taught about George Washington's father's cherry tree, and the "Father, I cannot tell a lie" story. But most of us learned on our own, years later, that the father of our country owned slaves.

But his slave-owning isn't the odd part. The odd part is that we perpetuate an unimportant lie and neglect an important truth about the father of our country.

On our $20 bill, we honor a ruthless slave-owner. In an ad headlined "Stop the runaway," which Andrew Jackson placed in the Tennessee Gazette in 1804, he promised to pay not just $50 for the return of his escaped slave, but also "10 dollars extra for every hundred lashes any person will give him, to the amount of 300."

I will be glad to see Harriet Tubman's face replace Jackson's on the bill after a long fight to get this done.

And every Black person has had the experience of waiting in some check-out line, only to have a white person cut into the line right in front of them.

In a sense, it's not even rudeness. America has made us invisible.

So now, here we are: a country tearing itself apart with hate, distrust and dysfunction. Over time, I've come to realize that racism, intentional or not, is the ladle that stirs this dangerous, unpleasant brew.

Do we want a better country for everyone? Recognize racism. Fight it. We're all in this together.



From: Ron Trommlitz 10/1/21

It appears that as a St. Helens City Council, you are participants to a city being run by John Walsh, Matt Brown and Mayor Rick Scholl.

The administration needs to be held responsible for the (leaking) reservoir issue that is needing resolution. This issue of the empty reservoir has gone way past contract stipulations regarding failure to fix the reservoir.

The W-449 contract with Western Partitions Inc. is a failure issue that was a legally signed document, but hasn't been fulfilled, that called for 60 days after failure to have corrections made. Seeing no preparations being made for fixing, the weather will again start deteriorating, causing groundwater infiltration and moisture that caused failure in the initial 2016 repair bid.

Is the city going to admit defeat, and just have an unfixable reservoir, as they have had failure upon failure on this project?

The city has a failed contracted project with no on-site activity toward a solution. I suspect contractor and client at some point are arguing the determination of responsibility that each party may have due to the initial lack of oversight inspection being performed during the geotextile mat installation..

Then there is the embarrassment of the prolonged inability to enforce the contract stipulations.

Both newspapers printed my opinion and received no comment from the City regarding this. From this, I would conclude that all of my statements are accepted as factual.

The city seems to be wanting to remain silent, and by using silence, hoping that it will delete some public awareness, and they might resolve this in secrecy, without any transparency.

Questions for council members to ask of the mayor:

1. What is being hidden that is prolonging the contract from being fulfilled?

2. Why is the contract not being adhered to?

3. Is there any percentages of responsibility being argued based on failure to be determined?

4. Is any proposed fix unlikely to succeed due to the interior reservoir condition and previous work done earlier?

5. Has the city reached a point where the reservoir is possibly considered unfixable?

6. How much money has been paid to attorneys by the city trying to enforce the contract?

It seem there is an administration failure by those responsible. We have a right to ask questions, and expect answers, and the council should expect to have questions asked of them.


From: Superintendent, St. Helens School District 9/25/21

Good Afternoon - The message below was sent out to St. Helens School District families today.

Dear St. Helens Community,

As many of you may know, starting on Monday, September 27, 2021, the St. Helens School District will strategically place a ‘pause’ at Lewis & Clark Elementary to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.  Although the length of the in-person school pause has yet to be determined, we are working with Public Health and anticipate it to be at least one week.  We will keep our Lewis & Clark families informed of any changes to the timeline.  Lewis & Clark Elementary will continue to provide meals to its students while on ‘pause’ starting on Monday, September 27, 2021, from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm. In addition, we will reach out to families shortly as soon as we have more detailed information in regards to remote learning for Lewis & Clark students.


Many have asked what criteria we use when considering closing a school due to COVID-19.  It is not a simple answer as there are several factors guiding the decision in consultation with experts in the field and every situation is unique.  Much like deciding to close school due to a snow event, the safety of students and staff is the number one driving factor.  When we close school due to snow, we pay attention to the weather forecast, consult with transportation experts and drive the roads to collect local data and make the best decision possible.  Similarly, we pay attention to current community COVID-19 spread data, consult with health experts, and monitor what is going on in our individual schools.  Both are subjective decisions made with the best information available and difficult to put on an exact timeframe.     


The following are criteria we consider when deciding if we need to close a school for a "pause" to in-person learning:

· Documented transmission occurring in schools

· The ability of Public Health and schools to contact trace cases

· Number of students quarantined

Number of staff quarantined or having enough staff members available to support students 


In our current situation at Lewis & Clark Elementary, we had multiple children out sick with COVID-19 symptoms in several of our primary grade classrooms. As the week progressed, we began having children in our upper elementary grade classrooms calling in to report COVID-19 like symptoms as well. With students out in all grade levels and the number of classrooms that had at least one child out with COVID-19 symptoms increasing, the District and Public Health's ability to contact trace possible cases was being exceeded.  It was at this time the decision was made to "pause" in-person instruction so we could identify and support all possible cases and conduct a deep cleaning of the school.  In addition, we are working with families to identify positive for COVID-19 cases from those who simply have a common cold.


Due to the fact that COVID-19 symptoms start out very similar to the common cold, it is imperative to keep children home if they are symptomatic in any way. We understand this is a challenging time for everyone, especially our children, yet it just takes one person to quickly create a situation where we need to put a school on pause and close it to in-person instruction.  The only way we will be able to keep schools open is if we all work together as a community.   


The St. Helens School District is prepared to shift from in-person instruction to remote learning when needed, but like a snowstorm, each event has its own unique characteristics and we will respond as best we can with the information provided at the time.  I have tremendous faith in this community to pull together and support one another.  I've watch it during the floods of 1996 when every able-bodied person was sandbagging neighbors' homes and most recently during the fires last year in 2020 when this community pulled together to support other communities impacted by wildfires.  It is time for us to come together once again and do whatever we are able to do to stop the spread of this virus and keep our schools open for our children.


Take care and be well,



From: Ron Horn 9/17/21

My country is now at war. At war with the virus.

In our long American history, Americans have always come together in common purpose to defeat our enemies and save our country. And we sacrifice for the common good.

My parents sacrificed during the last world war. Now we are all asked to sacrifice to win the war against the virus.

We have few weapons, but the ones we have, have proven effective. We can get vaccinated, and we can wear masks when we are around others.

Is wearing a mask too much of a burden for my fellow Americans? It is a small sacrifice.

Rather than cry or whine about masking and personal liberty, let's join the war effort. It is the most patriotic thing we can do right now.

From: Roy Trommlitz 9/10/21

The city of St. Helens, five years ago, contracted to fix a leaking reservoir. This goes back to 2008, with a failed fix in 2009.


Western Partitions Inc. was awarded the contract Sept. 6, 2016, to fix the 2 million gallon reservoir. This initial fix then failed, resulting in three additional attempts to correct the initial repair, and all have failed.


St. Helens is going through the hottest, driest conditions ever experienced, and the city is sitting here with an empty reservoir. This is likened to having fire trucks at the station, but having empty fuel tanks.


For two weeks in June, I called Sue Nelson, city engineer, who would not return my phone calls. Finally I went to her office, where there was a notice on the door stating that you had to have an appointment. I determined that if she wouldn't respond to phone calls, it was unlikely that I would get an appointment. The city employees had been told not to talk to me.


The last time that we spoke in person, Sue assured me that the reservoir was going to be repaired as contracted by WPI with no expense to the city.


On April 12 and May 27, with a whole group, engineering contractor WPI and others again entered the reservoir. Since that time, there has been no activity.


One of the initial problems with the repair was moisture (water) during the application of the geotextile mat, resulting in poor adhesion, and water trapped under the geotextile mat. Upon the inspection of the failure, it was determined that there had been no oversight inspection when lower application was applied.


There was a recommendation that due to the condition of the work, that the initial work be removed and replaced. The three following repair corrections were without success. Each failure makes success less likely.


Now with the extreme fire dangers, we are left having an empty reservoir, and it seems that the city has been reluctant to press the issue. I believe the city is being held hostage to their own actions, due to the fact that they may be somewhat complicit with the initial failure because of their earlier lack of oversight.


It is time for the contract to be fulfilled, holding someone responsible to the contract stipulations.


From: Margaret Trenchard-Smith 9/3/21

This is an open letter in response to the recent letter published in the name of Sheriff Brian Pixley, in defiance of Gov. Kate Brown's mask mandate.


The majority of Americans agree with mask mandates at this time (72%). We sympathize with our governors who are trying to save lives. As you are neither a medical professional nor the holder of a legislative or executive office, please refrain from misrepresenting our county with anti-mask misinformation.


The delta variant is many times more transmissible than previous variants, and children and young adults are more susceptible to it — this fact is particularly crucial as schools open for the new academic year.


The whole country is in the grip of a surge. As of today's report (Aug. 23, 2021), Oregon has 4,701 new cases (the tip of the iceberg), and 24 deaths. Columbia County has seen a leap in numbers (80 reported today); we have cumulatively lost 33 souls to this scourge. Country-wide, one out of five ICUs is now at full capacity, with more cases coming in daily.


Our medical system is again at the brink of being overwhelmed — in fact, is overwhelmed in states unfortunate enough to have governors who oppose mask mandates.


All around the country, a vocal minority is trying to subvert the will of the majority regarding public health. The situation is both tragic and absurd. Please don't add your voice to the cacophony, Sheriff Pixley.


From: Helen Gross 8/27/21

I am writing in regard to your letter to Governor Brown regarding the mask and vaccine mandates.

Are you aware of the Governor’s constitutional powers, which as you point our you are duty-bound to adhere to? Would you be okay with one of your subordinates not following your chain of command?

You took an oath of office to serve and protect. We are in the midst of a pandemic which has killed more than 600,000 people in the U.S. alone. Wearing masks, social distancing and vaccinations are our only known resources to save lives. Is it really that big of an imposition to take such small measures to ensure the safety of members of our shared society?

Speaking of a shared society, which hospitals in Columbia County will you be sending your COVID stricken constituents to? The truth is, there are no local hospitals in Columbia County, and residents will be sent to other county hospitals. As of Aug. 18th, 93% of Oregon ICU beds are occupied. Soon there will be no po place to send them. How does your decision support your claim that it is your responsibility to provide for the safety of those in Columbia County?

I struggle to understand how a public servant can have so little concern for the well-being of others. It is obvious you are just playing up to your base for votes. Shame on you. (20-year St. Helens resident)



From: Jeff Powell 8/27/21

Regarding Sheriff Brian Pixley's response to Gov. Kate Brown's latest mask mandate, I must say it both angers and saddens me by the example he is setting.


While thumbing his nose at Kate Brown, his disrespectful thumbing his nose at hundreds of frontline healthcare workers that have been working tirelessly throughout this pandemic is more than disrespectful. It's sickening. In many parts of Oregon, the healthcare system is at or beyond the breaking point. Citizens of Columbia County are constantly transported to our neighboring counties due to lack of adequate facilities here. Imagine if they were to say: "No more. Keep your citizens at home." Who could blame them, given our county's below-average vaccination rate?


To quote your own message from the sheriff at the Columbia County Jail website: "I know it takes more than just responding to calls to create a safer Columbia County; it includes developing and maintaining relationships with the residents, businesses, nonprofit agencies and public safety partners. It is incumbent on all of us to work together to create a safer Columbia County." Does your latest action go along with that statement?


Please, Sheriff Pixley, take a moment to read the Oregon State Sheriffs Association Code of Ethics, especially this sentence: "I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, animosities, or friendships to influence my decisions."


As for your writing on behalf of the citizens of Columbia County, let's remember your 2018 election win. In a three-way race, you received 46% of the vote — not exactly a mandate. In other words, the majority of voters did not support you.


I hope you may show some humanity and humility and just suck it up. Mask up. And may we all get through these trying times together.


From: Bill Eagle 8/24/21

To the Editor:

I was appalled when I read Sheriff Pixley’s August 19th letter to our Governor.  He began his letter with the statement “As Sheriff, it is my responsibility to provide for the peace and safety of those in Columbia County.”

I have always believed that people in this country have a right to be stupid unless their stupidity puts others in Jeopardy.  Governor Kate Brown issued her Mask Mandate to try and protect the people in our State.  The Governor has asked people to wear masks when congregating indoors. She is also asking educators to be vaccinated and school children to be masked.

I agree that our County Sheriff is our only elected law enforcement official. He also swore an oath to support our Oregon and Federal Constitution. His oath did not give him option to be above the law or the right to ignore any law he does not like.

With the Covid Delta Variant, there has been a major surge of Covid 19 cases in Columbia County.

Pixley’s letter to the governor is both reckless and irresponsible. His actions will endanger the lives of the citizen’s that he has sworn to protect.

I hope he has second thoughts about his letter. I both supported and voted for him during this last election. I now have second thoughts. 


From: Stacy Mendoza 7/29/21

This message is being sent to all district families.

Good Afternoon,

Earlier today, Governor Kate Brown directed the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Education to create a rule to require masks indoors for K-12 schools statewide for the 2021-22 school year.

At this time, we still anticipate that all SHSD students will have the opportunity to participate in a regular schedule of full time, in-person learning.  As a district, we are reviewing the latest recommendations from the Governor, CDC, ODE, as well as working closely with local health officials and our school board to determine what is best for our students, staff, and community.

We thank you for your patience as we prepare for the upcoming school year. Please know that we are making every effort to bring all students back to the classroom while continuing to provide safety and security protocols to both our students and staff.  We will share more details about health and safety protocols as we get closer to the start of school.


From: Mike Sykes 7/26/21

Once again, wildfires are ravaging the West Coast. To date, there have been nearly 1,000 fires in Oregon this year, according to the Department of Forestry. The Bootleg Fire, burning an area half the size of Rhode Island in Southern Oregon, is one of the largest in our state's history.

With the drought and high temperatures, we're experiencing, there's an increased likelihood for more fires as summer wears on.

It is imperative that we do all we can to prevent these fires from starting — both on a large scale and at an individual level.

At Columbia River PUD, we are continuing our efforts to harden our system against the threat of wildfire. We have installed additional re-closers, which are pieces of equipment that very quickly de-energize wires without causing sparks. We are aggressively managing vegetation around our electric system. We continue to move overhead power lines underground. These steps all help reduce the risk of our equipment causing a fire.

There are steps you can take at home to keep you and your family safe. Here are a few ideas:

• Create a 30-foot non-combustible buffer around your home.

• Stack firewood away from your home.

• Dispose of yard debris safely. This may include using alternatives to burning, like composting or chipping.

• Trim branches along your driveway and around your home.

• Contact us to trim branches near power lines. You can request tree trimming services online at crpud.net/trees or by calling us at 503-397-1844.

• Use non-combustible roofing materials.

• Clean gutters before fire season and keep them free of debris.

• Keep your yard well-watered and mowed short.

It's also important to keep up to date on local burn restrictions. If you do choose to have a recreational fire in an established fire pit, please do so safely and be sure it's completely out before leaving it unattended.

Most fires that occur in our state are the result of human activity. By exercising a little more caution, we can help do our part to avoid these disastrous fires that are becoming more and more common.

While we are doing everything, we can to prevent wildfires from starting, it's also important that you have a plan in place in the event a fire breaks out in our area.

Pay attention to local emergency alerts and evacuation notices. If authorities issue an evacuation notice, you may have limited time to gather your family and important belongings. Know which specific items you will take with you if you are ordered to evacuate and have a plan in place for quickly loading them into your vehicle.

By working together, we can do our part to help keep our community safe this wildfire season.


From: Joe Turner 7/16/21

While manning the phones during lunch on July 5, 1978, I received a call from the Pentagon pertaining to estimated cost toward battalion participation in the NATO '78 Reforger exercise to be conducted in September. I informed the major the captain in charge of the flight hour program was out and to call back. He insisted he needed an estimate right away, ASAP.

Having served 19 months, 8 days, in Vietnam in an aviation unit, I gave the major simple instructions on aviation costs.


In combat, on average, only 73% of aircraft are flyable, and fly an average of 4.5 hours per day. Therefore, if our battalion has 48 AH-1G Cobra gunships, only 35 are available daily for 4.5 hours at $213 per hour for a cost of $33,547.59. Simple, basic math — just adjust the hourly cost per helicopter type, UH-1 at $157 amd OH-58 at $78.


In mid-October, I received a call back from the major praising my cost analysis. It seemed my estimate was 98.8% accurate. And so goes my introduction into the field of accounting, in which I received my degree 10 years later.


Between the current administration's progressive agenda and the pandemic, I can not fathom the long term effects of our government's excessive spending, nor the overinflated value of stocks on Wall Street, along with raising the hourly wage faster than the market can justify it.

Luckily, I paid off our house and vehicles years ago, we limit eating out, do not tip, and vote against any and all tax ballot measures. It's called economic survival. My VA disability and Medicare only increase an average of 1.3% per year, while inflation is buzzing along at 4.8%.


Do the math.



From: Wayne Mayo 7/9/21

Unlike two of my sons, four of my uncles, my father, and stepfather, I did not serve my country.

I wish I had. Holding America dear is theoretical for me. But it was life and death for the soldiers, seamen, airmen and military police that are my immediate family.

Two sons served in Afghanistan: one in base/off-base security, the other as added manpower on a small, remote, plywood forward base with highly trained special ops.

The son at the forward base got relieved a month early so a West Point second lieutenant could take his place and get "active combat" added to his resume. Soldiers consider an assignment with daily live fire a "plum," but I can tell you, parents don't.

Two uncles served in the Navy, one as a graduate of Annapolis. One uncle surged into Germany as an Army MP as it fell to the Al

My stepfather married my widowed mother 23 years after my father died. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for bombing a bridge at treetop level, stranding 5,000 German vehicles on the wrong side of the river. He had the Plexiglass nose of his Marauder bomber blown off in front of him. He was the bombardier. He flew 65 missions.

My father was a navigator on a number of B-17s. Though he died before I knew enough to ask him about his service, we found 35 "bomb tags" with a brief description of each mission in a shoe box — which target, which plane, accuracy of flak, fighter plane resistance.

One had this comment: "Ordered in at 19,000 feet. Virtual suicide. 9 out of 13 in the low group went down."

Because the 8th Air Force, 303rd Bomb Group, 427th Squadron Hell's Angels, Lt. Drerey's plane has a written history, I discovered that Dad's plane was in the low group.

And these kind of anecdotal stories can be repeated a million times across America.

But perhaps the greatest story is the humility shown in complete and total victory by America and its leaders, including George Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the American Congress and the Senate

The emotional cost of war went far beyond the loss of young soldiers in their prime as sons and husbands, daughters and mothers. This was the deepest grief eventually getting tied to the revelation of atrocities beyond the abilities of most to imagine.

Soldiers that suffered the "death march" at the hands of the Japanese in the Philippines told their stories of losing thousands of young friends who stumbled and were stabbed to death by their captors.

On June 6, 1944, thousands of Marines and soldiers died by the hour, mowed down on the beaches of Normandy by fortified German defenses, as re-enacted in the movie "Saving Private Ryan."

Perhaps the worst optics of human depravity ever filmed was by the American Army as they liberated concentration camp after camp like Auschwitz where millions of European Jews were systematically starved and exterminated by the Nazis as a part of their infamous "final solution."

How did we treat German and Japanese citizenry after war criminals were tried and sentenced? We helped stabilize, rebuild, treat their wounds, and then...wait for it: Set them free.

Yes, we did. We set them free.

Tsunamis decimated coastal cities in Sumatra, Japan and other Pacific communities over the last 20 years. Besides billions in support voted on and rushed in during the ensuing months, there was immediate relief moved on within hours.

America diverted an aircraft carrier group on their way to the Persian Gulf to fly in water, medicine and food. The captain asked his sailors if they would forgo showers for weeks so the water could be flown into refugees. There was no hesitation among the sailors. Fly it in.

Those sailors, soldiers, Marines, even leaders in the day — by offering true liberation with substantial and deliberate relief countless times over, directed action that saved and benefited millions while reflecting the heart and will of a generous, humble and hardworking people.

So the next time you hear you are forever marked by the behavior of your ancestors, take it to heart.

Because you are.



From: Nancy Whitney 7/1/21

I cannot believe the St. Helens City Council would continue to permit
the sale and usage of personal fireworks under these conditions. What
the hell are you thinking? We already have M100s going off in our
neighborhood - after three days of the highest recorded temperatures in
history. The responsibility of a catastrophic outcome from this decision
falls on your shoulders - and those of all of our elected officials who
permit this to occur. You need to put a stop to this now.


From: Stacey Mendoza 6/28/21

Earlier today, the Oregon Department of Education released the Ready Schools, Safe Learners Resiliency Framework for the 2021-22 School Year.

The Resiliency Framework helps school districts prepare their staff and campuses for the next academic year. The changes in this guidance reflect Governor Kate Brown’s announcement today that Oregon will reopen no later than June 30 and that previous COVID-related executive orders will be lifted.  In the weeks ahead, the St. Helens School District will be reviewing the newly-released guidance and engaging in conversations with our leadership team and Board of Directors about our plans for the upcoming school year. We will continue to keep you updated with future communications as details about the 2021-22 school year become available.

From: Matt Ragan 6/18/21

It really does feel like we are close to that other end of the COVID-19 tunnel, doesn't it?

COVID cases and related hospitalizations continue to fall and it seems like a full reopening of our state might not be far away.


I know pandemic time is fuzzy but it is worth remembering how far we have come in such a short amount of time and how much we owe our positive trajectory to biopharmaceutical innovation. The vaccines have been the game changer that were promised and we have to give credit where credit is due and I hope that we, as a society, remember what medical innovation has done for us.


The vaccine did not start from scratch. It was made possible by cutting-edge research started years before.


Most people know that Penicillin was an accidental discovery. People in the future may know this vaccine was made possible by messenger-RNA research.

You never know what possibilities medical innovation may unlock, which is why we must ensure continued investment into biopharmaceutical research. However, there are proposals being considered by Congress that may hamper medical innovation and we should take a hard look at those.


One bill, H.R. 3, could result fewer cures being developed.

While these bills may be well intentioned, everybody wants to lower health care costs, we have to consider the long-term costs of putting roadblocks up that could prevent the development of the next lifesaving drug or the next vaccine.


Long story short, we seem to be turning the corner on COVID-19 thanks to medical innovation. There are so many diseases like cancer, Alzheimer's, MS and more, where we also need to turn that corner. Let's continue to prioritize medical innovation.


From: John Riutta 6/11/21

The service banner my grandmother displayed in the window of the family home had six blue stars on it.

One of these was for my uncle Ed, a U.S. Army infantry sergeant who was awarded two Purple Hearts as the result of having been wounded first by a bayonet to the side, then in a later battle by shrapnel while fighting in the islands of the South Pacific.

Another star was for uncle Irvin, a U.S. Navy gunner who was serving on the USS Prince William when it was struck by kamikaze pilots.

A third was for my father Richard, a U.S. Army combat engineer corporal, who despite having been run over by a car at the age of 8 and suffering a double compound fracture of his left leg that confined him to a wheelchair for a year and left the leg visibly shorter than the other, when offered a medical exemption to the draft by the examining doctor said no, that it was his turn to serve like his brothers, and then did.

So you can imagine my feelings of disgust when on my walk along First Street in Scappoose the other morning I noticed hanging from an apartment patio an American flag dyed a sickly black, displayed equally next to another flag bearing the brand logo of America's most prominent avoider of military service — Donald J. Trump.

From: Bill Eagle 6/8/21

At 4:00 AM Monday May 24th, my friend Jim Dias died.


Jim was a former USDA Food inspector, FFA (Future Farmers of America) teacher, Farmers Home Administrator, Realtor, and Insurance agent.  He was also a military man who served both in the Airforce and the Army (He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel).

Jim was a man of many talents. 


I had the privilege of serving in the military with him and I also shared an adjoining USDA office. I worked for NRCS and he worked for FmHA (Farmers Home Administration).  While I was there, Jim had the highest number of USDA loans with the lowest default rate of any office in Oregon. Thanks to Jim, a number of people, who might never have had the opportunity, were able to buy a home.


While in the military, he traveled to Europe and Asia and providing training to both American and foreign militaries. He instructed people in the laws of land warfare and how to treat and deal with civilians, refugees, as well as how rebuild a foreign nation’s infrastructure.  Even in the military, he was a builder, a helper and a person who did his best to try and make the world a little better place.


Jim Dias will be missed. He was a great person to know and a wonderful friend.


From: Joe Turner 5/31/21

I’ve been fortunate since my military discharge forty years ago to live in communities with access to Grocery Outlet stores, not only where customers can save an average 42% savings on their goods but also the flexibility of individual stores to adjust their inventories to meet their local community buying habits.


With the opening of the St Helens Grocery Outlet store it's like Columbia County has won the lottery. Not only is there a Super Wal-Mart and Winco at Longview, WA; Columbia County residents can shop at Grocery Outlet and Dollar General in Rainier; Grocery Outlet and Dollar Tree in St Helens; Grocery Outlet, Fred Meyers and Bi-Mart in Scappoose then swing by IGA for fresh meat and deli items on their way home.


Using our local CCRider shuttle, residents with limited travel options can easily shop at Grocery Out, Safeway, Dollar Tree, Wal-Mat and IGA and soon the new Columbia Pacific Food Bank all located along its established route in St Helens.


Although Columbia County struggles to bring in industries to provide local jobs, it has hit a home run in bringing in consumer services to its growing communities.


From: Paul Nys 4/24/21

The voters in the Rainier/Clatskanie Cemetery District need to be applauded and congratulated for recognizing the importance of passing the recent operational and maintenance levy for the 12 cemeteries in the District.


In fact, it was crucial! Now, after the fourth attempt, the District can move forward with the small additional funding to address needed repairs, provide adequate staffing for routine functions, replace old equipment, etc.


This writer wishes to recognize cousin, Carol Girt – Warren, who mailed to us an initial contribution for the levy and kick started the work of several others in publicizing the District’s request. Upon request, a number of local residents responded with timely and necessary donations.


When placing the roadside signs before the election, my wife and I were met with enthusiasm and supportive property owners. One in particular individual in Goble placed the sign in a prominent location and added two small American flags on the top corner of the sign. What a pleasant surprise and meaningful gesture.


Again, thanks for supporting the staff and volunteers in the Rainier/Clatskanie Cemetery District.


From: Bill Eagle 3/1/21

Years ago, I was around when they built the existing St. Helens Police Station.  I wondered, at that time, if it was an adequate facility for our small but growing city.  In 1980, they “improved” the station by building an adjacent garage.  Not much of an improvement, but it did provide a protected place to park police cars.


Last week I was treated to an online “Virtual tour” of our community police facility.  I was appalled.


The total facility (including garage) is 2300 Square feet. Many of our homes have more space.

The police station is not ADA accessible, neither is their restroom. There are no meeting rooms. There are no rooms where a police man can privately meet with a family, take a report, or interrogate a person. Space is very limited. We have 6 supervisors and a dog that share two rooms, one report room where 18 officers share 3 computers.  23 full time employees share 18 lockers.  An 8X10 room is the only space where an officer can change uniforms or “suite up with protective gear;” this does not provide optimal space for a shift change or an emergency, since it can only accommodate one person at a time.


Our existing police station does not have a proper evidence room or a proper workplace with adequate ventilation to test some of the substances that are brought in by the officers. 

Our existing police station is inadequate, outdated, and an actual health hazard to the people working in it.  St. Helens is growing and we need to improve our City’s infrastructure to allow for growth. 


I care for my city and I hope you do as well.  Please support the concept of a new public service building to house the people that are there to make our lives safer and better.


  From Bill Eagle 12/21/11

I wanted to drop a note to all of you and wish everyone a Merry Christmas. The way it look, I may be spending Christmas Eve in the Hospital. I am going in Friday Afternoon for an Angioplasty. No big deal, but I do have a blockage in the lower part of my heart. 

I feel very fortunate that the doctor decided that I should have a Thallium Stress Test and it showed the existence of a blockage.  They may be able to open the blocked artery with a balloon or it may require a metal stint. No matter what, they will fix me up and I will be as good or better than new in a couple of days.  Please keep sending me your barbs and letters, and your Top 10’s if you have them.

Important things are happening in St. Helens. The City Council will be choosing a Council person to replace Phil Barlow on Wednesday January 4th. I have my favorites, but my wish is that who ever the City chooses that this person will be the best person ever for the job.

Merry Christmas to you and Happy Holidays to all.. 


From Bill Eagle 12/26/11

My Cardiologist performed a Coronary angiogram on me, followed by a balloon angioplasty and placement of a drug-coated stent in my left anterior descending coronary artery. I stayed a night in the hospital and then they cut me loose the next day. 

Things appear to be going well for me and I should be able to start my exercises Friday.

I hope that things are all fixed, and that I can get back to doing my stuff. They are still having me carry Nitro with me. I am not sure why they seem to think that I will need it. They just said, “Keep it close, just in case.” I plan to follow the doctors orders, and I plan to stay well.

I had a wonderful Christmas, my family came over and my son brought food with him and cooked Christmas dinner for us all.  We exchanged presents. I had a very warm feeling and I felt very thankful. I do believe that this was my very best Christmas ever.

Let me wish you all a very happy New Year and I hope that for all of you that it too will be “the very best one ever.”