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Warnings from the state AG's Office, new leadership at the Scappoose VFW, Byte Sized has big FIRSTs, a score of political ramblings, and much more.

FILE PHOTO  - Spotlight's letters to the editor for the edition of May 12, 2017. The Spotlight delivers weekly, informed commentary from across Columbia County.

A warning to us all

I was shocked to see the article (see "Father and son plead guilty to elections violations," A1, May 5) about Dave and Riley Baker being charged with felonies by the state for ... what?

First, Riley was going door to door collecting signatures on a petition to recall Director Craig Melton of the Columbia River People's Utility District. At one house a guy answered the door and agreed to sign the petition and said some of the residents in the house would too. He went off and came back with three more signatures. Riley was charged with a felony because he hadn't actually seen the other three sign the petition.

On the other hand, Dave Baker was collecting the signature sheets from people going to door to door. He received the sheets all close to the filing deadline and noticed that one of his friends collecting the signatures had forgotten to sign the bottom of one of the sheets. So, knowing the deadline was soon and the collector of the signatures was a long-time friend and good and honest person, Dave signed the sheet and turned it in. The state also charged him with a felony because he hadn't actually "seen" the people sign the sheet.

I've known Riley and Dave for a long time and both are hard-working and honest members of the community. Neither did anything intentionally dishonest. And I can imagine myself collecting signatures and having a husband saying his wife is in bed with a cold and would be willing to sign the petition too, and his going to get it and bringing it back. I think in a situation like this the state should have applied for a slap on the hand instead of throwing the book at them with felony charges. I thank Columbia Circuit Judge Ted Grove for being more reasonable.

In sum, this a warning to us all. The state has a mountain of detailed rules out there that any of us might innocently run afoul of in our normal lives. We need to be on guard and very careful because an angry state or a vindictive citizen could ruin our lives in the snap of a finger.

Mike Sheehan

Scappoose

Welcoming new leadership at the VFW

It's spring, 2017. Winter is rapidly fading and the beautiful orange poppies in my garden are reminding me that Memorial Day is approaching.  

May 29 is the day that we as a country honor the Americans who put their lives and the lives of their loved ones on hold, stepped forward, saying, "Send me, I'll go," and never came home. Today, it is special day to honor all those Americans who risked everything to protect our nation, our families, our values and our Constitution.

With a gathering of veterans, especially from different conflicts, there are obvious generational gaps. The Scappoose Veterans of Foreign Wars post has one remaining WW II veteran, Frank Weber, and the organization has several Korean Conflict veterans and, of course, all of us aging Vietnam vets. 

The veterans from the Gulf War, the Iraq War and the Afghanistan Conflict are starting to join our organization, and it could not have been timelier. 

Veterans from the multiple conflicts since Vietnam are assuming Command Positions at all levels of the Service Organizations, bringing a younger generation's enthusiasm and strength to aging gatherings. 

The magnificence of the level of service since 9/11 will be reflected in their leadership. They are America's "New Greatest Generation" with the decade of conflict and multiple deployments.

This past month, Veterans of Foreign War Posts nationwide held their annual election of officers from the local post level all the way to the state and national positions. Scappoose VFW Post 4362 is proud to announce that the commander and the senior vice commander were both raised here in Scappoose and went to school locally. 

Spencer Jones is the new commander and David Sleightam is the senior vice commander. Both of these combat veterans are Marines. There is no such thing as an ex-Marine; you are a Marine for life. 

As the outgoing commander, I congratulate them both on this ascendancy and I look forward to serving under their leadership.

The infusion of new members of all ages is a welcome sight. The service organizations, both American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, have impact on the state and national governments through the force of their membership and the voting power of the veterans. Without a perpetuating membership, the organizations fail. New attitudes and the enthusiasm of a younger generation with the focus on the particular issues of their combat experience breathes new life into a graying service population. 

If you are a veteran and have a little time to devote to the betterment of the veteran population and service to this nation, look into joining us. Assisting veterans with their health, education and issues afflicting the people who have served is rewarding and necessary.  

As it is with membership, it is also necessary from time to time to refresh the local memorials. The Heritage Park Memorial has recently been graced with the installation of the two "Soldier's Crosses." With the ongoing project improving the adjoining park grounds, the exterior of our memorial is seen as needing repair.  The solution the VFW arrived at is to cover the exterior wall with shallow bricks. 

If there is any veteran or local talent that could assist the VFW with the skilled labor to apply that brick veneer, please call the new senior vice commander, Dave Sleightam 503-380-5609.

God bless America.

Tom Ford

VFW Post 4362

Scappoose

Stop with the random stops

It seems like lately our city has been putting up some random stop signs in areas that don't really make sense. Just a few days ago another was put up on Davona Street that seems very unnecessary to come to a complete stop. The same goes for Southwest 4th Street, which have a couple in the middle just to be there. It seems like the city is using these signs more for speed control then what they are intended for.

I understand the concern with speeding in some neighborhoods, yet this should not be the solution.

I would like to make a suggestion to our city to consider putting in speed bumps in those areas of concern, or some other solution, other than stop signs. The point is, there are a lot of us drivers who do drive the speed limit and value our brakes for a time when we really do need them.

LaVonne Lalande

Scappoose

Byte Sized marks a big FIRST

On behalf of Scappoose High School's Byte Sized Robotics team, I would like to thank everyone who contributed to our success. We had an amazing year with many firsts — first medal at an event, second-place overall, first time as the No. 1 ranked alliance, first trip to Pacific Northwest regionals, first time ranked in the Pacific Northwest Conference Top 10, and — finally — our first trip to World Championships, where we competed alongside teams from Israel, Turkey, Brazil, Australia, Mexico, Canada and others.

Wow! It has been an exhausting and rewarding journey for the students and mentors.

We could not have done it without support from this outstanding community. Through your generous donations of time, money, food and facilities, 27 high school students from Scappoose designed, built, programmed and competed with a rock-solid robot and leadership team in this year's FIRST Robotics Competition game, STEAMWORKS. It is such an honor to be a part of this life-changing program. FIRST — For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology — is the parent organization for the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) that Byte Sized Robotics participates in.

FRC is more than a robot. It is a global community teaching life skills, inclusion, diversity, humility and compassion. Students learn gracious professionalism, engineering, design, programming, circuits, business management, marketing, safety, leadership, problem solving and collaboration. Programs such as FRC are our ticket to world peace, through positive interactions and worldwide networks, these future leaders are learning the skills required to change the world. Byte Sized Robotics would like to extend an invitation to our 2017 open house May 17, from 6-8 p.m. at the Scappoose High School gym for an evening of fun, laughter, photos, robot demos and snacks. Come meet these amazing leaders of tomorrow, listen to their stories, and see our championship robot in action.

Tina Bliss

Scappoose

Experience matters, so vote Iverson, Keyser

As the retired executive secretary of the Oregon Building Trades Council, representing 25,000 workers, I worked to promote jobs in Columbia County through advocating for businesses that bring long-term jobs and numerous community benefits. During my 30-year career, I've learned that projects survive because leaders have the experience and perspective to utilize assets and unify stakeholders in a common direction. In those years, I was fortunate to work with two individuals who were experienced, thoughtful and committed to the future of Columbia County.

Those individuals are Chris Iverson and Robert Keyser.

Both of these candidates for the Port of St. Helens Commission have proven that they know how to create jobs and fulfill the mission of the Port. During their leadership, hundreds of union workers have benefited from the construction and continued operation of many businesses, including Columbia Pacific Bio Refinery and PGE's generating facilities.Ports were created by the Oregon Legislature as strategic locations to foster trade and industry. Columbia County is blessed with the Port of St. Helens as an economic driver — connecting land, rail and river access. Utilizing this asset and moving Columbia County forward requires a balanced perspective and a unifying voice to fulfill the mission of the Port. It's about forging relationships with lawmakers, contractors, business owners and other stakeholders to create the family-wage jobs that the Port can support.

Both Chris and Robert understand the purpose of the Port and the available assets. They can forge relationships with the many parties required to see projects to fruition and create family-wage jobs. When you vote in this crucial Port election remember that experience matters and that this is a time to work to fulfill the Port's mission of utilizing this strategic asset to promote trade and industry, and support the hundreds of capable workers and families in Columbia County.

John Mohlis

Retired Executive Secretary

Oregon State Building

Trades Council

Oregon City

Maloney, Lager and Brooks for Scappoose schools

School board members Lisa Maloney and Phil Lager need your help this election.

Here is a notable example: Several months ago I heard Maloney and Lager speaking emphatically at a Scappoose School Board meeting in opposition to rubber-stamping a proposed new curriculum director position. The costly position, when so many other priorities needed funding, would impact important teaching positions and programs.

Maloney and Lager were overruled that night, as they often are, in the many school board meetings I have attended.

Well, the chickens have come home to roost. Teacher and program cuts are now pending due to budget shortfalls, yet the controversial curriculum director retains funding.

This is where you, the Scappoose School District voter, can make a difference. Re-elect Lisa Maloney and Phil Lager, and send them some badly needed reinforcements by electing long time Scappoose resident Tim Brooks to the school board. Our elected Scappoose School Board members must lead from the front, keep the public informed, question assumptions, offer alternatives and creative ideas, and not just rubber-stamp administrative decisions.

Mail your ballot and vote Lisa Maloney, Phil Lager and Tim Brooks as strong and capable leaders for our students, teachers and schools.

Jason Meshell

Scappoose

Iverson stands for community

As a small business owner in our community, operating a 77-year-old family-owned operation, I know how difficult it can be to create and maintain a successful business and sustain good-paying jobs. Chris Iverson understands that too. He has helped me with my business, and he has worked very hard to create a sustainable business community with his work on the Port of St. Helens Commission.

I appreciate the fact that Chris volunteers his time for many other causes in our community as well, making this part of Oregon a wonderful place to live and work. He looks at issues facing our community and its citizens without the partisan influences or predisposition of the situation at hand. He is a very valuable asset to the Port and to our community and we need to retain his position with the Port.

Thank you, Chris, for all of your help to our community. Please keep up the good work.

Scott T. Parker

President and Owner

Scappoose Sand and Gravel Co.

Re-elect Lager to the Scappoose School Board

We have known Phil Lager for more than 20 years and could not think of a better person to serve our community and support our children. We have worked alongside Phil as a member of the school district's budget committee, Scappoose Little League, and Grant Watts Parents Organization, and Phil has always shown the willingness and desire to make a difference for the kids in our community. His proactive approach to problem-solving and change has made a big impact on our local children's lives. He has a strong voice and is willing to fight for what is right and won't give in to "status quo" decisions that are taking place in our district.

Phil is ethical and reliable, always present at community meetings and events, and is willing to listen to new ideas. Our district is growing and changing rapidly and we need our board members to be open to new ideas and willing to think outside the box. His openness makes him an extremely valuable member of our school board and one we cannot afford to lose.

Brian and Summer Hoag

Scappoose

Bernert, Kunkel-Hallstone for sensible Port operations

The good news is we don't have to vote again for the folks who brought us two proposed coal export plants (both gone, thankfully) and one unsafe oil-by-rail project (still going strong, regrettably).

Instead, we can vote for Melinda Bernert and Megan Kunkel-Hallstone, two candidates who have their heads screwed on straight. Melinda is an excellent candidate for Port Commissioner, Position 4. She comes with many years of business and journalism skills and a deep love for the county and the Columbia River. She has followed Port issues and is determined to make Port board operations more transparent. Melinda will be an agent of change on the Port board, change that is sorely needed after the fiascos of the past few years.

Megan (Position 5) brings not only the interests and concerns of our younger folks, but also some welcome expertise in handling leases, which she mastered while doing the books for the family farm business on Sauvie Island. She is determined to weigh Port actions carefully, such as those that might increase rail congestion, with the impacts on our communities foremost in mind.

Please join me in voting for Melinda Bernert and Megan Kunkel-Hallstone.

Darrel Whipple

Rainier

Ballots marked for Maloney, Lager and Brooks

From periodic attendance of meetings in recent years, I have developed some serious concerns about the Scappoose School Board.

There is a tendency to hold premature votes to rubber-stamp very impactful policies and changes without requiring complete information or time for thorough research by the majority of its members. The board isn't doing well the important job of holding the superintendent's office accountable.

There is also a lack of professionalism, namely in the areas of respectful communication and conducting of the meetings in an orderly, focused manner.  

Most troubling is the lack of serious listening to district parents, repeatedly voting their own agendas despite a multitude of fact-based testimonies and wise appeals to the contrary.  

Lisa Maloney has made a courageous, gracious and refreshing difference to this status quo.

Tim Brooks would be an additional diligent member standing for parents' rights and family values.

Our ballots are marked for: Lisa Maloney, Phil Lager and Tim Brooks.

We recommend and hope our neighbors do the same.

Larry and Vivian Ward

Scappoose

Vote Lager

I served with Phil Lager on the Scappoose School District board of directors. I know him to be a knowledgeable, passionate board member who is honest and accountable. His skills and abilities have served our district well. Our community would benefit from his continued service.

Please vote for Phil Lager.

Dan Dieter

Scappoose